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Amos 1: Receptive


Saturday, March 6, 2021

ash-wednesday-usa[1]Amos 1

Receptive

Today we stand on the threshold of a great opportunity, an opportunity to shed all that we dislike about ourselves, an opportunity to return fully to the promise God sends to the world through us. We have taken up the prophecy of Amos as our first Lenten lesson plan and today we re-visit an old theme: we ask for the courage to open our hearts and minds and souls to the possibility of newness, we ask for the strength to be receptive to God’s announced gift of regeneration.

God calls to us through Amos just as he called to the faithful millennia ago.  nd what is the message we hear today? Where are we to go to do the work of self-conversion and kingdom building? Amos tells us simply: We are to look to our own homes, communities, work, worship and play places . . . we are to begin . . . and then we are to take this newness in which we find ourselves into all we do, think and say. Social injustice and religious arrogance: these are the two devils we are to combat. We must invert these two ideas (as Jesus always does when he stands us on our heads – calling us to the margins rather than to the comfortable middle) to social justice and to religious humility. They are the standard bearers we are to carry each day as we step out of our homes and into the world.  hey are the same standards we carry into our evenings as we return home to rest and rebuild.


To learn more about the places named in Amos 1, click on the following words and consider . . . Do we live in these places?  If so, what do we do to change ourselves . . . so that the world might also change? Aram, Philistia, Tyre, Edom and Ammon.

mage from: http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/ash-wednesday

Amos 1:1: Insight


Friday, March 5, 2021

Amos 1:1

shepherd-sheep-10[1]

Insight

The words of Amos, a shepherd from Tekoa . . .

When we struggle to understand prophecy it helps to consult commentary and footnotes. It also helps to keep our ears and eyes and hearts ready and open.

God says: Rather than viewing an obstacle as a barrier . . . try to see it as a stepping stone to a new perspective.   Rather than fearing accountability . . . try to see it as a way to draw closer to me. Rather than holding yourselves above or away others . . . try to serve the poorest, the lowest, the humblest of my children. Rather than assuming that prophets live only in the past . . . try to see yourself as one who conveys my Word to others faithfully. Amos shows you all of these insights . . . if you will spend some time with him today.

We develop solid insights when we spend time with God. We inspire insight in others when we follow Christ. We bring healing insight to the suffering when we live in the Spirit.


Read the Amos-Accountability page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-prophets/amos-accountability/ and then consider the insights Amos brings to us today.

Image from: http://raykliu.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/leading-and-equipping-shepherd-and-sheep-2/


Thursday, March 4, 2021

will-religion-become-a-thing-of-the-past.jpg.crop_display[1]The Book of Amos

Responsibility

Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent came to us last week and in preparation we wandered through our valleys of dry bones and we have examined both the exterior and interior law.  Yesterday we reflected on social justice and how the human race strives – or does not strive – to match our words with our deeds.  Today we look at a brief, but powerful, prophecy. Amos brings us words we can easily use today.

So let us take on the responsibility of living a life of integrity as we look at these verses to ask ourselves . . .

How do we resist the corruption we nearly always find in powerful and influential forces?

How do we balance our day-to-day reality with the call of the Gospel?

How do we advocate for those who have no voice?

God says: I have sent to you a prophet who has much to offer you. I have given you the courage and zeal to explore his prophecy. And I have bestowed on you the love and compassion you will need to act on his words that come from me. Do you have the determination to explore my Word that arrives through Amos? Do you love me in such a way that you will put aside a few minutes for me each day to study my word? Do you believe that you too are one of my valued prophets?

God gives us many Biblical figures with whom we might journey as we seek to know ourselves, our God, and others better during this Lenten tide.

Tomorrow, the insight of Amos.


To learn more about the exceptional person Amos, read the articles from Britannica online at:  http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/21356/Amos and http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/21365/Book-of-Amos

Consider the questions below and reflect on what insights Amos might bring to us.

  1. When did Amos write and what did he have to say to the political and social leaders of his time?
  2. Did Amos travel or did he remain in the town of Tekoa where he was born?
  3. Did Amos write his prophecy on his own and who was his audience?
  4. What did Amos predict?
  5. What did Amos believe?
  6. Do we see any similarities between the world of Amos and our own?
  7. What does Amos have to say to us today?

Image from: http://www.ucg.org/commentary/will-religion-become-thing-past/


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Matthew 5:38-48

CNN News: Ukraine Protestors

CNN News: Ukraine Protestors

We re-post this reflection written in 2014 in union with those who stand up for personal and communal freedom justice on every continent. The human race seems determined to create chaos rather than unity. Let us come together with all those who seek the common good. And let us pray not only for the oppressed but also for those who commit acts of oppression. 

A Prayer to Nourish Us Here and Now

Matthew records the words Jesus speaks to those who gather round him when he describes the kingdom of God in the Beatitudes, the new Law of Love that supersedes the law of the Torah and Moses. We have spent much time this week reflecting on the Interior Law placed within each of us at our inception.  This law flourishes in faith, grows in hope and acts in love. And so we pray, we look for strength as we build God’s kingdom.

