Category Archives: Bible

Sunday Devotional: ‘Who dwells in unapproachable light’

1 Timothy 6:11-16

But you, man of God, pursue righteousness,
devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
Compete well for the faith.
Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called
when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.
I charge you before God, who gives life to all things,
and before Christ Jesus,
who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate for the noble confession,
to keep the commandment without stain or reproach
until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ
that the blessed and only ruler
will make manifest at the proper time,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light,
and whom no human being has seen or can see.
To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.

The Holy Trinity of three Persons in one God is an enduring mystery that, through the ages, the brilliant minds of the brightest theologians have not been able to plumb.

Since Jesus, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, became incarnate, lived with, and was seen by countless percipient witnesses before He ascended and left our mortal coil, the “King of kings . . . who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see” referred to by St. Paul in the above passage can only be the First Person — the Father and Creator of the Universe.

As St. Paul said in Colossians 1:15:

“The Son is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.”

Indeed, Jesus Himself said (John 14:6):

“I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Here’s a little glimpse of the unimaginable awesomeness of the Creator, “whom no human being has seen or can see”:

And yet the Being “who dwells in unapproachable light” sent His only Son to suffer and die for us puny wretched humans. In the words of St. Paul in 1 Timothy 2:5-6:

“For there is one God.
There is also one mediator
between God and the human race,
Christ Jesus, himself human,
who gave himself as ransom for all.”

How He must love us . . . .

Christ crucified

May the love and peace and joy of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: Character matters

Luke 16:10, 13

Jesus said to his disciples:
“The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones;
and the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones….
No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

cross1

Americans have developed the woeful ability to compartmentalize.

In 1998, during Bill Clinton’s second presidential term, his sordid adulterous affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky came the light. Clinton’s public denial of the affair (“I did not have sexual relations with that woman”) led to his impeachment (and acquittal) for perjury and obstruction of justice.

Despite all that, I remember being dismayed at the time by a poll showing that a majority of Americans insisted that Clinton’s behavior was merely his “personal” life, which is separate from and does not affect his “public” life and conduct as U.S. president.

The words of Jesus in the above passage from Luke 16 is a reminder that morality cannot be compartmentalized and sectioned off into separate, discrete rooms. Instead, the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones.” For “No servant can serve two masters”— you’re either with God, or you’re not. It’s that simple.

Let this be your guide in the upcoming November 8 election, as well as in all our dealings with each other and with ourselves.

Our Founding Fathers knew well morality cannot be compartmentalized, and how integral morality is for democratic self-government:

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” -John Adams, 1798.

“Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” -George Washington.

“[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” -Benjamin Franklin

“[W]ithout virtue there can be no liberty.” -Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence.

“[F]or avoiding the extremes of despotism or anarchy . . . the only ground of hope must be on the morals of the people. I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments. [T]herefore education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God.” -Gouverneur Morris, penman and signer of the Constitution of the United States of America.

Crossmedj

The Greatest Commandment of all is to love God with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind, and with all our strength.

Jesus, I love You. Thank you for suffering and dying for me and for this wretched humanity.

May the peace and joy and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: He came for sinners

Luke 15:1-10

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them he addressed this parable.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.

“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”

Good Shepherd saves lost lamb

It is said that the unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit is to imagine that one’s sin(s) is so great that it is unforgivable. Imagine the gall of delimiting the omnipotence of the Creator! In other words, the sin against the Holy Spirit is not that God won’t or can’t forgive you; it is that the human refuses to ask for and receive forgiveness. Since God respects the free will He’s given us — even the freedom to not believe in Him and reject His mercy — He does not thrust Himself on us. And so the sinner remains unrepentant to the end, spurning the Creator’s clemency and love.

The proof against such an arrogant conviction that one’s sins are so great as to be unforgivable is in the lives and repentance of countless individuals who had done truly terrible deeds.

