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Firm in the Spirit


worthy%20of%20the%20gospel_0Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Philippians 1:27-28

Firm in the Spirit

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.

We are too often preoccupied with how our conduct appears to others rather than how it speaks of our image of God.

We are too frequently anxious about our self-protection rather than with our witnessing to the gospel we know to be true.

We too seldom remember to stand firm in the spirit in a manner worthy of our call.

Our recent journey with Jeremiah reminds us that in most days of our lives we can do little about our circumstances . . . but that we can do much about living in a manner worthy.

Enter the word worthy into the blog search bar and explore the worthiness we encounter . . . and the worthiness we engender. Compare the different versions of these verses by using the scripture link above. Choose other editions of the Bible and reflect on the value of Worthy Conduct. 

God’s Eternal Call


parent-worthyMonday, October 20, 2014

1 Thessalonians 2:11-13

God’s Eternal Call

As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his children, exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you conduct yourselves as worthy of the God who calls you . . .

We linger with the thoughts that Jeremiah’s words bring to us in the 21st Century. This prophecy continues to move us millennia after it was first spoken. Each of us has experienced exile from a loved one or a loved place. Each of us has known the devastation of corrupt leadership and betrayal. Each of us has received God’s call to live in a manner worthy. Before we allow the words of the prophet to cease their resonating power, let us reflect on the power of God’s persistent, endless love.

God’s Eternal Call

This stillness of separation nurtures sweet embers of hope . . . for God is near.

The darkness of rejection gives way to a rising spark of confidence . . . for God is at hand.

Vertigo of displacement, sting of betrayal, agony of deception . . . consumed by God’s burning desire to live within.

Overcome not by darkness but by the piercing light of God’s love.

Fire of courage sweeps through dry tinder of exile.

Flames of resolution rise up to greet the call.

Anger, revenge, corruption . . . disappearing in the conflagration of God’s indwelling.

Hope, fidelity, love . . . living in a manner worthy of God’s eternal call. 

St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians – and he reminds us – that despite trials and suffering, God’s word is at work in us. This word will not be extinguished. This words breaks forth in the darkest of times. This word is the unceasing presence of God’s fervent call. Let us live in thanksgiving of this worthy indwelling.

And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly, that, in receiving not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God, which is now at work in you . . .


TempleSunday, October 19, 2014

Ephesians 4:1-6

In a Manner Worthy

For a number of weeks we have spent our noontimes with the prophecy of Jeremiah examining the loss of the great temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the humbling experience of exile and deportation. We have also considered our own exile, we have reflected on the prophet’s foreshadowing of the Christ, and we have examined how we might be Jeremiah’s enemies or companions. Today we consider the final message from the prophet that holds so much importance for us. Despite accumulating deceits and betrayals, there is always hope . . . because God is always with us, moving us to live in a manner worthy of God’s call.

From Paul’s letter to the early Christians in Ephesus, and to each of us . . .

I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received . . .

In an ever-quicker world we may not pause often enough to hear God’s voice.

With all humility and gentleness . . .

In an always-competitive world we may not make room for those on the margins.

With patience, bearing with one another through love . . .

In an increasingly self-centric world we may not feel the need to advocate for those who have no voice.

Striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace . . .

In a world of crisis and emergency we may not restore the soul or rest in God.

One body and one Spirit . . .

In an always-dynamic world we may not see that we are one.

As you were also called to the one hope of your call . . .

In an always-problematic world we may not believe in a reason to hope.

humilityOne Lord, one faith, one baptism . . .

In an always-divergent world we may not want to listen to others.

One God and Father of all . . .

In a world that thinks there is no God we may not witness to injustice and corruption.

Who is over all and through all and in all . . .

In an always-vibrant world we must believe that we are worthy of the call that God has sent us.

Amen.

