FAITH & WORKS

WORDS VERSE ACTIONS

TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – WK IV

CANTICLE OF MARY – Antiphon “I say to you: there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.”

14-17 “Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?” ~ James 2:14-18 Message Bible (MSG)

Reflection Question:

“Have you ever confessed how much of a Christian you are and how much you love God but then treat someone close to you badly, ignoring their real needs because someone else told you to do so? Better yet… have you ever confessed your love and friendship for someone close to you but never truly defend them with both words and actions as Christ has done for you?” [Hint: God gave us all free will for a reason.]

Dear brothers and sisters, I say to you that God sees everything you do and hears everything you say. There are plenty of people in this world that have the gift of the tongue – they sound really really convincing and say all the right things when it counts, but their actions do not match their words. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who sorta sound OK but their actions are a great inspiration as they make sure they are in all the right places being seen by all the influential people but build detractors because of the harsh criticisms they say in private. Another example is those fake friends and lovers who will say they love you but are never around when times get tough. To all these sorts of people I ask, “What good is there in that?” “How are words without actions working for you?” “How are actions with harsh criticisms making a real difference?” To those fake friends – “How is being around only in the times of plenty emulating Christ?” 

Last week was centered on these words put into action, “Peace I leave with you…and “The Spirit of fear, God, therefore, did not give to humanity”. In that post, we discover how mankind is the catalyst for sewing the seeds of fear into each other for the purpose of convincing or controlling the situation or circumstances which arise from those actions and how God plays no part in the spreading of fear but yet is the light of peace in the world. The same applies here in this post… If our spirit is true and pure the words which come forth from our mouths will be from God as well as our actions emulate God. Words and actions together that glorify God and which overcomes this world of sinners is our mission plane and simple. So, I say to you my brothers and sisters, make sure every word you say is pure and filled with compassion and love. Likewise, make sure every action is in-line with God and His will, guiding your actions and emulating the love and peace which only comes from God above.

God-Talk with God-Actions Reflection

“Therefore I exhort first of all that you make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for everyone, for kings and for all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty, for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” ~ 1 Timothy 2:1-4 Modern Egnlish Version (MEV).

So… where did Paul choose to start with Timothy? In truth, I really like this epistle because it highlights so much of what every person is called to do not just Ministers and Priests, but also the laity – that being you and me. There is so much wisdom in Paul’s words, so much love in how he approaches the many duties of discipleship, and truly you can see the father/son relationship they shared. Beyond the greeting – “To Timothy, my true son in the faith…” (1 Timothy 1:2) to the warnings of false doctrine… (1 Timothy 1:3-20) Paul starts his instruction with the very topic Jesus had started with His very own disciples… that of  Prayer. That is the main reason I decided in my own life to begin a ritual of prayer using the Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours.  It was Paul’s deep desire that all people pray everywhere, clearing our minds of our earthly troubles and to open our hearts without contentiousness. (1 Timothy 2:8). The other thing which Paul does here is expresses Jesus’s deepest desires; being that all people be saved and come to the wisdom and knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4). Therefore, sounding good, talking the talk, and or showing up with a deep self-serving motive does you and those who follow no good because an act disguised as faith is no faith at all and therefore dead in the eyes of God. (1 Timothy 1:5-7) For true teachers are most concerned with devoting their entire life to the truth, wisdom, and shares their faith with both God-talk and God-actions with fidelity. This is a lifelong pursuit as God allows diversity to teach and mold you into the most perfect version of yourself possible. But this can not happen without any effort or thought to one’s own sins and the most heartfelt supplications lifted up with sincerity confessing to yourself and to God as Paul did in writing to Timothy that; “I accept that Christ Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.” (1 Timothy 1:15)  So my brothers and sisters, the power God gave us, (2 Timothy 1:7), is rooted in the knowledge of what Christ has done for us and because of His sacrifice we love Him;  1 ” I love the Lord, who listened to my voice in supplication, Who turned an ear to me on the day I called.”(Psalm 116:1-2). Paul expresses that through his supplications of being a sinner Jesus gave him mercy. (1 Timothy 1:15) Again, my brothers and sisters just as lip service doesn’t work with us humans it doesn’t work with God either. Thus, prayer with sincerity is what cleanses the soul and makes ready for those God-Actions. The fulfillment of being in harmony with God allows the obedient heart to show all patience, love, and mercy with each other which are some of the most wonderful fruits of the Holy Spirit. Beyond this pray earnestly for one another; even those people whom you do not like. For if you do not what good is there in that? Again, I say to you my brothers and sisters do not be as those who have plenty and are lost and thus act and sound pious. Rather lack nothing in your hearts… pick up your cross and follow Jesus exhibiting your faith with both your words and actions! (Mark 9:22).

Reflection Question: “Do you think that you will be strong enough to answer Jesus when He comes to you and asks, ‘Who do you say that I am?'”

LET US PRAY!

Thanksgiving to God Who Saves from Death

Psalm 116

Beseech the Lord


1  I love the Lord, who listened to my voice in supplication,

Ant. “I say to you; there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Canticle of Mary – Divine Office

2 Who turned an ear to me on the day I called.

Ant. “I say to you; there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Canticle of Mary – Divine Office

3 I was caught by the cords of death; the snares of Sheol had seized me; I felt agony and dread.

Ant. “I say to you; there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Canticle of Mary – Divine Office

4 Then I called on the name of the Lord, “O Lord, save my life!”

Ant. “I say to you; there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Canticle of Mary – Divine Office

5 Gracious is the Lord and righteous; yes, our God is merciful.

Ant. “I say to you; there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Canticle of Mary – Divine Office

6 The Lord protects the simple; I was helpless, but he saved me.

Ant. “I say to you; there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Canticle of Mary – Divine Office

7 Return, my soul, to your rest; the Lord has been very good to you.

Ant. “I say to you; there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Canticle of Mary – Divine Office

8 For my soul has been freed from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.

Ant. “I say to you; there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Canticle of Mary – Divine Office

9 I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

Ant. “I say to you; there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Canticle of Mary – Divine Office

10 kept faith, even when I said, “I am greatly afflicted!”

Ant. “I say to you; there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Canticle of Mary – Divine Office

11 I said in my alarm, “All men are liars!”

Ant. “I say to you; there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Canticle of Mary – Divine Office

12 How can I repay the Lord for all the great good done for me?

Ant. “I say to you; there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Canticle of Mary – Divine Office

13 I will raise the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.

Ant. “I say to you; there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Canticle of Mary – Divine Office

14 will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.

Ant. “I say to you; there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Canticle of Mary – Divine Office

15 Dear in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his devoted.

Ant. “I say to you; there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Canticle of Mary – Divine Office

16 Lord, I am your servant, your servant, the child of your maidservant; you have loosed my bonds.

Ant. “I say to you; there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Canticle of Mary – Divine Office

17 I will offer a sacrifice of praise and call on the name of the Lord.

Ant. “I say to you; there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Canticle of Mary – Divine Office

18 I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people,

Ant. “I say to you; there is great rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.” Canticle of Mary – Divine Office

19 In the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Hallelujah!

Remember to also pray for all the victims of Sexual Misconduct within the Catholic Church, we all pray: (Month of September 2018) The Prays of Contrition & Reconciliation.

