Bread – Prey

August 2, 2017


Psalm 76

Glorious are You, more majestic than the mountains of prey.”  Ps. 76:4

What are the “mountains of prey?”  In my Bible, there is a cross-reference to Nahum, a “minor” prophet whose book I admit I have never read.  Like a dictionary, this cross-reference is not much help, being a reference to Nineveh (Assyria) and this statement – “Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will burn your chariots in smoke, and the sword shall devour your young lions.  I will cut off your prey from the earth, and the voice of your messengers shall no longer be heard.”  Na. 2:13

In our way of thinking, the word “prey” is something or someone who is attacked by a predator.  So between the murderer and the victim, the victim is prey and the murderer is predator.

So, since nothing in my Christian library helps me understand what “mountain of prey” is, I translate it roughly as a “mountain of things I chase after, I hunt for, I run down to the ground.”

And what are those things?  What do we chase after, hunt for, and run down to the ground?  What about the idols of this world?  Don’t we hunt for prestige, for honor, for glory, for a “special place,” for money, for wealth, for power, for position, for influence, for respect, for love?

And, indeed, all those things we search for on a regular basis, ready to capture them and put them into our storehouses, create a mountain to climb every day.  If we are not more cunning, our opportunity will be lost to someone more aggressive.  If we are not more assertive, our desired position will go to someone else.  If I don’t save my money, I won’t have enough to withstand those who would take it away from me (through selling me things I don’t need, etc.).

We chase our mountain of prey every day; we attempt to climb the mountain of what we want out of life.

There was (maybe is) an old video game called “Super Mario” where this guy, who looked like a worker, ran, jumped, twirled, and walked, a lot uphill, through all kinds of obstacles and dangers, to get his “prizes,” which included “gold coins.”  It wasn’t until I was thinking about a mountain of prey this morning that I realized that is what Mario was doing in that game, chasing his prey up the mountain … and that is what we do.

But God is more majestic, more glorious, than that mountain of junk, of idols, we chase after.

And of course He is.  This “mountain of prey” is nothing more than a “mountain of ….. dashed dreams, broken promises, faulty gods(idols), selfish ambition, spent time on things  which will pass away.”

We will spend hours today chasing our prey and climbing the mountain of prey.  But how many minutes will we spend chasing the One who is “more majestic?”

________

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

 

 

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Bread – Vain

April 14, 2017


Psalm 60

O, [God] grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!”  Ps. 60:11

As we finish this week of Easter, ending today on Good Friday, we stop for a second (maybe more, if we realize the significance of the event) to realize that this event is more than just a holiday for some people.  It is the marking of the destruction of the separation between man and God arising from man’s disobedience of God and the restoration of the hope of victory over death by our reconciliation to God through His perfect sacrifice for our sin, God Himself, Jesus Christ.  Today we are reminded that salvation is only accomplished by the sovereign act of God and not by any art or work of man.  It is “good” because it God’s work.  On Friday, it is the hope of victory over death because the resurrection has not yet occurred.  But we know it has occurred, and therefore our hope of victory which became evident when the curtain between us and God was destroyed on the cross will become certain three days later, on the day we now celebrate as Easter.

But this Psalm was written well before these events and David, the author, asks God for help against his enemies, because he knew that to depend on man for salvation was “vain.”

The Hebrew word translated as “vain” means nothingness, emptiness, anything which disappoints the hope which rests upon it, anything which is not substantial, is not real, or is materially or morally worthless.

The world tells us to put our hope of help against our foes of fear, worry, death, disease, and ignorance into the things which man provides – science, technology, education, economy.  And yet everyone one of us knows that there are instances where science, technology, education, economy and all of the other worldly solutions or philosophies or “isms” have failed us.  They fail us in the present, they do not give life, they do not give us true rest, they do not give us hope, and they do not give us victory over death.  Reliance upon the solutions of the world is vain.  The forms of salvation, the methods of salvation, the process of salvation offered by man (“of man”, of man’s invention or design) will always disappoint any hope which rests upon them.

