Young Adults of St Francis

Archive for February 2012

BLAMING AND CLAIMING

“Make no mistake about this.” —James 1:16
God gets blamed for temptations (Jas 1:13), tragedies, and all sorts of problems. Just because He created everything, gave us free will, and allows us to use and abuse our freedom doesn’t mean that God is to blame for the wages of our sins (see Rm 6:23).

On the other hand, God doesn’t often get the credit for “every worthwhile gift, every genuine benefit” (Jas 1:17). We claim we’ve earned our blessings. Even if we admit that God had something to do with them, we may still say that God helps those who help themselves. In this way, we take part of the credit for the good things God gives us.

The fact is that we can do nothing without Jesus (Jn 15:5) and cannot name anything good that we have not received from God (1 Cor 4:7; Jas 1:17). “If, then, you have received it, why are you boasting as if it were your own?” (1 Cor 4:7)

Let’s quit blaming God for problems and taking credit for His blessings. We should pray: “Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to Your name give glory because of Your kindness, because of Your truth” (Ps 115:1). “Only in the Lord are just deeds and power” (Is 45:24). To God be glory!

Prayer: Father, may I be honest with You, myself, and others.
Promise: “Happy the man whom You instruct, O Lord, whom by Your law You teach, giving him rest from evil days.” —Ps 94:12-13

“One Bread, One Body Winter into Lent February 1, 2012 through March 31, 2012”

Volume 28, No.2 © October, 2011. Presentation Ministries, Inc. Cincinnati, Ohio.

TRIAL TESTED

“My brothers, count it pure joy when you are involved in every sort of trial.” —James 1:2
Many in the United States and other developed nations enjoy creature comforts beyond imagination. On the surface this may seem to shield us from certain trials. For all the benefits, in many ways this is not necessarily good for us. “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes” (Ps 119:71).

Do you consider your hard life-lessons opportunities for growth? Alternatively, is your attitude causing Jesus to “sigh from the depths of His spirit?” (Mk 8:12) Are there pains that have taken you up to, or possibly beyond, the breaking point? If the answer is yes, it’s time to set an appointment with Jesus. “For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but One Who was tempted in every way that we are, yet never sinned” (Heb 4:15).

In the end, it is a question of faith. Are you a man or woman of enduring faith? The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to us, and the Father professes that we are His beloved, favored children (see Mk 1:11). What other words do we need to hear so that our hardened hearts will be convinced? Let’s not be like the scribes and Pharisees, always seeking a sign (see Mt 12:38). Pray for greater faith.

Prayer: Father, give me a faith such that when I suffer through the trials of life, my fire-tried faith will give You praise, glory, and honor (1 Pt 1:6-7).
Promise: “If any of you is without wisdom, let him ask it from the God Who gives generously and ungrudgingly to all, and it will be given him.” —Jas 1:5

“One Bread, One Body Winter into Lent February 1, 2012 through March 31, 2012”

Volume 28, No.2 © October, 2011. Presentation Ministries, Inc. Cincinnati, Ohio.

AN EPIDEMIC OF LEPROSY

“A leper approached Him with a request.” —Mark 1:40
Our society and churches are filled with lepers. These people don’t have physical leprosy, which is Hanson’s disease, but the spiritual leprosy of self-hatred. They continually “cry out ‘Unclean, Unclean!’ ” (Lv 13:45) They do things to turn people away from them. They even tell God to stay away from them. They wallow in depression and degrade themselves through self-destructive compulsions such as overeating, alcoholism, gambling, TV addiction, sexual promiscuity, masturbation, gossip, etc.

Only one Person can cure leprosy — Jesus. In our leprous condition, we must kneel down and make an act of faith in Jesus, saying: “If You will do so, You can cure” us (Mk 1:40). He will have mercy on us, stretch out His hand, touch us, and say: “I do will it. Be cured” (Mk 1:41). Then we will be freed from years of self-hatred and self-destruction. We will no longer be degraded by the tyranny of doing what feels good. We will be truly free and fully alive.

Then we should tell the good news of our healing to whomever the Lord leads us. These people may also be lepers. They may have been discouraged by the lepers in their family and church. By sharing our healing, we will open them to Jesus. They will no longer tell Jesus to stay away from them, but will let Him touch them.

Prayer: Father, may I repent of self-hatred and let Jesus touch me in Confession.
Promise: “Whether you eat or drink — whatever you do — you should do all for the glory of God.” —1 Cor 10:31

“One Bread, One Body Winter into Lent February 1, 2012 through March 31, 2012”

Volume 28, No.2 © October, 2011. Presentation Ministries, Inc. Cincinnati, Ohio.

THE WAR OF WORSHIPS

“If now this people go up to offer sacrifices in the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, the hearts of this people will return to their master.” —1 Kings 12:27
The Lord wants our hearts to be entirely with Him (see 1 Kgs 11:4). The devil wants our hearts to be only partially with God. This will then prevent us from loving God with all our hearts (Mt 22:37) and being saved.

The Lord tries to win our hearts by giving us the grace to treasure worshipping Him. Where our treasure is, there will our hearts be (Lk 12:34). If we treasure worshipping Him, then where our worship is, there will our hearts be.

On the other hand, the devil, like Jeroboam, tries to turn our hearts away from God by proposing alternative worship sites and services (see 1 Kgs 12:29-32). For example, instead of worshipping at church on Sunday, the devil offers us weekend worship as we party at home, bow-down before the TV, and/or frequent such worship sites as bars, shopping malls, stadiums, or corporate offices. If we put anything ahead of God, we automatically worship that thing, and then our hearts are not entirely with the Lord. Therefore, worship God alone (Ex 20:3).

