November 30, 2002
THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE
FREE AT LAST
"The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2 Corinthians 3:17
Jesus came to set the captives free (Lk 4:18), "to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness" (Is 42:7). Jesus died to give us a new Exodus, freeing us not only from slavery and Pharaoh but from sin, Satan, and death. If Jesus, the Son of Man, sets us free, we are really free (Jn 8:36). He is the Redeemer, the One Who paid the price to ransom us from slavery. God the Father "rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son. Through Him we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins" (Col 1:13-14). His Last Supper was the new Passover, the meal celebrating freedom (Lk 22:15). Finally, Jesus baptized us in the Holy Spirit and freed us from the fears that locked us in the upper room (Jn 20:26).
If we take the devil's bribes and do not accept Jesus' liberation, His death is in vain. The heavenly Father grieves, and the Spirit is stifled. Every father wants to see his children free. Our heavenly Father so wanted His children free that He gave His Son Jesus (Jn 3:16). At the Eucharist we pray: "Lord, by Your cross and resurrection, You have set us free. You are the Savior of the world."
Prayer: Jesus, there is no men's liberation or women's liberation by
human power. You alone can set us free. We adore You and give our lives to You.
Promise: "He set me free in the open, and rescued me, because He loves me." Psalms 18:20
Praise: Kim accepted Jesus and was freed from promiscuity and chemical dependency.
"I have greatly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." Luke 22:15
Food habits can affect our freedom, sometimes enslaving us. The Israelites wished they were back in the slavery of Egypt so they could have meat, fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic (Nm 11:4-5). They were tempted to sell out to the system by eating certain foods. Look at the three young men (Dn 1) and Eleazar (2 Mc 6:18).
The night before Jesus died, He had a freedom-meal, the Passover, proclaiming the liberation of the Jews from Egypt. He commanded us to do this freedom-meal in remembrance of Him. After Pentecost, the Holy Spirit guided the early church to celebrate frequently even daily the Last Supper: the new Passover, the breaking of the bread (Acts 2:42). When we eat the bread of heaven in Holy Communion, we are liberated from the world's bondage.
We may feel that celebrating daily Mass is impossible because of our schedule and responsibilities. Likewise, at the time of the first Passover, the Israelites were prevented from worshiping the Lord because of the demands of their work (Ex 5:4). But the Lord set them free, and He will do the same for us. The Eucharist is our "declaration of independence" from the slavery of work and the pressures of our society.
Prayer: Jesus, I reject the food and life-style that enslaves, and I
decide to receive You daily in Holy Communion.
Promise: "I Myself am the living Bread come down from heaven. If anyone eats this Bread he shall live forever." John 6:51
Praise: Jerry was a compulsive eater, drinker, smoker, and worker. He sat each week for an hour in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Now he's free.
ONLY SLAVES ARE FREE
"Do not, therefore, let sin rule your mortal body and make you obey its lusts; no more shall you offer the members of your body to sin as weapons for evil. Rather, offer yourselves to God as men who have come back from the dead to life, and your bodies to God as weapons for justice." Romans 6:12-13
There is no such thing as absolute freedom for a human being. When we choose one thing, we automatically limit other options. For example, when a person marries, he has new freedoms while losing other freedoms. Some try to deny this reality, only to see their lives fall apart. Freedom and slavery go together. We can't have one without the other. For example, if we are free from Satan, sin, and death, we must be a slave of Jesus (Col 3:24). We must be someone's slave. The question is: Whose slave will we be and what freedoms will we have and have not?
The greatest thing a human being can be is a slave of Jesus. To be His slave is greater than to be a president, superstar, or millionaire. One day in His courts is better than a thousand elsewhere (Ps 84:11). We're created to be Jesus' slaves. He respects us and treats us with dignity. If we choose not to be His slave, the devil condemns us to hard labor in his chain gang and forces us to be his slaves. We cannot be neutral because we cannot stop the devil by our power. He will drag us into his service. Slavery to Jesus is our only way of freedom.
Prayer: Jesus, if it weren't for You. . .Thank You for being my Master.
Promise: "God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good works and healing all who were in the grip of the devil." Acts 10:38
Praise: Paul now serves Jesus with the total commitment he previously had to his alcoholism.
