Bread – Permanence

July 10, 2017


Psalm 73

But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped.  For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked…When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward You.  Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You hold my right hand.  You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me to glory.”  Ps. 73:2-3,21-24

I almost coined a new word for this Bread, “permaninity,” meaning the state of being permanent, but “permanence” will have to do.

What is permanent?  We actually have a very hard time answering that question, because we have no reference point.  To a young kid in time out, permanent may mean three minutes.  To a young adult used to immediate gratification from the Internet, video games, Google, and Amazon, “permanent” may mean six months.  To us older adults, perhaps permanent is a house more than a hundred years old.  For those of us who have visited other places and have seen paint on ancient walls more than 1,000 years old, permanent may seem like a 1,000 years.  For those who study rocks and believe them to be very old, “permanent” may mean a million years.

In this Psalm today, we have object evidence of permanence.  Who does not find in the Psalmists words today great insight into ourselves.  We may have faith but that faith runs constantly into the bumps of doubt.  When we look abroad at the world and immediately around us, we see corruption in so-called Christians, we see cruelty, we see hatred, we see liars, we see thieves, we see charlatans and con men (and women), we see sexual perversion, we see the proud wealthy, we see those hungry for power, we see huge imbalances in living conditions, we see unfairness, and we see hopelessness.  In the face of all that, we are tempted mightily to cry out “Where are you God?  Where is Your proof?  Where is Your righteous indignation?  When is Your judgment upon all these terrible people?”    As the Psalmist, our soul becomes embittered and we become cold, “like a beast,” toward God.

So where is the evidence of permanence, other than the apparently permanent ascendancy of the wicked?

The evidence of permanence is in this – In all this, He holds our right hand.  He guides us with His revelation and truth.  And, in the end, He will receive us, for those who believe, to glory in eternity.

While we may jump from thought to thought and feeling to feeling and while we believe and yet doubt, God is there, permanent in His intent toward His chosen.  When we are conceived, He is there.  When we are born, He is there.  When we are ready to believe, He is there.  When we are ready to let Him lead, He is there.  When we are ready for wise counsel, He is there.  When we are ready to take up our cross and follow Him, He is there.  When we are ready to find rest under His wings, He is there.  When we are on our deathbed and ready to join Him, He is there.

He is.

That is permanence.

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© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

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Bread – Pursuit

January 23, 2017


Psalm 49

Hear this, all peoples!…Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.”  Ps. 49:1,20

What will we pursue or chase after this week.  Will we be engaged in the pursuit of fame, of fortune, of happiness, of self-satisfaction, of beauty, of honor, of position, of power, of things, of others, of our family, of friendship?  There are many pursuits which can occupy our attention and our time, and most of these are emphasized by the world as necessary if we are to lead a “full life.”  We must pursue quiet time for ourselves, adequate money for retirement, housing, transportation, education.  We must pursue the “good life,” which our advertising media has taught us is a large house in pleasant surroundings, a dog and a cat, two well-dressed and well-behaved children, a good job, two new cars, and a kitchen which looks like the ones in the cook books.

On top of all that, we are told that we should be engaged in the “pursuit of excellence.”

The writer of this psalm suggests instead that we should be in the pursuit of wisdom, which begins with the understanding that we end our lives with nothing.  And yet, although we “know” this intellectually, we behave as if we can take it with us and as if, in any event, we will live forever.  Death, however, is imminent.

Maybe we should be pursuing excellence in all things as if unto the Lord, but excellence in what?  In doing or in being?  In amassing wealth in many storehouses or in depositing treasurers in heaven?  In worry about tomorrow or engagement in love with the world around us as ambassadors of Christ today?

Perhaps as we begin this Monday, it is an entirely appropriate question about what we will be pursuing today and this week.

The nature of pursuit is that we eye what we want and we go after it.  We do other things along the way, but those things are not the main things.  The only main things are those which enable us in our pursuit.  For example, if we pursue wealth, then we may eat dinner, but preferably we will do it with someone who can increase our wealth or, failing that, we will eat with our digital assistant in our laps checking e-mails less we fail to push the next business deal along as fast as it should go.  If we pursue other people, if we pursue interpersonal relations, we may still prefer dinner with someone who can make us wealthy, but we will turn off the digital assistant and carefully listen to the conversation so that we may build up those interpersonal bonds we are pursuing.

Who or what is our eye on today and this week?  Who or what are we in pursuit of?

