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Loving God, Loving Others

Monday, March 21st, 2011

On this first Sunday during lent, the main themes are sin and temptation. Lent is a time of preparation for Easter and allows us the space to ascertain where we may have separated or drifted away from God. The first reading from Genesis (Genesis 2:7-9: 3: 1-7) tells the story of Eve, the serpent and Adam.  We get to think about the question: Are God’s instructions and commandments meant for our good – so that we can be happy, peaceful and close to God and each other or are they for God’s good?  If we believed that God’s instructions were for our good, we’d be even more likely to listen and follow.

The definition of sin that I like the best comes from the world of archery and means to be “off target.”  If our objectives are to love God and love  each other, then anything that deviates from this love (or target) could be considered sin (off target).  In Carl McColman’s book, The Lion, The Mouse and The Dawn Treader,  he writes “Whether arising from willful evil or negligent mistakes, sin always undermines love and separates us from God and from one another.”

In the garden of Eden, Eve was tempted by the serpent to eat from a delicious looking tree that the serpent promised that those who ate from it, “will be like gods who know what is good and what is evil.”  In Matthew’s gospel, (Matthew 4:1-11) Jesus is temped three times by the devil in the desert.  Each time that Jesus is tempted, he quotes scripture:

  • When the devil says, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread”,  Jesus replies:
    • It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
  • The devil then says, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.” (off the parapet of the temple) Jesus’ response:
    • Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.
  • The devil tries one last time saying, “All these (kingdoms) I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” Again, Jesus knew exactly how to respond to this temptation:
    • Get away Satan!  It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.

I have the ability to remember song lyrics from the 1960’s and 70’s and lines from many movies.  Am I as good at quoting Jesus?  Are you?

We have been freed from sin by our savior, Jesus Christ.  We don’t have to be slaves to sin any more.  Just as Jesus was tempted many times, you and I are  tempted to deviate from loving God and loving others several times a day.  We can ask ourselves, “Is my mind filled with scripture like Jesus’ mind was when tempted?”   “When tempted today, could I quote from scripture to stay on target?”  “Do I ask God to be present with me in each of my thoughts, words and actions on a daily basis?”

St. Paul asks us to take on the mind of Christ.  Lent is a great time for additional prayer, study, worship and learning.  Daily reading of scripture allows us to fill our minds and hearts with the Word of God while developing the mind of Christ.

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Blessing or Curse?

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Moses tells the people (Deuteronomy 11:18, 26-28, 32),

I set before you here, this day, a blessing and a curse:  a blessing for obeying the commandments of the Lord, your God, which I enjoin on you today; a curse if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord, your God, but turn aside from the way I ordain for you today.

We’re all aware of the saying that, “ignorance is bliss.”  Not knowing something is often more comfortable than knowing it.  When we know that something is good for us and still choose not to do it, it often causes us to feel uncomfortable.  We feel that way because we know that there is a better way to live and we’re deliberately choosing to ignore that knowledge.

When we learn how to eat correctly and how to exercise properly and regularly in order to maintain a healthy body and don’t implement, we suffer mentally because we know better and we suffer physically with a body that is out of shape.

The same phenomenon happens spiritually.

Jesus sends a similar message in this week’s Gospel from Matthew (Matthew 7:21-27):

Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.  And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand.

As followers of Jesus, we’re asked to do more than listen to the word of God. We’re expected to live the word of God with our actions.  We’re expected to align Jesus’ words with our own. We’re called to be the presence of Jesus in all that we say and do throughout the week – not just for a couple of hours on Saturday or Sunday.

We’ve been blessed by hearing Jesus’ words and receiving the gift of the awareness of God’s love for every one of us.  As in the case with my knowledge of diet and exercise, now that we’ve been blessed with the awareness of how God asks us to live, we’re not supposed to turn away and ignore the advice. In Jesus’ words:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

Build your house – your life – on a solid, rock foundation.

Listen to the words of Jesus.

Act on those words.

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Worry or Faith?

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Wars, rising gas prices, falling home prices, high unemployment, failed marriages, and corruption within governments.  We read, watch and hear stories about bad news several times per day and we wonder why we’re anxious?

What thoughts do we allow to dominate our minds?  Are they thoughts and worries provided to us incessantly by the media or are they the promises brought to us by Jesus?

It’s imperative that we choose the food we feed our mind wisely.

This weekend’s gospel passage from Matthew should be read at least once a week (if not daily) in order to stay faith-focused.  This (Jesus) really is the bread of life.

Even back in Jesus’ time, people were worrying about food, drink, health and clothing – not much has changed, huh? In response to the worry that Jesus saw everywhere he gave us these words:

No one can serve two masters.

He will either hate one and love the other,

or be devoted to one and despise the other.

You cannot serve God and mammon (money/wealth).

Where are we placing our faith?  Is it in God or is it in wealth?  Can peace on earth and everlasting peace be provided with accumulated wealth? That’s what Jesus meant when he said we can’t serve two masters.  When we place our faith in God, we trust that we’ll always be fed, clothed and provided for just as he provides for the birds and flowers.

Jesus asks the people some really great questions:

  • Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
  • Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life span?
  • Why are you anxious about clothes?
  • If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?

If we were really faith-filled, how much would we be worrying?

The next part of this passage is really good. “So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ ALL THESE THINGS THE PAGANS SEEK.”   If the pagans are asking the exact same questions, what is different about a mind that is filled with Jesus’ promises and a pagan’s?

A pagan is an individual who does not acknowledge God.  Do we have faith and trust in God – yes or no?  Are we talking to God? Are we listening for answers?  Jesus is the foundation of our faith.  If we really believe in Jesus, we should know what he said and then trust those words.  Repetition of Jesus’ words provide us with peace and hope as we live in a world surrounded by anxious people.   It’s not just the media that can cause us to feel anxious; family and friends who are not faith-filled are often sources of anxiety-producing thoughts.

Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.

When we place our trust in money or material goods, our foundation is unstable. With God as our foundation, we trust that we will always be in good hands – fed, clothed and loved. With these promises deeply rooted in our minds and hearts, we are filled with peace within and are able to share this peace and light with  those around us.

Be certain that you’re feeding your mind with the bread of life.

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So, You Want To Be A Christian…

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

This weekend’s readings give us many clear instructions on what it means to be a holy Christian.

In the first reading (Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18), we’re clearly told not to “bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.”  Not only are we instructed not to hate, the reading goes on to say that we’re not allowed to take revenge or hold grudges against “any of your people.”

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Assuming that we do in fact love ourselves, imagine what our families and communities would be like if we really did love our neighbors as much as we loved ourself.  How’s that for a goal?  Do you think that it’s achievable?

In case we’re not feeling that great about ourself, Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 3:16-23) will remind us of just how loved and valuable we are.

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”  If we are in fact temples of God and if the Spirit of God is living in us, we’ve invited God to live within our mind, heart and within every cell of our being.  We are holy because we belong to God.

In this week’s gospel (Matthew 5:38-48), Jesus instructs with specific examples as to how we’re to move away from hatred and revenge and embrace love. Think of how this lesson compares with the norm in our culture:

When someone strikes you on your right cheek,

turn the other one as well.

If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,

hand over your cloak as well.

Should anyone press you into service for one mile,

go for two miles.

Give to the one who asks of you,

and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

Take a deep breath. Just when you might think that you can adopt that teaching, Jesus immediately gives us more:

You have heard that it was said,

‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

But I say to you, love your enemies.

and pray for those who persecute you.

It’s easy to love people who are like us and who are lovable.  The challenge is to love those who are different from us and those who challenge us and hurt us. They are the very people Jesus asks us to love.

As Jesus looks upon each of us with the loving eyes of a father or brother, we are to love each person we encounter with that same unconditional love. We’re to pray for those who are deliberately hurting and persecuting us.  Our goal is purity of heart.

Is it easy being a Christian? No.  As we take on the mind of Christ and pray for God’s grace, we become more and more Christ-like each and every day.  Love takes over the space where revenge and hatred used to reside.

You and I are the temple of God. As we embrace the Spirit of God living within us, we understand that nothing is impossible.

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Choosing Wisdom

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

The Book of Sirach was written in the late third to early second century BC by Ben Sira. Sira was a philosophy teacher in Jerusalem and the book of Sirach is thought to be a collection of his class notes.

In this weekend’s reading (Sirach 15:15-20), the Jewish teachings and traditions are guiding us how to live in accord with God’s wisdom.  The author suggests that we have many choices in life and that we choose to keep the commandments and to trust in God. We’re also encouraged to choose life over death and good over evil. He goes on to say that, whichever he chooses shall be given him.  In modern psychological terms, we get what we expect.

Each time that we act unjustly, it is the result of our choice.  Every thought, word and action we display is the result of choice.  Can we choose what to think?  Yes. Do we choose what we say?  Yes.  Do we choose each of our actions?  Yes again.

Upon whose wisdom do we call in order to think, speak and act?

