Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, December 1, 2018 — “Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life…”

December 1, 2018

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Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life

The Lord God shall give them light

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Saturday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 508

Reading 1 RV 22:1-7

John said:
An angel showed me the river of life-giving water,
sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God
and of the Lamb down the middle of the street,
On either side of the river grew the tree of life
that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month;
the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations.
Nothing accursed will be found anymore.
The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it,
and his servants will worship him.
They will look upon his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun,
for the Lord God shall give them light,
and they shall reign forever and ever.And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true,
and the Lord, the God of prophetic spirits,
sent his angel to show his servants what must happen soon.”
“Behold, I am coming soon.”
Blessed is the one who keeps the prophetic message of this book.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 95:1-2, 3-5, 6-7AB

R. (1 Cor 16: 22b, see Rev. 22: 20c) Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!
For the LORD is a great God,
and a great king above all gods;
In his hands are the depths of the earth,
and the tops of the mountains are his.
His is the sea, for he has made it,
and the dry land, which his hands have formed.
R. Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Alleluia  LK 21:36

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Be vigilant at all times and pray
that you may have the strength to stand before the Son of Man.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 21:34-36

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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01 DECEMBER, 2018, Saturday, 34th Week, Ordinary Time

WATCH YOURSELF

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ REV 22:1-7LUKE 21:34-36 ]

In the gospel, the Lord warned His disciples, “‘Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap.”  Why should we watch ourselves?  Many people no longer watch themselves.  This is because there seems to be a loss of hope for the future.  Many are living with the thought that once we die, everything is finished.  So what is there to be alert to because we are not going anywhere!   This explains why many are not keeping watch for the life to come as they only live for this world and this life.  When that is so, indeed, as Jesus said, “our hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life.”  Life for them is all about making money, pleasure, merry-making, enjoyment and holidays.  Work and ambition are the means to secure wealth and a luxurious life.  So why worry about God, about Church, about the poor and the suffering or the future of the country and the world?  Why worry about ecology or climate change and that the world will one day be burnt out?   We will be long dead and gone.

That is why it is important that we do not get soiled by the world and its values.  Many of our Catholics who are weak in faith, who hardly pray or read the scriptures, attend church services only occasionally, behave more like baptized pagans than real Catholics.  The values they subscribe to are not founded on the Word of God but on the current opinions of the world.  They believe more in the ideology of the world than in Catholic theology.  In truth, no one becomes an unbeliever overnight.  It is always a gradual process.  It begins with neglect in our spiritual life, especially a deep relationship with God.  Once our relationship with the Lord becomes cold and distant, we become worldlier and more sensual in our needs.  We cling to the pleasures that come from the flesh and the world.  Very soon, we fall deeper into sin and God is completely out of our mind and our lives.  In order to justify our sinful actions that are contrary to the Church’s teachings and the Word of God, we employ the reasons of the world to convince us that what we do is the right thing and that the Church is wrong and the bible is outdated and not the Word of God.  We become arrogant in our thoughts.  From indifference to the faith, we soon become hostile to the Word of God.  From being a Sunday and nominal Catholic, we become anti-Catholic and join the rest of the world in condemning the Catholic Faith.  This is the path that many Catholics take simply because they had not been watchful of the workings and the strategy of the Evil One.

This is why the Lord exhorts us, “Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.”  Praying keep us awake to the presence of God and the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  Praying keeps us informed of the Word of God which “is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  (Ps 119:105)  Today’s gospel text came before Jesus’ suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He Himself prayed at the most difficult time in His life when He had to make a decision to do the Father’s will.   Hence, He urged us, “Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  (Mt 26:41) Without prayer, we would fall into temptations because of weakness, like St Peter who denied the Lord because of his cowardice and the rest who ran away for safety when Jesus was arrested.

How often is this case for us all as well?  Many of us are easily tempted to sin because of the weakness of the will and the flesh.  We are afraid to carry the cross.  We are afraid to suffer for Jesus, especially shame and humiliation.  Indeed, when people were attacking the Church and her moral values, few Catholics came out to the open to defend the truths of the gospel and the morality of our peoples.  Many kept silent.

So how can we, besides praying, find the strength to stay awake and remain firm in our faith?  We must keep the vision that Christ has shown us.  We need to have a clear vision of our ultimate goal in life if we are to give our whole heart and soul to arrive at it.  Only with a clear vision like St Paul and St John, can we focus fully.  Hence, we must nurture the vision that the Word of God presents to us about our future destiny so that by remembering and keeping the vision alive, we will never lose enthusiasm and hope. 

In the book of revelation, we have the angel showing St John the vision of life.  “The angel showed me, John, the river of life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb and flowing crystal-clear down the middle of the city street. On either side of the river were the trees of life, which bear twelve crops of fruit in a year, one in each month, and the leaves of which are the cure for the pagans.”  The view of heaven where there will be eternal life and fruitfulness is what must continue to inspire us.  We know that at the end of the day, we will share in the river of life eternal when the Spirit lives in us.  This is what the Lord promised us.  “‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”  (Jn 7:37-39)

Secondly, our hope is that we see God face to face. “The ban will be lifted. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in its place in the city; his servants will worship him, they will see him face to face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. It will never be night again and they will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will be shining on them. They will reign for ever and ever.”  Returning to God is where we truly belong.  When we see the face of God, we come to realize that we belong to Him and in Him we find our peace and joy.  St John wrote, “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”  (1 Jn 3:2f)  God will be our complete joy and light.  There will be no darkness, no fear, no more temptations but we will be in God who is our peace and life.

Finally, the ultimate question is, when will He come? He said, “Very soon now, I shall be with you again.”  God will come at the end of our sojourn on earth when we die.  God will come at the end of history when everything will reach its consummation.  But He will come.  How soon, is an irrelevant question.  In fact, He has never left us.  He said, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (Mt 28:20)  He has already come to us in the Church, in the Eucharist, in the Sacraments, and in the Holy Spirit.  He went up to heaven and has brought heaven to us when He came again in the Holy Spirit.  What is needed for us now is to receive Him again and again, especially at the Eucharist.  What we need to do is to find Him, especially among the poor, for He is with them too, as He said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’  (Mt 25:40) Or when we receive the little and insignificant people in our lives.  “Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”  (Mt 18:4f)

So, rather than speculating on the end of time to get ready, we must be ready at all times.  Our entire life must be one of readiness to welcome the Lord.  We must be saying, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!”  In this way, we will be ready for any unforeseen circumstances in life, whether we meet a sudden death, a tragic event, trials in life or a crisis.  To be prepared at all times is the best preparation because we have nothing to fear.  Let us keep ourselves holy by making sure we go regularly for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, keep ourselves walking in love and truth, have a clear conscience and fulfill our responsibilities faithfully in life.  When we do that, we will always be ready to stand before the Lord with full confidence.  When we cry out, “Come, Lord Jesus”, He will come to our help in our trials.