David asked for God’s help against the foe.  God has delivered that help in Jesus Christ.

Every day we have a choice to make, to follow the hope which does not disappoint, Jesus Christ, or to place our trust in vain things, the things of the world.

Today, are we going to be vain and choose ourselves and the world we have made, or are we going to be obedient and choose Christ and His kingdom?

What say you?

________

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

 

 

Bread – Forget

December 28, 2016


Psalm 45

“Hear, O daughter and … forget your people and your father’s house, …” Ps. 45:10

There are three stages in the process of coming to Christ and a pre-stage.  All of these are dealt with in this Psalm, written many, many years before the first Christmas, before the Incarnation.

The pre-stage is the setting of the entire Psalm.  The King is coming for His bride.  How does He know who that is.  The pre-stage is where God has chosen His bride from the beginning of the world.  He has chosen her and now the Psalm shift to the three stages of the bride’s coming to Christ, of her preparation for His appearance on her doorstep.

The first stage we considered in the last Bread, although we did not call it that.  It is the admonition that the bride must hear, consider, and incline her ear.  She must hear the good news of the gospel, that Christ has come into the world to save her.  She must hear the words of invitation, consider them deeply, and respond by leaning toward Christ (inclining her ear).  The stages do not begin if she cannot or will not hear.  Because she is dead in her sin, this too is not a work of hers but a work of God, that she has the power and has received the grace to hear what the Lord says to her.  It is a call made to the world, but it is only heard by a few, those chosen as bride.

The second stage is repentance from sin and turning toward God.  What is repentance of sin?  It is “forgetting your people and your father’s house.”

Although we may reside in the world, our life is in the kingdom of God once we become Christ’s disciples.  We love the people in the world, but not the world.  We rest in our house, but our house is not what possesses us.  To serve Christ as His disciple, we must “forget” the past, rest in Christ in the present, and otherwise stand in the evil day.  Jesus said it Himself, “A person’s enemies will be those of his own household.  Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.  Whoever finds his life shall lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”  Mt. 10:36-39.

There is hardly anything to be gained by having one foot in the world and the other in the kingdom of God.  If we are to follow Christ as His bride, we must follow Him and not the world; we must forget the world and leave it behind.

How easy to say and how hard to do!  How can we “forget” the world when we are surrounded by it; how can we “forget” the office when our phones ring with office needs and our schedules have appointments throughout the day?

How can we “forget” when the world will not let us “forget.”

The truth is that we will never “forget” if the word means that we will have no memory of it (which is what most people think it means).  We have our memories and some of them are treasured and some are not, but unless one can hypnotize oneself and live in an alternative universe, we have our memories.  But memories are nothing but that unless they retain power over us, unless they guide what we say and how we behave.  In that sense, “forget” means not to lose memory, but to lose the power the memory has over our behavior and actions.  “Forget” in this sense means that, since we follow Christ, it is the memory of Him and His Word in Scripture which drives our actions, not the memory of the world.  For example, the memory of the world is that love is often returned with hurt so we should be careful; the memory of Christ is that love will not necessarily be reciprocated, but love anyway in abundance.  If we do not forget the world, we will be shy in our ambassadorship for Christ; if we forget the world with eyes fixed on Jesus, we will be bold in our speech and our actions.

How do we break that link between the past and the present?  How do we “forget your people and your father’s house?”

The apostles asked a similar question of Jesus in John:  “What must we do…?”  And Jesus’ response was “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”  Jn. 6:28b-29

The work of God, and not of ourselves, is that we are empowered and enabled to believe and to grow in grace and love.  To do so, we must forget our ties to the world so that we can be used as Christ’s agents in the world.  How do we forget our ties?  The work of God is this, that ….”

Come, Holy Spirit, and empower us today to forget the world and remain fixed on Him and His work on earth, so that we can begin this new year right around the corner fully armed in the Spirit for the battle which is here.  Amen.

_________

© 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.