Special Prayer for Fr. Mike 
December 7, 1946 – September 9, 2018

The Ascension community thanks God for the time that Father Michael J. Mandala S.J gave as a beloved guest minister at Ascension Catholic Church… he will be sorely missed. We Celebrate his life of service to Our Lord and his ministry of giving on Saturday, September 22, 2018, at 10 a.m. at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church 6657 Sunset Blvd. Hollywood CA 90028.

Ant. I became all things to all men, that all might find salvation. Common of Pastors – Canticle of Mary – For a Priest.

5 “To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. ~ 1 Peter 5:1-4 (NIV)

REST IN PEACE AND LOVE – FR. MIKE

NEED HELP OR ENCOURAGEMENT?

If you would like to receive ongoing encouragement, to help you stay focused, and/or need some guidance in where to look for motivational scriptures in the bible then feel free to email me at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com with your request. Remember you’re never alone.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us. ~ Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Joseph the Carpenter, Husband, and Father

Knowing the Voice of God

Solemnity of Saint Joseph – Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Monday, March 19, 2018 – Fifth Week of Lent

23 “Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, 24 since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ.” – Colossians 3:23-24 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicized Catholic Edition (NRSVACE)

He who knows the voice of God is truly blessed, he who hears and obeys the voice of God truly knows the grace of God the Father.  It could be said that Joseph, husband of Mary, Father of Jesus knows the voice of God. It could be said that his faith led him in such ways as to accept the unacceptable, believe in the unbelievable, and love and forgive despite the harsh and stiff laws of man. There is nothing more rewarding than to rise up and confront the world in its most terrible of moments with God’s courage, conviction, and love as Joesph had done. Joseph for all his flaws was a man of deep faith and courage. He loved with his heart and listened intently to each word from the lips of our God in heaven and rightly in the Bible (Matthew 1:19) Joseph is described as a righteous man. Moreover, Joseph was the type of man who not only wanted to do what was right for others, but also to do those things in the right way.  We know that Joseph listened to and could understand God. But listening is just one part of the total action of Joseph, for he also obeyed our Lord. So, let’s walk together, my brothers and sisters through the story we all know concerning Joseph and his four dreams.

The Birth of Jesus the Messiah

First Dream – Joseph the Husband: (Matthew 1:19-25) Joseph was engaged to Mary and she came to him telling him about the ‘Immaculate Conception’, knowing the baby was not his and did not want to get her in trouble with the law chose to dismiss her quietly. But God had other plans, for he sent an angel to Joseph in his dream, assuring him that the baby was of God and that Joseph was to name him Jesus. But above all Joseph was to take Mary as his wife.

Question ‘What does Joseph immediately do after waking from this dream?’ 

Answer: That’s right, Joseph does what he was told to do without any reservations. In addition to this, he also makes sure Mary stays a virgin until Jesus is born. In this way, Joseph plays an essential part in the plan of salvation. 

The Escape to Egypt

Second Dream – Joseph the Protector: (Matthew 2: 13-15) While still in Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus once again we read that Joseph was asleep and an angel of God appeared to him in a dream forewarning him of King Herod’s plans to kill every male child the age of two and younger. The Angel instructs Joseph to go to Egypt and wait there until told to come back.

Question ‘Again what does Joseph immediately do after waking from this second dream?’ 

Answer: That’s right, Joseph does what he was told to do without any reservations. Again, setting it up for scripture to be fulfilled – ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’

The Return from Egypt

Third & Fourth Dream – Joseph Loyal Servant to God: (Matthew 2:19-23) This time once again came to Joseph in a dream telling him to get up and go to Israel, but when Joseph heard that Herod’s son Archelaus was ruling over Judea from the fourth and final dream, Joseph became concerned and thus changed their destination to the district of Galilee, settling in the town of Nazareth. In doing this Joseph once again fulfills yet another prophecy concerning Jesus, ‘He will be called a Nazorean.’

Ok, I’m not going to ask the same question and give you the same answer as the first two times, however, it is painfully obvious that Joseph is both listening and obeying God’s every command to the letter. Joseph exhibited some core characteristics of a righteous man in his actions above that I would like everyone to take note of;

1.) Joseph exhibits a great deal of confidence in the angel’s messages, always immediately do what was being requested of him without delay.

2.) Joseph exhibits an enormous amount of faith in that his dreams were indeed inspired and from an angel of God. This is also recorded in, (Luke 2:41-42).

3.) Joseph exhibits a real maternal fatherly roll over Jesus in that he not only acts as a protector but also caregiver during those first days.

Scripture also tells of Joseph and Mary having other children of their own, (Matthew 13:55), but moreover, Joseph taught Jesus how to be a carpenter, (Mark 6:3), this is certain as it was the Jewish custom for fathers to pass down to their sons their trade and training at the age of 12 for this is a known Jewish custom, therefore Joseph becomes a teacher in the training of his son’s to be a tektōn (τέκτων), Greek for artisan/craftsman, in particular, a carpenter or wood-worker or builder. Following Jewish customs we also know that Joseph was very religious as scripture also records that Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the temple, once every four years. So, we can conclude Joseph had an immeasurable influence on what religious message Jesus received under his tutelage. I would like to think that Jesus used some of the lessons His step-father had taught throughout His ministry. So, with these additional character traits my brothers and sister take a moment and reflect on Joseph as a father figure;

4.)  Joseph as the legal father of Jesus taught him a trade, that being a carpenter. This would allow Jesus to earn money and provide for his family once Joseph had passed on.

5.) Joseph instructed Jesus in matters of religion as a member of the Jewish faith. Thus, Joseph takes his family to the temple every four years.

In these ways, Jesus was taught life skills as well as how to practice his religious customs. I have heard by several priests that out of every person on earth God could have possibly chosen to raise His son, God chose Joseph, from the House of David, again fulling scripture, (Isaiah 9:6-7).  With all these admirable traits Joseph as Saint is looked up to for his characteristics of loyalty, commitment, labor, selflessness, humility, honorable, chivalrous, and as a brave servant leader.