One of them is Saul, the highly-educated Roman Jew who hunted down and persecuted fellow Jews who were the earliest followers of Christ, most notably the killing by stoning of St. Stephen. Until the day when Christ really got Saul’s attention by striking him with blindness and spoke to him:

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Saul remained sightless and neither ate nor drank for 3 days, after which he became an entirely different man, which is always a mark of true conversion. He renamed himself Paul, which means “little”. Not only did he stop persecuting Christians, he became a devoted follower of Christ and arguably the most influential early missionary who spent the rest of his life traversing the Mediterranean Basin in a time when travel was arduous, laborious and dangerous, to bring His Word to both Jews and Gentiles.

More than any of Christ’s disciples, it was Paul who fully understood that, by His incarnation, death and resurrection, Jesus replaced the covenant of the Old Testament with a new covenant. This was made clear by Jesus Himself in the Last Supper:

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor 11.25; cf. Mt 26.27-29; Mk 14.24, Lk 22.20; Heb 8.6, 9.15).

Henceforth, God’s chosen are all who “take up their cross” and follow Jesus the Christ. In other words, what once was a tribal religion — Judaism — is now superceded by the universal faith of Christianity. That is why St. Paul is called the “Apostle to the Gentiles.” Without the work of Paul, formerly the sinful Saul of Tarsus, you and I might not be Christians.

So if you think Christ had come only for the perfect and the good, here is Paul’s testimony:

1 Timothy 1:13-16

I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant,
but I have been mercifully treated
because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.
Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant,
along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Of these I am the foremost.
But for that reason I was mercifully treated,
so that in me, as the foremost,
Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example
for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.

Paul was beaten, arrested and imprisoned on more than one occasion. According to Christian tradition, he was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero on June 29, AD 67 — the same day as St. Peter was crucified upside down because Peter felt himself unworthy to be crucified as His Lord had been.

Shortly before he was martyred, St. Paul had written to St. Timothy these famous words:

“I am even now ready to be sacrificed, and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith. As for the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice which the Lord, the just judge, will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love His coming.”

For all these reasons — the sinful, pre-conversion Saul; the post-conversion Paul who turned his back on his past and devoted the rest of his life to Jesus; the Apostle to the Gentiles who taught us about Jesus’ New Covenant; the author of all those letters that teach and inspire “so long as men can breathe, or eyes can see”; the saint who so loves Jesus that he joyfully went to his martyrdom — I love and admire St. Paul with all my heart.

So whenever you imagine your sins to be so great as to be unforgivable — which, of course, is really your overweening arrogance speaking — just remember the man who once was named Saul.

Laughing JesusSee also:

May the love and peace and “ocean of mercy” of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: On slavery and welfare

Philemon 9-17

I, Paul, an old man,
and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus,
urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus,
whose father I have become in my imprisonment;
I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you.
I should have liked to retain him for myself,
so that he might serve me on your behalf
in my imprisonment for the gospel,
but I did not want to do anything without your consent,
so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary.
Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while,
that you might have him back forever,
no longer as a slave
but more than a slave, a brother,
beloved especially to me, but even more so to you,
as a man and in the Lord.
So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.

The above reading from St. Paul’s letter to Philemon is a powerful statement against both slavery as well as the institution of goverment-enforced welfare.

The letter was written by St. Paul during an imprisonment, believed to be in Rome between A.D. 61 and 63. The letter concerns Onesimus (pronounced “o-NEH-sih-muhs”), a slave who had run away from his master, Philemon (pronounced “fih-LEE-muhn”), an early Christian in Asia Minor who was a slave-owner and a minister of the house church that met in his home.

In their imprisonment, Paul converted Onesimus to Christ, then sends him back to his master, Philemon, with a private letter appealing on behalf of Onesimus, asking that he be welcomed not as a slave but as an equal — a brother in Christ.

By presenting Onesimus as “brother, beloved…to me, but even more so to you,” Paul voiced an idea that was revolutionary for, at the time, human slavery was an accepted institution that the Christian communities of the first century were in no position to challenge.

