I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd (John 10:14-16).
As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love (John 15:9).
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life (John 3:16).
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life (John 5:24).
We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
For “who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to counsel him?” But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).
The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us (Romans 5:5).
For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive (Matthew 21:22).
Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete (John 16:23-24).
Sometimes as Catholic men we miss the forest for the trees. We focus on the little things right in front of us—our everyday concerns and preoccupations—and lose sight of the promises God has made to us in Christ, and his plan for our lives.
This can be true even with our acts of faith. For example, we can be so focused on getting to Mass on Sunday and saying our prayers that we miss their significance or power. Or we can be so intent on getting God to answer a particular prayer that we fail to see how much he has already done for us and how much he promises to do for us if we stay close to him.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows his own, and they know him (John 10:14). How wonderful is that? We can know him. He promised: “They will hear my voice” (John 10:16). He didn’t say: “Maybe they will” or “I hope they will.” He just said: “They will.” As often as we sit with him, ask him questions and wait for answers, as often as we quiet the noisiness and busyness of our lives, and give him room to speak, we will hear him.
The truth is, whether we believe it or not, God knows everything about us. The good, the bad, and the ugly – the things we hate to admit and those we wish weren’t true but can’t quite bring ourselves to admit. God knows it all—and still he loves us! In fact, Jesus loves us at the same depth and intensity that God the Father loves him (John 15:9).
Just what has God promised to us in Jesus Christ? That if we believe in his Son, we will have eternal life (John 3:16; 5:24). That all things do work for our good (Romans 8:28). That he will be with us for ever, in this life and for all eternity (Matthew 28:20).
As true as these Scriptures are, it can still be hard to believe that Jesus really loves us! Equally hard for us is believing Jesus’ promise that we can experience a deep and personal relationship with him and the Father. We can know him (John 10:14) in a way that goes beyond what we might normally expect in any human relationship.
Here’s another promise that we might find hard to believe: that we can take on his own mind about life in this world. As we grow closer to him, we can begin to feel the stirrings that move his heart. St. Paul told the believers in Corinth: “We have the mind of Christ,” and he wants to tell us the same thing today (1 Corinthians 2:16). We really can know his thoughts, because he is eager to share them with us. We really can hear him, because he created us for this kind of relationship. He has given us his own Holy Spirit to help us know his love in the deep recesses of our hearts (Romans 5:5).
Just think: God’s love, his creativity, his inventiveness, his compassion and humor, his wisdom and knowledge, his discernment and understanding—we can begin to taste all of these as he has promised. The Holy Spirit makes it possible. He opens our minds and hearts to receive all of this simply because God loves us.
This is the big picture that we need to focus on in the midst of our everyday concerns and obligations. God keeps his promises! He has a plan for us! No matter what the specific circumstances of our lives are, his overall vision for us never changes. It is always for our good (Jeremiah 29:11). Whatever hardships and suffering we may be experiencing now, however our lives are unfolding, we need to keep God’s love and his purposes in the forefront of our minds.
Through Jesus, God has fulfilled his promises. He loves us, he forgives us, and he invites us to spend all eternity with him. Let God’s promises for your life inspire you when you rise in the morning and when you go to sleep at night. Let it remain with you throughout the day. Everything else in your life fits into his plan—a plan not just for today or tomorrow but for all eternity!
So go ahead and ask and you will receive (Matthew 21:22; John 16:23-24). Take Jesus at his word. You won’t be disappointed!
“Heavenly Father, thank you for fulfilling your promise to send your Son. Help me to see every aspect of my life as part of your plan for me. Lord Jesus, I believe that you love me and all your promises are true. I want to experience your love more deeply so I can give it to others. I want to know you as fully as possible. I want to hear your voice and discern your will for my life. Speak to me, Lord. I am listening.”
Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing me to adapt meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.
[Maurice Blumberg is the Director of Partner Relations for The Word Among Us Partners, (http://www.waupartners.org/), a ministry of The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) to the Military, Prisoners, and women with crisis pregnancies or who have had abortions. Maurice was also the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), for which he is currently a Trustee. He can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- Take some time to meditate and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do you think God is trying to reveal to you through them?
- The article begins with these words: “Sometimes as Catholic men we miss the forest for the trees. We focus on the little things right in front of us—our everyday concerns and preoccupations—and lose sight of the promises God has made to us in Christ, and his plan for our lives.” In what ways, does this happen to you? How can you lessen its frequency?
- The article goes on to describe the many promises of God we have received in Christ. Which of these promises have the most meaning to you? Why?
- Are their any promises listed in the article you have a hard time relating to? If so, why?
- The article suggests the following ways to help keep the promises of God in the forefront of your mind and heart during the day. “Let God’s promises for your life inspire you when you rise in the morning and when you go to sleep at night. Let it remain with you throughout the day. Everything else in your life fits into his plan—a plan not just for today or tomorrow but for all eternity.” Try experimenting with doing this in the upcoming weeks, and if you are in a men’s group, share the fruits of it at your next meeting.
- Take some time now to pray that your awareness and experience of God’s promises would have a greater impact on your life. Use the prayer at the end of the article as a starting point.