God’s Law and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, June 3, 2017

Exod 20 ten commandments word cloud

God’s Law and Meditation

Dietrich Bonhoeffer had some fascinating words to say about the Ten Commandments. Just two paragraphs are quoted in this chapter of Meditating on the Word, but they give us a glimpse of what Bonhoeffer was thinking. “It is grace to know God’s commands,” he said.  Knowing God’s commands—God’s laws—helps us to understand conflict. What is more, God’s laws help to set us free from “self-made plans.”  Intriguing!

Of great important is the beginning of the commandments, for we are messing up that relationship in Exodus 20. “I am the LORD your God.” According to Bonhoeffer, the “I” of the commandments is the Almighty God, and we are called into intimate relationship with God.

When we break one (or more) of God’s commands, the rules are not just of human origin. Bonhoeffer reminds us that we transgress against God. We break God’s commands in our disobedience, not mere human ones, and it is serious, indeed.

If we add to the law God is certainly in charge of, we see Bonhoeffer’s amazement; God dispenses grace through the Ten Commandments, as well. The Ten Commandments ”are not detachable, as if we could  somehow separate God’s will from God Himself.” [1]

God’s grace comes to us from God’s word. This—Exodus 20—as   is as surely God’s revelation as punitive sections of the Mosaic Law as well as many of the Prophets and their writings. God is revealed with mighty power throughout this interaction.

Dear Lord, help me to understand Your abundant grace. Even in the midst of diversity. Dear God, thank You for being on our side, with grace, with love, and with Your open arms of compassion and forgiveness. In Your mercy, hear us as we pray.

@chaplaineliza

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Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 13.

The Psalter and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, June 3, 2017

Psalter - Westminster_Psalter_David playing the harp. c. 1200

The Psalter and Meditation

I am such a fan of Dietrich Bonhöffer and his devotional writing. Sure, many people praise his deep theological works. (I think his theology is profound, too.) However, his attitude toward meditation and prayer reach me in a deep, profound way, internally.

I know how important reading is for those who understand “that special intimate relationship with God’s Word.” [1] In the excerpt, we discovered the repercussions for each one who is actively looking for an effective, emotional interaction.

Bonhöffer considered the Psalms as the way he became closer to God. I know how challenging this is for many, but think of something hopeful and upbeat. If anyone can get their hands on this devotional reading, it would be a worthwhile way of deepening our relationship with God.

Dear God, help me to discover more about You and Your World. Lead me in Your way and direct our path. Hear us, o Lord God where You can remind us of how valuable the meditation can be. Hear us when we pray.

@chaplaineliza

 

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Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 10.

 

Starting to Meditate on the Word

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 1, 2017

sit in pew, praying

Starting to Meditate on the Word

It’s June. It’s the start of the summer season. I will begin my summer sermon series the week after Pentecost (this coming Sunday). Plus, I just finished the anthology compiled by Richard Foster and Emilie Griffin, Spiritual Classics. I wondered about another book I could go through in a similar way to the anthology, and I found one that seems to speak to me. This new book is also an anthology of sorts: a collection of short writings by theologian, professor and pastor Dietrich Bonhöffer.

Meditating on the Word was translated by David McI. Gracie. As we will see over the next weeks, reading the Bible was a source of devotion to Bonhöffer. He not only studied and interpreted the Bible, and heard the words of the Bible in worship services, but he found great comfort and meaning in praying, using the words of the Bible. He considered such reading and meditating on the words of the Bible another means of grace. (God-sent, and God-given.)

As Gracie mentions in his introduction, meditative reading of the Bible led Bonhöffer to prayer on a regular basis. “The Bible was the school of prayer for Bonhöffer, a school in which we learn the language of God, and ‘repeating God’s own words after him, we begin to pray to God.’” [1]

I read this book in depth some years ago, and tried to practice prayerful meditation on a regular schedule. Studying this book was so good for me. Once more, I look forward to practicing prayer and meditation using the Word of God.

“In examining these unfinished pieces, …we may feel freer to pick up hints and insights that fit with the broken pieces of our own life and worship.” [2] I hope and pray that this book serves as a regular help to others as they meditate and pray, too. Dear Lord, help all of us as we pray.

@chaplaineliza

 

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Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 8.

[2] Ibid, 9.

Amy Carmichael and Social Justice

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, May 30, 2017

social justice, photo

Amy Carmichael and Social Justice

I’ve come to the end of this excellent anthology of a wealth of different faith traditions. Amy Carmichael is the last of these moving snapshots we glimpse in this book Spiritual Classics. Miss Carmichael was born in Northern Ireland in 1867, came to Christ early in life, and developed a passion for social concerns—what today is known as social justice, in some circles.

At 17, she brought together a group of 500 poor mill girls in a church hall in Belfast. Several years after, she felt a call to the mission field, to Japan. She stayed there for some months, but had to return because of ill health. After several more years, she left for the mission field again: this time, for India.

Over the years she remained in India, Miss Carmichael helped to found a large healing and training center. After a disabling fall in 1931, she lived as an invalid, writing extensively for the rest of her life. She particularly spoke out against the Indian practice of dedicating children to temple gods, and worked to get that practice abolished, with the help of a number of people from India. [1]

As Miss Carmichael herself writes, “The subject was new to us. We knew nothing of the magnitude of what may be called ‘the secret traffic of India’—a traffic in little children, mere infants oftentimes, for wrong purposes, and we did not appreciate, as we do now, the delicacy and difficulty of the position from a Government point of view.” [2] She was dumbstruck at the prospect of many, many children all across India enslaved to service in various temples.

Miss Carmichael has a clear and generous view of the rich, multilayered cultural background of the Indian people. She writes “The true India is sensitive and very gentle. There is a wisdom in its ways, none the less wise because it is not the wisdom of the West.”[3]  At the same time, she is so struck with prayer for those children: if the children exist, she prayed that they might be saved. God heard. God answered. She truly believed in prayer, and acted on her belief.

