Posts Tagged ‘ask-knock-seek’

Saturday, November 21, 2020

matthew7_1[1]Matthew 7

Lessons in Serenity

As Matthew closes this section of his Gospel he records Jesus as speaking plainly and simply to his followers. There really is no mystery here. What must we do to gain serenity?

Jesus tells us clearly.

Stop judging others and tend to your own progress. The criticisms we level at others are a good place to begin with our own self-development. We critique in others what we dislike most in ourselves. Let us recall the negative comments we have made about others and let us lay them out neatly. We will find an apt and accurate map of the journey we must take.

Matthew-7[1]You are pearls of great price so there is no need to claw your way over those you perceive to be in your path. Once we see where our journey must take us we will want to relax into the great gift God has for us. All of our striving and fixing and arranging may, in fact, be counter to the work we must do on ourselves. Let us learn to bear good fruit in due season.

Ask the creator for all the desires of your heart. Who knows us better than the hand that carved us out of nothing? Fashioned us in God’s image, we do not have to search long or far to discover why we are here or where we are going. Who leads us better than our human and divine brother Jesus? He understands the dichotomy we hold in our hands, the tug from two directions, the calling of two diverging worlds. Who abides with us more faithfully than the Spirit? God’s wisdom and grace dwell within us to guide, protect and console.

matthew_7_13_14_by_phoenixoftheopera-d4247gw[1]Discipleship is difficult and the way to peace is narrow. Quick fixes, easy solutions, pat answers, immediate satisfaction, and feelings of control and power must be put aside in favor of process, dialog, reflection, shared decisions, forgiveness and redemption.

Expect false leaders. And work to be honest followers. Integrity, honesty, courage and persistence are wells from which we must draw. We must learn to rebuke gently, to walk humbly, to accompany without judging, to pray ceaselessly.

You have a choice to make; build on sand or rock. We are free to choose. Stand on solid ground where everyone is open and honest, or allow ourselves to slide into the shifting world of denial, obfuscation and illusion.

The way is clear. The path is open. The winding is narrow but there are signs along the way. These are lessons in serenity.

And so we pray.

Matthew7_24sm[1]Patient and loving father and mother, help us to refrain from judging lest we lose ourselves in the trial. Remind us that we are well loved and well protected. Repeat to us often that we are to knock, ask and seek. Support us as we sift through true and false teachers and leaders. Lead us out of the boggy quicksand of a life lived with the only goal of personal comfort. Steer us away from all that is alluring. Lift us to stand on the rock that is both fortress and refuge. Guide us always back to you. We ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Reflect on the past week’s posts and determine what lessons for serenity you hope to learn in the coming season of Advent.

Images from: http://joanmedinanisnisan.wordpress.com/tag/joan-medina-nisnisan/

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Matthew 7:7: Ask

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

ask-seek-and-knock[1]Matthew 7:7


Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

We are too easily convinced that God does not listen or that God is entirely absent; and yet we are constantly receiving God’s gift of life.  Our hearts beat, blood flows, we feel hunger, thirst, anger, joy, anxiety, peace. God is continually present to us, and still me complain and worry.

God says: Because I created you, I understand that you become anxious when it appears as though the chaos of the world will swallow you. I understand why you believe that your welfare is not important to me when you do not see me as present in the events that flood your senses. But I am with you always, waiting for you to call upon me. I dwell in your heart where your center lies.  I occupy your mind where your thoughts collide. And I nourish your soul where your Spirit takes shape. It is impossible for me to leave you. I cannot leave your side. I wait for you to knock at the door of my own sacred heart. Ask, seek, knock . . . begin with the first step. I am here. Ask.

We cannot allow either the enormity or the insignificance of our problems to discourage us from asking God for help. When life crowds or confuses us, let us take the first step. And let us ask . . .

Enter the words ask-seek-knock into the blog search bar and reflect on when, and how and why we ask . . . or do not ask God for help.

Image from: http://theshinyheadedprophet.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/are-we-ready-to-ask-seek-knock/

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Sirach 20: The Wise and Foolish

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Jan Adam Kruseman: The Wise and Foolish Virgins

This chapter of Sirach is too good to be missed.  Every verse is a nugget to be held and valued.  Jesus ben Sirach draws us away from stereotyping . . . toward universality. . . and the understanding that there is no one member of Christ’s mystical body who has a lock on the mystery of God . . . other than Jesus himself.

The Lamb is the one who opens the sealed scroll in Revelation.  The Lamb is the one who appears slain . . . but who saves . . . by the giving over of himself.  We who answer his call to form the mystical body do well to seek and study, to ask and search.  This is the only true path to life in Christ.  When we knock, he will answer.  When we search, he will find.

Admonitions, comparisons, similes, metaphors, ironies, paradoxes . . . words moving into concepts that guide our lives.

The proper time for speech and silence.

True and false wisdom.

Double entendres that hide and reveal.

Seeing stereotypes for what they are . . . a division of the whole . . . an anti-universe.

Wisdom seems to always be accompanied by foolishness and Matthew’s story of the Ten Virgins comes to mind.  Therefore keep watch because you do not know the day or time.  There is hidden treasure in these refrains and sayings.

Proverbs that lend us so much wisdom . . . these are nuggets to be valued and taken to heart.  These are the wise sayings that lead to life in Christ.  These are the refrains our parents used and that we echo to our children and grandchildren.  Read these words . . . and pass them on . . . for this is the stuff that leads to salvation, to unity, to universality.  This is Christ.

