"Walking in the way and the love of the Lord"
“Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly” Roman 12:6
Be true to who you are. God created you with certain gifts and they are given to be used. Pray to know, pray to see and then pray for courage to step out and into the world, gift in hand, ready to serve. Pray as scripture says to use your gifts accordingly. And when you do, you will be showing others the glory of God in action. You are blessed, we are blessed, and so we pray: Lord please help me to use my gifts today. Help me not to be discouraged if I find myself doubtful that I am on the right path. Please help me to remember that I am perfect just the way you made me. Give me comfort in knowing I am loved by you no matter what! Amen
Gospel - January 14, 2015
It comes as no surprise that once Simon’s mother-in-law was cured, she rose and started serving those around her. Mothers often feel like their task lists are endless. I admit that often I view my life’s work as a series of ongoing checklists. Did Jesus feel the same way as the whole city gathered around the door? Preach to thousands in Galilee; heal the sick; cast out demons. Was he overwhelmed by the tasks he “came out to do”?
Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus rises early the next morning, takes himself away from everyone, and prays. When Jesus’ companions find him, he gets up and they move on. He had tasks to do and he does them.
We are called to be like Jesus and care for others. It is easy to keep ourselves busy and serve in our homes, our churches, and our communities. We are also called to be like Jesus in our prayer lives. It is hard to take ourselves away from our lists and make time for prayer, but doesn’t this rejuvenation enable us to better tackle the tasks placed before us?
Though we may not be able to go off to a deserted place in the wee hours of the morning to pray, we must remember to set ourselves apart from our distractions, even if for a moment. As Pope Francis says, prayer is “opening the door to the Lord so that he will come.” Let Jesus come into our hearts today and be with us in our daily tasks.
Caroline (Giannuzzi) Connor ‘94
Lord, in healing Simon’s mother-in-law you restored his family. We need you to restore health to us, and to our family and friends. Please guide us to do all we can to bring healing and comfort to our minds and bodies and to those we love. Remove our anxiety and give us that peace and hope that surpasses human understanding. Amen.
Father Herbert Yost, C.S.C.
Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13
By: Charlie Wester
Today’s reading from Zephaniah reminds us that no matter how highly we think of ourselves, there is something greater in the universe than humanity. I fear that we, like the inhabitants of the city in Zephaniah’s reading, seem to have lost our way and displaced God with our own version of divinity. We worship athletes, singers, actors, politicians, and business people like gods. We spend so much of our time consumed with ourselves – our appearance, our personal “brand,” our careers, etc. – it’s an easy, endless slide toward the narcissism and rebellion the Lord condemns in Zephaniah today. How can we break free from the tempting pitfall of self-obsession?
I am reminded of the Latin dictum “Ad majorem dei gloriam,” for the Greater Glory of God, adopted by the Jesuits as their guiding principle. We find the letters AMDG inscribed on the cornerstones of Jesuit churches and university buildings as a reminder that the work the Society of Jesus does is not for the glorification of themselves or some human institution, but to acknowledge that God is at the center of all they do. This motto might serve as an easy way to re-conceptualize what we are doing here on Earth and what should be at the center of our lives. Let’s see what happens when we kick out the “self” and replace it with God.
I am inspired by Zephaniah to put the spirit of AMDG at the center of my life this Advent season. When I succeed in earthly endeavors, I will remember that I am the product of a loving God and trying to do my best is simply fulfilling my part of the relationship. In my shortcomings I will turn to God and wait patiently for the coming of the baby Jesus at Christmas so that I may find strength in Christ.
Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Be hospitable to one another without complaining.
As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Let us all remember to use our gifts this Christmas Season to help serve others!
My Utmost for His Highest
Daily devotionals by Oswald Chambers
. . . I am with you to deliver you,’ says the Lord --Jeremiah 1:8
God promised Jeremiah that He would deliver him personally— “. . . your life shall be as a prize to you . . .” (Jeremiah 39:18). That is all God promises His children. Wherever God sends us, He will guard our lives. Our personal property and possessions are to be a matter of indifference to us, and our hold on these things should be very loose. If this is not the case, we will have panic, heartache, and distress. Having the proper outlook is evidence of the deeply rooted belief in the overshadowing of God’s personal deliverance.
