God In Action

God In Action

Actions and one’s being are inseparable. Our experiences in knowing other people bear this out. Our knowledge of God is analogous to our experience of ourselves and of others. We know God in particular by his Word and his acts of mercy and compassion as attested by the scriptures to God’s history with the people of Israel and his new covenant with all humanity in Jesus Christ. Hence we can sing:

Notes from the New Revised Standard Version

Actions and one’s being are inseparable. Our experiences in knowing other people bear this out.   Our knowledge of God is analogous to our experience of ourselves and of others.  We know God in particular by his Word and his acts of mercy and compassion as attested by the scriptures to God’s history with the people of Israel and his new covenant with all humanity in Jesus Christ.  Hence we can sing:

Blessed be God, who forever lives,
Whose reign last through eternity,
God, the Lord, merciful and just
Loves and heals those who repent.

The oppressed, God lifts, salves their hurts,
Pays them heed, strengthening bodies and hearts.
Calling humankind out of fear
God is Lord, forever more. 

O eternal God, be with us
Lift the poor from their misery
Give back dignity to all who trust
In the words and deeds of Christ.

-Salvador T. Martinez (adapted JLB)
Many and Great: Songs of the World Church, pp 44-5

How did the people in the Bible know God is acting in their midst? How did they feel his presence?  Describe your own experiences of God.   Is there a particular time or way in which God has acted in your life?  Does God affect our lives in the same way that God’s presence and actions affected the people of God in the Bible?         

Monday, May 26                     Jeremiah 31:7-14


I lost a young nephew to a complex of diseases: heart failure, kidney failure, diabetes and cancer last year.  He was in his early forties and the father of three lovely young daughters.  A dedicated and committed person he left his business and his profession as a geologist late in life to be a pastor of a struggling church.  Then he got sick; he got very sick, leaving his doctors to be baffled.  Later he had to have dialysis so often until his veins collapsed.  He knew the end would soon come, yet he was constantly at peace, continuously gracious and always kept a good sense of humor. He spoke appreciatively and gratefully for the ways God had been faithful and had blest him with gift of family and friends.  Against the backdrop of his resilience and the sense of imminent and premature loss, being “redeemed” takes a new significance.  That strange and distant word had been embodied in his being. He was very sick and yet truly radiant, “satisfied” with God’s “abundant” bounty.  He was genuinely grateful for what God has given him.  Blessed are the redeemed of the Lord!

O gracious God
Forgive us for taking for granted what we have
For grumbling about what we lack—
Help us not to squander your bounty
and think of those who come after us,   
Let us not be troubled by those who have too much
but have great regard for those who have less.
We pray in the name of Christ our redeemer. Amen.

Tuesday, May 27                    Zephaniah 3:14-20


At the time of writing, the advent season has just begun and some very disturbing news comes from the Philippines: a whole village was buried with mud.  Thousands of people are believed dead and many more are missing.  Several thousands have lost loved-ones, homes and property.   In times of devastating suffering and death, is it possible to experience the joy of waiting for Christmas?  It is a difficult question to ask.  Nevertheless we must believe that sources of joy are profound and that even in the midst of suffering and even death, joy stubbornly persists preventing the triumph of sadness and bitterness.  The words of Zephaniah about our God  gives us courage and faith: “The Lord your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory, he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with singing as on a day of festival .  I will remove disaster from you, so you will not bear reproach for it.”(17-18). “Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31a). 

God of mercy,
There is untold suffering in the world—
People die from car bombs and suicide bombers;
Others from natural calamities: floods, earthquakes and storms.
Yet we believe that you are in our midst; we are surrounded by your love
Thank you for your patience with us in spite of our willfulness
and for the sense of your providence and your Spirit’s leading.
In Christ our Lord, we thank you. Amen.

Wednesday May 28                    Hosea 6 1-3


The nation has sinned and has abandoned God.  It did not happen overnight.

It was a gradual development over many years.  Eventually God withdrew providential care on Israel.  Although it remained prosperous, it was impoverished in other ways, losing its hope in the future and abandoning many of its noble virtues and replacing them with greed, selfishness, fear and despair.

