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Test the Spirits!


Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that, as you heard, is to come, but in fact is already in the world. You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, for the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They belong to the world; accordingly, their teaching belongs to the world, and the world listens to them. We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of deceit.  I John 4:1-6          

What a section of scripture to wrestle over, right? I mean, this is pretty straight forward stuff, right? If anyone acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh, he belongs to God, right? If they don’t they don’t, right?

If you will allow me to take a bit of liberty here, I would like to explore this section of scripture in a different way. A way you may never have looked at it before. I certainly had not.

Test the spirits; every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God.  

It hit me when reading a St. Agustine homily (VI,12) about half-way into point 12, he states: “Then is the spirit that is among the heretics of God, seeing they ‘confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh’?” He then goes on to name some heresies. The Arians, Eunomians, Macedonians,Cataphryges and Novatians. He then goes on: “Then have all these heresies the Spirit of God? Are they then no false prophets? Is there then no deception there, no seduction there? Assuredly they are antichrists, for’ they went out from us, but were not of us’.” St. Agustine then in point 13 of the same homily, concludes,” Thou sayest with the voice, deniest with the heart; sayest in words, deniest in deeds.” His point? ” For thine own honor dividest unity.”

This got me thinking of todays Christian heresies. Who is it, these days, that denies Christ come in the flesh?

It is every one who “went out from us, but were not of us” (the apostolic teachers) and denies “Christ come in the flesh” in the Eucharist.

If anyone other than St. John himself had written this letter, I might not have looked at it this way. In John’s gospel, chapter 6, Jesus says,”Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves.” This was a “hard statement; who can listen to it?” Many of His disciples “withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.”

I see the division and then, the denial. The division comes from not accepting the Apostolic teaching! The teaching that has remained the same, since the very beginning. Once broken off from the ” One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” it’s open, for free lance interpretation by anyone in any way they please. It reminds me of St. Paul’s letter to St. Timothy (II Tim. 3:5) warning him about the last days: “..having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof..” Could this be the denial of the power of the Holy Spirit, transforming the bread and the wine into the Body and Blood of Christ? It very well could be!

Again, I have taken some liberties in the interpretation of this passage. To my knowledge, the Church has never interpreted this passage this way, nor may it ever. So while it may not be in the realm of strict Catholic Magisterial teaching, it is within the guidelines of personal and/or spiritual interpretation that leads me to a greater love of God, and of my neighbor.I urge us all to seek Christ in the miracle that is the Eucharist, and to bring those who “went out from us” back home.

This week, let us pray and work for unity. Also for  an increase in our love for God and neighbor.

Amen.

The Heart of the Matter


Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and recieve from Him whatever we ask, because we keep His commandments and do what pleases Him. And His commandment is this: we should believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as He commanded us. Those who keep His commandments remains in Him, and He in them, and the way that we know that He remains in us is from the Spirit that He gave us.        I John 3:21-24

Why would our own hearts condem us? They wouldn’t….if our motives were pure.

As John begins this last section of chapter 3, he is reminding us of the motivation of our hearts, or our consciences. He has repeatedly reminded us of the importance of love; for God and for our brothers. In last weeks study, he stated, that if we loved in only “word or tongue”, with no action to back it up, the love of God didn’t remain in us. Now comes another test; what’s the motivation for me to act with love towards my brother? Is it for me to be seen and noticed by others, so that they may exclaim how righteous I am? Or is it purely and truely from the love of God that dwells within me?

 Only we, within ourselves, can answer these questions. We can fool other people, for they can not judge our hearts. Only we can…well us and God. So to stand before God in confidence is to stand before Him with a pure heart. Remember the beatitude,”Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.” But the benefit of a pure heart doesn’t end there. It also moves us from “seeing God” to “participating with God”, in His life, love and kingdom. As the Lord’s prayer teaches,” Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

With this purity of heart, of seeing and participating with God, we can also have confidence that we can recieve what we ask for in prayer. Why? John says, because we keep His commandments and do what pleases Him. As we act in this way, with pure motives and a pure conscience, we are assured that we remain in Him and He in us, and the way we know this is from the Spirit He gave us. His Spirit, leads us in all truth. He guides and forms our consciences and He is the ever-present reminder, to live our lives in a holy way. Pleasing to the Father as Christ Himself lived.

So this week, let us purify our hearts, examine our consciences and submit to the Holy Spirit’s call on our lives as His children. So that we may live a life worthy of Christ.

Amen.

HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!

FROM YOUR WONDERFUL WONDERFUL WIFE

AND CHILDREN!

Another Chapter is Ready


Looking for Home has Chapter 19 now.

Thanks and enjoy!

Tim

In Deed And In Truth


But whoever has this worlds goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him for if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.             I John 3:17-21 

How does the love of God abide in anyone who refuses to help his brother who is in need? The answer is simple…..it doesn’t!

God, who being love Himself, imparts this grace to love as He loves, to His children. For He created all people and we were all created in His image and His likeness. Scripture itself testifies of Him, it is,”…His will that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Pet. 3:9)

Why do we have such a hard time understanding this? Or do we understand it, but not act upon our understanding? We can know truth in our minds and deny it, but, if we know the truth in our hearts, isn’t it harder to deny?

This is what St. Paul described in I Cor. 5:14, as “the love of God that impels us”. God’s love is not a dormant love. It is a call to action. Love impels us to do something!

Years ago, when I fell in love with my wife, I was impelled to do something for her, with the love I felt toward her. To marry her, to commit my life to her and to make her happy. Now, I haven’t always done this perfectly, but nonetheless, it was and continues to be, what love impels me to do for her.

God’s love impels Him to do things as well. His love for us, impelled Him to send His Son to die for our redemption. Love is not just a noun, it’s also a verb!

So this is the point, to love as God loves, I must act upon the needs of the people around me. If I close my heart to those around me, what shall become of me?

Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me. And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.    Matt. 25:45-46  

So this week, let us let the love of Christ impel us to love others as Christ loves, and see Christ in our neighbors.

Amen.

Hate = Murder?


For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not marvel my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that know murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. I John 3:11-16        

Several times already in this letter, John has used the phrase,”heard from the beginning” pointing to basic apostolic teaching. The most basic of these teachings, yet the most profound and important one is… love. ( It must be, John keeps bringing it up!)

This should be the biggest difference between Christianity and the world’s other religions. But sadly this isn’t always the case.

When Jesus states in John’s gospel,” By this, all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” what He is telling us is that the world will be drawn into His fellowship (the Church) as they witness the love we show and ginuinely have for one another.

As children of God, we are given this ability to love as God the Father loves, who sent His only Son to redeem mankind from eternal damnation. The ability to love as the Son loves, sacrificialy. Not just telling us we should love, but showing us how to live it out and how much it truely costs. This ability dwells within us because we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Sent by the Father to lead and guide His children into “all truth” and to bear witness to the Father and the Son (John 16:13).

What hinders us from loving in this way? I’m sure there are many reasons and they may differ from person to person. But, I would venture to say, that the number one reason we are hindered also comes “from the beginning.” And that is the lie “you will be like God” spoken by the serpent in the garden. WE want to be the god of our life, WE want to be in control. WE don’t want to submit to anyone, WE want to be submitted to!

May our challenge this week be to not only love the people of our faith communities as Jesus does, but also to submit to God.

Since God is love, and the source of true love, we can only love as He loves, if we submit to Him in love.

Amen.