Sunday, April 18, 2021
Get Back Up
We have all fallen. Whether that’s financially, emotionally, physically, or whatever category you might put “fallen” in. I’ve fallen, you’ve fallen, we’ve all fallen. Part of growing up is to admit you’ve fallen, to admit your mistakes, and you might just save someone else from making the same mistake you made. When I talk with others, I speak about how I have fallen in my life. Then the question, “Roberto, you’re a preacher, shouldn’t you be building your name on only good things about you?” Then, I remind them, it’s not about me, it’s about Christ. Too often, we focus on ourselves and forget about God, Our Father who dwells in heaven. And that’s why we fall. The devil is beneath the ground, and your father in heaven is above the clouds, but you cannot walk by looking straight to the ground or you will bump and fall, and you cannot walk looking only at the clouds because you will never reach. But, you can walk straight. Jesus Christ lowered himself to become one of us, to level with you and me, to make your path more clear than ever before. Christ is right in front of you. Too many of us, whether we want to admit it or not, live our lives doing what pleases the devil rather than God. Another person came to me and said “If you keep up talking like this you’re going to lose your audience.” Again, it’s not about me, it’s about...Christ. And I tell people all the time, I talk the way I do because it’s the truth. I don’t cover up the truth to make the people feel good about themselves. No! I want them to leave thinking and examining their ways. Solomon teaches, when you discipline a child when he is younger, he will hate it. But, when he grows, he will never stop thanking you. Now, let’s talk about the different cases of falling in life.
Who has fallen for the sake of Christ! Being bullied because you speak the name of Jesus. When I was in elementary school, I was the only child, probably in the entire school, who spoke about Christ. The only times you heard anything about Jesus were in the morning announcement prayer and the end of the day announcement prayer. People might be asking “What about in religion class?” I don’t know what kind of religion classes we have, but they sure weren’t the type of religion classes I was expecting. Every time I spoke about Christ, they would distance themselves from me, they would make fun of me, they would sometimes push me around and hit, they would team up on me, they would curse at me, and so much more. Some of you might think that it would be best to just stop talking about Jesus. That wasn’t my type of thinking. That didn’t even cross my mind once. I continued until they finally took the time to listen, and I eventually brang a few to Christ. You see! The work of the devil is to avoid anything that has to do with the name of Jesus! If I wasn’t persistent and just stopped, those few that I brought to Christ wouldn’t have been changed the way they were. Now, when I went to high school, that was a different story. Everyone wants to hear what everyone says, especially if it makes plenty of sense. In high school there were many atheists, the only good part is that most of them want to discuss, and there’s your opportunity to persuade the rest of the class. Here I am, until this day, speaking the Word of the Lord to you. Here I am, until this day, teaching and preaching to you. Here I am, serving the Lord loud! And am not silent like they wanted me to be. If you are being bullied at school, work, or wherever because of the name of Jesus Christ, fight against it. I don’t know what the risks are, but I do know that the benefits are greater no matter what. Remember the apostle, Stephen? Stoned to death because of Christ, but did he stop? No. Peter, crucified upside down at his request because he felt unworthy to die the death Jesus of Nazareth died. Did he stop? no. So why should we? I would rather be eliminated from this temporary life and enjoy eternity forever with our Father who is in heaven than to live happily against God in this temporary life than suffering greatly for eternity. 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted.” Jesus knows that we will be persecuted, and so he leaves us with a reminder in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” And in Matthew 5:10 Jesus reminds you that if you keep it up, you will be rewarded. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Now, let me speak to you in the Words of our Lord, so that you may hear it directly as it has been written. Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange was happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. You have heard it said to you to love your neighbour and hate your enemies, but I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Have no fear and do not be troubled, for the Lord is with you. Remember to bless those who persecute you. Bless them and do not curse them. And here is why you should be glad. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. And even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honourable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. Indeed, Jesus said, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. In your days of trouble, look to the Lord and say my times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors. And if you are being persecuted because of the name of Jesus Christ, remember that a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they keep my word, they will keep yours also. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. But the Lord is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble; they will not overcome me. They will be greatly ashamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonour will never be forgotten.