Saint Joseph – Patron of Use All

Pope Pius IX proclaimed Saint Joseph the patron of the Universal Church in 1870. Having died in the “arms of Jesus and Mary” according to Catholic tradition, he is considered the model of the pious believer who receives grace at the moment of death, in other words, the patron of a happy death. – Foley, O.F.M., Leonard. Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons, and Feast, (revised by Pat McCloskey O.F.M.), Franciscan Media, ISBN 978-0-86716-887-7

Referring to Saint Joseph, Pope Leo wrote, “[h]e set himself to protect with a mighty love and a daily solicitude his spouse and the Divine Infant; regularly by his work he earned what was necessary for the one and the other for nourishment and clothing…” – Quamquam pluries, (August 15, 1889), in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Veneration of Saint Joseph is believed to have started somewhere around the year 800 A.D. referencing Joseph as ‘Nutritor Domini’, or (educator/guardian of the Lord). Saint Joseph believed deeply in the dignity of the human person, in the family, in sacrifice, and in the love of service to his community and to God. Because of his qualities as a believer in God, he also is the patron saint of families, fathers, expectant mothers (pregnant women), explorers, pilgrims, travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and working people in general. The following countries and cities claim him as their Patron Saint as well, Americas, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Croatia, Indonesia, Mexico, Korea, Peru, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Finally, as there are special payers said for Mother Mary, there are also the same for Saint Joseph. These prayers within the Catholic Church focus on the seven joys and seven sorrows of Saint Joseph which include prayers for daily protection, vocation, happy marriage, happy death, and hopeless cases; specific prayers, novenas, and devotions include the Prayer to Saint Joseph and the Novena to Saint Joseph.

Saint Joseph indeed emulated the words of  (Colossians 3:23-24) in all that he did, he was the perfect model of a servant leader, embodying the what it meant to be a father, teacher, husband, believer, and most importantly of all a protector. There is no better a person to be your personal hero and patron. Saint Joseph is the one man who helped preserve the salvation story fighting earnestly for Jesus, for Mary, and for God. Today my brothers and sisters take time and join in with the world and celebrate Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary, through the INVITATION TO PRAY. 

LETS PRAY

ANCIENT PRAYER TO ST. JOSEPH

Over 1900 Years Old

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interest and desires.

Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him close in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me.

Amen.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Reflection 6: What You Can Expect From Life: According to Faith; pt 6

20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” ~ Matthew 17:20

Faith in most of our minds is this mystical,  magical, and even almost other worldly supernatural power that only certain people have in abundance. We read about awesome acts of  faith helping the condemned to survive when anyone else would have perished. We find stories of people who thank God for their recovery claiming it was their faith that pulled them through and we feel they are out of our league.  We in our minds dismiss these people and their stories because we feel that, “we the normal person” is not somehow worthy of this high honor bestowed on just a select few. Well, the truth is that “Yes”, there are some of us who hold onto faith in every aspects of their lives and “Yes”, faith is ingrained into their DNA. “YES”, miracles do happen to some of us because of their faith in God but, “NO!” they are not magically blessed and the rest of humanity is less fortunate.  The truth is God gave all of us the power to believe, and it is this power which we must surrender too in order to have true faith in God. Faith equals trust, trust equals belief, and like a circle bending back upon itself belief equals love. Because “Love” is “God” and those who love God also trust God, again, we find that this equals faith which equals trust. People who choose to live their lives in this manner exhibit characteristics that scare the rest of us because they seemingly have something that we don’t.  People of faith seem to possess absolute resolve in all the trials and tribulations that is placed in their way on a daily basis and seem to handle it better with more fortitude and with greater grace than the normal person could ever muster. But this I tell you is also an illusion, because even though we see something on the out side, the pain and turmoil still has its grip on the inside. We all have the same weakness that which is sin. We all sin, we all fall to sin in our daily lives, it’s just that some of us handle sin better because of their faith, because they trust in God for his promise of forgiveness of their sins. If there was anything which took root in the Roman world after the death and resurrection of Jesus it would have to be this one simple fact that more Romans needed faith in something more real than what they where being offered and Christianity gave them this anchor as it still does for all of us today.  So the simple fact is as Jesus had stated so brilliantly, faith is so powerful because it is show in your actions trust in the word of God. This builds belief in God and in that there is nothing which you cannot do or accomplish even move mountains.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

How many times have you been told to, “Have Faith.” ? What does this really mean? I had one of my students tell me flat out when I told him to have faith, “Why should we have faith?” Obviously this was coming from frustration, but I assured him it will all work in the end. Did it? “Yes! it did.” It always works out in the end. God makes sure things that go wrong in our lives according to us, He can and will fix. But how do we have faith when we don’t know the plan? This and so many other questions rest assured will be the road block to your faith if you let it. But, if you don’t and you let go and let God then your faith is multiplied by infinity and with that kind of faith there is nothing you cannot do.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8

Faith is a journey, it is a real hand-in-hand walk with our creator. It is the constant listening, or listening faithfully in faith that we all share in common as we only have one God. No one can ignore the sin in our heart as surely as we cannot ignore the path we are all called to take, the journey called faith in God.

My faith journey has been one built up over forty years of  constant reading and asking questions to clergy and people I loved and respected. I finally came face-to-face with all my sin and troubles which had broken me to the point I could n’t stand myself and it was then I saw the clearest I saw the path and heard, really heard God calling my name to walk hand-in-hand with him. I had to hit the bottom of the barrel to find God, to find His mercy, His love, and His devotion that He so freely had given to me which had been before me for ever in plan view. It was that I simply could not see past myself, I was blind with pride, drunk with lust of this world I could not see God. I will not lie, my faith journey has been the hardest journey I have ever had to endure.  I have been tested in every way, shape, and form, every obstacle has been planted with deep roots in front of me, it seems that once I over come the obstacle another is already in the first ones place. Each new test become harder to beat, testing me in new more uncomfortable ways always forcing me to step outside my comfort zone and think outside of the box. But in all these trials and tribulations God has allowed to happen in my life, I have never wavered and in my faith has become stronger and stronger just like Jesus promised. “HAVE FAITH.” Is more than just a saying that makes most people cringe with fear and anxiety, it is the calling card of love sent straight to you from God himself. It is a commandment for the faithful to uphold, always and forever. The best part about it is I know I am never alone in my trials and tribulations that life beats me down with. Because I am on this journey, I am assured that God is with me, right beside me, holding my hand through every part especially the worst parts always giving me strength and resolve.

Without faith there is no hope, and without hope their is only depression and despair. You can expect to fail for sure with that formula. Added to that you are not pleasing God. The actions of those who feel no hope is to rob others of their hope, to pull others down into their sorrow and pity.  All of which is against God and against what He has commanded. God does not reward bad behavior, but rather there is hope in the reward of trust and love He holds for us for he gave his only son.

The one question that always comes to my mind at Easter is really when you thinking about it, when you remember the love of God; His grace that He so freely gives to all man kind is simple in retrospect, “How much more faith in God did Jesus exhibit in His last hour here on Earth as He suffered and died on the cross? How much more faith did Jesus demonstrate than anyone of us in any hour of trouble we face in comparison to being crucified ” Jesus’s stated mission according to the four Gospels of the New Testament was that He had to die for our sins. Jesus had told the Pharisees that He would be seated at the right hand of God. Clearly this was the reward for sacrificing himself for all mankind? But what if Jesus had misplaced His faith in God, what then? Certainly Jesus had thought this in the garden as he prayed before His arrest. Surely Satan had tempted Jesus with this doubt in the Desert. Had it not been for Jesus’s resurrection on the third day we all would be left without faith, without hope, without the trust in God we all so desperately need. We know Jesus was who he said He was, His father is God, and we know beyond doubt the power of Faith by His example and obedience which “Yes” pleased God immensely. Jesus’s faith in God was absolute, unwavering, and never ending. It is this we celebrate at Easter, and it is this truly gives man hope, faith, and love.

