Walking with Jesus

A sacrifice of praise must always be on our lips. We must pray unceasingly. In walking with God and acknowledging His presence great things happen. It starts with acknowledging our nothingness that without God we can do nothing. Yet with the power of God’s grace great things can happen. He wants the familial bond with us. He wants to be in relationship with us. Yet it is our choice if we co-operate and walk with Him or if we choose our own path. In this self driven culture, it is so easy to go about our own business instead of walking on God’s time. It is so easy to follow what we think is Truth versus what God gives. We are called to be in this world and not of it. Anything that is not of God is at enmity with Him. That includes our own desires if they are not in line with God’s command.

It means buckling down and reclaiming Godly values. It means building in our own circle of influence God’s ways. It means showing the value of work and suffering and joy. It is passing on a way of life. That open attitude to give Jesus as we receive Him. This is an attractive way of life. Remember when Rome was beginning to be at its darkest? It was the Family of God who brought about restoration by their blood. The light was able to shine more freely. It is time for a new springtime and even though it is getting really dark we need to have the confidence of Faith in Christ and His Church. Yet it starts with me. Am I truly walking with Him? Do I have Him and am I listening to His voice?

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Fruit of the Heart

The following video is the good fruit of what happens when we are flooded with God’s Love.

The first place is Humility. We see what we are before God, both the good and the bad. We offer it to Him. Admittance of the truth.

The second place is Forgiveness. Let go of the hurt. Say I release you. Keep working at it. This takes time. Bring it to God. Bring it to Confession. Let it go so you can be an open floodgate. Remember the reservoir of your heart? Forgiveness is part of that latch. If the heart cannot forgive than it cannot receive.

The third place is good deeds. The expression of love is good works and these works are empty without Love. Works of the law are indeed a fruit of being open to the floodgates of God’s Love. We can only give what we have been given.

More to come on the results of choosing to do good and accepting God’s Love or walking away from relationship.

Wisdom of the Ages

It is beautiful to think that God makes His dwelling amongst us. He comes to us in Eucharist and dwells in our hearts. This gift is so amazing! How can we leave Him alone for an instant? If we would just approach the throne of grace and stay with Him, times of difficulty would go much smoother and our hearts would stay truer. He pours Himself into us. Alas! So many times we worship Him with our lips but our hearts are far from Him.

We blame so many things for pulling us away but Jesus says simply, “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” To make Himself even more clear He says, “But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him. From within the man, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”

The truth that lies at the very center of this teaching is simple, from within the man, from his heart. What is there? If we remain true to God and stay close to Him He graces us with a wisdom beyond all understanding. This pure heart pleases Him. However we must stay with Him. Look at King Solomon. Such a pleasure he was to the Lord. He remained very close to the Lord and none could approach his wisdom. He was prosperous and rich and young. But what happened? He grew careless and did not guard his wisdom. He had a whole harem of foreign wives and began to worship with them their foreign gods. By the time he had age, his wisdom became worldly. What happened? God was displeased with him. Unlike his father David, his heart did not remain true. God gave the kingdom to Solomon’s servant. But for the sake of His Promise to David one tribe remained in the family. Judah.

What can we learn from this? God looks at the heart. We may sin out of human weakness but if we turn to the Lord and ask for His transformation of our heart, God cannot resist a repentant heart who recognizes sin and at least desires to be better and grow. It is when we turn to wealth and riches and glory, technology power, success…What have you. In a word idols. Things that are gods, worldly wisdom, our own power and glory and might and not to God.

So how can we test the heart? How did the Queen of Sheba recognize the wisdom of Solomon? She saw its fruit. She saw his splendor. She saw his superior knowledge by questioning carefully what he knew and spoke. We should not fear the questioning for God is true and supplies our every need. Where we lack, is the opportunity to let God work. It is the place of grace. The place of growth.

It is good to recognize the weak part of us for it is here that God wishes to touch and heal us. The problem lies in turning away from the Lord when we need Him the most to worldly wisdom. This displeases the Lord and is where, unless we turn to him, will fail and fall. But not to fear. It is only the unrepentant heart that is rejected. No matter what has happened or what you have done turn to the Lord. Also recognize that in that place of weakness is where you will be attacked. We cannot win unless we are reinforced with God’s grace.

It should not be a place of fear but trust in the goodness of God. He calls for faith. We see that in His dealings with the foreign woman who runs to Him for the healing of her daughter. At first glance, it appears that He is chastising her and rejecting her. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” But no! What is her response? “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” He was looking for her faith. Was it true? He responds in tenderness and heals her daughter. So it is with us. Do not fear the test of suffering and questioning. We find our true selves. And it is there we can find God.

