Devotional thought of the Day:
1 I urge you, Timothy, as we live in the sight of God and of Christ Jesus (whose coming in power will judge the living and the dead), to preach the Word of God. Never lose your sense of urgency, in season or out of season. Prove, correct, and encourage, using the utmost patience in your teaching. 2 Timothy 4:1 (Phillips NT)
110 Rest assured: when you work for God, there are no difficulties that cannot be overcome, nor discouragements that will make you abandon the task, nor failures worthy of the name, however unfruitful the results may seem. (1)
There are times life seems to difficult, the challenges to overwhelming, making progress seems impossible, and even maintaining where we are at, doubtful.
This is especially true for those who walk with God, who look at the world that Jesus sends us to bring the message of His love to, even as the Father sent Jesus.
We hear stories, like that of the lady in Britain who will have an abortion, so that she can appear on a reality television show. ( She’s publicized it, which will put the reality show in a tough spot – will they re-issue the invite? It will gain them publicity – but…)
But I don’t even have to go that far to see the challenges faced in this world. The couple that gets married, but brings too much baggage from prior relationships, the person who is dealing with so much resentment in one relationship that it poisons other relationships, the pastor who is challenged by not seeing any changes in his people., that they haven’t grow in the two, or ten, or twenty years, Is there a point where we should give up? Where we stop giving them the answers that point them to Jesus Christ? Is there a point where we come to the conclusion that it just isn’t worth the sacrifice anymore?
Or do we turn to “life coaches”, new programs, spend great deals of money trying to find a way to have measurable success? There are enough programs out there, enough guru’s and experts and consultants, to last a lifetime.
Or do we stick to our guns, keep things just the way they are, taking great pride in our stubbornness, even in the face of defeat. After all, one can serve faithfully even if it makes us miserable, the point is being faithful, right?
Faithfulness on our end is not about giving up, or finding the miracle program/person, or even sticking to our idea of being faithful. It is about having faith, trusting that God has told us to go, but that there will be seasons of life, and seasons of ministry that are barren like winter, some are like the rapid growth of spring, others like the dog days of summer, and others where the beauty of fall shows the glory of God, and the value of being patient. In each of those seasons, our work is to point to Jesus, to His love, to correct those that are veering away from it,
We should evaluate our messages, our work, how we prove and correct and encourage others to look to Jesus. To trust in Him, not in us or to a style of ministry or worship. But all that work has to be done with patience, knowing that in each of us, there is the struggle of sinners and saints. That is our key, patience that is born in our faith in God, in our confidence that He is reigning, that He is in charge.
It’s hard, very hard. We are like the rest of the world, we want to do what we want. But when we trust in God, when we know we can focus on Him, we begin to see those promises revealed in our midst. Luther, a man who struggled through many dry seasons, and many were life seemed forgotten said it well, as he wrote about the Lord’s prayer:
Truly, God’s good and gracious will is accomplished without our prayer. But we pray in this request that is be accomplished among us as well. (2)
His will, will be accomplished. It will, we have that promise. Yet we need to know it is being accomplished here, in our midst, in our presence. (and it helps a lot to see the role we play in this -even if minimal) We have to trust God – and keep focused on Him – even if that simply means praying the Kyrie.
Patience is the same kind of trust we have in the Lord, that He will deliver us, it is the faith that sees God revealing to us His love and mercy…
Struggling? Look to Him. things not working our – Look to Him…
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 661-662). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2) Luther’s Small Catechism: Developed and Explained.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
12 My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. 13 The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them. 14 And you are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name. 17 This, then, is what I command you: love one another. John 15:12-17 (TEV)
100 I am not the apostle I should be. I am… too timid. Could it not be that you are fainthearted, because your love is small? It is time to change! (1)
Yesterday my blog post was the 666th post on this blog. It happened to be my Easter Sunday sermon, an odd “coincidence.”
I posed the question on Facebook, about whether I should post a Easter Sermon with post #666, or just post a blank post there. As I noted in the question, I had already decided my response to the oddity, but I thought posing the question would make for a good learning experience. One of my friends, a devout atheist (and I use “devout” purposefully) indicated I shouldn’t, as did one other. Some of the others encouraged, even dared me too, two noting that superstition should have no place in the consideration. A response, which seemed with such certainty, such fervor, that it almost seemed counter-superstitious. I must, some seem to assert, post it to prove that superstition had no hold over me. That almost seems superstitious!
