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19 Feb #LibLoveDevo

Your weekly love note from God (as imagined by Sandhya!)

Daniel 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to present a defence to you in this matter. If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.’

 

The story of my faithful servants Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego has been famous for many years. People tend to focus on the miracle of how they survived the fiery furnace that the King had placed them in. But I want you to pay attention to something else: they were put in the furnace for refusing to worship anyone but me. They willingly took the risk of death, not knowing whether they would survive, in order to be faithful to me. What are the things that distract you from honoring me? What are the gods that those in power ask you to worship? How might you model for others how to resist those gods?


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12 Feb #LibLoveDevo

Your weekly love note from God! (As imagined by Sandhya)

1 Peter 2:1-3 Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

I have a special love of babies, of their fragility and their unadulterated joy and their trust. Babies have an alive connection to me that I want to see in all of my children. Your generation sometimes values world weariness and even cynicism as badges of honor. And yet those things are barriers to your relationship with me. Today I invite you to consider how you might be a little more innocent in your relationship to me, a little less concerned about the world seeing you as gullible and a little more longing for us to grow closer.


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5 Feb #LibLoveDevo

Psalms 17:7-10 Wondrously show your steadfast love, O savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. Guard me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who despoil me, my deadly enemies who surround me. They close their hearts to pity; with their mouths they speak arrogantly.


Someone once said that the rest of the Bible is my love letter to you, humanity; and the book of Psalms is your love letter to me. One of the things that moves me about this love letter is how each Psalm, whether it is praising me, petitioning me, or pleading with me, is so real and raw and vulnerable. There are some psalms asking me to do violent things on someone’s behalf. That is not how I intercede, but I want you to know that all of your emotions can find a safe place with me, that I am big enough to hold your heartbreak and your jubilance and your rage. I would rather you place them with me than misdirect them in harmful ways. Today I invite you to simply pray this passage to me, knowing that you are the apple of my eye and that like a mother bird I will hide you in the shelter of my wings, no matter what is facing you.

Liberating Love Devotion January 29

Here’s your weekly love note from God! As I wrote this, I knew my biblical studies friends would have a LOT to add about King Cyrus. But the bible works on a LOT of levels, and this time the whisper I got from God wasn’t just about the historical context; it was about God working through anyone God chooses. I hope it speaks to you.

–Sandhya, the author


Ezra 1:2-4 ‘Thus says King Cyrus of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of those among you who are of his people—may their God be with them!—are now permitted to go up to Jerusalem in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem; and let all survivors, in whatever place they reside, be assisted by the people of their place with silver and gold, with goods and with animals, besides freewill-offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem.’

—-

Do not limit who I can work with and who I can work through. King Cyrus was not Jewish. And yet he knew what I meant to my children of Israel. My son Cyrus let me work through him to build up my children of Israel after they had borne so much suffering in exile. Over and over I have worked with and through people who were not the expected vessels of my message. They have alleviated suffering and comforted and extended love in so many ways. It saddens me that my followers demonize so many people through whom I work. Today I invite you to reflect on the Cyruses in your own life who have brought you or those you know comfort, love, or access to dignity in some way. Lift them up in your prayers today, knowing that your God can turn so much to the good.

 


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Liberating Love Devotion January 22

Here’s your weekly love note from God! Most daily devotionals focus on your personal relationship with God. As I re-read the whole book, I was struck that most of God’s teachings are to a community, not to an individual. So sometimes God whispered a word in my ear about community life. It’s a little different, but I think it might be pretty urgent for the moment we are in as much as it was for our spiritual ancestors.


Philippians 1:27-28a Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents.

—-

My son Paul took many risks to share my love and the love of my beloved Son Jesus Christ throughout the Roman Empire, constantly risking his life because he felt the love of Christ so deeply. The knowledge of Jesus Christ literally saved him from a life of violence justified by his religious commitments. So often my name has been used for the sake of violence. Paul’s message to the church in Philippi is my message to you and your spiritual community: I want to hear reports that you are standing together for the gospel of love, not bowing to any opponents who promote a false gospel of hate and judgment and violence. How is your faith community living into that practice together? How can you go deeper together?


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Liberating Love Devotion January 15

Here’s your love note from God! As a pastor, it has brought me particular joy when a couple chose this passage as their wedding vows, when they were committing to each other across cultures or when their same gender love meant one person’s family would not embrace their love. Ruth and Naomi capture something so profoundly human and divine. I hope you are moved by their story also.


Ruth 1:16-17 But Ruth said,

‘Do not press me to leave you

   or to turn back from following you!

Where you go, I will go;

   where you lodge, I will lodge;

your people shall be my people,

   and your God my God. 

Where you die, I will die—

   there will I be buried.

May the Lord do thus and so to me,

   and more as well,

if even death parts me from you!’ 


I love how, to this very day, this passage about my faithful servant Ruth is used in wedding ceremonies all over the world as people commit themselves fully to each other. What people sometimes forget is that part of the reason this beautiful story ended up in the bible is because my children had forgotten my teaching to love the stranger and show compassion for the foreigner. This story of Ruth’s deep commitment to her mother-in-law was intended to remind them (and you) that people different from us can model for us the deepest commitment, love and faith, and to give us strength in hard times. I meant you to know all of the beautiful diversity of my creation. I made you in my image, and I am so big that I needed billions of people to capture the fullness of my divinity. I invite you today to reflect on how you can deepen your connections to the people, the parts of my image you don’t yet know.


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Liberating Love Devotion January 8

Here’s your weekly love note from God!


John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness,

and the darkness did not overcome it.

 


These days are short; there is a lot of darkness. And I know that these can be some of the hardest days to face, also. I want to remind you that because of people like you, in the hardest days, my light has never disappeared. It has always been there to light the path for people facing their own shadows or the shadows of fear, pain, and heartbreak. Today I invite you to reflect on how my beloved Son came to shine a light that still shines today. And I invite you to reflect on how that light shines in you for those who need it, and where you can invite me in to shine more brightly in your own life. Because I always want to be there now; I have always wanted to be there.

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