Tag Archives: Christian Devotional

This Week-Promise

Promise – A declaration or assurance by which a person undertakes a commitment to do or refrain from doing a specific act. A divine assurance of future benefit or blessing. 

(Oxford Dictionary)



Jesus made a promise to you and me when he said, “I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” A promise is comforting in times of need. A promise is something we can rely on when times are bad. A promise is an assurance that we are never totally alone. A promise is a diamond in a pile of coal. A promise is our last best hope.

We take promises so lightly that they begin to become meaningless. Jesus did not. He carried his promise through the humiliation and suffering of the cross. He continues that promise by the presence of the Holy Spirit in each of us. I know that my Savior is with me -no matter what.

Today, I want you to look at the promises that you have made to God, yourself and others. Do we live in the presence of our promises? Are they the guides of our lives? As people of the promise, we must know how to make a promise and how to keep it.

That brings me to the uncomfortable part of my thoughts on the word promise. As sinners, saved by grace, we have and will break promises. God has told us he will be with us always, and that is good to know. He keeps his promises when we have broken our own, but we must not take his assurance lightly. When we break a promise to God or another person there must be a time of penance and reflection, because such a time allows us to own our sin. God forgives us only when we take responsibility.

This forgiveness is only the beginning of being a child of the promise. The promise is his presence and guidance in our lives. God’s guidance makes possible things that are impossible for us. When we have fallen, we need not feel alone but simply down for the moment. He is there and will reconcile us to him and to the world.

Try to take a promise inventory this week. Look at the promises of God and thank him for them. After you have done so, look at the promises you have made to him and what is required of you to be faithful and true. The next step is to look at the promises you have made to others and your consistency in keeping your promises.

A promise is a declaration of commitment to an action.

How are you doing with your promises today?



Quotes Banner

Don’t promise when you’re happy. Don’t reply when you’re angry and don’t decide when you’re sad.

~~~Anonymous

Wisdom is the abstract of the past, but beauty is the promise of the future.

~~~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

It is a promise which eminently deserves our observation that all who are united to Christ and acknowledge Him to be Christ and Mediator will remain to the end safe from all danger, for what is said of the body of the Church belongs to each of its members since they are one in Christ.

~~~John Calvin

Promise yourself, no matter how hard it gets, you’ll never give up on your dreams

~~~Anonymous

The future is as bright as the promises of God.

~~~William Carey

I weep for the liberty of my country when I see at this early day of its successful experiment that corruption has been imputed to many members of the House of Representatives, and the rights of the people have been bartered for promises of office.

~~~Andrew Jackson

Grow in the root of all grace, which is faith. Believe God’s promises more firmly than ever. Allow your faith to increase in its fullness, firmness, and simplicity.

~~~Charles Spurgeon

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

~~~Robert Frost

Beauty is the promise of happiness.

~~~Edmund Burke

Success is full of promise till one gets it, and then it seems like a nest from which the bird has flown.

~~~Henry Ward Beecher

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, and looks to God alone; Laughs at impossibilities, and cries it shall be done.

~~~Charles Wesley

One of the greatest gifts we can give people is the hope that their death is nothing to fear – you know, not that it has no fear in it, but the promise of scripture is that God will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death.

~~~Max Lucado

Scripture Banner

See, the Lord God comes with might,

   and his arm rules for him;

his reward is with him,

   and his recompense before him.

~~~Isaiah 40:10

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’

~~~Deuteronomy 31 :8

I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’

~~~John 16 :33

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;

   I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

~~~Psalm 32:8

Our steps are made firm by the Lord,

   when he delights in our way;

though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,

   for the Lord holds us by the hand.

~~~Psalm 37:23-24

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

~~~ Matthew 11 :28-29

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

~~~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

 ~~~Jeremiah 29 :11

Prayer Banner

Lord, I know that you keep the promises that you have made to me. Give me the strength and insight to follow through on the promises I have made to you. Let me become a person of promise who keeps the promises I have made to others. I pray for the wisdom to be able to follow your example as I journey through life. I look forward to the day when I will receive the ultimate promise – when I dwell with you. Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Monday Musings

An Elusive Lesson

Abba Marcarius the Great said to the brothers at Scetis, when he dismissed the assembly, ‘Flee my brothers.’ One of the old men asked him, ’Where could we flee beyond the desert?’ He put his finger on his lips and said, ‘Flee that,” and he went into his cell, shut the door and sat down.

