8 “This entire commandment that I command you today you must diligently observe, so that you may live and increase, and go in and occupy the land that the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. 2 Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments.” ~ Deuteronomy 8:1-2
The journey of Moses is the same journey that every father lives from the first day our first child is born to the day we breathe our last breath. The journey of Moses is the same journey as Christ when we reflect on the word “Charity”. This reflection I hope will take you on the perfect journey of what we are truly celebrating, that being first “The Most Holy Body And Blood Of Christ” and secondly that of “Father’s Day”.
Let’s begin with Moses, the Father of Isreal. We begin with a warning to not forget the hardship, the daily testing, the formation process, the charity God had provided His people through Moses. God, the Father is the provider of everything we need, His word alone is all we need, and the daily ritual of living; if done through God’s commandments, will result in great prosperity. This message of Moses is the same message every good father tells their children when it’s time to let them go experience the world. Most particularly Moses reminds the Hebrews about the gifts of God, i.e. when they were starving in the desert God provided them with manna from Heaven, when they were thirsty God provided them with water from the rocks. Let’s fast fast-forward, in our world today every father works hard to provide for his children, works one, two, and even sometimes three jobs to provide food, clothes, a place to sleep, and education for his children. A good father provides just as God provided for the Israelites through His prophet Moses. In this way through, “Charity”, basic necessities are provided for us as children by both our earthly father and our Heavenly Father. In both instances, the manna from God is the provision and the first partaking of the body and blood of Christ thousands of years before His birth. Moses prayed and God delivered in the times of need what they needed. So too does our earthly fathers work hard and pray and God makes it possible for them to deliver what is needed to his family.
CONNECTIN 1: So we celebrate both the provision of manna, “The Most Holy Body And Blood Of Christ”, within the celebration of what our earthly fathers work hard to provide to their children.
Aren’t We All Called to Participate in One Body?
16 “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (NRSVACE)
If Moses’s journey through the wilderness was an act of Charity, if God sending Moses to confront the Pharaoh in Egypt was an act of Charity, and if earthly fathers providing for their children are an act of Charity then so too is the greatest of sacrifices we have ever seen in history; that of the perfect lamb, Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is His body we take into our body and together we become one, one body and blood with Christ, one body and blood with God, and one in Christ with our many brothers and sisters worldwide! It is an act of Charity that leads all of us to Costly Discipleship which is provided by God’s Costly Grace.
“Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1995). The Cost of Discipleship, p.45
The case for a man to provide for his children is the same sacred duty that God Himself carries out in our everyday lives. It is the Holy Body and Blood of Christ that makes us all one and it is through this act of Charity have we found Discipleship and Grace with God the Father. Mankind could not be saved with Sacrifice because we are inherently born in sin. To this point, Jesus was born Sinless, and thus the perfect sacrifice to save our souls and to become one with our Father in Heaven. However, this comes at a cost; our salvation came at a cost. So it is proper to say, aren’t we all called to participate in the sacrifice of Christ, to eat from one loaf?
3 “Then he fed you with manna, something neither you nor your parents knew anything about so you would learn that men and women don’t live by bread only; we live by every word that comes from God’s mouth. Your clothes didn’t wear out and your feet didn’t blister those forty years. You learned deep in your heart that God disciplines you in the same ways a father disciplines his child.” ~ Deuteronomy 8: 3-5 The Message (MSG)
So we learn that God disciplines us out of Charity to disciples us, in the same ways Earthly Fathers disciplines their children out of Charity, to make disciples out of them.
CONNECTIN 2: God provided food for the starving Isieliriates out of Charity, which was bringing them into costly discipleship, or costly grace. In the same was earthly fathers bring their children into discipleship through partaking in the one loaf, by educating their children to partake in the eucharist of Christ. All of which could not be a reality with great sacrifice.
