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Archive for September, 2010

Today’s Readings
ISAIAH 60:1-62:5 | PHILIPPIANS 1:27-2:18 | PSALM 72:1-20 | PROVERBS 24:11-12

This one just stops me cold …

Proverbs 24:11-12
Deliver those who are being taken away to death,
And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back.

If you say, “See, we did not know this,”
Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts?
And does He not know it who keeps your soul?
And will He not render to man according to his work?

When I first read it, I thought of the people in WWII who were exterminated … “See, we did not know this.”  Wasn’t that the excuse of many? But before I point my finger, what would I have “done” about it if I’d lived next door to the furnaces?

Probably what they did … probably what I do today, knowing babies are being taken away to death.  “It’s the law of the land … it’s legal … there is nothing I can ‘do’ to change it.”

I know it is happening and I’ve always known it is evil; I’ve never had to struggle with this one.

The question is, what can I do, and what should I do?  When the shooter walked into that church and shot late-term abortionist George Tiller in the head, I was horrified. I don’t think that is the answer … and yet a part of me understands why the gunman resorted to this.

How will God judge him? I honestly don’t know; I am a strong believer in non-violence; I am pro-life from cradle to grave. I have great compassion for women who feel they have no other choice; I honestly don’t condemn nor hate them. I was in their shoes at one time and understand how the world looks to them at that point.

What does God expect of us … what does He want of us? None of us can honestly say we don’t know what is going on … babies are being torn from their mothers’ wombs and lives are forever changed. Grandparents never behold their descendents; fathers are almost as helpless as the murdered child was, unable to stop it if he tried; mothers are scarred spiritually and emotionally.

God is greater than all of that; any one of those survivors can be forgiven and healed and restored; that is the utter beauty of our mighty God.

But in the meantime … my heart breaks because:

One baby is aborted every 26 seconds

137 babies are aborted every hour

3,304 babies are aborted every day

23,196 babies are aborted every week

100,516 babies are aborted every month

And that’s just in the United States.

God forgive us; we are wicked people.

And does He not know it who keeps your soul?
And will He not render to man according to his work?

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Today’s Readings
ISAIAH 57:15-59:21 | PHILIPPIANS 1:1-26 | PSALM 71:1-24 | PROVERBS 24:9-10

True fasting … I found this fascinating. I fast often, and have read a lot about fasting, but I don’t remember ever reading this passage. I know the LORD desires mercy, not sacrifice; so reading this was not the least surprising. It certainly made me stop and PONder though.

Sometimes I wonder about the charities I support; they are well-rated and feed the widow and orphan. But with an automatic draft coming out of my account each month, it seems an act of “auto-pilot.”

I know the money helps; I know it does good; and I know I was lead to give in this way. But I wonder if I need to do something where I am more personally involved; do I need to “suffer” more in my giving? That sounds kind of silly, put that way.  But I also know I tend to “hide.” I am an introvert; I feel deep empathy and use that as a gift when I encounter hurting people; but I don’t know if I could do what Mother Theresa did, moving and living among the most suffering people.

I know I’m not her; I know we are all called in unique ways in our own corner of the world; I just want to be a good servant. I am often reminded of the ending on Schindler’s List after news comes that the war is over. Instead of being proud that he saved the lives of those Jews, he is heartbroken that he didn’t save more … “How many lives could this car have bought?!!”

Sigh.  Pondering …

3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.

4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
(Isaiah 58)

I love this passage … the LORD brings wonderful people into our lives who fit this so wonderfully!

3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1)

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Today’s Readings
ISAIAH 54:1-57:14 | EPHESIANS 6:1-24 | PSALM 70:1-5 | PROVERBS 24:8

Today’s readings are just joyful and exciting and encouraging!

Isa 55:1  All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!
Isa 55:2  Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy? Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare.
Isa 55:3  Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.

Come to me heedfully … listen … that you may have life!!!

How cool is the imagery in this?!!

