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Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’


Baruch 2: The Road to Destruction or Redemption – Part I

Wednesday, November 23, 2022road to destruction

The apocryphal book of Baruch tells us how to live in exile; and in particular Chapter 2 gives us an important, two-fold message. It reminds us that God always fulfills promises, and it also gives us an outline of how we might make our way back to the covenant we have chosen to abandon.

In Chapters 16 to 18 of Revelation we come upon something that reminds us of the infinite forgiveness and mercy of God. We see once again that in God all things are possible. We have understood the importance of being faithful in small ways to God.  We have understood that closed, exclusive groups which stultify possibility and potential, darkness which hides and subsumes potential, and silence which conceals and enables deceit . . . will never conquer openness which spawns universal communion, light which calls forth authentic life lead in integrity, and praise of God which magnifies truth and joy.

Light_at_the_End_of_the_RoadIn the end, God’s will of universal openness and light leads to jubilation.  The dark world which opposes this truth germinates in envy and ends in destruction.  And those who work so hard at building up a closed empire of self rather than an open kingdom of all, bring about their own  destruction at their own hands. We see this countless times. What is the allure of the darkness and deceit that is so tempting? It is the same siren call of Satan to Adam and Eve in Eden, You will be like gods . . .

There is something about the road to perdition that answers our human need to control.  There is something about this broad highway leading to the wide gate that brings comfort to those who travel it in their closed special groups. The aching longing to be the bride who is rescued and loved by the steadfast, powerful groom is universal. Yet we insist on filling this yearning with superficial, finite relationships which ironically do not satisfy, and which ultimately destroy. We must respond to the summons of the road and choose redemption rather than perdition.

Tomorrow, Part II.


Adapted from a favorite from November 8, 2008.

Images from: https://www.redbull.com/int-en/mysterious-places-part-5 and https://fineartamerica.com/featured/country-road-sunlight-streaming-through-trees-elaine-plesser.html

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James 5:13-15: Union in Prayer

Sunday, October 30, 2022Pray-Together

When we suffer, James tells us that we must pray.

When we celebrate, let us sing praise.

When we are ill, let us ask for anointing.

When we are discordant, we must come together.

When we worry, there is nothing but to turn to God.

When we hope for the forgiveness of sins, we must also ask for redemption.

Suffering is our road to Christ. Let us not avoid it.

red heart bibleJoy accompanies us along the way, but we may not at first feel it.

Paul reminds the Philippians and he reminds us: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

So let us put aside our divisions and celebrate even as we suffer. Let us lay down our enmities and pardon even as we are pardoned. Let us dialog with our enemies and turn all anxiety over to Christ; and let us celebrate our union in the Spirit. Let us celebrate our union in prayer.

Use the scripture link to compare varying versions of these verses and let us find union in prayer and praise.


Images from: https://mariehumphrey.com/2016/06/20/what-praying-together-does-for-you/ and https://medium.com/arc-digital/love-is-dead-557d90d4b881

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James 4:7-10: A Solution for Turmoil

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

James continues to be clear with us. There is a method to putting an end to wars and struggles and the list is brief.

  1. Submit ourselves to God.
  2. Resist temptations to act independently of God.
  3. Continue to draw near to God.
  4. Cleanse our hands and purify our hearts.
  5. Ask forgiveness for our willfulness.
  6. Be humble.

The benefits of these simple acts are enormous and impossible to measure. A certain serenity settles over our lives. A new passion colors our relationship with God and with those around us as a result of newly-found peace. We connect ever more intensely with the divinity that lives within. It is no coincidence that these instructions from James closely mirror the 12 steps to recovery outlined by Alcoholics Anonymous in 1939. We might spend time with these verses today and make a few simple decisions . . .

Give ourselves over to God . . . So let God work his will in you.

Resist temptation . . . Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper.

Draw ever closer to God . . . Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time.

Make an intentional effort to renew our lives in Christ . . . Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field.

Ask forgiveness . . . Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over.

Be humble . . . Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

All else will follow in its natural course.

forgiveWhen we use the scripture link to compare versions of these verses, we allow James’ wisdom to settle into our days and into our lives.

To learn more about the Alcoholics Anonymous organization, visit: http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/what-is-aa 

Tomorrow, a prayer for resolving turmoil . . . 


