Bread – Pride

July 12, 2017


Psalm 73

All in vain I have kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence…” Ps. 73:13

Stuck in the middle of this Psalm is, in one sentence, a classic example of the pride of the world and ourselves.

Asaph, the Psalmist, starts his Psalm by saying to himself (and to God), I believe in God but I see the wicked prosper and not me.  He ends his Psalm by saying that, in spite of his doubts caused by his observance of the ascendancy of the wicked, he knows that God exists and that God is “his strength and portion forever.”  Ps. 73:26

But in the middle is this great statement:  “And not only that, Lord, but I am better than they are – I keep my heart clean and I am innocent.”  (I took great liberalities with the actual text, which you can read for yourself in the first line.”

We look around as Christians, as people in this world, and how often does it cross our mind that we ought to be resentful because we are “better” than they are.  After all, we are righteous and they are not; we are washed in the blood of the Lamb and they are not; we have a “clean heart” and they do not.

Whoa, folks.  Who here reading this Bread or, for that matter, anyone in the world, as a “clean heart.”  Do we not covet, gossip, worry, protect our precious positions of power, scheme, speak sometimes with untruth and, certainly, un-love?  Do we not dream about a better vacation, a better lifestyle, a better car, a better bank account, a better job, a better relationship?  Do we really, really have a “clean heart.”

As for being prideful in our righteousness, whose righteousness have we taken on anyway?  Is it ours or His?  If we are righteous at all before God, who achieved that?  Was it us in our sinful state or was it Him who died for us and who intervened in our life at a time when we were dead to breathe His spirit into us so that we might have eternal life?

Asaph did not keep his heart clean “in vain” because he is human, and he did not keep it clean at all.  Asaph did not.  We do not.  We cannot without outside aid.

There is no ranking of sinners.  All people, saved and unsaved, fall short of the glory of God.  Those who are saved see that with great clarity and are grateful that they do not have to pay the penalty to God for those sins, that penalty having been paid by Jesus Christ on the cross.

Where did Asaph’s essential doubts come from?  Did they come from his objective look at the world and wondering where God was, or did they come from his subjective look at the world, through lenses that said “I keep my heart clean” and so, therefore, I deserve better than “they.”

Where do our essential doubts come from?  Do they really come from an objective view of the world or a view through a lens that says “God is being unfair … to me.”

Pride is often listed as our worse sin.  It probably deserves that ranking because it is the lens which distorts our view of ourselves, our view of the world, and our view of God.

Pride is what caused Asaph to believe and say that “All in vain I have kept my heart clean.”  What Asaph could have said was that “But for You, I would not have clean heart.”  And that would be a true statement.  But to get there will require the setting aside of pride.  And how will we do that?  We cannot, but God can … and so we pray, “Come Holy Spirit, and create in me a clean heart.”

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

 

 

 

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Bread – Beginnings

June 21, 2017


Psalm 71

“…You have given the command to save me…Upon You have I leaned from before my birth; You are He who took me from my mother’s womb.”  Ps. 71:3b,6

When did our relationship with the Lord God Almighty begin?

Some of us may remember vividly the day we “accepted” Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  Perhaps we said the sinner’s prayer in response to an altar call or at an evangelistic event.  Perhaps it was at an early age when we believed the Bible stories we were being told.  Perhaps it was at a God-appearance, either audibly or visually or perhaps maybe in a dream.  Perhaps it was at a time at the laying on of hands by some people praying over us.  Some of us may not have a moment in time, but our relationship grew over a period of time and, one day, we looked back and realized that we had gone from the side of the ledger of unbelief to the side of the ledger we call belief.

But the truth is, whatever our memory, it is in one sense false.  The reason our memory is in one sense false is that our awareness of our relationship may be at one point in time, but our relationship was actually established well before that.

David in this Psalm acknowledges that before he was born, he leaned on God; he had a relationship with the Almighty.  David knows that it was God who delivered him into the world, just as it is God who sustains him in the world and it is God who has redeemed him from the world.

I juxtaposed two verses on purpose.  God gives the command to save me.  I do not give the command to God, nor to myself.  God gives the command.  And I have leaned on Him before I was even born, whether I was aware of it or not.  I can lean on Him before I was even born because God the command to save me.  When?  Before I was born.

