Bread – Evidence

September 29, 2014


Readings for Monday, September 29, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Hosea 2:2-14; Acts 20:17-38; Luke 5:1-11; Psalm 89

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What kind of evidence does it take to change your mind? A lot? A little?

I don’t think the answer is really a “lot” or a “little,” because the evidence has to be of the right kind for you. If the evidence is of the right kind for you, then you can be convinced with a very little of it; however, if the evidence is of a kind which you know little about, the evidence must be quite large and powerful in order to cause you to change your mind.

So the real question is not “how much evidence will convince you, but “what kind of evidence will convince you?”

What kind of evidence will convince you that Jesus Christ is God, Savior, and Lord? The answer is, initially, no kind. There is no amount of evidence which will convince you of the existence of God, much less His appearance in the flesh, if you have no mind to see it. This is why we are indeed fools until the Holy Spirit has made us alive with eyes to see and ears to hear, so that then the evidence becomes overwhelming.

A little proof of this is in order. When Jesus died, it is reported by over 500 people that He rose from the grave and walked the earth. These are eyewitnesses. Many people saw His death upon the cross. Many people witnessed His burial. Many people witnessed the open tomb. Many people saw Jesus, ate with Him, touched Him, and talked to Him after His resurrection.

With this evidence, why doesn’t everyone believe? The reason is not that there isn’t a lot of evidence; the reason is that the evidence is not the right kind. It is not the right kind for those who are dead in their sins, and will never be the right kind of evidence for them unless and until the Holy Spirit rescues them.

What made me think about this is today’s lesson from Luke, where Peter, James, and John are with Jesus on their boat, Jesus tells them to go fishing, and they obey Him even though, as fishermen, they had caught nothing the night before and knew there was nothing there. The catch was so large when they obeyed Jesus that the boat began to sink. And, in seeing the great catch of fish, Peter, James and John, who understood about fishing, had evidence they understood. The evidence of Jesus’ kingship appeared to Peter, James and John as overwhelming because the evidence was of a kind which would convince them. In fact, the fish convinced them so much that, after they landed, “they left everything and followed Him.” Luke 5:11.

In today’s world, if we transmute the fish into stuff, aren’t we equally blessed to overflowing in everything. We live in large homes with more square feet per person than most of the rest of the world; we drive cars which are safe, powerful, efficient, and luxurious; we have running water and electricity; we have hand held computers (called cell phones) which can reach out to anywhere in the world; and we have food fit for kings at our local grocery store. We have blessings on top of blessings … but do we have the kind of evidence which we need to see to convince us?

For the fishermen it was fish. When we have more fish than we can eat, will more fish convince us? Is more of what we already have ever the kind of evidence we need.

There are several elements of this episode which tie together and we need to see. First, the fisherman had no fish from the night before, so they did not have plenty of what they needed. Second, Jesus spoke and they listened and obeyed. Third, the blessings then came.

Instead of fish, what we need today is time. I do not know anyone who has enough time. Is an abundance of time the kind of evidence which will convince us?

If we have a need for time, what is Jesus’ command which relates to that? Come and follow Him. Take the time to get to know Him in prayer, meditation, and study of His Word. Spend time with Him.

If we know what we need and we know what Jesus’ command is which relates to that need, what is the third part? Obedience.

Try obeying. Take time with Him, walk with Him, listen to Him. Read His Word. Think about these things.

And then see what happens with your time.

And you will have evidence indeed (but only if the Holy Spirit has opened your eyes, ears, and heart … which He will if you ask, “Lord, let me see the miracle you have done, are doing, and will do in my life.”)

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© 2014 GBF

Bread – Appearances

September 26, 2014


Readings for Friday, September 26, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Esther 8:1-8,15-17; Acts 19:21-41; Luke 4:31-37; Psalms 88,91,92

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“Appearances can be deceiving.” Who has not heard that truism and in fact probably uttered it on more than one occasion?

In today’s readings we have three examples of different types of appearances. Two appear to be one thing when they are of another (deceiving appearances) and the the third is real. The real question is how to tell them apart.

