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Sunday, March 17, 2019

You are Not Alone - part two


I preached this message on the second Sunday of Lent to a group of 55+ men and woman who live in an independent living facility. I divided it here into three parts for ease of reading. You can find part one herehttps://thecontemplativecatholicconvert.blogspot.com/2019/03/you-are-not-alone-part-one.html

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Let’s go back for a moment to Jesus’ wilderness temptation. Satan tried to seduce the Son of God to doubt His mission. The devil challenged the Lord Jesus with these words: “If you are the Son of God.” And the Serpent’s strategy has not changed for two millennia. He still tries to seduce us into doubting our relationship with God and into thinking we are all alone in our trials and heartaches and confusions.

But now, please now remember how Jesus responded to every one of Satan’s lies. He responded with the word of God.  And THAT is precisely how you and I must fight our spiritual battles: With the Word of God.  That’s why the apostle Paul wrote this to the Christians at Ephesus:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6)

Those are not trivial instructions. Better than the slingshot and stone that felled Goliath, Paul’s guidance here provides us essential spiritual armor for defense against our malicious spiritual enemy.

That spiritual armor is an IMPREGNABLE barrier against the onslaught of the devil’s lies, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, is an invincible weapon against Satan’s deceptions.

Listen! On this second Sunday of Lent – as will be true throughout the year and throughout our lives – you and I are in a continuous battle. And unless we remain vigilant to the spiritual war, the enemy will take advantage of our weakest areas, and move again against us.

That’s surely one ‘take-away’ from the Lord’s warning to His disciples in the thirteenth chapter of Mark’s gospel. The context of the text I am about to share is the second coming of Christ. But the principle of being on the alert applies equally to our day by day walk through our own life-wilderness:

Mark 13 “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’” (verses 33-36)

Remember with me, please, what happened in the next chapter of Mark’s gospel. Here is how Mark records it in Mark 14:32-42:

They came to a place named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here until I have prayed.” And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”

And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again He went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him. And He came the third time, and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough; the hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”

My brothers and sisters! Stay alert! Our spirit is willing to watch and pray and read and reflect. And we make resolutions to do better tomorrow. But as important as resolutions are, it really is important to get into a routine, a habit, of doing the right things, of feeding our spirits the right food and drink – prayer and reading and reflection on God’s word.

You can find the conclusion of my message in part three at this link:http://tinyurl.com/y22e256z


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