Bread – Impatient

March 6, 2017


Psalm 55

Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not Yourself…Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint…”  Ps. 55:1-2

In today’s thoughts expressed in soundbites and shorthand texts which barely acknowledge English much less good grammar, shouting is shown in all capital letters.  So, if David were writing this Psalm today, he would be yelling “PAY ATTENTION TO ME!”

Attend to me!  Answer me!  Now!

As if we had some right to summon God and demand that He do anything for us at any point in time.

But it’s almost funny that David is yelling at God to pay attention to him, and yet don’t we whine about that all the time.  We have trouble … we “pray” (at least our version of it) … and, pronto presto! … nothing happens.

We know the troubles we are in and when we get around to it we offer it up to the great bell-hop in the sky, fully expecting a “yes sir” or a “yes ma’am” to appear in our ear, followed by an immediate solution.  And, if we don’t get it on our timetable, well we just need to complain more, yell louder, knock on the door more furiously, scream, or whatever.

In this moment, at the beginning of this Psalm, David is acting with a great deal of impatience.  He is tired of waiting on the solution and he is tired waiting for God to show up – and so he says in the Flint rewrite of the Psalm – “Hey, you, God.  Pay attention!  Quit playing hide and go seek!  Attend me, wait on me, listen to me, answer me!  I’m fed up with how long you are taking!  You are taking too long!”

Have we begun this week impatient for the results we want?  Most likely we have. Whatever we want, we wanted it yesterday.  And with this kind of attitude, this kind of approach to life, whatever we get will never be soon enough, will never be good enough, will never be the right thing in the right place at the right time, will never satisfy, and will never meet our expectations.

Impatience is a byproduct of an emphasis on self.  It is what I want and the world, including God, is arrayed against me getting it.  Me, me, me, me.

One might be inclined to think that the opposite of impatience is patience, but I would argue that it is not.  The opposite of impatience is perseverance.  When we are impatient, we want something to happen and are aggravated when it doesn’t.  When we persevere, we know something will happen and treat each roadblock as one more event in the path to victory.  Impatience breeds disappointment; perseverance breeds hope.  We are impatient with God because we are not getting what we want when and where we want it; we persevere with God because we know that we will get what we need when and where He wants.  We are impatient because we know we are on our own and if we don’t get it done, it won’t ever happen.  We persevere because we know that we are not on our own and it will happen, maybe today and maybe tomorrow.

We start off this Psalm exactly where we are almost every morning of every day – yelling at God for His bad timing.  But we do not need to end up our morning in the same way.  Instead, we can finish our mind dump of our problems on God, and then look up and say, quite truthfully, “Now Lord, I have dumped my troubles on You, You are in charge of what happens next” … and walk out of that God-meeting unburdened from impatience, unburdened from fear, and unburdened from every negative thought… ready to persevere in the new day.

Or, will we just remain impatient?

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

 

 

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Bread – Conflicts

November 30, 2016


Psalm 43

Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause …For You are the God in whom I take refuge; why have You rejected me?”  Ps. 43:1-2

We hate conflict and most of us avoid it whenever possible.  In just these two short versus, the Psalmist discloses that he is suffering through three conflicts at the same time.

The first conflict is with other persons.  The Psalmist is asking God to defend his cause.  Elsewhere in the same verse, the Psalmist describe this type of opponent who creates conflict as “the deceitful and unjust man.”  These types of people create nothing but conflict because instead of loving someone and doing their best for them, they use that someone and do their worse for them.  But one thing the Psalmist forgets to ask is whether he himself is one of those “deceitful and unjust” men.  The character he throws on his enemy may well apply to himself.  But, in any event, he is involved in an outward struggle with people who he considers to be bad, and he is asking God to go show them who’s boss.

The second conflict is internal and is self to self.  This is a little subtle, but I see it in the Psalmist’s reference to “For You are the God …”  In the times of the Psalmist, as today, there are many philosophies, people, religions, and contenders for “God.”  So, here, the Psalmist is a little irritated and maybe in conflict with his choice.  After all, he (the Psalmist) picked God out of the lineup to be his (the Psalmist’s) choice, and now he is saying to God … I picked You – now, where are you?  You should be more grateful that I picked you, God!  This internal conflict will always come to pass if we have picked God as “the God” out of many for reasons known to us.  Perhaps we claim to have picked God because He is generous to us, or because we want eternal life, or because we are medically sick and want to become well, or because our best friend did and we want to please our friend.  Perhaps we picked God because we just wanted to get the preacher-man off our back.  We are bound to have a conflict over this sooner or later because we will be sitting in a corner one day and the God whom we picked just won’t “bother” to show up.  And we will begin to doubt our choice – perhaps God is ineffective or perhaps He doesn’t care or perhaps He just wound up the world and is letting us go like wound-up dolls or perhaps He doesn’t know what to do or perhaps He is busy.  This subtle but real conflict arises because, by asserting that we have chosen God (for our respective reasons), we have set ourselves either over God (we will tell Him what He should do because He should be grateful we picked Him) or at least beside Him as His best buddy.

