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REFLECTION: Eyes to see, ears to hear…

Friday, July 31st, 2015

I have been going to bed each night listening to Fr. Jim Nisbet’s teachings on the Book of Revelations.   On the last CD I was listening to, Fr. Jim had been expanding on the devastating results of the seven plagues.    Learning through listening is good, but key verses are missed, especially when one is drifting in and out of sleep.  Hence, while I was reading the 9th chapter of the Book of Revelations, I was both appalled and horrified when I read, The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” Revelations 9:20-21.  An earlier verse just mentioned that a third of mankind had been wiped out by the last plague and yet the survivors won’t repent from their old ways?!?  My heart and mind could not embrace what was written and so I frantically asked our Father, “What is wrong with mankind?  Why don’t they see?!?”  

Our Father has since reminded me that what St. John had written in Revelations was based on a vision he had seen.  And yet, I wonder if what he wrote holds true today.  The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami took 230,000 lives from 14 countries.  The world has since experienced one devastating catastrophe after another, causing some to shake and tremble and yet, I wonder if that was enough to cause people to repent and turn to God.  I would imagine that those who had lost family and friends were impacted, but what about the rest of the world?  Have we shrugged and readily dismissed the events because we were not affected?  Lord, have mercy on us.

And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.  For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.  Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’  Matthew 13:10-17

Since coming across this verse many years ago, our Father and I have been wrestling about it.  I have been begging and begging Him to open the spiritual eyes, ears and hearts of those who do not know Him so that they would realize how much they need Him in their lives.  I have pleaded with Him to let them “taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”  Psalm 34:8

A brief chat with newly ordained Fr. Paul Goo helped me begin to understand what was going on.  When I asked “Why?”, he halted only for a moment and then he replied, “Each individual still has their free will.”  FREE WILL!  Yes, God has given each of us free will, but isn’t that what caused Adam and Eve to fall to begin with?  Fr. Paul reminded me that God didn’t want us to be robots; He doesn’t want to force Himself on us, but He desires us to freely choose to love Him.

Perhaps part of the answer lies in the phrase “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.”  This reminds me of the parable of the master and the talents.  The first two servants multiplied what was given to them but the third one buried the single talent he was given.  (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-28)  As I ponder, I begin to understand. Perhaps many are like the third servant.  Perhaps they do not realize and recognize the treasure that is given to them and so they bury it (keep it out of their conscious thoughts) until they are ready to deal with it.  I would suppose that periodically, they would dig up what was given, but because their eyes are still not open, they continue to fail to see  and so they bury it again.  (It should be interesting to note that although the treasure is buried, it never disappears or deteriorates.  That in itself speaks volumes that God’s truth never fades away.) 

Perhaps the first two servants had a personal encounter with the Master (Jesus) and their time together with Him had revealed the truths of the talents that were to be given to them.  So as they received these gifts (Gifts of the Holy Spirit) they shared it with others, bearing fruits (bringing more into God’s kingdom) and giving glory to God.

In one of his other teachings, Fr. Jim had mentioned that wisdom is not a gift God gives.  Instead, we gain wisdom as we draw close to Him.  The closer we get, the more wisdom we have, but when our relationship wanes, so does wisdom.  To me, wisdom is similar to seeing with our spiritual eyes.  As we draw closer to our Lord, the more we begin to see with His eyes.

In 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23, St. Paul writes, For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” and “we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”  For those who have not experienced and accepted the redemptive love of Jesus, the message of the cross is foolish and insignificant, while it is a  stumbling block to others.  Those who do not know God see with the world’s wisdom. 

 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 1 Corinthians 1:19-21

I then asked our Father, what about “Otherwise they would see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.”?  Doesn’t Your word say, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:8-9  To that I sensed our Father reply, “Yes my child, you know My heart.  I want all to come to repentance and that is the reason why I have shut their eyes and ears.  At the moment, all they want from me is for their own gain.  They want their troubles to be over and they want their aches and pain to dissipate.  That is all they want from me.  Their hearts are not ready; they still lack humility and they are not humble enough to acknowledge that they have sinned.  When the time is right, I will open their eyes and ears.  I am God, remember?