"During the night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, fastened with double chains, while guards kept watch." Acts 12:6
If we do not choose to be Jesus' slave, the devil chains us, not once, but many times, all the while promising us freedom. In almost every jail, the inmates are imprisoned within a prison, within a prison, etc. If they get out of the handcuffs, they're still in the cell; if out of the cell, they're still in the cell block, behind bars, walls, and razor wire. To give us an illusion of freedom, the devil will let us change cells or exchange chains. We think we're free but we're only a convict with the handcuffs off. For example, someone may have kicked the drug habit but still be living in fornication. Someone takes off the chain of cigarettes in exchange for the chain of overeating. A person stops overeating but constantly consumes doses of caffeine through coffee, pop, and chocolate. "They promise them freedom though they themselves are slaves of corruption for surely anyone is the slave of that by which he has been overcome" (2 Pt 2:19). "Remember that you have been called to live in freedom but not a freedom that gives free rein to the flesh" (Gal 5:13). "It was for liberty that Christ freed us. So stand firm, and do not take on yourselves the yoke of slavery a second time!" (Gal 5:1)
Is there any way out of this maze of chains? Jesus is the Way. By Jesus' power, we can be spiritual Houdinis, who can get out of anything, or better yet, not even be trapped. "Thus, taken captive by God to do His will, they shall escape the devil's trap" (2 Tm 2:26).
Prayer: "Lord God almighty, free at last!" Praise Jesus!
Promise: "And He led them forth from darkness and gloom and broke their bonds asunder...because He shattered the gates of brass and burst the bars of iron." Psalms 107:14,16
Praise: Sam was a chain smoker until he became Jesus's slave. Now he doesn't smoke anymore.
"Jesus likewise had a full share in ours, that by His death He might rob the devil, the prince of death, of his power, and free those who through fear of death had been slaves their whole life long." Hebrews 2:14-15
Fear is the chain that holds together the other chains. It is the string by which the devil makes us his puppets to dance to his tunes. Fear is the principal way by which the devil keeps us enslaved our whole lives long. Several times a day the Lord commands us: "Do not fear." And yet several times a day the devil tries to use fear to "keep us in line." At this second, while reading this teaching about fear, we may be feeling afraid while hearing the Father say: "Do not fear."
How can we obey our Father's command not to fear? The fear of the Lord is not only the beginning of wisdom (Ps 111:10) but also of fearlessness. The fear of God, that is, awe and reverence in His presence, can be stronger than human fear (Mt 10:28; Sir 34:14). When fear of man is dislodged by fear of the Lord, it can be bulldozed out of our lives through faith. "Fear is useless, what is needed is faith" (Lk 8:50, our transl). Finally, perfect love has no room for fear and casts out all fear (1 Jn 4:18). "Perfect love" is love that is complete love of God with all our hearts (Mt 22:37), love of ourselves, our neighbors (Mt 22:39), our Church (see Eph 5:25), and especially our enemies (Mt 5:44). God offers us fearlessness through fear of the Lord, faith, and complete love and fearlessness brings freedom.
Prayer: Father, give me the obedience, faith, and love that displaces
fear. Thank You, Abba.
Promise: "Rid of fear and delivered from the enemy, we should serve Him devoutly and through all our days be holy in His sight. Luke 1:74-75
Praise: Jean talked about her phobias for years. Jesus changed her heart so she would want to be free.
"TO FORGIVE IS DIVINE"
"Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.' " Luke 23:34
After twenty years of pastoral experience, I believe unforgiveness is at least partially the cause of over ninety percent of all problems of any kind. To be free we must forgive. And since forgiveness is divine, we can't do it by our human powers. Those holding unforgiveness must rely on God's grace. Sometimes this doesn't work because we don't want it to work. It is not only true that "to forgive is divine" but to want to forgive is also divine. Many times we are not willing to forgive but must pray for a willingness to forgive.
Another confusion about forgiveness is that we sometimes do seem to forgive by our own power. The devil encourages this kind of "forgiveness" because he knows it will not stand. In this circumstance, people sometimes say they can forgive but they can't forget. The fact is they can neither forgive nor forget. And if God was giving them the forgiving, He would also give them the forgetting. Any forgiveness we have done by our power should be re-done by God's power. Even if we don't see any problem at this time, it will surface later. Otherwise, we will curse ourselves every time we pray the Lord's prayer (Mt 6:12) and will later be handed over to the torturers (Mt 18:34). Unforgiveness tortures the unforgiver even more than the unforgiven. But forgiveness frees.
