Bread – Wonderful

August 13, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, August 13, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Judges 13:15-24; Acts 6:1-15; John 4:1-26; Psalms 101,109,119:121-144

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Wonderful, full of wonder. How many times have we really been confronted with something wonderful in our lives? I can think of at least two. One is being in the delivery room watching our first baby being born. A second is an answer to prayer, when I asked for the Lord to reveal Himself in my life and was confronted with a glorious crown while I was driving home into a setting sun casting its light into a cloud-crown. And, of course, now I begin to recall two, I can recall many, many more.

In our readings today, we are witnesses to three wonderful moments. In Judges, Samson’s mother and father are speaking to an angel. When they ask the angel’s name, the response is that the angel’s name is too wonderful to comprehend.

In Acts, Stephen is being tried to for blasphemy upon false allegations. While he was standing there, “all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.” Acts 6:15

In John, the Samarian woman at the well is talking to Jesus and tells Him that she is aware of the coming of Messiah. Jesus responds “I who speak to you am He.” John 4:26.

In the first reading, the wonder is in the name of God’s emissary. In the second reading, the wonder is in the face of God’s disciple. In the third reading, the wonder is in the Word of God, spoken, written, and incarnate.

What can surpass these wonders – the day we discover that there is a God and His name is wonderful, the day we meet a Christian who is the face and hands of God on earth, and the day God engages=s us in a conversation with Him when He reveals Himself … and all pretense disappears into the reality of God-on-earth?

The day Jesus meets us at our well, the day He reaches out His sovereign hand to save us from our sin, the day we learn the reality of God, the day we look into our past and see what God has saved us from, the day we look into eternity and see what God has saved us to, the day we look in the mirror and see that God is transforming us into Him, just like He did Stephen – those are days of wonder, those are wonderful.

How many wonderful days have we had? The truth is that every day since we have been saved by grace has been wonderful.

Now, Lord, give us eyes to see….and be grateful.

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© 2014 GBF

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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.

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© 2013 GBF

Bread – Wonderful

August 15, 2012


Readings for Wednesday, August 15 designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Judges 13:15-24; Acts 6:1-15; John 4:1-26; Psalms 101, 109, 119:121-144

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Following is a “Bread” I wrote on August 11, 2010, on the same verses, with some slight editing. On that day I was reminded of the wonderfulness of God, as I am again today:

In today’s reading from Judges, an angel has appeared to the husband and wife who will be Samson’s parents. The husband asks the angel "What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?" The angel responds "Why do you ask me your name? It is beyond understanding." [NIV] Perhaps a better translation of the angel’s answer is "Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?" [ESV, NASB, NKJ] Judges 13:17-18

When something is wonderful or full of wonder, it is beyond description, beyond language, and beyond our understanding. One might describe it as the magic of the moment. Since sorcery is forbidden of Christians, however, maybe we best describe the wonderful event, person, or thing as something which is supernatural, something which goes beyond anything we can grasp with our mind, something which can be perceived but which is beyond reason.

Translated this way, the angel’s response to a question about his name could very well be paraphrased in today’s lingo – "Why bother, you won’t understand it anyway. Besides, you are experiencing my name, my essence, because I am here among you."

When I went to look up the Hebrew word "wonderful" actually used [Strong’s #6383], it turns out that the word for “wonderful” is used only twice in the Old Testament. The first is here in Judges. The second is in Psalm 139:6. This Psalm reads in part as follows:

“O Lord, You have searched me and You know me!

“You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You discern my thoughts from afar.  You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold O Lord, You know it altogether.  You hem me in, behind and before, and lay Your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” Psalm 139:1-6

The connection between these two passages for Scripture is almost too wonderful for me to even write about today, because in this Psalm, not even in today’s readings, is a description of our Gospel lesson today. Our reading from John is the history of Christ’s meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well. The woman is shocked that Jesus knows her history and that He will even talk to her. He tells her “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10. Jesus then tells her that He is the Messiah.

Stop and think about what just happened. God in His written revelation, the Bible, used a Hebrew word for “wonderful” to describe an angel sent by Him to speak to His people, a word which is used in only one other place. That one other place is in a Psalm (not even in today’s lessons) which describes the completeness by which God knows us. And in today’s reading from John, Christ demonstrates the completeness of that knowledge without ever using the word "wonderful." And this connection was made in the organization of today’s Scripture reading by someone who prepared the readings (the Daily Lectionary from the Book of Common Prayer) perhaps as long as five hundred years ago, only to be discovered by me this morning.

How wonderful is that? How wonderful is it that God’s Word is a living, breathing revelation of Himself, all interconnected, and all with a single message – that God knows us, that He loves us, that He takes us in our rebellious, sinful state and that through our absolute trust in Jesus gives us eternity with Him? How wonderful is it that we can know Jesus, that we can talk to Him, and that we can live victoriously in all circumstances in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the shelter of the Most High? How wonderful is it that we can be saved from ourselves? How wonderful is God?

How wonderful is God!

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© 2012 GBF

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