Bread – Trust

December 31, 2012


Readings for Monday, December 31, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 26:1-9; 2 Cor. 5:16-6:2; John 8:12-19; Psalms 46,48

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Trust is a word often used and rarely achieved. Throughout our life, we find everyone falls short – ourselves, our parents, our children, our priests, our neighbors, our friends, our politicians, our men and women of both good and bad inclination. In the process of finding that we absolute trust results in predictable disappointment, we adopt an attitude of “trust, but …” In the language of faith, we adopt an attitude of “believe, but….”

Is it any wonder that our belief and practice is weak when we have fundamental doubts, based on our observations that nothing is absolutely trustworthy, so why should God be any different?

But God is different. In Him there is no deception, no lack of honesty, no lack of “follow through.” Oh, there may be times of testing, times of strengthening, times when we are asked to suspend our observation of life and trust, really trust in something greater than ourselves (God), times of wondering, times of wandering, times of apparent inconsistency to our limited minds or perspectives, times of apparent delay to those same limited minds and perspectives, and times of “no.” That does not mean that God is untrustworthy; it means simply that He knows more than we do, that He loves infinitely more than we can love, that He is the Creator and we are but mere faint, and somewhat defective, images of Him.

Isaiah says today “You [God] keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” Isa. 26:3-4. Paul in 2 Corinthians says “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Cor. 6:2b The apostle John reports that Jesus said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

We begin a new year tomorrow. Perhaps our best resolution might be to put our trust, our absolute trust, in Him Who is the Light of the World. Now is the day of salvation, not tomorrow and not yesterday – today. Now is the favorable time. The light of life is one of perfect peace, because God keeps the one in perfect peace who trusts in Him.

Trust the Lord forever, for He is an everlasting rock.

Trust in the Lord, absolutely and unconditionally. And then let the New Year come. Because, abiding in the trust of the Lord, regardless of what the year brings we will live in peace, with the light of life. And what more could we really, really want.

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© 2012 GBF

Bread – Blank

December 26, 2012


Readings for Wednesday, December 26, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: None

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In the Book of Common Prayer Daily Lectionary, there are no readings designated for the day after Christmas, December 26. That is why the Bread today is called “Blank.”

Somehow this is fitting. We have just come off of our birthday party for Jesus, our stomachs and our quest for things temporarily sated. We are probably trudging back to work, wondering why our boss just won’t let us have off the rest of the week. So, OK, He’s born – now what?

Isn’t this a pattern of our normal Christian life? A few minutes on the mountaintop of an especially meaningful worship service, prayer experience, or closer encounter with God, followed by – life, the job, the family, the debt, the car, the house, the retirement fund, the soccer match, the …. And when we are in these valleys, we turn to our God in prayer or His Word in Scripture in our study and we come up with … blank.

What felt so powerful yesterday is but a will-o-the-wisp memory today. The substance we knew was there is now … blank.

What do we do in the blank times, when Scripture offers no wisdom, God no communication, our fellow Christian community no comfort? What do we do?

In those times of blankness we would do well to remember that those times are owned by God too, are filled by Him too, are created by Him for His purposes in our lives. God fills the blank with His presence. God fills the blank with His love. God fills the blank with His power. God fills the blank with His grace.

God speaks to us in our blanks.

We have read many readings in the past year. Perhaps in the blank we should look back and remember what blessings we have received. Perhaps in the blank we should look forward to the blessings which will be because God is. Perhaps in the blank we should just rest in God’s mercy for the day, His love for the day, His favor for the day, His providence for the day.

Do we hear Him? Maybe not, but that does not matter because He hears us. He hears us. He loves us.

Come, let us adore Him.