The Psalmist suggests that what we ought to be in pursuit of is eternal life and the God who can give it.  Do you agree?  Are you pursuing it?

_________

© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

Bread – When

November 23, 2016


Psalm 42

My soul thirsts for You, O God, for the living God.  When shall I come and appear before God?”  Ps. 42:2

Another reading of this question is “When shall I come and see the face of God?”

In both versions of the question, the operative word is “when?”

When shall I satisfy my thirst, the hole which is in my heart which can only be filled by God?  When shall I give up my foolish ways and follow the ways of God?  When shall I say “no” to Satan and the world and say “yes” to Christ and life.  When shall I turn from my sinful ways and turn toward God?  When shall I die?  When shall I meet God face to face and be asked that terrible (or wonderful) question, “What do you have to say for yourself?  What do you have to say for your life?”  When shall I be judged?  When shall I belong?  When shall I be safe forever?

When shall I abandon the straightjacket of man’s reason and embrace the wonder of faith in God’s wisdom?

When indeed?

If you have not already had your “when” moment, when you fell before God and received His gift of grace, when you believed in Jesus Christ and turned from sin toward God, then there are only three choices which man will claim – I will do it now, tomorrow, or never.

These man-made when’s (today, tomorrow or never) have a nice ring to them, because they tickle our self-bone and exalt us over everything.  There is a problem, though, because the real answer to the question “When shall I come and appear before God?” is either today or tomorrow.  It is never “never.”

One of Satan’s greatest tricks, I think, is to make us believe that decisions and consequences can sometimes be put off forever.  But God says that there is a time coming when all of us will meet Him face to face, and at that time we will either be judged by Him to eternal judgment or be found guilty but forgiven, covered by Jesus’ sacrifice.

We are entering into the seasons of distractions, when the world clamors for attention.  But attend to this, please …. When will you come and appear before God?

It may be sooner than you think.  In fact, it may be today.

_________

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

 

Bread – Fullness

June 13, 2016


Psalm 24

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof…” Ps. 24:1a

Because we have eyes and ears, we tend to think about what we see and about what we hear.  In that respect, we are concrete thinkers because if it does not exist before us, it does not exist at all.  Some people are stuck in concrete thinking, so focused on what is apparent that they lose touch with what is equally real but is not apparent.  Most people can also think through what they see and hear to come with concepts, ideas, visions, and analyses.  They can see beyond what is in front of their noses.  In that respect, we are abstract thinkers and it is equally true that some people are stuck in abstract thinking.  They are so busy thinking lofty thoughts that they cannot get out of the way of the train bearing down on them.

In the idea of “fullness” there is an entirety of meaning.  For the concrete thinkers, the Psalmist says that we can comprehend “fullness” in terms of rocks and trees, hills and valleys, water and dirt, people and animals, sun and moon, darkness and light.  For the abstract thinkers, the Psalmist says that we can comprehend “fullness” in terms of the perfect balance which exists between life and environment, life and our place in the universe, mathematics, science, knowledge, wisdom, cause and effect, the supernatural interacting with the natural, randomness and consistency, spirit and our ability to think about thinking (sentience).

Fullness includes not only the things but how the things are connected, how they are ordered and formed into systems of interdependency.  Fullness includes the micro-verse, where the littlest things (like nanotubes) we can see or imagine exists, and the macro-verse, where the expanses of the universe and space-time exists.  Fullness includes the laws by which the worlds operate, things like gravity and anti-matter.

Your car, the gasoline which runs your car, the oil from which the gasoline derived, the rocks under which the oil lives until brought to the surface, the electricity which powers your car and fires the gas, the technology which goes into your car, the mechanics of your body by which you can steer and brake at the same time, the sight by which you see and the sound by which you hear – all of this is the fullness which “is the Lord’s,” … and we haven’t even left the garage.

Quite frankly, the fullness of the earth is something that even our best abstract thinkers have a hard time totally comprehending.  I have given examples, but they are weak examples compared to the fullness of the meaning of the word “fullness.”

When we begin our week acknowledging that God is Creator of the world and all that is in it, that the earth and all who dwell in it are the Lord’s and the Lord’s alone, including the fullness of those things, we begin it in the right place.

This Psalm opens with us getting right in our thinking.  God owns the earth and the fullness thereof; we do not.  God is God; we are not.  We possess a slice of the fullness for a short period of time; God possesses the fullness for eternity.

