By: Bobot Apit

Mar 9, 2011 - Wednesday Meditation (Let's Check Our Motives!)

True piety is something more than feeling good or looking holy. True piety is loving devotion to God. It is an attitude of awe, reverence, worship and obedience. It is a gift and working of the Holy Spirit that enables us to devote our lives to God with a holy desire to please him in all things (Isaiah 11:1-2).
 
Ash Wednesday
Joel 2: 12-18
Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14+17
2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 "Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in  heaven. 2 "Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received  their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward  you. 16 "And when you fast, do not look dismal, like
the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I  say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
 
 
Meditation by Don Schwager
Are you hungry for God and do you thirst for his holiness? God wants to set our hearts ablaze with the fire of his Holy Spirit that we may share in his holiness and radiate the joy of the gospel to those around us. St. Augustine of Hippo tells us that there are two kinds of people and two kinds of love: “One is holy, the other is selfish. One is subject to God; the other endeavors to equal Him.” We are what we love. God wants to free our hearts from all that would keep us captive to selfishness and sin. “Rend your hearts and not your garments” says the prophet Joel (Joel 2:12). The Holy Spirit is ever ready to transform our hearts and to lead us further in God’s way of truth and holiness.
 
Why did Jesus single out prayer, fasting, and almsgiving for his disciples? The Jews considered these three as the cardinal works of the religious life. These were seen as the key signs of a pious person, the three great pillars on which the good life was based. Jesus pointed to the heart of the matter. Why do you pray, fast, and give alms? To draw attention to yourself so that others may notice and think highly of you? Or to give glory to God? The Lord warns his disciples of self-seeking glory – the preoccupation with looking good and seeking praise from others. True piety is something more than feeling good or looking holy. True piety is loving devotion to God. It is an attitude of awe, reverence, worship and obedience. It is a gift and working of the Holy Spirit that enables us to devote our lives to God with a holy desire to please him in all things (Isaiah 11:1-2).
 
What is the sure reward which Jesus points out to his disciples? It is communion with God our Father. In him alone we find the fulness of life, happiness, and truth.  May Augustine's prayer, recorded in his Confessions, be our prayer this Lent: When I am completely united to you, there will be no more sorrows or trials; entirely full of you, my life will be complete. The Lord wants to renew us each day and give us new hearts of love and compassion. Do you want to grow in your love for God and for your neighbor?  Seek him expectantly in prayer, with fasting, and in generous giving to those in need.
 
The forty days of Lent is the annual retreat of the people of God in imitation of Jesus' forty days in the wilderness. Forty is a significant number in the scriptures.  Moses went to the mountain to seek the face of God for forty days in prayer and fasting. The people of Israel were in the wilderness for forty years in preparation for their entry into the promised land.  Elijah fasted for forty days as he journeyed in the wilderness to the mountain of God . We are called to journey with the Lord in a special season of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and penitence as we prepare to celebrate the feast of Easter, the Christian Passover. The Lord gives us spiritual food and supernatural strength to seek his face and to prepare ourselves for spiritual combat and testing. We, too, must follow in the way of the cross in order to share in the victory of Christ's death and resurrection. As we begin this holy season of testing and preparation, let's ask the Lord
for a fresh outpouring of his Holy Spirit that we may grow in faith, hope, and love and embrace his will more fully in our lives.
 
"Lord Jesus, give me a lively faith, a firm hope, a fervent charity, and a great love of you. Take from me all lukewarmness in the meditation of your word, and dullness in prayer. Give me fervor and delight in thinking of you and your grace, and fill me with compassion for others, especially those in need, that I may respond with generosity."
 
 
 
Supplementary Reading
Faith
 
"Assuredly I (Jesus) say to you, I have not found such a great faith; not even in Israel ." -Matthew 8:10
 
The words in Matthew 8:10 were spoken by Jesus to a soldier who had come to Christ and asked for his servant to be healed. The soldier had just said to Jesus that there is no need for the Master to even come to his house, for this soldier knows that all Christ has to do is say the word, and his servant will be healed. Jesus' response that he had "not found such great faith" has always fascinated me. I read the words of Jesus in Matthew 8:10 and have so often pondered what kind of faith Jesus would call great.
 
In my lifetime, I have seen so many declare with conviction that they have faith that all things are possible, yet I somehow sensed there was a hesitancy to their words. That if they were placed on the witness stand before a great litigator, their faith would fold like a cheap tent in a stiff breeze. I for one am guilty as charged. Yes, I believe that with Christ, all things are possible, but there have been times in my life when I wondered why would He do it for me? Who am I? I'm not worthy of such a miracle from the King of kings and Lord of lords.
 
Early in my faith I remember going through a stage of reasoning that went something like this: Christ healed the sick, raised the dead, caused the lame to walk and the blind to see, but those are just the few who won the holy lottery. Miracles like that just don't happen today, or if they do, they certainly would not happen for me. Can you relate?
 
Then I began to witness miracle after miracle happening around me. Miracles that could not be ignored. Great stories of cancers disappearing after prayer with no medical explanation. Sight returning to a man after leaving a church service. A clinically dead man coming back to life while lying in a body bag in a morgue just as his mother was praying for him long distance, several states away.
 
With each new story, my thoughts would drift back to the soldier in Matthew 8:10. What kind of faith did he have? By the way Christ reacted to him, his was not shallow faith, or a questioning faith, or a fence-walking faith. His was a faith of deep conviction. There was no question in his mind that all Christ had to do was say the word and it would be done. Yet, what convicted me the most was that the soldier was a stranger to Christ, someone Jesus had never met before. Yet, this soldier came to Jesus with a no-holds-barred, no-doubt-whatsoever kind of faith that this miracle worker he'd heard about had the power to heal his servant. From Christ's reaction, we learn that this soldier, a perfect stranger, had more faith in Him than even Christ's own disciples!
 
Now we come to you and I who love Jesus, who have invited Him in to our hearts as Savior, and call Him friend. Yet, so many times we walk through our daily lives with less faith than this soldier had!
 
My friends, let this story of the solider be a wake-up call to your faith! Jesus Christ performs miracles, yesterday, today, and tomorrow! The key is faith. If you need a miracle in your life, approach Jesus like the soldier did in Matthew 8. Don't take my word for it. Open your Bible and go read the story for yourself. It will take you five minutes, but there is a miracle waiting for you at the end of that five minutes! When you ask the Lord - in faith, believing - miracles DO happen, and they WILL happen for you!
 
Heavenly Father, I believe! I believe! I believe! With all that is within me, I believe! In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
 
What miracle do you need from Christ today? Ask Him!- Jim Penner




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