Make straight our paths!

Chapter 52

Good Monday Morning to this week 53 of 2020

Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

It will be hard to grasp this year 2020 in a few words or a short review, I won’t even try, but it does echo in the verse of Proverbs. “lean not on your own understanding”. Often when we thought things were going to change for the good, another shockwave of announcements reached our ears.

It has been very interesting to see how many Bible verses sounded different, reading them was different this year. Actually, I understood some of the writers a lot better. Let’s look at a few verses coming to the end of this year 2020.

Romans 12:1-2, NIV Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We were challenged not to conform to the world, not to all the newest announcements nor to the latest theories of Christian friends sending out their newest conspiracy theories. We were also challenged not to fear, not for ourselves or our loved ones.

Renewal of mind … this was a constant for me. A constant checking, comparing, reading and seeking God and His Truth. In the renewal of mind, there was much new information and many new concepts to handle. Then followed the testing and approving of what I thought what the right way or God’s will for the ministry or my life or the lives of my family.

Isaiah 40:31, ESV but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

This verse a great encouragement to wait, have patience and let my strength and faith be renewed, not to grow weary. Well, yes I did grow weary, very weary as many of you I assume as well. But this year showed even more that when all our common remedies against weakness don’t function we turn back to spiritual applications and draw our strength from there.

Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Oh yes, everything has it’s time. Eternity in the hearts of men, I am sure we’re going to hear amazing stories of personal and individual change that happened 2021. When all the noise of Corona or other important matters were pushed aside, great changes started to happen in so many. I heard of many very good decisions being made, even in some of their darkest moments.

To conclude with Lamentations is very fitting to 2020. The following verse is so raw, so honest and right to the point and so true!

Lamentations 3:22-24, NASB The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! By his mercies, we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

Yes I will hope in Him!

I wish you a very blessed start into this new and last week of 2020!
Philemon

Disruptive Joy

Chapter 51

Good Monday Morning to this week 52 of 2020

Last week I felt unjustly treated and got only a glimpse of the hunger and thirst of righteousness. How much more those who over a long period of time hunger and thirst for this righteousness.

The Bible takes this many steps further. Quina Aragon shares with us:

God’s great story of redemption is filled with irony. Even as Matthew emphasizes that Jesus is the promised Messiah by virtue of his Scripture-fulfilling birthplace, he also introduces his Jewish audience to a mysterious group of foreigners: Magi from the East. Look at the Christ child already causing the nations to “rally to him”.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled,” the Bible tells us in Matthew 2: 5:6. This is the reality we see embodied by the Gentile Magi. Their joy overflowed into worship when they saw that shining sign of hope rest over the home of Hope himself. They traveled from afar to gladly bend the knee to the “king of the Jews” who, it turns out, is also the “King of the nations”.

The love of God is a scandal—too full to contain, too shocking to predict. It makes Christ-worshipers out of pagans, faith heroes out of foreigners. Are we willing to learn from these unlikely leaders and their generous, humble worship? If we are, perhaps we too will embody a beautiful irony—a disruptive joy, a bright hope, piercing through the darkness of our times.

Wishing you a good start into this week.

Philemon



A God We Can Touch

Chapter 50

Good Monday Morning to this week 51 of 2020

There are just so man good writers and texts out there. This one I just delight in sharing with you this Monday Morning. It’s out of a devotional of Luke written last week by Catherine McNiel; Finding God in His messy abundant world.

It was said that the gods of the ancient world lived outside time and space, on a different plane from our mortal existence, unreachable. On earth, in the hopes of glimpsing divinity, the ancients established hallowed places—a sacred tree or mountain, a holy temple or city—which they believed existed in both spheres, like a window to heaven. The people traveled to these holy places on holy days, believing the divine and mundane might nearly overlap for one reverent moment.

Luke takes pains to communicate that this story, this God, this mingling of divinity and humanity are altogether different. The Creator is arriving here, to our muddy, dusty, physical, emotional, beautiful, terrible world. Like a midwife carefully noting the time and place of birth, Luke clarifies that God’s birth interrupts a particular event—the Roman census—in a particular place—the town of Bethlehem—in a particular family—the house of David. Jesus is born into history, to a specific woman, exactly here and exactly now. We might gloss over these local details, but to Gentile readers Luke’s statement would be jarring.

On this night, God does not come like the gods of old, on a cloud or a storm, his untouchable power barely glimpsed through a holy mirror. No, God falls into the arms of his mother, arriving on this earth the way we all do. For months she carried him, for hours she labored with pain and blood and struggle, pushing until God was born on earth among us, an infant, vulnerable, wrinkled, and wet. Exhausted from the ordeal and sleeping now but soon to awaken, howling and hungry.

This is Luke’s unbelievable news: The true God came near to us physically, tangibly, in a way that we can see with our eyes and touch with our hands. God arrived in a village we could walk to, during a year we can remember. Divinity took on flesh in a mother’s womb, interrupting a marriage, a night, and a village like any other birth. We no longer meet God in sacred places and spiritual spheres but here on the ground, in the dirt, in our families and flesh and blood.

It is a shocking idea, even for us so many centuries later. There is no longer a separation between sacred and mundane. Our messy, daily lives are exactly where God is found, where God is at work. This is a God we can touch.

Catherine McNiel

I wish you a wonderful morning to exactly this messy and abundant World of His!
Philemon

The Journey of Advent

Chapter 49

Good Monday Morning to this week 50 of 2020

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. Isaiah 60: 1-2

Each year, God asks us to shed one more coat of awareness, one more dream state and come alive to the vision of God’s plan for each of us and the world-at-large.

The older we get, the harder this is to do. As children we had a sense of wonder. Our eyes were wide open and drinking in the fascinating gifts we beheld, our thirsty souls could not have enough of the wonders of creation.

Then, somehow, we grew too old to dream. We, tired of the abundance of the world, or at least grew weary of keeping up with the feast of life, and stepped away from the banquet of life.

The natural gift of wonder God gave us as children was meant to be kept alive, instead we let wonder go to sleep. We entered the typical dream state of most humans.

Why else does Jesus tell us today, ‘Stay awake!’
Advent says, ‘Wake up and realize the gifts of love you have received.’

Psychology says, ‘Let go.’
Spirituality says, ‘Wake up.’

In both cases there is a withdrawal from the busyness of daily life and a waking up to the subconscious and spiritual depths of ourselves and Him within us!

Rev. Alfred McBride, O. Praem., THE PRIEST, Gift of Wonder

Wishing you a good start to this week!
Philemon