Devotional Thought of the Day:’
He has watched over your journey through this immense wilderness. The LORD your God has been with you this past 40 years, and you have lacked nothing.’ Deut 2:7 HCSB
It has become habit to read through the Old Testament every year, and changing translations each new year. There are times it seems a drudgery, a journey through this guy begat that guy or a recitation of all of the different ways to sin. (as if I needed a detailed list!) What will I find here, I wonder, that will make this habit worth it. Where will I find something that is nourishing in this wilderness?
And then I come to a verse like the one above, Tucked into the history of Israel’s rebellion and sin, a recounting of all the times they did what was right to them, completely disregarding God’s directions, given through Moses.
Go here, they go there. Do this, they do something else. It sounds like a group I would find myself some like-minded companions. People who struggle just the way Paul did, doing what they shouldn’t, and failing to do what they should.
As Moses tells them their own history, there is this incredible verse. He tells them that as they have walked through the Wilderness, their punishment, their discipline for the sin they have committed, where God was.
There. providing for them. For 40 years, He didn’t abandon them as He disciplined them.
That is an incredible thing to realize.
By no means should that continue to wander in sin, we need to confess our sin, trusting in God to forgive those sins, because Jesus came and died to pay for them.
But there is a comfort to know that God doesn’t abandon His rebellious children, that He desires, truly desires that all come to repentance and that this is part of the work of the Holy Spirit.
What an amazing, loving merciful God we have, that allows us to wander, that disciplines us, and yet provides for us during that time, giving us what is truly beneficial!
He is with us, even when we don’t see it, even when we don’t want to see it. When we are faithless, still e is faithful.
So if you are wandering today, you can’t escape Him, so it is time to come home, and confess your sins, and find the incredible love and mercy of God is yours. Come, confess your sins, and find that He is faithful, forgiving you of those sins, and cleansing you of all unrighteousness.
His Presence Blesses Us, as
He Makes us Holy!
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ strengthen your dependence on Him, as God fulfills His promise to make you Holy!
How many of you…
A serious question to start with this morning.
How many of you are always, and I mean always, joyful?
How about this one?
How many of you never stop praying? Every moment, of every day?
And how many of you can you say you are thankful for everything God is doing in your life and has done in the last six months?
Has anyone been able to answer all of those questions positively?
I couldn’t, either.
Which is why the apostle Paul urges us to do so if it was common to do, he wouldn’t be urging his readers then, or us now, to do so.
But rather than hear him urging us to do so, because he knows we will benefit from it, what we usually hear just causes us guilt, and maybe some shame.
Why can’t I do what God wants me to do, our mind says, why can’t I be the person who knows joy every moment, the person who is always thankful, the person who always trusts God and gives to him all that worries us in prayer?
And so what is good advice turns into something we feel we can’t live up to…
And what about this? (Stifling the Spirit)
Then there is the challenge that Paul presents in verse 19, where it talks of not stifling or quenching the Holy Spirit.
The word there in Greek means to suck dry, to dampen, to take all the punch out of it.
It explains it a little clearer in the next verses, as we see the challenge to not dismiss those who claim to speak for God but to test them.
To see if they speak what is Godly and scriptural, what is good.
Does it teach what scripture says, to first love God and then love our neighbor?
Does it work within the guidelines God sets up in the Decalogue, the ten commandments, or in Philippians where Paul instructs us to Philippians 4,
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 4:8-9 (NLT)
If it fits within those guidelines – this is good, hold on to it, hold onto it!
Don’t let go.
If it pulls you away from God if it causes you to put yourself before showing love and mercy to others, if it is contrary to any of God’s commands, then drop it.
For it is bad, it is evil.
That is the simple test – if it helps you know God and shows love to your neighbor – hang on to it. If it doesn’t completely stay away from it.
And if you do that – living joyfully, giving all your burdens and anxieties to God, and being thankful in all things becomes something that you can begin to do, for nothing is impeding the work of the Holy Spirit!
Here is where it happens!
If we struggle to do the things we should do as God’s people, then we need help.
The Holy Spirit provides that help and more, as the Apostle Paul also states in this passage.
“Now may the God of peace make you holy, in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again!”
