….THE FEAR OF ‘FIGHT OR FLIGHT’….

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…Isn’t faith GREAT?

I know…not the way you would expect a sermon to start, but there it is.

Now then…on to business…*AHEM*….. GOD DOES NOT PLAY DICE WITH YOUR LIFE. Thought I would just clarify things before beginning.

See, most people when they encounter a problem in life IMMEDIATELY blame GOD for the problem…they sigh, look up, exhale deeply and say “Why me?”…want a revelation? GOD IS NOT THE ONE DOING IT…how do I know? Just look at JOB.

WHAT?!?!? NEVER HEARD OF JOB!?!? Here…let me help…(and remember, this is only the FIRST chapter)…

“In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job.

This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants.

He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.

His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.

One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;may the name of the Lord be praised.”

In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” – Job 1

See what he did there? He resisted the usual “WHY ME!?!?” and instead PRAISED God….he realized one basic truth: IT ALL BELONGS TO GOD ANYWAY….so if God wants it back, who is he to resist or complain?

Let’s look at another part…

“On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

“Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” – Job 2:1-10

Now WHY am I making this point? To help you realize one irrefutable truth…Faith can bring you through ANYTHING….it can help you stay calm in the face of fear, help you seek solutions to life’s overwhelming problems, and even help resolve the guilt or fear you have of your past..faith, my friends, can see you through ANYTHING.

You think YOUR life is hard, look at Job’s! What is an overdue water bill compared to having your house fall down? What is having a simple flu compared to having boils and sores all over you?? Yep, old Job had it rough…but in all of the trials and problems he suffered he NEVER lost his faith.

I see people who claim to have deep faith, but the minute something goes wrong they start blaming God for it….instead of laying the fault at the feet of the one who IS responsible for it..oh yeah..THAT guy….the OTHER one.

See, I seldom speak of Lucifer, or the devil, or satan…because I do not allow his wiles to infect my mindset…but I will divert from that, and explain my reasoning JUST THIS ONCE.

The Devil has a LOT of tricks in his arsenal…everything from lust, to grief. He uses these things to try and do one specific thing: to tear you away from God…to make you doubt, or even worse, ABANDON God in times of woe and worry.

He does every sneaky underhanded trick he knows to make you fall into his little quicksand pond..and that’s what it is, ladies and gents…QUICKSAND. You fall in, you struggle, you scream, you claw…and you only sink deeper….never realizing that if you relax, THINK for a moment, and look for a simple solution you can get out of it.

Now, I know some label this “Fight or Flight” in their heads, because they think that if they fight they will lose, or run away and have the guilt of whatever it is hanging over them for the rest of their lives.

Here is the sticky: WHAT IS PAST IS PAST. PERIOD. You either ACCEPT that errors were made, and make corrections in your way of thinking and acting that will make sure it never happens again, or you sink.

I have made mistakes…heck, if it were an Olympic sport I would be a triple gold medal winner …but the difference is I ACCEPT what I did, and have strove to make sure I do not make it again…which brings me to one other point:

GOD’S GRACE AND FORGIVENESS ARE GREATER THAN ANY MISTAKE YOU HAVE MADE…

Yup…it’s all there…waiting for you…all you have to do is ASK HIM…

My past is not stellar…nor is it happy…but because I one day simply said “Please Father, forgive me and help me” it all went away…oh, sure..the PAST cannot be changed, the mistakes are still there, but I DO NOT FEEL THEM ANY MORE.

Life is a series of challenges…we go from one thing to another, and in doing so we grow…and if we are careful and pay attention to our faith, it will grow with us. That is what life really IS all about…growing, and changing.

Now Job there, HE knew what he was about…he held onto his faith…did not blame God…rebuked those who would try to tear his faith apart…and what did he get for all of this? What can WE do when all of our troubles boil up around our neck like quicksand? Let me tell you…PRAY…yep…prayer….simple as that….

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16b

Prayer and praising our Father in Heaven not ONLY heals any wounds you may have given to God’s heart, but it ALSO cleans and bandages the wounds you do TO YOUR SOUL…a simple “Forgive me, Father” or “Help me, Father” and you would be amazed at how it works.

Faith is the ONE THING NO ONE CAN TAKE AWAY FROM YOU…it is your shield, your stronghold, your tower… they can damage the body, destroy the possessions, and take away all you have…but in the end, your faith is all you have. Either you hold onto it and use it to help buffer against the tide of woe and misery around you, or you cast it aside and sink into that cloying, slimy, stinking abyss that is regret and sorrow.

