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Posts Tagged ‘God’s love’


1 Timothy 1:8-10: Hardship for the Gospelmainslide-come-and-see

Second Sunday of Lent, March 12, 2017

There are many days in our lives when we are too exhausted to hear that discipleship is difficult. We want to hear that someone sees our plight, that we are standing on firm ground, and that help is at hand. This is what Timothy tells us today. There is a source of renewal and strength, and this source is God.

Beloved: bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.

There is one who knows the mountains and valleys of our lives, and this one is the Creator. There is one who walks through pain and joy with us, and this one is Christ Jesus. There is one who lives in despair and hope with us, and this one is the Spirit.

God saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to God’s own design and the grace bestowed on us in Chris Jesus before time began, but now made manifest through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

God says: I see that you are frightened and cannot see how you can possibly survive your present circumstances; but I assure you that the difficulties you encounter are opportunities for you to work with me. The anxiety and fear you experience are windows of grace for you. And the fear and despair you feel are part of the holy design in which you are taking part. Always remember that you are special to me. You are the apple of my eye, the center of my essence. I will go to the furthest length and the deepest depth to redeem and save you. The hardship you suffer now reflects the grace and joy I find in your persistence in following me. I will never forget you. I will love you always.

As part of our Lenten commitment to follow Christ’s lead, we spend time with this Scripture today and we discover that much greater than our works is the grace of God. Much greater than the hardship we suffer, are the loving heart and hands of God.

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Sirach 15:15-20: Your Own Choice

Wednesday, February 22, 2017free-will-problem

We have reflected on Jesus’s admonition that we leave vengeance and judgment in God’s hands; and we have spent time exploring Jesus’ call that we love our enemies. Today we ponder words from Sirach. Words that remind us of the gift of free will we each hold in our hands, and hearts and minds.

If you choose, you can keep the commandments, and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.

We may want to make someone else responsible for our decisions; but when we are honest, we know that we are free to reject or to choose God.

God has placed before you fire and water; stretch out your hand for whichever you choose.

We may believe that we live in isolation, living invisibly, doing as we please and avoiding consequences; but when we are truthful we know that we are free to be open or closed to Christ.

Before each person are life and death, and whichever one chooses will be given.

We may believe that we are the source of our own intelligence and good fortune, reaping the rewards of a life well lived; but when we are candid we know that we are free to accept or refuse the healing of the Spirit.

For great is the wisdom of the Lord; God is mighty in power and sees everything; God’s eyes are on those who love the LORD, and God knows every human action.

There is no greater source of understanding than God. There is no greater heart of love than Jesus.

God has not commanded anyone to be wicked, and God has not given anyone permission to sin.

There is no greater power to heal than the Spirit. Let us rejoice that we live in the gift of God’s mercy, and that we have been given the freedom to make a choice of our own.

When we compare these verses with THE GOOD NEWS translation, we gain clarity and focus, discernment and wisdom. We find that we really do possess the gift of making our own choices.

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1 John 5:14-21: Beloved

Tuesday, January 31, 2017beloved

When we worry that God does not hear us, we must remember John’s words.

We have courage in God’s presence, because we are sure that God hears us if we ask for anything that is according to God’s will. (GNT)

When we become anxious that our world makes less sense and feels more dangerous, we must return to John’s words.

And this is the boldness we have in God, that if we ask anything according to God’s will, God hears us. (NRSV)

When we are confronted with injustice in our homes and in our world, we must recall John’s words.

This is the confidence we have in God’s presence: if we ask anything that accords with God’s will, God hears us. (CJB)

When we believe that our world is moving away from God’s plan, we must rely on John’s words.

My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in God’s presence, freely asking according to God’s will, sure that God is listening.  (MSG)

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we have less fear and we become less anxious. We also find the strength to remain in God’s presence rather than be drawn into the darkness of the world. And we will know quite well that are God’s beloved.

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Mark 3:22-30: Sawing Off Branches

Monday, January 30, 2017

From the Maestà of Duccio in Siena, Italy

From the Maestà of Duccio in Siena, Italy and private collections

Jesus is very clear: A constantly squabbling family disintegrates.

