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January 2017

 
 

paSTOR`S PAGE

January 2017

 

JANUARY 1  

    

   In our journey through life we have reached a new station, a new stopping point: the beautiful 2016-2017 winter holidays. Here we stop for a few days and celebrate in honor of the Lord. There will be many people, much joy, we'll be with our loved ones, we will meet with many friends and everyone will recount experiences from the 2016 journey. The Lord did not return during the 2016 journey, but He was present with us during this trip. We know that everyone will be grateful to God for travelling with us and casting aside our loneliness; for giving us health, and casting aside sickness; for giving us bread and water and casting aside poverty; for listening to our prayers and casting aside fear; for teaching us the Truth and casting aside ignorance... We count the blessings, not the trials; we count the victories, not the losses; we count the friends, not the enemies; we count the joys, not the tears.

   All these experiences have transformed us into other people, teaching us that God is great, strong, and good and with Him we are protected, cared for and blessed. The 2016 journey, although it was long, passed by fast, seemingly much faster than other past journeys that were just as long. It is true that on this journey we were very busy with the things of life: home, family, church, work, relationships, stores, hospital, responsibilities...

   Also in the station of the beautiful winter holidays of 2016-2017, we pray to God for the 2017 path, a new journey of 365 days that we will embark on. Being richer with the experiences of the past journeys, we will we'll set the right priorities: First of all, we will focus on God, as He is the most important. We are committed to permanently dedicate time for Him, to respect Him, obey Him, love Him more than anything and subordinated to Him absolutely everything in our lives. Secondly, we will focus on our family since the 2017 journey involves many great and unknown risks. We will also focus on the house of God. Then, on all the others.

   We have full confidence in God that for this new year because the past is a faithful witness of our heavenly Father’s faithfulness. The Lord will be with us on the journey and will accompany us with His power and blessing:“Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him. But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.” (Exodus 23: 20-22)

   We wish the Lord's blessing and companionship on the 2017 journey!                                                      

 January 8

 

 

  We will once again celebrate Holy Communion – we will celebrate in the same place, the only difference being that it will be in a different time. The reasons we partake are the same: “do this in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24); “for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (v. 26). The conditions for partaking in Holy Communion are the same: “ Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28).
   God is the same; He has not changed in His being, His perfection, His purposes and promises, even though it may seem He is different in His actions and responses to different situations. If God would somehow change for the better, it would mean that He was not perfect until now nor when we first put our trust in Him. If He would change for the worse, it would mean that we could not have trust in Him to not change to even worse in the future and He would no longer be the perfect God, good and unchanging, the one we put our trust in from the beginning.
Even if we do not wholly know Him, we know Him in part and we know many truths about Him. We know that He is full of mercy, grace, and patience. God’s mercy represents His goodness toward those who are suffering in trials. God’s grace represents His goodness toward those who deserve punishment. God’s patience represents His goodness in not punishing those who sin for a period of time.
   In addition, we know that God is holy, independent, personal, infinite, almighty, invisible, wise, all-present, just, loving, eternal … It is possible for us to understand to a certain measure the justice, love, and wisdom of God because to a small degree, we are also just, loving, and wise. However, we cannot understand His infinite, invisible, and eternal being because we are not infinite, invisible, or eternal. God is infinite because He is not subject to human limits or even creation in general. God is invisible because His entire spiritual being can never be seen by people, even though He shows Himself to us through visible or created things. God is eternal because He has no beginning, no end, and no succession of moments in His being; He clearly sees all of time, and still, He sees events in time and acts in time. Time however, does not affect God’s being nor His knowledge. For example, God does not forget nor does He learn new things. God is absolutely everywhere, in absolutely every moment. He has no measure or spatial dimension, which is why He is present in every point in space with His entire being, even though He works in different places though different actions.
   We will once again celebrate Holy Communion and God will be present as He has always been and always will be. He is present because of His nature, His character and His promises, but certainly not man’s merits. He will come to offer, out of mercy and with patience, but He will come to receive what we have that belongs to Him. We are His. We will go to Him and we will worship. We cannot hide; wherever we could run, He is already there. If still we will try to run, we will run to Him; to the arms that will always carry the marks of His love for us. God loves us. He has always loved us, but now we know too. We know, we believe and we feel.

