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Job 28: The Hope of God’s Wisdom

Monday, August 20, 2018

God says: You have asked me this question many times and I delight in your curiosity. It gladdens my heart when I hear you ask for clarity. I praise you for your persistence, courage, and desire for authenticity. Hear now the voice of my servant Job.

Job says: But where, oh where, will [mortals] find Wisdom?
    Where does Insight hide?
Mortals don’t have a clue,
    haven’t the slightest idea where to look.

God says: Job knows that the search for wisdom tempts some to lose hope, others to argue over meaning, and still others to divide the faithful. When your search finds you creating sides and assigning blame, think about the origin of your emotions. Do they come from fear or from compassion? A willfulness to control or a willingness to collaborate?

Job says: So where does Wisdom come from?
    And where does Insight live?
It can’t be found by looking, no matter
    how deep you dig, no matter how high you fly.
If you search through the graveyard and question the dead,
    they say, ‘We’ve only heard rumors of it.

God says: Listen to the words of Job. He suffered great physical pain yet remained in me. His friends and family offered well-meaning advice based on confusion, still he relied on me. Job’s search for understanding and wisdom bring him directly to me.

Job says: God alone knows the way to Wisdom,
    God knows the exact place to find it.

God asks: Are you willing to listen to the knowledge Job gains about the path to wisdom?

Job says: Here it is!
    Fear-of-the-Lord—that’s Wisdom,
    and Insight means shunning evil.

God says: Come to me when burdens weigh you down. Rely on me when anger and anxiety take hold of you. Remain in me when revenge and fear push and pull you in the way of foolishness. Always rely on me.

Job’s search is long and arduous. The wisdom he finds is precious and pure. The lesson he teaches us may be difficult to take in, but it is reliable, full, and positive. Let us step into the hope of God’s wisdom today.


Tomorrow, thirsting for wisdom. 

Image from: https://chartcons.com/100-deep-philosophical-questions-may-just-never-answer/ 

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Isaiah 54:1: Breaking into Song

Friday, August 3, 2018

The prophet Isaiah reminds us that when days are dark we break into pieces, but despite bad news, there is a day when we will break into song.

Jerusalem, you have been like a childless woman,
    but now you can sing and shout for joy.
Now you will have more children
    than a woman whose husband never left her.

In ancient days, a woman without a husband or children was pitied. Here Isaiah paints a picture of one who lives in dire settings; however, Isaiah tells us that regardless of her negative environment, the barren and abandoned one has reason to sing.

God says: It is difficult for you to believe that my creation is more vast than your mind can comprehend; and because this is the case, the inversion Isaiah describes is incomprehensible to you. When your fears are deepest, know that I am with you in the darkness. When your anxieties overtake you, know that I am with you in your pain. When courage dies, know that I am hope beyond all anticipation. When love is absent, know that I am love enough to heal the darkest of evils. When faith abandons you, know that I am steadfastness itself. When you feel alone, betrayed or adrift, I am with you still. For every evil, there is a counter-love and it is the Spirit. For every deceit, there is a counter-truth and it is Jesus. For every time the universe seems to fall into pieces, there is a union that pulls all goodness together . . . and that goodness is me. Remain in me as I remain in you; and break into song with me.


For more reflections on the words of the prophet Isaiah, enter his name into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: https://es.pngtree.com/freepng/melodious-singing_699058.html

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Psalm 130: Fullness of Redemption

Monday, July 30, 2018

Psalm 130 also carries the name A Prayer for Help, a song we might want to sing today. National, international, and local events stir us to look to the LORD for help when we believe that no aide arrives in dark days.

From the depths of my despair, I call to you, Lord.
Hear my cry, O Lord;
    listen to my call for help!

In matters large and small, we must go to God first when we find ourselves up against walls that are too high, too thick, too solid to conquer. There is no power on heaven or earth that overcomes the deceit, fraud and malevolence the world experiences.

If you kept a record of our sins,
    who could escape being condemned?
But you forgive us,
    so that we should stand in awe of you.

