Have you ever bought a lottery ticket…a chance to win the big jackpot? In a world that tends to revolve around money, it’s tempting to want to have a lot of money. But the truth is while money can address some financial challenges, it cannot fulfill the deep desires of our hearts…Even if you disagree with this statement and especially if you disagree read on.
This is what God promises if we rejoice in Him: He will fulfill the deep desires of our hearts.
“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
Jesus also teaches us that true fulfillment requires a surrender and trust in Him.
“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:39
These words now have profound significance for me. For so many years I invested my time and energy in worldly pursuits. I thought success was all about climbing a career ladder, about money, power and influence. Some people I worked with motivated me by telling me I had executive potential, so I kept working hard towards the next promotion. It wasn’t until I reached the age of 40 that I realized my life was most incomplete. It was incomplete because I was not investing in my relationship with God. I reached 40 years of age without opening a Bible, in fact I didn’t own one. I wasn’t going to Church and I wasn’t praying. I felt depressed and it was because I was clinging to a definition for my life, a purpose, that was not God’s purpose for me. God gave me a grace through a sense of emptiness to realize that I needed to find Him. I felt I needed to begin searching for God, so I did.
The first thing I did was I went out and bought a Bible and I began to pray for God’s help.
The Bible teaches us that God wants us to seek Him. He’s waiting for us and if we make our relationship with Him a priority and give Him a chance to prove His love, He will. But we have to give Him a chance!
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
I am now 55 years old; wow where did all the time go. The last fifteen years have been an adventure with God. I discovered the greatest love the world has ever known and will ever know, the love of Jesus Christ. I have through His grace learned to trust in Jesus and surrender my life to Him. I have studied the Word of God for over a decade now and I continue to marvel at what a treasure God’s Word is. I keep discovering a new jewel in the Scriptures that elevates my mind beyond the temporal things of this world to the eternal things of God.
I have also discovered some secrets that I want to share with you. One of those secrets is about denial and carrying our cross.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
When you hear “deny yourself” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? What kind of picture do you see? Do you see yourself in a desert thirsting? Do you see yourself struggling and suffering?
Here’s the mystery about “denial”. When I began to truly deny myself and focus on God I found my life’s purpose.
Remember the Scripture: “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:39
I decided to give up reading fiction to focus on reading the Word of God. I gave up my Saturday mornings to go to a Bible studies group. I gave up buying things for me that were vanities and began donating to some charities. I started going to Church and volunteering and the more I gave up my time for “God’s work” – learning the Word of God and trying to live it, the more fulfilled I became.
Here’s another mystery about “denial”; it’s a gateway or bridge that enables us to disconnect from the things that don’t matter so we can connect to God and find the people and things that matter to Him… and when we do that, God indulges us with His grace and we don’t feel denied, we feel loved, we feel blessed, we feel privileged.
Consider a Sacred Vessel, a Chalice. If the Sacred Chalice is full of poison and I try to add a little bit of good wine to the poison what will happen? The poison will spoil the good wine!
So if we want to put the Sacred Chalice to good use, what should we do?
First we need to empty the Cup of the poison and then we need to clean the cup to make sure all the traces of poison are gone. And then once the Cup is empty and purified we can then use it to enjoy the good wine. Makes sense?
Understand that we are the Sacred Vessel’s of God and too often our lives are full of empty pleasures, distractions, temptations – poisons of various sorts that prevent God from filling us with His blessings and graces.
By carefully looking at our lives and eliminating the things that are cutting us off from God we are preparing room for Jesus to fill us with His Holy Spirit and divine inspiration so that we can begin to fulfill the plans He has for us.
Here’s my list of favorite things that bring me closer to Jesus.
All of these things prove that indeed you are giving Jesus a chance to show you how very, very much He loves you!
1. Read the Word of God and leverage the works of spiritual guides
I have found one of the most inexpensive ways to read great spiritual books is by buying yourself a digital e-reader. I love the books of Andrew Murray; He’s a great spiritual guide. I encourage you to check out his many books; they are amazing!
