Devotional Thought of the Day:
We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this
fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
The man answered, “Now that is remarkable!
You don’t know where he comes from,
yet he opened my eyes.”John 9:29-30
The respectable side of religion can generate dangerous responses to hearing God…..
And I prayed earnestly to the Lord God, pleading with him, fasting, wearing sackcloth, and sitting in ashes. 4 I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed the sins of my people.
I said, “Lord God, you are great, and we honor you. You are faithful to your covenant and show constant love to those who love you and do what you command.
5 “We have sinned, we have been evil, we have done wrong. We have rejected what you commanded us to do and have turned away from what you showed us was right. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our rulers, our ancestors, and our whole nation. Daniel 9:3-6 GNT
As I got to my devotional reading this morning, and read the section of Dallas Willard’s devotional book I thought, “AHA! a perfect passage to deal with in my devotional writings this morning. I know the kind of legalistic, self righteous condescending jackasses that would have treated the one Jesus healed this way!
And then I got to my second reading, and Daniel’s confession on behalf of God’s people, and it got me to look in the mirror, and realize that at times, the self-righteous, condescending, legalistic jerk is most clearly pictured there.
I am the one that needs to listen to God, as do those I shepherd. We need to seek to trust in God enough that He will lead us through the transformation that is repentance. It is not easy, it will take the kind of faith that David had, when he wrote,
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT2)
That is a prayer that requires trust in God, more than just mere belief. This is the way we experience the love of God in way that is astonishing, when we allow Him to see as we are, broken, sinful, hiding behind masks that point out the worst in others.
This is the trust, the dependance on the work of Christ at the cross that defines the Christian faith. To allow God in to allow Him to heal us, to allow Him to eradicate the sin and darkness that haunts us, that we try to hide deep within. And freed from the brokenness, the need to be condescending, the need to be self-righteous, the need to be legalistic disappears. WHat we want to do is share in the healing we have received.
Trust Him, let Him see you… let Him heal you as he did the blind man, as He has so many others… and pray I will allow Him to do the same for me.
Dallas Willard and Jan Johnson, Hearing God through the Year: A 365-Day Devotional (Westmont, IL: IVP Books, 2015).
Devotional Thought of the Day:
28 “Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (TEV)
7 Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (TEV)
5 Give yourself to the LORD; trust in him, and he will help you; Psalm 37:5 (TEV)
28 We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (TEV)
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid; I can’t put myself in the place of God. 20 You plotted evil against me, but God turned it into good, in order to preserve the lives of many people who are alive today because of what happened. 21 You have nothing to fear. I will take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them with kind words that touched their hearts. Genesis 50:19-21 (TEV)
A test of faith is not a multiple choice or essay test about how much you know doctrinally. None of us can know beyond what scripture teaches, and most of us don’t know all of that. (Even if we pretend to)
Nor is a test of our holiness, and how well we live from an ethical and/or moral standpoint. For while we should strive to live within the way God has laid out, we too often fail. And each of us will tend to look to the sins and failures of others, even counting them eviler, or condemning them, while trying to justify our own actions.
Nor is it a test of our will, and our ability to compensate or atone for our own error. The price is too high, and even if we could atone, why would we? To avoid punishment? To attain paradise? Both are self-centered motives, and therefore, as sinful as the sins we commit.
None of these “tests” measure a Biblical faith. Not one of them testifies to our ability to depend upon Jesus for what He has promised. Look above at the scripture quotes.
Do we have enough faith, enough trust God for the complete rest (physical, emotional, spiritual ) that we so need?
Do we have enough faith to leave our anxieties, our concerns, even our very life in His hands? Do we faith in His promise that all things work for good? Even the sins of our country, even
Do we trust in Him enough to proclaim to those who have hurt us, what you meant for evil, God used for good?
To do these things requires faith in God, confidence that He will do exactly what He said He would. Faith means to depend on Him, even when the guilt and shame are overwhelming, even when the hurt of betrayal is too powerful.
It is then faith is revealed, for it is that certain hope that despite all the logic, despite all the anxiety and fear, despite all the pain and suffering, God will see us through, that He will carry us, and bring us healing, and help.
That is faith. That is what it means to believe in God, to have confidence in what He has promised, that He will heal all that is broken. He will care for us, and never let us alone.
Faith is that feeling you get during communion when you are so overwhelmed by God’s love, that all you can think of is Christ, giving Himself of you, his Body broken, His love shed… and as you are focused on that, everything else falls away.
That feeling for a second or even a minute is a glimpse of heaven, it is a moment of purest faith when all there is, is God, and we depend on Him. letting everything else go.
So next time if you wonder if you have faith, hearken back to that moment you communed.. and relax, you passed the test.