Wisdom is the theme in the second reading from Corinthians (1 Corinthians 2:6-10).  Paul is asking us to use God’s wisdom instead of the wisdom of our leaders and other mortals around us.  God’s wisdom is made known to us through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Are you receptive to the power of the Holy Spirit? Are we living our lives as a result of the world’s wisdom or God’s?  God’s wisdom is within our grasp.  Ask and it will be given.

In this week’s gospel from Matthew (Matthew 5:17-37), Jesus expands upon the commandments and Jewish laws so that we can happily and easily live and speak the truth of Jesus.

When talking about the commandment to “not kill”, Jesus elaborates on the word “kill” and says, “whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” He further tells us to not call our brothers and sisters fool, idiot or imbecile.  We’re asked to reconcile with everyone quickly. In this same reading he also expands upon the topics of adultery and divorce.

At the end of this section of the gospel, Jesus give us advice on the Jewish law, “Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.” There is no need to place our hands on a bible and “swear to tell the truth” and say things like “I swear to God” because we are ALWAYS speaking the truth.  In Jesus’ words, “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’  Anything more is from the evil one.”

Common sayings these days are, “to be perfectly honest” and “to tell you the truth”. I cringe every time that I hear a radio or television personality or anyone else use these phrases because they’re implying that at other times, “I am not telling you the truth.”

Wisdom defined: Wisdom is a deep understanding and realizing of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to choose or act to consistently produce the optimum results with a minimum of time and energy. It is the ability to optimally (effectively and efficiently) apply perceptions and knowledge and so produce the desired results. Wisdom is also the comprehension of what is true or right coupled with optimum judgment as to action.

This week’s messages:

Put your faith in God’s wisdom

We have the power to choose at all times – choose wisely.

“What God has prepared for those who love him, this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.”

Choose love instead of anger.

Choose words of praise for others instead of words of ridicule.

Always speak the truth. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

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He is the Son of God

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

In this week’s first reading (Isaiah  49: 3, 5-6), Isaiah learns that he is God’s servant and  a vessel for God to show his glory.  He also learns that God is his source of strength and that God will do the actual work through Isaiah in restoring Israel and bringing salvation.

The Lord tells Isaiah (and us) , “It is too little for you to be my servant.”  God says, “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

These readings speak to us just as clearly as they did to Isaiah. Today we can ask ourself:

Am I a light to the nations?

Am I being all that God is calling me to be?

Is God the source of my strength?

Does my service to God end as I exit the church doors or am I a shining light seven days a week?

In today’s second reading (1 Corinthians 1:1-3), Paul defends his authority, reminds us of our call to be holy and united and extends a beautiful greeting/blessing to the Corinthians.

Paul says listen to me because I’ve been specifically chosen to bring you this message. His words are, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” He’s writing to the Corinthians and to us as he says, “to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy.”   To  be sanctified means to be set apart for sacred use.

Do you consider yourself set apart for sacred use?  This reading aligns perfectly with Isaiah’s message of what God is calling us to be.

Here is Paul’s greeting/blessing:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Can you imagine greeting or saying goodbye to  people that way?  Image if we were paying for family, friends and enemies to be filled with the grace and peace of God?

What will the world be like when that happens?

John the Baptist is holding center court in today’s gospel (John 1:29-34). He proclaims Jesus as the Lamb of God and the Son of God.  Although John didn’t know Jesus, he says that, “the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.

John testifies that Jesus is the Son of God saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him.”  He knew that this was the sign that he was looking for because “the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’”

In no uncertain terms John emphatically proclaims, “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.

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Epiphany – The Light is for Everyone

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

This weekend celebrates the Epiphany of the Lord.  Epiphany celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. When we say that we’ve “had an epiphany”, it means that we’ve experienced a sudden realization or comprehension of the (larger) essence or meaning of something.  It can also mean that we’ve found the last piece of the puzzle and now see the whole picture.

When I think of an epiphany, I visualize a lightbulb over a person’s head shining brightly as the person has literally moved from the darkness into the light.  This weekend’s reading talks a lot about the subject of light.

In the first reading from Isaiah (60:1-6), the people of Jerusalem learn that their “light has come” and that “the glory of the Lord shines upon you (us).”  Isaiah tells them that they will be an  example to all nations because, “upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory.”

Is God’s light shining in you and are you an example within your family and your community of God’s peace and love?

Is it evident from seeing you that there is something special which exists inside of you that others want to share?

Paul tells the Ephesians (3:2-3a, 5-6) that a revelation was made known to him and that “the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”  Paul realized that his primary ministry was to bring the Jews and the Gentiles together in Jesus.  He wasn’t there to exclude and separate, Paul was there to unite everyone together in adoration of Christ Jesus. We are all members of this same body and each of us is called upon to work together to make the body whole and healthy – despite our cultural and religious differences.

