The Suffering In Our Lives

Stand Firm!" — Luke 21:12-19 (What Jesus Did!)
Daily Reflection – 11/24/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to the crowd: “Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”( Luke 21:12-19)

Reflection

Today’s scripture can indeed seem ominous. The warning that followers of Christ will be persecuted for their belief.

But today’s scripture is also full of promise. A promise of protection by God and a promise of our lives being secured eternally.

I believe that most will see that. I also believe that many find it difficult when we are confronted with the crosses in our lives. So, let’s talk about that.

All of us have crosses in our lives. Crosses occur when our happiness and our hope are threatened in ways we cannot avoid.

 For some of us, our crosses are relatively small. For others, they are overwhelming. Sickness can be a cross. So can disharmony in our family or an important relationship. A cross can be a burden of low self-esteem or depression. It can be a habit of jealousy eating at us or the fear of growing old. Whatever our crosses are, they are with us. When we wake up every morning, they face us. We may for a while forget about them, but soon they reappear at our side, claiming our attention.

 If we are able to dispel or escape our crosses, we certainly should. But most crosses are not easy to shake off.

It’s essential to remember that God does not give us crosses. God is the source of goodness, not the source of evil. Crosses come to us because of our imperfection and the imperfection of our world.

The only effective way to deal with the cross is to carry it, to consent to it. We must lift the cross to our shoulders and say, “Yes, this is my cross, and since I cannot avoid it, I will accept it.” Once we put the cross on our shoulders, we are free to move forward into life. Yes, at times the cross is heavy. It is a burden. But it need not prevent us from love and hope. And Christ, who carried his own cross, will be with us.

You see, as long as we deny the cross, or stare at the cross, or drag the cross, Jesus can do nothing. But once we take up the cross, and begin to carry it, Jesus is immediately at our side, supporting us, and saying, “Courage. Let’s take this one step at a time. Follow me into glory.”

It’s through God’s grace, through the love of others, through our own patient endurance that our crosses become lighter to bear.

Crosses are a part of our story just as Jesus’ scars were part of his story. We are only being honest when we say, “Yes, I’m the person whose father died much too young. I’m the one whose demands alienated my daughter. I’m the one whose decisions have placed my family in financial jeopardy.”

Scripture wants us to admit that our injuries are a part of us. Our hurts cannot be erased, they can only be healed. And that is why we must not hide our scars from ourselves or others. They are the signs of healing. They are signs to remind us that that God has been faithful, that others have loved us, that our future can still be blessed—that we can move from death to resurrection.

We simply need to ask God to change us, to make our hearts a manger where we can receive the gifts that only God can give. If we seek relief from fear, we must give ourselves to the Prince of Peace. If we want our anger to dissipate, we must ask God to soften our hearts. If we need relief from suffering, we must open ourselves to God’s love. If we want our family to be whole, we must believe in the God who can make all thing new.

He is always at our side helping us to lighten the weight of our cross.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus Christ, by your death on the cross you have redeemed the world. Fill me with joyful hope, courage, and boldness to witness the truth of your love for me. Walk with me as I carry my cross in your light.”

Daily Note

Life can be difficult. Each one of us has a cross to bear. But the good news is that our cross is not a punishment but an opportunity. So, when evil strikes, when pain begins, do not be afraid or despair. If we can take up our cross and carry it in Jesus’ name, it need not paralyze us or destroy us.  The crosses we carry in Jesus’ name, can transform us into genuine daughters and sons of God!

Where Can I Go And Hide?

The end is near | In the Beginning
Daily Reflection – 11/23/2021

Sacred Scripture

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, he said, “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.” (Luke 21:5-11)

Reflection

This passage from scripture strikes a somber note and causes many people to take a breath, wonder if it describes today and then try to not focus on the scene that Jesus describes.

Some people try to move away from it and retreat into a self-built bubble where all is light and bright. Nothing wrong with that as long as it bears some connection to the world that exists.

Others would even suggest that it is describing the world of 2021. Sounds like it but truth is that we don’t know for certain.

What we do know for certain is that this passage reminds us of two things: the need for us to be vigilant about the world and the need for us to remember that in trying times, we are called to remember God’s nature and God’s promise.

Vigilant. Why?

The Lord Jesus tells us that there will be trials, suffering, and persecution in this present age until he comes again at the end of the world. God intends our anticipation of his final judgment to be a powerful deterrent to unfaithfulness and wrongdoing. God extends grace and mercy to all who will heed his call and his warning.

