Bread – Experience

November 14, 2008


Readings for Thursday through Friday, November 13-14

            from the Book of Common Prayer:

            Joel 2:21-3:8, James 1:1-27, Luke 15:11-16:9

            Psalms 23, 27, 83, 85, 86, 88, 91, 92

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Some days the content of the Bible verses for the day is overwhelming.  Today is such a day.  In today’s readings are (a) Joel’s prophecy of the gift of the Holy Spirit and the scattering and restoration of Israel, (b) James’ concerns about the Christian reflecting in practice the character (“new man”) we have acquired by our faith in Christ, (c) the parable of the prodigal son (Luke), and (d) Psalm 23, about which whole books have been written.  The material is so overwhelming that almost all I can see is the forest.

 

One of the beauties of reading the Bible in its entirety is that, in so reading the Bible, you lose the detail and are left with the terrain.  And sometimes in Bible study we get so enmeshed in the detail that we forget there is a terrain, a forest, a story which transcends the detail and says something of incredible importance.

 

So, taking a step back for a moment and looking at today’s readings from a wide perspective, it becomes apparent that these passages deal significantly with the Christian life and how we are to lead it.  That is why I called this Bread “Experience,” because we can look at these characteristics of the Christian life presented in these passages and determine if our “experience” is authentically Christian, if we are in fact living out our life out of the new man character which Christ has given us.

 

Some of the characteristics of the Christian life presented in today’s readings are:

 

1.   A radical dependence upon God.  “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want…Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; …”  Psalm 23:1, 4  “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'”  Psalm 91:1-2

 

2.   Times of wanderings and squanderings, followed by our receipt of a mercy which comes from the father, which we have not earned, and which we do not deserve.  “The son said to him: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  But the father said to the servants … Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”  Luke 15:21-24

 

3.   Perseverance in trials.  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance …Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has withstood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”  James 1:2, 12

 

4.   A working out and away from sin and ‘moral filth.’  “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.  Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”  James 1:22-22

 

5.   An attitude of reverence toward God, reflected in worship which demonstrates love to the world.  “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:26-27

 

6.   Infusion of the Holy Spirit in all worship, action and speech.  “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people…Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days…”  Joel 2:28-29 

 

Joshua said that he and his family will serve the Lord.  Why don’t we today say that we will experience the full Christian life … and then go do it!

 

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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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