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Posts Tagged ‘God’s wisdom’


Ephesians 1:11-12: Choosing

Friday, August 10, 2018

As a rising high school senior, I quizzed my teachers and parents about the concept of predestination with the typical questions.

If God has everyone’s life planned out, can we really decide anything for ourselves? If God is so good, why do bad things happen – especially to good people? If God is all-powerful, omniscient and all-knowing, how can we say that our lives are not predestined?

My parents listened to my reasoned arguments and reminded me that because God is patient, understanding, merciful and just, God gives us the opportunity to choose good. My teachers allowed me to explore existential thinking, reminding me all the while that we have the opportunity to be a part of the struggle for goodness over evil. We are offered the chance to participate in society’s positive evolution. We have received the gift of life to do with as we will.

Over time, I came to understand that each day we rise with new prospects for goodness. By noontime, we find occasions to ask forgiveness and to forgive. Each evening we find fresh doorways to old problems. As I move through life, I re-discover and re-experience both the magnitude of God’s love, and the enormity of God’s call and promise. What wondrous gift is the gift of life. What a treasure is the relationship God seeks to establish with us. What fierce abiding. What outrageous hope. What passionate love.

When I read these words to the Ephesians today, I no longer ask the questions I asked as a youngster. Rather, I wonder how God has such patience with my slowness. I marvel at how willing God is to forgive and forgive again. And I am grateful for the gift God gives me to choose goodness over harm each day I live.


When we use the scripture link and menus to explore other translations of these verses, we find the clarity and wisdom to choose well.

Image from: https://www.tammistepersonal.ee/blogi/moeldes-noortele-kuhu-edasi 

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Malachi 2:6-7: What We Teach

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The prophet Malachi is known for his exhortation to put aside “spiritual degradation, religious perversions, social injustices, and unfaithfulness to the Covenant”. (Britannica online) Malachi recalls the fidelity and courage of the early Hebrew priests and people who first entered their covenant with God.

They taught what was right, not what was wrong.

How do we spend our time and energy today? What do we teach through the living of our lives? What is the fruit of our labor? As we review the local, national, and international news, how do we commit to bringing the world together rather than tearing it apart?

They lived in harmony with the Lord; they not only did what was right themselves, but they also helped many others to stop doing evil.

How do we apply our talents and gifts today? What do we achieve through the Spirit’s gifts of creativity, mercy and justice? As we interact with family, friends, and colleagues, how do we build bridges and tear down walls?

It is the duty of priests to teach the true knowledge of God. People should go to them to learn my will, because they are the messengers of the Lord Almighty.

How do we share the hope and love God sends to us each day? What do our words and actions communicate to the world about our own ideas of inclusion rather than exclusion? What do they say about our willingness to gather in those on the margins and those left behind? As we enact the priesthood ordained by Christ, how do we reflect God’s image, and engender the healing action of the Spirit?

Each day we have openings to learn God’s wisdom from our failures and successes. The lessons God gives us are our interactions with others; they bring us opportunities to expand our knowledge, and to explore the promise of God’s hope. Each day we have new endings and new beginnings as we learn to teach with each gesture, each movement, each encounter with Christ.

What do we teach each day? We have only to look into the eyes of others to discover the answer.


For more information on prophecy, see the Britannica online article on the minor prophets at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/biblical-literature/The-first-six-minor-prophets#ref961890

When we compare other versions of these words, we find new lessons from God.

For more reflections on this prophecy, enter the word Malachi into the blog search bar and explore. 

Image from: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/teaching-more-than-meets-eye 

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1 John 4:12: God’s Enormous Love

Easter Wednesday, April 4, 2018

We continue the celebration of Easter throughout this holiest of liturgical times, focusing on one verse a day, comparing varying translations, remembering God’s immense love, anticipating the joy of God’s hope, and resting in the transformation of God’s wisdom.

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. (NRSV)

We look for physical signs of God’s presence . . . yet we see God in the acts of mercy we offer to one another.

No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in union with us, and his love is made perfect in us. (GNT)

We look for spiritual signs of God’s presence . . . yet we see God’s hope in the acts of rescue we offer to one another.

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God remains united with us, and our love for him has been brought to its goal in us. (CJB)

We look for emotional signs of God’s presence . . . yet we see God in the wisdom we offer to one another.

