Bread — Warnings

October 31, 2008


Readings for Wednesday through Friday, October 29-31

            from the Book of Common Prayer:

            **, Rev. 12-13:10. Luke 11:37-12:31

            Psalms 40, 49, 50. 51, 53, 54, 103, 119:49-72

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In today’s readings, I see warnings.  There are also blessings and other positive things, but what leaps out to me are God’s warning to us.  Perhaps it is the economy or maybe the election which drive me to see warnings.  Even though these things are all temporal matters and will pass, we deal every day with temporal matters and, therefore, these things tend to drive our emotions, our thinking, and our action.

 

I thought it would be useful to list the warnings, in the order they appear, from Revelation through the Psalms.  They are:

 

1.   There is a dragon loose in the world, it is angry, and it is after Christians — “Then the dragon was enraged … and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring — those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”  Rev. 12:17

 

2.   Bad things will happen to hypocrites — “Woe to you Pharisees because you give God a tenth …but you neglect justice and the love of God … you love the most important seats …you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them…you have taken away the key to knowledge…”  Luke 11:37-12:2  “But to the wicked, God says: What right do you have to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips?  You hate my instruction…I will rebuke you.”  Psalm 50:16-21

 

3.   Greed and the accumulation of wealth is foolish — “Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  Luke 12:15-21  “Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, … for he will take nothing with him when he dies … A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish.”  Psalm 49:16-17, 20

 

4.   Worry does not give life, it takes life — “…do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothes….Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”  Luke 12:22-31

 

5.   Those people who trust in themselves perish — “But man, despite his riches, does not endure; he is like the beasts that perish.  This is the fate of those who trust in themselves…Like sheep they are destined for the grave.”  Psalm 49:12-14  “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'”  Psalm 51:1

 

A pretty powerful set of warnings.

 

When we are confronted by economic chaos and unfair circumstances, such as we are in now, there is a tendency to grab tight hold of the ways of the world — to grab tighter to wealth, to worry, to trust in our skills and abilities, to act out contrary to our stated beliefs, and thereby to fall prey to the dragon which is at war with us.

 

These warnings are here to help us take a deep breath and to recall the identity of the person we claim is our king and to recall His decrees about how we live our lives.  Will fail to heed the warnings or will we take on ourselves the view of the Psalmist, who writes in today’s readings:

 

“My comfort in suffering is this:  Your promise preserves my life.”  Psalm 119:50

 

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word…It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”  Psalm 119:67, 71

 

“Why should I fear when evil days come, … God will redeem my life from the grave; He will surely take me to Himself.”  Psalm 49:5,15

 

“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors Me, …”  Psalm 50:23

 

Thanks be to God!  Selah

 

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Lord, help us to love your Word, incarnate in Jesus Christ and written in Scripture.  Help us Lord to come to you and to bring others to you.  Help us know that you are God and we are not.  Assist us Lord through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to so conform our lives to your revealed plans that there is identity of our actions with your will.   It is only through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ that we are empowered to even make this prayer.  And so we thank you and praise you!  Amen.

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**  The Book of Common Prayer prescribes readings for today from Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach, which is from the Apocrypha.  The Apocrypha is a group of books which are not included in the Bible proper (in other words, they are not “canonical”), but are sometimes printed as an “addendum” to the Bible and used by some denominations.  The historical Protestant approach to the Apocrypha is that the books were not to be printed as part of any Bible and not to be used for doctrine at all.  However, the Anglican church has historically included the Apocrypha within its cycle of Bible readings, although not for doctrine, concluding that the banning of the publication and use of the Apocrypha is similar to the banning of the publication and use of devotionals and sermons.  Because the readings from Eccesiasticus are not useful for doctrine and can be misleading, however, I have chosen not to include them in Bread.

 

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Bread – Woe

October 28, 2008


Readings for Monday and Tuesday, October 27-28

            from the Book of Common Prayer:

            **, Rev. 11, Luke 11:14-36

            Psalms 41, 44, 45, 47, 48

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In today’s reading in Revelation, we are introduced to the two witnesses, who will give their testimony (probably a mixture of prophesy and exhortation) in Jerusalem for 1,260 days, who will then be killed and left rotting in the streets for three and a half days, who will then be resurrected and transported to heaven “in a cloud” in the sight of all people, upon which there will be a severe earthquake, destroying a tenth of Jerusalem.  Rev. 11:1-13.

 

Verse 14 begins “The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon.”  Rev. 11:14.

