Posts tagged ‘Leviticus’

April 23, 2015

TBT: The Good Which an Attack of Temptation Brings About

by Steven Dilla

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Psalm 34.8
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

TBT: The Good Which an Attack of Temptation Brings About | by John Cassian (360-435)

And so by the struggle with temptation the kindly grace of the Savior bestows on us larger rewards of praise than if it had taken away from us all need of conflict. 

For it is a mark of a loftier and grander virtue to remain ever unmoved when hemmed in by persecutions and trials, and to stand faithfully and courageously at the ramparts of God, and in the attacks of men, girt as it were with the arms of unconquered virtue, to triumph gloriously over impatience and somehow to gain strength out of weakness, for “strength is made perfect in weakness.” 

For to them at once “the crooked shall become straight and the rough ways plain;” and they shall “taste and see that the Lord is gracious,” and when they hear Christ proclaiming in the gospel: “Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you,” they will lay aside the burden of their sins, and realize what follows: “For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” The way of the Lord then has refreshment if it is kept to according to His law. 

But it is we who by troublesome distractions bring sorrows and troubles upon ourselves, while we try even With the utmost exertion and difficulty to follow the crooked and perverse ways of this world. 

In this way we have made the Lord’s yoke heavy and hard to us, and we complain in a blasphemous spirit of the hardness and roughness of the yoke itself or of Christ who lays it upon us, in accordance with this passage: “The folly of man corrupts his ways, but he blames God in his heart.”

Indeed if you will compare the sweet scented flower of virginity, and tender purity of chastity to the foul and fetid sloughs of lust, the calm and security of monks to the dangers and losses in which the men of this world are involved, the peace of our poverty to the gnawing vexations and anxious cares of riches, in which they are night and day consumed not without the utmost peril to life, then you will prove that the yoke of Christ is most easy and His burden most light.

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 27 (Listen – 4:45)
Psalm 34 (Listen – 2:14)

Resting in Faith
Part 4 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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April 22, 2015

Thwarted Plans

by Bethany

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Psalm 33.10—11
The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Stephen Colbert mocked the terrorists, saying their intentions were thwarted by the very people they tried to hurt: “But here is where these cowards really don’t get. They attacked the Boston Marathon. An event celebrating people who run twenty-six miles on their day off … And when those bombs went off, there were runners who, after finishing a marathon, kept running for another two miles to the hospital to donate blood. So here’s what I know. These maniacs may have tried to make life bad for the people of Boston, but all they can ever do is show just how good those people are.”

In Psalm 33, the Psalmist sings, “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.” Thousands of years ago, “lawless men” sought to silence the King of Glory, but God frustrated their plans. 

As Peter said, “Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”

In Spectacular Sins, John Piper writes, “In the death of Christ, the powers of darkness did their best to destroy the glory of the Son of God. This is the apex of evil. But instead they found themselves quoting the script of ancient prophecy and acting the part assigned by God. Precisely in putting Christ to death, they put his glory on display—the very glory that they aimed to destroy. The apex of evil achieved the apex of the glory of Christ. The glory of grace.”

Prayer
Lord, although much about the bombings in Boston remains a mystery to us, we know one thing—when we see terrorists try to spread fear and hatred and, instead, spread love and compassion, we see your glory. No plan of yours can be thwarted—not even when evil appears to have won. Give us a vision for spectacular sins that achieve the apex of Christ’s glory. Amen.

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 26 (Listen – 6:22)
Psalm 33 (Listen – 2:08)

Resting in Faith
Part 3 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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April 21, 2015

Fruit of Repentance

by Steven Dilla

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Psalm 32.5
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

The reason you can’t find peace, and the reason you can’t stop sinning, is because you love sin more than Christ. This is the near-crushing reality Thomas Chalmers explores in his sermon The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.

C.S. Lewis confronts his readers as well; “We are half-hearted creatures. Fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us. Like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Both men expose the pride and brokenness of our hearts in order to drive us to a season of repentance. 

The third third century theologian Origen describes repentance as “the vomit of sin.” Puritan pastor Zachary Crofton expounds; “For it is the loathsome rejection of sin; an easing of the soul by evacuation of what burdened it; casting up with grief and pain what we cast off with detestation.”

True repentance extends beyond the confession of actions to the revelation of the darkness of the heart — the motivation behind the sin. Crofton continues, “Sin is an aversion from God; and repentance a conversion to God.”

What great cost Christ endured to relieve our sins. It is nonsensical to hide the pain of our pride and brokenness from the one who has already paid the price of our debt — and whose life is the light and peace of humankind.