I asked the question, partially from curiosity, and partially because it resonated with my sermon. The sermon was a discussion about faith in God, about trusting in Him, and worshiping Him, and no other gods. To revel, to find great joy and peace that we are encrypted, hidden with Christ in God; even as we walk our journeys in this world with Christ. To keep our eyes on Christ in the heavenly places, to know His work redeeming us is done, yet He continues to work within us, as the Holy Spirit conforms us to the image of Christ,
The image of love. Bringing us to the point where we truly begin to love one another, including those whom we struggle with, not just being challenged to love them, but even to like them. To realize that this is possible, as we look to Christ, as we keep our minds on heavenly things, to trust God with everything we are, to turn to Him, not only when the burdens overwhelm us, but even in the simple things. As a simple bread making monk once put it, we need to practice the presence of God. To be so confident of His love, that all other things are dealt with, while residing in His love, while residing in His peace.
That is when we see that everything has a spiritual component, Making bread, talking to our neighbors, working, being a husband, a father. Whatever the place where God has guided us to, whatever role, becomes a place of love, for He is there with us.
It is this kind of growth, this need to depend on God, and the confidence that grows in His presence, that leads us from a form of “religious superstition” to a “religious faith”. That means we know we don’t have to be anxious about 666 or making sure our actions and thoughts conform to some man-made expectation, some man-made ritual, Because we know, intimately know, God’s heart, we know He secures our salvation, that He is our Hope, and our Way. That Easter provides for us a remembrance on the depth of His love, the insight to how we live, as we trust in Him above all things. As we realize He is God, and therefore we don’t have to be. We can count on Him to be our deliverer, our savior, the One who is our master, our protector.
Where we live in awe of His love, not in superstitious fear.
A relationship, where His faithfulness assures us of what we need, to be able to live freely, to love. Rather that being paranoid about every move we make….
Lord, we trust in You, help us to trust You!
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 628-630). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Treasuring God’s Gifts:
You’ve Been Raised to New Life! So Set Your Eyes on God Alone
Exodus 6:1-6, Col. 3:1-4
In Jesus Name
As we think about the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah, because we know of the Grace of God our Father, may we realize it is our resurrection as well, and knowing that, may we live life focused on Him.
Jesus is the Way….
One of the things I am in awe of, is the way in which Jesus deals with those who doubt, especially those who are bluntly, like the Apostle Thomas. With one exception, Thomas is always pictured as the one who doubts, the one who struggles with his faith in God.
Each time we see Thomas struggling, Jesus turns it into a moment to minister to Thomas, to strengthen Thomas, to build his confidence that God is at work. Because the gospels record the words of some of these circumstances, Jesus ministers to us as well. One of those stories is seen in John’s gospel, chapter 14.
Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. John 14:5-6 (NLT)
We talk about those words a lot, or at least we quote them, usually in regards to conversations about providing that Jesus is the only way to the Father. Or that it is “His way or the Highway”. Today though, we are going, in view of His death and resurrection, we are going to see that this is literally true, and not just figuratively….
That Paul’s words to the church in Colossians, and the words recorded by Moses in Exodus, are talking about this very thing.
That because Jesus is the way, because we’ve been raised to new life in Him
The Decalog –
The LAW I’ve Rescued you, I am God – No other God’s
We’ve been travelling through the decalog, through what we commonly call the Ten Commandments since Ash Wednesday. As we’ve gone through each, we’ve realize that God didn’t give the commandments to restrict our lives, but to show us how we live life in Him, a life God considers and makes a masterpiece.
We finally get to the beginning, to the core of the message, to the one that resonates with the fact that jesus is “the Way.” The first word that we usually hear as, “THOU SHALT NOT HAVE ANY OTHER GODS BEFORE ME.
We always hear it with a deep rumbly voice reminiscent of James Earl Jones, or maybe Darth Vader, going onto describe all the ways in which we create false gods, all the ways we create idols, and worship the things which we create.
Luther was correct in talking about the close connection between worshipping these idols, these false gods, and our putting our trust in them. For surely he points out – that is what an idol is, what we primarily trust with our lives. We put our trust in all sorts of things to bless us, to bring us peace, to protect us, to prosper us.