In Esther, Esther has overcome her fears and gone to the king to protect Mordecai and the rest of the Jews. She is successful. Mordecai is given great honor and is permitted by the king to speak for him and to seal his messages with the king’s ring. Mordecai uses this power to send an order throughout the empire that, not only are the Jews not to be touched, but they now have the power to protect themselves and, on one day, to take “take vengeance on their enemies.” Esther 8:13. Our focus is not so much on this, however, as it is the last sentence – “And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews, for fear of the Jews had fallen on them.” Esther 8:17b

These people said they were Jews because it was the safe, the easy thing to do. They appeared to be Jews but they were not Jews. How many so-called Christians fall into the same camp today? It is an easy life, to say that “Jesus is my king and savior,” and yet have no meaning behind it. You get to participate in Christian things, show up in the assembly with your trappings of Christian affiliation, dine with people of like mind, and yet still have the appearance without the reality, just like the Assyrians claimed to be Jews when they were not.

In Acts, Paul has brought the gospel to Ephesus. Ephesus was the center of the worship of Artemis, one of the Greek and Roman pantheon of gods, and the people of the city made quite a living off the tourists who came to see the great god of silver. These craftsmen made a good living off of selling little silver Artemis-gods and they complained that Paul was teaching “gods made with hands are not gods.” The context of this statement is that their little gods were made with hands and therefore not gods, but the broader application is that Artemis himself was no god either because man had invented him and crafted his image as their idol. Artemis had the appearance of deity without the reality of deity; he had the appearance of power without the reality of power.

In Luke, Christ preaches with authority in the synagogue on the Sabbath. The people were astonished at His teaching, because it was with great authority. A demon proclaims that He is the “Holy One of God” and Christ commands the demon to leave and he does so. The people are astonished and ask themselves “What is this word? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out!” Luke 4:36. Jesus has both the appearance and reality of being God.

What is the difference between the first two, where the appearance is deceiving, and the third, where the appearance represents reality? I think the answer is actually pretty simple – if the actions of the person are consistent with the person’s appearance, the appearance is likely reflecting reality; whereas, if the actions are inconsistent with the appearance, the appearance is likely deceptive. In Esther, the self-proclaimed Jews likely only made a stab at compliance with God’s Word and His instructions for life; they likely said they believed in God without actually believing in God. In Acts, there were no actions taken by Artemis consistent with his appearance as a god; the actions were all by people on Artemis’ behalf. With Jesus, however, the actions and the appearance were synchronized. He was God and He acted like God would act. He interpreted Scripture with authority because He superintended the writing of Scripture. He commanded the demon to leave because as God He is sovereign.

Today, you may appear to be a Christian … you may attend Bible studies, engage in your daily moment of prayer, attend services at a the church of your choice, and chip in a few bucks toward the cause. But is your appearance deceiving? Are your actions consistent with your appearance? Are you poor in heart and humble in spirit, giving generously from what God has given you, living in gratitude for your blessings, renewing your mind on the anvil of the Word, working on your relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, loving your neighbor as yourself, setting self aside, obeying King Jesus, growing in maturity in Christ?

We like to put on the suit, read the script, live in the right neighborhood, join the right organizations, have the right friends … and make a good appearance.

It is between each of us and God as to whether that appearance matches reality, of whether our works are reflective of our appearance. If we claim to be Christian, this question, this testing must occur … or we deceive no one except ourselves.

____________

© 2014 GBF

Bread – Certainty

September 24, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, September 24, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Esther 6:1-14; Acts 19:1-10; Luke 4:1-13; Psalms 81,82,119:97-120

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We may feel that our lives are uncertain, resting on a sea of doubt, but God tells us in many, many ways that life in Him and with Him is built on a rock, is certain.

We have three examples of this today in our readings from God’s Word.

The first certainty is that, when God acts, the outcome is certain – He wins. We see this in between the lines today in Esther. In Esther, Haman has set out to destroy Mordecai, the Jewish elder in the Assyrian kingdom. In a reversal of positions caused by the king’s realization that Mordecai should be blessed combined with Haman’s narcissistic selfishness, in a reversal of circumstances fit for the movie screen, instead of Mordecai being hanged, Mordecai is honored in an over-the-top way. After this set-back, Haman goes home and starts complaining. In response, his wise men and his wife said to him “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not overcome him but will surely fall before him.” Esther 6:13b To put a theological twist on it, if you oppose the person whom God has blessed, you lost already. When God acts, He and His people win.

