Friday, June 10, 2011

The Holy Spirit is the first fruits

“And not only that: we too, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we are groaning within ourselves, waiting with eagerness for our bodies to be set free. In hope, we already have salvation; in hope, not visibly present, or we should not be hoping – nobody goes on hoping for something which he can already see. But having this hope for what we cannot yet see, we are able to wait for it with preserving confidence.” (8: 23 -25) (NJB)
The gift of the Holy Spirit is the first fruits of the blessings to come. When we possess this incredible gift of the Holy Spirit, we know for certain that God will fulfill all His promises to us. We can wait with persevering confidence for heaven to be our permanent residence.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

By the Spirit or by Natural Inclinations

“You, however, live not by your natural inclinations, but by the Spirit, since the Spirit of God has made a home in you. Indeed, anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But when Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin but the spirit is alive because you have been justified; and if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead has made his home in you, then he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.
So then, my brothers, we have no obligation to human nature to be dominated by it. If you do live in that way, you are doomed to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the habits originating in the body, you shall live.” (Romans 8: 9 – 13)
To live by the Spirit is the opposite of living by the flesh or by human inclinations. The flesh is served by 5 senses: eye, ear, nose, tongue and touch. Living by the Spirit means walking by faith and not by the evidence of the 5 senses. Sometime ago, I watched on 20/20 the case of a Californian man who spent 10 years in jail based on the visual evidence of a rape victim. DNA evidence later exonerated him. There are many such cases of wrongful imprisonment based on physical evidence. The certainty of the jury in passing sentence never suggested any shade of doubt that they might be wrong. It reminds me of the trial and imprisonment of Joseph in Egypt.
To live by the Spirit is to live by faith. The above scripture says with certitude that the Spirit of God has made his home in us. Praise God.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Storms of life

“Then it began to blow a great gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped.” (Mark 4: 37)
Expect storms: big storms, big trials, big troubles. They are the fact of life. One of the truths I learned some years ago after going to a life-changing retreat is that often after the mountaintop experience comes the valley. Expect it. I am just back from another life-changing retreat. As we filled the questionnaire after the retreat, one of the questions was: What would you like to see improved in the retreat. I lacked the inspiration to note that the organizers need to warm the participants of the mountaintop/valley experience. It is crucial.
“But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep.” (Mark 4: 38)
Whatever the trial, trouble or temptation, as soon as I notice the presence of Jesus, I become calm. No wonder why visits to the Blessed Sacrament in the period of deep stress ALWAYS has great calming effect on me. Many people witnessed to this too. The storm may be furious. But Christ is in control. Do not panic.
“Master, do you not care? We are lost!” (Mark 4: 39)
Power of prayer. In a crisis, the key is prayer. Remember Gethsemane? It is a model of prayer in a life-threatening situation. “Father, I am drowning. You can save me. But do so only if it is your perfect will. I know your will for my life is always excellent.”
“Quiet now! Be calm!” (Mark 4: 31)
Jesus calms the storm. No matter whatever the crisis, Christ has absolute power to subdue it.
“Why are you so frightened? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4: 40)
Faith in Jesus Christ gives us access to his promises of: pardon, peace, power, purpose, protection and provision. You can call these, the 6 P’s of God’s promises.
The world says: “seeing is believing.” But the apostles have seen plenty of what Christ can do? After they received the Holy Spirit, their eyes opened to what Jesus had taught by word and example for three years: Believing is seeing. I believe therefore I will see.