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Posts Tagged ‘God’s love’


Job 23 and 24: Desire and Terror

Friday, May 24, 2019

Commentary from La Biblia de América: Job continues in his search for a personal encounter with God, both seeking and fearing him; but the judgment of his companions does not speak to his condition.  Job finds himself bereft not because he has broken God’s law in any way.  His sins do not bring him to this spot of desperation; he suffers innocently from circumstances beyond his control.  Yet amid all of this hurt, Job refuses to reject God; indeed, he seeks God all the more with each new wave of pain.  Job actually takes refuge in his suffering, frightened and even terrified, waiting for his end.  He describes an impotence which we ourselves may feel at a time when we are abandoned and have no recourse.  We suffer while the wicked experience success.  A victim of bad luck and injustice, Job experiences a reality too awful to be concealed.  Further footnotes tell us that verses 18 through 25 have appeared here rather than where they may rightly belong – in a previous chapter – perhaps the copyist could not bear the pain and so thought to bring consolation from another place.

This lament of Job guides any and each of us through a wave of pain so intense that it nearly takes one’s breath away.  This level of suffering can only be healed by God . . . and it is upon God that Job calls.

Today’s reading asks us to think about our desire to see and know God . . . face to face.  Job’s unquenched yearning is void of any wish to exact punishment or revenge on anyone or anything.  Job questions.  Job fears.  Yet Job does not leave God perhaps because he knows that God has not left him.

The imagery today describes a dichotomy of longing accompanied by fear.  Job needs to experience God’s presence in his life . . . and he fears that perhaps he will never escape this place of emptiness where the wicked have full sway.  He survives in a twilight world where day and night co-exist, and he fears that the darkness will win out.

As we have observed, perhaps it is for this reason that a later copyist has inserted the words which we know Job believes because they hold truth and because they describe what Job does . . . he refuses to give up, he holds on to hope and he waits.

To him who rises without assurance of his life he gives safety and support.   

When we find ourselves in the pit of misery described by Job, we must remember that the force of our yearning will be met, matched, and exceeded by God’s love . . . for he is life itself.

To him who rises without assurance of his life he gives safety and support.   


A re-post from May 9, 2012.

LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

For more reflections on the Book of Job click the image above or go to: http://agapegeek.com/category/bible-study/job/

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Joshua 23: A Final Plea

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Jericho

It is clear that Joshua understands his people when we read today’s Noontime scripture.  He has brought them from the edge of the wilderness into the fertile land that God has promised them.  He has led their troops, solved their squabbles, and he has kept them faithful to God as they live side by side with pagan peoples.  He has one final plea.

We are about to enter the season of Lent, a time for reflection and introspection. Today we have an opportunity to consider that we stand before Joshua, a man who knows our story. Let us listen well.

Strive hard to observe and carry out all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, not straying from it in any way or mingling with these nations while they survive among you.  We might recall here the parable of the weeds growing among the wheat in Matthew 13:24-30 that we considered in our Continued Progress NoontimeGod does not call us to wipe out all who oppose or stifle us; rather, God asks that we learn to grow amid those who would pull us from our steady progress toward God.  Joshua calls likewise to us today, encouraging us to follow the voice of God, to grow in wisdom.  When we allow God’s wisdom to counsel us rather than succumb to our own petty fears and whims, we will have responded to this final plea.

At your approach you have driven our large and small nations, and to this day no one has withstood you.  One of you puts to flight a thousand because it is the Lord, your God, himself who fights for you, as he promised you.  We so quickly take credit for our successes and blame God for our failures.  It seems we cannot withstand the truth of our own existence.  When we remember the so many big and little triumphs of our lives in the light of God’s goodness instead of the brightness of our own effort, all anxiety, resentment and envy melt away.  We cease to compare our circumstances to those of others; we see our lives for what they are: a continuing response to – or a willful turning away from – God’s call.  Joshua asks us today to consider the origin of our security and achievement; and he reminds us that God alone governs all.  When we admit that God’s strength and fidelity are gifts we receive without even asking, we will have demonstrated our own willingness to respond to this final plea.