 

  January 15

Suffering has been and remains one of the hardest to explain experiences of humankind. It is concurrently a reality, a problem, and a mystery. It is a reality because no one can avoid it, a problem because we cannot resolve it, and a mystery because no one can explain it. Suffering is a reality that, if we are able to, we have the right to avoid, if we are able to, we have a right to resolve and, if we are able to, we have the right to explain.
Suffering is a real problem - no one can contest it. People run away from suffering and suffering runs right after them. Suffering is a universal problem - no one can escape it. Suffering is a complex problem. It can be emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual. Emotional suffering is a deep affective pain and intellectual suffering is an excruciating pain at the thought level. Physical suffering breaks the body, and the spiritual suffering presses painfully on the conscience. Suffering brings about questions and most often, hides the answers.
People see the existence of suffering as being incompatible with the existence of God and therefore the two must exclude each other. People believe that if suffering exists then God does not exist and if God exists, suffering does not. People ask themselves how God could be just, seeing the suffering that is happening in the world.
There are three affirmations that the Judeo-Christian theology contains: 1) God is omnipotent; 2) God is all loving; 3) God allows suffering. How can these three affirmations all be true at the same time? If God exists and is omnipotent, then He will do everything to avoid suffering. If God exists and he is all loving, then He will not accept that humans suffer. There are a few ways through which people attempt to explain these theological affirmations:
1. At least one of the affirmations is false. Some negate the fact that God is omnipotent, others that He is all loving, but very few negate the existence of suffering.
2. There are extenuating circumstances that explain the problem of suffering:
a. Punishment, as a consequence of sin
b. Trial, as a method of growth
c. Discipline, as a solution for the strive to perfection
d. Cleansing, as a preparation for passing from here and going to God
The Bible, the most important book in the history of civilization, speaks a lot about suffering, offering some guiding principles:
1. Suffering is a result of the failed test of fidelity
2. Suffering is not an immediate consequence of man’s sin.
3. Suffering builds the spiritual character “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance” (Romans 5:3)
The Savior Jesus Christ is presented in the Bible as being “familiar with pain”. Suffering will help us grow and experience true joy and it will draw us closer to God. Suffering is a grace when it makes you stronger, when it draws you nearer to God, and when it prepares you for heaven. “ To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21)

January 22

Prayer is the language of the soul through which man connects with the divine, the created with the Creator. Because prayer is a personal experience, people are tempted to use it carelessly, sometimes outside the framework established by God.

      1.      What prayer is not:

Prayer is not a tool we use any time we have a problem and then abandon it the rest of the time. God is not the fireman on call who shows up when man calls. God is our heavenly Father. Prayer is not just a religious practice nor a mere emotional desire. It is not the method through which we ask God to do that which we could do ourselves. For example, money needs to be earned through work, not through prayer. Nor is prayer is the method through which we inform God about what is happening or what we desire; “your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (Matthew 6:32). Prayer is not the method by which we put our spirituality on display.

      2.      What is Prayer?

According to the Catechism of the Presbyterian Church, “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies”. Prayer offers God a legal argument to act in our favor.

      3.      Why do we need to pray?

Any relationship between two or more people is accomplished and maintained through communication. We need to pray because the Bible encourages us to pray to God. The help and resources of the Church reside with Him. In this way, we invite God to resolve the problems that are too great for us. We need to pray in order to receive spiritual strength in our personal lives and in ministry. We need to pray for the supernatural healing of incurable diseases and for freedom from unclean spirits.            

     4.      Conditions for the answered prayer

Prayer needs to be done with trust in God, with the hope that He will help us. Prayer needs to be according to His will and with a clean heart. It needs to be done addressing the Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Prayer needs to be done with the whole heart and with the deep desire to sin no more. It needs to be done after we have forgiven all those who have transgressed against us.

            Beyond the theological aspect, prayer remains the worship of a humble heart that seeks God, forgiveness, love, and spiritual peace. Prayer is the opportunity of faith, the hope of obedience, and the manifestation of submission to the Creator. The strongest man is fragile when confronting the crises of life, and the smallest man is powerful in the arms of God. There is a place in the arms of God for every mortal and a “connecting thread” when he addresses Him in prayer.