It is no wonder that the abolition movement that began in the 18th century in the UK and the US was pioneered, led, and staffed by Christians — a fact that is little known or publicized today.

Both Philemon and Onesimus were martyred at Colossaei during the first general persecution in the reign of Nero, and are regarded as saints by several Christian churches. (Note: The word “saint” simply means “holy”; the title of “saint” is honorific, a sign of our respect.) For the martyrdom of Paul, see “St. Paul, whom Christ struck blind”.

St. Onesimus

As for welfare, an institution that has become colossal and immovable in our time in the form of the bloated welfare state, there can be no more powerful statement against it than Paul’s words in his letter to Philemon:

“so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary”

Charity is voluntary, which studies show conservatives give more in both money and services than liberals.

But welfare, the revenue for which is extracted via confiscatory taxation, is not charity because it is enforced, and an involuntary “good” is no longer a good.

And yet “liberal” Christians precisely support this enforced charity — an oxymoron — in the name of “social justice”. But then those same “liberal” Christians also are “pro-choice,” a euphemism for government-sanctioned abortion — the lawful killing of unborn and entirely innocent human beings, for whom Christ weeps.

Jesus laughs with babyMay the peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: ‘Every one who exalts himself will be humbled’

Sirach 3:17-18

My child, conduct your affairs with humility,
and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.
Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,
and you will find favor with God.

The opposite of humility is narcissism or grandiosity — the exaltation and excessive love of your self. As such, narcissism is an offense against God because it violates the first of the Ten Commandments:

“I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange gods before me.”

As American culture becomes increasingly corrupt, it’s no accident that studies testify to a corresponding increase in narcissism “across the board,” in the words of San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge, the author of Generation Me (Free Press, 2006).

As recounted by Dan Zak for Washington Post, narcissism and one of its behavioral manifestations — entitlement — among college students have increased steadily since 1979. The data are clear: The ascent of narcissism and entitlement is dramatic. Professor Twenge observed:

“What we really have is a culture that has increasingly emphasized feeling good about yourself and favoring the individual over the group. And that has happened across the board, culturally, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. I have a 14-month-old daughter, and the clothing available to her has ‘little princess,’ or ‘I’m the boss,’ or ‘spoiled rotten’ written on it. This is what we’re dressing our babies in. Schools have programs designed to boost self-esteem. Parents say things like, ‘You shouldn’t care what other people think of you.’ We’re inundated with the notions of ‘feeling special,’ ‘believing in yourself’ and ‘be anything you want to be.'”

narcissismFor that reason, Twenge coined the term “iGeneration” (“i” as in both iPod and “me, me, me”) for the Millennials — those born in the general range of 1981 to 1999.

It is also no accident that the cultural rot and increase in narcissism “across the board” are accompanied by a dramatic increase in overt and coarsened sexuality, which permeats everything.

In a 1992 encyclical, Pastores Dabo Vobis, Pope/St. John Paul II explained the cause-and-effect connection between licentious (or unrestrained) sexuality and narcissism — the adulation of the self:

“…that outlook on human sexuality according to which sexuality…becomes degraded and thereby reduced to nothing more than a consumer good. In this case, many young people undergo an affective experience which, instead of contributing to a harmonious and joyous growth in personality which opens them outward in an act of self-giving, becomes a serious psychological and ethical process of turning inward toward self, a situation which cannot fail to have grave consequences on them in the future. In the case of some young people a distorted sense of freedom lies at the root of these tendencies. Instead of being understood as obedience to objective and universal truth, freedom is lived out as a blind acquiescence to instinctive forces and to an individual’s will to power.… On the religious level, such a situation, if it does not always lead to an explicit refusal of God, causes widespread indifference and results in a life which, even in its more significant moments and more decisive choices, is lived as if God did not exist.”