Let me share a bit of my past with you…

One day, a long time ago, I was in the Middle East, (Army tour, don’t ask), and I was having a REALLY bad day. One of the locals, a wise man of the local village who was my friend turned to me and said “My friend, I see you are troubled. Here, let me help you…this is a small bit of wisdom I have learned after many years of serving my God…’ALL IS AS GOD WILLS IT’…once you realize this, then nothing will take away your heart from God”

THAT is the marker…THAT is the point I woke up and realized “Hey,…IT IS JUST A BAD DAY…not a BAD LIFE!”… focusing on what we DO have, instead of what we DON’T…focusing on the GOOD we have done, and not the BAD…well…THAT leads you away from the “Flight” part and into the “FIGHT!” part….

But back to Job…all of these things that happened to him..all of these woes…how did God reward Job for his patience and faith? When even Job’s FRIENDS told him “Give up on God”?..he PRAYED for them..and this is what God said:

“My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.

After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.

The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation.

And so Job died, an old man and full of years.” – Job 42:10-17

In the end, friends, it is the same for us all…the king and the pawn go into the same box… it’s how we act DURING the in between that makes us memorable…we can either wallow in our misery, pining for days gone by, or over wrongs we did or were done to us…or we can stand up and take our lumps, accept that we made mistakes, ask for forgiveness, and march forward to a better life…either in this one, or the next.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 17 SEPTEMBER, 2015

Saint Lambert

Bishop of Maestricht, Martyr
(640-705)

Saint Lambert

Saint Lambert, born about 640, was a native of Maestricht, the son of illustrious Christians; his noble father entrusted his education to the holy Bishop Saint Theodard.

As a young man he wrought miracles, one day bringing forth a spring to quench the thirst of some workers building a church, and in this way he became known to all the city.

When Saint Theodard was assassinated in the defense of the possessions of the church, Lambert was chosen by the people, at the age of only 21 years, to be his successor.

He taught his flock the maxims of the Gospel and reproved vice with an apostolic liberty. His soul was perfectly nourished by grace and was totally dead to all earthly pleasures; his hands were open to distribute alms, his arms to receive those who were suffering, and his heart to take pity on the afflicted.

A revolution broke out a few years later and overturned the kingdom of Austrasia; our Saint was banished from his see because of his devotion to the former sovereign.

He retired to the monastery of Stavelo, where the observance was very regular, and there he obeyed the rule as strictly as the youngest novice.

One incident will suffice to show with how perfect a sacrifice of himself he devoted his heart to serving God.

As he was rising one night in winter to attend to his private devotions, he happened to let fall a wooden sandal.

The Abbot, without asking who had caused the noise, gave orders that the offender go and pray before the cross which stood before the church door.

Lambert, without any answer, went out into the court as he was, barefooted and covered only with his hair shirt; and in this condition he prayed for several hours, forgotten as he knelt before the cross.

Finally, when they noticed the holy bishop there, covered with snow, the Abbot and the monks fell to their knees, and asked his pardon.

God forgive you, he said, for thinking you stand in need of pardon for this action. As for myself, is it not in cold and nakedness that, according to Saint Paul, I am to discipline my flesh and serve God?

After seven years in the monastery he was recalled to his see. Although Saint Lambert had been personally enriched in the peace of his holy retirement, he had wept and continued to weep at seeing the majority of the churches of France laid waste.

His zeal in denouncing the manifold and notorious disorders existing in his diocese, led to his assassination, brought about like that of Saint John the Baptist, by an unfortunate woman.

She had led the king to repudiate his wife and enter publicly upon a scandalous life.

Saint Lambert was slain by the sword in his house, on the 17th of December, 705.

Reflection: How noble and heroic is the virtue of fortitude! how necessary for every Christian, and especially for a pastor of souls, that neither worldly views nor fears may ever in the slightest warp his integrity or blind his judgment!

(SOURCE: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 11)

READING OF THE DAY: 17 SEPTEMBER, 2015

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“A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table.

Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee.

Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears.

Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.”

Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

“Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty.

Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both.

Which of them will love him more?”

Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.”

He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?

When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.

You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment.

So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.

But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”

He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”‘ – Luke 7:36-50.