 Do not pass up, even for one day, God’s invitation of grace and mercy to seek first his kingdom of righteousness and peace. Do not pass up, even for one day, to walk in the light of God’s love. You can be, and will be, a beacon of love and caring regardless of what is happening around you. Do not pass, even for one day, your opportunity to live that love because this day may be your only chance before that final day comes.

Remembering God’s nature and promise.

God is not looking for punishment.

 God is looking for an opportunity to show mercy.

During turbulent times we can find ourselves at a standoff with God, because we grasp at any lifeboat that promises us safety. But God is against every example of glorified nationalism. God rejects every call for violent retribution. These are ways of thinking into which you and I can be tempted to fall. That is God’s nature.

We need to remember his promise. Even if we are unable to forgive, even if we are unwilling to consider another point of view, even if we are overcome with anger against our enemy, God does not give up on us. God keeps patiently calling for us to change.

Of course, in fact, there can be no standoff between God and us. Both the Bible and our faith tradition tell us that God is always right, and we must accept God’s point of view. But God gives us time to reach that understanding. And until we attain God’s perspective, God continues to walk by our side, loving us as daughters and sons. Asking us to share that love as his children.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, your grace and mercy abounds even in the midst of trials and difficulties. Help me to seek your kingdom first and to reject whatever would hinder me from pursuing your way of peace, righteousness, and holiness. Fill me with the joy and hope of your everlasting kingdom.”

Daily Note

We human beings tend to be very anxious for the future. “Teacher, when will this happen? What sign will there be?” Difficult things happen to all of us–sickness, setbacks, missed opportunities–but we do not despair! Christ says today, “Such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” God our Father has been preparing a future for us from the very beginning, “plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). May we not be anxious and instead trust in the Lord. 

The Coins of Love

A Lavish Offering - FaithGateway

Daily Reflection – 11/22/2021

Sacred Scripture

He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury; and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins. And he said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had.” (Luke 21:1-4)

Reflection

After Jesus had finished his “formal” teaching in the courtyard of the Temple of Jerusalem, he began to “people watch,” in order to continue to instruct his apostles about how to put what he taught into action.

Many rich people, St. Luke tells us, were putting in large sums and “making a lot of noise” on the treasury trumpet. But then a poor widow came and put in two lepta, two small coins which together were worth less than a penny and likely barely made a sound.

 Then Jesus gave a surprising lesson that obviously the disciples never forgot. Jesus praised the poor widow rather than all the rest, saying that she had contributed more than all them, for they “gave out of their surplus, but she gave everything she had, all she had to live on.”

This widow, because of her poverty, could easily have been excused for giving nothing. She could have easily chosen to drop into the trumpet only one of the coins and kept the other for herself. But she didn’t. She gave it all. And her generosity was praised by Jesus and will remain until the end of time. What could have moved her to give to the temple even what she needed to survive? There’s only one reason: her deep faith.

She believed not simply that God exists, or that he worked various miracles in the past to help her people. She believed so much in him and was so convinced of the importance of what was going on in God’s house that she wanted to dedicate her life and all her goods to continuing and expanding that work of salvation. She accounted the continuance and expansion of that work even more than her own life. 

The point is not how much we contribute, but how much of a sacrifice it is; not how much we give but how much we have left over.

This woman sacrificed her entire livelihood, spending herself and what she had in the service of the Lord. She had probably regularly entrusted herself and her children to God’s providence and the Lord had never let her down. She gave everything in trust to God, showing us how to live in a way that Jesus would be tempted to pull the saints aside in heaven and point out the way we are spending ourselves in his service, seeking to build up his Kingdom.

Faith and trust in God. Giving what she had out of love. Those coins, given in love, said all that we need to know about her and the way of our faith.

Each of us needs to start each day by acknowledging his role in our lives, by accepting that his will for us should always prevail and that we, in gratitude for his love, will mark our lives with love.

We do by always appreciating who are the key people in our lives, by not taking them for granted, by regularly using the words “I love you” as a sacramental moment, making present that which is so fundamental to our lives.

We then extend that love to those whom we come in contact with throughout the day. Our words and our actions together will speak of how dearly we cherish the gift of his love.

Will we be successful every day? Probably not. But we try. Trying is the sign of a disciple. Every disciple is a work in progress. So, we don’t despair. We don’t beat ourselves up when we fail. We stop, acknowledge what we did not do and move on to do it better.

Guiding us always is his love. Marking us always as his disciple is our sharing that love and giving all that we can, each day,

If we are going to be disciples of Jesus, if we are going to follow the commandment of love, we must celebrate that love and work each day to bring it alive in our lives and the lives of those around us.