It is also no accident that all of these “Do As Thou Wilt” cultural indicators are accompanied by, not just the tolerance, but the celebration of homosexuality and transgenderism.

Psychiatrist Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, with more than 35 years of clinical experience treating homosexuals, including homosexual priests, said in a 2011 interview that “Narcissism — a personality disorder in which an insatiable need for admiration often leads to attention-seeking behavior — is prevalent among men who struggle with homosexuality.”

Jesus loves us this much

And what’s the antidote to narcissism?

The right kind of love.

The Greatest Commandment of all is to love God with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength.

Luke 14:11

“…For every one who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

May the peace and love and humility of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: Not everyone goes to Heaven

Luke 13:22-30

Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.”

Coming HomeA 2005 ABC News poll found that 89% of Americans believed in Heaven, which is consistent with data going back 30 years. More interesting is the fact that among those who believed in Heaven, 85% thought they would personally go there, such is our preening narcissism.

Today’s Gospel reading from Luke, however, is a sober reminder that we flatter ourselves when we imagine that we are destined for Heaven, for our Lord Jesus Christ said the gate is “narrow” and many “will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”

Recall that although we read and hear about near-death experiences (NDE) of what appears to be Heaven, there are NDE accounts of being in a dark place, full of demons. As an example, during his 2004 quadruple bypass surgery, Bill Clinton had a frightening near-death experience in which he found himself in a dark hellish place. As he recounted in an interview on ABC’s Primetime Live:

“I saw, like, dark masks crushing, like, death masks being crushed, in series, and then I’d see these great circles of light and then, like, Hillary’s picture or Chelsea’s face would appear on the light, and then they’d fly off into the dark.”

See also:

The road to Heaven is a rigorous and demanding one. Afterall, Jesus did say “I have come to set the earth on fire” (Luke 12:49). So we are to look upon our life on this mortal coil as a trial by fire, wherein we must rid “ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters,
You have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children:
“My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord
or lose heart when reproved by him;
for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;
he scourges every son he acknowledges.”
Endure your trials as “discipline”;
God treats you as sons.
For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?
At the time,
all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,
yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who are trained by it.

So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.
Make straight paths for your feet,
that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.

Only the holy go to Heaven. I want to be holy, and I so want you all to be holy. So let’s help each other trod that hard and “narrow” path of goodness, no matter the slings and arrows, the trials and tribulations. And at all times, “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1,2).

Christ crucifiedThe Greatest Commandment of all is to love God with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength.

Jesus, I love you.

Rejoice that we have lived to see another glorious Sunday! And may the love and peace and joy and goodness of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you!

~Eowyn

Sunday Devotional: ‘I have come to set the earth on fire’

Luke 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples:
I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

I don’t know how and when it happened, but sometime in the ages, our Lord Jesus Christ, who chose hard work as a brawny carpenter and who instructed that “if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36), became depicted as an effeminate whimp tossing rainbows and sprinkling fairy-dust, while spouting facile words of “peace” and “love”.

But the above passage from Luke 12 is a sober reminder that Jesus didn’t say following Him would be easy. Once you are committed to good, there can be no compromise with evil and with those who choose and support evil — even when they are your family and friends.

As St. Paul reminds us, we are part of a much larger war: “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” (Ephesians 6:12)

And though we may “grow weary and lose heart,” we must “persevere in running the race that lies before us” (Hebrews 12:3,1).

How?

By ridding “ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us” and “keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1,2).

Ephesians 6:13-16

Therefore, put on the armor of God,
that you may be able to resist on the evil day and,
having done everything, to hold your ground.
So stand fast with your loins girded in truth,
clothed with righteousness as a breastplate,
and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.
In all circumstances,
hold faith as a shield,
to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Armor of God I can do all things through Christ
The Greatest Commandment of all is to love God with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, and with all your strength.

And may the courage of St. Paul, and the strength and serenity and joy of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you this glorious Sunday!

~Eowyn