BBC News: South Sudan in Crisis

BBC News: South Sudan in Crisis

You have heard it said, an eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.

Around the planet the peoples of the world constantly look for answers to difficult questions; they consistently yearn for security and peace; they continually hunger for the words that Jesus speaks in his Sermon on the Mount. And so we pray, we look for courage as we build God’s kingdom.

When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other one as well.

In Ukraine the people struggle to find leadership that is free of corruption.  And so we pray, we look for integrity as we build God’s kingdom.

If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well.

In South Sudan the people struggle to live a life without fear. And so we pray, we look for justice as we build God’s kingdom.

Reuters: Thai Protestors Target Ministries and Threaten Stock Exchange

Reuters: Thai Protestors Target Ministries and Threaten Stock Exchange

Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two.

In Thailand the people fight over who will bring them into the light.  And so we pray, we look for truth as we build God’s kingdom.

Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on the one who wants to borrow.

In Venezuela the people fight over how they will share the power of leadership.  And so we pray, we look for peace as we build God’s kingdom.

You have heard it said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Swiss Broadcasting: Activists Injured by Gunshots

Swiss Broadcasting: Activists Injured by Gunshots

In West Virginia, USA the people ask for answers to dark questions.  And so we pray, we look for compassion as we build God’s kingdom.

If you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?

In our own home town the people ask for honesty and justice.  And so we pray, we look for love as we build God’s kingdom.

We are not much different from those people who listened to Jesus two thousand years ago; we too, hunger for security, healing, truth, forgiveness and redemption.

Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. And so we pray, we look for endurance as we build God’s kingdom.

National Geographic News: West Virginia's Chemical Valley

National Geographic News: West Virginia’s Chemical Valley

The perfection God asks of us lies not in our living a life without mishap; rather, it lies in our persistence to return to the Law of Love no matter how far we stray. The kingdom Jesus describes is not in some distant future when all God’s children have suddenly seen and corrected the errors in their lives.  The kingdom of God is here and it is now.  God’s forgiveness and mercy are here and now.  God’s healing and presence are here and now. God’s compassion and love are here and now. Let us take strength from the one who created us, take heart from the one who accompanies us, and peace from the one who dwells within us. Amen.


To learn more about the stories shared in this prayer, click on the images above or go to: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/17/world/europe/ukraine-protests/, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25677297, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/14/us-thailand-protest-idUSBREA0B03C20140114, http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/news/international/Activists_say_five_Venezuela_protesters_injured_by_gunshots.html?cid=37945644, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140116-chemical-valley-west-virginia-chemical-spill-coal/ 

For another Noontime reflection on these verses, enter the word Vengeance into the blog search bar and explore.


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Deuteronomy 11:18-21

International-children's-day[1]The Interior Law – Part VI

Therefore, take these words of mine into your heart and soul. Bind then at your wrist as a sign, and let them be a pendant on your forehead. 

We study Hammurabi’s Code; we memorize the Ten Commandments; we risk all that we have to create constitutions that guarantee security and liberty; we come together as nations to proclaim that children have universal rights; we preach our own set of laws each day in the way we interact with others.

Teach them to your children, speaking of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest. 

UNICEFWe pass along the good and the bad, the graced and the terrible; we live our own Gospel as we go about our work and play.

And write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates, so that, as long as the heavens are above the earth, you and your children may live on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers he would give you.

It is a great irony that so much violence takes place in the name of God. Let us consider these words today and determine to live an exterior life that enacts the love of God who lives within each of us.


For more on the UN Declaration of the Universal Rights of Children adopted in 1959, go to: https://www.un.org/cyberschoolbus/humanrights/resources/child.asp

To learn more about UNICEF and corporate responsibility, or International Children’s Day, click on the images above or go to: http://www.unicef.org/csr/ or http://www.ecpat.net/news?page=1


Monday, March 1, 2021

1-Timothy-1-5-1024x819[1]1 Timothy 1:3-11

Our Interior Law

Part V

We can sometimes trick ourselves into believing that we act in accordance with God’s plan when all the while it is our own plan that subtly moves and guides us. It takes a great deal of honesty to plumb our own motivations.

God says: You and I have been thinking about the law that lives within you and how it governs your life. Do not be afraid to open your heart to a quiet self-inspection so that you might discover if you serve the interior law I have planted within you . . . or if you follow some law you have placed in your own heart. You will know if you act for and in me when you see that your work bears fruit through time. Paul tells you today about my instruction coming from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. These are the signs that you live in me and that you are guided by my interior law . . . rather than by some futile or temporal law.

A pure heart – a willingness to intervene with God on behalf of our enemies rather than seek revenge.

A good conscience – a willingness to hope eternally in the goodness of God’s plan rather than our own.

