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Last Thoughts of 2020… that lead us to life in 2021

Devotional thought for 2020

19  “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. 20  Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. 21  It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.
Matthew 6:19-21 (MSG)

O my beloved Jesus, since Thou wilt feed me this morning with Thine own blood in the Holy Communion, it is but reasonable that I should willingly renounce all the delights and pleasures which the world might give me. Yes, I give them all up; I protest that I choose rather to suffer all evils united to Thee, than to enjoy all the goods of the world away from Thee. It is sufficient happiness for me to please Thee, who art worthy of all that we can do to please Thee. I will say, then, with St. Ignatius of Loyola, give me, I pray Thee, but Thy love and Thy grace; that is sufficient for me, and I am contented.

As Jesus was filled with joy in the Holy Spirit, may our joy by the power
of the same Spirit make us set our sight on the things of God’s kingdom.

If the world’s foundations crumble we still have God, and in Him we have everything essential to our ransomed beings forever.
We [also] have Christ, who … died for us and who now sits at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens making constant and effective intercession for us.
We have the Scriptures, which can never fail.
We have the Holy Spirit to interpret the Scriptures to our inner lives and to be to us a Guide and a Comforter.
We have prayer and we have faith, and these bring heaven to earth and turn even bitter Marah sweet.
And if worse comes to worst here below, we have our Father’s house and our Father’s welcome.

One of my favorite slogans addresses the picture that accompanies this blog, “do your job/” A slogan of the New England Patriots for a season, I think it it a key to life.

Do what you are called to do… and leave the rest to God.

Not the job you get pay from, nor your job as father, mother, child. NOr any other vocation, but the vocation that enables them all, being a child of God. For on God, for Tozer seems prophetic in his statement about the world’s foundations crumbling. Yet God is still there..

We have the assurance that the absolute worst thing that could happen in the world’s eyes, is that which will see us receive the most tremendous of welcomes. The welcome into our Father’s house.

Thinking like that is why deLigouri could pray (and recount the prayer ) the way he does, a prayer that I long to be able to honestly pray, if I could but give up everything that has occured in 2020, the horrible, the bad, that which grieves me to the deepest point, and those things that bring equally incredible joy.

We need to rely on the Spirit’s ministry to us, and through us. That is our greatest job… this dance with God. This is our greatest treasure, this is our reason for existence. This is our vocation…to partner and work in fellowship with God.

That is what 2020 freed us to do in 2021… to dance with God, as we have realized the vanity of anything else….

Heavenly Father, You and our Lord Jesus have sent us the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, to free us from the cares of this world, to help us dance with You… Help us to do this in 2021, more than we ever have in our lives. AMEN!

Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 88.

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), 406.

A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).

Yes, “she” would be welcome at my church, for all are…

Devotional Thought of the Day

19  For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20  So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 (NLT)

32  And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself. John 12:32 (NLT)

. 21  I will pardon my people’s crimes, which I have not yet pardoned; and I, the LORD, will make my home in Jerusalem with my people. Joel 3:21 (NLT)

There is a lady who’s name, face and voice have been plastered all over the internet lately. 

She has been compared to Nazi doctors;  she has been termed a devil, she has been called evil, her sin has been paraded all over the world.   

And she is welcome to come to my church.  She is welcome to come and know she is safe.  Her sin will not be the only focus of the sermon and the message. People will welcome her, we might even rejoice that she has come!  We want her to come to Concordia, and hear a message of hope, a message of love, a message of mercy, that all of us desperately need to hear.  Not just her, not just that one sin either a mercy that covers every sin, for He died to forgive every sin.

Some may hear this in disbelief.  You don’t mean the doctor from Planned Parenthood.  The one who was involved in the selling of body parts?  You surely wouldn’t welcome her into your church?   Don’t you realize how guilty she is?

Yes, I do, Christ didn’t come to save the good people.  He came to save sinners, people broken by guilt and shame, He came to save her.  He came to save you and I.  he came to save every one of us that has chosen evil over good at some time in our lives. Jesus came so we could be granted repentance and trust in Him, and given hope. This lady needs to know that God is still willing to reach out to her!  He not only wants, He desires to bring her back to Him!  Jesus died to make her reconciliation to the Father possible, as He has for every sinner.

You and I included.  

For this is what the church does, it reveals hope to the sinner.  It is i the church’s mission.  We exist to give sinners hope. We exist to bring them into the Father’s presence.  We exist to see everyone be cleansed of all sin and welcomed into the family of God.

And if God can do that for me, he can surely do it for her. For she is not a worse sinner than I am. Or for that matter Paul the Apostle who said,

12  I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, 13  even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. 14  Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. 15  This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it:Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”and I am the worst of them all. 16  But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 17  All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:12-17 (NLT)

That is how powerful the mercy of God is. He desires that she would know His love and mercy.  And fellow sinner, we need to be so in awe of God’s love for her, that we don’t get in her way, that we don’t block her way to the Father. 

He can work with her, she needs to know that, as does every other sinner we know.  That Jesus has done this for us, we who are of all sinners the foremost,  should give them hope.

I pray she comes into one of our churches this weekend, along with every other person who needs hope.  And I pray she find it.

For that is God’s desire… and it should be ours

Lord have mercy on us all!

The Church: Broken People healing while helping others heal

Devotional thought of the day:

It was one of those conversations I will never forget.  A dad – obviously by the tatoos and mannerisms and piercings he one who had been challenged with a past.  He was sitting on the planter, outside of my church, the night of a preschool graduation.  As I walked by in my clerical collar, I greeted him, and asked him if he was shocked about how fast time flies and our kids grow up.  His response shocked me,

“Pastor, I know with my tats and my piercings, I am not allowed in the church, but can I watch the graduation from the lobby”

I am still shocked someone would think that about any church, and even more schocked that they would think that about my church.  Of course you are welcome in the house of God.  Of course you can come – that’s why your child came in the first place.  You see, my people aren’t anything like that, they wouldn’t care about the tats, or the piercings, they would be glad the man was there.  More importantly God wants him to be welcome, to know the Lord’s presence is with him.  I invited him in and told him to sit up front – where he would get a good view of it all.  (People tend to stand up a lot to take pictures at such graduations, not thinking that they are blocking someone else’s view.  )  But his response… really, is amazing, and it makes me wonder about our churches….the Church.  How could they not know?

Luke’s story of Jesus love tells of an incident.  One time, in dealing with some people that were a bit too self-righteous, he records   “Jesus heard about it and spoke up, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? 32 I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.”   Luke 5:31-32 (MSG)

Church isn’t a place for perfect people – they don’t need to be there – they are perfect.  It’s a place for broken people, people broken by the sins of this world, and yes, by their own sins as well.   Its a place to heal, to have relationships fixed, to be assured of God’s love and His desire to work in our lives, as He speaks life into our tired, weary, and spiritually dead souls.  As He makes His desire, His plan perfectly clear.

We belong in His presence, not because we are perfect, but because He desires us to be there, and makes it possible.

I am still not sure if the man believed me or not.  I got the feeling that he had been turned away from other churches, in other times.  I look at the planter daily, and often remembered our conversation.  It is one of the reasons that Concordia’s mission statement, our motto, is simple…

“Where people find healing in Christ, while helping others heal…”

Lord Jesus, in our brokenness, come into our lives, bring healing, peace, rest, comfort, and open our eyes to those around us who need what You freely have given, for that is the Father’s desire, and why you came.  Lord have mercy, and teach us to share that with all those around us.  Lord as well, help us to never hide that brokenness, that weakness – from you or from those who need to see You working, bringing healing to us.  Seeing that – may they realize it is theirs as well.  


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