Posts Tagged ‘trust God’

Acts 13:44-52: Wild with Jealousy

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Johann Heisse: Paul and Barnabas in Lystra

We have visited this reading before and we do well to visit it again. The themes are vitally important to us.

Some of the Jews, seeing the crowds, went wild with jealousy and tore into Paul, contradicting everything he was saying, making an ugly scene.

Whether we are the Jews, the Christians or the Gentiles . . . we must guard against jealousy and the ugly scenes this negative emotion brings.

But Paul and Barnabas didn’t back down. Standing their ground they spoke.

Like Paul and Barnabas . . . we must remain in Christ, trust God, and live in the Spirit so that we might share the healing message of the Good News.

All who were marked out for real life put their trust in God—they honored God’s Word by receiving that life. 

Like those who heard the good news of salvation . . . we must open our hearts and minds to God’s movement in our lives.

Some of the Jews convinced the most respected women and leading men of the town that their precious way of life was about to be destroyed. Alarmed, they turned on Paul and Barnabas and forced them to leave.

Like the most respected women and leading men in our town . . . we must remain in Christ and the surety of Christ’s promise.

Paul and Barnabas shrugged their shoulders and went on to the next town, Iconium, brimming with joy and the Holy Spirit, two happy disciples.

Like Paul and Barnabas . . . we must shrug our shoulders, move on to the next town, allowing the joy of the Spirit to overflow our hearts.

For other reflections on Paul and Barnabas, enter the apostles’ names in the blog search bar and explore.

For more on Iconium, visit: http://bibleatlas.org/iconium.htm

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Jeremiah 17:7-8: God is in Control

Tuesday, March 7, 2017god-is-in-control

From the MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer on Sunday, February 26, 2017: It may not always be visible from our vantage point, but God is in control of all things, careful to provide for us despite our sins and those of others around us. Would the One who created us out of sheer love leave us to push through our struggles on our own? Even when we can’t see signs of [God’s] grace, – especially then – no action is more appropriate than to worship [God].

We can never hear this reminder too often

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.

They shall be like a tree planted by water,
    sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
    and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
    and it does not cease to bear fruit. (NRSV)

God says: I know that the world is quite successful in deceiving you. It gives you the impression that I have abandoned my creation and it asks you, “Where is your God?” I know how much you struggle with doubt and fear, but I am with you always and everywhere. I know how anxiety and depression fogs your senses, but I see, and hear, and live with you. My prophet Jeremiah reminds you of this. Listen to his words.

But blessed is the man who trusts me, God,
    the woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees replanted in Eden,
    putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
    never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts,
    bearing fresh fruit every season. (MSG)

When we look at other versions of these verses and allow their meaning to sink in, we begin to understand that we are not alone, we are not abandoned, and we are well and greatly loved.

 Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 26.2 (2011): 368. Print.  

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2 Samuel 11 and 12: Conversion – Part II

Friday, February 3, 2017

Jean Restout: Ananias Restoring the Sight of St. Paul

Jean Restout: Ananias Restoring the Sight of St. Paul

Two interesting readings from Acts tell the story of Saul/Paul’s conversion: 9:1-22 and 22:3-16.  Again, we see the figure who serves as an instrument of God in the surprising kind of turnabout that can happen when we trust God enough to place ourselves in his hands.  This man, like Nathan in the story of David, communes regularly with God so that when he finds himself in a situation that rightfully causes fear, he has the resources to step into the waiting hand of God . . . to go beyond the fear . . . and into his own conversion of vocation.

Nathan, Ananais, and countless other harvesters in God’s vineyard hear and answer this call by trusting in God.  In the Acts readings we see Ananais hesitate, saying to God: Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem.  And the Lord replies: Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.

In today’s story, we do not read of any trepidation Nathan may have felt on going before the King to give the man an opportunity to repent.  What we do read in verse 12:5 is how David reacted in anger to Nathan’s parable.  Yet Nathan stands his ground, firm in his knowing that he has been sent.

We might spend time this afternoon wondering about our own Nathan parable.  What story might the prophet stand before us to pronounce?  How might we react?  We also might also spend time thinking about our own role as truth-revealer.  When we hear the voice tell us what is required of us, are we willing to do what is required?

We might question as Ananais does, or we might immediately – like Nathan – speak a truth we know others who are far stronger and far more powerful than ourselves wish to keep hidden.  In any case, as children of light we are asked to stand in the truth and to bring truth to others . . . as is required of us by our God . . . according to our vocation.

