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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’


Psalms 119:25-32: God’s Yardstick – The Law

God’s Love Letterwrite-famous-love-song-down-and-dedicate_tips-writing-love-letter

Monday, January 16, 2023

In these opening days of a new year, we have looked at women in scripture who see and use God’s yardstick in their lives. Over the next few days we explore how we find God’s yardstick in both Old and New Scripture.

We have spent a number of reflections with this psalm, the longest of the 150 songs of sorrow, praise, joy, petition and lament. Two winters ago we spent several weeks examining each of the poem’s stanzas that begin with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. As we concluded we decided that this psalm was an intense love letter from God to us. When we look at all the psalms, and this one in particular, we discover a yardstick that can only come from God, a yardstick that measures both the highs and lows of our days. A yardstick that offers forgiveness, healing, redemption and joy.

I’m feeling terrible—I couldn’t feel worse!
    Get me on my feet again. You promised, remember?

On the days when we feel we can go no further, we must remember to take our woes to God.

When I told my story, you responded;
    train me well in your deep wisdom.

On the days when we find it difficult to gather strength, we remember to ask God for help.

Help me understand these things inside and out
     so I can ponder your miracle-wonders.

On the days when we forget the wisdom God has shared with us, we remember to ask again.

My sad life’s dilapidated, a falling-down barn;                                                                         build me up again by your Word.                                                                                         On the days when we see no way past the heavy obstacle before us, we remember to rest in God.

Barricade the road that goes Nowhere;                                                                                        grace me with your clear revelation.                                                                                  During the nights when doubts and fears return, we remember that with    God all things are possible.

I choose the true road to Somewhere,
    
I post your road signs at every curve and corner.                                                           During the nights when we are restless and alone, we remember that Christ is constantly within.

I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me;
    God
, don’t let me down!                                                                                                          During the nights when we are desperate for peace, we remember that the Spirit heals and comforts.

I’ll run the course you lay out for me
    
if you’ll just show me how.                                                                                                     During the days and nights when we struggle with the world, we read and re-read God’s love letter to us, and remember that we are made by God for and with and in love alone.


Enter the words God’s Love Letter into the blog search bar for other reflections about Psalm 119. This ancient prayer from ancient scripture continues to serve us today as God’s yardstick. Tomorrow, we find God’s measure of love in the person of Jesus. 

Image from: http://apuregeneration.com/blog/category/true-love/page/2

 

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James: Lessons in Love512px-Bible_paper

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

We have spent several weeks reflecting on James’s letter to the people of his day and to us in our own day. We have spent a number of weeks exploring his themes and sifting through his lessons. Some of our encounters with James make us uncomfortable. We are not always willing to step out of comfort zones and into a newness that tempts but does not guarantee. We are too often content with our harvest of the obvious before us and too often afraid to imagine the harvest of hope that God asks us to undertake.

epistle-of-james-project-590x382Other encounters with James bring a quiet understanding of God’s voice we hear in the precision and honesty of James’ words. We have felt Christ’s presence in the strength of James’ verses. We have been visited by the Spirit as we dwell in the wisdom of these Lessons in Love. Today we take time to gather these teachings and pledge to make them an active influence in our lives.

When we choose a Lesson in Love and decide to live it for the next month in our lives, what new possibility will open for us?

Chapter 1: The Value of Obstacles – the barriers we encounter are lessons in finding our inner strength in God.

Chapter 2: The Value of Balance – the extremes we experience are lessons in learning to balance God’s joy with the difficulties of the world.

JamesChapter 3: The Value of Living Wisely, Justly and Well – our words and actions indicate the quality of our discipleship in Christ.

Chapter 4: The Value of Turmoil – the storms and upheaval we meet are lessons in faith and hope in Christ.

Chapter 5: The Value of Patience – our common practices and plain speech are lessons in love and life in Christ.

And so we pray . . . Wise, Gentle, Balanced, Patient and Loving Jesus, continue to shepherd us as we take on your lessons in love. Speak to us clearly through the words of your servant James. Live in us daily through the power of your redeeming Spirit. Amen. 

james-1We might bookmark and re-visit this post when we are ready to enact another Lesson in Love as shown to us by James.

Tomorrow, our abundant helper . . . 

