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Posts Tagged ‘God’s promises’


Psalm 132: The Dwelling Place 

Bethlehem, Israel at night

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

I’m not going home,
    and I’m not going to bed,
I’m not going to sleep,
    not even take time to rest,
Until I find a home for God,
    a house for the Strong God of Jacob.

So sings the psalmist in the opening of this prayer. Might we imagine ourselves so dedicated that we do not rest until we have prepared a dwelling place for God within?

Remember how we got the news in Ephrathah,
    learned all about it at Jaar Meadows?
We shouted, “Let’s go to the shrine dedication!
    Let’s worship at God’s own footstool!”

Ephrathah, the ancient name of Bethlehem district in which Jaar Meadows, or Ya’ar Woods, was located. The psalmist taps our joy of the past and paints an image or remembrance to stir us. Might we remember a time of joy when we were eager to give thanks for God’s presence among us?

God gave David God’s word,
    God won’t back out on this promise.

We too often set up our temples in places or people we want to control. We see happiness as an end rather than a Way. Might we picture our relationship with the Spirit as God’s temple within?

God says, “This will always be my home;
    this is what I want, and I’m here for good”.

A springtime field in Haifa, Israel

We long for eternal union with God and the peace that settles into God’s temple. Might we conceive of our lives in Christ as the temple God longs to make a home?

God says, “Oh, I’ll make the place radiant for David!
    I’ll fill it with light for my anointed!

We look for stability, predictability, and safety. We want to exert external controls on an inner peace; but today the psalmist reminds us that we find lasting peace when we give over control of our dreams to God, when we surrender our fears to the Spirit, and when we joyfully prepare a holy dwelling place in our softened hearts.

I’m not going home,
    and I’m not going to bed,
I’m not going to sleep,
    not even take time to rest,
Until I find a home for God.

Might we imagine ourselves so dedicated that we do not rest until we have readied a dwelling place for God within?

Tomorrow, at times we must flee the sanctuary . . . 


These verses are from THE MESSAGE translation. When we compare other versions, we find the peace to prepare God’s dwelling place within. We find the joy to celebrate God’s promises kept. We find the gratitude to share God’s peace with others.

Enter the word dwelling into the blog search bar to explore more reflections.

Find information Jaar Meadows at: https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Lexicon.show/ID/H3293/ya%60ar.htm and about Ephrathah at: http://bibleatlas.org/ephrathah.htm 

Images from: https://www.eggedtours.com/Bethlehem/ALL and http://meganbrand.blogspot.com/2011/04/land-flowing-with-milk-and-honey.html

To explore posts of “An American in Haifa,” click on the meadow image or visit: http://meganbrand.blogspot.com/2011/04/land-flowing-with-milk-and-honey.html

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Isaiah 26:8-12: The Duality of Justice

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Like the Old Testament psalmists, we ask God to avenge the wrongs done to us. Like the New Testament followers of Christ, we ask God to forgive our enemies who know not what they do. This dichotomy of justice reflects God’s merciful nature. It is, at the same time, a challenge we hope to meet.

On the cross that serves as the mechanism of his human death, Jesus requests that God the Creator forgive those who kill him, for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:24)

In his ghastly death by stoning, Stephen uses a last breath to intercede for his attackers saying, Lord, do not hold this sin against them. (Acts 7:60)

These are challenging actions to imitate; this state of mind asks of us an incredibly high level of persistence, patience and fidelity to God’s ways. We doubt that we can rise to this demanding witness to God’s great love, and so we ask . . . How do we bridge the gap between God’s way and our own?

Carlo Crivelli: Saint Stephen

When doubt rises within, we rely on the gift of faith planted in us at our inception. When we relax into God’s plan, this gift flourishes in such a way that we receive much more than we give.

When desperation erodes the sense of peace and good will we have nurtured, we trust the gift of hope in God’s promises to us. When we rest in the memories of God’s power to move in our lives, anxiety crumbles, worry dissolves.

When our circumstances point to all that is wrong with the world, we act in the gift of God’s love as demonstrated in the many small miracles that shower our lives like the gentle rain after a dry season. When we put aside our desire for revenge, our anger subsides. When we determine to address our enemies with mercy, our hope for destruction of those who oppose us ebbs away. When we make the decision to meet our enemies with prudent love and faith-filled awe of the Lord, we find that we are suddenly open to the possibility that the duality we see in God’s justice will bring about the transformation of the world.


To learn more about Saint Stephen, click on the image above or visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Stephen and https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-stephen/

Images from: http://ocarm.org/en/content/ocarm/mercy-without-justice-mother-dissolution-justice-without-mercy-cruelty and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Stephen

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Psalm 22: Spiritual Warfare – Proclaiming God’s Name

Easter Saturday, April 7, 2018

Yesterday we began a reflection of Psalm 22 and its opening mournful words uttered by Jesus from the cross, My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Today we arrive at the later portion of this hymn of praise.

