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Posts Tagged ‘kingdom-building’


Nehemiah 5: Praying with Nehemiah

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

We, like Nehemiah, can rebuild the ruin we see around us when we rely on God. Some of us make large, visible changes for good in our culture; but most of us make small, incremental changes that we think invisible. Yet, in the mind of God our actions are essential to the moving forward of God’s plan. Our prayers are also essential, as Nehemiah shows us.

St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3We are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.  By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation   as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it.  But each one should be careful how he builds.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is,   because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.  If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.  If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.  Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.  Do not deceive yourselves.  If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.  As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness” and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”  So then, no more boasting about men!  All things are yours whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future — all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

What do we do when enormous hurdles block our way forward, we can remind ourselves and others of our true calling. We can pray unceasingly, and we can build kingdom wherever we are planted, for we are God’s builders. We can be wise as St. Paul recommends, and be fools for Christ as Nehemiah was, building as directed by his creator, giving without thought of recompense, hoping for the goodness of the promise, and loving those among and with whom we dwell – even our enemies.

And so we pray.

Nehemiah lives in a world rife with conflict . . . yet he remains loyal to God and the faithful.

Nehemiah lives as a target for the gossip and machinations of his numerous enemies . . . yet he maintains his integrity.

Nehemiah lives among people who refuse to live by the terms of the covenant they have heard, witnessed, and sworn to uphold . . . yet he remains sincere and authentic.

Let us put aside the cares of this world and build God’s kingdom today, for we are God’s co-workers in the kingdom.

Amen.

Adapted from a reflection written on December 23, 2007.

For more about Nehemiah and how his prayer-life affected his work-life, click on the image above to visit the “Bible in a Year Blog” or go to: https://oneyeardevotional.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/powerful-prayer-nehemiah-1/ 

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Isaiah 11: The Rule

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Favorite from February 28, 2010.

We often consider what passion we might need to live as disciples of Christ.  Today we look at the rules by which we must learn to live.

Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. 

If we wish to be part of kingdom building, we must learn to look past appearances; we must not make decisions based on hearsay.

Justice shall be the band about his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

If we wish to part of kingdom building, we must learn – as Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 – that the only armor we need is Christ.

He shall raise a signal to the nations and gather the outcasts of Israel; the dispersed of Judah he shall assemble from the four corners of the earth.

If we wish to be a part of kingdom building, we must wait for the signal, and we must be able to recognize the Shepherd as John tells us in Chapter 10 of his Gospel.

The envy of Ephraim shall pass away and the rivalry of Judah shall be removed; Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not be hostile to Ephraim.

If we wish to be part of kingdom building, we must learn to put aside envy; we must learn that God calls for unity and not rivalry.

The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord. 

If we wish to be part of kingdom building, we must learn to delight in wisdom, to listen for God’s counsel, to draw from God’s strength, and to love the Lord our God more than life itself.  This fear, this awe, this love will be all we need to carry us through any adversity we face.

If we wish to be part of kingdom building, we must take all of this in . . . and we must make the Rule part of our fiber and tissue, our heart and soul.

For more reflections on how God’s love manifests itself in our lives, enter  the words The Law into the blog search bar and explore. 

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Acts 14:21-27: Muscle and Sinew

Monday, May 2, 2016

Jacob Jordaens: The Apostles, St. Paul and St. Barnabas at Lystra

Jacob Jordaens: The Apostles, St. Paul and St. Barnabas at Lystra

What is our vision of heaven and eternal happiness? How do we imagine the work of the kingdom? Paul and Barnabas today show us that discipleship calls for muscle and sinew just as much as it calls for faith, hope and love. We might learn something from this reading today. These two ardent followers of Christ show us just what kingdom work looks like.

Proclaim the good news – We always have the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection before us.

Strengthen the spirits of the disciples – We always have the Spirit of God to guide us.

Exhort the disciples to persevere in faith – We always have the energy of Christ within us.

Appoint elders – We always have the power and wisdom of God moving us.

Commend the faithful to the LORD with prayer and fasting – We always have the grace of the Spirit to console us.

