Archive for October, 2010

Humility is Good!

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Last week we talked about the importance of persistent prayer.  This week’s readings help us with creating the proper attitude for life and for prayer – humility.

In the reading from Sirach (34:12-14, 16-18), there is beautifully comforting language to ease our minds and souls. “The Lord is a God of justice, who knows no favorites.”  In a world that seems to show partiality to the rich, beautiful and popular, we can take comfort in knowing that God sees us as equals. You and I are always valuable in God’s eyes.

For those of us who sometimes question whether or not our prayers are heard, we’re told that, “the prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal, nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds, judges justly and affirms the right, and the Lord will not delay.”  Yes, God listens to our prayers. Yes, we receive a response. We may not always like the response we receive, but we will get a response. When talking and praying to God, we’re seeking higher counsel.  Isn’t it a good thing when we receive what’s best for us even when it’s different from what we were seeking?

Paul’s letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18) gives us the language of an athlete to have us feel confident in our faith.  Paul writes to Timothy that, “I have competed well; I have finished the race: I have kept the faith.”  Paul knows that he’s approaching his death and feels like a runner who know that she gave it all for 26.2 miles.  What a great feeling it is to go through life knowing that you’ve always done your best. We are not perfect, but we lived life as well as we could in constant communication with God.

Paul goes on to say that, “From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.”  Again, the athlete is ready to receive the crown of righteousness (the laurel wreath awarded to athletes) after running the faith-filled raced called life.  And he tells us that we can do the same exact thing! Let God’s Word live in your heart and let it be on your lips. Stay connected to God every day with prayer. Be an active member of the Body of Christ in each encounter with others on a daily basis as you serve others with your gifts.

Have you longed for his appearance? Prayer, meditation and scripture reading are ways to unite with God and invite God into you life each and every day.

For those of us who are living fear-based lives, Paul closes out today’s reading with an uplifting prayer of hope, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom.”  With that belief running our lives, what can we possibly be afraid of? That line is exactly why our faith overcomes fear.

Our instruction on prayer is continued in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 18:9-14) when he instructs us to pray with humility in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.

Many of us are like the Pharisee in this parable in that we think that we’re leading pretty good Christian lives.  The Pharisee prays, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity–greedy, dishonest, adulterous– or even like this tax collector.”  Instead of admitting his sins and imperfection and humbly asking for God’s help, he compares himself with others and really likes what he sees.

The Pharisee goes on to fill-God-in on what a great person he is, “I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.”  See how great I am God!  Look at how wonderful I am!  For those of us who pray, fast and tithe, we might see our reflection in the words of the Pharisee.

The tax collector sets the example of humility by praying, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”  He has the faith and humility to know that he can be forgiven for his very real sins. He knows that he is far from perfect and is dependent upon God for the strength to persevere and the power to improve.

So what’s the message from Luke? Pray, fast, tithe, serve and remain humble. Remember that Salvation is God’s free gift to us.

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Let’s choose humility.

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Pray, Proclaim and Persist

Sunday, October 17th, 2010
Saint Paul’s letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:14-4:2) is truly inspiring! In his letter, Paul is encouraging Timothy to remain faithful to what he’s learned in the sacred scriptures. Paul tells us that,

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Daily reading of the scriptures helps us to remain familiar with God’s teachings so that we can be completely prepared to serve and assist others in being fully engaged members of the Body of Christ on earth.

Paul also charges each of us to “proclaim the word with persistence whether it is convenient or inconvenient.”

I think that one of the best ways that we can proclaim the word is to live each moment of our life as walking, talking examples of Christ-like living – at home and at work. The world will know that we are Christians by our love for one another!

In Luke’s Gospel (Luke 18:1-8) Jesus tells his disciples a parable on the necessity of frequent and persistent prayer. In the parable, Jesus uses an unsympathetic judge who has no choice but to respect the wishes of a widow who is relentless in her quest for justice.

If an unjust judge is capable of responding justly to the widow, our faith tells us that our fair and loving God is always listening with a compassionate ear to our prayers. Jesus is asking us to not just pray, but to be persistent with our prayers.. He wants us to pray for our earthly concerns and to stay especially focused on our heavenly pursuits.

Prayer is our continuous lifeline to God. We can endeavor to live every aspect of our faith-filled life connected to God by praying for guidance and strength in every aspect of our day – work, family, exercise, health, interaction with others, etc.

God is always reliably listening to our prayers, but Jesus questions how many of us will be as faithful by asking, “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Let today’s readings be a loud and clear call for each of us to remain united with God mentally, spiritually and physically.

God, please make me an instrument of your peace and assist me in remaining faithfully connected to you throughout this day and for every day of my life on earth.

