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Posts Tagged ‘God’s wisdom’


Esther 4:12-14: God’s Yardstick – Esther

Trusting God’s Providence

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Esther

Esther

In these opening days of a new year, we look for ways to better see God’s yardstick in our lives, and for ways to leave the world’s yardstick behind.

Queen Vashti refuses to obey an order from King Ahasuerus to come into his presence. From this single decision comes the opening for Mordecai and his niece Esther to come to the king’s attention; and it also opens the door for the courtier Haman to plot the end of all Jews living in the kingdom. This may or may not be a familiar story. It may or may not ring with a story we ourselves have lived.

Standing against evil is nothing new in human history; yet when the need to renounce wickedness comes into our lives we are tempted to hide or flee. When we experience the level of malice that Haman displays, it is natural to react as Esther does, wanting to hide or protect ourselves or, at the least, hoping to look out for our own interests first before tending to others.

But Esther hears the warning: Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one Jew who will get out of this alive.

Esther takes in the wider and deeper meaning: If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out.

Esther steps away the fear that holds her: Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.

Esther steps into the challenge before her and asks for solidarity when she says to her uncle: Go and get all the Jews living in Susa together. Fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, either day or night. I and my maids will fast with you.

Esther commits to measuring her life with God’s yardstick rather than her own: If you will do this, I’ll go to the king, even though it’s forbidden. If I die, I die.

Esther allows God’s providence and wisdom to transform her fear. Esther enacts a lesson for us today.


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Queen Vashti and Esther – image by Edwin Long

For more reflections on Esther, enter her names in to the blog search bar and explore. For more versions of these verses, use this scripture link for Esther 4 to examine Esther’s yardstick. Click on the image to the left for more on International Women’s Day or visit: http://forward.com/opinion/193773/remember-vashti-and-esther-on-international-womens/

Esther image from: https://www.pinterest.com/brendalbell21/queen-vashti/

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Luke 1: God’s Yardstick – Elizabeth

In God’s Wisdom and Time

Tuesday, January 3, 2016

Jacques Blanchard: The Holy Family with Saint Elizabeth and the Infant Saint John the Baptist and the Infant Jesus

Jacques Blanchard: The Holy Family with Saint Elizabeth and the Infant Saint John the Baptist and the Infant Jesus

In these opening days of a new year, we look for ways to better see God’s yardstick in our lives, and for ways to leave the world’s yardstick behind.

All four Gospels tell us the story of John the Baptist who goes before Jesus to announce the good news of God’s coming to the faithful but it is in Luke’s telling that we hear about John’s parents, Elizabeth and Zachariah. Today we spend time reflecting on the power of God to do the impossible, the fidelity of God remaining with the faithful, and the love of God who guides, consoles, rescues and transforms.

Using the scripture link, we read different versions of this story that weaves the lives of Zachariah and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, John and Jesus into a fabric that serves as a mantle to protect us from the winds of time and place. We allow the power of these verses to bring us the wisdom of God’s time, God’s space, and God’s plan. We allow the understanding of God’s yardstick in the life of Elizabeth to bring us the quiet peace and radiant joy of the Christmas season. And we determine to bring this wisdom and peace to bear in our own lives.


To better understand the story of Elizabeth, visit: http://www.womeninthebible.net/2.4.Elizabeth.htm 

Image from: http://artgalleryenc.com/en/Encyclopedia/Author/Works/13707/Jacques-Blanchard 

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Zechariah 7Diamond Hardness

Tuesday, December 13, 202253e6d-heart_of_stone_by_thecomicfan

Scattered in a whirlwind and living in an unfamiliar, desolate land, they are not heard by the Lord of hosts when they call on his name. They refused to listen. They turned stubborn backs and stopped up their ears. They plotted evil and oppressed those who lived on the fringes and those who were unaccepted. They isolated, they divided, they did not show compassion or kindness toward each other. With all of this constant turning away, they have turned their hearts to such stoniness that they are now diamond hard. Only God can call them back. Only God can soften these people. Only God knows their true names.

Zechariah writes to those who have returned from exile and who should remember and understand how they came to be living in a hostile land. He encourages those who return to open their hearts, to soften their hearts, to give their hearts over to God.

