Bread – Exodus

August 9, 2017


Psalm 77

You [God] led Your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”  Ps. 77:20

I normally start at the beginning of a Psalm and work forward, but this time I am starting at the end.  This Psalm begins in depression, works through memory, and then recalls who God really is.  The ending (the quoted) verse is a recollection of the exodus.

Wherever we are, whether it be in valley of despair or the mountaintop of joy, we need to remember that we have been brought out of slavery into freedom by the mighty hand of God.  We have been brought from death to life.  We are being brought into glory.  Our chains are gone in Christ and we have been set free.

It is God who led us out from slavery through the wilderness of testing into the promised land.  He may operate through men (in this case, historically, Moses and Aaron), but it not them who led but God.  It is God who created the circumstances of the exodus and God who brought it to conclusion.

That was the exodus of the Old Testament, but we can testify to our own exodus in the modern era from death unto life.  Yes, men and women were involved, agents of God, but it was God who decided and God who did.

I say all this because we too often are so wrapped up in our issue of the day that we often forget where we have been and where we are today by the grace, mercy, and power of God.

In fairy tales, the desolate maiden is locked into a high castle by a dark lord, only to be rescued by a glamorous knight in shining armor.  Who does not see that picture?  And we identify with either the damsel in distress or the knight come to save.  We recognize the dark lord for who he is and we celebrate that good has triumphed over evil.

But in this picture of human intervention to save us from human misery, what have we forgotten?

The knight in our fairy tale reports to someone.  That person is the king of the realm.  Who sent the knight?  Who empowered the knight?  Who stands behind and superintends the rescue?

We know who the king is in the fairy tale, although we may not see him and the story may not talk about him.

But do we know who the king is in our tale, our story, our exodus?

If we do, we need to remember Him, honor Him, worship Him … for He is indeed Lord of Lords and King of Kings.  He is Jesus the Christ.  He, with the Father and Holy Spirit, is (are) the author of our exodus.

Now that we remember our exodus and its Author, we are prepared to deal with both the lows of life and the highs as well.

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

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 – Perspective

October 7, 2011


Readings for Friday, October 7, designated by the Book of Common Prayer: 2 Kings 23:36-24:17; 1 Cor. 12:12-26; Matt. 9:27-34; Psalms 140, 141, 142, 143:1-12

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In 2 Kings 24:13, I had previously marked in my Bible a long time ago this passage “Nebuchadnezzar removed all the treasures from the temple of the Lord and the royal palace.” I know it was a long time ago because the highlighter color I used is one I haven’t used for years. For some reason, this passage caught my eye at this time. However, there is a problem with it – it is not complete.

This morning, I read the full passage and realized my error. The passage really reads as follows from 2 Kings 24:13 – “As the Lord had declared, Nebuchadnezzar removed all the treasures from the temple of the Lord and the royal palace.”

This is a huge error. By what I had highlighted many years ago, Nebuchadnezzar decides what to do – man is king. By what really existed in the passage, God has a plan for the nations and Nebuchadnezzar is following the plan.

In the first rendition of the passage, man is in control and is sovereign. In the correct rendition of the passage, God is in control and is sovereign.

Lest you think this was an anomaly and that maybe my mind was somewhere else a long time ago, this is a passage from the same reading which was not highlighted many years ago: “The Lord sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him [king of Judah]. He sent them to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the Lord proclaimed by His servants the prophets.” 2 Kings 24:2.

I didn’t highlight a major passage which points out directly God’s sovereignty in all things. Apparently back then I was more interested in man’s free will than in God’s sovereignty, so I only paid attention to Bible passages which supported my perspective and ignored the rest.

Perspective – it is the filter by which we assess facts and come to conclusions. It is the blinder which helps us to ignore things which do not help our position. It is the distorter of the truth, twisting “the” truth into “our” truth.

So how do we get a particular perspective on things? Some would say it is the way were raised, our nurture and our environment. Some would say it is how we were educated, what we were exposed to and what was hidden from us. Some would say that it is forged in the troubles and successes of life. Some would say that it is ingrained.

Let me make a suggestion, since this is written to adults. At its most fundamental level, I suggest that perspective is something we choose. And the key choice of perspective is whether we will look at things through our eyes or whether we will deliberately attempt to see things through God’s eyes.

In a nutshell, this is what the Battle of the Bible is about. If we take on God’s perspective, we read “out of” His Word into our minds, hearts, souls, and lives. If we take on God’s perspective, we ask ourselves “What does the Bible say” and not “What do I think the Bible means.” If we take on our perspective, we read “into” the Bible, imposing upon it our preconceptions, our views, our systems of thought, and our worldly desires.

Making a choice to make God’s perspective our perspective is not something that is done at the time we are saved. It is something that is done when we realize that when we are dead to sin, we are dead to sin, and that dead means dead. It is something that is done when we realize that God is sovereign and that we are not. It is something that is done when we realize that we don’t tell God what armor we want to wear; He tells us what armor to wear.

Today, resolve to change your perspective to God’s and when you read His Word and exercise your walk in the Christian faith, resolve to look at what God “says” and try to figure out what that means, rather than try to figure out what you want God to mean and then try to find whatever it is which agrees with you.

When you change your perspective and re-read God’s Word written and incarnate in Jesus Christ, perhaps you too will find the missing clause which makes all the difference. Perhaps you too will find that God is sovereign and that He delivers on His promises, in His time and way. And then perhaps you will find pleasure today in God’s provision, His love, His sacrifice, His protection, and His peace. Amen.

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