Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March 31

I'm debating whether to tell you on the front end that my brain is fried, or to just let you figure that out as you read. Hmmm....

OT: Deut. 16:1-17:20

One benefit of getting to read the same things over and over (is it just me, or are we, in fact, reading the same things over and over?) is that you get to pick out themes. One recurring theme that I don't think I've mentioned is, "Remember who you are." God very much wants the people to REMEMBER EGYPT. REMEMBER SLAVERY. REMEMBER WHO GOT YOU OUT. I'm not one to overuse caps lock (I'm more an italicizing gal), but I think those words merit capital letters. After all, God seems to be basically shouting them at the Israelites throughout Moses' speech. And it seems that the reason God wants them to remember those things is because they need to remember how much they have been given. It is crazy how prone we all are to forget that.

When we forget how much we have been given, according to this speech, we become proud. We begin to think that we deserve our blessings, and we turn away from God. We also tend not to treat those less fortunate with compassion. At least, that's the principle I get when I read these reminders of Israel's slavery and deliverance so closely connected to instructions to be compassionate to the poor and to the alien. And so closely connected to reminders to follow all of God's instruction, as we saw today.

The lesson I take away from these repeated reminders of Israel's past is that I should always remember how much God has given me. I should always remember that I am nothing without God.

My mind was also blown a bit by the instructions regarding kings. This is an example when God's omniscience makes my brain shut down. I know that when the people wanted a king, God took that as a sign of rejection of Him. Yet, He granted them their wish, even though it didn't appear to be his will. The commands in 17:14-20 kind of confuse me, b/c they seem to give guidelines for this future thing that God doesn't want, but He will allow. That's just kind of weird to me.

NT: Luke 9:7-27

The feeding of the 5,000 strikes me as the "not enough" miracle. It sprang from people not feeling that they had "enough." Last time, I talked about how Jesus was on emotional empty after hearing about the death of John the Baptist. He had gone away to a private place to mourn and regroup, and was instead met by a desperate crowd wanting a piece of Him. Even though, emotionally, He didn't have "enough," He still chose to act out of compassion and love. During today's reading, I focused on how the disciples didn't have "enough" food. And yet, they brought what they had: five loaves of bread and two fish. In both cases, the people without "enough" gave what they did have...and it became enough. And that was the miracle.

And really, that is the essence of any miracle. If we all had enough to meet our needs, we wouldn't need any miracles in the first place. If people always had enough health or enough ability or enough money, then why would would be the point of a miracle? A miracle is what happens when God takes our "not enough" and makes it "enough." In that sense, it is a miracle whenever we serve "beyond" our abilities, when we keep loving even when our tank is bone dry. It is a miracle whenever God gives us the strength to do what we honestly can't do on our own. I love how, in the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus gives the bread back to the disciples and lets them distribute it. Jesus puts the resources into their hands, tells them what to do with it, and when they obey, He takes care of the rest. That is cool to me.

After feeding everyone, Jesus tells His disciples that they must die to themselves. As you all probably know by now, I love to ponder the dying to self verses. I have become quite sure that the key to life is found in them (no, really). To me, death to self is the definition of true love. And love, we know, is what it is all about.

Psalm 72:1-20

Oh, Solomon. How interesting that you would appear today just after I read all the laws that your kingship broke. After all, you amassed all kinds of wealth and had tons of concubines, in direct violation of Deuteronomy 17:17. Tsk tsk. And you are supposed to be so wise! The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, young man. Someone wise once told me that.

Oh wait. That was you.

Proverbs 12:8-9

Verse 9 is so interesting to me: "Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food." I totally agree with that statement, and yet it seems like an odd proverb. I do like the idea of not being fake and not living above your means just for show.


  1. The phrase "Remember who you are," or, rather, "Remember who you were" as applied to the Israelites seems to apply differently to us today. By "us" I mean those raised in the Church, baptized, and then still in the Church (though I guess I can only speak for myself). It has only been in the past decade (approx.) that I have really, um, come into my sin (though I was baptized 13 years ago). The thing is, those of us who were raised trying to be "good" never had much of a chance to experience certain sins while we were younger, but as life goes on, I find I keep discovering new and different ways to sin that I never knew of before. In contrast, those who grew up sinning (not that we didn't sin too, we just tried not to) who have finally accepted Christ probably do feel more gratitude for being washed clean. They have (I assume) more of a sense of "who [they] were" versus "who they are." I feel like I am the same person, I just have more things for God to help me with now. I was never in Egypt; I have been in the Promised Land all this time, but I keep being attacked by bigger and badder enemies. The more I try to fight them myself, the more I find that only God can get rid of them.

    But, I do see God getting rid of them and doing other wonderful things too. I know that I truly don't deserve what I have, and that is very humbling. I don't feel like I relate to the Passover celebration (except in how it relates to Jesus), but I feel like I need to do something to remember the things that God constantly is doing for me. I need to remember who I am (and who I am not, God). I haven't yet figured out the best way to do that, but I need to.

    Speaking of great things God does for people, I am always amazed when I read about Jesus feeding the 5,000... and then the disciples doubting that he can feed 4,000 later on. This is why we need to remember these things. If I could collect in a box all of the amazing things God has done for me, I'd like to think I would never doubt Him again. Oh, how I wish it worked that way... And I wish it didn't bother me to read about dying to self. Why can't I trust God enough to be willing to die to myself? If only I could remember His power... (I think I see a pattern here...)

    On a different note, Solomon sounds like one interesting dude. I do wonder about the rules for a king in light of how things actually happened. I mean, God gave Solomon his wealth. I wonder if God was upset when Israel wanted a king because He knew that the king wouldn't follow His rules anyway.

    I totally relate to the Proverb. I am a nobody (self-esteem notwithstanding), and, even though I don't have a servant, I have plenty of food and a nice house to put it in. However, I can think of people (well, types of people) who buy big, expensive houses just to feel important, but then they can't afford to feed themselves. I think of Haman, the president of self-important jerks. I feel more like Esther, thinking, "who am I to do anything important," but trying to be willing to do what God asks of me anyway (which is very hard).

  2. It's so difficult for me to see how all that came out of a fried brain! (It must have been your "natural" ability mixing with God's "super" ability giving us a supernatural take on these scriptures.) It was so encouraging. I LOVED your insight on the feeding of the 5000. Thank you for well as all the other comments.