Archive for August, 2014

REFLECTION: True greatness

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

 

The argument began as two teased each other, one boasting that he was greater than the other.  Overhearing their taunts, the others joined in as they settled down around the table.  Their voices grew louder and the argument more animated.  The Master shook his head as He sat with them.  “You foolish men”, he thought to himself.  “How long will it take for you to get it right?”  Jesus shook His head again as he recalled Zebedee’s wife kneeling before Him with her two sons, asking that He command them to sit at each of His side in the kingdom. (Matt 20:20)

With a sigh He said, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors.  But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.  For which is the greater, one who sits at the table, or one who serves?  Is it not the one who sits at the table?  But I am among you as one who serves.  Luke 22:24-27

His apostles looked at Him with disappointment and puzzlement in their eyes.  “Master, what are You talking about?  My brother, John, is the youngest among us.  Did you say we have to be like him?

What was Jesus up to?  He knew what was ahead.  He realized His 3 years with His disciples were almost over and His death on the cross was fast approaching.  How would His disciples stand strong when He was gone?  The cockiness, pride, arrogance, self-righteousness, self-confidence and self-efficiency displayed by the religious leaders and the Pharisees couldn’t get in their way.

“…knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father…  (Jesus) got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.  Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

.…So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?  You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.  John 13:1-17

Jesus, the One whose sandals John the Baptist felt unfit to untie, knelt before each of his twelve disciples, washed their feet and then wiped them dry.  Rather than resorting to washing the feet of one to set the example, He demonstrated the need for treating all (young and old; superior and inferior in status) in the same manner by washing the feet of ALL twelve.  He said, “I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”

Have you pondered why Jesus didn’t resort to serving the meal or cleaning up after the meal to demonstrate humility?  Why did He resort to an act that was deemed fit for a lowly servant or for an individual to do himself?  What Jesus demonstrated was not mere superficial humility, but deep, humbling humility which required one to die to his pride.

He knew His men would be the spiritual rulers and teachers of His Word.  Pride and superiority could easily slip in, unnoticed.  The enemy, the devil, was lurking around, waiting to assault and to sift them.  If the enemy couldn’t destroy them, he would try to disgrace or distress them.  “Self-confidence, disregard to warnings and contempt of danger was a guarantee to their fall.” (Footnote 1)

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail, and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.  And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”  He said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you three times deny that you know me.”  Luke 22:31-34

Simon Peter fell.  Jesus had warned him and yet Peter was confident that his faith and his love for the Master was strong enough to keep him faithful.  Was it sufficient?  Sadly, no.   Peter denied knowing Jesus three times and it was only when the cock crowed that he realized what he had done.

“True humility is a servant-like quality which enables us to place our life at the service of God and the service of our neighbour.  He showed us the way by lowering himself as a servant for our sake. He humbled himself, even to death on a cross, that we might be raised up and exalted at the Father’s right hand in heaven (Philippians 2:1-11)”.

Lord, you walked among the sinners and the outcasts.  We ask for Your grace to put our pride and self-esteem aside and to look beyond our personal wants and needs to help others.  Lord, it is so easy to carry on with our own and ignore the needs of others.  But, Lord, You didn’t do that with us.  You sent others our way, who gave themselves selflessly and who pointed us back to You.  We thank You for them and we ask that You give us the same desire to make a difference in the lives of others.  Thank You for giving up Yourself for our sake.  Thank You for dying on the Cross so we may have life.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – August 30, 2014

p.s. – footnote 1:  http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/apostle-john-the-beloved-ray-ellis-sermon-on-christian-love-59051.asp – good teaching on Christian Life in Spiritual Growth and Spiritual Maturity.

REFLECTION: The call of duty…

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

 

By definition, the call of duty “is a legal term describing the necessity to carry out a job or duty, such as a police case, military assault/wartime actions, or other military or highly important jobs.”  Have you considered what such duties would entail?

Imagine arriving at a beautiful beach front on a warm, sunny day and you long to jump into the water for a refreshing dip. Everything looks fine.  No one is in the water, but there are a few others, lying around, tanning themselves.  You dip your toe into the refreshing water.  Its warmth draws you in a little further in and you begin to wade and splash around in the water.  Suddenly a swift rip current comes by and it sweeps you off your feet.  You struggle and before you know it, you find yourself dragged out to sea at top speed.

