Show Yourself Jesus

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I wish there was something I could do that would make Jesus real and personal to you, if He isn’t already.

A lifetime of thanksgiving could not express the gratitude I feel for the entrance of Jesus into my life – the joy and weightlessness of life lived in His presence.

What I can do is suggest that you ask Him, beg Him persistently, to show Himself to you personally. I can guarantee He will respond. I will give you two rules my spiritual father often gives me: (1) ask with no expectation of HOW He will answer and (2) ask with full expectation that He WILL answer. Do not try to fit Him into a box, He’s just too big…sorry Jesus.

I’d like to share a couple excerpts that deal with this personal call of our Saviour:

“Jesus calls souls individually…Jesus says to Nathanael: ‘before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’ We do not know to what episode Jesus is alluding. Had Nathanael retired under a fig-tree in a  moment of prayer, meditation, temptation, struggle, sin, or repentance? What is certain is that the shadow of this fig-tree marks a decisive moment In Nathanael’s life. Jesus, at that moment of decision, was invisibly present, as He is present during the struggle which each one of us wages, under our fig-tree.” From: Jesus. A Dialogue with The Saviour by Lev Gillet

“Stand at the well with the Samaritan woman to learn worship in spirit and truth. Roll the stone from the tomb of Lazarus to know the resurrection from the dead. Stand with the multitude, take your share of the five loaves and know the blessings of prayer. Go, wake him up who is asleep at the stern of your boat when the waves beat into it. Weep with Mary, wash his feet with your tears to hear his words of comfort. Lay your head on his breast with John, hear his heart throbbing with love to the world. Take for yourself a morsel of the bread he blessed during supper to be one with his body and confirmed in him forever.” From: “Hold Him in Your Arms Like Mary His Mother” by St. Silouan the Athonite

One of thing that made a big impact on my own personal relationship with God was the realization of the living nature of His Word. Once I learned to visualize, personalize, and place myself in the Scriptures, I found my own life story contained in its pages.

I realized that I could cry out in anger against betrayal with David. I realized I was a chosen servant along with Samuel. I found my redemption in Christ beside the Samaritan woman. I discovered that Jesus would cross a tumultuous lake with His disciples just to cast my demons away and give me hope for a better future.

I pray that each and every one of you reading this can encounter Jesus on a personal level, if you have not already. Do not be discouraged. He is waiting for you.

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Quote of the day!

“There is a love that exists in the mind of which the tongue speaks easily, so that it may be said, ‘Who is there who does not love Christ?’ But there is a love that exists in the heart which is like a throne of light upon which Christ is seated. Of this, no one can speak, but it overflows with his light so that no one can deny his presence. If the Beloved dwells in the heart, the heart can contain nothing but him, for he is everlasting and eternal, he is the fullness that fills all in all, and of his fullness we have received grace upon grace (Eph. 1:23; Jn. 1:16).”

The Titles of Christ by Father Matthew the Poor

http://orthodoxyisorthodoxy.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-beloved-by-fr-matthew-poor.html

YOUR great love story

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I know I said I was going to write about redemptive time…and I was going to…but today it’s on my heart to discuss briefly the meaning of abiding in His love. Stay tuned for an article on redemptive time soon! This post is for people, who like me, have had a really hard time understanding what it means to abide in His love.

“That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full (1 John 1:3-4).”

“As the Father loved Me. I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and your joy may be full (John 15:9-11).”

These verses reveal to us that unless we comprehend the true meaning and nature of fellowship within and with the Holy Trinity, our joy will be limited. We know that the trinity is made up of three distinct persons with one unified essence. The relationship holding them together is love. Thus, we can say that God is love.

I want you to think about the person you love the most and who loves you. In a way, you carry them and their love with you wherever you go – it never leaves your heart. Since it is mutual, they do the same. This is how we are able to be in relationship, in communion with one another, even at a distance.

