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Posts Tagged ‘trust’


Matthew 7:1-5: The Splinter and the Beam

Pompeo Batoni: Matthew the Evangelist

Pompeo Batoni: Matthew the Evangelist

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?

This is perhaps one of the most often quoted verses in scripture . . . and the most ignored.

What is it we must do to remove our blinders, to open our ears, to unclutter our hearts?

God says: I know that you cannot help but see the shortcomings of those around you. I also know that you have great difficulty observing your own need to change; but you need not worry. Rather than punish yourself, imagine that you are the very people you accuse. Rather than punish others, treat them with kindness and acceptance. When you have been wronged, protect yourself as best you can and then rely on me. Allow me to judge. Allow me to operate. Allow me to abide. The injustices of the world are well within my view . . . and well within my capacity to manage. When you believe that I have abandoned you, it is you have abandoned me. So when splinters and beams clutter your lives, manage what you can and rely on me. Abide in me as I abide in you. Live in kindness and mercy rather that anger and vengeance. Live in hope and fidelity rather than worry and anxiety. Live in me rather than in the woes of the world.

pointing-fingersEnter the word judging into the blog search bar and explore the possibilities of trust in God, forgiveness of our enemies, and mercy toward all. Click on the image of Matthew above to access a series of reflections on Matthew’s Gospel.


Enter the words Stop Judging in the blog search bar and explore. 

Images from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pompeo_Batoni_(1708-1787)_-_Saint_Matthew_-_266907_-_National_Trust.jpg and http://www.patentpracticeliability.com/2012/03/26/the-perils-of-patent-prosecution-delegation-a-cautionary-tale/

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Monday, February 14, 2022earth

Psalm 147:8-11

Who?

Who covers the earth with clouds and provides rain for the earth; who makes grass sprout on the mountains . . . ?

This is the reply that Job hears when God replies to his plea for understanding how it is that the wicked seem to live unjustly without suffering.

Who gives animals their food and ravens what they cry for . . . ?

This is the reply that we also hear when we ask how long we must endure, when we complain about our stumbling blocks.

trustinghandGod takes no delight in the strength of horses, no pleasure in the runner’s stride . . .

This statement runs counter to the ways of the world which honor those who are most powerful and influential, those who have created a persona that seems bigger than life.


Rather the Lord takes pleasure in the devout, in those who await God’s faithful care . . .

This statement affirms the gentle Way of Jesus, the soothing balm of the indwelling Spirit, and the rewards of fidelity to God. This statement reminds us that placing our trust in the merciful hands of God who holds the answer to all our woes.

isaiah 41-13We will better understand these verses when we spend time with Job 38-42 and examine the Lord’s speech, when we study Job’s reply and read about Job’s restoration. When we place all our hopes and dreams in God, we will better understand the answer to our questions of How Long and Who? And we will better understand how it is that in God’s Kingdom a humble servant is more exalted than the most powerful and most influential of men.


Click on the scripture links and spend time with Job 38-42, Isaiah 41 and Psalm 147. As we compare different versions of these verses, we listen for God’s voice that speaks to us. 

Images from: http://amagico.com/outer-space-pictures-of-earth-widescreen-2-hd-wallpaper.html and http://faithsmessenger.com/a-childlike-trust-in-god/

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joyMonday, November 8, 2021

Judith 11-16

Joy and Deliverance

The story of Judith is full of danger and violence counterpointed by fidelity and great rejoicing. Today we discover that despite grave danger, joy is present. If today’s story calls you to search for more surprises, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we find joy in miraculous deliverance.

Judith’s story is not included in all versions of the Bible because it is regarded by some to be an historical novel rather than sacred word. Others see is as a kind of allegory in that the name Judith is the feminine form of the word Judah. Still others point to anachronisms and decline to regard these words as inspired. In any case, the story holds is one of consequence, and one in which we see God’s deliverance of the faithful from the most extreme of circumstances.  It is a story to which we will want to attend.

Artemisia Gentilischi: Judith and the Maid-servant with the head of Holofernes

Artemisia Gentilischi: Judith and the Maid-servant with the head of Holofernes

If you did not have time to read the introductory chapters, move through them today – if even only quickly. The opening pages of the book prepare us for the dreadful middle and the joyful end. They put us in a time and place we will recognize as much like our own. They will give us a firmer footing from which to view this story, a stronger reason to hope as Judith does, and a clearer image of the desperation and joy she experiences.

Verse 14:9: When she had finished her story, the people cheered so loudly that the whole town echoed with sounds of joy.

