No Gift Too Small

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

 

I was on social media a couple months ago and came across a post that shocked me.  It shocked me because you can sense by the tone that she was hurting.  Her tweet basically said that she has nothing to offer to the church.  This post was heartbreaking, and it had me wondering how many other people within the church may feel like this.  A priest responded with reassurance that she has a gift that nobody else in her church may have.  The next response was from a Southern Baptist pastor who said that there is no gift or deed to small, and that God can use anything for his glory.  It was encouraging to see over two hundred comments encouraging this individual.

What is the point of all of this?  In today’s passage we read that the Holy Spirit gives different gifts to different people.  No organization can function if everyone was doing the same thing, and the church is no different.  We all can’t be pastors or teachers.  Yes, sometimes those gifts get all the attention but if you ask any pastor, they would say that there is so much more going on behind the scenes than people may realize.  This was the point of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthian church.  Charles Spurgeon once said that the greatest gift that one could give him was to pray for him.  We can certainly do that a little more, thee are things in the church that can always be cleaned, Sunday School to be taught, ushers, greeters, and people to put together the bulletin.  There is no gift that is too small, and every gift is needed.

So what gift do you possess that could be used for the benefit of the church?  At the church I grew up in there was a woman named Delores who greeted everyone with a smiling face.  She made everyone feel welcomed, and when she passed to her eternal reward over 500 people attended her funeral.  Her story is a perfect example of something that seemed small, but had a huge impact for the kingdom.  Perhaps your gift is the same.  Let it shine and let God turn it into something that helps bear fruit for his kingdom.  You have a gift that we all need and the Lord will utilize it in a way that you can’t even begin to fathom.

 

Prayer:  Lord Jesus I humbly asked that you take the gift I have and use them for your glory.  Help me to understand what my gift is and submit it to your service.

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Book Review of The Case For Christ: Daily Moment of Truth

Jesus said that we must love him with all of our minds, heart, soul, and strength (Matthew 22:37).  There are many devotionals out there that focus on loving Jesus with heart and soul, but very few address loving him with our minds.  The Case For Christ: Daily Moment of Truth by Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg is one that fills the void, and does so very effectively.

I have little doubt that you have either read other work by Lee Strobel, or seen the popular film The Case For Christ.  This devotional follows a similar format, and examines why we are here.  It does so in very general terms at first then moves into more advanced apologetics content.  Each apologetics devotional is only around two pages long.  As a result, topics are only discussed very briefly.  It would behoove the ready to look into longer works that go into detail regarding these more complex subject.  The book is 360 pages long and includes subjects such as science meeting scripture, reincarnation, the divinity of Christ, and historical evidences for the faith.  There is very little uncovered, and wets the appetite of these subjects.

This book is good if you are wanting a brief 5-6 minute overview of scripture and apologetics content.  IF you are looking for an in depth explanation about the proofs of the resurrection this is not the book, and this is not the intent or design of the book.  It is meant to strengthen one’s faith with basic apologetics that will assist in one defending Christianity.  With that is does a pretty good job.  4/5 stars.

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.]

Blessed Be the Lord Who Saves

Blessed day by day be the Lord,
who bears our burdens; God, who is our salvation.
God is a saving God for us;
the LORD, my Lord, controls the passageways of death. -Psalm 68:20-21

Today’s Bible reflection is taken from the second part of the responsorial Psalm.  Though it is short there is much contained within its words.  We are reminded that is God who saves, and it is He who controls our eternal destiny.  He has done much good for all of us, he gave us life, and we are to respect and be in awe of him.  In short, blessed be the Lord.

We have a tendency as humans to want to do things on our own.  This is fine and dandy if it is something like riding a bike, but not something we should be doing in terms of our salvation.  The fact of the matter is that we can’t get to heaven on our own.  God is our salvation as the Psalmist says.  Are you trying to do it alone?  Christ established the church to guide us on the road we should go and teach us the truths about God.  It is God who saves and we do not save ourselves.

