"God seems to reveal Himself to man as rapidly as man . . . is prepared to receive the revelation". So says John G Lake in his reflection on Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Although Lake was speaking of God's revelation of himself to mankind over the centuries, perhaps we should ask ourselves, "How ready am I to receive further revelation of God?"
Sometimes we get stuck in the "same old, same old". We can ask God to show us where we are stuck and how we can get "unstuck". Now is the time; today is the day.
#JohnGLake #Lent #Prayer #Baptism #Baptism in the Holy Spirit
"The man . . . is a liar and the truth is not in him." Strong words from Apostle John speaking in general of someone who says he knows God yet does not obey God's commands (1 John 2:3-5). John also calls out another type of liar: "Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist -- he denies the Father and the Son" (1 John 2:22).
Again, these are such strong words from John. But in a way they tell us what a Christian must profess and do. A Christian must know that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed Son of God and must follow in the footsteps of Christ. A Christian must walk the walk. And how do we walk the walk? We follow the example of Jesus and we do whatever specific things God calls us to do. Following his example means caring about people, offering loving service and giving witness to God the Father.
It is not so difficult to know what Jesus did because we can read the Bible to find out. But many have trouble knowing exactly what God is calling them specifically to do. This calls for prayer and listening. Jesus also prayed and listened to the Father. He often went off to a quiet place to pray. If even Jesus needed to pray, to seek the Father's face, how much more do we need to do the same?
For Reflection: How often and how earnestly do I pray and seek God's direction for my life? If I need to do more, it needs to be scheduled. When will it be?
Let us pray. Jesus, I know you went off alone to pray all the time. I need to do the same. Please show me the opportunities in my day when I can spend a little time with you and the Father. I don't want to be the liar who says one thing and does another. I want to be your true witness. I want to follow in your footsteps and listen to the Father's directions.
The last of the spiritual works of mercy is controversial to many Christians. Praying for the living is OK with all Christians, but not all believe in praying for the dead. Praying for the dead is too complicated to get into with these short meditations, so let's concentrate on praying for the living.
Most of the time in this blog we pray for ourselves to become better followers of Christ. I think that is the most easily answered prayer. When we pray for ourselves we know that we are doing this of our own free will and we really desire to have that prayer answered. When praying for someone else, we may not know where they stand on the issue about which we are praying. Take for example, praying for someone to be healed of a physical ailment. If we know that the person truly wants healing then we are not praying against that person's free will. But if the person does not want to be healed what would be the point of our prayer? Do we want to ask God to heal the person in spite of what that person wants? And would God do that?
When we want to intercede for someone, it might be best to find out what the person in need really desires. If we can agree with that, a mighty prayer can be offered. "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them" (Matthew 18:19-20).
I think the catch is finding two or more people who really agree in prayer. At times when a group has prayed for one particular person, I have asked the individuals in the group afterward "What specifically did you pray?" It turned out that none of them prayed for the same thing. There was no agreement in prayer.
"Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction" (1 Thessalonians 1:5). Upon hearing the good news that Jesus was the Messiah, that he died to set them free from their sins and to bring salvation to them, many people came to believe in Jesus. These words of the gospel message delivered by Paul and Silas were accompanied by powerful works of the Holy Spirit to heal and deliver people. People's lives were changed. They were set free from the power of sin and eternal death to live in the freedom that Jesus brought. They received the good news with such conviction that they were able to suffer persecution without faltering, even as new believers. Paul thanked God for the way in which they had received the good news. He said, "And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe" (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
They had set their lives on a new path. What lay around the bend was unknown but they knew that with the power of God they could face anything. The word of God was at work in them.
For Reflection: What changes has the gospel, the word of God, brought in my life?
Let us pray. I thank you, Father, that someone preached your word to me and I too came to believe in your word and the power of your death and resurrection. I thank you for all who have preached your word to me and I thank you for opening my heart to receive it.
Jesus continues to fulfill his proclamation of Luke 4:18-19 as he eats with tax collectors and others (sinners) at the home of Levi, himself a tax collector. He was preaching the good news to those who thought themselves rich but who in fact were poor. The tax collectors were considered public sinners because they cooperated with the Roman occupiers in collecting taxes and because often they were dishonest and collected more than they had a right to charge.
It was the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, to whom Jesus had already preached the good news, who were criticizing Jesus for eating with Levi and his guests. Obviously they hadn't taken the good news to heart. Jesus explains to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:27-31). This statement leaves the pharisees and professors with two options: either they can consider themselves the righteous ones who are not called or they can consider themselves to be sinners who are called.
For Reflection: Would I rather be inside eating at the banquet with Jesus and the public sinners or outside asking questions?
Let us pray. Jesus, you came to call all people, even me. Help me to overcome my doubts which keep me on the outside, questioning you, so that I may enter through the door and sit down with you.
(This theme began on September 25, 2014. Photo: Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_surasaki'>surasaki / 123RF Stock Photo</a>)
It's showdown time at Mount Carmel. Ahab and Elijah meet and Elijah throws down a challenge. King Ahab is to gather the 450 prophets of Baal that he has been taking care of and Jezebel is to present her 400 prophets of Asherah (nature and fertility gods) to stand in a test against Elijah, prophet of the Lord.
