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Posts Tagged ‘mercy’

providence

 

One week from today, I will begin my journey to becoming a Providence Associate. I actually started this journey 5 years ago, but I still had growing to do. I have always been an introvert. I have always been one to hide behind others. I don’t allow myself to get to close to anyone, because they might see the “real” me and reject me. Any time I start to get to close to a group of people, I panic and run. I have dealt with social anxieties all my life. This journey is going to push me out of my comfort zone. It will cause some discomfort. Growing often causes discomfort. It is going to cause me to open up and really trust people with the secrets of my heart. I am here for a reason. I have to trust the Providence of God.

During these last 5 1/2 years of working with the Sisters, I have felt myself open up and dare to trust. They have loved me through good and bad. They have encouraged me when they knew I was tired or down. They have prayed for me and they have spoken words of wisdom when I needed to hear it. God has used these women numerous times to bring me a sense of peace when life was difficult and I felt like running. I have often felt frustrated at not finding my “purpose” in life. I have struggled at not having a “ministry” when so many others are serving God and others full-time. At times when I have struggled the most, God has brought different sisters to me to tell me that my job there is a ministry, that my ministry is there, that I belong there, that being an associate is in my heart.

The sisters see me and they love me. I do belong at that beautiful place they call “The Woods.” I love them. I love these women and would do anything for them. The thought of being transparent scares me. The thought of being “me” in front of the Sisters and the other associates terrifies me, but I won’t run. God has things to teach me here and I am going to stay put and continue to grow in this place of love. I am ready to be transparent. I am ready to be me. I belong in this place of love, mercy and justice.

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love mercy

 

Luke 13:10-13

10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Pope Francis has proclaimed the time between December 8, 2015 – November 20, 2016 as the Year Of Mercy. This should be a time for us to step outside of our comfort zones to minister to those in need. This should be a time for us to open our eyes to those who are living lives of quiet desperation in our own spheres of influence and do something to help alleviate their suffering.

In Luke 13:10-13, Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, when He noticed a woman who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She could not straighten up at all. Jesus saw her. He noticed her need and did something to help her. He healed her. Jesus didn’t ignore her condition. He didn’t tell her to go away. He had mercy on her and healed her.

I am blessed to work at the Mother house of the Sisters of Providence. Over the 175 years that the Sisters of Providence have been here, they have founded and been a part of many ministries of mercy. Collectively, they have taught me the meaning of mercy in their humble service to those in need in our community.

In the Spring 2016 issue of Hope magazine (a magazine of the Sisters of Providence), there is an article about Father Dan Hopcus (Providence Associate and Priest Chaplain of the Sisters of Providence). Father Dan exemplifies kindness and mercy in his ministry to the elderly Sisters and the residents in Providence Healthcare. There is a quote in the article that really speaks to the heart of what mercy is,

“As Pope Francis has spoken so many times, at least the way I understand it, mercy is shown by reaching out to people where they are and not waiting for them to come to you. So in a way, it is to be alert to the needs of someone. The need to be loved, to be accepted, to be important. I think Pope Francis’ approach to a year of mercy has again called people to be more aware, more alert, to that.” Father Dan Hopcus.

Jesus gives us the example of reaching out to those in need. He never sat in one place and waited for the suffering to come to Him. He went to those in need. His eyes were open to the suffering around Him and He acted to help those in need.

We need to take a lesson from Jesus, Father Dan and the Sisters to go out and meet those who are hurting right where they are. We have numerous opportunities in our daily lives to minister to others and we don’t. We are either to busy, to tired, or have a million other excuses to keep us from showing mercy to someone else. I know life gets crazy. I’ve given those excuses myself. I’ve had a hard time making the sacrifice myself. But, if we are to be examples of Jesus to this world, we need to quit making excuses and start making sacrifices. We need to get off our rear ends and start loving people to Jesus. We need to start being examples of Jesus to the hurting of this world.

A Challenge: I challenge you to keep your eyes and heart open as you go about your daily tasks. I want you to step out and meet the need of one person a day for the next week. I challenge you to show mercy to those in your sphere of influence and love others to Jesus.

 

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blessed

Rahab

The story of Rahab is found in the second chapter of Joshua. Joshua sent out two spies to look over the land, especially Jericho. When they arrived in Jericho, they entered the house of Rahab, a known prostitute, and they stayed there. Rahab hid them on her roof and in return they spared her and her family when Israel conquered Jericho.

This wasn’t the end of Rahab’s story. We read in Joshua 6:22-25 that Joshua sent the two spies to bring Rahab and her family out and Rahab lived with the Israelites for the rest of her life. In Matthew 1:5 we find her listed in the genealogy of Jesus.

