Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Faith, Hope, Charity

God’s Surprises - Faith, Hope, Charity

"But the battle between the Church and the Devil is not determined on earth. It has already been settled in heaven. The Ascension of Christ meant the downfall of Satan, and every act of Christian sacrifice confirms it. Now, according to John’s picture, having been driven from the presence of God, the Devil becomes the enemy of all who seek to do God’s will, using every weapon he can find to defeat the purpose of the Creator, (Revelation 12:1-17)." Neil

1. A living hope!

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1:3-5

"To reach the joy and blessing of eternal life in Christ, we first experience the sadness of the passing world, along with the afflictions we must face here (James 1:1-12). To the watching world the perseverance of the faithful during afflictions appears foolish and even contemptible. But Peter shows that faith under trial is precious indeed, bearing more glory and honor as it continues to stand under trial." Wallerstedt

2. God is working His Vision of the Ages.

"Surely the wrath of man shall praise You; With the remainder of wrath You shall gird Yourself." Psalms 76:10

"For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." Romans 9:17

"Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them." Rev 11:11-12

3. Faith, Hope, Love

Hope is a gift from the Holy Spirit. It’s a miracle of renewal that never lets us down. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.

"Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.’ Romans 5:5

Paul tells us that hope has a name. Hope is Christ.

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

Does this make it too easy? Think of the price which Christ paid to save us. God Himself did what we could not do.

"For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
Romans 8:3-4

And referring to the virtues of faith, hope and charity (love).

Often the virtue of hope is seen as the most humble of the three, because it is hidden in life. You can see faith and you can feel it, you know what it is. And charity too – we know what that is. But what is hope? What is this attitude of hope? First of all we can say it is a risk, a risky virtue – as Paul says: it is a virtue of ardent expectation for the Revelation of Christ Coming Again. "It is not an illusion".

Jesus, The Hope, renews everything.

"...who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles." 2 Tim 1:9-11

So hope is a constant miracle. The miracle of what He’s doing in the Church. The miracle of making everything new: of what He does in my life, in your life, in our life. He builds and He rebuilds. And that is precisely the reason of our hope. Christ is the one who renews every wonderful thing of the Creation; He's the reason of our hope. And this hope does not delude because He is faithful. He can't renounce Himself. This is the virtue of hope.

"For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us." 2 Tim 1:12-14

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Our baptism gives us a new and glorious hope

The Lord’s church at Corinth was living and active even though they struggled with problems. They had been buried with Christ in baptism - purified, dedicated to God, put right with God.

"I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." 1 Cor 1:4-9

The Church herself is a "Sacrament" - a grace-filled sign which makes Christ’s saving work present in history, through the power of the Holy Spirit. [Paul uses the word mystery to speak of the reality of the presence of the Kingdom itself, revealed in Christ Jesus, and perceived by faith. Jesus said: "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables." Mark 4:11]

1. New birth - born from above.

"Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." John 3:5-6

Baptism is our faith in action. Baptism gives us new birth in Christ, makes us sharers in the mystery of His death and resurrection, grants the forgiveness of sin and brings us new freedom as God’s children and members of His Church".

"But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:4-7

2. New in Christ.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."
2 Cor 5:17

"Since we have been united with Him in His death, we will also be raised to life as He was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with Him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and He will never die again. Death no longer has any power over Him. When He died, He died once to break the power of sin. But now that He lives, He lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus." Romans 6:5-11 (NLT)

Our baptism has changed us, given us a new and glorious hope, and empowered us to bring God’s redeeming love to all, particularly the poor, in whom we see the face of Christ. Our baptism has also given us a share in the Church’s mission of evangelization; as disciples, we are also missionaries.

3. Temples of the Holy Spirit.

"Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19-20

We have all become new creatures in Christ, temples of the Spirit, adopted children of the Father, members of the Church, brothers & sisters in faith and announcers of the Gospel, capable of forgiving and loving all, even our enemies. Let us ask Him to renew in us the grace of our Baptism and to make us, with all our brothers and sisters, true children of God and living members of His body, the Church.

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." 1 John 3:1-3

"And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God." 1 John 5:11-13

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Wake Up The World!

    “Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light."  See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”  Eph 5:14-16

    Wake up the world! Be witnesses to show a different way of doing things, of acting, of living! It is possible to live differently in this world.  Jesus did it.

    “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”  Matt 24:14

    “All these calamities and tribulations will not prevent the progress of the gospel; the Good News will be preached everywhere (Romans 10:18; Col 1:6,23).”  Wallerstedt

    “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: "Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world."  Romans 10:17-18

    “This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.”  Col 1:6 (NLT)

    We are speaking of an end-time outlook.

    “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.”  1 John 2:18

    John speaks of “last-hour thinking.”  Our world of Time is passing away.  But we are to redeem the time.  The values of the Kingdom are to guide us here on this earth. It is a question of leaving everything to follow the Lord.  No, I do not want to say “radical.” Evangelical radicalness is demanded of all. But we Christians follow the Lord in a special way, in a prophetic way. It is this witness that the Lord expects of us. Christians should be men and women who are able to wake up the world.

    Lift Him up!

    “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:14-15

    The Church grows through witness, not by proselytism.

    The witness that can really attract is that associated with attitudes which are uncommon: generosity, fair-mindedness, sacrifice, self-forgetfulness in order to care for others. This is the witness, the “martyrdom” of Christian life. It “sounds an alarm” for people. Christians are saying to people with their life: “What’s happening?” Christians are telling something! Christians go beyond a worldly horizon.  Thus Christian life ought to promote growth in the Church by way of attraction.  The Church, therefore, must attract people. Wake up the world!

    Love more, sin less.  Be witnesses of a different way of doing things, of acting, of living! It is possible to live differently in this world. We are speaking of an eternal outlook, of the values of the Kingdom lived out here, on this earth. It is a question of moving beyond everything to follow the Lord.  Radicalness is not only for the few religious: it is demanded of all. Christians should be men and women who are able to wake the world up.”

    “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.  Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”  James 3:17-18

    Yes, we should be real witnesses to a world of doing and acting differently. But in life it is difficult for everything to be clear, precise, outlined neatly. Life is complicated; it consists of grace and sin. We all make mistakes and we need to recognize our weakness. A Christian who recognizes himself as weak and a sinner does not cancel the witness that he is called to give, rather he can reinforce it, and this is good for everyone.

    Daily culture is much richer and conflicted than years ago (or so we think). Our culture then was simpler and more ordered.  Today calls for a different attitude. For example: problems are not solved simply by forbidding doing this or that. Dialogs as well as confrontation are needed. To avoid problems, in some houses of formation, young people grit their teeth, try not to make mistakes, follow the rules and smiling a lot, just waiting for the day when they are told: “Good. You are there, you have finished formation.” This is hypocrisy that is the mistake of the Pharisee, which is one of the worst evils. If a person cannot live in brotherhood he cannot live the Christian life.”

    Living as peace-makers.

    “Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.”  Acts 6:1  [Read what the church did.]

    Christian brotherhood with all its possible diversity, is an experience of love that goes beyond conflicts. Community conflicts are inevitable: in a certain sense they need to happen, if the community is truly living sincere and honest relationships. That’s life.  Reality dictates that there are conflicts in all families and all groups of people. And conflict must be faced head on: it should not be ignored.  Covering it over just creates a pressure cooker that will eventually explode. A life without conflicts is not life.

    “And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” 1 John 4:21