You see, it is God who saves us, who makes us, and keeps us blameless
This is the blessing that comes to those who trust in God and are baptized, as we are united to Jesus at His death for us on the cross, and with His resurrection.
Not just forgiving our sins once, and leaving it up to us, but giving us the promise that in Him, every sin is forgiven.
That as James writes, we can confess our sin and know He is faithful to forgive sin and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.
It is that ongoing ministry of God, His keeping us blameless through His words, through remembering the promises of our baptism, to the promises here as we commune with Him at the altar, that is the work of the Holy Spirit.
You see, being holy, isn’t about being perfect.
We can try.
We must try!
But holy at its root, means to be set apart.
If Dr. Larry in his chemistry lab doesn’t set apart certain pieces of equipment to deal with this chemical and not others, explosive things might happen!
For example, his students could accidentally make nitro-glycerin.
(By the way, that is why Pastor Parker was never allowed to take chemistry!)
Certain things need to be set apart for everyone’s good.
That setting something apart is what is at the meaning of the word “holy.”
and the other word which translates from the same Greek word, “sanctification.”
God makes us holy, in every way, as the Spirit brings us to life in Jesus, and then keeps us holy, giving us the desire for that relationship.
When we do sin, the Spirit reminds us and urges us to run to God and ask for forgiveness, depending on His promises.
This is how God makes us holy, His special people.
As He does so, we are thankful to Him for all He does, assured that He loves us
We learn to continually pray, giving to Him all that concerns us in prayer, all that worries us, all that grieves us.
And we live in joy, knowing the love and mercy and peace of our God.
For He has promised, and God will make this happen, for He who calls you is faithful! AMEN!
One more time, hear the blessing and promise the Apostle Peter gave us today,
23 Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 24 God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.
Devotional Thought for our Days:
6 “This may seem impossible to those of the nation who are now left, but it’s not impossible for me. 7I will rescue my people from the lands where they have been taken, 8and will bring them back from east and west to live in Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be their God, ruling over them faithfully and justly. Zechariah 8:6-8 TEV
96 Discover Our Lord behind each event and in every circumstance, and then, from everything that happens, you will be able to draw more love for God and a greater desire to respond to him. He is always waiting for us, offering us the possibility to fulfil at all times that resolution we made: Serviam! I will serve you!
One of the books I am presently reading is Metaxas biography of Martin Luther. It is more than a bit distressing, as constantly Metaxas points out that what happened was out of control of everyone involved, especially Luther.
Why couldn’t the church simply reform? Why did the leaders not listen and discuss things like the Church did at the Jerusalem council? Why was the division and later shattering of God’s family so unavoidable?
As I read Metaxas account, it seems like the reformation was a huge tidal wave, that consumed all in its path.
So where was God in it all? Can we, as another Catholic Priest/Reformer of the Church advised, “discover Our Lord behind each event and in every circumstance”?
Personally, I find this difficult, I get overwhelmed by what seemed impossible to stop, Much like the people of Israel in the time of Zechariah. It was impossible for them to even think of the restoration of the people (not the nation) Israel. The people of God who struggle with Him (that;s what Israel means), yet are His people, for He is their God. Yet the prophet assures them that for God this is not impossible, but it will happen.
God will restore His people, He will call them to His side,, He will call them home together. It is God’s plan, His desire, His will, that we shouldn’t perish, and that He will call all His people home, together.
So how to grow in faith, in confidence that what God has promised, God will deliver? Even when the darkness seems to overshadow life? How can I trust, as Joseph did, that God means all of this for good? From the reformation which shattered the Western Church to arguments which threaten my own denomination today, that God will use these storms to bless those who love Him?
I have to look to the cross, the place where God seems the most vulnerable, even more, vulnerable than when He was in utero in Mary. To look to the cross as Jesus, fully God and fully man, is murdered by those who found God’s inconvenient and bothersome. As He died for all of our sin. The sin of the Catholics, the Protestants, even the Orthodox. s He died to cover the sins for those who do not know Him yet, but will as we reveal Him to them. It is there- when even nature went dark and shook with fear, to realize even in the dark moment, God was at work. Using the greatest evil Satan could ever con man into doing, turned out to be the greatest of blessings.
As God proved He is Immanuel, God with us.