“What had happened?!?  The waves weren’t violent and crashing!  There were no warning signs on the beach!  There were people lying around on the beach, why didn’t they warn me?” Your mind screams and it continues to scream.

Whose duty was it to warn you?  It was a public beach.  The municipality’s governing body should have put up warning signs.  Perhaps there were signs there, but someone thought it infringed on the rights of others and so he/she took the signs down.  There were other people there, why didn’t they say anything?!?  Perhaps they thought it was none of their business…

This is such a sad case, isn’t it?  Thankfully the story is fiction and it was merely created by my imagination.  But what should you do if you are aware of potential dangers in certain circumstances.  Should you remain quiet, shirking the responsibility?

“The word of the Lord came to me.  Son of man, speak to our people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman; and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people; then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, his blood shall be upon his own head.  He heard the sound of the trumpet, and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life.  

But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes, and takes anyone of them, that man is taken away in his iniquity but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.

So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.”  Ezekiel 33:1-7

Father God, we ask for your wisdom and discernment to know when to speak and when not to speak.  We ask that You give us the strength and the boldness to speak your truth to others in love.  And Lord, we pray for those You call us to share Your truth with.  Open their spiritual eyes, ears and hearts so that they may receive Your truth.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – August 24, 2014

p.s. – .  “Rip currents are terrifying because they catch you off guard: One minute you’re bobbing along peacefully in the surf, the next you’re being dragged out to sea at top speed. They occur in all sorts of weather and on a wide range of beaches. Unlike violent, crashing waves, you probably won’t notice a rip current until you’re right in the middle of it.”  http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/oceanography/rip-current.htm

REFLECTION: The bleeding vase…

Friday, August 15th, 2014

 

In his book, The Leader of Faith, Fr. Elias Vella recounts the vision a lady had of a bleeding vase.  She asks Jesus what it signified and He explains that the beautiful sculptured glass was her.  Her beauty was the many charisms He gifted her with.  There was a time when her vase was full…of Him.  She often came to pray; she visited Him in the Eucharist; she opened her Bible regularly to discern His will…filling her very being with Him.  People began to recognize Jesus living in her and so they came to consult with her and to have her pray with them.  She gave freely and liberally.  Many more came and she began to get involved with more and more.  Her prayer time dwindled, her Bible began to accumulate dust… she no longer had time to discern nor to consult with God.  People continued to come and she gave, but her vase was no longer full and so she gave herself.  She began to give them pieces of the glass as she taught them her experiences… teaching them her theological instructions.  She gave them her all, but it was devoid of God.  As she gave the people pieces of glass, she began to hurt them and those were the drops of blood on the broken vase.

Grim!  Recognize yourself in this story?  I hope not.  I sense a sneering smile here, not on God’s part, but that of the devil.  This is one of the evil one’s schemes.  If he can’t stop us from doing God’s work, he’ll attempt to get us involved with too much of God’s work so that we ourselves fall, causing others to fall.

Do you remember when trials came your way?  Where did you go?  More often than not, many moved further away from God. Many sought the counsel of self-made gurus; others, the ways of the world, attempting to self-medicate by dipping into food, alcohol, street drugs and perhaps, even pornography.  Undoubtedly they worked for a while, but eventually the voice of emptiness began again, calling hoarsely, beckoning for a drop of life.

The pain begins… again… first as an irritation but then it grows exponentially and we start clawing at ourselves… and later at those closest to us.   How do I know?  I’ve been there and I’ve done that.

Many of us eventually run to Jesus as a last resort!  Why?  Because nothing else worked and He was and is the only One who can and who is able to do something for our best interest, not temporarily, but for eternity.

Ask anyone whose life has been touched by the Living God.  Let them tell you about their brokenness and how they’ve searched and how they realized it was only God who was able to rebuild and transform their lives.  Let them tell you how they’ve realized that they need Him every moment, not because they are weaklings, but because He has become their strength.

Have they become zombies?  Definitely not!  They continue to have free will, and periodically, they turn away from His ways, but not long after, they return because they realize that His ways are better than their ways…  allowing  God to draw straight from their crooked lives.