If God were any less, if He possessed any less, He would be flawed, just like we are only a little more powerful.  But we can rely upon Him because He has no flaw, no defect – He possesses the fullness.  And He lends it to us, freely.  If we only turn away from ourselves and the world toward Him, if we ask, and if we accept (trust) Him.

_________

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

 

 

Bread – Kings

May 25, 2016


Psalm 21

.“His [the king’s] glory is great through Your salvation; splendor and majesty You bestow on him.  For You make him most blessed forever; You make him glad with joy of Your presence.  For the king trusts in the Lord, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.”  Ps. 21:5-7

Which king is the Psalmist talking about?

One answer could be the author of this Psalm, King David himself.  If this is the case, he is speaking of himself in the third person, but that is not unusual if David was intending to turn himself as king into the object of God’s pleasure.

Another answer could be Jesus Christ Himself, King of Glory.  One reason it could be him is that the Psalmist says “You make him most blessed forever.”  And who is most blessed, except the Son of God Himself.  Another reason could be that He bestows “splendor and majesty on him.”  And who has the most splendor and majesty except the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?  However, I do not think it is a reference to the Messiah because David starts off by saying that the king’s glory is great through “Your salvation.”  Although in one sense it is God Almighty who brings salvation to His people, Jesus Christ as God did not need to be saved – He is Savior; He saves.  Jesus’ glory pre-existed His death and resurrection and preceded creation itself.

So who else could David be talking about?  You … and me.

Think about it for minute.  Why not?

To the extent we reflect glory, it is made great through His salvation of us.

To the extent we reflect splendor and majesty in what we do and who we are, it is God who gives it to us.

To the extent we are blessed, it is because God has made us “most blessed.”  And since we are saved by God’s might, He has made us “most blessed forever.”

To the extent we are thankful for our blessings, it is through the power of God in us that we can even see the source of those blessings, much less be glad in His presence.

And how is it that we reflect glory, are bestowed with honor, splendor and majesty, receive our blessings, and become joyful in the presence of the living God?  It is because “the king trusts in the Lord.”

And finally and most importantly, to the extent we are unmoved by the world, by the opinions of others, by our own carnal desires, it is because of “the steadfast love of the Most High.”  If we stand strong in the evil day, it is because the God we worship is Himself steadfast in power, holiness, and love.

So personalize this psalm: “My glory is great through His salvation; splendor and majesty have been bestowed upon me by Him.  He has made me most blessed forever; and I have been made by Him to be glad and joyful in His presence.  It is because I trust in the Lord, and I shall not be moved from the rock because He is steadfast in His love for me.”

We are kings because He is King.

Now, do we behave like it?

_________

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

 

Bread – Edges

April 17, 2015


Readings for Friday, April 17, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Dan. 3:1-18; 1 John 3:1-10; Luke 3:15-22; Psalms 16, 17, 134-35

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In today’s reading from Daniel, we have the history of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown by Nebuchadnezzar into the fiery furnace to die for failing to bow down to his idol-god, only to be rescued by God. I always love this re-telling and so I read the entire adventure.

However, that is not today’s reading from Daniel. Today’s reading from Daniel begins with Nebuchadnezzar’s creation of his golden idol-god which everyone is instructed to worship but it ends at the edge of the unknown. It ends this way: “Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego answered and said to the king … ‘If this be so [if they are cast into the fiery furnace], our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up.’” Dan. 3:16-18

The edge has been reached. Everything is on the line. The king, the governmental powers, has drawn the line with a terrible death to follow from disobedience. The three guys have said, “No,” we serve God and not your golden idol. The point of decision.

How did these three young men get to the point that they did not fear a painful death? How did they get to the point that they were willing to step out beyond the edge in faith, rather than step back from the edge in fear? Maybe because they did not see the alternative before them as death, but as life … either life continuing because God saved them in the present or life eternal because God brought them to Himself.

There are many edges in life which we reach and then have to make a decision. Do we go forward in faith or step back in fear? In such circumstances, everything we are taught, everything that is in us from physical birth, and everything in the world screams at us to step back, to avoid the risk, to protect ourselves, to live for another day, to engage in “strategic” retreat. But at that edge our call from God is to step out in faith that God is true, that His promises will be fulfilled, that His hand is mighty.

