Jesus IS the Answer

“I grew weary of sinning before God grew weary of forgiving my sin.”~~Teresa of Avila

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Good morning. It is Saturday, October 4, 2014. Five days until we go to Paluxy River Bed Cabins!

Today is Ship In A Bottle Day. I have the utmost respect for anyone who has the skill and patience to do that.

I had an interesting, even somewhat humorous, experience at work yesterday. There’s this manager (my boss’s boss), and I have really not liked him very much at all. We had a meeting with him yesterday afternoon. During the meeting, he made some comments about being sad that the Patriots were playing so badly, during the early football season. Now, I’m not really a Patriots fan, although many people assume I will be. Nevertheless, I had to ask the question. After the meeting, I approached him.

“So you like the Patriots, eh? Do you like baseball at all?”
“Yes, I like baseball!”
“Who’s your baseball team?”
I cringed for the answer.
“The Red Sox!!”
Arrgh!!!
I shook his hand. We talked. He hasn’t liked them nearly as long as I have, as he pretty much followed Curt Schilling over from the D-backs in the early 2000s. But he and his son continued to like them after that.

Later, I saw my boss.

“I take back all the bad things I’ve ever said about ____________!”
“Why?”
“He’s a Red Sox fan!.”
“That doesn’t mean you have to like him.”
“Yes, it does. That’s how the Red Sox Nation rolls!”
And it is. Any fan of the Red Sox is a friend of mine.

Tonight, we have our usual Saturday schedule for The Exchange Church. Our “Anchor” prayer gathering is at 4:45, followed by our worship service at 5:45. If you’re in the northeast part of Tarrant County, come check us out. I have a Pastoral Assist Team meeting after church tonight.

Tomorrow is wide open, which means a literal “day of rest.”

(Source: Christian History Institute)

It was on this date in 1582 that Teresa of Avila died. Her story is quite remarkable, and there is a good synopsis of it at the link above. It seems that she ran away, with a brother, to the “land of the Moors,” when she was seven years old, because she wanted to die a martyr. Fortunately for the world, her uncle stopped her. At one point in her life, she said, “I grew weary of sinning before God grew weary of forgiving my sin.” I hope I will be able to say the same thing someday.

Today’s birthdays include Alicia Silverstone, Susan Sarandon, Bill Fagerbakke, Charlton Heston, Liev Schreiber, Rutherford B. Hayes, Rachael Leigh Cook, Buster Keaton, Anne Rice, Jackie Collins, Tony Larussa, Alvin Toffler, Dick Tracy (yes, that Dick Tracy), Dottie West, Lori Saunders, Armand Assante, Jered Weaver, and Kurt Suzuki.

Alvin Toffler is an author, probably most famous for his 1970 futuristic book, Future Shock. He also wrote The Third Wave, released in 1980. He was born on this date in 1928, making him 86 years old today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

(From The Divine Hours)

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
Psalm 57:8
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
Psalm 31:5
O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.
I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!

Psalm 116:16-19
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Today’s Gospel Reading

And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—”Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.
Matthew 9:1-8

I’m assuming (possibly incorrectly) that this is the same story in which the friends of the paralytic take apart the roof of the house because they couldn’t get in, and then lower their friend into the room where Jesus is. For some reason, Matthew leaves out that detail, being simply more concerned with the healing and the words that Jesus spoke. We must note what Jesus deems more important. He speaks forgiveness of sin before he heals the man. He then makes the incredible statement that he does, indeed, have the authority to forgive sins, and promptly tells the man to “rise, pick your bed and go home.” Interestingly, this caused fear in the hearts of the people who observed.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “How To Win.” (It is actually yesterday’s, but good enough to not skip.)

“My brother or sister, if you live out of the center, you win. On a given day you might be more depressed than anything else, but when your life is hidden with Christ in God, you win. The roof might collapse, the empire may crumble, you may be transferred to Pago Pago, but with Christ in you, your hope of glory, you win.” There may be any number of things going through your head while you listen to the weekly sermon; “but if you live out of the center on and off during the day, you win.” God isn’t looking for medals, or diplomas, or any honor that may have been bestowed upon you by men. “All you may have are your wounds and your last shred of hope. But with the risen victorious Jesus at the center of your life, you win. That was all the early Christian community had against Jerusalem, Rome, and Athens – and the Christians won. That’s not rhetoric; that’s history. They had only Jesus, and we keep thinking we need something else.”

I love that last sentence. There is so much truth to it. If I could only memorize a few more scriptures. If I could only go a week without sinning. If I could just pray more frequently, or more consistently. NO! I have Jesus, and that’s all I need! Why do I keep thinking I need something else?

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time
are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Romans 8:18

Father, thank you for Jesus. He is truly all I need. As cliche as it sounds, Jesus really is the answer to everything. I pray that I stop looking elsewhere, even in things that are “spiritual” in nature. Yes, I need to pray, that is commanded of me, and it is the ministry that you have me involved in right now. But prayer is not the key to my spiritual victory or significance. Jesus is the answer. Yes, I need to live a more holy life, but that is not the answer. Jesus is the answer. It’s not a bad idea to memorize verses from the Bible that have special meaning to me, or that encourage me. But that is not the answer for my life. Jesus is the answer! Drill that into me, Father! May that become the cry of my life, every hour, every day, every week, for the rest of my life.

I pray for this day. Father, I pray especially for Stephanie right now. You know what’s going on, and I pray that you protect her from cyber-bullies. She has such a heart of compassion and kindness, but she is so gullible, Lord. Please hold her in your arms.

May our worship time tonight be pleasing to you. May our praise and prayers be like incense, rising up to your presence. Fill us with your Spirit, open our ears to what the Spirit would say to us about our “treasure” and the way we use it. Give us good rest for the rest of the weekend.

Your grace is sufficient.

He truly is all we need.

Grace and peace, friends.

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