If There Is Righteousness in Your Heart
If there is righteousness in the heart,
there will be beauty in the character.
If there is beauty in the character,
there will be harmony in the home.
If there is harmony in the home,
there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation,
there will be peace in the world.
So let it be
—A Scottish Blessing
“A man who receives something from another because of his poverty or his need has therein his reward, and because he is ashamed, when he repays it he does so in secret. But it is the opposite for the Lord God; he receives in secret, but he repays in the presence of the angels, the archangels and the righteous.”
——Sayings of the Desert
Perhaps the monk is thinking of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount- “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” The wonderful thing about God is that He doesn’t expect us to be showy in our worship of Him, he just wants us to be real. Most of us, whether we admit it or not, we like to be recognized for our successes and want our failures to be hidden and forgotten. Taking alms for our poverty is not something most people would brag about. The way God asks for our devotion is completely counter cultural. Our culture expects praise and in response continued favors are given, but God operates differently. He gives quietly and diligently to those who call upon Him.
Jerome was a hermit, priest, and father of the church who guided the church as it translated the Bible from Greek to Latin, the language of the people. Jerome wanted the people to read and know the Bible. He lived in Bethlehem for a time to get a feel of how Jesus lived during his earthly journey. Oral tradition tells us that while living in Bethlehem, Jerome had a dream that Jesus visited him. The dream was so real that he rounded up all his material blessings and offered them to Jesus. He heard the Lord declare, “I do not want your possessions.” So being a good church leader, he offered all his money to Jesus. Jesus once again declared, “I do not want your money.” Finally, in desperation, Jerome cried out, “Jesus, what do you want from me?” Jesus simply replied, “Give me your sins. That is what I came for–I came to take away your sin. Give me your sin.”
That’s really what it’s is all about. Jesus wants our sins! He asks us to love and trust Him enough to be able to give all to Him. Our Lord asks us to confess the unforgivable and feel the warmth of His grace. Many of us are far too busy trying to impress God when all He wants is for us to trust in His promise. That promise is: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” As we bring our sins, He offers His rest. Jerome had it right, all Jesus wants is our sins.
I think that this post gives us some things to consider.
I recently asked a friend if he spends a lot of time on Facebook or not. “I could probably spend less time on there,” was his response. And I think that’s probably a good answer for most of us. Especially for me.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest. The lists goes on and on. And it seems to be growing. It is certainly helpful and fine to use, but I think becoming addicted to it is a trap that we would do well to avoid. So how do we know we’re addicted? Here are seven signs:
1) It’s the first thing you check in the morning. The alarm goes off, you crawl out of bed, probably to use the restroom, and hop on Facebook. It’s the first thing you do every morning.
2) You check it at red lights. You’re at a red light, it’s been a whopping four seconds and…
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In his heart a man plans his course …..
THE COURSE OUR LIVES TAKE WILL BE DETERMINED BY THE CONDITION OF OUR HEARTS !
IT’S IN OUR HEARTS THAT WE DETERMINE …..
- WHO WE WILL LIVE FOR ?
- WHO WE WILL SERVE ?
- WHO WE WILL LOVE ?
- WILL IT BE THE GOD OF HEAVEN OR THE GOD OF THIS WORLD ?
……….being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart.
Jesus went home. After ministering in Galilee he decided to go back to Nazareth, to reconnect with those who had known him as a little boy, to visit his mom, to speak at the synagogue that he knew like the back of his hand. At the synagogue, he spoke about his mission. The locals were at first offended and then enraged. They took him to the cliff which marked the edge of town with plans to throw him off. Then the miracle happened. Scripture says, “But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.” One man in an angry mob and “he passed through the midst of them!” He did not call for help or fight his way clear. He just passed through them.
When we think of Jesus’ miracles we consider events like healings, resurrections, calming the sea, walking on water, or turning water into wine. We never see this miracle listed, but I see it as an incredible moment that relates to our journeys so often. How many times have you walked through frightening, dangerous, heartbreaking situations and gone on to live out your life? How many times have you not been able to explain how you did it, how you made it through? How many times have you weathered opposition and hostility and continued to live victoriously? How many times has your broken heart healed? How many times has your mind been calmed by an unexplainable peace? How many times has your soul been restored? How many times have you been at the edge of the cliff sure you were going over, when some Presence led you through the fear and pain and hurt and death? Each of those times was a miracle.
Jesus knows all about standing at the cliff’s edge with other situations or people pushing you over. He knows what it is like to look down at a chasm of hopelessness and despair. He understands the pounding of your heart, the wrenching of your gut, the tears of your hurt. He reaches out his hand and leads you as you pass through the midst of them and go on your way to love and serve Him.
Reflection – What has Christ helped you pass through?
May the sun go down
anger, stress, and worry.
Made the sun go down
on problem solving and planning.
May the sun go down
unrushed and on deadlines
May the sun go down
on this day’s work – now done
Made a sacred circle of the sun
frame the harsh outline of the cross.
May it signal brighter days ahead,
new energies and emerging hopes.
Jesus renewed people with the power of his compassion. I like the ancient legend about the Monk who found a precious stone, a precious jewel. A short time later, the Monk met a traveler, who said he was hungry and asked the Monk if he would share some of his provisions. When the Monk opened his bag, the traveler saw the precious stone and, on an impulse, asked the Monk if he could have it. Amazingly, the Monk gave the traveler the stone.
The traveler departed quickly, overjoyed with his new possession. However, a few days later, he came back, searching for the Monk. He returned the stone to the Monk and made a request: “Please give me something more valuable, more precious than this stone. Please give me that which enabled you to give me this precious stone!”
Lord give me this gift of giving that I may be able to give something of great value without reservation. Teach me that all that I have is yours. Amen
It was said of Abba Ammoes that when he went to church, he did not allow his disciple to walk beside him but only at a certain distance; and if the latter came to ask him about his thoughts, he would move away from him as soon as he had replied, saying to him, ‘It is for fear that, after edifying words, irrelevant conversation should slip in, that I do not keep you with me.’
—–Sayings of the Desert
Perhaps one of the greater criticisms of our society is its tendency to use too many words. In our abundance of words we lose the true meaning of many things. Most of us give very little thought to preparing for worship. The monk was preparing to worship and wanted the worship of God to be his sole objective. Many distractions are thrown at us every hour of every day .Maybe it would strengthen us all to see the journey to worship as part of our worship.
I can only imagine how much more God-centered our gatherings would be if we entered in a worshipful frame of mind. I know that such thinking is out of the box, but wouldn’t it be worthwhile to try. The greatest lesson of the monk is that the journey of worship is not a time for irrelevant conversation. Let us resolve not to let our times before and after worship to be squandered by irrelevant conversations. Although a somewhat hard and demanding task, it could revolutionize your view of church and make times of community sharing so much more meaningful.
There are various definitions of what it means to live a missional life. The past several years I have given much thought to missional living, and I offer these daily questions to you as a tool. You might want to make these questions a part of your evening prayer.
What have I done to help the poor today?
What have I done to move towards holiness today?
Have I prayed for my enemies today?
Have I shared a kind word with someone today?
Have I given anything away today?
Have I been honest today?
You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
—— Jesus of Nazareth
Lord give me the courage to seek opportunities of ministry today. Make my life one of prayer and giving, and let my presence be a blessing to all I encounter. Amen
- Live Like Jesus (trinityenglishyouth.com)