Elijah tries to whip up enthusiasm and faith among the people of Israel, but not even he can succeed at that. They want to wait and see who wins the challenge.
The challenge (as issued by Elijah): "Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire - he is God" (1 Kings 18:23-24).
The outcome: The false prophets prayed from morning until noon. Nothing. They prayed from noon until evening. Nothing.
Elijah prepared the altar of the Lord. He had the wood soaked in water until a trench around the altar was also full of water. Elijah prayed once. "Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones of the altar and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench" (1 Kings 18:38).
For reflection: Elijah let the other prophets have first choice of the bulls to be offered. The bull was one of the symbols of Baal representing lust for power and sexual pleasure. Those are still powerful gods today. Am I dedicated only to the one true God or are there others in my life?
Let us pray. You alone are holy. You alone are the Lord. You alone, Jesus Christ, are the most high.
God has now worked two miracles regarding food for Elijah. First, he fed him through ravens in the wilderness. Second, he fed him through the widow of Zarephath. The third miracle related to Elijah, so far, is that God has withheld rain from Israel in order to prove to King Ahab that he is the one, true God.
Elijah is biding his time, waiting for the next call from God, when the son of the widow becomes ill and stops breathing. The woman immediately blames this on Elijah. Why not? By now she knows that not only is he a foreigner but also an enemy of the King of Israel. Surely her housing of this man has brought this evil upon her (1 Kings 17:17-18).
Elijah ignores the accusation and God uses Elijah to raise the boy back to life. This saving act, more than anything else, convinces the woman that Elijah's God is the true God and she has done the right thing by taking him in. "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth" (1 Kings 17:24), is her confession of faith. The multiplication of food had not convinced her, but bringing her son back to life has.
For Reflection: How many miracles does it take to convince me that God is at work?
Let us pray. Lord, I can be so hard-headed and disbelieving sometimes. Help me to recognize you in my life every day.
As we pray and fast today for persecuted Christians around the world, the song "O Holy Night" was going around in my mind. I thought that was really strange - a Christmas carol playing in my head while praying against persecution. So I looked up the words. The third verse and chorus, which I don't ever recall hearing, are as follows (according to Wikipedia).
Truly He taught us to love one another;
Today let us remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the powers of evil and the ruling spirits of murder, hatred, slavery, persecution and oppression (Ephesians 6:12-13). We do not seek revenge or retribution.
Let us pray. Jesus, we place ourselves within your hedge of protection as a surrounding barrier and we put ourselves under your wing. We stand today with those who are too weak to stand, in too much pain or fear to utter a prayer. And we command the powers of darkness to be dispelled by the light of Christ. We tear down the strongholds of murder, hatred, slavery, and persecution. We break the chains of those who are enslaved. We declare for all the world to hear that "Jesus Christ is Lord."
This standing that we are to do in chapter 6 of Paul's encouragement to the Ephesians is one of holding our ground because the battle has already been won by Christ. Christ defeated the enemy so we are holding onto the ground he has already won. As Paul says elsewhere (Romans 8:37) we are more than conquerors. When we stand with Christ we are overcomers.
As has been pointed out by many authors over the years, the armor we are to put on is defensive, not offensive. We don't need to take the ground, we need only to hold it.
For Reflection: Since Christ has already won the battle, defeated the enemy, we should be praising and thanking him for that. We need not ask him to win the battle for us, it is already won. Let us stand in strength, serenity and confidence.
Let us pray. We thank you, Jesus, for having already won the battle. We praise you for your victory over every enemy. We praise you for your victory over temptation, sin and even death. We stand with you as victors, overcomers and conquerors.
The disciples continued to heal people as they preached the Gospel after Jesus ascended into heaven. Healing and working miracles were quite common and are well documented in the Acts of the Apostles. In Acts 3 Peter and John healed a man who had been lame all of his life. The man was not asking for healing, he was begging for food or money. So there doesn't seem to be any faith present on his part. Yet Peter and John healed him anyway. This was a very public miracle because the man begged every day at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple.
Acts 5 is even more dramatic. Beginning with verse 14 we read, "More and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed."
As with Jesus, all of them were healed. None were turned away. We could continue to heap up citations from Acts as from the Gospels. The clear fact is that the disciples continued to heal and work miracles in support of preaching the Gospel. They didn't heal people just for the sake of healing people; they healed people to show the truth of the Gospel message. And the basic Gospel message is this: Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God who became a human being, who suffered, died and rose from the dead for the forgiveness of our sins. Repent of your sins and believe this good news. Be baptized and spread the kingdom of God further.
Let us pray and meditate today on Peter's words to the High Priest and the Jewish Council: "We must obey God, not men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from death, after you had killed him by nailing him to a cross. God raised him to his side as Leader and Savior, to give the people of Israel the opportunity to repent and have their sins forgiven. We are witnesses to these things - we and the Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to those who obey him." (Acts 5:29-32)
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.