Truest of Intentions
51 “‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’ 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ 53 So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.’” ~ John 6:51-58(NRSVACE)
Every day we live we are tested by God. That statement is a scary one because it makes us accountable. Each test we pass we grow in our faith, and each test we fail we must repeat. God is true to His words and that is what makes His word life for the sinner. Moses knew this and saw many perish in the desert, many more passed and became a nation. God tests us to prove to our own mind, heart, and soul that we are ready and that our intentions are honorable, that we will obey His commandments. God knows who will and who won’t, but as it rains on the evil doer it also rains on the righteous by this we then are all given the same equal opportunity at His testing, His molding, His teachings, His word.
The Eucharist is the one body, the one loaf we all partake, as each test builds our faith, and we, therefore, become disciplined in the ways of God. This is passed down from Moses to modern man, each Earthly Father has a sacred calling to bring up his children in the admonition of the Lord. Each Earthly Father is rightfully, therefore, called a provider acting out of charity to his children. Each Earthly Father is, therefore, rightfully, tested in his abilities to provide, to partake in daily sacrifices for his children. Each Earthly Father is proven worthy when he obeys the commandments of God and brings his children to the Lord as disciples proving daily that each moment is God-centered, God-inspired, and God tested! We all are made worthy through this process and we are all saved through each word of God, for that is all that we need. Moses is warning us today to not forget what God has done, not to forget what Jesus Christ has done, not to forget the Lord our Heavenly Father when we become prosperous in our earthly lives for each thing given is from God.
Today we celebrate our Heavenly Father, His son Jesus, and all our Earthly Fathers who partake in the one loaf of eternal life. We celebrate each man who takes up this sacred vow and which moves mountains for his child/ren, and who willing is tested, willing makes sacrifices, willingly takes on the responsibility to discipline his child/ren into disciples of God. It is the greatest act of Charity these things can happen and it is through His Costly Grace we are saved. As an Earthly Father, our sacred duties begin with the first breath of our first born child and ends at our last breath.
“Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son; ye were bought at a price”, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1995). The Cost of Discipleship, p.45
CONNECTIN 3: God tests us daily, He provide us with manna from heaven and His sons Holy Body and Blood so that we may have everlasting life. God proves to our hearts and minds the knowledge of our truest intentions as he is molding us, making us disciplined in His ways so we too can become His disciples. This is a costly process because it cost God much.
Challenge Question: Can you list the many ways you have shown others Charity? Can you list all the people you have discipled, or how many people you have won over for God? How about listing how many times you have heard God directing you to show Charity through your own discipleship?
In this life we experience so much, and so I thought it appropriate to start the new year with a new series of blogs dealing with each of life’s experiences. This posting will explore anger in the context of its usage and its qualities for both good and bad. The focus will center around the effect upon others in each category as it relates to how our God has used anger in the past. We will delve into the model left by Christ on this topic and how it applies to every single human-being today, and how Satan does his best to thwart our efforts and then to pull us down through anger.
Therefore, in our life when we feel angry it is neither good or bad. It is simply a reaction to something that has happened to us. It is logical to then state that one does not willfully make ones-self angry, but rather an external force is at work that which we are reacting too that makes us feel this natural and neutral emotion. In my life I have seen things which I have taken a strong disliking too, however by nature I am very slow to anger, but once there I am angry for a long time. In my youth as all kids do, I misused anger and in doing so said a lot of things I would later regret having ever said. In this manner anger can be used for evil deeds, but most of our children simply misuse anger for lack of training and experience. In the context of angry emotions being used for good is found simply in the recognition of the fact that you are angry, this is of course rudimentary logic. Interestingly, in our society feeling angry is often looked upon as being a bad emotion and is shunned. Ironically, the shunning of this emotion leeds to burying it deep inside and if left to fester will cause great damage to the person and all those around them as they erupt like a volcano uncontrollably. In that sense we create the evil in what was otherwise a neutral emotion. The simple act of recognizing that you are angry is a pure, honest, and healthy way to handle this feeling. In most cases it is not enough to simply recognize your angry, but rather develop the ability to know why your angry, what was the trigger, what external force brought you to this emotion. In understanding anger in this manner you bring control and wisdom to the next step of the process, which of course is the actions you commit while being angry.
