Posts Tagged ‘God’s love’

Job 8: Taking the Dare – Part V

Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 21, 2023the-love-of-god-tara-ellis

God is in charge. This is what we know. We might rail against this fact, thinking this requisite of life a restriction but still, this is what we know.

God is present in our suffering as well as our joy. This is what we feel. We might doubt God’s existence and question God’s fidelity, thinking these truths to be myth but still, this is what we feel.

God wants us to be happy and peace-filled. This is what we experience. We might wonder why God allows pain and sorrow but still, this is what we experience.

Can we ever live up to God’s expectation? Of course we can. All we need do is to take God’s open hand.

Can we ever admit that God is in the smallest microbe and at the same time in the immensity of the multiverse? Of course we can. All we need do is to accept God’s invitation to transformation.

Can we ever admit that God’s wisdom is enduring and inevitable? Of course we can. All we need do is to relax into God’s enormous heart.

And so we pray.

Good and loving God, you have entrusted all that you are to humanity’s hands. May we communicate your love in all we say. You have taken the dare to believe in us. May we return your love in all we think. You have gathered us up, taken us in, and made us your own. May we return this infinite love in our own small way in all we do. We ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Image from: https://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/heart-shape-bible.html

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Job 8: Taking the Dare – Part IV

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Kim French: Bull Rushes

Kim French: Bull Rushes

Job’s friends believe that he is guilty of some crime against God; why else does he suffer so heavily? Job’s friends do not understand that God has taken a dare from Satan (Job 1), trusting that Job will remain faithful no matter the circumstances. Bildad does not recognize Job as an instrument in God’s plan; he cannot imagine that God calls to the potential place in Job at his conception . . . or that God calls on the potential placed in each of us to respond to God’s immense love in such a steadfast manner.

Reeds can’t grow where there is no water . . .

God says: Send down your roots into my Word each day with confidence.

Evil people sprout like weeds in the sun, like weeds that spread all through the garden. Their roots wrap around the stones and hold fast . . . But then pull them up—no one will ever know they were there . . .

God says: Place all your hope in the promise of my mercy.

God will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouts of joy.

God says: My joy in you is endless and boundless.

Risen_LGThose who hate you will be clothed with shame, and the tent of the wicked will be no more.

God says: I have great plans for you. Plans for joy and not for woe. When evil visits you, remain in me. I am the only force that can bring about the miracle of your transformation. Take the dare that Satan hands to you by trusting me more than yourself. Follow me. Rest in me. Trust in me. Remain in me. Take up the great dare that my love for you can bring about the impossible. 

When we spend time with these verses and reflect on varying translations, we begin to see the depths and breadth and height of God’s love for humanity. Use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore.

Images from: https://pixels.com/featured/bull-rushes-kim-french.html and http://www.redeemerofisrael.org/2009/04/resurrection-part-i-empty-tomb.html

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Ezekiel 34:23-31: One Shepherd

Thursday, May 11, 2023shepherd

 We have reflected on God’s home and God’s foolish message. We have watched Paul and Barnabas use sinew and muscle to share the good news of God’s mercy. Today we consider how God’s goodness and love nurture and shepherd us.

Adapted from a Favorite written on April 5, 2008.

Today some of my children have gathered to help me with the chores that are too much for me to accomplish on my own, and I know that my parents are happy about this. I also know that Mother and Dad are here in spirit, continuing to shepherd from the next world, even as they shepherded in this one. They loved to call together “work parties” with the ostensible purpose of accomplishing some task, but which always resulted in more bonding than any of us could have imagined.

joshua_24_15b--full-800x800Shepherds protect and guard in many fashions. My parents led us to the nourishing springs Ezekiel describes that rejuvenate even dead bones. How do we lead others? How do our actions speak to others? How do we demonstrate our willingness to love as Jesus loves?

For my part, I will allow God to call me and mine as God sees fit . . . and I rejoice to see my children and their children live lives that are happy not because they are satisfying themselves, but because they are doing what they know to be the work of God.

In good times and in bad, in celebration and in sorrow, it is my constant prayer that my children, grandchildren and I might continue helping one another to keep our eyes fixed on the the one shepherd who cares for his sheep so well.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)

Images from:

Click on the shepherd image above, or enter the word shepherd into the blog search bar to further explore how God leads, supports, and loves us.

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1 Corinthians 1:18-27: God’s Foolish Message

Wednesday, May 10, 2023bible-verses-about-weakness

Today’s reading is designed to astonish us. Paul writes: God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to shame the strong. Reading other versions might give us further insight to the inversion God uses in relating with creation.

God says: When you look for things in your life to be sensible and logical you may miss their reason for existing. Indeed, you may miss their very essence. When observing the world, consider whose value complex you use as a measuring stick. Is it yours? Or is it mine? You see where Jesus spent his time, do you not? When he saw that the scribes and Pharisees were not open to his truth, he instructed them and then moved on, shaking their dust from his sandals.

