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Posts Tagged ‘rely on God’


1 Samuel 24Escape

Monday, November 19, 2018

Rembrandt: Saul and David

Several weeks ago, we reflected on celebrating escape from something or someone who would have brought us great ruin or harm.  Yesterday’s Gospel gave us the opportunity to examine how Jesus is able to escape the traps laid for him by those who hated him.  Today we take a look at a small portion of the story of David, the young man who is designated as King of Israel by Samuel but who waits his turn as leader of God’s chosen people by resisting the temptation to fight against Saul.  David does not deny that he has been chosen King, nor does he murder Saul in order to take what is his; rather, he abides in God’s will and God’s time . . . and he takes the routes of escape that God offers while he actively waits on the fulfillment of God’s plan.

Today we read the story of how God saved his imperfect yet faithful servant and we are no less than David.

Today we read the story of how David relied on his God’s constancy . . . and he did not allow fear to turn him toward revenge or cowardice.

In yesterday’s Gospel (Matthew 22:15-21) we read the story of how Jesus confronted prejudice and hatred and we do well to follow his example.

In yesterday’s Gospel we were given a road map for how to escape manipulation and scheming.  We must rely on God always, remain faithful to the covenant God shares with us, and always act in love and for love of God.  In this way we will always know escape from anything danger or evil that hopes to overtake us.

And so we pray . . .

When the call to do God’s work pulls us into alien and dangerous territory, we must rely on God’s wisdom and not our own.

When the hand of God heals us and then sends us out to do God’s work, we must rely on God’s fidelity and nurture our own.

When the voice of God urges us to work in fields are that unfamiliar to us and that sap our energy, we must rely on God’s strength and conserve our own.

When the heart of God sends us to work with those who would do us harm, we must rely on God’s love and hope for redemption.   Amen.


A re-post from October 17, 2011. 

Images from: http://www.aaroneberline.com/blog/tag/david/ and http://www.artbible.info/art/large/378.html

 

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Ezekiel 45:13-17Offerings

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Written on February 19 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

We have spent time with Ezekiel 45 before but today we focus on the offerings portion – what it is we offer back to God.  I am thinking about how much more meaning our lives might have if we were to each day give something back to God that we have produced.  What would it be?  In our ultra modern, techno-savvy, global, sophisticated way of living . . . what do we actually make with our hands, hearts and minds?  We have come so far from the primitive beings who first inhabited Africa and the Tigris-Euphrates areas of the prehistoric world that . . . I am wondering if we have not tricked ourselves into thinking that we do not need to trust God.

When early tribes were hunters and gatherers, it was clear who and what provided for them.  As they followed herds and crops they dealt with drought, deluge, scarcity and plenty.  They had to learn how to conserve and share.  They had to learn both the basics and complexities of survival, and then they passed these lessons on to their offspring.  I am wondering if we have not fooled ourselves into thinking that we have mastered nature . . . and so do not need to rely on God.

Our Western life is worlds away from the poor of the second and third worlds.  We may forget that only a small portion of the those of us living on the globe today have running water, enough food for our children, decent clothing and housing, and basic medical care.  Now that humanity has made so many advances in the fields of medicine, nutrition, and technology, I am wondering if some of us have made these our gods and have kept ourselves safe while not thinking about others . . . and I am wondering if we have not deluded ourselves into thinking that we do not need to love God as God exists in each and all of us.

I am wondering if we could each evening bring forth the products of our day in order to place them on the kitchen table as we sit to eat our evening meal if we would recognize what it is we have made.  And I am wondering what it is we would offer back to God . . . in gratitude for his care for us that day.  I am wondering if these offerings would come from our best.  I am wondering if these gifts would be found gracious in the eyes of God.

I am wondering . . .


A re-post from September 7, 2011.

Image from: http://jameswoodward.wordpress.com/2008/09/29/harvest/ 

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Proverbs 27: Knowing Tomorrow

Monday, August 21, 2017

We so easily convince ourselves that we are in control, that our well-laid plans will come to fruition, that all those who work hard and behave well will avoid suffering and pain. Proverbs remind us that we will want to think this through again.

Don’t brashly announce what you’re going to do tomorrow;
you don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. (MSG)

We have ourselves convinced that we can bull our way through any problem and over any obstacle if we just shove our way to the front and outlast everyone else.

The weight of stone and sand is nothing compared to the trouble that stupidity can cause. (GNT)

We look for solutions to our problems by changing homes, changing friends, changing work, changing spouses when in reality all that brings us anxiety and worry ride along with us until we change our hearts.

Like a bird that strays from its nest
is a man who strays from his home. (CJB)

We believe that if we have just a little more wealth, a little more power, a little more fame then we can make right all that is wrong when all we need is already dwelling within.

The purity of silver and gold is tested
by putting them in the fire;
The purity of human hearts is tested
by giving them a little fame. (MSG)

So what are we to do when we realize that the gifts we have to earn a way in the world are given to us by the Creator, when we see that God’s providence holds us fast in good times as in bad? Proverbs can give us ideas.