As we look to condemn our enemies, we must do as our brother Jesus who asks. We must pray for those who harm us as quickly as we pray for those we love. There is no other light that pierces the darkness overtaking us.

I wait eagerly for the Lord‘s help,
    and in his word I trust.
I wait for the Lord
    more eagerly than sentries wait for the dawn—
    than sentries wait for the dawn.

When love betrays us, when corruption stalks us, when comfort vanishes and life proves too difficult, we seek comfort, wisdom, and healing from the Spirit. There is no other source of goodness that will overcome the evil we experience.

Israel, trust in the Lord,
    because his love is constant
    and he is always willing to save.
He will save his people Israel
    from all their sins.

When there is no exit, when there is no hope, when there is no compassion . . . we find faith in Christ, hope in the LORD, and mercy in the Spirit.

God says: I know the emptiness you feel when you read the events that surround you. And I know the safety you experience when you recognize my presence in a world that confuses you. Rely on your relationship with me. Spend time with me. Abide in me. I know that too often all seems lost but when you bring me your worries and anxieties, you bring them to the one person who sees, hears and knows all.

When we spend time with these verses, we find the energy to make the small changes open to each day. We find the solace and peace to lie down in peace each night. We find the compassion to act in justice each moment of our lives. We find mercy that rewards us with fullness in redemption.


When we compare the GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION of this psalm with other translations, we discover a newness that will carry us forward in confident expectation of God’s providence.

Image from: http://2uomaha.org/2014/from-the-minister/redemption

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Proverbs 2:9-15: Knowing What to Do

Sunday, July 29, 2018

If you listen to me, you will know what is right, just, and fair. You will know what you should do.

This advice brings us comfort.

You will become wise, and your knowledge will give you pleasure. Your insight and understanding will protect you and prevent you from doing the wrong thing.

These words are ones we want to hear.

They will keep you away from people who stir up trouble by what they say—those who have abandoned a righteous life to live in the darkness of sin, those who find pleasure in doing wrong and who enjoy senseless evil, unreliable people who cannot be trusted.

In out tumultuous world, change permeates every facet of life. We look for places to stand when familiar foundations crumble. We ask for assurance. We know that we must put aside fear and replace it with trust in the Lord.

God says: Although the world seems a dangerous place, you must trust that I hold each of you in my hands. My servant Paul tells the Ephesians – and he tells you – that I chose you to be holy, with every spiritual blessing, before the foundation of the world. My son Jesus tells you that you ought not let your hearts be troubled. I tell you that despite the troubles surrounding you, my mercy and justice will lift you above the battles of your days and the uncertainties of your nights. Remain in me as I remain in you so that my peace and love will permeate your every fiber to bring you even closer to me.

When we move against injustice, we must allow God to guide us. When we speak up about hatred, we must allow Christ to show us the way. When we are betrayed by people and institutions we once thought just, we must allow the Spirit to heal and bless. And this allowing will show us clearly what we are to do.


Read Paul’s message in Ephesians 1:3-14. In John 14:1, Jesus calms our fears.

When we compare varying translations of these words, the light if understanding will lead us to Christ’s serenity. 

Click on the image to read an NPR Science opinion piece about how confusion con sometimes be helpful. Or visit: https://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2015/12/14/459651340/sometimes-confusion-is-a-good-thing 

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John 18:37: Testifying to the Truth

Ivan Glazunov: Jesus Before Pilate

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Jesus said to Pilate: For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

We might also ask the same question.

God says: You argue and struggle with one another, scuttling back and forth to determine the truth about circumstances that surround and affect you. You lie and deceive, plotting with and against one another to create falsehoods that bring division. You speak up and witness to untruth. You support and rejoice in the light and life of Christ, celebrating his essence as the foundation on which to stand.

