by Cicily Sunny, New York
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
1) Transform our Hearts:
The Great Lent is almost coming to a close. Let us ask four questions to ourselves:
Because we were not using some food items, we might have saved some money in our bank account. Because we were not eating much fatty food, physically we might have gained better shape. We might have learned to control our body and mind in a better way. Some of us might have given some money or food to the poor or our church. Because of maintaining better behavior, some families might have enjoyed some peace, especially in homes where people stopped abusing liquor during the lent. In those homes, the other family members might be worrying already about the bad behavior that may come back on Easter Sunday with the commencement of drinking.
Have we made any positive changes in our attitudes? In your heart have you surrendered to God? If not, we do not have to be depressed thinking that we are not eligible to stand in front of the risen Jesus. Whoever observed the lent has nothing to be proud of if you have not transformed in your heart. It is never too late to make these changes. Even if it is only two days for Jesus to rise, the reward will be the same for those who make the changes in the last minute and for those who have made the changes already just like the same wages the laborers in the vineyard received.
"And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius" (Matthew 20: 9, 10).
If we are reluctant to make even one change in ourselves, we are not different from those who uttered "Crucify him".
"Unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:5).
"There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15: 10).
3) Witness Jesus courageously:
"Also I say to you, whoever confesses me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of Godí (Luke 12: 8,9).
Do not be afraid to declare publicly that you belong to Jesus. Most people have the tendency to force silence upon them when it comes to faith and Jesus. Also, there is a tendency to side with the majority than with the truth. Simon of Cyrene was forced to carry the cross of Jesus. He did not carry the cross sincerely. If he had a choice to run away, he would have run away.
Governor Pontius Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, but instead of showing the courage to stop the crucifixion, he let the public to decide it. Joseph of Aremathea was sincere to Jesus and loved him from the heart, but he did not have the courage to proclaim his love publicly. After everybody left, he buried the body of Jesus.
Follow the example of John, our Blessed Mother, Mary Magdalene, and Mary, the wife of Clopas, who stood my Jesus courageously until the last minute. No matter where you are, you should uphold Christian values and Christian ways to please Jesus.
4) Give glory only to God:
Sometimes sorrows come when something very dear to us is taken away from us. We are not supposed to love anything more than God.
"I will not give my glory to another" (Isaiah 4811).
5) Carry your cross with Jesus:
Several people have to go through sufferings in their lives. Jesus has left the back of his cross empty for any one who is willing to carry cross for his sake. We should bear our cross as a support for Jesus to carry his cross.
"Rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christís sufferings, that when his glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy" (1 Peter 5:13).
Instead of complaining about the burden of our cross, we should bear it as the will of God. When Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, he said, "O my Father, if this cup cannot pass away from me unless I drink it, your will be done" (Matthew 26:42).
Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). "And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:38).
God will not allow any sufferings beyond your capacity to bear.
"God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able" (1 Corinthians 10:13).
"For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake" (Philippians 1:29).
Those who suffer their pains willingly for the sake of God will get their reward in heaven.
"These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the LambÖ. The Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Revelation 7: 14-17).
Sometimes sufferings come as persecutions from other people.
"If the world hates you, you know that is hated me before it hated you" (John 15:18).
6) Offer your weaknesses to Jesus:
In this world there is nobody to accept our weaknesses. Most problems occur when our weaknesses collide with the interests of other people. But Jesus is more than happy to receive our weaknesses as long as we are willing to accept changes from his hands. When we humble ourselves before him and ask for help sincerely, he will transform those weaknesses into diamonds and give back to us as blessings.
7) Desire to come to Jesus:
Any parent would like the children stay closer and give company. Little children desire the company of their parents because they are innocent. Jesus also loves our company. When we spend time in communicating with him and worshipping him, he really enjoys it. Desiring the company of Jesus is a grace from God.
Jesus said, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44).
8) Forgive others:
From the cross Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (John 19:18 & Luke 23:33,34). We should make a resolution to forgive all who have wronged to us. If we donít forgive, our participation in the Qurbana is meaningless. "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14,15). Also, pray for their spiritual conversion.
9) Accept Godís punishments:
Parents punish children for their betterment, not to destroy them. In the same way, God has the authority to punish His children so that we become better children.
"He wounds, but he binds up; he smites, but his hands give healing" (Job 5:17, 18).
When God wounds you, try to identify our serious mistakes which we have to rectify. God allowed to wound and crucify His own son, but His purpose was his glory and our redemption.
10) Crush the head of Satan:
By suffering the crucifixion, Jesus crushed the head of Satan. The same Satan could not succeed when he tempted Jesus after he fasted for forty days. It is the same Satan who creates all kinds of traps to tempt you in all different ways. Be alert all the time so that the Satan will not get a chance to swallow you.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
"This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting" (Mark 9:29).
11) Cleanse our heart and home:
Before we do all our prayers, let us cleanse our heart and be ready to welcome the risen Jesus into our hearts and homes.
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:20).
Cast away all kinds of evil thoughts and desires from our hearts like jealousy, hatred, pride, scandals, materialistic desires etc. When parents clean their hearts and pray for their children, it is easy for God to hear that prayer. Cast out of our homes all the things not approved by God like dirty movies, dirty magazines, dirty pictures, liquor etc. which give Satan a good chance to reside in our homes. Cast out all our idols as it is mentioned in Ezekiel 6:1-7.
When the Holy Spirit resides in our home, others who come in contact with us also get that Holy Spirit. Try not to welcome in our homes those who have no Holy Spirit in them and who can make our home unclean.
12) Accept Blessed Mother as our mother:
Jesus said to John, "Behold your mother" (John 19:27). John accepted Blessed Mother as his own mother. Let us all welcome Mother Mary as the mother of our home to intercede for us all the time. Even today she sheds tears in many places thinking about the sin of people and the impending wrath of God.
Friday is a Prep -Witness Day
Many opportunities come our way in life, how we respond shows what we truly love and look for in life.
Jesus was on the cross, dying as a sacrifice for our sin - for all time. During the last three hours that He was on the cross, the world became dark.
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