Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Devotional reading 150211

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Praise God for a refreshing nature after the rain. Green leaves and grasses are budding everywhere outside my office window. This is a new day to celebrate the goodness and faithfulness of God. His unconditional love displays on earth as it is in heaven. Praise His Holy Name. Amen.

According to Jesus of Nazareth, God is a prodigal, spendthrift love. He spelled it out in His great story of the father and son, which should probably be called the parable of the prodigal father. Not only does the father receive his son back without a word of criticism—knowing that the son is judging himself too much already—but he brings out the best that he has. Instead of ordinary clothes he brings the best robes, instead of a meager meal they kill the fatted calf. And instead of recrimination he places rings on his fingers. Even toward the self- righteous elder brother, he is open and caring. Instead of chiding him for being interested only in justice, the father practices reconciliation and begs him to come to the party and join in their rejoicing. This, as Jesus Himself revealed, is the kind of God men find when they turn to Him for relationship, for a re-connection to the life that they need.

Although in rare instances we do dream of such a world and such relationships, usually we are afraid to believe that either we or God could be this way. We do not dare to reach out toward God courageously, risking the hope that He may be like that. Until we are willing to take that risk and venture on this path, we actually limit the fullness of relationship that God wishes to give. It is difficult for a human father to relate with affection and warmth when he is mistrusted, rejected or held at arm’s length. He cannot give all he longs to give. It is no different with the heavenly Father who is far more sensitive to our actual inner response to Him. If one sees God as a vicious tyrant or Oriental potentate one robs Him of the opportunity to give us love…. Few of us are able to contemplate acting in this way until another person has demonstrated such action toward us and reassures us that it is safe. Even then it takes a lot of meditating before one can break out of the human pattern of revenge and anger, retribution and destructiveness, and consider taking this risk oneself.

The main point of the doctrine of the Trinity is simply that God is essentially the same as Jesus of Nazareth. They are not only alike but the same in being. How many battles the theologians had on this issue. It is an important one…And if w really believe in the Trinity, we will let it show in our lives. This does not depend upon our ability to explain the intricacies of this mystery or how well we know the history of its being understood. Real belief in the Trinity is determined by how we act toward God, how we meditate, how we pray, and especially how we treat our fellow human beings. As I have said before, and probably will say again, our actions tell more about what we really believe than all our intellectual formulations of doctrine.

If one turns to God then, with some expectation of finding the reality expressed by the Trinity, what will one look for God to be like? Certainly if God does unite the qualities of Jesus of Nazareth and the prodigal father, He is better than any human father. First of all, He understands the human plight, the tensions and agonies of human life and how prone we are to being swept away either by selfishness or by evil. He knew what it was like to be a human being in Jesus of Nazareth, and He cares about us no matter what we have been or done…He also gives us freedom. There is nothing that can really prevent us from turning away from Him or mocking Him. He has confidence that in the end nothing else but relationship with Him will satisfy us, and so He waits. He knows that only love given in freedom and only relationships founded on freedom are real. His desire for us is not to pin us down but to see us grow and develop just as far as our potential and our opportunities will permit. In order to help us achieve our greatest potential, He offers us healing and transformation…Through meditation we can locate this precious vein buried deep within us and begin to open passageways of belief in this kind of God and the experiences He makes possible. Meditation is one way that brings us to this power and helps us stay open to it so that we can become what we are capable of being. Finding this kind of God enables us to grow into what we were meant to be. It is a wild gamble to look for a God like this, but what do we have to lose?

Meditate and prayer are concrete actions that we can do to wait upon the Lord or receive the actions of God. In other words, any spiritual exercises are our reaction toward the loving initiation of God to mankind. We don’t know how it works. We may think it is our initiation or decision to pray and meditate about God. But in reality, our human efforts are inadequate to reach a God bigger than our human imagination can handle. The more we trust our “approaches” the more we put God into our little boxes of theology or spiritual disciplines. Yes, it is because of God’s grace that our prayers are answered or heard. It is because of His love that He reveals to us through our meditation. But it is not our prayer and meditation that enable us to find God. Other religions put their faith in the “religious rituals and practices” to empower them in not only reaching God but manipulating Him to do what they want Him to do. Prayer and meditation are hard works because they are beyond our natural ability to handle. They are difficult work because they require us to rest, to yield and to submit to the work of the Holy Spirit from within. Thus God reminded the psalmist in Psalm 46:10: “Be still (rest) and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” God will be exalted in the earth when His people yield to Him in prayer and meditation daily…Would you?

With heart of thanksgiving in His love,

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