Yardstick-500x375Then he returned to the lost sheep who need his healing and guidance. Jesus lives with the shunned, the lonely, the rejected and abandoned. Can you see why my servant Paul describes my kingdom as inverted? All that is powerful in the world is nothing to me. Rather, I prefer to abide with those who live in pain. My mercy is great enough, long-lasting enough and deep enough to heal all the injustices of the multiverse. And despite this enormity, I see you as precious and as worthy of my love. Remember this today when you are the last. Remember this today when you are the lowest. Remember this today when you are weak and sad. Remember this today and always. My love for you is never-ending and mighty. This is my foolish message that I send to you today.

Use the blog search bar to explore the God’s Yardstick posts. Use the scripture link to compare other versions of these verses.

Images from: https://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/closeup-ruler.html and http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2015/03/27/top-7-bible-verses-about-weakness/

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Ezekiel 4: The Inevitability of God’s Love

Fifth Sunday of Lent: March 26, 2023

James Tissot: Simon the Cyrenian Compelled to Carry the Cross with Jesus

There is an inexorable force which drives our existence. Some of us identify its scientific origin, others of us focus on its spiritual origin. Some of believe that God drives this science; others of us believe that synchronicity and evolution direct our existence. But no matter the origin of our thinking, and no matter our circumstances, we all see the predictable: those of us born into human flesh will come to a very human end. This is an inevitability we cannot avoid. This is the greatest gift ever offered. This is a promise none will want to doubt. Ezekiel’s audience turned away from his prophecy because they could not bear to hear the truth which they saw as terrible but which was, indeed, wonderful. Today when we hear the good news that we are loved beyond measure and that all our worries and woes can be put into God’s hands we will want to choose to trust God and the inevitability of God’s love?

Yesterday we reflected on the certainty of Ezekiel’s prophecy and how history tells us that his predictions held true.  We also made a connection between the unavoidability of this prophecy and the persistent nature of God’s promises to us, the unrelenting presence of God’s love for us as shown by the birth of the Christ. The ancient oracle foreshadows the promise kept.

When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption.  As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his son into our hearts, crying out, Abba, Father!”  So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.  (Galatians 4:4-7)

Whether we want to admit this fact or not, we are in intimate relationship with God.  This is something we cannot change.

Whether we feel God’s presence or we do not, we are in constant union with God. This is a concept we cannot reject.

Whether we feel God’s love for us or we do not, we are the center of God’s focus at all times. This is the reality we cannot rebuff.

God is so good, so generous and so overpowering that we cannot avoid closeness with him. God is so patient, so forgiving and so compassionate that he waits with us as we struggle against the fears and anxieties of the world. God is so caring, so tender, and so loving that he allows us to behave as we like as he continues to offer this gift of self to us. God has known us from our origin and God knows our path. And God waits. God persists. God loves. Inevitably.

Jerusalem fell and God’s people were taken into exile. This was predicted. This came to pass. This was inevitable. This we now know.

Jesus is among us to deliver us from all that pains us. This was predicted. This has come to pass. This too, is inevitable. This too, we can know.

As we enter the last week before Palm Sunday and Holy Week, let us consider God’s inevitable gift and promise. 

As we anticipate the miracle of Easter resurrection, let us rejoice and be glad. 

And as we draw nearer to the Good News of the Easter Story, let us act as if we believe in these good tidings. Let us give thanks for this wondrous and profound gift of God’s inevitable love.

An adapted re-posting of a reflection written on December 25, 2011.

Image from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/james-tissot/simon-the-cyrenian-compelled-to-carry-the-cross-with-jesus-simon-de-cyre-ne-contraint-de-porter

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Luke 2:41-51: Found

William Holman Hunt: The Finding of the Savior in the Temple

Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 19, 2023

Today’s familiar story foreshadows the conflict that will take place in Jesus’ adult years when his message of God’s mercy brings the wrath of leaders against him, and lays the fate of creation in his hands. As a child, Jesus remains in Jerusalem after Passover to converse with temple elders. Discovered by his parents, he goes home to live obediently with them. The child Jesus dazzles leaders and yet lives in humility. The child Jesus knows that God is in charge.

Coptic Icon of the Transfiguration of Christ

Coptic Icon: Transfiguration of Christ

The man Jesus goes up to the mountain to experience his own transfiguration, but he does not go alone. He takes two friends who later testify to this beautiful experience on the mountain top. The man Jesus confounds his friends and yet delivers the expectation that his kingdom is here and now. The man Jesus knows that God’s outrageous hope is essential to human existence.

The prophet Jesus brings healing and confidence to the marginalized and forgotten. He escapes the crowd by disappearing over the brow of the hill. He slips through the fingers of those who would obliterate him. He challenges our beliefs and our doubts. The prophet Jesus knows that God’s enduring faith is critical in the human journey.

The risen Jesus defies all laws of physics and logic to bring hope to the abandoned and faith to the desperate. He hands himself over to the authorities who despise him. He suffers meekly at the hands of his enemies whom he calls to goodness. He offers the gift of healing and solace to all of creation. Christ Jesus knows that God’s enormous love is crucial in our human lives.

