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Posts Tagged ‘Ephesians 6’


Psalm 28:8-9: The Lord is My Shield

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Psalm 28:8-9The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I have been helped; therefore my heart dances for joy; and in my song will I praise him.

When we are in the midst of harrowing circumstances and our thoughts fly about so quickly they barely register, we must step behind the only shield that both protects and nourishes.  As St. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6, we always have the opportunity to put on Christ.  He is the only armor we need.

God says:  When you feel that you must go into battle, let me be your armor.  There is really no combat for you to plan.  You do not need to plot or scheme.  I have already rescued you.  You are already ransomed from the mob and even protected.  I will not let you cease to exist.  Be glad in this, and even though you may not yet feel like dancing, begin to form a song in your heart that will later rise to your lips.  I love you, and I will not let you down.  You are, in fact, already saved.

For more on how to wear the armor of Christ see the Ephesians – Christ page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/ephesians-christ/


A re-post from June 19, 2012.

Image from: http://sharon-justsaying.blogspot.com/2010/08/hope-help-shield.html

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Psalm 22: Spiritual Warfare – Abandoned by God 

Francisco de Zurbarán: Agnus Dei

Easter Friday, April 6, 2018

Adapted from a reflection, entitled Spiritual Warfare, written on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2008.

On Veteran’s Day in the U.S., we celebrate the end of war. Today we reflect on Jesus’ death last Friday, and the silence that reigned in the Christian world last Saturday as Jesus transitioned from healing prophet to the Messiah Christ. If we are able to take the time to pause, we think a bit about the spiritual warfare in which we are all daily engaged. We consider the constant question of whether or not God has deserted a planet created for and in love. We reflect on the many times the world asks Christians . . . where is your God? And so we pray.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

While still on the cross, Christ appealed to the father with this prayer that generations of his people have used while addressing God in times of stress.  In the NABRE the psalm bears the title Prayer of an Innocent Person.  Jesus, the unblemished lamb, dies in innocence, in the act of bringing healing to peoples crying for relief.  But Christ knew, as Paul tells us in Ephesians, Our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.  Paul describes the armor of God we must wear as we enter into the warfare each day: the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Our feet must be shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.  (Ephesians 6)

Many bulls surround me; fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me.

Bashan – a land east of the Jordan noted for the size of its animals – provides fierce opposition to the life of a Christian.  Again, Paul reminds us in his letter to Titus how to be consistent with sound doctrine, namely, that . . . [we] be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, love and endurance, reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to drink, teaching what is good, so that they may train [others].  (Titus 2Paul also calls women to a role subordinate to men which was appropriate for the day – and which we now recognize as outmoded in its effect.  The point here is that combat as we witness need not be fierce.  It need only be faithful, prayer-filled, and consistent with the Gospel.

If we might find the minutes to pray this psalm today, we find not only the dark fear of abandonment, but also the burning hope of resurrection.

Tomorrow, proclaiming God’s name.


For more on the meaning of Bashan, visit: https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/bashan/http://biblehub.com/topical/b/bashan.htm , http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsMiddEast/SyriaBashan.htm, and https://www.britannica.com/place/Bashan 

Image from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/francisco-de-zurbaran/agnus-dei-1640 

For more on Zurbarán’s work Agnus Dei, visit The Prado site at: https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/agnus-dei/795b841a-ec81-4d10-bd8b-0c7a870e327b 

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Isaiah 11: The Rule

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Favorite from February 28, 2010.

We often consider what passion we might need to live as disciples of Christ.  Today we look at the rules by which we must learn to live.

Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. 

If we wish to be part of kingdom building, we must learn to look past appearances; we must not make decisions based on hearsay.

Justice shall be the band about his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

If we wish to part of kingdom building, we must learn – as Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 – that the only armor we need is Christ.

He shall raise a signal to the nations and gather the outcasts of Israel; the dispersed of Judah he shall assemble from the four corners of the earth.

