Archive for August, 2010

Humility

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

To act humbly means to be modest, respectful and to be deferential and submissive. It also means to make lower in condition or status.

This weekend’s theme is humility.  The first reading from Sirach ( 3:17-18, 20, 28-29) which was written 200 years before Christ, calls us to humility with a couple of proverbs:

  • My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.
  • Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.

If you’re asking yourself, “why should I show humility?”, Jesus answers that question beautifully for us in Luke’s Gospel (14:1, 7-14).  In this scripture, Jesus is at the home of  one of the leading Pharisees and he’s watching people jockey for position at the dinner table. We’ve all seen this happen at recitals,  buffets, boarding an airplane, at weddings, funerals and parades.  We tend to push, shove and elbow so that we can have the best view, seat or food – even if it’s at the expense of our neighbors or other guests.

After observing the very common behavior, Jesus told the familiar parable where he says that whenever you’re invited by someone to attend a wedding banquet (or any other affair), don’t seat yourself in a position of honor.  Instead of trying to obtain the “best” seat Jesus instructs us to, “go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’”

It’s better to be brought from coach to first class than to be humiliated by being asked to move to the back of the plane!

“For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

When we deliberately humble ourselves by taking a seat in “the lowest place”, we’re able to meet new people and understand life from the perspective of a different group of people. It’s an invitation to accept the beautiful gift of being able to learn from every human that we come in contact with. Truly, we have something to learn from every person we’re fortunate enough to meet.

After Jesus had addressed the guests, he turned his attention to the host and gave him some unsolicited advice. He tells us that when we have a party, be sure to invite people who very likely will never be able to reciprocate – the lonely, the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.

God gives to each of us who have nothing to give in return. We’re asked to do the same thing every day of our lives.  You and I are the hosts and hostesses who are inviting all people to God’s banquet. Not just those with the same incomes, skin color and faith.

We know that when we do this, “we will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Life is simple: act in a Christ-like fashion by loving everyone.

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Clothed in Immortality

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Death is the one thing that most people fear. Why did I say most people and not everyone? People whose faith is strong know that although the physical body will die, their souls will live forever. In one of today’s readings (1 Corinthians 15:54b-57), Paul is taunting death with unshakable confidence:

Death is swallowed up in victory.

Where, O death, is your victory?

                                                   Where, O death, is your sting?

I can hear Paul taunting death like a child singing on a playground, “Na, na, na, na, na, you CAN’T hurt me. Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha!”  Why is Paul so confident and fearless?

Paul lives with confidence in the knowledge that Jesus overcame sin, the poison that causes death.  “When that which is mortal clothes itself with immortality….”, DEATH NO LONGER HAS ANY POWER OVER US!  Mortal Christians clothe themselves in the Word of God and are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.  .Although our physical bodies are still capable of pain and will ultimately die, no one and no thing has power over our everlasting souls  That invisible piece of our being which we treasure most – our soul – is eternally linked with the Source of all life.

Jesus confirms this in the Gospel of Luke: “Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord.

Christians have long-term goals and our ultimate goal is to join Jesus in life everlasting. “But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”, we say with confidence in the belief that the death of our body will result in the resurrection of our immortal soul.

At that point our journey will be complete and successful. We will have arrived home and will stay there – forever! 

Clothe yourself with immortality and live a fearless, faith-filled life in Christ.

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I didn’t know you’d be visiting!

Monday, August 9th, 2010

This week’s themes are faith and preparedness.  Each of the 3 readings cause us to question and affirm our belief and faith in God and use that faith as the focal point of our life.

“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested”, is a line from one of Paul’s Letters to the Hebrews (11:1-2, 8-19).  Paul goes on to talk about the tremendous faith shown by Abraham. Abraham believed that he and Sarah would have a child even though they were very old and Sarah was sterile. Abraham believed in God. He had faith in God’s word.

Abraham’s faith was so strong that he was willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, upon God’s request. Abraham knew that God was so powerful that he could bring Isaac back from the dead to fulfill God’s promise that, “Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.”  Thankfully, it was only a test of Abraham’s faith.  How is God testing your faith?

Is our faith that strong? Do I have faith or do I have FAITH?

In Luke’s gospel (Luke 12: 32-48) Jesus tells us to “not be afraid” and to have faith in what really matters. If we believe Jesus, we should be afraid of nothing. We know that He is the Shepherd who loves and takes care of each of his sheep.

Jesus goes on to say, “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” That one line causes us to ponder, “who or what do I treasure?”