Isa 55:12  Yes, in joy you shall depart, in peace you shall be brought back; Mountains and hills shall break out in song before you, and all the trees of the countryside shall clap their hands.

This one, actually, does make me ponder in my heart. And hope. And pray.

1 The righteous perish,
and no one ponders it in his heart;
devout men are taken away,
and no one understands
that the righteous are taken away
to be spared from evil.

2 Those who walk uprightly
enter into peace;
they find rest as they lie in death. (Isaiah 57)

 

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Today’s Readings
ISAIAH 51:1-53:12 | EPHESIANS 5:1-33 | PSALM 69:19-36 | PROVERBS 24:7

11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life  and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 54)

H7227
rab
By contraction from H7231; abundant (in quantity, size, age, number, rank, quality): – (in) abound (-undance, -ant, -antly), captain, elder, enough, exceedingly, full, great (-ly, man, one), increase, long (enough, [time]), (do, have) many (-ifold, things, a time), ([ship-]) master, mighty, more, (too, very) much, multiply (-tude), officer, often [-times], plenteous, populous, prince, process [of time], suffice (-ient).
רב

Again a confirmation that “universal salvation” is not Truth. I’m not certain why the LORD brings so many to mind; but I will listen and remember. It is part of why I started this blog, so I would make time to record these things in a way that would be easy to find them again.

Thank you, LORD, for taking time to prepare me and to teach me and to show me clearly so that even I can understand.

This made me smile from the new testament reading: Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:19)

Because I am Catholic, I have people make comments to me about their perception of the Catholic church and its teachings. More than once I’ve been told that someone doesn’t understand mass … one person complained about the “chanting.”

The only thing I can think of that might be considered “chanting” is the responsorial psalms … all scripture, sung during mass.

🙂

Finally (and speaking of Psalms and confirmation that universal salvation is not Truth) …

27 Charge them with crime upon crime;
do not let them share in your salvation.

28 May they be blotted out of the book of life
and not be listed with the righteous. (Psalm 69)

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Today’s Readings
ISAIAH 48:12-50:11 | EPHESIANS 4:17-32 | PSALM 69:1-18 | PROVERBS 24:5-6

After I wrote this morning’s blog, I realized I had been very chatty and the post was really long … so I think I will divide it into two.

I’m going to begin with the New Testament passages today …

I remember taking a women’s study class at ISU. We read such books as My Mother, Myself, and Little Women. In Little Women, there is a passage where the mother tells the girls “never go to bed angry.”

I remember that the teacher spent a great deal of time railing against that quote, talking about how damaging it can be to women to have “that attitude;” how unrealistic that admonition was; and on & on.

And so I smile when I read this:

26″In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4)

Honestly, I understand the teacher’s sentiments. But those are precisely the “ways of the world” that we are called to put away, are they not?

And the second part, “do not give the devil a foothold,” dovetails so perfectly with something I read very recently. It was explaining how we need to be on guard. It made the point that if David had not been slothful and lounging around the palace while his men were at war, he would not have seen Bathsheba that night. If he had turned away from what he was seeing and had prayed instead of entertaining lustful thoughts, he would not have committed adultery. If he had repented of the adultery, he would not have had her husband killed.

Isn’t that exactly how we are?!! We rationalize a small thing and allow it to grow … we absolutely do “give the devil a foothold.”

Finally, I love this.:

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.(Ephesians  4)

Although I really don’t understand why people need to be so rough in their language (who are they trying to impress anyway?) I don’t think this refers only to salty language, but also the very things we speak. It is so easy to tear someone down, to put down the work they’ve done or complain about what they could have done better.

But oh, how easy is it to encourage someone instead? To build them up? I’ve been thinking of this since Alice died; what small things I could have done different to make her feel more loved, more valued. I don’t think I was “bad” but I could have been “better.” We can always be better … growing in holiness and releasing our own pride. I think that’s what stops us sometimes from building someone else up – there’s something prideful in the flesh that makes us feel powerful if we withhold a small kindness that we should freely offer.