If we wish to be a part of kingdom building, we must wait for the signal, and we must be able to recognize the Shepherd as John tells us in Chapter 10 of his Gospel.

The envy of Ephraim shall pass away and the rivalry of Judah shall be removed; Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not be hostile to Ephraim.

If we wish to be part of kingdom building, we must learn to put aside envy; we must learn that God calls for unity and not rivalry.

The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord. 

If we wish to be part of kingdom building, we must learn to delight in wisdom, to listen for God’s counsel, to draw from God’s strength, and to love the Lord our God more than life itself.  This fear, this awe, this love will be all we need to carry us through any adversity we face.

If we wish to be part of kingdom building, we must take all of this in . . . and we must make the Rule part of our fiber and tissue, our heart and soul.

For more reflections on how God’s love manifests itself in our lives, enter  the words The Law into the blog search bar and explore. 

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Psalm 22: Spiritual Warfare – Part I

Tuesday, October 25, 2016spiritual-warfare_edited-1

This Favorite was written on November 11, 2008.

Today, the day on which we celebrate the end of war in many parts of the world, we pause to think about the spiritual warfare in which we are all daily engaged.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

While still on the cross, Christ appealed to the father with this prayer that generations of his people have used while addressing God in times of stress.  In the NAB the psalm bears the title Prayer of an Innocent Person.  Jesus, the unblemished lamb, dies in innocence, in the act of bringing healing to peoples crying for relief.  But Christ knew, as Paul tells us in Ephesians: Our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.  Paul describes the armor of God we must wear as we enter into the warfare each day: the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of GodOur feet must be shod in readiness for the Gospel of peace.  (Ephesians 6)

Many bulls surround me; fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me.

Bashan – a land east of the Jordan noted for the size of its animals – provides fierce opposition to the life of a Christian.  Again, Paul reminds us in his letter to Titus how to be consistent with sound doctrine, namely, that . . . [we] be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, love and endurance, reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to drink, teaching what is good, so that they may train [others].  (Titus 2) Paul also calls women to a role subordinate to men which was appropriate for the day – and which we now recognize as outmoded in its effect.  The point here is that combat as we witness need not be fierce.  It need only be faithful, prayer-filled, and consistent with the Gospel.

Then I will proclaim your name to the assembly; in the community I will praise you.

Tomorrow, when we are lost we are found.

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Psalm 22: Spiritual Warfare – Part II

Tuesday, September 6, 2016ephesians 6

Yesterday’s and today’s Noontimes are adapted from a reflection written on Armistice Day, November 11, 2008.

All the ends of the earth will worship the Lord; all the families of nations will bow down to you.

In this end which we see but whose time we cannot predict, God is all there is.  The war of life will have been waged and won by God.  Any influence of evil will disappear.  This we have been promised.

I will live for the Lord; my descendants will serve you.  The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you brought.

When miracles happen, we must proclaim them, thanking God.  We must sing God’s praise continually for our blessings great and small because in spiritual warfare the fall of darkness and deceit is brought about in an accumulation of these small songs intone grand chorus.  We also remember that the tiniest of miracles is significant for those to whom they have been granted . . . and that these miracles are a sign of God’s continual presence in our lives.

In spiritual warfare we need not connive, we need not plot.  We need only do what we know is right, understanding that we are graced by God.  We need to avoid thinking that we are in control, knowing that God’s plan is always better than our own.  We need to give over everything to God, believing that God turns all harm to good, even – and especially – the ultimate resolution of all conflict.

We are foot soldiers in spiritual warfare, and we know our orders.  We must be patient in our perseverance as we grow to become God’s harvest in God’s time.  We must speak, pray, study, witness, watch and wait.  We must be ready.  This is all that is required of us.  We do not know the hour or time of this warfare’s end; but we know the outcome.  This we have been promised.   This we have been told.  Let us pass the word along . . . that in the hour when we feel most abandoned, we are most accompanied.  That in the hour when we believe all is lost . . . all is truly found.

Tomorrow, a prayer for spiritual warfare.

