Bread – Blameless

May 6, 2016


Psalm 18

“For who is God, but the Lord?  And who is a rock, except our God? – the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.”  Ps. 18:31-32

When I began preparing this Bread, I thought that there may be some merit in looking at the words translated “God” and “Lord” in these verses, but in the process of doing that I noticed a notation in front of the word “blameless” and the notation was that the word “blameless” has multiple meanings, including the words “complete” and “having integrity.”

And, like most aspects of Scripture, when you dig deeper into God’s Word, the Holy Spirit operates to expand self-understanding, self-analysis, and self-application.

Now think about this:  “the God who … made my way blameless;” “the God who … made my way complete;” and “the God who … made my way so that I have integrity.”

We normally think of the word “blameless” as being “without sin,” and we then proceed to the immediate conclusion that, yes, God does make our way blameless but only because He sees us through His Son, Jesus Christ, who stands between us and God the Father so that all the Father sees is the blamelessness of Christ.  To use more “theological” words, God sees me as blameless because Jesus’ blamelessness is “imputed” to me.  Wonderful, but I am still sinning (less, maybe, but sinning nonetheless), even though I have been saved by grace (mercy).

But what if I substitute the words “complete” and “with integrity” for “blameless.”  Now what?

Well, it is not so easy now to shove off responsibility for my behavior upon Christ, saying that I am a sinner no matter what.  The reason is that I can, when I have the strength and the perseverance, complete a task.  And I can, with strength of character and resolve, operate “with integrity.”  So I have no excuses.  I cannot lay this off on Jesus Christ as my stand-in because I have experiences in my own life where I completed the task or I acted with integrity.

So, if I am not complete, if I have not completed the task, perhaps it is because I do not have a radical reliance upon God to “make my way complete.”  So, if I do not walk with integrity, perhaps it is because I do not have a radical reliance upon God to “make my way with integrity.”

See, there are really only two choices.  I can walk the walk or I can lean on God and let Him make my way straight, make my way complete.  I can strive to live a life of integrity or I can lean on God to make my way one of integrity.

And how can I do either?  How can I both do it and rely radically upon God to do it for me?  The answer is in the first part of the verse: “the God who equipped me with strength…”

Do I walk with integrity, complete the tasks laid before me, and am blameless?  There is a way I can, but it is not the way of man or the world; it is the way of Jesus Christ.

Do I wake up in the morning saying “My will, my way, in my strength” or do I wake up in the morning saying “Your will, Your way, in Your strength.”

The first is weak and will soon result in loss of integrity, incomplete results, and many reasons to blame ourselves and others.  The second is strong and will result in a blameless way, complete and full of integrity.

How do you wake up in the morning?  Whose will do you follow?  Whose way do you use?  In whose strength do you act?

_________

© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

Advertisements

Bread – Yield

July 2, 2015


Readings for Thursday, July 2, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: 1 Sam. 13:5-18; Acts 8:26-40; Luke 23:13-25; Psalms 131-135

—————————————-

There are remarkable parallels between the United States Supreme Court’s five to four ruling redefining marriage as something other than the Biblical definition and today’s reading from Luke’s Gospel.

Luke describes the decision by Pilate to release Jesus to the people for crucifixion. Here is what happened. “Pilate … said to them ‘..behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against Him [Jesus]. Neither did Herod…’…But they all cried out together, ‘Away with this man…’…Pilate addressed them once more…but they kept shouting ‘Crucify, crucify Him!’ A third time he [Pilate] said to them, ‘Why, what evil has He done? I have found in Him no guilt deserving death…’… But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that He should be crucified. And their voices prevailed.” Lk. 23:14-23

“And their voices prevailed.”

How often do people raise their loud voice against something which is wrong? Whether we call them lynch mobs or left-wing activists, aren’t they the same? They have a single objective and drown out all rational debate and conversation. Ultimately, they are so loud and so persistent that people of good will find it easier to give up than to resist. Pilate was one of those people. He had a heart for justice but just not the stomach to say “no,” afraid for something – maybe afraid for order in the streets, afraid of becoming entangled in religious debate, afraid of the mob, afraid of himself being tested and perhaps destroyed by the yellers.

Similarly, our United States Supreme Court has gone out of its way to give in to the yellers, to the mob, to the cries for “justice” to crucify God’s definition of marriage on the altar of “compassion,” giving up even that word by giving the loud voices what they want rather what was right.

Not only is there a parallel between the circumstances of the mob, the independent judiciary failing at their task, and the death of God’s Word (in Luke, the Word incarnate and with respect to the definition of marriage, the Word written), but there is also another parallel even more important.

And that parallel is that God let it happen. God’s sovereignty took Jesus to the cross – not the mob, not the words of the judiciary (in Pilate), not the actions of the soldiers driving the nails. Oh they had their part, but the play was written by God for His purposes and His glory. God not only let it happen, God caused it to happen.