To learn more about Solomon’s Temple and the renovations made by Herod, visit The Archeology of the Bible site by clicking the temple image above or visiting: http://www.bible-archaeology.info/temple_of_jerusalem.htm 


ancient_prison_by_p_h_o_t_o_n1Saturday, October 18, 2014

Jeremiah 52:31-34

The End – Part III: Hope

In the last verses of this prophecy we read an addendum that at first glance we might toss away as another confusing story from scripture. We see before us the tale of the last two kings of Judah: Jehoiachin who surrendered himself and his family to Nebuchadnezzar to live in exile, and Zedekiah, who plotted against Nebuchadnezzar with the Egyptians, later fled during the Babylonian siege, was captured, blinded and was also sent to Babylon. Years later Evil-merodach brings Jehoiachin from his prison cell to give him a life-time stipend and a place of relative honor in the foreign court; Zedekiah does not appear again in this saga of violence and turmoil.  What is their end? We have few details. How could they have avoided capture and destruction? We have few answers. What might we learn from this dire account? That is our reflection for today.

Jeremiah’s prophecy is well spoken but ignored. Are we the prophet who speaks against the wind? Are we those who might be saved by the prophet’s warning? In either case, the fear of capture and destruction has already overwhelmed us. We have no other place to rest but in God’s hope and compassion.

Jeremiah’s life is a foreshadowing of the suffering and death of Jesus the Nazorean. Are we the people of Judah who hear his words and are transformed? Are we those who scoff and persecute him? In either scenario, the tumult of life has already entangled us. We have no other place to turn but to God’s strength and mercy.

Jeremiah’s words resonate in our world today. Are we those who hide from the reality of famine, civil strife, epidemics and enormous natural disaster because they do not touch us personally? Are we those who work against catastrophe and injustice wherever and however we can? In either event, we are already involved and connected. We may not recognize that a calamity’s one last flickering ember of hope lies in us. We have no other place to rest but in God’s presence and love.

Cataclysm is part of the human experience as is God’s hope. Catastrophe haunts our daily living while God’s providence serves as guide. Disaster can never be avoided, nor can God’s call to love.

Pergamom Museum, Berlin: Jehoiachin Ration Tablet

Pergamom Museum, Berlin: Jehoiachin Ration Tablet

Jehoiachin and Zedekiah share a place in the Babylonian court although from different vantage points. At any time in their life journey God grants them the opportunity to live in hope, in a manner worthy of God’s call. From the darkness of his blinded vision, Zedekiah has only to seek and accept God’s forgiveness. Perhaps he does. We shall never know. From the shame of surrender and captivity, Jehoiachin has only to ask for God’s hope and receive it. Perhaps he does. We shall never know. From the place where we stand in our life’s journey we have only to look for God’s presence and accept it. Perhaps we do. If so, then we will always know that God is with us from the beginning to the end. God abides through capture and dwells within during destruction. Whether our fate is in the hands of our own Nebuchadnezzar or his son Evil-merodach, there is never an end without hope, for there is never an end without God.

Tomorrow, Part IV . . . In a Manner Worthy

To read about the excavation of Jehoiachin’s ration tablets in Irag, click on images above or visit: http://forourlearning.wordpress.com/  OR http://www.livius.org/ne-nn/nebuchadnezzar/anet308.html 


Friday, October 17, 2014

Jeremiah 52:12-30

Babylonian CaptivityThe End – Part II: Destruction

On the tenth day of the fifth month [this was in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon], Nebuzaradan, captain of the bodyguard, came to Jerusalem as the representative of the king of Babylon. He burned the house of the Lord, the palace of the king, and the houses of Jerusalem; every large building he destroyed with fire. And the Chaldean troops who were with the captain of the guard tore down all the walls that surrounded Jerusalem.

The city that was to shield them, the temple that was to house their God, and the walls that were to protect them . . . all of this is razed in fire and dust.

Then Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, led into exile the rest of the people left in the city, and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the artisans. But some of the country’s poor, Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, left behind as vinedressers and farmers.

Those who had led them, those who worshiped with them, those who served them . . . all of these are led away as slaves.

The bronze pillars that belonged to the house of the Lord, and the wheeled carts and the bronze sea in the house of the Lord, the Chaldeans broke into pieces; they carried away all the bronze to Babylon.

The columns that held them, the basin that bathed them, the wheels that bore them . . . all of this is taken into exile.

