Bread – It

June 3, 2016


 

Psalm 22

“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint…For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet – I can count all my bones – they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots…All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you, for kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations…they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn that he has done it.”  Ps. 14,16-18,27-28,31

This is actually a fairly simple and straightforward Bread.  Who is “he” and what is “it?”

This is a long quotation from Psalm 22 because it tells of an event in history, one which you should recognize in the telling.  All of these events are significant because they happened at Golgotha and on the way there, but perhaps the phrases “they pierced my hands and feet,” and “they divide my garments…and for my clothing they cast lots” will bring to mind Jesus and the cross and death and resurrection.

These quotations describe a crucifixion in detail, and Jesus’ crucifixion in particular.

So the “he” is obvious, but as you know, I think that all personal pronoun references to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit should be capitalized to raise them up to their proper place above us ordinary persons.  And because the Psalm could arguably relate to anyone (after all, the “me” is lower cased in modern translations of Scripture), the “who is he” question is more easily answered by restating the quotation this way:

“I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint…For dogs encompass Me; a company of evildoers encircles Me; they have pierced My hands and feet – I can count all My bones – they stare and gloat over Me; they divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots…All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You, for kingship belongs to the Lord, and He rules over the nations…they shall come and proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn that He has done it.”  Ps. 14,16-18,27-28,31

The other day I had a person ask me where there is, in the Old Testament, a plain statement predicting Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Well, here at least is a plain prediction of Jesus’ death.  And isn’t that made more obvious by elevating Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit by capitalizing references to them?

This is prophesy in its purest form, and less one thinks David is describing something in the present, in his time, then think about this – this is a detailed description of a crucifixion and crucifixion was unknown in the time of David.  David is reciting details about a form of torture that did not exist when it was written.  It is detailed, it is accurate, and the description was fulfilled by Jesus.  And it was written some 1000 years before Christ’s death.

Then what does it mean that “He has done it?”  To understand this, one needs to recognize that Psalm 22 ends with that statement – “He had done it.”  And it begins with this statement – “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  It is the crucifixion of Christ, He has been forsaken by God as He takes on our sins and separation from God is the price of sin, and at the end that relationship is restored because He is is the perfect offering of His blood for our sin.  “He has done it” means simply that Jesus paid the price of sin and the offering of His life for ours was accepted by God the Father.

He has done it means that the bridge between us and God, destroyed by Adam’s sin, has been rebuilt by Jesus’ obedience to the cross.

From the depth of despair (why have You forsaken Me) to the height of victory (He has done it) through the cross (described in the middle of Psalm 22).

That “He has done it” means that we don’t have to.  Jesus did the “good work” of perfect obedience to the Law, of perfectly bearing our sin, of perfectly satisfying the demands of the Father for payment (sacrifice) for sin.

But what we do need to do is recognize who He is and what He has done, turn to Him in repentance, and trust in Him for our salvation.  Easily said, but impossible to do without God.  And, so we pray, “Come Holy Spirit.”

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

 

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Bread – Fire

May 27, 2016


Psalm 21

“Your hand will find out all Your enemies; Your right hand will find out those who hate You.  You will make them as a blazing oven when You appear.  The Lord will swallow them up in His wrath, and fire will consume them…Be exalted, O Lord, in Your strength!  We will sing and praise Your power.”  Ps. 21:8-9,13

We all have experience with fire.  On camp outs, the fire warms us and cooks our marshmallows.  We have all been burned by a hot stove, even though our mothers warned us against touching them.  Some of us have seen the partial or full destruction of a building or car or other thing from fire.  I even personally experienced being in the middle of a wildfire in a national park, and being rapidly shown the exit by the park police while the fire licked the ridge of the hill about a hundred yards away.

 

But no one knows fires like a fireman.  He or she responds immediately to a fire, dons heavy clothing which only partially protects them, and enters the fire to destroy it and save others.  These people can probably report how hot , how destructive, and how deadly a fire truly is.

As destructive as earthly fires are, as deadly as they are, God can still deliver us from them if He will and if we have faith.  The best example of this are my three friends of the Old Testament, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who, when asked by the king of the world “who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands,” answered by saying “…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, we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”  Dan. 3:15-18.

But this fire made by Nebuchadnezzar in the furnace was a fire made by the world, by man.  Who will save us when God shows up like is described in Psalm 21, finding out those who hate Him, swallowing those people up in His wrath, consuming them with holy fire?