“And Jesus answered saith unto them, ‘Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in hid heart , but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”  Mark 11:22-23

Happy Easter Everyone.

Amen

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Brian Keith

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Brian Keith

Special Reflection: Thanksgiving 2012

10 “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 whowere born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” ~ John 1:10-13

The Lord thy God has done some miraculous things but the one singular accomplishment was the creation of the world through the light of Jesus Christ. In many ways we can correlate our American Holiday of Thanksgiving and other nations Thanksgiving celebrations within the creation story itself. The link between scripture and literal history falls upon each  pilgrim and the reasons they chose to make this long hard arduous journey. The beliefs which they carried within their hearts with much faith and determination as they crossed the Atlantic fighting disease, risking starvation all with the hope of a new beginning. Jesus was in the world with those first sailors from Europe just as he was with the Jews. Like those Jew in Jesus’s day who meet our Lord face-to-face and who did not believe or accepted Him, so too not all the people aboard those first few ships believed in Christ but rather  prized a possible reward for their troubles through the efforts of man, not of God. But so to was it in Jesus’s day many accepted Him, believed in the light of Jesus Christ, and it was also these people, the first true christians aboard the most weather beaten hulks of lumber who made it far enough to see land once more who too also believed not of the blood, or of the flesh, or of man, but rather of the perfect will of God.  Through their great strife and sacrifice in their many hardships we look back at these two separate ages and can the see the hand of God molding our hearts and as he builds great nations of believers and from a few chose children of God. Much like all the apostles Jesus through the Holy Spirit made all things new, accomplishing His glorious task over and over throughout history always  through much pain and heartache, towel and trouble. Jesus succeed in creating the world a new, He succeed in planting the seeds of love, compassion, and forgiveness. It is in that spirit do we find the pilgrims  the american indians, the grand banquet of celebration and unity for the benefit of all.

“Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who treat you badly.” ~ Lost Gospel Q , Q14.

The miracle of Thanksgiving is not found in all the food, and the cake, not the fact the pilgrims embraced the indians or the indians embraced the pilgrims, but in the heart of each man and women who put aside all the hardship each group put the other through prior to the sitting down to celebrate.  It was the willingness to love each other enough to allow the others survival through the basic principal Jesus uttered two thousand years before ; “LOVE YOUR ENEMIES.”  Without this one common thread running through history it is easy to see there most certainly, most likely would not be this great body of people who can claim their heritage to the body of God.  We see there most likely would not have been the many great nations on this earth, there most likely would not have been America, Canada, and all the newest nations to join in on the ongoing banquet of Thanksgiving. How different would our world would have been if everyone of the pilgrims had a hardened heart? What kind of slaughter would have occurred had the indians not wanted peace and if they had not taken pity upon the few remain christians. It was but from a hand full of settlers that through this love and forgiveness and willingness to accept others into their heart and obeying the words of our savior, “DO GOOD TO THOSE WHO HATE YOU.”, many of us would not be here, our nation might not have survived. We celebrate each kernel of corn planted upon sandy beaches, each pig and deer hunted and killed, we celebrate each berry plucked from the vine, to each fowl plucked clean and cooked for this momentous occasion. For within each one of these things sacrificed and grown then shared was the words of Christ also upheld, “BLESS THOSE WHO CURSE YOU.” From these small miracles can we extrapolate the message of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, it was among a handful of believers who where able to come together and dismiss the look, smell, lifestyle, dislike, distrust, and fear,  and before taking a bit did they all make this joyous bounty that had been laid-out before  sanctified in the Holy Spirit and in name of God where they then allowed to unit in prayer and celebration as they again obeyed Christ Jesus by the very act of prayer, “PRAY FOR THOSE WHO TRAT YOU BADLY.”

“Give, and there will be gifts for you. A full measure of grain, pressed down, shaken, together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.” ~Lost Gospel Q , Q18.

In the days of Jesus many people saw Him, witnessed His many sermons and could testify to His miracles, but none of them could contemplate the foundations which He had laid. Thanksgiving can thus find roots in our Lord Jesus Christ just as the foundations of the world is rooted in His love for all mankind. Our God has not been petty with us, He has not withheld anything. But we in our sin and transgressions have at times been petty with God, with each other, and with ourselves. The foundations of the teachings of our God can be best summed up with His commandment to give freely with one-another, hold nothing back, as the rewards awaiting you are measured out with the rod you used upon others, and with God. The miracle of the Last Supper, was in the actions of jesus as he held nothing back, much like the supper upon that first Thanksgiving where the indians and pilgrims brought equal food and drink to share freely with their fellow man. The astounding thing has to be that the indians would be facing a people that would not always meet them on such terms, and in some regard they knew this and still took pity and was in many ways greater christians for having done so, acting as christian in the words of our Lord even though the word, “Christian” was not yet within their vocabulary. In many ways the natives measure of grain in heaven is larger than ours today because of their mercy, forgiveness, act of love, and ability to bless their enemies with life.

 14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 Forthe law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” ~ John 1:14-18

Thanksgiving in many respects is a day the world celebrates as Jesus came into this world, shined His light upon us all so that we could come from the darkness of sin. The Lord God in heaven also made it possible for the many wars to come to a pause in order to observe Holy days of obligation and in our present times this day of Thanksgiving holds a truth among it that carries greatness in our ability to keep it for over two hundred years. It the testimony of this nation, of all nations who put aside their grievances with their fellow man and hold hands in the presences and might our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Amen

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving 2012 and may the Lord lift your spirit whether you are with your family or are celebrating alone. May you all go in peace in the word and promises of our Lord.

Special Reflection: Fathers & Men of God

1 “Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, 2 that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you and your sons and your grandsons, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.” ~ Deuteronomy 6:1-2

Arguably the first of all commandments pertaining to fathers is to obey the Lord your God. This was handed down to Moses, the father of Israel, the man of God responsible for thousands of people and who lead them faithfully to the promise land. As a parent and as a father I can not emphasize this point any more, other than to say that God passed to man fatherhood and meant for there to be greater responsibility to fathers for the upbringing and moral teaching to their children. We are held to a sacred oath which states that we are to obey the Lord our God, to emulate His love, grace, understanding, devotion, morality, and faithfulness of our Father who is in Heaven, in teaching our children to do the same. This specific act of obedience is given to fathers solely and is a directive from God Himself.

