Tag Archives: Old Testament

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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“Little Ways” of Love: Holy Monday, 2015

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Isaiah 61:1-2 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly….”

Do you have a Facebook account or other social media?  Did you ever friend a family member or acquaintance whom you might not have known well, but felt obligated to include them in your circle of social media?  Did they have a different fundamental belief in some area than you and played their God card only for you to be outraged at the error of their beliefs?  Did it get ugly with name calling, blocking, and other outrageousness?  Yeah, I dealt with this last week-end.  Sadly,  Indiana has recently passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  I wish the people of Indiana had listened to Pope Francis when he stated,  “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” — Interview aboard the Papal Plane after World Youth Day in Brazil.  Discrimination is wrong and not of God, simply put.  I cannot wrap my head around interpreting this bill any other way.  Trust me, I have heard it all from devout Christians in my social media circle as well as those in my immediate family who felt the need to defend this act on my Facebook wall.  I fear that until the Supreme Court takes an interest and rules on whether sexual orientation is a civil right, we will continue to struggle with this new discrimination based on the right of the individual to refuse to service another based on their own religious interpretation.  It is saddening.

Which brings me to our Bible passage which is being pondered by Catholics around our world this Holy Monday, as we continue to prepare our hearts for the most important of all holidays in our faith, Easter.  Originally, Isaiah, one of the great prophets of the Old Testament, shared these verses as he proclaimed what God had anointed him as a prophet with a job to do.  Jesus in Nazareth cited Isaiah 61:1-2 when he stood before His people and after reading the verses, He announced “Today, this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:18).  Naturally, that did not go over very well with those who had come to the service as they were expecting a Messiah that would come in glory and strength, not a local carpenter who came from an unwed mother.  I am sure that news like that tended to stay around for awhile, small town mentality and all.  (How dare that Jesus think he is the Messiah.  I heard that Mary and Joseph weren’t married when he was begot. No way is he even capable of the job we need done in a Messiah.   Yada, yada.)They did not realize that in the most humblest of circumstances the greatest of God’s purposes are accomplished for His glory.  Thus His Son, the Messiah, was indeed begot by a young, unwed virgin and born in the lowliest of circumstances to the poorest of poor among the people.

So Jesus announces and confirms His mission statement in Nazareth, repeating the words of Isaiah that He has come and with the Spirit of the Lord’s anointing He has been sent to cheer, heal, proclaim, release and announce.  If this is His mission, we as His believers, must find this to be our mission as well.  We are sent to do all these things as we are now His hands, His feet, His heart here on Earth.

So I ask, how is it that we are to cheer the lowly?  Who are the lowly?  The poor in spirit?  Do I trust Him enough to let go of whatever my agenda is to be anointed by Him to perform this cheering which He has called me to?  I am reminded of Mother Theresa of Calcutta stating “God did not put me down here to be successful.  He put me down here to be faithful.”  So it is with each of us.  We must walk in faith and give up our successes and agendas and perceptions on who is deserving of our respect and we must serve others.  Even if this means in Indiana looking past whatever behavior you do not respect, and simply loving and serving the person in front of you, regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, etc.

How do we serve the lowly, whether in actuality or perceived lowliness?  St Therese of Lisieux, a Catholic saint who lived in the mid 1800’s, is known for her Little Ways.  She taught through example that the way for each of us who wants to serve God, need look no further than littleness, simplicity and love.  It is not necessary that we all perform great sacrifices or mighty works to accomplish bringing good tidings to the lowly.  If we live our life doing for others in love and obedience to His calling, we are showing love in the “Little Ways.”  Matthew 18:3 tells us that Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  We must become child-like in our love, devotion, and care of our fellow man.  We must eat with the sinners and prostitutes and tax collectors and homosexuals, without hesitation.  Daily we must attend to them in the little things.  For it is in the little, day to day interactions that we show God’s great love for His glory to our brothers and sisters.  Those whom the world has time and time again tried to infer that they are less than.  The friends of Jesus.  As He did even though it led to His Walk of Sorrow on Good Friday.  For that we give Him our thanks, our love, our life.  Because had He refused to serve those whom He felt were lower than He, none of us would ever have risen with Him on Easter morning, anointed and forgiven and much loved by a Father who had spent an eternity to love us.