Thursday, January 30, 2020
Saturday, January 25, 2020
OUR LORD JESUS began teaching the Beatitudes to his disciples by saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” , we note that in telling the event over against that told in the Gospel According to Luke, Saint Matthew was unique... so much so that we clearly hear the words “in spirit.”
You see, the faith of Matthew’s church has taught us about spiritual oppression…. the heavy, life-sapping weight of comprehensive human sin upon our lives. By saying that the poor in spirit are blessed, through Matthew, Jesus revealed to those who would listen… that God cared about their poverty in being entrapped by sin. God cared that their spirits were crushed so badly that they felt unable to come before him in either the synagogue or
Thus Jesus spoke to those who, independent of their economic or societal position… felt the great impoverishment of being convicted… and placed far from God.
Jesus spoke particularly to his followers who knew the spiritual poverty in their lives. Consequently, Jesus spoke "blessed" both verb and noun. Those who were being blessed were to become the Blessed. In the future, in a location not too far from that hillside, the disciples would know that God considered them as worthy of forgiveness. God would empower them with His Word, and that Word was and still is Jesus Christ our Lord. God would give them His Spirit.
You see, through the Holy Spirit given as a gift, those who had been poor became exceedingly rich, in knowing that God had claimed them as His own. Even though the world about them, the world that measures worth by income, social status, race, sex and ritual cleanliness... the world which had which had often rejected them, God graced them with His presence.
Almighty God, through Christ Jesus our Lord, stood teaching personally in their midst. Now we who are also poor in spirit, yet listen to and read His words in the Bible. Through those words, we who know the spiritual poverty of our own sinfulness, are subsequently given the power of the Holy Spirit to realize that God speaks to us directly.
By the power of the Word, God convicts us… God drives us to seek salvation God drives us to realize our poverty… and most importantly God gives us the knowledge that we have been saved by grace through faith given to us in Jesus Christ, our Lord. We who are the poor in spirit, are thus made rich beyond measure. Indeed, “Blessed are the poor… you shall see the kingdom of God.
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Now, may the Peace of God that surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. AMEN
Monday, January 13, 2020
Friday, December 27, 2019
Tuesday, December 17, 2019
|Want To Know Power?|
WHENEVER we Christians talk about the character of God to family, friends and acquaintances, we perpetually struggle for proper words. However, this task is not just a modern one. The Church has for several millennia tussled with this important conversation.
The pursuit of providing explanation to the sinful world around us has long been known as “apologetics”. To me, this fancy word describes the feeling that I get down deep in my innards as I witness about God to others… for I know that we must apologize firsthand… for all words fall short of that which the Spirit has taught us.
As we collectively try to explain, we often come up with three basic descriptions. First, we offer that God is infinitely powerful. We say that in order to create, and keep creating everything that exists in this ever expanding universe… and beyond, requires a power that far exceeds our comprehension.
Second, and no less important, we say that God is all knowing… to the deepest comprehension possible. God is so wise that the divine wisdom is the source of all knowledge.
Finally, we say that God is always present. God is eternal, and thus is not confined by our human constructs of measured nanoseconds, seconds, minutes, hours, days.., etc. In describing the immeasurable, even in our so-called advances in modern science, we find that we've only rubbed the surfaces of God’s infinite power, knowledge and eternity. That is because of our created finitude.
How then can we grasp the immensity of God? How can we communicate concerning the divine Being. By ourselves, we finite intellectuals cannot fathom the Infinite. However, thanks be to the Holy Spirit of God, the answer is found easily. The answer is supplied through words that are holy, defined as “set apart”. Through these set apart words supplied by God to people who have been chosen to reveal the divine will for us, God communicates to all who will by the power of the Spirit lift their heads and inquire. This happens in spite of our finitude and frail nature. As example, consider Moses as told in the Book of Exodus. Empowered, he tried to tell his people about our infinite God…
Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’
Thus persons, both male and female have since been called “prophets”. They spilled forth God’s name. The only problem for us is… the prophets were merely human… sinful humans like ourselves who were chosen by God to reveal the divine presence to the rest of humanity.
|Not Quite Perfect?|
What did God do about their human imperfections? Through the Spirit of God, the prophets, like Isaiah, Jeremiah and John… were empowered to preach faithfully and point beyond themselves to One who was to come. Yet there were some who still would not hear. God then, using infinite power, knowledge and presence, when the time was right… when the time was PERFECT… sent his WORD into this world to be with us. The perfect Word which speaks all things into existence, became a human being... born into our midst.
In describing this, Lutherans state in the Augsburg Confessions that
"We unanimously hold and teach, in accordance with the decree of the Council of Nicaea, that there is one divine essence, which is called and which is truly God, and that there are three persons in this one divine essence, equal in power and alike eternal: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.
All three are one divine essence, eternal, without division, without end, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, one creator and preserver of all things visible and invisible."
Yes… we consequently say to you that the Infinite became finite for us. Jesus, who is the Word of God… was born in lowly estate. Born from the flesh of a human mother, he came to us as fully God and fully human.
“Impossible” you say? Then I say you do not realize the power of God.
“Not so!” some claim. If this is your rebuttal, then you do not knowledge of God
I say to you, “Indeed it is true! All things are possible with God. If you wonder, “Why would our infinite God do such a marvelous things as to be born into this sin-polluted world? Why would Jesus grow up to teach us, heal us, and die for our salvation upon a Roman cross?” That, dear friend by the power of the Holy Spirit… is easy to answer. If you truly wish to know... if you are truly ready to to hear... I ask you to find a Bible, open it… and read from the Gospel According to John, Chapter 3, verse 16.
Then through the Word made flesh, may forgiveness and blessings of Almighty God rest upon you forevermore.
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