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Posts Tagged ‘God’s promises’


Joshua 23: A Final Plea

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Jericho

It is clear that Joshua understands his people when we read today’s Noontime scripture.  He has brought them from the edge of the wilderness into the fertile land that God has promised them.  He has led their troops, solved their squabbles, and he has kept them faithful to God as they live side by side with pagan peoples.  He has one final plea.

We are about to enter the season of Lent, a time for reflection and introspection. Today we have an opportunity to consider that we stand before Joshua, a man who knows our story. Let us listen well.

Strive hard to observe and carry out all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, not straying from it in any way or mingling with these nations while they survive among you.  We might recall here the parable of the weeds growing among the wheat in Matthew 13:24-30 that we considered in our Continued Progress NoontimeGod does not call us to wipe out all who oppose or stifle us; rather, God asks that we learn to grow amid those who would pull us from our steady progress toward God.  Joshua calls likewise to us today, encouraging us to follow the voice of God, to grow in wisdom.  When we allow God’s wisdom to counsel us rather than succumb to our own petty fears and whims, we will have responded to this final plea.

At your approach you have driven our large and small nations, and to this day no one has withstood you.  One of you puts to flight a thousand because it is the Lord, your God, himself who fights for you, as he promised you.  We so quickly take credit for our successes and blame God for our failures.  It seems we cannot withstand the truth of our own existence.  When we remember the so many big and little triumphs of our lives in the light of God’s goodness instead of the brightness of our own effort, all anxiety, resentment and envy melt away.  We cease to compare our circumstances to those of others; we see our lives for what they are: a continuing response to – or a willful turning away from – God’s call.  Joshua asks us today to consider the origin of our security and achievement; and he reminds us that God alone governs all.  When we admit that God’s strength and fidelity are gifts we receive without even asking, we will have demonstrated our own willingness to respond to this final plea.

If you ever abandon God and ally yourselves with the remnant of these [pagan] nations while they survive among you, by intermarrying and intermingling with them, know for certain that . . . they will be a snare and a trap for you, a scourge for your sides and thorns for your eyes.  Joshua worries, of course, that his people will disappear into the societies that surround and live side by side with them.  He knows how easily we can be convinced that daily prayer and faithful worship have little effect upon us.  He understands our weaknesses because he has managed the in-fighting and back-stabbing that happens when people come together in a common cause.  He also understands our strengths because he has led a stiff-necked and cantankerous people successfully by following God’s counsel rather than the shallow wisdom of oracles; he has deferred to God’s plans and put away his own.  Joshua recalls the covenant they have agreed upon with God and that it invokes reward or doom; he reminds his people that God always keeps his promises. When we willingly turn away from the siren call of the idols that clutter our lives, we will give witness to our own commitment to God, and we will have answered this final plea.

This chapter closes with a description of God’s Wrath and before we become frightened by these images let us remember that Christ comes to fulfill the Old Testament Covenant and to replace it with a new Law of Love.  When we remember that the God of wrath we see described here is actually the God of Love that Christ shows us . . . we will have little trouble – and much reward – when we respond to Joshua’s final plea.


Adapted from a reflection posted on December 11, 2011.

Image from: http://www.biblebios.com/joshua/joshua.htm

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Acts 13:44-52Address to the Gentiles

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Yesterday we reflected on Paul’s Summary story of God’s constancy in his love for his people.    God keeps his promises.  God has good things in mind for his creation.  God loves us more than we can imagine.

We first spent time with this portion of Acts on May 29, 2008 and we revisit that reflection today as a Favorite . . .

Because many of those Paul addressed in the synagogue refused to hear the story of Jesus, Paul took his message to the gentile nations.  Many have ears but do not hear, eyes but do not see.  I am thinking about how we humans form community . . . and how we also create obstacles to the formation of community.  We conjure up sides, form alliances, close ranks and lock steps to keep out those who do not comply.  We have the choice in this life to follow Mean Girl Queens and Playground Bullies which ultimately means that we must succumb to threats and insinuations.  We also have the option to stand on Gospel Values . . . which means that we must work to become constant disciples of Jesus.  And it also means that we must put down our old familiar weapons of separation to take up the arms of unity and peace.

The prophecy of Daniel and the story of Esther are worth remembering because they are where we learn that . . . the faithful need not fight, they only need to refuse to comply with anything which causes them to abandon their God.  This is the same message that Jesus brings to us; this is how the kingdom becomes universal.  This is how the Spirit abides and how the Gospel message spreads – through conflict resolved, through obstacles overcome, through pain endured, through reparations made and forgiveness granted.  Where do we go for solace and comfort when we must squeeze ourselves through these Narrow Gate ExperiencesHow do we mature spiritually?  How do we find and maintain the serenity we say we seek? Paul tells this in Pisidia who will hear him, and he tells us today . . .

When we suffer for Christ, we know that we have been chosen . . . we also know that we are loved.

When we live in the Spirit, we know that we live in God . . . and we also know that we live in love.

When we call on God, we know that we are heard . . . and we also know that we are rescued.

I am looking at the morning prayers and petitions from MAGNIFICAT.