This abounding grace cannot be earned by repentance; it is given freely. Watch how, in Jesus’ famous parable of the Prodigal Son, the Father runs to embrace his beloved son before the wayward man can say anything. 

When we do fall fully in love with Christ, Chalmers says, our love for him will immediately expel our love for sin and we will live at peace.

Prayer
Father, thank you for the great sacrifice you made on our behalf. Thank you for the richness of your love for us, for the greatness of your grace, and for the glory of your love. We are yours Lord; forgive us of our sins and fill us with your love.

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 25 (Listen – 3:08)
Psalm 32 (Listen – 3:13)

Resting in Faith
Part 2 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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April 20, 2015

What Makes A Person Resilient?

by Steven Dilla

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Psalm 31.5
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

Cases of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in U.S. soldiers spiked sharply during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the early 2000’s researchers and clinicians started a battery of tests and interviews to understand what made certain soldiers resilient in the same circumstances which seemed so harmful to others. 

Among the most remarkable findings were those from Dr. Dennis Charney, the Dean of Research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Dr. Charney’s research team worked with a group of 750 pilots from the Vietnam War, each of whom had spent 6-8 years as a prisoner of war. During their imprisonment most of the men had been tortured and subjected to solitary confinement.

From their work with these men, Dr. Charney and his team revealed “Ten critical psychological elements and characteristics of resilience.” Surprisingly, training — the task the military focuses most heavily upon — was the least important of the ten:

  1. Optimism
  2. Altruism
  3. Having a moral compass
  4. Faith and spirituality
  5. Humor
  6. Having a role model
  7. Social support
  8. Having faced fears
  9. Having a mission
  10. Training

While the list would make a respectable outline for a mentoring program or book, it also reveals the limitations of relying on such work to develop a person. No study has revealed how to successfully and consistently mature a person’s optimism, altruism, morality (or really anything else on the list). This kind of foundational change — heart-level change — requires someone or something which is capable of cultivating a flourishing human heart.

David’s cries in Psalm 31 are recorded in the tempest of crisis. He should be overwhelmed — everything he prays for is far from resolved. Instead of relying on his strength or character, David renews his trust in God. “You have redeemed me.”

“What David here declares concerning his temporal life, Paul transfers to eternal salvation,” observes John Calvin in his Commentary on the book of Psalms. “Surely, if David derived so much confidence from temporal deliverance, it is more than wicked and ungrateful on our part, if the redemption purchased by the blood of Christ does not furnish us with invincible courage against all the devices of Satan.”

Prayer
Father, we want to develop our character and strength, but our flesh will fail us. Teach us, Lord, to rely on you as the source of our hope, salvation, and peace. Renew us by your Spirit. Sustain us by your word.

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 24 (Listen – 2:58)
Psalm 31 (Listen – 3:11)

Resting in Faith
Part 1 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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April 17, 2015

Accepting Generosity

by Bethany

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Psalm 27.8-9
You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.” Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!

After the explosions at the Boston Marathon, one eyewitness recalled, “We gave the runners money so they could get on the T when it worked again. We gave them our coats. ‘How will I give it back to you?’ one runner asked as she shrugged on a dark green fleece. ‘You don’t need to. You never need to,’ a man next to me told her.”

Even in our most vulnerable moments, it is hard to know how to accept another’s generosity. In The Gift, Lewis Hyde distinguishes between a commercial economy, where the purpose of gifts is to make exchanges, and a gift economy, where the purpose of gifts is to create community. 

Hyde laments, “When exchange no longer connects one person to another, when the spirit of the gift is absent, then increase does not appear between gift partners, usury appears between debtors and creditors.”

The economy of the gospel is a gift economy, not a commercial one. God “masks” his love for us in gifts that he gives, but he calls us to seek his face, not his hands — to seek a relationship, not a transaction. 

The greatest gift we can receive is God’s presence, not his presents — or, as the psalmist declares, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.”

Prayer
Lord, expel our thinking that we are debtors and you are our creditor. Ingrain in our hearts that you say to us, “You don’t need to pay me back. You never need to.” That is our only hope because, indeed, we cannot pay you back. Instead of making an exchange with us, you have given us a gift. You have cloaked us in Christ. We, in turn, share that gift with others out of an overflow of your love. Amen.

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 21 (Listen – 3:08)
Psalms 26-27 (Listen – 3:13)

Cultivating Faith
Part 5 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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This Weekend’s Readings
Saturday: Leviticus 22 (Listen – 4:41); Psalms 28-29 (Listen – 2:41)
Sunday: Leviticus 23 (Listen – 6:31); Psalm 30 (Listen – 1:32)

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