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“Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you.”
-St. Augustine of Hippo

Go and Bear Fruit

I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.-John 15:16

Today’s gospel reflection is taken from the antiphon before today’s Gospel reading.  Jesus makes a very direct point and simply says “Go and bear fruit that will last”.  It seems so easy, and yet so complicated at the same time.  To bear fruit you have to start with a seed.  In its journey to become fruit the seed go through various stages.  As a seedling it pushes through the dirt towards the sun, it relies on the rain and the sun to nourish it to maturing, and when the time is right it brings forth fruit to bring nourishment to the recipient.

In the Christian life we look to the Son, Jesus, and he provides nourishment through his scripture and the church.  Scripture says that all of us have a gift that can help with the mission of the church.  Some are given the gift of teaching, administration, leadership, mercy, etc.  Each gift is vital and needed to fulfill the mission of the church.  Are we being faithful in this mission?  Using this gift is fruit that will last.  It lasts because it spreads the Gospel and helps teach the next generation that will pass it on.

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He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows. –St. Gregory of Nissa

 

God is Love

Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also must love one another.
No one has ever seen God.
Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.

This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us,
that he has given us of his Spirit.
Moreover, we have seen and testify
that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God remains in him and he in God.
We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.

God is love, and whoever remains in love
remains in God and God in him.-1 John 4:11-16

The second reading in today’s mass is from the first letter of St. John.  This letter is a personal favorite of mine.  There is so much theological depth and things we can use on an everyday basis.  This letter is an extension of the Gospel he wrote, and we see a lot of talk about love.  Today’s passage is especially challenging for us.  St. John writes that to love is how we remain in God because God is love.  In a world that seems to be about revenge and shaming to get what we want this may seem extreme.  In fact, it is outright countercultural.

If we acknowledge and accept Christ as the Son of God then St. John says that we have come to know the love that God has for us.  Since we know that love we have been called, and have the obligation, to love others.  Even those who may not like us.  This doesn’t mean that we need to have someone in our home who does us harm, but we have to acknowledge their worth as someone who is made in the image of God.  Remember that God is love, and if we claim Christ then we have an obligation to reflect that love to others.  Are we doing it?

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The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things. But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist.
–Pope St. Gregory the Great

Bible Reflection: Jesus is the Christ

After staying in Antioch some time,
Paul left and traveled in orderly sequence
through the Galatian country and Phrygia,
bringing strength to all the disciples.

A Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria,
an eloquent speaker, arrived in Ephesus.
He was an authority on the Scriptures.
He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord and,
with ardent spirit, spoke and taught accurately about Jesus,
although he knew only the baptism of John.
He began to speak boldly in the synagogue;
but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him,
they took him aside
and explained to him the Way of God more accurately.
And when he wanted to cross to Achaia,
the brothers encouraged him
and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him.
After his arrival he gave great assistance
to those who had come to believe through grace.
He vigorously refuted the Jews in public,
establishing from the Scriptures that the Christ is Jesus.-Acts 18:23-28

In the first reading of today’s mass we read about a man by the name of Apollos.  St. Luke tells us in the book of Acts that he was well versed in the scriptures, was a great orator, and spoke boldly for Christ.  Those in the synagogue opposed him at every turn, and Priscilla and Aquila took him under their wing and helped him to explain the scriptures even more accurately. In short, he was open to correction and wanted to teach right doctrine.  Having learned from this correction he refuted the Jews that denied Christ, and established through scripture that Jesus is the Christ.

We can lean something very helpful from Apollos.  No matter how much training, or how much others praise us we must remain humble.  We must be open to correction especially to those appointed over us.  This will help us better proclaim that Jesus is the Christ as the scriptures teach.  Let’s make it a daily goal to study the scriptures, pray, and perhaps even look for a spiritual director that can help us learn the faith in a deeper way.  In addition, lets be open to the Holy Spirit and proclaim Christ just as Apollos did.