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Morning Prayer for Wednesday, November 28, 2018 — Gratitude

November 28, 2018

Gratitude to God is the theme of Thanksgiving Day. The pilgrims gathered to give thanks to God for their harvest, which was pitifully small. When we look around at all the things we have today, how can we help being grateful to God? Our families, our homes, our friends, our A.A. fellowship: all these things are free gifts of God to us. “But for the grace of God,” we would not have them.

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Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may be very grateful today and every day. I pray that I may not forget where I might be but for the grace of God.

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Prayer of Saint Francis 

Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life
Amen
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 (We can’t hear God when we are angry and upset)
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“Be still and know that I am God.” The moments of deepest prayer are usually moments of quiet awe before the throne of God.
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God is a God of peace. He does not speak and does not operate except in Peace — Jacques Philippe, author of “Searching for and Maintaining Peace”
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For God is not a God of disorder but of peace–as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. — 1  Corinthians 14:33
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The most often repeated instruction to man in the Holy Scripture is: “Do not be afraid.”

This little “anti-anxiety” prayer was a part of every Catholic Mass for centuries:
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Deliver us, Lord, from every evil,
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
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Nada Te Turbe (Let nothing disturb you)
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Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.— St. Teresa of Avila
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Morning Prayer for Saturday, November 24, 2018 — Making Progress — Reflection on The Promises

November 24, 2018

Instead of pretending to be perfectionists, we are content if we are making progress. The humanness of man is a bulwark against perfection. The main thing is to be growing. Just as every team doubts its chances of reaching the Super Bowl, every man on every team strives to get to that final destination.

We realize that perfectionism is only a result of false pride and an excuse to save our faces. We are are willing to make mistakes and to stumble, provided we are always stumbling forward. We are not so interested in what we are as in what we are becoming. We are on the way, not at the goal. And we will be on the way as long as we live. No person on this earth has ever “arrived.” But we are getting better. Am I making progress?

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Meditation for the Day

Each new day brings an opportunity to do some little thing that will help to make a better world that will bring God’s kingdom a little nearer to being realized on earth. Take each day’s happenings as opportunities for something you can do for God. In that spirit, a blessing will attend all that you do. Offering this day’s service to God, you are sharing in His work. You do not have to do great things.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that today I may do the next thing, the unselfish thing, the loving thing. I pray that I may be content with doing small things as long as they are right.

From Twenty Four Hours a Day

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 (Bishop Goh in Singapore says: “We will either end up with faith in God or in total self-destruction.”)

There are promises in many Segments of Life: These Are the Promises of Alcoholics Anonymous

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

The Promises (pg. 83, Big Book)

We first put the AA promises with the reading for the Feast of Saint Anthony. It seems fitting that we put the AA promises on the feast of Saint Anthony, who, preached above all, love of God and proper order. Alcoholism is, above all else, a disease of disorder.

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Saint Anthony of Padua and “Jesus jumping out of the book.” When the book of your life is written, what will be jumping out?

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God Bless You Lenny! We Miss You!

Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, November 22, 2018 — I give thanks to my God always

November 22, 2018

“I have come that they may have life, and have life more abundantly”

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Thanksgiving Day
Lectionary: 943-947

Reading 1 SIR 50:22-24

And now, bless the God of all,
who has done wondrous things on earth;
Who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb,
and fashions them according to his will!
May he grant you joy of heart
and may peace abide among you;
May his goodness toward us endure in Israel
to deliver us in our days.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 145:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

R. (see 1) I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Generation after generation praises your works
and proclaims your might.
They speak of the splendor of your glorious majesty
and tell of your wondrous works.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
They discourse of the power of your terrible deeds
and declare your greatness.
They publish the fame of your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your justice.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord 

Reading 2 1 COR 1:3-9

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

I give thanks to my God always on your account
for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,
that in him you were enriched in every way,
with all discourse and all knowledge,
as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you,
so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift
as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He will keep you firm to the end,
irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful,
and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Alleluia  PS 66:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Hear now, all you who fear God,
while I declare what he has done for me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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Jesus encounters the ten lepers By James Tissot
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Gospel LK 17:11-19

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem,
he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.
As he was entering a village, ten persons with leprosy met him.
They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying,
“Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”
And when he saw them, he said,
“Go show yourselves to the priests.”
As they were going they were cleansed.
And one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.
He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply,
“Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
Then he said to him, “Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you.”
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Homily From Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.

“Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” (Luke 17: 17-18) Ingratitude has been called “the most unkindest cut of all.” Yes, it is so easy to fall in love with the gift and forget all about the Giver; to admire a painting and never think of the painter; to enjoy music and never know the heart from which it came; to accept and love ourselves and not to care for the One from whom we came.

We like to think of ourselves as doers and achievers but the basic fact of life is that we are primarily receivers and transmitters not achievers. We all started out as zero, zip, nada. We did not ask to be. We did nothing to get here. My very existence is a gift of God. What am I anyway but a conglomeration of the gifts of God? What do I have that I have not received? Our most basic relationship with God therefore should be one of gratitude.

On another level I really did not start out as zero, zip, nada. In fact, I did not start out at all. I existed for all eternity. I existed in the mind of God as one of an infinite number of possible beings, beings that possibly could be. Out of this infinite number of possible beings God freely chose to create me.

My parents did not want me. They may have wanted a child but they did not know who I would be. But God knew exactly who I would be, and he wanted me. “You have not chosen me, I have chosen you.” So from all eternity my most basic relationship with God is one of gratitude. “Lord, give me a grateful heart.”

To remember and give thanks. God gave us a memory so that we can remember and give thanks. The memory enables us to bring forth from the storeroom of the past the wonderful moments of success, love and happiness, so that we can re-live, re-enjoy them and be grateful. “Lord, give me a grateful heart.”

To remember and give thanks. That is what the Bible is all about. The Bible is the written history of many of the wonderful gifts God has given us from the very creation of the world and the promise of even greater gifts in the future. In the beginning the memory of these gifts was handed on orally to each succeeding generation and then under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit written down so that all could remember and give thanks. “Lord, give me a grateful heart.”