Can we trace our beginnings of our relationship with Jesus Christ?  Yes we can.  One trace is through knowledge and that leads us to the date we professed with our mouth that Jesus was Lord.  The other trace is through faith and that leads us to the real beginning, God’s beginning of His command, before we were born.

The only way we know that our beginnings with God predate our physical birth is by faith in the power of God’s command.

If we are weak in our faith, I think it is because we somehow have the belief that we are the ones who give the commands.  In this view, God has a relationship with us because we commanded it or at least cooperated with God’s command.  But does God need our agreement for His command to be effective?  If so, we have a small view of God and an even smaller view of the power of God’s command to result in the outcome He desires.

But, if the beginnings our relationship with God pre-existed our birth, then how did the effectiveness of God’s command to establish that relationship depend upon us at all?

Our natural way of thinking begins with us and turns outwards toward them (the community) and then the heavens (God).   But beginnings do not begin with us, they begin with Him.  Think about it.

________

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

 

Bread – Praise

June 2, 2017


Psalm 67

Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You!  The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us.  God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear Him!” Ps. 67:5-7

The first verse of these three verses ends in “praise You” and the last verse ends in “fear Him.”  There is a structure here, like two bookends between which is repeated twice, “God shall bless us.”

We normally connect the word “praise” with joyful outpouring of emotion in a happy, exuberant way; and we normally connect the word “fear” with the exact opposite, where we shrink or run away in terror.  With praise we approach the throne of God in our minds; with fear we run away from the throne of God, again in our minds.

We praise either in thanksgiving for our blessings or in anticipation of them.  Since we have gotten those blessings, are getting them now, and will get them in the future, praise of our Benefactor is to be expected.

We fear in comparison to power.  When someone has a gun pointed at us and we don’t, our natural and appropriate reaction is to fear.  When we contemplate our sinfulness in comparison against a holy God, our Judge, then fear may well be an appropriate response.

So why are blessings in the middle between praise and fear?  It is because that is where they belong.

We cannot fear that which we do not comprehend.  We fear a pointed gun because we understand its power, having seen its use on television.  We fear a mighty God if we understand His power; we understand His power in comparison to us if we are given wisdom to see by the same God.  When God gives us the power to see Him, we see ourselves for who we are in comparison, and the natural reaction then is fear of condemnation.  We are unworthy; He is worthy.  We are sinful; He is not.  We are promise-breakers; He is a promise-keeper.  We make some things; He makes everything.  We think in time; His thoughts are timeless, for all eternity.  When we see what God ought to do to us, we are rightly fearful and in awe of the coming Judgment.

But once we fear Him, once we fully comprehend who He is and who we are, His grace and mercy appears to us through Jesus Christ.  And once we understand the eternal blessing we have received through faith in Him, our fear turns to praise.  We may properly fear God for what He could do and what He should do, and simultaneously we may exult in joyful praise God because He has turned is righteous wrath away from us and dumped it on Jesus Christ, who stands with us, for us, and in us for eternity.  What God could do to me and should do to me because of my sinfulness, He chooses not to do because of the death of Jesus for my sins.  All I have to do is to recognize Him and have faith in Him, which I could not do but for God’s power.

The very thing which causes me to fear God is the very thing which causes me to praise Him, which is why fear and praise are bookends to blessing.

Now, why call this “Bread” “Praise” instead of “Fear?”  It is for a simple reason.  We cannot fear God unless we see Him and acknowledge Him for who He is.  And what better way to praise God than to recognize who He is in the world and in me?

We think of praise as raising joyful hands, but praise is also on our knees, in awe of Him, bowed before our King.

“Let the peoples praise You, O God … God, our God, shall bless us.  God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear Him.”  Between praise which acknowledges the sovereignty of God (fear) and praise which acknowledges the graciousness of God (praise), there is a double blessing.

Thank You, Jesus.

________

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

Bread – Heritage

January 11, 2017


Psalm 47

He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom He loves.  Selah.”  Ps. 47:4

This is one of those passages which comes at the end of a quartet of verses and one is inclined to just race through.  But out of the clear blue sky comes the word “Selah,” which suggests that we stop and think about what we have just read.

What is “our heritage?”  What is the “pride of Jacob?”