We might use these words in our individual and collective lives.

Jesus tells us: Listen to this carefully. I’m warning you. 

We might take this warning to heart.

Jesus reminds us: There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven. But if you persist in your slanders against God’s Holy Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives, sawing off the branch on which you’re sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives.”

God says: I love you so intensely that I will do all that I must in order to have you near me; but if you persist in turning away my Spirit, you are creating a separation that you will not be able to bridge. I am always waiting for you, guiding you, protecting and advising you. Remain in me so that I might remain in you. Allow my Spirit to rest in you and to create a home in your heart. In this way, we will never be so far apart that you lose sight of me. Listen to my son, remain in my Spirit, and have hope always in me.

When we explore other translations of these verses, we open our understanding of God’s generosity, persistence and love.

For more on the Maestà of Duccio, click on the image above for two Khan Academy video lessons.

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Romans 5:8: Put Love on the Line 

Second Sunday of Advent, December 4, 2016lovegod_loveothers

We have spent time in the first week of Advent determining how we might best love one another, and we have listened to God’s call to look around, watch out, remember, throw open the doors, develop patience, and get set for eternity.

Now it is time to put our firmly guarded, closely held, carefully protected, love on the line.

But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. (MSG)

When we put aside our fear of opening ourselves to the vulnerability of love, we prepare ourselves for the Wedding Feast.

But God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! (GNT)

When we put our lives in the hands of the God who creates us, we step into God’s wonderful plan.

the_habits_of_loveBut God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. (NRSV)

When we follow our brother Jesus, we declare our willingness to be one in the mystical Christ.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in that the Messiah died on our behalf while we were still sinners. (CJB)

When we speak the words the Spirit gives us, pray for our enemies as the Spirit asks of us, and live in The Way the Spirit shows us, we return God’s enormous gift. We agree to put our love on the line.

When we compare varying translations of this verse, we prepare ourselves for the Advent journey and the joy of the gift of Christmas. We prepare to put ourselves fully and steadfastly on the line.

 

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1 Thessalonians 3:9-13: An Adequate Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 6, 2016givethanks-desktop

We enter the month in the U.S. when we traditionally offer thanks for full harvests and healthy lives. This is a time when we ask what our gratitude means, how we best express it, and how we might best offer our thanks to God.

What would be an adequate thanksgiving to offer God for all the joy we experience?

We too often rely on ourselves alone when we tackle obstacles and solve problems. We must remember to include God in all our equations.

We do what we can, praying away, night and day, asking for the bonus of seeing your faces again and doing what we can to help when your faith falters.

Like the Thessalonians, we find that God is our best bulwark against the storm, the most reliable defender and protector.

May God our Father himself and our Master Jesus clear the road to you!

Like the Thessalonians, we find that God’s love can heal all injury and convert all harm.

And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you.

thanksLike the Thessalonians, we discover that the love we experience multiples as we share it.

May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all his followers.

Like the Thessalonians, let us give more than adequate thanks for the presence of God in our days and nights, for the work of Christ during our highs and lows, for the love of the Spirit in good times and bad.

For more reflections on Thanksgiving, search The Noontimes blog using the category cloud in the right-hand sidebar. 

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Luke 11:47-54: A Prayer for This Generation

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Jacob Jordeans: Jesus Driving the Merchants from the Temple

Jacob Jordeans: Jesus Driving the Merchants from the Temple

How terrible for you! You make fine tombs for the prophets—the very prophets your ancestors murdered.

Knowing that all generations falter in their hope to follow Christ, we pray for ourselves and for all who are willing to ask for hope in hopeless situations.

You yourselves admit, then, that you approve of what your ancestors did; they murdered the prophets, and you build their tombs.

Knowing that all generation murder prophets and bury them in white-washed tombs, we pray for ourselves and for all who honor life that comes from God.

How terrible for you teachers of the Law! You have kept the key that opens the door to the house of knowledge; you yourselves will not go in, and you stop those who are trying to go in!

