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Monday, March 14, 2016

Our Job Description

In preparation this morning for a Bible study I teach to a group of seniors each Thursday, I pondered the Mass readings for yesterday (March 13). It is, I think, serendipitous, that I am currently leading my study group through the third chapter of Philippians – so the Mass readings caught my attention. They (and our priest’s comments) gave me additional ideas for this Thursday’s discussion.

The Old Testament reading was from Isaiah 43. Unfortunately, the few verses of the particular reading (verses 16-21) do not fully illuminate the wonderful promise God makes to His people in the entire chapter. I hope you will take the time to read it on your own, if you haven’t already done so.

For the sake of space, I am pasting below what I consider the salient points of the reading in Isaiah. (Again, even what I have pasted below does not fully illustrate God’s wonderful mercy. Please take the time to read the entire chapter):

Isaiah 43:1-19: “But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. “For I am the LORD your God . . . Thus says the LORD, “Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. “Behold, I will do something new . . . “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”

This section from Isaiah spoke to me again, even now, as I reread it in conjunction with the two other Mass readings. First, St. Paul’s comment in Philippians 3: "Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

And then the Lord’s response to the woman caught in adultery. Here is part of that text in John 8: “Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

I see in these readings a critically important point – a point fundamental to our ability to grow closer to God: When we have brought our sins to God in humble repentance, we must afterward do two things:

1. Forget them and forever leave them in our past, under the blood of Jesus.
2. Determine to not do again whatever it was we did. (If we stumble again over the same sin, we repeat the same process of confession – see 1 John 1:8-10).

The devil will always be quick to park on our shoulder and whisper accusations in our ear. But such should not surprise us. That is his job-description as the Father of Lies (John 8:44) who always accuses God’s children (Revelation 12:10).

But our job description is also clear: God wants us to forget what is past and now covered by the blood of the Savior. And we are to press forward toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Brethren, let’s now be about doing what God has called us to do to win the lost.

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