If you ever abandon God and ally yourselves with the remnant of these [pagan] nations while they survive among you, by intermarrying and intermingling with them, know for certain that . . . they will be a snare and a trap for you, a scourge for your sides and thorns for your eyes.  Joshua worries, of course, that his people will disappear into the societies that surround and live side by side with them.  He knows how easily we can be convinced that daily prayer and faithful worship have little effect upon us.  He understands our weaknesses because he has managed the in-fighting and back-stabbing that happens when people come together in a common cause.  He also understands our strengths because he has led a stiff-necked and cantankerous people successfully by following God’s counsel rather than the shallow wisdom of oracles; he has deferred to God’s plans and put away his own.  Joshua recalls the covenant they have agreed upon with God and that it invokes reward or doom; he reminds his people that God always keeps his promises. When we willingly turn away from the siren call of the idols that clutter our lives, we will give witness to our own commitment to God, and we will have answered this final plea.

This chapter closes with a description of God’s Wrath and before we become frightened by these images let us remember that Christ comes to fulfill the Old Testament Covenant and to replace it with a new Law of Love.  When we remember that the God of wrath we see described here is actually the God of Love that Christ shows us . . . we will have little trouble – and much reward – when we respond to Joshua’s final plea.


Adapted from a reflection posted on December 11, 2011.

Image from: http://www.biblebios.com/joshua/joshua.htm

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Psalm 119:9-16With All Our Heart

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Imagine the love we will spawn when each of us is able to honestly say to God . . . I love you with all my heart . . .

Imagine the fortitude we will engender when each of us is able to truthfully say to God . . . I have sought you with all my heart . . .

Imagine the humility we will experience when each of us is able to openly say to God . . . let me not stray from your commands . . .

Imagine the trust we will feel when each of us is able to solemnly say to God . . . I treasure your promise in my heart . . .

Imagine the joy we will sense when each of us will enthusiastically say to God . . .  I rejoiced to do your will . . .

Imagine the goodness we will produce when each of us is able to earnestly say to God . . . I will ponder all your precepts and consider your paths . . .

Imagine the patience we will personify when each of us is able to sincerely say to God . . . I take delight in your statutes . . .

Imagine the fidelity we will embody when each of us is able to fully say to God . . . I will not forget your word . . .

Jesus teaches with authority and the crowds are amazed at his wisdom. Matthew 7:28-29. 

Jesus does not seek to control those who follow him.  Indeed, he is moved with compassion for them.  Mark 6:34.

Those who know Jesus do not stray far from him.  Crowds of people come to him, and as is his custom, he teaches them.  Mark 10:1

He teaches in their synagogues and everyone praises him. Luke 4:15

He enters Nazareth where he is well-known yet the people are furious.  They drive him out of their town.  Luke 4:29

Jesus tells us that he does nothing on his own but does all through the Father who has sent him; he teaches what the Father has taught him.  John 8:28 

Jesus heals many; he transforms the harsh circumstances of life.  Those who wish Jesus gone plot against him.  Matthew 12:14

When Jesus stands before the High Priest on the night he is accused he reminds all of us that he does nothing in secret but comes to us openly.  John 18:20

We are never given the guarantee that life will be without suffering.  We are never told that each day will end in happiness.  We are never fed with lies or pampered with pretense.

We are always protected by God who turns all harm directed against us into good.  We are always lead by Jesus who brings the love of the Father into flesh.  We are always accompanied by the Spirit who celebrates our very existence.

God surrounds us continually and constantly with heart images to remind us of how much he loves us.  Once we rely on God alone for our internal peace and the will to do as he asks, we will experience true security, honesty and openness not only with God but with all those with whom we interact.  God shows us his kingdom each day, yet we are so occupied saving ourselves that we do not see.  God sends us his love each day, yet we are so overwhelmed with the minutiae of the life we have created for ourselves that we do not hear.  God’s love is planted in us each day, yet our worry and anxiety is so intense that we do not feel.  Imagine if we could put the world aside for a time each day . . . to say the simple words to God that we often say to others . . .

Imagine the kingdom we will build with God when each of us is able to boldly say to our creator . . . I love you with all my heart . . .


 To read more about the human heart and hearts we find in nature, click on the images and follow the links. 

Images from: http://muslima61.hubpages.com/hub/The-Beautiful-Heart-Appearances-Can-Be-Deceiving

A re-post from February 5, 2012.

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Ecclesiastes 5Toiling for the Wind

Monday, January 28, 2019

Jean Beraud: A Windy Day

The world in which we live is alluring; it is also adept at finding our weaknesses in order to draw us in to the illusion that we are living full and productive lives.  We busy ourselves with incessant chores and with possessions that demand our time.  We fill up datebooks and calendars; we make certain that our days are chock-a-block filled with people to see and events to attend.  But have we tended to our soul; have we allowed time and space for God to move and speak within?  Do we toil for the wind?

