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James 5:10-11: God’s Merciful Lawbible page heart

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Ultimately, God will vindicate those who live and enact the Law of Love; there is no need for us to struggle against life when we place ourselves in God’s hands. Our behavior during times of trial and temptation illustrates our belief in the goodness of God; our grumbling sets up signposts to the world about our suspicion of God’s goodness. James cautions us against all of this.

The prophecy of Isaiah (50:4-10) is full of honesty and hope. When we read it alongside James’ words, we better understand the Law of Love that Jesus brings to us.

The Master, God, has given me a well-taught tongue, so I know how to encourage tired people. He wakes me up in the morning, wakes me up, opens my ears to listen as one ready to take orders.

Jesus calls us to join him in discipleship to act with him in prophesying and enacting the Law of Love.

The Master, God, opened my ears, and I didn’t go back to sleep, didn’t pull the covers back over my head. I followed orders, stood there and took it while they beat me, held steady while they pulled out my beard, didn’t dodge their insults, faced them as they spit in my face.

Jesus is persistent in his call. Eventually we understand that the way we best participate in God’s plan is to do nothing more than witness, watch and enact God’s love in all we say, think and do.

And the Master, God, stays right there and helps me, so I’m not disgraced. Therefore I set my face like flint, confident that I’ll never regret this.

The Spirit has taken up her place in our hearts, consoling us in our trials, bolstering us as we confront our temptations.

Lean on your God! But if all you’re after is making trouble, playing with fire, go ahead and see where it gets you. Set your fires, stir people up, blow on the flames, but don’t expect me to just stand there and watch. I’ll hold your feet to those flames.

James, like Isaiah, is honest and hopeful. Offering us a clear image of how the Law of Love operates in our world. Rather than stir up division and discord, we witness to the story of Jesus, we watch for ways to live out this witnessing, and we hand over our frustration, anger and fear to the one who authors this merciful law of love.


Image from: https://www.dreamstime.com

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James 5:7-9: Early and Late Rains

An early spring rain on a window

An early spring rain on a window

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

James speaks to three groups of people in these verses, and all three groups will want to hear his words.

James speaks to those who judge others and speak out against them. If we find ourselves participating in gossip we will want to take care. Even our grumbling is a kind of separation and violence.

A fruitful summer rain

A fruitful summer rain

James also speaks to those who assume that they are in charge of their own plans and future. If we have crafted hopes and dreams with little input from God, we will want to turn back to God. Our arrogance and pride harm our loved ones as much as it harms us.

James finally speaks to those who amass treasure at the expense of others. If we come to understand that our fear for self separates us from God we will want to change our ways. We must soften our hearts and unbend our necks and consider what kinds of wealth we amass at the expense of others. We can hoard much more than silver and gold, and we do well to examine our own stockpiles.

A late and frosty winter rain

A late and frosty winter rain

James reminds us that with God . . . it is never too late to repent. Through God, all harm turns to good. In God, patience and persistence are the work of the Spirit. James advises us that the righteous will eventually flourish, whether the rains that bring the substance for blooming arrive early, on time or even late into our lives.

Tomorrow, patience in suffering.


Images from: http://sacredtouches.com/tag/window-pane/

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James 5:1-6: Softening the Calluses on Our Heartshard-heart1

Monday, October 24, 2022

When we listen to these two Ted Talks, James’ words take on a deeper meaning, and open a new horizon of happiness.

Practicing the Science of Happiness

https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy

Dan Gilbert authored STUMBLING ON HAPPINESS and challenges our ideas about what makes us happy.

Want to be happy? Be grateful . . . it is not happiness that makes us happy; it is gratefulness. Brother David Steindl-Rast teaches us how to use these simple words: Stop . . . Look . . . Go.

https://www.ted.com/talks/david_steindl_rast_want_to_be_happy_be_grateful

Today we pray,

callus heartDear Lord, now that we have heard, we must act. Soften not only our hearts, but our eyes and ears as well. Help us to recognize the times that we initiate or join in slander or detraction. Give us the humility and grace we need to always see the actions of our sisters and brothers a favorable light. Help us to sort out and blow away the rust and corrosion that we have allowed in our lives. Help us to remember that we are wisps of fog, puffs of smoke. Continue to call us to do what is right, what is just and what is merciful. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Images from: http://www.nuggetnetreview.com/m-root-cause.htm and http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/you-asked-does-god-harden-a-believers-heart

 

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James 4:13-17: A Wisp of Fog

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Misty Fog on Mount Shasta, USA

Misty Fog on Mount Shasta, USA

You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. 

In the MESSAGE version of these verses, we hear James’ voice quite clearly asking us who we think we are. This is what we read in the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD Bible.

You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

Are we to see ourselves as insignificant and unimportant in God’s plan? How are we to make the best of our lives in the midst of God’s creation? How might we best find union in God’s space and time? What might we offer God as a sign of our understanding that we are made in God’s image?

James brings us up short with his blunt yet welcome words for it is in these verses that he explains how we are live and be in the present rather than worry and stress about the future.