But people would say that faith like this is a foolish faith and that we should temper our decisions with wisdom. Well, like so many arguments it is both correct and incorrect. If your faith is in a God which is the “Cosmic Bellhop,” ready to fulfill your every desire and whim, then you have a foolish faith because you reject God’s sovereignty. The three guys in our history lesson above knew that God was sovereign and that He might choose to save them in one way and He might not. The three young men did not create the edge they found themselves on, but the edge found them because they were faithful to God. This is where wisdom comes in, but it is not man’s wisdom but God’s. Man’s wisdom would say walk away from the edge and bow down before the golden idol; God’s wisdom would be to worship Him and Him alone and trust Him. So the better warning is not what people say but this – “Faith should not presume upon God but rely upon Him, and we should temper our decisions with Godly wisdom.

In our reading today, there is the worship edge (do we love the world, ourselves, or God), but we also hear about the love edge.

In our reading from 1 John, the apostle says “…whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:10

To me, this is the real edge of life – the point at which we choose to either love our brother or not. And this edge occurs all the time. You are busy and are interrupted by another person —

do we turn away to our important business or do we listen and love our brother? You are wondering if you can make the house payment, you only have three days of groceries in the kitchen, and a beggar comes to your door, do you close the door before or after you give your brother some food? You look across the street at your neighbor’s house and realize that the grass is growing too high, do you shake your head and leave for work or do you smile at the opportunity and love your neighbor by getting the grass cut?

When life is seen as presenting one opportunity after another to live in Christ or live in oneself, we realize that we live on the edge all the time, deciding either to retreat to self or step across the edge in faith. Why do we not love all the time? Because we are well-practiced in retreat and fearful of going beyond the edge, of taking the next step in faith.

Do we have this strength ourselves? Of course not. If we can say “no” to the world and ourselves and “yes” to God, if we can ever step beyond the edge, if we can love our brothers and sisters, it is only because we have the power from God to do so.

If we really want to obey God and not man, if we really want to love mightily, if we really want to step across the edge onto solid ground, then we have one prayer – Come Holy Spirit. Amen.

__________

© 2015 GBF

Bread – Positions

October 8, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, October 8, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Micah 2:1-13; Acts 23:23-35; Luke 7:18-35; Psalms 128,129,130,119:145-176

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Our readings today from Scripture struck me as somewhat disconnected until I realized that they really speak to positions we have in life and how those work themselves out in God’s plan. Sometimes positions are called roles or titles. There are many positions we have in life, and in a way our Scriptures today speak to all of them.

In Micah, there are at least three positions spoken of – leaders, family, and preachers. Micah speaks about all three of these in the negative – people using their position to cause harm or to have harm visited on them by their position. With respect to leaders, Micah says “Woe to those who devise wickedness …because it is in the power of their hand.” Micah 2:1. The reason we know he is talking about leaders is because of the reference “it is in the power of their hand.” Of course, this is true of any person in a position of authority, and so could refer to an elected government official, a president of a company, a boss, or even a father or mother. With respect to the position within a family, Micah reports that, just as the family might benefit from the leader’s abuse of authority, so will they be punished along with the leader at the time of reckoning. (see Micah 2:3).

With respect to preachers, again Micah refers to leaders of the church (synagogue) who would use their positions of authority to preach untruth, saying that people who “devise wickedness” will take preachers who state “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink.” Micah 2:11. Before we start laughing, imagining our preacher telling us that wine and strong drink are beneficial for us, isn’t this a form of “name it and claim it” or “prosperity gospel” which thousands of people are flocking on Sunday to hear from the pulpits of progressive churches?

In Acts, we pick up the story of how Paul ultimately reaches Rome. He has been threatened by a plot to kill him, and, because Paul points out that he is a Roman citizen (a position), he has been put into protective custody and rushed to the Governor to determine his fate. Paul is a preacher, a follower of Jesus, a man, a Pharisee (by training), and a tentmaker, but it is his position of citizenship which becomes important. As a citizen of Rome, he has certain rights and, at an appropriate time, he stands on those rights.

In Luke, we see a dialogue between John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ. John, in the position as questioner, asks Jesus who He is. Jesus responds by pointing out all the ways He has fulfilled Old Testament prophecy and lets John work it out for himself based upon the evidence. But Jesus also says that John is the messenger, the forerunner, prophesied in the Old Testament, to come before Jesus and “prepare [His] way before [Him].” Luke 7:27.