These are the scenarios we see before us, bringing us choice and – perhaps – confusion. After cautious consideration, we ask ourselves: Do we believe that we are born to testify to the truth? When we listen, do we tune our ears to discern reality? When we speak, do we rely on God for the words we will use? When we act, do we personify authenticity? Do we operate in the dark or the light? Do we exclude or include? Do we allow God to convert all harm to good? Do we work in joyful hope for the goodness of God’s kingdom?

God says: You know how to discern Christ’s truth. You know how to act in the truth. You are to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8) If Pilate were to ask you today what truth is, would you tell him? If Jesus stands before you today, will you walk with him? If I speak to you when you are lost in the darkness, will you pause to hear my Word so that you might live in the truth? And might you share this wonderful truth with others? 


Image from: https://stjohnscathedral.ca/2013/03/28/worship-for-holy-week/jesus-before-pilate-glazunov/ 

 

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1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13: The Way of Love

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

This week we continue our exploration of the manner in which Jesus defines himself, helping us to better understand the importance of his example, to better respond to the Creator’s call, and to better practice the Spirit’s New Law of Love. Today we share this reflection adapted from a Favorite written on April 24, 2007.

These words are so well known. They are so beautiful and complete. They embody the paradox that is our life. All fades away except for the one vibrating and constantly resonating truth. Love. There is nothing else. It is a gift freely given to us by the Creator, Incarnate in the Son of Man, and ever present in the In-Dwelling of the Spirit. All we need do is return the love. Because God alone is enough.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

We constantly look for presence and miracles; yet we too often ignore The Way that lies before us. Yesterday we remembered the guidance we receive from Jesus, The Good Shepherd. Today we step boldly onto Christ’s Way.

God says: I understand that The Way I lay before you is full of pitfalls and stumbling blocks. Today I ask you to remember that every obstacle that obstructs your path is a stepping-stone for you to use as you grow and live in me. I ask you to remember that every gaping hole that suddenly appears to gobble up The Way, is an opportunity for you to rely on me. I will guide and protect. I will lead and heal. I will restore and transform. I am The Way, and I send my son to you to live in that Way with you.

When we consider Paul’s description of Jesus’ Law of Love, we open our hearts to possibility.


Tomorrow, Jesus says, “I am The Way”.

Image from: https://joshfred90.deviantart.com/art/Love-Never-Ends-251907145

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Isaiah 55:8-9: A Duality of Ways

Parallel paths create a generous, merciful way.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

As God’s creation, we reflect God’s image in a kaleidoscope of diversity. In an enormous mosaic, we compose a wonderfully diverse creator.

“My thoughts,” says the Lord, “are not like yours,
    and my ways are different from yours.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so high are my ways and thoughts above yours. (GNT)

As sisters and brothers of Christ, the Spirit calls us to unity in our wonderful variety. Despite the difficulty of the task, we must find a way to reconcile, to pardon, to accept forgiveness, and to remain open to transformation.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. (NRSV)

God says: Just as it is difficult for you to understand my deep generosity with all of creation, it is difficult for you to comprehend my plan and my way.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not my ways,” says Adonai.
“As high as the sky is above the earth
are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (CJB)

God says: Just as it is wonderful for you to revel in my presence, it is wonderful to live in your way even as you live in mine.

“I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think. (MSG)

God says: Rather than suffer as you work to follow in my way, allow the rain in your life to water the place where you are planted. Let my sustain presence work at growing the blossoms that wait within you. Ask the good seed I have planted in you to be harvest for the poor, the broken-hearted, and the hungry.  

Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
    and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
    producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
    not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them. (Verses 10-11 MSG)

God says: Yes, my ways are not your ways but my essence is also yours. My feet, my hands, my lips and my ears are yours as well. My mind is yours. My heart is yours. My very being resides in you, waning in times of drought, flourishing in times of bounty. There is nothing you can do to fully deny me. There is nowhere you can go to hide from me. Each day when you rise, ask me to join me in the harvest of the day. I am already there. Each noontime when you pause in your busy day, invite me to sit with you. I am already there. Each evening when you retire, rest in me as I rest in you. Yes, I am already there. Although there is a duality in our ways, we walk together always. You are not empty-handed, for I am in your hands. Remember this always.