Prayer: Father, some of my forgiveness is a mirage. Send Your Spirit
to guide me to the Truth (John 16:13).
Promise: "Bear with one another; forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you." Colossians 3:13
Praise: Cindy thought she had forgiven her husband, and her marital difficulties were caused by something else. The Spirit proved her wrong (Jn 16:8). She forgave Tom, and their marriage was saved.
HERE COMES THE JUDGE!
He "said to them, 'Let the man among you who has no sin be the first to cast a stone at her.' " John 8:7
"The Father Himself judges no one, but has assigned all judgment to the Son" (Jn 5:22), Who postpones judgment until His second coming (Jn 3:17; 8:15). However, man walks in where even God decided not to tread. The verdict we pass on others is applied to us (Mt 7:1-2). If we decide to lock up others, we sentence ourselves to lose our freedom.
At first, we think we must not judge unfairly. Then we think we should judge mercifully. But we have no right to judge at all, even mercifully. Imagine going into your city's municipal court and judging fairly and mercifully. You would not be commended but arrested for contempt of court. "The one who speaks ill of his brother or judges his brother is speaking against the law. It is the law he judges. If, however, you judge the law you are no observer of the law, you are its judge. There is but one Lawgiver and Judge, One who can save and destroy. Who then are you to judge your neighbor?" (Jas 4:11-12)
To give in to the compulsion to sit on the judge's bench is to be enslaved, and in bondage. We must get out of the judging business by repenting and removing sin, unforgiveness, and hurt from our lives. We are not courtrooms but temples of the Spirit.
Prayer: Father, You have a throne for me, not a bench. Forgive me for
judging others. Forgive me for not loving sinners and not hating sin.
Promise: "The Lord is the One to judge me, so stop passing judgment before the time of His return." 1 Corinthians 4:4-5
Praise: Jonathan couldn't even look at his wife without judging her. However, Jesus changed that through Confession.
FASTING AND FREEDOM
"This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke." Isaiah 58:6
We are freed by the power of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. We accept this liberating grace by faith, often expressed in obedience. The Lord sometimes calls us to express our faith by obeying His call to fast. If we fast in the right spirit, we experience an amazing liberation. We ourselves are freed from bondage, chains, fears, and compulsions. We also free others who are bound by our unforgiveness, judging, resentments, and manipulation.
The devil constantly baits us. By sin, guilt, fear, unforgiveness, or hurt, the evil one attempts to manipulate us into taking hold of something and forming the connecting link in the chain. We are to resist the devil's temptations, keep hands off, refuse to touch the bait, and refer everything to Jesus our Lord (see 1 Pt 5:7).
Fasting can unchain us. When we lose our need to control, we gain true freedom (see Lk 9:24). Then we are not only freed from bondage and compulsions, but also freed for evangelism, ministry, and even persecution for the sake of the gospel.
Prayer: Jesus, when I cast my cares on You, may I not fall for the temptation
to reel them back in (1 Pt 5:7).
Promise: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; therefore He has anointed Me. He has sent Me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and release to prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord." Luke 4:18-19
Praise: Susan studied liberation theology. Later she fell in love with the Liberator, Jesus.
(For further teaching order our pamphlet, The Secret of Fasting.)
GUILT, GUILT-TRIPS, AND SCRUPULOSITY
"Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me." Psalm 51:4
Everyone has felt guilty many times. We have seen guilt lead us to repentance and life. We have also seen guilt lead to self-hatred and despair. Because many people have seen guilt become destructive, they have decided to deny guilt, and they vigilantly warn others not to put anyone on a guilt trip, except for politically correct things. However, denying guilt becomes a problem because we are sinned against and know that others are guilty. Reality denies our denial. Therefore, most people in our "culture of death" believe in guilt in very restricted circumstances for other people. However, for themselves they try to disconnect their consciences and thereby stop the production of guilt. This is something like artificial contraception and sterilization by which natural processes are disconnected. Even though this prevents people from feeling bad, it also prevents them from feeling right. "One sees in them men without conscience, without loyalty, without affection, without pity" (Rm 1:31). Often, stifled guilt eventually erupts in self-destruction, as in Judas Iscariot's suicide. If we go on a sin-trip, we must go on a guilt-trip or we will likely go on a hell-trip.
Because subduing our consciences or deceiving ourselves about our guilt is potentially self-destructive and damning, it is obvious that we need to admit our guilt and take it to the Lord. The Lord has promised to take away our guilt (Zec 3:5), thoroughly wash it away (Ps 51:4), and transport guilt in a leaden covered container to the appropriate disposal site for toxic waste (see Zec 5:6ff).
We must distinguish between genuine guilt and false guilt. Genuine guilt means we have actually sinned and have not yet repented. If we have genuine guilt, we must take a short, immediate guilt trip to Jesus and repentance. We should go to Confession, make reparation for our sins, and ask others to pray for us to be healed.
False guilt may be caused by lack of knowledge and faith. A scrupulous conscience will produce false guilt (see 1 Jn 3:20). However, we can check scrupulosity by knowing that we are forgiven all our sins in Confession. This happens, not because we remember and articulate our sins perfectly, but because Jesus shed His blood for us on Calvary. The Church teaches: "When Christ's faithful strive to confess all the sins that they can remember, they undoubtedly place all of them before the divine mercy for pardon" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1456). Therefore, scrupulous persons should not repeat in Confession sins which they have previously confessed. They should not doubt they are forgiven. Rather, they should rejoice with God, the angels, and saints in being forgiven (Lk 15:7, 10).
Moreover, we can correct a scrupulous conscience and thereby stop it from producing false guilt by growing in faith and by receiving healing of the causes of scrupulosity. If we truly believe what God the Father has revealed about Himself through Jesus and in the Spirit, we know that God, the just Judge, is also God of mercy and God Who is Love (1 Jn 4:16). By faith in God's mercy and love, we will let the Lord heal our warped consciences.
- don't live in denial of guilt.
- don't disconnect your conscience.
- go on a short guilt trip to Jesus and repentance immediately after you sin.
- don't go on a false guilt trip.
- live a holy, healed, faith-filled life and be freed from guilt.
Prayer: Father, form my conscience in accord with the teachings of Your
Promise: "There is no condemnation now for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1
Praise: Father Dave repented of giving false teachings and encouraging an attitude of permissiveness.
"Return, O Israel, to the Lord, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt." Hosea 14:2
Guilt, especially sexual guilt, is probably the driving force of our society. Guilt is the basis of our economy. The guilt of guilts is sexual guilt, and our lustful society mass-produces sexual sin and guilt. To be free of guilt we must be repentant and forgiven of sin. Even if we are not trapped in fornication, adultery, or homosexual sin, we must repent of other sexual sins, such as the pornography of prime-time TV, masturbation, oral sex within marriage, and artificial birth control.
When repentant, we must go to Confession, confess our sins to another, and find healing (Jas 5:16). This usually takes away guilt except when there is a sexual bond due to fornication, adultery, premarital sex, or homosexual relations. In sexual intercourse, the two become one flesh, the members of one become the members of the other (1 Cor 6:15-16). This may be experienced as unpredictable tension, which worsens guilt and makes freedom impossible. When we repent, we remove the cause of sin, guilt, and the tension of sexual bondage. Then, all we need do is ask Jesus to break the bonds. We are free at last.
Prayer: Jesus, I feel "dirty". Make me clean and free.
Promise: "As for lewd conduct or promiscuousness or lust of any sort, let them not even be mentioned among you; your holiness forbids this." "Make no mistake about this: no fornicator, no unclean or lustful person in effect an idolater has any inheritance in the kingdom." Ephesians 5:3, 5
Praise: Judy had sex with six different men in two years. She lived on prescribed medication. She accepted Jesus, went to Confession, and is free from guilt and medication.
"You are not your own. You have been purchased, and at a price. So glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
A habit that is seldom talked about but which enslaves millions is masturbation. Masturbation is a sin because in it we use our sexual faculties not for God's purpose of expressing married love but for self-centered sensations of pleasure. Any sin automatically enslaves, and masturbation has exceptional enslaving power because sexual sins are usually more compulsive and addictive. Most people will not talk about masturbation, and those who do talk about it spread lies and confusion. When you put confusion, deception, secrecy, addiction, and compulsion together, you have exceptional slavery.
