God is not unfair, unjust, or evil. I would call that damning Him with faint praise, but it is what is said in Hebrews 6:10. The context though is that God will remember our good works even though he chooses not to remember our sins which we have repented. What a deal that is.
The author continues on, noting the group's support of others and #encourages them not to lose their enthusiasm (Heb 6:11-12). Great words of advice for these days of pandemic, deprivation and unrest.
#justice #prayer #Lent #enthusiasm #Hebrews
We sin; we don't sin. We sin; we don't sin. It seems as though John goes back and forth on the issue. In 1 John 1:8 he says, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." In 1 John 3:6 he says, "No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him." What are we to do with these two verses?
One interpretation is that in chapter 3 John means that Christians don't persist in sin. They don't continue to commit the same sin with no thought of repentance, confession, or change. The author of Hebrews seems to share this opinion in 10:26 when he writes, "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left."
When we are baptized, we receive grace to help keep us from sin. And God continues to give us this grace, this help along the path. If we use the grace we are given, and continue to ask for more help from the Holy Spirit, the habitual sins of our past should fall by the wayside. We continue to become more like Jesus every day.
For Reflection: Do I have a persistent sin in my life? Have I repented and confessed it? God's grace is sufficient for any situation.
Let us pray. Jesus, your grace is sufficient because you died for me. Your grace is sufficient because your mercies are new every morning. Your grace is sufficient because you are faithful and true.
Our weapon against Satan is words, so what we have is a war of words. Some might not consider words to be very powerful. But we are not speaking of words of diplomacy. These are not the words of Secretary of State. We are speaking words with the same power as God's words of creation. When we speak, all of creation listens.
God's word did not go forth at the time of creation without effecting what he set forth to do. His word does not go forth void now (Isaiah 55:11). No, the word of God is living, active and sharp. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart and applies to all of creation (Hebrews 4:12).
Since we are praying again today on behalf of the persecuted Christians around the world, how then ought we to pray? We need to pray aloud and our words might be something like the following. As always, please feel free to add your own prayers.
We command all man-made weapons to be silenced and broken and to never work again (Isaiah 54:17).
We send the word of God into the hearts and minds of those who have a murdering spirit: you shall not kill (Exodus 20:13).
We proclaim the word of God to all who worship false gods: you shall worship the Lord, the God who brought the Hebrew people out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 20;2-3).
We command those with a spirit of hatred and covetousness: you shall not rape women, nor evict people from their homes (Exodus 20:14-17).
We proclaim the word of God for all to hear: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Mark 12:29). You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:13).
"Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you" (Isaiah 35:3-4; cf. Hebrews 12:12).
As we look back and forth between the Old Testament and the New Testament at these descriptions of the Kingdom of God we see that there is really no difference between them. Isaiah and the other visionary prophets got it right. Jesus and his disciples proclaim the same coming Kingdom. It's a kingdom where the righteous are rewarded, where all illnesses are healed, every tear wiped away. Hang in there. God is coming. There is hope.
For reflection: Where am I flagging? What about me needs to be strengthened? Where am I lacking hope?
Let us pray. Jesus, I know you hold me in your hands but the Kingdom seems a long time coming. Be with me today. Give me strength. Give me hope in exchange for my fear.
Isaiah provides us with many images of the Kingdom of God. He pictures the Lord on a mountain laying out a feast of "rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines". Here the Lord will "destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations" (Isaiah 25:6-8).
To me this is the veil of unbelief, the web of deceit that Satan, the father of lies and accuser of the brethren, weaves to keep people from entering the presence of the Lord. By his death, Jesus destroyed the veil that separated the people from the Holy of Holies so that all people could enter in (Luke 23:45; Hebrews 10:19-22). The presence of the Lord is not reserved for the "worthy few" because all have been made worthy by the blood of Jesus.
For reflection: How can I make more time to enjoy the feast, to drink the wine of his presence?
Let us pray. Today I enter into your presence, Lord. I drink you in.
Reflecting on the Lord's Prayer this week (Luke 11:2-4), it is difficult for many of us to imagine what it means to pray "your kingdom come" because we don't have a concept of what God's kingdom on earth might mean. We often think of God's kingdom on earth as "already, but not yet", present in some form but not complete. In fact, on many days when the reality around us gets us down, we think there is no presence of God's kingdom on earth at all.
But St. Paul tells us that what we need is faith because "faith is the substance of things hoped for and the proof of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1). On those days when we don't see the kingdom of God around us, faith tells us it is there. It is there because Jesus has been here to inaugurate the Kingdom of God on earth and because our prayers - "your kingdom come" - continue to bring it about. In fact, "Faith draws the future into the present, so that it is no longer simply a “not yet”. The fact that this future exists changes the present; the present is touched by the future reality, and thus the things of the future spill over into those of the present and those of the present into those of the future" (Spe Salvi 7).
By prayer, faith acts to bring the future about.
For reflection: What future reality is my faith bringing about?
Let us pray. Jesus, we join with you in prayer, "Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come."
It is not easy to have the faith to believe that God will do what he says or that he will fulfill a promise, or enable us to do what he has called us to do. I'm sure the early disciples had their moments of doubt, so we are not alone when we doubt too.
In Hebrews 11 there is a terrific discourse on faith which is very encouraging as it goes through a list of ancient people and what they did by faith. First it gives a definition of faith - being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). There's the rub. How can we be certain of what we do not see?
Let's take one of the examples given in Hebrews 11. God promised Abraham and Sarah a son. They were not young when the promise was made to them, and it didn't happen for several years. It's no stretch of the imagination to think that there were times when they were not sure or certain. Do you suppose Abraham went around bragging to his relatives, "I'm going to have a son"? Maybe he did. But what might the reaction have been when he said this year after year, with no evidence, and he and Sarah not getting any younger? Thankfully, God continued to reassure them and provided the proof for their faith. They had Isaac. God had further promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. Abraham's faith extended to that promise, but he never saw the fulfillment during his lifetime. It was faith that enabled him to be certain of what he did not see.
For reflection: Even people known for their great faith struggled to be sure of what they hoped for and certain of what they did not see. Faith depends upon knowing God and trusting God to fulfill his promises. The evidence given in the Scriptures is that God is trustworthy. What evidence have I seen of that in my own life? Am I sure of what I hope for and certain of what I do not see?
Let us pray. Father, I know the promises you have made to me. Some of them I have seen come to pass, and some not. Today I need encouragement and reassurance so that I can continue to have faith.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.