It is very easy to read this and, given its Old Testament context, come quickly to the conclusion that the Psalmist is talking about Israel (the Jewish nation) and the land promise (our heritage, the land).  And if the Psalmist were writing without the inspiration of God, perhaps this would be all that it meant because that is all the Psalmist would know.

But I think the meaning goes much deeper, because in this single sentence we are talking about God’s sovereignty, His choice over who is awakened to the truth of the gospel and who remains blind to it, dead in their sins.

Jacob was the brother who “bought” his brother Esau’s birthright for a bowl of soup and then tricked his father into giving him the blessing belonging to the older son (Esau).  Just in case we miss the point, Paul in Romans drives it home – “…in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of Him who calls – she [Rebekah] was told , ‘The older will serve the younger.’  As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’  What shall we say then?  Is there injustice on God’s part?  By no means!  For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy….So then He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills.”  Rom. 9:11-18

So who is the “pride of Jacob?”  I would suggest that the “pride of Jacob” are those people on whom God has chosen to have mercy.  Who are those people?  They are Jew and Gentile, from all nations and tribes, chosen by God for eternal life with Him.  They are those who have had the veil lifted from their eyes and see Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, as the Son of God, and not some mere prophet or good man or teacher or wise one.

“He chose our heritage for us?”  What is our “heritage?”  This is actually an interesting question, because it forces us to look outward rather than inward.  We normally would ask the question this way – “What is our inheritance?” And we would answer the question this way – “our inheritance is eternal life.”  But the question of what is our “heritage” is a question about what we leave behind, about what we give away and not what we get.

When we were adopted as children of God into the kingdom of God by the sovereign exercise of mercy by a loving God, we were given a job to do.  And that job is expressed in many ways – be an ambassador of the kingdom, be light in a dark place, be joyful in all circumstances, do good works which bring glory to God, live lives worthy of the King.  But it is really this – leave behind a footprint, not of personal worth or exalted achievement, but of a vision of Christ, of glory.

What is “our heritage” chosen for us – a beacon of hope, a pronouncement of truth and love, and exercise of grace, a revealing of glory, an example of discipleship and holiness.

What are we leaving behind?  Will the people who know us know the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

What heritage are we leaving?

_________

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

 

 

Bread – King

August 1, 2016


Psalm 29

“Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.  Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.” Ps. 29:1-2

What do we ascribe to the Lord God?  What features does He have, in our mind?  What is His character?  Who is God?

These are important questions and how we answer them will result in different present actions and endings.

Interestingly, the choices we make in what characteristics we attribute to God are ours to make.  God presents the evidence and we must, from that evidence, conclude.  Our view of the truth may be distorted by sin or made clear by God’s sovereign act of grace to enable us to see, but it is still our view.  We possess the view, we attribute the characteristics, and we must live for all eternity with the consequences of those choices.

One feature which we could ascribe to God is fancifulness.  In other words, God is what we make Him up to be.  If we want Him to be a clown, then He is a clown.  This is the view of many atheists, who acknowledge that there may be a God, but that He is a figment of our imaginations.  This conclusion from our ascriptions to God is logical from our beginning point, our ascriptions, but leads to death for all time and beyond time.

Another feature we could describe to God is remoteness.  God sits on His holy hill and looks down at us uninvolved in our daily lives; God exists but He is remote.  From this ascription of remoteness to the Lord, we would easily conclude that, although there is a God, He is irrelevant for daily living.  We may respect Him and even fear Him, but we cannot love Him because there is no relationship – no involvement, no relationship.  The persons who ascribe remoteness to God may have the label of one religion or another, but they do not walk in the power of the presence, because there is no presence.   They tip their hats toward God in acknowledgment of His existence, but proceed to live their lives as they see fit because God doesn’t care and isn’t involved anyway.

The characteristics we ascribe to God matter, which is why the Psalmist begins with instructions to the angels about the characteristics they, and we, should ascribe to God.  Ascribe to Him “glory and strength” and the “glory due His name.”

What does this mean?  There is nothing friendly about this, loving about it, all-knowing about it, all-involved about it, or ever-present about it.

The meaning is simple and the reason this must come first is clear.  The meaning of glory is weight, honor, esteem, majesty, abundance and wealth.  These are the attributes of a King, of a sovereign.  These are the attributes of the King of Kings.