Is there a Judith among us who quietly moves forward through God’s plan and surprises us with an outrageous act of hope? Are we the unobtrusive Judith or almost unseen handmaiden who turns history on its head in a surprising way? And when God intervenes with and in us in such startling ways, do we recognize the presence of the Spirit in our hour of desperation?

Verse 15:9: When they arrived, they all praised her, “You are Jerusalem’s crowning glory, the heroine of Israel, the pride and joy of our people!”

Do we recognize the Judiths among us and if so, do we value their quiet persistence and determination? Do we perhaps see ourselves in the gritty and resolute actions of these women?  And when God intervenes with and in us in such surprising ways, do we give thanks and honor to the Living God who is in and with all who find joy in great peril and outrageous deliverance?


To better understand Judith’s world, click on the Gentileschi image above, or visit: https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/artgentileschi_judithandthemaidservantwiththeheadofholofernes_1625.jpg 

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_and_her_Maidservant_(Gentileschi,_Cannes)

For more details and insights about the encounters between Judith and Holofernes, visit other Noontime reflections by entering the word Judith into the blog search bar.

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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joySunday, November 7, 2021

Judith 9-10

Joy and Peril

The story of Judith is full of danger and violence counterpointed by fidelity and great rejoicing. Today and tomorrow we discover that despite grave danger, joy is present. If today’s story calls you to search for more surprises, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we find joy in great peril.

The opening chapters of Judith’s story set a scene of violence, intrigue and power. War begins. An ultimate is delivered. An enemy is defeated and a council takes place to assess plans and possibilities. Nineveh and Ecbatana are now at the center of this drama, but Nebuchadnezzar rages against more than Persia. He lays out a secret plan to take revenge on the entire world, and once these plans are complete he sends for his general Holofernes. These events bring forth images from our daily newscasts that we might recognize in our modern world. Who would suspect that the town of Bethulia and the little-known widow, Judith, would turn the Assyrian power structure on its head? How might each of us, in our own infinitesimal way, have an effect upon the wider world? How might each of us find joy amid the peril that surrounds us?

Artemisia Gentileschi: Judith and her Maidservant

Artemisia Gentileschi: Judith and her Maidservant

Verse 10:3: She took off the sackcloth and her widow’s clothes . . . Judith turns away from her inner grief and turns outward to the world. So might we.

She took a bath, and put on rich perfumes . . . Judith enters into an intentional plan brought forward through prayer. So might we.

She brushed her hair, tied a ribbon around it . . . Judith prepares herself as herself and not as another entity with grandiose ideas. So might we.

She dressed herself in the fine clothes she used to wear on joyful occasions when her husband Manasseh was still alive . .  . Judith moves forward in the only way she knows how. In fidelity. In trust. In faith. In hope. So might we.

In Chapter 9 we find The Prayer of Judith, beautiful, honest verses of petition from one who is so small against gargantuan obstacles. If we spend some time with these words today, we might better understand how Judith calls forth the joy she had once known to find joy in great peril.

For more Noontime reflections about this woman’s story, enter the word Judith into the blog search bar and explore.


For information about the woman who painted this rendition of Judith and her servant, click on the image above or visit: http://zadokromanus.blogspot.com/2005/06/artemisia-gentileschi.html 

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

 

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joyTuesday, October 26, 2021

1 Samuel 18

Joy and Suspicion

Today we continue to visit with scripture to look for stories about joy that will surprise us in a variety of ways. If you want to explore other stories in which joy astounds us, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today our story is from the Book of Samuel.

Too often the high points in our lives are followed by turmoil and darkness brought on by jealousy. My dad always warned us that as we move up the ladder of life to become more proficient in the workplace we may also become targets for office gossip and suspicion. But, he added, we cannot allow this to affect either our work or our relationships. Rather than frighten us, Dad meant to arm us with the knowledge that joy is accompanied by suspicion, and we see truth play out with David today when he returns from slaying the giant Goliath to be greeted with both great joy and deep suspicion. If we spend time with these verses, we see that success may breed its own kind of darkness. It is up to us to decide how we will react. It is in our power to look for joy hidden in the dark recesses of suspicion.

Verses 6-9: It happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments. The women sang as they played, and said, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Then Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on.

Steen: David's Triumphant Return

Jan Havicksz, Steen: David’s Triumphant Return

Suspicion, gossip, jealousy, envy. These are the slippery steps that David navigates with God’s help. Later in his story, David succumbs to temptation that ruins the lives of many, but his actions bring us hope when we understand that even God’s anointed will err.

Fidelity, trust, hope, love. These are the footholds we look for in the face of the mountain we climb. We find joy even in the darkest of places when we rely on God’s providence, God’s wisdom and God’s love.