To remember and give thanks. That is what the Mass is all about. The Mass is the perfect act of thanksgiving that Jesus commanded us to, “Do this in memory of me.” It is the perfect sacrifice Malachi foretold which would be offered up from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof. “Lord, give me a grateful heart.”

To remember and give thanks. That is why we have a National Thanksgiving Day. We live in a country of plenty in a world of want, a land of religious and political freedom in a world of ethnic cleansing and zero tolerance, a land at peace in a world at war. Yet we have to set aside one day a year to remind us to give thanks to God. “Lord, give me a grateful heart.”

To remember and give thanks. And in so doing we grow in the love of God. It is in gratitude for the gifts that we grow in the love of the Giver. As we say in the preface at Mass, “Our act of thanksgiving adds nothing to your greatness but makes us grow in grace through Jesus Christ, or Lord.”

Gifts are the language of love, the more one loves the more one gives. Never has this language of gift-giving been spoken to me as God has spoken it to me. If God would not give me one gift more I should be grateful. But the best gift is yet to come. God will continue to look over me with His Divine Providence and then at the end of my life he will give me the greatest gift of all the gift of the Giver to be known, loved and possessed forever.

“Lord, give me a grateful heart,” so that I may always remember and give thanks, and in so doing I may grow in the love of You.”http://www.frksj.org/homily_thanksgiving.htm

Morning Prayer for Sunday, November 18, 2018 — Reflect God’s Light in Your Life — Experiencing the Fullness of God

November 18, 2018

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“Do not hide your light under a bushel. Arise and shine, for the light has come and the glory of the Lord is risen in thee.” The glory of the Lord shines in the beauty of your character. It is risen in you, even though you can realize it only in part. “Now you see as in a glass darkly, but later you will see face to face.” The glory of the Lord is too dazzling for mortals to see fully on earth. But some of this glory is risen in you when you try to reflect that light in your life.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may try to be a reflection of the Divine Light. I pray that some of its rays may shine in my life.

From Twenty Four Hours a Day

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“My God, the soul that you placed within me is pure. And because it is pure I am free to live today differently than yesterday. Because it is free, I am free to live today without the burden of past habits, past fears, past mistakes, past failures.”

From “Recovery The Scared Art” by Rami Shapiro

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A number of folks I know and love are chasing hard after God these days.

I think the times are demanding it. The draining nature of the pace of life combined with the spiritual battles that seem to be hitting everyone are creating in us a deeper need and hunger for more of God. Just this week a dear friend said to me, “I just need more of God.” I sure need more of God. I bet you do, too.

How do we find “more of God”? Where do we look?

Folks seem to be looking to the latest cool conference, the new worship CD, the prophetic teacher, churches and experiences promising “encounters.” Some of it delivers. But it doesn’t seem to last. So you’ve got to find the next new conference, the next breakthrough worship CD, the next “encounter.”

I don’t think love works like that. I don’t think God plays hide and seek, bait and switch, running from this city to that speaker to this next promise of an encounter. That doesn’t sound like love to me.

How do we find fullness in you, Father?

I re-read Ephesians 3 this week, which climaxes in this promise: “that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” What? That’s it—that’s it! How do we find that?

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (vs 14-19).

There it is—that we might be filled to all the fullness of God! That’s what we yearn for, what we are chasing, what we so desperately need! Wouldn’t it be incredible to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God? And God is showing us the way to that fullness. Pay careful attention to the progression Paul walks us through, prays us through:

1. That God our Father would strengthen us with power through his Spirit in our inmost being. That’s Step 1. I think that alone would change my life. But it is only the beginning of this incredible progression. Having that, we are able to move to Step 2…

2. That He might really fill and dwell in our hearts. Wonderful. Yes! If our hearts were really filled with the presence of Jesus??! From there we can move into Step 3…

3. That we might be rooted and grounded in love. Wouldn’t that be incredible? Who do you even know that is rooted and grounded in love? It is the widespread weariness and unsettledness that is causing us to need more of God. We can be rooted and grounded in love?! Step 4 builds on this…

4. That we might have power to grasp the full height, depth, length, and breadth of Jesus’s love. Oh yes, Father—we need this! I know it would transform our lives. But there’s more…

5. Paul prays that we would KNOW this love (experience it—deep, personal “knowing”). And from this place we get to the goal, Step 6…

6. That we might be filled to all the fullness of God!

Oh, friends—there is a treasure here for us. There is a rescue here for us. A path is laid out for us. I think great conferences, CDs, and “encounters” are all good and have their place. But the truth is, they don’t last, and honestly, much of them don’t really deliver on the promises being made. Here is a far deeper, truer, and sure-er path—one given to us by God himself. He wants us to find fullness in him.

Try this—pray through this progression for yourself. Chase this. Stay in this for awhile. You don’t even have to leave your house. I bet the fruit will be wonderful, just what we are looking for. There is a way to fullness in God, but it’s different than what most people are chasing.

Yes, yes, yes to more of God! And here is the path he has given to find it. I think this is going to be revolutionary, and an incredible relief.

https://www.ransomedheart.com/blogs/john/experiencing-fullness-god-really

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Twelve-step programs teach, of course, twelve steps. Matthew Kelly suggests we can boil those down to just four once we are sober for some time.

The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic

  1. Pray/Meditate
  2. Study
  3. Pour ourselves out in service to others
  4. EVANGELIZE (For A.A.s, do “Twelve Step Work”)

Prayer and Meditation for Friday, November 16, 2018 — Guarding Our Inner Spirit — “Love is the fulfilling of the law” — “Where the body is, there also the vultures will gather.”

November 16, 2018

Let us love one another. I rejoice greatly to find  your children walking in the truth. Many deceivers have gone out into the world… Remember the wife of Lot.

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus…

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Friday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 495

Reading 1  2 JN 4-9

[Chosen Lady:]
I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth
just as we were commanded by the Father.
But now, Lady, I ask you,
not as though I were writing a new commandment
but the one we have had from the beginning:
let us love one another.
For this is love, that we walk according to his commandments;
this is the commandment, as you heard from the beginning,
in which you should walk.

