Posts made in November, 2018

Finding the Will of God Part 3

Posted by on Nov 12, 2018 in Pope Michael, Sanctification | 0 comments

Divine guidance cannot be considered by itself apart from our personal relationship with God. Many desire the gifts but not the Giver. If we long for guidance but do not thirst for God Himself, we shall not obtain the guidance we seek.

A person must be in fellowship with God in order to experience His guidance in his life. This implies, first of all, that he should have come into a vital relationship with Christ through the new birth. But this alone is not enough. There are certain other essential conditions to be fulfilled if we are to know God’s leading. These prerequisites are mentioned in two passages of Scripture, one in the Old Testament and the other in the New (Proverbs 3:5- 6; Romans 12:1–2). Let us consider these scriptures in detail.

FAITH

Have confidence in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not upon thy own prudence. [understanding.] (Proverbs 3:5-6).

There are many who never come to a knowledge of God’s will, because they simply do not believe God will guide them. Faith is a prime prerequisite when we are seeking God’s guidance.

SELF-DISTRUST

Lean not upon thy own prudence. In all thy ways think on him, and he will direct thy steps. (Proverbs 3:5-6).

The one who does not distrust his own natural wisdom in spiritual matters has yet to learn one of the fundamental lessons of the Christian life. Meager intelligence cannot by itself deprive a man of the knowledge of God’s will, if the man leans upon God. But proud dependence on one’s own cleverness and foresight can.

OBEDIENCE IN EVERY AREA

In all thy ways think on him, and he will direct thy steps. (Proverbs 3:6).

We are sometimes eager to know God’s guidance in one area of our lives, but not so enthused in having His direction in other areas. For example, we may earnestly seek God’s will in marriage, but may not do so when looking for a job. Or it could be vice-versa. Or perhaps we may seek God’s guidance how and where to spend our month’s annual leave, but may never ask Him how to spend our money.

This is because we are inclined to want God’s guidance only when it is convenient for us. Selfish motives often lurk, unknown to us, in our hearts. We seek God’s will in some matters because we don’t want to make mistakes that might cause us suffering or loss. The motive is not that we might please God but that we might be comfortable and prosperous. Hence we fail to receive God’s guidance, for He has promised to guide only those who acknowledge Him in all their ways, those who gladly accept His direction in every area of their lives.

There are many areas in which God’s will is already revealed to us in the Scriptures. For instance, the Bible says that God wants us to be holy and thankful: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that you should abstain from fornication;…In all things give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you all. (1 Thessalonians 4:3; 5:18).

Similarly, we are told that God expects us to…”not commit adultery: Thou shalt not kill: Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness: Thou shalt not covet: and if there be any other commandment, it is comprised in this word, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Romans 13:9). If we have received God’s forgiveness and salvation, we should desire the same for our neighbors. God’s will is clearly revealed in the New Testament: we are to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8).

Loving our neighbours implies a concern primarily for their spiritual needs, but does not exclude their other needs. God has said,

Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the harbourless into thy house: when thou shalt see one naked, cover him, and despise not thy own flesh. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall speedily arise, and thy justice shall go before thy face, and the glory of the Lord shall gather thee up. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall hear: thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou wilt take away the chain out of the midst of thee, and cease to stretch out the finger, and to speak that which profiteth not. When thou shalt pour out thy soul to the hungry, and shalt satisfy the afflicted soul then shall thy light rise up in darkness, and thy darkness shall be as the noonday. And the Lord will give thee rest continually, and will fill thy soul with brightness, and deliver thy bones, and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a fountain of water whose waters shall not fail. (Isaiah 58:7-11).

God delights to reveal His mind to those who are unselfishly concerned with the needs of others.

If we fail to obey the Lord in these areas where He has already revealed His will, then we cannot expect Him to guide us in other areas of our lives. It is a principle of Divine guidance that God never grants further light to one who ignores the light he already has. God will not show us the second step before we take the first. “Which when thou shalt have entered, thy steps shall not be straitened, and when thou runnest thou shalt not meet a stumblingblock.” Or in todays words, “As you go, step by step, I will open up the way before you”, is His promise (Proverbs 4:12). He is interested in our every step.

