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Posts Tagged ‘The Spirit’


1 Peter 3:8-22: Salvific Suffering – Part III

The Sadducees

Thursday, May 11, 2017

What do we fear . . . and why?

We reflect on the story of the early apostles (Acts 5) as they remain faithful to Christ while suffering and rejoicing with equal energy and passion. When we open ourselves to God’s generosity, we come away refreshed and encouraged with the news that when we respond to the call to do God’s work, we know that we quickly find God in the obstacles that surround us.  We know that we are Rocks in company with Peter; we know that we can serve as foundations of the living temple; we see that we are able confront corrupt authority; we can rejoice in our suffering to bringing truth and light to the world.

When we reflect on this story, we understand that a small group of the faithful, through the power and love of the risen Christ, successfully challenges the old guard. We realize that the Sadducees are afraid to order a sentence of death on these Jesus-followers because they fear the people will revolt. They fear the power of the Spirit.

There is irony in this story. Those who inflict fear on others eventually experience fear themselves. This we see the power of the Spirit unfold, rising from fear to bring us peace. This,we begin to understand, is the gift of salvific suffering.

And so today we ask ourselves, what do we fear, and why?

Tomorrow, how do we suffer with Christ?

Adapted from a Favorite written in November 10, 2007.

 

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Matthew 7:7-8: So Very Goodask-seek-knock

Monday, December 5, 2016

This week we explore how to put our love on the line just as the Creator does by abiding with us, just as Jesus does as he shows us The Way, and just as the Spirit does as she comforts and remains in us.

In Genesis 1:31 we are told that God looks at Adam and Eve in the garden of creation and declares that it was good, so very good! It was evening, it was morning – Day Six.

Matthew bring to us the words of our brother, Jesus: Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. (MSG)

If we are to lay our love on the line, we must be direct with God. If we are to have solid and honest relationships, we must be open with our loved ones. If we are to establish bridges with our enemies, we must be straightforward, authentic, and open to the wisdom of the Spirit. If we are to put our love on the line . . . we know quite well what we are to do.

When we compare other translations of these verses, we find that God shows us how The Way. We know that we will need to remain in constant communication with our Creator, Brother and Spirit if we are to know just how and where to go. And we will come to understand that it is good, so very good. 

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Mark 7:36-37: Our WordsThe-Power-of-our-Words-Vision-Wall-Poster-copy

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

He’s done it all and done it well. He gives hearing to the deaf, speech to the speechless.

God has gifted us with the gift of words . . . today we reflect on the purpose of this gift . . . and the use of our own words in our daily lives.

“Watch your words diligently. Words have such great power to bless or to wound. When you speak carelessly or negatively, you damage others as well as yourself. This ability to verbalize is an awesome privilege, granted only to those I created in my image. You need help in wielding this mighty power responsibly.

“Though the world applauds quick-witted retorts, My instructions about communication are quite different: Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Ask My Spirit to help you whenever you speak . . . If [people around you] are silent, pray before speaking to them. If they are talking, pray before responding. These are split-second prayers, but they put you in touch with My Presence. In this way, your speaking comes under the control of My Spirit. As positive speech patterns replace your negative ones, the increase in your joy will amaze you”. (Young 126)

jesus callingIn her wonderful devotional, JESUS CALLING, Sarah Young bases daily reflections on scripture. She brings us wisdom that we might want to use in a modern climate of insults and one-liner sound bites are meant for broadcast news. Jesus comes to as THE WORD of the loving presence that created us in an image of goodness and compassion. When we take in the words that flood around us it is so frequently difficult to distinguish truth from lie; but what is easier to distinguish is ego versus selflessness, greed versus generosity, false fruit versus abundant fruit. When we are confused about whose words we are to believe or reject, Young presents us with a distillation of God’s message: we must rely on the Spirit for guidance, we must depend on Jesus as an example, and we must trust in the Creator who has created us in God’s image in and for love alone.

Tomorrow, healing the paralyzed man.

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004. Print.

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Mark 12:13-17: A Prayer for Paying Taxes and Tithes

Tuesday, August 2, 2016333-2016-tithes-or-taxes-300x292

Teacher, we know you have integrity, that you are indifferent to public opinion, don’t pander to your students, and teach the way of God accurately. Tell us: Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

Jesus is The Word of God, the light in the darkness, the rescuer of souls. In our conversations with Jesus, we might well ask the same question . . . must I pay attention to the institutions and systems put in place by humankind?

He knew it was a trick question, and said, “Why are you playing these games with me? Bring me a coin and let me look at it.” They handed him one.

Jesus is the Son of God, the Son of Man, the bringer of good news and redemption. In our prayer with God, we might well hear the same question . . . why do you complicate your life and what is it you are really asking of me?

“This engraving—who does it look like? And whose name is on it?”

“Caesar,” they said.

Jesus said, “Give Caesar what is his, and give God what is God’s.”

The Spirit lives in each of us, even those of us who appear to ignore the presence of the healing, living God. In our interactions with all of creation, we hear the same commandment . . . love me as you love yourself, love your neighbor and even your enemies as yourself, and live in my presence always. This is all I ask of you . . .