We are promised throughout the Bible, throughout God’s revelation of Himself, that there will come a time when God’s wrath will be poured out against those who hate Him, when He will throw them into the lake of fire and burn them to a crisp.

But who hates God?  In our natural state, we do … all of us.  We are the ones who will be destroyed by fire at a time when God chooses, unless ….

Scripture is also clear about what comes after the “unless.”  How is it that we can be transformed from our natural state which hates God to an unnatural state, a supernatural state, where we love God?  Through faith in Jesus Christ, and Him crucified and resurrected.

And how does that occur?  Again, the God who saves the three men of old from the fiery furnace is the author of our salvation, through no work of ours but through His mercy and grace.  “[Our] glory is great through Your salvation…For the king trusts in the Lord.”  Ps. 21:5,7.

I do not know who reads Bread, so I do not know if this reaches those who do not know Christ.  But if you do not, the fire of God’s wrath is your end unless you turn toward Him and trust in Him.  How does that occur?  Through man nothing is possible, but through God all things are.

Therefore, we pray “Father, have mercy upon me, a sinner.  Son, save me.  Holy Spirit, give me strength, power, courage, and wisdom to seek the Son and through Him, the Father.   Take me to the cross of Christ that I may witness to the truth, that Jesus has died for me, that He has been resurrected so that I can be with Him forever, that my sins have been forgiven by the Father because of His work and not mine, and that I am saved and forgiven by Your grace, Your mercy, and Your power.  Amen.”

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

 

 

Bread – Revival

May 11, 2016


Psalm 19

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul … Moreover, by them is Your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”  Ps. 19:7, 11

How can God’s law revive the soul, as stated by the Psalmist?

I think there are three ways.

The first is that we like boundaries.  Although we would protest otherwise, boundaries give us comfort because we know where the path is and where it goes, boundaries help to define who we are (as compared to other people, who we are separated from by boundaries), and boundaries provide us protection from the claims of others.  So, when we see boundaries, understand them, and appreciate them for their benefits,  our countenance improves, our feet walk lighter, and our soul is revived.

The second way the law revives the soul is that it provides us a standard by which we can live our lives, if we will but trust the Lord and let His Holy Spirit reside in us.  Now, admittedly, this is a standard which we will never achieve short of heaven, but it is a standard which we can see and we can grow toward.  As we grow toward God’s standards, we are more able to withstand the troubles in life, we are more able to focus on things that matter, and we can look back and see how far we have come from our dark days to the present.  God’s law does not cause us to belittle ourselves for our failures, but gives us the real opportunity to revel in the freedom which comes from obedience to the Master.  In being able to see a standard which is higher than ourselves, we can, with the support of the Holy Spirit, rise to the occasion.

The third way the law revives the soul is that it provides us a shield from the darts of the enemy.  As the last part of the section of the Psalm says, “By them, is Your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”  By negative implication, the law of the Lord, by telling us what to do, also then warns us about what not to do.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…” tells us that the opposite, loving idols and other substitutes for God (including ourselves), results in loss of self, loss of others, and loss of society.  Not only does God’s law give us what we should aspire to by way of behavior and character, it also gives us what we should avoid.  And knowing what we should avoid means that, when we avoid it, our soul, our very nature, is revived.

There are two kinds of revival.  One is captured in movies and the public imagination, and is full of emotion and “glories to God.”  This kind of revival generally has a short life.   The second is the kind which takes place over a long period of time and occurs because God has reached into our place of death, has brought us into life and relationship with Him, and has taught us His way through His Word, empowering us to live life in the present to the fullest.  This kind of revival is real.  This kind of revival is long-lasting.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.”  This is real revival.  The permanent kind.  God’s kind.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bread – Lament

July 7, 2015


Readings for Tuesday, July 7, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: 1 Sam. 15:24-35; Acts 9:32-43; Luke 23:56b-24:11; Psalms 5,6,10,11

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While there is celebration in the streets rejoicing over the triumph of man’s law over God’s, there is lament by many, including me, about how we as a society have come to reject God’s law as triumphant and substituted instead the sand of man’s whims and desires.

Our readings today speak powerfully to this.