Father God, forgive us.  We admit that we are all sinners and we need the continuous redemptive love of Jesus.  Thank You, that when we stumble, we can run to You and ask for forgiveness and through Your loving mercy, you cleanse us once again, as white as snow.

Lord, there are so many out there who don’t know You.  They do not understand what it means when one catastrophe after another happens.  They do not understand because they don’t know You nor Your word.  But Lord, how will they know unless we become the light of Your world?  How will they know if we, Your children, do not tell them?  Father, when we were baptized, our Baptismal candle was lit from the Easter Candle.  Jesus is the light You sent down to Earth to bring forth light into this dark world.  The lighting of our Baptismal candle symbolizes that we have caught the spark of Jesus.  When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai after he encountered You, His face glowed.  Father, when we encounter You each day, let our faces light up too.  Lord, give us the grace, vigilance, endurance and strength to share what You have done in our lives so that one day, when the time is right, those who still don’t know You will truly see and hear You.  In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa

p.s. – May the lyrics of this song encourage all to pass along the love of God to others…”Pass it on” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tadZ8nCLBsI

REFLECTION: “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

I have been going to bed each night listening to Fr. Jim Nisbet’s teachings on the Book of Revelations.   On the last CD I was listening to, Fr. Jim had been expanding on the devastating results of the seven plagues.    Learning through listening is good, but key verses are missed, especially when one is drifting in and out of sleep.  Hence, while I was reading the 9th chapter of the Book of Revelations, I was both appalled and horrified when I read, The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” Revelations 9:20-21.  A third of mankind had just been wiped out by the last plague (Rev (9:18)!  I could not embrace what was written and so I frantically asked our Father, “What is wrong with mankind?  Why don’t they see?!?”  

Our Father has since reminded me that what St. Paul had written in Revelations was based on a vision he had seen.  And yet, I wonder if what he wrote about holds true today.  The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami took 230,000 lives from 14 countries.  The world has since experienced one devastating catastrophe after another, causing some to shake and tremble and yet, I wonder if that was enough to cause people to repent and turn to God.  I would imagine that those who had lost family and friends were impacted, but what about the rest of the world?  Have we shrugged and readily dismissed the events because we were not affected?  Lord, have mercy on us.

And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.  For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.  Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’  Matthew 13:10-17

Since coming across this verse many years ago, our Father and I have been wrestling about it.  I have been begging and begging Him to open the spiritual eyes, ears and hearts of those who do not know Him so that they would realize how much they need Him in their lives.  I have pleaded with Him to let them “taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”  Psalm 34:8

A brief chat with newly ordained Fr. Paul Goo helped me begin to understand what was going on.  When I asked “Why?”, he halted only for a moment and then he replied, “Each individual still has their free will.”  FREE WILL!  Yes, God has given each of us free will, but isn’t that what caused Adam and Eve to fall to begin with?  Fr. Paul reminded me that God didn’t want us to be robots; He doesn’t want to force Himself on us, but He desires us to freely choose to love Him.

Perhaps part of the answer lies in the phrase “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.”  This reminds me of the parable of the master and the talents.  The first two servants multiplied what was given to them but the third one buried the single talent he was given.  (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-28)  As I ponder, I begin to understand. Perhaps many are like the third servant.  Perhaps they do not realize and recognize the treasure that is given to them and so they bury it (keep it out of their conscious thoughts) until they are ready to deal with it.  I would suppose that periodically, they would unbury what was given, but because their eyes are still not open, they continue to fail to see  and so they bury it again.  (It should also be interesting to note that although the treasure is buried, it never disappears or deteriorates.  That in itself speaks volumes that God’s truth never fades away.) 