We notice today that Ananais and Nathan respond to God’s call in kindness and with mercy, prepared and even expecting that their work will bear fruit.  As we go about the rest of our day, we might want to think about which role we play in today’s drama.  Are we David?  Are we Bathsheba?  Are we Nathan?  Are we truly converted by our vocation?  Do we act from God?  Do we act with God?  Do we act in God’s love?  Do we act at all on what we know to be our own conversions . . . one of the heart . . . the other of our vocation?

Adapted from a January 25, 2009 Favorite.

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Romans 1:20: God’s Basic Reality

Wednesday, December 7, 2016gods-law-of-creation-the-origin-of-deviation

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.

Ever since God created the world, his invisible qualities, both his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made. So those people have no excuse at all! (GNT)

Some of us may believe that putting love on the line is not fully possible; but Paul tells the Romans – and he tells us – that with God all things are possible. We have only to look around us at the mystery and beauty of God’s creation.

But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! (MSG)

Some of us may believe that putting love on the line is foolish; but Paul tells the Romans – and he tells us – that with God we experience nothing but love.

By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. (MSG)

Some of us may believe that putting love on the line brings to fullness the eternal promise of peace and joy. Paul tells the Romans – and he tells us – that this is a promise worth trusting.

When we explore various translations of these verses, we discover God’s basic reality, and the fullness of his promise.


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Ezra 6: 19-23: Marvels – Part III

Saturday, November 12, 2016

James Tissot: The return of the Prisoners

James Tissot: The Return of the Prisoners

We consider the marvels God has done for the faithful in ancient days, and we consider the response of the faithful.

The people who had returned from exile celebrated.

We recall the marvels God has done for our own ancestors, and we recall their celebration of God’s fidelity.

With great joy they celebrated.

We remember the presence of God in our lives, the miracles God has wrought in us, and we remember our celebration of God’s presence in our own days and nights.

For seven days they joyfully celebrated.

We hope for the presence of God in the lives of our children and grandchildren, and we hope that our children celebrate in joy for this presence.

The Lord had made them joyful.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow we rejoice in our return from exile as did the people of old.

James Tissot: The Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod

James Tissot: The Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod

They were full of joy.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow we rejoice in our return from exile as did our ancestors.

And they kept the feast.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow we rejoice when we pass on this tradition of joy as we also keep the feast.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to compare translations of these verses, we find that we have great cause to rejoice.

For more on Herod’s reconstruction work, click on the image of the rebuilt temple, or visit: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/second-temple/ 

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Exodus 3: Fire in the Desert

Wednesday, October 19, 201604-chaz-russo

The bush was blazing away but it didn’t burn up.

There are times in our lives when we experience an event that stuns us, when the impossible appears to be possible.

The angel of God appeared to Moses in flames of fire blazing out of the middle of a bush. 

There are times in our days when we know that the power of God buoys us, times in our nights when the Spirit of God heals and comforts us.

Moses said, “What’s going on here? I can’t believe this! Amazing! Why doesn’t the bush burn up?”

When we meet the impossible made possible, do we credit coincidence or chance before we credit our loving God with our rescue?

God says: I’ve taken a good, long look at the affliction of my people. I’ve heard their cries for deliverance from their slave masters; I know all about their pain. And now I have come to help them, pry them loose from the grip of Egypt, get them out of that country and bring them to a good land with wide-open spaces, a land lush with milk and honey.

burning_bushWhen we hear God’s call to act as prophet, do we assume we are incapable or do we trust God’s plan to see us through?

Moses answered God, “But why me? What makes you think that I could ever go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

When we feel Christ’s presence in the dangerous moments of our lives, do we rise with hope or disappear in fear?

I’ll be with you, God says. And this will be the proof that I am the one who sent you: When you have brought my people out of Egypt, you will worship God right here at this very mountain.

When we hear the call to follow God’s heart, do we put aside our fears to follow? Do we dare to believe that a bush might burn in the desert and never disintegrate into ash?


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Psalm 52: Thanksgiving – Part VI

Saturday, October 1, 2016OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Giving thanks for the Deceitful Tongue

In this Favorite from September 21, 2008 we find that thanksgiving finds us even when we encounter lies and deceptions.

Like an olive tree in the house of God, trust in God’s love forever.

The image of the olive tree is used often in the Old Testament.  Either the fruit or its oil was present at every meal in Jesus’ time.  The tree is evergreen and grows anywhere it can get a foothold, even on rocky hillsides.  “It is no wonder it assumed an almost mythical character.  The tree became a symbol of fertility (Ps. 128:3), beauty Jer. 11:16; Hos. 14:6), divine blessing (Deut. 7:13), peace and bountifulness (Gen. 8:11), and it was inextricably associated with Jesus (the Mount of Olives [Mark 14:26; John 8:1]).” (Achetemeier 782)

The olive tree serves as an apt model for the life of a Christian.  It takes hold where it can; its fruit and oil sustain, light, heal and anoint.