Images from: http://christiancarguy.com/forgiveness-by-bill-mixon/ and https://gentlechristianparenting.com/humility/

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James 2:1-14: Balancing Difficulty and Joy

Saturday, October 8, 2022balance

We have spent a number of days with James and although we hear his message that when we live by the rule of love above all else we begin to see life through a different lens. We may have difficulty taking in the full impact of this message.

In order to maintain a balanced view, we must first value the obstacles we meet; and as we struggle with difficulties we must avoid solutions that lead to segregation and partiality. In order to experience life and even more life, we must insist on living in God’s garden of love and on resting in the great river of life that flows from Christ. In this way we begin to more fully understand God’s mercy and compassion for each of us.

As we rest in the Spirit, let us delight in and affirm God’s love that we find in ourselves and others, let us pray.

Dear Lord, it is so difficult to trust in you alone. The world can be such a frightening place that we too often forget that you constantly watch over and protect us. In our human survival reaction to all our fears we forget to rely on you alone. Guide us to see as you see. Move us with your deep compassion. Grace us with the gift of your love. Help us to free ourselves by freeing others. May we react to both the terrors and joys of life in humility, mercy and forgiveness. We ask this in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Tomorrow, faith and wisdom intertwined.


Image from: https://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/rock-stacked-as-arch.html

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John 6:52-71: Some Left Over – Part Xbread-and-wine

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

In so many ways, and on most of our days, we ask God as Jesus’ disciples do in today’s Noontime: This [bread of life discussion] is hard; who can accept it?

Jesus says to his disciples as he says to us: Does this shock you? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

And we may question as Jesus’ followers always do: Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

Jesus knows that we do not understand the full impact of his words and he also knows that he will be betrayed by us in some way great or small. And so Jesus says: Did I not choose you? Yet is not one of you a devil?

Jesus refers here to Judas and he might also be referring to one of us; yet so great is Christ’s heart, so magnanimous is the Creator and so transforming is the Spirit that God’s unbounded love can heal each of us when we return to Christ with our foibles and faults fully visible in our hands as offering to our loving God.

God says: No matter how egregious or small the error, no matter how heinous or petty the action, no matter how deceitful or damaging the word, my love is great enough to redeem you. My heart is full enough to heal you. My wish to have you with me in all space for all time is greater than any wrong you may have done. Turn to me, for in my eternal living there is always enough love left over.

Compare these verses in various versions of the Bible using the scripture, and listen for God’s words of eternal promise and everlasting life.


Image from: https://creativemarket.com/camaralenta/1227831-Grapes-wheat-bread-and-wine-featuring-wine-bread-and-communion

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

Sunday, July 17, 2022

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.


Image from: http://www.thethoughtvox.com/?p=9446

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Matthew 7:1-5: The Splinter and the Beam

Pompeo Batoni: Matthew the Evangelist

Pompeo Batoni: Matthew the Evangelist

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?

This is perhaps one of the most often quoted verses in scripture . . . and the most ignored.

What is it we must do to remove our blinders, to open our ears, to unclutter our hearts?

God says: I know that you cannot help but see the shortcomings of those around you. I also know that you have great difficulty observing your own need to change; but you need not worry. Rather than punish yourself, imagine that you are the very people you accuse. Rather than punish others, treat them with kindness and acceptance. When you have been wronged, protect yourself as best you can and then rely on me. Allow me to judge. Allow me to operate. Allow me to abide. The injustices of the world are well within my view . . . and well within my capacity to manage. When you believe that I have abandoned you, it is you have abandoned me. So when splinters and beams clutter your lives, manage what you can and rely on me. Abide in me as I abide in you. Live in kindness and mercy rather that anger and vengeance. Live in hope and fidelity rather than worry and anxiety. Live in me rather than in the woes of the world.

pointing-fingersEnter the word judging into the blog search bar and explore the possibilities of trust in God, forgiveness of our enemies, and mercy toward all. Click on the image of Matthew above to access a series of reflections on Matthew’s Gospel.


Enter the words Stop Judging in the blog search bar and explore. 

Images from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pompeo_Batoni_(1708-1787)_-_Saint_Matthew_-_266907_-_National_Trust.jpg and http://www.patentpracticeliability.com/2012/03/26/the-perils-of-patent-prosecution-delegation-a-cautionary-tale/

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Sunday, February 6, 2022heart

Jeremiah 3:12-16

Prayer for Return

Return, rebel, and I will not remain angry with you . . .