The truth is that the Supreme Court would not have spit on God’s Word but for the fact that God caused it to happen.

Why, we don’t know.

But before we are so ready to take things into our own hands, in the hubris of self-centered thinking, maybe we should contemplate another of our readings today, the one from 1 Samuel. In 1 Samuel, Saul, the king, is confronted by the Philistines. Saul had started with three thousand men and by the time we get to the end of the lesson, he has about six hundred. That is an 80% attrition rate; 80% of the people abandoned Saul. The enemy, the Philistines, on the other hand had 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen and troops. Overwhelming odds against Israel and Saul. On top of that, Samuel the prophet had not shown up even though he said he would. Because Saul was getting nervous, God had apparently not shown up yet (through Samuel), Saul decided that he would take matters into his own hands and offer a sacrifice to God to get His good favor. Samuel immediately shows up and condemns Saul for disobeying the Lord and then tells Saul that he has lost his kingdom by failing to obey, even during the dark times just prior to the battle. 1 Sam. 13:5-18.

This Bread is called “Yield” for a reason. When we have yield sign on the road, it tells us to let the other car pass first. Sometimes that requires us to wait. When we jump ahead because we are in a hurry, there is an accident hiding right around the corner.

Jesus yielded to His Father’s desire that He go to the cross to atone for our sins. Saul did not yield to God and took the response into his own hands.

These two lessons teach us one thing. When we yield to God’s purpose and His will, good things happen although they may seem bad at the time. When we don’t yield to God’s purpose and His will, bad things happen although they may seem good at the time.

My suggestion to the marriage issue and, in fact, to all of life is this – why don’t we fall on our knees, ask for wisdom, yield our will to His, and then follow Him where He goes. We know from Scripture that when we do this, though the way seem rough and uneven, the results are grand because they are the Lord’s.

Let’s not be the mob which yields to their feelings at the moment or the secular society which increasingly yields to the mob, but let’s instead yield to God, listen for His Word and seek His good pleasure, be obedient to what God has given us in His Word, and follow where He leads after suiting up in His full armor.

__________

© 2015 GBF

Bread – Exoskeleton

April 2, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, April 2, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Gen. 50:15-26; 1 Cor. 12:1-11; Mark 8:11-26; Psalms 101,109,119:121-144

—————————————-

Most people will look at the “Bread” word “exoskeleton,” and say “what?” I don’t blame them.

An exoskeleton is a strong suit, typically a type of armor, which is worn outside the body. When you watch a science fiction movie and the little person is inside the giant machine making it do things, that could be considered an exoskeleton. Batman’s suit is a form of an exoskeleton.

If an exoskeleton is tied to robotic technology, it can enhance your actions. For example, instead of lifting 100 lbs regularly, an exoskeleton might enable you to life 2,000 lbs (at least in science fiction movies). Instead of jumping three feet, an exoskeleton might enable you to jump 300 feet. Instead of holding a rock in your hand, an exoskeleton will enable you to crush that rock.

Can’t squeeze water out of a rock? Put on an exoskeleton.

In today’s reading from 1 Corinthians, Paul is describing the Holy Spirit and His gift to us of various spiritual gifts. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills.” 1 Cor. 12:7-11.

When I read this, I thought of how we, as mere mortals, are given Holy Spirit powers as He wills for the common good. And then I thought of exoskeletons and how we are essentially given a suit of armor, comprised of our Holy Spirit-given gifts, which we can wear and use. Through our mustard seed of faith, strengthened in the exoskeleton of Holy Spirit faith, we can face death as a martyr by beheading, burning, or drowning. Through our limited desire to help one another, strengthened in the exoskeleton of Holy Spirit healing, we can boldly pray for healing, confident that God hears us and will act in accordance with His will for the object of our prayer. In the necessity of making choices in life, we can take our limited knowledge and wisdom and, putting on the exoskeleton of Holy Spirit wisdom and knowledge, make wise choices which honor God and bless us. What little bit we can do as people is enhanced thousands-fold when we put on the Holy Spirit exoskeleton made by the Holy Spirit for us, which contains the Holy Spirit gifts provided to us for the common good.

In Ephesians, Paul talks about us having to put on the armor of God, which could be the same thing as putting on our exoskeleton.

There is a difference, though, between armor and an exoskeleton. Armor has to be put on and never becomes part of you. An exoskeleton, if worn enough, eventually does become part of you.

If you are a Christian, there is a power suit which has been made for you by the Holy Spirit. Put it on and keep it on. Then, when you wake up every day, you can say “Hey, Holy Spirit, let’s You and I go do some serious work for the kingdom today!” And the wonderful thing is that there isn’t even a power button you have to hit. The power is already on.

_______________

© 2014 GBF

%d bloggers like this: