GOD THE WORD, THE VOICE OF GOD
By: The Right Reverend Father Michael D. Jordan
During Holy Lent, we endeavor to track the Ministry of Christ along the way, so that we may understand and know the events that shaped our Salvation through Jesus Christ. Early in Lent marks the establishment of the Disciples of Jesus Christ. In the Scriptures we read of the methods in which Christ called His Disciples into His Ministry. This method is described in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew in chapter 4. We pick up from where Christ has just completed His forty day fast in the wilderness, and has been ministered to by Angels from Heaven.
"Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan."
Can you imagine someone walking by and commanding you to follow them? How many of us would just leave our jobs, our families, our friends, and loved ones, to follow Christ. It was not an easy path that they would be following, they would give up their homes to sleep outdoors. They would walk away from the comfort of their families and friends to deal with a world hostile against the message of Jesus Christ. They chose to follow a path that would ultimately condemn them to death at the hands of their peers.
At the time of their calling, the Disciples of Jesus Christ were not aware of the reward that awaited them in Heaven, they trusted Him enough to make this huge sacrifice for Him. At the sound of His powerful, Holy voice, they responded to His call to the Ministry. In the Gospel according to Saint John, Chapter 10, verse 27, Jesus Christ said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:" Mankind has always instinctively known the voice of God. Take for example, Noah, Moses, John the Baptist, they all heard Godís voice, and knew immediately that God had spoken to them. All three of these men responded affirmatively to Godís voice, just as the Disciples responded, immediately and affirmatively, to their call to follow God incarnate on earth.
The Disciples sat an example for all future Ministers in the service of Christ by immediately dropping what they were doing and following Christ. Even today, if you are called into the Ministry, you should accept this calling as the Disciples did, you are asked to lay down a portion of your life for the Ministry of Christ. Ministers are not called to glory, nor are they called to become greater than their Master, who is Jesus Christ, they are called to a self-sacrificing life of Ministry.
Quite often, those who are called into the Ministry must drop the life that they are living and take a drastic new course, just as the Disciples did when they accepted their calling. Imagine how the Christian Church would have developed if Christ were to call His Disciples in a world such as we have today. I can practically hear the excuses that would be offered: "Oh, I just canít, I have just bought a new house, and I have a mortgage payment." Or, "My kid needs braces, and I already have to work two jobs just to keep up with my bills." Or "What will happen to my career? Iíve studied diligently in college to get where I am today, and you want me to just drop everything and follow you, a homeless person?"
Believe it or not, a lot of those who are called to the Ministry today serve half-heartedly because they are just not willing to make the sacrifice of personal time that is demanded by the life of a Minister. Also, those in the laity of the church that are called by Jesus Christ to minister to others, make excuses for slighting their calling, for giving only marginal attention to a calling that is high above all other callings, careers, and honors that you can receive on this earth.
We are truly temporary minded people, we think about what is good for us at this very moment in time. Seldom do we remove the blinders that allow us to think Spiritually. We live for the moment, we even have axioms like "Seize the Day!" We neglect to see the value that appears far off from us. We have become so efficient in managing our time, that we put off matters that we determine that are of less importance to our immediate goals and needs.
We dash around from place to place, seeking finery, comfort, and the good things in life, often at the expense of our Spiritual well being. The only time we usually pause to reflect on our Spiritual destiny is when we are forced to deal with the thought of our own mortality; when we have to attend funerals of friends and family. The Lenten season reminds us of our own mortality. It reminds us that we are but wanderers on this world; like a flower that blooms for only one season, and is gone with the bitter cold of the winter.
We are mortals that possess an immortal spirit. Lent teaches us to tap into the power of the Spiritual side of ourselves. To look inward, to listen attentively for the voice of God, that speaks wisdom into our souls, and breathes the breath of Spiritual Life everlasting into our hearts.
The Disciples truly demonstrated great faith by forsaking their jobs, homes, families, lands, and material gain to follow Christ. Jesus told them what a great reward awaited them for their sacrifice in the following quote from the Scripture: From the Gospel according to Saint Matthew Chapter 19: 29 "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."
This promise stands good not just for the Disciples, but for all who hear the mighty voice of God and respond to the calling.
A PRAYER FOR SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING
By: The Right Reverend Father Michael D. Jordan
Almighty God, Who through Your Holy Voice have spoken to Moses, Noah, and John the Baptist.
Almighty God, Who sent into the world Your Only-Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, God the Word.
Almighty God, Who with Your powerful, Holy Voice declared Jesus Christ as Your Son, in Whom You are well pleased, at His Baptism in the River Jordan.
Do Thou, the same God, make Your Voice known to us, that we may hear with Spiritual ears, the Holy Wisdom which only You can impart to us.
Do Thou, the same God, abide in us, strengthen us, forgive us, and help each of us to be truly grateful to You, our fountain of wisdom, and source of every good and perfect gift.
Guide us, guard us, direct our lives that we may live them in such a way that leads to our eternal salvation through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, God, and Savior. Amen.
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