Tag Archives: Lord

A Slave of God, If My People, Day 4

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Deuteronomy 28:1-3 New Living Translation

28“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God:

Your towns and your fields will be blessed.

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If My People prayer pilgrimage, Day 4, has us really thinking about some hard stuff, mainly,  on obedience to God.  In our ego driven culture of self fulfillment, immediate gratification, monetary wealth, it is hard to think of answering to a higher being… to God.  While few of us have any trouble maxing out our credit cards and selling our soul to the banks for immediate gratification of whatever trivial thing crosses our path, we bulk at the thought that we owe our humility, our love and respect, our very existence to One Mightier than All Others… God.  

Today’s Word tells us that if we fully obey God and carefully keep all his commands, that he will bless our nation and each of us individually. In James 1:1, he begins his book with “James, the slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…”  A slave of God. I have to tell you, the first time I read this verse several years ago, I was irritated.  Who wants to be a slave to anyone, including God.  If I was a slave to God, that would mean that I needed to give up who I was and become totally who God wanted me to be and continually do His bidding.  I just didn’t want to think about it as I had been existing quite happily with my compartmentalization of God to Sunday morning Mass and Thursday evening small church group with a prayer tossed in here and there.  It was a balanced life with no one even thinking of tossing me into the Bible Thumping Group.  I knew where God fit in and more importantly, God knew where He fit into my life.  It was convenient.  It was safe.  It was acceptable to the culture that I lived in.  But it wasn’t the plan He had for me, which I soon discovered entailed so much more.

A slave of God is actually found many times in the Bible.  In the Old Testament the word doulos (meaning slave, one who is subservient to and entirely at the disposal of his master) is used from ancient Greek to describe the Patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament including the following:  Moses (1 Kings 8:53), Joshua and Caleb (Joshua 2:8 and Numbers 14:24), Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Deuteronomy 9:27), Job (Job 1:8), Isaiah (Isaiah 20:3), Amos 3:7, Zechariah 1:6, Jeremiah 7:25.  For these men of the Bible, the title of doulos was one of honor.  Was it difficult?  Yes.  Challenges and strife along the way doing God’s work?  Definitely.  Worthwhile and meaningful?  Without a doubt.

“Obeying God to the point that we are His slave,” what does that really entail? Am I filled with images from Civil War era movies of cuffs, starvation, ill kempt, bone weary work.  Is this what God has in store when I grudgingly agree to do His bidding.  No!  Of course this is not His desire for any of us.  I have to get my heart in the right place when I think of being His slave.  I give Him my absolute obedience.  I am absolutely His possession and I agree that I will follow Him in whatever He has in store for me without thought or question.  I give Him my absolute humility.  I focus myself on my duties and obligations to God over my privilege and rights.  I give Him my absolute loyalty.  I am utterly pledged to God and to everything for His glory, not my own.  If I can fill my heart with obedience, humility and loyalty to Him who knew me before He formed me in my mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5),  He will bring blessing not curses to me.  Blessings too numerous to list here.  For being His slave is so different than being man’s slave or even slave to this battered world we live in.  He brings light into the darkness of the world (John 8:12), beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3), plans of hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

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So in this time of darkness with racial tension and ISIS and inflation and lack of jobs to the point of homelessness of many, where many children are being raised by social media and our elderly mostly forgotten, it is time to grab on to His promise that if we commit our ways to Him, trust in Him, He will act (Psalms 37:5).  He will act with justice and steadfast love and tender mercies.  He calls us to obey Him and follow His commands.  The greatest of these is to love our God with our whole heart and to love our neighbor as our self (Matthew 22:38).  He says love all our neighbors as our self, whether they are black, blue, Muslim, homeless, disabled, gay and on and on and on.  He does not say to pick and chose the neighbor that makes you feel most comfortable and looks like you and thinks like you and has all the same stuff you have.  No, He gives us more of a challenge today just as it was when Jesus walked among us 2,000 years ago.  Love the Pharisee. Love the Gentile. Love the Good Samaritan. Love the Police Officer. Love the Thug. Love the Woman in Burqa. Love the Transgendered Woman in the Target Bathroom.  Love the Gay Couple stating their vows.  Love. Love. Love.  Let the judging and the justice come from Him above, not from us.  Reach out your hand, though you may be filled with fear and just Love….  Then, He will place you where your doings and loving and kindness will bring the greatest glory to Him and He will then bestow you with great, magnificent blessing.