However, the Lord continues to be faithful:  He heals, he binds, he revives, and raises “that we may live before him.” He restores relationship with Godself.  The whole world experiences the same blessings from God, and it matters not whether the nation is righteous or evil (Matt. 5:45)  In many ways the Prophet Hosea lived in a time similar to many affluent nations today, experiencing prosperity but weakened in their moral and spiritual fabric.  The same blessings and curse can come upon our own nations, but God remains faithful.  Blessings will come as sure as the dawn of a new day and as sure as the rain that waters the earth.   And those who will remain faithful will receive special blessings (Deut. 11:13-17). God restores all who call upon him.

O God of mercy
Thank for our land, our nation and its people,
And for those whom God has chosen to govern;
Grant them wisdom and love in their hearts
That they may be able to lead the nation in the path of righteousness,
And so goodness and justice may prevail in our land.
Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Thursday May 29                                               2 Corinthians  4:13-18


How often do we get discouraged!  We feel like giving up.  The Apostle Paul was not immune to hardships. Yet he could say: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies” (4:8-10).  He describes his experience as “death at work in us” (4:12).

The outer dimension of the believer’s human existence must necessarily disintegrate.  But the inner dimension is constantly being renewed.  This is why the apostle can emphatically say: “we do not lose heart.”   He claims that the present suffering cannot be compared to the future glory in terms of both weight and duration (17).  If our faith-experience bears this out, we must pass it on. “We believe and so we speak” (13).  God’s work in the world can move forward only if God can speak through us.  We must live out the sacrificial lifestyle of Jesus so that new life can be extended through us into all creation.

O God of eternity,
Without you life has no spiritual source, meaning and destiny;
But in you life has power in the present and hope in the future.
Refresh our faith so the difficulties of life will not break our spirits;
Renew our courage that the dangers of life will not keep us from action.
Make plain the way of deliverance and hasten the day when sin and
shame will no longer dominate our lives.
For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Friday May 30                 Isaiah 55:6-11


The prophet speaks of the mission and vision of God for all creation to bring justice, mercy, liberation and reconciliation.  This was a marvelous message of hope for a community that was in exile.  The power of the message is in God.  When one welcomes this message it will be like “bread to the eater.”  It brings satisfaction and nourishment.   Isaiah makes it clear that worship of other gods is like feeding on ashes (44:20).  So the invitation (v. 6) is for all who are hungry and thirsty for the truth.  

All have gone astray. They have become alienated from God, from themselves and from others. This is the essence of sin.  Everyone needs to be reconciled to God. By God’s grace one is enabled to live in community with Godself and with others.  God never gives up on anyone but waits and calls upon all to return to him.  “In Christ God was reconciling the world unto himself!” A humble praying community reconciled to God is a sign of God’s present salvation and future hope for all creation.

O reconciling Love, 
You have created us that we may have fellowship with you,
Instead we have rebelled and followed our own selfish ways;
Yet you have not given up on us, faithfully calling us to seek you—
Humble us and establish us in your grace
that we may be totally subservient to you and glorify you.
Guide us with your love to live in perfect holiness in all our earthly days;
In Christ we pray.  Amen.

Saturday May 31                            Isaiah 61:1-7
Sunday June 1                               Luke 4:14-21


It was on Sabbath day.  Jesus stands in his hometown’s synagogue and reads from Isaiah 61:1-2!  How did Jesus decide to read this particular passage?  We wonder. He must have known that if he claimed this passage as the vision of his own mission he will either be persecuted or be praised.  Nevertheless, he takes it to express the spirit and content of his own mission, to tell the story of his own life and ministry and to describe his own experience of God and how God is at work in this world. In humble obedience, he lives, toils and dies according to what he understood as the vision of God’s reign. The passage proclaims God’s liberation of the poor and from the deeper aspects of being poor: captivity, blindness, oppression.  The good news that he brings is to give liberty to the suffering – a message to change the world.   It is a challenge for men and women to rise up above their self interest and work for freedom, justice and peace.  This is indeed a message of life and liberation! Salvation is release from bondage.

O God of compassion,
Whose eternal love was so clearly manifested in the life of Jesus,
Grant us the same vision to preach good tidings to the poor,
To help recover sight to the blind,
To give drink to the thirsty and food to the hungry,
To bring hope to the prisoners and release to the captives,
And to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord!
In Christ our Savior,  Amen.

Salvador Martinez serves in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  He teaches theology, homiletics and ethics and directs the international M. Div. program at the McGilvary College of Divinity of Payap University.  He also serves as a volunteer in the HIV-AIDS and prison ministries of the Church of Christ in Thailand.