From Psalm 11, “Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, ‘You will not call me to account?’” Ps. 11:13

When man rejects God and His Word, His standards for life, isn’t he like the wicked, believing that there will be no accounting for his sin?

Well, there is an accounting. In our reading today from 1 Samuel, Saul admits to Samuel that “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” 1 Sam. 15:24. In refusing to following thousands of years of history and the dictates of the Old and New Testaments, our United States Supreme Court feared the people more than God and obeyed the voice of the mob rather than the voice of God. So, Saul did what we have done, and this is what follows – Saul then says to Samuel, “’Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me…’ And Samuel said to Saul, ‘I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” 1 Sam. 15:25-26. Is this what will now happen to us in this country? There is a day of being called to account. Whether that day is today, as it was for Saul, is up to God and we certainly pray that He defers His judgment, but He knows what He will do.

So, returning to the Psalm, we read this lament – “if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? The Lord is in His holy temple…” Ps. 11:3-4

When the foundations are destroyed, what can we do indeed? The Psalmist answers this question by skipping the answer and going straight to the solution – God. Our answer to the question of what do we do when the foundations are destroyed is to remind ourselves that God reigns, not us.

And so what are the righteous to do in the evil day, in the day of destruction of foundation?

Our answer is found in our reading today from Luke – Jesus has been crucified. “The women who had come with Him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how His body was laid….On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” Lk. 23:55-56 Jesus has been murdered and put in a borrowed tomb. His body has not been properly prepared with funeral spices, so there is action to be taken by the righteous. But wait! No action is taken because it is now the Sabbath and God has commanded His people to rest. Even though there is something to do, God’s people wait because it is God’s command to wait.

And while they wait in obedience to God’s Word and His commandments, God works. When the women returned, the stone had been rolled away because Jesus had been resurrected.

We can and should lament the situation in which we as people of faith find ourselves. But before we take matters into our own hands, we would do well to reflect on the Psalms, on Saul, and on the righteous women. God is in His Holy temple; God is in control. Yielding to passion rather than God’s law and His love results in bad things. Obedience to God’s will in our lives matters, because while we obey, God works His miracles.

The foundations crumble; what are we to do? God. Christ is crucified; what are we to do? God. We are appointed to a position of influence; what are we to do? God.

There is an eternal pattern here. So let’s follow it.

__________

© 2015 GBF

Bread – Evidence

September 29, 2014


Readings for Monday, September 29, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Hosea 2:2-14; Acts 20:17-38; Luke 5:1-11; Psalm 89

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What kind of evidence does it take to change your mind? A lot? A little?

I don’t think the answer is really a “lot” or a “little,” because the evidence has to be of the right kind for you. If the evidence is of the right kind for you, then you can be convinced with a very little of it; however, if the evidence is of a kind which you know little about, the evidence must be quite large and powerful in order to cause you to change your mind.

So the real question is not “how much evidence will convince you, but “what kind of evidence will convince you?”

What kind of evidence will convince you that Jesus Christ is God, Savior, and Lord? The answer is, initially, no kind. There is no amount of evidence which will convince you of the existence of God, much less His appearance in the flesh, if you have no mind to see it. This is why we are indeed fools until the Holy Spirit has made us alive with eyes to see and ears to hear, so that then the evidence becomes overwhelming.

A little proof of this is in order. When Jesus died, it is reported by over 500 people that He rose from the grave and walked the earth. These are eyewitnesses. Many people saw His death upon the cross. Many people witnessed His burial. Many people witnessed the open tomb. Many people saw Jesus, ate with Him, touched Him, and talked to Him after His resurrection.

With this evidence, why doesn’t everyone believe? The reason is not that there isn’t a lot of evidence; the reason is that the evidence is not the right kind. It is not the right kind for those who are dead in their sins, and will never be the right kind of evidence for them unless and until the Holy Spirit rescues them.

What made me think about this is today’s lesson from Luke, where Peter, James, and John are with Jesus on their boat, Jesus tells them to go fishing, and they obey Him even though, as fishermen, they had caught nothing the night before and knew there was nothing there. The catch was so large when they obeyed Jesus that the boat began to sink. And, in seeing the great catch of fish, Peter, James and John, who understood about fishing, had evidence they understood. The evidence of Jesus’ kingship appeared to Peter, James and John as overwhelming because the evidence was of a kind which would convince them. In fact, the fish convinced them so much that, after they landed, “they left everything and followed Him.” Luke 5:11.

