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Posts Tagged ‘honesty’


Acts 6 & 7: God’s Yardstick – Stephen

God’s Grace and Energy

Paolo Uccello: Stoning of St Stephen

Monday, January 30, 2023

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.


Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Paolo_Uccello_-_Stoning_of_St_Stephen_-_WGA23196.jpg

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Philippians 4:4-14: God’s Yardstick – Paul

Whatever is Truetruth

Saturday, January 28, 2023

We continue to look for God’s yardstick in the New Testament.

Paul writes his story of the good news in his letters to Christian communities he establishes, and in the acts of love recorded in Acts of the Apostles. What does he tell us about the measure with which God measures?

Paul urges the followers of Christ to celebrate always . . .

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 

Paul asks that we share Christ’s goodness with all we meet and in all we do and say . . .

Let your gentle spirit be known to all.

Paul urges the followers of Christ to rely on prayer . . .

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer.

Paul reminds us to put our petitions in the creator’s hands . . .

Let your requests be made known to God.

Paul advises us to focus only on Christ . . .

Guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Paul gives a yardstick that is strong, concise, simple and elegant . . .

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

When we explore Paul’s letters we find a consistent, clear message. This is a yardstick we will want to use. It is a yardstick we will want to share with others.

Tomorrow, James.


Image from: http://www.viralnovelty.net/wake-know-truth/

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1 Kings 15: Delight – Part IIIsolarsystem

A Prayer in Response to God’s Gift of Delight

Thursday, December 29, 2022

We near the end of a cycle of days and weeks and months that we designate as a year. Soon we will celebrate the past twelve months in which we have known great sorrow and great joy. As we consider all that we have seen and heard, felt and believed, let us give thanks for the gift of delight itself, the gentle pleasure that rises from honest relationships and open minds. Just as God delights in us, let us delight in God.

For the gift of winter cold that draws us together as we look for shelter and welcome friends and strangers from the wind. Let us treasure each winter hardship just as God treasures each of us. The infinite iterations of flakes on frosted windows can remind us that just as God creates each of these beautiful designs, so does God create each of us with our own unique features, joys and anxieties.

snowflake2For the gift of drawing in, we give thanks for God’s delight in us.

For the gift of spring that reminds us that new life always rises from the old. In springtime exuberance we open our hearts to the possibilities of our own resurrection. We remember that God always brings goodness out of harm, love out of hatred, generosity out of what is meant to be cruel, and love out of gestures of hatred and shame. The tiniest of plants and creatures burst forth in a rush to celebrate God’s goodness. Giant stars and the multiverse expand to open great hearts for God’s enormous love.

wisdom-at-creationFor the gift of burgeoning hope, we give thanks for God’s delight in us.

For the gift of summer that brings us into the energy of God’s passion and mercy. In the fullness of summer heat, we remember that with God all things are possible. With God all miracles bring new life and new meaning. With God resurrection is more than an idea or hope. Burgeoning crops, teeming waters, rain and sun drench us with God’s abundance and generosity. God calls us to match this zeal with the stores of understanding and courage we lay aside for the difficult times ahead.

KY-Breaks-Interstate-Park-river-sceneFor the gifts of kindness and goodness, we give thanks for God’s delight in us.

For the gift of autumn when we harvest the fortitude, perseverance, fidelity and truth that God has shared with us. We remember that nothing of this world is meant to take the place of God. We recall the great delight God has expressed in our willingness to be open to others just as Jesus is open with us. We respond with compassion and an ardent desire to heal broken relationships and people. We return this gift with our own desire to heal and advocate.

fall-leafFor the gifts of forgiveness and restoration, we give thanks for God’s delight in us.

In all seasons of this year to come, we unite in a new thankfulness for God’s love, a new willingness to live as Jesus does, and a new urgency to heal and console just like the Holy Spirit. May we find the energy and determination to live in such a way that all those who encounter us will know that we delight in God’s own delight in us. Amen.


