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Posts Tagged ‘relationship with God’


Proverbs 15: God Misses Nothing 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Too many Christians live their days and struggle through their nights worrying over their sins. They parse definitions, arguing about the meaning of original sin, and so they miss the gift of original grace God gives us each day. The writer of Proverbs suggests God’s goodness.

A gentle response defuses anger,
    but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.

But lest we believe that we might behave badly without God knowing, the writer also reminds us that

God doesn’t miss a thing—
    God is alert to good and evil alike.

We find references to God’s disgust, anger, and maintenance of distance from humans; but as New Testament people we know that what God desires more from us. God asks that we love our enemies because loving our friends is not enough. And through all our daily interactions with family, friends and colleagues, we remember that God is always with us in a warm and loving embrace . . . even if we do not feel this presence.

Last week, Richard Rohr, OFM, posed to the readers of his daily reflections that beautiful promise that, Jesus came to give us the courage to tryst and allow our inherent union with God, and he modeled it for us in this world. Union is not merely a place we go to later – if we are good. It is a place of deep goodness that we naturally exist inside of – now”.  (Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation. Web. 28 July 2017.)

Even hell holds no secrets from God
    do you think God can’t read human hearts?

Today we have an opportunity to examine our relationship with God and those whom God has created, knowing that God misses nothing.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore these verses, we find opportunities to draw nearer to God, knowing that God reads all hearts, and invites all to live in divine union.

Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation. Web. 28 July 2017. <https://cac.org/category/daily-meditations/2017/07/&gt;

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Jeremiah 15:15-16: Remember Me!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016jeremiah5

Tomorrow we enter into the Lenten season and so as we prepare we strengthen our relationship with God. The prophet Jeremiah experienced the destruction of Israel’s beautiful relationship with Yahweh despite his intensity and persistence in warning of the coming fall. We might tap into that passion and persistence today. We might draw on the prophet’s faith, hope and love for God as he sees it in all.

You know where I am, God! Remember what I’m doing here!

    Take my side against my detractors.

When we feel as though no one listens . . . we speak as Jeremiah speaks.

Don’t stand back while they ruin me.
    Just look at the abuse I’m taking!

When we feel as though no one sees . . . we ask as Jeremiah asks.

I never joined the party crowd
    in their laughter and their fun.

When we feel as though no one acts in the Lord . . . we live as Jeremiah lives.

When your words showed up, I ate them—
    swallowed them whole. What a feast!
What delight I took in being yours,
    O God!

When we feel as though no one believes  . . . we love as Jeremiah loves.

And so we pray . . .

Remember me, Lord, remember who I am and where I am.

Remember me, Jesus, remember how I am and why I am.

Remember me, Holy Comforter, remember that I am . . . remember that I am . . .

Remember me, Lord, remember me! Amen.

To learn about the prophet Jeremiah, click on the image above or visit: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/464029/jewish/The-Prophet-Jeremiah.htm or: http://www.webquestdirect.com.au/prophets/process_activity3_group3.htm

Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday.

 

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

habakkuk2[1]Habakkuk 2

Self-Knowledge

I will stand at my guard post, and station myself upon the rampart, and keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what answer he will give to my complaint.

Habakkuk is a prophet who “questions the ways of God . . . and calls him to account for his government of the world”. (Senior 1150)  We too, might have reason to argue with God about his ways of governing; we too, might engage God in conversation and then await his reply.  Especially in this day at this time.

If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.  The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live. 

In Chapter 2, Habakkuk describes for us the evil which will accompany greed, and excessive wealth and power.  Despoilers will eventually suffer the consequences they have inflicted on others.  Those who live by violence will be victims of violence themselves.  These words sound much like those of Christ . . . The measure that you measure with is measured out to you.  (Luke 6:38)

Bishop Robert F. Morneau tells us that we are identified by how we interact with others and with God; our very identity comes through our interactions which in turn bring clarity or self-knowledge.  He reminds us that “we are a mystery made in the image and likeness of God,” that “our identity comes in relationships,” and that “lack of self knowledge is fundamentally tragic” in that we miss a precious opportunity to know God and to know self when we refuse to ask tough questions of ourselves and when we neglect prayer and scripture for quick comfort and superficial connections.

