Devotional Thought of the Day:
Before you knew God, you were slaves of gods that are not real. 9 But now you know God, or better still, God knows you. Galatians 4:8-9 CEV
We will, we choose, we create the moral ignorance in our souls, the ignorance that Plato saw as a prerequisite to doing evil. We voluntarily turn off the light of truth. For instance, we shut out the divine truth and justice of “thou shalt not steal” before we sin by stealing. The ignorance of the thief—by which he thinks that filling his pockets with stolen money will make him happier than filling his soul with proper virtue—is indeed, as Plato saw, a prerequisite for his act of theft.
2157 The Christian begins his day, his prayers, and his activities with the Sign of the Cross: “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” The baptized person dedicates the day to the glory of God and calls on the Savior’s grace which lets him act in the Spirit as a child of the Father. The sign of the cross strengthens us in temptations and difficulties.
The law has been given to men for three reasons: (1) to maintain external discipline against unruly and disobedient men, (2) to lead men to a knowledge of their sin, (3) after they are reborn, and although the flesh still inheres in them, to give them on that account a definite rule according to which they should pattern and regulate their entire life.
Peter Kreeft’s words above are truer than we want to admit.
We too often set aside God’s truth, shutting it out, so we can serve gods that are not real. One of them is the pursuit of happiness at any cost. Most of our sins will fall into that category. One example, choosing to sleep in, because that will make our day go better, rather than getting up and praying before all else. Or if it is Sunday, getting up and going or participating online in a church service. Kreeft’s thief is another example. A third, the man or woman who would commit adultery either in deed or just in thought, because the sex might be better than it is with their partner.
Sin sets aside our God-given identity, choosing to be ignorant of who we are.
The law confronts that worshiping non-existent gods, including the god of happiness, for sure. But it is often missed in the Christian. Rather than using it to establish the pattern of our lives, and to regulate that, we try to use it to externally discipline each other. We are great at pointing out others’ failures, others’ sins, but not so great at truly addressing our own. When we do, we usually beat ourselves up, fall into depression, and do not really change anything.
I find the key to this, when I remember it, in the words of the Apostle Paul. The part where he says what is better still. God knows you!
God knows you.
He cares for you.
God loves you!
That challenge is convincing you of that.
You see, before you knew God before you were united with Jesus, you were someone different. But that all changed when God came to you and baptized you, joining you to Jesus in His death and resurrection. (See Col. 2) We need to know that we need to stop setting it aside for this sin or that one. We need to celebrate that salvation with joy, recognizing who we are because of it.
The children God loves.
That is why Lutherans and Catholics and Orthodox make the sign of the cross when we pray, or when they start the day. The reason should be to remember the cross, to remember that they were saved there, as Jesus hung there and died…and with Him, they died to rise to a new life. It needs to be done, (and I will admit it is not… often) with reverential thought, remembering our identity that was established there.
Remembering, we are defined by this very thought. God knows us.
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 65.
Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997)521.
Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 479–480.
Devotional Thought for the Day:
8 Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.
10 But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness 12 as you wait for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God. The heavens will be on fire and be dissolved because of it, and the elements will melt with the heat. 13 But based on His promise, we wait for the new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell.
14 Therefore, dear friends, while you wait for these things, make every effort to be found at peace with Him without spot or blemish. 15 Also, regard the patience of our Lord as an opportunity for salvation, just as our dear brother Paul has written to you according to the wisdom given to him. 2 Peter 3:8-14 HSCB
187 Listen to me carefully and echo my words: Christianity is Love; getting to know God is a most positive experience; concern for others—the apostolate—is not an extra luxury, the task of a few. Now that you know this, fill yourself with joy, because your life has acquired a completely different meaning; and act in consequence.
Patience is one of those things we don’t like to talk about. Simply put, it is something that is beyond us. Our culture thrives on impatience. Cell Phones (remember having to wait to get home to call someone?), DVR’s (so we can fast forward past the stuff we don’t like), microwaves and now insta-pots all serve our desire not to wait. We might try to justify it as “not wasting time” but in reality, it is our god of impatience that we continually try to find ways to serve.
Into this comes a passage about God’s patience, and the fact that He is patient with us, His people. He doesn’t want anyone to perish, to be destroyed on the day to come.
Be sure, all will be destroyed, this He has promised.
Judgment will happen, this too is promised. Some to be judged as lacking trust in God’s mercy, and therefore, trusting in themselves they stand condemned. And some, trusting in Christ’ intercession, in His death which erases our sin, and in His resurrection, which brings us to life, they will be judged righteous and welcomed into heaven.
So if God is patient with His church, and yet, will fulfill His word, we find the meaning of life as we imitate His. We, the church, need to be both patient and yet focused on drawing people to Jesus. For the day is coming.
It is hard to see the truth of the second coming without wanting to badger people, to not just draw them into Christianity, but to drive them into it, like a rancher driving his cattle. It takes the patience of a shepherd, who uses his voice and staff guides his flock and leads it into the presence of God. Or a parent guiding a child to learn to walk, and then ensures where they walk is safe.
This work requires love and thereby provides the new meaning in our lives.
To love those caught in sin, those in bondage to grief and shame, who are caught in selfishness and greed. This is the meaning of our lives, to love God, to love those whose lives are broken, and help them find the healing that is in Jesus, even while we heal ourselves.