Free to Let God Act

Our hearts can only be as open to receive God as our faith. Think of the woman with the hemorrhage for twelve years. It was a combination of brain and heart. She received information from people that Jesus had been performing healings and was holy. What was her response? He can heal. He will heal me if I can touch his cloak. I don’t even need to talk to Him. He has the power of God. She already believed that God could do something so great as heal her even in an indirect way. That the power in Him could transform her. She acted accordingly with faith. She felt immediately she was cured.

What is God’s response? He knew very well who it was who touched Him yet He wanted an encounter. “Who touched me?” She was afraid and quaking she stepped forward. She was afraid of a rebuke telling Him everything . He said to her in praise, “Daughter your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

We also have the official who Jesus was on His way to help when they encountered the woman. He had the faith that Jesus could save his daughter from death. Imagine his urgent impatience to get there in time. The official’s servant arrives and says, “Do not bother the master any longer. She has died.” How his heart must have sunk. Yet Jesus asks for more faith and confidence in His power and goes with the official to the house turning out the mourners and saying, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” Imagine the surprise and wonder of this official. Could it be that Jesus would help his daughter in death? Permitting only Peter, James, and John, and the child’s parents he entered the room and took her hand saying, “Talitha koum…Little girl, I say to you, arise!” She did. And Jesus said to tell no one and give her something to eat.

Here is an Old Testament example. We have the king David asking his general to count the people without the command of the Lord. It was a pride thing and he realized his guilt and cried out to the Lord. The seer came to him and offered him three consequences from God; a famine, fleeing from his enemy for three months, or a pestilence. What does David respond? “Let us fall by the hand of God, for he is most merciful; but let me not fall by the hand of man.” David chose the pestilence. He saw the devastation of the pestilence and cried out “It is not these people but the shepherd! Repay me!” And the Lord stayed the angel’s hand.

God responds to the cry of our heart. He does for us that and more. But we must believe with both brain and heart, consenting to let God be free to act. We must trust that He will answer.

Word of the Week

Free–

Freedom is put into the wrong category these days. It is a selfish attempt to get what we want and be the center of our own little world. This week is a call beyond selfish ambition to step into the freedom of God. He calls us to four things to reflect on from His perspective.

1. Free from anxiety–There are so many things which constantly catch and grab our attention. A lot of them are vain trifles. In reference to an earlier post, a flea, versus what really matters most. Which is the will of God and seeking only what He wants and desires. Doing all things for His pleasure and not our own.

2. Free from the Devil’s power–He does exist. C.S. Lewis has this important quote. “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (originally 1942; this edition: Harper Collins, 1996) ix. He is simple to deal with because he is subject to the authority of Jesus Christ and has already lost the battle. The next is the harder to deal with.

3. Free from hardness of heart–That means letting go of our own ideas and embracing God’s. It means detaching from our way and sin to choosing to do good. It means repentance. It means opening our hands to what God has for us and receiving both blessing and suffering. Jesus cast out many demons but He encountered far more thousands of hardened hearts. Those who just wanted to be fed physically instead of spiritually, cured physically but not transformed wholly. He met many that would not obey His commands and amend their lives to follow His Way and let go of their own. Here is the challenge: can I let go of my own way and ideas to embrace God’s?

4. Free to Love–God is so wondrous we cannot even stand His Glory without death. The Israelites call out, “Let us not again hear the voice of the LORD, our God, nor see this great fire any more, lest we die.” So God has compassion on us and sends us an intermediary. He sends us Jesus Christ like us in all things but sin. He is our very brother. We must listen to His Word and follow in the way He marks out for us. This way of life is one lived in love, putting the needs of others first before our own. This does not mean we don’t take care of our own needs because Jesus also calls us to love ourselves. To put into context what Jesus wants (His ultimate love was the cross,) think of this acronym; JOY. Jesus Others You. It means free to love and be in a relationship with Jesus and others.

(Deuteronomy 18:15-20 Psalm 95:1-2,6-9 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 Mark 1:21-28)

God Sows

“This is how it is with the Kingdom of God;it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow,he knows not how.” God works on the heart and plants His Word. The soil of our heart is varied. We can only receive what we can at a time but that does not mean God isn’t working. Four things we must remember.

1. Abandonment–We give all that we have without shame. This is God we are talking about. David danced before the arc in a linen apron with everything he had without being ashamed or thinking of what others thought. It was just him and God. He spared no effort.