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© 2012 GBF

Bread – Highway

December 24, 2012


Readings for Monday, December 24, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 35:1-10; Rev. 22:12-17,21; Luke 1:67-80; Psalms 45,46

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In our modern society, there seem to be three types of roads. The first is the plain road, or byway, where there are lots of stop lights and traffic, roads which people use to accomplish their day to day affairs. The second type of road is the highway, where there are fewer stops, a more sustained speed, and somewhat less traffic. We use the highway to get from one place to another more quickly than on regular roads. However, highways are still crowded and so, therefore, we must maintain a good lookout for the car next to us, so that whatever we do does not injure our neighbor and whatever he does does not hurt us. The third type of road is the toll road or tollway. People with the money to spend use the toll roads because they are faster than highways, have even fewer stops between destinations, and a lot less traffic. On the tollway we often set our own speed and can pay much less attention to our neighbor while we focus on getting where we want to go as fast and in as much style as possible.

In our reading from Isaiah today, we read what happens when the Messiah comes: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;…And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness…It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray….the redeemed shall walk there…” Isa. 35:5-6,8-9. The highway to heaven is the Way of Holiness. It is a highway and not a tollway because you need not pay to play. It is a highway and not a byway because we need not be hindered by a bunch of stop lights and busyness with daily affairs.

But like all highways, we must pay attention to our neighbor lest we wreck both their and our lives. We must follow the rules of the road, lest we get hurt. We must take the full measure of time to get to our destination as the highway will allow, taking into account its twists and turns and the slow (and low) parts as well as the fast (and high) parts.

There are those of us who would rather the highway be a tollway, where we can buy peace, we can buy heaven at the speed we wish to go, where we can avoid most of our neighbors, and where we can manage our own way into heaven. There are those of us who would rather the highway be a byway, where we can wander around, living our lives as we please, turning left and right at every stop sign, speeding up and slowing down, with no particular destination in mind other than the focus of our immediate attention or need.

However, the Way of Holiness is a highway to heaven. It is toll-free to the redeemed, and even fools can follow the highway to its destination.

Who may use this highway to heaven? Jesus in Revelation tells us today – “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” Rev. 22:17

Do you hear? Then come, enter the highway through belief in Jesus Christ. Are you thirsty for the water of life? Then come, enter the highway through belief in Jesus Christ.

This is Christmas Eve, the day before our celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Come, let us adore Him. Come, let us take the water of life without price. Come, let us walk with the redeemed on the highway, the Way of Holiness. Come, let us adore Him who made access to this highway possible. Come, let us adore Him.

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© 2012 GBF

Bread – Benefactor

December 14, 2012


Readings for Friday, December 14, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 7:10-25; 2 Thess. 2:13-3:5; Luke 22:14-30; Psalms 31,35

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We often think of benefactors as those people who help other people, but even in our day the concept of “benefactor” can convey a darker tone, one which suggests someone behind the scenes, manipulating the results with their money or power. For example, if someone is successful in business, someone else might say that his or her success is not due to their ability or hard work, but instead is due to the fact that they have a “benefactor” somewhere higher up in the organization. In this context, a benefactor appears to be someone who is helping, but lurking in the background is some kind of pay-off. We “know” that this story ends with the “benefactor” requesting some return favor for his or her “beneficence.” To put it more bluntly – “I helped you in the past, so now it is your turn to help me.”

This darker tone is reinforced in today’s reading from Luke – Jesus said, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors.” Lk. 22:25

Think about that. Because I am the king, whatever I do for you is a favor to you and you should respond with loyalty and a readiness to return the favor when needed. Because I am the king, I am “above” you and so whatever I do for you, you should be grateful for, because I am your king and have authority to do or not do. Because I am the king, whatever I do for you, no matter how trivial, is a blessing to you.

Now when we think further about this, we realize that in some sense we are describing God – God is King, He is all-powerful, He has authority to show or withhold mercy, to show or withhold favor. In response to these gifts, we should have no other reaction than thanksgiving, realizing that in our low estate we can never return the blessing.

But in Jesus’ description, He is applying the example of kingship to people, to people who believe they are God and that, therefore, they are the people to whom loyalty is owed, they are the people who are “benefactors,” they are the people to whom the return favor is owed.