The world with which we are occupied has strict and narrow expectations.  We ought not speak out or speak up.  We ought not rock the boat or tread on toes.  We ought not mention that the emperor has no clothes or that the elephant is sitting in the middle of the room.  What do we fear so much that we prefer to bend to the will of our companions yet we refuse to obey the voice of God?  Do we chase after the wind?

The world in which we play assures us that with enough money, enough power, and enough good looks we will want for nothing and will be eternally happy.  It tells us that pleasure comes from having our way, from controlling our destiny, and from living in the right neighborhood and driving the right vehicle.  It tells us to take pain pills, to do whatever makes us happy for the moment, and to not allow ourselves to be too committed to anything or anyone other than our status.  Do we believe that the wind can bring us deep and lasting serenity?

When you make a vow to God, delay not its fulfillment.  For God has no pleasure in fools; fulfill what you have vowed.  You had better not make a vow than make it and not fulfill it. 

Yet God has the infinite patience to wait for his foolish creatures to come to him when they find they have been chasing the wind.  This is something to work for.

If you see oppression of the poor, and violation of rights and justice in the realm, do not be shocked by the fact, for the high official has another higher than he watching him and above these there are others higher . . . What then does it profit him to toil for wind?

God has the ultimate word and the last move.  God knows that we are lured away from him by the siren call of the world’s glamour.  God understands that we do not realize that often we run after the wind.  Returning to this kind of fidelity is something to strive for.

Here is what I recognize as good . . . any man to whom God gives riches and property, and grants power to partake of them, so that he receives his lot and finds joy in the fruits of his toil, has a gift from God. 

God’s expectations are so simple that perhaps this is why we miss them.  Since God is so grand and so great – we think to ourselves – we must make ourselves important and powerful so that he might see us.  Yet God loves the least of us even as he loves the greatest.  We need not struggle to be noticed.  This is something to hope for.

We have all of God’s love; and this ought to be gift enough.  Yet, does this satisfy us?

We have all of God’s attention; and this ought to be reward enough.  Why is it not?

We have all of God’s best wishes and hopes; and this ought to be incentive enough.  Do we see this?

God’s enduring fidelity cannot be matched.  God’s all-powerful presence cannot be negated.  God’s compassion and justice are enduring.  God cannot be moved by the wind.  So why, then, do we give it so much importance?  And why do we toil for the wind that cares not who or what we are?


A re-post from January 28, 2012. 

Image from: http://hoocher.com/Jean_Beraud/Jean_Beraud.htm 

For reflection on Ecclesiastes Chapter 6, see the Chasing after the Wind post on this blog.  

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Matthew 10:26-33Courage Under Persecution

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Do not be afraid . . . Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.

When we are filled with fear that a loved will abandon us when we speak truth, we must not be afraid.  God is with us to guide us.

When we are anxious that a colleague at work or a community friend has set us up to fail, we must not be afraid.  God is with us to guide us.

What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.

God speaks to us in the quiet of our hearts and counsels us.  We must say the words he urges us to say.

God speaks to us through the companions who journey beside us.  We must witness to the injustices God urges us to uncover.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.

Our mortal life is worth nothing if it houses a hollow soul.  God knows all that is within us.

Our spirit cannot be stifled when our soul has invited God to dwell within.  God knows all that takes place around us.

Rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.

There is no doubt that evil exists and those who doubt its existence invite the darkness into their hearts.

There is no doubt that God exists and those who nestle into God’s goodness know that God’s compassion and desire to forgive knows no limit.

Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?  Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.

God is all-present and all-knowing and has the power to do as he likes and yet . . . God is incredibly patient, allowing us time to decide to turn to him.

God is all-loving and all-powerful.  God rescues us from our craziest follies.

Even all the hairs on your head are counted.

God knows us inside and out.   It is impossible for God to not think about us.

God’s love for us is unimaginable, all-encompassing, everlasting.  It is impossible for God to not love us.

So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrow.

When we are tempted to succumb to the demands of a loved one in order to keep peace, we must not be afraid.  God will show us a marvelous way for us to extract ourselves that will leave a wake of healing rather than a trail of shame.

When we are tempted to give way to the unscrupulous request of a colleague at work or a community friend, we must not be afraid.  God will guide us through the intricate plans of deceit that have been plotted against us.

Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.

God wants us to be with him for all eternity . . . this is something we cannot change.

God wants to number each of us as his loyal and faithful servants . . . this is something we can choose.

But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.

God does not hide his goodness and light under a bushel basket . . . and neither must we.