Visit 1 and 2 Samuel if you have time over the next few hours to put today’s Noontime into context.


Enter the words, Saul, David, envy or jealousy into the blog search bar and explore. Discover ways in which God’s quiet joy is always with us, even when we lest expect to feel its presence.  

Click on the Steen image above for more information about this story of triumph, suspicion and ultimately joy. 

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/ 

Image from: http://www.artbible.info/art/large/724.html 

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God-Loves-YouWednesday, October 13, 2021

Mark 8:14-21

Understanding

Reflecting on our passage through Jeremiah’s prophecy, we may want to know that even the apostles who lived with Jesus did not understand what he was really about.  When God calls, we struggle to hear, but we do not always discern.

Our world is one of instant messaging in which we are always expecting immediate replies to our questions.  And we want these replies to make sense to us.  We know that God is always with us, speaking to us, asking us to follow; and we are made to respond to this call. Yet, we so often lack something so simple but essential: understanding.

As we read this story from Mark that we have heard many times, we wonder if perhaps the apostles lacked understanding – and we as well – because we do not trust God.  Are we second-guessing God?  Do we believe that we have misheard God’s word to us?  Do we want to believe that the universe is one big coincidence rather than think that there is an immensity to creation which we have only begun to mine?

Today Jesus reminds his friends of the times that he has sustained them out of nothing and then he asks: Do you still not understand? We might have this conversation with God frequently, and we might believe that we have not heard or understood what it is that we are to do or not do, what we are to say or not say. Thinking that we have likely gotten something scrambled in our decoding, we re-question God and present our scrambled understanding.  This is the best that we can do.

Fortunately for all of us, God does not mind. In that infinite patience and wisdom that characterizes God, we are asked an unlimited number of times: Do you still not understand? 

Beyond this simple question, God continues to call, continues to love. What a great and glorious God have we that God’s understanding is so immense that it encompasses and transforms all of our many misunderstandings. And so, we await again God’s words to us that always arrives with a smile: Do you still not understand? As this beneficent face of a loving parent swims vaguely before us, let us focus on our own understanding of God’s plan for the Kingdom, rather than God’s apparent miss-understanding of us.


Adapted from a reflection written on September 9, 2009.

Image from: http://allenmjones.blogspot.com/ 

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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

1 Samuel 11:9-10

The Men of Jabesh-Gilead

The Men of Jabesh-Gilead

The Surrender of Jabesh

Descendants of Ammon, a son of Lot, the Ammonites lived in a territory of Ammon that extended from the Arnon to the Jabbok and Jordan. But during Moses time they had been driven to the east by the Amorites. Moses was not allowed to attack them (Deuteronomy 2:19) despite the fact that they worshiped idols, especially Molech, or the god Saturn.

Cursed by Yahweh’s prophets, this tribe had a long history of conflict with the Israelites. Today we see Saul gather three hundred thousand men from Israel and seventy thousand from Judah before he announces that he will deliver the people of Jabesh-gilead who have been overtaken by Nahash, the Ammonite. And when the messengers came and reported this to the inhabitants of Jabesh, who were jubilant, [they] said to Nahash, “Tomorrow we will surrender to you, and you may do whatever you please with us”.  They likely recognized that freedom from the enemy was upon them.

Conflict in this part of the world continues today; lessons in this ancient land reinforce division more than unity. Jeremiah’s words of prophecy pierce hearts but convert too few. Walking in hardness and obstinacy have become an engrained way of living; the day without remedy is infinite; the imagery of the potter’s flask and Topheth lie meaningless. And yet the Lord is near.

In New Testament hope we recall the words of the apostle Paul: For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus . . . There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29)

Would that each of us might give over our interior conflict and place our hope in God. Would that each of us might surrender to Christ and the promise given to Abraham just as the people of Jabesh surrender in jubilation their trust in God.


For more on the story of Jabesh and how they showed their gratitude to King Saul, click on the image above or go to: http://lukedockery.blogspot.com/2007/11/gratitude-men-of-jabesh-gilead.html 

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friendsWednesday, June 23, 2021

1 Chronicles 19

Friendship

The story we read today is typical of human behavior. In my family, as in many, we referred to fair weather friends as those who enter into a relationship and then step away when problems arise. Some refer to this sort of false friends as coat-holders. There were times when my mother would say to us: “Watch out for so-and-so, she only wants to hold your coat”. Mother had amazing insight and she was always right about this kind of temporary friend who was in a relationship for a variety of reasons – none of which affirmed a genuine friendship. Beware of companions who bask in the attention merited by someone else, who seek intimacy not from authentic love but from a desire to know details that can be bartered for other delicious gossip, who fear life so much they become leeches to any source of power, who refuse to put God first before all.