And in making this description, Jesus is both describing the corruption of man by his claiming to be King when only God is king, and the corruption of the position of “king,” where it turns from the good gifts of God to the conditional gifts of human “benefactors.” By describing themselves as “Benefactors,” the “kings of the Gentiles” have demonstrated their corruption of the true state of affairs, where God and only God is King.

And then, to make the point more thoroughly, Jesus tells His disciples (and us) that we are not to behave that way – “But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.” Lk. 22:26 We are not to act as givers of mercy and gifts, but as receivers of mercy and gifts. Whatever we do is not to be done out of a sense of power, lordship, as king or benefactor, but out of a sense of weakness, of dependency, of servanthood, as the least and not the most. As Christians, we are merely to pass on what we have been given, recognizing that but for what we have been given, we ourselves would have nothing to give. As Christians, we are commanded to give from the back of the line and not from the front of the line.

In today’s newspaper there is a story about a policeman from Plano who performed his duty as a policeman and as a servant. He caught someone driving without registration, who when asked by the policeman why he (the driver) had not done his duty to the authorities by registering his car, said that he had a choice this season to either register his and his wife cars or feed his family. The policeman did his duty as a policeman by giving the man a ticket, as he deserved. The policeman did his duty as Christ’s agent on earth by giving the man the money, in the form of a $100 bill, to pay the penalty the man could not pay as his own. No one knows who the policeman is, because no one is telling.

But I know who this Plano policeman is. He is Christ to a broken world. At a time when man lay guilty in his sins, unable to do anything, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to pay the penalty we could not pay by His birth, life, death, and resurrection. What God commands in response is nothing more than our faith in the One who calls us, lived and died for us, and raises us to eternal life…followed by our passing on the gifts of grace, mercy, peace, forgiveness, and resources we have been given to those who need them.

There are two ways to look at being a benefactor, one with a capital “B” and the other with a smaller “b.” The people who call themselves “Benefactors,” with a capital “B” give from the front, in their fine clothing and in their position of authority, letting you know that, but for them, you would have no blessing today. The people who know know that they are “benefactors,” with a small “b,” give from behind, in the silence and in secret, wearing non-descript clothes from non-descript places in non-descript circumstances, letting you know that, but for God, they would have no blessing today. The Benefactors point to themselves; the benefactors point to God.

Jesus said in today’s readings from Luke that “…I am among you as the one who serves.” Lk. 22:27. The one person entitled to be the “Benefactor” came to earth as a servant, as a benefactor. The one person entitled to be called King washed the feet of those who were unworthy to pick up the crumbs from His table. The one person entitled to be called King and God, the “I am,” bowed to come to earth as a baby so that He might deliver His people from death.

I know that sometimes in this season of the year I can get resentful, because I gave someone something and they didn’t give me something back. Why am I resentful? The truth is I am resentful because, in that moment, I have put myself into position of “Benefactor,” so where is my praise? In that moment, I have appointed myself king and God. In that moment, I have forgotten that I cannot give away anything which I myself have not been given, so the truth is that I already received before I gave.

Why do I behave that way? I would like to say it is because it is just the way I am. But the better answer is because I forgot in that instant what God did for me on Christmas and on the cross.

Don’t you forget too. Oh, give and give generously, but not as a Benefactor but as a follower of Christ, radically dependent upon Him, grateful for all the gifts He has given, which of course is everything. Merry Christmas.

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© 2012 GBF

Bread – Holy

December 12, 2012


Readings for Wednesday, December 12, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 6; 2 Thess. 2:1-12; John 7:53-8:11; Psalms 38,119:25-48

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Today’s reading from Isaiah is one of my favorites, because it reveals heaven, the holiness of God, and our unworthiness to be present unless there is atonement for our sins. From Isaiah we read:

“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of His robe filled the temple… And one [seraphim – fiery angels] called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!’ … And I said, ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.’” Isa. 6:1-5

Holy is God. He is set apart from me; He is above me; He made me. There is no one more powerful and there is no one more gracious. Isaiah was brought by vision into the throne room of God. Even though he was not there physically, the presence of God was so holy, so powerful, so overwhelming that Isaiah knew immediately that he was in trouble from his sin – “Woe is me.” Even to approach God in a vision in His throne room, there was need for atonement of sin. Here the seraphim used a coal from the altar.