_________

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

 

 

Bread – Gold

May 23, 2016


Psalm 21

“O Lord, in Your strength the king rejoices … For You meet him with rich blessings,; You set a crown of fine gold upon his head.”  Ps. 21:1,3

A town close to us holds an art festival in the spring.  It is quite large and my wife and I often go to it to see the new art work.  While we are there, we spend a lot of time looking at jewelry.  Jewelry is made with all kinds of gold.  There is yellow gold and white gold.  There is some kind of pink gold.  There is fourteen carat and eighteen carat gold.  Gold is often integral to the ring or necklace, but sometimes it is no more than a covering of some other metal underneath.  In any event, there are all kinds of gold.

One shop in particular stood out.  The jeweler there answered our question about the quality by saying that his rings were made of the finest gold which could be purchased, but that as a result they could be dented.  That is because fine gold is soft since it is free of other metals.

Fine gold is not only soft and malleable, but it is also an efficient conductor of electricity and heat.  Furthermore, it does not interact with the air around it; it does not tarnish.

How much should we strive to be fine gold?  If the Christian is ready to take up his or her cross and following Jesus where He leads, he or she is leading a soft life, one which can be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This means that the Christian is malleable by God.  Furthermore, Jesus tells us to be salt and light in the world.  How can we do so unless we are efficient conductors of His power into the world, keeping none of it for ourselves but passing on the gift in its unadulterated form.  Finally, we are ambassadors of the kingdom of God, living daily in the soup of the world.  If we are to reflect God’s light into the world, we cannot tarnish – we cannot be changed by the environment we live in; we cannot tarnish, because if we do we are proof that our lives have not been changed; we are proof that we do not bear the crown of fine gold.  In fact, if we permit ourselves to be changed by the world, we may become radioactive, just as gold can be turned radioactive by taking away or adding to part of fine gold.

In Mexico, I was standing in a church built a long time ago, with high windows along the walls next to the ceiling, but a dark interior.  There were statues of various people, and one of Jesus Christ who appeared to be wrapped in something.  At that moment, a shaft of light from the noonday sun entered the room from one of the high windows, struck the statue of Jesus, and immediately the entire sanctuary was filled with His glory.  What I was looking at was the reflection of the sun off a statue of gold leaf.

We know that Jesus Christ is the only person who ever lived who could be analogized to the finest of gold, and that the blinding light I witnessed in that sanctuary that day was merely a poor example of the true light which we will be surrounded by before the throne of God.  But, still, in knowing this there is also this promise – that God gives us rich blessings; He puts a crown of fine gold upon our head.

Will we wear it and so shine before men that they will see our good works and worship our Father in heaven?

Will we give thanks for our blessings?

Will we kneel before our God and let Him form us as He wishes, as the potter forms the clay, and be malleable and useful in His hands?

Will we conduct the power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit into a dying world?

Will we remain untarnished by the world and its lures?

Will we accept a crown of gold, knowing that Jesus Christ wore His crown of thorns first, for our sake, so that He would suffer death on the cross for us, taking on His crown of gold in His rightful place as King?

Will we?

_________

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

 

 

 

Bread – Evidence

March 11, 2016


Psalm 10

“The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations perish from His land.” Ps. 10:16

This weekend has been beat down week.  On Monday, I wrote about the characteristics of the walking atheist, the person who claims to follow Christ but walks daily as if he and she do not believe He is present.  Unfortunately, as we apply those characteristics to ourselves [arrogance (boastfulness; pride), prosperity, apparent security, abusive speech, and aggression (violence)], we find that, although we are not atheists in the classic sense (no belief in God), we may act like atheists more than we think.

On Wednesday, I took one of these characteristics, prosperity, and built on it.  One of the reasons I did is that we live in place and a time of great prosperity, where great riches come to the people who are expert at the game of life.  But the game of life is played according to two sets of rules, and we pick which sets of rules we live by.   One set of rules are the rules of the game of life according to the world (which really means man, and behind man, Satan).  Those people who play by these rules often win and win big, and those of us who see that wonder where God’s judgment is on them because they always seem so prosperous.  The second set of rules are of the rules of the game of life according to God.  Those people who play by these rules experience prosperity of heart, and, depending upon the resources which God commits to them as stewards, may have much or little according to the prosperity of things.

