Daily Reflection: March 1, 2021
My Dear Friends in Christ:
Today’s gospel passage is taken from the Gospel of Luke 6: 36-38. This gospel passage is the version of the Sermon on the Mount. Here we read how Jesus admonishes His followers and even would-be followers to be merciful in their actions and dealings towards others. We are to be forgiving, merciful, generous, and non-judgmental in our relationship with others. Jesus condemns out rightly our careless use of words especially those that hurt. We should be careful and make good choice of words before we speak, because what we wish others would come back to us. If you wish others the best in their endeavors, success, peace, healing etc. these will in turn come back to you. On the contrary if we wish others evil and failure, we will certainly reap the fruit of evil and failure as well. For whatever we sow we shall reap. I am sure we are all familiar with the saying that “whatever goes around comes around.” When we point accusing finger towards other people, three fingers are pointing at us reminding us that we are no better than other people who we are maliciously condemning. In the final analysis, if we are forgiving and demonstrate a forgiving spirit towards others we will be considered as God’s children and God will certainly forgive us when we come to Him in repentance. St Augustine of Hippo puts it clearly: “What do you want from the Lord? Mercy! Give it and it shall be given to you. What do you want from the Lord? Forgiveness! Forgive and you will be forgiven.” Three reasons have been identified as to why people want to gossip, judge, condemn, criticize unjustly, and talk behind others: 1) People talk behind others when they cannot reach the others level. 2) People talk behind others when they do not have what others have or have accomplished and 3) People talk behind others when they try to copy others lifestyle but cannot. Let us be mindful of the fact that every single person on earth has a story. So, do not judge people before you truly know them. Their story might surprise you and you may learn from them.
Dear Friends as we face God this day, especially in the spirit of the Lenten Season, let us make a firm resolution to desist from judging and from condemning others and leave judgment to God. Judgment is the prerogative of God because only God is good, only God is Holy, and only God is perfect. Therefore, only Him sees the whole truth and knows the human heart. If we are critical of others, we will also receive criticism ourselves. If we condemn others unjustly, we will also receive unjust condemnation. However, if we treat others generously, graciously, and compassionately, these qualities will certainly come back to us in full measure. Today’s gospel passage reminds us to love others just as Jesus loves us and not judge them. The evil you support today because of what you stand to benefit will be the fertilizer that will nurture your future troubles. Who am I to judge another when I myself walk imperfectly? So, be careful how you judge others because you have no idea what kind of battle they are fighting or are facing. We experience positive growth not by judging but by examining ourselves.
God loves you and so do I
Daily Reflection: March 2, 2021
My Dear Friends in Christ:
JOKE: Imagine this happening to you: One Sunday morning during service, a 2,000-member congregation was surprised to see two men enter, both covered from head to toe in black and carrying sub-machine guns. One of the men proclaimed: “Anyone willing to take a bullet for Christ, remain where you are.” Immediately, the choir fled, the ushers and other Church ministers fled, and most of the congregation fled. Out of 2,000, there only remained about 20 people. The man who had spoken took off his hood, looked at the preacher and said: “Okay Pastor, I got rid of all the hypocrites. Now you may begin your service. Have a nice day!” And the two men turned and walked out.
Today’s gospel passage is taken from the gospel of Matthew 23: 1-12. In this gospel passage, Jesus challenged and criticized the Jewish Religious leaders—the Scribes and Pharisees for their hypocritical lifestyle and condemned their attitude towards religion and religious matters. The religious leaders took man-made rules as seriously as God’s laws. They went further to enforce such rules on the people without obeying them themselves. Their only intention was to look good and holy before the people. Jesus did not condemn the Pharisees for what they taught but for what they were—hypocrites. The religious leaders knew the Scriptures but did not live by its teaching. They cared less about being holy. On the contrary they placed more emphasis on looking or appearing holy in order to attract praise and admiration from the people. It is unfortunate that today, so many Christians are like the Jewish Religious leaders. They know the Sacred Scriptures in and out but do not allow the teachings of the Sacred Scriptures to influence and change their lives. They claim to be disciples of Jesus but are far from putting into action Jesus’ teaching and demands especially His teaching about love. Such Christians are only but hypocrites. We must make sure that in our daily life as Christians we must let our actions match our beliefs. What we say must match with what we do. The Pharisees and Scribes “love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation Rabbi.” In our world today, many people desire positions of leadership not only in business but also in the Church. However, it is dangerous when love for the position grows stronger than loyalty to God and sincere service to His people. And this exactly is what Jesus is condemning in the lives of the ancient religious leaders. In this gospel passage, Jesus is not condemning all leadership. On the contrary Jesus is condemning leadership that serves itself rather than others.
