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Posts Tagged ‘honesty’


Wisdom 1:1-7: Seek Sincerity

Monday, November 20, 2017

We seek wisdom, justice, prudence and restoration of all that has been lost. Old Testament wisdom writers remind the rulers of this world that the solution to chaos lies in the wisdom that lasts forever. And we see wisdom more clearly when we conduct our lives with honesty.

Love justice, you rulers of the world. Set your minds sincerely on the Lord, and look for God with all honesty.

The writers further warn that it is quite easy to slip away from the way God calls us to walk.

Dishonest thoughts separate people from God, and if we are foolish enough to test God, God’s power will put us to shame.

How do we employ this ancient wisdom? What do we do today when we find ourselves engulfed in turmoil? How do we filter the false from the real?

Wisdom is a spirit that is friendly to people, but she will not forgive anyone who speaks against God, for God knows our feelings and thoughts, and hears our every word.

How much do we avoid believing that we can hide our dishonesty from our Creator? What do we do to follow the way of honesty and the wisdom God’s way?

Since the Lord’s spirit fills the entire world, and holds everything in it together, Wisdom knows every word that people say.

These ancient words repeat to us the importance of stripping all deceit from our lives, and the significance of cleaving always to God’s call for integrity and sincerity.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to compare other translations of these verses, we fog of confusion rises to reveal God’s way of integrity.

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Nehemiah 5: Self-Interest

Monday, October 16, 2017

How does Nehemiah confront oppression in the process of rebuilding Jerusalem? When we examine this chapter of his story, we find that Nehemiah operates with transparency, honesty, and generosity.

When Nehemiah receives God’s call, he answers it in a very big way; he does not do things in half measures.  We see that he regards his work in re-building as his vocation and he does not take monetary re-payment for the work of the rebuilding.  Nor does he take credit for this amazing feat.  In contrast to his predecessors, he takes no reimbursement for his work in the rebuilding Jerusalem’s city walls and Temple.  He makes both the physical and financial outlay knowing that God will sustain him.  In this way, Nehemiah shows us how to understand our true relationship with our creator.

Nehemiah is an excellent administrator who prays constantly, and who is constantly guided by God.  He is neither self-serving nor glory seeking.  He understands that God does all, and is all. He speaks with God as his good friend and says: Keep in mind, O my God, in my favor all that I did for this people. 

Together with the priest, Ezra, Nehemiah creates a physical structure that enables the faithful to return to Yahweh.  He invites the Jewish people, magistrates and peoples from all nations to his table – something unusual for an observing Jew of his era – yet he listens for God’s voice and does whatever is asked of him to realize the work laid out by his God.  He rises over a foreign king, distant and local enemies, long-entrenched customs, gossip, and even the in-fighting raging around him in order to achieve this incredible goal of taking the rubble that surrounds him in order to participate in the making of God’s kingdom for both God and God’s people.

We, today, can be new Nehemiahs.  We can create around us structures that are collegial, safe, and predictable.  We can form relationships that are open, honest, and supportive.  We can refrain from nay-saying, gossip and destructive thinking.  We can seek solutions, listen more than we talk, think of self last, and remember that God does all and is all.

Adapted from a reflection written on December 23, 2007.

Tomorrow, praying with Nehemiah.

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Proverbs 14: Lady Wisdom and Sir Fool 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Melanie Rogers: Portrait of Lady Wisdom

We have visited this chapter of Proverbs before during Lent to see if we might use these axioms to help us examine our lives. Today we reprise this thinking.

The title of this chapter in THE MESSAGE translation is, “The Road that leads to Hell,” and it begins with these verses.

Lady Wisdom builds a lovely home;
    Sir Fool comes along and tears it down brick by brick.

Just when we believe we have found sure footing, Sir Fool comes along to tempt us out of our commitment to living in Christ. The writers reference frivolous talk, derisive smiles, false witnessing, cynicism, and ridicule.

There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough;
    look again—it leads straight to hell.
Sure, those people appear to be having a good time,
    but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.

As a counterweight to destructive behavior, an opposing way of living presents itself. Positive advice open-mindedness, true witness, honesty, a strong ox for the plow, and holy living. And amid all these axioms we find this nugget.

The person who shuns the bitter moments of friends
    will be an outsider at their celebrations.

The advice to abide with those who suffer is a harbinger to the words and actions Jesus offers as he preaches and lives out the Beatitudes.

John Watson Nicol: The Court Jester

In verses 14-35, we again hear the recommendation to sift and weigh every word. We do well to remember that meanness, keeping the company of fools, putting prudence aside, making decisions with hot heads and cold hearts, ignoring the needy, subscribing to conspiracy, and exploiting the powerless are all actions that bring our own demise. And again, this negative way of living is balanced against the positive. A final reminder calls us to think about what we are doing, and to act with understanding, integrity, honesty, and holiness.

Lady Wisdom is at home in an understanding heart—
    fools never even get to say hello.

Today we have the opportunity to reflect again on what we do and why we do it. Do we wish to greet and abide with Lady Wisdom or Sir Fool?