Because of this, many despair of overcoming masturbation. Some lie to themselves and maintain they don't have a problem, just because they don't masturbate at every temptation. But the devil is only letting them win a few to keep them from getting serious about being unchained.
Others try to write their own gospel, the gospel according to selfishness, and they rationalize masturbation. You don't have to deceive yourself. Simply ask for God's strength and you will overcome the temptation to masturbate. If this doesn't work, take a step back in prayer and ask for the willingness to accept God's strength. However, God will give us victory and freedom.
Prayer: Father, may I understand that freedom is impossible without
purity. I give my body to You (Rm 12:1).
Promise: "Immediately all the doors flew open and everyone's chains were pulled loose." Acts 16:26
Praise: Harry masturbated for 34 years. He accepted Jesus as Lord, was baptized in the Holy Spirit, and was freed.
"May I never boast of anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through it, the world has been crucified to me and I to the world." Galatians 6:14
There are many socially acceptable drugs and compulsions, especially cigarettes, caffeine, prescription drugs, and alcohol. In addition to these, there is overeating (especially cholesterol, sugar, and salt), "TV-holism," compulsive gossip, negativity, depression, shopping, foul language, pornography, profanity, gambling, and addictions to videos, video games, and the Internet to name only a few. The devil has a large arsenal; he specializes in slavery, and compulsions are his thing. Unlike the Holy Spirit, the evil spirit has no respect for our free will. Once given the opportunity, he will try to force us to obey him.
The first step out of compulsiveness is to turn our lives over to Jesus. "Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you" (1 Pt 5:7). Next, we must stop giving into compulsions automatically. We should pray for a "stutter", a hitch in our behavior, so we don't compulsively act before we think of what we're doing. The Spirit does this by convicting us of our sins in taking them to the cross (see Jn 16:8). At the foot of the cross, we are shocked at our part in Jesus' crucifixion (see Gal 6:14). We're no longer on "automatic". We hesitate long enough to say Jesus' name. In that split second, compulsive behavior can be disrupted and then stopped by God's grace.
Prayer: Jesus, I do what I don't want to do (Rm 7:19). Save me.
Promise: "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires." Galatians 5:24
Praise: Harold had taken God's name in vain for years. He pictured himself doing that at the foot of the cross. He was shocked and stopped.
"It is good to have our hearts strengthened by the grace of God and not by foods which are useless to those who take them as a standard for living." Hebrews 13:9
Caffeine may have more influence in many people's lives than Christianity does. If we took away the caffeine from coffee, tea, pop, and chocolate, there are those who would be convinced that life could not continue. Many people do not merely enjoy a morning cup of coffee; they are utterly dependent on it. No matter how acceptable this is in our society, God does not want us dependent on a chemical. Coke and Pepsi are now more popular than water. And chocolate, with both caffeine and sugar, is a devastating combination.
But, since caffeine is not a hard drug, we minimize its subtle, yet worldwide dominance. Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol all have a similar spiritual side effect. Even though they appear to wake us physically, they put us to sleep spiritually. For example, when the young boy Samuel heard God calling him by name, he was told by Eli to go back to sleep (1 Sm 3:5, 6, 9). Caffeine tells our spirits to go back to sleep. It stimulates us in a way that keeps us from being spiritually stimulated. If someone would have told me this a few years ago, I would have laughed at them. But just observe people when God is trying to get through to them. Caffeine is often a defense mechanism to prevent in-depth communication with God. Jesus said: "Let him who has ears to hear Me, hear!" (Mk 4:9)
Prayer: Father, give me the gift of discernment of spirits or someone
who can share this gift with me (1 Cor 12:10).
Promise: "Keep careful watch over your conduct. Do not act like fools, but like thoughtful men. Make the most of the present opportunity, for these are evil days. Do not continue in ignorance." Ephesians 5:15-17
Praise: Jenny was usually confused. By God's grace she gave up coffee. Now she is clear about God's will for her.