Reading different versions of these verses brings their meaning into our hearts, words, and actions.


Image from: http://annemckinnell.com/2013/11/20/4-ways-to-photograph-water/

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James 3:13-18: Live Well, Live Wisely, Live Humbly

Saturday, October 15, 2022humility image

In our modern cultures we often believe that living well and living humbly are incompatible lifestyles. James tells us otherwise.

Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. 

In our modern societies we can heed ancient words from ancient days. James assures us that living well is to put others first and to listen more than we speak. He promises us that this is so.

humilityWhenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

In our modern world we seek the formula for success when all the while we hold that success in our hands. In our willingness to live humbly we discover what it is to live wisely. In our willingness to follow Christ is our key to living well.


Images from: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lisahendey/2013/12/humility-constructing-solid-foundations/ 

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James 2:5-7: The Down-and-Out

Friday, October 7, 2022peace-in-christ

When we listen to the Gospel closely we know that for God all things are possible. When read the familiar histories of the Old Testament with care we know that with God all harm is turned to good. When we live in the truth of God as James calls us to do we know that in God life is always lived as inversion. James speaks to us again today.

Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently?

When we rest in God we do not fear the unknown.

He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God.

When we play in God we do not shrink from trouble.

And here you are abusing these same citizens! Isn’t it the high and mighty who exploit you, who use the courts to rob you blind?

When we pray with God we will always find our way home in peace.

Jesus-Comforting-Large-650x280Aren’t they the ones who scorn the new name—“Christian”—used in your baptisms?

When we live in the Spirit we will act as God acts – always offering peace for war, always raising prayer for hatred and always remembering to love in the face of evil. When we live in Christ we will always live in inversion.


Image from: http://pastorgeorgeramblings.blogspot.com/2014/02/may-peace-of-christ-be-with-you.html

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James 2:1-4: Segregation

Thursday, October 6, 2022Web_handsopen

James describes us to ourselves today and asks this question . . . haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted?

As Christ moves and lives among the poor, he calls out to the influential and powerful to change the structures that force the innocent into cycles of lack and scarcity. We have an opportunity today to reflect on our own theology of poverty and when we listen to the words of Pope Francis on the 90 second audio clip from Vatican Radio, we have an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the Gospel. Listen at: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/06/16/pope_francis_the_theology_of_poverty/1151901


Image from: https://www.istockphoto.com/photos/man-show-his-dirty-hand-with-palms-up

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part IV

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Perhaps the reason we do not find serenity is that we do not ask for restoration. Today St. Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, reminds us that reunion with God is only a petition away. He is a follower of Christ because he answered God’s invitation to follow.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not find peace is that we do not ask for strength.

I am grateful to him who has strengthened me . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not find solace is that we do not ask forgiveness.

I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not experience love is that we have not shown mercy.

I have been mercifully treated . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not experience transformation is that we do not believe in restoration.

The grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Jesus Christ . . .

Today we spend time with the opening chapter of Paul’s first letter to Timothy and we ponder what our lives might be like if and when we seek strength, forgiveness and mercy. We reflect on the possibility of new life rising from the arid bones of our sorrow.

Tomorrow, finding faith . . . 


Use the scripture link to explore varying editions of 1 Timothy 1.

Image from: https://www.christianity.com/wiki/bible/what-is-the-significance-of-the-valley-of-dry-bones-in-ezekiel.html

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part IIIvalleyofdrybones-620x3101

Friday, September 16, 2022

We are too often stunned by the miracle of God’s goodness. We are too seldom in awe of God’s greatness.

We are too quick to offer spontaneous judgments. We are too slow to nurture and sustain ourselves and others.

We too easily forget our own past and project our own future. We too stubbornly refuse to make allowances for others and too rarely walk in another’s shoes.

God has told us how we are to pray. Jesus has told us the words to use. The Spirit has accompanied us throughout our lives and still we look for more information or more excuses.

praying-handsLife is all too complicated. Life is all too simple. If we wish to rise from the dryness of the desert we know what to do. We are to take on the mantel of humility. We are to set aside time to spend with God both alone and in community. We are to love as Jesus loves, knowing that there is but one law that unites us. We are to allow the Spirit to guide and protect, instruct and restore. And we are to let God be God.

In this way we experience the rejuvenating dew of the desert morning that brings all impossibilities out of the darkness of doubt and into the light of probability and surety. And we rejoice as God gathers our dry bones so assemble them in the dance of restored life.

Enter the word restoration into the blog search bar and explore the idea of God’s renewal in us.  

Make an intentional effort over the next four weeks to keep the Sabbath holy. Plan activities with family and friends. Try to stay away from chores and closer to God. And allow yourself to experience the miracle of restoration out of dry bones.  

Tomorrow, what is it we seek?


Images from: http://millennialpastor.net/2014/04/06/lazarus-in-the-valley-of-dry-bones/ and http://www.stitcherydickorydock.com/september-beyond-the-block-be-an-encourager/

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