As we approach Palm Sunday and its story of Christ’s Passion, let us remember our Lenten practices while we journey up to Jerusalem. As we near our Easter home, let us pray, meditate and remember that once we were fearful, and now we rest in Christ. Once we doubted and now we believe. Once we were lost and now, like the child Jesus, we are found.

Images from: https://fineartamerica.com/art/pharisees and https://www.stvnashville.org/feast-of-transfiguration

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John 8:31-42: Truth and Freedom

Wednesday, March 15, 2023truth set free

Jesus says: The truth will set you free.

Many of us believe that truth must be told at all times and at all cost. Others hold that the truth can be painful and so make allowances for small inventions that ease or ruin feelings and relationships. Little white lies, we are told, soften the rough edges of life and moderate rough patches we experience. Today we are invited to examine The Truth that Jesus opens to us. The Truth that transforms and even releases. The Truth that liberates and exhorts. What can this truth and this freedom possibly look like?

God says: I have called you away from the dead end of self-involvement with the hope that you will see the beauty of my kingdom. The hope I place in you is that you welcome the balm of my love and take it in fully. I have faith that you will allow my love to travel through you to release you from your small worries and enormous burdens. My son teaches you how to give in to this love. He shows you a life that acts in full freedom through me. I have created you for fullness in me rather than the world. I have formed you for high purpose and noble deeds. I have shaped you for deep love and infinite commitment. This is the truth I offer you. This is the truth that will fully free you.

IMG_0095The freedom from illness and violence. The truth that is bold yet gentle. A parent who protects and guides. A brother who shepherds and heals. A lover who gives in to no turmoil or pain. This is the truth and freedom we seek. It is the truth and freedom we already possess. It is the truth and freedom that we find in God’s kingdom of love.

Moving away from the path that ends in nothing to the path that brings us life, we remember our Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “I will set all things right in God’s kingdom,” let us think instead, “I will strive each day to follow Jesus’ example of forgiveness, mercy and love”.

Tomorrow, over the edge.

Images from: https://philosophynews.com/what-is-truth/ and http://lookingintothelawofliberty.com/2014/10/08/what-does-jesus-mean-by-the-truth-will-set-you-free-and-what-does-that-freedom-look-like/

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Luke 5:27-32: The Great Banquet

Saturday, February 11, 2023luke 5

Jesus tells us many times that his kingdom is like a boundless wedding feast where all come together at the abundant table of God’s love. How can we see ourselves in this gathering where all will be equal, where the little divisions we set up no longer exist, when only unity and charity abide? Jesus calls the tax collector Levi to follow him and then he attends a party in Levi’s home.

Luke sets the stage: Everybody was there, tax men and other disreputable characters as guests at the dinner. 

The scholars ask: What is he doing eating and drinking with crooks and sinners?

Jesus says: Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.

God says: When you come to my feast you need only focus on your own transformation. If you want to join this banquet of love you must learn to speak its language and to live and act in its culture. Remember your Lenten practice and when you feel that you are asked to do the impossible, remember that with me all things are possible. Put out into deeper waters and shed your fear. No matter the elements or obstacles, my love is great than all of these.

We may be Levi, called to follow and called to celebrate. We may be the Pharisees, sticking to The Law and abiding with the details. No matter our identity, we must allow Jesus to enter into our hearts, and we must allow ourselves to serve as welcome and inviting guests at the wedding feast that is the kingdom of God.

We take care to remember our practice for the week: Rather than thinking, “This will not work,” let us say instead, “If you say so, Lord”.

Tomorrow, temptation.

Image and video link at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kqpyyUzmf0

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Romans 16:17-20: Warning to Troublemakers

Thursday, February 2, 2023f8a252c28d8359617d691b379d2404e5

In this time of political tension around the world, Paul’s words are worthy of our reflection time.

Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.

Paul’s letter to the Romans holds this little paragraph: a warning to the brethren who cause dissention and scandal contrary to the doctrine they have learned. Commentary suggests that Paul’s intent is to inoculate the growing community against the formation of factions that might lead to the fragmentation of the church.  In 1 Chronicles 28:20 David says to his son Solomon: Take charge! Take heart! Don’t be anxious or get discouraged. God, my God, is with you in this; God won’t walk off and leave you in the lurch. God’s at your side until every last detail is completed for conducting the worship of God. 

And how do we worship the Lord? When do we gather to give thanks to God?

We hear that we must go about our work without fear of any kind.

We understand that our kingdom work is more important than any other.

We demonstrate our belief that God is with us always when we put aside the fear-mongering and scandal-peddling of troublemakers.

TakeHeartHandsLogoJohn shares Jesus’ words with us: These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

When we set ourselves to doing God’s work, we have no reason for apprehension or anxiety.

In both the Old and New Testaments, we see God’s yardstick in our world. Paul, David and Jesus offer us a clear image and method of measuring God’s presence and love in our lives.

Images from: https://www.pinterest.com

Adapted from a reflection written on April 27, 2008.

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