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Posts Tagged ‘God’s wisdom’


Romans 12:2-16: Into the World

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind.

Today Paul gives us specific guidelines for how to live the Beatitudes, what we are to do with our concerns, how we are to handle our negative emotions, and where we might take our worries and fears. Our God-given identity calls us to reflect Christ in the world; but how are we to do this? Paul reminds us of God’s gracious gift of faith . . . and how we might carry it into a world that will likely be surprised by this message.

And because of God’s gracious gift to me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you should. Instead, be modest in your thinking, and judge yourself according to the amount of faith that God has given you. 

Paul reminds us that humility and love serve us much more than revenge.

Love must be completely sincere. Hold on to what is good.

God turns all harm to goodness. We have proof of this and we can rely on this.

Love one another warmly, and be eager to show respect for one another.

Paul addresses Christians, but we might extend this openness and respect to all.

Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion.

Fidelity and responsibility. Prudence and authenticity. These are our hallmarks of behavior.

Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.

Hope and patience. Prayer and petition. These are foundations on which we stand.

Share your belongings with your needy fellows, and open your homes to strangers.

Community versus individuality. The common good versus the singular gain. These are values we must weigh.

Ask God to bless those who persecute you—yes, ask him to bless, not to curse.

This is perhaps the most difficult of all Jesus’ messages. Loving those who harm us is a challenge we want to ignore; but with Christ as our guide and refuge, we cannot lose.

Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep.

Our brother Jesus celebrates and mourns. We are invited to do the same.

Have the same concern for everyone. Do not be proud, but accept humble duties. Do not think of yourselves as wise.

We are reminded that human wisdom cannot reach the heights of God’s wisdom. We remember that God does not abandon or betray us. We have before us a clear guideline for living as Jesus does, for living as we all might, for living as a builder in God’s kingdom. Today we have a striking description of our own God-given identity. Let us go into the world as if we believe.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to compare varying versions of these words, we discover the blessings and gifts of God.

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Isaiah 28:16: Cornerstone – Part I

Wednesday, March 1, 2017cornerstones-21

When we have no place to put our feet, we stand on the Word of God as a strong cornerstone that withstands all onslaught.

This, now, is what the Sovereign Lord says: “I am placing in Zion a foundation that is firm and strong. In it I am putting a solid cornerstone on which are written the words, ‘Faith that is firm is also patient.’” (GNT)

When the winds of change pull us into a crushing vortex, we rely on the wisdom of God as a bulwark against the storm.

Therefore thus says the Lord God,
See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone,
    a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation:
    “One who trusts will not panic.” (NSRV)

When we cling to the precipice and look for a foothold, we trust the promise of God and remain firm in the Lord.

Therefore here is what Adonai Elohim says:

“Look, I am laying in Tziyon
a tested stone, a costly cornerstone,
a firm foundation-stone;
he who trusts will not rush here and there. (CJB)

God says: Despite the fear the takes away your breath, you can rely on me to sustain you. Against all odds I will keep my promise of life to you. Regardless of the danger of the world, you must know that I will never abandon you. In the face of evil and darkness, I will always bring you life and light. Remain in me and rely on my promise that the cornerstone of life will always support you.

But the Master, God, has something to say to this:

“Watch closely. I’m laying a foundation in Zion,
    a solid granite foundation, squared and true.
And this is the meaning of the stone:
    a trusting life won’t topple.
I’ll make justice the measuring stick
    and righteousness the plumb line for the building.
A hailstorm will knock down the shantytown of lies,
    and a flash flood will wash out the rubble. (MSG)

When the world batters us and leaves us vanquished, we rely on God’s cornerstone of wisdom to serve as our bulwark against all storms.

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1 Corinthians 2:6-10: The Freedom of Wisdom

Thursday, February 23, 2017tree-of-knowledge

We scour bookshelves. We search the Internet. We gather with friends. We quiz colleagues. We share our deepest worries with loved ones. Our pursuit of wisdom is a universal human quest and our search consumes much of our time; yet the knowledge we so avidly seek is a knowledge we already hold, the eternal mindfulness that springs from God’s wisdom. We only need open our hearts to God’s Word.

St. Paul tells us: We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground . . . but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so.

God says: You need not succumb to your fears and anxieties. Bring them to me and my Spirit will quiet them. When you put your faith in the world and the skills you have honed to get the best of that world, you rely on fleeting talents. When you stand on your trust in me, you stand on firm ground. This is the wisdom you seek.

St. Paul continues: God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of God’s purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out God’s best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is.

God says: You need not give in to your anger and resentment. Bring these passions to me and my Spirit will transform them. I live in you for an eternity and my plan is to bring you home to me. When you place your hope in the promises of the world, you rely on potentials that can never develop. When you hope in me, you hope in God’s own purpose. This is the wisdom that redeems.

We are offered the gift of a quiet, internal wisdom that brings calm in the chaos. We are given the promise of eternal deliverance from all that we fear. We are blessed with the freedom to choose God’s endless and redemptive wisdom. To this gift and promise we open our hearts. For this gift and promise let us give thanks.