 

There is something about the word “woe” that I love.  I love to say it.  It sounds like what it is.  It sounds solemn.  It sounds mysterious.  It sounds sort of dangerous.  It sounds bittersweet.  It sounds mournful.  It sounds sad.

 

In fact, to me it is such a good word to use that I thought it would have a great definition.  It turns out that “woe” in Revelation equates to Strong’s 3759 and Strong’s gives the following definition of “woe”:  “Woe!  How dreadful!  Alas!”  Now, that was helpful.

 

So then I turned to my trusty 1976 version of the Dictionary (Webster’s Second Collegiate), which defines “woe” as either great sorrow, grief, or misery or the cause of sorrow, affliction, or misery.

 

So “woe” can be both a cause and effect, but it seems to always be associated with sorrow, misery, grief, dread, or affliction.

 

I would like to propose a different association.  In describing how the word “woe” sounds, I used the words “mysterious” and “bittersweet.”  There was a reason, and that reason is because I see where and how woes are used in the Bible.  Woes always precede gain.  In God’s economy, death precedes life.  This is not to take away from the woes, because they are in fact dreadful, terrible things to both anticipate and live in and through.  But God promises light at the end of the tunnel.

 

In fact, we see that progression in today’s lesson in Revelation.  Immediately following the statement that “the third woe is coming soon,” John reports:  “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ’…And the twenty-four elders, …, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: ‘We give thanks to you … because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.” Rev. 11:15-17

 

In other words, somewhere intermixed in this third woe is the beginning of the thousand year reign of Christ on earth as king.  Now to sinners, this last event is indeed a time of woe, as they will be judged to eternal fire, but to those saved by Christ through faith in Christ, it will be a very nice time indeed (although preceded by terrible, dreadful things).

 

To those trapped in the wages of sin, a time of woe is a time of dread.  But even within the time of woe, those who have found their freedom in Christ also find that there is blessing in the woe, because in the woe their hope in their future is strengthened, their perseverance is fortified, and their relationship with their God and Savior is magnified.

 

Many of us are going through times of woe.  Perhaps it is the economy, perhaps disease, perhaps work difficulties, perhaps death.  But woe can be an opportunity for blessing and grace as well as an opportunity for misery and dread.  The same man, David, who is suffering the woe of being rejected by God in Psalm 44 (for no good reason, according to David) writes the following in Psalm 46:

 

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains

fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and

the mountains quake with their surging.”  Selah   Psalm 46:1-3

 

The word “Selah” is often used in the Psalms as a marker to stop reading and think or meditate for a minute before moving on.

 

In Christ, woe can be a blessing.  Selah

 

Thanks be to God!  Selah

 

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Lord, help us to love your Word, incarnate in Jesus Christ and written in Scripture.  Help us Lord to come to you and to bring others to you.  Help us know that you are God and we are not.  Assist us Lord through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to so conform our lives to your revealed plans that there is identity of our actions with your will.   It is only through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ that we are empowered to even make this prayer.  And so we thank you and praise you!  Amen.

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**  The Book of Common Prayer prescribes readings for today from Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach, which is from the Apocrypha.  The Apocrypha is a group of books which are not included in the Bible proper (in other words, they are not “canonical”), but are sometimes printed as an “addendum” to the Bible and used by some denominations.  The historical Protestant approach to the Apocrypha is that the books were not to be printed as part of any Bible and not to be used for doctrine at all.  However, the Anglican church has historically included the Apocrypha within its cycle of Bible readings, although not for doctrine, concluding that the banning of the publication and use of the Apocrypha is similar to the banning of the publication and use of devotionals and sermons.  Because the readings from Eccesiasticus are not useful for doctrine and can be misleading, however, I have chosen not to include them in Bread.

 

 

 

 

Bread — Blind

October 25, 2008


 

Readings for Thursday and Friday, October 23-24

            from the Book of Common Prayer:

            **, Rev. 9, Luke 10:25-42

            Psalms 31, 35, 37

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“If it was a snake it would have bit you!”  How many times have we been the recipient of that saying, and how many times have we said it to our children and our friends?

 

The things that ought to be obvious to us are many times not obvious at all.  Sometimes these “should be obvious” things are things that could hurt us.  One of our conditions with which we are all plagued in some degree or another is a blindness to obvious things.