For a reflection on a full measure of joy, click on the snowflakes or visit: http://fullmeasureofjoy.com/?p=4253 

For a reflection on God’s wisdom in creation, click on the plant shoot or visit: http://elcmthoreb.org/2013/07/12/gods-wisdom-in-creation-this-week-at-elc/

For a reflection on seeing God’s creation, click on the river image or visit: http://www.seeingcreation.com/2012/nature-photography/natures-dictionary/

For a reflection on seeking God, click on the image of the leaf or visit: http://nancyaruegg.com/category/seeking-god/ 

 

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Esther 3 (and B): Preamble – Part I

Friday, December 23, 2022queen-esther

We have visited the story of Esther frequently in our Noontime journey and this Christmas as pause to spend some time in Chapter 3. Because of various redactions, different Bibles have divided this story with both numbered and lettered parts but today we are looking at both Chapter 3 and B, the story about the letter of King Ahasuerus that decrees death to the Jewish people on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar. When we read the entire account, we know how the king finds out that Queen Esther is Jewish. We know how Esther and her uncle Mordecai intercede with God and king for the preservation of the Jewish people. And we know what becomes of the envious Haman and his family. This may be an unusual story to consider in the last week of Advent, but when we pause we see a connection with the Christmas Story: signs of God’s grace coming to a nation through people who are easily overlooked in a world that focuses on the supremacy and authority of powerful men. Today’s stories are about the surprising influence of the most vulnerable among us: a baby, and a woman.

While we are not in any way suggesting that Esther is the equivalent of the Christ child, we may want to consider the parallel these stories offer as analogous to our own feelings of defenselessness. And we may want to take direction from both Esther and Jesus as we watch them obey the Father who created them. These stories show us that the human life is best lived in search of and in preparation for our divinity. They show us that fidelity, simplicity, honesty and courage are essential to one who seeks to arrive at the potential God breathed into each of us at our creation.

Spend time with Esther 3 (B) today and consider it as preamble to a new coming.

Tomorrow, God’s sign is simplicity.


Image from: http://growing4life.net/lessons-from-esther/queen-esther/

Adapted from a reflection written on December 25, 2010.

 

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Hosea 10False Heart, True Heart

Wednesday, December 21, 2022heart leaf on stone

A favorite from December 22, 2010.

False oaths, fake alliances, evil intrigues, any means to achieve an end: this is what Hosea sees in his community. The kingdom of David has been divided in two. Elijah, Elisha, and Amos have warned the people; Isaiah and Micah will add their prophetic words of warning. Hosea finds himself seeing clearly the devastation that awaits this false-hearted people, but he is ignored.

Yet Hosea persists, telling us that we are people meant to worship God, we are meant to take the yoke upon fair neck, to thresh, to be harnessed by the plow of the true God with a true heart. We are created to be workers in the vineyard, to sow justice and reap piety, we are meant to break new fields so that the rain of God’s justice might bring forth fruit.

Hosea warns that those who have sowed discord and wickedness will reap perversity and eat of the fruit of falsehood. Turmoil will break out among those who have trusted their warriors and chariots rather than trusting God. The fortresses carefully built against the needs of the world will be tumbled and ravaged; the false hearts who take advantage of the poor will be lost in the utter destruction. Hosea does not surrender to the pressures around him, he endures.

Like Hosea, we might want God’s justice to be clearly visible in the present; we may want all of Hosea’s predictions about false hearts to materialize in an instant. Those who seek a settling of scores may wish God’s integrity to rain down on those who sit on comfortable couches to contrive wicked plots. They will want to see a world of integrity replace the world of falsehood they experience. Yet this is the message of Advent: the one of true heart and true words, the one of promises kept and miracles revealed has come to live among us. Advent tells us that the possibility of living a genuine life is here – now – this day. We need only open our eyes to see.

CrossHeartLogo11-300x289If we are dissatisfied with the speed of God’s coming, or if we doubt that God is even here among us, we must look first to ourselves to begin kingdom-building. We must examine our own hearts to see if we remain in truth no matter the social consequence. We must cease the gossip, cease the controlling, cease the lusting after outcomes, fame, possessions, power and people. We must amend our ability – and our willingness – to ignore reality. We must change our hearts so that we do not succumb to the social pressure to acquire goods or supremacy. We must nurture our desire to share, our yearning to heal, and our aspiration for peace. We must ask God to transform the falsehood in our own hearts so that we might receive the goodness from his. We must be open to the reality of Advent.

In this way – with endurance, with fidelity, and with honesty – the prophecy of Hosea will arrive fully. And in this way the false hearts of the world will become the true heart of Christ.