In today’s world, if we transmute the fish into stuff, aren’t we equally blessed to overflowing in everything. We live in large homes with more square feet per person than most of the rest of the world; we drive cars which are safe, powerful, efficient, and luxurious; we have running water and electricity; we have hand held computers (called cell phones) which can reach out to anywhere in the world; and we have food fit for kings at our local grocery store. We have blessings on top of blessings … but do we have the kind of evidence which we need to see to convince us?

For the fishermen it was fish. When we have more fish than we can eat, will more fish convince us? Is more of what we already have ever the kind of evidence we need.

There are several elements of this episode which tie together and we need to see. First, the fisherman had no fish from the night before, so they did not have plenty of what they needed. Second, Jesus spoke and they listened and obeyed. Third, the blessings then came.

Instead of fish, what we need today is time. I do not know anyone who has enough time. Is an abundance of time the kind of evidence which will convince us?

If we have a need for time, what is Jesus’ command which relates to that? Come and follow Him. Take the time to get to know Him in prayer, meditation, and study of His Word. Spend time with Him.

If we know what we need and we know what Jesus’ command is which relates to that need, what is the third part? Obedience.

Try obeying. Take time with Him, walk with Him, listen to Him. Read His Word. Think about these things.

And then see what happens with your time.

And you will have evidence indeed (but only if the Holy Spirit has opened your eyes, ears, and heart … which He will if you ask, “Lord, let me see the miracle you have done, are doing, and will do in my life.”)

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© 2014 GBF

Bread – Wisdom

August 22, 2014


Readings for Friday, August 22, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Job 2:1-13; Acts 9:1-9; John 6:27-40; Psalms 140,141,142,143

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The three non-Psalm readings today are powerful readings and each would support many, many Breads and sermons. In Job, Satan strikes Job with sores and Job responds to the urging of his wife to curse God, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” Job 2:10 From the reading in Acts, Saul (to become Paul) asks for permission to imprison the women and men who believe in Christ, receives that permission, and on the Damascus road on his mission sees a light from heaven and is directly confronted by Christ. In our reading from John, the disciples hear Jesus say that the work of God in a man’s life is “that you believe in Him whom He has sent” and then says, without qualification, that “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst … All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out…For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:28-40

In fact, these are so powerful, I have no clue about where to even begin, so I decided to begin with “Wisdom.”  But rather than offer my own commentary on this, let me offer instead the commentary from the English Standard Version Study Bible and the article which preceded Job called “Introduction to the Poetic and Wisdom Literature,” of which Job is considered a part:

“Some choose simply to define “wisdom” by the literature…this approach is unhelpfully restrictive. Others choose to define “wisdom” as an outlook, almost a philosophy of life. But different “wisdom” writings have different emphases, so this approach seems to fragmentary.

What does the [Biblical wisdom] books and outlooks have in common, however, is a keen interest in the way the world works, humanity’s place within it, and how all this operates under God’s creative, sovereign care.

Biblical “wisdom,” then, might be defined as skill in the art of godly living, or more fully, that orientation which allows one to live in harmonious accord with God’s ordering of the world.

We know that “wisdom” is much, much more than education, knowledge, or intelligence. Instead, as brilliantly described in the ESV Study Bible, wisdom is “that orientation which allows us to live in harmonious accord with God’s ordering of the world.”

We actually exercise wisdom all the time, but is it Christian wisdom? We know how to live in harmonious accord within our neighborhood (so-called “street smarts”). We know how to live in harmonious accord within our businesses (so-called “business smarts”). We know how to live in harmonious accord within our political structures, our economic structures, our social structures, our educational structures, and even our religious structures. And if we have a lot of wisdom in these things, we can work them to our advantage.

But where is God in the exercise of these kinds of wisdom.

What would happen to us if we asked the question “Lord, help me live today in harmonious accord with Your will; help me Lord to understand Your ordering of the world so that I can live in harmonious accord with it; Lord, how do You want me to live today?”

It seems to me that if I tried to live in harmonious accord with God’s ordering of the world, instead of mine, that things would go much better for me. To do this, though, I need to know what God’s ordering of the world is … I need to understand Scripture, because it is there that God’s ordering is revealed.