The third conflict is directly with God Himself.  I (the Psalmist) called and You (God) did not answer.  I prayed and nothing happened (that I could see or appreciate).  I asked you to go strike dead my enemy and he seems to be doing quite fine, thank you very much.

The first kind of conflict is terrible because it only exists when the self (you, me) cares about winning according to the rules of the world.  That kind of conflict will never end until the rules of the Kingdom of God are the ones being followed and not the rules of the world.

The second kind of conflict is terrible because our doubts about what to do and how to act will freeze us into inaction.

The third kind of conflict can be good because it shows that we have a real relationship with our Father.  After all, what child when he does not get what he wants from his earthly father will not first ask again, then ask his mother, then whine and pout, then stomp off in a fit, and then wander off, think about it, and either accept it or come back for rounds two, three, etc.  As long as they are talking, even if in conflict, good things ultimately happen.

The conflict with others is unnecessary, the conflict within ourselves is debilitating, the conflict with God ultimately strengthens our obedience, our wisdom, our perseverance, and our love for Him.

I can almost guarantee that you have had your conflicts with others and with yourself today already.

But have you had your conflict with God?  Isn’t it time?

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

 

 

Bread – Peace

August 5, 2016


Psalm 29

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.  May the Lord give strength to His people!  May the Lord bless His people with peace!

This week, it may seem like that Noah’s flood, the end of the world, has overwhelmed you and sunk you and drowned you in a sea from which there is no escape.  God reigns over the flood and He is mighty to save His people from the consequences of their sin.

This week, it may seem like that weakness of heart or spirit or mind or body has overwhelmed you, driving you into the pit of depression, worry, and misery.  God provides strength to persevere in the hard times and strength to stand fast in the good times; when we are weak, He is strong for us.  He is the source of our strength and our salvation.

This week, it may seem like we have no peace.  There is the war of making a daily living in the midst of circumstances and people who seem to want to make sure that you can’t.  There is the war of words and ideas which flood every means of communication.  There is the war of the mind where we, every day, have to decide who we serve.  There is the war of the heart where we, every day, have to decide to love or to hate.  There is fighting with word and sword – death and defeat surround us.  God is a place of refuge, of sanctuary, during these times.  He is the source of peace, if we but want to drink of the water which flows from Him.

What is peace?  Is it the absence of war?  Most people think so and think that war is evidence of the lack of peace.  But how is it that we can have peace from war (and there have been times, although rare, where that is true), and yet have no peace in our lives.  To live is to contest the elements, the opposition, the thoughts of other people who decide just not to be cooperative that day.  Life is a contest and, as a result, there is no peace.

In fact, the Lord commands us to speak the truth in love to people who do not want to hear it and who oppose the truth.  Jesus warns us of persecutions.  He died on the cross.  Martyrs of the church through the ages have died by fire, by evisceration, by acid, by beheading, by torture, by sword and by the thousand cuts of scorn heaped upon them by the scoffers of the world.

Did these martyrs have peace?  Not by a worldly definition, not by a long shot.  But did they have peace?  We know they did.  Then what is peace?

Imagine for a moment being in the eye of the storm.  All around you is swirling fury and destruction, and yet you stand observing, watching, considering, thinking, loving – and unaffected.  In the storm there is no room for conversation, no place for reflection or thought, no opportunity for rest.  In the center of the storm, in its eye, one can speak calmly and openly, one can listen, and one can lay down and rest.

Maybe the Psalm should say “May the Lord bless His people by placing them in the eye of the storm.”  And, if you think about it, indeed he does.  When our soul is in Christ, it is He who leads us by still waters in the eye of the storm, it is He who speaks to us comforting words while we are surrounded by the swirling noise of the world, it is He who prepare a table for us in the midst of our enemies.

“May the Lord bless His people with peace.”  He has and His name is Christ Jesus, Son of God, Savior, Redeemer, King, Lord of Lords, Emmanuel – yes, Emmanuel, God is with us.  And when He is with us we stand in the middle of the storm in peace, not by our power but by His.