 

Why are we blind?  One answer is that we are busy and therefore distracted.  Another answer may be that we are looking so far down the road at where we want to be that we forget to look carefully at where we are; in other words, we ignore what is around us now.  A third answer may be that we are so wrapped up with ourselves, so full of pride, that we won’t look beyond ourselves; after all, why look anywhere else than a mirror if the only thing you find of value is reflected in the mirror?

 

The Bible has an answer for why we can’t see the obvious.  While we are following the ways of the world, we are blind to the ways of God because we are dead in sin and have no ability to see beyond our dead state.  Eph. 2:1-10.  And sometimes our blindness to the obvious means that we cannot even recognize that we are sinful people.  1 John 1:8-10.

 

Perhaps throughout the Bible, the blindness of people without the illuminating and saving gift of God is no more obvious in today’s reading in Revelation:

 

“The fifth angel sounded his trumpet … locusts came out of the earth … they were told … [to harm] … only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.  They were … [given power] … to torture them for five months…During those days men will seek death but will not find it … The sixth angel sounded his trumpet…And the four angels …were released to kill a third of mankind…A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur…The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent …Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.  Rev. 9:1-21

 

The picture is this.  God is at the end of His rope and we are at the end of time.  All of secular mankind is tortured for five months and a third of mankind is instantly killed.  And yet no one repents?  No one sees that these events are God’s judgment on them?  No one sees their depravity?  No one sees that these events are in fulfillment of prophecy which they can read in a book which is right in front of them?

 

Wow … you might say, these people are blind!  “And if it was a snake, it would have bit them” turns from a prediction to a reality.  And yet although these people are confronted with the stark reality of the effects of their disobedience to God, they remain dead in their ability to perceive what is happening to them.

 

There is a cure, though, for this blindness to reality — Jesus the Christ.  And we are reminded of that in today’s reading from Luke, where Mary sits at the Lord’s feet listening to Him.  Martha, who is working in the kitchen, complains and Jesus kindly tells Martha that “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better …” Luke 10:41.

 

But you might ask quite fairly “How do I choose to sit at Jesus’ feet when I am dead and blind?”

 

God will make a way.  God has made a way.  “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly…But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:6-8.

 

So God took the first step.  He also took the second step by bringing you to this point and opening your eyes.  Now you take the next step in faith.  “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart … That if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Rom. 10:8-9.

 

Thanks be to God!

 

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Lord, help us to love your Word, incarnate in Jesus Christ and written in Scripture.  Help us Lord to come to you and to bring others to you.  Help us know that you are God and we are not.  Assist us Lord through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to so conform our lives to your revealed plans that there is identity of our actions with your will.   It is only through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ that we are empowered to even make this prayer.  And so we thank you and praise you!  Amen.

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**  The Book of Common Prayer prescribes readings for today from Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach, which is from the Apocrypha.  The Apocrypha is a group of books which are not included in the Bible proper (in other words, they are not “canonical”), but are sometimes printed as an “addendum” to the Bible and used by some denominations.  The historical Protestant approach to the Apocrypha is that the books were not to be printed as part of any Bible and not to be used for doctrine at all.  However, the Anglican church has historically included the Apocrypha within its cycle of Bible readings, although not for doctrine, concluding that the banning of the publication and use of the Apocrypha is similar to the banning of the publication and use of devotionals and sermons.  Because the readings from Eccesiasticus are not useful for doctrine and can be misleading, however, I have chosen not to include them in Bread.

 

Bread — Agendas

October 22, 2008


Readings for Monday through Wednesday, October 20-22

            from the Book of Common Prayer:

            **, Rev. 7:1-8:13 Luke 9:51-10:24

            Psalms 9, 15, 25, 26, 28, 36, 38, 39, 119:25-48

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As with many familiar Bible passages, the one today contains a little “gotcha” which is easily passed by but which has immense implications for how we behave as Christians.  The reading is from Luke 10:1-4:

 

“After this, the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where he was about to go.  He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.  Go!  I am sending you like lambs among wolves.  Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.”

 

I have heard many sermons and teachings from this passage about the need for evangelism.  I have even taught an evangelism class which used the single exclamation “Go!” above as its key word.

 

But I have never heard anything preached or taught on the last clause of the last sentence … “…do not greet anyone on the road.”

 

This is a command to those disciples at that time, but is also clearly a model for how we are to behave in the world as ambassadors for Christ.

 

So, is Christ telling us to be impolite?  Does He not like the people on the road?  What is wrong with a “Hello, how are you today?”  What is wrong with being nice?