Perhaps the first two servants had a personal encounter with the Master (Jesus) and their time together with Him had revealed the truths of the talents that were to be given to them.  So as they received these gifts (Gifts of the Holy Spirit) they shared it with others, bearing fruits (bringing more into God’s kingdom) and giving glory to God.

In one of his other teachings, Fr. Jim had mentioned that wisdom is not a gift God gives.  Instead, we gain wisdom as we draw close to Him.  The closer we get, the more wisdom we have, but when our relationship wanes, so does wisdom.  To me, wisdom is similar to seeing with our spiritual eyes.  As we draw closer to our Lord, the more we begin to see with His eyes.

In 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23, St. Paul writes, For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” and “we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”  For those who have not experienced and accepted the redemptive love of Jesus, the message of the cross is foolish and insignificant, while it is a  stumbling block to others.  Those who do not know God see with the world’s wisdom. 

19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 1 Corinthians 1:19-21

I then asked our Father, what about “Otherwise they would see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.”?  Didn’t Your word say, “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:8-9  To that I sensed our Father reply, “Yes my child, you know My heart.  I want all to come to repentance and that is the reason why I have shut their eyes and ears.  At the moment, all they want from me is for their own gain.  They want their troubles to be over and they want their aches and pain to dissipate.  That is all they want from me.  Their hearts are not ready; they are not humble enough to acknowledge that they have sinned.  When the time is right, I will open their eyes and ears.  I am God, remember?

 

 

30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

 

 

 

 

31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.

19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[c]

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”[d] 1 Corinthians

 

 

OH… I just sensed an analogy our Father wants me to use.  Not knowing God and receiving the new life that Jesus gives us through his death and resurrection is like going through depression.  During a bout of depression, you loose your sense of joy, meaning in life, the ability to see the beauty and the goodness in the world and worst of all, at least for me, you lose your sense of God’s presence.  It is like a veil that is tossed over your feelings

 


REFLECTION: The boost…

Friday, July 24th, 2015

dog (2)

 

He began his talk by describing one of his favorite events when he joins the Grade 7’s at their annual week long outdoor school at Timberline Ranch.  Fr. Garry described the climbing wall and he casually mentions that there is a pulley system that is securely attached to the ceiling and that he, the climber, is harnessed to one end of the rope that runs through the pulley. The rope then runs through a safety belay device that is securely harnessed to an experienced climber, the belayer, who is at the other end of the rope.

Father Garry excitedly tells that the first part of the climb is easy because all the climbing grips are spaced closely together.  However, once he got closer to the top, the grips were spaced a little further than arm’s length.  He mentions about a specific one where a leap upward and forward was required in order to grasp the grip.  As he pondered this, a dialogue between him and his belayer began.  He was asked, “What is the worse thing that could happen?”  Father Garry’s response was, “I could fall!”  With a little encouragement and reassurance, Father Garry leaped and his leap was true.  He quickly added that it was with the assistance of his trusted belayer, who had stepped back and away from the wall which lifted Fr. Garry up to his destined goal.

Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
    Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?
Unless the Lord had given me help,
    I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
 When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
    your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
    your consolation brought me joy.
Psalm 94:16-19

Father God, Lord Jesus and faithful Holy Spirit, thank You for being our security.  Thank You for Your faithfulness, loyalty, and Your dependability.  Lord, You know that our journey towards Home is steep and at times, we are so tired and beaten down.  We must confess that there are moments when we want to give up.  Dear Holy Spirit, thank You for that extra boost that lifts us up when every ounce of our strength is gone.  Lord, thank You for catching us when our reach or our grip fails.   And our dearest Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross for our sins, because without Your sacrifice we would have had no way back to our Father.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – July 24, 2015

REFLECTION in the Garden:  The thieves in the night…

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

IMG_5741 (2)

We’ve had a mother bear and cubs, skunks, raccoon, squirrels… come by for a visit, but we’ve never had deer until a few days ago.  The two were a tad shy and hid in the shelter of the trees, but they were here. Undoubtedly they were a beautiful sight, but having heard of the battles others had protecting their plants from the deer, I was a bit edgy.  With that in mind, I scared them off

Over the next few days, evidence of late night visits became evident.  The beautiful white lily that was adored the night before was gone the next morning.  “Headless” stalks of plants have begun to appear and evidence of a hoof in the garden beds have been seen.

I  thought battling slugs and snails were bad; this is a hundred times worse! The deer didn’t take small nibbles like the slugs and snails, they took deer bites, chomping off blooms and greenery within minutes.  To me, it felt as if the enemy had declared war on the garden.

As I reflected in the garden this morning, our Father reminded me of Jesus’ parable in Matthew 24:32-44.  Had I known the thieves were coming, I would have stayed awake, watching and waiting.  But to stay awake every night to shoo those nightly thieves away?  Lord, have mercy on me!  The plants weren’t worth that much sacrifice.

Our Father began to prompt me, hinting that these thieves are like the devil and his minions.  They come when we are not alert, nibbling away at our peace, our security, our faith.  Our Father expanded… the garden represents each of us.  We are exposed to all the elements surrounding us, good and bad alike. The choice plants, shrubs and trees are those values and teachings which we have carefully selected and welcomed into our lives.  Unfortunately, like an open aired garden, we are also subjected to other seeds which the wind blows our way.  Without realizing it, many take root and they become destructive and invasive, using up the space and the nourishment in the fertile soil which are intended to nurture the choice plants.  He reminded me that if we didn’t allow Him to pull out these weeds, the beauty of our gardens would dwindle.

Our Father reminded me that if we continue to submit to His ways, He will continue to pull out those which do not belong.  However, He also cautions… Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  But resist him, firm in your faith… 1 Peter 5:8-9  Our Father reminds us to be alert and be mindful of our weaknesses because the devil is watching us, looking for ways to gain a toehold into our lives.  Unfortunately, a toehold can eventually become a foothold and a foothold can become a stronghold.  He calls us to draw close to Him and to learn His word so we can do battle for “our garden”.

God bless,

Melissa – July 22, 2015

REFLECTION in the Garden: The God of Hard Knocks…

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

As I watered the garden beds this morning, I began to notice some things which I may have overlooked before.  Or, was there a possibility that there was a rampant slug attack last night and its devastating reign had left such a worn out and broken remnant of a plant, trying to continue to stand tall in spite of all its injury?  I reached down to pluck off the broken pieces, and while I did, I looked around, searching for any of those slimy slugs which normally hid when day breaks open.  I was so ready to stomp on their heads!

The poor plant.  I believe it is an annual which means that its life span has already been limited to just this summer season while the temperatures are warm enough for its liking.  It was a horrible sight and if I didn’t have some gardening experience, I would have readily pulled it out, believing it had no hope nor future.  However, years of gardening had taught me a lot and I’ve learned that pinching back diseased or broken parts of a plant allows new growth.

I had earlier noticed that I had failed to pinch off the dried up tip of the Clematis vine which I had transplanted a month before.  By now, it should have grown taller and twisted its way around some supporting stake, but because that dried up piece remained intact, the plant remained stagnant in its growth.

As I continued watering, the insights of the Father began to flow.  He reminded me that there was a time when I was not a gardener and I struggled and resisted when I didn’t understand His ways.  He reminded me that our first encounter in the garden was when He had sent me outdoors to pull out weeds that grew wildly in our front yard.  It was there where He told me that from then on, He and I would be pulling out the weeds in my life.  While memories of the hard knocks I had endured came to the surface, He reminded me that He had permitted the slugs and the diseases to come my way so I would realize that I couldn’t do it on my own and that I needed Him, my personal Gardener, to tend to me and to assist me to grow.

When I asked,  “Why the hard knocks?” he replied, “My Son took the hard knocks for you too.  I sent Him so that you would realize that He, himself, endured the same knocks, if not worse so as to bring you back to Me.”