An idol is what we run to first in times of trial, it is where we find the support we need to keep on going, that which is bigger than us, even if we have to lie to self and say we can do it on our own.
We may not make our idols out of wood or clay or stone any longer, but that doesn’t make them any more reliable. The are the things that run our lives, that we give power over us, that convince us that we will make it, that we shall survive this and that we might even prosper
Money can be our God, or some possession. Perhaps a relationship, or even a vision of what our life should be like and what it takes to serve that vision. Paul touches on it, when he tells the church folk in Colossae to set their sight on Heaven, on God’s reality. For idols grab out attention, they put a lockdown, a stranglehold on our hearts and minds. These things cause envy, they division, they cause pain and unfaithfulness, they wreck out relationships, they cause us to distrust and dishonor authorities, they rob us of rest, and distract us on calling God for help.
Idolatry, having these other gods, including the god of self, lies at the heart of every other sin we have to deal with in our lives. Idols can obscure and attempt to destroy the masterpiece God has planned for our lives.
You don’t need any other God: I AM HE
No wonder he says, “Have no other gods,”
He doesn’t want us damaged by them, when they prove to be not our creator, but our creations. God wants more than just well-behaved people who hide their brokenness. He wants His kids, even if that means cleaning up their mess at the cost of Jesus.
Remember when I said the commandment was far more than just the “Have no other gods?”
The first word, the first “commandment” starts with the bold text in verse 2 of Exodus 20.
2 I am GOD, your God, who saved you out of the land of Egypt, out of a life of slavery. 3 No other gods, only me.
Eqypt, the land of 1000 gods, the land where even the King, the Pharoah was considered a god. We’d never do that, would we? Egypt, the land of idols, and idolatry.
The land of sin.
What is your Egypt? What is the earthly place where sin rules, where temptation gets you, where life isn’t truly living, because you live in captivity. What is it that in dieing and rising Jesus you’ve been rescued from?
He has rescued us, it has happened, He has sent Jesus to die, not just to pay for the sins which divide us from Him, but because as we are united to Him, in His death and resurrection, we are united to God and brought into the presence of God.
That is why Paul tells us we are hidden with Jesus Christ and therefore in God. I love the Greek there – the word hidden is the word we get encrypted, We are guarded protected, and even all of the hackers in the world can’t corrupt what God’s given us.
That is why we set our eyes on heavenly things – because that is where we are in Christ – that is where life is, where reality is. We are the children of God, raised with Christ Jesus, just as our sin was put to death with Him at the cross. We trust Him at His promise, we know that what we deal with here is simply temporary, but reality is lived united to Christ. Saved from the idols, sure, but raised to live in the presence of God Almighty
We have no other go because we don’t need one… we have the God who came to us, made himself known to us.
You, revealed with Hm in Glory!
Because of the cross and resurrection
Jesus is not just a way, He didn’t set us on the way, but He is the way we get to the Father. We get to the Father because we are united to Him, and travel with Him through His death and resurrection. in Him we encounter the holiness of God, the glory of God.
That is why this day, as we celebrate the fact that God has raised Jesus is so critical. In Him we died to sin, in Him we have been raised to life. The resurrection is more than just history, because we find life in Christ. United to Him we are brought to the Father… where we are revealed to be the very children of God…where we find ourselves being healed of our brokenness.
That’s the promise of our lives, it has been since our baptism.
He is our way, our truth and our life…. And because of that, Paul can tell us
4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.Colossians 3:4 (NLT)
All His glory, revealed as the place where we shall be, for this is what we’ve been promised, it is why we are hidden and protected, encrypted in Christ.
So look to Him, keep focused on God, know Him, trust these promise of God. For there is His indescribable glory, we find His indescribable peace, a peace that keeps us there… for we are encrypted, hidden in Christ.
For Alleluia, He is risen
And therefore….we are risen indeed!
Treasuring God’s Gifts!
He has Given Us the Right to Use His Name!
Exodus 20:7, Romans 10:11-17
In Jesus Name!
May the glory of the cross, the love of God revealed, remind you that you are children of God, and can therefore cry out to the Father!