As I look at a broken and fractured church, on his the supposed anniversary of the Reformation, my hope is in God’s promise, that not one of those in Christ will be lost, that He will call all of us home, and that He will continue to make us a holy people.
Lord, have mercy on us! Help us to see You in everything we encounter, and in all of History!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 553-556). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our days:
5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. 6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” 7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir. Galatians 4:5-7 (NLT)
14 Let us, then, hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we have a great High Priest who has gone into the very presence of God—Jesus, the Son of God. 15 Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are but did not sin. 16 Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it. Hebrews 4:14-16 (TEV)
80 If you are a good son of God, in the same way that a little child needs to be assured of the presence of his parents when he gets up in the morning or goes to bed at night, your first and last thought each day will be for Him.
Luther saw in this the very essence of Christian theology. God reached down not halfway to meet us in our vileness but all the way down, to the foul dregs of our broken humanity. And this holy and loving God dared to touch our lifeless and rotting essence and in doing so underscored that this is the truth about us. In fact, we are not sick and in need of healing. We are dead and in need of resurrecting. We are not dusty and in need of a good dusting; we are fatally befouled with death and fatally toxic filth and require total redemption. If we do not recognize that we need eternal life from the hand of God, we remain in our sins and are eternally dead. So because God respects us, he can reach us only if we are honest about our condition. So it fit well with Luther’s thinking that if God were to bestow upon him— the unworthy sinner Luther— such a divine blessing, it must needs be done as he sat grunting in the “cloaca.”
It is not what we think of as a holy place, yet it was.
A man who suffered incredibly from guilt and shame, whose anxiety nearly paralyzed him, when it wasn’t driving him mad.
And he finally had that aha moment while sitting on a toilet. During a particularly hard bowel movement.
Seriously? Yeah, seriously.
In a way, it is the perfect parallel physically to what needs to happen to us spiritually. We might call it thus, “The Kingdom of God is like a good laxative! We need to get rid of all the crap in our lives, the sin which binds us up! We try to eliminate the sin’s stench by trying to legitimize our behavior, to justify or excuse it. We do all things these, and all they do is cause us pain, and grief, and more foul air. And when God comes to us, all that crap is eliminated.
We need God to meet us there! And that is what Luther realized God would do, a God who loves His children so much that He will meet us even there. A God who would answer the cry of a child in pain, a God who would be there for us, no matter what we are dealing with in life. A God who knows the crap we’ve been messing around in, and loves us enough to set aside the stench and do what needed to be done.
As we realize this, how it changes us! How it reforms us and the way that we look at life! How it draws us to Him, to adore Him,, to love Him, to worship Him, even as we run to Him with confidence, assured that he can take care for the crap we cannot deal with by our own reason or strength.
This is our God, cry out to Him in confidence! Lord have mercy on me!
And assured of His love and grace, know the relief, the peace that His presence brings! AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 498-500). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Metaxas, Eric. Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World (p. 97). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
17 When the seventy-two n came back, they were very happy and said, “Lord, even the demons obeyed us when we used your name!”
18 Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Listen, I have given you power to walk on snakes and scorpions, power that is greater than the enemy has. So nothing will hurt you. 20 But you should not be happy because the spirits obey you but because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:17-20 NCV
10 We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God has already designated to make up our way of life. Ephesians 2:10 (NJB)
I think that the hands of a priest, rather than expressing routine gestures, must tremble with excitement when administering baptism or giving the absolution of sins or blessing the sick because they become instruments of the creative power of God.
For priests, pastors and all those who minister to others, there is a fine balance between humility and confidence. And if we are honest, it is when we are struggling with the latter that we don’t act all that humble. I imagine there may be one or two of us that think they are God’s gift to the church. (In a way they are0 But many of us still wonder why God has put us here, why God has entrusted to us this incredible, sacred, beautiful, demanding ministry.
I love Pope Francis’s words about our ministry. He nails it when talking about the awe that hits you when you pray over someone, or see their body loose every bit of tension and anxiety as they realize God’s forgiveness, as they realize He is present. I still can recall the eyes of people after I have baptized them, or their children. (Two incredible “devout” atheist/agnostic types come to mind as I baptized their children – eyes bright and full of tears… and God isn’t done with them either!) But his also occurs when we pray with someone over breakfast, or see people having an “aha” at work, as they realize another dimension of God’s love because we said something.