Why must this come first?  Because, at the end of the day, we will progress nowhere in our worship, our hope, our growth in maturity, our wisdom, our perseverance, or our love without first recognizing that (a) there is a king and (b) we are not that person.  “I am not the king over my life” is perhaps the most important conclusion we can ever come to.  And it begins with an attribution to God that He is full of glory, as the King of the universe should be.  Once we recognize that He is glory, we then come to the conclusion of the quoted verses today – “Worship the Lord in the splendor of [His] holiness.”

Now these are instructions to angels, who always sit before God worshipping Him in His glory, honor, and holiness.  So why do they need the reminder?  I don’t know, but knowing that Lucifer was a fallen angel, it might have something to do with the same phenomena which happens to us when we look at ourselves in the mirror and say, “I am the master of my destiny.  Look at my things, look at my glory.”  As the angels reflect the glory of God they may begin to believe that they are the ones producing the glory, instead of just reflecting it, and in so doing forget that God is the sovereign one and they are not.

Our glory is not our own; our holiness is not ours.  Anything we have like that is because we reflect the Father’s glory and the Father’s holiness.

Why must we ascribe glory, honor, and power to God?  Because in doing so we take the first steps of acknowledging who the true King is, we grow in obedience and good works, and we can accept the gift of eternal life from Jesus Christ the Son.

But how can we do this?  Though it be impossible for man, nothing is impossible for God.  Therefore, we pray, “come Holy Spirit and empower us to see You as you are so that we too, with the angels, may worship You and You alone in the splendor of Your Holiness.”

_________

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

 

 

 

Bread – Fullness

June 13, 2016


Psalm 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Bread – Birth

June 1, 2016


Psalm 22

“Yet You are He who took me from the womb…”  Ps. 22:9

This morning, I read an e-mail from a pregnancy counseling center I support which asked me to pray for the birth of babies, that they would not be aborted by their mothers and that they would be born healthy, free of drugs and other medical and mental issues.

I read that e-mail before I re-read the quote above from Psalm 22 – “Yet You are He who took me from the womb…”

And quite frankly, I became quite upset.  One would think that I would be upset at the injustice of a world which would deny babies their lives for the sake of convenience.  But it was more personal than that – I was upset at the depth of my ingratitude for the blessings which have been heaped upon. me to overflowing by my Father.  I was upset that I had never recognized that it was God who had delivered me into life in the first place.

We, as Christians, are so wrapped up in the new man, the new birth caused when we accept Christ as Lord and Savior and when we turn from our ways to His ways, we forget that we have been blessed by being physically born in the first place.

Those of us who have witnessed a live birth know it is a miracle.  Yes, it is completely natural and predictable and yes, there is a lot of science behind how to take care of the baby during the first nine months, how to take care of it during birth, and how to take care of it after birth.  But at the end of the day, I think we know in our heart that each new birth is a tiny miracle.

But do we think much of our own birth, about what a miraculous blessing it is to us that we are standing here today, reading this Bread?  No we do not.  Just like we start our car without thanking God for the blessing of transportation, we wake up every morning without thanking God that we were born and that we are living.

We like to thank God for our transformation from lost to saved, and well we should.  But we forget to thank Him that we were born at all.

“Yet You are He who took me from my mother’s womb…”  Indeed He is.  He has delivered us physically from our mothers’ wombs into temporal life, and He has delivered us spiritually from the womb of death into eternal life.

Both of our births come from Him, the first and the second.

For which we should be grateful.  Are we?

_________

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

 

Bread – Opportunity

July 16, 2013


Readings for Tuesday, July 16, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: 1 Sam. 19:1-18; Acts 12:1-17; Mark 2:1-12; Psalms 26,28,36,39

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God is in control, which means that we are not. This simple statement has been the source of much fighting and gnashing of teeth as we debate, then, whether we have free will or not, or the degree to which God exercises His control or not. When it comes down to God orders things according to His plan, but we have responsibility, our minds want to short-circuit (or at least mine does), pointing out to us that there truly is a limit to our understanding because we are not God. I realize that saying there is a limit to our understanding may be blasphemous to the modern mind, but it is true.

