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Posts Tagged ‘the kingdom’


Proverbs 12: If You Love Learning

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The school in which I teach has a front portico with seven columns as a direct, overt message that we seek knowledge. (See Proverbs 9.) The school motto is: Veritatem prosequimur – Pursue truth. For an institution of learning, the image of Wisdom building her house is apt. Today we explore several verses from Chapter 12 as we reflect on the value of taking advice.

If you love learning, you love the discipline that goes with it—
    how shortsighted to refuse correction!

Acceptance of a valid critique is a sign of strength rather than weakness.

You can’t find firm footing in a swamp,
    but life rooted in God stands firm.

Building our spiritual house on Christ is a sign of our confidence in The Word.

The words of the wicked kill;
    the speech of the upright saves.

The gossip of bad people gets them in trouble;
    the conversation of good people keeps them out of it.

Sharing The Word with others is an invitation to the Spirit.

Fools have short fuses and explode all too quickly;
    the prudent quietly shrug off insults.

Living The Word brings us fortitude rather than fear.

Evil scheming distorts the schemer;
    peace-planning brings joy to the planner.

No evil can overwhelm a good person,
    but the wicked have their hands full of it.

Living as Jesus teaches is a sign of courage rather than submission.

Prudent people don’t flaunt their knowledge;
    talkative fools broadcast their silliness.

Sharing The Word in the Spirit is a sign that the Kingdom of God is here. The Kingdom of God is now.

When we compare other translations of these verses, we find that a love of learning is essential for workers in the Kingdom.

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Proverbs 10: Honesty, Discipline and Expansion

Sunday, July 30, 2017

God won’t starve an honest soul,
    but God frustrates the appetites of the wicked.

Sloth makes you poor;
    diligence brings wealth.

The writers of Proverbs focus on practical advice that speaks of life honestly.

Make hay while the sun shines—that’s smart;
    go fishing during harvest—that’s stupid.

Blessings accrue on a good and honest life,
    but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse.

These verses point to truisms that make us smile.

Honesty lives confident and carefree,
    but Shifty is sure to be exposed.

An evasive eye is a sign of trouble ahead,
    but an open, face-to-face meeting results in peace.

These words remind us that discipline paves the way of a happy life.

The road to life is a disciplined life;
    ignore correction and you’re lost for good.

 Liars secretly hoard hatred;
    fools openly spread slander.

We remember that balance and compromise are basic elements of discipline.

The more talk, the less truth;
    the wise measure their words.

The speech of a good person is worth waiting for;
    the blabber of the wicked is worthless.

We reflect on our acts of kindness and realize that they return to us a hundred-fold.

God’s blessing makes life rich;
    nothing we do can improve on God.

The nightmares of the wicked come true;
    what the good people desire, they get.

When we are patient, forgiving, and open, we arrive at seeing the reality of the Kingdom.

When the storm is over, there’s nothing left of the wicked;
    good people, firm on their rock foundation, aren’t even fazed.

The aspirations of good people end in celebration;
    the ambitions of bad people crash.

When we are faithful, hope-filled and loving, we join others who look for the expansion of the Kingdom.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to explore different translations of these verses, we begin to see that honesty and discipline bring about the expansion of the Kingdom.

 

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Matthew 5:38-48: About Revenge – Part III

Tuesday, February 21, 2017be-perfect-like-god-matthew-5-verse-48-1

Today we hear Jesus’ words from his Sermon on the Mount. He asks us to live generously, he challenges us to love our enemies, and he reminds us that we are already members of his kingdom.

In a word, what I’m saying is, grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.

We linger with the thought that God lives toward us, not only giving us breath but also nurturing and sustaining us, moving into our every bone and tissue.

You must be perfect—just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (GNT)

We pause to reflect that God calls us to Christ’s presence in us, flourishing into the light of Christ, blooming into the healing presence of the Spirit.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (NRSV)

james-1-4We react to God’s request that we grow up, that we mature in Christ, that we reconcile in the Spirit, and that we transform in the Creator. This is the perfection that God asks of us. Not that live a life free or error, but that we offer to God the flowering of the potential and trust placed in us at our conception.

The Apostle James tells us that when we persist in Christ, we begin to understand what God asks of us when he asks for our perfection.

Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  James 1:4 (GNT)

When we compare varying versions of Matthew 5:48, we begin to understand what it is that God asks of us, and how we might grow up, how we might be perfect in Christ.

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Matthew 18:19-20: Again, I say to you . . .

Thursday, February 9, 2017church-meeting-w_scripture

We might smile when we read the simple words, “Again, I say to you . . .” Whether we are parents, teachers, friends or colleagues, it is likely we have had to repeat ourselves in the hope of being understood. God does the same for us.

Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. (NRSV)

We might give thanks for the simple gift that Jesus gives us in this promise of his presence when we gather in God’s name.

And I tell you more: whenever two of you on earth agree about anything you pray for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them. (GNT)

We might remember to gather with those who live in the Spirit when we are troubled or spent.

To repeat, I tell you that if two of you here on earth agree about anything people ask, it will be for them from my Father in heaven. For wherever two or three are assembled in my name, I am there with them. (CJB)

We might invite others to join us as we petition heaven for justice, mercy and peace.

Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there. (MSG)

And as we gather to pray, we might encourage one another to pray for our enemies, for those who refuse to look for unity or build peace, and for those who hope to bring an end to the Kingdom.

When we compare varying translations of these verses, we open ourselves to God’s promise that Christ is with us always, and that when we gather to petition God, the Spirit remains in us – bringing us new life. This Christ tells us again and again. 

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Matthew 9:1-8: Gossipy Whispering

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Mathieu Ignace van Bree: Christ Heals the Paralytic

Mathieu Ignace van Bree: Christ Heals the Paralytic

Too often when we come into contact with those among us who suffer physical or mental differences, we turn away in alarm or surprise. Or worse, we give in to the temptation to whisper about someone’s condition without realizing that our behavior is clearly visible. Our gossipy whispering is audible.

Jesus teaches us a difficult lesson today.

Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why this gossipy whispering? Which do you think is simpler: to say, ‘I forgive your sins,’ or, ‘Get up and walk’?” 

We know that in ancient times – and still in some cultures today – afflictions are seen as divine punishment for sin. Jesus forgives with the authority given him by the Creator.

Jesus teaches us how to measure our compassion today.

“Get up. Take your bed and go home”.

In our hearts and minds we are grateful when we do not suffer, grateful when we walk in bounty. We also know that God’s grace blesses us with the gifts that make it possible for us to earn a living, to afford a roof, food and clothing. Although in many societies we believe that everyone is entitled to an equal opportunity, we also must know that not everyone is equally endowed.

Jesus teaches us how to heal today.

And the man did it. The crowd was awestruck, amazed and pleased that God had authorized Jesus to work among them this way.

In a world that is strangely topsy-turvy, we know that we are responsible for our response to God’s call more than we are responsible for our fame, wealth or power. Jesus calls us to put aside our gossipy whispering and invite those among us who are paralyzed in any way to join us. Jesus invites all to come together with whatever gifts we have to build the infinite and boundless kingdom.

Jesus teaches us about goodness today.

When we use the scripture link above and the drop-down menus to explore other translations of this story, we hear God’s call as healing and compassionate kingdom-builders.

To learn more about Jesus’ miracles, click on the image above or visit: http://iconsandimagery.blogspot.com/2012_10_01_archive.html  

Tomorrow, withering the fig tree. 

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Haggai 2: Promise of Immediate Blessing

Tuesday, June 7, 2016rainbow3

Perhaps we believe that we ought to postpone grace and blessings, that we ought to wait for the reward of our hard work for the day we move from this world to the next; but this thinking forgets that the kingdom is here, the kingdom is now. And it forgets that we are called to witness to the kingdom each day, to experience its joy and to spread its good news.  Our problem is that it is so difficult to see the kingdom through the smoke screen of life. The confusion of un-kept vows and broken people obscures our view of God’s plan for the world; but God’s promise is with us just as are the stars that scatter across the sky. We cannot see these heavenly bodies in the fierce light of the sun but still they are there, guiding us when night is the darkest.

One moment yet, a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.  I will shake the nations, and all the treasures of all the nations will come in, and I will fill this house with glory.

What will happen when the shaking begins?  Where will we be?  Where will we and our loved ones tumble?  Will we still able to hear the voice of God?

Haggai and Zechariah speak to the tired remnant, calling them to rebuild the fallen city of hope.  They look upon ruin and dream of what might be.  When we listen to these prophets, we have the choice to follow the admonition to build or to lapse into a self-serving life.  Our action – or our inaction – determines our ability to hear The Word when spoken.

And I will set you as a signet ring; for I have chosen you, says the Lord of hosts.

Life is tumultuous and the only words of clarity that come to us come from the Creator.  All else is illusion and obfuscation.

I will shake the heavens and the earth; I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms, destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations. 

God overthrows power and comforts the powerless.  God rebukes those who take what they want and saves the broken-hearted.  God chooses the damaged and wounded, the betrayed and the abandoned and he heals them . . . for I have chosen you, says the Lord of hosts.

God pledges to fulfill promises, and this kingdom of hope and promise is now.  Amid the cacophony and the haze, we must keep our ear tuned to the Voice which can be trusted. We must keep our eye on the One sent to lead us from the confusion. We must rely on the Spirit that dwells within . . .  for I have chosen you, says the Lord of hosts.

