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Posts Tagged ‘understanding’


Job 28: The Hope of God’s Wisdom

Monday, August 20, 2018

God says: You have asked me this question many times and I delight in your curiosity. It gladdens my heart when I hear you ask for clarity. I praise you for your persistence, courage, and desire for authenticity. Hear now the voice of my servant Job.

Job says: But where, oh where, will [mortals] find Wisdom?
    Where does Insight hide?
Mortals don’t have a clue,
    haven’t the slightest idea where to look.

God says: Job knows that the search for wisdom tempts some to lose hope, others to argue over meaning, and still others to divide the faithful. When your search finds you creating sides and assigning blame, think about the origin of your emotions. Do they come from fear or from compassion? A willfulness to control or a willingness to collaborate?

Job says: So where does Wisdom come from?
    And where does Insight live?
It can’t be found by looking, no matter
    how deep you dig, no matter how high you fly.
If you search through the graveyard and question the dead,
    they say, ‘We’ve only heard rumors of it.

God says: Listen to the words of Job. He suffered great physical pain yet remained in me. His friends and family offered well-meaning advice based on confusion, still he relied on me. Job’s search for understanding and wisdom bring him directly to me.

Job says: God alone knows the way to Wisdom,
    God knows the exact place to find it.

God asks: Are you willing to listen to the knowledge Job gains about the path to wisdom?

Job says: Here it is!
    Fear-of-the-Lord—that’s Wisdom,
    and Insight means shunning evil.

God says: Come to me when burdens weigh you down. Rely on me when anger and anxiety take hold of you. Remain in me when revenge and fear push and pull you in the way of foolishness. Always rely on me.

Job’s search is long and arduous. The wisdom he finds is precious and pure. The lesson he teaches us may be difficult to take in, but it is reliable, full, and positive. Let us step into the hope of God’s wisdom today.


Tomorrow, thirsting for wisdom. 

Image from: https://chartcons.com/100-deep-philosophical-questions-may-just-never-answer/ 

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Proverbs 2:1-5: My Child

Monday, August 13, 2018

I have always liked the simple wisdom of Proverbs for Lady Wisdom has much to teach us.

My child, learn what I teach you and never forget what I tell you to do. Listen to what is wise and try to understand it. Yes, beg for knowledge; plead for insight. Look for it as hard as you would for silver or some hidden treasure. If you do, you will know what it means to fear the Lord and you will succeed in learning about God. (GNT)

As a child, I never understood why we were to fear God. As I grew, I came to recognize fear as a sense of awe. As an adult, the verses of Proverbs bring God’s overwhelming love to our hearts.

Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you;
    collect my counsels and guard them with your life.
Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
    set your heart on a life of Understanding.
That’s right—if you make Insight your priority,
    and won’t take no for an answer,
Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold,
    like an adventurer on a treasure hunt,
Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours;
    you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God. (MSG)

Friends offer words of advice, Wisdom found close to home and near to the heart. I take in the wisdom my own friends offer. And as a friend to others, I search for counsel in this practical, and often humorous, book of instruction.

My son, if you will receive my words
and store my commands inside you,
paying attention to wisdom
inclining your mind toward understanding —
yes, if you will call for insight
and raise your voice for discernment,
if you seek it as you would silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure —
then you will understand the fear of Adonai
and find knowledge of God. (CJB)

Ancient words are frequently apt, gathering past and future into a fruitful present when we share them with our children. Old axioms bring pearls of wisdom, offering respite in the storm, refuge in combat.

Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you;
    collect my counsels and guard them with your life.
Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
    set your heart on a life of Understanding.
That’s right—if you make Insight your priority,
    and won’t take no for an answer,
Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold,
    like an adventurer on a treasure hunt,
Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours;
    you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God. (MSG)

Wisdom, Understanding, Insight. These are the gems we unearth when we spend time with these sayings. Searching, prospecting, seeking. These are the actions we take as children of God. Counsels, gold, gems. These are the treasures we unearth when we answer the call of Christ. Beseeching, learning, healing. This is the transformation we experience when we rest in the Spirit of the Lord.