Want peace?  It is free at the foot of the cross.  It is free for the asking.  But you have to ask.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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 – Dark

April 13, 2015


Readings for Monday, April 13, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Dan. 1:1-21; 1 John 1:1-10; John 17:1-11; Psalms 1-4, 7

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Young children can really be our eyes into greater reality. My grandson stayed with us Friday night. To get to the room where he sleeps and his toys are kept, he has to pass down a hallway which is somewhat dark. He has a name for this – “Da…ark…” It is the word “dark” said with special emphasis that only a child full of wonder can make. To pass through this dark hallway, he comes and grabs my finger and says “Papa come.” Then he drags me through the hallway into the toy room, all the while saying “dark,” nodding his head in agreement, and looking back at me to make sure I am there.

In our reading today from 1 John, the apostle says “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5

We know in our hearts that God is light, which is I think one of the reasons we reach out to Him in prayer when we find ourselves in a dark place. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.” This darkness can be physical, but it can also be darkness of soul, of heart, of mind, and of emotion. When we ask for revelation, it is to dispel the darkness of our mind. When we ask for peace, it is to dispel the darkness of our soul. When we ask for hope, it is to dispel the darkness of our heart.

God is a God of light and not darkness. When light enters the room, darkness flees. When darkness enters the room full of light … wait a minute, it can’t do that. Light pre-empts the dark, not vice versa.

Think about this for a minute. The only way it can be dark is to turn the light out.

Now, back to the adventure down the dark hall. I could turn on the light but I choose not to do that. Why? Well, partly it is because I want my grandson to slowly learn that he can overcome darkness and the fear which comes with it. But the other reason is more personal … to my grandson, when he is holding my hand he is carrying his light with him. I can tell him the truth about the dark, I can vanquish the things which hide in dark corners, I can comfort, I can love, I can support, and I can help him persevere and overcome. This gives me great pleasure.

When we find ourselves in our own darkness, instead of telling God what we want to do, why don’t we just pray to Him “Papa come?”

We don’t even need to say, “and bring the light,” because He is light.

There is not a day which goes by that something in the paper or on television or on radio reminds us that we live in a dark world and that, as the light leaves, it is becoming darker.

Maybe the antidote to this is much simpler than we think. Maybe the antidote to darkness and fear is for us to, in boldness, say to the author of creation, “Papa come.” After all, it works for my grandson. Why wouldn’t it work for us?

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© 2015 GBF

Bread – Live

January 21, 2015


Readings for Wednesday, January 21, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 44:24-45:7; Eph. 5:1-14; Mark 4:1-20; Psalms 38, 119:25-48

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How are we to live as Christians?

Many Christians have written many books over many years answering this question. And yet, in today’s readings, it seems that Scripture provides us a useable summary.

The first way we should live is to recognize that God is God over all, good and bad. In Isaiah, the prophet speaks of Cyrus, king of Persia, king of Babylon, ruler of the Jews in exile. He says “Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus…that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you (Cyrus) by your name. For the sake of My servant Jacob, and Israel My chosen, I call you (Cyrus) by your name, I name you (Cyrus), though you do not know Me,…I equip you (Cyrus), though you do not know Me, …” Isa. 45:1,3b-5 The first way we should live is to recognize that the person who we perceive is bad in our lives, is trouble, is a fraud, is difficult, is mean and hateful, or who otherwise is someone which we would like to avoid, is an instrument of God called by God into our lives for some purpose known to Him. Therefore, when we meet trouble in life, we know that God works it to good and live our lives in victory, unbowed by adversity. By recognizing that God is sovereign and has chosen us, we can live in victory through all things.

The second way we should live is by running away from sin toward that holiness, that obedience to God’s pattern of life for His people, to which we have been called. In Ephesians today, Paul writes: “Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you…Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking…but instead let there be thanksgiving…Therefore, do not become partners with them [sons of disobedience], for at one time you were darkness, but now you are in the Lord…[T]ry to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness…” Eph. 5:1-4,7-11 Run away from the dark; stay in the light. Cast away sin in the Holy Spirit, learn what is pleasing to God, and then do it in gratitude and obedience.

The third way we should live is to make sure that the soil around us is good so that our fruit which honors God and brings Him glory is plentiful. In Mark today, Jesus says: “A sower went out to sow…And other seeds fell into good soil …And He said to them, ‘…The sower sows the Word…But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the Word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” Mk. 4:3,8,13-14,20. How do we till and fertilize our soil so that it is good? Well the first way is to let the Holy Spirit work in us. The second way is to ask God for it. And the third way is to recognize that Scripture contains the ingredients to transform the soil from something harsh and dead to something healthy and alive.