Is it enough to let God touch your life once?  Definitely not!  We need to continue to journey with Him, leaning and learning on and from Him, asking for His wisdom, discernment, mercy and love as we manoeuvre through the trials of life.  If not, His light, which once flickered brightly in us fades, unable to bring light to the world that needs Him, but also to bring light into our own being.

“Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as You shine: so as to shine as to be a light to others.  The light, O Jesus, will be all from You. None of it will be mine.  It will be You who shines through me upon others.  O let me thus praise You, in the way which You love best, by shining on all those around me.  Give light to them as well as to me; light them with me, through me.  Teach me to show forth Your praise, Your truth, Your will.  Make me preach You without preaching – not by words, but by my example and by the catching force, the sympathetic influence, of what I do – by my visible resemblance to Your saints, and the evident fullness of the love which my heart bears to You.”  (Prayer for Holiness from Newman’s Meditations and Devotions)

God bless,

Melissa – August 15, 2014

p.s. –
Revelation 2:2-5; 7 (NASB)

‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first loveTherefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent; To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’

REFLECTION: Sifting through the past… (a glimpse into depression)

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Last Sunday, a friend called to ask me to speak to her nephew whose life had been over taken by an unwelcomed guest.  DEPRESSION  had barged in and intruded into this one’s life.  It was obvious depression was not welcome, but depression didn’t care.  It has a mind of its own and it settles itself down as if it reigns.  If the individual is aware of what can be done, he/ she would realize that brisk walks and exercise would make the “household” uncomfortable, jostling depression enough times so that hopefully, it would be convinced to move on quickly.  Unfortunately, it is easier said than done, because when depression arrives, extreme darkness and heaviness comes quickly, hovering over the individual… lingering just as a cartoon character with a threatening, dark rain cloud over his/her head.

Lightning flashes as the roller coaster ride of anxiety begins and the rumbling thunder accompanies the rider, shaking and draining whatever composure, pride and dignity the individual had until only fear is left, running havoc in the empty shell of what remains.  The ride goes on, endlessy going through its circuit, repeating itself over and over again until the individual can no longer take another round.  Unfortunately at times, death seems to be the only way out.

I have since found an e-mail which I had penned on February 6, 2008.  I will let it speak for itself…

I assume many of you have realized I had not been well.  Another bout of depression had visited over the last 7 months and my struggle, especially with my faith, was extremely agonizing.  I knew God had something beautiful planned, but while I struggled with the horrid disease, I had extreme difficulty accepting that something good could come out of it.

During the 7 months of anxiety and complete hopelessness, I continued knocking on God’s door…hoping and praying that He would ease the pain.  It is so unfortunate that the symptoms of the horrid disease and the medication often masked the comfort of God’s love and presence.  I often reminded myself of the pain and agony Jesus went through…in hope that I, in turn, would be able to carry on.  I must confess I felt like a spoiled child, screaming and shouting, bargaining, pleading with God…  I often tried to pretend to “live” the life of another person…but I soon realized that no one else had an easier life…not even Jesus.  I am so grateful that while I couldn’t sense His presence, God sent others (His ministering human angels) to me.  He also ensured that many of you continued to pray so that I could endure the journey…and I have!  Thank you so much for your faithfulness!

A few days ago I realized that women often forget the pain of childbirth.  As Nancy (my best buddy) and I chatted, I realized that I cannot forget the pain/agony of depression.  Perhaps the memory is not erased because it is a spiritual/emotional agonizing pain.  Has God used this pain for good?  My answer is an unwavering YES!  During those months, I yearned and hungered for God’s comfort…for God’s presence.  Now that I can “feel” again, I cannot describe the joy and peace of being given the privilege of basking in God’s love and presence.  With all my heart, I encourage each of you to do the same.

My prayer is that each of you take the opportunity to experience Him.

Before I close, I would like to ask you all to pray especially for a young, grade 8 boy named Michael. Since December, he has succumbed to depression and he has not been able to return to school.  Would you also pray for the many others in this world who are struggling with the same disease?