If atonement for sin is absolutely required in a vision, how much more when we are face to face with God at judgment?

Fortunately for us, we have atonement for our sins in Jesus Christ, for all who believe and trust in Him, repenting and turning from their dedication to self as idol toward God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

But just as the holiness of God would have brought a terrible end to Isaiah if there had been no atonement, so it will bring a terrible end to those who are not Christ’s disciples in truth. This terrible end is described in today’s reading from 2 Thessalonians:

“The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned, who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thess. 2:9-12

The refusal to love the truth is the rejection of the truth of Christ, the rejection of God’s holiness, the rejection of life and light itself. When this person refuses to love the truth, God says “If you want to run over the cliff so fast, let me help.”

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are not holy except to the extent Jesus makes us so by standing for us as our atonement for our sin. To have Jesus on our side means trusting Him, turning toward Him, believing in Him, accepting His gift of mercy and salvation, recognizing that there is but one God and that we are not Him, and growing in that reality as we conform our mind and heart to Him.

In this Christmas season, we celebrate God’s coming to earth in the form of a baby, who will grow up to be a man, who will die a most horrible death on the cross that we might have life and have it everlasting. When we contemplate that baby, the words “Holy, Holy, Holy” ought to come to mind. Before Him we ought to bow, give up our lives for the One who takes away our sin, and be grateful. Wise men have. Wise men do.

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© 2012 GBF

Bread – Pride

December 6, 2012


Readings for Thursday, December 6, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 2:12-22; 1 Thess. 3:1-13; Luke 20:27-40; Psalm 18

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“Pride goes before a fall” is one of those statements we just make, knowing it is true but not knowing where it comes from. Well, it is a paraphrase of Scripture, from Proverbs 16:18 – “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” What is interesting about the origin is that pride, the focus on “I did it” does not go before a fall; it goes before destruction, which is a much more serious consequence than a fall. From a fall, we can be restored. From destruction, we are gone. A “haughty spirit,” a spirit which thinks of myself higher than I ought to, may therefore be a lesser form of pride, one where we put ourselves first a lot, but not all the time. Pride might therefore be that state of affairs where we believe that there is no higher power than me, when we believe to our core that “I am the Master,” where we have put ourselves into the position of God.

Proverbs is not in our reading today, but it instructs with respect to our readings.

From Isaiah we read: “For the Lord of Hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up – and it shall be brought low; … and the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day…Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” Isa. 2:12,17,22 There will be day, perhaps not too far in the future, when God will take out the people who are so prideful they do not recognize their absolute need for God, for Christ. They, the prideful, will be destroyed. As powerful as the first two phrases are, the last one strikes me as even more powerful. Why do we exalt people over God, why do we exalt ourselves over God – “Stop regarding man … for of what account is he?” We lift ourselves up as someone important and God yells at us – “Stop it.” But what do we do?

In today’s reading from Luke, we have an example of man’s pride leading to false conclusions. The Sadducees have confronted Jesus over what happens in heaven when seven men (all died) have married the same woman (in succession) and they ask, then, whose wife is she at the resurrection? Jesus answers the question by pointing out that there is not marriage in heaven as we think of it. The Sadducees are not God, they do not have God’s perspective, they do not have faith in God’s promises, they do not have the wisdom of God, and in their pride they apply their reason to their known facts and circumstances and come up with a seeming impossibility which they will then use to stump God. How often do we do the same thing? In our pride we rely upon our own observation of facts, apply our own version of science or logic, and applying our own reason come to our own conclusions about what can and cannot be done. Once we have come up with our options, our alternatives, we then select the one most likely to succeed or least likely to cause us grief, and then go do it in our own power. Then we go to God (maybe, if we even recognize there is one) and say – “see, we did it” and, if the plan went well, say “what a good person I am” and, if the plan went poorly, say to God, “See your way doesn’t work.” When the Sadducees pointed out to Jesus that God’s plan did not work when analyzed from human perspective, from human logic, Jesus essentially says to them – “But that is not God’s plan at all. That is your version of His plan. His plan is something even more wonderful than you can even imagine.” In their pride, the Sadducees had nothing to say.

