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Do we understand the depth of forgiveness?

Lord's Prayer in greek in the Pater Noster Cha...

Lord’s Prayer in greek in the Pater Noster Chapel in Jerusalem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

devotional thought of the day…..

8  The LORD is merciful and loving, slow to become angry and full of constant love. 9  He does not keep on rebuking; he is not angry forever. 10  He does not punish us as we deserve or repay us according to our sins and wrongs. 11  As high as the sky is above the earth, so great is his love for those who honor him. 12  As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our sins from us. 13  As a father is kind to his children, so the LORD is kind to those who honor him. 14  He knows what we are made of; he remembers that we are dust.    Psalm 103:8-14 (TEV) 

Don’t think any more about your fall. Besides overwhelming and crushing you under its weight, that recollection may easily be an occasion of future temptation. Christ has forgiven you! Forget the “old man”—your former self. (1)

It has been said that those that don’t learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.

While not scriptural, there are many areas that it is true, though sometimes you have to spin it.. just a little.

Dealing with sin, we find that it needs a bit more spinning.  For what we are to remember is not the sin, nor the shame.  God remembers none, once He has cleansed us of it.  Those actions, words, thoughts, or lack of action and words have no power over us.  It is broken. God’s love shatters that link between our hearts and the sin – and they are separated  as far as the east as is from the West.  The prodigal is no longer away… you and I have come home.  The Father has welcomed us, as our elder brother has come and brought us home.  There is no reason for grieving over the past – as the psalmist rejoiced – God remembers how He made us, and that He knew we would need to be cleansed and healed..

And that is what we must remember – the “welcome home” feast.  The Father’s hug!  The celebration!

That is the lesson we need to learn from the past – the forgiveness, the mercy, the joy of our Father – the work of God in our lives.

Don’t dwell on your past sins – but rather rejoice in the reconciliation that has come to be our reality, on the work of God that enables us to be welcomed into His presence, on the joy on His face, as we stand before Him.

So learn from your past…. learn the power of His love and mercy… and when the time comes… show that Godly mercy and love to those that sin against you.

 

 

(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 693-695). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Fictional Epics and the Church

Devotional Thought of the Day:

Whether it is the fantasy epics of Tolkein and Raymond Feist, or the novels of James Clavell, or the military and naval historical fiction of writers like WEB Griffin, Alexander Kent, or Dewey Lambdin, I love multi-volume epics,  the kind that chronicle a life time or more of the events of a group of peoples lives.   That detail their struggles, their weakness and their heartaches.

They create worlds in which we can get lost for a time, and in a way, we learn lessons from them.

Some of which can apply to the church.

The first of course is that we don’t know the end of the story.  We may know how it resolves – but the getting there and the character development is the story as well.  So to it is in our lives – what God uses to develop us into who we are.  We really don’t know what is around the corner – who will be introduced into the story, which struggles they will face, even who will be redeemed – and who will not!

So too are we not the writers of our own stories, the journeys and struggles, the unexpected joys, and the victories that seem more a blessing (or luck) than any skill we have.

The key in reading such a story is to entrust yourself to the writer- to buy into His storytelling.  The key to living in such a story, as we do in God’s story…is the same – to trust in Him, to wait for the resolution – and to enjoy the ride.

I get the feeling – that for many of us, this year will be another epic trek…. as we journey towards a peacful kingdom – and a feast that celebrates what we’ve found.

May we go it at God’s speed, and depending on His mercy!

Why do we seek the Sensational?

Discussion, devotional thought of the day:

As I look over the devotional blogs I have been writing, I am tending to see a pattern regarding the number of readers I get per each title.

Include comments about chick fil a – lots of hits.  Best blog so far – the one about my dieing 20 years ago.  (that many people interested in my death experience? Or that many people think I really am dead?)   But if the topic is something like spiritual growth, or discipleship, or the dreaded “e” word, or knowing God’s presence… not so much.

I’ll admit – it’s a little frustrating.  Then again, I am writing these blogs as much to help me – to get me to process these things, but I desire that they would be a blessing to others.  So should I write on politics?  ( I can tick everyone off that way!) Or make this “less” of a devotional/discussion blog?

More important I think – why do we click on that which titilates, that which is controversial, or sensational?  Why are we willing to do that, and not look to the deeper things of our faith, the things which actually change our lives?

In Hebrews we find:
Hebrews 5:11-14 (NLT)   There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. 12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.

So its not a new problem – but how can we address it?  How can I make this devotional blog something that uplifts and challenges you?  Please let me know… pragmatically it makes more sense than if this is just a blog that no one reads except me… or a blog that simply adds to that which distracts us from God, and His love and adoring Him!

God Bless!

 

God’s Justice is Love?

Discussion/Devotional  thought of the day:

“Don’t fear God’s justice. It is no less admirable and no less lovable than his mercy. Both are proofs of his love.”  Escriva, Josemaria

To think of Justice as an act of love is challenging, primarily because I don’t think we understand justice.  We see it primarily as punitive, and in an eternal sense – there is something to that.  But justice in scripture is also righteousness  – and in that form, it cannot abide unrighteousness,

It seems to be that we want God to work on the injustice in the world, that which we see as not being righteous.  The challenge is wanting Him to do the same in our own lives, even as we pray it occurs in our communities and countries.  And ultimately, His righteousness is proven in how He deals with our unrighteousness – He keeps His promise – His sacred covenantal promise and makes a righteous people by putting their injustice and unrighteousness on someone else- that His justice may be seen.

