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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Close of the Commandments

Sad and glad.  That is what I am as the commandments come to a close.

I am sad because for the past ten weeks I have been meditating on these "ten words" - one per week.  Each one had something to give me.  Each one showed me how to love God or my neighbor.  They are more beautiful than I remember them.  More loving.  More practical.  And yet so deeply spiritual.  I'm going to miss them.

And I'm sad because I have missed the commandments, am missing them, and will always miss them.  That is, miss the mark.  As beautiful as they are, I begin to see only the ugliness of my sin.  The longer I spend with them, the shorter I know I have fallen (Rom. 3:23).  I feel sadness and fear to see myself as such a sinner.

But from the Close of the Commandments I see another word coming: Creed.  How glad it makes me!  How happily I will close the commandments and open the Creed, and discover the Trinity and all that God has done, is doing, and will do for me to rescue me from my sins!

What need I have for the Creed!  It is the need that makes me sad, but the Creed that makes me glad!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Ninth and Tenth Commandments

The Ninth and Tenth Commandments say, "You shall not covet."

But Covet has a mother and her name is Compare.  This means that before one can covet, he must first compare.  He must compare two things: what God has given him, and what God has given to another.  All coveting begins with comparing.  Even to compare your present situation with one you'd rather be in, soon leads to the sin of coveting: the desire to have what God has not given you.

Covet has a daughter and her name is Complain.  She has no friends.  Complaining is always the direct result of coveting, just as coveting is the direct result of comparing.  Hold in check your comparing and you will hold in check your coveting and complaining.

Replace all of these C's with Contentment.  She is the happy, beautiful daughter of faith and trust in God.  But do not stop at thanking God for what He has given you.  Thank Him especially for what He has given to others.  Pray that God will create in you this kind of heart.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Give

Perfect for the week between Pentecost Sunday and Trinity Sunday!  And the seven words of Pentecost?  COME, HOLY SPIRIT, AND FILL OUR HEARTS!

"...the forgiveness of sins" (Third Article).

The Gospel, in every way, is about the word give.  It shows up in the central teaching of Christianity: Forgiveness.  And the entire Gospel can be grasped by asking and answering five questions.

1. What (or whom) does the Father give?  Answer: the Son.

2. What does the Son give?  Answer: His life.

3. What (or whom) do the Father and the Son together give?  Answer: the Holy Spirit.

4. What then does the Holy Spirit give?  Answer: Faith, hope, and love into our hearts.  [Faith that sees the cross, hope that sees the resurrection, and love that sees one another and all people.]

5. And finally what does love give?  Answer: Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Now give these five questions a little bit of your time this week, remembering the seven words of the crucified-risen Jesus: "Take heart, child, your sins are forgiven" (Matt. 9:2).

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Advent Never Really Ended

"God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet" (Ps. 47:5).

I chose this verse of Psalm 47 for two reasons: today is the forty-seventh day of Easter, and we are still celebrating Christ's Ascension into Heaven on the fortieth day.

There are forty-nine Easter Days (seven sevens), and so Saturday will be the last.  But as I told my people last evening, Easter doesn't really end.  It just turns into Pentecost.  Pentecost marks the "birthday" of the Church.  The word itself means "fiftieth," because Pentecost and its season follow the forty-nine days of Easter.

Who remembers Advent, the first season of the Church Year, way back in December?  Advent never really ended.  It just turned into Christmas.  Christmas, too, never really ended.  It just turned into Epiphany.  And Epiphany into Lent.  And Lent into Easter.

Soon Easter will turn into Pentecost.  And the seven words of Easter (Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!) will turn into the seven words of Pentecost, to be announced this Sunday!

Until then, Christ is risen!