We have almost completed our journey through the Decalogue, through the masterpiece God makes of our life, so beautifully described in words we normally call the Ten Commandments. The journey where we have not heard them as hastily written words, given to cramp our style, to forbid fun.
Instead we remember to hear them as the words of God, which describe for us a way of life He considers His masterpiece.
On this day, when we hear Jesus cry out, “it is finished”, when we know of His cry, “Father, Into Your Hands I commit my spirit,” may we realize we can cry out to the Father, for that is why He has given us His name… to use.
The Third (4th) Word
The Third “word”, the “third commandment” is simple, “Do not use God’s name vainly” or to no good purpose. If we think it through, that command is simply a correction, a clarification to the idea that we are called to use God’s name.
For as we heard, all who call on the name of the Lord will be delivered, we will be saved.
There are people who misuse God’s name, using it basically in frustration, in anger, to condemn, to mock God, and often His people. That is sin.
There are also those who do not use His name at all, to lift others in prayer, to offer comfort, even the comfort of a glass of water, who do not care enough about others eternity to share God’s love with them, so they will know heaven and not hell. Those who do not use His name to reconcile, those who refuse to forgive – for that too is the proper use of His name, and to not do so, is sin.
Seeing the Gospel
When William was born, we were shocked by his pediatrician giving us her cell-phone number. She has a large office, and an incredible caseload. Over the years we’ve called it, and been surprised when we didn’t get a answering service, but that she answered it herself.
How many places can you call, where the boss picks up the phone? Never mind that, where a real person does.
Yet, God, Creator of the Universe, expects us to call out to Him, to give Him our burdens, to ask Him for forgiveness.
That is what the cross is all about, that is what this time and this place is all about.
God gathering His people here,
Gathering His people, marked by His name.
For Christ has been lifted up…..
We have been lifted up with Him.
Lifted up into His presence, into His place of peace, The peace that goes beyond all understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN.
“It is Finished”
May you realize, not just what you have been separated from at the cross, but what you have been united to, for that is the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
One Word: Two Meanings
Have you ever heard someone, a teacher, your pastor, your spouse say something, and though you heard the words perfectly, you didn’t quite get what they are saying?
You heard them so well you could quote them back verbatim, and they would acknowledge you heard the words perfectly, but the message did not communicate? I hope you were smart enough NOT to do that by the way.
When we hear Jesus words, there are two ways of hearing it, “it is done away with….”, or ”it is completed”
The question is which we will hear,
and which we should hear…..
It is Finished!
The first way to hear these words, “It is finished”, is to consider all that has been dealt with, the bill that has been paid.
To think that sin has been made impotent, its power to cause guilt or shame has been eliminated.
The guilt and shame of being a sinner, wiped away in baptism, therefore the power of Satan’s accusation is no longer valid.
It is not that the Ten Commandments has been eradicated, it is that the curse for shattering them as we have, has been met. The terms of our relationship with God have been met.
In this man, beaten, brutalized and scorned, that the complete burden of sin has been placed.
The debt for our envy, the damage done by our gossiping about others, the pain caused by our desires, our lust, our thirst for revenge, for the times when we would play God, or use His name to get what we want, rather than find rest and our burdens revealed by him.
All that debt, all that pain, all that brokenness….
It is finished.
It is finished……
Yet it is more than that….
It is Consumated/Completed!
As I looked through the history of the church, I saw something more than what we’ve been separated from as the focus of these words. Augustine and the early church fathers used the equivalent of consummated, completed in regards to this phrase. It is consummated, it is complete, complete, it has been accomplished.
They talk not just of the payment of sins, our being freed from sin and the devil, and the power of death.
They talk of what we are freed to, that the Holy Ghost, which Christ surrenders here, would soon be breath out upon the church.
It is completed, the work Paul talks of in Ephesian 2:10
10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
It is there, at the cross of Christ, this work has been accomplished, we’ve been taken into Christ, united with His death,
And with the hope of the resurrection, with that which we shall celebrate on Sunday.
It is completed this work to bring us to the Father, who finds us righteous, who welcomes us, His children, into His presence. Sharing in His death, we now share in His resurrection.