No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love! (MSG)

We look for God in so many ways . . . yet God is among us without our thinking, without our asking, without our believing.

How might we bring the Easter joy of God’s love to one who seeks wisdom, hope and compassion?


When we compare translations of these verses, we come to understand that the perfection of love is its steadfast power and hope in our lives.

Image from: https://williamsonsource.com/pennells-ponderings-on-god-being-in-control/ 

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Jeremiah 1:6-8: I will be with you . . .

Friday, March 16, 2018

Jesus Heals Peter’s Mother-in-Law in Matthew 8:14–15, Mark 1:29–31, and Luke 4:38–41

Several years ago, we spent time with the prophet Jeremiah to study his life, his word, and his meaning for the faithful in the twenty-first Century. Today we focus on a few verses at the opening of his prophecy when he argues with God to say that he is an inadequate vessel for God’s word.

I answered, “Sovereign Lord, I don’t know how to speak; I am too young.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say that you are too young, but go to the people I send you to, and tell them everything I command you to say. Do not be afraid of them, for I will be with you to protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (GNT)

When we are weary or feel that are out of our depth, we remember God’s deep love and irrepressible willingness to support Jeremiah. And we know that God loves us as well as God loves this able servant.

The Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” (NRSV)

When we believe that we do not have the skill or tools to do the work of kingdom-building, we remember the profound constancy and resilient wisdom God shows Jeremiah. And we know that God guides and protects us as well.

“Don’t say, ‘I’m just a child.’ “For you will go to whomever I send you, and you will speak whatever I order you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you, says Adonai, to rescue you.” (CJB)

When we see our circumstances as dire and our environment unsustainable, we remember that Jeremiah also felt bereft and useless. And we know that God consoles and heals.

The Lord said to me, “Don’t say that you are only a boy. You will go wherever I send you. You will say whatever I command you to say. Don’t be afraid of people. I am with you, and I will rescue you,” declares the Lord. (GW)

When we see our plans destroyed and our lives upended, we remember that Jeremiah also felt abandoned and misunderstood. And we know that God will always accompany us in the difficult work that lies ahead of us. God will always free us from our fears.

The Lord said to me . . . The Lords says to each if us . . . I will rescue you . . . do not be afraid . . . I will protect you . . .  do not say, “I am only a child” . . . I will be with you always . . . 

When we use multiple translations to explore these verses, we understand more fully the depth, width, and breadth of God’s wisdom, care, and love.

Image from: http://bibleblender.com/2017/bible-stories/new-testament/matthew/old-testament-prophecy-jesus-heals-multitudes-matthew-8-14-8-17

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Psalm 89: A Hymn in Time of National Struggle – Part V

Saturday, January 27, 2018

John Singleton Copley: Eli and Samuel

Finding the Servant

We have taken a quick journey through the Books of Samuel to see that life in our century has much in common with life in ancient days. Some might say that as a species, we have not made much progress. Others may disagree, pointing to improved living conditions for some, though not for all. The Old Testament perspective we see in 1 and 2 Samuel gives way to the New Testament good news that God has come to live among us as a clear sign of God’s love for us. The message that Jesus brings is clear, although not always altogether comfortable. Christ calls us today to tend to those on the margins of our societies who do not benefit from the advances some of us have made, and this clearly will cause times of national struggle.

If we look at the Books of Samuel more closely, and the vivid characters who tell their stories so well, we see clear lessons for living.

How do we handle the corruption we experience? We might take a lesson from God’s message to us when we remember that the young prophet Samuel – who leads a young nation to unity – is raised by a corrupt Temple priest. If God protects and guides a faithful servant to blossom and grow in an environment that lacks authenticity, then we must trust God to protect and guide us today. (1 Samuel 3)

What do we do with our feelings of jealousy or envy?  It is possible to hear a message when we recount the story of Saul’s greed and disappointment when the women sing, Saul has killed thousands, but David tens of thousands. If God inspires David to show courage and love to his enemies, then we must trust God to inspire us today. (1 Samuel 18-19)

Matteo Roselli: The Triumph of David

How might we step out of our comfort zone? Perhaps we learn something about the story of David showing mercy to Saul during the time when Saul persecuted David. If God provides strength and hope to a faithful servant during a time of national turmoil, then we must trust God to bring us strength and hope today. (1 Samuel 24)

How might we better understand God’s plan? We might learn a lesson when we take in the story of David among the Philistines. If we find ourselves working well with our enemies – much to our surprise – then we must trust God’s wisdom and grace more than we trust our own instincts. (1 Samuel 27)

We hear this story . . . we take it in . . . and then we reply with the psalmist and King David . . . O Lord, I will always sing of your constant love; I will proclaim your faithfulness forever.

