One With True Contentment & One Without
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Thirsting for God... 42 'As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?' - Psalm 42:1-2 New American Standard Bible 1995 (NASB 1995)
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today I wanted to reflect upon the two choices that will define our lives and will determine our course into the hereafter. Therefore, within the serious tone of this message please have an open mind and heart. ‘Today if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts.’ – Psalm 94:8 Douay-Rheims 1899 Version
Question to Ponder: “Don’t you want for yourself and for your family; even the world to be at peace finding ever-lasting contentment in all things?”
We have two choices that really matter, I mean, (absolutely), in the literal sense of the word, (absolutely), matters. You can’t run from this choice, you can’t hide from it, you can’t ignore it, and you can’t meet or beat it with silence. I guess you could try as a large portion of the world’s population tries with a huge amount of struggle… but one who tries this strategy quickly finds this choice is constantly on their mind until they decide which way they shall go. For this choice will nag you to the grave! It is a choice between living a life knowing that you are absolutely loved, cherished, forgiven, and which you can confidently know true lasting joy and peace, having eternal hope, fullness, and unending happiness within all circumstances in your life; being a beacon of hope to others. Or a choice of instant gratification, temporary happiness that has a definable beginning, middle, and end. A choice that leaves you wanting for more, never satiating your hunger, always leaving you with underwhelming love, hope, joy, and peace; a mere taste of what the first choice can deliver. This second choice also is the harbinger of sin, strife, division, the true source of pain and anguish; the driver of conflict which leaves everyone involved in bitterness and leads to never forgiving others and thus, a permanent hardening of the heart. Why would anyone choose this second choice? Sadly, millions of our brothers and sister do. Perhaps out of ignorance and/or fear, maybe they were taught to fill their lives with the belief that they are an island and do not need what the first choice can bring into their lives. Simply put there are many circumstances, too many to count, which people face that bring them to choose the wrong choice. However, making this choice is hardwired into our very being and so, when we try to ignore it we find ourselves in depression and despair.
Dealing With These Two Competing Paradigms
The best place to start is by understanding why we have this thirst for God, why choice number one is the right choice, and finally, we must come to terms with what God wants from us in the starkest of terms.
42 'As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God.' - (NASB 1995)
God our Father who is in Heaven made us, He alone knows everything about us, and He wants a relationship with us. I can not stress this enough! So, paradigm one logically states that God hot-wired us to thirst for him as the wild and tame animals thirst for water. Therefore, it is absolutely true that God made us for himself. (Isaiah 43:21) 21 “The people whom I formed for Myself Will declare My praise.” Therefore, the first paradigm should be easy to accept right? Well, hold on… there’s more! God also wants us to live with the confidence he is in control, ‘28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.’ – Romans 8:28 (NASB 1995). Furthermore, when you put this idea against your own personal wants and dreams we naturally find conflict. The human heart because of sin is separated from God. Because God is love he reacted the only way he could; that being the ultimate sacrifice on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Here again, we as fallible creatures struggle with that one act of God’s mercy that on its face is so overpowering and dumbfounding that we struggle with it. We find ways to explain why God would allow his son to die in such a hideously painful and disgraceful manner that we begin to question his loving-kindness with this most common question: ‘If Jesus was real and he died on the cross for my sins… (it is here we are forced to accept God’s mercy without the benefit of having been there to witness it ourselves), then why would God do that for a wretch like me?’ (Instead of accepting God’s mercy we find ourselves unworthy and therefore automatically go through phases of rejection, guilt, and turmoil which leads us to ask, ‘How could a person love me so much they would willingly lay down and die for me.’)
Believe it or not, this is called progress, for at this moment our logical minds start asking questions searching for the truth about God, so much so that we inevitably become closer to finding God. Think hard, do you remember ever asking this question? ‘If Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins then why does God still allow evil into our lives?’ Have you ever started any question with, ‘Why does God…’, this, of course, is called the searcher’s questions. Though I will warn you… that some people never stop asking and instead their questions become accusatory assigning blame for everything wrong that has ever happened to them. They end up bitterly blaming God saying it is his fault and they can never see their own hand in the midst of their own misery. This is a person who has chosen the world, or paradigm two, over paradigm one and acts against the direct command given to us, ‘…abstain from every form of evil.’ – 1 Thessalonians 5:22 – (NASB 1995). However, for those of us who honestly and sincerely search for Christ and who honestly want to grow in their faith each question asked is purposeful and will bring the asker closer to God lighting an undying fire to know Him.
Some people who were raised with parents who taught and read the Bible often are more accepting and thus choose early in life to believe in and love God. Others who as children that did not have the benefit of being raised in a stable home with parents who believed in paradigm one are often lost, wandering through life, searching for something which is ingrained within their very being but sadly have no clue why they hunger for something more powerful and meaningful. Into adulthood, many of these people are blind to the virtues which God Himself commands us to follow. Others simply run away from making this difficult choice because to face it would be too painful which drives them into the arms of disbelief, fooling themselves that they can manage it all without God. This of course is a childish attempt at controlling every event that happens to them from the moment they were initially hurt to the day they are forced to answer this nagging choice of which path to choose. This is known as running away from one’s pain and unwittingly straight into the arms of the loneliness of our imperfect world and all it cannot give us rejecting what we rightfully deserve in Christ Jesus. My brothers and sisters, if this is you, I sincerely urge you to stop, look, and listen because you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t.
