To the ends of the earth

One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to eat with him. After he entered the Pharisee’s home, he took his place at the table. Meanwhile, a woman from the city, a sinner, discovered that Jesus was dining in the Pharisee’s house. She brought perfumed oil in a vase made of alabaster. Standing behind him at his feet and crying, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured the oil on them. When the Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw what was happening, he said to himself, If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. He would know that she is a sinner.

Jesus replied, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

“Teacher, speak,” he said.

“A certain lender had two debtors. One owed enough money to pay five hundred people for a day’s work. The other owed enough money for fifty. When they couldn’t pay, the lender forgave the debts of them both. Which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the largest debt canceled.”

Jesus said, “You have judged correctly.”

Jesus turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your home, you didn’t give me water for my feet, but she wet my feet with tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet since I came in. You didn’t anoint my head with oil, but she has poured perfumed oil on my feet. This is why I tell you that her many sins have been forgiven; so she has shown great love. The one who is forgiven little loves little.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The other table guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this person that even forgives sins?”

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Luke 7:36-50 (CEB)

“There are some things that only God can do. We look at the rise of violence around the globe or the rising tide of population and hunger and know that some of these problems are so deep-seated that without God’s help they will not be resolved. Then we look into our own hearts and know that sin- our failure to do what we want to do and our doing what we know we do not want to do- can only be remedied with God’s help. We are not the first to discover these truths.

When Jesus had dinner at Simon’s house, a woman identified as a known sinner came and washed the feet of Jesus with her tears, drying his feet with her hair. The rest of the dinner crowd was astonished and outraged. Why did this righteous man not recognize who this woman was? And if he did recognize who she was, why did he not rebuke her? Jesus then pointed out that her love was greater and demonstrated love more beautifully than that of the host. Jesus then declared in the hearing of all that the woman was forgiven. She was cleansed and sent on her way with Jesus’ blessing.

The dinner guests were still astounded. They knew that only God could forgive sins, and they were not yet able to believe that this carpenter’s son was also son of God. Jesus said that the woman was saved by her faith, but the rest of the guests missed out on the divine gift of forgiveness and the blessing of peace Jesus was offering.

The good news Christians tell one another and the world is that only God can wipe away the failures, errors, and missed opportunities that sometimes plague us. We cannot wipe away or forgive our sins or those of another. But God can, and therein lies our hope, joy, and peace- a message we proclaim to all.” ~A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God, Reuben P. Job

Thank you Almighty God for wiping away my failures, mistakes and missed opportunities. Help me to live this day to the fullest. Help me to spread Your good news to others. Amen.

Jesus’ loneliness

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.Psalm 147:3

When Jesus came close to his death, he no longer could experience God’s presence.  He cried out:  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  (Matthew 27:47).  Still in love he held on to the truth that God was with him and said:  “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”  (Luke 23:46).

The loneliness of the cross led Jesus to the resurrection.  As we grow older we are often invited by Jesus to follow him into this loneliness, the loneliness in which God is too close to be experienced by our limited hearts and minds.  When this happens, let us pray for the grace to surrender our spirits to God as Jesus did.

Give me the grace and the strength to live through the moments that I feel that Your Presence has left me. Help me to hold onto the Truths that I know and to not believe my feelings. Help my eyes to stay on Your. Guide my steps and steady my walk. Amen.

Two kinds of loneliness


Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. ~Deut. 31:6

“In the spiritual life we have to make a distinction between two kinds of loneliness.  In the first loneliness, we are out of touch with God and experience ourselves as anxiously looking for someone or something that can give us a sense of belonging, intimacy, and home.  The second loneliness comes from an intimacy with God that is deeper and greater than our feelings and thoughts can capture.

We might think of these two kinds of loneliness as two forms of blindness.  The first blindness comes from the absence of light, the second from too much light.   The first loneliness we must try to outgrow with faith and hope. The second  we must be willing to embrace in love.” From Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen

Open my eyes O Lord, that I might see, glimpses of the love you have for me. Help me to grow into faith and love. Amen.

Spiritual Dryness

The one whose wrongdoing is forgiven, whose sin is covered over, is truly happy! The one the LORD doesn’t consider guilty— in whose spirit there is no dishonesty— that one is truly happy! When I kept quiet, my bones wore out; I was groaning all day long— every day, every night!— because your hand was heavy upon me. My energy was sapped as if in a summer drought. So I admitted my sin to you; I didn’t conceal my guilt. “I’ll confess my sins to the LORD,” is what I said. Then you removed the guilt of my sin. That’s why all the faithful should pray to you during troubled times. ~Psalms 32:1-6a (CEB) 

“Sometimes we experience a terrible dryness in our spiritual life.  We feel no desire to pray, don’t experience God’s presence, get bored with worship services, and even think that everything we ever believed about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is little more than a childhood fairy tale.

