Bread – Rebellion

August 13, 2015


Readings for Thursday, August 13, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: 2 Sam. 15:1-18; Acts 21:27-36; Mark 10:32-45; Psalm 105

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Absalom, David’s son, stands out in the public, at the gate to the city, telling the people coming into the city that king David is essentially not available to hear their pleas and their cases, but that if he were judge of the land (i.e. king of the land), then they would get justice and their day in court. “So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” 2 Sam. 15:6b

Now the gate is in a public place, so it is fair to assume that David, the king, heard what was going on. He could not have approved it, because Absalom, his son, was undermining David’s authority and setting himself up as king in place of David. And yet David did nothing to correct him and nothing to stop him.

Why does God tolerate our rebellion? We rebelled in the Garden of Eden by listening to Satan instead of hearing God. We rebel on a daily basis as we set ourselves up as king of the little kingdom of self and run our lives according to our wishes and lusts. We stand in the public square and pronounce to the world, “if I were in charge (or if my government were in charge), there would be justice in the world… so let me take over and rule.” All the while this is going on, God appears to be in retreat, seeming to disappear from the stage, exiting the hearts and minds of men to leave them to their own devices and to implement their own schemes. When man rebels and says to God, “I don’t want you anymore…go away!,” why does God appear to say “OK,” and then appears to exit stage left?

In today’s lesson from Daniel and Absalom, we begin to see how this develops. David decides to leave and those people who want to come with him he lets do so. These “disciples” of David abandon their home and become wanderers. Later, however, in another day’s lesson, we discover that Absalom reaches his full stage of rebellion and wickedness, dies in battle, and David returns to his rightful place. The faithful are displaced but never replaced and end up being victorious.

We are in rebellious times. The winnowing of the church is occurring. Will we follow the usurpers or stay with the King? Will we be displaced, knowing that our home is with Him and not with the world, or will we reap the temporary benefits of rebellion and suffer the eternal loss as well?

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© 2015 GBF

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Bread – Seasons

June 30, 2015


Readings for Tuesday, June 30, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: 1 Sam. 11:1-15; Acts 8:1-13; Luke 22:63-71; Psalms 120-127

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I hesitated to write Bread today because (a) I did not know what Scriptures the Lord would provide today through the Book of Common Prayer and (b) I was afraid that I might have to write about the events of the last week, where five members of the United States Supreme Court elevated themselves over God to redefine what the word “marriage” means for society. Although they did not say (yet) that this definition applies to people of faith, it probably will because, although we are citizens of the Kingdom of God, we live in Rome.

The three readings today illustrate three responses to the actions of the world. Which one is right for today?

In the first reading, a group of Israelites is overrun by pagans and wants to give up, but when they hear the terms of surrender (gouge out their right eye), they ask for help from the rest of Israel. “And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled…Then the dread of the Lord fell upon the people, and they came out as one man…And the next day … they [Saul and the Israelites] came into the midst of the camp [of the Ammorites, the pagans] … and struck down the Ammorites …” 1 Sam. 11:6-11. Here, the men of God were called to war against evil by the Spirit of God. There is a time and place historically for war with the weapons of war, but we need to remember that this is Old Testament teaching and Christ has advised us to forgive first and, when struck, to turn the other cheek. So holy war is probably not the appropriate response unless and until we as Christians hear the clarion call of the Holy Spirit. When (and if) that happens, it will not be subject to debate because “the dread of the Lord” will fall upon “the people” and it will be obvious.

In the second reading from Acts, Saul (another one, later to be renamed Paul), has authorized the killing of Stephen, a Christian. “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered … But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the Word.” Acts 8:1-4. Here we see that, notwithstanding exile and other bad consequences, Christians continued to live as Christians, “preaching the Word” where they ended up. Stephen’s death did not affect them, exile did not affect them, imprisonment did not affect them – their belief was solid and continued through adversity, and by their lives and proclamation of the Word they did not flinch from letting it be known who and whose they were. This is Christian living, citizens of the Kingdom of God living in Rome. It is unapologetic and unrelenting. During this time, while under direct and consistent attack, the Christian community gets stronger, not weaker, and the proclamation of Christ becomes bolder, not softer. Elsewhere in Scripture, this form of living is called “standing” (“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil…Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Eph. 6:10-13).

The third reading is from Luke, where Jesus has been taken, held, ridiculed, set for trial and, as we know, destined for death on the cross. Lk. 22:63-71. As followers of Christ, should we expect better?

In the seasons of our life as a Christian, we may be called to fight, to stand, and/or to die. Which one will it be in this season of the exaltation of man’s thought over God’s Word?

I don’t know, but I do know this. In season or out of season, God is sovereign, His Word is the touchstone for how I and His people should live their lives, and Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and that there are no other ways to eternal life but with, in and through Him. And that is true whether we are in the season of war, of standing, or of imprisonment and death. And that is true whether Caesar, the Supreme Court, or the majority of the people agree or not.

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© 2015 GBF

Bread – Jail

April 5, 2013


Readings for Friday, April 5, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Dan. 12:1-4,13; Acts 4:1-12; John 16:1-15; Psalms 118,136

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Jail time is facing Christians. “What?,” the average Christian responds, how can this be. We are comfortable in our churches, in our routines, in our Bible studies, in our position as favored (since Constantine) in Western civilization. Of course we read about Christians being attacked by Muslims and other religious groups around the country, as well as the scientific establishment which adheres to its own religion, but what has that to do with us in the United States, in Texas, in Dallas, or wherever we are reading this?

Jail time is facing Christians because that is what Scripture warns us about and Scripture is either true or it is not.

In today’s Old Testament reading from Daniel, we read: “At that time …there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time.” Dan. 12:1b

In today’s New Testament reading from Acts, we read: “As they [Peter and the disciples] were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day…” Acts 4:1-3

In today’s Gospel reading from John, we read: [and Jesus said] “…They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.” Jn. 16:2-4

So the temporal destiny of Christians is expulsion from the “PC (politically correct) church,” jail, persecution and for some, death.

This would be awful but for the hope that we have in Christ. And what is that hope? Well, the same passages which I have just quoted go on to describe it:

In today’s Old Testament reading from Daniel, we further read: “But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book…But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.” Dan. 1c,13.

In today’s New Testament readings Acts, we further read: [and Peter said] “…let it be known to all of you and to the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead – by Him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:10-12

In today’s Gospel reading from John, we further read: [Jesus said] “I have said these things to you to keep you from falling away…But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember all that I told them to you….When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth,..” Jn. 16:1,4,13

We have hope because we know the prophecies fulfilled in Jesus Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit. We have hope because temporal jail time was predicted, because we know as followers of Christ our eternal destiny is that we shall be delivered because our name is written in the book by Jesus Christ, the only name by which one may be saved from eternal jail, and because the Holy Spirit guides and supports us.

God help us that, when we have our “Peter” time, when we are confronted by people who hate the Word and are arrested and put our trial for our faith in our King, we will do like Peter, look the rulers in the eye, and say – “Jail, Schmail – We know Jesus, do you want to know Him too?”

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© 2013 GBF

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