The eyes of the Lord are upon those who love him; he is their mighty shield and strong support, a shelter from the heat, a shade from the noonday sun, a guard against stumbling, a help against falling.  (Sirach 34:16)

You are a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in distress; shelter from the rain, shade from the heat. (Isaiah 25:4)

With confidence in the God who hears our prayers and protects us, let us pray:  To our words give ear, O Lord.

You shield us from harm: teach us to protect goodness in ourselves and in others.  To our words give ear, O Lord.

You guard us against stumbling and help us against falling: strengthen our reliance on you in every temptation.  To our words give ear, O Lord.

You are the shelter of all those who are in need: make us a shelter to all who call upon our help. To our words give ear, O Lord.

O God of glory, you are our shelter against the burning heat of the day and the storms of life.  Help us when we stumble, catch us when we fall, and guide our steps firmly in faith toward the promise of eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


A re-post from January 8, 2012.

Images from: http://www.davincisartandcoffee.com/Metal/cross/Heart/default.asp and http://northwaystudents.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/wide-gate-vs-narrow-gate/ 

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 29.5 (2008): 392-393. Print.  

For a reflection on the Book of Daniel on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/daniel-god-calls-the-faithful-and-faithless/

For thoughts on Esther see: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/esther-from-calamity-to-rejoicing/

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John 7:37-38: Thirsting

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Today we pause in our time with Job to reflect on the Messiah’s promise that those who thirst will be sated.

Whoever is thirsty should come to me, and whoever believes in me should drink. (GNT)

We remember that Job seeks wisdom and holds on to the hope of God’s promise that the Messiah will fill those who hunger.

Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. (NRSV)

We know that God’s promise to Job is the same promise to us. Those who are burdened can rely on the Messiah, God Among Us.

If anyone is thirsty, let him keep coming to me and drinking! Whoever puts his trust in me, as the Scripture says, rivers of living water will flow from his inmost being! (CJB)

We experience the presence of the Spirit in all that surrounds us.

Jesus cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” (MSG)

We see that God’s promise of sustenance is guaranteed to those who seek. Let us rejoice in this wisdom of God.


When we compare varying translations of these verses, we have occasion to rejoice in the wisdom of God. 

Tomorrow, making our defense.

For a post on the gift of thirst, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.voiceofrevolution.com/2009/11/06/the-gift-of-thirst/ 

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Deuteronomy 4:1-8The Advantages of Fidelity

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

For what great nation is it that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  She is considered by most to be the first Apostle of Christ when she proclaimed the Magnificat which we hear in Luke 1:46-55.  With the giving of her fiat, her statement to God that his will be done in her, the completion of the world’s salvation is assured.

For what great nation is it that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?

We have been reflecting lately on our willingness to believe that God accomplishes all that God promises and we realize that sometimes we have difficulty believing that God actually walks among us.

For what great nation is it that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?

When we consider the message of this portion of Deuteronomy we also think about the enormity of all that is promised to us in the covenant, that we might be sisters and brothers in and of Christ.

For what great nation is it that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?

Fidelity is a quality found infrequently in our society in which some of us change friends and intimacy as often as we change shoes.  The fidelity we see in the young girl Mary is astounding when we consider the usual consequence of stoning to death for a girl who conceives without being married.  The fidelity we hear about in the covenant entered into by Abraham, mediated by Moses, and brought to fruition through Mary is something too great and too wonderful to be believed . . . and yet the benefits are so abundant to us that we cannot take in their enormity.

For what great nation is it that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?

Calling on God is something that some of us do too seldom.  God wants nothing more than to help, to heal, to transform . . . and to keep the promises God has made.  God accompanies us in our journey and rejoices when we ask for help, celebrates when we return home, and sings with joy when we remind others of how much we are loved by God.

For what great nation is it that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?

God’s story is almost too wonderful to tell.  It is certainly too wonderful to be believed and yet . . . we are assured daily of God’s presence.  Let us delight in the promise of great reward for fidelity.

For what great nation is it that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?

Our God is a faithful and patient, forgiving and just God.  Our God moves among us, keeping the promises he has made.  Our God awaits our call.

A Favorite from August 15, 2010. 


Image from: http://www.laywhispers.com/blog-daily-readings/february-27-2013-wednesday-2nd-week-of-lent

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Psalm 71: Prayer in Time of Old Age

An elderly King David

Saturday, August 4, 2018

We continue to reflect on our present circumstances and the feeling that our resources are low. Feeling as though we are on a journey without end, we remember this Favorite from March 28, 2008.

Who among us does not wish to be rescued from the power of the wicked or the clutches of the violent?  Who among us does not fear being cast aside, forsaken or abandoned in old age?  Who among us does not hold hope for the best outcome, even if only a little, during a prolonged period of lingering assault?  Who among us does not long for revival, regeneration, restoration, renewal, and comfort?  Who among us does not await justice and stillness after a lifetime of struggle?

No matter our age or situation, we can all find at least one verse in this beautiful prayer that gives voice to the desires of our in-most heart of hearts, to the word God speaks.  Do I hold fast to the hope that Promises will be fulfilled to me . . . for me . . . by me?

I will proclaim your goodness, yours alone.

You have taught me ever since I was young,
    and I still tell of your wonderful acts.
Now that I am old and my hair is gray,
    
do not abandon me, O God!
Be with me while I proclaim your power and might
    to all generations to come.


Image from: http://www.oneyearbibleblog.com/2006/09/september_30th_.html

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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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