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Romans 5:1-8: Develop Patience

Friday, December 2, 2016patience-trust-faith

Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (NSRV)

Avoiding sorrow, we forfeit an opportunity to grow in God’s love.

Rejecting obstacles, we lose our intimacy with Christ.

Refusing to see that goodness overcomes harm, we reject the healing touch of the Spirit.

Surviving through faith, we receive hope.

Living in Christ, we experience peace and grace.

Handing ourselves over to God’s offer of love, we grow in endurance.

Resting in grief, we blossom in grace to develop patience that carries us home.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus, we come to see that adversity trains us in the development of patience, a patience that will serve us in our journey home. For another reflection on Patienceclick on the image above or visit: https://www.worldslastchance.com/biblical-christian-beliefs/patience-of-the-saints.html 


Romans 5:1-8: Throw Open the Doors

Thursday, December 1, 2016lock-heart

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us – set us right with him, make us fit for him – we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. (MSG)

If only we might look at faith as our willingness to throw open the doors of our heart. In this way we convert doubt to steadfastness.

If only me might persist I loving our enemies to see that God loves each and all. In this way we convert walls to bridges.

If only we might relax into God’s love long enough to understand that God already lives in our hearts. In this way we convert fear to grace.

If only we might perceive God’s grace and stand tall to shout out God’s glory. In this way we convert hatred to love.

God says: When you fear the wide open spaces of my grace and glory, I become a small, petty god in your eyes. It is no wonder that you do not trust me. When you reject my love to replace it with fear, I become a mean, manipulating god who preys on brave hearts. It is no wonder you discard me. When you open your hearts, when you persist in loving your enemies, when you allow my strength to bolster you and to carry your woes, I become the enormous, infinite Living God who is loving all harm into good, all evil into love. Remain in me, no matter your circumstances.

And so we pray.

Good and generous God, today we give all fear, anger and doubt to you. We pledge to throw open the doors of our hearts to your presence, and to resist closing them again to your love. Amen.

Luke 21:14-15: Remember


Luke 21:14-15: Remember

Wednesday, November 30, 2016getty_rm_photo_of_finger_with_string

Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. (NABRE)

This advice goes against the grain of modern society. Smartphones bring an Internet of knowledge to our fingertips; they also bring false reports and charlatans.

Make up your mind right now not to worry about it. I’ll give you the words and wisdom that will reduce all your accusers to stammers and stutters. (MSG)

Our egos want to depend on data provided by polls and surveys; and these data may lead to inaccurate conclusions and foolish decisions.

Make up your minds ahead of time not to worry about how you will defend yourselves, because I will give you such words and wisdom that none of your enemies will be able to refute or contradict what you say. (GNT)

Power and fame, accolades and wealth bring false confidence; and none of these protect us as does the wisdom of Jesus. None of these can save as does the Living God.

So make up your minds not to worry, rehearsing your defense beforehand; for I myself will give you an eloquence and a wisdom that no adversary will be able to resist or refute. (CJB)

Anxiety brings us false worry. Faith in the wisdom of the Spirit brings us hope. Anger affirms false power. Love brings us the eternal peace of Christ.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore varying translations of these verses, we find new reason to reason to remember the wisdom and promise of Christ.

Luke 21:5-11: Watch Out


Luke 21:5-11: Watch Out

botticelli_sleeping_apostles_2_small

Botticelli: Sleeping Apostles

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Jesus said, “Watch out for the doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, ‘I’m the One,’ or, ‘The end is near.’ Don’t fall for any of that. When you hear of wars and uprisings, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history and no sign of the end.” (MSG)

When we weigh Jesus’ words with intention, we find that they speak to us today.

Jesus said, “Watch out; don’t be fooled. Many men, claiming to speak for me, will come and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time has come!’ But don’t follow them. Don’t be afraid when you hear of wars and revolutions; such things must happen first, but they do not mean that the end is near.” (GNT)

When we allow Jesus’ words to rest in us, we discover that they have specific meaning for us now.

 And Jesus said, “See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them. When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately.” (NASB)

When we look for answers in days of peril, we are always answered, never abandoned.

Jesus answered, “Watch out! Don’t be fooled! For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time has come!’ Don’t go after them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, don’t panic. For these things must happen first, but the end will not follow immediately.” (CJB)

What does Jesus advise in times of trial? We must witness, watch and wait. We must not be fooled or mislead. We must not worry; we must put aside anxiety. When one comes among us claiming to have all the answers, we must be careful. When one comes among us claiming that the end is near, we must reject fear. These are soft words for hard times. Clear instructions for days of confusion. Loving reminders that we are not alone, that we are cherished, that we are loved. All we need do is . . . witness, watch, and wait.

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we hear Jesus’ voice, we feel God’s presence, we are healed by the Spirit’s love.