There are three people in today’s readings who lived in harmonious accord with God’s will. The first is Job … remember he ends his sorrowful journey with great joy, exclaiming “I know my Redeemer lives.” The second is Paul … once confronted by Christ and studying Him during his time afterward, he emerged as apostle to the Gentiles, to us. The third is Jesus Himself, who knew God’s ordering of the world required Him to sacrifice Himself for our sins on the cross.

Wisdom begins with knowing that there is a God and that I (and you) are not He.

Are you there yet?

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© 2014 GBF

Bread – Skeptic

April 4, 2014


Readings for Friday, April 4, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Exod. 2:1-22; 1 Cor. 12:27-13:3; Mark 9:2-13; Psalms 95,102,107

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In our lesson today from Mark, we read:

 “And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them, and His clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus….and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is My beloved Son; listen to Him.’ And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, He charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man has risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean.” Mark 9:1-10

How crazy is this? The inner circle of apostles, Peter, James and John, see Jesus transformed, visiting with the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah), hears God speak, and then hear Jesus talk about being silent until He “has risen from the dead.” And then they immediately go into skeptic mode, asking “what this rising from the dead might mean.”

Actually, this question might be more complex than first meets the eye. The question of “what this rising from the dead might mean” might be a question about how someone could rise from the dead. If so, then the apostles are skeptical of the power of God, even though they have just witnesses His power in the event known as the Transfiguration. This kind of skepticism denies the power of the supernatural, denies the holiness and awesomeness of God, denies the existence of anything which cannot be duplicated by man.

But the question of “what this rising from the dead might mean” may also be a question about the significance of the resurrection – what does Jesus death and resurrection mean to me, a sinner? If so, the apostles have taken as truth that Jesus can be raised from the dead; their question then becomes “so what?” This is a different form of skepticism, one which rejects Scripture and the Church’s teaching regarding the importance of the cross and the resurrection.

We are in the time of Lent, a time of contemplation as we march toward Easter, the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. To get there, of course, we have to march to and through His death on the cross, contemplating the sin, my sin, which required Him to die so that God’s justice could be met and His mercy extended to those who believe.

If you are not a Christian, which form of skeptic are you? Are you the kind who denies God and His power, His supernatural acts, His miracles? Or are you the kind who accepts the concept of a “higher power” and miracles, things that happen outside ourselves, but deny that Christ’s death and resurrection have any significance for you? Are you then then kind of skeptic who believes that Christ is irrelevant to a modern world?

If you are doubting, ask yourself if it is because you don’t believe in miracles or just don’t believe that Christ’s miraculous resurrection after His horrible death on the cross has any application to you and for you.

Whether you reject Christ because you don’t believe in the power of God (or even His existence) or you don’t believe that the Christ’s resurrection applies to you, you are a skeptic unto death.

“Skeptic unto death.” Has a hollow ring to it, doesn’t it? Has a certain hopelessness to it, doesn’t it?

If you find yourself in this category, you may want to reflect further on Easter. If you still don’t understand, ask for help from the Holy Spirit.

A “skeptic unto death” can always become a “believer unto life.” At least they can, until they die, then it is too late.

But there is still time. Act on it.

_______________

© 2014 GBF

Bread – Miracles

September 11, 2013


Readings for Wednesday, September 11, 2013, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: 1 Kings 17:1-24; Phil. 2:1-11; Matt. 2:1-12; Psalms 49,53,119:49-72

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In 1 Kings today, we read about a woman who has shown hospitality to a prophet of God, Elijah, and whose son has just died. The mother gets angry at Elijah, accusing him of bringing tragedy to her home because of her sins. Elijah takes the boy to his room, lays on him, and prays to God three times to let the child’s life come back into him. “And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah/ And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived.” 1 Kings 17:22

This was a miracle and the woman responded to the amazing, supernatural event by saying to Elijah “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.” 1 Kings 17:24. The woman recognized the miracle of her son’s revival from the dead, and acknowledged it, saying that she now believed.

This woman is so much like us. For a miracle from God, we look for the amazing event, the circumstance which could only have been put together by God. We expect spectacular results, a mountaintop religious experience. If there are fireworks of sight, that is a great add-on, but we’ll take fireworks of experience as a substitute.

But there are other kinds of miracles all around us, which when we think about them add up to a miraculous experience, mundane yes, but miraculous nonetheless. It is the miracles of everyday life which should drive us to our knees.