The second certainty is that God’s purpose will be achieved and you will be re-purposed according to His plans and not yours. We see this in Acts today, where Paul enters into Ephesus and essentially takes up residence there, speaking boldly in the synagogue and, when that was thwarted by evildoers, in the secular hall. Paul’s purpose was to preach in the synagogue; God made sure that, after a while, this venue was unavailable to him; therefore, he went somewhere else. The reason for this was “…so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” Acts 19:10

The third certainty is that Satan opposes everyone, but that, in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, man can oppose him successfully. This conclusion comes from our reading today in Luke, where Jesus is tempted three times by Satan in the wilderness, first with an attempt to reach Jesus at His base needs level (food), second with an attempt to appeal to His ego (authority), and third with an attempt to appeal to His position in life (Lord of the angels). We say “of course He did that, He is God.” But He was also man and there was a necessary component of Jesus’ ability as man to resist Satan, and that was that Jesus was, at the time, “full of the Spirit.” Luke 4:1. If Satan opposed Jesus, he will oppose us. But Jesus as man gave us the certain tool of resistance, the Holy Spirit (together with a knowledge of God’s Word as our standard of living).

God overcomes circumstances (Esther), opposition (Acts), and treachery (Luke) with absolute certainty. He invites us to do likewise, joining Him through the cross in the fellowship of the Father (Esther), the Son (Acts), and the Holy Spirit (Luke).

With the Father, Son, and Holy Spirt we may live our lives in absolute certainty. Without them, absolute uncertainty.

Boring, you might say, living with certainty all your life. Really? What was boring about the life of Mordecai, Paul, or even Jesus? Mordecai was constantly threatened with death and exclusion, Paul was constantly threatened with expulsion and exclusion, Jesus was constantly threatened with ridicule, exclusion, and death. What was unexciting about their lives?

The truth is that certainty in Christ is a great adventure whereas uncertainty in the world is a drudge.

Our Scripture readings today ended well, but by the world’s standards they could have ended poorly. Mordecai could have been hanged and Paul could have been stoned. If those things had happened, many people would have been inclined to say “see, their faith got them no-where.” But the problem with that is that the certainty which surrounds God would still exist. When God acts, He wins. His purposes will be achieved. Satan may oppose Him, but He always overcomes.

And you can take that to the bank, with certainty.

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© 2014 GBF

Bread – Action

September 22, 2014


Readings for Monday, September 22, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Esther 4:4-17; Acts 18:1-11; Luke 1:1-4, 3:1-14; Psalms 77,79,80

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Yesterday in church I was privileged to hear the head of a church in Iraq talk about the four children who refused to deny Christ and who were slaughtered for their faith.

Today, before I read the Scripture for today, I reviewed a “Youtube” video sponsored by an organization urging all Roman Catholics to vote Biblical principles underlying life, marriage, and freedom, instead of voting historical politics and their wallet.

Today in Scripture, I read in Esther about the decree of the king that the Jews should be destroyed. A leader of the Jews, Mordecai, is asked by Queen Esther what she could do to help. He tells her to go to the king and ask him to cancel his order. She sends back a message to the effect that she cannot do that because to go into the presence of the king without an invitation is to invite death. In words which should drive a stake into every Christian’s heart today, Mordecai responds:

“Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13-14 (emphasis added)

Perhaps all Christians in all times have lived in perilous times, but that does not say that we should not take action in the times which are before us today.

We do not need to keep silent. We need to act in all ways which Christ has taught us, regardless of the consequences. We need to love our neighbors and our enemies, we need to pray on our knees, we need to worship in truth and love and gratitude, we need to obey our Lord, we need to speak out against injustice, we need to preach a gospel of repentance (see our reading today about John the Baptist in Luke) and a gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ alone (see our reading today from Acts). We need to stand in the evil day and, having done all we can as excellently as we can, we need to stand.

And in the process of doing all these things, we may lose everything, including our lives.

As to the four children who were murdered because they loved Christ and would not repudiate Him, the pastor from Iraq said that they did so because they knew that His glory was worth more than anything else.

Do we know that? Do we really know that?

