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Posts Tagged ‘Sin’

I began a novena this morning and read this passage from Matthew:

“… and now she will bear a son.
You shall call him ‘Jesus’ for he will save
his people from their sins.”
(Matthew 1:21)

Is this really the first time I noticed?

“He will save his people …. ”

Not from other people on this earth – to this day His people are being killed for their love of Him and their faith in Him. Since His death Christians have been hunted and hated “the world” has tried to eliminate them.

Not from petty discomforts on this earth, nor was He born to elevate us in an earthly way with wealth or comfort or earthly power.

Not even from terrible suffering in this life, even from oppression or slavery or starvation.

No!  “… for he will save his people from their sins.”

Jesus did not suffer and die on the cross to save me from other enemies, real or imagined. He did not die to shower me with earthly blessings (though He certainly does that).

He died to save me from my own sins – the very things I have chosen that harm me and others around me, that are killing my soul and separating me from Him.

That’s a lot to digest this morning. It’s so easy to look at how messed up this world is, to observe how much evil is in it and devouring people every day and to pray in earnest for those people and against those great evils. And that is important to do.

But it is also important to remember to reflect and to pray: “Have mercy on me, a sinner.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I read a wonderful blog this morning by Msgr. Charles Pope* about true sorrow for our sins.

In part, he wrote:

“In times like these, when self-esteem is overemphasized, personal responsibility is minimized, and excuses abound, we do well to ask for the gift of tears. We do well to ask for a profound and healthy grief for our sins.

… Note that these tears are not meant to be tears of depression, discouragement, or self-loathing. The tears to be sought here are tears of what St. Paul calls “godly sorrow.” Godly sorrow causes us to have sorrow for our sins but in a such a way that it draws us to God and to great love, gratitude, and appreciation for His mercy. (2 Cor 7:8-11)”

I think one of the biggest lessons I learned during my dark time was how easily I can deceive myself and rationalize my sins, and how greatly that separates me from God. Like a stubborn child I hid in a dark corner while He waited patiently for me. In retrospect I can see that He even stood guard, protecting me from sliding further away into a deeper harm’s way.

God brought forth water from the rock for the Israelites in the desert.

I pray God draws water from the rock of my hardened heart … that He softens my heart, shows me what He will, and draws forth tears of godly sorrow both for myself and for those around me.

*Msgr. Pope’s post can be read in full here

 

 

 

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Sometimes I look at the world and at our country and I feel such disquiet at what I see … man’s inhumanity to man in the forms of war, human trafficking, abortion. My heart cries out for the victims and their suffering.

And my heart cries out in another way for people who are lost, oblivious to the harm they do to their body, mind and soul in so many ways by following the world and “self.”

I guess it’s true that there is nothing new under the sun. I was reading Ezekiel this morning:

… and the LORD said to him: Pass through the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and mark an X on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the abominations practiced within it.” (Ezekiel 9:4)

How well-said; how familiar. I, too, grieve and lament over evil; over immorality running rampant and its cost to my fellow human beings; to abominations practiced.

I feel powerless to “stop it” or to make a real difference by my own actions, but neither can I ever become complacent and simply accept it.

No answers today, only lingering sadness.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

**Edit** Because I love God’s timing … later in the day after writing this post, I read a quote. And somehow, it seems to fit.

Every Christ-follower has to realize that we carry a sacred, burning light that is infinitely more powerful than the lies of the enemy. Your light might seem small, but even the smallest act of love can illuminate the shadows. – Josh Wilson

 

 

 

 

 

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Some of the most amazing blessings in my life are the people God has given me to love, and who love me. From the moment of my birth I’ve been surrounded by family who is not “perfect” but whom I would not trade for any other.

Each is on his own spiritual path, at her own stage of growth either away from or toward the LORD. All have been baptized and have heard the gospel … not all are active in their faith and a few are somewhat opposed to Christianity or angry at God.

The Holy Spirit has impressed upon me how important it is to pray fervently for all of my family. How many family members prayed for me when I was a prodigal? If I don’t pray for my own family, who will?

God placed each one in my life “just so” … as mother, brother, sister, husband, child, niece, nephew, brother-in-law, sister-in-law. Each has blessed me. And the best way I can thank God for them, is to place them lovingly back into His hands in prayer.

And so I pray daily for each one of them by name. I don’t know all of their needs, but God does. Whether God is waiting for the prodigal to return, or whether He is drawing someone ever closer to Him in spiritual maturity … whether one needs discipline or another needs comfort … God knows and He cares and He will use my prayers as each needs most.

Sometimes the enemy tries to discourage me or distract me, making me wonder if it really matters or whether I am being selfish praying for my own family too much and not enough for the larger world.

So it was a great blessing to read each of these passages recently …

“As for me, far be it from me to sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you and to teach you the good and right way.” (1 Samuel 12:23)

“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours” (John 17:9)

I really do feel I would be sinning against the LORD were I to cease praying for any one of my loved ones. He gave them to me, He lead me into this deeper prayer life, He has shown me how to pray for them.

And I am so grateful for His guidance and for this ministry of love. And I love how our relationship with God is reciprocal, a sort of cycle … He gave me these people, I give them back in prayer; He shows me how to pray and when I do, He does the work.

I pray for their sake, and for His great glory!

 

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I don’t mean to cheat by posting a link to someone else’s blog.

But this blog spoke so much of what has been grieving my heart for quite a while … the avalanche of immorality-called-good that is threatening to smother this country, this world … and our complete inability to “do” anything about it.

But mourn, and pray for all people. Lord, have mercy.

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21 A sinful man will flee reproof,
and will find an excuse according to his will.(Sirach 32)

Is there a more true statement? That is human nature in a nutshell.

I mean, look at my friend … a Christian who rationalizes her same-sex marriage.

And look at my mom … a Catholic who rationalized that it really was “ok” to divorce my dad.

And look at another friend who flatly refuses to even attempt to offer forgiveness to the drunk driver who killed her parents. Can you believe that?!!

AND … look at … look at … well, look at ME.

It’s sure easy to see other people rationalize the things they struggle with; it’s easy to judge them. But somehow it’s more difficult to see the rationalizing I do myself and recognize how I may be walking in complete denial.  Suddenly God’s ways don’t apply to me; I am an exception.

If I am stiff necked and want to follow my own path, God will allow me. One of the ways I am able to deceive myself is to look at others instead of myself. It seems doing that compounds my own sin; I begin to judge them, I become prideful.

Not so long ago I was doing just that; I was holding tight to what “I” wanted, what “I” deserved. My pity party was an amazing thing; “nobody” could understand. And besides, other people behaved worse and still got along ok in life.

How easy it is to deceive ourselves; to rationalize our sinful behavior; to give ourselves over to our own desires.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts (Psalm 139:23)

Please dear LORD, protect me from deceiving myself. Search my heart and mind and show me … help me to see … and then guide me back to your path, your ways. Please give me a heart of gratitude, and of surrender to you. In Jesus’ name I pray.

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