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Remembering Gratitude

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

In this week’s first reading from the second Book of Kings (2 Kings 5:14-17), Naaman, an army commander for a foreign king is miraculously healed from his leprosy after being advised by Elisha to “plunge into the Jordan seven times.” As a result of being healed of his leprosy, Naaman shows tremendous gratitude to Elisha and professes his conversion of faith. Naaman proclaims his conversion of heart by telling Elisha, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.”

It took a physical miracle for Naaman to believe in the God of Israel. Do you and I believe based upon our faith or are we looking for physical miracles before we believe?

Paul (2 Timothy 2:8-13) tells us of his willingness to suffer like a criminal so that he can continue to remind us of his gospel. He says, “Beloved: Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David.”  Even shortly after Jesus’ resurrection he still had to devote his life to remind the early believers of what had happened.

Why does Paul do this?  So that each of us can “obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus” and join Paul to be “together with eternal glory.”   Paul goes on to say:

If we have died with him

we shall also live with him;

if we persevere

we shall also reign with him.

But if we deny him

he will deny us.

If we are unfaithful

he remains faithful,

for he cannot deny himself.

The scripture that says, “To whom much is given, much is expected” means many things. For those of us who have received Jesus’ message about how to love and serve God and each other, we’re expected to live that way. We’re no longer living in blindness. We’ve received  light and life directly from God’s only Son.  We also know that Jesus died to atone for the sins that were committed in the past and that we’re still committing today. We’re to connect with Jesus as he instructed.  He is the vine and we are the branches.  He is our source of life and salvation. When disconnected from the vine, we’re separated from our source of life.  As Paul said above, “But if we deny him he will deny us.” Why would we deny him when we know how good he is and how strong and good we can be when connected to him?

Luke’s gospel instructs us and reminds us about gratitude. In this passage (Luke 17: 11-19), Jesus cures 10 lepers from their disease.  Unlike Naaman, these 10 lepers believed in Jesus. They were specifically asking Jesus for assistance by calling out, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”  Once Jesus cures all 10 from their leprosy, nine of them kept on walking away and only one of them returned to Jesus to say “thank you.”

At the heart of Christianity is the belief that Jesus suffered and died for each of us. Through him we’ve received the gift of salvation.  How often do we say “thank you” for this gift? Are we like the Samaritan who returns to fall at the feet of Jesus in gratitude or are we more like the other nine lepers who’ve received a miraculous gift and failed to acknowledge it?

Jesus tells the Samaritan who returned in gratitude, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”  All ten received the cure from their leprosy.  Nine lepers failed to show gratitude and were not assured of the profound healing he promised the Samaritan: salvation.

Stay connected to Jesus the source of our life and salvation on a daily basis in grateful service to others, in prayer and in meditation on how to faithfully live God’s love.

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Keeping Faith Alive

Monday, October 4th, 2010

If you could use some words to assist you in reviving or rekindling your faith, this week’s readings are a great place to start.

Books like The Secret  and The Law of Attraction have promoted the use of affirmations in order to manifest our goals. According to God, the identical process works with our long-term heavenly goal. In the reading from the Book of the Prophet Habakkuk (1:2-3;2:2-4), God responds to Habakkuk’s cry for help when his faith is weakening with the following response: “Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily.” Like many of us today, Habakkuk is challenging God because he can’t understand why there is so much violence and misery in the world and why God just seems to allow all of this suffering.

God asks Habakkuk to write down the vision of the promise of deliverance because even several thousands of years ago, it was believed that putting beliefs into writing helped them to manifest.  The first step is to put beliefs into writing. The second step is to affirm them daily.  I utilize this practice every day. When reading scripture, I’ll write down specific verses on 3 X 5 index cards so that I can easily repeat them several times a day until they’re committed to memory. This practice allows me to solidify God’s words deeply into the recesses of my mind and soul.

In Paul’s Letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14), he’s reminding Timothy and each of us to “stir into flame” the faith that we’ve embraced.  Faith is like every other discipline in that it’s a “use it or lose it” proposition. It’s one thing to profess Christianity. It’s another thing to live it in action and to internalize the words that Jesus left with us.  Paul reminds us that the power of the Holy Spirit within us is not a “spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. It’s this daily building up of our faith which gives us the strength to persevere through each of life’s challenges and obstacles. Exercising our faith  muscles is a daily practice.

Are you fully embracing all of the Holy Spirit’s power, love and self-control?

Luke’s gospel (Luke 17:5-10) gives Jesus’ response to the apostles’ request to “increase our faith”: “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”  Do you believe Jesus?  What would happen if we really believed that with the power of faith and the Holy Spirit dwelling within us that nothing is impossible?

Jesus goes on to tell the apostles that faith also comes with the responsibility to not just believe but to serve God and each other in action. Faith requires our willingness to love, forgive and repent.

Faith is a tremendous living gift from God. Once we’ve received this gift of life, it’s our responsibility to open it, work with it, nourish it and practice it on a daily basis to keep it fresh and healthy. Faith is the true source of everlasting life that dwells within.

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