Bread – Seasons

November 24, 2014


Readings for Monday, November 24, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Zech. 10:1-12; Gal. 6:1-10; Luke 18:15-30; Psalm 106

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Although it is just before Thanksgiving, many people are acting as if it is just before Christmas. But the truth is that, for Christians, there are many opportunities throughout the entire year to give thanks for what God has done and is doing for us, so in that sense there are no seasons. However, we recognize the various seasons of the year, expressed in quarters (spring, summer, etc.) and expressed in holidays (for Christians – Christmas, Easter, Pentecost; for others – others).

Our readings today talk about seasons. In Zechariah, our reading today begins with “Ask rain from the Lord in the season of the spring rain, …” Zech. 10:1. We know the effect of rain – it is necessary to life, to help plants and people grow and thrive. In a sense this verse is saying “Ask for growth in the season of growth.” To many people, this seems strange, because why would you ask for something you are getting anyway because it is the season for it. After all, the season for rain has rain in it; we wouldn’t call it the season for rain unless it rained pretty often during that time. For these people, we ask for what we don’t have when we don’t have it, not when we do have it. What is the use of asking for a job when we have a job; for asking for happiness when we are happy; for asking for health when we are healthy; for asking for wisdom when we already know what to do? The problem with this attitude is that it is an attitude of self – I will not reach toward God in prayer (“ask rain from the Lord”) unless I need something. However, when we are God-focused we realize that all things come from Him. The job we have today is a gift from God. The health we have today is gift of God. Any wisdom we might have today is a gift of God. Knowing that, it is actually more important to ask for rain in the season of rain because it is an acknowledgement that, in good times or bad, all things come from the Lord and on Him are we radically dependent.

We need to ask God for rain in the season of rain because we need to constantly remind ourselves that everything we have and everything we are is by the grace, power, and love of God. We need to ask God for rain in the season of rain because we need Him, all the time, not just in the time of need but also in the time of plenty.

In Galatians, we read this about seasons – “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Gal. 6:9 Season are not only now, they are in the future. But some seasons are dependent upon other seasons. Jesus Christ does not die (season of Easter) unless He is first born (season of Christmas). A season of reaping of a harvest does not occur unless there is first a season of sowing, of planting of the seed which will blossom later. While we are in one season of life, by our actions we are helping to determine what our future seasons will look like. Financial advisors will tell you this. If you are 17 today and save $100 a month in a reasonable investment, you can retire on a substantial income in your season of retirement. But it is hard for us to realize that, to realize that by the season of study in Scripture today we are laying the foundation of a season of effective Christian love tomorrow.

There is a richness to each season, but only if we have taken the time and the energy in the season before to plant the seed for the next season.

It is the season of rain, of thanksgiving for what we have been given. Let is therefore ask the Lord for thanksgiving, a spirit of gratefulness for Him and His. During this time, in the hustle and bustle of life, let us “not grow weary of doing good.” What we have abundantly from the Lord let us share in love with our neighbors, the stranger and the friend.

In one week the season of Advent begins. This is a season of doing good, to others and to yourself. What good can you do yourself? Read God’s Word. Think about Him and his coming to earth shortly as a defenseless human, to take on our low estate so that we may be brought up to His high estate. Communicate with Him through prayer. Be still before the Lord and listen to Him. Do not become weary of doing good for in due season we will reap.

What is this “due season?” It is Christmas. If we continue today to do good to others and ourselves (by strengthening our walk with the Lord and our obedience to His will) , in “due season,” at Christmas, we will indeed celebrate with joy, love, fellowship, and hope.

Otherwise, we will be tired and miss the season entirely.

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© 2014 GBF

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Bread – Debt

November 19, 2012


Readings for Monday, November 19, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Hab. 2:1-4,9-20; James 2:14-26; Luke 16:19-31; Psalm 89

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There is much discussion in political and social circles about the amount of debt being carried by the nations of the world, including the United States. Although everyone “knows” that debt is generally bad, it seems like we are in a stupor about the debt itself.

Well, the prophet Habakkuk is not in a stupor about debt; he knows exactly how bad it is. From our reading today, Habakkuk says: “Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own – for how long? – and loads himself with pledges! Will not your [creditors]* suddenly arise, and those awake who will make you tremble? Then you will be spoil for them. Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you…” Hab. 2:6b-8a.

If your wealth is built on borrowed money, it is fleeting wealth because the creditor will come one day and claim the debt, taking your assets as payment.

There are reasons other than avoiding the negative which we have for having surplus instead of debt. Our reading in James today reminds us that faith without works is dead. Among the works identified is charity toward our brothers and sisters in Christ. James asks, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:15-17

Where are the resources to come from to so bless our brothers and sisters? In our secular, government mind-set, it comes from borrowing from others, either by actually borrowing the money or by taking it from people through taxation. In our Christian walk, we are to do good works from the blessings God has given us, not those blessings He has given to others. As Christians, we clothe and feed our brothers and sisters in Christ, not the wealth of others, but from the riches God has given us.

