Gifts of God

Gifts of God (2017) to be published later this year, is an inspirational book on meditations about Christian living.  It focuses on the abundance of gifts that are showered on us daily by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In the last of this three-part series, each meditation pays homage to a loving God who blesses, guides, and loves us abundantly. International personalities continue to exult his Holy Name, adore his divinity, and are forever grateful to him.

Readers of this devotional will come to experience God’s warmth, care, and praise his beautiful works.  People will honor and glorify his extraordinary attributes and discover his greatest gift is love. With his promises they live in hope of rejoicing forever in salvation with his saving grace.

God is willing to forgive our sins, walk with us, and comfort us in our troubles.  After we shall declare like Isaiah 7:9: “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” He is omnipotent and omniscient and his ways are above our ways.  We are therefore blessed by his gifts which are authentic and precious in our lives.

Our Heavenly Banquet

Christ’s sacramental memorial making present his passion, death, resurrection, and ascension tells us about the Holy Eucharist. It all begins with a preparatory rite that involves purification and conversion of our souls. Through this we are absolved of our sins and our bodies become holy places for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Joel Osteen (b. 1963), a preacher and Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, felt, “God can cause opportunity to find you. He has unexpected blessings where you suddenly meet the right person, or suddenly your health improves, or suddenly you’re able to pay off your house. That’s God shifting things in your favor.” We undoubtedly bring our concerns to the Lord’s table and he often intervenes in our lives in unexpected ways.

The priest who presides at the Mass prays a collect. This is a collection of prayers – of the faithful of the community. He articulates this prayer from what is flowing from the hearts of the congregation. In the liturgy Christ Jesus is proclaimed as we welcome the good news of salvation. He becomes truly present in the Word read at the lectern. Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895), an African-American social reformer, statesman, and abolitionist was sure: “Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.” With these readings we hear about promises, hope, struggles, trials, and tribulations but we are called to take up Christ’s cross and follow him.

These imperatives come alive in the homily which is a time to hear the Lord himself speak. Our understanding of this faith is nothing more than a true gift from God. With the creed we embrace his presence and declare our dependence on him. As M. Basil Pennington in The Eucharist Yesterday and Today revealed that God is the Maker, we are the made; he is the Savior, we are the saved, and makes us aware how much he really loves us. Symbolically, this is the breaking bread of the Word and sharing the two-thousand-year-old story of the historical Jesus of yesterday, today, and forever.

In the offertory rite it is remembered that God made us the exact way he desired. He made no mistakes and what he has planned for our lives are beyond our wildest dreams It reminds us that even when we experience the wounded crying out for help, we must realize that often it us God has assigned to fulfill their healing. In the Holy Eucharist, Christ himself meets us as a compassionate gift. It is through our prayer of thanksgiving that brings us his abundant blessings. Unimaginably, the Holy Eucharist is a meal and sacrifice wrapped up together into one. This is how we embrace his participatory love and become members of his mystical body.

Sunday Adelaja (b. 1967), a Senior Pastor of the Embassy of God – an evangelic-charismatic mega-church in Kiev, Ukraine, observed, “God’s favor in its fullness is that which allows strength to overcome with weakness, love to overcome hatred, God’s goodness to defeat Satan’s evil nature.” With the Holy Eucharist, many trials and challenges of life are being addressed. We are victors as we participate in our Lord’s heavenly banquet. Because we do experience the real presence of the Christ-God when we manifest acts of love and adoration at this rite. People are therefore brought forth to wholehearted empowerment.

Communicants now leave the table of the Lord with hope and expectations of great things to follow. Erwin K. Thomas (b. 1943), a retired professor of journalism and Christian author advised, “We must bend over backward, do a favor, and give and build confidence in people. It’s a time to compliment, support and acknowledge the good things people do.” We are surely blessed as participants in the Holy Eucharist.

God’s Creation

God has shown us his gifts of creative powers at an undatable time to about 2000 B.C. when he did spread out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea, making Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, the chambers of the south, and does wonders without number (Job 9:8-10). Every beast of the forest and the cattle upon a thousand hills are his, for he knows the fowls of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field (Ps. 50:10-11). God himself has framed the earth and caused it to be inhabited (Isa. 45:18). “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was created. In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (Jn. 1:1, 3-4 ). After Christ himself purged of our sins, he sat down on the right hand of God – the Father (Heb. 1:3).