Images from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/33649935@N00/galleries/72157626753383441/

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James: Appropriate Action

Friday, November 11, 2022james-700x300

“James advocates living faith and practical love. His concern is behavior. Like other moralists of his age, he is impatient with fine words that have no action . . . Faith without appropriate practice in love is a charade”. (Senior RG 548)

God says: My servant James has expressed my vision quite well in his letter to you, and my hope is that you spend time with his words and with me today. Choose a small portion of his verses and examine them well. He has an important message about how and why to endure trials. He gives you good advice about words and thoughts, deeds and gestures. James can teach you how to be authentic; he structures lessons on honesty and wisdom. He reminds you of my immense generosity and love for you. And he describes how you might be in the world and not become part of it. Listen to James and learn to live by my measure rather than your own for when you do . . . you will find that you are living a life of appropriate action.

Enter the words wisdom or generosity in the blog search bar and reflect on how our actions. live out God’s love in creation. Are they in and for God? Can we say that they are appropriate?


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 548. Print.   

Image from: https://kingdomnewtestament.wordpress.com/category/james/

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James 5:16-18: Our Common Practice

Thursday, November 10, 2022prayer

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.

God says: Be honest with one another and you will find depths of rich love you have not taken in to account. Speak gently with one another and you will find strength in abundance. Make it your habit to set out each morning to do only what is good and holy and just. Pause at noon to check in with me as you day continues to unwind. Return home each evening and offer me all of your works – both the good and the not so good. If you have a restless night, spend time in prayer with me and I will bring you rest. Through your days and nights stay with me as your common practice and see what wonders I can perform in and through you.

When we make a list of all we wish to do, have many of the items involve God? When we make a list of our accomplishments, how many can we say embrace God? When we examine our relationships with others . . . how many show a loving and nurturing harvest for God?

Enter the words God Time in the blog search bar and as we explore other posts we might consider how much time we spend with our creator as our common practice.


Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/238268636521604678/

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James 1:26-27: Reaching Out

Tuesday, October 4, 2022beadoeroftheword

We benefit from James’ clarity at the end of this first chapter. How do we become doers of the Word and not sayers onlyWhat does it take to enter into solid and holy relationships with others? Humility, honesty, and care for the marginalized.

Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

In these opening verses James gives us a view of the whole person who enters into the work of the kingdom with a full heart and willing hands. We do more than we say. We give more than we receive. We look to God for all things rather than looking to the world.

Use the scripture link to compare different versions of these verses, and allow the humility and truth of Christ to govern your day.


Image from: http://quotesgram.com/doers-of-the-word-quotes/

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Psalm 38: Afflictionrescue

Friday, March 18, 2022

These are beautiful words that we might pray when we feel overwhelmed . . . which for some of us is often.  It is a hymn of trust and hope to the God who knows all, who sees all. The St Joseph edition of the Psalter names this psalm, Prayer of a Sinner in Great Peril and the name is apt. When we pray this song, we can be honest and open with God. We can bring our most intense infliction to him . . . and be rewarded with a new sense of meaning, new hope in our petitions, and a new trust in God’s creation. In this Lenten season, we might enter into this prayer often as we make our pilgrimage to Easter and Restoration and as we do . . . we might keep in mind the difference between sometimes and always . . .

Lord, punish me no more . . .

Sometimes the craziness is too much to bear . . .

Your arrows have sunk deep in me . . .

Sometimes the rumors are too piercing to withstand . . .

My iniquities overwhelm me, a burden beyond my strength . . .

Sometimes I stray so far from my potential I cannot find my way back to you . . .

I am numb and utterly crushed . . .

Sometimes I do not know how I have gotten out of bed in the morning . . .

Friends and companions shun my pain . . .

Sometimes I have no place left to vent my anger or to express my fears . . .

Those who seek my life lay snares for me . . .

Sometimes I have no energy left to fight the good fight . . .

I am like the deaf, hearing nothing . . .

Sometimes I believe I am completely detached from my lifeline to you . . .

Lord, I wait for you . . .

Always I remember you, morning, noon and night . . .

Forsake me not, O Lord . . .

Always I will follow you, no matter how difficult the path . . .

My God, be not far from me . . .

Always I will turn to your presence, even when I cannot feel it . . .  

Come quickly to help me . . .

Always I will speak of the many times you have saved me before . . .

My Lord and my salvation . . .

Always I will recall that you who cares for even the tiniest sparrow, will not allow the waters to rise over me . . .

Lord, my deepest yearning is before you; my groaning is not hidden from you . . .

Always I will be honest with you . . .

Forsake me not, O Lord; I wait for you . . . Always.

Amen.


A Favorite first written on Monday, March 16, 2009.

Image from: http://imgkid.com/spiritual-restoration.shtml

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