Many deceivers have gone out into the world,
those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh;
such is the deceitful one and the antichrist.
Look to yourselves that you do not lose what we worked for
but may receive a full recompense.
Anyone who is so “progressive”
as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God;
whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 119:1, 2, 10, 11, 17, 18

R. (1b) Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Blessed are they whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Blessed are they who observe his decrees,
who seek him with all their heart.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
With all my heart I seek you;
let me not stray from your commands.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Within my heart I treasure your promise,
that I may not sin against you.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Be good to your servant, that I may live
and keep your words.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Open my eyes, that I may consider
the wonders of your law.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

Alleluia  LK 21:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  LK 17:26-37

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.”
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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16 NOVEMBER, 2018, Friday, 32nd Week, Ordinary Time

BEING PREPARED

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 2 JOHN 4-9LUKE 17:26-37 ]

There was a supposedly intelligent and successful king.  To entertain him, he had a fool.  But this fool was a real fool; not just playing the role of a fool.  The king would laugh at the fool for the foolish things he said and did. One day he gave the fool a staff.  He said, “Take this staff and keep it till you find a bigger fool than yourself.”  Many years down the road, the king was old and was dying.  His family, his court officials, his ministers, his servants, and last of all, the fool stood around his bed.  The king in sadness said, “I have called you to wish you all farewell.  I am about to depart from you. I will be embarking on a long journey.  I will return no more to this palace.”   Then the fool came up and said to him. “Your majesty, one question before you leave us.  In the past, whenever you went on a journey to distant places or to some other country, you would always dispatch messengers, security guards, police, and soldiers ahead of you to make preparations for your journey.   So may I enquire what preparations your majesty has made for this long journey you are about to undertake?” “Alas!” replied the king, “I have made no preparations.”  “Then,” said the fool, “you may have this staff back since I have finally found a bigger fool than myself.”

Indeed, are we prepared for the last journey we take in life?  Have we made provisions?  This is the question that the Lord is asking of us when He spoke of the coming of God’s Kingdom.  The truth is that the kingdom will come when we least expect.  He said, “As it was in Noah’s day, so will it also be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating and drinking, marrying wives and husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and the Flood came and destroyed them all. It will be the same as it was in Lot’s day: people were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but the day Lot left Sodom, God rained fire and brimstone from heaven and it destroyed them all. It will be the same when the day comes for the Son of Man to be revealed.”

What is more, the writing is all on the wall.  Jesus said to the disciples, “Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather.”  In other words, if we see many vultures hovering over the sky, we know that a carcass is there.  The signs that warn us of the future are also present before us.  We see someone who appears to be in the best of health suddenly suffer a heart attack; a young man at the prime of his career meets with an accident and is disabled for life; a professional discovers she has fourth stage cancer;  a businessman finds his business collapsing because of changing economic conditions.  Truly, many things are not predictable in life.  We do not know when the time will come for us to meet the Lord.  We are like this great king who became a fool at the end of his life.  He had done much for the kingdom, but he did not make provisions for himself.  We can be very successful in life, making achievements and a name for ourselves in this life, but a failure in the eyes of God.

When that time comes, we cannot bring anything of this world with us.  We cannot bring our loved ones with us.  We cannot bring even a pin out of this world, much less our wealth and property.  Everything would have to be left behind.  This is what the Lord said, “When that day comes, anyone on the housetop, with his possessions in the house, must not come down to collect them, nor must anyone in the fields turn back either. Remember Lot’s wife. Anyone who tries to preserve his life will lose it; and anyone who loses it will keep it safe. I tell you, on that night two women will be grinding corn together: one will be taken, the other left.”  In another place, the Lord said, “For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?”  (Mt 16:26)  This is the most important question that we need to ask for ourselves, less at the end of our life, not only will we find ourselves unprepared to leave this place, but to realize that we have lived in vain.

So how can we live in such a way that we are always prepared for death?  St John gives us the answer, which is to love one another.  “It has given me great joy to find that your children have been living the life of truth as we were commanded by the Father.  I am writing now, dear lady, not to give you any new commandment, but the one which we were given at the beginning, and to plead: let us love one another.”  There is only one commandment in the final analysis, which is the commandment to love one another.  Love is the only commandment and indeed the only law.  “Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”  (Rom 13:8-10)

What does it mean to love?  We all claim to love and yet we are hurting each other.  Even the gangster and the mafia claim that they are doing all the illegal things out of love.  Men and women, or even those of the same sex orientation, have sexual relationships outside of marriage in the name of love.  So whilst St Augustine in one of his writings says, “love and do what you will”, is true, it is not so easy to determine what love is unless love is lived in accordance with the truth. St John wrote, “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”  (1 Jn 3:18-20)

To love is to live according to his commandments: this is the commandment which you have heard since the beginning, to live a life of love.”  This is what the responsorial psalm says as well. “They are happy whose life is blameless, who follow God’s law! They are happy who do his will, seeking him with all their hearts. I have sought you with all my heart; let me not stray from your commands. I treasure your promise in my heart lest I sin against you. Bless your servant and I shall live and obey your word.” The laws of God are to guide us to live a life of love, compassion and justice.  When we live out these laws, we find peace in our soul.  St John wrote, “Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.”  (1 Jn 3:21f)

Lest we think that love is merely an abstract word, or a set of laws and principles, it is not the case.  The love of God is not just words and promises but it is a reality because God loves us concretely and personally in the flesh.  This was what St John was combatting in his days when many Christians strayed from the truth, denying the humanity of Jesus.  They could not accept that God could become man in the flesh because of their Gnostics background, believing that matter was evil.  They believed that God was pure spirit and therefore Jesus, who was God, cannot be human.  To deny the humanity of Jesus means that we are not saved because we will never be able to do God’s will.  But because we believe that Jesus was truly human and that he did God’s will with a human will, we too are empowered to do likewise.

Jesus is for us the Way, the Truth and the Life.  In Christ Jesus, we are shown the example of unconditional love, humble and selfless service, unconditional forgiveness, compassion and charity.  St Peter wrote, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”   We too must walk the footsteps of our Lord.  St Paul urges us, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave. (cf Phil 2:5-8)

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

http://www.catholic.org.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/

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Morning Prayer for Friday, November 16, 2018 — Gratitude, Thanksgiving and Keeping Our House in Order

November 16, 2018

We are now nearing “Thanksgiving” and need to remind ourselves of the importance of gratitude. We need to strive to rid ourselves of our inner conflicts and count our blessings. No resentments. No “at war with myself.” No wreckage of the past and no wreckage of the future. Stay in the present moment and seek inner peace, peace of soul.

My life should make sense. Service to others helps us do that.  It was full of broken resolves and frustrated hopes and plans. I was getting nowhere fast. No wonder my nerves were all shot. I was bumping up against a blank wall and I was dizzy from it. A.A. taught me how to get organized and to stop fighting against myself. Have I got rid of inner conflicts?