Are you seen as a beacon of light who brings diverse groups of people together in unity?

In Matthew’s Gospel (2:1-12) we hear the story of the Magi who are following the light of a star in search of the newborn king of the Jews. Did you ever give thought to the fact that the Magi were gentiles and that they were the  first to adore and pay homage to Jesus?  Matthew (who is a Jew) is letting his fellow Jews and the gentiles know that in Jesus, God is manifest to the whole world.  Jesus came for e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e. Jesus came to unite and to love. He did not come for a select group of people.

The Magi brought gifts to Jesus, payed him homage and then went home.  They followed the light of the star to see the light that had come into the world – Jesus.  In Jesus, you and I are the light of the world and we’re asked to be that light on a daily basis to other members of humanity.  We are the presence of Jesus in the world.

May you and I be the presence of Jesus’ light in the world today as we bring the peace and love of Christ to every person we meet.

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Don’t Fear: God is with us.

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

On this 4th Sunday of advent, the readings give us an excellent understanding of three subjects: the announcement of Christ’s coming by the prophet Isaiah, how Mary conceived and gave birth to the son of God, and how each of us is called to live while on earth.

In the first reading (Isaiah 7:10-14), the prophet Isaiah is trying to persuade King Ahaz to keep his faith and to trust God. Ahaz is distressed because he’s being threatened by the Assyrians and is trying to figure out the best course of action. As you and I are always including God into every major decision and every aspect of our lives, Isaiah suggests that he ask God for a sign, but Ahaz, says, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord!”

Isaiah lets Ahaz know that the Lord will give a very special sign: “the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.” The word Emmanuel, means God is with us. When you and I are stressed or distressed as Ahaz was, it’s comforting to know that God is with us (Emmanuel.) Just ask, seek and knock.

Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 1:1-7) is an invitation for the Romans to “belong to Jesus Christ.” Jesus came to earth not only for the Jews, but for the Romans and all of the gentiles. In the letter, he reminds the Romans that the Good News of Jesus Christ was “promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures.” He’s telling them that this is the God who was promised to us by the prophet Isaiah. See, God does what he says that he’s going to do. We just learned of that announcement made by Isaiah.

It wasn’t until Christ’s resurrection, however that the early Christians realized what the prophets’ promises meant and that Jesus was God’s son. Paul is preaching the Gospel about the descendent of David who was “established as Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Paul closes out today’s reading by inviting the Romans to “belong to Jesus Christ” and with the challenging reminder that each of us is “called to be holy.” Not just the ordained, but lay people too! You and I belong to Jesus Christ and we too are called to be holy and to live holy lives.

Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 1:18-24) gives us the explanation of exactly how Jesus’ birth came about. We learn that Mary “was found with child through the Holy Spirit” and that “Joseph her husband was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame.” This is key because according the laws in place at that time, Joseph could have had Mary stoned to death.”

Can you imagine how Joseph felt when he found out that his new bride was pregnant? They weren’t even living together yet. Thankfully, Joseph received a special visit from an angel who appeared to him in a dream and said,

Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

Matthew shows the continuity from Isaiah to the present times by including Isaiah’s words,

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

God does what he says he’s going to do. While on earth, Jesus gave us the commandment to love one and other. Love everyone! It’s especially important that we love the people who are the most difficult to love. They are probably the most difficult to love because they are the ones who are in the most need of your love. As the song goes, they will know that we are Christians by our love.

As we prepare ourselves to return to Jesus or for his return to earth, let’s be walking, talking examples of Christ on earth by truly loving everyone as Jesus loves us. This kind of love is contagious. Let is spread.

We now understand “A virgin shall conceive” to mean that Mary conceived without having had a sexual relationship with a man. Emmanuel is now understood to mean that God will become incarnate. God has come to earth in human form in the body of Jesus. This message is very important to the Jewish audience because it shows that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to the Israelites. A savior will be born and he will be a descendant of the house of David.It’s critical that Joseph welcomes Mary into his home and names him Jesus because this fulfills the scripture as Jesus being from the house of David. It is Joseph’s family who are of the house of David. The name Jesus means “God Saves.” Jesus is God and came to earth to show us how to love and to save us from sin.

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Recognizing the Glory of God

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

On this 3rd Sunday in Advent, we receive messages of hope and patience, and a proclaimation of Christ’s divinity from Matthew.