— sayings of the desert

There is a quite popular saying in the advertising business – location, location, location. When the monk questioned Marcarius, he was saying we desert monks are in the perfect location. Surely in this desert we have retreated from everything, and are in danger from nothing. Not so, says the great master. The greatest temptation of all still plagued them, and they had overlooked it. Their greatest opponent was the corrupt communication that would come out of their mouths.

The sin of gossip, slander and others originate from the word@ijboudreaux s that come out of our mouths. Silence and introspection are our greatest friends. We must all think before we speak, and remain silent instead of having an opinion on everything. In the plethora of words that spew out of our mouths, much harm is done. The brother had just been dismissed from assembly (worship/prayer) , and Marcarius urged them to go back to their cells and reflect on the revelation that had received rather than to speak idle words to each other. This is a hard but worthy lesson for us.

Prayer Thought – Lord let us see the value of times of silence and reflection.
 

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Living

Empty Words

A brother went to find Abba Serapion. According to his custom, the old man invited him to say a prayer. But the other, calling himself a sinner and unworthy of the monastic habit, did not obey. Next Abba Serapion wanted to wash his feet, but using the same words again, the visitor prevented him.

Then Abba Serapion made him eat, and he began to eat with him. Then he admonished him saying, ‘My son, if you want to make progress stay in your cell and pay attention to yourself and your manual work; going out is not so profitable for you as remaining at home.’ When he heard these words the visitor was offended and his expression changed so much that the old man could not but notice it. So he said to him, ‘up to now you have called yourself a sinner and accused yourself of being unworthy to live, but when I admonished you lovingly, you were extremely put out. If you want to be humble, learn to bear generously what others unfairly inflict upon you and do not harbor empty words in your heart.’ Hearing this, the brother asked the old man s forgiveness and went away greatly edified.

—-Sayings of the Desert



These empty words and feelings are bitterness, anger, jealousy, strife, and others too numerous to mention. Abba Serapion calls on us to bear unfairness with generosity and grace. Society tells it very differently. If we are wronged we must get even, or at least make it right. People spend far too much time trying to sort out the unfairness of life, and precious little effort is given to generous forgiveness. With that generosity in our hearts, we can put away empty words and replace them with words of grace and forgiveness. We, like the monk who visited Serapion, can rise up edified, and an edified man can accomplish much. All of us have times that we feel unworthy of the place we have been given in life, but God has a way of turning that feeling into elation. Look hard at the empty words that clutter your heart, and give some of them away to the generous grace of God.

When we give our bitterness and anger to the generous grace of God we become different people. We once were self-centered and bitter because we never experienced the grace of God, but we now are people who understand grace and can live at peace with ourselves and others. That peace allows us to live a healthy and productive life. Our lives are then freed from the “empty words” of anger and strife.

Perhaps today is the day that you should seek to give away your “empty words.”



Prayer BannerLord, It is very difficult to put hurt and anger aside. Too often we strike back with words that defile ourselves and the one that offended us. This is not your way. Help us to follow your path of grace and forgiveness by inviting your grace into the very center of our being. Free us from the “empty words” of contempt and anger and fill us with your words.

Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Midweek Thought

THIS WEEK -Compassion

CompassionThe participation in another’s suffering; fellow-feeling, sympathy and pity inclining one to show mercy or give aid.

(Oxford Dictionary and Bible)





Monk and mystic Thomas Merton said, “Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things.” Compassion is the ability to show mercy, forgiveness, make peace and continue to live life amid the confusion that comes in this world. Without the attribute of compassion, sickness and disease would run rampant and war would never cease. As God shows his compassion to us and we share it with others, our lives are forever changed and our world becomes a better place. It would be difficult for me to see our existence without compassion.