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, your love knows no bounds and you give without measure. All that I have comes from you. May I give freely and generously in gratitude for all that you have given to me. Take my life and all that I possess – my gifts, talents, time and resources – and use them as you see fit for your glory.”

Daily Note

Jesus taught that real giving must come from the heart. A gift that is given with a grudge or for display loses its value. But a gift given out of love, with a spirit of generosity and sacrifice, is precious. The amount or size of the gift doesn’t matter as much as the cost to the giver. The poor widow could have kept one of her coins, but instead she recklessly gave away all she had! Jesus praised someone who gave barely a penny – how insignificant a sum – because it was everything she had, her whole living.

The Temples of Our Lives

Perfect Father Attributes Of The Lord Luke 19:45-48 - Faithlife Sermons
Daily Reflection – 11/19/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” And every day he was teaching in the temple area. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death, but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on his words. (Luke 19: 45-48)

Reflection

This is the only incident in the Gospels where we see Jesus using physical force.

Jesus went to Jerusalem, knowing he would meet certain death on the cross, but victory as well for our sake. His act of judgment in the temple is meant to be a prophetic sign and warning to the people that God takes our worship very seriously
Jesus honors the Father’s house of prayer by cleansing it of unholy practices.
Here, we see Jesus’ startling and swift action in cleansing the temple of those who were using it to exploit the worshipers of God. The money changers took advantage of the poor and forced them to pay many times more than was right – in the house of God no less! Their robbery of the poor was not only dishonoring to God but unjust toward their neighbor.

In our own day, Jesus wishes to purify our image of the Father, to “drive out” of the temple of our hearts images of God that are misconstrued. There are thieves in our interior which attempt to rob the faith, hope, and love that give it light, life, and a future. Invoking the light of the Holy Spirit, we can ask him: Are there fears or doubts which tug at my heart, keeping me from “letting go and letting God”? Are there insecurities which make me believe I must earn my worth before God and others, that my own perfection makes me worthy of him? Is there a second-guessing in my heart which makes me think I must make myself loveable, disbelieving that it is God himself who makes me loveable? 

By doing that, our purification begins. A purification which binds us closer to God and helps us to live in the image and likeness of God. He wants to help us to become a true temple of his presence. He wants us to become a house of prayer, where we hang on his words, where we adore him, thank him, ask forgiveness for our sins and the sins of the world, intercede for all those in need, and confidently ask him for whatever we think we need.

But there is still another temple. The physical structure that we attend when we go to Church. There too we are offered a chance to be purified.

When we come before the Lord, we must come in truth. Our aim is not to be polite, but to be honest. Therefore, we must come as the people we are. Jesus calls us to follow his example, to stand before the Lord in truth, because God wants us as the people we are. There are very few who can claim a life that has been totally purified. Each of us is a work in progress. Our tears, our sorrows, our anger, our insecurities are part of us and need to be resolved. What better place to bring them than to the Lord who knows our pain and can help us?

Stand before the Lord in truth, because it is only when we express our sorrow and anxieties to the Lord in prayer that we will be open to hear what he might say in response. Then perhaps we may discover the next step that God is asking us to take.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you open wide the door of your house and you bid us to enter confidently that we may worship you in spirit and truth. Help me to draw near to you with gratitude and joy for your great mercy. May I always revere your word and give you acceptable praise and worship.”

Daily NoteIf we approach God’s word with a humble attentive heart and with a willingness to be taught by the Lord, then we are in a good place to allow God’s word to change and transform us in the likeness of Christ. The Lord wants to teach us his ways so that we may grow in holiness. The Lord both instructs and disciplines us in love to lead us from the error of our sinful ways to his truth and justice. “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). The Lord calls us to be a holy people who worship him with reverence and gratitude for his great mercy and kindness towards us. Do you allow God’s word to transform you in his way of love and

Are You Standing on The Abyss?

Jesus Wept | Biblical Believers Today
Daily Reflection – 11/18/2021

Sacred Scripture

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44)

Reflection

Will you walk with me through this scene from scripture? I hope you will. Because it is a vivid image of where we are today.

The eyes of Jesus Christ which have seen the forming and founding of creation are glazed over with tears. Heavy, glistening drops fall gently on his beard. Perhaps we know of this event because the Apostles witnessed and later recounted it. What must it have been for them to see their Master weep? What insight into his heart did it give them?

“If this day you only knew what makes for peace.”

He desires peace for us. Did his Apostles learn that God comes to heal, not to break; that he wishes for our wholeness, even if it means passing first through suffering, as Christ himself would do? 

