The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

No points for passwords [Readings for June 1, 2008]

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“Did you pray X? And what did God say he would do if you prayed X? Then what has he done for you here tonight?”

Modernism leaves us no peace unless everything is black or white, one way or the other. Red or Blue. Pro-choice or pro-life. For us or against us. Government assistance or “up by your own bootstraps.”

Either-or thinking has its problems. For one, it’s usually fiction. I’d be reluctant to trust someone who could see no value in any of the positions above; they all, at their best, bring elements of the nature of Jesus to a discussion.  Can you see him there, in each place?

And either-or thinking has brought us to a place in evangelicalism where, because the next world matters, it can be all that matters. Or where because faith matters, the life I live doesn’t matter. Or where the Bible says X, X is wooden truth in every instance.

Fortunately, Jesus Christ is wonderfully pre-modern. Watch him look beyond such artificial divisions, into the complexities of the heart, in this Matthew reading.

Proper 4 (9); June 1, 2008

Genesis 6:9-22;7:24;8:14-19; Psalm 46; Romans 1:16-17; 3:22b-28, (29-31);

Matthew 7:21-29

21-23″Knowing the correct password-saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance- isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience-doing what my Father wills. I can see it now-at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’

24-25″These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit-but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

26-27″But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

28-29When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying-quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Romans 1:16-17

16-17It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.”

Romans 3:22b-28

22b-[…] there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.

25-26God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public-to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it’s now-this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.

27-28So where does that leave our proud Jewish insider claims and counter-claims? Canceled? Yes, canceled. What we’ve learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Psalm 46: A Song of the Sons of Korah

1-3 God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans,
the tremors that shift mountains.

Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

4-6 River fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city,
this sacred haunt of the Most High.
God lives here, the streets are safe,
God at your service from crack of dawn.
Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten,
but Earth does anything he says.

7 Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

8-10 Attention, all! See the marvels of God!
He plants flowers and trees all over the earth,
Bans war from pole to pole,
breaks all the weapons across his knee.
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
loving look at me, your High God,
above politics, above everything.”

11 Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Genesis 6:9-22

9-10 This is the story of Noah: Noah was a good man, a man of integrity in his community. Noah walked with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

11-12 As far as God was concerned, the Earth had become a sewer; there was violence everywhere. God took one look and saw how bad it was, everyone corrupt and corrupting-life itself corrupt to the core.

13 God said to Noah, “It’s all over. It’s the end of the human race. The violence is everywhere; I’m making a clean sweep.

14-16 “Build yourself a ship from teakwood. Make rooms in it. Coat it with pitch inside and out. Make it 450 feet long, seventy-five feet wide, and forty-five feet high. Build a roof for it and put in a window eighteen inches from the top; put in a door on the side of the ship; and make three decks, lower, middle, and upper.

17 “I’m going to bring a flood on the Earth that will destroy everything alive under Heaven. Total destruction.

18-21 “But I’m going to establish a covenant with you: You’ll board the ship, and your sons, your wife and your sons’ wives will come on board with you. You are also to take two of each living creature, a male and a female, on board the ship, to preserve their lives with you: two of every species of bird, mammal, and reptile-two of everything so as to preserve their lives along with yours. Also get all the food you’ll need and store it up for you and them.”

22 Noah did everything God commanded him to do.

Genesis 7:24

24 The floodwaters took over for 150 days.

Genesis 8:14-19

13-14 In the six-hundred-first year of Noah’s life, on the first day of the first month, the flood had dried up. Noah opened the hatch of the ship and saw dry ground. By the twenty-seventh day of the second month, the Earth was completely dry.

15-17 God spoke to Noah: “Leave the ship, you and your wife and your sons and your sons’ wives. And take all the animals with you, the whole menagerie of birds and mammals and crawling creatures, all that brimming prodigality of life, so they can reproduce and flourish on the Earth.”

18-19 Noah disembarked with his sons and wife and his sons’ wives. Then all the animals, crawling creatures, birds-every creature on the face of the Earth-left the ship family by family.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson


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Written by Monte

May 29, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Posted in Politics

One Response

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  1. Hi M,
    For me, the all or nothing thinking you have described is dangerous, because it robs me of the balance of Jesus. I flex into my expectations and resentments. Within a minute of two I am loosing my focus and my peace of mind. All or nothing ( 1 or 10) means I have to either fix-control or or say ‘It doesn’t matter”. Either choice leaves me out of relationship.
    How clever of Jesus to risk allowing me the choice of His Way, and then if I choose Him, showing me the 4-5-6s of life. There really is something of Him in every choice.
    The only way I have found to consistently hold on to my peace of mind is to join Him rather than act on my best thinking. To join Him I have to look for him.
    Thanks again for this reminder of Truth.

    Sharon

    May 30, 2008 at 7:32 am


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