With the Lord shall the steps of a [good] man be directed, and he shall like well his way. (Psalm 37:23).

Here is another promise of guidance for the obedient:

I, [says the Lord], will give thee understanding, and I will instruct thee in this way, in which thou shalt go: I will fix my eyes upon thee. Do not become like the horse and the mule (Psalm 32:8-9).

(The horse is characterized by impatience always wanting to rush ahead whereas the mule is characterized by stubbornness often refusing to move forward. We must avoid both these attitudes).

God speaks to us through our consciences when we are disobedient. We should therefore be careful to heed the voice of conscience always. Jesus said,

The light [or lamp] of thy body is thy eye. If thy eye be single [healthy], thy whole body will be [full of light]: but if it be evil [bad], thy body also will be darksome [full of darkness].(Luke 11:34).

What did Jesus mean by the eye? In Matthew 5:8, He connected spiritual vision with purity of heart. So the eye must refer to the conscience which when obeyed constantly, leads us to purity of heart.

By itself, conscience is not the voice of God, for it is educated and determined by the principles on which a person bases his life. But if it is obeyed constantly and brought in line with the teaching of the Scriptures and The Churches understanding of Scriptures, it will reflect God’s standard increasingly. The promise in Luke 11:34, then is, that if we keep our conscience clean we shall have God’s light flooding our lives – and thus we shall know His will. If we fail to listen to the voice of conscience in our daily lives, we shall fail to hear the voice of the Spirit when seeking God’s guidance. Instant obedience to God whenever He speaks to us through his written word and through His Church is one of the secrets of guidance.

I read of a fifteen-year-old boy, blind from birth, who flew and landed an aircraft safely. This remarkable feat was accomplished by his instantly obeying every order given by his instructor pilot. When facing life’s manifold problems, we may feel like blind men trying to land a plane on an unknown and invisible runway. But if we develop the habit of instant obedience to God’s commands, we shall find that we land safely.

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Finding the will of God Part 2

Posted by on Nov 10, 2018 in Pope Michael, Sanctification | 0 comments

Have confidence in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not upon thy own prudence. [understanding.] (Proverbs 3:5-6).

There are many who never come to a knowledge of God’s will, because they simply do not believe God will guide them. Faith is a prime prerequisite when we are seeking God’s guidance. By faith we mean not merely a mental acceptance of truth but a confidence in God that comes through personal knowledge of Him.

When we lack wisdom (knowledge of God’s mind in a certain situation) we are invited to ask God for this and we are promised that He will grant it to us in abundance – provided we ask in faith. The one who asks without faith invariably receives nothing (James 1:5-7).

Young Christians may feel Divine guidance is available only to the mature who have grown in the knowledge of the Lord for several years. It is no doubt true that the more we walk with God, the better we can discern His mind. Nevertheless it is also true that God desires to guide all His children. What was said to Saint Paul is true for all of us –

“The God of our fathers hath preordained thee that thou shouldst know his will, and see the Just One, and shouldst hear the voice from his mouth.” (Acts 22:14).

A father gladly reveals to his children his desires and plans for them – not only to the older ones but to the younger ones as well. It is the same with our Heavenly Father. God has said in His Word that in this day of the New Testament/Covenant all His children – “from the least to the greatest” – will know Him personally (Hebrews 8:10-11). Every one of us can then come to Him “with the full assurance of faith” that He delights to make His will known to His seeking children.

In Hebrews 11:6, we are told that without faith it is impossible to please God. The verse goes on to say that those who come to God must believe that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. The evidence of a person’s faith is found in his persistence in prayer. The one who doubts will stop praying very soon. But the one who believes will lay hold of God until he gets an answer. God honors earnestness because it is the product of a strong faith. We cannot receive anything precious from God without intensely desiring it first. He “fills the hungry soul with good things.” (Psalms 107:9). God has said, “You shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13). Is it not true that when seeking God’s guidance we have often gone about it halfheartedly? When Jesus sought the Father’s will in the garden of Gethsemane, He prayed again and again “with a strong cry and tears” (Hebrews 5:7). How casual our seeking is, when compared to that! We often seek God’s will with no more earnestness than we would have when searching for a lost nickle! No wonder we don’t find it. If we value the will of God as the greatest treasure on earth, we will seek it with all our hearts. Do we really believe that God rewards diligent seekers? Then our faith will manifest itself in urgent and pressing prayer. If we are consumed with earnest desire to fulfill His will in every area of our lives, God will undoubtedly reveal His mind to us. He cannot but honor a faith that lays hold of Him until it received an answer.