In this perspective anger is the act of being provoked into action. Thus, if full control is not first asserted those who have provoked have a distinct advantage over the one who is being provoked. Think back if you will to when as a child your sibling called you a name that you disliked, or kept you from doing something you wanted to do. Most of us fired back without thinking, not to simply keep your sibling from making you angrier, but as an act of revenge. This in turn proved yourself, (not evil), but immature, lacking the ability to control your anger, and thus at a distinct disadvantage to your sibling or aggressor. In large part this lack of control is due to the rush to action while ignoring the honest recognition of being angry. Had we stopped, taken a breath, then thought it through most of us would have brushed the insult off. But by nature children do not do this because their brain is not yet developed enough to process the “why” aspect of this honest emotion. Most of us where spanked into submission and took this punishment for being angry or becoming angry, rather as it should have been explained that the punishment was not for becoming angry, but what we did with it. Therefore, the evil in the emotion is found within the action taken while experiencing this honest, natural, neutral feeling of being angry.
I have often times told my own daughter that, “it’s ok if your angry at me or your mother. But instead of acting out on your anger stop and remember that you love both of us equally. It is ok to tell me that your angry, as long as you do it in a respectful manner.” I remember having many conversations with her about angry emotions, about acting out in anger or rage. I always made her the promise that I would listen to her. In more recent times our relationship has become rocky at best, partly because of needless events that were outside both our control. There have been many things said to me, about me, in front of me, and be-hide my back which my daughter should have never been apart of or in its hearing. To some degree our hearts have been hardened, and angry emotions have been left to run rampant in our conversations. In this aspect anger is not yet evil, but is hurtful, destructive, malicious, disrespectful, and the actions taken are not pure, and thus are not controllable. Subtle changes have occurred in her language over time such as the absence of words like, “I miss you”, or “I love you”, or “I am sorry”, have all but disappeared, which reveals her anger is due in large part to the secrets she has been forced to kept from me. But never-the-less the disparity between us if left unchecked will grow more divisive and become spiteful at which point it will be pure evil. I bring this up not to disparage my daughter, who is about to be seventeen, but to point out the difficulties within interpersonal relationships built into high conflict marriages, and the pure immaturity to which anger leads to the mutual destruction of the family unit, and in this manner anger is evil.
On the other hand God has never used anger for evil means, though He is blamed for it all the time. Rather that deed belongs solely to Satan. Evidence of this in the Bible is found in how Jesus handled anger and thus left us a perfect model to follow, though admittedly it is in part shrouded in mystery.
“23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, ‘Get you behind me, Satan: you are an offense unto me: for you consider not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.'” ~ Matthew 16:23
In reading this specific scripture the love Jesus held for His disciple Peter is hard to find. One’s mind instantly snaps to Peters defense as the justification was not apparent that supported Jesus’s reaction to Peter’s words to him. So it is tradition in reading the Bible one must dig further and read what Peter had said that angered Jesus so;
“20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. 21 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. 22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” ~ Matthew 16:20-22
If we take away the word “rebuke” and simply put, “Peter took Him aside and said to Him,” this passage would have an entirely different meaning. In fact Peter was acting with good intentions, (far be it from Jesus, that He must be made to suffer so.) To anyone else this would have been seen as a act of compassion. But because Jesus was the Christ, Peter inadvertently rebuked Him. For Jesus to not complete His mission that He had just revealed to His disciples would have been tantamount to failing God and in that Satan’s reign would be assured. In no other manner of Heavenly thinking could this be allowed, and thus in the mind of Christ, Peter proposed an abomination in the face of the living God, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This abomination rightfully angered Jesus, though this was a mystery to Peter. Waisting no time, Jesus did the following within a split second; He first recognized He was angry at Peter for having voiced this abomination; for had he not His actions might have been to smite Peter where he stood. But Christ did not smite Peter rather He answered the devilish notion Peter proposed calling it what it was; and idea placed into Peter by Satan. Therefore, Christ’s action was mature in nature and swift in scorn out of both love for Peter, and out of a mature, controlled, resounding anger that was aimed at Satan;
“23 Get you behind me, Satan: you are an offense unto me: for you consider not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” ~ Matthew 16:23
To apply this new found knowledge to life as we know it in the modern era of the twenty first century, then we must first delve into anger from the perspective of how it progresses through each stage as stated above in the example of how children perceive hostel external forces and then apply scripture to it. So as a child being picked on by a sibling or other children at school the external force is in the buttons pushed by the name calling or other aggressive action which the target child internalizes and thus begins to show a resounding disliking too.