Know your sheep by name;
    carefully attend to your flocks;
(Don’t take them for granted;
    possessions don’t last forever, you know.)
And then, when the crops are in
    and the harvest is stored in the barns,
You can knit sweaters from lambs’ wool,
    and sell your goats for a profit;
There will be plenty of milk and meat
    to last your family through the winter. (MSG)

Once we remember that our lives are spinning thoughts of the Creator that yearn to come together in the Spirit, then we begin to understand that knowing tomorrow is purely God’s domain. It is for us to lace our trust in this eternal, constant, loving presence.

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we have less apprehension about the knowledge that we cannot know what tomorrow brings.

 

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Romans 12: 9-16: Loving Others – Part IV

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friendship

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. (MSG)

Paul describes the mark of a true Christian.

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. (MSG)

Paul tells us that we must rely on God alone. We must be open and welcoming. We must keep the faith and pray.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. (MSG)

Paul asks us to give ourselves over to kingdom thinking. Paul asks us to give ourselves over to inversion. Paul ask us to live on the margins rather than the center.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore these words as translated differently from THE MESSAGE, we find a pathway to courage and a source of deep love.

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Psalm 22: Spiritual Warfare – Part III

Thursday, October 27, 2016sword-of-the-spirit2

This Noontime is adapted from a Favorite written on November 11, 2008.

In spiritual warfare we need not connive, we need not plot.  We need only do what we know is right, understanding that we are graced by God.  We need to avoid thinking that we are in control, knowing that God’s plan is always better than our own.  We need to give over everything to God, believing that God turns all harm to good, even – and especially – the ultimate resolution of all conflict.

We are foot soldiers in spiritual warfare, and we know our orders.  We must be patient in our perseverance as we grow to become God’s harvest in God’s time.  We must speak, pray, study, witness, watch and wait.  We must be ready.  This is all that is required of us.  We do not know the hour or time of this warfare’s end; but we know the outcome.  This we have been promised.   This we have been told.  Let us pass the word along . . . that in the hour when we feel most abandoned, we are most accompanied.  That in the hour when we believe all is lost . . . all is truly found.

And so we pray.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned us? We have cried desperately for help, but still it does not come. During the day we call to you, our God, but you do not answer; we call at night, but get no rest.

In the dark hours when we anticipate a resolution for our own plan, we worry that God has disappeared, or perhaps does not exist at all. In the burdensome days we keep watch for any sign that God is near.

It was God who brought us safely through birth, and when we were babies, God kept us safe. We have relied on God since the day we were born, and the LORD have always been our God.

Yet when we consider all that God has done for us, we cannot help but give voice to the hope that rests within, waiting to bloom into fullness.

Our strength is gone, gone like water spilled on the ground. All our bones can be seen. Our enemies look at us and stare.

And when we allow our faith to support us, we cannot help but rise from the ash of all we leave behind into a new dawn and new day, growing in newness.

We will tell our people what God have done; we will praise God in their assembly. We will praise God for all that God has have done. We will offer the sacrifices we have promised.

And when we respond with persistent love, we cannot help but take hold of the promise we already rest in, relying on God’s bounty, relying on God’s boldness, relying on God’s peace. Amen.

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1 Maccabees 15Scoundrels

A shekel minted in 111-110 BCE

A shekel minted in 111-110 BCE

 Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Favorite from September 10, 2009.

The players: Scoundrels, ethnarchs, mercenaries, troops, high priests, kings, consuls, the people.

The locations: Sampsames, Delos, Myndos, Sparta, Rome, Cyprus, Joppa, Gazara.

The stakes: Taxes, coinage, control, weapons, debts, honor, the temple, the citadel, a gold shield weighing a thousand minas (a unit of money worth 60 shekels).

The motivations: Saving harmless, seeking haven, granting pardon, exacting revenge, survival, domination.

These are elements of today’s reading which took place just prior to the birth of Christ.  We can unplug these names of ancient people and places to replace contemporary ones and yet the stakes and motivations have not changed in the millennia that have passed; human beings are, after all, creatures who struggle to survive and to maintain equilibrium and comfort levels.  We never want to be off-balance or surprised.  We want to be in control of our surroundings.  We want to think that we have perfect understanding and skill in all we think, do and say.  When this equilibrium is upset, we become anxious; and this anxiety leads to fear . . . which has the potential to send us into devolution rather than evolution.

When mercenaries enter our lives we come undone in the sense that we begin to look for ways to solve our new and crushing problems from our own skill sets.  In our urgency we forget to go to God and when this happens and our lives take on the characteristics we see in the activity we read about today.

When scoundrels enter our lives they are so clever at hiding their manipulations that we begin to blame ourselves for all that seems wrong.  In our confusion we forget that the one true measuring stick is Christ.  When we doubt ourselves, we need only look to this word of God as a model.

When taxes or control or debt or temples or citadels become our idols we fail ourselves and we allow these temporal entities to separate us from God.