2. AnointingGod gives the grace we need to perform the acts He calls us to. He guides us and lays out the path for us. Does this mean it will be easy? No. But we will not be alone. He does have a call for us. We just have to follow His command.

3. Clear Conscience–We need to learn to let go of the guilt of past sins and mistakes and not let it steal from the joy and contentment of the present moment. How? First name the guilt. Then tell yourself the truth objectively. Give to God the pain and ask Him to show you the way out. He will grant insight and lead you out of the maze into the light of truth. This will happen little by little as our hearts are ready for the next step.

4. Promise–God builds the house. What He says and promises will happen. He is faithful. Our hearts are molded and shaped and changed daily. God’s work is being accomplished. We have in our hearts the faith He planted. Our job is to stir into flame what is given to us. We can be confident that His power is working for good in us. We have to Trust that He is continually at work and what He wants will sink in. It just takes time. We cannot be saints over night. Holiness is not a fast process. If we want the true answer we wait. All will become clear. In reality we can do nothing accept embrace what is handed to us and let God change and move.

So what if I am stuck in a root? Reach out to God. Reach out to your brothers and sisters and do not be afraid to seek counseling from a faithful licensed provider seeking the Lord. Choose to be aware of who you are and what you are thinking. It is possible to change. It is possible to walk close to the Lord. It is possible to re-wire your brain and heal wounds and shape your future by making a positive fruitful choice to not stay in the old mentality. We are our own brain surgeons and what we think becomes reality. You have the choice to switch on your brain and renew your mind. You have the choice to pass on biologically a predisposition of grace. Pass on what you have received and be Holy. Do not be ashamed to give to others what God has given to you.

Dead Dog or Flea

In our search for righteousness in our life we are presented with a choice to help us weigh in on what is driving us. Are you pursuing a dead dog or a flea? This has a grand scale significance that puts things in perspective. We attach a lot of importance to small things that perhaps are more of a flea versus a dead dog. The danger also is to say certain things are fleas that in truth are serious occurrences that are dead dogs. How are we to know the difference? By questioning our motives and acknowledging them to ourselves. Is there any speck of pride or selfishness that is driving me to pursue something that in reality is not as big of a deal as it seems? Or is there presumption to minimize or hide something that in reality is quite horrible that I would be better off just admitting in humility? We can fall on either side of ultra perfectionism that is on the letter of the law versus the heart of the matter or letting ourselves off the hook when we should be cracking down on a grave matter. God has made us to be deep reservoirs of His love and Mercy. In order to do that, we have to let Him fill us to overflowing so that others can experience His grace. How can we do that if we are pursuing issues versus just sitting with God letting Him work and move us through either correcting our faults or generously filling us with abundance. It is a relationship that we seek. Is it really all that bad for Him to point out a failure when all He has in mind is our betterment?

1 Sm 24:3-21 Ps 57:2-4 6, 11 Mk 3:13-19

Word of the Week

Obedience–noun and action

1 the state or quality of being obedient.

2 the act or practice of obeying; dutiful or submissive compliance:

3 a sphere of authority or jurisdiction,

4 Chiefly Ecclesiastical.

a conformity to a monastic rule or the authority of a religious superior, especially on the part of one who has vowed such conformance.

b the rule or authority that exacts such conformance.

We live in a world that is solely focused on furthering its own aim. Yet we are not our own. We belong to Christ and are purchased at a price. That means that what I do must be for others, freely giving without a cost. Does that mean my needs go by the wayside? No God richly provides for you but you have to give yourself and sometimes this hurts. In doing right away what God asks we will find fulfillment, peace, and purpose. Our life gains meaning and we sail as one staying with the flagship. Here is where trust comes in. God will reveal Himself to you. In that moment He asks you a question, “What are you looking for?” Answer this question. You will find these things in Christ and He will fill the deepest longing of your heart.

1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19 Ps 40:2,4,7-10 1 Cor 6:13-15a, 17-20 John 1:35-42

He Reveals Himself

We must draw close to the Lord. In His company we will discover everything. But how will I know Him? Jesus himself will reveal His presence to you. We must open our eyes and look for how He gives himself to us. Most days there will be at least one rose and one thorn. The important thing is to record them. From there more can open up to us. God will and does reveal Himself. It is a matter of letting go and trusting Him to be right beside you and that in His time He will reveal His presence. It is a matter of opening our heart to say, “Speak Lord your servant heareth.”

Today’s Readings