My thoughts then drifted to a few whom our Father had recently called me to journey with.  It was surprising to realize that I had told one the very same things our Father had told me.  I had also mentioned that if he/she was willing to forgive and to see things with God’s eyes, he/she would come out a stronger and better individual.

A scripture verse comes to mind…”Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Cor. 1:3-4

There is no doubt I had a good Teacher and He has taught me so well.  Nevertheless, there were times when I had wished He had sent another human being my way.  He did send some periodically, but He kept them at bay.  It seemed as if He wanted to teach me on His own… perhaps I was a tough one and His “hands-on” teaching was exactly what I needed.

There were times when our Father wanted to pluck off my old ways and my old dreams, but I resisted Him and I wrestled with Him, asking and pleading Him to PLEASE let me keep them.  Just as I now know that pinching damaged and “dead” portions of the plant was the only way to allow me to grow, He went forward and did accordingly.

There were times when He had to pry my fingers loose so that I would let go.  I wailed in grief of the loss, but instead, He offered me His right hand and He gently helped me back up to my feet.

Our Father now reminds me of a poem which often brings a chuckle my way…

Butt Prints In The Sand

One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?”
Those prints are large and round and neat,
“But Lord they are too big for feet.”

“My child,” He said in somber tones,
“For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait.”

“You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know.
So I got tired, I got fed up,
and there I dropped you on your butt.”

“Because in life, there comes a time,
when one must fight, and one must climb.
When one must rise and take a stand,
or leave their butt prints in the sand.”

author unknown

 Father, thank You for always standing with us through each moment of our lives.  Thank You that You are there in our good times, but especially as we go through life’s trials.  Thank You for Your patience and thank You for your discipline as you tend to our needs so we will grow.  Thank You that you aren’t merely interested in our existence, but instead, you prune us so as to ensure that we bear blooms (fruit) and that eventually, we would have sufficient seed to sow into the lives of those surrounding us.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – July 15, 2015

REFLECTION: When pride comes to play…

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

In his 41st homily, St. Isaac the Syrian, says “The one who has come to a realization of his sin is higher than the one who raises the dead through prayer; whoever has been able to see his own self is higher than the one who has been granted the vision of angels.”

Regardless of how long we have been journeying in our faith walk, when it comes to sin, we are all like every other human being.  “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”  Romans 3:22-24

So what’s pride got to do with sin?  Everything!  Pride was one of the factors that led to original sin.  It was man’s desire to be like god; to know all and so they partook of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.  It was not as if God had not revealed everything to man.  It was just that the temptation of the devil was too appealing as he planted the seed of doubt in them.  Did they learn anything more beyond what they already knew?  They realized they were naked!

What do we do when we recognize our short comings?  Do we ignore them and rationalize that everyone else is doing the same?  Do we attempt to get involved with the activities in Church in hopes of getting into the good books of God?  Or do we turn to the cross of Jesus, asking for His forgiveness and asking for His grace to change?

When pride comes to play, we can rest assured that the enemy will use it to keep us pre-occupied with the first two, keeping us as far away as possible from a relationship with Jesus.  Pride prevents us from recognizing and acknowledging that we’ve done wrong.  It motivates us to justify our actions and it keeps us away from humbling ourselves and asking for forgiveness.  Perhaps in attempt to dismiss the fact that we are flawed and in need of redemptive grace, the enemy tempts us to get involved with religious activities within and around the Church, making us believe that our actions will be sufficient to redeem us back into the good books of God.

Rather than focusing on the redemptive suffering Jesus endured for each of us on the cross, the enemy prompts us to focus on our self-motivated efforts  in serving God so as to gain His approval.  There is nothing wrong in serving the Lord, but it is the self-serving motive of gaining His approval that is oh so wrong. 