Find the Beatitudes at Matthew 5:1-12, and enter the word into the blog search bar for reflections on this Law of Love. 

When we compare other translations of these verses, we explore the difference between Lady Wisdom and Sir Fool. To visit another Noontimes post on this chapter, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/2015/03/13/proverbs-14-axioms-for-living/

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Proverbs 1:1-7: God’s Instruction

Monday, July 17, 2017

A riddle of the wise: The path of wisdom begins with awe of the LORD. 

To instruct the young, and to encourage the wise. These are the goals of the Book of Proverbs. Over the next days, we will explore this didactic poetry whose primary our purpose is to teach wisdom. We notice specific words and phrases.

Wisdom and disciplineDo we notice that those who are wise live a disciplined life. They pray regularly and consult God before drawing conclusions or making decisions.

Words of intelligenceDo we see that those who are intelligent willingly consult God as a primary resource?

What is right, just and honest – Can we define these qualities or are we willing to allow God to unfold these talents in us?

Resourcefulness – Do we think of wisdom as a source of our own creativity?

Knowledge and discretion – How well do we handle the emotions and feelings of others? What do we do with the information that comes our way?

Sound guidanceGod gives us constant direction, even when we do not hear or see it. Are we open to the presence of the Spirit in all ways and on all days?

Proverb and parableWe open ourselves to the great wealth the proverbs bring to us; and we realize that our lives are living parables to others. Do we live each day as if we believe this?

Riddles of the wiseThe mystery of God’s wisdom rests in the words of sacred scripture and in the healing presence of Jesus among us. Are we willing to trust the riddle of wisdom that lives in our hearts?

Awe of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; wisdom and instruction fools despise . . . Are these words we can believe? Can we allow our actions each day to rise from the wisdom God has planted in us? Do we hope to be numbered among the wise, or are we content to find company with fools?

When we compare different versions of these verses, we find wisdom awaiting us with open arms. 

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2 Chronicles 34Serving the Lord

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Leonaert Bramer: The Scribe Shaphan Reading the Book of the Law to King Josiah

Leonaert Bramer: The Scribe Shaphan Reading the Book of the Law to King Josiah

A Favorite from October 10, 2009.

Several years ago we looked at a portion of this chapter in which we see the story of a leader and a people who come back to Yahweh, back to a life of honesty and integrity.  Here is the brief reflection.

2 Chronicles 34:14 to the end – This is where the young king Josiah ushers in reforms after the corruption which causes the Jewish kingdom to be invaded.  They find the book of the law left with them by Moses and this young king realizes how derelict he and his people have been.  He tries to make reparations and is rewarded with a new covenant.

We might think about how we try to balance making reparations without enabling people to continue bad behavior.  It is such a tight-wire walk.

The tight-wire is the razor’s edge we call living a life in Christ.  Nepotism, a coveting of power, and a desire to live life as we see best rather than as God sees, always leads to downfall.  Downfall often leads to exile.  Return from exile is a gift sometimes granted by God; and we ought not miss the opportunity it brings us to reform, transform and restore.

Josiah cleanses the temple.  He and the people weep as they hear the law read out which ought to govern their lives; they acknowledge that they have strayed.  They work faithfully to restore the structures of the temple that housed the God who chose to live with them.  They put aside their desire for comfort, they turn away from a life in which they idolized themselves, and they renew their covenant agreement with God.

The tight-wire walk re-commences, and a people once lost in themselves returns to serve the Lord.

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1 Maccabees 8: Peace

Monday, October 10, 2016

Gladiators in the time of Pax Romana

Gladiators in the time of Pax Romana

Adapted from a Favorite written on February 15, 2009.

Some of us are expert at allowing the charade of peace to play out for a lifetime.  We smile stiffly and turn a blind eye to a friend or family member who revels in behavior which the world sees as unhealthy.  We have become adept at turning away conveniently when someone in power acts in abusive and addictive ways.  If we did not actually see the behavior, we tell ourselves, it is not there.  We somehow delude ourselves into thinking that the power plays acted out between others will never be turned on us, and for that reason we sink to stroking the abuser rather than rebuking the act.

The symbols of Jewish worship carried off by conquerors

The instruments of Jewish worship are carried off by conquerors.

The Maccabees sought to create an atmosphere in which they might worship God freely; but they were unable to see that the power they thought might protect them would, in the end, turn in on them.  They, like so many of us, believed that a haven might be created if they might just keep peace rather than try to make peace, if they might just settle for what they could get rather than petition God for what the world deserves: justice, mercy and compassion.

peaceGod’s love is the only peace worth seeking.  It is the only peace that lasts.  It is the only peace that heals, transforms and redeems.  When we seek love, are we willing to settle for what makes us comfortable?  Or are we willing to accept nothing less than the pure truth, honesty and constancy that bring lasting serenity?  This choice is always ours to make.  To whom do we send our ambassadors?  Whose voice do we wait to hear whisper in the desperate hour of the darkest night?  Whose face do we long to see?  Whose touch do we yearn to feel?  Whose love do we await?  With whom do we sign our own Pax Romana?