Just as we love someone and that love stays “inside” of us even when we are apart, it is the same with Christ. Christ has a personal love for you and me. A special place in His heart. When we return that love we create a union with Him, a reflection of the union of the Holy Trinity, inside of our own hearts. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me (Rev. 3:20).”

Before Christ, humankind was not able to have this kind of relationship with God because our sins separated us from Him. In His great love and mercy, He sent His Son Jesus Christ (a distinct member of the trinity but with the same essence of God) to pay the price of our sin. This enables us to be united with Him, in this most intimate way.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:16-17).”

Because Christ redeemed us, He is able to come into our hearts through the Holy Spirit and abide in us. Likewise, our union and relationship with Him through the Holy Spirit allows us to abide in Him and His love.

We started this very complicated topic with the promise of joy. You might be thinking…what on earth does any of this have to do with my joy?

This relationship with God is the key to our identity. Consider this: there is a place in the heart of God, before I am ever created (Psalm 139), just for me! How special is that! Many times we believe that God does not truly care for us personally. Yet, how personally He cares for you and me! So personally, He will come and dwell inside each and everyone of us and fill us with His love.

Have you ever seen a newly engaged couple? They are literally alight! There is something about the knowledge of being loved and chosen by someone special to you. There is some sort of pure joy and security in it. It is the same when we abide in Jesus Christ and He in us. By dwelling in His love, we become aware and assured that not only has someone special loved us eternally (Jeremiah 31:3) but this someone is God Himself!

You want to marry a doctor? Your beloved is the ultimate healer (psalm 30:2). You’d like someone creative? Your beloved is the artist behind this whole world of inspiration (Isaiah 40:28). You want someone to understand you?Your beloved knows every word you will say, before you even say it (Psalm 139)!

In your heart is the greatest love story of all time. I don’t believe that having such a powerful and unshakeable love story could make you anything but joyful.

If that is not enough, here’s another reason for joy. There is no more death or loss of loved ones. When we are in Christ and He is in us, He brings the entire community of saints with him:

“Even if it is a question of that invisible Last Supper which Jesus can celebrate at any moment in the upper room of my soul, this room must remain open to all of Christ’s disciples. If I am with Jesus, I have to be with Peter, Andrew, James, John, Paul, and all the apostles, and all those who either in past centuries or today, have been or are the Saviour’s disciples (Jesus. A Dialogue with the Saviour).”

This means you never truly lose someone; you will alway be connected to them through your and their mutual dwelling in Christ. Isn’t this joyful news as well!? Truly Christ has abolished death (2 Timothy 1:10)!

When you come to fully understand the implications of abiding in His love it will change your life. You will see yourself, God, and others differently. It will help you overcome your fears of rejection, abandonment, and even death.

There is a final reason to be joyful (it’s a day full of good things)! We always want to figure out how we can do things PRACTICALLY. You might be thinking, this all well and good but I have no idea on how or where to begin. Faith and trust need to be developed in human relationships, through time and actions, for love to develop. Not with God, God loves us already – there is nothing we can do to earn or deserve His love. He didn’t create us to do exactly what He wanted and destroy us if we didn’t; there would be no mercy in Him or possibility of a real loving relationship between God and man in a world like that. We are given unconditional love. The possibility of abiding in Him and His love is always open to me.

Lord, I pray that your Spirit works in each of us to make us understand this beautiful and irresistible intimacy with you. I pray that you pour out your love in our hearts (Romans 5:5). I pray that we can learn to live inside Your love for us and that we can be a reflection of you to every single person we meet, regardless of our flaws and failures. In your everlasting name, Jesus Christ, and through the power of the Holy Trinity in me. Amen.

Book Review: Jesus. A Dialogue with The Saviour

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I don’t have the words to speak about this book. It is amazing. It is powerful. It has become, by far, my favourite. It’s written clearly and with simplicity. Yet, in its simplicity, it puts the love of our Saviour and the meaning of the Gospels into words.

It makes you pick up your bible, then and there, and read it in a way you never have. It gives you a powerful understanding of verses you often overlook.

