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Posts Tagged ‘the kingdom’


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

1corinthians15_58notinvain1 Corinthians 15

Toiling

While kings and civil leaders deny problems that yawn before the nation, the remnant continue to move through their days. While priests set up and maintain hierarchies that God does not intend, the remnant live in fidelity with their Creator. While prophets are scorned and their words thrown back at them, the remnant toil in their smallness that is great in God’s eyes.

By the grace of God I am what I am, and God’s grace to me has not been ineffective.

Centuries after the fall of Israel and Judah the remnant still labor under corrupt leaders and priests, and the creator comes to walk among them as one of them. Generations after their exile and return the remnant witness to the resurrection of Christ. Years after the restoration of a temple and city the remnant live out the promise of redemption.

By the grace of God I am what I am, and God’s grace to me has not been ineffective.

74249646.RrEVmmLE.QUEENSCUPCLINTONIAUNIFLORAP7120064In this year and in this hour the remnant still work in Christ to transform the reality in which they find themselves.

In this day and at this moment the remnant still labor in the Spirit to console a troubled world.

In this eternal time and in this infinite space the remnant still toil in God to bring forth the Kingdom.

This is a labor worth living for. This is work worth dying for. This is toiling that carries with it the gift of God’s grace. This is toiling that brings the immense and unimaginable gift of Christ’s love fully and truly given.


Spend some time today with 1 Corinthians 15 and reflect on its message for those who toil in unjust places under unjust leaders. If you want to spend time with a portion, consider: verses 1-11 The Gospel Teaching, verses 12-19 Results of Denial, verses 20-28 Christ the Firstfruits, verses 29-34 Practical Arguments, verses 35-58 The Resurrection Event. St Paul understand clearly both the frustration of living in world of turmoil, and the power of Christ’s love to mend, sustain and heal. He brings home to us today the meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection for those who toil against injustice.

1 corinthians sunset

Images from: http://cccooperagency.wordpress.com/page/47/ and  http://www.pbase.com/jhiker/image/74249646 and http://hdw.eweb4.com/wallpapers/4520/

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Sunday, September 5, 2021

Tibetan Nomads

Tibetan Nomads

Jeremiah 35

Wayfarers

Build no house and sow no seed; neither plant nor own a vineyard. You shall dwell in tents all your life, so that you may live long on the earth where you are wayfarers.

Many of us in the developed world live a life of storing up and putting away, of saving for an emergency or the unexpected event. When we read today’s Noontime verses we have the opportunity to assess our level of trust in the creator who knows every detail about us, of our willingness to follow Christ who knows each strength and weakness within us, of our openness to the Spirit who dwells in the heart of each of us to cure, to heal and to console.

We might take this opportunity today to examine our readiness to trust God more than possessions or status. We might also open our minds to the possibility that in many ways we are called to be wayfarers.

God says: I do not ask that you free yourself of your shelter and your stores; rather, I ask that you share them with those who have nothing. I do not ask that you rely on others to provide for your welfare when I have given you gifts with which you might care for yourself and those who live on the margins of your busy life. I ask that you consider your relationships with others in your life as valuable pearls of great price. You are created a social creature and I ask that even your smallest interactions and the briefest of encounters be held as sacred moments in which you meet me. I do not ask that you live as nomads with no purpose or mission; rather, I ask that you put down willing roots into the soil of my kingdom. For there you will flourish and bear fruit in my name. There you will journey with me to experience the mystery and gift and surprise of new life in me. And you will discover the plans for peace that I have in mind for you. You will celebrate with timbrel and dance and tambourine. You will sing and cry and laugh with me. And you will realize just how great my love is for you.

As we reflect on Jeremiah and the Rechabites, let us consider what we store up, what we share, and what we love. Let us consider our life as a wayfarer in God’s kingdom.


To learn about Tibetan nomads, click on the image above or visit: http://www.traveladventures.org/continents/asia/tibetan-nomads.html

For more on Jeremiah 35, enter the words Taking Correction into the blog search bar and explore.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

hands childressEzekiel 33:7-9

Saving Souls

We turn to the words of the prophet Ezekiel as we react to Jeremiah’s indictment of evil in the world. Yesterday we reflected on how God calls each of us to kingdom-building. Today we reflect on how this kingdom might come about.

If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die”, and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked one from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death. But if you warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself.

Saint James tells us: If anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death. (James 5:19-20)

Saint Paul reminds the Romans and us: Love does no evil to the neighbor. (Romans 13:10)

God says: I see many of you undermining the kingdom; yet I see many more of you working to build it up. I want each of you to find her way, or his way to work for and with me. For many of you it is to speak aloud the words I send to you. For others it is to quietly and persistently implement the simple words of my Law of Love. For still others it is to make a loud and banging noise about injustice. And for yet others it is to untiringly appear wherever the wicked tear down vineyard walls to plant new vines again. This is not complicated. It is, in fact, simple. What is complicated is bringing all that you are and all that you have to bear on this one point: there is no greater kingdom than mine; there is no greater love than mine; there is no greater joy than mine . . . in you. Again I invite you to the tireless but rewarding work of the kingdom, for when you join me, you save your soul . . . and those of countless others.