May we find that love every day, as we look at crosses that surround us – testifying to His justice, His mercy and His love!

Vacation – rest and revitalization…honestly?

Devotional thought of the day:

It started yesterday – about noonish – we started the packing of our “new” trailer, and it took five-ish hours, with my son giving tours to our neighbors.  Then a little over 2 and a half hours to drive the 90 miles to the campground, another 2 hours to set up.

While our popup trailer is comparatively comfortable – it will take a few days to get used to it – every morning a three inch mattress will remind it us its not a tempurpedic, but chaDevotional thought of the day: It started yesterday – about noonish – we started the packing of our “new” trailer, and it took five-ish hours, with my son giving tours to our neighbors. Then a little over 2 and a half hours to drive the 90 miles to the campground, another 2 hours to set up. While our popup trailer is comparatively comfortable – it will take a few days to get used to it – every morning a three inch mattress will remind it us its not a tempurpedic, but chasing a five year old will bring that mattress to call to us very welcoming at the end of each day! A

And this is supposed to be rest and rejuvination?  Hmmmm…

As we let people know we were actually going on vacation, many said to leave everything behind, just go and have fun… (as if life at Concordia isn’t fun, or at least thrilling in that rollercoaster, stomach twisting kind of adventure way!)

At first I acknowledged their wisdom, but realized that part of me wouldn’t leave Cerritos.  I thought it would be my mind, that it would keep trying to work through everything.  I was wrong, something is still there, but it isn’t my mind, it’s my heart.

In four years at Concordia (this week is the anniversary – so about time for a vacation?)  I have watched people’s faith really blossom. When I got there, they had a unique tradition – every Bible Study starts and ends with the teacher stating, “The Lord is with you!”…  This tradition I have come to love, and it really has become that which shapes our ministry here.  ANd as I look and pray through our families, it only is made clearer that we truly need that knowledge, that blessing, the assurance than comes with His presence.

And they have gotten it – it is evident as they respond to that blessing, with words I love to here – for they are heart felt  – they want me to know God is with me, just as much as they are learning to count on it.

St Paul once wrote a prayer for a church that he loved, and missed, and said,

3:14 My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, 15 this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. 16 I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength— 17 that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, 18 you’ll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! 19 Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. 20 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. 
Ephesians 3:14-20 (MSG) 

If I could describe the people of my church, it is often that they are like kids at Christmas, just opening their eyes to the magnificence of God’s love for them…. they are starting to see this – and oh is it a joy to see it, as they witness another person to whom God’s promises are poured out in baptism, or as they see their burdens and anxieties lifted off them as we hear God’s forgiveness delivered, and as we pray…and as we feast together – in our potlucks for sure, but in the more precious meal of Christ’s Body and Blood..

As they live out our mission and motto – that Concordia is the place where people heal in Christ, while helping others heal…

In this, they are being revealed to be the very craftsmanship of God (see Eph 2:10) , or in Latin, the Opus Dei, in Greek – the Poiema – the poem

It is not my mind I left behind, as much as my heart – and the joy of seeing people know God’s love for them.. of realizing that God has called them into a relationship where He is there Father, and them finding rest there…. of them knowing the words, “the Lord is with you” and reminding me in response, that He is also with me….

That’s where I truly and revitalized, and I look forward to being back!

Broken People Healing in Christ..one step

Thought of the day….

Earlier this week, my devotional/discussion thgouth included the mission statement of my church.  “where broken people find healing in Christ, while helping others heal”

It had more hits than any other devotional blog I have written, and some pretty nice comments came to me. (By the way – feel free to comment and discuss what I right about here).  It made me think about the need to discuss what it means to be broken, and what it means to be healed, and how this happens when we find ourselves gathered with others in God’s presence….

The first step is a challenge in our society is difficult – it is not only admitting we are broken people, but mourning and being mortified that we are.  Isaiah demonstrated this sorrow and pain this way…
6:5 Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.”
Isaiah 6:5 (NLT)

Have you ever, when someone asks you “How is it going”, really wanted to be honest.  To let them know that your heartbroken, or anxious about finances, or challenged, and cannot find any reason for hope?  That you are struggling with depression, or worried about what you might hear at that next doctor’s visit?  That you don’t know how to deal with the issues your kids misbehavior, but it scares you none the less?  But of course you say, “It’s going fine!”

Or what about us as a people, do we take great pride in our country, and pretend that everything is okay?  That families are being ripped apart, that children are growing up without any sense of ethics or morality?  Do we grieve about a country that is so calloused by sin that we don’t notice that most television shows include adultery as the norm?  Do we realize how many people live in great need?  Do we realize we are more concerned about having to pay for abortions, than the fact that 50 million lives have been tossed away?

The first step?  It’s not admitting we are broken people living in a broken world.

It is realizing it.

And realizing – that no matter how much we try…. we can’t fix what is wrong…

We can’t do miracles on that magnitude.  There is only One who can… the One who created us, and can re-create us.  We can trust Him, depend on Him, know that He will fix, heal, repair and make it all new.

For that is why he came…even as He explain in his first sermon – as He quotes Isaiah,

4:18 “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” 20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:18-21 (NKJV)

As your heart cries out, about your own brokenness, or the brokenness of this world, my you realize that for you as well… today this scripture has been fulfilled… as Christ heals your brokenness, and mine, and the worlds….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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