How does a prostitute get to be listed in the genealogy of Jesus, our Risen Savior? Through faith and obedience. She had heard the stories of how the Lord had worked miracles on behalf of Israel and she believed that the Lord had given Israel the land. She hid the spies because she had faith in the God of Israel.

Through the story of Rahab, we see that God is a God of second chances. Rahab was a prostitute. She was living in sin, but because she acted on her faith, in obedience to the one true God, God restored her life and she became an ancestor to the King of kings, Jesus.

Do you find yourself identifying with Rahab? Are you living in sin and can’t seem to find your way out? Believe that the one true God can and will deliver you from the sin-filled life you are living. Have faith that Jesus died for YOU and His mercy and grace are His gift to YOU. Salvation is His gift to YOU. You are beautiful and God loves you! Our merciful Father gave Rahab a second chance and He longs to give you one too. It’s never to late! Call on Him NOW and see how He can bring restoration to your life.

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weakest points

Hebrews 4:15,16

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

We all have weaknesses. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t mess up, forget something, let my impatience get the best of me or give in to some other sin. Jesus was human, just as we are and He was tempted by Satan, just as we are. Jesus understands and even empathizes with our struggle. He knows what you are going through, because He’s been there, done that. The difference is that Jesus DID NOT SIN and because He did not sin, He is able to offer us mercy and grace when we make mistakes or fall into temptation.

We can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence and we will receive mercy, grace and help in our time of need. We never have to struggle alone. Jesus is with us always to help us when we fall into temptation or get ourselves into a jam that we can’t seem to get ourselves out of. We have God’s word that He will NEVER leave us and He will NEVER forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Are you struggling with a particular sin? Are you desperate for help, but don’t know where to turn? Turn to Jesus, my friend. He is waiting to give you mercy, grace and help. Cry out to Jesus.

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broken vessels

 

 

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Many of us have read this scripture, but have a hard time believing it could ever pertain to us. “You don’t know my past,” you argue, “There is no way God will ever give ME a hope and a future!” You are wrong, my friend. If God can’t use you because of your past, then He can’t use any of us. We ALL have things in our past that we are ashamed of. We ALL have things that we have done or things that were done to us in our past that keep us from being all that God wants us to be. Let me tell you a secret: God loves to use broken vessels to glorify His name! If God couldn’t use us because of our past, then His will would NEVER be accomplished. The Bible is full of men and women with a past that God has used to glorify His name. Following are two examples of how God can use men and women with a past:
Moses was a man with a past. Moses murdered an Egyptian and hid his body in the sand. When Moses realized that his crime had become known, he panicked and ran away. Years later the Israelites’ cry out to God to deliver them from their captors and God speaks to Moses from a burning bush. Moses did not want to be the one God used to deliver the Israelites. Moses argued with God, but God still chose to use him. This was not the end of the story for Moses. Even after God convinced Moses to obey Him, Moses slipped up. In Exodus 4:24, we find God ready to kill Moses. Why? Moses had not circumcised his son, as was one of God’s commands for the Israelites. Zipporah, wife of Moses, circumcises their son and saves her husband’s life. Despite his past, God chose to use Moses to deliver the Israelites from the Egyptians.
According to Joshua 2:1 Rahab was a prostitute. She was a woman with a past. God knew that and chose to use her anyway. Joshua sent out two spies to look over the land that God had promised them. He specifically told them to go check out Jericho. They went and stayed in the home of Rahab, who hid them from the king of Jericho. Rahab had heard of the miracles that God performed on behalf of the Israelites and believed in the God of the Israelites as a result. Because of her faith, God saved Rahab and her family when the Israelites attacked Jericho. Not only did God protect Rahab and her family, Matthew 1:5 lists her in the genealogy of Jesus. Imagine, Rahab, the prostitute, a direct ancestor of the Messiah!
God has a plan for your life. God can use you, regardless of your past, to accomplish His will. There is always hope when we abide in God. There is nothing in your past that God cannot use to glorify His name. I am encouraging you to surrender whatever it is that’s keeping you from embracing the future God has for you. Give it to God. He can take it and turn it into a beautiful testimony of His love and mercy. Let it go and embrace the future God has for you.

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mercy

 

 

 

As an employee of the Sisters of Providence, I have come to respect and embrace their charism of Love, Mercy and Justice. However, I have had a hard time understanding why they oppose the death penalty and care so much for those who have committed such horrible, unthinkable crimes against others. After all, they have to be hardened murderers to be on death row, right? So, why would the Sisters choose to have mercy on and even pray for those on death row?