Rather than hide in despair, we step into the light. Rather than wail in sorrow, we take up our task. Rather than gnash our teeth and beat our chests . . . we trust God, pray for those who need our intercession, and join all those whom God has called to the saving of souls.


Image from: http://christianstandard.com/2012/07/meeting-needs-saving-souls/

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Wednesday, August 19, 2021

Tissot: The Flight of the Prisoners

James Tissot: The Flight of the Prisoners

Jeremiah 25:1-14

Seventy Years 

Can we imagine a seventy-year exile from all that we know? Can we picture seven times seventy years, or a four-hundred-ninety year banishment from all that we have come to love?

Jeremiah reframes for the Israelites – and for us – the cautions laid out by Yahweh with Moses on the desert mountain.

Turn back, each of you, from your evil way and from your evil deeds . . .

Then you shall remain in the land the Lord gave to you of old . . .

Do not follow strange gods to serve and adore them . . .

Jeremiah’s Yahweh speaks of punishment to be delivered in subsequent verses and this clashes with our understanding of the Lord as a forgiving parent who remains with us through every difficulty, even the difficulties we bring on ourselves. We struggle to comprehend why the innocent suffer and why God does not intervene to eradicate every injustice.  And then we recall that we are created in love as God’s image in this world. We remember that we are part of God’s plan of salvation. We remember that our own hands and feet, our minds and lips are God’s in a world crying out for healing. We read these lines from thousands of years ago to recognize our role in God’s plan. When we discover injustice, we are called to act. When we see suffering, we are asked to intervene. When we find sickness, we are called to heal. Wherever we discern the crumbling walls of God’s kingdom, we are commissioned to love with, and for and in Christ.

Jesus tells us: Then the king will say . . . Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in;  naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me”. Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink?  And when did we see you a stranger, and invite you in, or naked, and clothe you?  When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?” The King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:34-40)

Individually and collectively we have the power in Christ to build the kingdom in this time and space. Alone and together we have the power in the Spirit to cure and heal. On our own and in solidarity we have the power through God to repair and build. Let us determine to give the years of our exile over to Christ for in so doing we live in the Spirit, and we transform ourselves and the world as we call forth the kingdom with God.


Enter the word captivity into the blog search bar and explore where or how we create our own exile from God, and what we might do to allow our separation to transform us.

For Bible study outlines, click on the image above or go to: http://biblestudyoutlines.org/category/old-testament-bible-study/page/37/ 

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whodoyousayiamSunday, July 11, 2021

Matthew 6:19-21

Jesus Taught Us

Jesus taught us, saying, “Do not store up treasures for yourself on earth, where moth and woodwork destroy them and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor woodworm destroys them and thieves cannot break in and steal. For wherever your treasure is, there will be your heart, too”.

We go about our days acquiring goods, storing up friends, fashion, accoutrements, money. How will these treasures serve us in the world that is everlasting? How might we change these tangible goods in a way that will matter?

We go about our days serving others, taking action that will improve our world for the better. How might we share these less noticeable goods in a way that will matter?

God says, This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Do as he does and set the world afire. Do as he does and heal those who are broken-hearted. Do as he does and stand with those on the margin. Do as he does and turn the other cheek. This is difficult for you when you measure as the world measures; but when you measure for eternity you will put away your weights and yardsticks; and you will follow my son.

Enter the word treasure into the blog search bar and as we consider what Jesus taught us . . . let us consider how we will describe our treasures.


Examine the reading Matthew 3:17  in the scripture link and compare the texts. Choose other Bible versions and consider what God means when he tells us that he is well pleased with Jesus.

Image from: http://www.thepoachedegg.net/the-poached-egg/2012/04/theologians-and-thinkers-12-quotes-on-the-person-of-jesus-christ.html

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Saturday, July 3, 2021

Da Vinci: The Last Supper

Da Vinci: The Last Supper

Job 19:19

Horror

All my intimate friends hold me in horror; those whom I have loved have turned against me!

God says: This is perhaps the deepest fear that grips you: fear that your family or friends will turn against you. So many acts of terror have taken place at the hands of humans who fear the loss of intimate friends. Yet, honest and authentic friends do not abandon one another. Good and faithful friends do not threaten to cast off relationships like used clothing. Noble and dear friends do not use one another in useless games of self-preservation. The real horror in your lives is not that you are left alone . . . but that you take any action or profess any creed as you gather around standards that are your own and not mine. When you join a group or society, think about what it is that calls . . . and consider if the work you do with them builds or destroys the kingdom.

Jesus says: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27)

Enter the words: Last Supper Discourses in to the blog search bar and consider the quality of God’s peace. Read more of Jesus’ Discourse by following the scripture link to John above; or use a Bible Concordance and enter the words “Do not be afraid” and determine how much God cares about our well-being, how eager God is to dispel the horror in our lives.