 

Well, first of all we need to be careful not to take this command out of context.  We as Christians are not commanded to be rude, but to be gracious.  For example, in Proverbs it is said that “He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend” (Prov. 22:11) and “A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction.  Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Prov. 16:23-24).

 

However, in context this command makes all the sense in the world.  Jesus has sent his disciples upon a specific mission.  The people on the road are not the particular target of this mission, but the target was “every town and place where He was about to go.”  Jesus knew where He was going and He was sending in His advance teams.  His advance teams had a particular mission, and the people on the road were not included.

 

Therefore, Jesus is warning his disciples and, by implication us, not to get caught up in the byways of politeness, such that that they become involved in something that does not add to the mission and thereby become distracted and ineffective.  He is not telling them to be rude, but He is telling them that the task He has set them to comes first and to be single-minded in the pursuit of that task.

 

In America, where we are taught to tolerate all things and be nice to everyone, it seems odd that Jesus would command us to ignore some philosophies, arguments, people, events, and circumstances while on His mission.  However, that is exactly what Jesus said.

 

Our mission is to glorify God — in glorifying God, we may have to deliberately ignore the worldly attractions which taunt us with charges of impoliteness or intolerance when we pass by without acknowledging their “worth.”

 

Our mission is to proclaim the Gospel — in proclaiming the Gospel to those to whom the Gospel is appointed, we may have to speak over and through those persons on the way who claim a different truth, not because we are rude but because engaging in the side show may mean that we are not fully preparing those to whom Christ is coming, that we are not being effective in the job Christ has given us to do.

 

So this is an instruction for singlemindedness, for keeping “the main thing the main thing.”

 

But this is the same Jesus who, immediately following His instruction to ignore ‘anyone on the road,’ gives us an instruction on being a neighbor, on exercising the kind of love which says that I will suspend my pursuit of mission to take care of the person on the side of the road who needs help (the “Good Samaritan,” Luke 10:25-37).

 

Is Jesus being inconsistent?  No, in the first case it was God’s agenda which was being pursued; in the second case, it was man’s agenda which was being pursued.

 

So there is a significant difference between God’s agenda and mine.  I must pursue mine lightly, ready at all times to forgo it in favor of my neighbor.  I must pursue God’s agenda with single-mindedness, ready at all times to be accused of intolerance when I refuse to greet the people, philosophies, etc. on the road.

 

And don’t we really do it in reverse?  Don’t we really pursue our agenda with single-mindedness and let our pursuit of God’s agenda be waylaid by the people, philosophies, and things on the way?

 

Of course, the answer to the last question, at least for me, is “Yes.”

 

Makes you realize how far God had to come to rescue us, doesn’t it?  Thanks be to God!

 

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Lord, help us to love your Word, incarnate in Jesus Christ and written in Scripture.  Help us Lord to come to you and to bring others to you.  Help us know that you are God and we are not.  Assist us Lord through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to so conform our lives to your revealed plans that there is identity of our actions with your will.   It is only through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ that we are empowered to even make this prayer.  And so we thank you and praise you!  Amen.

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**  The Book of Common Prayer prescribes readings for today from Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach, which is from the Apocrypha.  The Apocrypha is a group of books which are not included in the Bible proper (in other words, they are not “canonical”), but are sometimes printed as an “addendum” to the Bible and used by some denominations.  The historical Protestant approach to the Apocrypha is that the books were not to be printed as part of any Bible and not to be used for doctrine at all.  However, the Anglican church has historically included the Apocrypha within its cycle of Bible readings, although not for doctrine, concluding that the banning of the publication and use of the Apocrypha is similar to the banning of the publication and use of devotionals and sermons.  Because the readings from Eccesiasticus are not useful for doctrine and can be misleading, however, I have chosen not to include them in Bread.

 

Bread — Vines and Worms

October 20, 2008


Readings for Thursday and Friday, October 16-17

            from the Book of Common Prayer:

            Jonah 3:1-4:11; Acts 27:27-28:16; Luke 9:18-36

            Psalms 16, 17, 18, 22

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The Old Testament reading today from Jonah (and the reading earlier in the week from Jonah) presents more than a fish (or fishy) tale.  It not only presents an event bringing salvation to a large group of confused, unbelieving people (who “cannot tell their right hand from their left” – Jonah 4:11), but presents Jonah, a man of God.  And what a man of God he was!  He ignored God’s call on his life, he ignored God’s instructions, he whined, he complained, he ran away, he was sullenly obedient, he asked God to kill him, he hated the people he was asked to preach to, he was mean-spirited, and he hated success.