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Meditation for the Day

“When two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” The spirit of God comes upon His followers when they are all together at one time, in one place, and with one accord. When two or three consecrated souls are together at a meeting place, the spirit of God is there to help and guide them. Where any sincere group of people are together, reverently seeking the help of God, His power and His spirit are there to inspire them.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may feel the strength of a consecrated group.

Related:

(Christians are defined by their gratitude)

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Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, November 14, 2018 — Preparing For Thanksgiving

November 14, 2018

INGRATITUDE MEANS THE LOSS OF CHRISTIAN IDENTITY

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Wednesday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 493

Reading 1 TI 3:1-7

Beloved:
Remind them to be under the control of magistrates and authorities,
to be obedient, to be open to every good enterprise.
They are to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate,
exercising all graciousness toward everyone.
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deluded,
slaves to various desires and pleasures,
living in malice and envy,
hateful ourselves and hating one another.

But when the kindness and generous love
of God our savior appeared,
not because of any righteous deeds we had done
but because of his mercy,
he saved us through the bath of rebirth
and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
whom he richly poured out on us
through Jesus Christ our savior,
so that we might be justified by his grace
and become heirs in hope of eternal life.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 23:1B-3A, 3BC-4, 5, 6

R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Alleluia  1 THES 5:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
In all circumstances, give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
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 Healing of Ten Lepers by James Tissot
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Gospel  LK 17:11-19

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem,
he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.
As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.
They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying,
“Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”
And when he saw them, he said,
“Go show yourselves to the priests.”
As they were going they were cleansed.
And one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.
He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply,
“Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
Then he said to him, “Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you.”
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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14 NOVEMBER, 2018, Wednesday, 32nd Week, Ordinary Time

INGRATITUDE AS THE REASON FOR LOSS OF CHRISTIAN IDENTITY

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ TITUS 3:1-7LUKE 17:11-19 ]

Titus was instructed by Paul to remind the Christians of their identity and their calling in life to be witnesses of Christ.  They were to live differently from the rest of society but at the same time show themselves to be even more patriotic and better citizens than those who were not Christians.  “Remind your people that it is their duty to be obedient to the officials and representatives of the government; to be ready to do good at every opportunity; not to go slandering other people or picking quarrels but to be courteous and always polite to all kinds of people.”  In other words, Christians must show themselves to live a better, more honorable and responsible life than others because of their newfound identity in Christ.

But this call to be different does not imply a superiority complex.  It would be counter-witnessing if it were.  Then we would be no better than the religious leaders during the time of Jesus.  They were arrogant and despised those who were sinners and not living a righteous life.  Rather, our motive in living a good and holy life arises from “the kindness and love of God our saviour for mankind.”  We are conscious that we are sinners and do not deserve His love and mercy.   Indeed, “It was not because he was concerned with any righteous actions we might have done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own compassion that he saved us.”

God loves us and saves us even when we are not worthy of His love and mercy.  He has given us a new life in baptism and the personal gift of His Holy Spirit.  “It was for no reason except his own compassion that he saved us, by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our saviour.”  Indeed, this is such a wonderful gift even though we are undeserving.   God chose to take away our sins, forgive us unconditionally and give us His Holy Spirit so that we can share in His fullness of life.

This was the same experience of the lepers in today’s gospel.  They were outcasts and totally hopeless.  Those with leprosy were just waiting for death.  Their flesh rotted before their very eyes.  Those in the advanced stage of leprosy were almost unrecognizable.  They were reduced to less than a human being.  No cure was expected.  They were excommunicated from their community and estranged, especially from their loved ones.  Everyone avoided them.  Perhaps the only comfort was that they had each other.  But seeing each other deteriorating each day added more discouragement and despair in their lives.  And so when they heard that Jesus was in one of the villages, they came to meet him. “They stood some way off and called to him, ‘Jesus! Master! Take pity on us.’”  He was their only hope left.  They had heard of Jesus’ miraculous powers and so they pleaded with Jesus to heal them and restore their identity.

The Lord in His compassion for them, said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”   He had no obligation to heal them.  Most of them were not even His fellow Jews, and one was a Samaritan, the enemy of the Jews.  But Jesus went beyond race and social prejudices.  He cured them all the same.  In faith, He asked them to claim healing by showing themselves to the priests so that they could be certified that they were healed.  We read that “as they were going away they were cleansed.”  It was their faith in the Lord that cured them of their deadly infection.   Without faith, they would not have been cured.  Until then, the ten lepers cooperated with the grace of God.  They were receptive of the divine love and mercy of God.  Indeed, they would have been extremely elated and excited that their identity was restored and that they could be reunited with their families.  It was too good to be true and too wonderful that immediately, they went back home to celebrate their cure.

However, although all were cured, only one was really saved.  And this man was a Samaritan.  “Finding himself cured, one of them turned back praising God at the top of his voice and threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan. This made Jesus say, ‘Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they? It seems that no one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner.’ And he said to the man, ‘Stand up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.’”  The other nine, as soon as they were healed, forgot who healed them.  They did not give glory to God or return to give Him thanks.  They resumed the life they led before they were diagnosed with this tragic illness.   In that sense, the suffering and the pain did not heal them.  They learnt nothing from this episode.  They did not pause to consider who they were and who they are now.  They did not acknowledge the power of God at work in their lives.

Isn’t this true of many people who have encountered God’s love and mercy?  We are so forgetful of what God has done for us.  Remember the time when we were desperate because we were not prepared for our exam, or a project, or a presentation and the Lord came to our help and we did well; or when we had an incurable illness or a threatened pregnancy, and the doctors had given up hope on us and we turned to God and received a miraculous healing or a favour; and after receiving our favour, we forgot all about God?  We were not grateful for what we had received.  We forgot that without Him and His grace, we would not have been able to succeed or overcome our illnesses.  We behaved like the Unforgiving Servant in the gospel when the master forgave him for an enormous debt but upon receiving that forgiveness, he immediately went out to seek payment of a petty sum of money owed to him by his fellow servant.  (cf Mt 18:23-35)

This was what Titus sought to remind the Christians of who they were and who they had become.  “Remember, there was a time when we too were ignorant, disobedient and misled and enslaved by different passions and luxuries; we lived then in wickedness and ill-will, hating each other and hateful ourselves.”  When we look at ourselves today, shouldn’t we be grateful instead of lamenting and complaining all the time?  We were worse off and now our lives have improved.  But we are complaining that it is not as good as someone else’s.