When we compare other translations of these chapters in 1 Samuel, we open ourselves to God’s fidelity, hope, love, grace and wisdom.

We can learn more about the priest Eli who raised the prophet Samuel in the Temple when we visit: https://bible.org/seriespage/4-rise-samuel-and-fall-eli-and-sons-1-samuel-31-422

Tomorrow, more lessons from Samuel.  

 

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Exodus 14: Making Pharaoh Obstinate

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Nicolas Poussin: The Crossing of the Red Sea

Each time I revisit the Exodus story I puzzle over the fact that God makes Pharaoh obstinate. This seems, at first glance, to be such a childish way to show strength. God determines to set the stubborn Pharaoh as an opponent – which God can do because God is all-powerful. And so Pharaoh sets out with soldiers, horses and chariots

I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, so that I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.

There would be much less drama in the story of the Red Sea crossing if Pharaoh and his troops were not galloping after the lumbering tribes of Israel. The story would be much less memorable if great walls of water did not destroy the Egyptian cohort. And we would be much less tempted to apply the story to our own lives.

Scholars present various opinions on the accuracy of the Exodus story, but no matter their claims or evidence, we reflect on the accounting of a persistent nation longing to be free cast against a determined ruler who suddenly changes his mind. What does this accounting hold for us? Where do we see ourselves? And how much do we rely on the Lord when we are confronted by overwhelming obstacles?

Today we remember this ancient and familiar story as we find our own place in the tale. We are either the reckless pursuers or the holy faithful. We are either driven by obsession, or led by wisdom and hope. We are either blind followers of power, or seekers of freedom.

Does God call us to obstinacy to crash forward without thinking, or to cross the marsh while trusting in God’s wisdom? Today let us determine to set down our own story of untiring faith and profound hope.

When we use the scripture links to explore differing translations of this story, we find ourselves a

For more on the view that the Red Sea was actually the Sea of Reeds or Reed Sea, visit: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2008/08/New-Evidence-from-Egypt-on-the-Location-of-the-Exodus-Sea-Crossing-Part-I.aspx#Article

For an information and an opinion piece that Moses and the Hebrews crossed the Lake of Tanis (in the Nile delta) rather than the Red Sea, visit:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/science-red-seas-parting-180953553/  

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Daniel 2:20-23: Seek God

William Brassey Hole: Daniel Interprets the Dream of Nebuchadnezzar

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Canticle of Praise

If we want to seek God, we do well to begin with praising God. In the Northern Hemisphere as we bring in the harvests from a season of plenty, we reflect on one who praises God well.

The story of Daniel is well-known to us.  He and his comrades were taken to the Babylonian court, as were many of the talented young Jewish men, and there he interprets king Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  When he is graced with the gift of a vision from God, he reveals the mystery of the king’s dream. Daniel wisely acknowledges the source of his talent and so he properly and immediately thanks and praises his God with these beautiful verses.  They are ones that we might recite each morning and each evening at the rising and the closing of our day.

God is wise and powerful!
    Praise God forever and ever.

Daniel brings to full potential not only himself but also the Jewish nation . . . in a creative, saintly way.  He takes no care for his own circumstances – which are at the minimum unpleasant and at the worst life-threatening – because he knows that God will protect and guide him.  Daniel is only concerned about fulfilling the part of God’s plan which he has been called to enact.  He pushes himself toward the potential planted in him by God.  So do the saints.  So may we.

Let us praise God as Daniel does.

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and power are God’s.

What an awesome God we have.  Let us join him and the community of saints as we seek to know ourselves better, to share ourselves better, to heal ourselves and others better.

God reveals deep and hidden things and knows what is in the darkness, for the light dwells with God.

Let us open to the light of the revealed Christ.  Let us put that light on a lampstand for all creation to see.

To you, O God . . . I give thanks and praise, because you have given me wisdom and power.

Amen.

Adapted from a Favorite from November 1, 2007.