Hidden wisdom and unseen treasure – of what use is either?  Better the man who hides his folly than the one who hides his wisdom.

Written on November 20, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.


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Matthew 15:21-28: Moving Mountains

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Juan de Flandes: Christ and the Canaanite Woman

“When Jesus goes to the region of Tyre and Sidon – two cities with evil reputations (Ezekiel 28) – he meets a Canaanite woman.  ‘Canaanite’ adds to the negative connotation of ‘Tyre and Sidon’ . . . The evangelist speaks against the woman, that he may show forth her marvelous act, and celebrate her praise the more . . . The woman addressed Jesus as Lord and Son of David and asks for mercy for her daughter, who suffers from a demon.  Jesus’ response is silence – he is ether turning her down or testing her faith.  The disciples then want her dismissed.  Jesus . . . declares her commitment to Israel [and] . . . he thus promotes a biblical doctrine of election . . . salvation comes to those outside Israel in response to their faith in Jesus”.  (Barton and Muddiman 864)

God redeems those who seek him. 

In today’s Noontime, we watch Jesus go to non-Jewish territory to interact with a woman who is not a believer in the Mosaic Law.  She is a Canaanite and does not believe that Yahweh is the one true God; yet she understands that God is present in Jesus in a singular way.  She believes in miracles.

With God all things are possible.

“A distinctive feature of Matthew’s Gospel is that it frequently portrays Jesus as a recipient of worship . . . For Matthew, this motif is connected to the belief that God is present in Jesus and present in others through him.  Matthew does not think it appropriate to worship anyone other than the Lord God (4:10), but God is present in Jesus to such an extent that worshiping Jesus counts as worshiping God”.  (Mays 872) 

God sent God’s Word to live among God’s people.

In this episode, as with the story of Jesus’ healing the centurion’s servant in Matthew 8, we see Jesus heal from a distance because of faith enacted by one outside of Yahweh’s covenant.  What are we to think about this, and in Jesus’ first reply to the woman?  It is not right to take the food of children and throw it to the dogs.  The woman in today’s reading believes that Jesus can make her daughter whole.  She believes that Jesus is God and so says boldly:  Even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters. Her persistence pays off and her distant daughter is healed.

Not a hair of your head shall fall that God does not mark it.

This episode is followed by stories of Jesus healing and feeding the many lost sheep who follow him seeking wholeness.  We are these sheep.  We are the centurion and the Canaanite woman.  We have the power to ask and to have our requests fulfilled . . . when we persist . . . when we worship . . . when we acknowledge that God is God.

Ask and you will receive.  Knock and the door will be opened.  By faith you will move mountains.

A re-post from June 4, 2012.

Image from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Juan_de_Flandes_-_Christ_and_the_Canaanite_Woman_-_WGA12050.jpg

Enter the word Rejection into the blog search bar to further reflect. 

Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 864. Print.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 872. Print.

Written on June 3, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Matthew 18:19-20: Again, I say to you . . .

Thursday, February 9, 2017church-meeting-w_scripture

We might smile when we read the simple words, “Again, I say to you . . .” Whether we are parents, teachers, friends or colleagues, it is likely we have had to repeat ourselves in the hope of being understood. God does the same for us.

Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. (NRSV)

We might give thanks for the simple gift that Jesus gives us in this promise of his presence when we gather in God’s name.

And I tell you more: whenever two of you on earth agree about anything you pray for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them. (GNT)

We might remember to gather with those who live in the Spirit when we are troubled or spent.

To repeat, I tell you that if two of you here on earth agree about anything people ask, it will be for them from my Father in heaven. For wherever two or three are assembled in my name, I am there with them. (CJB)

We might invite others to join us as we petition heaven for justice, mercy and peace.

Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there. (MSG)

And as we gather to pray, we might encourage one another to pray for our enemies, for those who refuse to look for unity or build peace, and for those who hope to bring an end to the Kingdom.

When we compare varying translations of these verses, we open ourselves to God’s promise that Christ is with us always, and that when we gather to petition God, the Spirit remains in us – bringing us new life. This Christ tells us again and again. 

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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.


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Bouveret: Last Supper

Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret: Last Supper


December 30, 2014

Joy and Anguish


 The New Testament brings us the good news of personal freedom and the reality of our individual relationship with God. Joy continues to surprise us as we rejoice in the coming of the Messiah.

The lyrical opening of John’s Gospel foreshadows the joy and anguish that will follow . . . In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. (John 1:1-3) God never guarantees that life will be without pain, but God always promises that the pain will be an opportunity for grace and joy. Coming into the world as a vulnerable child, God brings light to our darkness and joy to heal our pain.

John 16:20 and 22: Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.

Jesus promises that the joy we find in sorrow is infinite and all-encompassing.

John 16:24: Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

Jesus promises that his presence and joy are constant and all-powerful.

John 17:13: But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely.

Jesus promises that his mercy and love are always authentic and just.

John 15:11: I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

Jesus promises that his grace and hope are forever healing and transforming . . . and he tells us how important we are in God’s expression of joy.

joyAs part of our Christmastide reflection, let us spend a bit of time with Jesus’ Last Supper Discourses and consider the gift of his presence among us.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar. You may want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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