That’s the point, what Jesus completed at the cross. It is the so what, that changes a historical story into something that matters here in Brea, in the life of every person here this afternoon, that should matter to everyone who is driving by this church, to every person listed among our Facebook friends. They all need to hear it – every person alive and every person that will be born until He come again. He has become the Way, the Truth and the Life, even as His head slumped, and He breathed His last breath.
We now can walk with Christ, we who trust in His work, who God has cleansed with water and the word.
Yes – He finished off all that would finish us off, but He completed that which He came to complete – to make for the Father a people who would be His, who would recognize Him as God their Father.
We have been united to Him, we dwell with Him, we are protected, our hearts and minds even as we dwell in the indescribable peace of God our Father.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
18 For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit. 19 In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, 20 who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. 21 This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him. 1 Peter 3:18-22 (NAB)
“Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell: The third day he rose again from the dead:” (1)
A conversation yesterday, between Good Friday Services, brought up the issue of what Jesus was doing, in the time between His death on the cross, and the Resurrection.
The people I was in dialogue with said he simply rested in the grave. They were using this to “prove” that everyone should worship on the Sabbath, during the time between Sunset on Friday, and Sunset on Saturday.
It brought up memories of my childhood, sitting in the pews at St. Francis in Lawrence, or St. Joes in Salem, and wondering about the line in the Apostle’s Creed above.
Why did Jesus have to descend to Hell? Wasn’t the suffering and death on the cross enough?
It bothered me greatly, and those I asked about it, had no answer. Which bothered me a little more. Would the Father let Jesus go to Hell, to suffer there for our sins? Why did He have to go?
I am not sure when I came across the verses in Peter’s epistle above, but they seem to settle the issue. Jesus didn’t go to Hell to suffer, but to preach, to proclaim the love of God, that He would die for the sin of the world. All sin. That those who trust in Him as their God, would know His salvation. it is not quite a victory parade, though it is to declare victory. And the gates of Hell cannot prevent it, Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One of God. He was sent, apostle’d to deliver to the Father, those who have, would, will become the children of God
The words about baptism are not remiss therefore, for it is in Baptism that we are united with the death of Christ, and with His Resurrection. Glorious events, worthy of praise, (yes the cross is glorious) for they show the depth of God’s love for us. Love that wouldn’t even let those imprisoned by sin not know of His love, of His grace. It is what takes those dead in sin, and makes them alive in Christ Jesus.
Which brings us back to the Sabbath, and the purpose of it.
It’s not about not working, for surely God is continually at work, sustaining the universe. And those of us, who preach, who lead worship, who do a myriad of things on Sunday (or Saturday – Romans tells us we have this Freedom) certainly are at work in the House of God. The Sabbath is about priority, teaching us to rest – not just from labor, but to rest in the presence of God. To be in awe of His love, to be aware of the depth of His love, that will even descend into hell to deliver the children of God to their home… with Him. That is why Paul says the sabbath is simply a foreshadowing of Christ, for it is in Him we truly find rest.
Even on a Saturday, while we prepare to celebrate the resurrection… Even here, the Lord of the Sabbath reigns, and because He does, we know we dwell in the Father’s peace, an indescribable peace, a peace that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
(1) The Apostles Creed
Devotional Thought of the Day:
23 Examine me, O God, and know my mind; test me, and discover my thoughts. 24 Find out if there is any evil in me and guide me in the everlasting way. Psalm 139:23-24 (TEV)
40 A man suffering from a dreaded skin disease came to Jesus, knelt down, and begged him for help. “If you want to,” he said, “you can make me clean.” 41 Jesus was filled with pity, and reached out and touched him. “I do want to,” he answered. “Be clean!” 42 At once the disease left the man, and he was clean. Mark 1:40-42 (TEV)
86 With God, I thought, every day seems more attractive. I can see “little bits” at a time. One day I notice some wonderful detail; on another, I discover a sight I had not seen before… At this rate, it is impossible to say what will happen next. Then, I noticed that He was reassuring me: “Your happiness will grow greater every day, for you will be drawn deeper and deeper into that divine adventure, into that great ‘complication’ with which you have become involved. And you will realise that I will never abandon you.”
A Crown of thorns, a thick “royal robe”, placed on a back that is raw from a whipping, Spikes hammered through each wrist, One more hammered through the ankles. Ankles already tired from carrying the beam up a mountain side.