 

 

For notes on this letter, visit: http://www.usccb.org/bible/james/0

Images from: http://www.readthespirit.com/bookstore/books/ian-flemings-seven-deadlier-sins/more/c1/the-book-of-james-new-testament/ and http://bibledude.net/epistle-of-james-project-wordles/ and http://michaeljkruger.com/why-we-need-the-book-of-james-in-the-new-testament-canon/ and https://www.youracc.org/sermons/faith-perseveres-james-a-faith-to-live-by-11-18/

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James: Appropriate Action

Friday, November 11, 2022james-700x300

“James advocates living faith and practical love. His concern is behavior. Like other moralists of his age, he is impatient with fine words that have no action . . . Faith without appropriate practice in love is a charade”. (Senior RG 548)

God says: My servant James has expressed my vision quite well in his letter to you, and my hope is that you spend time with his words and with me today. Choose a small portion of his verses and examine them well. He has an important message about how and why to endure trials. He gives you good advice about words and thoughts, deeds and gestures. James can teach you how to be authentic; he structures lessons on honesty and wisdom. He reminds you of my immense generosity and love for you. And he describes how you might be in the world and not become part of it. Listen to James and learn to live by my measure rather than your own for when you do . . . you will find that you are living a life of appropriate action.

Enter the words wisdom or generosity in the blog search bar and reflect on how our actions. live out God’s love in creation. Are they in and for God? Can we say that they are appropriate?


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 548. Print.   

Image from: https://kingdomnewtestament.wordpress.com/category/james/

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James 1-4: A Prayer to Resolve Turmoil

Wednesday, October 19, 2022peace-key-703x201

No matter the constraint, no matter the barriers to resolution, there is always a path to find peace when we live in Christ, James tells us. We have seen, in the last few days as we have spent time with the opening chapters of James’ letter, the steps for resolution are not complicated when we live in the Spirit. We see today when we reflect on all that James has shared with us, there is always a way forward with God. And so we pray.

Faith and works together will bring us wisdom . . . good and gracious God, bring us your wisdom. Remind us to rely on what we learn from you rather than our intelligence.

Good works bear good fruit . . . generous and faithful God, bring us your grace. Remind us that apples do not grow on vines and berries do not grow on trees.

Wars and quarrels are of our own making and not God’s . . . peaceful and sustaining God, bring us your serenity. Remind us that with you all things are possible.

God’s love is persistent, patient, strong and at the same time gentle . . . loving and courageous God, bring us your meekness. Remind us that humility can achieve more than all earthly power, fame and glory.

No matter the problem, there is always a solution . . . life-giving and eternal God, bring us your fortitude. Remind us that your love for us will never die.

Amen.


For reflections on how to find peace in today’s world, click on the image above or visit: http://www.peacepoint.com/find-peace

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James 3:13-18: Live Well, Live Wisely, Live Humbly

Saturday, October 15, 2022humility image

In our modern cultures we often believe that living well and living humbly are incompatible lifestyles. James tells us otherwise.

Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. 

In our modern societies we can heed ancient words from ancient days. James assures us that living well is to put others first and to listen more than we speak. He promises us that this is so.

humilityWhenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

In our modern world we seek the formula for success when all the while we hold that success in our hands. In our willingness to live humbly we discover what it is to live wisely. In our willingness to follow Christ is our key to living well.


Images from: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lisahendey/2013/12/humility-constructing-solid-foundations/ 

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James 1:22-25: Delight and Affirmation

Monday, October 3, 2022doersoftheword

More wisdom from James . . . that he learns from Jesus.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

When we read Matthew 21:28-32 we better understand James’ eagerness that we become doers of the Word rather than sayers only. The young man who does God’s will after first rejecting God’s call drinks from the river of light that is God’s wisdom. The one who promises and goes away without doing what he is asked has condemned himself to a life void of wisdom.

But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

And so we pray.

Wise and loving God, you have given us all the counsel and advice we need. Help us to be humble and patient in your Word.

Passionate and transforming Jesus, you have shown us the Way that is God’s Word. Help us to delight in the life you have redeemed for us.

Compassionate and healing Spirit, you have affirmed our lives as sisters and brothers in Jesus. Help us to affirm others as they – and we – join with you in the doing of God’s Word. Amen.

In the coming days, James defines God’s Law of Love.


Image from: https://chatsworthconsulting.com/2011/06/09/how-do-you-walk-the-talk/

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James 1:2-3: The Value of Obstacles – Brightly coloured council road signs and equipmentTuesday, September 27, 2015

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.

James opens his letter with advice that will catch anyone’s interest. In our modern cultures we do not consider trials as gifts to be examined; we too frequently dismiss or even ignore tribulations as inconveniences to be shunted into the darkness. We too rarely consider obstacles as doors of opportunity or growth; yet this is James’ invitation.

You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.

Perhaps this is why we pray for smooth days and comfortable nights. We do not believe that we are up to the test. Or we do not see ourselves learning good lessons from hard times. We are uncomfortable with being vulnerable and we fear having to rely on family, friends, neighbors or even strangers.

