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I. FIRST READING: Book of Joel 2:12-18.

Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind him a blessing, Offerings and libations for the LORD, your God.
Blow the trumpet in Zion! proclaim a fast, call an assembly;
Gather the people, notify the congregation; Assemble the elders, gather the children and the infants at the breast; Let the bridegroom quit his room, and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep, And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people, and make not your heritage a reproach, with the nations ruling over them! Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?'”
Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land and took pity on his people.

II. PSALM: Psalms 51(50):3-4.5-6a.12-13.14.17.

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.

For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight”

A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

III. SECOND READING: Second Letter to the Corinthians 5:20-21.6:1-2.

Brothers and sisters: We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
Working together, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
For he says: “In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

IV. Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 6:1-6.16-18.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Thank You God! I’m 4!

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Thank You God for many blessings and graces.

Thank You God for giving me life and giving me a chance to live with purpose.

Thank You for the gifts, for the family , relatives, friends, and many blessed people around me.

Thank You for the Social Network. I have become more connected  than ever before to all of the people that matter most in my life.

Thank You for all I have, and for all I am.

Thank You God for all the blessings!!! Please continue to bless me and let me be a blessings to others!

Thank You God for giving me my second life!

(I’m 4 years old :) after the Brain Anuerysm operation February 18-19,2011)

 

By Dr. Richard P. Bucher

Ash Wednesday is the name given to the first day of the season of Lent, in which the Pastor applies ashes to the foreheads of Christians to signify an inner repentance. But what is the history and the meaning of this Christian holy day?

Ash_Wed_Header(1)Ash Wednesday, originally called dies cinerum (day of ashes) is mentioned in the earliest copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary, and probably dates from at least the 8th Century. One of the earliest descriptions of Ash Wednesday is found in the writings of the Anglo-Saxon abbot Aelfric (955-1020). In his Lives of the Saints, he writes, “We read in the books both in the Old Law and in the New that the men who repented of their sins bestrewed themselves with ashes and clothed their bodies with sackcloth. Now let us do this little at the beginning of our Lent that we strew ashes upon our heads to signify that we ought to repent of our sins during the Lenten fast.” Aelfric then proceeds to tell the tale of a man who refused to go to church for the ashes and was accidentally killed several days later in a boar hunt! This quotation confirms what we know from other sources, that throughout the Middle Ages ashes were sprinkled on the head, rather than anointed on the forehead as in our day.

As Aelfric suggests, the pouring of ashes on one’s body (and dressing in sackcloth, a very rough material) as an outer manifestation of inner repentance or mourning is an ancient practice. It is mentioned several times in the Old Testament. What is probably the earliest occurrence is found at the very end of the book of Job. Job, having been rebuked by God, confesses, “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). Other examples are found in 2 Samuel 13:19, Esther 4:1,3, Isaiah 61:3, Jeremiah 6:26, Ezekiel 27:30, and Daniel 9:3. In the New Testament, Jesus alludes to the practice in Matthew 11:21: “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”

In the typical Ash Wednesday observance, Christians are invited to the altar to receive the imposition of ashes, prior to receiving the holy Supper. The Pastor applies ashes in the shape of the cross on the forehead of each, while speaking the words, “For dust you are and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). This is of course what God spoke to Adam and Eve after they eaten of the forbidden fruit and fallen into sin. These words indicated to our first parents the bitterest fruit of their sin, namely death. In the context of the Ash Wednesday imposition of ashes, they remind each penitent of their sinfulness and mortality, and, thus, their need to repent and get right with God before it is too late. The cross reminds each penitent of the good news that through Jesus Christ crucified there is forgiveness for all sins, all guilt, and all punishment.

Many Christians choose to leave the ashes on their forehead for the remainder of the day, not to be showy and boastful (see Matthew 6:16-18). Rather, they do it as a witness that all people are sinners in need of repentance AND that through Jesus all sins are forgiven through faith.