But Jesus then says this: “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Luke 7:28

Think about this for a minute. John and all the prophets and the leaders are born of women, and John the Baptist, the prophet of God who was the advanced messenger for Jesus Christ is the greatest. And yet, as great as he is and was, the believer in Jesus Christ who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than John.

You see, in our lives there are only two positions which matter. We can be great leaders or followers, of the basest or the finest character, and be on the side of John (the Old Testament, with its righteousness gained through works, through obedience to the law) or Jesus (the New Testament with its righteousness gained through the finished work of Christ on the cross, reborn through the Holy Spirit into belief in Jesus Christ, transforming our minds through His word written and made flesh).

Our position is either Christian or not. Those are the two positions which matter. One is life and eternity in the kingdom. The other is death and judgment when the time comes. One is received by the power of the Holy Spirit and the other is earned by “good” works, the best of which are filthy rags before a holy God.

Two positions which matter. One in Christ and the other without. In what position are you … really?

____________

© 2014 GBF

Bread – Timeless

October 28, 2013


Readings for Monday, October 28, 2013, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Zech. 1:7-17; Rev. 1:4-20; Matt. 12:43-50; Psalms 41,44,52

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We are naturally time bound. We think in terms of the past (history), the present (now), and the future (plans). Everything we do is somehow time-related. We may not be slaves to the clock, but we watch it to make sure that we are getting things done on time and that we make our appointments and project deadlines. The clock may not tell us what to do, but it certainly orders our days and nights. We study history to understand the present, and we take both the past and the present to project into the future. We think of time as either a progression (past is prologue to present which is prologue to future) or as a cycle (the cycle of life). In other words, we think of time as linear or circular.

Even our science is time bound. It used to be that we could speed up (distance over time) to the speed of light. Now we recognize that the speed of light may be a barrier, but that things may slow down to the speed of light. In any event, however, the fact that we are even measuring speed means that we are measuring time. One cannot speak of evolution without speaking of time. One cannot speak of distance without speaking of time. One cannot speak of force without speaking of time.

It is therefore almost beyond our imagination to think of something, or someone, as timeless. But that is who God is. That is what God is.

In our reading today from Revelation, Jesus says simply “I am the Alpha and the Omega…who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Rev. 1:8 Later, Jesus says that He is the first and the last. Rev. 1:17

Since we know that “all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3), we know that this beginning, this “first” was actually outside of the beginning of time, and yet in some sense He is the beginning of time. Our Jesus is therefore both timeless and time bound, just as we are. He is both omnipresent and directly present at the same time. He is both omniscient and yet receives His knowledge from the Father, all at the same time.

It is enough to give us a headache, but only because thinking of anything or anyone outside of time bumps into the time limits of our understanding.

For a while, I stopped saying at the end of the Lord’s Prayer “forever and ever, Amen” and substituted instead “forever, Amen” (leaving out the “and ever”). The reason I did was that I thought that “forever” was just that, and saying “and ever” was just a weakening of the “forever” part. Later I came to realize that that the “and ever” part was merely our weak way of saying “for all time and beyond time.” God’s glory and power are time bound (“forever”) and timeless (“and ever”).

Perhaps our view of this and our ability to grasp the idea that there is something beyond our grasp, that there is an aspect of God which will never be understood because He is timeless while we are time bound, is partly why my scientist friends have such a hard time with Jesus. When you assume a closed system (time bound), the possibility of there being something outside that system (something timeless) is impossible to comprehend because its mere existence causes the system to no longer be closed. When we can conceive of something timeless, then we can conceive of something outside ourselves. When we can see a beginning which is outside of beginning and an end which is outside of end, we can invite the person who occupies the beginning and the end into our lives, because at that point He is no longer a stranger.

But not only is Jesus the beginning to the beginning and the end to the end, He is present in between. He may be timeless but He is also present in time; He is present today.

In the movie “Toy Story,” we laugh at Buzz Lightyear, one or the toy characters, when he holds out his arm and says “To infinity and beyond.” Jesus holds out His hand and says something similar, “For all time and beyond, forever and ever.” But what Jesus says is no laughing matter, because He is the timeless One, born into time, died, and resurrected for us. Repent of your sins, believe in Him, grab His hand today and be with Him, the Alpha and the Omega, for all time and beyond, forever and ever. Amen.