Habakkuk did not have this problem.  He asked the creator the universal human question: Why do the evil flourish while the just suffer?  And then he stands at his guard post, stations himself on the rampart, and keeps watch.  In Chapter two of this prophecy we hear the answer Habakkuk receives: Woe to those who neglect themselves and the relationships they have with others.  Hearing this, Habakkuk calls us to seek God, and he calls us to search ourselves.

What is it that stops us from looking deep inside?  Perhaps we are afraid we might discover that we are the evil one from time to time.  Maybe we fear that we cannot meet our own expectations.  Yet all of this insecurity and all of this trembling are smoothed away in the mystery of God’s plan for there is one who walks among us to lay a restorative hand upon our shaky spirit.  This one, God’s Word, is an expression in human form of God’s love.  This one, the risen Christ, forgives, heals, blesses, and opens all the windows and doors we have carefully shut.  It is through this one, Jesus, that we realize our best and truest identity as the adopted children of God.

We can be certain that once we enter into an open relationship with God that, despite our inability to understand God’s plan, we will better understand who we are and what part we are to play in this mystery that unfolds before us daily.  If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.  The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live. 

When we seek God, we also seek ourselves. 

When we question God, we also question ourselves. 

When we find God . . . we also find ourselves.

So let us stand upon the rampart with Habakkuk; let us raise our questions to the creator; and let us welcome the gift of self-knowledge that comes from this intimacy with God.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1150. Print.

Morneau, Robert F.  REFLECTIONS FOR ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS: Waiting in Joyful Hope. January 2, 2010. Collegeville, Minnesota, Liturgical Press, 2009. 88-89. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 2, 2010.

For more words of wisdom from this prophet, type the word Habakkuk into the blog search bar.

For an online study in giving thanks through troubled times, click on the image above or go to: http://deebrestin.com/2012/11/thanksgiving-in-troubled-times-two-week-study/

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Friday, March 1, 2013 – Hosea 7 – Searching for Happiness

Happiness[1]No matter how much time we spend with Hosea we will never find all that this prophet has to say to us about love.  Nor will we ever discover the depths of his grief or the soaring heights of his joy.  He is a man tormented by an unthinking spouse yet he never puts her aside.  And he continually calls her to return.

When we spend time with Hosea we see that he remains faithful to Gomer despite the fact that she is easily lured away by anything which attracts her attention, anything which gives her an immediate rush.  Gomer, a woman incapable of maintaining a covenant, is a symbol for Israel and she may be a symbol for any one of us who tires of maintaining a relationship with a loved one.  But we see something more today, something that a close reading of Chapter 7 will reveal: Gomer does not turn to God when she feels alone or abandoned or worthless, she turns away.  She searches her world of bangles, and music, and quick gratification.   She does not want to work at her relationships.  She does not want to see where or how she might make changes or improve in any way.  She does not see the value in thinking of the other more than self.

We see Gomer crying on her couch, gathering grain for new wine for a new festival, turning to any swift and facile self-indulgence.  We watch her turn away from God where sustaining, nourishing consolation may be found.  We close our eyes because we cannot bear to witness her wanton self-destruction when so close at hand there is a heart yearning to love her continually and endlessly.

Rather than seek a lasting, abiding union with her spouse, Gomer goes abroad to seek instant pleasure.  She does not want to think about who she is, why she was created, how she might improve, or how her existence fits into God’s plan.  She wants nothing more than a series of superficial, uncommitted relationships which will not call her to plumb her own depths, to know her own capacity for love, or to experience the soul-filling sensation of her true and eternal relationship with God.  She turns away from all that will save and restore her and in her search for happiness . . . she loses all.