People mocking Him, the people who called for His death, the people who once praised and followed Him, but followed Him hear for a different reason…..to watch Him suffer and die.
We were not able to cry out, as the man did at the beginning of Mark’s gospel. A cry that echo’s David’s cry in Psalm 139. Examine us! Make us clean – completely. If you desire to Lord, you can.
And He did. By hanging on the cross.
He cleansed us of every sin, He brought us into Himself – we share in that death – we hang there with Him, nailed to that cross in our baptism. We rise with Him as well, brought into His very glory.
We receive all His promises, He guards us, never abandoning us, never forsaking us, always there, always faithful. The promises that we find more and more of, as we plunge the scriptures, as we meet and pray and hear God’s word together. As we kneel at an altar, and receive the Body and Blood of Christ. These details, declaring God’s desire – that we are all transformed, that explain His patience…His will, what He did, for us, as Christ hung on that cross.
This day, as you consider the cross, as you consider that Jesus endured that pain, for the joy set before Him. The joy of bringing us into the Father’s glory.
And here His answer to you….. I do want to… be clean!
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 581-586). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
23 As for us, we proclaim the crucified Christ, a message that is offensive to the Jews and nonsense to the Gentiles; 24 but for those whom God has called, both Jews and Gentiles, this message is Christ, who is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:23-24 (TEV)
5 Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. 6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9 We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Romans 6:5-11 (NLT)
1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. Colossians 3:1-4 (NLT)
19 For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. 20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. Galatians 2:19-21 (NLT)
For the past thirty years, there has been a tendency to deal with Jesus, and especially the cross and the resurrection as a historical event. It is where they start, and Sunday there will be a lot of sermons that try to prove the resurrection.
But if that is all they do, if they engage people in “just the facts”, the message of Holy Week, the message of Christ’s death and resurrection will be overlooked. The heart of the message will be missed.
Re-read the passages above. There you hear that the Resurrection isn’t just about events 2000 years ago. They are events that are current, the proof is not just seen in the claims of Josephus or Eusebius, but in our very lives. We were there, or perhaps it is better to say we are there… our sins being laid on Christ, our lives being re-generated with His resurrection.
Because the death and resurrection, everything changes in our lives, the hope that we have for this life, and for the next is not some day dream possibility. It is the expectation based on the promises we have been given, the guaranty of that not being some historical proofs, but of something more – of a life filled with the Holy Spirit…
21 It is God himself who makes us, together with you, sure of our life in union with Christ; it is God himself who has set us apart, 22 who has placed his mark of ownership upon us, and who has given us the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the guarantee of all that he has in store for us. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (TEV)
The “all that He has in store for us” is not about wealth or fame or riches in this life, it is something far more. That we walk with Him now, that we are not just welcome in the presence of God, but that He desires us there, and draws us into His presence.
That just isn’t a historical event, it is something we live and breath. It is what establishes who we are, brings healing to who we were, and assures us of Christ’s presence in our lives.
Today on Holy Thursday,
Tomorrow as our hearts are found at the cross…
In times like Black Saturday, when we wonder if God is dead,
And on Sunday, as we realize we have risen with Him, just as He said!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. 1 Corinthians 1:23 (NLT)
20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. Galatians 2:20-21 (NLT)
70 You asked me if I had a cross to bear. And I answered, “Yes, we always have to bear the Cross.” But it is a glorious Cross, a divine seal, the authentic guarantee of our being children of God. That is why we always walk along happily with the Cross.
For some it is a piece of jewelry, or an art piece, and artifact.
For others, it is something they do not want to face, so they remove them from homes and sanctuaries. They may say it’s divisive, or that they are afraid of it becoming and idol. Even a barren cross is seen as too close, and so they are removed, taken away, hid in a closet or irreverently thrown in a dumpster.
But there is something about a crucifix, about looking at a portrayal of a body wracked with pain, the crown of thorns, the nails through the wrists and ankles, the eyes that through the pain look out upon us.
The reason for the cross.
To make us the people of God,
This is what God the Father gave the son to endure, because He loves us……
This is what Jesus endured, hating its shame, but for the joy set before Him…. the joy of seeing us rise with Him.
This is what the Holy Spirit testifies to, the very power of the gospel that can save us all…..
