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What Will Hold You Back in 2018?

Devotional Thought for our seemingly broken days:
16  Once a man came to Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what good thing must I do to receive eternal life?” 17  “Why do you ask me concerning what is good?” answered Jesus. “There is only One who is good. Keep the commandments if you want to enter life.” 18  “What commandments?” he asked. Jesus answered, “Do not commit murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not accuse anyone falsely; 19  respect your father and your mother, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” 20  “I have obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else do I need to do?” 21  Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.” 22  When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he was very rich. 23  Jesus then said to his disciples, “I assure you: it will be very hard for rich people to enter the Kingdom of heaven. 24  I repeat: it is much harder for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.” 25  When the disciples heard this, they were completely amazed. “Who, then, can be saved?” they asked. 26  Jesus looked straight at them and answered, “This is impossible for human beings, but for God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:16-26 (TEV)

486      A heart which loves the things of the earth beyond measure is like one fastened by a chain—or by a “ fine thread”—which stops it flying to God.

If you are going to make a resolution this year, I urge you to look closely at the above passage from scripture, and the words of wisdom from St. Josemaria.

And before you vow to lose weight, kick caffeine or some other bad habit, or taking on something new like going back to school or learning something, I want to ask you something.

What is holding you back?

What has tied you down, and restrains you from living life.

Of course, that leads to another question, what does it mean to live life.

The young man in the gospel story was after that, for to live eternally is not just about life after, but it is the life that is given now, which is never taken from us, even if we physically die.   Modern psychology might call it self-actualization, or they might point to obtaining some state of consciousness. We might joke about it as being at one with the force.

And most religions, including cults like Scientology, have some way to attain it, some way of freeing your mind and soul from that which separates you from eternity.   Some may even see it similarly to Jesus, and realize that it is not about attaining something, but freeing your heart and soul from things which bind it, restrict it, and stop you from soaring like an eagle, free of all encumbrances.

For the rich young man, ( Paul the apostle perhaps?) it was wealth.  There are a number of other things we could suggest, things that tie u down and restrict us from walking with God.  These things may even be the negative things of our past, that we can’t seem to escape the impact of, or at least we think we cannot. We can’t tie ourselves to these things, but we too often do.   

So how do we escape?  How do we cut these things that bind us, that we “love” an yet hate?  How do we stop loving these things that hold us back?

We can not.

That’ right, we cannot.

Our only hope, the only strategic option we have is simply this.

Realize you love God more.  And the way to do that spends time dwelling in His love.  Paul says it this way:

18  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:16-19 (NLT)

If you want to see a change in your life in 2018, if you want to break free from all that holds you back, then experience His love.  

Come join his people as we celebrate that love, as we share in His gospel, as we commune with Him in the sacrament He ordained to do this very thing.  Spend time in His word, not just studying it, but looking at it to see how He loves his people. Rejoice as you encounter His faithfulness to them, knowing it will be the same to you.  

This will change you, even though you may not see it yourself.  Others will, and they will praise God as you get even more hungry and thirsty to spend time with Him.  

The Lord is with you… you just need to know that.   And I pray all that read this will! (Pray for me a well, because I need to!

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1866-1868). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

An Advent Resolution: Get a grip!

Devotional Thought of the Day:Featured image

12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. 14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. 16 Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. 17 You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears. Hebrews 12:12-17 (NLT)

396      Renew your firm resolution to live your Christian life right now, at every moment and in all circumstances.  (1)

In a little over a month, people will be making sincere resolutions, that will be broken in a month or two.  Some will simply give up, others will be forced by life to change their resolution, until it is no longer visible.  A few will keep them, losing the weight, doing better at their work, spending more time with their family, making a determined try to be at church every week, and Bible Study as well!  Even perhaps, double their time in prayer and God’s word.

As I came across the reading from Hebrews this morning, I was already thinking about how this season of advent is one of rededication, of a renewed commitment.  It is a penitential (2) season, a time of reflection, of prayer, of admitting our need to remember we are God’s children, and that Jesus will return.  This passage is a great one to reflect on, in this case. these are the things we haven’t done well. THe author of Hebrews calls the church to repentance with a clarity that is still amazing,

  • We haven’t walked the paths that God would have us walk
  • We haven’t supported those who are spiritually weak or lame,
  • We need to be better living at peace with others,
  • We need to see that our lives are set apart for walking with God, to seeing Him in our lives
  • We need to watch out for the poison of bitterness, which can corrupt us.
  • We need to understand and treasure what our “birthright” is; what is promised to us when God cleanses us and claims us as His children in the sacramental waters of baptism.
  • We need to realize that life is too short, that tossing aside all the blessings of God will have a consequence.  It is not a scare tactic to describe a time when tears and begging will not replace what has been tossed aside.

Do we even feel remorse in reading this list?  Does it bring us to tears to realize how we have failed, how we haven’t live as those who are God’s children? Or are our minds already trying to justify ourselves, just accepting our sin as some sort of undeniable reality?   Are we ashamed of how we behaved, does it rock us to consider it?

If it doesn’t, how do we see salvation?  Do we not celebrate with as much joy our salvation?  Do we fail to see how incredible the love of God is, in Jesus delivering us from power of sin, satan and assuring that death has no lasting sting?   Is this why our worship is weak?

It’s time to get a hold of why we need to be saved, why we need to be granted repentance, and a faith in God which calls us near, so that He can heal us, so that He can transform us, so that our salvation is no longer neglected.  To do what Hebrews 12 starts the chapter with,

1  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame.  Hebrews 12:1-2a (NLT)

We so need to focus on Jesus, to trust Him, to let Him work on our lives.  He is the one who brought us to life in faith, who redeemed us.  We need to remember He is the one who will perfect us, work with us, comfort us, and yes cleanse us.  Restoring us, calling us back to trusting in Him.

Such a season of advent brings strength ot our lives of prayer, not because we are holy, but because our holiness finds its source, its life as we cling to Him.

May we remember we cry, “Lord, have mercy” and “Lord Save Us”…. that we may cry it all the more often, and be sure it is always answered.

So hear is your resolution:  Get a grip, make your resolution, to realize the presence and work of God in our lives.  AMEN

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1546-1547). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

(2) A Penitential Season (like Advent and Lent) is a time of repentance, of sorrow for our sins (both individual and corporate) tempered with the expectation of the coming of grace

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