TV ADDICTION (Part 1)
"Let us live honorably as in daylight; not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh." Romans 13:13-14
Some of you who are reading this will never be what the Lord calls you to be unless you let the Lord free you from addictions, especially the addiction to watching TV. To understand this, you must be aware of the difference between an abuser and an addict. Abusers overdo things such as watching TV, drinking alcohol, eating, working, etc., but they can control themselves if they turn to the Lord for help. However, addicts cannot consistently control their watching TV, drinking alcohol, etc. They may avoid addictive behavior even for long periods of time, but what seems to be self-control is actually only delaying a binge.
TV abusers should be told to turn to the Lord and limit their TV viewing. TV addicts should be told to turn to the Lord, face the fact they can't control themselves; and get rid of their TVs. The Lord works with TV addicts not by giving them the grace to control themselves, but by giving them wisdom to remove the occasion of sin. Just as an alcoholic should not have alcohol in the house, so a TV addict (TV-holic) should not have a TV in the house.
Many people deceive themselves into thinking they're TV abusers, but actually they're TV addicts. They will never be given the grace to properly control their TV watching but will have the grace to get rid of their TVs. Many people don't need a "remote control," but need to throw out the TV so there's no TV to control. It's difficult to face this, but TV addicts either get rid of their TVs or be slaves. There's no other possibility for them.
If you have resolved to limit your TV watching but have been inconsistent in keeping your resolutions, you should probably get rid of your TV. Do whatever it takes to accept the grace to abstain completely from TV.
Prayer: Father, send the Holy Spirit to show me the areas in which I
Promise: "...closing his eyes lest he look on evil he shall dwell on the heights." Isaiah 33:15-16
Praise: John and Kim have long talks with each other and their children instead of watching TV.
TV ADDICTION (Part 2)
"You shall not go about spreading slander among your kinsmen; nor shall you stand by idly when your neighbor's life is at stake. I am the Lord." Leviticus 19:16
When we think of influences which rob us of our freedom, we usually think of alcoholism, cocaine, or heroin, but one of the greatest enslavers is TV. Besides warping the mind, TV paralyzes the spirit.
Our world is in desperate need. The harvest is great, but the workers are few (Mt 9:37). Yet we don't have time to help because we have to watch our five hours of TV daily. TV promotes a spectator mentality. We stare at the TV instead of participating in reality. Then we eventually stare at reality and find it hard to differentiate TV from life. We passively watch the news rather than make the news. Apathy is the poisoned fruit of watching TV. And apathy is the essential ingredient that makes possible the worst atrocities.
"The eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyesight is sound, your whole body is lighted up, but when your eyesight is bad, your body is in darkness. Take care, then, that your light is not darkness" (Lk 11:34-35). If we are hit in the eye we are incapacitated and easily beaten up. This is even more true in the spiritual conflict with the devil. We should guard our eyes by closing them lest we look on evil (Is 33:15). The light switch for our bodies is our eyes. When we frequently expose ourselves to TV, our spirits are turned off. Then we have a lethargy and apathy which gives the devil free rein.
Prayer: Jesus, forgive me for just sitting around in a state of apathy.
Promise: "If you remain indifferent in time of adversity, your strength will depart from you." Proverbs 24:10
Praise: Todd and Mary's TV broke; they never got it fixed.
GAMBLING, LOTTERY, RAFFLES, BINGO
"Let us throw dice to see who gets it." John 19:24
In the last ten years, gambling has been promoted to the point that there is more gambling going on in the USA now than in any other nation in the history of the human race. The gambling that the government formerly ruled to be illegal is now promoted by the same government. We are a nation obsessed with gambling.
Gambling is not God's will because:
- Gambling often becomes compulsive. This takes away our freedom.
- Even if one's gambling is minimal, it is an occasion of sin, a temptation to many others (see 1 Cor 8:13; Rm 14:21).
- Gambling bears bad fruit (see Mt 7:20). Look at the lives, homes, marriages, and families of gamblers.
- Gambling encourages escaping from reality and fantasizing. This perpetuates rather than deals with problems.
- Gambling can be an unknowing dabbling in the occult. When we win or lose, it's not because of bad luck or good fortune. All things are caused.
People gamble because they're empty. Gambling distracts us from our emptiness. It distracts us from Jesus Who alone can fill our empty lives. When people totally commit their lives to Jesus, they will see no need to gamble.
At the foot of Jesus' cross, some gambled (Jn 19:24), and others gave their lives to Jesus. Give your life to Jesus.
Prayer: Jesus, may I see gambling as You do.