Prayer: Father, may I obey the first of the Ten Commandments.
Promise: “Those who had eaten numbered about four thousand.” —Mk 8:9

“One Bread, One Body Winter into Lent February 1, 2012 through March 31, 2012”

Volume 28, No.2 © October, 2011. Presentation Ministries, Inc. Cincinnati, Ohio.

GRAND OPENING

“Ahijah took off his new cloak, tore it into twelve pieces…” —1 Kings 11:30
Ahijah prophesied that the kingdom of Israel would be torn into twelve pieces. Is your life torn to shreds, ripped in pieces, tattered, or frayed? If you used a coat to symbolize your life, in what condition would the coat be?

Are you spiritually deaf with a speech impediment as was the man in today’s Gospel reading? (Mk 7:32) Is your physical condition representative of your spiritual condition?

If your life is torn to shreds, if you’re in bad shape, come to Jesus. He will simply command you: ” ‘Ephphatha!’ (that is, ‘Be opened!’)” (Mk 7:34) The Lord has already provided for our salvation, healing, deliverance, power, and peace by His death and Resurrection. He loves us infinitely. He cannot love us more. We are perfectly loved, and we would know and experience this (Eph 3:18-19), if we were only open.

Be opened to repentance, to giving and receiving forgiveness. Be opened to God’s grace, His callings, and eternal life. Jesus’ side was opened (Jn 19:34). Jesus’ heart is open. The gates of heaven are open. Be opened!

Prayer: Father, may I open my heart (2 Cor 6:13) to the calling I have most resisted in my life.
Promise: “He has done everything well! He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak!” —Mk 7:37

“One Bread, One Body Winter into Lent February 1, 2012 through March 31, 2012”

Volume 28, No.2 © October, 2011. Presentation Ministries, Inc. Cincinnati, Ohio.

AN “IDOL” MIND IS THE DEVIL’S WORKSHOP

“They served their idols, which became a snare for them.” —Psalm 106:36
Solomon, the wisest man in the world, became such a fool as to set the stage for a civil war and the massive deterioration of God’s people. Solomon’s downfall was the sin of idolatry. He adored false gods, such as Astarte, Milcom, Chemosh, and Molech (1 Kgs 11:5-7).

Many people aren’t too upset to hear about idolatry. They may realize they have committed many sins, but they don’t see themselves as having done that one. They’ve never bowed down to grotesque images or burned incense in weird cults. However, we don’t have to act like that to commit the sin of idolatry. By merely presuming we can disobey God and get away with it, we can commit the sin of idolatry (1 Sm 15:23). Putting anything ahead of God and thereby not giving our hearts entirely to Him is idolatry (1 Kgs 11:4). For example, the sin of giving in to greed can be in effect idolatry (Eph 5:5). Therefore, idolatry is a sin often committed. Idolatry can even be a way of life, “for the worship of infamous idols is the reason and source and extremity of all evil” (Wis 14:27).

“Do not deceive yourselves: no fornicators, idolators, or adulterers, no sodomites, thieves, misers, or drunkards, no slanderers or robbers will inherit God’s kingdom” (1 Cor 6:9-10, our emphasis). Love the Lord with all your heart and repent of idolatry. “My little children, be on your guard against idols” (1 Jn 5:21).

Prayer: Lord, You are God alone. I worship You alone.
Promise: “When she got home, she found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.” —Mk 7:30

“One Bread, One Body Winter into Lent February 1, 2012 through March 31, 2012”

Volume 28, No.2 © October, 2011. Presentation Ministries, Inc. Cincinnati, Ohio.

SUCCESS IS SPELLED C-R-O-S-S

“Blessed be the Lord, your God, Whom it has pleased to place you on the throne of Israel.” —1 Kings 10:9
Solomon was the wisest person who had ever lived or will ever live (1 Kgs 3:12). He was amazingly rich and lived in such majesty as to leave even the sophisticated queen of Sheba breathless (1 Kgs 10:5).

The Lord made Solomon so awesome to confirm His promise that the Davidic dynasty would last forever (2 Sm 7:16) and bring forth the Messiah (1 Sm 16:1; Mi 5:1). The success of David, Solomon, and their descendants was seen as proof they were God’s chosen ones.

Today, many people think prosperity indicates God’s approval of their life. However, the “prosperity gospel” is only true if we look at prosperity in the long run, and if we define it by Biblical standards. For instance, Jesus was the ultimate Chosen One, yet He appeared a failure. He underwent adversity rather than prosperity for much of His life. Nevertheless, after His crucifixion, when He rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father, He was certainly more than prosperous (see Is 52:13; 53:12).

Success or prosperity, by Biblical standards, is centered on the wisdom, power (1 Cor 1:24), and glory of the cross (see Gal 6:14). God’s chosen ones are chosen for the glory of the resurrection only because they are chosen for the apparent failure of the cross.

Prayer: Father, may I boast of nothing but the cross of Jesus (Gal 6:14).
Promise: “Commit to the Lord your way; trust in Him, and He will act.” —Ps 37:5

“One Bread, One Body Winter into Lent February 1, 2012 through March 31, 2012”

Volume 28, No.2 © October, 2011. Presentation Ministries, Inc. Cincinnati, Ohio.


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