We cannot do anything to gain God’s approval.  In fact, we aren’t called to do anything other than to accept His invitation to come to Him “ … when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”   Titus 3:4-6   We are reminded that it is “for by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.…”  Ephesians 2:8-9

Father God, forgive us, we have allowed pride to get the upper hand in our lives.  We realize that we have attempted to do things on our own, believing that we can do things to get ourselves back onto Your good books.  Forgive us Lord Jesus because this is an outward offence to the sacrifice you were willing to take on the cross for our sins.  Thank You for opening our eyes and helping us realize that all we need to do is turn back to You with a repentive heart and one that is willing to turn away from the schemes of the evil one.  Please protect us in our faith walk.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – July 11, 2015

REFLECTION in the Garden: The overflow and the entangled garden hose

Friday, July 10th, 2015

The ground covering and the taller plants have always been green and robust.  I had noticed them regularly and I had even enjoyed the blooms without realizing that I had not once directed the garden hose towards them.   Today, as I glanced at the vegetable patch which I water regularly, I realized that somehow, the overflow of watering the vegetable patch had reached these other plants!

Then, the Lord whispered.  He reminded me that He has never been stingy in His gifting.  The love, blessings and graces He showers over each of us is always more than what we need.  He reminded me that nothing is wasted because the overflow has always been intended for the others around us… our families, our friends and for those who we minister to!  Boy do we have an awesome God!

As I continued watering, the garden hose suddenly got caught on a protruding bush.  My first instinct was to tug on the hose and when it didn’t budge, I gave it a harder tug.  I have often caught myself grumbling as I searched for what interrupted my ability to water the rest of the thirsty plants.  It doesn’t happen regularly, but every so often, as I walk around the expanse of His garden, the heavy hose manages to hook itself up on things which I had failed to clear or onto ornaments I had used to decorate the garden.

As the same routine occurred today, our Father reminded we that we are like the garden hose.  We are the vessels He uses to distribute His love to this dried up world.  He cautioned that although He chooses to use us, we still need to be careful of the paths we take less we get entangled and are caught in the ways of the world.

Father God, thank You so much for the lessons in Your beautiful garden.  Thank you so much for giving us the Water of Life which flows from Jesus.  Lord Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross for our sins and dear Holy Spirit, thank You for raising Jesus up from the dead.  Father, thank You for continuing to tend to us, grooming us accordingly, so that we can grow to be the very best version of who You created us to be.  Thank You for helping us see that if we disconnect ourselves from You, our very source of life, the flow of Living Water will no longer flow through us.  Keep our faith strong as we journey back towards Home.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – July 10, 2015

REFLECTION in the garden: The red sun…

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

 

The sky was eerily yellow as I looked out the window.  A thick unfamiliar blanket seemed to cover the entire heavenly expanse and I whispered to the Lord, “Is it safe to go out?”  I had wondered if the venture outdoors would expose me to a higher level of radiation or to some other danger.  I didn’t sense any word of precaution from our Lord and so I ventured out into the garden.  As I began to dig and transplant mature greenery, I noticed what looked like ash falling on me.  To that I wondered if a volcano had erupted.  Googling at that moment didn’t give any indication of what was going on.  A glimpse at the rising sun then brought surprise and shock.  Rather than rising with its normal blinding yellowish, white rays, a dull reddish pink sun rose up into the yellowish sky.  I reported, “We have a red sun this morning. It looks extremely apocalyptic.” on Facebook.

A red sun…  had I read of something similar before?  It sounded Biblical, but I didn’t confirm it.  Instead I began to pray.  I told the Lord that I didn’t know what was going on and I asked if He had given us a sign of end times.  I prayed that the incident would bring about some fear, rationalizing with our Father that a tiny bit of fear couldn’t hurt in shaking some into faith in the resurrected Christ.  My heart’s desire was for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:4

As the day progressed, news  of multiple forest fires explained the oddity of the sky.  I asked the Lord if we were going to allow science to explain His warning away.  But was it a warning?  Suppose it was.  Suppose there was an extended delay in the rational of the yellowish sky and the red sun.   Would the lack of rationale stop people in their tracks, causing them to ponder whether God was speaking to them?   Would that “pause” cause people to stop for a little while to ponder and to examine their hearts?