God does not leave any stone unturned in his effort to gather even the last of his sheep . . . and neither must we.

Do not be afraid . . . have courage . . . and know that even under persecution . . . especially under persecution for Jesus’ sake . . . you are well-guided, you are well-protected, you are well-loved.

When we are persecuted, we must stand on the knowledge that God holds the faithful in his hands.  And we must trust these hands to see us through any danger, any pain, any sorrow, any loss.

And so we pray with a canticle from Wisdom 3:1-6 . . .

The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them.

They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us utter destruction.  But they are in peace.

For if before men, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. 

Amen. 

Amen. 


A re-post from September 21, 2011.

Images from: http://freebesthealth.com/page/7/

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Isaiah 51When We Feel Abandoned

Saturday, October 20, 2018

These are the first words that greeted me this morning in my email inbox.  They are from the Richard Rohr site to which I subscribe and currently Rohr is sending messages from his newest book, BREATHING UNDER WATER.  The title – and the meditation message below – speaks to anyone who has suffered deeply . . . and to anyone who longs to suffer well.

“Only people who have suffered in some way can save one anotherexactly as the Twelve Step program discovered. Deep communion and dear compassion is formed much more by shared pain than by shared pleasure. Only those who have tried to breathe under water know how important breathing really is, and will never take it for granted again. They are the ones who do not take shipwreck or drowning lightly, who can name “healing” correctly, who know what they are being saved from, and who develop the patience and humility to ask the right questions of God and of themselves.

“You see, only the survivors know the full terror of the passage, the arms that held them through it all, and the power of the obstacles that were overcome. Those who have passed over eventually find a much bigger world of endurance, meaning, hope, self-esteem, deeper and true desire, but most especially, a bottomless pool of love both within and without”.

From BREATHING UNDER WATER: SPIRITUALITY AND THE TWELVE STEPS, pp. 123,124,125 http://cacradicalgrace.org/resources/breathing-under-water

Here we have clear instructions for what to do when we are deeply troubled, for when we believe that we do not fully understand God’s plan, for when we may even feel abandoned by God.

Listen to me . . . we are instructed.  I will help you to breathe under water.  I will sustain you in a world that feels foreign to you.

Look to the rock from which you are hewn . . . God says to us.  You are made in my image.  I love you dearly.  I will never leave you.

Be attentive to me . . . God calls out to us.  I exist through all time and space as do you.  I speak to you now.  I am telling you that you will never fail.

Raise your eyes to the heavens and look at the earth below . . . we are challenged.  Choose life or death.  Choose your own plan or mine. 

Fear not the reproach of others . . . we are cautioned.  Their opinion means nothing in the light of eternity.  Follow the law rather than the whimsical judgment of those who chase after power, status and reputation.

Awake, awake, put on strength . . . God urges us.  I know that you are weary but my burden is light and my shoulders are broad.  I carry many but I long to carry you.

Hear me, you who know justice, you who have my teaching in your heart . . . God does not waver, God does not give up.  I, it is I who comfort you.  I am the Lord you God.  I have put my words into your mouth.  I have shielded you in the shadow of my hand.  I stretched out the heavens; I laid the foundations of the earth.  I am here to rescue you.

So when we are fear-filled, we must remember to ask for the grace, patience, and wisdom to discern God’s hand in all that happens around us.  When we feel abandoned, we must keep the arms of Jesus wrapped round us.  When it seems that all is hopeless, we must abide in the faith that God the Father knows all and keeps his promises.  When we are deeply troubled, we must ask intercession for those who have harmed us and done us damage.  When we feel utterly alone, we rest in the understanding and solace of the Holy Spirit.  And when we are healed . . . we turn to others to pass along the wonder of God’s love.


A re-post from September 17, 2011.

Images from http://www.flippersmack.com/ and http://recdive.com/2010/07/29/the-wonders-of-scuba-diving/

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Psalm 12: Plea for Help in Evil Times

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The human character seems determined to bring about evil. No epoch escapes the lust for power. No era is exempt from the pursuit of wealth or the competition for survival. The chase for fame is a goal that exacts a lethal price; but dark consequences deter few. Many of us are bent on building a life of celebrity, affluence and supremacy . . . and this quest destroys both individuals and whole societies.

In ancient days, and in our own, we long for a serenity that comes with the cessation of conflict. We look for ways to de-stress our lives, to slow down the headlong pace of our digital interface with the rest of humanity. We complain about the divisions we experience and yet feel powerless to bring our world together; yet somewhere deep within we know that we must change our circumstances. And so we turn to the eternal wisdom of the Spirit. We follow the model Christ gives us. And we ask for God’s intervention and help.