If we are truly touched by His love and grateful for the new identity we have received from Him, then we would surely have lived out our identity in such a way that our lives would have been radically transformed.  We would stop living for ourselves and for this world only.  We would have been so grateful for a new lease of life that we want to use this short life for the service of others, for the good of humanity and for the glory of God.  Indeed, those who have been granted favours will want to return the favour, not because they have to but because they want to, out of gratitude for the undeserving gifts of God.

Forgetfulness of God’s love and mercy is one of the reasons for ingratitude.  Let us learn gratitude and be grateful of what we have lest we take our blessings for granted and become always unsatisfied.  We are called to learn from the Samaritan who came back to give praise to God and to thank the Lord.  He was the only one who was saved because we can be sure that unlike the rest, he would not go back to his former lifestyle.  Rather, as a new man restored by Christ, he would give up his life to praise God and to serve Him in his fellowmen.  He knew that his life had been radically changed by the Lord.  The restoration was more than just a mere physical healing; it was a healing of the heart and the mind, the forgiveness of sins and the bestowal of new life.

If we are grateful for the gift of baptism, we too must live this new life as the son and daughter of God, our newfound identity, with pride and consciousness.  From now on, we know that we can live our lives in true freedom and love, because we have Jesus as the Good Shepherd who leads us and guides us to the green pastures of rest.  With the psalmist, we say, He guides me along the right path; he is true to his name. If I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil would I fear.”

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

http://www.catholic.org.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/

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Reflection By Steven J. Cole
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A story is told of a man who was lost in the woods. Later, in describing the experience, he told how frightened he was and how he had even finally knelt and prayed. Someone asked, “Did God answer your prayer?” “Oh, no,” the man replied. “Before God had a chance, a guide came along and showed me the way out.”

Like that man, many people are blind to the many blessings that God daily showers upon them. They awake to see the sun shining, and do not give thanks to God. They hear the birds chirping and see beautiful flowers and trees, but they don’t give it a moment’s thought that God has given those blessings and given them the senses to enjoy them. They grumble about having to eat the same old cereal, forgetting that many would gladly exchange places with them and eat anything for breakfast. They complain about their jobs, forgetting that many would be grateful just to have a job or even to have the bodily strength to go to work. They complain about their lack of money, forgetting that they spend more on entertainment each month than many around the world earn as their total income.

Whether you are a believer in Jesus Christ or a person who does not even believe in God, the fact is, God has blessed you far more than you realize and far more than you deserve. It is important to understand how to respond properly to God’s abundant blessings. To be oblivious to the fact that God is blessing you or, even worse, to take credit for His blessings as if you earned them by your own efforts, would be to slight God. The only proper response is to glorify Him from a thankful heart. These two responses, the proper and improper, are illustrated for us in this story of Jesus cleansing the ten lepers. Only one of the ten responded properly. He teaches us that …

We should respond to God’s blessings by glorifying Him at Jesus’ feet from thankful hearts.

Luke again picks up the journey motif, of Jesus proceeding toward Jerusalem where He will meet with His appointed destiny. He is traveling somewhere along the border between Samaria and Galilee, where He enters a village and encounters ten leprous men. According to the Law, they keep their distance but they recognize Jesus and cry out to Him for mercy. Rather than drawing near and touching them, as He did with the leper in Luke 5:13, Jesus simply instructs them to go and show themselves to the priests. There would be no point in such action unless they were cleansed of their leprosy, and yet at this point they were not cleansed. They had to act with obedient faith. As they were going, they were cleansed.

But only one of the ten, a Samaritan, turns back to glorify God and give thanks to Jesus for His great mercy and power. The strong implication is that the other nine were Jews. Luke seems to put this here to show the increasing rejection of Jesus by the nation Israel, whereas this foreigner receives not only healing, but also salvation. Thus he is showing that the way of salvation is open to all who call upon the Lord, but that many who have received temporal benefits from the Lord are in danger of missing that which they most need, namely, salvation of their souls. I point out four lessons from this story:

1. We all should see ourselves as these lepers were: unclean before God and men.

Let me review some things from our lesson in Luke 5:12-16 concerning leprosy. In the Bible, leprosy is a dreaded disease that is a picture of sin. This is alluded to in our text by the fact that the lepers are cleansed (17:14, 17). Leprosy rendered a man ceremonially defiled, so that if he was healed, he still had to go to the priest and carry out an extensive ritual of cleansing before he could be accepted back into the religious community and worship (Lev. 14).

In the Bible “leprosy” can refer to a number of skin diseases, but in its worst form, it was what we know as Hansen’s disease (R. K. Harrison, The New Testament Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed. by Colin Brown {Zondervan], 2:463-466). This awful disease takes two forms (according to R. H. Pousma, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. by Merrill Tenney [Zondervan], 2:138-139). Both start with either a white or pink discoloration of a patch of skin. The more benign form is limited to this skin discoloration in a number of places, and even untreated cases heal in from one to three years.

William Barclay (The Daily Study Bible: Matthew [Westminster Press], 1:295) describes the hideous progression of the worse form of this disease:

It might begin with little nodules which go on to ulcerate. The ulcers develop a foul discharge; the eyebrows fall out; the eyes become staring; the vocal chords become ulcerated, and the voice becomes hoarse, and the breath wheezes. The hands and feet always ulcerate. Slowly the sufferer becomes a mass of ulcerated growths. The average course of that kind of leprosy is nine years, and it ends in mental decay, coma and ultimately death.

Leprosy might begin with the loss of all sensation in some part of the body; the nerve trunks are affected; the muscles waste away; the tendons contract until the hands are like claws. There follows ulceration of the hands and feet. Then comes the progressive loss of fingers and toes, until in the end a whole hand or a whole foot may drop off. The duration of that kind of leprosy is anything from twenty to thirty years. It is a kind of terrible progressive death in which a man dies by inches.

While the physical disease was horrible, the terrible social consequences in ancient Israel only added to the misery. According to Josephus, lepers were treated “as if they were, in effect, dead men” (cited by Barclay). The Mosaic Law prescribed that the person be cut off from society, including his family. He had to wear torn clothing, have his head uncovered, cover his lips and shout “Unclean! Unclean!” wherever he went to warn others to keep their distance (Lev. 13:45).

Jesus encounters ten such wretched men who had banded together. If the nine were Jews, their common tragedy had broken down the traditional separation between the Jews and the half-breed Samaritans, who were considered as Gentiles. They were all outcasts, separated from the common worship and separated from their own people, seemingly under God’s curse.