Dear God, I wish I could have just a portion of Amy Carmichael’s faith. Please help me to have just a little faith. Hear me, I pray.

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000, 360.

[2] Ibid, 361.

[3] Ibid, 362.

@chaplaineliza

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Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Frederick William Faber’s Joy in God

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, May 27, 2017

joy in sand

Frederick William Faber’s Joy in God

Richard Foster chose to write about (and include excerpts from) both Faber and John Henry Newman. They both were ordained as Anglican clergymen, and both were influenced to turn to Roman Catholicism.

During the time of two tours of the European Continent in the 1840’s, Faber was drawn to Catholicism by its rites and devotions. He and Newman were received into the Catholic church. Increasingly devotional in nature, Faber founded a religious community the following year. Newman made Faber the superior of a London community. Faber oversaw the founding of many good works and outreaches, and became known as a spiritual leader, writer and confessor.

This excerpt comes from “The Creator and Creature.”

“This is, in fact, [man’s] true blessedness—to be ever more and more enclosed in the hand of God who made him. The Creator’s hand is the creature’s home.” [1] This pair of sentences is so representative of this excerpt. Faber delights to speak of the glories of the Creation, the wonders of the Creator, and our joy (the creatures’ joy, that is) in our living in this wondrous Creation.

So far as the creature is concerned, Faber explains that the creatures are full of fear, true. Yet, they are also made up of “…humility, of prayer, of repentance, and above all, of love…so much man, as a creature, conduct himself as such, and do those virtuous actions, which are chiefly virtues because they are becoming to him and adapted to his condition.” [2]

Faber’s view of humanity is hopeful and humble. (So interesting to me, personally, with a basically Reformed view of humanity.) Yet, this view of Faber’s jives with the Westminster Catechism’s first question: what is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. I suspect Faber would agree with that question and answer, in great part.

In his perception of humans as creatures, they love and obey and readily admit the sovereignty of God the Creator. As I am encouraged to meditate on the glories of the Creator God, I can also thank our Lord Jesus for His intercession for me and for His forgiveness of all my sins. Thank You, thank You, Jesus!

@chaplaineliza

 

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Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000, 354.

[2] Ibid, 355.

Hannah More, from the Heart

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, May 25, 2017

1 Cor 10-13 no temptation

Hannah More, from the Heart

Hannah More lived from 1745 to 1833, and was known as a poet, playwright and writer. She was noted in English literary circles, but was uncomfortable with the literary scene. Increasingly evangelical and spiritual, she became more and more active against slavery. She also became well known as a Christian writer, and began schools for poor children in the area near Bristol.

In the excerpt in this anthology, Hannah More wrote about Practical Piety, talking about small virtues and small faults. “The acquisition of even the smallest virtue is actually a conquest over the opposite vice and doubles our moral strength.” [1]

This brings to mind the verse from 1 Corinthians 10, where Paul reminds us that God provides a way out from any temptation that overtakes us. More gives further explanation about several faults. Procrastination, indecision, idleness, vanity, irritability, and trifling. “He who made us best knows of what we are made. Our compassionate High Priest will bear with much infirmity and will pardon much involuntary weakness.” [2]

More tells us that if we—fallible us—do acts of service, those acts bear the true character of the love of God. Upon reflection, Richard Foster says that “these thousands upon thousands of little actions of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit slowly but surely change our heart. More than any other thing, the small corners of life reveal who we really are.” [3]

Dear God, thank You for giving fallible-me some hope. Compassionate Lord, help me to act in righteous ways, full of peace and joy. Hear me, I pray.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000, 347.

[2] Ibid, 349.

[3] Ibid, 351.

John Wesley and New Birth

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, May 22, 2017

John Wesley statue

John Wesley and New Birth

John Wesley and his brother Charles were instrumental in leading one of the great revivals of recent centuries.

When John was in his teens and a student at Oxford University, he and his brother Charles began to follow Christ with great enthusiasm. Although ordained as an Anglican minister, John began to preach to large crowds out of doors. He continued this itinerant preaching ministry “to large assemblies of poor, working-class people throughout the British Isles. His preaching tours took him (chiefly on horseback) more than a quarter of a million miles; he delivered forty thousand sermons.” [1]

That was a lot of miles traveled, and a lot of sermons preached. Talk about an itinerant minister, a circuit-riding preacher! This excerpt comes from a sermon titled “The New Birth.” After showing some examples of various kinds of sins, John Wesley takes the next step: “It is fitting that we try to draw some practical inferences from all this.” [2] Wesley highlights Romans 8:33: “Who will be the accuser of God’s chosen ones? It is God who pronounces acquittal; then who can condemn?”

Wesley’s words pack a punch, indeed: “All the sins you have committed from your childhood right up to the moment when you were accepted as his sons through Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:5) are driven away as chaff. They are gone. They are lost. They are swallowed up. They are remembered no more. You are now “born” from spirit (John 3:6).” [3]

He closes with “Just love God who loves you. That is sufficient. The more deeply you love, the stronger you will feel.” [4]

Yes, some will quibble with Wesley’s statement of forgiveness, grace, mercy and love. Some might say, “There is great danger in becoming overconfident about our salvation!” However, as we pour out our hearts before God, God will understand us completely. God knows there is no perfection in this life, only progress towards becoming more and more like our Lord.

Dear God, please help us leave behind the sin that so persistently clings to us. Thank You for Your mercy, grace and forgiveness. May we follow Your ways in all of our lives, every day a new day, a fresh day. In the risen Christ’s name we ask these things, amen.

 

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000, 337.

[2] Ibid, 340.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 342.