Compassion is the life-giving force that God has planted in us. It gives life when we touch the broken hearted with the love of God and man. Compassion allows us to understand in ways that only God could give to us. Compassion is the God force in us that makes us the salt and light of the world. Without compassion the world is a dark and tasteless void.

Compassion is the desire to see others rise up out of despair. God saw us through a lens of compassion. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) Sheep without are shepherd are confused, lost and in despair. Jesus saw this and had compassion on all of us. He made things right for us, and we can help others by sharing in the heart of compassion that God bestowed upon us.

Compassion is a life-giving force that we possess. When God touched us and gave us the gift of His Spirit, we were forever changed. We now have understanding and insight that eluded us in past times. We have knowledge that can only comes to those who trust in God. This life-giving force gives us the responsibility and the ability to show compassion to those around us. Compassion is the visceral participation in and the alleviation of the suffering of another. It is a life-giving part of God that he has shared with us through grace.

Let us use this, our time, to seek out and be compassionate to one another. If we live such a life, we will be blessed internally and externally. Let us appropriate compassion in our home, work and world that God has entrusted to us as caretakers.

Quotes BannerA kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.

~~ Steve Maraboli

Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.

~~Dalai Lama

There is a nobility in compassion, a beauty in empathy, a grace in forgiveness.

~~John Connolly

Compassion is about giving all the love that you’ve got.

~~Cheryl Strayed

If you want to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

~~Dalai Lama

Until you have real compassion, you can not recognize love.

~~Bob Thurman

Look for a way to lift someone up. And if that’s all you do, that’s enough.

~~Elizabeth Lesser

Use your voice for kindness, your ears for compassion, your hands for charity, your mind for truth, and your heart for love.

~~Anonymous

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.

~~ Dalai Lama

Instead of putting others in their place, put yourself in their place.

~~~ Amish Proverb

Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things.

~~ Thomas Merton





Scripture BannerBe kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

~~~Ephesians 4:32

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,

   for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

   great is your faithfulness.

~~~Lamentations 3:22-23

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

~~~1 Peter 3:8

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

~~~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

~~~Colossians 3:12

“This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’

~~~Zechariah 7:9-10

As a father has compassion on his children,

   so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

~~~Psalm 103:13

“I will strengthen Judah

   and save the tribes of Joseph.

I will restore them

   because I have compassion on them.

They will be as though

   I had not rejected them,

for I am the Lord their God

   and I will answer them.

~~~ Zechariah 10:6

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;

   therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.

For the Lord is a God of justice.

   Blessed are all who wait for him!