Their mouths hung open, speechless.

In our interactions with God the creator, God the Son and God the Spirit we hear a consistent message . . . we are in this world but not of it; we are made in God’s image and we are children of God; we made in and for love, love to be shared and not harbored, love that takes risks and does not shelter its own comfort, love that endures and withstands. When our mouths hang open at such outrageous hope, we pray.

Loving and forgiving God, we bring our little and big problems to you. Help us to see that you are all we need; give us patience and hope.

Generous and compassionate God, we bring our worries and anxieties to you. Guide us in understanding that you know and see all; send us your mercy and grace.

Courageous and outrageous God, we bring our fears and doubts to you. Heal us of our pettiness and deceit; bless us with fidelity and peace.

Timeless and limitless God, we bring our questions and confusion to you. Grant us your serenity and peace; transform us in your wisdom and love.

We hear Jesus’ words to render our taxes and tithes with common sense and generosity. Let us give over all that is of this world to this world, let us keep our eyes on Christ as our example of how we are to manage this world, and let us keep our hearts and minds always in the hands of God.

Amen.

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Job 8: Taking the Dare – Part III

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Job and his Friends

Job and his Friends

God’s trust in humanity is so enduring that the Creator takes the dare from Satan. How might we return this amazing trust? God the parent guides and protects us every waking moment and every sleeping hour. We need not eradicate all of the evil in the world; we need only keep our eyes on Christ and do as he asks; we need only open ourselves to the miracles of the Spirit and follow.

God’s hope in us is so strong that Christ returns for us. How might we learn from this strength? Christ reconciles and guides us. And so must we heal and shepherd others. We need only bloom where we are planted, reap the harvest that God has sown.

God’s love for us is so infinite that the Spirit resides eternally in us. How might we return this love? By tending to the marginalized, the broken-hearted and the bereft, by entering into transformation, and inviting others to join us.

In the marvelous story of Job, his friend Bildad cannot believe that Job suffers innocently. He cannot fathom why God allows misfortune to befall one of the ardent faithful. “Does God mess up?” he asks. “Does God Almighty ever get things backward?” He encourages Job not to hang his life from one thin thread, not to hitch his fate to a spider web. Bildad sees Job’s misfortune as punishment, and so might we if we do not read closely. After consideration we understand that Job suffers precisely because God trusts him, believes in him, and loves him. God restores all that Job loses and more, and this is a gesture that Satan cannot understand in his narrow, stingy world. God trusts that Job will not turn away in desperation or fatigue, and this is an attitude that Satan cannot countenance from his pathetic, narrow perspective. God allows Job to choose between hope and desperation, and this is a love that Satan cannot comprehend with his tragic, empty heart.

If God is so willing to take Satan’s dare, so willing to trust humanity with the enormity of God’s infinite goodness and mercy, might we then be willing to follow Jesus? Might we be willing to open ourselves fully to the Spirit?

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John 1:1-5: The Word


John 1:1-5The Word

Wednesday, April 27, 2016Jesus-and-the-Bible

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

I am always inspired by this beautiful anthem . . . and no wonder.  It says all there is to say.

He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

God created us to be with him. God loves us deeply, dearly, passionately, intimately. God speaks to us . . . but we sometimes have difficulty understanding the words .

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 

And so God sent The Word, His Word, The Only Word . . . to move, and live, and suffer and rejoice among us. And when this Living Word left us, God’s Spirit returned to dwell with us forever . . . to help us to understand the words that God speaks to us constantly.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

We are driven into the desert to meet the tempter.  And the Word is there. We confront ourselves each day.  And the Word is also there. We are free to choose to listen for and comprehend the Word given to us through Jesus, spoken to us by the Spirit. We are free to join our God and together make all things new, to experience God’s saving and loving Word.

Adapted from a Favorite written on April 1, 2008. 

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Luke 2:25-35

Rembrandt: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

Rembrandt: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

Simeon

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.               

Righteous, devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel . . . Simeon focuses all of his spiritual, mental and physical energy on God.  We imagine what sort of award awaits us when we determine to live as Simeon lives.

He came in the Spirit into the temple . . . Not only does Simeon live in the Spirit but he carries this Spirit with him wherever he goes.  We imagine what effect we might have on the world if we are as faithful as Simeon.

“A second Lucan theme lies in the setting: Jerusalem and the Temple.  For Luke the ministry of Jesus moves toward Jerusalem and the mission of the church moves out from Jerusalem.  As for the Temple, Luke is alone among NT writers in is favorable view.  His Gospel begins with Zechariah in the Temple and it will close with Jesus’ disciples in the Temple”. (Mays 932)

In this Advent time of year when all the world awaits Christ’s coming into the world, let us consider the many directions in which we feel ourselves pulled, let us determine to await Christ in the temple of our hearts . . . and let us decide to take the story of our salvation to the world.

Tomorrow . . . a third Lucan theme.