Thus says the Lord, and so might we also say to our enemies.

For I am merciful, I will not continue my wrath forever . . .

So says the Lord, and so might we also say to those who bring us anger.

Only know your guilt; how you rebelled against the Lord, your God . . .

Thus acts the Lord, and so might we also act with ourselves and others.

How you ran hither and yon to strangers and would not listen to my voice . . .

Just so does the Lord call us to forgive and listen.

Return . . . I will take you, one from the city, two from a clan . . .

Just so does the Lord gather us up, as we might gather up those who are scattered.

I will appoint over you shepherds after my own heart who will shepherd you wisely and prudently . . .

The Lord our God has made plans to guide and protect us, plans that bring us into God’s heart.

When you multiply and become fruitful . . .

The Lord our God has made plans for all that will bring us joy.


Kailash Satyarthi: One of two Nobel Peace Prize 2014 Winners

Kailash Satyarthi: One of two Nobel Peace Prize 2014 Winners

Explore the Nobel site at: http://www.nobelprize.org/

Read about last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners and consider how they have brought Jeremiah’s prayer to life. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/

Explore Kailash Satyarthi’s profile on the BBC News at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-29568634  

For a reflection on Jeremiah 3, insert the words Sincere and Insincere Conversion in the blog search bar and explore.

 

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ancient_prison_by_p_h_o_t_o_n1Monday, October 4, 2021

Jeremiah 52:31-34

The End – Part III: Hope

In the last verses of this prophecy we read an addendum that at first glance we might toss away as another confusing story from scripture. We see before us the tale of the last two kings of Judah: Jehoiachin who surrendered himself and his family to Nebuchadnezzar to live in exile, and Zedekiah, who plotted against Nebuchadnezzar with the Egyptians, later fled during the Babylonian siege, was captured, blinded and was also sent to Babylon. Years later Evil-merodach brings Jehoiachin from his prison cell to give him a life-time stipend and a place of relative honor in the foreign court; Zedekiah does not appear again in this saga of violence and turmoil.  What is their end? We have few details. How could they have avoided capture and destruction? We have few answers. What might we learn from this dire account? That is our reflection for today.

Jeremiah’s prophecy is well spoken but ignored. Are we the prophet who speaks against the wind? Are we those who might be saved by the prophet’s warning? In either case, the fear of capture and destruction has already overwhelmed us. We have no other place to rest but in God’s hope and compassion.

Jeremiah’s life is a foreshadowing of the suffering and death of Jesus the Nazorean. Are we the people of Judah who hear his words and are transformed? Are we those who scoff and persecute him? In either scenario, the tumult of life has already entangled us. We have no other place to turn but to God’s strength and mercy.

Jeremiah’s words resonate in our world today. Are we those who hide from the reality of famine, civil strife, epidemics and enormous natural disaster because they do not touch us personally? Are we those who work against catastrophe and injustice wherever and however we can? In either event, we are already involved and connected. We may not recognize that a calamity’s one last flickering ember of hope lies in us. We have no other place to rest but in God’s presence and love.

Cataclysm is part of the human experience as is God’s hope. Catastrophe haunts our daily living while God’s providence serves as guide. Disaster can never be avoided, nor can God’s call to love.

Pergamom Museum, Berlin: Jehoiachin Ration Tablet

Pergamom Museum, Berlin: Jehoiachin Ration Tablet

Jehoiachin and Zedekiah share a place in the Babylonian court although from different vantage points. At any time in their life journey God grants them the opportunity to live in hope, in a manner worthy of God’s call. From the darkness of his blinded vision, Zedekiah has only to seek and accept God’s forgiveness. Perhaps he does. We shall never know. From the shame of surrender and captivity, Jehoiachin has only to ask for God’s hope and receive it. Perhaps he does. We shall never know. From the place where we stand in our life’s journey we have only to look for God’s presence and accept it. Perhaps we do. If so, then we will always know that God is with us from the beginning to the end. God abides through capture and dwells within during destruction. Whether our fate is in the hands of our own Nebuchadnezzar or his son Evil-merodach, there is never an end without hope, for there is never an end without God.

Tomorrow, Part IV . . . In a Manner Worthy


To read about the excavation of Jehoiachin’s ration tablets in Irag, click on images above or visit: http://forourlearning.wordpress.com/  OR http://www.livius.org/ne-nn/nebuchadnezzar/anet308.html 

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