2. Spend Time Alone With God, Pray and Listen to His Voice
Spend some time alone with God and reflect quietly on God’s will: pray for His Holy Spirit to inspire you and just listen to God’s voice speaking to your conscience. In this day and age when our phones are always buzzing, it can be difficult to discern God’s voice. God will NOT speak over the noise, we have to get quiet and turn off all distractions…a little denial will result in an indulgence of grace from God.
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
God must be exalted in our lives. We must give Him the place of highest honour so that He can use us in whatever mission He desires.
3. Meditate on the Passion of Christ and Fall in Love with Jesus
Jesus said to St. Faustina, “I desire that you know more profoundly the love that burns in My Heart for souls and you will understand this when you meditate upon My Passion. Call upon My mercy on behalf of sinners; I desire their salvation…There are few souls who contemplate My Passion with true feeling; I give great graces to souls who meditate devoutly on My Passion.” Diary of St. Faustina 186, 737
“He who desires to go on advancing from virtue to virtue, from grace to grace, should meditate continually on the Passion of Jesus…There is no practice more profitable for the entire sanctification of the soul than the frequent meditation on the sufferings of Jesus Christ.” St. Bonaventure
Jesus wants obedience from us and obedience without passion for Jesus is very difficult, if not impossible. But for disciples who are passionately in love with their Saviour all things are possible!
4. Forgive and Be Forgiven
Jesus wants to forgive us: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Jesus also wants us to forgive one another: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37
Perhaps this very day, you could forgive someone that you have not yet forgiven. Let us ask God for the grace to discern our shortcomings. God will perfect us if we are willing to stay close to Him and listen to Him.
5. Come to the Lord’s Table and Let Jesus Feed Your Soul and then Do Whatever He tells you
Jesus stands at your door and knocks. He is knocking on the door to your heart. The only thing separating us from God is sin and a lack of trust and faith.
Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20
We are all invited to a divine supper with Jesus in the Mass.
Let us believe that Jesus is truly present to us in the Sacrament of the Eucharist for His Words are true.
“For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.” John 6:55-56
Let’s ask God to help us to be Jesus in the world as we commit to serving in any capacity God desires.
6. Give to the poor, volunteer in some way and if you can make a financial donation
There are so many wonderful Charities that need our donations to continue to do their good works. They need our money and our time.
“Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do.” Deuteronomy 15:10
When St. Francis of Assisi was on earth he was often seen crying. People asked “why are you crying Francis?” St. Francis answered “I am weeping over the pains and insults of my Divine Master. But what grieves me most is that men for whom He suffered so much never think of the torments He endured.”
Join your brothers and sisters in Christ that are giving glory to God by uniting in prayer everyday wherever they may be, at the time Our Lord Jesus died for us, 3pm (in our local time zones). Let’s honour Jesus by remembering His great suffering. Let’s never let a day go by without stopping to memorialize the time of His death, contemplating His Passion and praying for His mercy.
I am awaiting a response from the Office of Pope Francis that the Catholic Church endorse the peace movement A Peaceful Revolution in the Name of Jesus Christ and assist us in calling all followers of Christ to stop to remember the Passion of Christ at 3pm (in our local time zones) because 3pm is the time Jesus died for us. It is the Hour of Mercy! Let us unite in prayer at this time and call our brothers and sisters in Christ to join in as we pray for the mercy of Our Lord Jesus upon all!
Let’s not just celebrate the victory of our salvation. Let’s invest time to remember how much Jesus suffered to pay the price of our sins because in this way we will fall deeply in love with Our Saviour and temptation will lose its grip on us.
Let’s believe in the power of our united prayer. Put a reminder in your telephone to stop at 3pm; it’s the time Jesus died for you. Come to Him to thank Him for His sacrifice and pray for His mercy upon all souls and in this way we can become a little bit more like our Saviour Jesus for He never gives up on His people and neither should we!