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Archive for September, 2017

This was the reflection I read today and I think it is beautiful, and Truth.

One might ask: How was it possible that Christ could be put to death, one who never sought his own advantage? How is it possible that any power or person could come into collision with him?

Answer: It was precisely for this reason that he was put to death. This is why the lowly and the powerful were equally exasperated by him, for every one of them was seeking his own advantage and wanted him to show solidarity with them in selfishness. He was crucified precisely because he was love, that is, because he refused to be selfish.

He was as much of an offense to the powerful as to the lowly. He did not belong to any party, but wished to be what he was, namely, the Truth and to be that in love.

Soren Kierkegaard, in Provocations: The Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard
Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and religious author.

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He was spurned and avoided by men,
a man of suffering, knowing pain,
Like one from whom you turn your face,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our pain that he bore,
our sufferings he endured.
We thought of him as stricken,
struck down by God and afflicted,

But he was pierced for our sins,
crushed for our iniquity.
He bore the punishment that makes us whole,
by his wounds we were healed.
(Isaiah 53:3-5)

Sometimes I wonder if I’d been alive when Jesus was active, would I have followed Him … believed Him?

Would I have been one of the many disciples who traveled with Him, one of the women who provided for them?

If not traveling with Him, would I have at least gone out to hear Him when He was close by? Would I have heard the sermon on the mount? Would I have seen Him heal someone? Would I have sat on the shores of Galilee and listened to His words? As much as my heart soars reading those accounts 2,000 years later … how much more hearing them in person?

At the very least, would I have come out to meet Him as He entered Jerusalem, laying down palms and crying out to honor Him?

Or would I have been one who saw Him and looked away? Would I have thought He was afflicted by God?

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In this place

Who is left among you
who saw this house in its former glory?

And how do you see it now?
Does it not seem like nothing in your eyes?

Now be strong, … and work! For I am with you.

Greater will be the glory of this house
the latter more than the former—says the LORD of hosts;
And in this place I will give you peace
(Haggai 2:3-4, 9)

This immediately struck me as being about me. My life is “this house” and I formerly saw myself as pretty glorious. I had a lot of self-confidence, thinking I was very smart, talented and strong. I didn’t really need anyone, I could do what I wanted and make things happen on my own.

Ah, how time has changed my perspective!  Looking back, the things I saw as “my glory” don’t seem so impressive any more. I realize, now, that I’m not so smart, not so talented, not so strong. Those aren’t traits that I value greatly, now, and I know in retrospect that I used to be quite afraid most of the time, and often angry.

God promises He is with us, even as he tells us to be strong and to work! And I do see a more glorious house being built within me, better than the former and more valuable in my eyes, and His.

I have more work to do, for sure. But in THIS place, He has given me peace.

 

 

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12 Yet even now—oracle of the LORD—
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, weeping, and mourning.

13 Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God,
For he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love,
and relenting in punishment.

14 Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind a blessing
(Joel Chapter 2)

I love this passage and its focus on God’s continuous invitation to us, along with His great mercy. The passage indicates a whole-hearted turning toward Him, not simply a temporary entreaty seeking “a thing” from Him and then turning back away.

The last line is what is sticking with me the most this morning: “Perhaps he will relent and leave behind a blessing.”

Initially we think He will leave behind a blessing FOR us in the form of some good gift. And that certainly may be the case.

But also, it’s possible that the blessing He leaves behind IS “us” as new creations with new hearts and a new dedication to offering mercy to others.

LORD, help me to be merciful; teach me; use me to be a blessing to others. Amen.

 

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