The widow in our story had actually experienced one of these mundane miracles many times previously. When Elijah first met her, the widow was at her wits end. She had no money and only enough food to last for one more meal. She had no help apparently from her neighbors, and she was preparing for she and her son to die. When she showed hospitality to Elijah by sharing what little she had with him (at his request), her pantry was never empty after that – “The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty …” 1 Kings 17:16.

But this daily miracle, this provision of God literally from thin air, from left field, was not enough for the widow to declare that Elijah was a man of God. God’s miracle stared her in the face every day at every meal, and yet it was not enough to recognize the presence of God in her surroundings. She harbored doubts until the “big” miracle happened.

And, like I said, isn’t this woman so much like us. For the moment, sit back and drop the pretense of knowledge, the veneer of science and education, the chimera of reason. Just drop them and look around. Isn’t it a miracle that every day we are warmed by the sun? Isn’t it a miracle that our farms produce good food for us and that our cupboards have any food at all in them? Isn’t it a miracle that, whether I live a shack or a mansion, that I live at all? Isn’t it a miracle that we have a God who cares so much for us that He has saved us when we cannot save ourselves?

When we look at a young child in new circumstances, we see wonder and curiosity in their eyes, words, and behavior. What happened to the wonder in our lives, in our eyes, in our words, and in our behavior?

What if we couldn’t explain things? Would we then be excited about the miracles that surround us all the time?

This is not a plea to toss away reason or education or knowledge. It is a plea that these not be shrouds and blinders by which we are covered up, hidden from God’s wonders.

You want to know that God is real and His Word is truth? Walk outside and look around. Look inside yourself and walk around. And then give thanks to God, for it is His miracle which caused us to be borne, His miracle which causes us to be sustained in this life, and His miracle which will bring us into relationship with Jesus Christ and eternal life.

____________________

© 2013 GBF

Bread – Gloating

August 21, 2013


Readings for Wednesday, August 21, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: 2 Sam. 18:19-33; Acts 23:23-35; Mark 12:13-27; Psalms 119:145-176,128,129,130

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In our reading from Samuel today, two runners come to him with the news that the insurrection against him as king is over. When he finds out that the leader of the insurrection is dead, he weeps.

The reason for this is that the leader of the insurrection against David and his authority as king is his son, Absalom. The leader of the insurrection who is now dead is David’s son, Absalom. So he weeps for his son, saying “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” 2 Sam. 18:33

Absalom hated his father so much that he led a group of men who wanted to kill David and take the throne. However, David wanted to defeat his son, not kill him. He had given strict orders that his son not be killed, but Absalom died anyway.

Even though this Bread is labeled “gloating,” it is not about gloating but the opposite of gloating. There is no celebration of victory by a father over a son who is proven wrong and dies. There is only sadness, with a heartfelt desire that, if the father could give his life for his son, he would do so if it would restore the son to wholeness.

Wait a minute! Doesn’t this sound a whole lot like God the Father? Haven’t we as children of God taken up arms of rebellion against Him, leading others into a similar opposition? Didn’t God the Father send God the Son to die in our place so that, by faith in Him, we could be restored to proper relationship?

The answer is “yes.” We have engaged in open conflict with God, denying His relationship and His authority and holiness, even denying His very existence. We have disobeyed God and reaped the consequences of a broken world as a result of that disobedience. We are engaged in a battle which we will not win against a Father who loves us so much that He, as God the Son, died for us, in our place, so that God’s wrath at our disobedience might be satisfied on the cross. But we will die like Absalom on the battlefield for all eternity if we do not have faith in Jesus Christ, His death and His resurrection.

Is there gloating by the Father when a sinner dies without having put his or her faith in God the Son? The answer is “no.” Instead, there is God saying “George, my son….” or “Julie, my daughter…. Would you have accepted My death for you.”

Is there gloating in heaven when a sinner dies without having put his or her faith in Jesus Christ? The answer is “no,” but there is celebration – “…there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Lk. 15:10

David did not die for his son, but God did for us. Now, what is our response? Is it to die on the battlefield in rebellion or to repent and place our faith again in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and return to grateful obedience for God’s gracious act on our behalf to restore us to relationship and obedience and to save us for eternity with Him?

No matter what we choose, there will be no gloating in heaven. But there will be joy over those who are saved.

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© 2013 GBF

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