Then it is important to realize that most of these feelings and thoughts are just feelings and thoughts, and that the Spirit of God dwells beyond our feelings and thoughts.  It is a great grace to be able to experience God’s presence in our feelings and thoughts, but when we don’t, it does not mean that God is absent.  It often means that God is calling us to a greater faithfulness.  It is precisely in times of spiritual dryness that we must hold on to our spiritual discipline so that we can grow into new intimacy with God.” ~From Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen

It is good to know Almighty Father, that despite my feelings and thoughts, Your Presence is still with me. The way I feel is not a true reflections of reality. I is good to remember this day that my spiritual disciplines will bring me through the terrible dry spells when they come. Despite my feelings… I am still a beloved child of God. Amen.

Prayer focus

“When you pray, don’t pour out a flood of empty words, as the Gentiles do. They think that by saying many words they’ll be heard. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask. Pray like this: Our Father who is in heaven, uphold the holiness of your name. Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven. Give us the bread we need for today. Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us. And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. ~Matt 6:9-13 (CEB)

If this idea that prayer consists of attention to God seems strange to us, perhaps it is because we have given up the discipline and no longer really know how to pray. In most of our praying, our attention is neither focused nor on God. What we attend to is largely our own selves, and this in a rather generalized and ambiguous way. Prayer, both public and private, and particularly among Protestants, tends to be almost totally prayer of petition. We have some need, and we pray that it will be met. We are in some trouble, and we pray that God will take it away. Even when we do pray prayers of praise, thanksgiving, and confession, we do so with our attention turned to what we are pleased with, thankful for, and guilty of. We find it extremely difficult to allow our praise, thanks, confession, petition, and intercession to be formed by attention to God, and awfully easy to allow the God to whom we pray to become a mere reflection of our own concerns. At least this is what I experience myself as a prayer and what I perceive in most public worship. ‘Simple attentiveness’ is most difficult. It is also very important.” ~From Vision and Character by Craig R. Dykstra

Teach me how to pray O Lord. Help me to sing of Your praises, tell of Your glory, send petitions, voice confessions and give thanks to You. May this prayer time be a time found focusing on You. Amen.

What is missing

Stretch out your hand to bring healing and enable signs and wonders to be performed through the name of Jesus, your holy servant.” After they prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking God’s word with confidence. ~Acts 4:30-31 (CEB)

You see, I’ve done a lot of work for the Church- I’m aware of it. It has been my only thought, my only care. I have raced hard and covered as many miles as the most committed missionary. At a certain point it occurred to me that what the Church lacked was not work, activity, the building of projects or commitment to bring in souls. What was missing, or at least was scarce, was the element of prayer, mediation, self-giving, intimacy with God, fidelity to the Holy Spirit and the conviction that [Christ] was the real builder of the Church: in a word, the supernatural element. Let me make myself clear; people of action are needed in the Church but we have to be very careful that their action does not smother the more delicate but much more important element of prayer.

If action is missing and there is prayer, the Church lives on, it keeps on breathing, but if prayer is missing and there is only action, the Church withers and dies.” ~From Letters to Dolcidia: 1954-1983 by Carlo Carretto

Almighty God, by the power of Your Holy Spirit open my eyes, ears, hearts, and very life to Your presence so that today I many worship and serve you in faithfulness, be blessing and healing reminders of Your love to all whose lives I touch. In Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

Prayer

When Jesus finished saying these things, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, so that the Son can glorify you.  You gave him authority over everyone so that he could give eternal life to everyone you gave him. This is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent. I have glorified you on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I shared with you before the world was created.

 

“I have revealed your name to the people you gave me from this world. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. This is because I gave them the words that you gave me, and they received them. They truly understood that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.

“I’m praying for them. I’m not praying for the world but for those you gave me, because they are yours. Everything that is mine is yours and everything that is yours is mine; I have been glorified in them. I’m no longer in the world, but they are in the world, even as I’m coming to you. Holy Father, watch over them in your name, the name you gave me, that they will be one just as we are one. ~John 17:1-11 (CEB)

“Prayer is not primarily saying words or thinking thoughts. It is, rather, a stance. It’s a way of living in the Presence. It is, further, a way of living in awareness of the Presence, even enjoying the Presence. The full contemplative is not just aware of the Presence, but trusts, allows, and delights in it.” ~From Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr

I thank You Heavenly Father for the Sacred moments where I can feel Your Presence in my life. Help me to continually seek You in all the work I do and in the prayers I pray. Amen.

God’s abundant provision

Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Jesus told them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, uphold the holiness of your name. Bring in your kingdom. Give us the bread we need for today. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who has wronged us. And don’t lead us into temptation.'”