Every month, the Sisters post the names of those awaiting execution that month, along with the date of the execution. I know they pray for these individuals and for the abolishment of the death penalty itself. I love Jesus and I hate injustice, but I could not understand why they would pray for these horrible criminals. I was talking to a co-worker one night and we were in agreement that these men and women deserved everything they got. We agreed that they should die the way their victims died. NO MERCY!

And then, very softly and with the gentlest whisper in my spirit, I felt Jesus speak to me. This has happened all within the last week or so. Within a day of my conversation with my co-worker, I heard that those inmates that were to be executed by lethal injection had had their executions stayed because the injections were said to be inhumane. My immediate reaction to this news was, “Who cares? They didn’t have any compassion for the ones they murdered.” I still did not understand why society should care about these inmates. How could the Sisters pray for these monsters? How could God have mercy on these inmates? What was wrong with them?

I started reading a book called, Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and keep your day job…by Kerry Weber. In it, Kerry describes her visit to San Quinton and the conversations she has with a group of inmates who are participating in theology classes with the Catholic chaplain. In these conversations, the men express their sadness at being judged by their crimes and not for who they are now. They all agreed that they are not their crimes and that if God could save someone like Saint Paul, then maybe there is hope for them. As I read, I felt God asking me, “Who are you to play judge and jury? If I choose to have mercy on the sinner, that includes you too. It was MY decision to send MY Son as a sacrifice to pay for the sins of the ENTIRE human race, not just a chosen few. If they choose me, I will prepare a place for them with me in MY kingdom.”

The question soon became, what is wrong with me? For someone who claims to love Jesus, for someone who hates injustice, why do I have such a hardened spirit when it comes to these men and women who are living in spiritual darkness? If I can’t find mercy in my heart for those on death row, then do I really love Jesus as much as I say I do? That question stung.

I felt immediate remorse for my attitude and the words spoken by Jesus as he hung on the cross burn deeply in my heart, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

If my beloved Savior, Jesus, could forgive those killing him, even as He hung there wounded and bloody, how can I NOT follow his example and show mercy for those inmates on death row and otherwise. Maybe the Sisters have it right. They must since it seems God is answering their prayers.

I still struggle with this. I feel that I am betraying those that have lost their lives at the hands of these men and women. I have to remember that justice belongs to the Lord. It isn’t up to me.

I have decided that I will join the Sisters in their prayers of mercy and I will pray for those who are unfortunate enough to find themselves on the monthly list of executions. I will join the Sisters in their prayers for an end to the death penalty, thus allowing God to be God.

If you would like more information on the Sisters of Providence, visit their website at http://www.spsmw.org.

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prayers-for-healing-cancer

 

 

Philippians 4:13

I can do EVERYTHING through him who gives me strength.

I have been a diagnosed type 2 diabetic for 3 years now. If you are not a diabetic, let me tell you that diabetes is a chronic illness that consumes your life. It is a constant struggle with maintaining glucose (blood-sugar) levels, constantly having to analyze when and what you eat, staying away from sugar/carbs in a sugar/carb obsessed world, losing weight, and facing the fact that I will have to live with this for the rest of my life. I did well and lost 45 lbs. my first year. I still do okay, but I often feel completely overwhelmed and when I look at the fact that I am only 43 and am living with what could be considered a life and death disease (depending on how it is maintained) I feel completely unable to maintain this disease alone. I am scared that I will die before my kids are all grown. I feel guilty when I eat a candy bar, ice cream or other sugar. I feel completely unable to discipline myself  to exercise and eat right. I feel totally helpless right now.

This is something I will always struggle with. I know that I can not deal with this illness on my own. I am not strong enough or disciplined enough on my own. I have to believe that through Christ, who died for me, I have the strength the conquer this thing. I have to be willing to surrender this illness to God, who is in control of ALL things. I am weak, but He is strong!

If you are overwhelmed in any area of your life, surrender the situation to God. God is so good and merciful to meet us where we are. God loves you and wants to walk this journey with you. He never expects us to struggle alone. Cry out to Him, tell him your struggles. He already knows, He just wants to hear it from us. I will be walking this path with you. Remember, my friend, you are never alone!

Dearest Jesus,

I am coming to you now, to surrender this struggle with diabetes. I am admitting, what you already know, that I am to weak to carry this load alone. I need you! I need you to help me do what I need to do to live a healthy long life. On my own, I am weak, but with you beside me, I am strong. I thank you and praise you for loving me enough to carry the load of diabetes with me. I trust you completely and I never want to live without you!

Amen

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