My child, learn what I teach you and never forget what I tell you . . .


When we compare translations of these verses, we find safety in the Lord’s awesome love. We find refuge as children of God.

Image from: http://www.heartandsoulcompany.com/ 

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2 Maccabees 15: Battle – Part III

Peter Paul Rubens and workshop: The Triumph of Judas Macccabee

Peter paul Rubens, “The Triumph of Judas Maccabee” Museum of Fine Arts in Nantes

Thursday, March 8, 2018

It is not through arms but through the Lord’s decision that victory is won by those who deserve it. 

The arms we carry into battle need only be Christ.  When we see the oncoming storm of conflict, we only need put on the armor of God. When we enter into the battle that threatens to erase the values we hold as true, we turn to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

We are to be prisoners for the Lord and live in a manner worthy of the call we have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace; one body, and one Spirit, as we were also called to the one hope of our call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  (Ephesians 4:1-6)

This, then, is how we move forward as a witness in Christ. This, then, is how we act in the Spirit. With understanding, humility, patience, and a deep-seated wish for unity.

It is not through arms but through the Lord’s decision that victory is won by those who deserve it. 

The only battle worth entering, is one we enter with God not as a righteous banner, but with Christ as a loving guide, the Spirit as a healing force. When we exercise our full understanding and our full force of love, we will have entered the battle enjoined by God.

It is not through arms but through the Lord’s decision that victory is won by those who deserve it. 

The only war worth waging, the only love worth winning, the only peace worth gaining, is the battle we enter with, and in, and for our loving God.

It is not through arms but through the Lord’s decision that victory is won by those who deserve it. 

Adapted from a reflection written on February 28, 2009.

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judas_Maccabeus#/media/File:Peter_Paul_Rubens_and_workshop_002.jpg 

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Gifts . . . freely given

Jean Restout: The Paraclete

The Seventh Day of Christmas, December 31, 2017

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me seven swans a-swimming.  

Wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear of God. These seven gifts freely given by the Spirit reside with us – whether we know it or not, and whether we believe it or not. When we least expect it, the Spirit rises to provide us with the tools we need for the circumstances we experience.

Wisdom comes to us with patience and with waiting on the LORD. When we reflect on the persons who hold wisdom, we realize that they listen more than they speak, praise more than they berate, and love more than they disparage. These gifted ones share their wisdom with us, and we do well to share God’s wisdom with others.

Understanding is more than comprehending, more than accepting, and more than believing. Understanding pierces darkness, brings lights, nurtures love in others and enacts love in all. When we practice understanding, we receive more than we expect, and more than we can hold. Understanding grows wherever it resides.

Counsel allows each of us to respond to God’s call no matter how challenging, no matter how awkward, no matter how uncomfortable we may feel. Counsel converts fear into courage. Counsel transforms hatred into love. Those who are open to God’s counsel are better able to see The Way of Christ and to follow.

Fortitude brings us the strength to do what needs to be done when few others will do it. Fortitude brings us the resolution to endure suffering, and to allow God’s hand to convert our suffering into joy. When we allow God’s fortitude to support us in difficult times, we remember Psalm 126: they go out weeping and return rejoicing.

Knowledge of the LORD brings us the foundation on which to stand as we enact the work God calls us to do in this world that struggles to be Kingdom here and now. This gift, perhaps more than any other, allows us to speak and act with authority as Jesus does. Knowledge instructs our decisions, lives in our words, and guides our actions. Knowledge informs our sense of justice and mercy, brings order out of confusion, and love out of hate.

Piety is not a saccharine, duty-bound quality of sweetness; rather, it is love bolstered by God’s power, fidelity strengthened by God’s steadfastness, and hope empowered by God’s promise. Piety is faithful because it makes the choice to persist in God’s love and to believe in God’s covenant. Piety does more than just show up. Piety acts with compassion and patience; and piety is unshakable.

Fear of God is not the experience of anxiety or alarm; it is instead love of God for God’s sake. It demonstrates respect, seeks to worship, and shares joy in the experience of God. One who fears the LORD, stands in awe of God’s goodness and is eager to share the Good News of our rescue from pain and worry.

