Sunday, January 22, 2017

What is Your Plan for Salvation?

In just two weeks we will again begin a spiritual journey as Orthodox Christians. Our annual journey toward Pascha will begin February 5th and come to a grand conclusion on Sunday, April 16th when we will celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. But long before we can celebrate we have some preparations to focus on. Long before we can see the Lord on Pascha we need to get ourselves ready today. If we want to see Lord, we need to plan ahead.

With Christmas and Epiphany in our rearview mirror, today the Church gives us a glimpse of what is to come. Today the Church draws our attention to a short man who “sought to see who Jesus was.” (Luke 19.3) We know him as Zacchaeus a rich tax collector who climbed a tree to see Jesus because he was short. This Gospel is read each year two weeks before the Triodion begins. When you hear about Zacchaeus, you know the Triodion and Great Lent is just around the corner. But it is never just a story. The Church invites us to learn from Zacchaeus for our journey that is about to begin. What are we asked to learn?
  • Zacchaeus was a sinner and was lost.
  • Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus.
  • Zacchaeus planned in advance to see Jesus.
  • Zacchaeus put his plan into action to see Jesus.
  • Zacchaeus saw Jesus.
  • Zacchaeus heard Jesus call out to him.
  • Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus into his home.
  • Zacchaeus gave half of his wealth to the poor.
  • Zacchaeus repaid all the people he stole money from by four times.
  • Jesus came to save the lost.
  • Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house.”
  • The crowd didn’t want Jesus to visit Zacchaeus.

With the Triodion only two weeks away and Great Lent, I invite you to replace the name “Zacchaeus” with your name. Then go back and read the story and ask yourself...
  • What is my plan to be saved by God?
  • How will I put my plan into action?
  • How will I welcome God into my heart and home?
  • How will I repent for my sins?
  • How will I respond when the crowd doesn’t want me to see Jesus?

Remember....
  • The Church is the Body of Christ.
  • The Church is here to help you answer these questions.
  • Trust the Church.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Only Some will be Saved

When Ten Lepers (Luke 17.12-19) approached Christ and begged for help, they were told to return to the priests and show themselves. As they turned, they were instantly healed, but only one returned to Christ to thank Him and worship Him. All nine were healed, but only was saved when Christ said, “Your faith has saved you.” (Luke 17.19) When we ask for God’s blessings and then do not return to Him to properly give thanks, we turn our back on Him and go about our day, we are no better than the nine. They should have known better. We should know better. There is a proper way to thank God, through proper preparation and participation in the Divine Liturgy which includes receiving Holy Communion every Sunday. If we come to Church and return home without receiving Holy Communion, then we are no better than the other nine. When Jesus asks “where are the others,” He is speaking about us!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

When You Thank God

It happens all the time. You realize that you need God for something so you call out to Him in your prayers for that one moment of mercy. You pray that He would look at you and cause your trouble to fade into the distance, and for a brief moment you forget your struggle. For that brief moment, your life is totally in focus and all you realize God has never forgotten you. You smile to yourself knowing how much God loves you, and you have two choices.

At that moment when everything is perfectly clear, you feel empowered by God’s blessing and you “charge full steam ahead” with your plans for the future. You forget that just moments ago you were calling out to God for mercy. You forget that just moments ago you weren’t sure where your life would end up. You forget that moments ago all you could think about was the struggle that consumed you. You forget that it was God that blessed you.

or...

At that moment when everything is perfectly clear, you suddenly realize that it wasn’t an accident that you can see clearly. You suddenly realize that just moments ago you didn’t know how you would solve the problems that consume you. You suddenly realize that just moment ago you were calling on God. You suddenly realize that God has blessed you.

There isn’t much difference between forgetting that God blessed you, and realizing just how much He has blessed you because He blesses you whether or not you remember Him. He blesses you whether or not you give Him credit. He blesses you whether or not you return to thank Him. But when you thank Him, you get an additional blessing. When you thank Him you are made well; you are healed from what really affects you.

When you thank God, rather than just receiving His blessing and going about your day, you are raised up to heaven to participate in God’s great joy. When thank God, you are able to continue on your journey to heaven free from the burden and temptations of the world. When you thank God, you are no longer a foreigner, but a member of God’s family, His chosen people.


Today I want you to know that God has reached out and healed you just because you asked. You now have two choices. When you go home, will you forget that it was God had made everything clear, or will you realize how much God loves you? Will you charge ahead or thank God? It is your choice to make, but you should remember that it is only those who remember to thank Him who are made well. It is only those who return to God after He blesses who hear the word, “Your faith has made you well.”