Now, here’s the kicker: The Bible wants all of us to see ourselves in our natural state before Christ as spiritual lepers in His sight. God wants us all to see that our hearts are deceitful and desperately sick (Jer. 17:9), sick with sin, unclean before the holy God. Furthermore, just as this awful disease of leprosy separated the leper from the community, so sin causes distance and rupture in human relationships, often among family members. Just as only God could heal this dreaded disease, so only God can heal and cleanse the human heart from the awful disease of sin.

The proud refusal to acknowledge our true condition as spiritual lepers is one of the main reasons people do not receive God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. We all are prone to say, “I may have my faults—after all, I’m only human—but I’m not a terrible sinner. I’m a basically good person.” That’s what the Pharisees said about themselves, and they missed God’s Savior. Indeed, who needs a Savior, if you’re a basically good person? That’s what the lukewarm church at Laodicea thought about themselves: “We are rich and have become wealthy and have need of nothing” (Rev. 3:17). To think that you are basically okay in God’s sight is a sure-fire way to receive nothing from Him. If these lepers had thought, “We may be sick, but we’re not all that bad,” they wouldn’t have cried out to Jesus for mercy. They knew that they were goners unless God in His power had mercy on them. The first step to receiving God’s blessings is to acknowledge your desperate condition before Him. That sense of need leads to the second step:

2. We all should do as these lepers did: call out to Jesus the Master for mercy.

Among other things, leprosy attacked the vocal chords so that these men probably could only make a raspy sound. But that didn’t stop them from raising their voices and crying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” The gracious Lord Jesus will never turn a deaf ear to a cry like that!

These men knew Jesus by name, but they also called Him Master, acknowledging His authority. Luke is the only gospel to use this word in addressing Jesus, and every other time it is used by the disciples. In uttering this cry, these lepers take their proper place under the Lord Jesus’ sovereign authority. We must put Him in His proper place as Lord and Master when we come to Him.

The lepers pleaded, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Mercy, like grace, is God’s undeserved favor. Grace is getting what we do not deserve; mercy is not getting what we do deserve. Mercy also contains the thought of compassion in view of the sufferer’s pitiable condition. By crying out for mercy, these men were acknowledging that they did not deserve healing. They weren’t claiming, “We’re lepers, but we’re pretty good lepers. We think we’re worthy of being healed.” They knew that there was nothing in themselves to earn healing or to commend them above others. This is the only way that we can come to God for deliverance from the leprosy of sin, to acknowledge that we deserve God’s wrath, but to appeal to His great mercy.

The good news is that God delights to show mercy to those who cry out for it! He is “abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:12-13). When Moses asked to see God’s glory, the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth; who keeps loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations” (Exod. 34:6-7). His holiness demands that He judge sin, but His mercy is the predominant and leading attribute. Whatever your need, call out to the Lord. He is full of mercy.

3. We all should respond as these lepers responded: with obedient faith.

When Jesus healed the leper in Luke 5:13, He first healed him and then instructed him to go and show himself to the priest. But here, without any evidence of healing, Jesus commands these ten lepers to go and show themselves to the priests. In this, their situation was similar to that of Naaman the Syrian, whom Elisha told to go and bathe in the Jordan River (2 Kings 5:10-15). It was a test of faith for them to go without any evidence of healing.

We are not told whether the ten lepers had a debate about whether or not to go. I can well imagine one of them arguing, “We’ll look like fools if we show up before the priest in our present condition!” Another countered, “Yes, but we’ve got nothing to lose; this is our only hope.” “But it hurts to walk on these leprous feet!” “I know, but if we do what He says, maybe we’ll be healed.” “But this isn’t the way He healed the other lepers. Why doesn’t He heal us in the same way?” “I don’t know, but we must obey.”

Maybe they didn’t have any such debate, since the text doesn’t record any, but at any rate, it says, “as they were going, they were cleansed.” I don’t know if it happened to all of them at the same instant, or if first one and then another got healed. But, suddenly by the Lord’s power, they all were restored to perfect health. If they had lost fingers and toes, they were restored. All of the devastating effects of this terrible disease were erased. It must have been a marvelous experience!

As I’ll argue in a moment, I believe that only the man who returned to give thanks to Jesus was saved spiritually. But, in spite of that, the cleansing of these lepers pictures what God does to the souls of those who call out to Him for salvation. He instantly cleanses us from all our sins. He clothes us with the perfect righteousness of Jesus. He restores and heals our souls.

The only condition to receive God’s healing for our leprous souls is that we take Him at His word, that whoever believes in His Son Jesus will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Just as these lepers did not first try to clean up and make themselves presentable, so we are to come to Jesus just as we are. Just as these lepers did not just believe intellectually, but had a faith that obeyed Jesus’ word, so we must exercise personal obedient faith in Him with regard to His promise to save us from our sins.

But even though in one sense all ten lepers illustrate saving faith, in that they took Jesus at His word and acted upon it personally, in another sense the nine fell short of saving faith. The nine got what they wanted from God in terms of healed bodies, but they went no farther. They never returned to Jesus to receive salvation of their souls. They received the temporal benefit of healed bodies, but it is only to the one thankful leper who returned that our Lord proclaimed, “Your faith has saved you” [literal, 17:19]. In the same way, it is possible to receive special blessings from God in answer to prayer, such as a healing from a serious illness, and yet to fall short of the best blessing of all. Thus when we realize that God has blessed us with some temporal blessing, we must not become satisfied with that and stop there.

4. We all should respond as the one leper did: glorify God at the feet of Jesus with thankful hearts.

The thankful leper represents the full fruit of saving faith, namely, lips that give joyful thanks to His name. The fact that this man was a Samaritan shows that the way of salvation is open to all who will call upon the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus calls him a foreigner (only occurrence of this word in the NT), a word that was on the signs prohibiting foreigners from passing the inner barrier of the temple (Josephus, Antiquities 15.11.5, §417; Jewish War 5.5.2. §194; 6.2.4 §§124-126). Paul tells us that Christ broke down that barrier of the dividing wall, so that we who formerly were excluded from the commonwealth of Israel now “have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Eph. 2:11-14).

Note that this leper’s praise was heartfelt: he glorified God “with a loud voice” (17:15). If before his voice had been hampered by leprosy, it was freed up now and he exercised it with full force! Others may have been embarrassed by his exuberance, but he didn’t care! Jesus had healed him and he was going to make it known! This leper’s glad praise should be that of every person whose heart has been healed by Jesus’ mighty power.

*Glorify God—Twice it is mentioned that the man glorified God (17:15, 18). To glorify God is to extol His attributes and His actions. It is to exalt Him, to let others know how great He is. As the Puritans rightly stated, the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever on account of His blessings of salvation toward us who deserved His judgment.