Promise: "The love of money is the root of all evil. Some men in their passion for it have strayed from the faith, and have come to grief amid great pain." 1 Timothy 6:10
Praise: Herb went to Confession and repented of playing the lottery.
"Let there not be found among you anyone who immolates his son or daughter in the fire, nor a fortune-teller, soothsayer, charmer, diviner, or caster of spells." Deuteronomy 18:10-11
Few people admit they have lost their freedom through involvement in the occult. However, Satan can bind us in subtle ways. Not only are fortune-telling, tarot cards, and ouija boards potential entries into the occult, but theories of reincarnation, hypnotism, and the signs of the zodiac can also result in bondage to the occult.
These things, especially the signs of the zodiac, seem harmless. And they are harmless much of the time. But this is only to trap those foolish enough to play with them. Looking up your sign in the paper and having an emblem of Scorpio, Leo, etc. is not as harmless as we may think. Look at Saul, who "died because of his rebellion against the Lord in disobeying His command, and also because he had sought counsel of a necromancer, and had not rather inquired of the Lord" (1 Chr 10:13-14). The Lord tells us: "Do not go to mediums or consult fortune-tellers, for you will be defiled by them" (Lv 19:31).
If you have already been defiled, turn to Jesus in repentance, confess your sins, and receive the cleansing by His blood. "Many who had become believers came forward and openly confessed their former practices. A number who had been dealing in magic even collected their books and burned them in public" (Acts 19:18-19). "Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him" (1 Pt 5:8-9).
Prayer: Jesus, thank You that my present and future depends on the sign
of the cross and not on the signs of the zodiac.
Promise: "We belong neither to darkness nor to night; therefore let us not be asleep like the rest, but awake and sober!" 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6
Praise: Kathy burnt her astrology books.
THE CREDIT CARD BLUES
"Avoid greed in all its forms." Luke 12:15
Credit cards escalate the growth of greed and compulsiveness. They can trap people into a slavery situation, where they must keep working to keep paying and buying and paying.
Many in our culture live to shop. A bumper sticker reads "A woman's place is in the mall." This degrades the human person. We are not mere consumers. We are not just pawns of our economic system. We are not merely products or producers; we are people and children of God. We are not of this world anymore than Jesus was of this world (Jn 15:19; 1 Jn 4:17). Unbelievers are always running after what they are to eat, drink, and wear (Mt 6:32). We need not do this because our heavenly Father knows what we need (Mt 6:32). Break up your credit cards before they break you. Even if you have no problems with the compulsive use of credit cards, you still may be giving bad example, and being an occasion of sin (see 1 Cor 8:13).
Pope John Paul II has taught: "This superdevelopment, which consists of an excessive availability of every kind of material goods for the benefit of certain social groups, easily makes people slaves of 'possession' and of immediate gratification, with no other horizon than the multiplication or continual replacement of the things already owned with others still better. This is the so-called civilization of 'consumption' or 'consumerism' " (On Social Concerns, 28). Consumerism is like crack-cocaine. It "easily makes people slaves." It is even more addictive than other compulsions. Turn to Jesus, Who is the only Way to true freedom in our lives (see Jn 14:6; 8:36).
Prayer: Father, I try not to get into situations where I would have
to trust You. Forgive me.
Warning: "The Pharisees, who were avaricious men, heard all this and began to deride Him. He said to them: 'You justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God reads your hearts. What man thinks important, God holds in contempt.' " Luke 16:14-15
Praise: Joy cut up four credit cards. She is now living a more simple and free life.
The following prayer from the Roman Ritual (Book of Blessings, 395), is a way of accepting God's grace to be free. Pray this prayer from your heart. After you let Jesus free you, tell others what Jesus has done for you and pray this prayer with them:
"God of mercy,
we bless You in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ,
Who ministered to all who came to Him.
Give Your strength to _______, Your servant,
bound by the chains of addiction.
Enfold him/her in Your love and
restore him/her to the freedom of God's children.
Lord, look with compassion on all those
who have lost their health and freedom.
Restore to them the assurance
of Your unfailing mercy,
and strengthen them in the work of recovery.
To those who care for them,
grant patient understanding and
a love that perseveres.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen."
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, April 2, 1999.
Imprimatur: Most Reverend Bishop Carl Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 6, 1999.