Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Earthly Treasures

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
–Mt 6:19-21

People ought not to love the world or the things of the world.  If we love the world the love of the Father is not with us.  For all that’s in the world – the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and pride in possessions aren’t from the Father, but is of the world.  The world is passing away along with its desires, but doing the will of God we abide forever (1 Jn 2:15-17).  Dada Vaswani (b. 1918), an Indian spiritual leader said, “Happiness, true happiness is an inner quality.  It is a state of mind.  If your mind is at peace, you are happy.  If your mind is at peace and you have nothing else, you can be happy.  If you have everything the world can give – pleasure, possessions, power – but lack peace of mind, you can never be happy.”  1 Timothy 6:10 states that the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil and further explains through this craving people have wandered away from the faith, piercing themselves with many pangs.

Service & Joy

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), an Indian Independence leader wrote, “Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served.  But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in the spirit of joy.”  It’s wise therefore to lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely to us, to run with endurance the race set before us (Heb 12:1).  As John Locke (1632–1704), an English philosopher noted, “All mankind … being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.”

The Dalai Lama (b. 1935), the 14th Dalai Lama observed, “Physical comforts cannot subdue mental suffering, and if we look closely, we can see that those who have many possessions are not necessarily happy.  In fact, being wealthy often brings even more anxiety.”  The Dalai Lama beliefs were echoed by John Wooden (1910–2010), basketball player and head coach, who stated, “Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord, because He knows what we really are and that is all that matters.”

People are therefore given this admonition to seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  They must set their minds on these and not on those of this earth.  In baptism we’ve all died and our lives are hidden with Christ in God.  In due time, he who is our Lord will appear, and we shall appear with him in glory (Col 3:1-4).  This is our Christian faith.          

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Fruits of Labor

God bless them and said to them.  “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
–Gen 1:28

Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Mt 9:37).  There’s a great abundance in our world. An Austrian-American economist Ludwig Von Mises (1881–1973) wrote, “The law-abiding citizen serves both himself and his fellow man and thereby integrates himself peacefully into the social order.  The robber, on the other hand, is intent, not on honest toil, but on the forcible appropriation of the fruits of others’ labor.”  Although there’s plenty to go around, still in our society there’s greed, mismanagement, and dishonesty.

Colossians 1:10 tells us to walk in the manner worthy of the Lord, please him in all respects, bear fruit in every good work, and increase in his knowledge.  We therefore have to curb our negative traits and persevere in doing good deeds.  It’s stated if we do these things we shall eat the fruit of the labor of our hands, we’ll be blessed, and it’ll be well with us (Ps 128:2).

Right to Life

With a right to life we have to give back liberally to our creator.  We do so, by offering up our gifts to him.  He’s the one who has blessed us, so give to the poor and needy.  We shouldn’t have hearts that bear grudges.  It’s the Lord who blesses our work and all that we do (Deut 15:10).  We have to be steadfast in our work, knowing that in focusing on God we won’t labor in vain (1 Cor 15:58).    
Ron Paul (b. 1935), an U.S. representative from Texas, put his own spin on rights:  “Rights mean you have a right to your life.  You have a right to your liberty, and you should have a right to keep the fruits of your labor…I, in a way, don’t like to use those terms: gay rights, women’s rights, minority rights, religious rights.  There’s only one type of right.  It’s the right of your liberty.”

How should we work?

Whatever we do, we should do heartily to the Lord and not for men or women (Col 3:23).  We should work hard to help the weak and remember the words of the Lord who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).  We’re reminded that no one is able to serve two masters.  He’ll either hate one, love the other, or devoted to one, and despise the other.  We can’t serve God and money (Mt 6:24)      

Suzanne Morrison (b. 1990), an author wrote: “The idea is to be detached from the fruits of our labors, which means that we do things simply for the act of doing them.”  Maybe what Morrison really meant was that whatever we do, we must do unto the Lord.  It’s he who has blessed us with our gifts (Eph 2:10).  

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Beauty Surrounds Us

Peace is the beauty of life.  It is sunshine.  It is the smile of a child, the love of a mother, the joy of a father, the togetherness of a family.  It is the advancement of man, the victory of a just cause, the triumph of truth.

–Menachem Begin (1913–1992), Prime Minister of Israel

 Men and women are expressions of God’s beauty.  He created male and female in his own image (Gen 1:27).  Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948), a leader of the Indian Independence Movement, wrote, “When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.”  God’s good.  His beauty is revealed in people and nature.  David Allan Coe (b. 1939), a songwriter and guitarist pointed out, “It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.”  For this attribute we must praise God.  We’re wonderfully made and marvelous are his works (Ps 139:14).

Philippians 4:8 reveals, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  That was why Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962), the first lady of the United States, remarked, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”  Audrey Hepburn (1929–1993), a British actress and humanitarian concluded, “The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway of her heart, the place where love resides.”