Interestingly, mans law as it relates to U.S. Family Law is in direct violation to God’s law, as the courts in our country often deny, subvert, alienate, disenfranchise, and falsely empower children of 13 and over, all which destroys the bonds of family which the Family Code in all 50 States are sworn to protect. Because God has been eradicated from the equation in terms of rearing children the reality is frightful, as fathers are forced to flee a potential hostile situation within their own homes perpetrated by their wives, and to date the courts have done nothing to stop it. In addition, because our justice system has in and of its self renounced God our nation is becoming fatherless. This I tell you is the greatest sin any nation on Earth can commit, and it is without doubt the workings of Satan himself. The question I know every father faces who is in this situation is a mind numbing simple one, “If God gave to man this commandment to be obedient and faithful in teaching morality to his children, then why isn’t this right protected under mans law? Doesn’t it benefit everyone in our society for fathers to teach to their children morality?” The answer is just as frustratingly simple, “Because man has renounced God in his own laws!” This attack on the christian faith penetrates every aspect of our belief and practices in worshiping God. In saying this I will also reveal that in each action to suppress the moral teachings of God and the fathers inherent duty to teach his children to also obey God, all of  which is biblically supported and sound legally, then it also must be noted that anything other than following Gods commandments is inherently wrong and unholy. It also further destroys the moral fabric of our nation as a whole, and thus there is a price for this arrogance of our legal system which is currently serving the interests of economic wealth, which destroys our families and our nation as a whole, thus serving Satan!

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5“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 “You shall bind them as a sign on your hands, and bind them on your foreheads. 9 “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”~ Deuteronomy 6:5-9

The greatest of commandment for fathers is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. God intended His children to love him, to worship Him alone, to be obedient to His perfect will. Fathers are commanded to emulate this to his family and to his children. This is the bonds which binds fathers to their offspring, that which supports the family structure, and that imparts to his children the morality within their character. God also commands fathers to teach these things “diligently”, giving examples of each teaching of the Gospels within every aspect of his day leaving no room for misunderstanding by describing of how it is to be done within by using the following words, “when you sit, walk, lie down, and when you rise up.” If that wasn’t clear enough God goes even further by stating, “to bind them as a sign on your hands and foreheads. To write them on the doorposts and gates to your house!” Men of God are commanded to teach the children about faith, about love, about mercy, about kindness and respect, and we are commanded to instruct our children in all the ways of God. This is the biblical duty given to fathers, and without it our children suffer greatly.

6” Train up a child in the way he should go,  and when he is old he will not depart from it.” ~Proverbs 22:6

According to God the Father, we fathers here on Earth are to spend time with our children. Ironically, I have personally been told that this issue of time spend is less important than the quality of time spent. I tell you now the truth of the matter as God sees it, Fathers are to spend both quality and quantity of time with their children, how else is there to be any morality taught? Yes, there will be hard lessons, ones which the children would rather flee from, and would rather ignore or rebuke, but the lessons need to be taught regardless, and must be protected as a solemn right and duty of the father to teach his children. This can not be done without time given to the father to teach these things, the children can not learn if this instruction is subverted by outsiders, which include everyone other than the father and his children. It is no accident that single mothers complain about their children’s godlessness and lack of respect to them. It is no accident our society is seeing an increase of teenage pregnancies, abortions, drug use, High School drop outs, depression, suicides, and the over all degradation of our spiritual world and belief system. The division of duties given to each parent by God, is holy and both parents need to respect these differences as God has divided them. In no manner of speech have I indicated that fathers are superior to mothers, or that mothers are superior to fathers, as to teach this would be false teaching, instead God has given each sex specific rights as it relates to parenting, for each duty is equal to developing a healthy and well adjusted child in the eyes of God. Again, ironically our Family Law bioses are in conflict to Gods Laws, as women are thought of as the only parent the child needs within our societal indoctrination within the 1970’s Women’s Liberation Movement which left a destructive imprint on the hearts and minds of our legal system which teaches a false ideology, one that dictates, “Fathers are optional.” and “I don’t need a man.” philosophy as it relates to the modern family structure. This false doctrine is not supported by God, or any biblical teaching found in the bible and yet it has such a devastating impact on our courts, families, and has single handily help to destroy the role of fathers in our country today.

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1 ” Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 4And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” ~Ephesians 6: 1-4

The Lord God commands our children to accept the training given by both mother and father, and for fathers not to provoke thy children to anger, but rather teach them about God. Again over and over God commands the father to teach morality, respect, honor, imparting traits of a good and holy character to their children. More to the point however, again their is this dark force within our country which is trying to subvert the role of fathers, so as to clarify what is the role of the modern father and that of men of God the following is a list which can be found online at http://www.citizenlink.com/2010/06/15/mom-and-dad-kids-need-both/

  • “The father, as the male parent, brings unique contributions to the job of parenting that a mother cannot.  Psychology Today explains, “Fatherhood turns out to be a complex and unique phenomenon with huge consequences for the emotional and intellectual growth of children.”
  • Boys who grow up with dads have their masculinity affirmed and learn from their fathers how to channel their strength in positive ways. Fathers help children understand proper male sexuality, hygiene, and behavior in age appropriate ways.  Fathers help connect their children, (especially boys) to job markets as they enter adulthood. This is because fathers, more than mothers, are likely to have the kinds of diverse community connections needed to help young adults get their first jobs. They are also more likely to have the motivation to make sure their children make these connections.
  • Girls with involved, married fathers are more likely to have healthier relationships with boys in adolescence and men in adulthood because they learn from their fathers how proper men act toward women. They have a healthy familiarity with the world of men, and know which behaviors are inappropriate. This knowledge builds emotional security, and helps to safeguard them from the exploitation of predatory males.
  • Studies have shown that the presence of a father strongly correlates to children avoiding incarceration.  The absence of the father as an authority figure can contribute to a child’s disregarding laws and rules.  “70% of juveniles in state reform institutions grew up in single or no-parent situations.”

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God our father in Heaven knows best for us, he always has and to do anything other than what is commanded is unholy, and does not come from God, rather from Satan. God created fatherhood to be non-optional, non-negotiable, and intrinsically important to the rearing of children. God knew that men of faith, fathers and leaders of their households play a decisive role in the upbringing of their sons and daughters, a role that which cannot be filled by anyone else including the mother. Fathers sacred duty to their daughters helps to insure and prepare them in having healthy relationships with men in their life, in this daughters become more secure and are able to be a better parent and wife herself. Men make for a better disciplinarian and when anchored in moral discipline all children have a better chance at becoming well adjusted adults. To hold a healthy fear of God is biblical, and this also is an attribute all fathers are commanded to hold.

Upon this fathers day I hope the world can see and express and be enriched by the many blessings of God, in both his moral teachings and in its real world applications. Cherish your Earthly fathers, for they have a sacred obligation which needs to be celebrated.

Amen

May God be with you always, may his hand be upon you, and may your life be blessed with the fullness of our Lord.