Clothing wears out. Cars get old and rusty. We get laid-off and fired from jobs. Real Estate values fluctuate.  High technology becomes obsolete within a few years. People frequently disappoint.  Jesus says, “Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.”  He’s clearly telling us who and what to treasure – God.  What is the ultimate long-term goal?  Heaven.  Our security lies in the goodness of God.  We can not find security anywhere else or in anyone else. The investment that we make in God can be stolen by no one and only appreciates in value!

Jesus is also reminding us this week to be prepared.  As humans, do we tend to be proactive or reactive?  When do we decide to exercise?  After the heart attack. When do we decide to repair a marriage? For too many of us, it’s when the other person leaves or threatens to do so. When do we decide to step-up our performance at work?  After we’ve been let-go. Too many of us tend to be reactive in almost every aspect of our life.

When are we going to make God a priority in our life?  When will we be 100% prepared to welcome our guest?

You know that excited feeling of preparedness when a child is returning from college or a loved family member or close friend is coming to visit?  We prepare their guest rooms.  We buy special foods. We spend lots of time cooking and cleaning. Why?  We’re looking forward to the return of someone we love.

Someone else that we know and love is coming to visit, but has chosen not to be real specific on the arrival date or time. Can you think of a better guest?  If that guest were coming tonight, what would you be doing today?  Are you prepared?

Jesus has told us that he’s coming back and he’s giving us notice that he’ll be in our neighborhood soon so, please prepare a room in your mind, heart and soul.

Many of us are waiting to become better people – better Christians. 

I’ll be more loving tomorrow.

I’ll begin serving others soon.

I’ll talk to, listen to and give God attention in the very near future.

I’ll begin treating people in a Christ-like manner starting next week.

Many of us are surprised and unprepared by the announcement of an organizational change that results in the elimination of our job, or the word from a doctor that our lifestyle has to change, or the notice from a spouse that the relationship is damaged. With Jesus there are no surprises. He’s told us that He’s  coming back and asked us to be prepared.   It’s hard for us to say, “I was unaware that you were coming!” 

Today is the day to love, to be patient, to pray, to serve.

Today is the day to be excited and  prepared to welcome the invited guest who is the focal point of our life.

Have faith, love each other and be ready for His return.  Life is simple.

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God’s Currency

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Each of this week’s readings is a reminder to each of us to focus on the the things that matter – Godly things. In Ecclesiastes (1:2, 2:21-23), Colossians (3:1-5, 9-11) and Luke’s Gospel (12:13-21), we’re reminded that everything to which we put our trust – other than God – is temporary and cannot provide us with the security we seek.

In Ecclesiastes, we’re shown what life is like if we don’t believe in life after death – eternal life with God.  Without the hope of everlasting life with God, we will frequently ask ourselves questions like, “Is this all there is?”, “Why am I working so hard to accumulate earthly possessions just to leave an inheritance to my unappreciative family?”, or “What’s the point in living a loving, ethical life when it seems that very few others are trying to do the same?”   When we separate ourselves from God, life does feel meaningless and pointless. When united with God, we feel connected, whole and our lives have purpose and direction.

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians he reminds us that because we were raised with Christ, we are to “Put to death the parts of us that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and the greed that is idolatry.” We’re reminded to “seek what is above.”  When living our lives in imitation of our creator, we’re reminded that “Christ is all and in all.”  Jesus came to earth to tell us of God’s love for us and to show us how to live. Jesus is the living example of how we’re to treat each other.

You and I are called to live lives of love, compassion, kindness, forgiveness and service just like Jesus did. We can do this in our current jobs with our current families.  We’re asked to change on the inside first – what’s in our hearts and minds.

With the knowledge that our life came from God and that our main objective is to return to God upon our death, each second of our life has significance. We can ask ourselves during every moment of our day, “Am I living in a Christlike manner at this instant?”

in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that we do not have security if we place our trust in anything other than God.  Money, cars, homes, 401Ks, jewelry and other possessions may give us the illusion of security, but we can’t take them with us.  When we have all of the worldly good imaginable, but do not have God in our life we’ll always feel insecure.  The only true security that we can possess cannot be purchased with money. By changing our focus from attachment to worldly possessions to attachment to God, we begin living lives in alignment with God.

“Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”

When our lives on earth are over, what good will it do us to be rich in earthly possessions that we must leave behind if we are not rich in God’s currency?  It won’t.

We live in the hope and expectation of everlasting life with God.

We live each day loving God and each other.

Security comes from faith in God.  True riches are the result of God’s grace in our life.

Being rich in what matters to God is the only currency which will allow us to accomplish the ultimate long-term goal. This is the currency which always increases in value!

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