These seven gifts are more than words. They are tangible forces in our lives. They are stones with which we lay the foundation for our relationship with God. Those who would be wise, are also understanding. Those who give counsel also provide fortitude. Those with knowledge and piety live in awe of God who loves us into creation, and who abides with us even beyond the end of time. On this eve of a new year, we do well to open ourselves to these gifts freely given.

Isaiah 11 describes the Spirit’s gifts as does Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 12.

To learn more about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, visit: http://catholicstraightanswers.com/gifts-holy-spirit/

 

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Proverbs 14: Lady Wisdom and Sir Fool 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Melanie Rogers: Portrait of Lady Wisdom

We have visited this chapter of Proverbs before during Lent to see if we might use these axioms to help us examine our lives. Today we reprise this thinking.

The title of this chapter in THE MESSAGE translation is, “The Road that leads to Hell,” and it begins with these verses.

Lady Wisdom builds a lovely home;
    Sir Fool comes along and tears it down brick by brick.

Just when we believe we have found sure footing, Sir Fool comes along to tempt us out of our commitment to living in Christ. The writers reference frivolous talk, derisive smiles, false witnessing, cynicism, and ridicule.

There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough;
    look again—it leads straight to hell.
Sure, those people appear to be having a good time,
    but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.

As a counterweight to destructive behavior, an opposing way of living presents itself. Positive advice open-mindedness, true witness, honesty, a strong ox for the plow, and holy living. And amid all these axioms we find this nugget.

The person who shuns the bitter moments of friends
    will be an outsider at their celebrations.

The advice to abide with those who suffer is a harbinger to the words and actions Jesus offers as he preaches and lives out the Beatitudes.

John Watson Nicol: The Court Jester

In verses 14-35, we again hear the recommendation to sift and weigh every word. We do well to remember that meanness, keeping the company of fools, putting prudence aside, making decisions with hot heads and cold hearts, ignoring the needy, subscribing to conspiracy, and exploiting the powerless are all actions that bring our own demise. And again, this negative way of living is balanced against the positive. A final reminder calls us to think about what we are doing, and to act with understanding, integrity, honesty, and holiness.

Lady Wisdom is at home in an understanding heart—
    fools never even get to say hello.

Today we have the opportunity to reflect again on what we do and why we do it. Do we wish to greet and abide with Lady Wisdom or Sir Fool?

Find the Beatitudes at Matthew 5:1-12, and enter the word into the blog search bar for reflections on this Law of Love. 

When we compare other translations of these verses, we explore the difference between Lady Wisdom and Sir Fool. To visit another Noontimes post on this chapter, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/2015/03/13/proverbs-14-axioms-for-living/

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1 Peter 4:1-11: A Prayer for Mutual Charity

Monday, May 8, 2017

St_Peter_Besenzi

Paolo Emilio Besenzi: Saint Peter

Peter exhorts the early Christians to regard their persecution as a blessing, and today’s Noontime reading describes how those in community bear with one another, how they celebrate their diverse gifts, and how they are to stand on God’s authority rather than their own.  Peter calls his flock to mutual understanding, forbearance, purity and love.  And he also calls us today.

God of Abraham, God of Peter, we say that we are willing to serve your purposes, the purposes for which you have designed us.  Help us to keep faith with your hope in us.  We know that we are wonderfully made, and that you have plans for us . . . plans for our joy and not our woe.

God of Abraham, God of Peter, we know that our fellow travelers are also wonderfully made.  We also know that when we walk together, you call on us to bring forth the best in one another.  Help us to be open to our fellow pilgrims as we journey toward you.  Help us to remember that in the life of the Spirit there is always an opportunity for a new beginning.

God of Abraham, God of Peter, bless us, hear our petitions, heal us, bind us together in you.  We pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Adapted from a Favorite written on July 31, 2007.

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Acts 3:12-26: Acting in Ignorance

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Peter Addressed the Crowd

And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 

Peter teaches us an important lesson today, a lesson he learned from Christ himself. In a non-threatening overture, he creates a safe space for understanding. In a loving gesture, he delivers a message of forgiveness and acceptance. With an open embrace, he both challenges and welcomes those who have been his enemies.