Knowing that all generations hold the key of knowledge and use it for good and for ill, we pray for ourselves and all who continue to prophesize in the face of corruption.

So the people of this time will be punished for the murder of all the prophets killed since the creation of the world.

Knowing that all generations both bless and condemn the Spirit, we pray for ourselves and all who are willing to unravel plots and reveal those who freely deceive others.

When Jesus left that place, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began trying to lay traps for him and catch him saying something wrong.

El Greco: The Purification of the Temple

El Greco: The Purification of the Temple

Knowing that all generations lay plots and lie in waiting to put an end to goodness, we pray for ourselves and all who dare to bring light to the world.

When Jesus left that place, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to criticize him bitterly and ask him questions about many things.

Knowing that God’s enormous love is capable of healing all wounds, bridging all abysses, and restoring all peace, we pray for ourselves and for all who persist in carrying God’s love into the world.

Amen.

For more images of Jesus driving the money-lenders from the Temple, click on the image above or visit: http://www.artble.com/artists/el_greco/paintings/the_purification_of_the_temple

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Luke 11:47-54: This Generation – Part III

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Expulsion of the Money-Changers from the Temple

We have heard Jesus’ call to our best selves. We have heard the voice describing the hope placed in humankind. We have felt the presence of the Spirit that longs to live in love in every heart.

How do the wise of Jesus’ day react to this startling good news?

As soon as Jesus left the table, the religion scholars and Pharisees went into a rage. They went over and over everything he said, plotting how they could trap him in something from his own mouth. (THE MESSAGE)

How do those Jesus challenges react?

Lying in wait for him, and seeking to catch something from his mouth, that they might accuse him. (DOUAY-RHEIMS AMERICAN)

How does our own generation respond to Jesus’ call?

When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross-examine him about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say. (NRSV)

How do we today return the enormous love that are given?

When Jesus left that place, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to criticize him bitterly and ask him questions about many things, trying to lay traps for him and catch him saying something wrong. (GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION)

How do we open our ears and eyes, minds and hearts to God’s loving Word?

When we compare varying translations of these verses using the scripture link and drop-down menus, we find The Word speaks to our own generation just as he spoke to his own.

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1 Maccabees 8: Peace

Monday, October 10, 2016

Gladiators in the time of Pax Romana

Gladiators in the time of Pax Romana

Adapted from a Favorite written on February 15, 2009.

Some of us are expert at allowing the charade of peace to play out for a lifetime.  We smile stiffly and turn a blind eye to a friend or family member who revels in behavior which the world sees as unhealthy.  We have become adept at turning away conveniently when someone in power acts in abusive and addictive ways.  If we did not actually see the behavior, we tell ourselves, it is not there.  We somehow delude ourselves into thinking that the power plays acted out between others will never be turned on us, and for that reason we sink to stroking the abuser rather than rebuking the act.

The symbols of Jewish worship carried off by conquerors

The instruments of Jewish worship are carried off by conquerors.

The Maccabees sought to create an atmosphere in which they might worship God freely; but they were unable to see that the power they thought might protect them would, in the end, turn in on them.  They, like so many of us, believed that a haven might be created if they might just keep peace rather than try to make peace, if they might just settle for what they could get rather than petition God for what the world deserves: justice, mercy and compassion.

peaceGod’s love is the only peace worth seeking.  It is the only peace that lasts.  It is the only peace that heals, transforms and redeems.  When we seek love, are we willing to settle for what makes us comfortable?  Or are we willing to accept nothing less than the pure truth, honesty and constancy that bring lasting serenity?  This choice is always ours to make.  To whom do we send our ambassadors?  Whose voice do we wait to hear whisper in the desperate hour of the darkest night?  Whose face do we long to see?  Whose touch do we yearn to feel?  Whose love do we await?  With whom do we sign our own Pax Romana?

For more on the Roman Peace, click on the first two images above or visit: http://www.elixirofknowledge.com/2014/03/history-mystery-pax-romana-roman-peace.html and http://academic.mu.edu/meissnerd/gladiators.html

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