Friday, October 24, 2014

PPF: Impossible?

 "Why do you not know how to interpret the present time?" 
Luke 12:56

In this chapter of Luke, Jesus is frustrated that 
people can't 'interpret the present time', 
can't see things as they really are.  
Part of discernment is seeing things as they are, 
not misinterpreting situations, people, choices etc. 
Sometimes I think if only God would make His will clear. 
If only He would speak and we would just need to obey. 
To have clarity without doubt!!  

When my son Josh was a baby, 
it was very difficult for me to breastfeed. Painful!  
I wanted to stop but Luigi, my husband, 
insisted I continue.  
So I asked God, hoping He would give me permission to stop.  
I was listening to the radio at that time, 
to FEBC, a Christian station.  
Right after I asked the question, the announcer said, 
"Don't quit. God doesn't like quitters."  
I got my answer, loud and clear!

 But most of the time, 
we don't get the answers so clearly. 
Should we expect God to speak to us?  
In John 10:27 there is this reassurance: 
"My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me."  
And then there's Matthew 7:7 and Luke 11:9 
where Jesus says, "Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find..."  
If we persist in seeking God's will, we will find. 
And why should we persist?

"In His will is our peace." 

 Let us claim Saint Paul's prayer 
for the people of Ephesus for ourselves: 
"I kneel before the Father...that He may grant you 
in accord with the riches of His glory 
to be strengthened with power... 
And that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; 
that you, rooted and grounded in love, 
may have strength to comprehend ...
what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 
and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, 
so that you may be filled with the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able 
to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, 
by the power at work within us, to him be glory...
forever and ever. Amen." Eph. 3:14-21
What a powerful prayer this is! 
No one can conceive how rich God is. 
No one can comprehend His power. 
He can easily grant any of our prayers 
and nothing is impossible for Him. 

Paul KNEW Christ. 
He received a revelation from Christ Himself 
and He is praying the same for us. 
That we would know Christ 
and that He would dwell with us. 
If Jesus said He wanted to live with us in our home, 
what would we do? I would clean up for sure! 
Jesus wants to live in our hearts! 
We need to be rooted and grounded, established, 
stable in God's love not the love this world offers 
so that we may be overflowing 
with His fullness and grace and spirit.
If we want it enough, God is fully able 
to do all this and more!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WOYWW: Be Ready!

 Here is my desk this morning,
after I finished my painting.
Hmm, nothing much of interest here,
Except maybe my little 
Confiture Bonne Maman empty bottle.
I bought this in Seoul when we were there
last month. It reminded me of our buffet breakfast
on our trip to Paris in 2009.
Whenever I see that little bottle
(not available here in Manila, I've looked!)
I feel so happy!

 "You must also be prepared, be ready, 
for the Son of Man comes at an hour you do not expect..." 
Luke 12:40

When you see a sign on the bus, 
"The end is near", or hear 
some man preaching about "the end of the world is at hand", 
what is your reaction? 
Do you scoff and say, "What a loony?" 
I have to confess I get excited! I do! 
I get excited that I'll see my mom again. 
I get relieved that I won't have to think about 
all the horrible things happening in 
the world today that I can't do much about. 
People lonely and dying of ebola, 
hungering for the touch of a hand, 
or even to see a face, because the people 
that treat them are all wrapped up in protective gear. 
People being beheaded, kidnapped, made into slaves. 
Corruption in the city hall I have to deal with. 
A greedy presidential candidate who is not contented 
with a rich city's coffers but wants to devour 
the whole country's treasure chest!

 The thing is we don't have to wait for the world to end. 

Our world will end. One day. That's inevitable. 
Is it possible to be ready, to be prepared, 
every day for God's coming? 
We don't have to be prepared for the Second Coming. 
God comes into our life every day! 
In the form of a little child. A beggar. 
Someone who is sick. Someone who is depressed. 
How do we respond?

Jesus said in Matthew 25:45, "Truly I say to you, 
to the extent that you did not do it 
to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me."

"For He Himself is our peace, 
who made both groups into one 
and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 
by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, 
which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, 
so that in Himself He might make the two 
into one new man, thus establishing peace,…" 
Ephesians 2:14-15

This verse is not that easy to understand. 
I see that Jesus broke down the barrier between Jew and Gentile. 
Why? The answer perhaps lies in John 17:21, 
when Jesus prayed that we will all be one, 
just as the Father and He Himself were one.