~~~Isaiah 30:18

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

~~~ 1 John 3:17

Prayer BannerLord, One of the most needed things in our world today is compassion. We all need to receive it and know how to give it. We know that you are a God of great compassion and mercy and ask that you will instill in us the qualities that you possess. A very small amount of compassion can make great things happen. Please bestow upon me this gift of being able to show compassion to all who are in need.

Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Monday Musings

Effort

Effort Definition



When I was a small boy I was told I had to put more effort into things or I would fail. Effort seemed like a word that always meant that I had to do more than I wanted to do, but I realized as I got older that effort brought satisfaction and reward. Sometimes that satisfaction of putting forth your best was the reward.

As followers of Christ we are asked to make every effort to be the salt and light of the world. We carry the burden of being the people who are to make the world a better place. That is done as we do our best to usher in the Kingdom of God. We are compelled to put forth our best and let the world see who we follow and what followship of Jesus truly means. Our calling requires that we do make the effort and walk the second mile. Additionally, we must work without expectation of worldly reward. Our reward comes from above and dwells within our inner souls.

Helen Keller said, “Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.” Many people will not venture at a task unless they are assured success. The many and varied efforts we must put forth as Christ followers do not seem successful or necessary by worldly standards. Christians are surely called to live by other worldly standards. These standards are not achieved without great effort.

As we walk in this difficult time, we must ask ourselves:

  • What special effort have I put forth to make the world a better place?
  • Have I tried to present the Kingdom of God to those I encounter?
  • Have I made every effort to help the needy that are sent my way?
  • Have I tried to be a peacemaker?
  • Have I refrained from trying to get my way?

We must ask ourselves these and other questions as we determine if we are really putting forth an effort that is worthy of our calling as Christians.

Quotes BannerAll the effort in the world won’t matter if you’re not inspired.

― Chuck Palahniuk, Diary

If you put forth the effort, good things will be bestowed upon you.

Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means

effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.

― Theodore Roosevelt

Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.

Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.

― Helen Keller

What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.

― Samuel Johnson, Johnsonian Miscellanies – Vol II

When we love someone our love becomes demonstrable or real only through our exertion – through the fact that for that someone (or for ourself) we take an extra step or walk an extra mile. Love is not effortless. To the contrary, love is effortful.

― M. Scott Peck

Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. No one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom.

― Sandra Day O’Connor

Constant effort and frequent mistakes are the stepping stones to genius.

― Elbert Hubbard

To like many people spontaneously and without effort is perhaps the greatest of all sources of personal happiness.

― Bertrand Russell


Scripture BannerI have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

~~2 Timothy 4:7

And whether the land is rich or poor, and whether there are trees in it or not. Be bold, and bring some of the fruit of the land.’ Now it was the season of the first ripe grapes.

~~Numbers 13:20

With great pains I have provided for the house of the Lord one hundred thousand talents of gold, one million talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond weighing, for there is so much of it; timber and stone too I have provided. To these you must add more.

~~1 Chronicles 22:14

But when I thought how to understand this,

  it seemed to me a wearisome task,

~~Psalm 73:16

The appetite of the lazy craves, and gets nothing,

   while the appetite of the diligent is richly supplied.

~~ Proverbs 13:4

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,

   and whatever else you get, get insight.

~~ Proverbs 4:7

For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

~~ Romans 14:9

Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might; for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

~~Ecclesiastes 9:10

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.

~~Galatians 6:9Prayer BannerPrayer

Lord, In all things teach me that I will be rewarded in relation to the effort I put forth. Inspire me to know that I must put all of my efforts into achieving the goals that you have set forth before me. It is only when I do my very best and put all that I have into something that you bless me. Bless me, as well, when I’m utterly exhausted and barely able to continue. I know that you will be with me in the times when it simply takes an effort to keep on going.

Amen

1 Comment

Filed under Monday Musings

The Secret

“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

Line

Perhaps the monk is thinking of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “When you pray, go into a room alone and close the door. Pray to your Father in private. He knows what is done in private and will reward you.” The wonderful thing about God is that he does not 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, like to be recognized for our successes and want our failures to be hidden and forgotten. Taking alms because of our personal 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.

Perhaps all of us can pledge from this day forward to be aware of our tendency to be showy and strive to follow the teachings of Jesus. Our Redeemer teaches us to be humble and thankful for all that we have been given. He further asks us to share, with an open heart, all that he has bestowed upon us. Further we are to do without expectation of praise or reward. That is a tough challenge for those of us who carry the sin of Adam.

If we pledge to be people of prayer, we can strive to attain the mindset necessary to be such a person. We are given help to get there through the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, that dwells in us.


And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.

~~~John 14:16&17


Prayer

Lord, Grant me the courage and wisdom to seek the guidance of your Spirit that you have planted in me. As I come to rely upon the Spirit, I will have the ability to do in secret the works and prayer that are a part of my journey. Then, I will have the faith to know that the rewards you have given in secret are by far the greatest of all. Come, Holy Spirit.

Amen

2 Comments

Filed under Midweek Thought

Healing

Healing


TODAY’S WORD IS HEALING

The word healing brings many images to mind. Some people may think of a healing crusade. That is one of those events where a preacher claims that he can cure your sicknesses by the power of God. We can think of a convalescent hospital where people stay for extended times to heal their bodies. Healing means being made whole again, and we all want to be whole.

There is also the healing that comes with peace of mind. This healing cures the restless and tormented spirit. We live in a time when our country needs healing that can soothe the restless and angry soul and will bring peace and satisfaction. When the Psalmist said, “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror,” he could well be thinking of times like these. True healing can only come from God. We have exhausted our resources and failed.