Written with absolute love and tenderness, it feels as though you are sitting down with Jesus Himself. Honestly the most touching book I have ever read. 

Second quote of the day!

On Mark 14:14

“Jesus puts this question to the Master of the house: ‘where is My refectory where I may eat the passover…?’ This question takes on a much richer meaning if we refer to the Greek text of St. Mark: katalyma mou, My dwelling, My reception room. In this question there is a blending of humility and command. Jesus asks where “His” room is. He demands this with assurance, with the authority of ownership. This room is His, he has engaged it. But He was obliged to borrow it from a man. Jesus begs for my soul in order that He may celebrate His passover meal there. For my soul belongs to Him. He is willing got come as a guest, He demands my hospitality.” 

– Jesus: Dialogue with The Saviour by Lev Gillet 

Revelations 3:20: Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

A brief series on time: Part 1 – The Everlasting Now

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Time. What is it? 

Honestly, I’m not sure where to begin. People use the concept of time in so many different ways and to mean so many different things. Wading through this very confusing subject often gives me two reactions: (1) a headache or (2) paralyzing fear. So why am I writing about this? God created time for a purpose like everything else. I believe that if we can learn to understand its purpose, it will enable us to abide more in the fullness, presence, and love of God. 

Time is probably the easiest thing in the entire universe to waste. It takes absolutely no effort to waste time. In fact, it takes effort to put time to good use. For instance, I should be writing a paper right now…but I’m not. Why is it that we are completely unaware of time passing until…a birthday, a near death experience, or a project is late..? How come it is so easy to ignore time?

I don’t know. Well I don’t know for sure but I have a guess. My guess is that it’s because we have learned to think about time in the wrong way. I’m going to share two things I’m learning about time with you in this and next blogpost. I hope this will change your perspective, as it is changing mine.  

1. Chronos versus Kairos

The greeks used two fancy words for time: chronos and kairos. Chronos reflects chronological or sequential time. There are 7 days in a week. There are 24 hours in a day. There are 60 seconds in a minute. Kairos, on the other hand, refers to a moment of indeterminate time in which everything happens. These are sort of strange concepts to wrap your mind around but extremely critical in how we perceive our lives and the potential of our existence.

Ecclesiastes 3:11: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Eternity exists in the human heart. 

John 17:3: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” 

Hmm. Both of these verses suggest that we have the potential to experience eternity now. Growing up, we are taught about heaven in very vague terms. We learn that heaven is where eternity begins. We can only go to heaven after we die. Thus, eternity begins after death. This is wrong. Scripture is clear that eternity has already begun and that it resides in our hearts. 

Luke 17:21: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Within me? In my heart? Yes. God resides in you and we know from John 17:3 that union with God is eternal life. This is kairos time. 

Kairos is used 81 times in the New Testament according to my reliable source, wikipedia. One of those moments is Mark 1:15: “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” These are the first words preached by Christ in the Gospel of Mark. Christ is the fulfillment of time. Through His incarnation, He has united us with eternity. 

You might be thinking…this is extremely confusing…where are you going with this? Basically, we have two choices. You can see life through a chronos lens OR a kairos lens. 

My spiritual father gave the perfect example in a sermon. Let us assume someone asks you for a glass of water. If you understand time as chronos, you might be annoyed that someone is wasting precious minutes of your limited time. If you live in kairos, however, you will see this as an opportunity to serve your brother/sister (as Christ served others). You will know that even small acts of kindness have there rewards (Matthew 10:24). 

Living in kairos means living every second in union with Christ, showing His love, His mercy, His graciousness, His wisdom to others. We are able to do this because of the incarnation of Christ, His grace, and the work of the Holy Spirit in us. 

When we live in kairos, we are living in eternity now. We are practising “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (The Lord’s Prayer). I bet we will all find a lot more joy, satisfaction, and peace in living in heaven on earth. 

If you liked this blog post, the next one will be about redemptive time. 

God bless you all and may we learn to live every moment in the everlasting now. 