Devotional Thought for our days:
25 The LORD is good to everyone who trusts in him,
26 So it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us-
27 And it is best to learn this patience in our youth. Lamentations 3:25-27 GNT
942 Pray that your holy ingenuity may achieve what your intelligence cannot attain, so that you may give more service of a better kind to everyone.
Surrender don’t come natural to me, I’d rather fight you for something I don’t really want than to take what you give that I need. And I’ve beat my head against so many walls Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees
And the Salvation Army band is playing this hymn and Your grace rings out so deep it makes my resistance seem so thin!
So hold me Jesus, Cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory won’t you be my Prince of Peace!
I hate waiting for an answer, for the solution to develop to the problems that exist, for the resolution that will end the conflict with the peace of God, that surpasses all human understanding.
I want to solve the problems, fix the brokenness, see the relationships healed, and everyone gathering together at the altar to praise God, and I want such solutions now. Why can’t I use my intelligence, which is supposed ot be a gift from God to solve these situations? Why must they require patience?
These situations don’t require patience, at least that is not the real issue.
Faith is. Trusting God is
Patience is just a part of what faith, what depending on God is all about. If I trust in Him, I must trust in His timing, I must trust in His plan, including the timing of it.
Satan would love to get us, saying we aren’t patient enough, and God wouldn’t really be patient with our impatience. He distracts us from God’s goodness, with a calendar or the second hand of a watch.
But again, patience isn’t the answer – it is simply a by-product of knowing and trusting in God. Of knowing His goodness, of knowing His intent to care for us, to even hold us when we are broken. That is faith, trusting in Him to do as He promised, even when we can’t see it yet. To let faith overwhelm doubt and impatience.
To realize the presence of God. To relax and know He is God, to be sure He is here… your Prince of Peace who holds you! AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 3828-3829). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
from Hold Me Jesus – by Rich Mullins
Dare We Pray:
Deliver Us From Evil
Matthew 6:13 and John 19:16-42
As you contemplate Christ’s death for you, and how that delivered you from evil, may you understand a little more the love of God our Father,
Intro – Deliver Us
We arrive here, this evening, at the foot of the cross.
To think through what it means for Jesus to die, his wrists and ankles shattered by spikes. We look on a broken man, one who endured so much pain and agony. Agony not just of the physical pain, but the agony of being alone, abandoned by those who counted themselves as His friends. Mocked by those whom he taught to pray
Whom He taught to pray to our Father in heaven these words…
“Deliver us from Evil”
It is the last request of the prayer.
And the most painful, and the hardest to pray.
For it is a confession we don’t want to make.
That we have gotten so entangled with evil, that only God can deliver us from it. That He had to make the decision to do so.
Life without evil sounds nice, though what it took, and what it takes, is a price that goes beyond what most of us are willing to pay, or for which we will find it easy to pray.
Yet He taught us to pray to the loving Father, “Deliver us from evil.”
And died on the cross to make it happen.
The Problem Why is it hard to pray this? What is Evil?
When we think of being rid of evil, it is often evil somewhere “out there” Satan’s work in the world, and as His demons work throughout the world. We speak of those evil empires, or the evil politicians, or the murderers and rapists and real serious sinners in prisons, those who God would never save, or it is a miracle if He does.
We don’t pray, “Deliver the world from evil,”
We pray deliver us from evil.
It is personal. We need the Father to deliver us, His people, from evil.
It is a hard prayer to pray, because we have to admit that evil can get a grip on us. That we are the sinners, that evil can get its grip on us, affect us, and that we can think, say, and do that which is evil
We do though, when we make decisions about who is righteous in God’s eyes, and who will be judged, (because God won’t save them!) and condemned for being evil.
We do it when we try to make our actions look righteous, even though we know they aren’t, when we try to justify ourselves, or those like us, rather than pray for all involved. When we gossip and assume the worst possible reason for why someone would do something, or say something. We even pat each other on the back, and congratulate each other when we shred our adversaries rather than pray for them.
There are so many ways we in which we sin, in which we choose that which is evil, over that which is blessed by God.
And today we come to the cross, seeking mercy and grace, praying, Father, deliver us from evil.
We can pray it here…at the foot of the cross.
That is why we are here. To pray, and to remember that the Father has delivered us from evil.
Look at the cross; there is where it happened. Where God unites sinners to Jesus, nailing their sins to Christ, and transforming us into saints, crediting us with His righteousness.
Look at the cross, where our attempts to justify ourselves, our futile attempts are dismissed, for because of Christ being nailed there.
Look at the cross, and know this prayer the Lord has taught us, an every phrase, every word is answered,
He proves He is our Father
His makes His name is holy, as He uses it to claim us, His children, with the seal of the cross in baptism
His kingdom is revealed to include us, for He purchases and redeems us with the blood of Christ.
