Posts tagged ‘Isaiah’

July 4, 2014

843 Acres: We are busy. Crazy busy.

by Bethany

M’CheyneIs 66 (txt | aud, 5:28 min)
Matt 14 (txt | aud, 4:04 min)
Highlighted: Matt 14

Busy: Two years ago, Tim Kreider critiqued the modern busyness trend, where people’s default response to, “How are you?” is either, “Busy,” or “So busy,” or “Crazy busy.” He noticed that it is usually the self-imposed busy people, not the people pulling double shifts, who boast complain about their busyness. Why are they so busy? He writes, “Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy … I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.”

Important: Jesus was the most important person that ever walked the earth. It’s impossible to understate his significance. His life is our substitute, his death is our atonement, and his resurrection is our hope. Indeed, he’s the center of history. As H.G. Wells said, “I am a historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.”

Unhurried: Given that he came to announce and secure the kingdom of God, Jesus could have told people, “I’m crazy busy,” but he never did. When he heard that Herod beheaded John the Baptist, for example, he wanted to be alone, but the crowds followed him. [1] Yet he didn’t rush them away, saying, “Now isn’t a good time.” Instead, “he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” [2] Then he hosted a dinner party for them, feeding more than five thousand people with only five loaves and two fish. Although his calling was the ultimate calling of history, he was never too busy to love.

Prayer: Lord, We confess that sometimes our schedules are full because we want to hedge against emptiness, wondering whether our lives really matter. Yet we stand in awe of Jesus, who lived a meaningful—yet unhurried—life. Let us bear his image, stopping to serve others even when we have our own plans. For we know that our lives do matter because our patient living testifies that your kingdom, which is full of compassion for all who seek you, is coming “on earth as it is in heaven.” Amen.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Readings

Saturday, July 5: Jer 1 (txt | aud, 3:07 min) & Matt 15 (txt | aud, 4:28 min)
Sunday, July 6: Jer 2 (txt | aud, 5:51 min) & Matt 16 (txt | aud, 3:53 min)

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Footnotes

[1] Matthew 14:13 ESV | [2] Matthew 14:14 ESV

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July 3, 2014

843 Acres: The Deceitfulness of Riches

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 65 (txt | aud, 4:54 min)
Matt 13 (txt | aud, 8:13 min)

Jesus, The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:22)

As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Charles Spurgeon, Sown Among Thorns (an excerpt), 1888

Our Lord does not say “riches”, but “the deceitfulness of riches”. The two things grow together: riches are evermore deceitful. They deceive people in the getting of them, for people judge matters very unfairly when a prospect of gain is before them. The jingle of the charming guinea or of “the almighty dollar” makes a world of difference to the ear when it is hearing a case … Our line of conduct ought never to be ruled by gain or loss …

Riches are very deceitful when they are gained, for they breed in men and women vices which they do not themselves suspect. One man is purse-proud, but he thinks he is humble. He is a self-made man and worships him that made him. Is it not natural that a person should worship his maker? In his heart, he thinks: “I am somebody. I came up to London with half-a-crown in my pocket and now I could buy a whole street!” People ought to respect someone of that kind, ought they not, even though he may have made his money by very queer practices? It little matters how you make money nowadays; only get it, and you will have plenty of admirers and the deceitfulness of riches will enable you to admire yourself.

With pride comes a desire for wealthy society and vain company and, thus, again religion receives severe injury. There is apt to grow up in the mind an idolatry of this world and its treasures. “I don’t love money,” says one. “You know, it is not money that is the root of all evil, but the love of it.” Just so; but are you sure that you do not love it? Your thoughts run a good deal after it. You hug it rather closely and you find it hard to part with it. I will not accuse you, but I would have you awake to the fact that riches worm themselves into a person’s heart before he is well aware of it.

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July 2, 2014

843 Acres: The Problem with Forgiveness

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 64 (txt | aud, 2:02 min)
Matt 12 (txt | aud, 6:35 min)
Highlighted: Matt 12 

Beyond: Although the Lord is King, there is not even a hint of arrogance in him. There is no sense of indignation when he is spoken against. He does not retort, “How dare you speak to me like that! Do you know who you’re talking to?” On the cross, people mocked and spit on Jesus. But he prayed, “Father, forgive them.” In Christ, therefore, there is an enormous willingness to forgive. But can we put ourselves beyond his forgiveness?

Unforgiveable: Jesus says, “Therefore, I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” [1] What is this “unforgiveable sin” that gets beyond even his infinite willingness to forgive? And how can we avoid it?

Resistance: Tim Keller explains, “There is no external sin that is too big to be forgiven. But if you resist the Holy Spirit, whose job it is to get you to say—without anger, without hopelessness, and without blame shifting—“I was wrong”, then that internal sin cannot be forgiven. There is a remedy for everything if you repent, but there is a remedy for nothing if you do not. With repentance, anything can be healed; without it, nothing can be.”