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Praying that you find that place in your heart to say, “Lord, I am your slave.  Do with me as you wish.”

May you find peace and gratitude in every moment.

Joan

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You, Jesus, Complete Me.

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Philippians 1:6 “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6. God Completes What he Starts. Art Within the Ar

Artwork by Mark Lawrence, Copyright.  The Battlefield of the Mind Collection inspired by Joyce Meyers.

Giving my heart to him again and receiving his special words to my soul.  Music that made me dance and music that made me cry.  Witnessing that got to the heart of the matter of the struggle to follow His footsteps.  Quiet time to sort out my life and pray and find buttercups in full bloom in the grotto of the retreat center.  Reconciliation to give Him my sorrow over poor choices in the past and present and to find forgiveness.   This was my past weekend at our Parish Woman’s Retreat.

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Buttercups in the Grotto.

Sunday morning, as I entered the chapel, I realized that I had not yet signed the altar cloth and it was “last call” so to speak.  So up I headed, purple fine line marker in hand with final instructions that I could leave a message if I so desired with my name.  I stood pondering what message to leave on an altar cloth that will be brought back to the retreat year after year.  What words to write in this tiny little space that I found had not been written on yet….  It came to me fairly quickly.  The Bible promise that I have held on to since those early days of parenting and MOPS and not knowing what I was doing with my life and being filled with anxiety and struggles just to make ends meet while my husband finished medical school.  The promise that He would complete me, Philippians 1:6.  So I wrote on the altar cloth the simple sentence with a prayer that it would bless the other women present now and to come:

You, Jesus, complete me.  Joan Marie 2016

I headed back to my seat and waited for the big group celebration and then Mass to close out our retreat.  As they had all week-end, our group celebration began with a Bible verse.  Surprisingly it went like this:  “A Letter from St Paul to the Philippians.  ‘I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now.  I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. ..And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception to discern what is of value so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.'” Simply put, it was my God promise that I had just prayed over my sisters in Christ not ten minutes earlier.

While I sat there contemplating the meaning of this “coincidence,” the group went on to sharing time.  Woman after woman bravely standing and speaking into a microphone sharing what the retreat had meant to them.  Woman after woman sharing their struggle, their lepers, their pain.  Sexual molestation, substance abuse, death…  I sat listening with my own struggles and heard that small, still voice saying to me “speak My promise to these woman.”  Alas, I am not so brave as to stand in front of just shy of 200 woman and be vulnerable.  I just could not bring myself to raise my hand, though I tried and tried to gather up the courage to say what I knew He wanted me to say.  For that I am sorrowful.

So I am here saying to each of you, now, in this place to take courage.  Do not see yourself as the leper whom others fear.  Do not look at yourself only through your pain and struggles feeling that you are the only one.  We all have pain and struggles.  We all have death and illness and abuses somewhere in our lives or the lives of loved ones whom we care for.  Suffering comes to all of us.  But He, the one who created us, bore our sins, and overcame the sting of death, looks down on us with steadfast love and tender mercies and He completes each of us.  He never leaves nor forsakes us.  He is in each of us helping us through whatever suffering this life brings by giving us whatever it is we lack to get through it.  I am small, weak, and cowardly.  Yet, with his merciful heart and outstretched arms, Jesus wraps Himself around me in those moments of suffering and weakness and completes me so that I am able to stand strong and brave and proclaim His love to all my suffering Sisters and Brothers in Christ.  He promises to do this for you as well.