Tomorrow . . . The Gomer Scale

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Friday, December 14, 2012  – Job 1 – This We Do Habitually

candle-in-hands_BN[1]This Job did habitually . . .

This one, short verse sums up Job’s personality.  It is why we read about him several thousand years after he lived his story.  And it is, I believe, what gives this “exquisite, dramatic poem which treats of the problem of the suffering of the innocent, and of retribution” prime place in the Bible’s collection of wisdom works.  It is the message of Job’s life that we need to hear when we suffer: he is faithful to God, relies on God, is patient with God and God’s plan . . . by habit.  (Senior 612)

Job is introduced to us a faithful follower one day, when the Sons of God came to present themselves to the Lord, Satan also among them.  A discussion ensues in which the devil declares that it is easy for Job to be a happy, righteous man as God protects Job and his family, and has seen to his prosperity.  Satan taunts God, to which God replies in a way that might surprise us.  He allows the devil to do what he will to Job, save kill him.

What does God know about Job?  Why does God allow the architect of evil to enter into Job’s life?

God knows that Job is faithful.  God knows that he and Job will be in constant dialog.  God knows that even when Job’s children and property are gone, the man will still rely on God.  Even when his wife urges him to commit suicide, even when his friends insist that he confess to whatever it is he has done in order to end the pain, Job will remain steadfast in his faith . . . because he does this habitually.

This is a wonderful story of how perseverance in hope and trust in God will eventually bring about a measure of joy greater than we had ever imagined for ourselves.  It is a story of how a man with a habit of conversing with God, a habit of reliance on God, and a habit of living through suffering with unending patience will experience serenity and peace.  It is a story with a happy ending that – when we read with care – will tell us how we must live . . . and what we must do . . . habitually.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.612. Print.   

Written on December 4, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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In this week when we give thanks for all that calls us, let us reflect on the holiness of the Spirit that dwells within. 

Solomon’s Temple

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 – Leviticus 18 & 19 – Holiness

Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.

The Book of Leviticus is often overlooked because it is a compendium of hundreds of laws governing not only the major forces of life but also the minutiae.  Today the Bible opens to these two chapters which deal with sexual and social conduct . . . two areas that we tend to confuse in society today.

This week at Mass we are reading from Revelation through which we might investigate our relationship with God’s as a conjugal relation: that intimate place where both God and we commune.  Commentary and reflection time will lead us to questions: What do our interactions with others say about our relationship with God?  What do out actions in the world say about our belief in God?  How do our words and actions express God in the world?

We might have a quick response prepared that we have readied in the event that someone or some life event calls us to think about how we might experience an “end time”.  We do ourselves a favor when we linger with these words, and when we allow ourselves to remember other scripture verses.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own.  You were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

This attitude of honoring God through all we do is sometimes lost on us.  We are a people wanting to have our own way in all things at all times.  We seek quick, easy and superficial gratification, fearing to stay long in any one place or with any one person, thinking this mode of living too staid, too conventional . . . too silly and un-hip . . . too boring.

What is it we fear in committing ourselves to a constant and faithful life?  Do we want to leave all options open to the last possible moment?  Are we waiting for something better to come along?  Do we shrink from being controlled without noticing that this reluctance to enter into relationship is a passive form of control?  How are we to behave?  What are we to say and think?  How are we to act?

We are made in God’s image.  We have only to look at how the creator treats us to know how to be holy . . . and then we must try to emulate this behavior. 

Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.

Written on November 17, 2008. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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Saturday, August 18, 2012 – 1 Thessalonians 4 and 5 – Our Conduct

We have looked at Chapter 5 of this letter before and when we did we reflected on God’s time as being different from our own, and how in this immense time of God’s there is always the opportunity to begin again, to offer friendship to those who have harmed us . . . and to have the impossible become possible through God.  Today when we reflect on chapter 4 along with chapter 5 we have the benefit of reading how Paul begins a list of general exhortations for our Christian conduct.  He gives a list of “to dos”: Be holy and honorable in your intimate relationships, aspire to a tranquil life while minding your own affairs, pray for those who have died before us, be prepared for the coming of Jesus, magnify Christ’s light in the darkness of the world.  

