Friday, February 27, 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015
BY STEVEN DILLA
Luke 12.15Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
TBT: Learning Contentment | by Thomas Jacombe (1622–1687)
Discontentment lodges not only in the soul of those who have nothing, but of those who have abundance: both are dissatisfied with their condition, as thinking they have not enough, and therefore are full of anxious desires for more.
Had you all that you desire, you would be dissatisfied still; for your desires would grow as fast as your riches: yet more must be had, and that is the bane of satisfaction.
If God gives Christians what is necessary, they are not to quarrel for the want of what is superfluous. What are these earthly riches, that any should be thus insatiably greedy of them? Men may fill their bags and chests with silver and gold, but they cannot with them fill their souls: no, the soul is a thing too great to be filled with such little things as these are.
Consider why the love of the world is inconsistent with the love of God. The poison and evil of these things comes not from the things themselves, but from our lusts, that run into and live upon them, as our last end and choicest good. God never made or appointed these inferior goods to be our last end, chiefest good, or matter of fruition and satisfaction.
They who ran in the race, were to lay aside every thing that might burden or hinder them therein. To love God is to transfer the actions and passions of our love from the world to God, as our last end and chiefest good. In short, the love of God implies a superlative preference of God above all lower goods.
Prayers from the Past
Let us pray that Jesus may reign over us and that our land may be at peace — that our bodies may be free from the assaults of fleshly desires. When these have ceased, we shall be able to rest, beneath our vines, our fig-trees and our olives.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will shelter us as we rest, our peace of mine and body once recovered.
Glory to God the eternal, age after age. Amen.
— Origen, c.250 C.E.
Posted by Jim Grayson at 7:46 AM
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
BY STEVEN DILLA
Exodus 7.14Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is hardened; he refuses to let the people go.”
It is the job of the Holy Spirit to dismantle everything that we trust more than God. Anything less would be unloving, if God is as good as the scriptures reveal him to be. The Egyptian plagues attest to this.
The Nile was Egypt’s most valuable natural resource. The ancients would have trembled when it turned to blood in the first plague. Hapi, the father of Egypt’s gods (and god of the Nile itself), would seem to have lost control.
Each plague systematically defeated another of ancient Egypt’s gods. The idols’ lack of control was exposed. Their efficacy to restore life was unveiled.
The gods Heka, Geb, and Khepfi were shamed by the plagues involving insects. Apis, Menvis, and Hathor were defeated by the plague of livestock. Thoth, the god of health, proved powerless while Egypt writhed in the pain of boils. Nut and Isis were revealed as impotent through the plagues of hail and locusts.
The plague of darkness was a fierce warning — Yahweh had overpowered Ra. Arguably at the top of Egypt’s gods, Ra was the god of the sun and a central figure in ancient Egyptian worship.
Even then, Pharaoh would not concede.
The final plague was an extension of the previous — a darker darkness. Each of Egypt’s firstborn would have been dedicated to Ra, and Pharaoh’s son was considered an incarnation of Ra himself. The death of the firstborn was a brutal and crushing end to the empty gods in whom they had placed their trust.
Idolatry always destroys our greatest joy. Our commitment to our idols cuts away at the people and things which matter most in our lives. Each idol delivers a shadow of the real experience — and their falsehood can be as difficult for us to see now as it was for the Egyptians to see then.
In comparison to Egypt’s gods, our modern idols have names which sound normal — approval, pleasure, comfort, power, control — but they act the same. We draw our identity from them. We arrange our lives around them. And, at our time of greatest need, they abandon us.
PrayerSpirit of God, dismantle our idols so our joy may be complete in Christ. Reveal in us the things which we trust more than God — the things which will destroy us. Renew us in the gospel and fill us with your peace.
Monday, February 23, 2015
Suffering and Glory
BY STEVEN DILLA
BY STEVEN DILLA
Luke 9.23-24And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
The realities of suffering for faith seem top of mind right now. It’s something Christians focus on as the season of Lent begins during this time of year. Our awareness seems sharper however, with the preceding weeks’ coverage of the martyrdom of nearly two dozen Coptic Christians. Prior to that Kayla Mueller’s letter to her family was released after her murder by the terrorist group ISIS.
Mueller gave herself not just in death, but in life. “This really is my life’s work, to go where there is suffering,” she said before devoting her life and work to Syrian refugees. This is the case with many of the missionaries and aid workers who ISIS has abducted. It was their faith which led them to put aside comfort, money, status, and likely a list of worldly hopes to serve the marginalized and oppressed.
The martyrs’ final moments of suffering are public. Their long-suffering journey in faith is private. In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was later executed in a Nazi concentration camp, says,
“Time is short. Eternity is long. It is the time of decision. Those who are true to the word and confession on earth will find Jesus Christ standing by their side in the hour of judgement. All the world will be called to witness as Jesus pronounces our name before his heavenly Father.”
We should focus on the beauty of the prize set before us, not the pain of sacrifice, during this season of Lent.
“The hope of our reunion is the source of my strength,” Mueller wrote to her family and friends. It’s a hope which will go unfulfilled in this world. Yet she is not without greater reward. The glory of resurrection will bring not only the reunion she longed for, but an eternal reunion with her Heavenly Father whose glory vastly outweighs suffering on behalf of his name.
PrayerFather God, we hold fast to your promise that you will return to vanquish evil, rebuke death, restore the broken, and fulfill every desire. Reorient us to see our sufferings not as crushing burdens but as light and momentary when measured against your eternal Kingdom. Amen. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
(Prayer adapted from Revelation 21.1-5; John 10.10; 2 Corinthians 4.16-18; Revelation 22.20)
Posted by Jim Grayson at 6:54 AM
Thursday, February 19, 2015
God can do anything. Let us beg him to take pity on us and make us not merely listen to what he tells us but do it as well. May he send the flood of his waters over our souls, destroy in us what he knows is in need of destruction and give life to what he considers should live, through Christ our Lord and his Holy Spirit. To him be the glory, age after age, for all eternity. Amen.
-- Origen, c. 250 C.E.
Posted by Jim Grayson at 7:32 AM