God is with you.. never forget it, and help others know it. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 997-1000). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
10 and have put on the new self. This is the new being which God, its Creator, is constantly renewing in his own image, in order to bring you to a full knowledge of himself. Colossians 3:10 (TEV)
871 Tell him slowly: Good Jesus, if I am to be an apostle, and an apostle of apostles, you have to make me very humble. May I know myself. May I know myself and know you. Then I will never lose sight of my nothingness.
875 Lord, help me to be faithful and docile towards you, sicut lutum in manu figuli, like clay in the potter’s hands. In this way it will not be I that live, but you, my Love, who will live and work in me.
Each of us suffers from a delusion about who we are.
Some of them are simply naive, the young kid who thinks they will be the next Tom Brady ( or in my day Roger Staubach), the beautiful lady who thinks she is too fat, the average guy, who believes he is God’s gift to women, or the person that believes they are worthless, and beyond hope.
We each live, caught in the maze of self-delusion. We don’t really know who we are, or what we are worth, or why we are worth anything.
This is one of the benefits of having a relationship with God; for as we are drawn closer to him, as He transforms us, our identity becomes clearer and clearer. An identity that finds contentment and serenity in knowing we are God’s creation, His masterpiece, the children He loves.
There is a paradox in this quest for self-awareness, in our search for the answer to “Who am I?” It requires an incredible amount of humility to realize the masterpiece (Eph 2:10) that we are. It requires that we intimately know and are aware of God here, in our lives. Not just the doctrine of His omnipresence, but the presence of God, the real, active, intimate presence of God in our lives.
That is what it means to have a full knowledge of God. We aren’t talking about theological knowledge, but moving with God, dancing with Him, confident of His presence and guidance. It is then, as He reveals Himself to us, that we realize what our transformation is going to result in when it is complete. Being in the image of God, not that we will be gods in our own right, but that we will have the qualities He has, especially the quality of being able to love purely. The transformation happens as God strips away those delusions, as He draws our eyes to Him, This is what Jesus meant when He taught, “25 For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for my sake, you will find it.” Matthew 16:25 (TEV)
Is this easy? Nah. We are still going to pick up our self-delusion, dust them off and try them on again. We will try to convince people are far better than we are. We are still going to battle what we’ve convinced ourselves of, that we have no worth. Which is why we don’t do this journey alone, it is why we have each other, pointing each other to Christ, reminding each other that God is at work and that He promised all things work for good for those who love God.
He is with you, and the more you know that the more you can cry out to Him, and have the confidence that He listens, answers, does and transforms you!
So relax, stop trying so hard to find yourself, relax and realize He is your God. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 3091-3094). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our days…..
19 If our hope in Christ is for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone else in the world. 1 Corinthians 15:19 NCV
18 We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like him. This change in us brings ever greater glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18b NCV
Paradoxically, a widespread decline in traditional religious practice in the West runs parallel with an ever-increasing hunger for spirituality. The question at the forefront of most of the great spiritual classics used to be “What or who is God?” Nowadays the characteristic question of the contemporary spiritual seeker is more likely to be “Who am I?” Great Christian teachers of the past such as Julian of Norwich understood quite clearly that these two questions are inextricably linked.
And I saw very certain that we must necessarily be in longing and in penance until the time we are led so deeply into God that we verily and truly know our own soul. (a quote from Phillip Sheldrake’s Spirituality and Theology in Webber’s text The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life) (1)
850 In your heart and soul, in your intelligence and in your will, implant a spirit of trust and abandonment to the loving Will of your heavenly Father… From this will arise the interior peace you desire. (2)
Who Am I?
I’ve been trying to answer that question for as long as I can remember. I see som many others trying to answer it as well.
Who is God?
Most people don’t bother to ask this, and those who do pursue it with an academic passion that is absolute, and yet nearly impossible to communicate to others simply. (this is why we develop creeds and confessions, statements of belief and doctrinal texts, and then wonder why they don’t sell as well as novels and religious fluff)
Some might even try to describe this in general terms as Webber’s citation seems to above. The older folk are more concerned with proving beyond a shadow of a doubt who God is (or isn’t) and the younger (gen X and Millennials ) struggling with who we are.
And without both questions being asked, neither is ever truly answered.
And in asking both at the same time, as Julian of Norwich and Augustine and Luther did, as Webber is trying to ask, we find the answer. In that answer is the hope and peace that we so need.
We can only define God in terms of His relationship to us, as our Creator, Redeemer, the One who makes us Holy, the One who loves us and is our Father, Brother, Friend, Counselor, Encourager, Comforter.
We only find out who we really are when we are defined by God, as He ministers to us. We may not like to hear it, but we have no identity outside of our identity to Him, our identity in Him.
it is in that definition of “who am I” that I find out I am loved, cared for, guided, That GOd is transforming us into the very image of Jesus, to be like Him, yet to be ourselves. And yet this definition, this transformation is far more than we know, for it is an eternal transformation.
Paul isn’t joking when He says without the resurrection we are a hopeless group of people. For a life trusting in God is not just about this life, and the change takes our entire life to begin to see. It may mean we live in hardship, it will mean that we deny ourselves, abandoning ourselves into the hands of the Lord whose love for us is seen in the scars on His hands.
Spend some time there, at the cross. Spend some more time there, at the altar, examining yourself and knowing how desperately you need Him, and the fact, HE IS HERE! And we will be with Him Forever! Everything we are in life flows from Him, and it is glorious and real, and now, and yet even more to come!
The answer to Who is God?
He is your God
Who are you?
You are His!
So live life, based on these words: He is our God, we are His People! AMEN!
(1) Webber, Robert E. The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006. Print. Ancient-Future Series.
(2) Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 3487-3489). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.