Bread – Wisdom

August 22, 2014


Readings for Friday, August 22, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Job 2:1-13; Acts 9:1-9; John 6:27-40; Psalms 140,141,142,143

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The three non-Psalm readings today are powerful readings and each would support many, many Breads and sermons. In Job, Satan strikes Job with sores and Job responds to the urging of his wife to curse God, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” Job 2:10 From the reading in Acts, Saul (to become Paul) asks for permission to imprison the women and men who believe in Christ, receives that permission, and on the Damascus road on his mission sees a light from heaven and is directly confronted by Christ. In our reading from John, the disciples hear Jesus say that the work of God in a man’s life is “that you believe in Him whom He has sent” and then says, without qualification, that “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst … All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out…For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:28-40

In fact, these are so powerful, I have no clue about where to even begin, so I decided to begin with “Wisdom.”  But rather than offer my own commentary on this, let me offer instead the commentary from the English Standard Version Study Bible and the article which preceded Job called “Introduction to the Poetic and Wisdom Literature,” of which Job is considered a part:

“Some choose simply to define “wisdom” by the literature…this approach is unhelpfully restrictive. Others choose to define “wisdom” as an outlook, almost a philosophy of life. But different “wisdom” writings have different emphases, so this approach seems to fragmentary.

What does the [Biblical wisdom] books and outlooks have in common, however, is a keen interest in the way the world works, humanity’s place within it, and how all this operates under God’s creative, sovereign care.

Biblical “wisdom,” then, might be defined as skill in the art of godly living, or more fully, that orientation which allows one to live in harmonious accord with God’s ordering of the world.

We know that “wisdom” is much, much more than education, knowledge, or intelligence. Instead, as brilliantly described in the ESV Study Bible, wisdom is “that orientation which allows us to live in harmonious accord with God’s ordering of the world.”

We actually exercise wisdom all the time, but is it Christian wisdom? We know how to live in harmonious accord within our neighborhood (so-called “street smarts”). We know how to live in harmonious accord within our businesses (so-called “business smarts”). We know how to live in harmonious accord within our political structures, our economic structures, our social structures, our educational structures, and even our religious structures. And if we have a lot of wisdom in these things, we can work them to our advantage.

But where is God in the exercise of these kinds of wisdom.

What would happen to us if we asked the question “Lord, help me live today in harmonious accord with Your will; help me Lord to understand Your ordering of the world so that I can live in harmonious accord with it; Lord, how do You want me to live today?”

It seems to me that if I tried to live in harmonious accord with God’s ordering of the world, instead of mine, that things would go much better for me. To do this, though, I need to know what God’s ordering of the world is … I need to understand Scripture, because it is there that God’s ordering is revealed.

There are three people in today’s readings who lived in harmonious accord with God’s will. The first is Job … remember he ends his sorrowful journey with great joy, exclaiming “I know my Redeemer lives.” The second is Paul … once confronted by Christ and studying Him during his time afterward, he emerged as apostle to the Gentiles, to us. The third is Jesus Himself, who knew God’s ordering of the world required Him to sacrifice Himself for our sins on the cross.

Wisdom begins with knowing that there is a God and that I (and you) are not He.

Are you there yet?

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© 2014 GBF

Bread – Waiting

August 20, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, August 20, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Judges 18:16-31; Acts 8:14-25; John 6:1-15; Psalms 119:145-176, 128,129,130

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What does the word “waiting” suggest? To me, I imagine standing around, idleness, sitting down, tapping my foot in impatience, sleep, hanging out. The word “waiting” does not contain much power. It neither describes where we have been nor does it describe where we are going. It merely says that we are resting on landing of the stairs of life.

But there is also a different kind of waiting, beyond just hanging out. There is hanging out with expectation. Expectation of the next thing to occur. For example, we are sitting down in the movie theater, waiting for the show to begin. We may be idle, eating our popcorn and sipping on our drink, but we are anticipating the start of the show. We know it is going to happen but it has not happened. There is no place to go, nothing to say and nothing to do. So we wait … expectantly.

