James 1:19-21: God’s Garden of Love

Saturday, October 3, 2015garden of love

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends . . . 

What news does James have for us today and how do we proclaim that news to others? How do we see God’s wisdom?

Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.

Wisdom is found in listening more than we speak, in loving more than we despise.

God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger.

God’s wisdom is not found in antagonism.

So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage.

God’s truth cannot flow from false virtue or from thoughts that want to hide the light.

In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

God does not live in pride but in the humble belief that we are all flowers in God’s garden of love.

When we compare these verses with other scripture versions we have the opportunity to imagine what sort of flower we might be. Do we prefer shade or sun? Do we grow best in damp soil or dry?  What color bedecks our blossoms? And what good nectar do we produce for the good of the kingdom?

Tomorrow, the importance of doing the word.

James 1:16-18: Rivers of Light

Friday, October 2, 2015rivers of light

This first chapter of James’ letter contains beautiful imagery. This man who knew Jesus so well reminds us that in our hectic, chattering world we must work to stay on the path of Christ.

So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course.

James repeats that every good thing in our lives comes from God.

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven.

James likens God’s gifts to a flowing, sustaining ribbon of goodness that nourishes and sustains.

The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.

James reminds us that in God there is no darkness at all. There is only goodness, and truth and mercy.

There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle.

James tells us again that God comes to us in a very tangible way in the person of Jesus.

God brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.

And it is Jesus who longs to love our sadness into joy. It is Jesus who wants to heal where there is pain and wounded-ness. It is Jesus who shares eternal life with us in the Father and in the Spirit.

And so my dear friends, James says, do not be thrown off course by the tragedies that stalk you. Remember that Christ is an ever-present, ever-giving, ever-transforming force that cannot be quenched. Remember that in order to maintain a balanced view you must ask loudly, and you must expect patiently that with God all things are possible. With God, all obstacles become gifts and all harm is turned to good. With God . . . there is always a river of light to lead, and guard and guide. We have only to be open to its presence. 

Tomorrow, what makes us wise?

Use the scripture link to reflect on other versions of these verses, and to open the possibilities of Christ’s great river of light.

James 1:12-15: Life and More Life

Thursday, October 1, 2015challenge-680x453

Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.

We perhaps find it difficult to believe that our trials are blessings . . . yet this is a belief we must nurture and cultivate. We are created in God’s Spirit and this abiding force will always find a way to turn harm to good.

Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way.

We perhaps see God as a castigator, a deliverer of punishment . . . but in this we would have erred. We are created in love, by love, as an image of God’s love.

The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us.

We perhaps feel weighed down by a sense of guilt for what we have done or what we have failed to do . . . and in this we will be mistaken. Jesus continually invites us to forgive and be forgiven.

Where we see lack, James invites us to see abundance.

Where we find oppression, James invites us to take up the eternal freedom he has gained for us.

Where we encounter overwhelming odds, James invites us to experience life and more life.

Use the scripture link above to explore various versions of these verses, and be open to receive the gifts that come to us through the obstacles in our lives. 

James 1:9-10: A Balanced View

Wednesday, September 30, 2015NR_Nearby_Wildflowers_125577329_stock_EdmundLowe

James encourages a balanced view of the signs and symbols in our world. He reminds us that wealth, power and fame are fleeting. From THE MESSAGE edition of The Bible.

When down-and-outers get a break, cheer!

And when the arrogant rich are brought down to size, cheer!

Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it.

You know that as soon as the sun rises, pouring down its scorching heat, the flower withers.

Its petals wilt and, before you know it, that beautiful face is a barren stem.

Well, that’s a picture of the “prosperous life.” At the very moment everyone is looking on in admiration, it fades away to nothing.

And so we pray,

Steadfast and generous God, we are reminded that our plans are best when they are your plans. Help us through our trials. Speak clearly to us through our temptations. Remind us that we are sustained by you alone and that you share your heavenly perspective with us in the varied gifts you ask us to share. May we continue to return to you the fruit of our own lives as we struggle for balance in you. Amen.