Benefits of Paradigm One
My Personal Testimony
In conclusion, as I reflect upon what I have written here within this post, I often recall all the hurtful experiences I have faced as an adult living in California. I think back on the joy of my only child’s birth and the subsequent years of arguing and hating my then-wife as she pursued a long-drawn-out divorce that did not end once the original papers were signed. I reflect upon the countless men who I associated with on Facebook parenting groups who were victims of Parental Alienation of a Minor Child, and how our ex-wives sought to divide us from our children making them choose between their parents. The court battles where I endured countless hours of lies by the opposing lawyers who tried everything in the playbook to define me as a bad dad, deadbeat dad, and a dad that was only good for forking out money hand over fist. My joy was reduced in the courts like so many other fathers into a pile of pain and torment… subsequent torcher, living in fear of what else could be taken away, ripped from our hearts and lives. Spending time became a schedule set by the court. How you spend time was often reduced to where this time could be spent. I within this hour of darkness had a daily choice, to give up and concede to what the world wanted of me, or fight with confidence that God was by my side through it all. I chose God every day, he is my strength, courage, and my shield! God has never left me alone, and in this, I learned and grew to always be thankful for everything.
My argument for paradigm one is not something I endorse without knowing God, but rather I endorse it because I would not be here without God! In short here are the benefits of choosing God or paradigm one:
I can confidently testify that…
- I have found peace in everything, in every good or bad thing that has happened to me.
- I have an undying joy, as I look at this world and celebrate all that God has done for me.
- I have found a deep sincere agape love that only comes from God.
- I have learned that forgiveness is always the best policy, for those who don’t forgive will end up bitter holding tight to a hardened heart… this was the most difficult thing to do as it relates to my ex-wife.
- I have a hope that can never be drowned by the world’s imperfect pessimistic policies and actions. For God is always in control and is working for the good of all things. There will always be some things that I can not explain but I have hope in God knowing he knows about it and is working on a solution.
- I am filled to the brim with God’s goodness, grace, and mercy.
- I have a happiness that is far and above anything other forms of happiness the world could ever offer me.
Though I will admit that the key to my relationship with God is rooted within this one guiding principle; I know and trust God and will heed all of his commands, I will go where he wants me to go without question and seek out his wisdom at every turn. For I know without any doubt that God is conforming me into the likeness of His only son which is far and above a much better version of who I was when I started this journey. I am not afraid to write this in black and white for it is a starkly different mindset that is freeing and allows one to escape the world’s blame, being defined by one action, and is completely within God’s will.
This my brothers and sisters is what I want for you. Be confident in your own testimony, yield to God in all things, and know He is with you and in control over every aspect of your life, and yes, He is conforming you into a better version of yourself.
LETS US PRAY
PRAYER FOR PROTECTION
ANTIPHON: O God, my God, I give you thanks; you are my God, I shall proclaim your Glory.
INVITATORY – PSALM 95
Venite exultemus An invitation to adore and serve God, and to hear his voice. "Encourage each other daily while it is still today." Hebrews 3:13 1 Come let us praise the Lord with joy: let us joyfully sing to God our saviour. 2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving; and make a joyful noise to him with psalms. (Antiphon repeated) 3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4 For in his hand are all the ends of the earth: and the heights of the mountains are his. (Antiphon repeated) 5 For the sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. 6 Come let us adore and fall down: and weep before the Lord that made us. (Antiphon repeated) 7 For he is theLord our God: and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. 8 To day if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts: (Antiphon repeated) 9 As in the provication, according to the day of temptation in the wilderness: where your fathers tempted me, they proved me, and saw my works. 10 Forty years long was I offended with that generation, and I said: 'These alwats err in heart.' (Antiphon repeated) 11 And these men have not known my ways: so I swore in my wrath that they shall not enter into my rest. (Antiphon repeated)
FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT:
PRAYER: Father of Peace, we are joyful in your Word, your Son Jesus Christ, who reconciles us to you. Let us hasten toward Easter with the eagerness of faith and love. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and forever.
Perpetual Prayer for UKRAINE:
Dear Lord, give your strength to our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. Protect the innocent and brave of heart. Save those who find themselves in harm’s way and give courage to those who fight like righteous lions! Give your eternal peace to Ukraine’s President Zelenski and show him the path to take in these troubled times. May the words written in Philippians 2:2-4 reign in all Christian hearts worldwide;
"Make my joy complete by your unanimity, possessing the one love, united in spirit and ideals."
9 Thus, therefore, shall you pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our supersubstantial bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil. Amen.Matthew 6:9-13 – Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. – Amen
Saint Joseph Pray for us.
Sancte Ioseph, Ora pro nobis
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