The people who first heard this prophecy believed that they had suffered more, longer and harder than any of the other faithful before them. Zechariah offers hope to these people and to us. He encourages us to cease putting off tending to our relationship with God. He urges us to clean our temple selves, and to ready ourselves for the coming of one who will save. We do this best by forming and building community. We do this best by showing compassion and kindness to one another.

green heartWhen we are in the throes of a struggle, the one thing that will lift us, open us, soften us is our choice to place ourselves in our opponents’ shoes. In doing this, we step out of ourselves and open our cold hearts to God and to others. We risk being hurt, we risk losing our safety spot. Yet we risk the total loss of self we stay encamped in our own interior tending to ourselves as our hearts turn harder each day. Eventually we turn into the hardest of materials – the cold glitter of diamonds.

When you fasted and mourned . . . was it really for me that you fasted? 

We have a clear choice before us.  We may either turn a pleasant land into a desert, or we may open our hearts to the possibility of divinity. What do we choose today?  Diamond hardness, or the gentle, patient wisdom of God?


Images from: https://secretangelps911.wordpress.com/2015/09/24/hearts-of-stone/ and https://www.pinterest.com/dan330/hearts-in-nature/ 

A favorite from November 14, 2009.

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Isaiah 40:25-31: God’s Power

Wednesday, December 7, 2022isaiah-40-31

God does not tire and does not even pause to catch a breath, Isaiah tells us, and we are happy to hear this news.

God knows everything, inside and out, and we are grateful for God’s wisdom and presence.

God energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to those who drop out, and we celebrate God’s willingness to share energy and compassion.

Even young people tire and fall back, Isaiah continues; the young in their prime stumble and fall. And we rejoice in God’s perseverance and courage.

Those who wait upon God find fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and do not tire, they walk and do not lag behind. And so we rest in God’s strength, fidelity, hope and love. Let us offer God’s gift of life to someone today who has fallen back, faded out, turned away or collapsed.


Image from: https://karenwingate.com/renewingyourstrengthhowtorunwithoutgrowingweary/

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Luke 21:12-19: Giving Testimonytestimony

Friday, December 2, 2022

They will seize and persecute you . . .

Not one of us asks for loss of freedom.

They will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons . . .

None of us wants public scandal or shame.

They will lead you before kings and governors in my name . . .

We do not like to think that politics or social pressure might suborn our thinking.

It wtestimony1ill lead to your testimony . . .

So when we suffer in Christ’s name we must respond in fidelity.

Remember . . . you are not to prepare your defense beforehand . . .

There is no defense against the world’s corruption and power.

I myself will give you wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute . . .

There is only one true wisdom that preserves and protects.

You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends . . .

we are the testimonyThere is only one powerful truth that guides and transforms.

They will put some of you to death . . .

There is only one life that is eternal.

You will be hated because of my name . . .

There is only one Spirit that brings life and light and love that are everlasting.

But not a hair on your head will be destroyed . . .

There is only one Christ Jesus who returns from death to heal, redeem and renew.

By your perseverance you will secure your lives . . .

There is only one God who is and was and will always be. Let us give our faithful testimony today. Amen.

TESTIMONY (1)


Images from: http://www.fansshare.com/celebrities/testimony/ and https://livelyscribes14.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/the-testimony-of-jesus-the-life-of-testimony/ and https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/jesus-changed-everything-women/

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James 1:19-21: God’s Garden of Love

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends . . . 

What news does James have for us today and how do we proclaim that news to others? How do we see God’s wisdom?

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

Wisdom is found in listening more than we speak, in loving more than we despise.

God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger.

God’s wisdom is not found in antagonism.

So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage.

God’s truth cannot flow from false virtue or from thoughts that want to hide the light.

In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

God does not live in pride but in the humble belief that we are all flowers in God’s garden of love.

When we compare these verses with other scripture versions we have the opportunity to imagine what sort of flower we might be. Do we prefer shade or sun? Do we grow best in damp soil or dry?  What color bedecks our blossoms? And what good nectar do we produce for the good of the kingdom?

Tomorrow, the importance of doing the word.