It is in those moments that our lives do feel like a work of art, as God weaves our lives with others, and creates something wonderful. If it iis awe-inspiring to consider sinners in the hands of an angry God, how much more incredible is it to see God work through the hands of a repentant sinner who trusts in Him?
Still, my heart cries out… why? Why me? What did I do to deserve this?
Nothing of course.
Which is where the first gospel reading helps us maintain some manner of balance. As wonderful it is that God can use us, the even more wonderful thing is that we already are certain He’s got us, we are HIs, our names are written in the Heaven,
That is even more amazing. As broken, as sinful, as able as I am to screw up something, God has claimed us as His.
SO tomorrow, as you go to preach, or lead worship, to distribute communion or work with the children’s ministry, or just tell the person next to you – God is with you, indeed, you are being used by God, you carry His presence within you, and it is blessing others. Remember though, that is simply proof of a greater mystery, a greater blessing. You are one of God’s people, He is your God, and He loves you! (me too!)
Pope Francis. A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. Ed. Alberto Rossa. New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013. Print.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
3 He has by his own action given us everything that is necessary for living the truly good life, in allowing us to know the one who has called us to him, through his own glorious goodness. It is through him that God’s greatest and most precious promises have become available to us men, making it possible for you to escape the inevitable disintegration that lust produces in the world and to share in God’s essential nature. 5 For this very reason you must do your utmost from your side, and see that your faith carries with it real goodness of life. Your goodness must be accompanied by knowledge, your knowledge by self-control, your self-control by the ability to endure. Your endurance too must always be accompanied by devotion to God; that in turn must have in it the quality of brotherliness, and your brotherliness must lead on to Christian love.
2 Peter 1:3-5 (Phillips NT)
Since then, O my soul! thou art capable of knowing and loving God, why wilt thou amuse thyself with anything less than God? Since thou mayest put in thy claim to eternity, why shouldst thou amuse thyself with transitory moments? It was one of the most grievous reflections of the prodigal son, that he might have fared deliciously at his father’s table, whilst he was feeding amongst filthy swine. Since thou art, O my soul, capable of possessing God, woe be to thee if thou contentest thyself with anything less than God.
This morning, as I arrived at church, two little girls who go to our preschool were greeting each other with great joy. Laughter and giggles were loud, as they danced around their moms who were obviously more aware that it was Monday, and that we shouldn’t be excited or enthusiastic about a new day.
My ten year old observed that it was because they were anxious to see each other, to share the week together, that explained the joy we observed. As I read St Francis de Sales words (in blue above) I thought it echoed my son’s words of wisdom. Why should we have the Monday drama?
Isn’t there something good about this day? Isn’t it one of the days the Lord has made?
de Sales talks about the woes that accompany those who are capable of possessing God (realizing they are in His presence, that they have His attention and His heart) and find contentment ( or at least settle for) something less than God. That we accept the doldrums, the burdens of our lives as being the reality.
We are capable of knowing and loving God! This is what the cross means, this incredible encounter with God who lives and reigns. We are invited to walk with Him through life, to behold the masterpiece He would make of it!
That’s why Peter talks so…. so gloriously about a life with Christ. A life where we know the Father, where we endure and find the ability to endure because of our devotion to Him, a devotion that is a response to His giving us everything that is needed to live what Peter calls ( in the midst of a dungeon that could make the worst Monday appealing)) the “good life.”
It’s not what we endure that makes it good, but that we live in the presence of God while experiencing it that makes the difference. Like the two little girls, greeting each other with great joy, we can greet our Lord, and see His smile, and rejoice in His presence!
So stop amusing yourself with anything but God… and find in Him the joy that overwhelms even a Monday you return from vacation!
Alleluia! He is Risen! He is risen indeed! And therefore – We are Risen indeed!
Francis de Sales, Saint. An Introduction to the Devout Life. Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son, 1885. Print.
Devotional Thought fo the Day:
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. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. Ephesians 4:14-16 (NLT)
917 Nonne cor nostrum ardens erat in nobis, dum loqueretur in via?—“Was not our heart burning within us, while he spoke to us on the way?” If you are an apostle, these words of the disciples of Emmaus should rise spontaneously to the lips of your professional companions when they meet you along the ways of their lives. (1)
At first, I felt an incredible burden as I read the words of St Josemaria this morning. While I know, we are sent into this word, that we are all apostles, the idea of people responding to us the way the two disciples on the road to Emmaus did seems so unlikely.