Perhaps we were meant by God to be here, today, standing … loving … preaching … acting … and dying. Who knows whether we have been brought to this kingdom on earth today for such a time as this, so that we can bring light into darkness, health into disease, love into hatred, strength into weakness, life into death, Christ into the world?

Who knows? God does…and we should too.

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© 2014 GBF

Bread – Overextend

September 15, 2014


Readings for Monday, September 15, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Job 40:1-24; Acts 15:36-16:5; John 11:55-12:8; Psalms 56,57,58,64,65

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The word for today is “overextend,” meaning to go over reasonable limits.

When we overextend in our commitments, we have no time to rest and therefore go over the reasonable limits of activity. If we overextend our arms during exercise, we run the risk of torn muscles because we have gone over the reasonable limits of exercise or natural extension capacities of the arm. If we overextend in eating, we gain weight because we have gone over the reasonable limits of daily caloric intake.

It would appear from my examples that any overextension results in some kind of injury to ourselves.

Based upon our experiences, therefore, we create reasonable limits to our activities so that we can avoid the negative consequences of overextension. The problem, though, is setting the definition of what is “reasonable.” What is reasonable with one person may be unreasonable for the next (the exercise which results in more muscle in a person who has exercised may result in a trip to the hospital for someone who has not exercised in a long time). The question of overextension and reasonable limits, therefore, becomes a personal question – what is a reasonable limit for me?

But the problem with making it personal is that we may well err on either being too conservative or too liberal. For example, we need a fitness coach to argue us through our reasonable limit of exercise to set a new limit. If we set the limit for exercise, it would do us no good because it would be too conservative and we would never “stretch” the muscles.

Now the point of all this is to make a point – there are reasonable limits for our action set by man and there are reasonable limits for our actions set by God…and they are not the same.

One might say that the process of growing up in the faith is learning God’s reasonable limits for our lives and then living up to those limits without exceeding them.

In Scripture today, we have two examples of this. The first example is from Job. Now we know Job and all that has happened to him (the loss of position, power, wealth, health, and self-esteem). Job complains to God about his condition. Job has his reasonable limits on his complaining – he can complain to God about anything he wants to, all the time. He can even, according to his limits, complain to God about God Himself, about God’s creation, His unfaithfulness, anger, hatred, pettiness, etc. toward Job. We might well consider Job’s complaining to be justified in the circumstances, asking ourselves “How can a loving God do this?” From our perspective, nothing we say or do by way of critique of God is overextended; our reasonable limits of complaining have no bounds. Except for one thing … God Himself has set the reasonable limits of complaining, pointing out that it is not for man to judge God less man be God himself. We can complain all day long, but we cannot presume to judge God. That is the reasonable limit set by God and any complaining we do which challenges God’s sovereignty, His goodness, His justice, His love, or His power is an overextension which can hurt us.

So Job has overextended God’s limits on complaining (although not his own), and this is what God says to him: “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?…Will you [Job] even put Me in the wrong? Will you condemn Me that you may be in the right? Have you an arm like God, …?” Job 40:2,8-9

When we do not accept God’s plan for ourselves, be it low or high, poor or rich, we overextend ourselves and, ultimately, hurt ourselves.

The second example is the reverse of Job. Why is it that so few people sing during church services, or if they do sing it is so low that you have to bend an ear toward them to hear them? Embarrassment? A desire not to stand out in the crowd, to blend in? A wish for an “orderly” service? The truth is that many Christians set their reasonable limits for worship, prayer, Bible study, and meditation very conservatively. And we dare not go beyond our own self-set limits. Why? Well we know that, if we overextend ourselves beyond our reasonable limits, we run the definite risk of being injured in our public reputation, the disdainful eyes of those who are important to us, the acknowledgement of our own weakness that we do not have a singing voice, the embarrassment of it all.

And yet, in these matters, where our relationship is between us and God, God’s reasonable limits of behavior are much more liberal, are much more extravagant.

In today’s lesson from John, we read about Jesus’ anointment by Mary, using a lot of expensive perfume. Mary pours out the perfume upon Jesus feet and His head without regard to how much she is using and without regard to cost, she bows over His feet like a servant would of her master, and she uses her hair to wipe His feet, demonstrating that in His presence she can show the most intimate devotion. Judas the apostle (and betrayer) complains about the extravagance; he would put a reasonable limit on worship which leaves something over for the poor (or himself). We don’t know about the other disciples, but we can probably assume that they were as shocked by this spectacle as was Judas, thinking that Mary’s act of worship was overextended well beyond reasonable limits.