 

 

Quote of the day!

“I want creation to penetrate you with so much admiration that everywhere, wherever you may be, the least plant may bring you the clear remembrance of the Creator. If you see the grass of the fields, think of human nature, and remember the comparison of the wise Isaiah: ‘All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field (Isaiah 40:6).'” St. Basil

The prayer on my heart

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Lord, I believe; Help my unbelief. Mark 9:24

This verse has become the prayer accompanying the beating of my heart and every thought that crosses my mind. I obsessively write it on cue cards and pin the cards to my walls. I write it in my journal. It’s almost as though I am being haunted by this prayer – only 6 words but the perfect summary of my faith journey. 

Let’s go back and think about the context in which it was said. Jesus, Peter, James, and John come down from the mountain to find a large crowd and a big dispute. A man in the crowd tells Jesus that his son is possessed by a spirit trying to make his son commit suicide. The man asked the disciples to cast it out but they could not. Jesus responds to him saying, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes (Mark 9:14-23).”

Maybe you know the story well and maybe you don’t. Either way, I want you to put yourself in this man’s shoes (sandals?). The person he loves most, who will carry his name and his heritage, is overcome by a spirit who throws him into fire and water. He has helplessly watched this occur to his son since he was a small child and there is nothing the father can do. Perhaps the father is praying regularly for his son. Perhaps he offers many burnt offerings and sacrifices in the temple. 

And then he meets Jesus. A famous and alleged prophet who works similar miracles to the one he needs across the region. Jesus tells him, after all of these years, that he just needs faith. What would you do? Scream at him? Give up hope? Get defensive and prideful? You have no idea whether this man understands everything you have been through – and for your only and beloved son! But this father was humble. He put his son ahead of his pride. He knew that his heart was not entirely convinced about Jesus but a small part of him believed a miracle was possible. It is in this context that he prays: 

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”

Isn’t this your prayer too? A few chapters later we read that Jesus says: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours (Mark 11:24).” How this verse does convict us! I can hardly pray a single prayer believing that God hears me, let alone that I will receive what I am asking for!

It is from our doubt that I humbly feel that we sometimes add “if it is your will” to the end of every prayer to protect God. We want to make sure that if He doesn’t deliver we can’t accuse Him or lose hope in His love for us so we claim that it was not His will. Is this the kind of faith Jesus was referring to?

Is that what the will of God is? Does he want us to hide the doubt that dwells in our hearts about His goodness, grace, mercy, and love with a quick “if it is your will”? I agree that we must submit all of our plans to God, or better yet let Him make plans for us, but in this case we do not desire His will truly. We just don’t want to be rejected. 

I should ask Him for His will because it is my deepest desire. I should not be disappointed about not getting what I want, because my wants should be conformed to His. It was said once in a sermon that it is impossible to hear the will of God for your life, if you are not prepared to follow it. 

This leaves us in quite a situation. What do I do if I have doubts? What can I say if I am not fully convinced of living in His will for me? He does not desire false prayers or hypocrisies from us. We must simply, like this man, come to God in humility and confess our doubt. We need to be more honest about the confusion we feel with regards to faith and disbelief. 

And then I know that He will work in our hearts, conform us to His image and desires, and we will be able to pray with all the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and honestly confess “Your will be done”. He will keep the spirits of disbelief away from us just like He cured the man’s son.  

Book Review: A Year With The Church Fathers by Mike Aquilina

AYearChurchFathers
I ordered this daily devotional online last week and it’s amazing! I highly recommend it to anyone. I’m not very familiar with the Church Fathers and their writings, but this book has been a perfect introduction. Each quote is selected carefully and so full of wisdom of course. As you progress throughout the year, and become more familiar with the Fathers, the ideas become more complex. Something to look forward to (if I can understand it)!! There is only one line of commentary after the quote, which I really like because it doesn’t detract from the original idea of the Fathers. Overall, I’m very happy with this book and I love that I’m learning directly from the Saints who founded our church!