I read these words, and my heart asks whether St Josemaria knows we aren’t Jesus. We aren’t perfect; we don’t have the wisdom, we are righteous enough, we are too bogged down by brokenness and anxiety.
So how could people react as if they encountered the holiness that is natural for the Son of God?
Because they have. When they enocunter us, they encounter Jesus, for He is with us!
The promises are there; we will never be forsaken by Jesus, He will be with us for eternity. The Holy Spirit dwells within all those who believe and are baptized. The Holy Spirit is transforming us into the image of Christ, even as we see His glory.
We know these things theologically, that is not enough! We have to realize the reality of what we know. It has to sink deep into our hearts, our souls, even as we explore the vast dimension of the Love of God for us, revealed in Jesus.
This doesn’t happen through academic learning. It happens as we pray, as we spend time aware of God’s presence and peace, His comforting us and healing our brokenness, forgiving sin, removing resentment. We are altered at the altar, as we receive Him, His precious Body broken for us, His blessed Blood, which confirms our relationship with Him and reminds us of all of His promises. This is a life that is one of prayer, and meditation on His word. Not to prove our righteousness, but because in these encounters with God, we find His peace, we rest in Him.
As much as some would shy away from experiential aspects of our faith, these experiences where God is transforming us through His promises we hear in HIs word, through the sacraments He commissioned, these are His means.
We may never be aware of the result of the work, save when someone realizes Christ’s passion and care for them through us, and that is okay.
It’s not about our glory; it is about people being changed by our dwelling in HIs glorious presence. AMEN!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 2132-2134). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
16 I have complete confidence in the gospel; it is God’s power to save all who believe, first the Jews and also the Gentiles. 17 For the gospel reveals how God puts people right with himself: it is through faith from beginning to end. As the scripture says, “The person who is put right with God through faith shall live.”
Romans 1:16-17 (TEV)
When relating these events in his Gospel, Saint Matthew continually emphasizes Joseph’s faithfulness. He kept the commandments of God without wavering, even though the meaning of those commandments was sometimes obscure or their relation to the rest of the divine plan hidden from him. The Fathers of the Church and other spiritual writers frequently emphasize the firmness of Joseph’s faith. Referring to the angel’s command to fly from Herod and take refuge in Egypt,7 Saint John Chrysostom comments: “On hearing this, Joseph was not shocked nor did he say: ‘This is strange. You yourself made it known not long ago that he would save his people, and now you are incapable even of saving him—we have to flee, to set out on a long journey and spend a long while in a strange place; that contradicts your promise.’ Joseph does not think in this way, for he is a man who trusts God. Nor does he ask when he will return, even though the angel left it so vague: ‘Stay there, until I tell you to return.’ Joseph does not object; he obeys and believes and joyfully accepts all the trials.”8 Joseph’s faith does not falter, he obeys quickly and to the letter. To understand this lesson better, we should remember that Joseph’s faith is active, that his docility is not a passive submission to the course of events. For the Christian’s faith has nothing whatever to do with conformity, inertia, or lack of initiative. Joseph entrusted himself unreservedly to the care of God, but he always reflected on events and so was able to reach that level of understanding of the works of God which is true wisdom. In this way he learned little by little that supernatural plans have a logic which at times upsets human plans.
There are days where it is a challenge to live by faith, to live in view of the brutal world where people are butchered, tortured, and enslaved. There are days where the pain is much closer, a friend struggling with cancer, a son dealing with the death of a parent, the parent dealing with the death of a child. It can even be more of an irritant, an argument among friends, or even a relationship being broken, a relationship between people who should be united, but can’t get past their brokenness.
Some may dismiss these latter things by noting that we are sinners, that we are supposed to be broken, that what we need to do is be confident in our absolution. Surely that is true for sins in our past, but the danger lies in assuming that such a lack of faith is appropriate for tomorrow. The lesson that some will hear is that we don’t have to be concerned about loving our neighbor, caring for the widow and orphan, and if we fail to because of self-interest or greed or apathy? Oh well, confess it, and be confident in your forgiveness.