To read and understand more about the importance of Simeon’s words, click on the image above or go to: http://www.jesuswalk.com/lessons/2_21-38.htm

Or enter the word Simeon into the blog search bar and explore.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012 – 1 Chronicles 24 – Minutiae

The High Priest Zadok

When we discover that we focus on the minutiae of life rather than its living, we know that we have stepped over a line.  When we begin to split hairs and argue the details, we know that we have gone a bit too far.  When we become fascinated by the rules and parameters rather than the Spirit, we must take a step back and evaluate.  Today we have an opportunity to reflect on the minutiae and the living of our lives.

“Historically, this organizational system [of priestly duties] was developed only after the return from Babylon and not in David’s day.  Two motivations led to its development.  The first is a practical matter: the increased number of priests required a rotation of priestly duties.  Second, this ordering of the priesthood may have been an attempt to resolve a squabble between the line of Abiathar, banned from the priesthood by Solomon (1 Kings 2:26), and the line of Zadok, represented by those priests returning from exile . . . [in which] both are linked with Aaron through his two sons”.  (Mays 323) 

Giotto: Abiathar

In this example of revisionism we see the ancient struggle with minutiae which remains with us today.  We fuss about who sits where and who wears what and who knows whom rather than focus on overcoming our fears and living our life to our fullest potential.  We have seen this before; we understand the truth of these words.  Deep within we know that must put aside our fretting over details and forget about any hierarchy we construct to turn instead to God’s generous goodness and high goals.  Rather than lust after a name or position in society, rather than amass possessions to leave to our heirs, we must respond to God’s call. 

Our true example is Jesus Christ, not the most popular person we know.  And our true goal is to love as God loves us, not to love for the sake of gaining something.  With all of this in mind, we remember those who squabble over petty gains, we remind ourselves that our vocation must be more than minutiae, and we ask for God’s blessing in all we do.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 323. Print.

First written on November 15, 2010, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

For more on Zadok or Abiathar click on the images above or go to: http://www.realmagick.com/zadok-high-priest-zadok-in-the-bible/ and http://spectrummagazine.org/node/2759 

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Monday, February 20, 2012 – Mark 1 -3  – A Reason to Believe

Today we return to the Gospel of Mark and when we study these opening Chapters we discover that they provide the perfect resource for us when we have had a bad day, an awful week, a cataclysmic month, or a horrendous span in our lives.  In these simple stories we will find the courage to continue an arduous journey; we will find hope that will impel us forward through tragedy.  We will even find the strength to help others who journey alongside us. Mark shows us a typical series of days in the life of Jesus in such a way that we might see ourselves putting aside our worldly worries to follow him.  Mark, with his quick-moving, thriller Gospel, gives us a reason to believe. 

John the Baptist serves as a precursor or herald for the Messiah who follows him.  Our troubles and woes often announce themselves as well.  We feel a frisson of fear, a foreshadowing of something not fully revealed.  When we follow Jesus we will know that these forebodings are not our ultimate end.  Our end is rescue and redemption.  John baptizes the one who saves us all and Jesus unites with us in our own baptism.

The Spirit drives Jesus into the desert for forty days where he lives among wild beasts, is tempted by Satan and is ministered to by angels.  We too are driven into the barren wastes where we also met with devils and angels.  When we follow Jesus we will know that these dead places are not our last stop – even though they may seem to be at the time.  Jesus relies on the Father and unites with us in our own sufferings and temptations.

Jesus begins his ministry.  He cures many.  He gathers a following.  He chooses steadfast friends from the countless who follow him.  He is hounded by those who envy his relationship with God and the people.  We too step into the world to reveal our gifts and to allow God to act through us.  We too encounter obstacles to the Call we feel.  We too are harassed by those who cannot abide our closeness with God.  When we follow Jesus we know that there is no one, no idea, no thought, no thing that can separate us from God.  God never strays; it is we who have the choice to abandon or to abide.  Just as Jesus turns always to the Father so do we.  Jesus unites with us in the struggle.

Jesus steps into dangerous territory and his family and friends caution him, they even question his work.  We have seen the look of disappointment on the faces of others who misunderstand our steadfastness, who feel betrayed by our fidelity to the Gospel.  We know the sensation of rejection when those we love can no longer abide with us in the Spirit.  Jesus invites us to be one with him in the sacrifice we make in our own Gospel journey.  Jesus bonds with us as his sisters and brothers; he holds us close.  Jesus becomes one with us and takes up our too-heavy cross.

These opening stories in the Gospel of Mark draw us into Jesus’ story just as a good cinematographer hooks us in the opening shots of a film.  Jesus moves from friend to foe, from those who love him to those to hate him; and he always keeps his eye on the Father.  Jesus accompanies us in our own story; and he helps us to be mindful of the Spirit.

As we prepare to enter the Lenten season, we do well to read these opening Chapters of the Gospel of Mark for he tells us all and he tells us quickly.  Mark celebrates Jesus even as he foretells his awful end.  Mark holds no punches, sweetens no madness, and obscures no ugliness.  Mark shows us all.  Mark’s story gives us hope when tragedy strikes.  Mark’s story gives us courage when cataclysm hits.  Mark’s story helps us to prepare for the journey.  Mark’s story gives us a reason to believe this amazing Christ.

For more on the Gospel of Mark, see the Mark – “I Am” page on this blog. 

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