I will praise you always for what you have done.

We so often turn to God in time of sorrow and trial.  We must remember to praise God in thanksgiving when we are blessed.

I will proclaim before the faithful that your name is good.

We so often think that when things go well we have been clever, “on top of things”, and well-prepared.  We must remember to give God credit for the good in our lives, for without God we have nothing.  God is the one who ordained us with our aptitudes.

The first portion of this psalm asks Why do you glory in evil, you scandalous liar?  It is a question we pose when we discover that someone we trust has been untruthful in such a way that our relationship has suffered.

The second portion of the psalm describes how God will strike down the liar while the righteous jeer.  From a New Testament standpoint, we know that compassion and Christ-like witness are the proper responses to an evil act.  Still, we can empathize with the pent-up anger expressed in this Old Testament view.  That is why it is all the more important to look at the third portion.

Like an olive tree in the house of God, trust in God’s love forever.

It reminds us that after we have done all possible to rebuke a sinner, we must place our trust in God.

I will praise you always for what you have done.

It reminds us to thank God for the blessings in our lives, for the evil turned to good.

I will proclaim before the faithful that your name is good.

It reminds us to tell the wonderful story of our own conversion so that others may also be converted.

Like an olive tree in the house of God, trust in God’s love forever.

It reminds us to trust God, to love as Christ loves, to endure, to hold on, and to be faithful to God forever.

Like an olive tree in the house of God, trust in God’s love forever.

Achetemeier, Paul J. HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. 782. Print.

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1 Peter 1:17-21: Sloppy Living

Saturday, August 27, 2016o-WRAPPED-GIFT-facebook

As the leader of Christ’s nascent church, Peter laid out a simple plan to avoid what he called sloppy living. Let there be doubt, he tells us, each of us has the gift of life from one who loves us dearly; and each day of our journey brings us another opportunity to unfold this gift.

Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. 

Peter is clear, the sacrifice freely given by Christ deserves our best response. And this response cannot be languid or superficial. It must be authentic and deep.

As the leader who continues to lead us on our journey, Peter challenges us to live up to the promise placed in us. He urges us to return the compassion and kindness so lovingly and intentionally given. He implores us to trust God consciously and always.

God always knew he was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to compare THE MESSAGE version of these verses with other translations, we are given the opportunity to explore our own lives to look for traces of sloppy living.

Tomorrow, the foolishness of trusting in riches. 

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1 John 5: Walking with God

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Morgan Weistling: Walking with God

Morgan Weistling: Walking with God

And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know God who is true; and we are in God who is true, in God’s Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20)

In this chapter of John’s first letter we are told how we might conquer the world: believing in Christ, observing God’s commandments, living out the testimony we witness in God’s loving care for us, believing in God’s message that we are given the gift of eternal life that is quite real and not an illusion, and entering into dialog with God who loves us more than we can understand or imagine.

What do we see in Weistling’s painting? A loving father who gingerly holds his child’s hands – not too tightly and not too loosely. We see a small, eager face filled with confidence and trust – looking up, looking forward. We see traces of a workshop, the messy business of life where there are pitfalls and obstacles to overcome and learn from rather than deny or avoid. Perhaps the child’s mother has brought her husband a meal or has stopped for a quick visit between father and child. We might ask ourselves: are the parents aware of the dangers of the workshop and the world? Most likely they are. We might also ask as we pause today: Is the father teaching the child . . . or is the child teaching the father? How much might we learn from the small ones around us?

Weistling: Kissing the face of God

Weistling: Kissing the face of God

Today we reflect on our own first steps as children and we remember that the human Christ had to learn how to stumble, how to fall, and how to stand again. We reflect on how we as adults have nurtured the children given as gift to us. And we reflect on how we might become childlike in our trust in and dependence on God. Are we the worried parent always looking to avoid the fall? Or are we the eager child always trusting in the Lord?

To learn more about these paintings, click on the images. 

Over the next few weeks we will be away from easy internet access but we will be pausing to read scripture and to pray and reflect at noon, keeping those in The Noontime Circle in mid-day prayer. You may want to click on the Connecting at Noon page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/connecting-at-noon/ Or you may want to follow a series of brief posts that begins today, inspired by paintings of the life of Jesus Christ  that can be found at: http://www.jesus-story.net/painting_family.htm In these posts, we will have the opportunity to reflect on a scripture verse and an artist’s rendition of that event. Wishing you grace and love and peace in Christ Jesus.


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