When saving ourselves at all costs becomes our chief motivator we have lost our identity, for as children of God we need only have concern for our spiritual health.  Once we tend to the life of our spirit, all else falls into place.

Let us be on the lookout for the scoundrels in our lives and when they appear, let us turn to the one true source that never fails us – the source that created us, sustains, protects and guides us.  Let us turn to our God for only this one has the stamina, the capacity and the will to endure for eternity.  All else vanishes into dust.

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Psalm 83: A Hostile Nation

Wednesday, August 31, 2016psalm 83

A Favorite from August 28, 2010.

They conspire against your people . . .

It is likely that each of us has known a time when we felt – either correctly or incorrectly – that the world is conspiring against us.  The only exit from this kind of thinking is the giving over of our own agenda to God.

They scheme with one mind . . .

It is likely that each of us has felt the disappointment of exclusion – either rightly or wrongly – that comes when humans come together in groups.  The only comfort and healing to be found is in our relationship with God.

Deal with them . . .

When we realize that there is a hostile nation against us, the only hope is in asking God to deal with the enemy.

Let them be dismayed . . .

Even we New Testament people will want God to intercede against our foes, but as Christians we will ask for their conversion rather than their destruction.

Show them you are alone are the Lord . . .

We might be amazed that even after God has shown himself to our adversaries that they persist in their deceitful ways.  Sooner or later they will see which way they are to go but only God can bring them to seeing.

You alone are the Most High over all the earth.

The outcome of the battle pitched between God and those who plot against the faithful is assured.  God will always win.  For God alone is the Most High over all the earth.

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Psalm 49: Self-Rescue

Sunday, August 28, 2016psa-49-15-ww-stock-9x

Yesterday we heard from Peter about sloppy living; today we hear the psalmist’ words on the foolishness of trusting in wealth. Today we pray Psalm 49 using THE MESSAGE translation and we open ourselves to the understanding that God alone saves, God alone transforms, God alone gives us the gift of eternal life.

The psalmist prepares us to hear words that save.

Listen, everyone, listen—
    earth-dwellers, don’t miss this.
All you haves
    and have-nots,
All together now: listen.

The psalmist delivers words that calm.

So why should I fear in bad times,
    hemmed in by enemy malice,
Shoved around by bullies,
    demeaned by the arrogant rich?

The psalmist sings verses that reveal.

Really! There’s no such thing as self-rescue,
    pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.
The cost of rescue is beyond our means,
    and even then it doesn’t guarantee
Life forever, or insurance
    against the Black Hole.

The psalmist speaks verses that ring true.

Anyone can see that the brightest and best die,
    wiped out right along with fools and dunces.
They leave all their prowess behind,
    move into their new home, The Coffin,
The cemetery their permanent address.
    And to think they named counties after themselves!

The psalmist declares truths that are evident.

So don’t be impressed with those who get rich
    and pile up fame and fortune.
They can’t take it with them;
    fame and fortune all get left behind.
Just when they think they’ve arrived
    and folks praise them because they’ve made good,
They enter the family burial plot
    where they’ll never see sunshine again.

The psalmist proclaims words we will want to sing out together as we give thanks for God’s gifts of assurance, redemption, and rescue.

Listen, everyone, listen—
    earth-dwellers, don’t miss this.
All you haves
    and have-nots,
All together now: listen.

Compare this translation with others to better understand the psalmist’s message.

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John 10:31-42: Slipping Through Their Fingers

Jordan River

The Jordan River

Friday, March 18, 2016 

Jesus saysI have made a present to you from the Father of a great many good actions. For which of these acts do you stone me?

Family and friends help us or hinder us in our journey to our Easter home. Strangers and outsiders come and go, sometimes catching our attention, other times going unnoticed. Enemies litter our pathway with boulders of fear and hate. Worry and peace, anxiety and rejoicing accompany us as we move ever forward in our passage from Easter passion to joy. Today we examine how we act in the world and reflect on whether we hold Jesus in faithful hope or let him slip through our fingers. Do we follow him across the Jordan and believe?

They tried yet again to arrest him, but he slipped through their fingers. He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and stayed there. A lot of people followed him over. They were saying, “John did no miracles, but everything he said about this man has come true.” Many believed in him then and there.

God says:  The world may seem like a strange place yet I have created it just as I have created you. The noise of the world makes it difficult for you to hear my voice; yet you are never alone. The message of the world fights to drown out my words; yet I am with you always. When those you trust betray you, remember Jesus and Judas. When those close to you no longer believe in you, remember Jesus and Peter. When you are tossed by the world, remember Jesus and Mary. There is always a roadmap for you to follow . . . although you feel that you are falling over a sharp and dangerous edge. I am always with you to protect you . . . although it seems that I am slipping through your fingers. Trust in me. Rely on me. There is no firmer ground or safer refuge. Cross the Jordan with me and believe.

Before we allow Jesus to slip through our fingers, we remember our 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, belief and unbelief. 

 

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