Dear Friends, as we face God this day, let us harken to the teachings of Jesus Christ and strive to become servant leaders in our Church and in our world—leaders who are sincerely committed to serving God and others. In challenging the Pharisees and the Scribes, Jesus challenged society’s norms. For Jesus, greatness comes only from serving—only in giving of ourselves to serve God and our neighbor. True and humble service keeps us aware of others’ needs, and it stops us from focusing only on ourselves. Jesus Himself gave us a true example of service for “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20: 28; Mark 10: 45). In the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, service is the only way to go ahead. So, instead of seeking to have your needs met, look for ways you can minister to the needs of others. Let your actions be consistent with your beliefs. Live for Christ, even when no one is looking.
God loves you and so do I
Daily Reflection: March 3, 2021
My Dear Friends in Christ:
JOKE: A young man was leading Youth Night at his Church. He had his lesson all ready and strutted up to the pulpit. He opened his mouth though to find nothing came out. He stuttered and tried with all his might but finally he just had to walk off with his head down. He asked his pastor later: “Why couldn’t I speak?” And his pastor answered, “If you went up the way you went down, you could be going down the way you went up!”
Today’s gospel passage is taken from the Gospel of Matthew 20: 17-28. In this gospel passage, we read Jesus’ third prediction about His death and resurrection—the first two predictions are recorded in Matthew’s Gospel 16: 21; 17: 22-23. Despite His repeated predictions about His death and resurrection, the disciples failed to comprehend what He meant. Instead, they continued to argue greedily and fight with each other over privileged positions when the supposedly earthly kingdom of Jesus is finally established. In this gospel passage, we read how the mother of the sons of Zebedee named James and John came to Jesus to make a request. She came and reverently bowed to Jesus and worshiped Him. Then she proceeded to reveal her real motive of visiting—to get something from Jesus. She wanted her two sons to occupy privileged positions in Jesus’ Kingdom. But the Kingdom of Jesus is not of this world. Jesus’ Kingdom is not centered in palaces and thrones. Jesus’ Kingdom is centered in the hearts and lives of those who accept Him as Messiah and Lord. This selfish attitude exhibited by James and John and their mother still happens in our churches today and even in our lives. Sometimes, we play religious games while expecting God to give us something in return. It is important to mention here that true worship—the true Christian life adores and praises God for who He is and for what He has done in our lives. It is not meant to curry favor from God and to gain undue advantage over others. Unfortunately, the wife of Zebedee and her two sons James and John failed to comprehend Jesus’ teachings on rewards as we read in Matthew’s Gospel 19: 16-30 and about eternal life in 20: 1-16. To live in the glory of the kingdom of God, they must face pain, torture, suffering and persecution on account of His name. Jesus made a reference to this suffering by encouraging them to first drink of the cup that He Himself will drink and thereafter they will be able to find seating positions in the Kingdom of God. Decisions about leadership and admittance into eternal life is only made by God and is not in any way granted as favors. Such positions are reserved for those who have maintained their absolute commitment and dedication to Jesus despite several trials and tribulations they faced in life. When the other disciples heard of this secret meeting, they were upset with James and John because obviously they were all nursing this same idea of top positions in the soon to be established earthly kingdom. The Wise Teacher and Master calmed the whole situation down by teaching them that in God’s Kingdom, the greatest among them must be the servant of others. In the Kingdom of God, authority is not given for self-importance and selfish ambition. On the contrary, authority is given for useful and humble service to God and His creation.
Dear Friends, as we face God this day, let us model our lives after this all-important teaching of Jesus Christ. Jesus offers us a completely different idea, a new perspective about leadership and what it should mean in our lives. Servant leaders do not use people, instead, they serve them. A true and sincere leader has a servant’s heart. He appreciates others’ worth and realizes that they are not above others. Be a servant leader today and let humility be the hallmark of your life. If you observe something that needs to be done, take the initiative and do it as a servant leader. Do not wait for others to do it for you. James and John enthusiastically committed to accepting any trial and suffering for the sake of Christ. It is easy to admit our preparedness to accept pain and suffering for the sake of Jesus Christ, yet often we complain about the minor problems that confront us in life. Jesus did not ridicule James and John but instead He calmly denied their request. In like manner, we are free to ask God for anything in life, but our request may be denied by God. Not because He does not love or care for us but because He gives us what is best for us, not merely what we want.