So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.

James asks us to suppress our natural tendency to avoid uncomfortable circumstances; we infer from his words that we might gain more from a constrained environment than from easy comfortable surroundings. Rather than skitter around stressful situations or difficult people, James begins, we might allow ourselves to grow in fortitude and wisdom if we rely on God’s guidance when we must maneuver hard times.

Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Certainly we do not want to look for stress in our lives; the world presents us with enough disquiet to fill our days. Clearly we do not want to be the cause of conflict in our personal and professional lives. Yet just as certainly and clearly we understand that once we open ourselves to the guidance of God’s hand when we navigate straitened days, we will remember our success in dark times and recognize a certain confidence growing within.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.
blocksWe live in a world that values power, fame and wealth. We humans tend to look at one person’s loss as being another’s gain; yet when we live an inverted life with Christ where loss is gain and gain is loss, we begin to better understand James’ lesson. Stumbling blocks become building blocks. Trials become jubilation. When sorrow and pain are traversed in God’s grace we begin to experience the joy of perseverance. When we live by God’s measure rather than our own, and when we allow God to guide us through the road blocks of our lives, we finally learn the value and joy of learning new faith and new life as a result of persevering through our obstacles.

Tomorrow, right attitude.


Use the scripture link to examine various versions of these verses to see which most plainly and clearly.

Images from: http://stevesponseller.com/page/2/ and https://www.dadometer.com/types-of-building-blocks-for-toddlers/

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Daniel 1: Wisdom and Prudence

Simon Vouet: Allegory of Prudence

Simon Vouet: Allegory of Prudence

Friday, September 23, 2022

In any question of wisdom or prudence which the king put to them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom.

Just like the Chaldeans, we marvel at the wisdom and prudence coming from one who lives in God.  These holy ones are able to bring light to darkness, reason to insanity, tranquility to the turbulent spirit. We might do well to imitate those who walk with God.  These four men, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, are more free in their captivity than their captors are in their freedom for what they possess is a pearl of great price. They know that we are all children of God.

From MAGNIFICAT:

You chose the lowly of this world to bring salvation to all nations: grant your people the wisdom to seek your love rather than worldly honor.

You chose the faithful to bring forth the fruit of your promise: strengthen us in fidelity amid the uncertainties of our day.

You chose the unexpected to bring forth the gift of life: grant us freedom of spirit to rejoice in your work in every circumstance.

For those who are enslaved by poverty and oppression: send people of wisdom and generosity to discover ways to set them free.

For those who are enslaved by prejudice and fear: send people of courage and self-forgetfulness to keep them out of the darkness.

For those who are enslaved by addictions, recognized and unrecognized: send people enlightened by their own struggles to guide them along right paths.

If we are in the darkness yet see the light, we must take up Christ as our courage to move into that light, and we must try to bring our sisters and brothers with us. If we rise from our suffering, we must turn to others who suffer to likewise bring them out of the darkness and into God’s marvelous hands.


Image from: http://www.prudencetrue.com/january2010.html

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 9.9 (2008). Print.  

A reflection from September 9, 2008.

 

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part Vlighthouse

Sunday, September 18, 2022

If we cannot believe in restoration after the desert, let us at least begin by asking God to strengthen our gift of faith. Just as a mariner trusts that the lighthouse will guide ships past rocky shores, let us trust the Gospel story of Jesus. The writer of the letter to Hebrews shows us the way. From Hebrews 11.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

If we do not have confidence, let us ask God for this gift of sureness.

By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

If we do not have understanding, let us ask God for the gift of wisdom.

hebrews_1xIt was by this faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.

If we do not have fidelity, let us ask God for the gift of certainty.

And even when Abraham reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith – for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise.

If we do not see or believe in God’s promise in our lives, let us ask God for the gift of hope.

For Abraham was looking for a city with eternal foundations, a city whose architect and builder was God.

If we do not feel or comprehend God’s power in our lives, let us ask God for the gift of fortitude. And let us pray.

Nat geo lighthouse in stormGood and loving God, your fidelity lives in us although we may not perceive it. Being your creatures we are made of love for love; yet we might not believe this. Breathe new life into those who are discouraged or unbelieving. Bring new strength to those who falter. And shower us with your hope and encouragement so that we might come to fully know, and feel and understand that your only wish for us is our restoration in and for you. We ask this in Jesus’ name, in unity with the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  

Tomorrow, laying a foundation for restoration . . . 


Images from: http://walkbyfaithkkw2011.blogspot.com/2012/05/contentment.html and https://www.pinterest.com/totogale/new-testament-hebrews/ 

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