“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:18-19)
I’m so glad I am ending my year-long Bible sessions with a letter from Paul. His work is such a pleasure to read, so beautiful and profound. I like Paul’s verse on hope, that we are called to it. Hope is a powerful feeling. It can take us from the depths of despair if we don’t have any to total elation if it is restored to us. Isn’t having Hope then like having God? Is God hope itself in addition to many other beautiful and good things? And along with the hope God gives we must carry gratitude. I think the two are inseparable. When we lay our hope in God’s hands, therefore surrendering our will, we make ourselves vulnerable and equally indebted to God when God delivers us from despair. Thanks be to God!
Thank you for staying with me through this journey of the Bible! Check out my story every day as I post my past posts of the books if you’d like a concentrated look or follow #fridaybiblepost!
“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to tread on the heights.” (Habakkuk 3:19)
Habakkuk awaits the ruin of the unjust Babylonians. He complains twice to God that he wishes God would act now and “destroy” them. There are a couple of points here. First, as we all probably know, God doesn’t work on human time. God’s time is a mystery, but I CAN tell you that when I recite my prayers very slow, they feel much different than when I say them at a “normal” speed. I think when we slow down, something perhaps we’re not used to, it surprises our Spirit and we can then easily sense the difference. Like the intellect is finally giving way to the heart—and that is a special feeling. Second, sometimes the ruin of something allows for the growth of something better, we just have to be patient and eliminate ALL of our worldly expectations and allow God to move us through the fire.
“It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them, I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.” (Hosea 11:3-4)
When I read this the first time I was struck by this image of God as feminine and motherly. It is so easy to forget to thank God for the little things, even the people God sends to us to help us in our times of need, even words spoken by strangers that keep us in deep thought all day. We forget that even the simplest favors were done for us out of Love by God and sometimes through others. Just like our mothers, parents, guardians, and friends who do things for us simply out of their great love.…And the things we have done for others out of love. One thing I do in secret is remove all obstacles (dog bones, pillows, blankets, toys) out of my husband’s path before I go to bed, so he doesn’t trip in the dark when he gets up (usually very early). When I told him this (no longer a secret) he laughed and made the joke that I’m like Charlie in the show ‘Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ who secretly protects ‘the waitress’ because of his great (hilariously obsessive) love for her. I thought that was funny.
Who are you secretly helping and who do you think is secretly helping you? Do you think God is working through them/you? How can we show our gratitude for these secret favors of Love?
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this, is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” –(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
This first letter from Paul to the Thessalonians was misinterpreted. So he wrote a second letter (2 Thessalonians) to urge them to quit their idleness and get to work as some in the church had heard Paul’s first message and stopped working just to wait for the Lord’s second coming. They had become a burden to their church because the church had begun to support them. It is the same when the angels told the disciples to stop gazing at the sky when Jesus was lifted to heaven (Acts 1:11). They needed to take Christ with them everywhere they went as they worked and as they played. Study and prayer in solitude is an excellent way to center yourself in God, but then we must take God with us out into the world. And when we are out mingling with people, we learn a lot of lessons, more lessons, about ourselves especially, than if we were studying scripture alone all the time. It is one of the reasons group Bible study can be good, people learn more from others than from themselves. Who knows, you may be the eyes that group needs to see a verse interpreted in a different light.
First, you might wonder what this image is, it is the Holy Face of Jesus, the image that appeared clearly on the veil of Veronica. It is a powerful meditation and relevant to this post because how can one be a good watch person when their senses are destroyed like the senses of Christ were destroyed when he was crucified?
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.” (Ezekiel 3:17)
Ezekiel was a prophet and a “watchman” for the Israelites while they were in Babylon. When I first read through the Bible, I began a study on the word watchman. It appears several times and it fascinated me. What is a watchman? Who is a watchman? Its meaning is not easily articulated. But put simply, in a theological sense, watchmen watch for God and they watch for things contrary to God. They know what God sounds like, looks like, feels like, etc., and they know what God doesn’t look like, sounds like, feels like, etc.—a skill that can be useful when navigating the world. There is a prophet in each of us that knows how to navigate the entities of good and evil and everything in between. We are all called to be that watch-person). Environmentalists, justice seekers, those who practice inclusion, anyone on the frontlines of this pandemic, and I can be a watch-person by speaking out when I am called. And I am open to my ‘post’ changing over time. Next time I may be called to act instead of speak, or I may be called to be silent. No matter what the watch-person is called to do, the most important thing we can do is to be one with God in all we do and send what is contrary to God, God’s love and peace
I have no authority to teach you. These are my own contemplative thoughts, you may disagree and that’s OK!
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness, and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail… They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait (quietly) for him.”
The title of this book was originally translated from Hebrew to the words “Alas!” or “How?” Lamentations is a sort of epic poem of which
Jeremiah was probably the author. Throughout the book, the prophet is lamenting over the destruction of Jerusalem. We all have things that
bear weight in our hearts, the crumbling of our comforts and securities perhaps? Here Jeremiah describes the horrific events in Jerusalem; then with hope and faith in the Lord’s mercy, he prays for
the people and describes the Lord’s mighty hand of Love which delivers perpetual hope to the faithful of this Hope. Jeremiah reminds us that we must remember our afflictions and the distractions that kept us wandering away from God’s path for us. To continually grow and mature in Spirit we must remember, like Christ, we too have born our own crosses, and these crosses were not in vain. Their purpose was to teach and redirect. When Jesus was nailed to the cross he looked up to heaven and lamented ‘why?” to God. “Why has thou forsaken me?” Which are the same words David speaks in psalm 22. In doing this he was lifting his troubles to God giving God credit, not only for future generations to see the Truth in that day, but to show the witnesses that He had not lost His faith even when it was God who allowed Him to suffer the way He did. The verse of Lamentations continues saying, “Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?”