In six successive acts, God called into existence that which did not exist. He created not only the heavens and the earth, but aquatic and aerial life, man and woman, the moon, stars, sun, and the wind. Geologists and astronomers are convinced that his creations took a myriad of years to accomplish these feats. Fundamentalist theologians however feel, that they were accomplished within the course of six-twenty-four-hour days, since he rested on the seventh, the Sabbath (Gen. 1:1-31).

Fyodor Dostoevsky(18251881), a Russian novelist encouraged us to “love all God’s creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s lights. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery of things.” There is a divine mystery with the gifts of God’s creation that touch all things. We only have to be willing to open our eyes to be able to acknowledge his grandiose works.

An appreciation of nature comes during early spring. William Wordsworth (17701850), a well-known English poet captured this reality when he wrote:

“The birds around me hopp’d and play’d:

Their thoughts I cannot measure,

But the least motion which they made,

It seem’d a thrill of pleasure.”

How great it is of Wordsworth to view birds with such deep sentiments and understanding. Still, he regretted that the world was too much with us when he acknowledged:

“The world is too much with us, late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”

What a sad way to waste our hearts away in the things of this world!  People however recognize a certain sacredness concerning the gifts of our creation, especially in mankind. Thomas Jefferson (17431826), statesman and the third US President declared, “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal and independent; that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Jefferson here meditated on the gifts of men and women, their rights, and social standing in the American society.

John Milton (16081674), an English poet explained in Paradise Lost the predicament of Adam and Eve, when he asked her:

“O fairest of creation, last and best

Of all God’s works, creature in whom excelled

Whatever can to sight or thought be formed,

Holy, divine, good, amiable, or sweet!

How art thou lost, how on a sudden lost,

Defaced, deflow’red, and now to death devote?”

Interestingly enough, the gift of mankind’s future was shaped by Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden. The price they paid for the gift of knowledge – knowing good and evil was death.

What Hath God Wrought? (Nu 23:23)

In Europe during the Middle Ages (1100 – 1453), priests and monks devoted their lives to translating and preserving liturgical texts. Beginning in 1450, with the help of partner Johann Fust, Johan Gutenberg (1398 – 1468), of Germany, printed several books, and in 1456 – the Bible, to the delight of Europeans. In 1476, William Caxton of England (1415 – 1492) did the same with his small rudimentary press. These innovations had the effects of revolutionizing Europe and the world.

The American Experience

In the American colonies of the 1800s, from the use of ponies, pigeons, trains and steamboats to deliver news to printing presses was followed by the telegraph. On May 24, 1844, through its invention, Samuel F.B. Morse (1791 -1872) sent the message: “What hath God Wrought?” in telegraphic code. His dots and dashes laid the foundation of electronic voice transmissions. Morse’s prophetic saying, has come down through history as having far reaching ramifications, for the world’s mass communication systems. Wendell Phillips (1811 – 1884), an American abolitionist and advocate for Native Americans, observed, “What gun powder did for war the printing press has done for the mind.”

In Europe, Gutenberg and Caxton were important figures in the development of printing. Morse’s invention of the telegraph later revolutionized news gathering and these discoveries had profound effects on the electronic media. Societies around the world could point to such developments as shaping their nations’ destinies.

Joseph Prince (b. 1963), a senior pastor of New Creation Church in Singapore, one of Asia’s biggest churches, remarked: “Television, radio, social media. The 24/7 news cycle plows forward mercilessly on our desks, in our cars and in our pockets. Thousands and thousands of messages and voices bombard us from the moment we wake, fighting for our attention. All we see and hear, all day long, is news. And most of it is bad.”

Positive Media

In 1964, Marshall McLuhan (1911 – 1980), a Canadian critic described what he foresaw as a “Global Village” taking shape. He pointed out the readily accessible nature of media that’s used for a variety of purposes, much of it good. Ban Ki-moon (b. 1944) current Secretary-General of the United Nations wrote, “Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen governance.” With such objectives Ban Ki-moon could well be describing the mass media’s role in nation building. The media is ubiquitous and its impact on nations is great. When one considers Morse’s prophetic saying it’s clear that there’s even an outreach into our spiritual lives. This not only comes in the form of liturgical texts, but via radio, TV, film and social media.