Love of Beauty

With love we would enjoy the rejoicing of the heavens, the earth would be glad, the fields jubilant, and see the trees of the forest singing for joy (Ps 96:11-12).  Elisabeth KĊ­bler-Ross (1926–2004), a Swiss-American psychiatrist explained, “People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within.”  Moreover, Our Lord loves righteousness and justice and we should be full of his unfailing love (Ps 33:5).

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), an essayist and poet reminded us: “Never lose the opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.”  Daily we should pay attention to God’s designs which surround us and learn from them.  Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941), an Indian artist wrote, “Beauty is truth’s smile when she beholds her own face in a perfect mirror.”  While Emerson was sure: “Love of beauty is taste.  The creation of beauty is art.”

Ultimately, when it comes to mankind God is concerned with our hearts.  For the Lord instructed the prophet Samuel when he saw Eliab, saying: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  But upon David’s arrival the Lord said to Samuel, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one” (1 Sam 16:7,12).            

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Holy Spirit

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
––Rom 8:5-6

The Holy Spirit is derived from the Hebrew word ru’ach and the Greek word pneu’ma.  According to the Bible, Spirit has different meanings:

• An Active Nature
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
–-Gen 1:2

• The Breath of Life
The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak ….
––Rev 13:15

• The Wind on Being Born of the Spirit
“The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
––Jn 3:8

• Animating Force
If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all humanity would perish together and mankind would return to the dusk.
––Job 34:14-15

• An Individual's Attitude
But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.
––Num 14:24

From these insights of the Holy Spirit we can conclude how people pray is important.  Joyce Meyer (b. 1943), a Christian author explained, “Many people feel so pressured by the expectations of others that it causes them to be frustrated, miserable and confused about what they should do.  But there is a way to live a simple, joy-filled, peaceful life, and the key is learning how to be led by the Holy Spirit, not the traditions or expectations of man.”  Meyer’s thoughts were echoed differently by a Trappist monk and priest, Thomas Keating (b. 1923), who stated, “If you accept the belief that baptism incorporates us in the mystical body of Christ, into the divine DNA, then you might say that the Holy Spirit is present in each of us, and thus we have the capacity for the fullness of redemption, of transformation.”

So in praying we would say like Saint Augustine (353–430 AD), a Christian theologian and philosopher: “O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.”  Let us be receptive of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.      


Friday, December 1, 2017

Our Worthiness

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed as you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
–Mt  5: 10-12

The Lord is great.  He’s highly to be praised and his greatness is unsearchable (Ps 145:3).  Many more Scriptural passages in the Bible speak of God’s worthiness to be praised (Ps 18:3; 48:1; 96:4; 1 Chr 16:25).  Russel M. Nelson (b. 1924), a surgeon and religious leader wrote, “The decision to serve a mission will shape the spiritual destiny of the missionary, his or her spouse, and their posterity for generations to come.  A desire to serve is a natural outcome of one’s conversion, worthiness, and preparation.”  Nelson realized the importance of God’s work in the missionary field – his glory, honor, for service.

People are credited with worthiness like righteousness by God (2 Thess 1:11; Lk 20:35; Rom 2:29; 2 Cor 10:18).  Brene Brown (b. 1965), an author and research professor explained, “It’s hard to practice compassion when we’re struggling with our authenticity or when our own worthiness is off-balance.”  That’s why it’s necessary to be right in God’s eyes.  For only him can provide us through his grace with the necessary balance to move forward in our lives. 

Being Worthy 

Christians may find us worthy in their eyes if we walk in a manner of the Lord, trying to please him in all respects, bearing good fruit, an increasing in his knowledge (Col 1:10).  That’s how some men and women make decisions to be religious.   David A. Bednar (b. 1952), a religious leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, “Ordinary men are given the authority of the priesthood.  Worthiness and willingness – not experience, expertise, or education – are the qualification for priesthood ordination.”

The way people is able to gravitate towards us is based on our behavior.  If it’s positive we tend to draw those who are good.  If it’s negative we attract the bad.  Samantha Power (b. 1970), an Irish-American academic and diplomat warned, “Don’t take for granted the worthiness of your cause will win you allies; bring it down to a scale that people can relate to.”  It isn’t just having people relate to you, but your goal is to reach the right individuals.

Universal Needs

Worthiness calls for a walk worthy of the vocation to which you have been called.  We should do so in all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love (Eph 4:1-2).  Moran Atias (b. 1981), an Israeli-American actress described the needs this way: “There’s always a common attraction to universal needs of love and a feeling of worthiness.”  These concepts begin from childhood.  For it was Polly Berrien Berends (b. 1939), an author who said, “A sense of worthiness is a child’s most important need.”