I sense that I must share one more thing.  I know many of you would not like to know how often I wanted to give up… since there didn’t seem to be any hope.  Each time I wanted to give up, God reminded me of a lady named Inga who is battling with cancer.  Inga and I have never met, but God somehow allowed our paths to meet indirectly (via the phone and e-mail) around June last year.  I often told Inga that I didn’t understand why God had put her in a special place in my heart.  Not too long ago, I began to understand what God had done.  About two months before the depression “visited”, God had placed Inga in my heart so I could lift her up in prayer.  As I struggled during those seemingly endless months, God often reminded me to pray for Inga. As I prayed for her, I asked Him how she was able to endure. I knew He had given her that beautiful grace because I had overheard others say her faith has kept her going.  I kept asking God to give me even a portion of her faith so I could continue on.  I recently realized that God had used me in Inga’s life so that she (without her even realizing it until I told her) could later on help me to continue to choose life! Doesn’t God work amazingly???!!!  Would you please pray along with me for Inga’s healing?”  (Sadly, Inga has since passed, but she crawled into the Father’s loving arms with the greatest faith in Him.)

As always…God is so….good!  God bless!

Together in God’s overflowing love,

Melissa

p.s. –

How God Uses Pain  (TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2, by Os Hillman)

I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things” (Isa 45:7).

God will use pain in order to create a love relationship with His creation. This statement may challenge your theology. However, consider that God allowed Jesus to experience incredible pain in order to create an opportunity to have a relationship with His creation. Consider how Jesus created a relationship with Paul. He blinded him and used a crisis in his life in order to bring him into a relationship with him and use him for God’s purposes. Consider how God recruited Jonah for the mission He had for him.

This is not God’s first choice for His creation. Romans 2:4 reveals that God’s preference is to show mercy and kindness: “Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” The problem is there are few people who respond to the goodness of God. God loves people more than He loves their comfort. He invests a great deal into mankind. He desires relationship with us and will go to great lengths to create such a relationship in order for us to receive the rewards and inheritance He has for us.

I have observed this process in the scriptures in working with people through years of ministry. I have noticed three distinct stages. First, we live based on convenience. Our obedience is largely based on circumstances in our lives. We choose to obey based on the circumstances.

The second stage is the crisis stage. God allows a crisis to come into our lives. We are motivated to obey God in order to get out of the pain of our situation. Many times God allows us to stay in this condition in order to demonstrate His love and faithfulness during our pain. Gradually, we discover something knew about God and often have a personal encounter with Him that changes us. Our very nature is affected by this God-encounter.

This begins to move us into a third phase that is a relationship that is motivated now by love and devotion instead of pain. This is where God desires us to be. Another way of saying this is we are no longer seeking His hand. We are seeking Him. We want to know God personally.

Obedience will not last when the motivation is only the removal of our pain. Obedience only lasts when the motivation is loving devotion. Where are you in your obedience and what is the primary motivation? If it isn’t love, why not tell the Lord you love Him today and want to know Him for who He is and not for what He can do for you.”

REFLECTION: The voice

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

 

A panel of 4 sits with anticipation with their backs turned towards the stage.  They listen intently to one (or more), expelling musical vocals that would capture their hearts and entice a panel member to turn and invite the singer to his/her team.  The voice…

Which voice has beckoned you to turn around?  Today, there are so many voices…”the voice of politics, of media, the voice of public opinion, the voice of other religions” competing for your attention.  Through the cacophony of sounds, how do you distinguish one from the other?  How do you discern which one is safe to follow?

Queen Jezebel was furious and was after the man’s skin.  Elijah, the prophet, ran hard and hid in a cave.  God beckoned him, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake12 After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 King 19: 11-13

Having spent endless hours in conversation with God, Elijah recognized the gentleness of God.  Unfortunately, many who do not know Him run in fear away from God, having the pre-conceived notion that God’s fury would spew from His mouth.  This is the devil’s delight!

Just as radio waves are continuously flowing, but is not picked up until a receptor is available, God has, is and will always be there, gently speaking to you and encouraging you on.  Is your receptor on?

God bless,

Melissa – August 12, 2014

REFLECTION: The shepherd, the cowboy, and the gate keeper

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

 

The shepherd, the cowboy, and the gate keeper… do any of these have significance in our lives?  You bet they do, especially in the role God plays in our lives.

I’ve often wondered why Christians referred to Jesus as the Good Shepherd.  I thought it was because the perfect analogy for people were sheep and so the shepherd went hand in hand with them.  Today, I stand corrected.

In his book The Leader of Faith, Fr. Elias Vella explains in great detail.  During the time of Jesus, over 2000 years ago, not all shepherds were good.  In fact, “many shepherds… were outlaws and criminals who were living on the mountains, escaping authorities, and making a living from shepherding.”  Imagine that!  So why in the world did the angels first appear to the shepherds when Jesus was born?  Fr. Vella explains, “the message was not intended to be given to simple people but to sinners.  Sinners were those to whom the good news was first given.  Jesus did not come for those who were righteous but for sinners.”

Jesus is THE Good Shepherd.

Fr Vella expands…  “The cowboy has cattle – cows, bulls, oxen – but for him those cows are only meat for the market.  They are numbered; for him they mean only money.  So the cowboy does not bother or care whether the cow or bull is suffering or not; he just leads them and pushes them to walk towards the market.”

In those days several shepherds would find a meadow on the mountain and they would build a little wall around it with a closed gate.   They (2-4) would herd their sheep together in this protected enclosure before night fall and a hired watchman would stay awake and stand on guard at the gate, protecting the sheep from wolves and thieves while the shepherds slept.  Unfortunately, because the sheep was not his, the gate keeper was more concerned about his well-being and he would run when a thief or a wolf came by.

Jesus says, “I am the door”, the security that protects every Christian.  He is the one who stands between every Christian and the evil of this world, willing to give up Himself so as to give life to the ones He loves.

Day breaks and it is time to move on.  The sheep have intermingled in the meadow.  How are the shepherds going to separate their sheep?  “When the herding comes, every shepherd, one after the other, goes to the gate and shouts.  Every shepherd has a particular voice and tonality.  Now when the shepherd shouts at the gate of this big enclosure, all his sheep recognize the voice of their shepherd and they all come out…”, following the voice that they have learned to trust.

God bless,

Melissa – August 9, 2014

p.s. –

7So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8“All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.  9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” John 10: 7-9

REFLECTION: Your resurrection

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

On Thursday evening, several of us attended the memorial Mass of the 97 year old mother of a friend of mine.  Ashanti shared about her mother’s life; she, who quietly passed into our Father’s loving arms while she slept.  What touched me the most was this elder’s faithfulness in praying her children back into the Christian faith.  Unfortunately, many of us parents walk in a similar path.  What joy to know that this one saw each of her 5 return to our Lord while she walked on planet Earth.

Having flown back from Agassiz to celebrate this special Mass, Fr. Jack Dias began his homily with, “Both life and death are gifts from God.  Both gifts are free so we can glorify God.”  I believe we can all readily agree that the earthly life which begins with the birth of a child is truly a gift, but death, a gift as well?  Fr. continued, “Without the gift of death, we cannot get into Heaven.  Death becomes a door to Heaven.”

Hold on, does this door to Heaven open for all?  Had Adam and Eve trusted God, ALL would enter Heaven.  However, free will, which God had bestowed on man, gave and still gives man the liberty to make choices.  Sadly, the first man and woman chose to disobey God.  Because of this Fall, the original innocence and purity God created in man became tainted by sin.  From then on, concupiscence (the innate tendency of humans to long for fleshly appetites) tainted the nature of man and unfortunately, many continue to fall.

The created turns against its Creator.  Science fiction?  Not in this case.  Have you felt the desire to over-indulge in food, alcohol, sex or bully another?  Has money controlled your desires and actions, minimizing your willingness to reach out to help another?  Whether you realize it or not, these are actual temptations which the devil, our adversary, plants into our minds.  Having been thrown down from Heaven himself because of his own rejection of God, the devil does whatever He can to destroy man and to keep him from returning to God.  Whatever harm we do to ourselves or another is turning against God.  Why?  Because He created us. His desire is for us to know Him and for His children to live full, happy lives.   Regardless of seeing many backs turned His way, God continues to seek man.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.”  John 10:25-26  That’s a bit heavy, isn’t it?  Perhaps we should start from the beginning.