The captain of the guard also took Seriah, the high priest, Zephaniah, the second priest, and the three keepers of the entry. And from the city he too one courtier, a commander of soldiers, and seven men in the personal service of the king who were present in the city, and the scribe of the army commander, who mustered the people of the land, and sixty of the common people who were in the city. The captain of the guard, that surrounded Jerusalem, arrested these and brought them to the king of Babylon in Riblah, who had them struck down and put to death.

Those who those who served the king, those who held sacrifice, those who made rules, those who guarded the doors against them, those who fought and those who wrote out to orders to fight, even those who were ordinary among them . . . all of these are lead away to destruction.

Thus was Judah exiled from her land . . .

Tomorrow, Part III . . . Hope

To learn more about the Temple Sea of Bronze, visit: http://www.templesecrets.info/bronzesea.html


KIng Zedekiah

King Zedekiah

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Jeremiah 52:1-11

The End – Part I: Capture

Over the next days we will look closely at the end which came to Jerusalem, the end that Jeremiah predicted. We will examine the verses carefully, looking for a hint of lessons we might learn from this ancient people who would not heed a warning so clearly spelled out for them. We will explore our own temptation to deny the reality in which we live. And we will consider what lessons we might learn so that our own end becomes a new beginning rather than a final departure.

king-zedekiahZedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.

God says: Watch for the times when you believe you have all answers to all problems. When you learn to rely on yourself alone you draw hour heart away from me . . . and this is an end that is difficult to overcome.

His mother’s name was Hamutal, daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.

God says: Your parents bring you into this world and they tend to you while you are young. I tend to you for now, in the past, and into the infinite future. This is a relationship you will not want to ignore.

He did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord, Just as Jehoiakim had done.

God says: I do not ask much of you but I do ask is that you enact goodness in the world. In order to do this well it is essential that you listen for my word daily and that stay always close by and in me.

Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

God says: Be careful about the alliances you make and break. Use caution when you pledge yourself to another person or cause. These may be your undoing if you do not exercise great care.

In the tenth month of the tenth year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and his whole army advanced against Jerusalem, encamped around it, and built siege walls on every side.

Jerusalem: Zedekiah's Cave

Jerusalem: Zedekiah’s Cave

God says: When the enemy threatens, turn to me. When the earth rumbles with the steady onslaught of forces that will surely overcome you, stay with me.

The siege of the city continued until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.

God says: When you feel you can no longer go on, turn your struggle over to me.

On the ninth day of the fourth month, when famine gripped the city and the people had no more bread, the city walls were breached.

God says: When you struggle to lift your head and raise your arm, place your burden on my broad shoulders.

Then all the soldiers took to flight and left the city by night through the gate between the two walls which was near the king’s garden.

God says: When everyone else abandons you, remain in me. You are never alone for I am always with you.

Destruction of JerusalemWith the Chaldeans surrounding the city they went in the direction of the Arabah.

God says: Do not think that you can avoid or outrun me. Do not be anxious that you may be unworthy. I am waiting to heal and transform you, and for me all things are possible.

But the Chaldean army pursued the king and overtook Zedekiah in the desert near Jericho, while his whole army fled him.

God says: Even when you have strayed far from my precepts and my truth I will still welcome you home and celebrate your return. This is how much I love you.

Tomorrow, Part II . . . Destruction

To learn more about King Zedekiah, click on his images above and find study outlines at: http://biblestudyoutlines.org/bible-study-outlines/bible-study-outline-on-king-zedekiah/

Find video at: http://bibleseriesguide.com/episode5.htm#.VDb_L_ldWSo 

To learn about the enormous cave under the city of Jerusalem, how it came to be there, and why the Freemasons gather there every year, click on the cave image above or visit www.aboutjerusalem.com at: http://allaboutjerusalem.com/article/zedekiahs-cave-secret-cave-jerusalem to watch a brief, interesting video clip.

 


god-of-hopeWednesday, October 15, 2014

Jeremiah 50 & 51

Against Babylon: A Reprise

Announce and publish it among the nations . . .

We must share the good news of the many times God has walked intimately in our midst . . .

Publish it, hide it not . . .

