16 Dec Matthew 21:31 (LISTEN UP!)
Let’s welcome God by reflecting on this short Living In Faith Exchange (LIFE) Group devotion (website, Facebook), based on Living Faith. All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Col. 3:17
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. Matthew 21:31 (full readings)
Living Faith snippets: “Not the kind of news we like to hear, is it? We may not be canonizable saints-in-the-making, but we think of ourselves as basically decent people unlike, you know, “those people.” The problem with this perspective is that for Jesus there is no “us and them.” We’re all in this together, as far as he’s concerned.” by Mitch Finley
Steve’s Thoughts: I once heard a bible scholar say, “Whenever you see Jesus start something with, “Amen, I say to you…” you better LISTEN UP!” That has stuck with me over the years and I have found myself paying extra attention when I see that in scripture. I know Jesus is really driving a point home that needs to be considered within my own heart. Today’s reading reminds me that I have bias, judgement, and prejudice in my heart. Only God knows and judges hearts. I can say that in my life some of the most powerful witnesses for God have come from people who came from extreme backgrounds prior to encountering the Risen Lord and repenting. Jesus is calling all of us to repentance this Advent season, so we will have room in the manger, our hearts, for Jesus. Dear Jesus, please clean out the garbage in the manger of my heart so that there is room for you this Christmas season.
Faith Challenges: Let’s generously share our LIFE Group by forwarding a devotion to others or by using the “invite people to join” link on the Facebook Group. Steve, Rich, or Pat will gladly add others to the email list.
* NEW: Advent is a time for waiting and preparation…take some time this Advent season to receive the grace of the Sacrament of Confession.
Counter-Culture News: LifeSiteNews, American Family Association, Priests for Life
* Let’s never forget the horrific reality of abortion (images), #1 cause of death in America (23% of pregnancies). Let’s courageously share ProLife Truth to create social tension for exposing abortion’s unjust peace, rebuilding a Culture of Life for setting the unborn (and parents) free!
Our Prayers: Those who pray together stay together. Fasting ideas in footnote below.
* Prayer to end abortion, abused children, chastity, peace, our enemies, our troops, depression/despair, prisoners, politicians, illnesses/injuries, jobs, natural disasters, refugees, addictions, persecuted believers, Peters family (JP, Rebekah), Health care reform bill, Scott Casmer (Helene Couchon, accident recovery)
* NEW: Joe Hourigan (Anne Hourigan’s intense pregnancy nausea)
Feast Day: Blessed Honoratus Kosminski
Faith Quote: “The Advent mystery is the beginning of the end of all in us that is not yet Christ.” by Thomas Merton
Through Christ our Lord,
* Prayer: Prayer connects us with God’s will & His miracles, changing us & helping others. ‘If you pray that God will move a mountain and He doesn’t, assume Christ wants you to climb it instead.’
* Fasting: Let’s fast from things that take our eyes off Jesus (selfishness, pornography, bitterness, criticalness, impatience, gossip, excessive video games, etc) and take on things that fix our eyes on Jesus (selflessness, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, patience, understanding, caring, helping, listening).
* Defend the unborn: ‘Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to death; don’t stand back and let them die’ (Prov 24:11). ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you’ (Jer 1:5). ‘It is a great poverty that a child must die that you might live as you wish’ (Blessed Mother Teresa).
* Evangelization: Let’s make room for unbelievers (be a friend, make a friend, lead a friend to Christ) and perpetual re-evangelization of self and those near us, by way of daily prayer (relationship) and following Christ’s example of selfless love, mercy, and service (Matt 28:19).