But Jesus’ commends her, demonstrating a standard of worship and love of God which is over-the-top, extravagant, and ever offensive to “normal” sensibilities. Jesus’ reasonable limits of interaction with Him, the Father, and the Holy Spirit would almost be unbounded; there is no way that you can overextend your worship of God.

Built into these two lessons are three examples of where reasonable limits come from. The first is ourselves, the second is other people (society), and the third is God.

Are you overextended such that your life, your soul, your body, your relationships are injured, are hurting? If so, you might ask yourself who sets your reasonable limits – you, others, or God?

And if it you or others who are setting these limits, maybe it is time to recalibrate to God’s limits. And then live within them.

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© 2014 GBF

Bread – Darkness

September 10, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, September 10, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Job 29:1, 30:1-2,16-31; Acts 14:19-28; John 11:1-16; Psalms 49,53,119:49-72

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In today’s lessons from Scripture, God gives us no joy and no respite from our troubles. Instead, there is the reality of pain, of loss, of despair, of sadness, of loss. There is little light in today’s readings, but much darkness.

Just to make the point, here are three quotes from today’s readings:

From Job, “I cry to You [God] for help, and You do not answer me…You have turned cruel to me … But when I hoped for good, evil came, and when I waited for the light, darkness came.” Job 30:20-21,26

From Acts, “But Jews came from Antioch… and…they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city…[Paul] saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:19,22

From John, “Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus…Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that Lazarus was ill, He stayed two days longer in the place where he was…Now Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus has died…” John 11:1,5-6,14

There is much darkness in these passages. Job was considered righteous and yet he suffered loss of health, looks, wealth, and family. Paul was Jesus’ disciple to the Gentiles and was stoned to almost death. Lazarus was Jesus’ friend and yet Jesus tarried two days where He was and, in the meantime, Lazarus died.

We cry out and God does not hear us! True or false?

It is fortunate in a way we end with our reading about Lazarus, because we know what happened to him. Jesus went to him and brought him back to life. When Lazarus could not have walked out of darkness (he was dead), Jesus carried him from darkness into light. Job was, after his tribulations, restored by God into the light. Paul was, in spite of his persecutions, empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach, to teach, to write the Scripture we read today, and to persevere in bringing the light to us Gentiles. We are fortunate to end with stories where we know the outcome because it gives us hope in the dark times that rescue is right around the corner.

But what if there is no rescue right around the corner. What if we are to suffer physical illness for a long time, maybe until our death? What if we are ruined economically and are to live the rest of our life in poverty? What if we find ourselves in darkness, day after day after day?

What are we to do in such circumstances? Get angry? Pray more? Lift ourselves up by our bootstraps? Go to a self-improvement course? Stand in front of a mirror and utter words of self-affirmation and self-love?

There actually is an answer in Scripture and it is built into today’s lessons. What are we to do? We are to wait upon the Lord, knowing that He will arrive with the answer in His time. This may be faith. This may be wisdom. This may be just obedience to God’s promises in Scripture. Whatever it is, it is not easy.

When we find ourselves in darkness, there are three responses possible. One is to try to find a light switch or a door. This is self-help and ultimately arises from the idea that we trust ourselves more than we trust God. Another response is to retreat into a corner. This is fear speaking and is our natural attempt to flee darkness. The third is for us to sit in the darkness in active waiting and listening, in full expectation that God will appear and take care of things (perhaps by revealing where the light switch is).

For those who have sat in darkness in a closed room, an interesting thing happens when we wait upon the Lord. The first is that fear is replaced by hope and expectation. The second is that we are given a second set of eyes by the Holy Spirit to begin to see things as they are. When this occurs, often we discover that there is quite a bit of light in the room, if we would but see. We find ourselves ready to see in the darkness and hear in the stillness. The third is that we become receptive to God’s message for us.