We must speak up when we see injustice in our world . . .

Lost sheep were my people, their shepherds mislead them . . .

We must witness to the false leaders and shepherds of our present day Babylons . . .

Flee from Babylon, leave the land of the Chaldeans . . .

We must declare our willingness to step away from the corruption and deceit of our new Babylons . . .

Israel and Judah are not widowed of their God . . .

We must remember that despite our exile in our own Babylon, we are never abandoned, never alone . . .

Raise a signal on the earth, blow the trumpet among the nations . . .

We must share the good news of the many ways God remains intimately in our midst . . .

Daughter Babylon is like a threshing floor at the time it is trodden; yet a little while, and the harvest will come for her . . .

We must share the good news of God’s hope for the children of God . . .

Be not discouraged for fear of rumors spread in the land . . . but behold the days are coming  . . .

When we will no longer doubt . . . that God is always with us . . . against all of our Babylons.

Amen.

God in Our Midst


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Jeremiah 49

god-is-in-our-midstGod in Our Midst

As I knelt at Mass today I asked for special help in a special situation.  Help arrived, as it always does.  Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.  Matthew 14:27 was part of today’s Morning Prayer.

There was also a citation from Zephaniah 3:16-18 and as I move through my day I cling to this petition about singing joyfully in the face of great odds because God is among us.

Today’s Noontime is a series of petitions that God rain down punishment on our enemies.  But revenge is not a New Testament concept.

Charity, true charity, has come to live among us.

Charity, true charity, prays for one’s enemies.

Charity, true charity, seeks goodness rather than evil.

Charity, true charity, heals wounds with love and patience.

Charity, true charity, insists on hoping that the wicked will turn back to God.

Charity, true charity, does as my mother recommended . . . it calls people to goodness through kindness.

So when we are confronted by the enemy, we must remember that God is among us and he tells us this:  Fear not, be not discouraged!  The lord, your God, is in your midst.  He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love.  He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.  I will remove disaster from among you, so that none may recount your disgrace.

God is in our midst.  Let us pray that through him we convert our anxiety to patience, our desperation to hope, our anger to love . . . so that none may recount our disgrace.

Written on October 8, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.


The Moabite Stone or the Mesha Stele

The Moabite Stone or the Mesha Stele

Monday, October 13, 2014

Jeremiah 48

Our Works and Treasures

Because you trusted in your works and treasures you shall be captured and sent into exile . . .

Jeremiah warns the people of Moab about the danger of placing all their hopes in their own hands rather than in the hands of God. Despite their efforts to create safety and comfort for themselves, a litany of towns and peoples are, instead, crafting their own destruction. Much like Jacob Marley in Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, Jeremiah warns that we forge in life of our own free will the chains that hold us down, link by link, and yard by yard. As Marley warns Scrooge, the common welfare was the business in life that he disregarded; his spirit never roamed beyond the limits of his money-changing as he ignored the common welfare of mankind. Forsaking charity, mercy, forbearance and benevolence, Marley chose to harvest exile, destruction and eternal misery. And this is what Marley has in common with the peoples of Nebo, Kiriathiam, Zoar, Luhith, Horonaim, Holon, Jahzah and Mephaath.

Jeremiah cannot speak more plainly: Joy and jubilation are at an end . . . the wealth acquired has perished . . . cursed be the one who does the Lord’s work remissly. 

Neither can Jesus as the writers of the Synoptic Gospels tell us. Our treasure is where our heart is. (Matthew 6:21, 13:44 and 19:21, Mark 10:21, Luke 12:33-34, 18:22) The measure that we measure with is measured out to us. (Matthew 7:2, Mark 4:24, Luke 6:38)

We may well want to consider the fate of Moab and place our hopes and hearts in God’s Words and treasures rather than our own.

A clip from the 1984 version of Dicken’s novel with Frank Finlay & George C. Scott in the roles of the deceased Jacob Marley returning from the dead to warn Ebeneezer Scrooge, his friend in life, can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qh_fUMgFomk

For more information on the Mesha Stele, click on the image above or go to: http://www.bible-history.com/resource/ff_mesha.htm

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