Prayer: Lord, Forgiveness is a huge problem—so huge that Jesus had to die on the cross. Your grace is costly, not cheap. Yet we have “a cosmic authority problem” that infects our hearts and desires. All sin is dangerous, but pride is particularly insidious because it keeps us from acknowledging all other sin. It keeps us from recognizing our brokenness before you and our need of you. It keeps us from receiving your mercy. It evidences that we do not have the Spirit, who convicts us of sin. [2] Therefore, we long for more of the Spirit so that we may repent of our pride and experience the fullness of your forgiveness. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Matthew 12:31-32 ESV | [2] See 1 John 1:8.

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July 1, 2014

843 Acres: Seeking Truth or Playing Games

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 63 (txt | aud, 3:21 min)
Matt 11 (txt | aud, 4:05 min)
Highlighted: Matt 11

Doubt: When Job questions the Lord, he assumes God’s existence and authority, saying, “Oh, that I knew where I might find him … I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.” [1] The complaint of the average urban professional, though, looks less like Job and more like John the Baptist, who asks Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” [2] In other words, “I find your claims interesting. How do I know you are who you say you are?”

Generation: To evidence his divinity, Jesus says to tell John about his miracles. He then broadens his audience, saying, “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” [3]

Childishness: Jesus doesn’t say they are “like children” because he is against childlikeness—a quality that he lauds elsewhere—but because he is against childishness. They don’t care about seeking truth, but about playing games. Jesus did miracles for them. He spoke plainly to them. Yet they ignored the evidence because they wanted to play their own tune.

Prayer: Lord, You do not call us to blind belief; instead, you speak with us in the written Word and through the incarnate Word. In love, you sent Jesus, who spoke plainly about you and who performed miracles that we might believe. Yet even many who saw him with their eyes did not believe. They could not see the gospel as both the biggest dirge of all (“you are more sinful than you ever dared believe”) and the biggest party of all (“you are more loved than you ever dared hope”). The eyes of their hearts were closed. May that not be our testimony. Keep us open-hearted that we may reject the power of unbelief. For we know that no one is neutral; we interpret data according to what we think ultimate authority is. Therefore, root us in the gospel. Amen.

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READER’S CHOICE: Do you have a favorite 843 Acres reflection? Now’s your chance to see it again! In August, we’ll feature your favorite devotionals, so we need 20! Email us at info@theparkforum.org with (a) your name – first names only and pseudonymns are okay, (b) 40-50 word bio including your city, (c) one of your favorite 843 Acres, and (d) 40-50 words about why you like it. We always love this time of year, when our online community takes on somewhat of a new face! Submissions due by July 1.

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Footnotes

[1] Job 23:3-4 ESV | [2] Matthew 11:3 ESV | [3] Matthew 11:16-19 ESV

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June 30, 2014

843 Acres: I Have Come to Bring a Sword

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 62 (txt | aud, 2:16 min)
Matt 10 (txt | aud, 5:00 min)
Highlighted: Matt 10

Rebellion: When we try to oppose sin in our world or in our hearts, we face trouble – the world mocks our efforts and our hearts rebel against our aspirations. [1] John Owen wrote about the challenges we face in our fight against sin: “Sin is always acting, always conceiving, and always seducing and tempting … This battle will last more or less all our days … There is not a day but sin foils or is foiled, prevails or is prevailed upon. It will always be so while we live in this world. Sin will not spare for one day. There is no safety but in a constant warfare for those who desire deliverance from sin’s perplexing rebellion.” [2]

Sword: In a time when Galilee already had a powerful and dangerous ruler (Herod Antipas), Jesus was a revolutionary. When Jesus spoke of his purpose and mission, he often used war-like language. For example, here, in Matthew 10, he said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” [3]

Souls: Yet he did not wield a sword of metal or ride into battle as a warrior-king. His sword was the truth and his battle was spiritual. This was even prophesied at his dedication. When Jesus was presented at the temple at only eight days old, an elderly prophet named Simeon told the young mother Mary, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” [4]

Prayer: Lord, When we come into your holy presence, you do not bring peace, but the sword, for you seek to kill the sin that entangles our affections. What pain this brings when we are in the grip of sin! Yet we praise you that, as we battle sin by the Spirit, you give us the fruit of a deeper and more abiding peace because it is rooted in being at peace with you. Therefore, let us not fear your sword that pierces our souls. Instead, let us embrace the killing of our sin so that we become broken-hearted, humble, tender and zealous Christians for the sake of your great name. Amen.

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READER’S CHOICE: Do you have a favorite 843 Acres reflection? Now’s your chance to see it again! In August, we’ll feature your favorite devotionals, so we need 20! Email us at info@theparkforum.org with (a) your name – first names only and pseudonymns are okay, (b) 40-50 word bio including your city, (c) one of your favorite 843 Acres, and (d) 40-50 words about why you like it. We always love this time of year, when our online community takes on somewhat of a new face! Submissions due by July 1.

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

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Footnotes

[1]See Matthew 10:16-25 and Romans 7:7-25.  | [2] John Owen. The Mortification of Sin. Abridged by Richard Rushing. The Banner of Truth Trust. 2004. pp. 7-8.  | [3]Matthew 10:34 ESV  | [4]Luke 2:35-36 ESV

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