Who has fallen financially! Perhaps you’re struggling to get up on the financial ladder, and you’re having a tough time bringing food to your table for your family. Trust in God and he will provide for you. I say to you, when you live with your Father, you need not worry about how you will survive and make a living, because your father takes care of that. But, when you live alone, you worry because now you are the only one who must provide. So I say to you, if you still have your Father in heaven and have not departed from him, you must trust that he will provide for you, and he will. Our God will supply every need of yours accordingly to his riches in glory in Jesus Christ. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions - is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Honour the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce. In all things, I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Do you know what is written in the book of Psalms! I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous. Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Psalm 23 states, The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. When you fall during financial times, get back up, because the Lord is your supporter. He loves you, cares for you. Just grab his hand, and he will make you rise.
Who has fallen emotionally! Going through a great time of depression, anxiety, perhaps even anger. We all have fallen emotionally at some point in our life. Many of us feel that there is no getting back up when we fall into the trap of depression. But, with God, he always makes a way. He will help you, to get back up. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. The Lord has spoken, I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 1 Peter 5:10 says, and after you have suffered a little while, the God of all graces, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. And for those who have trouble with anger. Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts foolishness. For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Know this, brothers and sisters: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. The foolish gives full vent of his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?” A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. God is a righteous judge and a God who feels indignation every day. If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet. But because of your hard and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed. Surely anger kills the fool, and jealousy slays the simple. If you are angry it is easy to fall, but with Christ, you can get back up.
Now, enough with the seriousness. There is always time to enjoy a good laugh, so here we go. Children have their tremendous way of thinking. Sometimes, it’s different from the way we think. One day, a woman went to the beach with her children. Her four-year-old ran up to her, grabbed her hand, and led her to the shore where a dead seagull laid in the sand. He said, “Mommy, what happened to him?”. “He died and went to heaven,” she replied. The child thought for a moment and said, “And God threw him back down?”. The child was confused and said if this seagull went to heaven why is he still here? The concept of the soul is also very important to understand. We must also focus on not only feeding our bodies as we do everyday, but feeding the most important part of ourselves, our soul. Your nourishment can be found in the Holy Mass, the Eucharist, Prayer, Reading the Bible, Fasting, Confession and so much more. Feeding your soul is much more important, and should be one of your main focuses during your day. It is so very easy to fall spiritually if you open yourself to the wicked and refrain from being brought into the light of Jesus Christ. When you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and you truly desire his work to be established in you, you will find it very difficult to fall into most traps of sin. Welcome the Holy Spirit into your everyday life. Say this prayer everyday: Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love only what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy. Amen.
Here's another one. A child came home from Sunday School and told his mother that he had learned a new song about a cross-eyed bear named Gladly. It took his mother a while before she realized that the hymn was really, “Gladly the Cross I’d bear.” The boy thought the cross-eyed bear’s name was Gladly, when in reality the Sunday School teacher meant to gladly bear your cross. It is indeed very important that we gladly bear our crosses. Don’t let your crosses fall! If you do fall, get back up! What happened during Jesus’ stations of the cross? He fell, but did he stay down? No! He got back up, and we are expected to do the exact same.
Two young boys were staying the night at their grandparents’ house. At bedtime they knelt beside their beds to say their prayers. The younger brother said in a really loud voice: “I pray for a new bike, a portable TV and a Nintendo!” The older brother said: “Why are you shouting your prayers? God isn’t deaf.” The younger brother replied, “No, but grandma is!” When you live in great wealth, you never ask for anything in the form of hints, but you ask upfront and you receive. When you aren’t as wealthy, children will give their parents hints that they want something. Growing up, my father endured many financial struggles, and I used to do something as a kid that didn’t hurt me at the time because I wasn’t as wise as I am today. But today, I feel the pain for what I did. I remember when my father lost all his money that he lent to family to borrow and return, but they didn’t. My father was struggling tremendously beyond belief. As a kid, I felt bad for the situation he was in, and cried every night I went to bed because I loved my father so dearly. But, I remember giving hints. Saying that “I wish I had that new game, or playstation. I wish I had that new car, or that big home.” And I vividly remember my father looking at me from the corner of his eyes, smiling so we don’t feel anything, tearing up and turning around. I remember waking up in the morning, going to my fathers bed to spend some time and talk before bed, and seeing his pillow full of tears. But, I never forgot what he told me. No matter what situation you are in, God will pick you back up.
Whatever the case might be, you can always get back up! You have Jesus Christ on your side, and remember with God, nothing is impossible. God bless us all.