James 1:5-8: Asking Boldly – Tuesday, September 29, 2015

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. The Lord loves to help.ask God boldly

Again today James gives us something to chew on. When we don’t know what we are doing, pray. When we feel disoriented or overwhelmed, go to God.

You’ll get God’s help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.

God loves to accept our petitions with loving care. Christ wants to raise us up to share his intimate relationship with God. The Spirit longs to abide and nourish us when we are weary.

Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.

Jesus tells us frequently that when we knock the door is opened. We have only to live and act in him to realize this gift.

People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

When we lay down the foundation of our lives we have the choice of building on solid rock or sand. When we construct the precepts that govern our lives we have the choice of building in Christ or going our own way. When we struggle the all that overwhelms and wears us down, let us not hesitate to use frank words in our conversations with God.

When we spend time with these verses, we find that James recommends to us how we might have a right attitude and how what we are to do in times of trial. We are to act: boldly in Christ, believingly in God, and without a second thought . . . always in the Spirit.

Use the scripture link to examine various versions of these verses to see which most plainly and clearly.

Tomorrow, a heavenly perspective.


James 1:2-3: The Value of Obstacles – Brightly coloured council road signs and equipmentMonday, September 28, 2015

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.

James opens his letter with advice that will catch anyone’s interest. In our modern cultures we do not consider trials as gifts to be examined; we too frequently dismiss or even ignore tribulations as inconveniences to be shunted into the darkness. We too rarely consider obstacles as doors of opportunity or growth; yet this is James’ invitation.

You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.

Perhaps this is why we pray for smooth days and comfortable nights. We do not believe that we are up to the test. Or we do not see ourselves learning good lessons from hard times. We are uncomfortable with being vulnerable and we fear having to rely on family, friends, neighbors or even strangers.

So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.

James asks us to suppress our natural tendency to avoid uncomfortable circumstances; we infer from his words that we might gain more from a constrained environment than from easy comfortable surroundings. Rather than skitter around stressful situations or difficult people, James begins, we might allow ourselves to grow in fortitude and wisdom if we rely on God’s guidance when we must maneuver hard times.

Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Certainly we do not want to look for stress in our lives; the world presents us with enough disquiet to fill our days. Clearly we do not want to be the cause of conflict in our personal and professional lives. Yet just as certainly and clearly we understand that once we open ourselves to the guidance of God’s hand when we navigate straitened days, we will remember our success in dark times and recognize a certain confidence growing within.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.
blocksWe live in a world that values power, fame and wealth. We humans tend to look at one person’s loss as being another’s gain; yet when we live an inverted life with Christ where loss is gain and gain is loss, we begin to better understand James’ lesson. Stumbling blocks become building blocks. Trials become jubilation. When sorrow and pain are traversed in God’s grace we begin to experience the joy of perseverance. When we live by God’s measure rather than our own, and when we allow God to guide us through the road blocks of our lives, we finally learn the value and joy of learning new faith and new life as a result of persevering through our obstacles.

Use the scripture link to examine various versions of these verses to see which most plainly and clearly.

Tomorrow, right attitude.

James the Lesser

James the Lesser – Sunday, September 27, 2015

El Greco: James the Lesser

El Greco: James the LesserSunday, September 27, 2015

We have reflected on our restoration from dry bones, placed memorial stones to mark the importance of our relationship with God; we have entered in to the apostolic Spirit and marked the wisdom and prudence we want to govern our lives. And we have given over our interior temple to the transformation God has in mind for us, knowing that from our strife comes our great reward. For the next few weeks we will spend time with the letter of James, examining the message