So, the three rules to live: (1) God is sovereign, (2) flee sin, (3) grow in knowledge and love of the Lord through tilling and fertilizing the soil using the tools God has given you to do so.

There may be more rules, but since I have problems with all three sometimes, I think I’ll just start with these three.

What about you?

__________

© 2015 GBF

Bread – Strength

January 5, 2015


Readings for Monday, January 5, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Joshua 1:1-9; Heb. 11:32-12:2; John 15:1-16; Psalms 2,110:1-7

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Many people have made New Year’s resolutions, begun implementing them, and in the back of their mind know that by February much of the effort will be on the rocks, foundering from lack of attention, lack of time, lack of energy, commitment to other goals, and just simply messing it up.

Perhaps some of us have undertaken religious resolutions, from more time in prayer to more consistent worship to engaging in deeper Bible study. I myself have undertaken the resolution to write Bread more consistently.

What will happen to these resolutions? Will we have the strength to persevere to completion in spite of the headwinds against us from our friends, our bosses, our families, our innate sinfulness, our laziness? Will we have the strength to persevere?

Maybe yes and maybe no. No if we are relying upon ourselves, our plans, our efforts, our training, our education, our resources, our world. Yes, if we are relying upon God.

In today’s lessons, God tells us three ways to rely upon Him in order for there to be success in the New Year, in order to obtain and retain the strength to persevere.

The first way is for us to abide in Jesus Christ and not ourselves. Jesus said “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5 For those of us who do not know Jesus, the way to have the strength to persevere is to find Him. For those of us who do not know Jesus, the way to have strength to persevere is to abide in Him, hang on Him, take up residence in the mind and the soul with Him, love and adore Him.

The second way is for us to trust Him, have faith in Him. “And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets – who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire; escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness…” Heb. 11:32-34. Many people find Jesus in their minds, studying Him and His Word from morning to night, but do not find Jesus in their heart, where faith resides. It is not enough to know Him to have strength to persevere; it is necessary that we trust Him, have faith in Him in all circumstances. Through faith we can abide; without faith we will soon substitute ourselves for Him, relying upon ourselves first and foremost, substituting ourselves for God, making ourselves our own god.

The third way is for us to obey Him. As God said to Joshua, “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. … Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or the left hand, that you may have good success wherever you go…For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success….Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:5b-8 God’s commandments and His prescriptions for living are not just there to fill volumes of the Old Testament, but to give us guidelines for living life which will give us “good success.” If we are to have the strength to persevere, we must not weaken ourselves by going into byways and dark alleys of our own imagining, but be obedient to God’s ways, His prescriptions, and His will so that we may walk in the path of light and protection.

Want a real chance to transform resolution into reality? Have faith in, abide in, and obey Jesus. And there will be strength to persevere in the evil day, strength to receive all of the blessings which God has in mind for us, and strength to love.

____________

© 2015 GBF

Bread – Workout

December 15, 2014


Readings for Monday, December 15, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 8:16-9:1; 2 Peter 1:1-11; Luke 22:39-53; Psalms 41,44,52

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I often ask myself the question, if God commands me to love others more than myself, then why do I have such a hard time doing it? One easy answer, of course, is that I, like everyone else, am selfish and sinful, and I am constantly placing myself above or at least equal to God. That is the easy answer and it is substantially accurate.

Another answer to this question may be that I just don’t have enough of the Holy Spirit, because we know that our power in life comes from God and not ourselves, and so if we are to act the way God intends for us to, we must have more power to do so. That is the easy answer and it is substantially accurate.

But an accurate answer does not necessarily mean a right answer. Maybe the reason I have a difficult time loving others is not because I am sinful, because Christ has rescued me from my sin, and not because I lack power, because God tells us that He is ever-present in time of need, but because I have not followed the steps toward love, because I in my Christian walk have not laid the necessary foundation to love well.

What is this foundation? It is something more than salvation and it is something more than supernatural power. It is the building of a firm foundation upon which love is the natural result.

This foundation I think is described in detail in our reading today from Peter’s second letter. The steps in building this foundation are:

1. A faith received from God by “the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Pet. 1:1

2. Add to faith, virtue; 2 Peter 1:5

3. Add to virtue, knowledge; 2 Peter 1:5

4. Add to knowledge, self-control; 2 Peter 1:6

5. Add to self-control, steadfastness; 2 Peter 1:6

6. Add to steadfastness, godliness; 2 Peter 1:6

7. Add to godliness, brotherly affection; 2 Peter 1:7

8. Add to brother affection, love; 2 Peter 1:7.

Faith plus virtue plus knowledge plus self-control plus steadfastness plus godliness plus brotherly affection, when put together in that order, creates the foundation upon which we can then add love.