These guidelines seem simple enough as we read them; yet oh how difficult they become in practice.  How many of us use and are used in our closest connections?  How many of us are drawn in by the private affairs of others?  How many of us remember with hope those who have died?  How many of us are prepared for the Parousia?  How many of us stand in the light . . . and call others to that light?

Honor, Holiness, Charity, Hope and Vigilance. 

Paul reminds the Thessalonians and he reminds us that our conduct is an outward sign of our interior relationship with God. 

What do our actions have to tell us about our most intimate relationship of all? 

What do our gestures and demeanor tell our God about how we see him? 

What do we want to change?

First written on August 4, 2008, re-written and posted today as a  Favorite.

For additional thoughts on What is Holiness, click on the iage above or go to: http://thecostaricanews.com/what-is-holiness/9997 

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Thursday, December 29, 2011 – Psalm 62 – A Prayer of Trust in God Alone

Yesterday we reflected on Psalm 62; today we pray as we reflect . . .

Trust God at all times, my people!   Pour out your hearts to God our refuge!

When we pray this psalm aloud we have the opportunity to voice all that we are as creatures of God. 

God alone is my rock and salvation, my secure height; I shall never fall.

When we pray this psalm aloud we have the opportunity to recall the temptations that lead us away from God.

They delight in lies; they bless with their mouths, and inwardly they curse. 

When we pray this psalm aloud we have the opportunity to remember where we must focus our energies.

Though wealth increase, do not set your heart upon it.

When we pray this psalm aloud we have the opportunity to think about how power and kindness relate to one another. 

Power belongs to God; so too, Lord does kindness,

When we pray this psalm aloud we have the opportunity to see where we might find full and lasting peace.

My soul, be at rest in God alone, from whom comes my hope.

When we pray this psalm aloud we have the opportunity to acknowledge the difficulty life presents to us.

How long will you set upon people, all of you beating them down, as though they were a sagging fence or a battering wall?

When we pray this psalm aloud we have the opportunity to recognize our proper relationship with God and others.

Mortals are a mere breath, the powerful but an illusion; on a balance they rise; together they are lighter than air.

When we pray this psalm aloud we have the opportunity to tell God all that troubles us. 

Pour out your hearts to God our refuge!

When we pray this psalm aloud we have the opportunity to call on God . . . and to hear his words to us . . . Trust God at all times, my people!   Amen!

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Thursday, October 27, 2011 – Exodus 33:7-23 – An Intimate Friend 

This is the sort of relationship we look to have with God – one in which we speak to God and God replies immediately to our questions and requests as if God were a neighbor, relative or friend.  Yet this is the sort of relationship we have with God . . . we just find it difficult to see.

We have said frequently in our Noontime reflections that if we wish to hear and see God easily we must first reserve time for God each day for it is through daily petitions that we strengthen our bond with the Lord.  It is important to create a meeting tent where ever we are and where ever we go.  It is important to block out “God time” and “God place, even if they are mobile.  Because of the pressures of our schedule we may not be able to pause at precisely the same time each day, but we must find a time to sit in silence and to listen.  It is also impossible for us to be in the same place each day and so the image of a tent – a mobile structure – is apt.  We must create for ourselves, no matter where we are, a spot of stillness even in the busiest of places that we consecrate to the purpose of being in God’s presence.

Many of us have heard God distinctly in a crowded, busy city just as easily as we have on a deserted beach or hillside.  We have heard God’s voice, seen and felt God’s presence in the midst of work, as we rise from sleep, or in the silence of fervent prayer.

Where ever go, where ever we are, at any time, in any place . . . there is time and space for God.  Just so does God have time and space for us.  Just so does God descend from the heights to commune with us.  Just so is God our most intimate friend.  Let us remember to go out to meet this friend each day . . . always.

For more reflections on spending time with God as a friend . . . see the GOD TIME pages on this blog.

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