Please do not forget to make a donation to Fathers Rights as Listening Faithfully gives each donation to help fund struggling fathers meet their legal obligations. Currently we are accepting donations of any size, but if you find that you have been moved by this message and can afford to give in the $100.00 range, then know your gift will be part of our strategic $8000.00 pledge to fight for Fathers Rights in America, and men nation wide will be grateful to your generosity. To meet this target we only need 80 such donations of $100.00 each and for each donation a Prayer Card with your name will be given to each father we help. In addition your name will be listed here on our site, along with a special, “I SUPPORT FATHERS RIGHTS” T’shirt with your name on the back will be mailed back to you as a special donor. So please do not hesitate today to give so our fathers can be that Godly father Our Lord has commanded all of us to be to our children. 
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Reflections 3: The Test of Love

“47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little” (Luke 7:47, NKJV, Pp.1000).

Last week, and in many other posts, I have said that there is one requirement that we Christians have before God. This requirement is to have absolute faith in Jesus Christ no matter where he should lead us. In fact my exact words where, “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.” In addition to making this point, I also gave many examples of how some people just can’t come to grips with this, and in fact one of my readers commented to me personally, “God also wants us to question and not follow along like a blinded sheep.” Admittedly, after reading this comment I was somewhat taken aback. I wondered where I had gone wrong, so after a full week of contemplation I want to bring all of you full circle on this point.

40 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.” 41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty, 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” (Luke 7:40-42, NKJV, Pp.1000).

I ask, “Did this forgiving of debt have anything to do with mercy, with love?” Simon is being given a test that it took Apostle Paul half a lifetime to learn. Paul prosecuted Christians in the beginning. He was actively hunting them down watching them die at his own hand. His heart was filled with anger and violence, so much so his life was overflowing with such torment. His love was little, thus he loved little. What did it take to bring Paul from this pit of darkness, and give him a new lease on life? It took a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. It took Paul the very breath of Jesus in his ear, the blinding of his eyes, in order to instill and wipe away his old habit of hatred and persecution of others, and allow himself to be persecuted in order for him to truly find faith in God. Paul’s conversion was a new found unquestionable, unshakable faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  What a radical transformation from the old angry Christian hater to the new Christ follower. Like Paul, Simon is faced with the one true test of love.

43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” 44 Then he turned to the women and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this women has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this women has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore, I say to you, her sins are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little” (Luke 7:43 – 47, NKJV, Pp.1000).

This woman had a choice, she had free will, and she could have chosen not to accept Jesus in this manner. As the story unfolds we find not only did she completely surrender to Jesus, but she sought Him out, and she faced the many men of so-called faith who accused and cursed her. The word forgiven could have been replaced by accepted, but then the granting of forgiveness would have been mute. The table was prepared, the house filled with Pharisees, Jesus could have said you are accepted, and avoided criticism, but his purpose would have been unfilled. What a shame all that would have been, what a great opportunity would have slipped by unnoticed? The question, the criticism, which sparked this great test of love was one filled with scorn.

“39 This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of women this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39, NKJV, Pp.1000).

But I ask, “Are we all not sinners?”

Yes, we are all sinners, yes; we all have free will, and yes; God wants us to question why we believe what we believe. If our God was not such a forgiving God, He would not have forgiven us our many indiscretions. If our God was not a loving God he would not have given us free will, coupled by an inquisitive nature that often times gets us into trouble. If our God wanted us to be blind automatons He would not have sent His only son Jesus to open our eyes so wide to His most perfect grace, His most perfect unconditional love.

It is because we are sinners we need God’s forgiveness, His divine mercy. No matter how hard we try, we cannot save ourselves. Without being tested by love, we love little. Without God showing us love, we would never know God. Apostle Paul would have forever been blinded by his hatred of people of different faiths, Simon would have never seen the light of day, the Pharisees would have never been moved to question God in the manner they did, and our daily struggle would be unbearable, as we would truly be forsaken. Historically speaking, Rome would never been converted to Christianity, and if that didn’t happen, you and I would not be having this conversation.  Without questioning our faith, our journey with and too God would be meaningless, for we would cease to seek, and we would never find. The only right answer is to do what the sinful women did before Jesus; the only action we need to show is our gratitude. The daily walk through our lives is filled with meaning when we surrender completely, and demonstrate with every breath in our bodies’ absolute faith in Jesus. Only then are we truly set free of our earthy shackles and begin to live the many blessings God had in store for us all along, but first we must pick up our cross and follow Him.

48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Then He said to the women. “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace” (Luke 7:48 – 50, NKJV, Pp.1000).

Challenge question: Where would we be if we did not have Gods love, if we were never tested by that most perfect love? Then without Gods love wouldn’t we be even more lost than we currently find ourselves?

Amen

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.

Reflections 2: When We Follow Him

“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?

Amen

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.

Reflections 2: Paying Attention to Detail

“And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18-22, Lost Gospel Q, Q30, p.64).

It is no accident that when we look at the human spirit we all have a common need to know God. It is no accident that Jesus chose to come as a sheep to be slain, only to rise on the third day. I say it is not an accident because God chose to give us all free will, in doing so He knew we would sin, and fall away from Him but our God did it anyway. God is so magnificent, so perfect in all His works that He was so precise that He paid such close attention to detail in the creation of us that which He had already made room for our sins in His overall plan for humanity. It is no accident that our creator made us in His likeness took such delight in giving Adam his first breath of life, as He does for each and every one of us. God paid such close attention to detail that He recognized when Adam was lonely, thus He created Eve. The miracle is in the fact there is no difference to how closely God observes us, each one of us, and knows when we need Him, answers our prayers, and plays such an active role in our individual lives once we have accepted Him into our hearts, under that most perfect design called free will.

Simon Peter could have said no, as well could have Andrew. In fact each and every one of the twelve disciples could have said no. But because each one of us has that built in need to know God, they followed him, they made a choice. They walked away from their lively hood, their families, their worldly responsibilities, and made the choice to follow him. To their credit they listened to Jesus and followed him upon blind faith that they were making the right choice. The most compelling aspect to this was Jesus knew they would slip in their faith while following him, he knew they would argue, complain, have many doubts, even question him on topics they all struggled with, which we all still today struggle with. Jesus knew they would abandon him in the end, run away in fear, deny him, and even betray him. Jesus knew this just as his Father in heaven knew Adam and Eve would sin, but instead of fixing this one trait, our Lord and Savior used it to our greatest benefit, through his death on the cross. Perhaps the greatest of Jesus’s acts took place during the last super as found in John 13: 1-5, when he washed his disciple’s feet. The attention to detail was so perfectly executed that Jesus did not hesitate to wash the feet of Judas Iscariot, knowing that within moments of him doing so, Judas would betray him.

“2 The evening meal was being served and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him” (John 13: 2-5, Pg. 1656, NKJV).

How do you reconcile the example of doing for those who would do you ill? In truth I don’t know anyone who could have washed Judas’s feet if they had the forward knowledge that Judas was going to betray them. Moreover within hours from that moment such torture and pain was going to be unleashed upon him. But it took the unyielding, agape love of God to become the servant, to wash the feet of his betrayer. But yet we are all called to do this. In retrospect it is no different from when God gave Adam life, knowing Adam would eventually sin against him. In fact every human on Earth has sinned against God, but yet He still pays such close attention to detail as to love us anyway, to show us His grace anyway, and to choose to send His son Jesus to save all of us from eternal damnation anyway.