Are you ready and willing to commit your life to be a servant leader in His Church and world?
God loves you and so do I.
Daily Reflection: March 4, 2021
My Dear Friends in Christ:
JOKE: One evening a Scotsman was riding in his limousine when he saw two men along the road eating grass. Disturbed, he yelled at his driver to stop and got out to investigate. He asked one of them, “Why are you eating the grass?” “Well, we don’t have any money for food” the poor man replied. “So, we have to eat grass.” “Well then, come with me to my house and I will feed you” the Scotsman said. “But sir, I have a wife and two children with me. They are over there, under that tree.” “Okay, bring them along too” the Scotsman replied. Turning to the other poor man, he stated, “you come with us also.” The second man, in a pitiful voice said, “But sir, I also have a wife and seven children with me!” “Very well then, bring them all” the Scotsman answered. They all piled into the limousine, which was no easy task. Once under way, one of the poor fellows turned to the Scotsman and said, “Sir, you are truly too kind…thank you for taking all of us with you.” The Scotsman replied, “No problem, glad to do it. You will really love my place. The grass is almost a foot high.”
Today’s gospel passage is taken from the gospel of Luke 16: 19-31. In this gospel passage, Jesus talks about the rich man and the beggar. The Pharisees and several other Jewish Religious leaders considered wealth to be a proof of a person’s righteousness. Thus, Jesus startled them with this story we read in today’s gospel. The un-named rich man in this gospel passage had everything at his beck and call. He was clothed in purple and fine linen—the kind of clothing only the rich wore in the ancient Jewish culture and they were hugely expensive. Because he was a rich man, he feasted every day. The poor man named Lazarus waited daily at the gate for crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table, but none was given to him. The name Lazarus is the Latinized form of Eleazar and means God is my help. Not only that Lazarus was a beggar, but his entire body was covered with ulcerated sores because of which he was so helpless even to the point of not being able to ward off the street dogs that pestered on him to lick his wounds. With the death of both men, things changed dramatically. Lazarus found himself in the glory of the Father and in the company of angels and saints while the rich man found himself in torment and pain. The rich man did not find himself in pain and torment because he was wealthy but because he was selfish. In his selfishness he refused to use his wealth to help another especially the poor Lazarus who waited every day to no avail for crumbs of bread from his table. He paid no attention to Lazarus; he did not take him in and did not care for him. He was indeed hardhearted despite his great blessings. However, the rich man exhibited some elements of kindness when he asked that messages of warning be sent to his five brothers still alive to change and amend their ways else, they end up like him. To this generous request Abraham referred his five brothers to the messages of the prophets who preach the word of God daily and who remind people of their duty towards the poor, the sick, the needy, the hungry, the orphan, the widow, and those on the margins of society. Are you listening to the word of God and are you using your God-given wealth and money to serve God in serving your neighbor?
Dear Friends, as we face God this day, let us read this story again and again and let us allow the message therein to sink into our hearts to change and transform us especially our attitude towards our possessions and our relationship with others. Our possessions and the amount of money we have are not as important as the way we use them. What is your attitude toward your possessions and money? Do you hoard them selfishly or do you use them to help others? If we remember that we are only caretakers of whatever we have in life, we will learn to share our wealth and possessions with the less privileged. We come into this world empty handed and we shall leave in the same manner one day, so use whatever wealth and possessions God has so generously given to you to assist others in your neighborhood. “Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you” (Luke 6: 38). Today’s gospel passage reminds me of what John MacArthur once said: “God made all of His creation to give. He made the sun, the moon, the stars, the cloud, the earth, the plants to give. He also designed His supreme creation, man, to give. But fallen man is the most reluctant giver in all of God’s creation.” Think about this statement today. I hereby conclude this reflection with a message from Randy Alcorn: “The more you give, the more comes back to you, because God is the greatest giver in the universe, and He will never let you out-give Him. Go ahead and try. See what happens.”
God loves you and so do I