(Note the usage of “child examples” are also relevant to how grown-ups react and thus are also very much acting out as a child would. In addition, when children are punished their is a layer of mystery to the “why” aspect of the punishment much like the “why” element Peter experienced with Christ as described in Matthew 16:23. These moments are not unique to just Parent child relationships, but extend out to envelop all relationships at all levels of life.)
When children or adults willfully pick on each other the buttons being pushed which trigger the anger is done in a willful manner. These proverbial buttons are pushed deliberately, in this example as much fun as it may be, the evil is still found in the action of the aggressors, but this evil can be transferred to the one being being picked on as these repeated actions cause real, physical, pain, and suffering. Anger swells up, emotions take over, and negative actions are bound to take place. However, in the spirit the aggressors themselves are also being prodded to commit these acts of teasing. In this example of children evidence of Satans involvement is found in the uncontrollable action to continue the undesirable behavior. Think back to how many times you teased someone, or did so without ever thinking about it. Allow yourself to remember how effortless it was and in many ways fun to keep doing it. That behavior is not intrinsic of humanity, but rather was introduced by Satan to humanity. How easily was Peter taken that he did not even realize it, and if this was easy for Satan to take one of Christ’s disciples then how much more simply will our children be influenced to commit evil deeds.Thus, applying this logic the reaction the victim will have from being teased is also uncontrollable as it can also be attributed to Satans influence. This is exemplified in how the Sanhedrin seemingly revolted at the idea of Jesus being the Christ. They, (supposed spiritual leaders), actively sought Him out to kill Him.
Now in the example of my daughter, the notion of having to rebuild a relationship, her anger with the events of her life dealing with our interpersonal relationship that has taken a beating from external forces that we both could not control, that progressively led to both of us becoming frustrated and angry at each other for allowing these external forces to have such a devastating effect in the first place, has led her to misplace her anger. Like Peter she has proposed disastrous ideas, which in large part where placed there not by me but by many other people; so called professionals in the Family Court Industry. Thus, some of what she has been indoctrinated with could have never possibly worked because like Peter those notions where of Satan, they were derived or conjured up in the spirit of division, separation, and thus destroying our relationship. But to her, like Peter everyone else wants to come to her defense when I try to correct her. (Note: I am not rebuking my daughter, rather the ideas that which she has proposed, much like Jesus did to Peter. i.e. these ideas given to her by other people who’s spirit have been influence by Satan that which she has acted out on.) Because these ideas did not originate within her, her anger is caused by the ill effects of the actions taken which did not work, thus misplacing her anger at what she thinks is the cause rather at the true source. Therefore, she becomes frustrated and angry at me when in fact she needs to direct her anger at those whom gave her those disastrous ideas in the first place. Because she is still in large part a child her brain has not developed enough to be able to decipher the complete realities and in truth she has only been told what was required to prod her into doing the things she has done that did not work, and which has forced her to simply ignore not just me, my entire family, which is indicative to an unhealthily (all or nothing) mentality. In that context abuse has taken place as she is completely left defenseless, this abuse is from all the other adults whom willfully destroyed our relationship. My justification in punishing her actions, like Jesus, is hard to see but nevertheless justified because I bared witness to all the events from their creation, (like Jesus to Peter), and in my struggle to prevent them from happening, and in the fight to protect my daughter whom I love just as Jesus loved Peter, there has been conflict that was completely unnecessary.
(Note: Jesus was not about to take this abomination from Peter, and thus no parent should ever have to suffer such evil as what has transpired through the Family Court System of our day an age.)