Today, Friday, is the third beat down.  I’m sorry, but Psalm 10 is focused on the people of the world who claim God but do not follow His ways, the people who say they believe in Christ but do not integrate Him into their behavior.  It is focused on their characteristics and their behaviors flowing from their character, and it is focused on the seeming failure of God to show up to punish them (and us) for our transgressions of His law.

Today’s quote from Psalm 10 is close to the end of the Psalm and reminds us for the punishment which awaits those who say that there is a God but produce no good fruit in keeping with that statement.  It reminds us of who the creator is and who God is.  It tells us who our king, our ruler is.  And it tells us the end – “the nations perish from His land.”

There is an end to the story and, for the nations who walk separate from God, who claim to know God but ignore His rules of life, for the nations which in their arrogance point to their prosperity and say “we did this,” for the nations which step on the poor, for the nations whose speech and actions are debased and abusive, and for the nations who take what they want, when they want, from whom they want – for those nations, there is an end.  They will end; they will perish; they will be no more.

Now there will be a tendency of the reader to translate the word “nation” into “government,” and immediately point to the government as the problem.  It will be the government which does all these bad things and it will be the government which ends and perishes from the earth.  This would be a wrong translation.  The word “nations” means “people,” you and me.

“The Lord is king forever and ever; the (people) perish from His land.”  If you want to personalize it – “The Lord is king forever and ever; (I and my family) perish from His land.”

I think any sober person would, today, looking around, say “The United States is fast running downhill over the cliff.”  But who is the United States?  It is the people; it is you and me.

How we live the game of life does not save us because only Christ can do that, but it does produce either good or bad fruit.  And we know that true faith, being truly “born again,” results in a transformed life where we are not over God nor are we His equals, but we are His servants, kneeling before Him, with an overwhelming desire to follow Him and His rules of the game of life.

Which rules do we follow?  That is the question of the week.  As someone once said, if you were accused of being a Christian, is there enough evidence to convict you?  If we follow the game of life according to the world’s rules, quite frankly there will probably not be much evidence.  If we follow the game of life according to God’s rules, we will be convicted by clear and convincing evidence.  The nations will perish, but will we?

For those who believe in Christ, there is salvation from death and we will not perish.

We say we believe in Christ, but do we?

Do we play by His rules or ours?

If we play by our rules, where is the evidence that we truly believe in Him?

_________

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

 

 

 

 

 

Bread – Prosperity

March 9, 2016


Psalm 10

“In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek Him; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God.”  His ways prosper at all times…He says in his heart ‘…throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.’”  Ps. 10:4-6

Isn’t it frustrating that it always seems like that wealth and prosperity gravitate to those who act as if there is no God, to those who excel at the ways of the world, sharp in business, strategic in their thinking, assertive in their acts.  Many, but not all, of these people have a “winner take all” mentality, taking advantage every legal (and, some, not so legal) way they can.  They seem to accumulate wealth easily and they seem to be able to keep it through all adversity and to preserve it for future generations.   If they do not live in leisure it is because there is always some mountain to climb, some competitor to crush, some business deal to win, some new amount of money or fame or position or thing to acquire.  They have many things and many houses and warehouses to store these things, and they have luxurious methods of transportation to visit their houses and warehouses, and they eat very well at the finest restaurants along the way.

When we sit over on the side and think of our own ways to obtain prosperity, particularly if we can get on top of the business deal or force those people we resent to “pay through the nose” (or, politically, “pay their fair share”) or cheat and scheme ourselves to fortune, aren’t we just like “them,” only not quite so good at playing the game of life?

And isn’t it interesting that we call it the “game of life?”