The Sermon on the Mount indicates that when we are on a mission for Jesus Christ, there is no time to stand up for ourselves. Jesus says, in effect, “Don’t worry about whether or not you are being treated justly.” Looking for justice is actually a sign that we have been diverted from our devotion to Him. Never look for justice in this world, but never cease to give it. If we look for justice, we will only begin to complain and to indulge ourselves in the discontent of self-pity, as if to say, “Why should I be treated like this?” If we are devoted to Jesus Christ, we have nothing to do with what we encounter, whether it is just or unjust. In essence, Jesus says, “Continue steadily on with what I have told you to do, and I will guard your life. If you try to guard it yourself, you remove yourself from My deliverance.” Even the most devout among us become atheistic in this regard— we do not believe Him. We put our common sense on the throne and then attach God’s name to it. We do lean to our own understanding, instead of trusting God with all our hearts (see Proverbs 3:5-6).
“Do not be afraid.” We have read these words in the bible many times. We sing it in our songs. We hear our family and friends tell us not to worry. But we go on our fearful way, thinking our worry will solve the problem and then our fears will be gone with the wind.
We know in our hearts that Jesus is taking care of us. But why can't we get our thoughts to go along with our hearts? Why should that be hard? And the answer is in our humanity. Our weakness. We are tempted away from God and fall so easily into being lost in our questions. So we spend our time worrying, wasting our time and days. Worrying doesn't help anything, it just takes us away from Jesus. Worrying takes us out of the presence of God in the now and leads us nowhere.
I want you to remember something. Jesus is holding your hand. Just like Isaiah 41:13 says, 'I am holding you by your right hand – I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, do not be afraid. I am here to help you.'
Those are the words we need to live by. God is with us at all times, holding our hand. When we are worrying, we are letting go of Jesus' hand and saying, “Hold on Jesus. I am going to sit here alone for awhile. I need to figure this out.” Why would we want to make the choice to let go of Jesus' hand? Why would we want to tell Jesus to hang on a minute, while we worry about something we cannot change at that moment. Why would we let go of the loving hand of Jesus.
He has a wonderful plan for us. Part of that plan is allowing our Father to take care of us, allowing Him to hold us by the hand. In our most difficult times, when we do not feel God's presence and feel abandoned, those are the moments we need to hold on fast. Don't let go! Talk with Jesus, pray with Jesus and trust in Jesus. “Do not be afraid.”
By: Mary Maddox
“For the vision is yet for an appointed time...though it tarry, wait for it...”(Habakkuk 2:3, KJV)
TODAY’S WORD from Joel and VictoriaGod has an appointed time to fulfill the visions, dreams and desires in your heart. Just because it has taken a long time or because you’ve tried and failed doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. Don’t give up on those dreams! Don’t be complacent about pursuing what God has placed in your heart. Our God is a faithful God. No matter how long it’s been, no matter how impossible things look, if you’ll stay in faith, your set time is coming.
Remember, every dream that’s in your heart, every promise that has taken root, God put it there. Not only that, but He has every intention of bringing it to pass. Hold on to that vision today. Declare by faith, “My time is coming. God is working behind the scenes on my behalf. I will fulfill my destiny!” As you continue to hold on to that vision and speak life over your dreams, it won’t be long before you see them begin to take shape. You’ll see your faith grow, you’ll see your hope strengthen, and you’ll see yourself step into the destiny God has prepared for you!
A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for placing dreams and desires in my heart. I trust that You are at work to bring them to pass even when I can’t see it, even when it’s taking longer than I thought. I know that You are faithful, and I trust You completely in Jesus’ name, Amen.— Joel & Victoria Osteen
by Joyce Meyer - posted June 16, 2014
Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God.
O God, why do You cast us off forever? Why does Your anger burn and smoke against the sheep of Your pasture?
As I think about the storms we all face in life, I can understand why people sometimes ask, “Why the storms? Why do we have so many problems and struggles in life? Why do God’s people have to deal with so much suffering?”
As I considered these questions, I began to see that Satan plants these questions in our minds. It is his attempt to keep us focused on our problems instead of focusing on the goodness of God. If we persist in asking these questions, we’re implying that God may be to blame. I don’t think it’s wrong to ask God why things happen. The writers of the psalms certainly didn’t hesitate to ask.
I think of the story of Jesus when He visited the home of Mary and Martha after their brother, Lazarus, died. Jesus waited until Lazarus had been dead for four days before He visited. When He arrived, Martha said to Jesus, “Master, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). She went on to say, “And even now I know that whatever You ask from God, He will grant it to You” (v. 22).