Call the faithful together to report your progress – We always have the voice of Jesus to call us.

When we join in the work of building the kingdom, we will always have the muscle and sinew for the task before us.

They went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs. (Mark 16:20)

To learn more about Paul and Barnabas in Lystra, read Acts 14:8-28.

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Luke 5:1-11: Putting Out into the Deep

Ash Wednesday, February 10, 2016Luke-5_10

Jesus: Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch.

Sunday’s Gospel reminds us that when we hug the shoreline, we have little room for growth. During this Lenten season we encourage one another to take stock of where and who we are so that we can move away from the safety of the shallows, so that we can trust God and venture into the frightening but rewarding depths of kingdom-building.

Simon Peter: Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I’ll let out the nets.

Peter reminds us that the waters, boat and nets all belong to the Lord and that the Lord knows far more than we can hope to know. Peter shows us why we can trust God. Jesus shows us that there is bounty where we have found nothing of value.

ASH-WEDNESDAYDuring the next forty days we will spend time with scripture that gives us the opportunity to open our hearts, un-stiffen our necks . . . and to put out into the deep to fish the waters we think are empty.

Let this be our Lenten practice for the next several days: Rather than think, “This will not work,” let us say instead, “If you say so, Lord”.

For a reflection on today’s Noontime, click on the image above or visithttp://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/02/06/readings-reflections-with-cardinal-tagles-video-fifth-sunday-in-ordinary-time-c-st-colette-february-72016/ 

Tomorrow, taking care.

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Hosea 10False Heart, True Heart

Wednesday, December 23, 2015heart 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.

 

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James 1-4: Good Works

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

North Carolina, Belmont, Lectio divina, a reflective meditation on the Bible, is an essential aspect of monastic life. Several hours are devoted to its study each day.

Perhaps James spent time with Psalm 62 as he learned scripture. We can see clear connections between this hymn and his letter. James knows that when wars and quarrels break out our most effective and most sensible refuge is God alone.

God, the one and only. I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I need comes from him, so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle: I’m set for life.

James knows that when we struggle with temptation and giving in to easy promises and quick bribes, we have no enduring strength.

How long will you gang up on me? How long will you run with the bullies? There’s nothing to you, any of you – rotten floorboards, worm-eaten rafters, anthills plotting to bring down mountains, far gone in make-believe. You talk a good line, but every “blessing” breathes a curse.

James knows that the world offers a foundation of shifting sand but that God offers us solid ground.

My help and glory are in God – granite-strength and safe-harbor-God – so trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be. Man as such is smoke, woman as such, a mirage. Put them together, they’re nothing; two times nothing is nothing.

James knows that with God we receive a just wage for our hard-earned works.

And a windfall, if it comes – don’t make too much of it. God said this once and for all; how many times have I heard it repeated? “Strength comes straight from God.” Love to you, Lord God! You pay a fair wage for a good day’s work!

James knows something that he wants to share with us. Today we reflect on his letter in light of Psalm 62 while considering the good works we offer up as we build the kingdom. We are grateful for God’s great generosity, tender compassion and healing love.

Compare varying versions of Psalm 62 . . . consider the good works we offer each day to God . . . and consider our response.

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Matthew 9:35-38: The Compassion of Jesusharvest

May 22, 2015

We have spent time with Jesus as he heals leprosy, paralysis and blindness, stills an intense and dangerous storm and enables the mute to speak. We have followed him as he casts out demons, admonishes corrupt leaders and heals an older woman’s hemorrhaging on his way to raise a young woman from the dead. We listen to Jesus when he reminds us to use shrunken cloth to mend our old cloaks and to put our new wine into new skins. Jesus is well aware of the suffering that surrounds him yet he does not shrink from the painful challenge; rather, he brings joy and healing and transformation.

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness.

Let us imagine a world in which we all proclaim the good news, in which we all teach with our example of witness, in which we touch our enemies and friends alike with compassion.

At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.

Let us imagine a world in which we shepherd one another when our hearts are low and our spirits falter, in which we act in mercy rather than revenge, in which we look for union rather than separateness.

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send the laborers for his harvest.

