Thursday, May 15, 2014

God Delights in . . . .You

[Jesus said to his disciples]: I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when He comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to all truth (John 16:12-13a).

[The Holy Spirit says of Himself] . . . then was I beside Him as his craftsman, and I was His delight day by day, playing before Him all the while, playing on the surface of His earth; and I found delight in the human race (Proverbs 8:30-31).

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ . . . because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us (Romans 5:1-5).

The Scripture readings played in my mind for days after I heard them during the Mass. The more they played, the more I contemplated their interconnectedness. And the more I contemplated their connectedness, the more relaxed my spirit grew.

Jesus tells us through the gospel reading that the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. That was not new information to me. I’ve known the Holy Spirit’s guidance through Scripture for more than forty years. But as I mused over the readings I learned something new. Actually, I learned it again:

God delights in us. More to the point, the Holy Spirit reminded me through the Proverbs text that while God delights in us, He also takes delight in me.

He considers me of great value. Even while I was shaking my fist in His face during my younger years, God loved me nonetheless. He loved me so much that He gave His Son to die for me (Romans 5:8).

And He gave His Son to die for you, too. Why? Because He delights in you.

And because He takes delight in us, St. Paul could write the words of our second reading: All who have placed their faith in Christ stand before God justified (from a Greek word meaning “to be declared without guilt”).

Think of it for a moment. Those who approach God in humble faith through the sacrifice of Christ are justified – declared by God to be without guilt. 

Without guilt! Cleansed of our sin. Free from the eternal consequences of our sin.

Hey! God’s not mad at us. He’s not looking to get even with us, to whip us into conformity. To teach us who’s boss. To throw us into hell.

The Holy Spirit took the time that weekend to remind me through those texts that He really, really, really delights in me. He loves me. Without condition. Without permutation. He delights in me. He loves me – even as much as He loves Jesus (John 17:23).

And He feels the same way about you, too.

Oh, if only I – if only we – can mature in our faith to the point where His promise takes root – and blossoms – only then can we finally experience the confidence in our heart that the Word of God offers us.

Oh, Holy Spirit. Please make it so.

Monday, May 5, 2014

You Can Tell It

Those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was demon-possessed had been made well. And . . . the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging [Jesus] that he might accompany Him; but He sent him away, saying,  “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.  (Luke 8:36-39)

I think one of the more miserable lies Satan tells Christians is along the lines of: You don’t know enough about the Bible to tell others of God’s love and the forgiveness through Jesus Christ that is free to anyone who asks.

But to believe Satan’s lie is to make God an impotent creation of our own imagination. If our God is who the Scripture says He is – who created all things both visible and invisible by simply saying, “Let there be . . .”, then surely He is able to do something so simple as to use you and me – even in our temporary ignorance of God’s word – to bring others to faith.

We do not need a theological degree – or even Church ordination – to tell our own story of how Jesus changed our life. But oh, what God can do for others through our story – a story we can then post to Facebook, Google-plus, Linked-in, or any other social network site to which we belong.

So, how can you tell your story? Here is a rough template you might use to tell others about your Jesus:

1. What was your life like before you met Jesus? 
2. How has Jesus changed you?
3. When did you realize you needed to follow Him and be forgiven of your sins?
4. If you were baptized into the Church as an infant, then tell about the time you realized your faith needed to be an ‘adult’ faith, a ‘confirmed’ faith.

5. How has He changed your life circumstances?  Or, if He has not changed your circumstances, how has He helped you cope with those circumstances now?
6. If you could tell others only one thing about your Jesus, what would you wish to tell them?

Pope Francis recently tweeted: God’s love is not generic. He loves every man and women, and He calls them by name.

Christian, God can use your story to help someone else learn of His deep and very personal love for them, whom He knows by name. Will you tell them what great things God has done for you?