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Following Jesus is Never Easy…Yet….

Devotional THought fo the Day:
3  So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak? Hebrews 2:3 (NLT)

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 4:8-9 (NLT)

668      The first Twelve, too, were foreigners in the lands where they taught the Gospel. They came up against people who were building the world on foundations diametrically opposed to Christ’s doctrine. Look: despite these adverse circumstances, they knew that they had been entrusted with the divine message of the Redemption. And so the Apostle cries, “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1)

One of the blessings I have, is working with “young” guys in ministry.

Some are actually young, in their 20’s and 30’s.  Some are just young in ministry, men in their 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s whom God is calling to do more, to come to the aid to their pastors, and even to become pastors themselves.  (Three will be ordained this year!)

But everyone is in ministry, everyone has the vocation (the role) of being someone God has sent into the world, wherever they are at, to live a life that reflects the love of Christ.

That may seem like a heavy burden, especially in striving to keep focused as Paul says, on that which is of Christ.  It is especially hard in a world like ours, where we can think we are doing well, because we aren’t as bad as the rest of the world. yet we create our own idols, our own sacred cows, and in doing so, we ignore our salvation.   Idol making is not something that starts deliberately, neither does approving of immorality.

Yet we do live in a world that opposes holiness, that calls what is wrong and sinful, right and spiritually healthy. Even when we do it among other believers. How can we call people to the peace God has planned for them, unless we show them the need for the Holy Spirit to bring them to repentance?  How can we be healed, unless we recognize our brokenness?  Not just the brokenness caused by this sin, or by that…but all brokenness?  (As Luther said, unless we preach against real (our) sin?)

We have to share the gospel, not from obligation, but from need, and because we love those who need it. This includes ourselves.  We need to know God’s grace, we need to realize that He has saved us, that He has saved us from our sin, yeah – even that one.

Ours.

By “we” i don’t mean pastors and priests, or church workers… I mean all of those who believe and trust in jesus, who know God is at work.

May we as well encourage people to keep their eyes on Christ and not ignore our being saved!

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2456-2460). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Why Are We Satisfied With GIGO? (garbage in – garbage out)

Devotional Thought of the Day:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

7  But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless. 8  Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ 9  and to know that I belong to him. I could not make myself acceptable to God by obeying the Law of Moses. God accepted me simply because of my faith in Christ. 10  All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised him to life. I want to suffer and die as he did, 11  so that somehow I also may be raised to life. Philippians 3:7-11 (CEV)

8  In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.Philippians 4:8 (TEV)

65         Once again you had gone back to your old follies!… And afterwards, when you returned, you didn’t feel very cheerful, because you lacked humility. It seems as if you obstinately refuse to learn from the second part of the parable of the prodigal son, and you still feel attached to the wretched happiness of the pig-swill. With your pride wounded by your weakness, you have not made up your mind to ask for pardon, and you have not realised that, if you humble yourself, the joyful welcome of your Father God awaits you, with a feast to mark your return and your new beginning. (1)

In the movie “Footloose”, there is a characterization of Christianity, or at least Christianity that used to be.

A Pharisaical legislative, in your face, take names Christianity where those that danced, or drank, or went to movies rated “PG” or worse were held up and scorned.  Where the rules of behavior were set in stone, and by golly, if you weren’t going to obey those rules, you were going to be tossed out.  If you questioned the rules, you were considered a rebel and someone to be watched.

A generation later, and perhaps we’ve gone the other way, yet are still “legislating” what is right and wrong.  Or more accurately, we are simply legislating everything as right, and banishing any thought of the idea of something being “wrong”.

The Pendulum has reached the other side of the swing,  This time, it has done what it rarely does – it has taken the church with it, gotten the church’s okay for what is vulgar, profane, sinful.  I look at my fb page and what I and others post, and am shocked.  Even if permissible, the things we post aren’t beneficial, (didn’t Paul say something about that?)

As one whose vocation, whose career deals with helping people in their brokenness, I see both these extremes as wrong. I have dealt, and continue to deal, with those damaged by these forms of legalism. The damage is horrendous, the pains are real, the broken families, broken marriages, broken friendships, broken people just mount up,

The ways that would excuse and/or justify any behavior, and the kind that would force behavior modification.

That’s not how it works in scripture, for like the old computer rule, these tactics focus on negative behavior – and even taking them in leads to sin.  Garbage in, garbage out.  Both ways do this – one by approving it, the other by making it tempting and looking good, in the very way we forbid it.

Holiness is something else though.  It is abandoning all of these behaviors, not because we are forced too, but because we realize their value compared to the value of knowing Jesus, to knowing the love of God, to knowing His comfort and peace.

Paul’s idea of Phil. 4 – about concentrating on the “good stuff” isn’t law – it is 100% gospel, when you hear it with chapter 3 still fresh in your mind.   Because those things he says to focus on are found in the presence of God. They are God’s nature. They lead us to adore Him, to want to be like Him, and in Him finding the strength to that which is positive. The more we see this, the less desirous the life of the prodigal will be, the more we realize the grip of sin was broken at the cross.  There is something about that cross, about the crucifixes and crosses we have, that remind us of His love, of His devotion, of that which is unlike anything else we can now.

Will we see God’s glory for what it is? Will we walk with the Lord?  Will we realize the garbage that we feed on daily for what it is, and leave it behind to know the love of God?

Lord have mercy on us, and help us to desire you in our lives, and therefore find the holiness that is found in your peace.

 

(1)   Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 490-495). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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