When Jesus approached Jerusalem and saw the multitude of homes surrounding the holy temple, he wept over it because its inhabitants did not “know the things that make for peace” (Luke 19:42). As he poured out his heart to the Father in heaven, Jesus shed tears of sorrow, grief, and mourning for his people. He knew that he would soon pour out his blood for the people of Jerusalem and for the whole world as well.

Is it really much different today? Throughout the world we see nations, including the United States, that have moved away from the concept of peace. Worse yet, they have embraced something far worse. Citizens have embraced a culture of anger. An evil that rots the soul and moves us away from the peace that Jesus desires for us. That stands in opposition to his teachings.

Too many have closed their hearts to the light of his peace. When we close our hearts, darkness ensues. When darkness ensues, the evil one finds a habitat that he loves.

So, I must ask. Are you standing on the abyss of anger? Are you willing to slide down the slippery slope of anger, bigotry, discrimination? Are you now forsaking and setting aside friends and neighbors because they do not share your beliefs? Are you wrapping your political beliefs around you as if they were a shield that you are prepared to carry into battle? Are you closing your heart to the peace of Jesus Christ?

Is it wrong to embrace political beliefs? Of course not. It is only wrong when those beliefs take away the path of peace which he trod for us.

Stop and think about his tears. There is not one of us who can profess to be his follower if we are carrying anger within. Angry words, angry chants, vile gestures, threats of violence have no place in his kingdom. There is nothing that can justify their place in our lives if we want to call ourselves Christians.

What is the alternative if your passion for politics has become central to your beliefs? Pursue those politics. Promote those politics. But not in a way that betrays a closed heart. Not in a way that legitimizes evil words and actions.

Grasp and hold close the reality of the Christian faith. Jesus is the hope of the world because he is the only one who can truly reconcile us with God and with one another. Through his death and resurrection Jesus breaks down the walls of hostility and division by reconciling us with God. He gives us his Holy Spirit both to purify us and restore us as a holy people of God. Through Jesus Christ we become living temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).

The people of Jerusalem believed they had all the answers. They waited only for their version of the Messiah. One would be a warrior and wrest control of their city and restore it to them as they wanted. The people of Jerusalem were content with their way of life and did not need the Lord: they failed to realize that they needed salvation

We need to grasp that Jesus weeps copiously for us when we don’t really let him into our lives to bring us the fullness of peace, he wishes to give us. But then we also need to enter into his tears and weep with him for all those who similarly do not open up their hearts to him, who refuse or reject his peace, his presence, his grace, his sacraments, his word, his brother or sister.

We Christians don’t ponder enough Jesus’ tears and don’t weep enough with him, not just for the hardened sinners far from the Lord, but also for those who believe themselves to be close to him but who out of stubbornness don’t allow Jesus to change them for the better because they don’t want to be disturbed.

Today is a day in which we first confront the possibility that Jesus has been weeping for us because we yet haven’t fully responded to his call to become saints, because we have not yet really meant the words we’ve prayed thousands of times, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

And we weep because so many others haven’t prayed them at all or like us fully willed God’s kingdom and will to be done over theirs.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you have visited and redeemed your people. May I not miss the grace of your visitation today as you move to bring your people into greater righteousness and holiness of life. Purify my heart and mind that I may I understand your ways and conform my life more fully to your will”.

Daily Note

We need to ask ourselves whether Jesus would be weeping over the United States, over the world. It’s easy for us to point to many who are living lives clearly contrary to the ways of God. Those who don’t recognize the continuation of Jesus’ incarnation in people’s lives.  But what about those of us who, like the ancient Jews in Jerusalem, think ourselves religious? Do we grasp what makes for peace and how the Lord has come to visit us? We sing “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts,” and the reality is that many times the inner ears of our heart are closed to God’s voice calling us to conversion and holiness.

Are You Forgetting Something?

The Parable of the Ten Minas - Luke 19: 11-27 - Emmanuel Keighley
Daily Reflection – 11/17/2021

Sacred Scripture

While people were listening to Jesus speak, he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem and they thought that the Kingdom of God would appear there immediately. So he said, “A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return. He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’ His fellow citizens, however, despised him and sent a delegation after him to announce, ‘We do not want this man to be our king.’ But when he returned after obtaining the kingship, he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money, to learn what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, ‘Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.’ He replied, ‘Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in this very small matter; take charge of ten cities.’ Then the second came and reported, ‘Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.’ And to this servant too he said, ‘You, take charge of five cities.’ Then the other servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your gold coin; I kept it stored away in a handkerchief, for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man; you take up what you did not lay down and you harvest what you did not plant.’ He said to him, ‘With your own words I shall condemn you, you wicked servant. You knew I was a demanding man, taking up what I did not lay down and harvesting what I did not plant; why did you not put my money in a bank? Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.’ And to those standing by he said, ‘Take the gold coin from him and give it to the servant who has ten.’ But they said to him, ‘Sir, he has ten gold coins.’ He replied, ‘I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.’” After he had said this, he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem. ( Luke 19:11-28)