From a parent perspective much sacrifice is required, so it is that in the spirit of Christ who sacrificed His life to save humanity, we in modern times sacrifice ourselves, our time, and in some instance we are called to do the unthinkable no matter how unfair it seems at the moment, no matter how upset our children get at us, they are still children, (liken to Peter), and we are adults, (liken to Christ).
“And Jesus answering said unto him, ‘It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.'” ~ Luke 4:12
The usage of anger for good is best exemplified in the the term; “Righteous Indignation.” Jesus placed himself in a position to be tested, to prove His divinity, and His rightful place next to God. Satan played the role of tempter, as he had prior to being thrown from Heaven by God. In all these temptations we can extrapolate the role of Christ as being the role of parent, and the role of Satan as the spoiled child who is trying his best to get his way. Rules have been laid down for both to follow, and when this line has been crossed by Satan, i.e. your children, then you, as Jesus the parent turn with righteous indignation to punish or present to alternative which keeps the rule intact and this both prevents the child from harm, but also teaches the lesson that all rules must be followed. Admittedly, Satan has no intention on following any rules, and thus the lesson is wasted upon. But the point of the lesson Jesus was exemplifying even Satan could not ignore. In this role play, Jesus as parent retained the right to use His anger in a justifiable manner.
Again taking from the example of my daughter, in this struggle she, like all those who have lined up to test me, to test my resolve, to test my role and right at being a parent to her, all of whom continually finds new and very interesting ways in which to dethrone my rules, (and the courts rules), my thoughts, my opinions, my wants, my desires, and to manipulate all my time for the sole purpose of wearing me out so that I will quiet trying be her father.
(Note: This drama is very much an earthly drama and open rebellion against authority and against the very laws of nature itself. Much like the drama found in the Bible as we, men, women, and children, rebel against our father in heaven.)
Admittedly this goal is not apparent to many who have been involved nor has it been apparent to my daughter who as a child naturally rebells, which is liken to Satan who disguises his attacks and methods so as to make it look like someone else or something else entirely, thus throwing everyone off track continually without end. So my reaction like that of our Lord, using His example, in my anger my response has always been to confront the problem, to address the rules, and to attempt to enforce the stated rule. Unfortunately, I am not Christ, and the courts have no backbone and refuse in enforce their own rules as it relates to my ability and right to parent, and their judgments do not follow State Statute. Thus, the frustrating no-win scenario falls to an unhealthy imbalance that swings the pendulum permanently to one side and thus no lesson of any value is taught to my daughter and there is a false sense of security built up into a false teaching that dictates there is no repercussions from your ill actions against others and you can do whatever you want to whom ever you want as no one will stop you. This is the underlying philosophy of Satan himself. This is what Satan tried against God in heaven, this is what he again is trying against Jesus found int he temptation scripture of Luke 4:12. This is at the core of all interpersonal relationship we experience when open rebellion occurs. No matter how righteous we are, we are taken Satan, as we are all sinners and thus susceptible to his influence.
Therefore, I say to all those people whom have cost me so much, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” for the Lord our God protects his children whether it is apparent to you or not. For the fact I am still here should be proof enough, thus I say these things to you with righteous indignation.
“And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” ~ Matthew 12:32
Anger can lead us all to do the most stupid of things. It can confuse us, disorientate us, and force us to commit the most grievous of sin. I teach all my children and thus I teach to all of you through my writings here on this blog, that there is one sin which God chooses not to forgive. This if you will is the surest way to anger God, to call upon yourself His most devastating of punishments and that punishment no one can erase, argue for you in your defense, ease your pain, or take it away, for this curse is so resoundingly devastating there is no coming back, there is no second chance, there is nothing you can do to make amends to God. That act is the act of blaspheming the Holy Spirit of God, to utterly reject God. Coupled with this grievous of sins which has two stages, Jesus Christ gave us a warning prior to this one about His reaction to all those people whom reject Him in public;
“33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” ~ Matthew 10:33
Therefore, to reject Jesus Christ in your life, to ignore His commandments, to place man’s law above His, to think you are better than, to spite in His face, Jesus will rebuke you to His father, to our father in Heaven. Most of the time this action is done out anger, and it at this point can be forgiven, but to continue in your anger, in your rage, in your sinful act of rebellious revenge than and curse God Himself, the Holy Spirit, to reject God completely as Satan has tried to make us do, that he himself has done, which forces God hand, then there is no salvation.
