The Daily Office: June 22, 2010

The readings for June 22, 2010 are as follows: Numbers 16.20-35, Romans 4.1-12, Psalm 94, Matthew 19.23-20.

What I hope to do is provide a thought or two on the daily readings as a means of keeping myself accountable to the daily practice of reading from the Scripture.

Numbers 16.20-35

In the early days of the church, God still dealt with people this way. Remember Annanias and Sapphira? Paul wrote in Corinthians that some people even died because they at the Lord’s Supper with contempt for the Body of Christ.

I wonder if the Lord still deals with people in the church this way? I wonder if there are still people like Moses who will intercede on behalf of the people? Still, who knows exactly how the Lord works in the church that is the Body of Christ?

Yet somehow or other in this strange act of God’s vengeance Moses, God’s servant, was also justified and vetted. Strange.

Romans 4.1-12

I like that Paul speaks of the ‘promise with value.’ He does so backhandedly when he writes, “For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless.”  That means what God has promised us has value to those who pursue it by faith.

Frankly, I like that God has made promises to us and that all of the effort is on Him and not us.

We are blessed! It’s a wonderful thought to know that our blessedness comes not from achievement or abundance on our own part but from being forgiven by One who holds the power to forgive.

Psalm 94

O LORD, the God who avenges,
       O God who avenges, shine forth.

Rise up, O Judge of the earth;
       pay back to the proud what they deserve.

How long will the wicked, O LORD,
       how long will the wicked be jubilant?

There’s another beatitude in today’s reading in verse 12: “Blessed are those you discipline, Lord, those you teach from your law.” So two readings and, so far, two beatitudes. This Psalm is packed full and I want to note simply that the Psalmist has his eyes upon the Lord his fortress, his Rock.

Matthew 19.23-20

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?"

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?"

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

What we find impossible, God does not. What we see as a massive chicane, God sees as an open road. What we cannot handle, God can. He’s talking here about rich and poor. The rich, he says, do not have a shot according to man’s ways and means and thoughts. Kingdom values are upside down: last are first, first are last. Who can make sense of it?

I suppose it is logical to ask, as Peter did when pointing out that they had in fact left all to follow Jesus: “What will there be for us?”

I suppose it is also logical to ask, as an American who has much and hasn’t been asked to give up much: “What about us? Are we too rich to enter the Kingdom? Are we mere fat men stuck in a needle’s eye waiting for judgment? What about us?”

What hope is there for even the poorest of Americans who live well above the standard of living of most of the poor in the world? Does anyone in America have a shot?

Well, who can be saved?

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