Reflection

In today’s scripture, we learn of how our Lord entrusts the subjects of his kingdom with gifts and graces and he gives his subjects the freedom to use them as they think best. As the parable of the talents shows, God honors those who use their talents and gifts for doing good. Those who are faithful with even a little are entrusted with more! But those who squander what God has entrusted to them will lose what they have.
Many people and preachers will focus on the third servant whose one coin was taken away.

But I suggest we take a different perspective. It deals with the affirmation of the other two servants. They used their talents for God and received his praise. The parable tells us more about the Master affirming his servants than it does about the third servant.

Affirmation.

 It seems to be in limited quantities these days. Too many cultures around the world indulge more in negativity and anger than they do in holding up and praising others. Those cultures will face the fate of the third servant.

We are called by our Lord to so much more. We are called to exult in being a son or daughter of God. We are called to take that privilege and to use it for His good, not ours.

Affirmation rather than negativity. How do we adopt one and lose the other?

It begins with looking inward at ourselves. By claiming and believing in God’s love for us. Even though we may choose to not to believe that, God is affirming us every moment of our lives. That’s powerful.

We need to remember that especially at those points in our life when we hit a setback. When we let down our spouse. When we have suffered a serious rupture in a friendship. When a child goes astray and walks away us. When, as ageing parents, we don’t feel the love and concern of our children.

Especially in those times we need to remember his love. Because God is saying to us, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant. You are a good parent. You are a good spouse. You are a good grandmother, a good sister. You have used your talents generously and faithfully. You have been strong and a support to others.”

God’s affirmation of us is the source of power and life. We must take it in. We must believe it. We must let it touch our hearts and strengthen us.

And one other consideration.

We are expected to use that affirmation in our daily lives. For when we do that, we are acting in the image of God.

Look at your daily life. The manner in which you are raising your children. The manner in which you interact with your spouse. The manner in which you treat a friend.

When was the last time that you truly praised your daughter or your son and let the both of you enjoy and grow through that praise? Always remember that your affirmation of a child means the world to him or hear.

What about your spouse. Instead of letting the daily grind get in the way of how you see your spouse or even a very close friend. Do you stop enough and appreciate why they mean so much to you? Do you let them know that they occupy an important part of your life and it means so much to you?

All of this should lead you to one important realization. There is a sense of power and healing when someone you love affirms you or you affirm another.

And that is acting in the image and likeness of God.   Now that is amazing!

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, be the ruler of my heart and mind and the master of my home. Fill me with a generous and wise spirit that I may use the gifts, talents, time, and resources you give me for your glory and your kingdom.”

Daily Note

Jesus offers us a kingdom of justice, love, and peace and he calls us to live as citizens of this kingdom. Through the power of the Holy Spirit the Lord gives us freedom to live as his servants and to lay down our lives in loving service of our neighbors (Galatians 5:1,13). Do you trust in God’s grace to make good use of the gifts and talents he has given you?

Our Actions, Not Our Words, Speak to Christ

MEFC Sermon 3 31 2019 Pastor Bruce Lester : X-Press Productions : Free  Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
Daily Reflection – 11/16/20321

Sacred Scripture

He came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)

Reflection

Today’s scripture is one that has always spoken to me. It tells us so much of faith and, even more importantly, of God’s never-ending love for us.

So, let’s go into the scene for a moment.

We begin with Zacchaeus. A man shorter than most of the people around him. A man who was despised because he was a tax collector. Even worse, he was the chief tax collector. Someone who connived with the Romans to cheat his fellow countrymen. But he is determined to see Jesus. Perhaps his countrymen intentionally got in the way so he could not see. He outwits them by climbing a sycamore tree to see.

Then we have Jesus. His love for sinners was so profound that he literally went to the deepest place on earth in search of perhaps the greatest public sinner of that city, to reconcile him to the Father. Jesus went to Jericho, the lowest city on the planet — 853 feet below sea level — to find Zacchaeus.