Our reading in the Old Testament today is from Ezra. Ezra reports that Cyrus, the king of Persia, after being stirred up in his spirit by the Lord, proclaims that the Jews may return to Jerusalem with these words – “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has charged me to build Him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all His people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel – He is the God who is in Jerusalem. ..” Ezra 1:2-3

Who does Cyrus think God is? First, he says that God is “the Lord.” Then he says that God is “the God in heaven.” Then he says that God is the “God of Israel.” Then and finally he says that God is “the God who is in Jerusalem.” So, does Cyrus think that God is God over all, over a people, or of a city? Is God unlimited or limited to particular people who believe in Him, whom He has claimed as His? Is God unlimited or is He limited to a particular geography or place (Jerusalem)?

What does Cyrus believe about God? We really don’t know, except that Cyrus obviously believes enough in Him to obey Him. However, Cyrus is obviously confused in his own mind about who God is and who He belongs to and where He is located.

Don’t we relate?

Aren’t we often just as confused? We say that Jesus is Lord of everything, but we leave Him behind in His jurisdiction (the church) and fail to acknowledge Him as Lord in the world. We say that Jesus may be that person’s God, but fail to recognize that He is Lord over all. We may hear Him and believe Him just enough to obey Him, but do we believe Him enough to make Him exclusive. When we say that there are many paths to heaven, aren’t we really saying that Jesus is limited in what He commands, where He is, who He is, and whose He is?

In many, many, many respects, aren’t we just as confused as Cyrus?

Luckily, our position with God, our salvation, and our blessing is not dependent upon whether we are confused or not or whether we even “get it right,” but upon the solid rock that God Himself is not confused – He knows exactly what He is doing, when He is doing it, and with whom, for whom and to whom He is doing it. He is true to His word.

It is in this knowledge that, although we may be buffeted and confused by what happens to us, by other people, and by what we believe, God is steadfast that David can say in our Psalm 31 today: “Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For You are my rock and my fortress; and for Your name’s sake you lead me and guide me…You have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.” Ps. 31:2b-3,5b

So, today, although we may be confused about many things, let us remember clearly and without confusion that God is not confused, He is our rock and our fortress, and He is faithful.

__________________

© 2013 GBF

Bread – Gospel

November 5, 2012


Readings for Monday, November 5, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: *; Rev. 14:1-13; Luke 12:49-59; Psalms 56,57,58,64,65

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In our readings today, God through Revelation says: “Then I [John] saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth…’Fear God and give Him glory….and worship Him who made heaven and earth … Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great…’ Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” Rev. 14:6-8,12 (emphasis added).

Jesus says today in the Gospel of Luke: “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Lk. 12:51

There is but one eternal gospel – Salvation is through Christ alone, through utmost trust and faith placed in Him after you have turned from your sin and toward God. It is not complicated but it is not easy. It cannot be accomplished by man’s effort, study, thought, or ability, but through the power of God granted to us by His grace in His time. Salvation is God’s sovereign gift to us, granted to us by nothing we have done, earned or deserved, but by God’s mercy.

For those who love God and trust in the Son, Jesus Christ, Babylon has indeed fallen, the penalty of eternal death is lifted, and good works in obedience to God’s commands spring forth in thanksgiving for the immeasurable gift we have received. For those who do not love God but love the things which they themselves have made (idols) or the things which have the appearance of right but the reality of wrong (the things Satan has made, the world), there is nothing but hell which awaits.

Stark, divisive words. But the eternal gospel is one of division, between those who choose Christ and those who don’t, between those who bow their knee to God and worship Him and those who worship the mirror or idols or the things of the world, between those who have eternal life and those who inherit eternal death.

There is no grey area here. You are either for God or against Him. You are either inheriting eternal life or you are not. You either belong to Jesus or you don’t. You either have eyes to see and ears to hear or you don’t.

The angel said that the gospel is “eternal.” We tend to treat it as a bit of dusty thinking, sometimes useful to trot out but mainly ignored in favor of more modern ways of thinking. “Eternal” means just that, from the very beginning to the very end. From before the very beginning to after the very end.

The gospel has been, is, and will be forever. The gospel divides. The gospel is true.

What say you to this? Who do you believe? Eternal life hangs in the balance.

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*Today’s readings designate Ecclesiasticus, sometimes called the Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach. This is not a book contained In the canonical Old Testament, but instead belongs to that body of work called the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical Books. These books are accepted by some Christian denominations as useful, but are rejected by other denominations. I have not included this reading today because of these controversies. However, if you want to read it, the reference for today is Ecclus. 38:24-34.

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© 2012 GBF

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