For a Bible Study on Ephesians 6, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/spiritual-warfare-lesson-1-understanding-the-battle-11554631.html 

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Psalm 22: Spiritual Warfare – Part I

Monday, September 5, 2016bulls of bashan

Today’s and tomorrow’s Noontimes are adapted from a reflection written on Armistice Day, November 11, 2008.

On the day we celebrate the end of war, we might pause to think a bit about the spiritual warfare in which we are all daily engaged.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

While still on the cross, Christ appealed to the father with this prayer that generations of his people have used while addressing God in times of stress.  In the NAB the psalm bears the title Prayer of an Innocent Person.  Jesus, the unblemished lamb, dies in innocence, in the act of bringing healing to peoples crying for relief.  But Christ knew, as Paul tells us in Ephesians, Our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.  Paul describes the armor of God we must wear as we enter into the warfare each day: the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Our feet must be shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.  (Ephesians 6)

Many bulls surround me; fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me.

Bashan – a land east of the Jordan noted for the size of its animals – provides fierce opposition to the life of a Christian.  Again, Paul reminds us in his letter to Titus how to be consistent with sound doctrine, namely, that . . . [we] be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, love and endurance, reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to drink, teaching what is good, so that they may train [others].  (Titus 2Paul also calls women to a role subordinate to men which was appropriate for the day – and which we now recognize as outmoded in its effect.  The point here is that combat as we witness need not be fierce.  It need only be faithful, prayer-filled, and consistent with the Gospel.

Then I will proclaim your name to the assembly; in the community I will praise you.

As the words on the prophet Micah remind us:  You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.  (Micah 6:8) There is no mystery in this.  The requirement is simple.  Spiritual warfare is this: Train self in order to invite wisdom; exercise compassion with justice in order to invite goodness.  All the rest follows naturally.  The outcome of good over evil is predictable . . . even if the time of final resolution is not.

Tomorrow, war and miracles.

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Mark 13:32-37: The Need for Watchfulnesslittle boy praying

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Today in our journey through the Gospel of Mark, we reflect on what it means to wait for the Lord. 

Christians are recognized, collectively and individually, for their willingness to Witness, Watch and Wait.  Will the master recognize us when he comes?

Our waiting is to be an active time of Witness, not a time for passive sitting and listening.  It is a time for speaking when we are called to speak, being patient when we are called to patience, rebuking when we are called to rebuke, making amends when we see we have transgressed our covenant, pardoning and being pardoned, loving and being loved.  It is a time of putting on the armor of God so that we might be able to stand firm, as St Paul tells us in Ephesians 6.  It is a time for standing fast with loins girded for battle, clothed with righteousness and our feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.  We must hold faith as a shield, wear the helmet of salvation, and take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. 

How are we clothed?  What protection do we step behind or put on?  What do we see as important for ourselves?  How do we communicate this to the others?  Will Jesus recognize us when he comes?

Watchfulness, for one who follows Christ is not optional, it is not quiet, it is not an inert state in which we sit idly waiting for Jesus.  Indeed, as Jesus himself tells us, you do not know when the master of the house is coming. 

Will he recognize us when he arrives?

Adapted from a reflection written on August 6, 2008.

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rainbow and castleTuesday, June 10, 2014

1 Chronicles 28:20

Hope and Steadfastness

When we consider the factors that move us to hope in some one or some thing, we may have difficulty mustering the steadfastness we will need to rest in God’s hope. Yet for millennia God has assured us that trust in God’s presence and encouragement in God are hallmarks of the faithful. Over the last few weeks we have contemplated John’s first letter to Jesus’ disciples. This week we continue to look for the many times we have been supported and guided as God’s precious children.