Deuteronomy 10:14-18: Look Around

Monday, November 28, 2016in-the-beginning

Look around you: Everything you see is God’s – the heavens above and beyond, the Earth, and everything on it. But it was your ancestors who God fell in love with; he picked their children – that’s you! – out of all the other peoples. That’s where we are right now. So cut away the thick calluses from your heart and stop being so willfully hardheaded. God, your God, is the God of all gods, he’s the Master of all masters, a God immense and powerful and awesome. He doesn’t play favorites, takes no bribes, makes sure orphans and widows are treated fairly, takes loving care of foreigners by seeing that they get food and clothing. (MSG)

The Book of Deuteronomy served the Hebrew people in knowing the love of the Living God. As Book of the Torah, it contained the Law that Jesus lived by as Jewish man; and it also was the springboard for the initiation of Jesus’ Law of Love. Today these verses still serve as guideposts to those who listen with open ears, minds and hearts. The expansive view taken by many in the mid-20th Century disquiets some and brings joy to others. Today we have the opportunity to look around, and to see how willing we are to love others as God does.

rom12-18-2We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God. Man’s relation to God the Father and his relation to men his brothers are so linked together that Scripture says: “He who does not love does not know God” (1 John 4:8). No foundation therefore remains for any theory or practice that leads to discrimination between man and man or people and people, so far as their human dignity and the rights flowing from it are concerned. The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion. On the contrary, following in the footsteps of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, this sacred synod ardently implores the Christian faithful to “maintain good fellowship among the nations” (1 Peter 2:12), and, if possible, to live for their part in peace with all men, (Romans 12:18) so that they may truly be sons of the Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:45)

Paragraph 5 of the encyclical Nostra Aetate: Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, proclaimed by Pope Paul VI on October 28, 1965) For the full document, visit: http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html

When we compare varying versions of these ancient verses, we begin to understand creation in a new way.

 


Acts 17:26: Loving Others – Part VI

First Sunday of Advent

November 27, 2016hands-touching

As we enter the season of hope, we reflect on – and determine to act in – God’s call to love one another. 

From one human being God created all races of people and made them live throughout the whole earth. He himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live. (GNT)

We must never doubt that each of us is integral to God’s economy. Each of us is endowed with specific gifts that are essential to God’s plan. All of us – not matter how diverse – are loved and cherished by God.

From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live. (NRSV)

It may be difficult for some of us to accept the fact that all peoples are loved in the eyes of God; yet despite their many formal and informal religions, God asks only one commandment: that we respect and love one another.

The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. (MSG)

It may be difficult for some of us to accept the fact that both genders, male and female, are equal in the eyes of God. It may be even more difficult to accept that God loves those of mixed or ambiguous genders; yet despite our many creeds and goals, Christ asks that we follow him and do as he does: living the Law of Love.

And God made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. (ESVUK)

It may be difficult for some of us to believe that the Spirit lives in each of us, creating a holy indwelling that we are meant to share. When we are asked to love one another, we are asked to love even those who do us harm. We are meant to return hatred with blessing, greed with generosity, and prejudice with charity. All the rest, we place in the hands of God.

When we compare varying translations of these verses, we begin to see how difficult – and simple – it is, to love others as God does. 


Romans 7:14-25: Loving Others – Part V

Saturday, November 26, 2016

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. (MSG)

christ-imagePaul describes something that happens to each of us. Our best intentions succumb to our desire to control our environment. Our most outrageous hopes falter when we face ominous obstacles alone. Our deepest faith falters when the reality of the world crowds our thinking. We cannot understand how loving those who hate us will bring an end to all that plagues society.

Who will rescue me from this body bound for death? (CJB)

Despite all that looks dark in the world, Christ brings us light. Despite all that threatens to pull us under, the Spirit raises us up.

This, then, is my condition: on my own I can serve God’s law only with my mind. (GNT)

When events loom, when life overwhelms, when hope abandons and faith cannot abide, we are left with the only law that matters. Christ’s unfailing, always-saving, eternal Law of Love.

For a reflection on these verses, click on the image above or visit: https://frted.wordpress.com/tag/luke-631-36/


Romans 12: 9-16: Loving Others – Part IV

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friendship

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. (MSG)

Paul describes the mark of a true Christian.

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. (MSG)

Paul tells us that we must rely on God alone. We must be open and welcoming. We must keep the faith and pray.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. (MSG)

Paul asks us to give ourselves over to kingdom thinking. Paul asks us to give ourselves over to inversion. Paul ask us to live on the margins rather than the center.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore these words as translated differently from THE MESSAGE, we find a pathway to courage and a source of deep love.


Luke 6:27-36: Loving Others – Part III

Thursday, November 24, 2016a-revolutionary-kind-of-love-luke-62736-1-638

To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. (MSG)

This thinking is so different from: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”.

When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it.  (MSG)

This thinking causes us to look at old hatreds with new insight.

If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. (MSG)

For millennia God has protected us, Jesus has told shown us The Way, and the Spirit has healed and consoled us. Today all three speak to us through the words that Luke records.

Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! (MSG)

For millennia Jesus has turned the world upside down, telling us that we live when we die, and we fill up when we empty ourselves. Today Jesus describes for us in detail how to live our lives as his disciples.

If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. (MSG)

This thinking is the inversion of: “When someone hits me, I hit them ten times harder”. This thinking requires the building of bridges rather than walls. It asks for humility and understanding rather than ego and power.

I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. (MSG)

This thinking is Kingdom thinking. This thinking is timeless and universal, applying to all occasions and to all persons. This thinking brings eternal redemption. And it lies open and ready for our own adoption.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore these words as translated differently from THE MESSAGE, we begin to understand that Jesus gives us sound advice; we begin to recognize that Jesus’ request brings us closer to him in every way; and we begin to find a way to love those who have done us such damage.

 

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