Father, forgive me; show me every opportunity to build someone else up and help me to put away all pride, all desire for power over them or desire to be “above” them even a little. Help me to be truly, truly humble and anxious to give freely anything I have to offer in a sincere desire to build another up.

In the name of Jesus, I pray.

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Today’s Readings
ISAIAH 48:12-50:11 | EPHESIANS 4:17-32 | PSALM 69:1-18 | PROVERBS 24:5-6

Now for the old testament reading in Isaiah …

18 If only you had paid attention to my commands,
your peace would have been like a river,
your righteousness like the waves of the sea. (Isaiah 48)

I simply can’t read a passage like that and not think of Calvinists – people who deny that God has given us free will and has scripted our every action from the beginning of time.  I truly do not understand that belief – I guess they feel they are being humble and releasing all illusion of being in control, and I do agree there is a sort of balance between God’s sovereignty and free will.

But at the same time … if God had scripted that Israel would be disobedient, why would He say such a thing to them? Why would He punish them? Why are we given certain instructions on how to follow Him if we have no choice?  I just don’t get it.

I go back to this wonderful quote by R.C Sproul – you can read the entire quote in this earlier post: “In that He is infinite, He is absolutely in charge. In that He is personal and He made human beings accountable to Himself, there is genuine human responsibility. Thus, the tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility seem to reflect a mystery within the person of God Himself and in His dealings with the world.”

Back to Isaiah, I love this expression of never ending love and commitment to us:

15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!

16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me. (Isaiah 49)

I think that is utterly beautiful, and also tragic when I think of mothers who have murdered their own children.  What a wicked, messed-up world we live in; and how lucky and deeply blessed I’ve been. Father forgive us all.

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Today’s Readings
ISAIAH 45:11-48:11 | EPHESIANS 4:1-16 | PSALM 68:19-35 | PROVERBS 24:3-4

By wisdom a house is built,
and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
with rare and beautiful treasures. (Proverbs 24:3-4)

I know this passage is meant as wisdom for our lives on earth, but as I read it this morning I smiled thinking of our Father’s mansion, where Jesus goes to prepare a place for us.  Certainly it is built by Wisdom and is filled with “rare and beautiful treasures.”  I wonder if some of those “treasures” aren’t … us?  🙂

I know some people believe “heaven” is a state of being, or that “we” cease to exist when we become spirit, and are kind of assimilated back into God with no individuality.

I don’t believe that … I think scripture is clear that we are given glorified bodies (1 Cor:15) and that we go to a “place.”  I realize it isn’t a flesh & blood place, but spiritual; I only think of it as being in the presence of God.

I wrote this some time ago at C-M; I guess this is a good time to relocate it here on my blog.

Where is God? According to Jesus, God is in heaven:

Mat 6:9 This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

Mat 23:9 Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.

Luk 11:13 If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?

Where is Jesus? According to scripture, Jesus is at God’s right hand in heaven:

Act 7:55 But he, filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God

Act 7:56 and he said, Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.

Rom 8:34 Who will condemn? It is Christ (Jesus) who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.

Eph 1:20 which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,

Heb 8:1 The main point of what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven

We are not told a lot about the next life, but we are told this:

Joh 12:26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.

Joh 13:36 Simon Peter said to him, Master, where are you going? Jesus answered (him), Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.

Joh 14:2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
Joh 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.

I don’t believe any of us comprehends exactly what “heaven” or “dwelling places” are, but we are told they are a “place”:

G5117
τόπος
topos
top’-os
Apparently a primary word; a spot (generally in space, but limited by occupancy; whereas G5561 is a larger but particular locality), that is, location (as a position, home, tract, etc.); figuratively condition, opportunity; specifically a scabbard: – coast, licence, place, X plain, quarter, + rock, room, where.

(And to note, “G5561” appears to be translated to “country” or “region.”)

I believe 1 Cor 15 tells us we will have a spiritual body. What it is like and what “heaven” is like, we are not told.

But I believe Jesus will take us to a place where He is and that’s enough to know … we will be in His presence.

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