Image from: https://www.thespruce.com/flower-garden-paths-4046012

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Romans 11:33-36: The Mystery of God

Guercino: padre eterno con un angioletto

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are God’s judgments and how unsearchable God’s ways!

It is impossible for humans to fully and completely know and understand God. The structures of the human brain are incapable of the capacity and agility of God’s mind; yet we are well loved and well-tended by God. And this is the mystery of God’s wisdom.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor?”

It is impossible for humans to totally and absolutely take in God’s plan. The complexities of God’s intention are intense and multilayered; yet we have a precious and integral role to play in God’s design. And this is the mystery of God’s hope.

“Or who has given God anything that he may be repaid?”

It is impossible for humans to constantly and faithfully look at the world through God’s lens. The rigor and determination that is required are more than we humans can muster or maintain; yet God never abandons us . . . although we may abandon God. And this is the mystery of God’s love.

For from God and through God and for God are all things.

cosmos-wallpapers-8God’s mystery is not meant to separate or divide, categorize but rather to call, invite and unite. God’s mystery and presence can be found in any space in the universe and at any time in creation. God’s mystery is so enormous it cannot be unraveled . . . and so intimate that it cannot be ignored.

To God be glory forever.

We need not understand God. We need not – and cannot – be equal to God. But we can enter into God’s mystery and give ourselves over to God’s love. There is nothing more we need, and there is nothing more important than learning to lean in to the Mystery of God.

Amen.

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James 3:17-18: A Holy Life
burning-bush1

Monday, May 16, 2022

“Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor”. THE MESSAGE

Jesus has told us about the nature of true discipleship. God has created us in the image of goodness and light and truth. The Spirit lives within, waking us each day to new possibilities of hope and peace and mercy. In celebration of the continuing gift of Easter life, let us spend time today in God’s intimate company, and let us thank God for the gift of a holy life by striving to live on true discipleship.

Using the scripture link above, compare other versions of these versions from James’ letter


Image from: http://providenceswfl.com/blog/brought-near-a-holy-god/

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Matthew 6:16-18: True Fasting . . . True Hopewhats-the-point-of-fasting

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The prophet Isaiah (58) describes the hope that arrives when we practice fasting as Jesus describes it.  When we fast, our physical hunger not only unites us with those who are marginalized, it will also – if we so allow – remind us of the hunger we feel as we seek God, immortality, serenity, joy and peace.  These are the gifts we are already given by God yet we so often do not see them.  We feel alone as so beautifully expressed in verse 3: Why do we fast and you do not see it?  Afflict ourselves and you take no note of it?  Why this aloneness?  Because we have forgotten to turn and return. God is present and waiting, it is we who forget to turn to God.  We have forgotten the simple law of love brought to us by the Christ.  Isaiah himself explains our estrangement in chapter 59: we have erected barriers, isolated ourselves, made little groups and cliques of exclusion. The peace we eagerly seek can be found only in unity, in remaining open rather than closed, in remaining ready for union rather than separation, in remaining ready for the broad and all-encompassing hope of Christ rather than our own small dreams.

We cannot know or understand God’s plan but we can trust God’s wisdom and love. We cannot calculate the complication of ways in which God’s plan will be fulfilled with or without our participation, but we can believe that God’s plan will arrive as best for all.  The problem with God’s apparent silence is not God.  It is ourselves. The Lord has called diverse people to himself, and in the approach we shuffle and bump against one another.  Sometimes we find ourselves walking alongside people who do not share our views or our understanding of The Word, and in our crowded lives we think we are alone. Yet, God is always abiding.  We have only to open our eyes and ears.  We have only to seek intercession for those who obstruct our way.  We have only to trust.  We have only to reflect, to meditate, to fast and to pray.  We have only to open ourselves to the newness of life, to new possibilities for more Easter miracles, to the acceptance of gifts already given.  We have only to empty self and receive this knowing, this sublime gift, this Jesus Christ. As we make our hearts ready to receive the gift of resurrection and redemption offered by Christ, let us acknowledge that in Christ, the time of fulfillment of dreams is here. The time for outrageous hope is already upon us. The time for newness is now.

Tomorrow, our treasure, our hearts, our God.


Image from: http://cureeczemaslowly.com/3-day-water-fasting-experiment-journal/

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