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Praying that each of you can find the confidence to know in your very being that He who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus, as well.

Amen, Joan Marie

Via Dolorosa, Way of Sorrows

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Stations of the Cross

i.  Jesus is condemned to death.

 

condemned

sinless Lamb of God

innocently guilty

unafraid, blameless, yet condemned

sinless Lamb of God

you take away the sin of mankind.

majestic reign

humbled as Perfect Sacrifice

sinless Lamb of God

Savior


 ii.  Jesus carries his cross.

 

cross

i am forgiven

sin, separation

my burden is heavy

i am forgiven

daily, Jesus carries my cross with his

grace given

faulty footsteps following Him

i am forgiven

salvation

 

iii.  Jesus falls for a first time.

 

fall

your majesty protects

weakened, vulnerable

most powerful Jesus falling

your majesty protects

God’s weakness is stronger than man’s strength

Angel strengthened

sinless burdened with sin

your majesty protects

Arise

 

iv.  Jesus meets his mother.

 

Mary

full of Grace

humble, willing

Ark of the Covenant

full of grace

knowing Jesus would be about God’s work

prayerful submission

in this suffering moment

full of grace

obedient

 

v.    Simon helps Jesus carry His cross.

 

simon

carrying His burden

human weakness

your cross bearing shoulders

carrying His burden

offering your strength to the Son of Man

comforting the Great Comforter

carrying His burden

servant

 

vi.  Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

 

veronica

gentlewoman’s loving kindness

tender mercy

wiping His sacred blood

gentlewoman’s loving kindness

mark of Jesus’ love imprinted on her

veiled image

offering all she had

gentlewoman’s loving kindness

compassion

 

vii.  Jesus falls a second time.

 

downtrodden

we all fall

oppressed, persecuted

the Lord lifts up

we all fall

come you weary and burdened to Him

Jesus fell

the burden so great

we all fall

arise

 

viii. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

 

weeping

tender mercy of God

Jesus’ suffering

let us weep too

tender mercy of God

along the road He saw ALL women

reaching out

compassion, healing for them

tender mercy of God

comforting

 

ix.  Jesus falls a third time

 

weakened

falls…falls…falls

Jesus carries

every sinner’s tragic fall

falls…falls…falls

twisting, winding sorrowful way to God’s glory

Spotless Victim

undelivered from wicked hands

falls…falls…falls

arise

 

x.  Jesus is stripped of his garments.

 

naked

nothing separates us

vulnerable, indignant

God is with us

nothing separates us

Love of God is with us ALWAYS

embarrassment, shame

God is with us

nothing separates us

Love

 

xi.  Jesus is nailed to the cross

cross

Christ lifted high

Fragrant Offering

Divine Love for us

Chris lifted high

my redemption is found in the cross

Perfect Sacrifice

all people drawn to Jesus

Christ lifted high

crucifixion

 

xii.  Jesus dies on the cross.

 

death

arms spread wide

humble submission

as He embraced all

arms spread wide

may His sacrifice bring gratitude and peace

every moment

into this sinner’s heart

arms spread wide

rebirth

 

xiii.  Jesus is taken down from the cross.

 

dismounted

holiest of sorrow

unbearable task

burial of our Lord

holiest of sorrow

joseph, nicodemus, love won out over fear

profound grief

Mary held her son

holiest of sorrow

Pieta

 

xiv.  Jesus is placed in the tomb.

 

burial

laid to rest

joseph’s tomb

Jesus wrapped in linen

laid to rest

we grieve his death.  God promises life.

stone closed

yet opened and empty

laid to rest

Resurrection

 

xv.  The resurrection of Jesus

 

Resurrection

go to Galilee

empty tomb

intense desire to encounter Jesus

go to Galilee

now let us be on our way

Risen Lord

Holy Light overcame darkness

go to Galilee

proclamation