Jesus had promised that he, the Good Shepherd, would leave the ninety-nine sheep in his fold to search out and save one lost sheep, and this is what he did, leaving the crowds behind and entering alone with Zacchaeus into his home and into his life. He called Zacchaeus, his lost sheep, by name and heaven rejoiced on that day more for him than for all the others.

Already, the story has grown powerful. It’s true power, however, lies in what it means for us.

It was not enough for Zacchaeus to want to see Jesus. He took a concrete action to see Jesus. How many of us want to be followers of Christ? Some even profess to be.  But truth is we never take the actions in our lives to be his follower.

Sure, the words we speak say that but they are betrayed by the thoughts in our minds and hearts which are not in the spirit of Christ. It’s folly and folly which could affect our eternal lives.

Zacchaeus took another step. He promised not only to give retribution but to do it four-fold. Think of his actions and correlate them to faith. Faith is kept alive not only in spiritual dispositions. It takes flesh and grows through concrete actions, daily choices.

In today’s world-wide climate, how many of us are making the daily choices to be true to Christ? Moreover, like Zacchaeus, how many of us are willing to seemingly go against the choices of others whose lives do not reflect Christ? That happens easily. We listen to words of anger and seek not to inject peace. We allow those around us to inflame others with hate and fail to stand up to it. We see violence and walk away professing it is not only safer to do that but that it’s none of our business.

Are we afraid to climb the tree that crucified Christ?

The Lord Jesus comes continually to save us, no matter how far we’ve sunk, and no matter how many times we’ve fallen. And there’s nothing he won’t do to save us.

When we and the whole human race were incapable of seeing Him on account of the great weight of sin which was reducing our humanity to smaller and smaller images of what we are called to be, and when we were incapable of climbing any tree at all, he, out of his great love for us, climbed one on our behalf, so that each of us might still be able to see him, perched upon his glorious wooden throne.

That makes me shudder and feel ever so humble that he loves you and I that much. He took the ultimate action, the final step to show the meaning behind the words “I love you.”

He invites each of us to be lifted up by him onto that life-giving tree, so that as victors we might sit with him on his throne and as God’s children might spend eternity in a celestial tree house built upon the Cross’-firm foundation.

Today Jesus knocks on the door of our heart and says, “I must stay in your house today.” What will your answer be?

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, come and stay with me. Fill my life with your peace, my home with your presence, and my heart with your praise. Help me to show kindness, mercy, and goodness to all, even to those who cause me ill-will or harm.”

Daily Note

Today and every day, Jesus takes the initiative of knocking at the door of our souls, asking for entry, coming to us wherever we are, no matter the depths to which we’ve sunk, no matter the fact that perhaps everyone else around us might dislike us. Jesus never abandons us. To the extent that we repent of whatever sins we’ve committed and accept Jesus’ gracious invitation by “welcoming him with delight,” we, too, like Zacchaeus, can have salvation come to us.

To See As He Sees

Luke 10 23 The Eyes That See What You Powerpoint Church Sermon | Templates  PowerPoint Slides | PPT Presentation Backgrounds | Backgrounds Presentation  Themes
Daily Reflection – 11/15/2021

Sacred Scripture

Now as he approached Jericho a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging, and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” The people walking in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent, but he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me!” Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He replied, “Lord, please let me see.” Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.” He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God. When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God. (Luke 18:35-43)

Reflection

This cry of Bartimaeus is one of the most beautiful and frequent Christian aspirations “Lord, I want to see.” It’s a beautiful response to Jesus’ perennial question to us in prayer, “What do you want me to do for you?”

For Bartimaeus, his faith went beyond being gifted with the eyes of faith. After his faith was restored, he went on to follow Jesus as one of his disciples.

What does it take for us to have that faith? What does it take for us to see Jesus around his?

It starts with the simplest of truths. To believe that he is present in our life.

Where do we look to see him?

When you see your children laughing and playing, do not only see their enthusiasm and joy. See also the mystery of their life which is a gift that God has given them and entrusted to you.

When you gather with close friends and spend an evening together, do not fail to see how the presence of those friends in your life is a result of God’s love—a love that brought you together and allows your relationship to be life-giving.

 As you face the news of the world, look amid the violence and the injustice for those moments of harmony, service, and cooperation. See in those good events the action of God’s Spirit working to bring peace and justice to the world. 

 As you drive or walk on a beautiful day do not simply see the greenness of the trees, the billowing clouds, and the vibrant colors of the flowers. See in all the intricacy and life that surrounds you a sign of a God who created all things and continues to guide them.

We are surrounded by people, events, and nature. But what do we see? Can we discern the invisible presence of God’s Spirit which animates and directs all of them?