Be firm and steadfast; go to work without fear or discouragement, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. God will not fail you or abandon you before you have completed all the work for the service of the house of the Lord. (Verse 28:20)

The prophet Haggai records God’s words: Take courage, declares the Lord, and work; for I am with you. (Haggai 2:4)

As the people consider the immense work of rebuilding the Temple, the prophet Zechariah tells us: Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Let your hands be strong, you who are listening in these days to these words from the mouth of the prophets, those who spoke in the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, to the end that the temple might be built”. (Zechariah 8:9)

Isaiah encourages us in times of difficulty: Be strong, do not fear, your God will come . . . God will come to save you (Isaiah 35:4)

Daniel hears God’s words: Be strong, now, be strong! (Daniel 10:19)

Finally, St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians: Be strong in the Lord and in God’s mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6)

And so we pray: Wherever we are, whatever we experience, no matter what day or time, God is with us to animate and reassure us. God is unwavering. God is forgiving. God is hope and light and truth. And these hopes, this light, these truths will not be extinguished by any power in any time. In this then, let us take refuge. In this then, let us in turn give encouragement to others. In this then, let us abide with those in need as God abides with us. In this then, let us teach our children and even our children’s children. Amen.

Click on the scripture links above and read other versions of these verses; and let us consider how God speaks to us of hope and steadfastness. OR, enter the words hope and steadfastness into the blog search bar and reflect on how often, when and where and why God encourages us as we set to work building the kingdom.

Tomorrow, David’s words to his son Solomon. A guide to address our own children.

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In this week when we give thanks for all that sustains us, let us reflect on the hope Christ brings to us.

Thistledown

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 – Wisdom 4:20 & 5 – Hope

These verses – actually beginning with the last verse of Chapter 4 – give us reflections of the wicked concerning the fate of the faithful.  Here is an answer to all of the times the psalmist laments: Why do we suffer and the wicked get away with murder?  Today we have the answer to so much questioning.  The faithful will rest in peace after struggling so long in the temporal world.  This chapter is a balancing counterpoint to chapters three and four: The Hidden Counsels of God. 

So much about God is mystery.  Perhaps this is why we like this time of year with lights twinkling in the darkness, carols piercing cold air, our breath forming vapor as we step into the early morning crispness.

Over the week end my grandchildren and I watched one of their favorite movies, Babe, about a pig that becomes a sheepdog.  The story takes place in New Zealand and so Christmas is celebrated in the dead of summer; yet the farmer places a Christmas tree atop his house and the family gathers in the warm weather to exchange presents.  The grandchildren and I had a lively conversation about what we would and would not like about having Christmas in July.  At first it was winter that seemed more appropriate because it is the time when we are hunkered in and hunkered down, waiting for life to begin.  On the other hand, the coming of Light and Truth into the world coincides with the full and open days of summer, jammed with activities that distract us.  When do we need Christ more?  The answer is likely: all of the time.

We also spent time – as we always do when we watch this film – reflecting on the faith and doubt of the farmer and his wife about the pig and themselves.  We spoke again about the relationships between generations.  And, of course, we spoke about the incredible idea that a pig might win a sheep herding tourney.  We have sat in the bleachers at the Harford County Farm Fair and watched these dogs work a flock of sheep.  We have also watched pig races, horse sled pulls and other animal trials.  The children – and I – are impressed by the competency of this Hollywood pig.  And we are all rewarded by the cheers of the crowd when Babe brings the final sheep configuration home.  These were the same people who had jeered moments before.  Yes, the hope of the wicked is like thistledown borne on the wind . . .

When we are confronted with sneering laughter we need only focus on the potential within and wear the Lord as our armor (verses 16-19).  For when we put on Christ as recommended by Paul in Ephesians 6, we have no need of any other thing for the just live forever, and in the Lord is their recompense. 

This is one of the times in the liturgical year when we hear the theme of the rejected cornerstone.  It gives us the opportunity to think about surprises . . . and about unusual possibilities like Christmas in July . . . pigs that can herd sheep . . . cornerstones that no one recognizes.  It is the time of year to think about arming ourselves with Light and Joy . . . Peace and Hope . . . about wearing the Lord as we set forth each day . . . about being Christ in a turbulent world. 

Written on December 1, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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