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Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

2 Corinthians 1:3-11: Encouragement

I am so touched by the number of times Paul uses the verb encourage and the noun encouragement in this citation.  As I read through the opening of this second letter to the group in Corinth, I am struck by the idea that as Christians we need to be encouraging one another as we move along the path of life – this is the mark of a Christian: to exhort, to pray, to urge, to praise, to support, to bolster . . . to encourage.  How many times do we browbeat, do we demand, do we undercut, do we deceive, how often do we judge?  Perhaps we put distance between ourselves and others because we are afraid of betrayal at an intimate level.  Perhaps we are afraid to trust.  If this is so . . . we have a place to turn for understanding.  We can examine John 13.

Picture1Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me”.  The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.

Perhaps we have sensed when someone close to us was about to turn against us.

One of his disciples . . . was reclining at Jesus’ side . . . He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, Master, who is it?”

Perhaps we are too afraid to look closely at circumstances; we may be too anxious to begin a conversation that needs beginning.

Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it”. So he dipped the morsel and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. 

Jesus teaches us that we must remain calm in the face of treachery.

After he took the morsel, Satan entered him.  So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly”.

Jesus shows us how to remain open and honest in the midst of our enemies.

Now none of those reclining at the table realized why he said this to him.  Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or to give something to the poor. 

We understand that betrayal is deep-rooted and far-reaching. 

So he took the morsel and he left.  And it was night.

We remember that even for Jesus . . . there is darkness.

Picture3When we are betrayed we find relief and support in the encouragement of others.  We find compassion and mercy in Christ’s example.  Psalm 55 describes the anguish of betrayal at the hands of intimate friends; Jesus teaches us how to withstand the pain brought by this betrayal.  Christ brings us encouragement.

And so we pray . . .

We look for healing and restoration in others . . . let us give healing and restoration in all we do and say.

We look for openness and honesty in others . . . let us act openly and honestly in all our actions and declarations.

We look for constancy and fidelity in others . . . let us be constant and faithful in all our deeds and words.  

We look for justice and mercy in others . . . let us live justly and mercifully all our days and all our nights in Christ.

And let us give thanks for the encouraging companions God sends to us as we journey on our way.  Amen.


First written March 18, 2008.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite. 

To explore words of encouragement for children, click on the image or visit: https://www.momjunction.com/articles/words-of-encouragement-for-kids_00402209/#gref

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Haggai 1: Hurrying

Thursday, September 12, 2019

In this brief but important prophecy we hear a vital message; Haggai exhorts us to look to our behaviors to see what we value.  And the prophet asks us to re-build the fallen Jerusalem of our hearts.  From the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE (1157): “At this critical moment, when defeatism and a certain lethargy had overtaken his repatriated countrymen, Haggai came forward with the exhortations to them to complete their great task . . . The call to rebuild the temple.  The economic distress so apparent in Judah is due to the Jews’ neglect of the Lord while they provide for their own needs”.

And we pause to reflect on this verse 1:9: You expected much, but it came to little; and what you brought home, I blew away.  For what cause? says the Lord of hosts.  Because my house lies in ruins, while each of you hurries to your own house.

This is not a petulant or childish God who sweeps away all that we have gathered around us in retaliation for some slight we may have delivered.  No. This is the call of a God who loves his creatures and who wishes them to rise to the potential gifted to them at their inception. This is not an angry and selfish God who destroys all that does not please him.  No. This is a God who knows that we have become enamored of that which drains us rather than saves us.  These are not the words of a fickle and deceitful lover. No. They are words that encourage, words that animate, words that ask us to focus on what is truly important.

Those who had been deported have returned home to ruins and they know they must come together to rebuild that which has been lost through their own folly.  God calls them to himself and asks them to evaluate what they hurry toward and what they hurry away from.

Do we bustle home each evening to get on with our own agenda without including God in our plans?

Do we scurry out each morning to complete our own list of chores without taking God along?

Do we work harder on our own dreams without considering the common good and the call from God?

We seem to always be in a hurry . . . toward what . . . away from whom . . . in answer to what call?


A re-post from September 5, 2012.

For more thoughts on the prophecy of Haggai visit the Haggai – The Great Task page of this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-prophets/haggai-the-great-task/

For more on setting priorities, prospering in tough economical times and taking the words of the prophet Haggai to heart, click on the image above or go to http://www.barryclingan.org/index.cfm/pageid/584

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1157. Print.   