St Josemaria, in talking about Joseph, quotes one of the key verses for Martin Luther. The just shall live by faith! But what does that mean? Does it mean that we are simply quickened (as the old Creed says) and are alive because of faith, or does it mean we actually LIVE, day by day, moment by moment, dependent on God, trusting Him for what He has promised, revelling in the joy of His presence, even when life sucks?
That is life by faith, life in Christ, real life, the kind of life that accepts what comes to us, trusting and depending on God. This was ultimately freeing to Luther, not just in absolution, but in living. For Joseph, Escriva claims it gave him the strength to obey the angelic visitation that occurred in dreams (unlike Mary who encountered the angel face to face.) He just went, because he trusted God. He went depending on God, despite the oddities, despite the lack of answers, despite the appearance that God didn’t care.
You want to be right? Live this way, dependent on God, so dependent that obedience becomes more natural, and that when we fail, we run for forgiveness – in both cases dependent on the promise of God… How does this grow? Through encountering Christ through His word, through sacraments like the Eucharist, and through prayer and meditation on Christ.
For this is life!
Escriva, Josemaria. Christ is Passing By (Kindle Locations 1355-1371). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional thought of the day:
25 Brothers, pray for us! 1 Thessalonians 5:25 (ESV)
318 Place yourself before the Lord each day and tell him slowly and in all earnestness, like the man in the Gospel who was in such great need, Domine, ut videam! —Lord, that I may see!; that I may see what you expect from me, and struggle to be faithful to you.
An oracle once identified the smartest man of his time, the philosopher Socrates. When asked about this Socrates thought and said the statement is not based on how much Socrates knew, but that Socrates realized how much he didn’t know.
Spiritual maturity is like that, the more mature we become, the more we need to pray, the more we need others to pray for us.
I think society has become confused as to what maturity is, about what it looks like. I think the problem has to do when we consider independence a necessary part of maturity. It is as if we measure maturity based on how much we can do for ourselves. That is because our ability to be independent parallels our physical and emotional growth, but that doesn’t mean being independent is an aspect of maturity, or for that matter is good.
I would tie interdependence to physical and even emotional maturity before I would think about independence.Being part of a community, being a part of family, being married, these things require interdependence. Maturity can require a giving up of self. A sense of sacrifice, a sense of commitment.
If that is true in regards to physical maturity, I would suggest that it is even more true in regards to spiritual maturity. That we don’t become independent of God, but that we see our life more connected to Him, as well we become more connected to the family of God!
Like Socrates view of his intelligence, a spiritually mature person will run to God in prayer, will not hesitate to ask others to pray for them.
That is the paradox, you become spiritually mature by becoming more dependent on God, more aware of His work in your life, more content and at peace, knowing the Spirit is here, and that this life is not all there is, there is something far more… The more spiritually mature we are, the more we end up appreciating the sacraments, the time where God’s grace is showered upon us. Likewise our time in meditation on God’s love, that marks as us His in baptism, and our time laying in His hands all our burdens, all the things that cause anxiety.
It’s not easy though, to take such time. Hence, the request for pray, even as Paul did. Please pray for me! And for all who minister to others.
Lord help us all to take the time, to know and to ponder this basic truth.
There is God, and we are His.
Knowing that, may we cry out for the mercy that will enable us to see you! AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1273-1276). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Will God, Really?
1 Kings 8
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace and peace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen your dependence upon Hi m and help you pray, knowing God is here.. for you dwell in His presence.
Is it good enough for…
Twenty-seven years ago, I was looking in display cases in a store in San Dimas, Ca. I had already spent a lot of time in other stores, trying to find the perfect ring to go on Kay’s hand, when we got married on July 1st.
Although I didn’t have a lot of money, that wasn’t the issue as much as finding a ring that would make her smile, that she would proudly wear and that she would show off, saying, look!
I found it, got out my life savings… (which was last week’s paycheck) and purchased the ring. I remember thinking, until the time I saw her smile, will she find it good enough? Will it be good enough!
I have to think my anxiety was nothing compared to what Solomon was going through as he dedicated the temple. Can you imagine the pressure, for the dream was not just his dream, but King David’s dreams, and the fulfillment of a promise that went all the way back to Egypt and Moses, and even before that 4 centuries to the time when God made a covenant promise to Abraham, having him look up into the sky, to see the number of his descendants.