He also said to them, “Imagine that one of you has a friend and you go to that friend in the middle of the night. Imagine saying, ‘Friend, loan me three loaves of bread because a friend of mine on a journey has arrived and I have nothing to set before him. ‘Imagine further that he answers from within the house, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up to give you anything. ‘I assure you, even if he wouldn’t get up and help because of his friendship, he will get up and give his friend whatever he needs because of his friend’s brashness. And I tell you: Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. Everyone who asks, receives. Whoever seeks, finds. To everyone who knocks, the door is opened.

“Which father among you would give a snake to your child if the child asked for a fish? If a child asked for an egg, what father would give the child a scorpion? If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much ~Luke 11:1-13 (CEB)

“As far as we know, the disciples never asked Jesus to teach them how to fish, preach, teach, communicate, or multiply loaves. They did ask him to teach them how to pray. Was it because they didn’t need to make a living, teach, catch fish, or communicate? Probably not! Perhaps the disciples saw the remarkable relationship that Jesus enjoyed with his Abba and wanted something like it in their own lives. They too wanted to know the confidence, peace, security, and love that Jesus found in this relationship with God.

Perhaps the disciples also noted that prayer was a priority for Jesus; in fact, his whole life seemed to be built around this priority. In crisis, in need, and when perplexed and weary, Jesus could be found praying. Prayer was not an additive to life; it was a way of life for Jesus.

Perhaps too the disciples saw dramatic results as the consequence of the life of prayer that Jesus lived. They did see loaves multiplied, individuals healed, storms stilled, and peace descending on many. Whatever the reason, the disciples apparently believed that praying was one of their most important lessons to be learned.

The benefit of that teaching is available to us today as we reflect on the words and life of Jesus. And the relationship with God that enriched and sustained the life of Jesus is available to us as well. I desire the trust, serenity, confidence, and deep peace that seemed to flow from the life of Jesus at every moment. Teach me to pray.” ~A Guide for All Who Seek God, Rueben P. Job

Almighty God, in wisdom You have created us and all things. Provide my daily needs and grant me the grace and strength to fulfill Your will on my life. I offer these prayers in the name and the spirit of Christ. Amen.

Companionship

As Jesus walked alongside the Galilee Sea, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, throwing fishing nets into the sea, because they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to fish for people.” Right away, they left their nets and followed him. Continuing on, he saw another set of brothers, James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father repairing their nets. Jesus called them and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. ~Matt 4:18-22 (CEB)

“When Jesus begins his public ministry, one of the first things he does is to find companions, those individuals who will share his life and ministry in a special way. Whenever Jesus faces a difficult situation, he gathers these companions around himself- sometimes all twelve, sometimes only a few. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, needed the companionship of others. Even he, as strong and powerful and food as he was, couldn’t go it alone.

We can’t go it alone either. We cannot face the challenges of life without the support of others. This need for companionship is one we must never be ashamed of. We must never think, ‘If I were more mature, I could stand on my own two feet.’ Or, ‘If my faith were stronger, I wouldn’t have to rely so much on others.’ No, our need for companionship, fellowship, friendship, is in the very fabric of our human psyche. It is yet one more way that we are made in the image and likeness of God.” ~From Abundant Treasures by Melannie Svoboda

Heavenly Father, I thank you so much for the friends You have sent to walk this journey with me. I thank You for their companionship, fellowship and friendship that they have offered me. There is no way that I could manage this life without their support. Help me to be Your image to others so that they also will not find themselves alone. Amen

A confient love

I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created. ~Romans 8:38-39 (CEB)

“What can we say about God’s love? We can say that God’s love is unconditional. God does not say, ‘I love you, if. . .’ There are no ifs in God’s heart. God’s love for us does not depend on what we do or say, on our looks or intelligence, on our success or popularity. God’s love for us existed before we were born and will exist after we have died. God’s love is from eternity to eternity and is not bound to any time-related events or circumstances. Does that mean that God does not care what we do or say? No, because God’s love wouldn’t be real if he didn’t care. To love without condition does not mean to love without concern. God desires to enter into relationship with us and wants us to love God in return.

Let’s dare to enter into an intimate relationship with God without fear, trusting that we will receive love, and always more love.” ~From Bread for the Journey by Henri J. M. Nouwen

When the people of this world who are supposed to love you don’t, it is hard to fully understand that God’s love is unconditional. But that moment when the realization sinks in that God REALLY does love you, that He even loved you when…, and that there is NOTHING that can take His love away… That is when true healing can begin.

Thank You Heavenly Father for loving me when others couldn’t. Thank You for loving me when others wouldn’t. Thank You Almighty God for loving me even when I was unlovable. Thank You for seeing in me more than I am and for drawing me closer to You. Thank You for the confident knowledge that NOTHING can separate me from that love. Amen.

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