 

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Esther: Sincere Repentance

Filippo Lippi: Esther at the Palace Gate

Friday, February 23, 2018

Before we leave the story of Esther, we re-visit a Favorite from May 29, 2007. Today we consider the nature of our repentance as we move further into the season of Lent; and we commit to enacting the fidelity, hope, and love we profess.  

From the introduction in the New American Bible, “The book was intended as a consolation for Israel, a reminder that God’s providence continually watches over sincere repentance.” We have been hearing about sincerity versus insincerity in recent weeks. And again we see it today.

Yesterday’s first reading is from Sirach 17:24: “But the Lord will allow those who repent to return to him. He always gives encouragement to those who are losing hope.” And yesterday’s morning Psalm was 130: “My soul is waiting for the Lord, I count on his word. . . Because with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption, Israel indeed he will redeem from all its iniquity”.

There is hope for all; yet, how do we show our gratitude for redemption? By being doers of the word and not hearers or sayers only. We show our sincerity before the Lord by not deluding ourselves.

This morning’s reading is one of my favorites from James, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22-25)

May we be hearers, sayers, and doers of the Word. May we persevere in our doing. And may we, like Esther, live up to our potential in order that we too may save nations.

The book of Esther, with all of its additions and amendments, is a wonderful story. We must read it when we can.

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1 Thessalonians 1:1-10: Convictions of Steel

Monday, September 4, 2017

There are days when we need to hear words of encouragement. Today Paul fills that need.

Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you’re in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father.

There are nights when we need an affirming hug, a kiss of peace. This noontime we anticipate this affirmation of love.

It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put God’s hand on you for something special. 

There are hours and minutes when we have taken on more than we can carry. This evening we take strength from the words of Paul.

When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.

There are places and people challenging us beyond our limits. Now we rely on Paul’s urging to follow Christ.

You paid careful attention to the way we lived among you, and determined to live that way yourselves. In imitating us, you imitated the Master. Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were able to take great joy from the Holy Spirit!—taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble.

There are obstacles we cannot overcome, ruptures we cannot heal. Now we trust that the Spirit will restore and transform.

The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore—you’re the message! People come up and tell us how you received us with open arms, how you deserted the dead idols of your old life so you could embrace and serve God, the true God. They marvel at how expectantly you await the arrival of God’s Son, whom God raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescued us from certain doom.

There are moments when we do not know how we move forward, and yet . . . we rely on our convictions of steel that we are loved by the Living God.

When we read varying versions of these verses, we discover the gift of God’s presence, and our own convictions of steel.  

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part Vlighthouse

Saturday, September 19, 2015

If we cannot believe in restoration after the desert, let us at least begin by asking God to strengthen our gift of faith. Just as a mariner trusts that the lighthouse will guide ships past rocky shores, let us trust the Gospel story of Jesus. The writer of the letter to Hebrews shows us the way. From Hebrews 11.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

If we do not have confidence, let us ask God for this gift of sureness.

By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

If we do not have understanding, let us ask God for the gift of wisdom.

hebrews_1xIt was by this faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.

If we do not have fidelity, let us ask God for the gift of certainty.

And even when Abraham reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith – for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise.

If we do not see or believe in God’s promise in our lives, let us ask God for the gift of hope.

For Abraham was looking for a city with eternal foundations, a city whose architect and builder was God.

If we do not feel or comprehend God’s power in our lives, let us ask God for the gift of fortitude. And let us pray.

Nat geo lighthouse in stormGood and loving God, your fidelity lives in us although we may not perceive it. Being your creatures we are made of love for love; yet we might not believe this. Breathe new life into those who are discouraged or unbelieving. Bring new strength to those who falter. And shower us with your hope and encouragement so that we might come to fully know, and feel and understand that your only wish for us is our restoration in and for you. We ask this in Jesus’ name, in unity with the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  

Tomorrow, laying a foundation for restoration . . . 

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2 Corinthians 13:11-13: Prayer for Openingholding-hands-peace-planet-earth-painted

Saturday, July 18, 2015

As we close our reflections on 2 Corinthians this week we determine to open ourselves to the message Paul delivers to his church in Corinth and to us wherever we find ourselves.

Finally, rejoice . . .

No matter our circumstance we can thank God for the gift of today.

Mend your ways . . .

No matter our situation we can find ways to improve.

Encourage one another . . .

No matter our state of mind we can say and do some act of kindness today.

Live in peace . . .

No matter our state of being we can forgive those who have harmed us.

Greet one another with a holy kiss . . .

No matter our condition we must find a way to meet all with the kiss of peace.

May the grace of the lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with all of you . . .

No matter what, we care called. This is our opening to a new way of life. No matter what, we must respond in peace.

Amen.

 

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