Our first visit today was the city of Caesarea by the Sea. This ancient city, founded by Herod the Great, the same Herod who was King when Christ was born, is my first testimony to better understand the reality that life goes on from generation to generation, and the physical places are in a constant state of change. This is a concept that most Americans simply do not appreciate only because of the short time our society has been in existence.
Our travel to Israel was uneventful, thank God, but long. We left Tampa International Airport at 11am Friday, January 24th, and arrived at Tel Aviv International Airport 9:30am on Saturday, January 25th. We were warned in America that arriving on the Sabbath would create a few delays as most Jews do not work on the Sabbath, as they keep the Mosaic Law. Thankfully, the longest part of passport control was waiting for them to open the booth. Once opened the line, our line anyway, went quickly and we were soon comfortably sitting on our bus.
You never know what to expect when you're traveling. This morning, I got a late start thanks to the snooze button, and there was a bit of traffic, but by God's grace, I was able to check in and get through security quickly, and still have time for a cup of coffee. People have asked me what I'm looking forward to, but I still have no answer. In fact, I'm fighting the temptation to have "any" expectation, I think so I won't be disappointed. Nonetheless, I'm quite excited to be on this journey. I've never been to the Holy Lands, but God physically walked on the ground there.
Ok brothers and sisters. I'm all packed. I have tested YouTube Live settings for the daily live broadcast. Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel so you can receive notifications when we go live each day. We've sent out reminders. Please keep me in your prayers and I embark upon the ancient tradition of Pilgrimage. May our Lord and Savior bless our ministry and our Holy Lands 2020 Pilgrimage.
If we think that God is somehow obligated to bless us, or to give us gifts, then we will likely not be grateful to Him. In truth we are not worthy of anything good from God. We do not deserve any blessings from him. If we are willing to accept this truth, then maybe we will be more thankful when God indeed chooses to bless us. How do we thank God? We come to the Church and we give Him gifts of thanks through our stewardship, olive oil for the lamps, prosforo for Holy Communion.
Every morning we wake up to another day filled with opportunities and choices, opportunities to honor God with our choices. In our morning prayers, we often ask God to bless our day and maybe even ask Him to intercede and help us with a particular struggle, or we may ask Him to help others in their struggles. Suffice it to say, our prayers are more often than not, filled with requests of God.
The first public words of Christ after His Baptism and temptation by the devil were words of inspiration. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4.17) Christ has invited us to change the way we look at life. He has invited us to look at those around us with the Light of Christ, rather than the darkness of the world. In a world filled with darkness, we have seen The Light of God, which will guide our path.
Throughout the Old Testament, we hear stories of God coming ‘just in time’ before it was too late to rescue His people. He was waiting for just the right time to enter into creation and finally defeat death, once and for all. Immediately when the world heard of His glorious birth, the world through King Herod, rejected God and sought to kill Him. If Christ had died then at birth, He still would have defeated death, but nobody would have believed it. It was necessary that He die publicly so when He rose from the dead, everyone would believe Him. God’s Timing is everything.
When the Gospel recalls the ancestors of Christ on the Sunday before Christmas, we are not only hearing of the ancestors of Christ, but our ancestors as well. When we hear the list of names found in beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, we are reminded of how God has fulfilled His promise to save us. In reminding us of this history, we are comforted hearing that even the righteous ancestors of God didn’t always get everything ‘right’ in their decisions.
In the Parable of the Great Banquet found in Luke 14.16-24, Christ describes how entrance into heaven will take place. For many of those who have been invited, heaven will be refused using a variety of excuses. Instead of the banquet being empty, the master Who is God, commands His servants to go and find everyone else in town to fill His House saying, “For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.” (Luke 14.24) Those who will enjoy the banquet didn’t do anything other than accept the invitation from God.