“Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Welcome as we continue our journey of study and re-commit ourselves to the work of following, witnessing to, and sharing Jesus.

What have we been focused on for so many weeks? It is simply this, living God’s great generosity. Jesus taught us to live this way and calls us to accept responsibility for generosity and follow through.

Last Sunday the message shifted to reflection; how well we are living up to Jesus’ call. We were asked to stop and think and figure out the gaps. Where have we lost sight of our responsibility?

It is an important reflection to undertake especially as we approach the end of the Church year and face up to consequences, Jesus’ return.

Jesus’s parable today is about those consequences. Fail to live the gospel life, think things are just good enough, neglect the practice of persistent generosity, reject the notion of turning, what the Greek’s called metanoia, a deep inner affect wherein one is spiritually converted, and we find ourselves locked out.

Today’s words of accountability are hard to hear for many in the world where the way always seems easy, broad, and well paved. For many, the notions of preparation, responsibility, and consequences no longer bear any significance. 

Don’t study or do well on your tests, pass anyway. Neglect kindness and generosity and replace it with cruelty, bullying, and meanness and you’re a hero. Hate and you have a huge following. Exploit your body and God’s way of love and you have fans. This and so many other ways the world closes one off from any accountability.

Consider this, groups, and organizations as diverse as CAP, Scouting, 4H, FFA, and organizations like our YMSofR and ANS, as well as Church itself all have trouble attracting members because members have to agree to accountability. One must accept responsibility for doing something.

God paints a vision for us. Accept wisdom – meaning understanding and acceptance of what God wants and be blessed. Wisdom tells us that there will be accountability for the way we live. The psalmist tells us that hungering for God’s way brings great favor.

Let us then be wise and stay awake, preparing with responsibility and accepting God’s way to accountability.

The way of life.

Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.

Thank you for joining as we testify, proclaim, and evangelize the great and Holy Name of Jesus. 

Today we come near to the conclusion of this Pre-Lenten season. 

Over two weeks we considered choices and consequences, the fact that hot stoves of sin are everywhere and so often seem like fun. If we chose that seeming fun, we get burned and must come to the realization that in doing so we abandon the promises of God.

We know that how we live now, how close the world grows toward the kingdom we are supposed to be building, and how we live in eternity depend on choices made here and now. 

If we have lived up to our resolution by taking this Pre-Lenten season as an opportunity to identify the stoves in our lives and have planned our strategies for eliminating them this Lent, we have done well.

Um, but Father, I’ve been kind of busy, got distracted, and lost the last two weeks. 

I can empathize. I used to get all kinds of awards in grade school for “deportment.” It means I carried myself well and was a ‘good boy.’ The part I did not do well in was use of time. I can still hear my mother saying – Your report card says that you did not make good use of your time. Too much daydreaming I suppose.

Jesus takes a two-pronged approach for those of us who have not made good use of our time, who have not focused. 

Jesus’ first approach is to remind us of the necessity to focus – to pay attention to God’s way and to ensure He is indeed the Master of our life.

Whatever worldly/everyday stuff gets in our way should not be counted as consequential. Whatever seems important to us must pale against the glory of God and how our lives proclaim Him. Each moment needs to be dedicated to God – loving Him, devoted to Him, and serving Him. In short- pay attention to what is truly important and serve that choice.

Next, Jesus veers into reminders of God’s care. He knows our weakness, He saw his disciples get easily distracted, so He speaks of the fact that our focus must not be given in vain, but rather is to be toward the One Who will see to our every need.

Jesus left no gaps. Faith in God and dedication to God, making choices for God and toward God leads to blessed consequences: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides

As we have been reminded, making choices for hot stoves and away from God leads to loss and eventually total destruction.

In these last two-and-a-half days, let us use our time wisely. See the distraction trying to pull you away, push the distraction away for tomorrow will take care of itself.. Nothing is more important than the right now in our focus on what God wants this Lent and saying yes to where the Holy Spirit leads.

The way of life.

“For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Thank you for joining as we testify, proclaim, and evangelize the great and Holy Name of Jesus. 

Today we continue in this Pre-Lenten season. 

Last week we considered choices, the fact that the hot stoves of sin are everywhere and so often seem like fun. Jesus’ way seems so different, so odd, and so hard. No one does that, do they? 

We resolved to take this Pre-Lenten opportunity to identify the stoves in our lives, those areas of disaster we reach out to, the ways we fail to represent Jesus’ gospel way. We reminded ourselves of what will happen if we do not stop reaching for those hot stoves of sin and destruction and determined to prepare ourselves for eliminating them this Lent, to live the way Jesus asks us to live.

Today we continue in our study of Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus continues to ask us to live His Father’s commandments in their fullness. Thou shalt not kill is not just about physical murder, but about any hardship or rejection we would bring upon another, even if only in our thoughts. If we hold ourselves back and away when another in in need, we kill. It may not seem at all bloody to us, but it is – emotionally, spiritually, psychologically. 

But, what if someone is mean to me, what if they are hurting me? Jesus’ instruction seems clear – turn the other cheek. Seems hard, but simple. What we miss is the way we act is a sort of dam against sin. We, my brothers and sisters, have power to thwart sin, to turn the tide of sin. If we respond to harm, meanness, rejection, anger, and so many other evils in kind we are just perpetuating evil, fostering more sin. But if we act as Jesus asks, we stop that sin right there. We break the chain of sin.

So often in the Christian life it seems we are making no headway, we aren’t changing anything. What we tend to miss is the downstream effect of our faithfulness. Our impact is huge if we turn the other cheek, if we hand over more than demanded of us, if we go the extra mile, if we give to those who ask – perfect examples our work with CarePortal and Operation SouperBowl.

Jesus demands a lot of us. He asks us for perfection in our gospel walk, to be real kingdom dwellers who live so very differently from the way of the world.

There are consequences to our choices, to choosing the hot stove or the gospel, to reflecting the world and its ruler or to reflecting our Heavenly Father. Those consequences have impact not only here in the present world but also throughout eternity.

As we continue in this Pre-Lenten time of reflection and preparation let us not just consider choices but also consequences. How we live now, how close the world grows toward the kingdom we are supposed to be building, and how we live in eternity depends on the here and now.