Favored by God or not, saved by Jesus or not, blessed by the Father or not, empowered by the Holy Spirit or not – we will find ourselves sooner or later (and perhaps now) in some kind of darkness. When we find ourselves in darkness, what is our response – Fight, Flight, or Faith?

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© 2014 GBF

Bread – Relationships

September 8, 2014


Readings for Monday, September 8, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Job 32:1-10, 19-33:1, 19-28; Acts 13:44-52; John 10:19-30; Psalms 41,44,52

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There are many relationships in the world. Some are defined by family: father-son, uncle-niece, grandmother-grandson, etc. Some are defined by economics or employment: boss-worker, president-vice president, director-officer, shareholder-director. Some are defined by politics: king-subject, office holder-citizen, senator-representative.

But these are roles. Most often when we talk about the word “relationship” we are not talking about a positional relationship but a “personal” relationship. In that respect, the relationship is often characterized by adjectives – cold, friendly, loving, uncaring, close, separate, estranged, etc.

But one thing which is sort of built into the American mindset about every relationship is that we are equal, equal in rights, opportunity, and standing. Somebody may be our boss in a particular circumstance, but otherwise we are the same. Each person is worthy. Each person’s opinion should be respected. Each person should be listened to. Each person should be treated fairly.

This is not the mindset of much of the world. In much of the world there is in operation something like a caste system, where you are born (created) into a particular position in life. This position defines your relationship and you may not get out of the position because you can’t. You were born into it and therefore, that is what you are. People are, in this relationship system, necessarily unequal because they were born into their categories unequally.

Thus, in feudal times, you were born into royalty or common. That was it. As royalty, you could be king. As common, you could be a serf. Unless there was a revolution, defining a new category of royalty, the serfs and the royalty did not eat together, they did not go to church together, they did not participate in the economic system in the same way. Their relationship was fundamentally unequal. Slavery represented another caste system. Islam’s treatment of women is another caste system.

Because we see relationships as free and equal, in spite of temporary role changes, there is a fundamental flaw in our relationship with God. When we talk about having a relationship with God, we think of it automatically as an equal relationship. God and I can get along because we are equal. God and I can talk to each other because we are equal. God will answer my prayers because we are equal. God and I are friends. God and I dialogue, communicate, participate, and work together for the kingdom. In fact, God looks to me to help Him build the kingdom because we are partners. God and I walk hand in hand. I choose God because He chose me.

These are our words … and they were Job’s words … and they were (and are) the wrong words.

Job’s friend Elihu says it simply but correctly in today’s reading – “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life…God is greater than man.” Job 33:4,12

In the relationship between man and God, there is a caste system. There is God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and then there is us. We are not God and He is not us. We are reflections of Him, but we are not Him.

If we are not equal to God, then what is our right relationship to Him? The entire Bible addresses this question. Are we family? Yes, but as adopted children through the sovereign work of God, we are not equal to God. We may speak boldly, but we must bow our head and bend our knee to His Kingship over us. Are we slaves? Yes, but as slaves in Jesus we bear a light yoke and have freedom well beyond that which we have following our own dictates. But in spite of our freedom, we are slave and He is master. Are we friends? Jesus calls us friends but, in our position vis a vis God, does that give us the right to call Him friend? To ask this question another way, if Jesus chooses to give us the best seat in the house at dinner, does that mean that we are entitled to the best seat in the house? Do we have any right to take God’s Word and place our interpretation on it? Can we subject God to our opinion, or must we conform our opinion to God’s truth?

Just because we are equal to each other as people does not mean that we are equal to God.

Our natural tendency to treat God as our equal will demonstrate itself in our interpretation of today’s reading in John – “…you do not believe because you are not part of My flock. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:26-30.

Now, reading that text, what does the phrase “My Father … has given them to Me” mean? Is there any element of man’s choice in that statement? Any element of man’s free will?

The answer to that question will say a lot about how you view your relationship with God. If your relationship with God is built upon equality, then your free choice becomes an essential element of the salvation transaction. If your relationship with God is built upon His sovereignty, His kingship, His glory, His power, and His work on the cross, then the caste-chasm has been breached, not by our choice, but by God’s.

So, what is your relationship with God? Is it based on position? Is it based upon choice? Is it based upon God’s sovereign work in your life? Want the answer? Read Job.

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© 2014 GBF

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