Christ dying for us… and His crucifixion – the place where we died to sin…. the place where the promise comes home, we have risen with Him as well.
As i go through this life, as I see the effect of sin devastating marriages, crushing families, as I see the challenges of this broken world strike us with disease, as I see us choose, again and again, to tear down, to let resentment build, to seek after something that will quench our pain for the moment, whether it be sex or drugs or the latest television binge. Escapes that mean little but a moment away. We need something more substantial, something more enduring.
We need to remember when God came into our lives, dwelt among us, and the glory of God, displayed on a cross. The love of God so incredible, so unbelievable, so needed. I need to stop and meditate on the wondrous love that would drive him there, to deliver us from all that assails us. Crosses, crucifixes serve to call us to that point, to remember the love of God…. to remember His work – even now at work in us.
It is “the” game changer, that brings light to darkness, that dispells evil, that brings peace into chaos.
I don’t think we need less reminders… but perhaps far more.
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 514-517). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 Remind the people to respect the government and be law-abiding, always ready to lend a helping hand 2 No insults, no fights. God’s people should be bighearted and courteous. Titus 3:1-2 (MSG)
13 Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; 14 they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. 15 It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. 16 Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. 17 Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government. 1 Peter 2:13-17 (MSG)
13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and some of the Herod-party to trap him in an argument. They came up and said to him, “Master, we know that you are an honest man and that you are not swayed by men’s opinion of you. Obviously you don’t care for human approval but teach the way of God with the strictest regard for truth – is it right to pay tribute to Caesar or not: are we to pay or not to pay?” 15 But Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said to them, “Why try this trick on me? Bring me a coin and let me look at it.” 16 So they brought one to him. “Whose face is this?” asked Jesus, “and whose name is in the inscription?” 17 “Caesar’s,” they replied. And Jesus said, “Then give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God!” - a reply which staggered them. Mark 12:13-17 (Phillips NT)
67 The scene of the parable is being repeated: it is the same as with those people who were invited to the wedding feast. Some are afraid, others have their own concerns, many… make up stories or give silly excuses. They put up resistance. That is why they feel the way they do: fed up, all in a muddle, listless, bored, bitter. And yet how easy it is to accept the divine invitation at every moment, and live a happy life, full of joy! (1)
It is April 15th, the day annual tax documents are do in the USA.
It’s also a day where we should confess our sins, and be absolved for them.
For disobeying the law, not man’s law (though some of us are guilty of that!), but God’s law. The law which tells us the government is something God has established as a blessing for us.
Now some of you are thinking – but the government uses our money for evil, the government is trying to persecute the church, the government is giving our hard earned dollars to those that do not deserve it, the government is, and the slander and disrespect goes on and on, without end. Unlike Jesus on the cross – who could have called down 10,000 angels while he was hanging on the cross, we want to call down God’s wrath on those who would take our idols, our Benjamins, Franklins and Lincolns. Heck we begrudge even the littlest Lincoln upon which the government has a claim.
Dare someone quote the words from scripture above, and ridicule and scorn will shift, from the government, to the one writing them. People (and pastors too) will start justifying their actions, and especially their words and their thoughts. In do so, they deny that sin occurs in thoughts and words, beside in the things we do. We toss our theology out the window – in order to protect the “rite” to free speech. Even when that speech is sinful.
It’s time to repent, its time to realize that in keeping the fourth commandment, (honor thy Father and Mother) that includes the blessing of the government God established, the government that has the right to tax us, and to set what those taxes are. It’s time to stop stealing, stop bearing false witness, to stop coveting our governments stuff. Instead we should pray for them, bless them respect them (and not just “the office).
We’ve got a much better thing to be doing, we can revel in the presence of God, we can rejoice at His love and mercy. That’s what it means to find our place in the wedding banquet, rather than in the marketplace complaining and slandering. It is what it means to live as forgiven, baptized children of God – to do things (like obeying the government) that we do – for God’s sake.
It’s a time for us to hear our sins are forgiven, that God has rescued us, that we no longer need to protect our idols.
It’s a day to know God’s mercy so well, the we show it to others….
May our Lord Jesus Christ walk with us this day, and may the Spirit of God, dwelling within us, empower us to keep these words above.
I am tired of it.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 500-505). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.