A sincere faith – a willingness to live eternally in God’s time rather than our own.

Let us spend a few minutes with these verses today to reflect on how we bring God’s interior law into our exterior life.


Image from: http://www.closerdaybyday.info/2011/09/1-timothy-1/


Second Sunday in Lent, February 28, 2021

Psalm 94psalm-94-18-19[1]

Our Interior Law – Part IV

Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We ask for wisdom so that we might discern your law that lives within each of us.

Blessed the one whom you instruct, O Lord, whom by your law you teach, giving them rest from evil days. Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We look for peace in our turbulent days so that we must rest with you as we move through our days.

For the Lord will not cast off God’s people, nor abandon God’s inheritance; but judgment will be with justice, and all the upright of heart will follow it. Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We look for integrity and uprightness so that we might live out the Gospel as Jesus teaches us.

When I say, “My foot is slipping,” your mercy, O Lord, sustains me; when cares abound within me, your comfort gladdens my soul. Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We look for compassion and forgiveness so that we might live the love the Spirit inspires in each of us.

Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

We tap into our interior law, knowing that it always leads us in the best direction, understanding that it flourishes at the best of God’s time, and believing that it nourishes and sustains each of us and all of us.

Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.

Jesus says, “Do you not yet understand or comprehend?  Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?” They answered him, “Twelve.” “When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?”  They answered him, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”  (Mark 8:17-21)

God’s love is far greater than we can imagine and far more durable than we can believe.  And this is God’s law of love.  There is always love in abundance . . . forever. Blessed are those who see and hear. Blessed are those who allow God to soften hearts. Blessed are those who believe that God’s law lives within.

Blessed the one you instruct, O Lord.


Image from: http://shareaverse.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/comfort-3/psalm-94-18-19/ 


Saturday, February 27, 2021

circumcision-of-the-heart[1]Romans 2:25-29

Our Interior Law

Part III

True circumcision is not outward, in the flesh. Rather, one is a Jew inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit, not the letter; his praise is not from human beings but from God.

In the early church argument erupted over whether or not the first non-Jewish Christians must first be circumcised in order to join the movement. Luke records much of this turmoil in Acts and we see a success convening of the first Church Council to sort out the problem the fledgling group faced. Peter puts an end to the petty bickering when he says: Who was I to be able to hinder God? God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too. (Acts 11:17-18)

Some of Jesus’ early followers wrap themselves in the safety of rules and regulations that are created to keep themselves and others in line. How do we turn away those who long to hear the Good News that kingdom-builders are meant to deliver?

Some of Jesus’ first adherents see the Mystical Body as a club or community organization to be tightly controlled. How do we allow the Spirit to move in and through us so that we might bring the freedom and joy of the kingdom to others?

Some of Jesus’ initial disciples worried over the details of God’s plan, believing themselves responsible for correcting all they believe is wrong with the world. How do we stifle the Spirit, misrepresent Jesus, and ignore God as we seek to be builders with Christ?

Who am I to be able to hinder God? 

As we reflect on our interior and outer laws, how and why we follow them, and how or if they match the Law of Love established by God through Jesus . . . let us allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit as we honestly answer the question Peter poses . . . Who are we to be able to hinder God?


For a deeper understanding of Circumcision of the Heart, click on the image above or go to: http://www.jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/v01-n06/circumcision


Friday, February 26, 2021

judging-otherss[1]Romans 2:17-24

Our Interior Law – Part II

A guide for the blind. A light for those in darkness. A trainer of the foolish. A teacher of the simple. In teaching others do we fail to teach ourselves? Do we rise to our own preaching? Do measure up to the yardsticks we place alongside others?

Paul asks these and other questions of the Romans and he also asks us today. Paul can speak from the heart about authenticity because he once persecuted the followers of Jesus and came to understand – through his relationship with the risen Christ – the hypocrisy he was living. Paul can call us today to our own assessment of self in our exterior adherence to a complicated written law. Paul asks us today to measure our inner self against our outer self rather than compare ourselves to others.

My Dad was fond of reminding us that our actions speak louder than words. He would frequently remind us that “God will judge the other guy so you don’t need to”.  And he always urged that we measure ourselves against ourselves. “When you compare yourself with others,” he often said when we complained of injustices real or perceived, “you will likely come up short. So don’t bother. Instead of looking at the other guy, ask yourself: did I improve today or did I fall back? If you moved forward, great. If not, God will let you know how to improve”.

judging-others-blue_design[1]A guide for the blind. A light for those in darkness. A trainer of the foolish.  A teacher of the simple. In teaching others do we fail to teach ourselves? Do we rise to our own preaching? Do we measure up to the yardsticks we place alongside others?

How and who and why and what and when do we measure? And with what?


Mother Teresa quote from:http://helpfortheheart.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/judging-others-blue_design.png?w=645

For some practical strategies to heal a judging heart, click on the images in this post or go to: Help for the Heart at WordPress at: http://helpfortheheart.wordpress.com/

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