What is one of the most interesting readings today on this subject of pride is Psalm 18. In the middle of this Psalm, David says this great truth – “For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.” Ps. 18:27. However, if you read the entire Psalm, you realize that David is demonstrating an attitude of haughtiness, of thinking of himself more highly than he ought to, which is sort of amazing. For example, he says at one point “The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He rewarded me…I was blameless before Him, and I kept myself from my guilt.” Ps. 18:20, 23 In other words, I was a good guy and so God helped me – aren’t I something special. The focus is on the “I” and not the “Him” in these statements. So, in one respect, David is insightful enough to recognize that God brings down the prideful, but is not insightful enough to realize that he is acting prideful at the same time.

So why was David, and why aren’t we Christians destroyed because of our pride? I think it is because of a critical difference between pride and haughty eyes. With pride, David would have said “I won the battle.” With haughty eyes, David says “I was a good person, and therefore God won the battle.” With pride, it is me and me alone. With haughty eyes, we think we had something to do with the victory, but we really know, deep down, that it was God’s victory that He let us participate in. Man who is so prideful that he puts himself in place of God goes to destruction. Man who is so haughty that he believes that he can manipulate God through his actions, but recognizes that he is under God and subject to Him, goes to discipline. From discipline, there is repentance, return, and restoration. From pride which puts ourselves in place of God, there is destruction.

But why be talking about discipline on the one hand or destruction on the other? Isn’t there a third choice, one which approaches God in full humility, without pride? Actually, there is but for modern man it is distasteful. It is the recognition that, without God, I am nothing, I am already dead in my sins (and “dead” means “dead”). If I bring nothing to the table, then what is there to have pride in? If it is all God’s, then how can I have a haughty spirit, thinking I am somehow did something or achieved something?

So where do you fall on the pride spectrum? How much regard do you have for yourself versus God? When you look in the mirror, do you see someone who is God, someone who needs God from time to time, or someone who needs God absolutely, at all times and in all places and circumstances. Where is your “pride-o-meter” set? We love to set it at “1” and God’s word to us is that it ought to be set at “0.” Perhaps as we struggle to bring it down we should recognize that, even in this, the battle belongs to the Lord and not to us, and we should therefore pray “Come, Holy Spirit.”

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© 2012 GBF

Bread – Authority

December 3, 2012


Readings for Monday, December 3, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 1:1-9; 1 Thess. 1; Luke 20:1-8; Psalms 1,2,3,4,7

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One problem we have in law is determining how we know someone speaks for someone else. We call these agency and principal questions. The agent speaks for the principal. There are always two questions about this. The first is how do we know that the agent speaks for the principal in the first place? The second is, if he does speak for the principal, how do we know that he is accurately presenting the principal’s opinions?

We have actually answered the second question with a neat trick. That is, if we can make an assessment that the agent does in fact speak for the principal, we can assume that whatever the agent says accurately represents the principal. In other words, if the principal has done something which “clothes” the agent with authority to speak for him, then it is the principal’s problem (and not ours) if the agent says or does something wrong.