This week is Thanksgiving. Let us rejoice in the love that God has shown us by exercising our faith in good works; let us rejoice in the love that God has shown us through His people by accepting and taking graciously those gifts of clothing, of food, of housing, of caring, of attention, of love, which His people bestow upon us. But let us do it the right way, from God through the people of God to the people of God, using the resources which God has given us and not the resources which God has given others. In so doing, we honor God. In so doing, we act like the people of God. In so doing, we exercise our faith. In so doing, we love.

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*The ESV actually translates this “debtors,” but this appears to be improper in context. The NASB and NKJ translates this “creditors.” The NIV indicates that it could be either. Since it is your creditors to whom you owe money, it seems that in context the word “creditors” is better translated here.

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© 2012 GBF

Bread – Birthright

February 6, 2012


Readings for Monday, February 6, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Gen. 25:19-34; Heb. 13:1-16; John 7:37-52; Psalms 77, 79, 80

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In Genesis today we have the beginning of the history of Jacob, the younger, and Esau, the older, both sons of Isaac. This is the report of how Esau sold his birthright, the right to be the primary inheritor from his father, to Jacob for a bowl of soup (stew), because he (Esau) was temporarily hungry. What good is a birthright anyway when your parents are not dead? To realize some value to your birthright, you have to think about the future – you have to be able to think many months and years in advance. So, as Genesis says, “So Esau despised his birthright.” Gen. 25:34b

This e-mail and blog are not normally written about politics in a political season, so I apologize in advance for any offense this may give my readers. But isn’t this where we are today as a nation?

Haven’t we been the recipients of a great nation, founded upon great principles, which has done and is doing great good? Don’t we stand on the shoulders of giants, our founding fathers, our relatives who rebuilt this nation after war and depression, our grandfathers and fathers who contested against evil and rebuilt the world after defeating it? We are the inheritors of the greatest nation on earth, founded upon principles of individual choice, individual rights, and individual responsibility. We have a birthright – which we can either keep and treasure – or sell and despise.

One wonders if our desire for the government to do everything for us, to “help,” is really our consumption of a tasty stew while we think we are hungry, delivered to us by deceivers (Jacob’s name means “grasps the heel,” which figuratively means “he deceives”).

I cannot help but see the parallel between our current state of affairs and the decision confronting Esau in the kitchen, tempted as he was by the deceiver.

But there is more here than just a simple parallel. God ordained that this would happen to Esau (He to Rebekah what would happen – “..the older will serve the younger”). Gen. 25:23 And perhaps God is ordaining what is happening to us right now. Perhaps He intends for us to sell our birthright right now, for some bread and stew, to fill our temporary hunger. Perhaps He has ordained that we despise our birthright.

But I don’t think so. God has placed the Bible in our hands for reasons, not the least of which is to help us to know Him, to understand His will, and to understand the natural consequences of our actions. Perhaps this lesson is here in Genesis to not only explain the development of two nations from Jacob and Esau, but to also speak to us, this generation, who have our own choice to make – our own choice to treasure and preserve our birthright, or to despise and sell it for the equivalence of temporary convenience.

Why are we here, with this choice before us? Maybe because we as Christians do not act like Christians. Maybe because we take the name but not the reality. Maybe because we allege allegiance to God but do not bow down, do not kneel, do not worship Him. We do not “continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess His name.” Heb. 13:15

Our readings from Hebrews today (part of which is quoted above) is a litany of how we are to live our lives as Christians. Here is a self-test. How many of these do we fall short on? – (1) keep on loving each other as brothers; (2) entertain strangers; (3) remember those in prison; (4) remember those who are mistreated; (5) honor marriage; (6) keep the marriage bed pure; (7) maintain a life free of the love of money; (8) be content with what you have; (9) ignore strange teachings; (10) strengthen our heart by grace and not just by ceremony. Heb. 13:1-9 But perhaps the most important command about how we are to live our lives is contained in the second part of Heb. 13:15, “…and do not forget to do good and to share with others…” Heb. 13:16.

Both worship as a sacrifice of praise and doing good and sharing with others are the kinds of sacrifices which please God. Heb. 13:15-16

So, as Christians we have two choices which confront us. Do we sell our birthright and thereby despise it? Do we present sacrifices to God which are pleasing to Him, worshiping and praising Him and doing good, sharing with others? Interestingly, both of these choices relate to each other. If we sell our birthright, aren’t really saying to God that we do not rely upon Him, that we do not honor His word, and that we do not need to share with others because the government is taking care of it? So the answer of “yes” to the first choice is really an answer of “no” to the second. But if Esau was going to eat, Jacob had to share with him what he had. And so we realize that if we do not sell our birthright, if we answer “no” to the first choice, we must then answer “yes” to the second.

Choose this day whom you will serve.

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Bread is e-mailed to those people who have asked that it be sent to them.  If you are not on my mailing list and wish to be, please e-mail me at flintg@verizon.net.

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