Healing brings with it a peace allows us to settle down and live as people of God. I would love to see a world that had this God inspired healing. It would be a world full of people who were truly healed of their strife and pain. Such a world is a place of calmness and satisfaction.

Healing cures the seeds of anger and mistrust that lead to violence and ultimately war. How many deaths could have been prevented if we had only asked God for healing? How many relationships would have been saved if we had understood that God can heal? Let us not waste another minute when healing is possible.

Healing is to be made whole and be restored.


Quotes

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing…not healing, not curing…that is a friend who cares.

~~~Henri Nouwen

Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.

~~~Hippocrates

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.

~~~Hubert H. Humphrey

Nature heals under the auspices of the medical profession.

~~~Haven Emerson

Fear imprisons, faith liberates; fear paralyzes, faith empowers; fear disheartens, faith encourages; fear sickens, faith heals; fear makes useless, faith makes serviceable.

~~~Harry Emerson Fosdick

Family quarrels are bitter things. They don’t go according to any rules. They’re not like aches or wounds, they’re more like splits in the skin that won’t heal because there’s not enough material.

~~~F. Scott Fitzgerald

You can promote your healing by your thinking.

~~~James E. Sweeney

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

~~~John Burroughs

The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come. The time to build is upon us.

~~~Nelson Mandela

Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.

~~~Novalis


healing-3


Scripture

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
  and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
  who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
  who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
Psalm 103:2-4
 
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
  O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror.
Psalm 6:2
 
The Lord protects them and keeps them alive;
  they are called happy in the land.
  You do not give them up to the will of their enemies.
The Lord sustains them on their sickbed;
  in their illness you heal all their infirmities.
Psalm 41:2-3
 
As for me, I said, ‘O Lord, be gracious to me;
  heal me, for I have sinned against you.’
Psalm 41:4
 
My child, be attentive to my words;
  incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them escape from your sight;
  keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them,
  and healing to all their flesh.
Proverbs 4:20-22
 
A cheerful heart is a good medicine,
  but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22
 
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
 
O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you.
  Be our arm every morning,
  our salvation in the time of trouble.
Isaiah 33:2
 
You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you.
James 5:6
Prayer Banner

Lord, I feel that we live in a time of great contradiction. Our time needs healing that only you can bring. We have so widened the gaps that exist between us that our talents fail us. We have so divided ourselves that our ideas are lacking. We call upon you to send us wisdom and healing that are products of heaven and not earth. We ask for divine healing on earth.       Amen


Healing-2

 

 

 


 


 