In today’s reading from Psalms, there is an interesting passage using the word “wait”:

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.” Ps. 130:5-6

“I wait … more than watchmen for the morning.”

I have never served as a sentry in the military, standing as a watchman waiting for the morning, but I have hunted, going into the forest at night so that I would be in position at daybreak. There is nothing quite like waiting in the dark for the morning. Just before morning, the temperature drops. You hear noises as the forest wakes up, but morning is still not there. You look in the direction toward the horizon over which morning will come. There is active watching for the sunlight; there is active anticipation that what you have waited for will come. Sometimes you wait so hard that it seems like the morning will never come.

After having stood watch all night, waiting for the morning has to be one of the most active forms of waiting we as people will ever experience.

And yet God through David through the Psalms says “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits … more than watchmen for morning.” (emphasis added)

The kind of waiting we should do for the Lord exceeds the kind of waiting which we would do as watchmen waiting for the morning.

To my way of thinking, I ask myself “How?” I almost cannot imagine anything more intense than waiting for the morning after being in the dark for a long time. So what is meant by waiting for the Lord “more than” that?

Luckily, the Bible tells us – but not so much in English but in the original language, Hebrew. The word translated “wait” in English is the Hebrew word “qāvāh.” Its meaning is to “bind together (by twisting), to collect, to be gathered together, to be joined, to meet, to lie in wait for someone, to expect, to look for patiently, to hope, to be confident, to trust, to be enduring.”

Again, isn’t it amazing how God’s word expands the more you study it. While the watchman waits for morning, we wait in a way in which we are bound together with and into our God, where we join together in fellowship with Him who saved us, where we meet in solitude, in silence, where God can speak to us free of the noise of the day, where we can hope, where we can trust, where we can be trained up in perseverance and righteousness.

Are you waiting for the Lord? Is your soul waiting for the Lord? Not as one would wait for an egg to boil or as a watchman would wait for the morning, but as the Bible describes waiting – being bound up in His holiness, trusting, persevering, hoping, being nurtured by and in the vine.

Gives a whole new meaning to waiting, doesn’t it? Well that is the nature of God and His word – it gives us whole new meaning every day we let it, and Him, into our lives.

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© 2014 GBF

Bread – Wonderful

August 13, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, August 13, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Judges 13:15-24; Acts 6:1-15; John 4:1-26; Psalms 101,109,119:121-144

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Wonderful, full of wonder. How many times have we really been confronted with something wonderful in our lives? I can think of at least two. One is being in the delivery room watching our first baby being born. A second is an answer to prayer, when I asked for the Lord to reveal Himself in my life and was confronted with a glorious crown while I was driving home into a setting sun casting its light into a cloud-crown. And, of course, now I begin to recall two, I can recall many, many more.

In our readings today, we are witnesses to three wonderful moments. In Judges, Samson’s mother and father are speaking to an angel. When they ask the angel’s name, the response is that the angel’s name is too wonderful to comprehend.

In Acts, Stephen is being tried to for blasphemy upon false allegations. While he was standing there, “all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.” Acts 6:15

In John, the Samarian woman at the well is talking to Jesus and tells Him that she is aware of the coming of Messiah. Jesus responds “I who speak to you am He.” John 4:26.

In the first reading, the wonder is in the name of God’s emissary. In the second reading, the wonder is in the face of God’s disciple. In the third reading, the wonder is in the Word of God, spoken, written, and incarnate.

What can surpass these wonders – the day we discover that there is a God and His name is wonderful, the day we meet a Christian who is the face and hands of God on earth, and the day God engages=s us in a conversation with Him when He reveals Himself … and all pretense disappears into the reality of God-on-earth?

The day Jesus meets us at our well, the day He reaches out His sovereign hand to save us from our sin, the day we learn the reality of God, the day we look into our past and see what God has saved us from, the day we look into eternity and see what God has saved us to, the day we look in the mirror and see that God is transforming us into Him, just like He did Stephen – those are days of wonder, those are wonderful.

How many wonderful days have we had? The truth is that every day since we have been saved by grace has been wonderful.

Now, Lord, give us eyes to see….and be grateful.

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© 2014 GBF

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