A famous artist painted a picture of the Nativity. In his painting, across the crib falls the shadow of the Cross. Salvation is God’s eternal plan for humanity. This is why He has come down. This is why we have been lifted up. Heaven and earth have intersected at the cross of Calvary. Salvation has drawn nigh. But what is our response to that stupendous news? All we have to do is receive it, joyfully, and make it our own.
The holiness of Mary can be ours if we seek God with our whole hearts; if we seek a life of conversion; if we seek and respond to God’s grace wherever it leads us. The problem in our world is that we are so often indifferent to this reality or we don’t trust in this reality, so we do not respond because our fear is greater than our desire to surrender. All God has ever wanted for each of us is that we would be His children, desiring everything He wants to give us. When we truly believe like Mary, “NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD,” then we too will always say with Mary, “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
So, Advent is here. Let the watch begin. Ours is an expectant life, waiting for the promises of God to be fulfilled, remembering that God does not forsake His own. I hope you have that kind of expectancy in your life. Jesus said, “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory . . .” It won’t be Apple’s cloud or Google’s cloud. It will be God’s cloud and everything that is bad about this world will be swept away and only God’s love and mercy will be left, and the children of God will have every tear wiped away and joy will reign over all.
Everybody worships something or somebody. What is it in life that you value most--that you would not only die for, but also live for? Be careful how you answer. It is a most difficult question. Some people will say, “Why, Jesus is what matters most in my life.” And yet, when the time of testing comes, we discover that it is not Jesus that matters most at all. It is the esteem with which our friends hold us that really matters most. Ultimately, if we do not worship Christ, we worship ourselves. The only problem with that is that we cannot save ourselves. Is Christ the King of your life or do you prefer the king of Rock ’n Roll? If Christ is real . . . if He is King . . . then nothing else matters quite as much as that one fact. Why? Because we know we can trust Him . . . with our families . . . with our personal destinies . . . with everything that is important to us. We can face the future confidently . . . triumphantly . . . if Christ is our King!
“The test of all happiness,” wrote G. K. Chesterton, "is gratitude.” The most important words of gratitude are those we give to God. And so on this national day of Thanksgiving, I urge you to: count your blessings, use mental subtraction and remind yourself what life would be like without some of the blessings you take for granted, and express your gratitude toward those who have done good toward you. Most of all, thank God who is the source of all that is good in the world. Never forget those four magic words: "I thank you Lord!" A Blessed Thanksgiving Day to you and to your family!
Those coins, dropped in the temple treasury that day, where an important part of this widow’s witness to the power of God to make all things new! By dropping in those coins, she realized she was part of something bigger than herself. She was participating in God’s work on earth. No wonder Jesus was pleased to see her make her offering. No wonder He praised her to his disciples. She had been victorious over her grief. She trusted God for her daily bread, and she was involved in the ongoing work of the kingdom. God measures not how much you give, but how much you have left over. Is there any question this poor widow loved God? She put her money where her heart was. She gave all she had. And Jesus praised her.
Jesus prayed, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,” and the two are forever linked. Wherever God’s will is done, there is the Kingdom, and wherever the kingdom is you’ll find people doing God’s will. Jesus embodied within His own life that precious, priceless Kingdom that He taught. Whenever we see people reaching out in love to other people in the name of Jesus Christ we see evidence of His kingdom, which will come in the twinkling of God’s eye . . . when the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of Our God.
Bartimaeus was disadvantaged, but he was not defeated. He came to Jesus and Jesus healed him ... and he became a follower of Christ. May we see what Bartimaeus saw - that Jesus is the giver of every good thing in life. I hope we are as wise as Bartimaeus. May we, too, follow Jesus all the days of our life as well!
The best way to witness to the Lord of kindness is through our own acts of compassion and charity. This is the way to effectively communicate the wonder of the Gospel. It does not depend on labels for validation. It is offering a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name to any who are in need. And it is recognizing that when someone offers us a cup of cold water, Christ is already at work in that person’s life. When will we realize that Jesus is too big to restrict to one culture or one nationality? There are people of every circumstance and every ethnic origin who bear the name Christian. Just think of how small and petty we are being when we try to restrict Jesus to people who look and pray like we do. There is only one way to communicate the Gospel that truly attracts people into the family of Christ and that is with words and works of charity.
Stewardship, quite simply, is recognizing that everything we have and everything we are is a gift from God and being grateful and generous with those gifts. We aren’t “owners” of anything, we are merely “stewards” of the gifts that God has given us. Stewardship isn’t a process, or a campaign, or an accounting of our gifts. Rather, it is a lifestyle rooted in gratitude and generosity. The whole point of stewardship is to help each other strengthen our relationship with God and get to Heaven!