Thus the question of authority becomes really important. How can we tell that the agent has authority to speak for the principal? There are basically four ways. The first way is express; is there a document, signed by the principal, appointing the agent? If there is such a document, then we know the agent speaks for the principal. The second way is that the agent has a position where there may be a reasonable expectation that he has authority. An example of this one would be a lawyer. If you knew the principal hired the lawyer and the lawyer said he had authority to speak for the principal, it would be reasonable for you to rely on that because he is the lawyer for the principal. A third way is that the agent has spoken in the past for a principal and what he has spoken has come true. Here, there is nothing in the position or in a writing that establishes authority, but there appears to be authority because the person says “X will happen (by the principal) and it does. An example of this might be where some random person shows up on your doorstep and tells you that in two hours a major personality will appear at your doorstep and offer you a free meal; if that actually happens, you might tend to think the next time this same random person shows up saying something similar, that they are in fact speaking for the principal. Finally, a fourth way authority is established is by circumstances. This is similar to this last one, but is really more of a blend between position and causation. For example, if the principal has called a person his manager and the manager acts like the principal’s agent, we may rely upon that apparent authority even though none actually exists (i.e. the person is not really the principal’s manager).

Today’s lessons deal with authority to speak for God. In today’s lessons, there are three groups of people who claim to speak for God. The first is Isaiah. The reading today from Isaiah begins “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” Isa. 1:1. Here the prophet is establishing legitimacy in relationship (son of Amoz), place (Judah and Jerusalem), and time (Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah), all of which then creates a foundation of authority to speak (the “vision”) for God. The second group of people are Paul, Silvanus and Timothy. The reading today from these people begins “Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.” 1 Thess. 1:1 The third person is Jesus Himself, who in our reading today is confronted with the question by the Pharisees “Tell us by what authority you do these things…” Lk. 20:2

Isaiah claims to speak for God as a prophet. Paul, Silvanus and Timothy claim to speak for God as apostles, disciples, and evangelists. Jesus claims to speak for God as His Son. The Pharisees ask the question, “by what authority [do] you do these things?” There is only one answer to this question – if they claim to be agents of God, then their authority must come from God and not from man. Therefore, their answer must be “God’s authority.”

How can we tell whether a person truly speaks for God? How can we tell that their authority is from God?

This is an important question. Isaiah might have been a wild man living in the desert, hallucinating in the night. Paul might have been blinded by the sun, and put two and two together and gotten five. Silvanus and Timothy may just be naïve followers of a narcissist. Jesus might have been a very good magician. How do we know that Isaiah was a prophet of God, that Paul was an apostle of God, that Silvanus and Timothy were evangelists, priests and deacons, that Jesus was the Son of God?

Very important question. Because if these people are God’s agents, then what they say is what God says. And if they are not, then ….

This is why the authority, reliability, and inspiration of Scripture is so important and why the attempts to deconstruct the Bible and question its authority, reliability, and inspiration are works of the world, of Satan. And not only is their authority written in Scripture, but these persons’ actions and statements on behalf of God have become God’s actions and statements in real time, demonstrating that they speak for God. Isaiah predicted Christ and Christ was born. Paul, Silvanus and Timothy in today’s readings speak to their role in the Thessalonian people’s lives as God’s representative – “For we know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you, because our gospel cam to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.” 1 Thess. 1:4-5. Jesus performed all of the miracles predicted of Messiah, the Son of God.

So did these people have authority to speak for God? Yes, they did.

But so do you. You were chosen by God for salvation. You have been given access to God in prayer and before the throne. You have been given a job to do, to go into all the world, proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom come and coming in Jesus Christ, to love others as Christ loves you.

Today is the first Bread in the Advent Season, when we start a new church year in anticipation of the coming of Christ to earth as a child, born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. It is the time of blessing and thankfulness. But it is also a time of preparation to take up our mantle of authority to be children of God, His ambassadors to the world. We can do this because God first loved us, sending His Son to serve time with us on earth, to bear our burdens, and to sacrifice Himself for our sins. We can do this because we do not exercise our own authority, but whatever authority is given to us.

So as we slip into this season of joy, let us also take joy that God has so blessed us to make us His agents on earth, and empowered us through His Holy Spirit to bring His glory, hope, and forgiveness into our lives and into the lives of others. Amen.

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© 2012 GBF

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