This letter is likely written by “a relative of Jesus who is usually called “brother of the Lord” (see Mt 13, 55; Mark 6, 3). He is the leader of the Jewish Christian community in Jerusalem whom Paul acknowledged as one of the “pillars” (Gal 2, 9). In Acts he appears as an authorized spokesman for the Jewish Christian position in the early Church (Acts 12, 17; 15, 13-21)”. (Senior 368)

The letter, written in Greek despite the fact it is penned by a Jew, is considered one of the best of the New Testament and many believe that it was actually put down by a secretary. Some also regard these verses as some the earliest written after the Christ’s death and, quite likely, before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. (Senior 369)

James’ message is universal and timeless, emphasizing “sound teaching and responsible moral behavior. Ethical norms are derived not primarily from christology, as in Paul, but form a concept of salvation that involves conversion, baptism, forgiveness of sin, and expectation of judgment. (1, 17; 4, 12)”. (Senior 369)

When we spend time with this short letter today, we find that its structure is neat and concise, focusing on the value of trials and temptation, the importance of heeding warnings, and the power of prayer. Using the scripture link we can skim differing versions of the letter to examine the themes and structure ourselves as we prepare to hear the message James wants to bring to us.

To learn more about James the Less, as he is often called to distinguish him from the Apostle James (James the Greater), follow the scripture links above in Matthew, Mark and Acts, click on the image above, or use a reference that you find helpful.

Tomorrow, James’ message. 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.368-369. Print.

Luke 21:5-6Destruction of the TempleGods-own-heart

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Yesterday we reflected on the idea that Jesus replaces the Jerusalem Temple, and that Jesus invites us to be stones in this temple.  He describes the coming destruction of this house where God abides; but although they have ears to hear, eyes to see and hearts to comprehend and live this message, the people do not understand what Jesus tells them.

Nor do we.

Each time we focus on our own needs and fears rather than placing faith in the Creator, we have ears but do not hear.

Each time we lust after our own outcomes rather than the hope delivered to us by the Redeemer, we have eyes but do not see.

Each time we sink into revenge rather than rise in petition for our persecutors, we have hearts but do not love.

Each time we gnash our teeth and pull out our hair about what we perceive as a stone in our path, we reject the nurturing care of the Holy Spirit.

From yesterday’s Noontime Reflection:

Do you not know that you are God’s temple?

Do you not know that God’s spirit lives in you? 

You are not your own.

You were bought at a price. 

You too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.  

And so we pray.

Good and great and wonderful God, guide us in understanding that we are a diverse people with diverse views and diverse voices coming together in your everlasting sacred heart.  Help us to see that the new temple rises from the lessons learned in the destruction of the old. Walk with us as we go up to the New Jerusalem knowing that we are gifts to one another and to you, knowing that we are a collection of pearls purchased at a great price by Christ, believing that we are not our own, living in your Spirit of grace, and peace and joy. We ask this of you today and all days. Amen.

Adapted from a reflection written on September 11, 2008.

Ezekiel 41:16-26: The Interior of the Temple

Herod's Temple

Herod’s Temple

Friday, September 25, 2015

Do you not know that you are God’s temple; and that God’s spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.  (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

Today we read a description of the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of the New Temple in the New Jerusalem.  We are members . . . parts . . . living stones of this living temple.

As high as the lintel of the door, even into the interior part of the temple as well as outside, on every wall on every side in both the inner and outer rooms were carved the figures of cherubim and palm trees: a palm tree between every two cherubim.  (Ezekiel 41:17-18)

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Each cherub had two faces: a man’s looking at a palm tree on one side, and a lion’s face looking on at a palm tree on the other; thus they were figured on every side throughout the whole temple.  (Ezekiel 41:19)

This is the table which is before the Lord.  (Ezekiel 41:22)

You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built  on the foundation  of the apostles and prophets,  with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.  (Ephesians 2:19-22)

Do you not know that you are God’s temple?

Do you not know that God’s spirit lives in you? 

You are not your own.

You were bought at a price. 

You too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.  


A favorite from September 10, 2008.


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