If we can see God’s spirit that visibly them something else happens. Our faith is strengthened because we are experiencing his presence. If our faith is strengthened on an ongoing basis, then our eyes are opened to recognize that the one truth, in this time of disinformation is Jesus Christ;

When Jesus Christ becomes the eyes of our faith, we recognize that the anger of so many is not part of his world. We seek to not only move away from those things that are not of his world but to form bridges which allow us to invite others to see him;

When Jesus Christ becomes the eyes of our faith, we see others as brothers and sisters created by him. We find that discrimination against others is simply not possible in his world;

When Jesus Christ becomes the eyes of our faith, we recognize that each of us has as a mission, to bring others to him through the simple actions of our life and the words we speak to all;

When Jesus becomes the eyes of our faith, we cease looking to others to be our leader, to be our hero, to supplant him.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the light. Do we see that? Do we reflect that to others in the ever day back and forth of our lives? Do we end the day with a smile because we know that we lived that day as he wished?

If we do then know we are blessed. We are blessed because we live in him. We have had our sight restored as he gave it to us at birth. We truly follow him as one of his disciples. Now that is a blessing.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, open the eyes of my heart and mind that I may see and understand the truth and goodness of your word. May I never fail to recognize your presence with me and to call upon your saving grace in my time of need and healing.”

Daily Note

Jesus won’t allow us to see everything, because then we wouldn’t have the grace to live by faith, entrusting ourselves to things unseen, but he does want us to see things more and more in his light and more and more deeply. Today we ask him with Bartimaeus to give us the grace of real vision.

A Lesson On Being Grounded in Christ

Pin on Pure Religion
Daily Reflection – 11/12/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; on the day when Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all. So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, someone who is on the housetop and whose belongings are in the house must not go down to get them, and likewise one in the field must not return to what was left behind. Remember the wife of Lot. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it. I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. And there will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken, the other left.” They said to him in reply, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will gather.” ( Luke 17:26-37)

Reflection

The Jews is Jesus’ time were watching in great anticipation for some sign which would indicate when the Messiah would appear to establish the kingdom of God.

 The Pharisees’ question on this matter was intended to test Jesus since they did not accept him as the Messiah. Jesus surprised them with the answer that the kingdom or reign of God was already here! Jesus spoke of the coming of God’s kingdom as both a present event and an event which would be manifested at the end of time.

We dwell within that kingdom when we’re with the King, when we allow his will to be done within us, when he reigns. When we submit ourselves to God and acknowledge his reign over our life.

In a country where “personal freedom” is a rallying cry, how does submission to God work? Certainly, they seem at odds.

In truth, they are if the concept of personal freedom means “it’s my way or the highway.” If that is the case then the highway one treads is going to lead to a disappointing end.

We are asked to accept the wisdom of his words” “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it.”

Those who are living in the kingdom are losing their life for God and others, so that his kingdom will come and his will be done. Those who try to preserve their own kingdom, to hallow their own name, to do their own will, will be those who lose their lives.

There is a simple but profound truth in being a follower of Christ and allowing him to rule our lives. It is not simply giving mental ascent to a series of theological truths. It is not even primarily about living a good moral life, because millions of people do exactly that without any religious conviction whatever.

 What it comes down to, what is at the heart of our religion is that we know that we are daughters and sons of God. We believe that we have a personal relationship with Christ. We trust that regardless of who we are or the mistakes we have made, God will remain faithful to us and protect us. We believe that Jesus knows the pitch of our voice and knowing everything about us, still freely chooses to love us and protect us.

 Outside of that relationship, faith is simply a matter of words and religion a system of ideas. Words and ideas are not going to save us.

Only love can save us.

This is why we must be grounded in a relationship of love with Christ. We need the strength that flows from that love because we live in world where there are all kinds of threats. We face the threat of terrorism, the threat of illness, the threat of rejection or prejudice from others, the threat of addiction, of violence, of injustice.

How do we expect to cope with the fears that these threats can destroy us? How do we expect to gain the strength by which we can oppose the evil in our world and work towards God’s Kingdom? How do we expect to remain optimistic and positive, believing that life is worth living?

It is only when we ground ourselves in God’s personal love for us, that we can find peace. It is only when we believe God has chosen us and can recognize the very sound of our voice that we can live in freedom. Jesus’ words are clear. We belong to him. He knows our voice. He will always care and protect us. We need then, to stand in that personal relationship. We need to draw the strength that comes from Christ’s commitment to us. Jesus says, “I love you.” We need to believe those words and live in the peace that comes from that commitment.

