Friday, January 2, 2009

The Word for Today - Daily Office

Psalm 33:16-22 No king succeeds with a big army alone, no warrior wins by brute strength. [17] Horsepower is not the answer; no one gets by on muscle alone. [18] Watch this: God's eye is on those who respect him, the ones who are looking for his love. [19] He's ready to come to their rescue in bad times; in lean times he keeps body and soul together. [20] We're depending on God; he's everything we need. [21] What's more, our hearts brim with joy since we've taken for our own his holy name. [22] Love us, God, with all you've got— that's what we're depending on.

Genesis 12:1-4 God told Abram: "Leave your country, your family, and your father's home for a land that I will show you. [2] I'll make you a great nation and bless you. I'll make you famous; you'll be a blessing. [3] I'll bless those who bless you; those who curse you I'll curse. All the families of the Earth will be blessed through you." [4] So Abram left just as God said, and Lot left with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.

Hebrews 11:1 The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see.

COMMENT: The Daily Office has stitched together these texts on faith. They all speak of the kind of trusting obedience that has characterized the people of God from the call of Abraham to today. As Peterson paraphrases in the Hebrews text - this way of trusting God is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. Trusting God - that is what Abram did when he stepped out of Ur into God's preferred (but risky) future. Trusting God - that is what the psalmist advocates as remedy to horsepower and muscle (human self-reliance schemes).

I think this is a challenging lesson for the church today. It may be the central reason why so many American churches are in crisis today - we have been so thoroughly schooled in the story of self-reliance, we do not even hear the cacophonous cpunter-witness of Scripture that self-reliance is a dead-end street piled high with the wreckage of human lives lived on our own strength rather than by the kind of trusting faith. Peterson paraphrases it this way in Mark 8:35, "Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. " and in Hebrews 6:1, "The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on "salvation by self-help" and turning in trust toward God..."

God of Father Abraham, "You are out in the future, summoning me to come to you and trust you in everything. Your future is unknown to me. But I also know, based on the testimony of Scripture and on my own experience of your past mercies, that your future is to be preferred over all the futures that I could concoct or manufacture for myself. Like Father Abraham, may I respond to your call with a risky obedience that pleases you - because it shows that I trust you, even though I do not know where I am going. Help me to enjoy the adventure. Help me to never turn back down the dead-end road of self-reliance. Keep all my senses attuned to your summons today, as I interact with people at work, or spend time with my family as we gather to celebrate this new year. Every day... may my life be one long, obedient response to you - fully trusting in you for everything that I need to live life to the full - the abundant life your Son gives... I pray in His name. Amen

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