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The creator of the heavens obeys a carpenter; the God of eternal glory listens to a poor virgin. Has anyone ever witnessed anything comparable to this? Let the philosopher no longer disdain from listening to the common laborer; the wise, to the simple; the educated, to the illiterate; a child of a prince, to a peasant.”
-St. Anthony of Padua

Gospel Reflection: Grief to Joy

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn,
while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;
but when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.
So you also are now in anguish.
But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.
On that day you will not question me about anything.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”-John 16:20-23

Today’s Gospel presents a beautiful scene between Christ and his disciples.  Christ has told them that he must go, and the disciples are sad to hear that their teacher and friend will not be around.  Jesus is honest and tells that they will mourn and that the world will rejoice.  Jesus encourages them by saying that their grief will turn to joy.  He then uses the imagery of a mother who has just given birth.  Though the birth was painful the child was worth it.

Is there something that you are grieving over today.  Perhaps it is a hard situation at work, the loss of a loved one, or some other difficulty.  It is easy to focus on the bad that is happening, but lets remember who we are in Christ.  Christ is with us and he we will go through hard times.  People will look at how you react to certain situations and will draw their own conclusions.  Will they conclude that you are a catholic by the way you react, or will they fail to see Christ?  Let’s remember the words of Christ in today’s Gospel.  He told the disciples that their hearts will rejoice.  The period you are in is temporary.  Keep your eyes on Christ and let him lead you.

 

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“If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!”
-St. Catherine of Sienna

Gospel Reflection: True Peace

The disciples said to Jesus,
“Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech.
Now we realize that you know everything
and that you do not need to have anyone question you.
Because of this we believe that you came from God.”
Jesus answered them, “Do you believe now?
Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived
when each of you will be scattered to his own home
and you will leave me alone.
But I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
I have told you this so that you might have peace in me.
In the world you will have trouble,
but take courage, I have conquered the world.”-John 16:9-33

There is nobody in the world that is exempt from worry.  We are being bombarded from a million different directions.  We have family obligations, work obligations, church obligations, and many more.  We don’t take enough time to rest and refresh ourselves.  What does this have to do with today’s Gospel reading?  If you think about it carefully, the two are very closely related.

The disciples made a statement that they believe that Christ came from God.  Christ responds by saying that each will be scattered.  What happens when we let the pressures of the world become our priority?  We try to do so much that don’t study scripture, the catechism, or may even miss mass.  Everything else becomes more important than God.  At this point we become scattered, and Satan has easy prey.  He has someone that he can deceive and twist their priorities.

In today’s Gospel Christ tells the disciples that He has overcome the world.  He also says that true peace lies in himself.  We have busy lives, but you will find peace in your job, money, or more toys.  True peace is found by cleaving to Christ.  Is Christ our priority today?

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“Christians must lean on the Cross of Christ, just as travelers lean on a staff when they begin a long journey. They must have the Passion of Christ deeply embedded in their minds and hearts, because only from it, can they derive peace, grace, and truth”.-St. Anthony of Padua

Study the Bible With Me

I want to start off for begging for your forgiveness.  On December 1 I started a new podcast titled The Daily Bible, and I forgot to make mention of it here.  The goal of this show is to help you understand the Bible a little more.  Everyday I go over one to three verses and explain the history, meaning, and application of the verse.

The show officially launched on December 1 with discussing the geneology in Matthew Chapter one.  This morning I completed chapter four, and tomorrow I will move into chapter five.  The shows run from 4-7 minutes and are a good way to accompany any devotional that you may be reading.  Every verse in the Bible will be covered…even the “controversial” ones.  When the New Testament is complete I will go into the Old Testament.  It has been an exciting journey thus far, and I hope you come along for the ride.

If you wish to listen I have provided the links to the show in popular podcast directories below.  God bless you and thank you for your support of this page.

 

Click here to listen of ITunes

Click here to listen on Soundcloud

Click here to listen on Spreaker

Click here to listen on Stitcher

Click here to listen on Podbean

Click here to listen on Castbox

I hope you enjoy the show, and if you do please rate it and share it.  God bless.

 

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