Today we watch David as he makes a genuine offer of sympathy and friendship. It is true that this story follows a series of conquests made by the Israelites under David’s leadership and that this fact alone is enough to stir the embers of latent fear that David’s envoy comes to spy rather than to share grief. It is also true that the Ammonites disgrace the envoy (in the older Douay version it says that their clothes were cut so as to show their buttocks), and that in this ancient culture one returns insult for insult. But it is ultimately true that a gesture of openness and kindness displays an understanding that trust accompanied by prudence must be honored. Today’s coat-holders do not have either the capacity or the will to believe in a sincere gesture. We will never know which.

This story speaks to authenticity in relationships. It is a reminder that when we open ourselves to God’s daily surprises, we must treat God’s messengers for what they are: an opportunity to show ourselves, our God, and the others with whom we share life to see our version of God. For how we treat others is the way we treat God. It is also the way we expect God to treat us. That is the meaning behind The Golden Rule of treating others as we ourselves wish to be treated.

What does Christ tell his apostles to do when they go into a house and extend Christ’s peace? If it is rejected, this peace will return to us and we are to move on. We are even to shake the dust of such a place from our feet. If Christ’s peace is returned to us in fullness, we are to celebrate this union and praise God for the gift of companionship.

The Book of Sirach holds many wise poems that tell us how to know a friend when one approaches. True Friendship is described in 5:5-17. Choice of Friends is summed up in 9:10-16. Care in Choosing Friends is outlined in 11:29 to 12:18. Chapter 13 gives us Caution Regarding Associates. The Preservation of Friendship is found in 22:19-27 with a wonderful concluding prayer. Those who are Worthy of Praise, Wicked and Virtuous Women, and Dangers to Integrity and Friendship are delineated in Chapters 25, 26 and 27. Choice of Associates is re-visited in 36:18-27.

Come aside to me, you untutored, and take up lodging in the house of instruction . . . With these words, Jesus ben Sirach begins the closing canticle of his book of wisdom. He reminds us: work at your tasks in due season, and in his own time God will give you your reward.

The Ammonites, the Arameans and the Israelites put false pride and self-pity before sincerity and understanding of God. We know this because we see them act in fear rather than generosity at the approach of a possible friend. We see them allow their apprehension to escalate into full-blown anxiety. And we see them act in cruelty and derision. These are not acts of sympathy or empathy. They are not acts of God. For God acts in mercy and in openness to all. God acts in friendship.


Image from: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/keep-smiling/images/9170913/title/great-true-friendship-screencap

Adapted from a reflection written on January 28, 2009.

For more information about the Ammonites, visit: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Ammonite or https://biblehub.com/dictionary/a/ammonites.htm

For more information about the ancient Arameans, visit: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Arameans.html

For more on the Israelites, visit: https://biblehub.com/dictionary/i/israelites.htm

 

 

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wherever you are todayThursday, June 10, 2021

1 Chronicles 28:20

Fear and Discouragement

When we consider the factors that move us to risk something of ourselves to act as God asks of us, fear and discouragement might well be reasons that we do not act when called by God. And yet for millennia God has assured us that trust in God’s plan and hope in God’s presence are the hallmarks of the faithful. Over the last few weeks we have contemplated John’s first letter to the faithful. This week we look for the many times that we have been supported and guided as God’s precious children.

Be firm and steadfast; go to work without fear or discouragement, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. God will not fail you or abandon you before you have completed all the work for the service of the house of the Lord. (Verse 28:20)

David reminds the Israelites of God’s fidelity and power; but we can turn to the Torah and the first sacred verses recorded centuries ago.

In Genesis 26:1-3 we hear God speak to Isaac at the time of a famine: Do not go down to Egypt, but continue to camp wherever in this land I tell you. Stay in this land, and I will be with you and bless you. We might remember this and act bravely and hopefully when we believe that making a geographical change will somehow bring us serenity.

In Deuteronomy 31:6 the Hebrew people are about to enter the land they have been promised when Moses reminds his flock: Be brave and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them, for it is the Lord, your God, who marches with you; God will never fail you or forsake you. We might remember this and act compassionately and justly when we believe that remaining with what is familiar is better than moving into what is new.

Tomorrow, the prophets combat fear and discouragement.


Click on the scripture links above and read other versions of these verses; and let us consider how God speaks to us about our fear and discouragement.

Image from: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/122441683593053113/

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