Ash Wednesday, like the season of Lent, is never mentioned in Scripture and is not commanded by God. Christians are free to either observe or not observe it. It also should be obvious that the imposition of ashes, like similar external practices, are meaningless, even hypocritical, unless there is a corresponding inner repentance and change of behavior. This is made clear in Isaiah 58:5-7 when God says,

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes ? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? 6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

With this in mind, however, the rite of ashes on Ash Wednesday is heartily recommended to the Christian as a grand opportunity for repentance and spiritual renewal within the framework of confession and absolution.

A blessed Ash Wednesday observance to all.

focus on what really matters

10599695_10152631677623244_3802197762292124902_nThe best way to survive the battles of life is a fresh encounter with God’s mercy and help.

Let us focus on what really matters – “not on what is seen but what is unseen.”

The love of your family or partner, the camaraderie of a friend, the value of your integrity, and your faith are all commodities that are unseen.

Make these the fabric of what counts for eternity.


(Just For Today by Harold Sala)

EMPATHY

tears
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted 
and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – – –

Psalm 34:18

 

FROM THE FATHER’S HEART

My child, do you know that when you hurt, I hurt? Pain is no stranger to Me. I have been there, and I understand. I’ll walk with you through your fires, and I’ll wipe away your tears. When you cannot walk alone, I will carry you. Lean on Me today.

 

A GRATEFUL RESPONSE

It is You, Lord, who heals my broken heart. You stand nearby, ready to wrap loving arms around me when the hurt be-comes too great to bear. When my dreams are crushed, You, not time, are the great healer. You feel my hurts, Lord—even more than I do.

 

SIMPLE TRUTH

There are no sorrows greater than our God can heal; there are no hurts deeper than He can feel.

www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com

Greatest Influencer

This Sunday’s (February 1, 2015) Gospel: The Cure Of A Demoniac – Mk 1:21-28

In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus’ voice of authority, but more than AUTHORITY we hear the voice of INFLUENCE — effective and convincing. He compels a controlling malevolent spirit to give up and leave a man’s body. He exorcises evil and comes out victorious. He makes things happen.flower

In many instances, we are confronted with temptations and are challenged by evil forces that impede our growth or contentment in our relationships with people, and with God. We want to hear His voice — His encouraging words that influence us and instill courage in our hearts.

God wants to wield influence on us every day to change our behavior or refocus our action, to make us perform short-term sacrifices in order to achieve long-term successes; to convince us to give up quick-fix delights to gain enduring results, and to strive to be relevant and make a difference in the lives of our families, colleagues and friends; and to project good behaviors constantly and consistently.
Jesus’ position is a position of leadership —- a position of trust. Those of us who are on the receiving end of a His influence will benefit from a genuine, smart, and appropriate use of His godly power to effect positive change.

Great communication skills are key in brandishing influence, and God communicates to us in silence. His convincing power goes beyond “talk” and move in the realm of “walk.” He is clear about the results He wants from us, and how He will evaluate and measure our actions.

He provides encouragement and assistance, which we need — the encouragement and the push to change how we act during moments of challenges and temptations.
He possesses the supremacy to convince us to think differently. He aims to make us love what we hate. And as a personal motivation, He assists us to change how we feel about vital behaviors through potent examples and storytelling.

God — the great influencer — recognizes the power of building cohesiveness and collaboration in generating solutions that will be acceptable to Him.

We may not be as influential as God, but with proper training, we can help Him influence others the way He wants it — to live life the way Jesus lived it.

OUR PRAYER:

Dear Lord, may we become an Influencer. We have none of the means usually attached with power — wealth, official position, or military might. Our power is anchored on our willingness to serve you because your life is devoted to serving your people. May we have the gift of influence you we may use it help you bring people from the dark into the light.

Amen.

Through The Trials

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”—DEUT 31:6

1. Trials never leave u where they find u.

2. Trials will cause u to grow better or bitter depending on what ur made of.

3. Trials could produce growth and maturity.


4. Trials are of limited duration.

5. Trial could lead you to know His presence and power that you otherwise would never experience.

Just For Today (By Harold Sala)
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