We have examples of this in today’s reading. From 1 Samuel, we have Saul committing to kill David and then being talked out of it by Jonathan. However, later in the same passage, Saul again changes his mind because “…a harmful spirit from the Lord came upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand.” 1 Sam. 19:9. A modernist might well say that this passage is an example of ancient thinking, where physical or mental maladies were attributed to gods (God) rather than to natural causes, and that we understand much better today medicines, the brain, etc. I tend to read the Bible plainly, and this “harmful spirit” is said by God-ordained Scripture to have been “from the Lord,” so why would I want to change that. The truth is that God intervenes in bringing about Saul’s bad intent and, later in our reading today in Mark, brings about healing by Jesus because Jesus forgave the paraplegic’s sin and told him to walk. He brings these things about in His sovereign authority for His sovereign purposes, and who are we to argue with that (even though we don’t understand it and don’t like it).

But the more dramatic example is from our reading in Acts today. Herod decides to go after the Christians, kills James and puts Peter in prison to kill the next day in a public spectacle. James dies with the sword, but Peter who is chained between two guards with guards at the gates of the jail is released miraculously by the intervention of a God-sent angel. Why? Was James the brother of John and an apostle a lesser person than Peter? No. Very simply, we don’t know why and we won’t know why. God was finished with this James the brother of John and an apostle (another James, the brother of Jesus, takes on the apostleship role), but not finished with Peter. God caused the “bad” (from our perspective), the death of James, and the “good” (from our perspective), the rescue of Peter from the jail and from certain death.

So, why is this Bread called “Opportunity?” It is simple. If you are reading this, you are alive. Are you alive because of you or because of the grace of God? If God’s plan for you was over, then you would be over (in the present, but as a Christian, alive for eternity in Christ). But you (and I) are here, meaning simply that God’s plan for us continues in the present. What a gift! What an opportunity!

How will we exercise our free will today to use God’s gift of a new day for His glory and His honor? Will we use this opportunity wisely or will we squander it?

Yes, what we do and how we do it is God’s plan, but it is also our responsibility. How will we exercise that responsibility so that, when we lay our heads down tonight, we will hear the words from God “well done, good and faithful servant.”

Carpe diem. Seize the day. Seize the opportunity.

And not just in your own power, for the same God who gives us today, gives us this opportunity, gives us the power, love, and self-discipline to use it well. Come Holy Spirit!

______________

© 2013 GBF

Bread – Because

June 7, 2013


Readings for Friday, June 7, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Deut. 26:1-11; 2 Cor. 8:16-24; Luke 18:9-14; Psalms 40,51,54

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My last Bread was about parenting. One of the events which occurs between a parent and child is when the child asks “why?” The parent always attempts to give a good, but complete, answer, tailored to the age of the child. But the child keeps asking “why,” and sooner or later the parent does not know why and ends the conversation with “Because” or “Because I said so.”

In the last Bread, we read from Deuteronomy that we as parents were to talk about God’s words all of the time.

In today’s readings, we now have the answer to our children when they as “why?” Instead of saying “because” or “because I said so,” we can say “because of God,” or “because of who God is,” or “because God has acted to make it so.” And as our Scriptures today remind us, we can say that about everything.

In Deuteronomy 26:1, the Israelites are going into a land, to take possession of it. Why? Because God gave it to them.

In Deuteronomy 26:2, the Israelites go to a place which we would call church. Why is the church there? Because it is a place chosen by God “to make His name to dwell there.”

In Deuteronomy 26:10, the ground produces plants for our sustenance. Why? Because God gave us both the ground and the fruit of the ground.

In 2 Corinthians 8:16, Titus has a heart for the gospel and for other people. Why? Because “God put into his heart the same earnest care I [Paul] have for you.”

In Luke 18:9, the sinner who confessed his sin, repented, and turned toward the Lord was justified before God. Why? Because God has decreed it so, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Lk. 18:14b

For those people who do not wish to acknowledge God, the answer to “Why?” is simple. The answer ultimately is “I don’t know.”

For those people who follow God, the answer to “Why?” is also simple, but profoundly different. The answer always is “Because God [said, did, promised, says, does, promises]”

What is your answer to the “Why?” of the world. Is it because of you or because of God? Is it because of your boss or because of God? Is it because of good luck or because of God? Is it because you did something right or because of God?

Yes, often our woes and blessings are traceable to us. However, we are wrong to believe that we are the only “because” of that event or circumstance. There is a bigger “because” for those who would see. There is a bigger “because” for those who would hear.

There is a bigger “because” than us. And we call that “because” God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

_________________

© 2013 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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