Let us imagine a world in which masters and laborers work together to bring compassion to work places across the globe, in which parents and children act in love and peace in their homes, in which leaders and followers find common ground for the common good.

As we prepare for the Feast of Pentecost and the close of Eastertide, let us imagine a world such as this . . . and let us step into the role that Jesus has in mind for us as we bring Christ’s compassion to the world.

Visit the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Movement site at www.catholicworker.org or another site of your choice, and be open to the harvesting work to which God may be calling you. Share your experience in a blog comment and invite others to join in Jesus call of compassion for the world.

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Luke 12:22-34: Allfarming for hunger

March 26, 2015

If we learn nothing more about ourselves in this Lenten journey, let us pray that we understand how much easier life when we learn the simple lesson Jesus teaches us daily: Where your treasure lies, there also will your heart be.

Where do we place our priorities each morning? Do we jump into our day or do we pause to spend time orienting ourselves to God’s agenda rather than our own?

Where do we place all our energies each afternoon? Do we make plans for vacations, parties, and reunions as frequently as we plan to spend time in prayer and fellowship with others?

Where do we place our petitions each evening as we tumble into sleep? Do we give thanks for the good we have received as much as we worry about all that did not go well?

Jesus is quite clear. Where we focus our attention and anxiety, this is the place we are storing up the essence of ourselves. Where we spend our time in kingdom building, this is the place we are calling our home for all eternity.

farming 4 hungerWhere do we choose to deposit all that we do and are? In our wealth and power? In our influence and possessions? How much better it is to place all we are and all we do in the ample heart of God.

Spend some time with Luke 12:22-34 today and compare biblical texts. How will we change our hearts as we move toward the closing days of Lent?

Visit http://www.farming4hunger.com/, or click on the image to the left, to see how one man’s determination to store up goodness has changed his life and his world. Consider sending some of your Lenten alms to a kingdom-building organization that gives its all to enact God’s goodness and mercy.

Special thanks to a Noontime friend for sharing the good news about Farming 4 Hunger. 

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

PovertyPsalms 9:15-20

The Hope of the Poor

Jeremiah has given us so much to process; he lays out before us a reason for righteous anger . . . and he also proposes that a new order is coming.

The ungodly have fallen into the pit they dug, and in the snare they set is their own foot caught.

Our own life experience tells us that the innocent suffer and the ungodly hold the upper hand.

The Lord is known by acts of justice; the wicked are trapped in the works of their own hands.

And our spiritual life tells us that we must leave judging and condemnation to God.

The wicked shall be given over to the grave, and also all the peoples who forget God.

Rather than preoccupy ourselves with the sins of the ungodly, let us work together to bring all peoples to God.

For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.

God sees even the smallest of us and it is our great work to join God in solidarity with the poor.

Rise up, O Lord, let not the ungodly have the upper hand; let them be judged before you.

God sees even the smallest of our actions to remedy the plight of the poor.

Put fear upon them, O Lord; let the ungodly know they are but mortal.

Rather than pray for the end of our enemies, let us pray for their great conversion of heart.

God says: I realize that you live in a world of injustice. I understand that you want me to remedy even unbalance, each inequality, all corruption and lack of integrity. And that is the great work to which I call each of you. Join me in kingdom-building, in forgiveness and reconciliation. Join me in the greatest and most important work of your lives. Feed the physically poor. Tend to the spiritually poor. Aide the mentally poor. It is in so doing that you will come to see the beauty and worth of my kingdom. It is in so doing that you will put aside your anger and fear. It is in so doing that you will discover the serenity and peace of the kingdom. This is my new covenant with you. Reconcile yourself to me and begin anew, for in this is the hope of the poor. 

And the people reply . . . The Lord is known by acts of justice. Let us join the Lord in the great work of The Kingdom. Let us become, with the Lord, the hope of the poor.

Enter the word kingdom-building into the blog search bar and explore what kingdom-building work God might have in mind for each of us.

For information about poverty and health in the USA, click on the image above or go to: http://blog.oup.com/2013/11/poverty-public-health-united-states/

For a world rural poverty map, visit: http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/region 

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