Prayer of The Day

“Jesus, help me to see things as you see them, to value them as you value them. Give me the light and the strength to fulfill your will in all things—both now and at the end of my life.” 

Daily Note

Jesus says that we stand in a close, personal relationship with him. He will give us life and protect us. Jesus’ words are clear. The question is, do we think that he is serious? Or do we hear them as a kind of religious jargon or a modified sales pitch that only partially applies to us? To hear them in that way would be a fatal mistake because the basis of all that we believe depends upon our acceptance of that personal relationship with Christ. 

The Moment of Truth . . . Accepting His Kingdom

Daily Guidelines: November 15, 2018 - Verbum Dei Philippines
Daily Reflection – 11/11/2021

Sacred Scripture

Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus said in reply, “The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘There it is.’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.” Then he said to his disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. There will be those who will say to you, ‘Look, there he is,’ or ‘Look, here he is.’ Do not go off, do not run in pursuit. For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation.” (Luke 17:20-25)

Reflection

“The kingdom come; thy will be done.”

How many times have you or I prayed those words? Daily, throughout the world, Christians utter those words as part of the Lord’s Prayer.

We utter the words but do we truly accept them?

In today’s scripture, the Pharisees’ question on this matter was intended to test Jesus since they did not accept him as the Messiah. Jesus surprised them with the answer that the kingdom or reign of God was already here! Jesus spoke of the coming of God’s kingdom as both a present event and an event which would be manifested at the end of time.

A present event. Think about that.

The kingdom of God … is ‘not a thing.’ The Kingdom of God is God. The Kingdom of God means: God exists. God is alive. God is present and acts in the world God is not a faraway ‘ultimate cause,’ God is not the ‘great architect’ of deism, who created the machine of the world and is no longer part of it – on the contrary: God is the most present and decisive reality in each and every act of my life, in each and every moment of history.”

The kingdom has come to a person when God is truly God of each and every act of one’s life. The Kingdom of God is living within the matrix of the incarnate King of Kings.

Do you believe that? I do. Do you live your live as part of his kingdom? I try but fail often.

Jesus reminds us in today’s scripture that no one needed to wait to observe the kingdom because the kingdom had already come. Rather, they needed to know how to look for it.

Throughout the Gospel Jesus was giving us indications about how to recognize the kingdom as well as the conditions for entering it and living in it. He says that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are “poor in spirit,” to those who treasure God more than all the treasures of the world.

 It belongs to those who convert and become like little children, who trust in God and accept it as a gift.

 It is like a wedding banquet full of joy and those who live in the kingdom are those who are profoundly and serenely joyful.

 It grows like a mustard seed or yeast, imperceptible to people on the outside but the growth is real.

It’s like a buried treasure or a pearl of great price, a net cast into the sea or a field with wheat and weeds. By each of these realities Jesus was indicating qualities of the Kingdom so that we would be able to perceive it. 

Today is an occasion for us to ask whether we’re really living in that kingdom, whether God is the “most present and decisive reality in each and every act of my life.” At a practical level, do we look at politics, sports, snow storms, meals, familial relations, friendships, setbacks — in short, life — differently than others who do not know about nor live in the kingdom?

One of the most important ways we seek to live in the Kingdom is to unite ourselves with the King. When we allow Christ the Kingdom to establish his throne within us, so that the Kingdom of God may truly be within us. The Kingdom, as Jesus says, is not something that will be announced by pointing here and there, but for us as Christians is something that we are called to bear within. 

It’s simple, folks. We are called to bear the kingdom within our lives. Anything that gets in the way of allowing that kingdom to be reflected in our lives must, and should be, expunged from our lives. Our inner thoughts, our outward actions and the words we speak all will tell whether we are living in His kingdom.

Begin today. We need to monitor your daily life and either admit to God that we accept His kingdom within or admit to ourselves that we choose to accept another kingdom.

That’s the test. That’s the reality.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus Christ, may your kingdom come and may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Be the Ruler of my heart and the Master of my life that I may always live in the freedom of your love and truth.”

Daily Note

In the Lord Jesus we see both the power and the glory of God’s kingdom. His divine power overthrew the powers of darkness (the kingdom of Satan and all who opposed God’s rule) and sin (which corrupts and enslaves the human mind, heart, and will to the forces of evil and wrongdoing). Jesus knew that the only way to victory was through the cross. On that cross he defeated death and canceled the debt of our sins. The victory of his cross opens the way for us to live as sons and daughters of God and citizens of his heavenly kingdom of peace, joy, and righteousness (moral goodness). Is your hope and future securely anchored to God’s heavenly kingdom?