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

Large words on the wall of the student-dining hall where I teach remind us as we enter:  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 6:8There is no mystery in this.  The completion of God’s plan is predictable; and if we wish to survive spiritual battle, the requirement is simple as Micah tells us: We train ourselves in order to invite wisdom; we exercise compassion with justice in order to invite goodness.  All the rest follows naturally.  The outcome of good over evil is predictable and sure; but the timing and details are in God’s hands.

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

In this end that Micah sees but whose time we cannot foresee, God is all there is.  The war of life is waged and won by God.  Any influence of evil disappears.  The faithful remnant is rewarded. This we are 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 of liberation happen, we must proclaim them, thanking God.  We must sing God’s praise continually for blessings great and small because in spiritual warfare the fall of darkness and deceit is brought about in an accumulation of these small songs intoned by the grand chorus of the thankful.  We also remember that the tiniest of miracles – constant signs of God’s presence in our lives – are significant for those to whom they are granted.

Mathis Gothart Grünewald: The Crucifixion (detail) 

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 are 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.

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


Wordle from: http://footprintsfromthebible.blogspot.com/2017/06/lords-prayer-hallowed-be-thy-name.html  To view Grünewald’s entire altarpiece painting, visit, http://www.christianiconography.info/iconographySupplementalImages/crucifixion/grunewald1515.html

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Psalm 116: Making a Return

Easter Thursday, April 5, 2018

In the NRSV translation, this psalm carries the title Thanksgiving for Recovery from Illnessbut what sort of illness might this be? Is our gratitude for a physical, psychological or spiritual restoration? Are we able to step forward into the healing grace of God?

I love the Lord, because he hears me;
    he listens to my prayers.
He listens to me
    every time I call to him.

Now that we have re-lived the story of Easter promise, do we continue to believe in our covenant with God when life challenges us? Are we able to remain steadfast in our beliefs when family or friends test us? How do we love our enemies when they plot and scheme against us?

And so I walk in the presence of the Lord
    in the world of the living.
I kept on believing, even when I said,
    “I am completely crushed,”
even when I was afraid and said,
    “No one can be trusted.”

As we journey through this week of EASTER celebration, are we willing to put aside our wilfulness of ego to reclaim our vow of willingness as servants of the Spirit? Do we step forward as builders of the kingdom of God? Do we shrink from the call to leave our comfort zones?

I am your servant, Lord;
    I serve you just as my mother did.
You have saved me from death.
I will give you a sacrifice of thanksgiving
    and offer my prayer to you.

Remembering the generous love of the Creator, living in the company of the risen Christ, and resting in the consoling mercy of the Spirit, we ask one another to give thanks to God.

In the assembly of all your people,
    in the sanctuary of your Temple in Jerusalem,
    I will give you what I have promised.

We ask our family, friends and foes to make a return for God’s unbounding courage, generous wisdom, and nourishing love.

Praise the Lord!


When we compare varying translations of these verses, we welcome the opportunity to make a return of God’s great love.

Images from: https://yoogozi.com/simple-secret-to-life-serving-others/ and 

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Job 40:1-5: Arguing with the Almighty – Part IV

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Laurent de La Hyre:
Job Restored to Prosperity

Looking forward to the end of Job’s story we have the choice of thinking that Job’s happy ending is the result of fantasy, or we may choose to believe that God abides and keeps promises.  This choice to believe or doubt is entirely up to us; and I choose to believe that the story is not a fairy tale.  I choose to believe that God abides.

THE MESSAGE translation of Job 40 begins with words from God, “I run the universe”. After we struggle with Job through his long story of loss and pain, we understand that although he – and we – long for specific answers to our specific questions, we must be content to rely on God’s goodness and love for us. We must be content to depend on God’s gift of hope and covenant. And we must be content to trust God’s steadfastness and mercy.

How do we do this? We have a model in Job whose fidelity through deep travail brings us a pearl of wisdom that we might employ to see our worries and anxieties through a lens of patience. Job’s persistence, as he journeys through the obstacle course of woe visited on him by Satan, gives us new eyes to refocus our own worldview.

When we spend time with Job 40, we have a fresh appreciation of his steadfastness; and we have a transformative moment to argue with the Almighty that opens us to the possibility of resurrection.

Today we use the scripture links and drop-down menus to help us argue with the Almighty. 

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Psalm 111: Hallelujah

Monday, June 5, 2017

These verses remind us that the beauty surrounding us does not occur through coincidence.

I give thanks to God with everything I’ve got – wherever good people gather, and in the congregation. God’s works are so great, worth a lifetime of study – endless enjoyment! Splendor and beauty mark God’s craft; God’s generosity never gives out. God’s miracles are God’s memorial – this God of Grace, this God of Love.

These words remind us that God’s miracles are gifts from a loving creator.

God gave food to those who love the LORD, God remembered to keep God’s ancient promise. God proved to the people that God could do what God said. God manufactures truth and justice; all God’s products are guaranteed to last – never out-of-date, never obsolete, rust-proof. All that God makes and does is honest and true.

These verses remind us that God’s authority and works are authentic and sustaining, and last forever.

God is so personal and holy, worthy of our respect.

