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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One Response to “Bread — Warnings”

  1. Bob Lockhart Says:

    Greed is indeed foolish. Gordon Gekko was wrong. Wealth is neutral but how it is accumulated makes a lot of difference.

    Poverty is no better than wealth – both are states in which God chooses to place us from time to time. Both provide ample opportunities to learn. As an example that wealth isn’t all bad: it’s really depressing to discover a worthy charity when you’re broke!

    There are plenty of scriptures to support that wealth isn’t in and of itself a bad thing – e.g., Malachi 3:10, Matthew 25:14-30 (the Parable of the Talents). The latter even suggests that investing is no bad thing.

    Having just finished 30 years at a global IT company, I am now driving a Corolla that just went over 100,000 miles. This after driving a new Mercedes for the past six years. It’s really no problem, and not the first time in my adult life that I’ve been in this situation. I’ve realized that from time to time God sends me a period of “Corolla years” – whether the purpose is to teach me humility, to re-baseline my expectations, or something else, I don’t know. But I am really thankful that He is paying attention to me!


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