Leave a comment

Filed under Monday Musings

Ambition and Cleanness of Heart

Even when I try to please God, I tend to please my own ambition, his enemy. There can be imperfection even in the ardent love of great perfection, even in the desire of virtue, of sanctity. Even the desire of contemplation can be impure, when we forget that true contemplation means the complete destruction of all selfishness – the pure poverty and cleanness of heart.

~~~ Thomas Merton

Merton June 17Ambition, by itself, is not evil. When we have ambition, we improve ourselves and the world. Ambitious business people have built great companies that have provided goods and services to people and improved their lives. Doctors and scientists have developed medicines, vaccines and medical procedures that have saved the lives of untold numbers of people. The entrepreneurs and others were ambitious people who wanted to make a difference. Ambition does have a dark side. It turns dark when it is no longer shares with the welfare of others, but it is simply for self-satisfaction and aggrandizement.

Merton says that we even try to please God and yet simply feed our ambition. If we are seeking to love, serve, be virtuous or live out the fruits of the spirit for our own satisfaction it is worthless. Even in contemplation we can feed our selfish ambition. We must seek to please God outside of our self-satisfaction. God is not impressed with the works we do, the purity we possess or the prayers we pray unless they are offered to Him and not for our own drive to succeed.

In my years as a pastor and teacher I have seen this scenario carried out countless times. A person is so driven to be a model Christian that they for forget why they should be Christian. Their works are so big that they make others look small. Their words are so high and mighty that they put others down by their very nature. Their walk with God is truly a walk with themselves. This is the type of spirituality that Jesus warns about in the Sermon on the Mount. “Be careful not to perform your righteous acts before men to Ambition 1be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1)- This is what ambitious Christianity can evolve into, and it is the opposite of the selfless lives we are called to live.

Merton gives us some sound advice and direction. He directs us to please God by emptying ourselves of self. The emptying of self means that we offer all that we do to our creator without expectation of return or praise. We may not even be deemed successful by our neighbors and peers. Remember God sees in secret what we do in secret and rewards us greatly. This allows us pure poverty and cleanness of heart.


Prayer

Lord, Allow me to use my ambitions to please you and not myself. Help me to discern the difference between selfish ambition and pureness of heart, a pure heart the prays and serves to please you and not myself. It is extremely hard in our driven and competitive world to keep a selfless focus but with your grace and help I know that it is possible. Keep me on the right path this day and give opportunities to live out my mission to you.

Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Midweek Thought

The Source

“When St. Anthony entered to the internal desert, the demons watched him Writerdauntingly, saying, “O You young of age and mind, how did you dare to enter our territory, as we have never seen a human before you.” And they all started to fight him. He said to them, “O strong ones, what do you want from me, the weak; And who am I so that you all gather to fight me. Don’t you know that I am ashes and dust, and unable to fight the smallest in you.” And he lay on the ground, shouting to God, “O God, help me, and strengthen my weakness. Have mercy on me, as I sought after you. Do not leave me; and do not let those who think that I am something overcome me. O God, You know that I am unable to fight the smallest of these.” When the demons heard this prayer full of life and humility they fled away, and did not dare to approach to him. “

~~~ Anthony of the Desert

There is no question that we battle evil at all times. Some choose to see evil as some sort of devil or demon that haunts us. Others choose to see evil as a state that has persisted on the earth since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. No matter how you define the presence of evil on earth , we can defeat it. Ironically, we can only do this by admitting, as the desert monk did, that it is more powerful than we can ever imagine.

After we come to this admission , we can say as the Psalmist does, “I will lift UP my eyes – from where my help comes.” When we find ourselves in a situation that we are powerless to control or defeat, we must call upon our God because He has the power to defeat ALL enemies. We are so tempted to believe that we can do it on our own.

When my son Jeremy, who who will be forty on his next birthday, was about two years old his mother always stressed to him how important it was to hold his hand when he crossed the street. Our oldest was always a very resourceful person so he decided that he could hold his own hand. When it came time to cross the street or to walk in the mall he would clasp both hands together and say, “ I hold my own hand.” That didn’t work too well. He did not realize that holding his own hand defeated the very purpose of holding hands. His mother held his hand to protect him, not to control. In the mind of a two year old, holding his hand was control and he didn’t want it. Most of us are more than two years old, and yet we still want to be controlled. Like the commercial where the man is doing all kinds of crazy things saying, “I got this,” but really he doesn’t have anything. He’s just simply out of control. We cannot control the sources of evil on this earth without looking to the source of our blessing, of our hope, and our power.

The source of our power is found when we humbly cry out, I can’t do this on my own. The psalmist even goes further and plainly admits that the source of power comes from aStrenghtbove and not from within himself. I fear that today , as we face this dreadful virus, we are looking so deeply inside of ourselves that we are forgetting the source of all healing, peace, understanding, and that life really is from above. This does not mean that we should not do our best and muster together all of the resources that God has blessed us with to defeat this plague that has beset us. However, as we do it we should never forget that all that we are and all we will ever be comes from God. He is our TRUE source of ALL.

In these times we must put our trust in our Source. We should do all that we can with the knowledge that we have to fight this situation, but in the end we must lean on the strength of God. He will see us through to the end. The times that lie ahead may be difficult, but God will be with us.


Prayer

LORD, we acknowledge you as the source that guides us and sustains us. In these difficult times we ask you to guide us to put ourselves aside and allow you to steer our course. Forgive us Lord for trying to be our own gods, and convict us to follow your guidance so that we may find the ultimate source of our victory.

Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Midweek Thought