There is so much to be angry about in this passage.  If we are on the outside looking in, we get mad at the pride, the arrogance, the prosperity, and the apparent immunity from trouble which the people of the world have.  When we are on the inside looking out, we get mad that David would impugn our motives, that he would see our “being the best we can be” somehow a stick in the eye of God, that the naysayers would not look at us as good people doing good works (when we consider ourselves good people doing good works – after all, the insiders give to church, give to charities, give to those less fortunate, follow the rules of ethics in business, etcetera), that the people outside would not realize that we, the inside people, provide them prosperity as well through industry and jobs and payment of taxes, etcetera.

David is warning us that the game of life played this way, where we are not seeking Him as we build our prosperity, is really the game of death.

Now the Christian may note that salvation is the free gift of God into life after death and that Christians reap their rewards at their death, so why not play the game of life in between?  And, in fact, there are studies that show that a substantial majority of those who claim Christ as their savior play the game of life as if God does not exist in the present.

But doesn’t eternal life begin today, while we are still alive?

The entirety of Scripture says “Yes!”  Eternal life does begin today, if we slough off the old man and take on the new, if we raise up Christ in our lives rather than ourselves, if we following the pattern of good living established by God rather than the pattern of “good” living established by the world.

But it is up to us to let God rule in our lives, it is up to us to appropriate the power of the Holy Spirit to live lives worthy of our calling as disciples of Christ, it is up to us to immerse ourselves in God’s Word rather than the world’s wisdom.

See, the game of life has two different sets of rules.  One, the rules set by the world, lead to prosperity of things and poverty of the heart.  One, the rules set by God, lead to prosperity of the heart and, if the Lord wills it in our lives, poverty of things.

If it is I who wins, I always lose.  If it is God who wins, so do I.

Are you mad at those who prosper?  Why?  They came about their wealth in one of two ways, either they won the game of life according to the world’s rules or God gave it to them to hold and to use as God’s agents and ambassadors on earth.  If they won by the world’s rules and you are inclined to play by the world’s rules, don’t get mad, get even.  If they won by the world’s rules and you are inclined to play by God’s rules, love them and walk away.  Psalm 10 tells us their end.  If they follow God’s rules and have prosperity of things as gifts from God, then pray for them that they will have God’s wisdom about how best to represent God in the world and will have the courage and strength of the Holy Spirit to do what He commands.

Choose this day who you will serve.  If yourself, then read Psalm 10 again.  If God, then rejoice in your prosperity of life, whether or not you have things…and be grateful.

_________

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

 

 

 

 

 

Bread – Stones

April 20, 2015


Readings for Monday, April 20, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Dan. 4:19-27; 1 John 3:19-4:6; Luke 4:14-30; Psalms 9, 15, 25

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In our reading from Luke today, Jesus was teaching in the synagogue of Nazareth and stood up to read from Isaiah. After He was finished, He sat down and said “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:21. This statement is accepted positively (amazingly enough), but when Jesus points out that God sent Elijah to only one widow even though there were many and sent Elisha to only one leper to heal him even though there were many lepers, the crowd gets furious at Jesus and attempted to throw Him over the cliff, in a different version of stoning.

How upside down is this? Jesus claims that He is the anointed one, the messianic servant, referenced in Isaiah, only to be congratulated. But when He points out that God chooses who He will save and who He will send His prophets to, they get angry and decide to stone Him.

Which is the greater offense – claiming heavenly authority or reminding people of their history? Apparently, reminding them of their history.

When you think about it, don’t we behave the same way? People can make the most outrageous assertions about who they are [not that Jesus’ statement about Himself was outrageous] and that is OK to us, but bring up the truth of our past, remind us of our sinful disobedient state? The knives come out.

Another way of thinking about this is that, in Jesus’ earlier ministry, it was OK to claim that He was anointed as long as He didn’t act like it.

We are in the same boat. Many people claim that they are Christian because that is the thing to do. No one will judge us harshly and throw stones at us just because we say we are Christian. However, behave like a Christian and that is a different story. Judge within the church (not outside) and you are intolerant. Talk about our original sin and our absolute need for a Savior, and we are not being positive. Tell people that Christ is the only way to eternal life and we are non-inclusive. Talk about sins in the particular and we are _____aphobic. Fall on our knees in worship and we are unscientific. Try to save babies from death and we are mean.