Let’s begin at the Garden of Eden.  “ … The Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.  The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17  Notice how the word “die” comes into the picture?  Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18  And woman becomes a member of planet earth.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field  which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;  but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!  For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.  Genesis 3:1-7

Did you notice how the devil, taking the form of a serpent, twisted the truth?  He is very good at that.  In fact, one of his titles is the Father of Lies.  Do you see how he lured Eve into believing that she would be like God?  Would you believe that was the very same thing that caused him to fall?

The eyes of Adam and Eve were definitely opened, and what did they see?  They realized they were naked!  That didn’t matter before, but having their eyes opened, their nakedness became an issue.

Was God mad?  I’m sure He was, but He didn’t exhibit it.  In today’s lingo, God was COOL.  He came, strolling along in the cool of the morning calling out for Adam and Eve because they were nowhere to be seen.

Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”  He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”  Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:9-13

Did you notice how quickly Adam put the blame on the woman?  Did you notice how he also put the blame on God by addressing the woman as “The woman YOU gave to be with me”?  As to the woman, she quickly put the blame on the serpent!  Sound familiar?  We continue to do the same, don’t we?

As with every choice made, we face the blessing or the consequence that goes along with it.  To the serpent, God said… And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:15  THIS was God’s fore shadowing promise that He would one day provide a way for man to return back to the loving union he once shared with God through One that would be born of woman.

Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”  John 6:35  God had sent not an angel, but His Son, Jesus, down from Heaven to do His will.  Jesus was not transported down to earth as an adult, but He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and was born to a virgin mother, Mary.

What did Jesus do?  “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10  Lost?  Yes, all who have turned away from the Father.  He didn’t set up an office and wait for people to come.  Instead, He walked around and talked with the people, mingling with the broken, the lonely, the forgotten, the rejected, the unwelcomed… anyone and all who needed the touch of God’s love.   He taught, at times by parables, but more often than not, He taught by how He lived, through His loving actions.  He healed… the sick, the lepers, the lame, the blind, the demon possessed.  He raised the dead and with 2 fish and 5 loaves of barley bread, he fed the multitudes (5000 men) with 12 baskets of left over remaining.

More than anything, Jesus gently healed the spiritual brokenness of those who sought Him…
“Teacher,” they (the Pharisees and religious teachers) said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” … Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.  They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”  Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. …Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”   “No, Lord,” she said.  And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:4-11  Unlike the Pharisees , Jesus doesn’t create a scene nor does He nag nor berate.  He simply forgives and sends her off, encouraging her to sin no more.

Jesus did not limit His ministry to His kind (Jews),   In the heat of noon, as he rested by a well in the midst of His travels, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman.  To her surprise, He speaks to her, overlooking the set traditions that Jews do not associate with Samaritans, let alone a woman on her own.  He offers her “living water” and bids her to call her husband.  The woman replies, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” John 4:17-18

Did you notice what transpired here?  Because He is God, Jesus knew every detail of the woman’s background, and yet, He does not accuse her of anything.  When He asks her to call her husband, she replies with the truth.  He then reveals what He knows of her and she responds, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.”  Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” John 4: 25-26

“From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” …Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4: 39-42

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”  John 6:35  During His 3 years of public life, Jesus fulfilled what the Father had sent Him to do.  He proclaimed  “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. … “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” John 6:35-40  He healed the sick, He raised the lame and brought sight to the blind, he resurrected the dead, and He brought spiritual healing.

There was still one crucial thing Jesus had to do.  When the appropriate time came, “He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Matthew 26:42 Jesus knew exactly what He had to do and He knew the excruciating toll it would take.   He knew He still needed to take on ALL the sins of the world… past, present and future, upon himself and to die a horrific death, so that death would be conquered once and for all.

Jesus died on the cross over 2000 years ago.  And on the 3rd day, the Holy Spirit raised Him up from the dead.   Jesus is ALIVE and well and he now sits at the right hand of the Father, interceding for all.

“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:35-40

Do you believe?

God bless,

Melissa – August 7, 2014

p.s. – http://powertochange.com/discover/faith/godandloved/ <- FALLING PLATES