With the advancement of technology, we are quick to find the rationale for the unexplained.  We are no longer left in an extended unknown, causing us to seek One beyond ourselves rather than the “Oh great Google”.

Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day.  Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you. But you shall say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD! And whether they heed or resist—for they are a rebellious house—… Ezekiel 2:2-5

God bless,

Melissa – July 7, 2015

Reflection in the Garden: Withering away

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

They were green and luscious when I first uprooted them.  The creeping thyme had spread healthily over flat rocks and they seemed ready to be uprooted and replanted. This time, I uprooted them gently with the help of a shovel, unlike the previous time when I violently tugged them out from their dwelling place.  I purposely laid a fertile level of soil beneath them and gently laid these transplants onto it and blanketed them with more fertile soil and a healthy layer of bark mulch for an added protection against the sun.  Heavy doses of water was showered over them daily so the roots would grow deep as they searched for water.

To my dismay, the tender and loving treatment didn’t seem to do any good.  Just like before, the transplants had become brown and dry.  However, when I abruptly tugged on one, I noticed that beneath the surface, the transplant was still healthy and green.  I quickly buried it again and asked God to protect it.

I had gone off without a further thought when the word, EUTHANASIA, stopped me in my tracks.  ”What?!?”, I gasped as I questioned our Lord.  He repeated, “EUTHANASIA”.  That was a disturbing message so early in the morning.

I have “hmmmed and haaaed” over this for several days now, but today, after extensive prayer and reflection, I write as it is evident our Father has something to teach.  Because of the limited time we have in our busy lives, many of us have made the decision to uproot our elderly parents from independent living to communal ones, where others are paid to replace what we are no longer capable of doing ourselves.  We do our best to make them comfortable, but without our regular companionship, their uprooted lives fail to settle in, and deep within, they exist as misplaced visitors.

I am still disturbed by the connection revealed between the abruptly pulled out transplant that appeared dead on the surface and euthanasia.  However, with the recent legislation on assisted suicide in Canada, I am sensing I am called to write instead of remaining silent.  BIG SIGH…

Father God, I ask that you spare each one of us from the life decisions for our loved ones.  Lord, that is a responsibility far too big for many of us to handle.  Help our Legislative Representatives remember that although “useful life” may not be evident on the surface, life, as God created it, still continuous below the surface and that healing time is needed for surface life to be evident.  Father, help us to respect and protect every life, be it the unborn, the elderly, the handicapped, or the injured.  In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

God bless,

Melissa – July 4, 2015

REFLECTION in the garden: The drink of Living Water

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

 

The blooms were parched… they were wrinkled… and yet the leaves were turgid and green.  Perhaps the sun was just too much for the hydrangea blooms and I made a mental note to clip them the following day.  Aware of my own thirst, I decided to give the bush a heavy dose of water.  In fact, I laid the hose down beside it while I busied myself in the other parts of the garden, allowing the cool water to seep deep into the ground.  The following day brought a great surprise; the parched blooms had re-hydrated and they were full of life once again.

Father God, thank You for the lesson learned in Your garden.  We all are exposed to the heat and dryness of this world, whose culture has chosen to turn its back on You.  Forgive us Lord, we have followed their lead.  Many of us are so parched and dry, ready to give up.  Thank You for your mercy, love and grace, because although we have chosen freely to ignore You, You have continued to send Your angels, in the guise of other people, to bring us Your Living Water.  Thank You that You have given us sufficient faith so that many finally decide to soak up Your Living Water.  As we soak and drink in Your Love, forgiveness, mercy , healing and rest in Your peace, we are strengthened and renewed.  Thank You Lord for giving us another chance to choose life and for allowing us to live our lives to the full.  IN JESUS’ NAME we pray, Amen.

God bless,

Melissa – July 1, 2015

p.s. – Psalm 42:1-2  … As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?…