For some thought-provoking ideas about Jesus’ last days, click on the image above or go to: http://www.sott.net/article/259610-Shape-Shifting-Jesus-described-in-ancient-Egyptian-text

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Ascension Sunday, May 16, 2021birds-watercolor-painting-giclee-poster-gift-idea-two-sparrows-home-decor-joanna-szmerdt

Matthew 10:29-31

Every Hair

Jesus taught us, saying: Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than two sparrows”.

In this short citation of Jesus’ words, we learn all that we need to know about living life and about being watchful.

ONE: Nothing can be concealed from God. The Creator knows all that we think and do. The Creator understands our most secret motivations. Why do we try to hide anything we do or anything we think? Secrecy is futile in the kingdom.

Christ walks always with us, calling us forth in the name of the Creator. The Spirit remains in us, filling us with life eternal.

TWO: Nothing we do goes unnoted by God. The Creator marks both our pain and sorrow, our happiness and joy. Why do we persist in relying on our own small forces when we have the omnipotence and omniscience of the Creator buoying us up?  Reliance on self is meaningless in the kingdom.

Christ walks before and behind us, guiding and protecting in the name of the Creator. The Spirit hovers, abiding and consoling with love everlasting.

If God notes even the falling of a sparrow’s feather, how much can our anxiety and willfulness accomplish? How far will our stubbornness carry us in comparison with the power and strength of the Spirit?

If God numbers every hair on our heads, how much do we think we can hide what we do not like about ourselves?

How much will our separateness gain for us in comparison with the unity we have in God’s love? Secrecy and too much reliance on self will always be trumped by humility, generosity and love in the kingdom. Let us live as if we believe that God has numbered our every hair.


Image from: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/birds-watercolor-painting-giclee-poster-gift-idea-two-sparrows-home-decor-joanna-szmerdt.html?product=greeting-card

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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Mark 13:32-37

Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow: The Parable of the Ten Virgins

Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow: The Parable of the Ten Virgins

Watch!

We began our exploration of Mark 13 reminding ourselves that we preach the Gospel with each action we perform each minute of each day. What does our life say about our awareness of the importance of watchfulness? Where do our feet take us as we live out the Word? What do our hands do as we move through our days? How carefully do our ears listen to our friends and companions? How honestly do we look others in the eye? How truthfully do we live out our understanding that all temples to self will fall, all teachers and prophets are not authentic, and all tribulations bring us closer to God? Why is it essential to understand that Christ is among us now?  What have we learned from the lesson of the fig tree?

Jesus tells us the Parable of the Ten Virgins:  Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, “Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him”.  Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out”. But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves”. And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, “Lord, lord, open up for us”.  But he answered, “Truly I say to you, I do not know you”. Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. (Matthew 25:1-13)

virgin with lampWe are presented with the choice to be foolish or prudent. We are free to decide if we will or will not carry a flask of oil to replenish the lamp of life we have been generously given.  We have ears to hear and eyes to see; yet we do not know the hour and we do not know the day when we will be called to an accounting. What Gospel are we preaching with the days of our lives?


For a fresh perspective on this parable, click on the Bible link above and read another of the preselected versions of this story or choose one of your own . . . and discover how Jesus’ words speak to us in a new way about the old theme of watchfulness

Images from: http://timdedeaux.com/category/prayer/ 

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Friday, February 5, 2021

the-letter-sadhe[1]Psalm 119:137-144

Sadhe

I am consumed by rage, because my foes forget your words . . . Your decrees are forever just; give me discernment that I may live.

We become indignant when we believe that others do not understand the message of the Gospel; others become indignant with us when we behave in a narrow way.

God says: I really do understand how anger and frustration might consume you; but I ask that you take this negative energy and hand it to me. Together we will transform the ugliness and pettiness and cruelty you see in the world . . . to beautiful truth, inspiring authenticity and salvific love. Together we will bring goodness out of harm. Together we will build a kingdom so that all might live eternally.

Once we allow ourselves to pardon enemies we experience love as God does. We find a new tranquility and balance. And we discover that the evil around us melts into nothingness. This new serenity begins when we can bring ourselves to love our enemies as Jesus does.

Jesus says: You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy”. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly father . . . For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? (Matthew 5:43-47)

In this newest lesson presented to us in Psalm 119 we find the greatest – and perhaps the most difficult and certainly the most important – lesson of all. We find our divinity by fully and completely turning our most basic human instincts over to God. We find the kingdom that lies before us by interceding for all of. We find discernment by turning all of our rage into love. And all of this brings us serenity.


For more on how Sadhe speaks to us of faith that is found in the righteous, go to: http://www.inner.org/hebleter/tzadik.htm

For a quick view of the Hebrew letters, click on the image above and then click through the alphabet to the left, or go to: http://www.heb4you.com/hebrew-alephbet/18th-letter-of-the-hebrew-alphabet.html

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