For more on the Roman Peace, click on the first two images above or visit: http://www.elixirofknowledge.com/2014/03/history-mystery-pax-romana-roman-peace.html and http://academic.mu.edu/meissnerd/gladiators.html

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1 Corinthians 2:10: Scrutiny – Part II

Friday, September 9, 2016scrutiny-248x248 (1)

The Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.

When a political, social or religious structure prohibits us from asking questions we need to be wary.

When friends, relatives or colleagues tell us to keep secrets we must not go along with the group.

When we are tempted to conceal truth, to fog reality or look the other way we are obliged to seek clarity and advocate for openness.

God says: Do not be afraid to scrutinize your surroundings; honest questions bring you to the truth.  Many will attempt to keep you far from me and away from the light but I can and do permeate all space.  I am present in all times.  I penetrate closed doors and I enter hard hearts. I soften stiff necks and I convert the most twisted sinner.  So do not fear inquiry; it becomes you.  Do not be afraid to allow your doubts to generate questions that will free you from fear.  I am open to each of you.  I have told you who I am and how I am.  I know all about you for I have created you in my image.  Scrutinize everything, even me.  I long to hold you within my own heart.

For more reflections, type the word Ask God or Asking God into the blog search box to see where the Spirit leads you.

A Mini-Noontime reprise, originally posted on August 28, 2012

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John 8:21-30: Dead End

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 dead end

Then [Jesus] went over the same ground again. “I’m leaving and you are going to look for me, but you’re missing God in this and are headed for a dead end. There is no way you can come with me.”

We are accustomed to hearing Jesus invite us to follow The Way with him and so today’s words might be disappointing. Yet when we look closely, we appreciate anew Jesus’ genuine candor, his gentle honesty.

God says: I know that the idea that Jesus leaves you and the Spirit comes to dwell in you might be difficult to grasp. I understand that the cosmos is as much a mystery to you as are the details of the human body and brain. I see that you have many questions: How can God be with us and everywhere at the same time? Why and how is God able to manipulate time and space? How do distant stars and tiny flowers all sprout from the same dust? Read my son’s words to you today and decide to let them sit with you. Re-visit them before you retire this evening. Allow the balm of my love to heal you, transform you, and bring you onto the path that has no dead end.

We wonder how we can avoid the dead end Jesus predicts for us.

Jesus said, “You’re tied down to the mundane; I’m in touch with what is beyond your horizons. You live in terms of what you see and touch. I’m living on other terms. I told you that you were missing God in all this. You’re at a dead end. If you won’t believe I am who I say I am, you’re at the dead end of sins. You’re missing God in your lives.”

The last verse in today’s reading might help us to better understand how the dead end we see before us becomes a beautiful openness to the possible: When he put it in these terms, many people decided to believe.

We determine to move from the dead end of our narrowness to the open way of Jesus as we remember this week’s Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “I will set all things right in God’s kingdom,” let us think instead, “I will strive each day to follow Jesus’ example of forgiveness, mercy and love”.

Tomorrow, the truth.

 

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Acts 6 & 7: God’s Yardstick – Stephen

God’s Grace and Energy

Paolo Uccello: The Stoning of Stephen

Paolo Uccello: The Stoning of Stephen

Monday, February 1, 2016

We may or may not know the story of Stephen, the martyr stoned for acting with and speaking about the healing power of Christ. Once the full impact of this story settles on us, we might hope that the Spirit not inspire us. We might wish to shed the power of God’s wisdom rather than ask that it dwell within. It is likely that the trials are not as severe as Stephen’s; yet gossip in the home or workplace can break the spirit just as stones break bones. Severe illness, economic and natural disasters, slander, bullying and fear can bring an end to life. Stephen’s reaction to his enemies gives us a measuring stick for our own actions.

If we look only quickly at these chapters, we might at first believe that the lives of all true Christians must come to a frightening end. When we look more closely to find clues in the details, we uncover what it means to live a life brimming with God’s grace and energy. No matter our persecution, no matter the place or time of our trial, Stephen’s yardstick serves as a stark measure of God’s love in our lives.

6:7: The Word of God prospered. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased dramatically. Not least, a great many priests submitted themselves to the faith.

When we experience God’s presence, we can expect envy and anger from others. Like Stephen, we must persist in gentleness and honesty.

6:8: Stephen, brimming with God’s grace and energy, was doing wonderful things among the people, unmistakable signs that God was among them. 

When we witness God’s presence, we can expect dishonesty and deceit from others. Like Stephen, we must persist in courage and hope.

6:11: In secret [Stephen’s enemies] bribed men to lie [against him].

When we live in God’s presence, we can expect fear and anger from others. Like Stephen, we must persist in patience and love.

When we meet obstacles brought on by avarice, resentment and rage, we might consider the power we find in gentleness, honesty, patience, courage, hope and love. These traits will appear weak to the foolish, but in reality they are manifestations of God’s grace and energy, God’s enduring and healing love.

If we do not have time to spend with Chapters 6 and 7 of Acts, we might focus on Acts 6:8-10 and 7:54-59.

Tomorrow, the Gospel writers.

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