In putting this into our modern day examples the simple truth is this, children need both parents, they need our love, our guidance our understanding, our commitment to their mutual success in life. When outside forces willfully disturbs this balance built into nature then anger in both parent and child naturally occurs. It always dumbfounds me when courts ignore this and take form child a parent whom loved them. The courts mandate is to always do what is in the best interest of the child, but there actions are of the exact opposite Train professionals seem to have a an axe to grind when told something negative that which is given to them by the child, in some instances taken out context, warped twisted, and misunderstood by the child. In my personal experience the therapists social workers, lawyers, and the judges themselves have a deceived the masses into a false sense of security, and thus get away with the destruction of our families. Jesus stated he was not here to create peace, but to bring the sword. In His perfect example in dealing with ideas of Satan, or evil intonations we must reject those ideas, we must shut the door to the sin they bring with them. And when people, be them your family or friend denies you, rebukes you, spits in your face, lies about you, then they have done so out of anger, and if your a true believer in God then they have sinned against you, but also against God. Your testimony must then reflect this sin, it then must be atoned for in order for that person to be truly forgiven, the compassionate words of a sorrowful heart is the only path to redemption. It is this drama that anger brings to bear, as most of us are still very immature in handling it in comparison to Jesus. I am always open to a sorrowful person, I am always available to a person whom has sinned against me and wishes to make amends, but I am not as Jesus was not available to those who wish to keep on hurting me, for I am about our fathers business. In fact Jesus instructed us, His disciples to do the following;
“And whosoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.” ~ Luke 9:5
Therefore, be slow to anger, be forgiving to one another, use compassionate words always, be ready to apologize and ask for sincere forgiveness, be tolerant of others, be mature in your actions, always investigate fully before assigning blame, always ask what your actions have done to others that which would have cause strife, and above all use the examples of Jesus when angry.
In Jesus’s name I say these things to you as a witness to His Devine mercy. May God Bless in all that you do, in all your endeavors for the rest of your life. I ask that you never stop learning, growing, walking, and listening to our Saviour Jesus Christ.
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“24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24 – 25, NKJV, Pp.952).
Our Lord Jesus Christ is so direct, so cunning with His words I think sometimes we hear them, read them, and can even feel the emotion behind each and every phrase that he spoke, but somehow we fail to allow his message to sink in and really touch our souls. I feel we erect a barrier, a shield of shorts around our hearts that allows nothing good in, which prevents His healing touch to really work the miracles in our lives in the way they were intended too. As I reflect upon Our Lord Jesus, His message, His longing for us all to put down our troubles and worries and pick up our cross, I have to also suggest that the faith Jesus exhibited in God is what gives meaning to His words, to His message, to His command to Follow Him.
I am also led to the conclusion that Jesus’s message was delivered in such a way that for those men and women who heard his voice, touched his skin, and who had the privilege to hug and interact with Him, they understood exactly His intent, for the message was crystal clear. Some of them, as some of us today just refuse to submit to Jesus. In fighting this unwinnable battle of wills we are also fighting against God our father in heaven. In propagating this strength test of sorts somewhere down the line we make a conscious choice. Some of us rebuke God because it is an easier road to follow, leaving our cross to rot where it is. Still others are so horrified that it is our very life we are required to willingly sacrifice that we simply panic and do everything imaginable to save it, condemning ourselves in the process. But the majority of us are like Apostle Peter, we have no problem with the sacrifice of our own life, if it would mean Jesus didn’t have to die, and as innocent as that may sound it was against the very purpose of Jesus Christ being here in the first place, because through our death, we die a sinner, a rebel, and are ultimately separated from God Our Father. So to Peter, Jesus replied the only way he could and in doing so he also was talking to every man, women, and child that would ever live on this planet.