All of the Israel was there, to dedicate a sanctuary, the temple, to be the place where God would dwell with man.
And as he looks out on the people of God, his nervousness causes him to ask a question.
But will God really live on earth? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built!
We could, no, we should ask the same question here today, for this place, as we stand in this place, where God has put His name.
How can Concordia contain the presence of God, who cannot even be contained?
The answer is found in why the Temple was dedicated as the house of God, and to see this place dedicated to the same purpose!
Why Solomon had Faith God Would hear.
It is amazing to me sometimes, when people take a question like Solomon’s and only read the question, assuming that God would not answer, or that because Solomon asked, it meant the issue would be in doubt. I’ve heard people say that churches and sanctuaries dedicated to being the place where God meets people are no different than a forest, or a beach. Because God is everywhere, and therefore, any place is as good as another.
But Solomon doesn’t ask this in a rhetorical manner. He asks it because he knows the answer, the very character of God is to dwell with His people. He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden, and was close enough to know Cain and talk to him. Enoch walked with Him, as did Noah, and of course Melchizedek, the prince of peace who would help Abraham know the prophecy about Jesus, the incredible Prince of Peace. He walked with Isaac and wrestled with Jacob. He met Moses, and dwell on Mount Sinai, and led His people as they struggled to be faithful in the wilderness.
And as Solomon mentions, God kept the promises made to David, Solomon’s father. That God always keeps the promises He binds himself to in covenant.
God always shows love to those He calls to be His own; that is why we are devoted to Him. It is because He doesn’t fail us.
And he doesn’t’ fail us because He dwells with us, not just because He is everywhere. He makes His home with us, in our midst, to care for us, love us, reconcile us to Himself
That we struggle to believe that is the nastiest side effect of sin, the belief that God won’t care about the people He created to be His own.
Which is why we put up buildings like this one, it is why Solomon built the temple; it is why Jesus cleared out the money changers and those who made a profit selling sacrifices in the temple.
Because these places where God has said, “My name is there”, where He urges us to call upon His name, is to be a place of peace, a refuge, a sanctuary.
Which is why we can pray here, which is why we feel at peace here at the rail, as God strengthens us, for He hears our cry, as He hears our Kyrie…our plea for His love and mercy.
Will God Really Hear my Prayer?
It took me a while to understand this passage, this prayer of Solomon. Because the very first thing he asks for is that God would hear all of the prayers prayed in the Temple – actually within the temple courtyards, and area 8 times the size of our Concordia property! A million people could easily fill the courts, and can you imagine how they would sound singing the Nunc Dimittis? How they praises would ring as they realized that God was welcoming them, drawing them into His presence!
What is so amazing, what needs to be realized is that when the people of God pray, the promise isn’t to give us the American Dream of Life, liberty, wealth, fame and the pursuit of happiness, the promise is to give us…
To give us the loving comfort of realizing God doesn’t walk away from us, that He will cleanse us up, that he won’t bar us from heaven, but He will make us as clean and share His glory with us!
If we are devoted to Him, this only ensures a deeper devotion. A more single-hearted adoration of the God who comes and dwells among us. There is no great answered prayer than this,
You are my children, and I will love you and care for you, by the stripes Christ wore on His back, you are healed!
Will God Really Hear Theirs?
That is there in the prayer of the heathen that Solomon would have God really hear as well. We get distracted by the “grant whatever they ask”, in fact, I sometimes wonder if I can be a unbeliever for a day, get 400 or 500 prayers answered, and then believe again. ( We’ll talk about that in Bible Study!)
But they are to pray so that they can be in awe of God’s presence as well, so that can know and fear God, even as His people do. That is what Solomon prays for those who aren’t the people of God, who aren’t in the covenant, that are drawn to God by the work of the Holy Spirit.
That they would know Him, and come into this relationship, this wonderful relationship where God answers Solomon question with smoke so thick that they priests can’t do anything.
Smoke that testifies to His presence, just as the bread and wine, body and blood testify to the presence of Christ in this place.
Solomon asks, “will God really dwell on earth?”
God answers, “Be at peace, I am with you…” AMEN!