Faith, in the Bible, is often coupled with patience. Both are necessary if we are to inherit God’s promises (Hebrews 6:12-15). David exhorts us (no doubt from his own experience), to commit our way to the Lord, trusting in Him and waiting patiently for His time and we are assured that He will not let us down (Psalms 37:5-7). One of the greatest temptations when seeking God’s guidance is to fret and become impatient. But the believing heart is a restful one.

There are some decisions for which we don’t need to wait for a perfectly clear indication of the mind of the Lord. For example, if you are seeking the Lord’s will as to whether you should take a trip on the 15th or the 16th of the month, you don’t need to wait indefinitely for a clear word from Him.

Yet there are some decisions for which we must wait until we are perfectly clear about the will of God. When considering marriage, for example, we cannot afford to be uncertain. We have to be perfectly sure of God’s will before deciding. Such a decision is obviously of greater moment than the date for a road trip, because its effects are more far-reaching. The more important the decision, the longer we usually have to wait to be sure of God’s will.

If we trust in the Lord, we won’t be afraid to wait. We will not seek to grab for ourselves ahead of God’s time out of fear that we might lose the best by waiting. God is well able to safeguard the best for us in every realm. When we grab impatiently, we invariably miss the Lord’s best. The Bible says that “He that believeth, let him not hasten.” (Isaiah 28:16).

In what is called the great “Guidance” Psalm – Psalm 25 – David speaks again and again of waiting on the Lord (verses 3, 5, 21). None who wait for the Lord’s time will ever regret having waited, for God works and shows Himself active on behalf of him who earnestly waits for Him” (Isaiah 64:4; 49:23).

Often, it is only as we wait that God can make His mind clear to us.

“Sometimes our perplexity is so great that it seems no guidance will ever come. Often our perplexity is so extreme that we seem to be waiting in total darkness. Often too as we wait, the first faint streaks of dawn seem to come, oh, so slowly! Then too, as there never yet has been a night of uncertainty as is sure to end in the dawn, so our night of uncertainty is sure to end in the dawning light of God’s guidance. Finally, as the slow-coming dawn, when it does arrive, brings light and blessing without measure, so when our God-given guidance at last breaks upon us it will so gladden our waiting souls and so illumine our clouded path, we shall almost forget the long days when we waited in darkness.”-From the booklet ‘Guidance’ by James McConkey.

Beware of being in a hurry. Impatience always stems from unbelief. It was said of the Israelites in the wilderness that they did not wait for his counsel. (Psalm 106:13). They missed God’s best thereby. May God save us from such a tragedy.

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Finding the Will of God Part 1

Posted by on Nov 8, 2018 in Pope Michael, Sanctification | 0 comments

Dear friends,

Father Francis Dominic has begun a five part series on finding God’s will. We will be providing it for you and will follow with a major consideration, which he merely alludes to, but does not develop fully. This consideration is all important, because if we are not on the right page here, then all of the rest will be off course. Now to Father Francis Dominic:

Divine guidance cannot be considered by itself apart from our personal relationship with God. Many desire the gifts but not the Giver. If we long for guidance but do not thirst for God Himself, we shall not obtain the guidance we seek.

A person must be in fellowship with God in order to experience His guidance in his life. This implies, first of all, that he should have come into a vital relationship with Christ through the new birth. But this alone is not enough. There are certain other essential conditions to be fulfilled if we are to know God’s leading. These prerequisites are mentioned in two passages of Scripture, one in the Old Testament and the other in the New (Proverbs 3:5- 6; Romans 12:1–2). Let us consider these scriptures in detail.

FAITH

Have confidence in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not upon thy own prudence. [understanding.] (Proverbs 3:5-6).