No one likes to have stones thrown at them. In fact, we duck and run away from the bullies. But what if the stones are meant to punish us for who we are, whose we are? Are we to run away?

In our reading from 1 John today, he says “They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us.” 1 John 4:5-6.

Are we having stone thrown at us this week? If so, our question is normally, why? If not, we normally would not question anything. But the response ought to be the opposite. If we are not having stones thrown at us this week, we really should ask the question “why not?” And if we are having stones thrown at us, there should be no question at all as to why.

Do we want stones thrown at us? Of course not. I am sure that Jesus did not want stones thrown at Him, but they were. Why were stones thrown at Jesus – because He acted like Jesus, exposing the sin so that He could reveal the grace.

We say we want to be like Jesus. If so, prepare for the rocks … and the victory.

__________

© 2015 GBF

Bread – Eyes

February 19, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, February 19, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Gen. 31:25-50; 1 Jn. 2:12-17; John 10:1-18; Psalms 101,109,119:121-144

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What do you have eyes for? Not, why do you have eyes but what do you like to look at? What do you have eyes for?

This question arose when I read today’s lesson from 1 John, as follows: “For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world.” 1 John 2:16

Although we have various senses (hearing, smell, taste, feel, sight), if you think about it, the eyes are the primary intake vehicle for what the world has to offer. “The desires of the flesh” begin with the seeing of something which we know will make us feel good. The “desires of the eyes” are obviously related to the eyes, because we see clearly the worldly idols which attract us – food, drink, sex, power, position, jewelry, gold and silver, bank account statements, etc. Even the final one, “pride of possessions,” exists because of our eyes – when we walk into our garage, we are prideful of our car; when we walk around our house, we are prideful of our artwork, our furniture, our backyard, our front yard, our flowers, our square footage, our street, our community, and our city. When we go to the bank to look inside our safe deposit box, our eyes are what look at our papers and things evidencing our possession. When we open our treasure chests, whether it be a gun safe or a jewelry box, we use our eyes to contemplate their value to us.

So our view into the world is through our eyes, and our eyes contemplate what the world has to offer and we are glad indeed.

Until we realize that our eyes have fooled us. Who has not watched very carefully the machinations of the magician who, with sleight of hand, produces the amazing card trick? We saw it but we did not see it. We are fascinated because we know we have been tricked but we don’t know how.

What the writer of 1 John is telling us bluntly is that Satan is that magician. We look and see, and covet what we see, and through the desires of the flesh, the desires of our eyes, and the pride of possession we are sucked into the mirage which is what the world has to offer. Because what we see is what we want as sinful people, we buy into the magician’s trick, believing that what we see is what there is. We may sense we have been tricked, we may know we have been tricked, but we don’t care that we have been tricked. Why don’t we care? Because the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and our pride of possessions has been satisfied.

This is a side effect of being dead in our sins. When we are dead in our sins, we cannot see anything of truth and we cannot see anything really of love. All we can see is the mirage.

This is why we need God to sovereignly reach out to us in mercy and open our eyes, our minds, and our hearts. This is why we need God to save us and why we cannot save ourselves. If our eyes are to see anything other than what the world has to offer, it is because God has given us a special set of glasses to see Satan through. We cannot buy these glasses and we cannot earn these glasses. God shows up when He is ready and when He wants to and gives them to us and, because we have no capacity in ourselves, puts them on us. Actually, He does more than that because He really gives us a new set of eyes, ones which can see spiritually, ones which can discern, ones which can see clearly, ones who look first to Him and then, through Him, to the world.

Which eyes do you want – the ones which see the real and the eternal, or the ones which see the fake and the temporal? Which lens do we want to peer through – the lens of ourselves or the lens of Jesus Christ?

Which lens are you seeing through today? How are you using your eyes? What do you have eyes for?

________________

© 2014 GBF

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