Today, as we look for transformation, we search various translations of this holy prayer. We place our trust in God’s plan and love. We remember the promises God keeps. We consider the furnace of evil times that we survive while the silversmith of life watches over us. And we ask for help in evil times.


When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus, we consider God’s hope for humankind, and how we might make a plea for God’s help in evil days. 

Image from: https://www.bereaproject.org/verse-of-the-day/2016/6/3/psalms-126-7 

For more posts on God as silversmith, use the blog search bar and explore.

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Job 42: Babbling On

Monday, August 27, 2018

Again, today we look at THE MESSAGE translation in which this chapter is entitled, Job Worships God: I Babbled On About Things Beyond Me.

Having come through his grief and pain, Job says to the LORD: I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything.   Nothing and no one can upset your plans.

We might smile as we read and pray these words, or we might grimace. How do we understand God’s control of the universe? Does is bring us comfort, anxiety, peace or fear? How do we react to Job’s final response to God?

We are rewarded if we spend time with this last portion of the Job story for it is in the unfolding of the action that we find our own intimacy with God. It is in the patient fidelity of the innocent sufferer, that we find a premonition of the Christ story. And it is in the hope-filled abiding of God’s faithful servant that we see a glimpse of the Spirit that heals and transforms. Just as the Lord restores Job, so does God restore us; and this happy ending to a tale of difficulty and expectation brings us affirmation of our confidence in God. We have a person we can model, an attitude we can take on. We have God’s wisdom teaching us The Way of peace that Jesus brings to all.

Today, despite our babbling about a plan we struggle to understand when life goes against us, we determine to rely more on God and less on ourselves. We decide to trust the economy of the Lord rather than our own. And we confirm God’s love in choosing us, power in protecting us, and wisdom in teaching us . . . in the face of our incoherent words.


Tomorrow, celebrating with the Lord.

When we compare translations of this chapter, we begin to see why we cannot understand things beyond our comprehension. 

For a reflection of the power of our words, click on the image or visit; https://restoredministriesblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/power-of-the-tongue/

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Proverbs 2:1-5: My Child

Monday, August 13, 2018

I have always liked the simple wisdom of Proverbs for Lady Wisdom has much to teach us.

My child, learn what I teach you and never forget what I tell you to do. Listen to what is wise and try to understand it. Yes, beg for knowledge; plead for insight. Look for it as hard as you would for silver or some hidden treasure. If you do, you will know what it means to fear the Lord and you will succeed in learning about God. (GNT)

As a child, I never understood why we were to fear God. As I grew, I came to recognize fear as a sense of awe. As an adult, the verses of Proverbs bring God’s overwhelming love to our hearts.

Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you;
    collect my counsels and guard them with your life.
Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
    set your heart on a life of Understanding.
That’s right—if you make Insight your priority,
    and won’t take no for an answer,
Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold,
    like an adventurer on a treasure hunt,
Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours;
    you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God. (MSG)

Friends offer words of advice, Wisdom found close to home and near to the heart. I take in the wisdom my own friends offer. And as a friend to others, I search for counsel in this practical, and often humorous, book of instruction.

My son, if you will receive my words
and store my commands inside you,
paying attention to wisdom
inclining your mind toward understanding —
yes, if you will call for insight
and raise your voice for discernment,
if you seek it as you would silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure —
then you will understand the fear of Adonai
and find knowledge of God. (CJB)

Ancient words are frequently apt, gathering past and future into a fruitful present when we share them with our children. Old axioms bring pearls of wisdom, offering respite in the storm, refuge in combat.

Good friend, take to heart what I’m telling you;
    collect my counsels and guard them with your life.
Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
    set your heart on a life of Understanding.
That’s right—if you make Insight your priority,
    and won’t take no for an answer,
Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold,
    like an adventurer on a treasure hunt,
Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours;
    you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God. (MSG)

Wisdom, Understanding, Insight. These are the gems we unearth when we spend time with these sayings. Searching, prospecting, seeking. These are the actions we take as children of God. Counsels, gold, gems. These are the treasures we unearth when we answer the call of Christ. Beseeching, learning, healing. This is the transformation we experience when we rest in the Spirit of the Lord.

My child, learn what I teach you and never forget what I tell you . . .


When we compare translations of these verses, we find safety in the Lord’s awesome love. We find refuge as children of God.

Image from: http://www.heartandsoulcompany.com/ 

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