Spurgeon points out that while ten men prayed, only one praised. He says that even so, there are far more who are prone to pray in a time of need than to praise God when He meets that need. Oswald Chambers observed, “The great difficulty spiritually is to concentrate on God, and it is His blessings that make it difficult. Troubles nearly always make us look to God; His blessings are apt to make us look elsewhere” (My Utmost for His Highest, Jan. 22nd). If the Lord has delivered our souls from judgment, we ought to let others know about it.

I have to remind myself that “Praise the Lord” is not just a slogan or something nice to do; it is a command. If my life is not marked by frequent praise to God for His many blessings, I am not being obedient. While prayer will last for this life only, praise will continue throughout eternity. Those who have experienced Jesus’ cleansing power should glorify Him.

*At Jesus’ feet—Whereas before the man had to keep his distance from Jesus because of his disease, now he comes up near to Him and falls on his face at Jesus’ feet. I doubt if he understood the deity of Jesus, but nonetheless, he took the proper place of worship at Jesus’ feet. Jesus said, “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23). We cannot properly glorify God if we do not fall in adoration at Jesus’ feet. He is the eternal God who willingly left the glory of heaven to come to this sinful earth and suffer and die for us. We must spend much time at His feet.

The man’s position on his face at Jesus’ feet also shows the proper attitude of humility that should characterize those who have been healed by His mercy. We owe everything to Him and can claim nothing as coming from ourselves. This leper wasn’t maintaining his dignity and self-esteem. He wasn’t claiming, “Jesus did His part, but I did my part.” He knew that he had been healed totally because of Jesus’ mercy, and so he readily fell on his face at Jesus’ feet. That’s where every saved person should camp out!

*With thankful hearts—The leper was “giving thanks to Him” (17:16). The Masai tribe in West Africa has an unusual way of saying thank you: They bow, put their forehead on the ground, and say, “My head is in the dirt.” Another African tribe expresses gratitude by sitting for a long time in front of the hut of the person who did the favor and saying, literally, “I sit on the ground before you.” (In Leadership Journal [Winter, 1993], p. 48.) These Africans understand what thanksgiving is and why it’s difficult for us: at its core, thanksgiving is an act of humility. It acknowledges our debt to the other person.

Clearly, Jesus was pleased with his expression of thanks and grieved at the absence of the other nine (17:17-18). Hebrews 13:15-16 states, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Every day we should be filled with gratitude for all that the Savior did for us when we were spiritual lepers before Him.

Conclusion

Thirteen years before his conversion, John Wesley had a conversation late one night with the porter of his college that deeply impressed him and convinced him that there was more to Christianity than as yet he had found. Wesley discovered that the man had only one coat and that nothing had passed his lips that day, except a drink of water, and yet his heart was full of gratitude to God. Wesley said, “You thank God when you have nothing to wear, nothing to eat, and no bed to lie upon. What else do you thank him for?” “I thank him,” answered the porter, “that He has given me my life and being, and a heart to love Him, and a desire to serve Him” (in A. Skevington Wood, The Inextinguishable Blaze [Eerdmans], p. 100).

Even so, if we who have known Jesus’ healing power in our souls will live each day to glorify Him with thankful hearts, others will be drawn to the Savior to find mercy for their souls. Let’s all learn from this exuberant and thankful leper how to respond to God’s blessings, especially to the blessing of salvation. We should join him in glorifying God at the feet of Jesus with thankful hearts.

Discussion Questions

  1. Discuss the implications for witnessing: The refusal to see ourselves as spiritual lepers is a major hindrance to salvation.
  2. Many professing Christians use God to meet their needs, but they don’t live to glorify Him. Discuss the difference.
  3. What is the difference between intellectual faith and obedient faith? Why does one not save and the other does save?
  4. How can a habitual grumbler learn to be a person of praise?

Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 1999, All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation

Related Topics: FaithThanksgiving

https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-79-how-respond-god-s-blessings-luke-1711-19

Morning Prayer for Wednesday, November 7, 2018 — Resentments Destroy My Inner Peace

November 7, 2018

Resentments can ruin my life — and ruin me.  Getting even with people doesn’t do any good. When we try to get revenge, instead of making us feel better, it leaves us frustrated and cheated. Instead of punishing our enemies, we’ve only hurt our own peace of mind. It does not pay to nurse a grudge; it hurts us more than anyone else. Hate causes frustration, inner conflict, and neurosis. If we give out hate, we will become hateful. If we are resentful, we will be resented. If we do not like people, people will not like us. Revengefulness is a powerful poison in our systems. Have I lost my resentments?

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Meditation for the Day

It is not so much you, as the grace of God that is in you, that helps those around you. If you would help even those you dislike, you have to see that there is nothing in you to block the way, to keep God’s grace from using you. Your own pride and selfishness are the greatest blocks. Keep those out of the way and God’s grace will flow through you into the lives of others. Then all who come in contact with you can be helped in some way. Keep the channel open, free from those things that make your life futile and ineffective.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that all who come in contact with me will feel better for it. I pray that I may be careful not to harbor those things in my heart that put people off.

From the Book “Twenty Four Hours a Day”

Morning Prayer for Tuesday, November 6, 2018 — Calm Down and Do the Next Right Thing — The antidote to fear is faith

November 6, 2018

Fear and worry had me down. Drinking and using drugs increased them. I worried about what I had done. I was afraid of what the consequences might be. I was afraid to face people because of the fear of being found out. Fear kept me in hot water all the time. I was a nervous wreck from fear and worry. I was a tied-up bundle of nerves.

I had a fear of failure, of the future, of growing old, of sickness, of personal ruin, of suicide. I had a wrong set of ideas and attitudes.

We have to surrender these fears and worries to a Higher Power.  I now try to think faith instead of fear. Have I put faith in place of fear?

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Meditation for the Day

Spiritual power is God in action. God can only act through human beings. Whenever you, however weak you may be, allow God to act through you, then all you think and say and do is spiritually powerful. It is not you alone who produces a change in the lives of others! It is also the Divine Spirit in you and working through you. Power is God in action. God can use you as a tool to accomplish miracles in people’s lives.

Prayer for the Day

I pray that I may try to let God’s power act through me today. I pray that I may get rid of those blocks which keep His power from me.

From Twenty-Four Hours a Day (with some edits in para one)
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Fear, Anger and Resentment

Source:https://addictioncounselor.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/f-a-r-fear-anger-and-resentment/