 

Why would God select such a worthless example of human leadership and honor as God’s preacher, evangelist, and prophet?  Because He did.

 

So the reading about Jonah is more than a fish tale, it is more than the salvation of a sinful city, and it is more even than about Jonah.  It is about the sovereignty of a God who chooses and, once He has chosen, operates to effect His will.  God’s will was that Ninevah would be preached to and that Jonah would be the one to do it.  Period.  Done deal.  Jonah’s whining, complaining, resisting, avoiding, hiding, escaping, and shirking was no good at all in the face of God’s kingship over all things, including Jonah and the sinful city of Ninevah.

 

So much for the big picture, now for the small.  Jonah has accomplished what God told him to do — he has preached coming destruction to Ninevah, Ninevah has repented and been spared the wrath of God, and now Jonah is mad because he did not like Ninevah and just “knew” that God would do something merciful for these hated people.  In this is a lesson about loving your enemy and not being angry when your love of your enemy results in God’s blessing for your enemy, but that is a different discussion.

 

Instead, I want to focus on what happens when Jonah gets mad because God, in His sovereignty, was merciful to sinners, the people whom Jonah does not like.

 

Once Jonah sees that God is not going to destroy Ninevah because Ninevah has repented, Jonah stomps out of the city and sits down where he can see what will happen next (Jonah 3:5).  What was going on probably was Jonah giving God a second chance to change His (God’s) mind.  The city had been saved, but Jonah went to the outskirts of the city to wait and “see what would happen to the city.”  Jonah 3:5.  Why would he (Jonah) wait to see what would happen, knowing that the city had been saved, unless he thought that God would surely realize His “mistake” and destroy the city anyway, thereby proving to Jonah that he was right all along.

 

But God does not make mistakes, so He decides to teach Jonah a little lesson.  While Jonah waits, God does something nice for him … He brings a “vine” to give Jonah some shade.  The fact that God does something nice for Jonah is appreciated by Jonah.  Then, as part of the lesson, God does something not so nice … He send a worm to eat the plant and then makes sure the sun is shining on Jonah to make him hot.  Jonah did not appreciate this gift and asked God to remove him from his misery.  “If you are going to be mean to me Lord, take me out.” (paraphrased from Jonah 4:8).

 

Then God asks Jonah whether Jonah had the “right to be angry” about what God had done.  God had earlier asked Jonah the macro question — Do you have the right to be angry about the blessing I give to a large group of people?  Now God asked Jonah the micro question — Do you have the right to be angry about the blessing I give to you which I take away?

 

Tough questions.  Do I have the right to be angry when my enemies are blessed?  Do I have the right to be angry when my blessing is removed and I am disciplined?  Jonah’s answer to that question is “yes.”  God reminds Jonah, however, that God’s perspective is the whole and Jonah and reminds Jonah that God’s actions, although they may appear arbitrary and cruel to us, arise out of His sovereignty, excercised from a character of love. (see Jonah 4:11)

 

There are two lessons here, one minor and the other major.  The minor lesson is that, in our lives, there will be vines and worms and both may be sent by God to teach, temper, restrain, and, yes, love us.  We will probably get angry, at least at the worms, but the anger is to no effect.  The major lesson, however, is built into the structure of the narrative and is never spoken of.  God and Jonah spoke together and interacted with each other.  Jonah complained, but God did not leave.  Jonah whined, but God acted.  Jonah had his say – God has His way.  The major lesson is therefore something woven into the fabric of our lives as Christians – whether we are experiencing the vine or the worm, whether we are praising or complaining, whether we feel good or bad … God is with us.

 

Thanks be to God.

 

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Lord, help us to love your Word, incarnate in Jesus Christ and written in Scripture.  Help us Lord to come to you and to bring others to you.  Help us know that you are God and we are not.  Assist us Lord through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to so conform our lives to your revealed plans that there is identity of our actions with your will.   It is only through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ that we are empowered to even make this prayer.  And so we thank you and praise you!  Amen.

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Readings for Monday through Wednesday, October 13-15

            from the Book of Common Prayer:

            Micah 7:1-7; Jonah 1:1-2:10; Acts 26:1-27:26; Luke 8:26-9:17

            Psalms 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 119:1-24

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While I was on vacation, the stock market stumbled and fell.  It still seems to be stumbling, though more like a drunkard than one intent on a destination.

 

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me like trying to deal with the stock market is a lot like being “a day late and dollar short.”