The 2nd part is harder to comprehend. 
Did not Jesus say in Matthew 5:17 that 
He came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it? 
And yet here, Paul tells the people of Ephesus 
that Jesus abolished the law!
In the New American Standard version, we read, 
"By abolishing in His flesh the enmity, 
which is the law of commandments contained in ordinances..." 
From listening to some sermons, 
I think that Jesus came to fulfill the law 
but abolished a subset of laws, the 'holiness code' 
which kept Jew and Gentile apart. 
This included the dietary restrictions, 
and all the detailed laws about sickness, 
mildew, eating blood and pork, how far to travel, etc.

Yes, Jesus is our peace, and He gave up His life 
that we might have peace that transcends all understanding. 
Thank you Lord for making us all one in You!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Work for the Lord!

 "For we are God's handiwork, His masterpiece, 
His workmanship, created anew in Jesus 
to do good works prepared for us in advance..." 
Ephesians 2:10
Last year, Pope Francis said something 
in one of his daily homilies that created a lot of controversy. 
Pope Francis usually says mass in St. Martha's House, 
where he lives, and he gives a homily like a regular priest, 
without a text to read from. 
From one of these homilies it was reported around the world 
that he said that atheist
could get to heaven by their good works.

Reading from the transcript, 
it is apparent that the Pope did not mean this. 
He said that we all, even atheists, have the duty to do good. 
And perhaps, because we were created by a good God 
we have that inner urge, that drive, that need to do good.
He said, “The root of this possibility of doing good – 
that we all have – is in creation." 
And the Pope goes on to say that 
even non-believers "must. Not can: must! 
Because he has this commandment within him. . . 
the Lord has created us in His image and likeness, 
and has given us this commandment 
in the depths of our heart: do good and do not do evil”."
"And this commandment for everyone to do good, 
I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. 
If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, 
if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, 
little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: 
we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good."

 And here is the statement that caused such an outcry, 
when the Pope imagines a dialogue: 
"But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ 
But do good: we will meet one another there.”
"There" does not mean heaven, but an agreement, 
a path towards peace. 
Indeed, Jesus made an example of the good samaritan 
who was a neighbor to someone in need. 
We all have a purpose, we all have good works to do. 
We all need to make time, 
to use our talents and treasure to bless others!

Jesus was asked whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar 
and he asked to see the coin that pays the tax. 
"Whose image is on it?" He asked, and they answered, "Caesar's." 

"Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar 
and to God what belongs to God." 
Matthew 22:21

Whose image is on us? 
Are we not stamped in the image and likeness of God? 
If we belong to God, we should give Him what is His due- 
honor, obedience, service.

Saint Thomas More was asked to sign a document 
declaring that it was all right for King Henry VIII 
to make himself the head of the Church of England 
and to remarry even if his legal wife was still alive. 
Thomas More refused and he was arrested and tried for treason. 
On his way to his public execution, 
his last words were "I die the King's good servant, but God's first."
Today's gospel shows that although we are citizens of this world, 
we are first citizens of Heaven. 
If ever there is a conflict, we must choose to do 
as St. Thomas More did, and put God first!

"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few..." 
Luke 10:2
We used to sell a figurine in our shops with the words, 
"Work for the Lord-the pay isn't much 
but the retirement plan is out of this world." 
A lady pointed it out to her daughter and said, 
"I gave this to your dad and it changed his life." 
Apparently the father had been a workaholic 
and the family hardly saw him. 
After he received the figurine, 
he devoted more time to his family and to God.
Yes the harvest is abundant, 
and many more "laborers" are needed. 
We may say we don't have the gifts necessary, 
but Jesus' apostles were the most unlikely bunch. 
He chose them not for what they were 
but for what He could make of them! 
At the start, they usually 
wanted to send the crowds away. 
They thought children were a nuisance. 
Jesus had to teach them for 3 years, 
and even that was not enough. 
He had to die so He could send a helper, 
the Holy Spirit, so they could become brave, wise and 
willing to give up their lives to be 
"laborers in the vineyard", "fishers of men".

 There is a book written in 1773 by a 
then 22 year old Tom Boston with a funny name, 
"The Art of Man Fishing". 
He wrote that the net of the gospel 
is woven from the PROMISES of the gospel. 
I think if we want to be effective fishers of men, 
we need to know the promises of the gospel, 
we need to believe and claim the promises, 
so that we can tell others with conviction 
that all Jesus said is true!

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