Peter addresses the crowds at the Temple, wading into the controversy that overshadowed the lives of this fledgling Christ-following community. How might we open our arms to those who oppose us?

Peter allows the Spirit to speak through him, putting aside his own anxiety and fear, delivering a much-needed message to a world awaiting hope. How might we step into our role as Christ-followers to speak the words we know we must say?

Peter rests in his tradition yet trusts the newness of his understanding of Christ as the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation. How might we internalize the message of the Gospel story when we move into a world that looks for promise and assurance?

Today we reflect on Peter’s words to the crowds at the Temple and we wonder how we might avoid acting out of ignorance. And we determine to act out of, and through, and for Christ’s peace and love.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore this sermon, we allow Peter’s words to open our hearts and minds. 

Tomorrow, Peter’s third sermon following Pentecost.

 

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Luke 6:27-36: Loving Others – Part III

Thursday, November 24, 2016a-revolutionary-kind-of-love-luke-62736-1-638

To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. (MSG)

This thinking is so different from: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”.

When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it.  (MSG)

This thinking causes us to look at old hatreds with new insight.

If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. (MSG)

For millennia God has protected us, Jesus has told shown us The Way, and the Spirit has healed and consoled us. Today all three speak to us through the words that Luke records.

Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! (MSG)

For millennia Jesus has turned the world upside down, telling us that we live when we die, and we fill up when we empty ourselves. Today Jesus describes for us in detail how to live our lives as his disciples.

If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. (MSG)

This thinking is the inversion of: “When someone hits me, I hit them ten times harder”. This thinking requires the building of bridges rather than walls. It asks for humility and understanding rather than ego and power.

I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. (MSG)

This thinking is Kingdom thinking. This thinking is timeless and universal, applying to all occasions and to all persons. This thinking brings eternal redemption. And it lies open and ready for our own adoption.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore these words as translated differently from THE MESSAGE, we begin to understand that Jesus gives us sound advice; we begin to recognize that Jesus’ request brings us closer to him in every way; and we begin to find a way to love those who have done us such damage.

 

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2 Peter 1:5-8: Oblivion

Monday, October 3, 2016path-into-fog

The Apostle Peter gives us advice we will want to explore when the path we cautiously tread leads us into oblivion.

So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given . . . we need to hear these words when we struggle to get through difficult days and endless nights.

Complementing your basic faith with good character . . . We need these verses when we have tried every suggestion, followed every lead, responded to every piece of advice.

Peter gives us specifics we may be looking past, increasing the chances that we discover The Word obscured by our state of oblivion.

Spiritual understanding . . . when we cannot comprehend our lives or the world around us, we lean back on the broad shoulders of Christ.

Alert discipline . . . when we seem to give in to every lure the world throws at us, we rely on the vigilance of the Spirit.

Passionate patience . . . when we have run out of steam and exhaust our resources, we trust the heart of Jesus.

Reverent wonder . . . when we have forgotten that this world offers nothing that lasts, we turn to the One who creates us.

Warm friendliness . . . when the world feels like a cold and lonely place, we turn to our brother Jesus.

And generous love . . . when we are disappointed or betrayed by those closest to us, we call on the Holy Spirit.

Each dimension fitting into and developing the others . . . when we allow Christ to pull the flying pieces of our days and the darkness of our nights into place, the fog rises and our way is suddenly clear.

With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books. (THE MESSAGE)

path-into-lightWhen the chaos of bad news bends us down, Christ offers a way to rise. When the rumble of doubt threatens our carefully constructed peace, the Spirit offers a consoling heart that heals. When the realities of the world begin to pull us into oblivion, our loving God shows us the wisdom of discipline, patience, wonder, friendliness and love. Our generous God shows us the path that leads from nothingness to all.

When we spend time with other translations of these verses, the fog of oblivion fades as the light of Christ lights our path. Or enter the words 2 Peter into the blog search bar and explore more wisdom passed on to us by Peter. 

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