 

The prophet Micah could have been speaking about us and the stock market.  He starts off by describing what it is like to be a “day late and a dollar short”:

 

“What misery is mine!  I am like the one who gathers summer fruit at the gleaning of the vineyard.” Micah 7:1

 

In other words, Micah complains about showing up at the end of the season, at the “gleaning,” for summer fruit when there is none to be had.  In other words, he was a “day late and a dollar short.”

 

And who does not feel like the ones to blame are the powerful, the crafty, the extraordinarily wealthy?  Well, Micah describes them too:

 

“The godly have been swept from the land … All men lie in wait to shed blood; each hunts his brother with a net.  Both hands are skilled in doing evil; … the powerful dictate what they desire — they all conspire together…a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.”  Micah 7:2-6

 

So in the midst of being “a day late and a dollar short,” how do we find stability and peace?  Micah answers that question as well:

 

“But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”  Micah 7:7

 

That was the Old Testament and Micah could only wait for his Savior.  We no longer wait because our Savior, the one for whom Micah waited, has arrived.  In our reading today in Luke, Luke the Physician reports about the feeding of the 5,000 men (and a larger crowd).  Luke 9:10-17.  At a place and a time where these people had nothing to eat except some meager rations, it could be easily said that they were all “a day late and a dollar short.”  But Jesus needs neither days nor dollars to work His miracles, and the crowd was fed to overflowing.

 

The position of the needy crowd was sitting.  Perhaps in these days of uncertainty we need to follow Micah’s and the 5,000 men’s example, sit at the feet of Christ, and wait upon Him.  And while we wait for our Lord to take our meager portion and turn it into a full meal, let us remember to give thanks that we even have that meager portion to start with and let us also remember that, with Christ, we are never a day late or a dollar short.

 

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Lord, help us to love your Word, incarnate in Jesus Christ and written in Scripture.  Help us Lord to come to you and to bring others to you.  Help us know that you are God and we are not.  Assist us Lord through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to so conform our lives to your revealed plans that there is identity of our actions with your will.   It is only through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ that we are empowered to even make this prayer.  And so we thank you and praise you!  Amen.

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Bread – Charges

October 2, 2008


Readings for Tuesday through Thursday, September 30 – October 2

            from the Book of Common Prayer:

            Hosea 4-6:6; Acts 21:1-36; Luke 5:12-6:11

            Psalms 94, 95, 97, 99, 100, 101, 105, 119:121-144

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Who on earth wants to be “charged” with something?  We don’t mind being “in charge,” but we know that when you are “charged” with something it is because a grand jury has just returned with a criminal indictment against you or someone in authority over you has sent you out on a mission, typically one that you did not volunteer for.

 

Let’s see if the following charges apply.  I have substituted the word “Americans” for “Israelites,” but otherwise have left God’s charges contained in Hosea 4 alone:

 

“Hear the word of the LORD, you Americans, because the LORD has a charge to bring against you who live in the land:

‘There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgement of God in the land.

There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery;

…Because of this, the land mourns, and all who live in it waste away;

…Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests;

Because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.

…They will eat but not have enough;

They will engage in prostitution but not increase, because they have deserted the LORD to engage in prostitution,

…A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God.

…The Americans are stubborn, like a stubborn heifer.

How then can the LORD pasture them like lambs in a meadow?'”  Hosea 4:1-2, 3, 6b, 10, 16

 

The indictment containing the charges has been read.  How do you plead America?  How do you plead, reader?  How do I plead? 

 

These charges call us not only to plead guilty but to repentance, and Hosea shows the way to that repentence with the following words:

 

“‘Come let us return to the LORD, He has torn us to pieces, but He will heal us;

He has injured us but He will bind up our wounds.

After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will restore us, that we may live in His presence.

Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge Him.

…For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings.'”  Hosea 6:1-3, 6

 

God desires to remove the charges, true and fair charges though they are, if we will but repent and acknowledge Him.

 

Let us repent today as individuals, as writers and readers, as families, as groups, as communities, as a nation.  Let us acknowledge Him and He will heal our land.

 

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Lord, help us to love your Word, incarnate in Jesus Christ and written in Scripture.  Help us Lord to come to you and to bring others to you.  Help us know that you are God and we are not.  Assist us Lord through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to so conform our lives to your revealed plans that there is identity of our actions with your will.   It is only through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ that we are empowered to even make this prayer.  And so we thank you and praise you!  Amen.

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