Tomorrow, the duality of justice.


When we compare varying versions of these verses, we open ourselves to the duality of our ways and God’s.

Image from: https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/parallel-paths.jpg

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Numbers 14:8: From Grumbling to Peace

Monday, April 16, 2018

Route Map of the Israelite Exodus

If the Lord is pleased with us, he will take us there and give us that rich and fertile land. 

In Numbers 14, we hear murmurs among the people as they tire of wandering in the desert in expectation of a promised land where the faithful will flourish to pass down their fidelity to God through many generations. Although scholars find little evidence of this difficult, 40-year desert pilgrimage, we appreciate the desert wanderings of the twelve tribes of Hebrew peoples. Not only do they suffer physical hardship, they suffer mental distress as well. They wonder why they have left the comfort of a home where although they lived in slavery, they knew what to expect each day. Now in the desert, searching for water and food, and evading bands of marauders, they question the wisdom of following leaders shown to them by The Living God.

Our Old Testament thinking is binary; when we behave as God asks, God rewards us. When we do not, we expect punishment. Our New Testament thinking removes the fear of ancient ancestors as we remember Jesus’ words as recorded by John: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:7)

God says: I know that you worry each morning as you rise about the thousands of details you tend to as you support a life of work, play and prayer. I know that you move through the day and into the evening juggling people and circumstances, numbers and facts, opposites and equals, clarity and confusion. I know that you think of me each night as you set up your evening tent and tuck into your bed. I know that you keep your eye on me as you traverse the deserts in your life; and for this I love you more than you can imagine. When you grumble, I hold you close. When you cry out, I am at your side. When you weep, I dry your tears. I am with you always. As Jesus tells you, do not let your hearts be troubled. Do I not go before you each day as a pillar of smoke? Do I not follow you each night as a pillar of fire?

In the Moroccan Desert

Although we fear, we move forward in confidence. Although we complain, we step into each day with conviction. Although we doubt, we follow Christ with steadfastness. In this way, we allow God to convert our grumbling and fear into Christ’s calm and loving peace.

During the day the Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud to show them the way, and during the night he went in front of them in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel night and day. (Exodus 13:21)


For a reflection on the Book of Numbers, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-torah/numbers-arrangement-of-the-tribes/

For a reflection on Numbers 14:1-4, enter the words Back to Egypt into the blog search bar.

To read about scholarly opinions on the Sinai wanderings, visit: https://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/03/world/africa/03iht-moses.4.5130043.html

Images from: http://wildmorocco.com/cosmic-fireworks-from-the-sahara-desert/ and http://www.bible-history.com/maps/route_exodus.html

 

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John 13:21: Prediction of Betrayal

Easter Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Thirty pieces of silver are paid to Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus.

We continue the celebration of Easter throughout this holiest of liturgical seasons, focusing on one verse a day, comparing varying translations, anticipating the joy of resurrection that always follows the pain of betrayal.

After saying this, Yeshua, in deep anguish of spirit, declared, “Yes, indeed! I tell you that one of you will betray me.” (CJB)

God says: You see that as I walk among you – as one of you – I suffer as you suffer. I come to live among you – as one of you – to show my endless love for you. I have created you out of love. I have created you by and for love. I have created you as an outward sign of my inner union with you. Because I am betrayed by the closest of friends, I fully understand the pain of deceit. I fully recognize that when those we love betray us, the infidelity cuts more deeply than any other pain. Yet despite this duplicity, I love you deeply and always. There is no act or thought that can turn me away. I continue to call, to heal, to transform, and to love. Just as you can predict that your life cannot be fully free of betrayal, so too can you predict that I will be with you always and everywhere. Calling you, healing you, Transforming you. Loving you. Be certain that when you foretell treachery, you may also predict my love.  

 When we compare other translations of this verse, we open ourselves to the love of Christ.


Image from: http://www.restoreculture.com/30-pieces-what-are-we-worth/

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