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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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Jeremiah 23:5-6: Behold!

Le Nain Brothers: The Nativity with the Torch

Le Nain Brothers: The Nativity with the Torch

The Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 18, 2016

In this final week of Advent, let us decide to make our hopes tangible, our dreams a prayer for a new 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.

Is it possible for an all-powerful God to come into the world as a helpless child?

Behold the days come, saith the Lord, and I will raise up to David a just branch: and a king shall reign, and shall be wise, and shall execute judgement and justice in the earth. (DRA)

Might we believe that we are sisters and brothers of the one who wants to save us?

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. (NRSV)

Does it make sense that we are included in God’s mighty plan?

The Lord says, “The time is coming when I will choose as king a righteous descendant of David. That king will rule wisely and do what is right and just throughout the land. (GNT)

Can we imagine that the Spirit dwells in each of us?

“The days are coming,” says Adonai
when I will raise a righteous Branch for David.
He will reign as king and succeed,
he will do what is just and right in the land. (CJB)

Is it likely that we might learn to love those we hate and those who hate us?

“Time’s coming” – God’s Decree –
    “when I’ll establish a truly righteous David-Branch,
A ruler who knows how to rule justly.
    He’ll make sure of justice and keep people united.
In his time Judah will be secure again
    and Israel will live in safety. (MSG)

Behold, Emmanuel is among us. Behold, God’s promise is upon us. Behold, the Spirit calls us to unity.

This is the name they’ll give him:
    God-Who-Puts-Everything-Right.’ (MSG)

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we behold the wonder, the wisdom and the splendor of the promise God gives us.

For more on the three Le Nain brothers, visit: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Le-Nain-brothers

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John 15:18-27: Healing Hatred

Friday, December 16, 2016jesus

John the Baptist was imprisoned and when he got wind of what Jesus was doing, he sent his own disciples to ask, “Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?” (MSG) This week we are given an opportunity to give our own testimony.

Jesus knows that once we decide to follow him, we will encounter hatred; and he also knows that we may be tempted to hate in return. So Jesus said, “If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you”. (MSG)

Jesus knows that we will need strategies to construct a life that reflects his teachings; and he also knows that we will struggle to follow in his Way.

“When that happens, remember this: Servants don’t get better treatment than their masters. If they beat on me, they will certainly beat on you. If they did what I told them, they will do what you tell them. (MSG)

Jesus knows that the logic of the world will challenge the wisdom of the world; and he also knows that we will need the wisdom that only God can provide.

Hate me, hate my Father—it’s all the same. If I hadn’t done what I have done among them, works no one has ever done, they wouldn’t be to blame. But they saw the God-signs and hated anyway, both me and my Father. Interesting—they have verified the truth of their own Scriptures where it is written, ‘They hated me for no good reason.’” (MSG)

Jesus knows that we will need a companion to console and guide us; and he also knows that this companion must bring us healing, truth and light.

“When the Friend I plan to send you from the Father comes – the Spirit of Truth issuing from the Father – he will confirm everything about me. You, too, from your side must give your confirming evidence, since you are in this with me from the start.” (MSG)

Jesus knows that love will transform the world; and he also knows that each of us has the capacity to heal the hatred we find in ourselves and in those around us. Let us consider how we might best join him in his work.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to read other translations of these verses, we discover how much God wants to heal the world’s hatred.

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1 Corinthians 1:18-27: God’s Foolish Message

Tuesday, May 3, 2016bible-verses-about-weakness

Today’s reading is designed to astonish us. Paul writes: God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to shame the strong. Reading other versions might give us further insight to the inversion God uses in relating with creation.

God says: When you look for things in your life to be sensible and logical you may miss their reason for existing. Indeed, you may miss their very essence. When observing the world, consider whose value complex you use as a measuring stick. Is it yours? Or is it mine? You see where Jesus spent his time, do you not? When he saw that the scribes and Pharisees were not open to his truth, he instructed them and then moved on, shaking their dust from his sandals.

Yardstick-500x375Then he returned to the lost sheep who need his healing and guidance. Jesus lives with the shunned, the lonely, the rejected and abandoned. Can you see why my servant Paul describes my kingdom as inverted? All that is powerful in the world is nothing to me. Rather, I prefer to abide with those who live in pain. My mercy is great enough, long-lasting enough and deep enough to heal all the injustices of the multiverse. And despite this enormity, I see you as precious and as worthy of my love. Remember this today when you are the last. Remember this today when you are the lowest. Remember this today when you are weak and sad. Remember this today and always. My love for you is never-ending and mighty. This is my foolish message that I send to you today.

Use the blog search bar to explore the God’s Yardstick posts. Use the scripture link to compare other versions of these verses.

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

Trusting God’s Providence

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

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.

wqueenvashti-0303414jpg-1423640271

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/

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Luke 1: God’s Yardstick – Elizabeth

In God’s Wisdom and Time

Tuesday, January 5, 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 

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