Did she really believe those words? I wonder, because “Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again. Martha replied, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (vs. 23-24). She didn’t get what Jesus was saying.
I don’t want to be unkind to Martha, but she missed it. When Jesus came, she didn’t ask, “Why didn’t You do something?” Instead she said, “If You had been here—if You had been on the job—he’d be alive.”
When Jesus assured her that Lazarus would rise again, she didn’t understand that it was going to happen right then. She could focus only on the resurrection. By looking at an event that was still in the future, she missed the real meaning of Jesus’ words for the present.
But aren’t many of us like Martha? We want our lives to run smoothly, and when they don’t, we ask why? But we really mean, “God, if You truly loved and cared for me, this wouldn’t have happened.”
Let’s think a little more about the “why” question. For example, when someone dies in an accident, one of the first questions family members ask is why? “Why her? Why now? Why this accident?”
For one moment, let’s say God explained the reason. Would that change anything? Probably not. The loved one is still gone, and the pain is just as severe as it was before. What, then, did you learn from the explanation?
In recent years, I’ve begun to think that why isn’t what Christians are really asking God. Is it possible that we’re asking, “God, do You love me? Will You take care of me in my sorrow and pain? You won’t leave me alone in my pain, will You?” Is it possible that, because we’re afraid that God doesn’t truly care about us, we ask for explanations?
Instead, we must learn to say, “Lord God, I believe. I don’t understand, and I could probably never grasp all the reasons why bad things happen, but I can know for certain that You love me and You are with me—always.”
Heavenly Father, instead of asking for answers to the why questions, help me to focus on Your great love for me. When Satan tries to fill my mind with troublesome questions, help me to feel the protection of Your loving, caring arms around me. Help me always to show my gratitude and devotion for all that You do for me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
From the book Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2006 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved.
When we hear Psalm 98: "Sing unto the Lord a new song", we immediately think about breaking out into song for our Lord. Well at least, that is what I start to do. Before you know it, I am singing like a Broadway star in my kitchen. Singing loud and so confident for the Lord. We not only need to sing a song for Christ within the comfortable setting of our home, but we need to open those windows and let the world hear our praise. Share with others what Christ has done for you. It doesn't have to be in song, it can be something as simple as sharing a smile, sharing a kind word, sharing a helping hand, or just sharing His love with others.
So smile and go out and sing a new song!
An excerpt from Living in the Father’s Embrace
BY: FR. GEORGE MONTAGUE, S.M.
Jesus assures us that we can have that Holy Spirit for the asking. Our asking cannot, however, be routine. It must be passionate and persevering.
That is the meaning of Jesus’ story just before he tells us to ask (Luke 11:5-8). A midnight visitor arrives, and the family provider has no bread to set before him. So the host has to go next door and bang repeatedly on the neighbor’s door, even after refusals, until finally the neighbor gets up and hands him an armful of loaves. God wants us to nag and keep nagging, because the process deepens our desire and our capacity to receive and appreciate the gift once given.
So how badly do we want the Holy Spirit? How badly do we thirst for him? Are we like the cowboy who sings, “All day I’ve faced the barren waste without a taste of water, cool water”? If you don’t remember the song, think of the time when you were so thirsty that you thought of nothing else but water. That’s the thirst we should have for the Holy Spirit. It means dropping all other priorities until we reach the well of living water.
And what happens when we get there? I cannot tell you because you have to experience it for yourself. All I can say is that you are experiencing a creature’s share in Jesus’ experience of the Father. You have been granted entry into the unimaginable depths of the Godhead, the eternal gaze of the Son upon the Father on whose breast he rests (John 1:18). St. Paul says as much when he writes that “eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it ever entered the mind of man, what God has prepared for those who love him,” yet this is what “God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches out everything, even the depths of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9, 10; my translation).
The Holy Spirit is thus the searchlight, revealing things about God that we would never dream of. He is like the lights and camera, sunk to the depths of the Atlantic and revealing the Titanic, or a guide throwing a powerful flashlight on a cavern wall and showing us an awesome, eons-old water-crafted pillar. But the Father is no Titanic, nor is he an awesome pillar. He is … no words will do. Let the wordless Word carry you from here.
This article is an excerpt from *Living in the Father’s Embrace *by Fr. George Montague, which is available from the Word Among Us Press.
Prayerful Path/Mary Maddox
Saint James, pray for us that we may be willing to leave everything to follow Jesus as you did. Help us to become special friends of Jesus as you were. Amen