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Ezekiel 33:7-9: Warning to All

Sunday, September 17, 2017

We have read this message before. We have heard this call. Today we have the opportunity to respond to the warning, and to pass it along to others.

From last Sunday’s MAGNIFICAT mini-reflection in the Morning Prayer: The greatest demand love makes on us is that we help one another into the kingdom of God. Sometimes love requires us to speak a painful word of truth to awaken someone blinded by sin, recognizing that we ourselves are also sinners. Let us do for one another what we would have others do for us. (Cameron 130)

Of course, there are days when our ego wants to do precisely what we like without regard for anyone or anything. The child in us wants to have our way. There are other days when we want to take splinters our of our neighbors eyes without tending to the beams in our own. And there are days when we take credit for all that goes well while throwing blame on others for all that goes wrong. Ezekiel tells us that God warns the sentinels among us, and he tells us that we must listen for the word of warning from them and from God.

Yesterday we spent time reflecting on true wisdom – what it is and where it is found. Today we further explore that wisdom as we hear it when we listen to the sentinel warning, and when we experience it as we gather together in Jesus’ name.

Other readings from last Sunday that accompany Ezekiel’s warning bring us further wisdom when we spend time with them. Psalm 95 . . . If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts. Romans 13:8-10 . . . You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law. And in Matthew 18:15-20 Jesus gives us a tiered process to rebuke or warn another. If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you . . . If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

Giving voice to warnings, rebuking one another in love, these are hallmarks of a disciple and we need true wisdom from God in order to follow the process Jesus describes for us. And so we reflect today.

Do we listen for or listen to the warnings we hear? Do we rebuke one another with compassion? Do we listen when others rebuke us? Do we witness with kindness? Do we gossip about others because we cannot summon up the courage to go to another in mercy? How do we react to gossip spread about us? How do we rebuke gossip when we hear it? And what do we do when scandal hits our church, our group of loved ones who gather in Christ’s name?

We must heed the warnings we hear. We must interact with others with patience, care and wisdom. We must seek true sentinels rather than false prophets. And we must always be certain that our actions bear fruit that is goodness and that bring goodness out of harm.

We must take time to reflect today, for we never know at what hour God’s warnings arrive. And we must prepare ourselves, for we will need all the wisdom and love God gifts to disciples.

When we compare varying translation of these verses, we open ourselves to God’s warning, we better learn how to rebuke another, and we better learn how to receive a rebuke from another. 

For more reflections on false and true prophets, for sentinels who hear and pass along warnings, and for ways to rebuke and be rebuked, use the blog search bar and explore.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 10.9 (2017): 129-130. Print.

 

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Proverbs: Sharing God’s Wisdom, Building God’s Kingdom

Saturday, August 26, 2017

“The book of Proverbs is a collection of collections, all on the subject of wisdom. There are several major compilations in the book, including ‘the provers of Solomon son of David, king of Israel’ (Pr 1-24), “more proverbs of Solomon, copied by the men of Hezekiah king of Judah’ (chs. 25-29), ‘the sayings of Agur son of Jakah” (ch 30) and ‘the sayings of King Lemuel – an oracle his mother taught him’ (ch. 31)”. There are also a few sub-collections (chps. 22:17-24:22, 24:23-23), a prologue (1:1-7) and an epilogue (31:10-31 that were likely added later. (Zondervan 957)

These verses brought to the people of Israel – and they bring to us – a methodology for the inclusion of divine wisdom into everyday living. These words give us a window into the mind of God, a preview of Christ as the Incarnate Word, and a taste of the Spirit present in each of us.

We may scoff at the simple wisdom of Proverbs because these words describe a well-defined path of knowledge leading to an ideal world in which most are comfortable and few struggle. As we explore these verses, we allow ourselves to remain open not to any prophetic value they hold, but to the simple orderly, stable, reliable guidance they impart, and to the description of God’s kingdom we are called to build. We do well to seek Lady Wisdom among these words.

When we choose a favorite chapter to explore in depth, we have an opportunity to acquire – and to share – the tools we need as builders of the Kingdom. 

A final note on Proverbs, modern scholars believe that while there were many compilations of sayings of and for the wise in ancient times, it is unlikely that Solomon had any connection these particular sayings. Most likely composed after the Babylonian exile, the 30 sayings in chapters 22-24 are quite similar to an Egyptian collection written before Solomon’s era.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 957. Print.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. RG 263-264. Print.

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