Isaiah (35:1-6a, 10), is sending a much needed  message of hope to a people whose homeland has been conquered by the Babylonians and the Assyrians, whose temple has been destroyed and whose citizens are in exile in Babylon.

Isaiah says to those whose hearts are frightened: “Be strong, fear not!”  How often do we need to hear and believe these very words ourselves? I find it reassuring to repeat this message to myself each and every day. Isaiah gives them clear signs of how to recognize the glory of the Lord,

“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,

the ears of the deaf be cleared;

then will the lame leap like a stag,

then the tongue of the mute will sing.”

In the Letter of Saint James (James 5:7-10), he is preparing the people for the coming (return) of Jesus Christ. At that time, people expected Jesus to return during the lifetime of Jesus’ contemporaries.  Because we all get antsy when we’re waiting for someone to arrive, James is reminding us all of the virtue of patience.

He also sends us a direct message as we prepare for Jesus’ arrival on Christmas, “Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another, that you may not be judged.” Especially during the busy holiday season, many of us are exhausted and begin directing our frustrations outward toward others. James is gently reminding us to stop complaining, be grateful at all times and that there is only one who is supposed to judge and “the Judge is standing before the gates.”

In Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 11:2-11), John the Baptist is in prison and sends his disciples to Jesus with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”   Because John was in prison before Jesus’ public ministry, he’s dependent upon his disciples for proof that Jesus is “the one.”

Jesus responds to the disciples using the signs that were proclaimed in today’s reading from Isaiah.  Jesus says,

“Go and tell John what you hear and see:

the blind regain their sight,

the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”

By responding using the sings that Isaiah wrote about, Jesus is sending a loud and clear message to John (and to us) that he is in fact the one. Matthew is claiming Jesus’ divinity.

As we approach Christmas, you and I can remind ourselves to be patient in all that we say and in all that we do as we wait for Jesus’ coming.   We pray for the grace to remain nonjudgmental at all times for we know that there is only one who is to judge.  We remain confident in the knowledge that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again!

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Hope is 1/3 of Our Strategy

Monday, December 6th, 2010

The three theological virtues associated with salvation are:

•   Faith – steadfastness in belief

•   Hopeexpectation of and desire of receiving; refraining from despair and capability of not giving up

•   Charity/love – selfless, unconditional, and voluntary loving-kindness such as helping one’s neighbors.

On this second sunday of advent, as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of Christ and our meeting with him upon his return or our death, the readings bring us messages of hope.

Hope is many things.  When one is hopeful he/she:

•   has the feeling that a desire will be fulfilled (What do you desire most?)

•   is centering expectations on someone or something (Who is the center of your life?)

•   has expectations and wishes (What do you expect on earth? After the death of your body?)

•   is optimistic (what is the source of your optimism?)

Christians are hopeful because their lives are based upon the expectation that they will spend eternity in heaven with God. As we receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts and take-on the mind of Christ we are walking, talking examples of optimism personified. We also understand that we can create heaven on earth because we were told, “The kingdom of heaven is within you.”

It’s important that you and I are filled with hope so that we can dedicate our lives to loving and serving the people around us who have resigned. I am not talking about people who have left their jobs for a new position.  Resignation is an acceptance of despair, it is the act of giving up.  We hear it daily in language like, “why bother?”, “what’s the use?”, “Why complain, no one cares anyway?”

You and I know why we must never give up. It is our responsibility to share that good news with others. We should always bother continuing because although what’s ahead of us might appear difficult, nothing is impossible for God.  It is okay to bring your complaints to God for God cares and is always listening. There are answers to every problem that we face.  Faith allows us to believe that God will always provide for us. Hope allows us to be optimistic while remaining faith-filled.

In today’s reading from Romans (Romans 15:4-9), Paul tells us that “Whatever was written previously was written for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  He’s telling us that the scriptures are not just historical documents which describe our ancestors’ faith,  but they are the living word and are addressed to and meant for us. Frequent reading of scripture allows us to remain true to Christ’s word and always optimistic.

In this short passage, Paul gives the Romans a beautiful blessing that includes a message of harmony and hope:

May the God of endurance and encouragement

grant you to think in harmony with one another,

in keeping with Christ Jesus,

that with one accord you may with one voice

glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am genuinely hopeful that you and I will be in harmony with each other and with every single one of our neighbors on earth and that together we will love each other and glorify God.

When we’re filled with the genuine optimism that comes from being blessed with God’s love and grace, we’re able to light a spark of hope within everyone around us.

Christians have a strategy. Hope is a third of our strategy. Hope complements our faith and our love.

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