Are we weak in love as Christians? Perhaps it is because we have not followed the plan of building our strength so that we can love. We would not run a mile without first building up to it, one little jog at a time. We would not run a marathon without first running the first mile. And yet we try to love others more than ourselves without adequate preparation, without taking the time to build the foundation, without going through the work-out, which is necessary for us to love well.

Are we weak in love as Christians? Which of the 8 steps above have we skipped, or never dealt with well? Have we worked on our virtue, our knowledge of God and His Word, our self-control, our perseverance and steadfastness, our godliness, or even our affection toward other Christians?

The old child’s counting scheme comes to mind – “One, two, skip a few, a hundred.” Just like you can’t get to a hundred for real without counting through 99 other numbers, you can’t run a marathon until you take the first step, then the next two steps, then the short jog, then the short run, then the quarter mile, then the mile, then ….

Why do we not love well? I suspect its because we have done the Christian version of “one, two, skip a few.” As Peter has pointed out, no, there is a process to get there. And that process really does take a lot of work.

But it is work to which we are commanded. We have been given faith and power to exercise that faith. We have been given power to live in victory. Our job is to use that power, work the plan, build the foundation upon the cornerstone which Jesus has laid, and then build the house of love which will be a beacon of truth, life, and hope to a dark world.

Let’s get started!

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© 2014 GBF

Bread – Waiting

August 20, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, August 20, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Judges 18:16-31; Acts 8:14-25; John 6:1-15; Psalms 119:145-176, 128,129,130

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What does the word “waiting” suggest? To me, I imagine standing around, idleness, sitting down, tapping my foot in impatience, sleep, hanging out. The word “waiting” does not contain much power. It neither describes where we have been nor does it describe where we are going. It merely says that we are resting on landing of the stairs of life.

But there is also a different kind of waiting, beyond just hanging out. There is hanging out with expectation. Expectation of the next thing to occur. For example, we are sitting down in the movie theater, waiting for the show to begin. We may be idle, eating our popcorn and sipping on our drink, but we are anticipating the start of the show. We know it is going to happen but it has not happened. There is no place to go, nothing to say and nothing to do. So we wait … expectantly.

In today’s reading from Psalms, there is an interesting passage using the word “wait”:

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.” Ps. 130:5-6

“I wait … more than watchmen for the morning.”

I have never served as a sentry in the military, standing as a watchman waiting for the morning, but I have hunted, going into the forest at night so that I would be in position at daybreak. There is nothing quite like waiting in the dark for the morning. Just before morning, the temperature drops. You hear noises as the forest wakes up, but morning is still not there. You look in the direction toward the horizon over which morning will come. There is active watching for the sunlight; there is active anticipation that what you have waited for will come. Sometimes you wait so hard that it seems like the morning will never come.

After having stood watch all night, waiting for the morning has to be one of the most active forms of waiting we as people will ever experience.

And yet God through David through the Psalms says “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits … more than watchmen for morning.” (emphasis added)

The kind of waiting we should do for the Lord exceeds the kind of waiting which we would do as watchmen waiting for the morning.

To my way of thinking, I ask myself “How?” I almost cannot imagine anything more intense than waiting for the morning after being in the dark for a long time. So what is meant by waiting for the Lord “more than” that?

Luckily, the Bible tells us – but not so much in English but in the original language, Hebrew. The word translated “wait” in English is the Hebrew word “qāvāh.” Its meaning is to “bind together (by twisting), to collect, to be gathered together, to be joined, to meet, to lie in wait for someone, to expect, to look for patiently, to hope, to be confident, to trust, to be enduring.”

Again, isn’t it amazing how God’s word expands the more you study it. While the watchman waits for morning, we wait in a way in which we are bound together with and into our God, where we join together in fellowship with Him who saved us, where we meet in solitude, in silence, where God can speak to us free of the noise of the day, where we can hope, where we can trust, where we can be trained up in perseverance and righteousness.

Are you waiting for the Lord? Is your soul waiting for the Lord? Not as one would wait for an egg to boil or as a watchman would wait for the morning, but as the Bible describes waiting – being bound up in His holiness, trusting, persevering, hoping, being nurtured by and in the vine.

Gives a whole new meaning to waiting, doesn’t it? Well that is the nature of God and His word – it gives us whole new meaning every day we let it, and Him, into our lives.

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© 2014 GBF

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