“22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’ 23 But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:22 – 23, NKJV, Pp.952).
To follow Jesus we must commit our souls to Him completely, lay down our own wants and desires and follow Him with absolute faith, without question of where He is leading us. It is this requirement that separates the people of God from every other people in the world. It is this one prerequisite that keeps the people of God focused on the end game, thwarting any distractions. Yet, some of us can hear His calming voice, but with our eyes we see the enemy coming closer and like Peter, we become fearful which leads us to become irrational and then we sin before God. I find this response to be ironic, because Peter knew as did the other disciples, as we all know today, why Jesus was headed down the road that he freely chose. Yet, even armed with this knowledge Peter still allowed fear to momentarily blind him making him unable to accept the truth of Jesus’s mission. In retrospect Peter was coming from a place of earthly concern, fooled into believing this concern for Jesus was coming from a place of love. In allowing this Peter momentarily allowed Satan in, and Jesus saw it, heard it, and was responding to it. In that moment, Our Lord was also responding to each and every one of us each time we allow Satan in, speaking directly to our immortal soul as he cast Satan out.
“26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26, NKJV, Pp.952).
As I have stated before and will state again, it is righteous to have a healthy fear of God and a massive amount of respect for Him. For it is with His grace we continue to multiply, to live, and be so blessed. It is because God loves each and every one of us that we exist at all. It is so mind-boggling to me that some of us are so lost, so hungry for God’s love and yet run so fast in the opposite direction. Grant-it for many it is out of ignorance, but for those unlucky people who continue to practice willful disobedience in living an immoral, offensive life that which is chalked with sin, so much so it physically destroys them and hurts everyone around them, while ignoring God’s many pleas, for them we must pray for Gods mercy. For in all they do, in all their efforts they have accomplished nothing, for we are nothing when compared to God, as all things are accomplished through Him and by Him alone. I know God must really shake his head in wonder every time He looks down from heaven, hearing our many complaints, requests, and cries for help, only to turn the other cheek when He presents us the answer. Truth is Jesus asked this very question over two thousand years ago when He frustratingly announced;
“26 But why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46, NKJV, Pp.998).
Jesus went on to explain the many differences in a person’s heart that does what he says, from one who does not in the following two verses, and as straight forward as His commandments are, none of them was as direct and as skillfully aimed at our human hearts as when he said over and over to the multitude, “Follow Me.” He said it because we are lost, and within Him, through Him we are found.
I am constantly inspired by those of us Christians who confess their faith and live a day-to-day life filled with God’s commandments, but I morn for those who live their lives as they see fit, absent of remorse while skillfully executing their own set of faulty morality. I can tell the unmistakable difference in a person who is filled with love from God, from one who is filled with love of self. The person filled with the love of God is peaceful, and holds a heart that strives to do good not for themselves, but for those who are around them. In their presence you feel safe, secure, and at peace, because they are humble before our God. But the person filled with selfish ambition and blind, reckless greed, well for them they betray their own self-serving intentions by the words that come from their diseased hearts.
Challenge question: Now that you know what is required what will you do in your own life today to honor God our most deserving Father?
If you have been moved by this blog I humbly invite you to leave a message telling me your thoughts and how this reflection has touched you. May peace and love be with you all the days of your life. May God keep you and bless you.
Time combined with age is an extremely powerful combination that will bring life lessons so endearing they become permanent fixtures within our hearts and minds for as long as we live. For some of us these life lessons are marred with pain and anguish, of a life lead absent of God. Some of us were blessed beyond all belief and lead lives filled with wealth in every area; leaving the illusion that nothing is out of their reach, oddly the one thing they need they never receive. Some life lessons leave us filled with mixed emotions that push false impressions of what is real. These people find a fault in their heart so deep that they begin to believe in the dangerous lie that they can never be healed, that their fault can never be filled completely. Some of us for the same reasons conduct our lives as if we know everything all the time. The fear of the unknown drives an insatiable hunger which is fueled by the feelings that they are in some way en-antiquate, which builds up their insecurities preventing them from ever really knowing the one person they should have befriended, Our Lord and Savior. Some life lessons fill us with Gods Holy Wisdom, allowing them to overlook the sins of others and instead of retreating, reach out their hands in forgiveness again and again. The difference within these people from all those mentioned before is simple, they understood and was willing to comply with the true requirement of discipleship.
