Good morning. It is Thursday, July 30, 2015. Pre-Friday. Or Friday Eve, if you prefer.
Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is grandiloquence. This is a noun, meaning, “a lofty, extravagantly colorful, pompous, or bombastic style, manner, or quality especially in language.” I guess you would say that campaign speeches might be full of grandiloquence.
Today is Paperback Book Day. If it has the word “book” in it, I’m all over it. Anyone who knows me for very long knows I love books. And it just so happens that I finished a book last night, so I need to choose my next one. It just might turn out to be a paperback. Who knows? Just for kicks, here’s a song about paperback books.
Christi has her Huddle meeting tonight, assuming she can get away from work on time. They have some very important projects that they are working on, and the new bowling season begins this weekend.
Yesterday was a stressful day for both of us. Of course, my stress level will probably never be as high as Christi’s. Her’s is coming from an outside source. Mine came from an apparent mistake from a month ago. Since I don’t even remember the situation, it’s difficult to figure out why it happened. Oh, well. As they say, “This, too, shall pass.”
After losing to the Evil Empire 21-5 Tuesday night, the Rangers managed to pull off a win, last night. The Sox, on the other hand, have lost three consecutive games to the Other Sox. I’m pretty sure that, in all three games, the Other Sox have scored at least five runs in the first inning. This is getting old.
Today’s Bible reading is Genesis 26-27 and Matthew 7. Genesis 26 begins with God extending the Abraham covenant to Isaac. Isaac settles in Gerar, where Abimelech was still king. Isaac, being a chip off the old block, pretended that Rebekah was his sister. Abimelech, being used to this trick by now, didn’t fall for it. At least not for very long. The Lord blessed Isaac, in spite of his deceitfulness, and he became very rich. After a few quarrels over wells, Abimelech comes to Isaac and makes a covenant with him. Isaac then digs a well and names the place Beersheba. At the end of the chapter, Esau takes a couple of Hittite wives, making life “bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.”
In Genesis 27, Jacob steals Isaac’s blessing, with a little help from his mother. Isaac, now blind, tells Esau to go hunt and prepare a meal for him, that he might receive the blessing of his father. While Esau is gone, Rebekah takes goats from their flock, prepares the food, and sends Jacob to Isaac, wearing some of Esau’s clothes, so that he smells like Esau. The trick works, and Jacob gets the blessing. The blessing was a very important part of their lives, and when Esau finally showed up with his food, Isaac could not give him the same blessing. Now, Esau has lost his birthright and his blessing, both at the hands of his younger brother (they were twins, but Esau came out first). Esau is very angry and vows to kill Jacob after Isaac dies. At the end, Rebekah is making plans to send Jacob away to her uncle Laban’s place.
In Matthew 7, Jesus is still teaching his disciples. He begins by telling them about judging, and the speck and the log. Then he tells them to ask, seek, and knock. If we desire to receive gifts from our Father, we need but to ask. If our children ask us for bread, we don’t give them snakes. If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (v 11) Jesus gives them the Golden Rule next, followed by warnings about false prophets. A bad tree can’t bear good fruits. Not everyone who claims to know Jesus will enter into the Kingdom. Only those who do the will of the Father will enter. He finishes with the parable of the two men, one who built his house on the rock, and the other who built his house on the sand. The house on the rock stood, while the house on the sand fell. A good foundation is crucial to our spiritual lives.
Today’s Psalm from Heart Aflame is Psalm 89:30-31.
30 If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules,
31 if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments,
Not sure why the editors chose to stop in mid-thought like that.
(From Solid Joys)
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
Today’s reading is “Suffering That Strengthens Faith.”
One of the main reasons that our faith is shaken by suffering is “to make our faith more unshakable.” Piper compares faith to muscle tissue. When we stretch and strain our muscles through exercise, they get stronger. Our faith is the same. “When your faith is threatened and tested and stretched to the breaking point, the result is greater capacity to endure.”
Be not deceived. Our God will test our faith and stretch it to breaking point in order to “keep it pure and strong.” Paul says, in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. Paul says that the purpose of this suffering (“But that was to”) was so that they would not rely on themselves, but on God alone. Note the implication of future grace in the phrase, “who raises the dead.”
God values our faith so much that, if need be, he will take away everything else that matters to us. This is a frightening though, and one we must consider when we pray for more or stronger faith. “His aim is that we grow deeper and stronger in our confidence that he himself will be all we need.”
God desires that we be able to echo the Psalmist who said, Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Father, at the risk of losing everything, teach me this faith. My heart’s desire is that my faith remain pure and strong. As I continue to struggle with emotion after losing my father, I recognize that, through this, my faith has been, for the most part, unshaken. Sure, there have been moments of doubt, but they have been quickly shoved away by your truth, grace, mercy, and love. Let my faith stay strong in you, Father. But more than that, I pray that anything that might be forcing its way in front of you in my desires, be taken away. I want nothing to take precedence over you in my life.
I pray for this day, that we might have safe passage to and from work. I pray for less stress today, but even if that doesn’t happen, I pray that we might be able to keep our sight focused on you through everything. I definitely had moments, yesterday, where I failed to do that. Remind me, Lord, by your Spirit. May your love rain down on Stephanie, Lord, and may Rachel feel your confidence as she prepares to defend her thesis. I give you thanks for things that have come through for my mother, and pray that you get her through other things that have come up.
Your grace is sufficient, Father. May you be enough for us.
If and when we go through suffering and struggle, we need to remember that God has a purpose for it, to keep our faith strong.
Grace and peace, friends.