Jesus still chose out of free will, the twelve flawed, conflicted, non-patient men to be his disciples, and they accepted his invitation through free will and blind faith. Some of the most powerful words Jesus ever uttered in his ministry were his most simple of words, “Follow Me.”

Often times we get so wrapped up in our own lives we forget to do for others as Jesus so plainly gave the most perfect of examples. Some of us have such brilliant excuses as using the lack of time as the culprit in not obeying God. The simple miscalculation of this is found in the fact there is no one busier than God, but yet He so passionately spends personal one-on-one time with each and every one on planet Earth. There is no excuse for not showing others kindness, love, mercy, and forgiveness. Worse yet some of us openly betray God, in all their words and actions. They harm even those they love, and call this twisted pool of lies and rebellion love. But such is free will, we are free to think, feel, react, learn, and breath, as we choose. But we all have a choice, we all make our own destiny, we all have a loving forgiving father in heaven who is always there waiting, watching, hoping we will call upon Him, to ask for His forgiveness. Such is the very nature of God, as so expressed by John,

“8  He who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8, Pg. 1170, NKJV).

Furthermore John explains,

“16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:16-19, Pg. 1170, NKJV).

Because we are left with the unyielding love of God, we are never alone, never left without hope, never subject to fear. Within our faith we are made perfect in God, we are molded and shaped by God. He takes so much pleasure in each wrinkle, every scratch, every pour and cell in our bodies, for He alone pays such great attention to such details. Ironically this takes vast amounts of time, and this is what God does for us just like He did for Jesus’s twelve disciples. One of the greatest reliefs is that whenever there is a huge worry, a meeting, assignment, or task that is life changing and a bit scary to face, know God is in our life and that there is noting to fear. For if we know God in our heart, we know love, in that love cast out fear and we then have perfect confidence our task will be completed just as Jesus faced down death, only to rise on the third day with God’s perfect confidence and love.

Challenge question: Knowing we are commanded to love one another, to love our enemies, to wash clean their feet, to show mercy and forgiveness, then when we choose not to do so aren’t we really in rebellion? Aren’t we really telling God we know better? Then if this is the case aren’t we all very lucky to have such a forgiving God who has paid such attention as to give us the agape love we need to come to him once we realize our mistake, our sin?

Amen

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. Amen.

Reflection 6: Moving Heaven and Earth

In the darkest of my days I will admit I was blind to faith, I demonstrated a lack of  belief  in what God wanted for me. There is a series of questions in the hardest of times all people  face which leave the lingering taste of doubt in our voices, as we voice our concerns. I know I asked God for improbable outcomes, solutions I felt would work in my life and would solve the problems which suddenly arose unexpectedly. But none of my suggestions was consistent with God. None of my wants were inline with his wants for my life. At the time I knew God was going to change every aspect of who I was as a person and I was completely terrified of who I would be on the other side of that change. What did it for me was I woke up and saw that our God was willing to move Heaven and Earth to show me his will. Up to that moment I had seen nothing but my sin, that was God working in my heart to purge me of my sin. I saw things which I had done that was hypocritical to my own beliefs, and God took the time to show me his outcome, his vision for my life. I woke up to his truth, his plan as it was coming to fruition within one interview. To be more specific I saw God working his miracle in my life as I was being interrogated by a short, round, cheerful nun, as she asked me a serious of questions for a job as the schools Technology Teacher. This particular Archdiocesan school serviced underprivileged children of the inner city of Los Angles. The question which hit me, which stirred my soul while God was showing me the need, the thirst which surrounded me was, “Why do I want to be a teacher? What do I have to offer Gods children?”

The truth about God’s will is simple, he wants the best for each and everyone one of us. He want’s us all to live peaceful lives, filled with his love and wisdom. God wants us to grow and to become the best we can be and to flourish into children filled with faith and obedience for his will. But despite all of these wonderful things we fight with him, kicking and screaming all the way until we get to the deepest of despair. It makes no since to me why we do this but nevertheless we do. During this contest of will’s God shows that his is constant, consistent, never failing to be there when we need him, and always willing to show that he has a plan. It is within our submission will we see fully this plan.

Mark 4:40; And he said unto them, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?”

To see that God does move Heaven and Earth to show us his will we only have to understand that he is a loving and caring God before anything else. This sets the stage for us to begin to ask questions, to search for him in our life. This sets the path we must follow in order to find his will. For some of us it is our deep dispare of unfulfilled dreams and selfish indulgences. For these people are so unhappy they ask the question, “Is there nothing better for me in my life?” To their surprise they find God answering back, “Yes.” To the trained ear the whispers of God are all around us, we can see his divine messages written on everything and everyone we see and meet, as if they had been printed in a book in black and white. But for most it is a struggle which ends with them asking God, “Why must I submit to you? What have you done for me lately?”

God has a way of shacking the very fabric of our beings, he has a way of reaching out to us with so much love the questions, and arguments fall away and become irrelevant in our lives once we become completely obedient. So it is important to understand how God moves Heaven and Earth, and how we become obedient.

Step 1: “Acknowledgment “ We are to come on our face to God, but this can not happen if first we do not acknowledge we are filled with sin. We need to also understand the only way for our sins are to be forgiven is to acknowledge Jesus died for our sins and our sin debt is paid in full.

“Everyone who acknowledges me in public will be celebrated by the angels.”(Lost Gospel Q, Q47, P.81).

“21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus”(Romans 3:21-26, KJB).

Step 2: “Acceptance” Peace with God begins only with your willingness to accept that Jesus died on the cross, for there is no other who can stand with you before God. When we die and go before our father in Heaven and are asked to account for our sins our friends, family, loved ones, or even our lawyers are not going to be there with you to testify on your behalf. Holding your hand however will be Jesus.

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5, KJB).

Step 3: “Commitment” Upon acknowledging we need God in our life, and accepting that he sent his only son to die on the cross for the redemption of our sins, we then are ready to make the same commitment to God that he has made to us. We then can justifiably stand and be counted as one of his followers.  We then can start to live a Christian life filled with rewards and faith.

“Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace? No, I have come to bring the sword of division. My message will divide father and son, mother and daughter, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. Those who prefer their father or mother to me are not deserving. Nor are those who prefer their sons and daughters. Unless you carry your cross and follow me, you are not worthy.”(Lost Gospel Q, Q57, p.91)

Step 4: “Active Prayer” There are many tools a true Christian has at (his or her) disposal. One of the strongest and most direct is leading an active prayer life. Most people pray only when bad things happen. But God wants to hear from you daily as he is active in your life daily. Thus as we begin to pray every day we being to see how God works in our daily life as he moves mountains, that seemed to be immovable, accomplishing the impossible. We begin to see that God wants to show us his will, so that we may participate in his plan for our lives.

“9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10: 9-13, KJB).

