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Posts Tagged ‘gift’


Friday, May 15, 2020

SF_LOGO1[1]Sirach 21

A Prayer for Steadfastness

In our Easter journey we have been exploring the idea that discipleship brings hidden gifts along with its difficulties and suffering.  We have been examining figures in the Old and New Testaments to see what we can learn from well know stories.  And we have been praying together to discern how we might better see the cross of discipleship as gift rather than burden.  Today we pray for steadfastness.

When we ask for God’s wisdom in understanding how we have found ourselves in discomfort . . . we ask for steadfastness.

When we open ourselves to hear what we may learn from our uneasiness . . . we ask for steadfastness.

When we are humble enough to learn something about God and ourselves through our suffering . . . we ask for steadfastness.

When we step forward to volunteer our lives in service of Christ in his kingdom-building . . . we ask for steadfastness.

When we resolve to learn from the anxiety and pain we have experienced . . . we ask for steadfastness.

Jesus ben Sirach tells us that when we allow this steadfastness to permeate our lives, we will find ourselves among wise women and men rather than a troop of fools; and these wise ones will bolster us when we falter.  When we allow steadfastness to govern our lives, we will experience the joy of knowing that we are one with Christ.  This is the joy and gift of walking with Christ.  It is the gift of better knowing ourselves.  It is the gift of looking in a mirror openly and honestly without having to deceive ourselves about what we actually see.   It is the gift of our divinity in and through Christ.  And so for this gift of steadfastness we pray . . .

Dear Lord, you have planted in each of us our own gifts to share.  Help us to ready the soil of our lives, make us open to the life-giving rain of your wisdom.  Help us to be builders of your kingdom rather than hearers only of your Word.  Help us to listen, reflect and pray for your presence. Bring us the steadfastness and humility that we will need to nurture the growth of your Word in us so that we may offer these gifts back to you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

Tomorrow, as we move toward Pentecost . . . Celebration in Assembly . . .


Image from: http://www.bgumc.net/?page_id=147

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James 1-5: God’s Yardstick – James

The Measure of God’s Lovecrayon heart

Sunday, January 31, 2016

We continue to look for God’s yardstick in the New Testament.

We are never in doubt about James’ dedication to Christ and in a way his letter is a Gospel to Christ’s followers for it outlines a clear roadmap for The Way Christ asks us to walk.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides . . .

Do we see our hardships as sheer gift?

Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.

Do we talk more than we do? Do we lead with our anger?

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

Do we hide from ourselves or do we know who we are?

Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? 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. And here you are abusing these same citizens! 

Do we live on the margins or in the comfortable center?

Be patient like that. Stay steady and strong. The Master could arrive at any time.

Are we impatient and petulant or enduring and resilient?

Friends, don’t complain about each other. A far greater complaint could be lodged against you, you know.

Do we appreciate more than we disparage?

Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.

Are we willing to stay the course or do we look for quick fixes?

Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. 

How often and much do we pray? Are we willing to sing?

My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them.

Do we share the Good News or do we hold it to ourselves?

Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.

Are we willing to share Christ’s story? Do we take risks in Christ’s name to include more that we divide and love more than we fear? If so . . . we are following the measure of God’s love that James describes for us.

When we use the scripture link to compare THE MESSAGE version of these verses with translations that may be more familiar to us, we have the opportunity to explore the great measure of God’s love we are given to share.

Tomorrow, Stephen.

 

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part VIfoundation-277x156

Sunday, September 20, 2015

How do we begin to build a strong foundation that will withstand the storms of life and be our constant restoration? Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth show us the way.

Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:10-11)

What do we do once the foundation is laid? Can we expect the difficult part of our work to be complete? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us.

1 cor 3-1As long as you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important, are you really much different than a babe at the breast, content only when everything’s going your way? (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)

How do we make certain we are doing the correct work? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that we must look to God for our assignments.

We each carried out our servant assignment. I [Paul] planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working. (1 Corinthians 3:5-9)

What is the great reward we expect to have? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that we are each living stones in God’s living temple.

1cor3-16-17-temple-of-god-holy-building-1024x575You are God’s house. Using the gift God gave me as a good architect, I designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls. Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. (1 Corinthians 3:9-15)

Can we expect to find peace if we hide from the potential God has placed in us? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that the reward may seem like a punishment, but then God’s world is always about inversions.

 Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. (1 Corinthians 3:18-20)

lord is spiritWhat will our reward look like after our travail? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that our reward will be greater than any other we will know. Our reward is our life in Christ.

I don’t want to hear any of you bragging about yourself or anyone else. Everything is already yours as a gift—Paul, Apollos, Peter, the world, life, death, the present, the future—all of it is yours, and you are privileged to be in union with Christ, who is in union with God. (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)

Spend time with these verses today and compare varying versions. When we spend time with God in this way, God’s wisdom seeps into our bones. Christ’s peace settles into our hearts. And the Spirit binds us to God forever, bringing us restoration.

Tomorrow, words from the master builder, Jesus.

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Robin Anderson: Mary Holding Baby Jesus Looking Up Towards the Light

Robin Anderson: Mary Holding Baby Jesus Looking Up Towards the Light

A Prayer to Fulfill God’s Promise in Us

It is truly a paradox that God creates humans to fulfill the great promise of love. Let us consider our response to this call to promise.

It is a sign of God’s love that God chooses to come among us as a child.  Let us consider how we make room for others in our lives.

It is a further gift and promise from God that we are granted the free and open will to choose how we will respond to this loving call. Let us carefully consider our reply.

It is an honor to put aside our own ego in response to God’s open invitation to love.  Let us prayerfully consider how we become selfless in service to others.

It is our return promise to God that we offer our thoughts, words, and deeds in the service of God’s good.  Let us honestly consider how we best make this return promise of love.

Good and holy God, you are paradox, sign, gift, honor and promise.  May we joyfully live in you.  May we authentically live through you.  And may we lovingly live with you . . . in thought, word and deed.  Amen.

For more on the paradox, sign, gift, honor and promise of God’s love, explore the first five stanzas of Psalm 119 in last week’s Noontimes.

For more information on the painting above, click on the image or go to: http://robinandersonfineart.blogspot.com/2011/02/mary-holding-baby-jesus-looking-up.html 

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