There are many who never come to a knowledge of God’s will, because they simply do not believe God will guide them. Faith is a prime prerequisite when we are seeking God’s guidance. By faith we mean not merely a mental acceptance of truth but a confidence in God that comes through personal knowledge of Him.

When we lack wisdom (knowledge of God’s mind in a certain situation) we are invited to ask God for this and we are promised that He will grant it to us in abundance – provided we ask in faith. The one who asks without faith invariably receives nothing (James 1:5-7).

Young Christians may feel Divine guidance is available only to the mature who have grown in the knowledge of the Lord for several years. It is no doubt true that the more we walk with God, the better we can discern His mind. Nevertheless it is also true that God desires to guide all His children. What was said to Saint Paul is true for all of us –

“The God of our fathers hath preordained thee that thou shouldst know his will, and see the Just One, and shouldst hear the voice from his mouth.” (Acts 22:14).

A father gladly reveals to his children his desires and plans for them – not only to the older ones but to the younger ones as well. It is the same with our Heavenly Father. God has said in His Word that in this day of the New Testament/Covenant all His children – “from the least to the greatest” – will know Him personally (Hebrews 8:10-11). Every one of us can then come to Him “with the full assurance of faith” that He delights to make His will known to His seeking children.

In Hebrews 11:6, we are told that without faith it is impossible to please God. The verse goes on to say that those who come to God must believe that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. The evidence of a person’s faith is found in his persistence in prayer. The one who doubts will stop praying very soon. But the one who believes will lay hold of God until he gets an answer. God honors earnestness because it is the product of a strong faith. We cannot receive anything precious from God without intensely desiring it first. He “fills the hungry soul with good things.” (Psalms 107:9). God has said, “You shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13). Is it not true that when seeking God’s guidance we have often gone about it halfheartedly? When Jesus sought the Father’s will in the garden of Gethsemane, He prayed again and again “with a strong cry and tears” (Hebrews 5:7). How casual our seeking is, when compared to that! We often seek God’s will with no more earnestness than we would have when searching for a lost nickle! No wonder we don’t find it. If we value the will of God as the greatest treasure on earth, we will seek it with all our hearts. Do we really believe that God rewards diligent seekers? Then our faith will manifest itself in urgent and pressing prayer. If we are consumed with earnest desire to fulfill His will in every area of our lives, God will undoubtedly reveal His mind to us. He cannot but honor a faith that lays hold of Him until it received an answer.

Faith, in the Bible, is often coupled with patience. Both are necessary if we are to inherit God’s promises (Hebrews 6:12-15). David exhorts us (no doubt from his own experience), to commit our way to the Lord, trusting in Him and waiting patiently for His time and we are assured that He will not let us down (Psalms 37:5-7). One of the greatest temptations when seeking God’s guidance is to fret and become impatient. But the believing heart is a restful one.

There are some decisions for which we don’t need to wait for a perfectly clear indication of the mind of the Lord. For example, if you are seeking the Lord’s will as to whether you should take a trip on the 15th or the 16th of the month, you don’t need to wait indefinitely for a clear word from Him.

Yet there are some decisions for which we must wait until we are perfectly clear about the will of God. When considering marriage, for example, we cannot afford to be uncertain. We have to be perfectly sure of God’s will before deciding. Such a decision is obviously of greater moment than the date for a road trip, because its effects are more far-reaching. The more important the decision, the longer we usually have to wait to be sure of God’s will.

If we trust in the Lord, we won’t be afraid to wait. We will not seek to grab for ourselves ahead of God’s time out of fear that we might lose the best by waiting. God is well able to safeguard the best for us in every realm. When we grab impatiently, we invariably miss the Lord’s best. The Bible says that “He that believeth, let him not hasten.” (Isaiah 28:16).

In what is called the great “Guidance” Psalm – Psalm 25 – David speaks again and again of waiting on the Lord (verses 3, 5, 21). None who wait for the Lord’s time will ever regret having waited, for God works and shows Himself active on behalf of him who earnestly waits for Him” (Isaiah 64:4; 49:23).

Often, it is only as we wait that God can make His mind clear to us.