From a reflection written on May 28, 2008.

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Luke 17:20-37: Making Ready

Friday, February 5, 2016Kingdom_of_God

The coming of the kingdom cannot be observed, and no one will announce, “Look, here it is,” or “There it is”.  For behold, the kingdom of God is among you . . . But first [the Son of Man] must suffer greatly and be rejected by his generation.

The days of Noah – the days of Lot – the days of Christ – today.   Floods – brimstone – the crucifixion – the perils of today’s world.

We are told that the kingdom is not announced to us in the way we might expect.  We are told of coming consequences.  It is explained that we must use senses other than those we use for eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.  It is explained that the kingdom is already among us.  We are told that the one who saves us will first suffer and be rejected.

The message is clear: One who wishes to gain the soul must forfeit life.  When we hear the call, we must not think of gathering anything up to take with us.  God will provide all that we will need on the journey; therefore, our only preparation need be to keep vigilant watch.

We must be alert . . . but how?  If we are not to hear announcement or see a warning, how do we know when to respond?  If we are not to pack any bags or prepare any food, then what are we to organize? What and how are we to make ready?

Suffering and rejection will be a part of our lives just as it is in the Messiah’s.  We live through these experiences of hurt, and we learn from them about God’s presence in our lives.  These experiences and what we have learned from them are what we pack for our journey.  This wisdom that is born of pain and that is used to refine our way of being in the world; this is something we will want to take with us to present to the Lord at his coming.

In Psalm 40 we are told that God does not really want our burnt offerings and sacrifices; rather, we are to use the suffering and rejection we experience to convert our human hearts to hearts that are open to God’s love.  Psalm 51 reminds us that God heals the offering of our broken spirit, and God delights in our offering of all that is out of order about us.  This is what we take to the Lord.

We cannot change the events of the past or the future . . . we can only effect the present moment in which we live.  We cannot go back to change something that happened, but we can make amends where possible and correct our own behavior.  We cannot foretell the coming circumstances of our lives, but we can prepare ourselves to be open to the amazing possibilities God presents to us in even the darkest of moments.

For behold, the kingdom of God is among us . . . what and how do we make ready today? 

A Favorite from January 26, 2010.

When we spend time with these verses from Luke and these two psalms, we begin to understand what it means to make ourselves ready for the Lord. We begin to understand how we might use God’s Yardstick of love.

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Romans 16:17-20: Warning to Troublemakers

Thursday, February 4, 2016f8a252c28d8359617d691b379d2404e5

In this political season in the U.S., Paul’s words are worthy of our reflection time.

Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.

Paul’s letter to the Romans holds this little paragraph: a warning to the brethren who cause dissention and scandal contrary to the doctrine they have learned. Commentary suggests that Paul’s intent is to inoculate the growing community against the formation of factions that might lead to the fragmentation of the church.  In 1 Chronicles 28:20 David says to his son Solomon: Take charge! Take heart! Don’t be anxious or get discouraged. God, my God, is with you in this; God won’t walk off and leave you in the lurch. God’s at your side until every last detail is completed for conducting the worship of God. 

And how do we worship the Lord? When do we gather to give thanks to God?

We hear that we must go about our work without fear of any kind.

We understand that our kingdom work is more important than any other.

We demonstrate our belief that God is with us always when we put aside the fear-mongering and scandal-peddling of troublemakers.

TakeHeartHandsLogoJohn shares Jesus’ words with us: These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

When we set ourselves to doing God’s work, we have no reason for apprehension or anxiety.

In both the Old and New Testaments, we see God’s yardstick in our world. Paul, David and Jesus offer us a clear image and method of measuring God’s presence and love in our lives.

Adapted from a reflection written on April 27, 2008.

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James 2:5-7: The Down-and-Out

Thursday, October 8, 2015peace-in-christ

When we listen to the Gospel closely we know that for God all things are possible. When read the familiar histories of the Old Testament with care we know that with God all harm is turned to good. When we live in the truth of God as James calls us to do we know that in God life is always lived as inversion. James speaks to us again today.

Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently?

When we rest in God we do not fear the unknown.

He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God.

When we play in God we do not shrink from trouble.

And here you are abusing these same citizens! Isn’t it the high and mighty who exploit you, who use the courts to rob you blind?

When we pray with God we will always find our way home in peace.

Jesus-Comforting-Large-650x280Aren’t they the ones who scorn the new name—“Christian”—used in your baptisms?

When we live in the Spirit we will act as God acts – always offering peace for war, always raising prayer for hatred and always remembering to love in the face of evil. When we live in Christ we will always live in inversion.

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