“One day it happened that Jesus was praying in a particular place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, ‘Lord, teach us how to pray just as John the Baptist taught his disciples.’ He responded, ‘Say this when you pray: ‘Father, may your name be honored; may your reign begin. Grant us the food we need for each day. Forgive our failures, for we forgive everyone who fails us. And do not put us to the test.”(Lost Gospel Q, Q34, P.68).

Step 5: “Appreciation” A true Christian will appreciate all things given to them, no matter the size, look, or cost. The very fact that someone else gave them anything is enough to through a party in appreciation to God. Everything which God gives is a gift and we are to appreciate that gift by giving thanks to God. A Christian will not expect others to give them anything in return for they know their reward is in Heaven. Follows of Jesus tend to live a life of giving, humbly doing what they can for those who ask of them, for a true Christian knows that even the air they breath and the length of their life are all given to them by God.

St. Paul the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ said in 1 Thessalonians 5; 12-22; “12Brothers, we ask you to show your appreciation for those who work among you, set an example for you in the Lord, and instruct you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard, loving them because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14We urge you, brothers, to admonish those who are idle, cheer up those who are discouraged, and help those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. 15Make sure that no one pays back evil for evil. Instead, always pursue what is good for each other and for everyone else. 16Always be joyful. 17Continually be prayerful. 18In everything be thankful, because this is God’s will for you in the Messiah Jesus. 19Do not put out the Spirit’s fire. 20Do not despise prophecies. 21Instead, test everything. Hold on to what is good. 22Keep away from every kind of evil.

“Don’t pile up your treasures here on earth. They will be destroyed by moths and rust and stolen by thieves. Store your riches in heaven where moths and rust are powerless and thieves cannot break in. Wherever your treasure is, your heart will also be.”(Lost Gospel Q, Q54, P.88).

Step 6: “Obedience” To be obedient to God we must do more than just read and understand the many commandments of God, but also prove we are being obedient in the following areas:

1.) We must be convicted within our own heart. In other words know that what we are doing is bring peace to our heart and that it is inline with Gods will. If you question with your heart then it is a sign God does not agree. By following your heart you are exhibiting that God is first in your life and you are then able and willing to listen faithfully to him.

2.) We must be obedient in our will, so that we are not fighting God. In this we are committed to God in all aspects of our life, and we willingly give him the steering wheel in order for him to steer us in the right direction. By staying faithful to God we show him our willingness to obey him.

3.) We must be obedient within our own minds. In this we can make decisions which are difficult and could be painful. These decisions are made in order that they honor God. Because God comes first in our life, when contemplating we then pray for his guidance. Then based upon his will we show him obedience by making the right choice. By the act of praying we show him our willingness to consider his words in our life and their consequences. Thus we are joined with God within our heart, body, and soul.

“Ask and it’ll be given to you. Search and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for those who knock, the door is opened.” (Lost Gospel Q, Q35, P.69).

Thus the proof that God will move Heaven and Earth to show us his will is then evident in our own lives. It is made apparent to all who we meet, and to everything we do. With God first, we steer clear from sin, we are mindful of his wants and desires for us and this in return makes the heart stronger, and obedient.

Amen

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.


Reflections 5: The Only True Choice Given by God

As I reflect upon my life as a parent, a believer, a teacher, and husband, now ex, I have come to understand one thing which I must admit brought tears to my face when it struck me. The realization that our God is so perfect, he hears us so clearly, that he affects every single person, on every continent, of every race on this planet. Most profoundly God has given all of us one true choice. Every choice we have ever made in our entire life boils down to this one truth, to this one choice. We as one people under the sovereignty God are commanded to make this one choice, to live our lives by this one choice. Our lives here on earth are not ones which we are to be filled up with things, possessions, and carnal desires. But rather a spiritual one, based on morality, kindness, tolerance, forgiveness, and love. We are to fill our lives full of the bounty which only comes from one source, we are made to accept it from that one source, that being God.  So in the light of these truths, our one simple choice becomes completely obvious, as plain as the nose on your face.

Each one of these strong statements will either make us ask more questions, to open doors we would have left closed, or we will ignore them out of ignorance and fear. Each of these statements is hard to completely understand, the simplicity of it, his eternal wisdom so absolute, so magnificent we shutter in his presence. The simple truth of God can be found within every word ever written that he has ever uttered in our entire history. Every story ever told shouts his one truth. His everlasting love is intertwined with in it.

The first two choices we are given, which if you are to live within God’s eternal joy and happiness, and see this as the only choice then your life will be blessed, filled with understanding and wisdom that only comes from a belief in God. This choice exemplifies Jesus who said, “Even if your faith is no bigger than a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘MOVE!’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Q78, Lost Gospel, p.113) This belief comes from the knowledge and understanding that there is nothing God cannot deliver. In simple English this is called absolute faith. When you demonstrate a heart filled with the fullness and trust in God, utilizing the most powerful ability he gave to us, that being absolute faith then your anxiety disappears, your worries dissipate as God works miracles within your life. This requires the ability to hear God, to listen faithfully, to accept what he says even when it seems humanly impossible, to simply envision his words spoken to you as his will, and absolute truth and to thank him for it when the glimpse of the future he has promised is revealed.

The second choice leads to a deeper darker path, one filled with sin, and the tolerance of sin within our own lives. We begin to teach that religion is not so important and we start to argue amongst ourselves, ignoring the bigger picture, ignoring the world filled with so much need which surrounds us. In a nut shell we become greedy, selfish, self serving, manipulative, and deceitful, willful, and practice the art of lying. This exemplifies a life unfulfilled, lonely, unhappy, and in pain. We create our own hell as we sink further and further within this quagmire of a life lead without faith, without purpose. This life ignores what Jesus said, “Don’t be blinded by the pursuit of food, clothing and possessions. Stop worrying about these things. Only those who lack spirit and soul pursue them. You have a Father who knows what you need. Set your heart on God and these other things will be given to you.” (Q53, Lost Gospel, p.87) Ironically somehow that message is lost on them. It falls off them as water from a ducks feathers. They quack about things in their life which have gone terribly wrong, ignoring the tug of God, who is like a good shepherd calling their name from within the darkness of the night.  They hear him, but fail to listen faithfully to him, showing their lack of faith that God can fix their problems because they are worthy of his love. The great lie of their life is that they feel that they are not worthy, they convince themselves they are beyond his forgiveness, mercy and love.

This line between these two existences is extremely thin, so much so it is impossible to walk its entire distance. For Jesus said, “Anyone who is not with me is against me. Whoever does not help me gather scatter.”(Q38, Lost Gospel, p.72)

The test or choice is ours to make because of free will. In truth there is only one choice, one path, one God. The line in the sand is absolute, Gods will is absolute. To choose faith is akin to choosing freedom, to pick faith in yourself absent of God is akin to choosing imprisonment.

“When Jesus was alone with his disciples, he turned to them and said, ‘Fortunate are the eyes that see what you are seeing. Many prophets and kings wished to see what you now see and never saw it, longed to hear what you now hear and never heard it.” (Q33, Lost Gospel, p.67)

Amen

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.