These verses remind us that God’s love is intimate and transforming, bringing with it the healing of our woes, the blessings for a lifetime.

The good life begins in the love of God – do that and you’ll know the blessing of God. God’s Hallelujah lasts forever!

These words remind us that we might join in with God’s great Hallelujah.

The ten Hallelujah Psalms are numbers 106, 111-113, 135, and 146-150. When we spend time with these songs and compare differing translations, we find renewal in the Spirit of Pentecost.

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Sirach 44:1-15: The Upright

erik erikson

Erik Erikson

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Fr. Richard Rohr speaks of psychologist Erik Erikson’s (1902-1994) description of a generative person as “one who is eager and able to generate life from his or her own abundance and for the benefit of following generations”. (Rohr 160)

When we reflect on this topic and how it links with Old Testament thinking, we might spend time with these verses from this ancient book of wisdom. The commentary in the HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE tells us: “The ancestors are glorious because of their recognition by God, their honorable achievements, their recognition by their own generations, their godliness, their legacy to their children, and their lasting name and memory”.   (Meeks, 1601)

We consider what it means to be upright in God and we look at Acts 2:36-41: For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call.  

All generations – from our distant ancestors to our childrens’ childrens’ children are known to God.

All generations – from the beginning of time to its ending – are well loved by God.

All generations have the opportunity to be upright in and with God.

Rohr continues: “The God [of generative people] is no longer small, punitive, or tribal. They once worshipped their raft; now they love the shore where it has taken them. They once defended signposts; now they have arrived where the signs pointed. They now enjoy the moon itself instead of fighting over whose finger points to it most accurately, quickly, or definitively”. (Rohr 160)

And so we ask ourselves . . . What raft do we steer, and on what shore have we landed? What signposts do we hold up, and which do we follow? On what moon do we set our gaze, and what do we do with the gift of God’s promises?

Tomorrow, whose gaze do we follow?

Adapted from a reflection written on April 26, 2017. 

For more about Erik Erikson, click on the image above.

Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. Print. 

 

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Exodus 2:6: Behold the Child

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Edwin Longsden Long: The Finding of Moses

Edwin Longsden Long: The Finding of Moses

In this final week of Advent, let us decide to make our hopes tangible, our dreams a prayer for our reality, our faith unwavering and our love secure. Let us cleave to the Creator, follow the Redeemer and rest in the Spirit. This week let us give one another the gift of preparing for the very real promise of eternity.

The Old Testament prepares us for a child born in dangerous circumstances who will later save a nation.

When the daughter of Pharaoh opened the basket, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” (NRSV)

The story of the Hebrew captivity in Egypt prepares us to be a people in exile.

The princess opened the basket and saw a baby boy. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said. (GNT)

The story of the Hebrew Exodus to a place of promise prepares us to be a pilgrim church.

She opened the basket and looked inside, and there in front of her was a crying baby boy! Moved with pity, she said, “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children.” (CJB)

The story of the foreign princess nurturing a child who will rescue a nation prepares us for God’s promises.

Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the Nile to bathe; her maidens strolled on the bank. She saw the basket-boat floating in the reeds and sent her maid to get it. She opened it and saw the child—a baby crying! Her heart went out to him. She said, “This must be one of the Hebrew babies.” (MSG)

Behold, God uses the marginalized to reveal the false security of the center.

When we reflect on other translations of the Moses story, we understand that God speaks to always with stories of inversion. And we realize that our own story must stand on its head if it is to align with the story of Christ.

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Romans 15:7-9: Reaching Out

Monday, May 9, 2016GodsPromises

It is too easy to exclude those with whom we do not get along. It is too simple to reject enemies and assume negative thinking. It is too simple to form ourselves with dualistic thinking, creating tribes of those for and those against our way of thinking. Paul tells us that there is another way to behave when faced with the real meaning of the Gospel.

So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!

It is so difficult to put down our fears to extend a hand to those who announced our destruction as their intent. It is so disruptive to invite discordant voices into the symphony. It is so chaotic to have to explain ourselves yet again to those who will not listen.

Jesus, staying true to God’s purposes, reached out in a special way to the Jewish insiders so that the old ancestral promises would come true for them.

It is so simple when we place out trust in God. It is so authentic when we live as Jesus does. It is so refreshing to witness truth to lies by responding with patience rather than anger

As a result, the non-Jewish outsiders have been able to experience mercy and to show appreciation to God.

It is so surprising when we discover what God has in mind for us. It is so uplifting when we allow God’s will to transform us. It is so salvific when we do as Jesus asks and as the Spirit directs.

Just think of all the Scriptures that will come true in what we do! 

god-hands-610x233It is so promising when we allow ourselves to reach out to others, even our enemies . . . especially our enemies. It is so rewarding when we stay true to the Gospel Jesus lives for us. It is so comforting when we rest in God’s enormous, wise and immutable hands . . . that reach out to bring us into the fold.

Click on the image of the flower above for a series of reflections that remind us of the many promises God makes and keeps, or visit: http://www.fwnl.org/tag/gods-promises/ 

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