“Sometimes our perplexity is so great that it seems no guidance will ever come. Often our perplexity is so extreme that we seem to be waiting in total darkness. Often too as we wait, the first faint streaks of dawn seem to come, oh, so slowly! Then too, as there never yet has been a night of uncertainty as is sure to end in the dawn, so our night of uncertainty is sure to end in the dawning light of God’s guidance. Finally, as the slow-coming dawn, when it does arrive, brings light and blessing without measure, so when our God-given guidance at last breaks upon us it will so gladden our waiting souls and so illumine our clouded path, we shall almost forget the long days when we waited in darkness.”-From the booklet ‘Guidance’ by James McConkey.

Beware of being in a hurry. Impatience always stems from unbelief. It was said of the Israelites in the wilderness that they did not wait for his counsel. (Psalm 106:13). They missed God’s best thereby. May God save us from such a tragedy.

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Be a good servant

Posted by on Nov 6, 2018 in Pope Michael, Sanctification | 0 comments

Dear friends,

Father Francis Dominic was inspired this morning:

Paul reveals the secret of being an effective servant to others in these words: “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation; that we also may be able to comfort them who are in all distress, by the exhortation [advise; counsel] wherewith we also are exhorted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4). Paul had to go through many afflictions in order to receive a spiritual education. Only in this way could he pass on to others the comfort and the exhortation that he himself had received when he went through trials. Without such an education, no one can be a servant of the new covenant. There is a vast difference between an anointed Samson under the old covenant and an anointed Paul under the new covenant. Samson had the Spirit’s power to overcome external lions. Paul however had the Spirit’s power to overcome the lions that dwelt within his own flesh – which Samson could not overcome.

Under the old covenant, God’s servants stood in God’s presence, heard what God had to say, and then told others what they had heard. But that is not sufficient in the new covenant. Now, God’s servants must go through trials and afflictions and experience God’s grace helping them to overcome in all those trials, and then exhort others to follow their own example. That is how new covenant servitude is far higher than old covenant servitude – and it is far costlier as well.

It is by following Jesus that we become servants of the new covenant. Under the old covenant it was not possible for people to press on to perfection. But in the new covenant we can. “Wherefore leaving the word of the beginning of Christ, let us go on to things more perfect, not laying again the foundation of penance from dead works, and of faith towards God.” (Hebrews 6:1) “For the law brought nothing to perfection, but a bringing in of a better hope [did], by which we draw nigh to God.” (Hebrews 7:19).

But we cannot lead others to perfection if we are not pressing on to perfection ourselves. Only if we are cleansing “OURSELVES from all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit, perfecting sanctification in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1), and “sanctifieth HIMSELF [for holiness] , as [Jesus] also is holy.” (1 John 3:3) can we lead others also to such a life. There is no other way. We have to be mini-forerunners for the others. That is one of the reasons why God takes us through varied and trying situations. For only then can we be true servants to each other. Otherwise we will be hirelings, seeking our own gain – either money or man’s honor.

That does not mean that we have to face all the circumstances that others in our Parish face. That would be impossible. Jesus did not become our Forerunner by facing all our circumstances, but by being tempted with all the temptations that we face (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus did not have a drunken father or a nagging wife or disobedient children, as some of us may be having. Yet He was our Forerunner, because He faced all the temptations that we face today, in different circumstances in His day.

God has to take us through all the temptations that our brothers and sisters face. But in all those temptations, we must overcome, if we are to serve them, and lead them to partake of eternal life. That is how we become servants of the new covenant.

We could say much on this, but wish to only make a few points.

Firstly, Saint Paul reminds us of this from Proverbs: “For whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth; and he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” (Hebrews 12:6) God uses our tribulations to train and prepare us for the work He has for us. If we are not receiving tribulations, we should worry that we are displeasing God. He has no use for us, because we are not willing to do His holy will.

Jesus tells us: “Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) Are we aiming at perfection or satisfied with mediocrity. Apocalypse (21:27) tells us: “There shall not enter into it any thing defiled, or that worketh abomination or maketh a lie, but they that are written in the book of life of the Lamb.” If we are imperfect we may also be defiled. Perfection is required for heaven. Purgatory is for those who are not quite perfect. The mediocre inherit hell.

+Michael pp

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