His desire, His will is seen, as He enables us to not perish, but to repent and be transformed as we are united to Christ, and given the Holy Spirit
He gives us all we need, and care for us, making everything work for good for those He has called, for those who love Him
He forgives us, and helps us forgive others
He leads us away from temptation, as we look to Jesus, and are transformed into sacrificing servants who reflect His glory and embrace our own cross
and He delivers us from evil.. Cleansing us of it, by nailing it to the cross.
And so let us give Him every burden, every anxiety, every pain… even as we pray, trusting Him to answer…
Devotional Thought ot the Day:
14 Now I am coming to you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you. I don’t want what you have—I want you. After all, children don’t provide for their parents. Rather, parents provide for their children. 15 I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you, even though it seems that the more I love you, the less you love me. 2 Corinthians 12:14-15 (NLT)
288 When the Lord makes use of you to pour His grace into souls remember that you are only the wrapping round the gift, the paper that is torn up and thrown away. (1)
Over the last couple of days, my blogs have focused on the relationship of faith (trusting in God ) and humility. It’s not an easy thing to manage – this idea of humility. To let God be our God, to entrust our entire lives into His wise care, this is what faith is. The result is being transformed into His image, growing in His likeness. Learning to see His will as ours, and caring for what He cares for, that people come to repentance, to transformation. Learning to value what He does, the way He does.
We see this in Paul’s words, as he tells the church in Corinth how he isn’t in anything they have. He wants them to know Jesus. He wants them in the Father’s hands, no matter the cost.
Do we look at the world, as evil as it may seem, at those broken, from the homeless guy to the “big names” in sports, business, and politics in the same way? As people who desperately need to know Jesus? How are we welling to die to self, that people may know Christ. Not just about Him, but really know Him?
Are we willing to be the paper that Josemaria speaks of tossed aside, even trashed, as long as the Father’s gift to them is revealed and received?
This takes humility, it takes Christ-likeness, for this is what He has done… it takes trust in God, it takes knowing Him.
It is who we are called to be, it is to walk where God planned for us to walk – from before time.
Will you walk with Him today? Lord have mercy, we will let Him walk as our guide.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1388-1389). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day….
I long ago came up with, what is my theory of life.
An optimist looks at a 20 oz beverage container holding 10 oz of fluid and calls it half full. A pessimist looks at the same container and calls it half empty. I walk over drain the mug of beer, ticking off the optimist and the pessimist simultaneously. It was a good beer, the container served its purpose, and I caused opposing sides of an argument to be united. (against me – but that is cool) That’s a very good day! (1)
For some reason, I am occasionally mistaken for an optimist. I’m not sure why. I am certainly not a pessimist either, and I don’t fit on a line somewhere in between.
Don’t get me wrong – there are times I am sure everything is going to collapse around me, that the world is going to implode – and the proof of the possibility of that is that… well – I am here, therefore it could happen. At the same time – I a pretty sure that if it does, it will be a truly glorious thing to witness, mind-blowing even, and that I will find myself thoroughly enjoying the spectacle!
This weirdness in me is developed in part – by a long list of tragedies and traumas I have seen in life, either experiencing them myself ( for example my heart issues and marfans syndrome, my dropping out of college, my motorcycle accident, heck I could fill a blog) or by those I’ve walked beside, as they have seen God cause them to persevere and endure in peace …even unto death.
I’ve seen to much to be a carefree, naive, optimist who thinks everything is coming up roses. I have seen God’s action in those times nearly as often (sometimes I admit I can’t see them) to be a “the sky is falling” pessimist. Sure I will rant and rave at times, or celebrate a bit too early in other times. But overall, I am neither, or both, finding the joy in suffering, and the soberness in joy.
Maybe it is that my optimism is found, in that same place as faith, as trusting in God to fulfill specially what He has promised.
I like how St Josemaria put it,
“659 Christian optimism is not a sugary optimism; nor is it a mere human confidence that everything will turn out all right. It is an optimism that sinks its roots in an awareness of our freedom, and in the sure knowledge of the power of grace. It is an optimism which leads us to make demands on ourselves, to struggle to respond at every moment to God’s calls.” (2)
Call it “baptismal” optimism – the attitude we have in knowing that which God has given and done to us, when He claimed us as His people, when He cleansed our lives, and bound and sealed us with the gift of the Holy Spirit, the never-ending presence of God in our lives. Knowing that because of the grace poured out there, our lives are renewed, revitalized! That sin and shame and guilt and fearing death and Satan no longer have a hold on us, that we enter God’s presence and abide there confidently in peace.
There – instead of naively assuming that everything will work out right, or that everything is sure to fail, we can engage the attitude Paul describes as ours..
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT)
Live in your baptismal grace my friends… and rejoice… not just because all things will work out for good for those that love God, but that they will, because you abide in Christ..
(1) DT Parker – ~1988
(2) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2424-2428). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.