“If you love your father and mother, or your son and daughter, more than me, you cannot follow me. Unless you take up your cross and let go of all you possess, you cannot follow me.”(The Lost Gospel Q, Q69, p. 104).
Harsh words, radical words from a man who everyone flocked to for various reasons, most had no real clue why they followed him other than he would do miracles, pre-haps to quench their own desire to see before they could believing. Nevertheless, Jesus put forth a stern requirement that divided the people, shocked many, and made each and every one of them wonder to what he was saying. This requirement transcended all of his previous messages on love and forgiveness. It took the faithful to a whole new level of believing while at the same time drove out those who were not serious, and was along for the ride. Within his words he was reminding them that everything has a cost, and the cost for following him was extremely high. It was not a cost which would make him monetarily wealthy, but rather make that person wealthier than Kings, spiritually fulfilled.
26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-yes, even his own life-he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 26-27).
Jesus wanted his disciples to fear not for their own lives because in doing this would create a roadblock to accomplishing Gods mission. Do not love anyone more than your God, is completely in line with the teachings of Moses, and the commandment set forth by God:
1 “And God spoke all the words: 2 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 You shall have no other gods before me. 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in the heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:1-6).
Within the words of God the father, now repeated in Jesus the son, the true cost of discipleship was given so as to allow the people to choose for themselves. So that we can estimate the cost. “Jesus did not want a blind, naive commitment that expected only blessings. As a builder estimates costs or a king evaluates military strength, so people must consider what Jesus expects of his followers before they commit their lives to him” (Notes: 14-28). His requirement was one of total surrender, just as God had told the Jews fleeing Egypt.
Total surrender is the hardest part of this requirement. It initials that you give everything up, all your possessions, worries, doubts, heartaches, preconceived notions, family, friends, and even your own worth of your own life. Jesus was telling us all these things belong to God anyway; we cannot take any of this to heaven when we die. The only thing which really matters is God. Living a life filled with God, a life which exemplifies God. A life where God comes first is a life which is filled with Gods divine love, and mercy. It is a life which is set upon a trek that is not defined by material wealth or possessions. It is a life built upon morality, wisdom, compassion, and love. Jesus was handing to the people, and still offers this to us today, the strength to do anything, work miracles in other people’s lives, to build up those in need, and to utilizes the most powerful tool ever created, that of faith.
A blind man cannot see, but walks across the street based upon faith he will make it to the other side. A child loves her parents, but must have faith all her needs will be met. Birds in the air forage each day, and it is on faith they find what they need. God takes care of the wild animals, so how much more will he love and take care of each one of us if he looks at us as the salt of the earth?
34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out” (Luke, 14:34-35).
For the twelve disciples Jesus warned them that each one would suffer greatly in his name, Jesus forewarned that the true requirement is found within the belief that all things are possible even when they seem to be hopeless, even until death. We live our lives with God, then our lives have meaning, purpose, and our mission then lives far beyond our mortal existence. We follow Jesus faithfully, who leads us to God, we serve as disciples so that our impact is far more powerful and outreaching than what we can contemplate, affecting thousands of generations after we are gone. Within this single requirement, our singular purpose is ex-hauled before our Lord our God. We fulfill the very words of God that which was spoken centuries ago in the deserts of Mt. Sinai. Our God is a gracious God; our savior is a loving shepherd tenderly watching his flock. In reality Jesus was not asking of us or those people who heard him that day, to do anything which he first was not willing to do himself. His requirement is obedient sacrifice which is rewarded with loving grace.
If you have been moved by this blog, I humbly invite you to leave a comment, and may all your days be filled with peace, love, and God’s eternal joy.