Posts tagged ‘Leviticus’

April 23, 2013

843 Acres: Having All That Matters

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Lev 27 (text | audio, 4:58 min)
and Ps 34 (text | audio, 2:09 min)
Highlighted: Ps 34:8, 10

Having It All: These three little words leave most women feeling exhausted, inadequate, confused and guilty. What does “having it all” mean? It is even possible? Sheryl Sandberg writes, “Instead of pondering the question, ‘Can we have it all?’, we should be asking the more practical question, ‘Can we do it all?’ and again, the answer is no.” Oprah and Madeleine Albright are slightly more hopeful, saying that we can have it all—just not at the same time. Anne-Marie Slaughter takes a slightly different approach: “I still strongly believe that women can ‘have if all’ (and that men can, too). I believe that we can ‘have it all at the same time.’ But not today, not with the way America’s economy and society are currently structured.” None of them, however, mention happiness or joy in any of their books, articles or talks.

Balanced Schedules: It is possible to live our entire lives chasing after a balanced schedule and never find identity, purpose or meaning. In one of his parables, Jesus warns against hearing the gospel and then letting “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches” choke the gospel until it “proves unfruitful” [1]. But what alternative is there? As a practical matter, we have to pursue financial stability, education, family, career and home, right?

Having All That Matters: These four little words are the promise of the gospel. In Psalm 34, David sings, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! … [T]hose who seek the Lord lack no good thing” [2]. Did you catch that? “Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” Hundreds of years later, Paul explains what David means. He writes to the Romans, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” [3]. In Christ, God has given us all that matters—all things that pertain to life and godliness [4].

Prayer: Lord, Apart from Christ, life is like the Myth of Sisyphus—a meaningless, repetitive task that leads to absurdity [5]. We can schedule our lives like a Tetris game, but still end up without identity, purpose, meaning, freedom or joy. The resurrection of Christ shows us, however, that our lives have meaning [6]. Give us a vision to seek all that matters and to inspire those around us to do the same. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] See Matthew 13:1-23 | [2] Psalm 34:8, 10 ESV | [3] Romans 8:32 ESV | [4] 1 Peter 1:3 | [5] Wikipedia. The Myth of Sisyphus. | [6] See 1 Corinthians 15:58. See also. 843 Acres Reader’s Choice: “His Resurrection Gives Meaning to Our Work.” August 20, 2012.

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April 22, 2013

The Mask of Thwarted Plans

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Lev 26 (text | audio, 7:12 min)
and Ps 33 (text | audio, 2:12 min)
Highlighted: Ps 33:10-11

Thwarted: Last week, 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” [1].

Plans: 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” [2]. 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” [3].

Display: 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” [4].

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.

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Footnotes

[1] Ann Oldenburg. “Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert Salute Boston.” USA Today. April 17, 2013. | [2] Psalm 33:10-11 ESV | [3] Acts 2:22-24 ESV | [4] John Piper. Spectacular Sins.

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April 19, 2013

843 Acres: The Mask of the Sabbath

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Lev 23 (text | audio, 6:19 min)
and Ps 30 (text | audio, 1:28 min)
Highlighted: Lev 23:3

Sabbath: “The Sabbath,” writes Judith Shulevitz in the New York Times Magazine, “has become the holiday Americans are most likely never to take.” After detailing the history of the observance of the Sabbath, she laments, “So what do we do, today, with this remarkable heritage, which in the last century expanded to a generous two days, rather than just one? Much more than our ancestors could ever have imagined, and much, much less. We relax on a run and, in rare bursts of free time, we recreate. We choose from a dizzying array of leisure options and pursue them with an exemplary degree of professionalism and perfectionism … And yet there are important ways in which even our impressive recreational creativity fails to reproduce the benefits of the Sabbath. Few elective activities will ever rise to a higher status than work in our minds, and therefore cannot be relied upon to counterbalance our neurotic drive to achieve” [1]. What is the alternative?

Law: The Law commanded, “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places” [2]. Observation of the Sabbath was taken seriously. In fact, under the Law, those who profaned it were to be put to death and those who worked on it were to be cut off from among the community [3].

Imagine: Imagine what a Sabbath in your city might look like. It would be, as Shulevitz puts it, a day of “organized nonproductivity”. It would not merely be a day of refraining from work, however, but also a day of shifting our thoughts. Can you picture your city resting from its busyness and selling into reflection? What would that do for your city? How might things change? Shulevitz wants to “bring back the Sabbath”, and who better to answer her call to action than us, the church?

Prayer: Lord, As we celebrate the Sabbath this weekend, let its seriousness and importance dwell in our souls. Show us how to observe it in a way that honors and glorifies you. Give us courage to rest from our work, knowing that you are the ultimate author of all that is accomplished. For you are the Lord in all our dwelling places, and we trust in you. Amen.

M’Cheyne Weekend Texts (our reading plan)

Sat, Apr 20: Lev 24 (text | audio, 3:03 min) and Ps 31 (text | audio, 3:16 min)
Sun, Apr 21: Lev 25 (text | audio, 7:40 min) and Ps 32 (text | audio, 1:29 min)

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Footnotes

[1] Judith Shulevitz. “Bring Back the Sabbath.” The New York Times Magazine. March 2, 2003. | [2] Leviticus 23:3 ESV | [3] See Exodus 31:14; Exodus 35:2; Numbers 15:32-36. I highlight the severity of the punishment for breaking the Sabbath to show its seriousness, not advocate its reinstitution.

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April 18, 2013

843 Acres: The Mask of the (Google) Earth

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Lev 22 (text | audio, 4:47 min)
and Ps 28 (text | audio, 1:12 min)
and Ps 29 (text | audio, 1:07 min)
Highlighted: Ps 29

Hello, World: Recently, Google Earth has gotten some laughs for its bizarre distortions based on inaccurate algorithms—here and here. But have you ever played around on it? From the comfort of your own home, you can explore hydrothermal vents and seafloors. If you want to climb Mount Everest or Mount Kilimanjaro, you can just open Google Maps. You only need Wi-Fi to visit the Grand Canyon.  Google Earth unlocks the sky, the ocean, the moon, the trees and Mars. So what?

Hello, Majesty. In Psalm 29, David sings, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness. The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty … The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness … The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever” [1].

Hello, Accountability and Security. The greatness of Google Earth and Google Maps has, at least, two implications. First, one of the consequences of our being able to see the mighty hand of God in nature is that we will be held accountable. As Paul tells the Romans, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” [2]. Second, when we see his mighty hand in nature, we can trust that he is able to keep his unblushing promises about our joy, gladness, inheritance, etc. For he exercises “his eternal power and divine nature” to benefit his people. This is what David concludes in Psalm 29. After surveying the glory of nature, he says, “May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!” [3]

Hello, Lord. The earth and all that is in it is a “mask” by which you conceal your glory. When we see your mighty hand in nature, we can know your attributes and, as a result, we can trust your promises. This spring, as the weather turns from snow to flowers, open our eyes to give you glory and honor, knowing that the changing seasons show us your power. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Psalm 29:2-4, 7-8, 10 ESV | [2] Romans 1:20 ESV | [3] Psalm 29:11 ESV

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April 16, 2013

843 Acres: The Mask of Spiritual Sensitivity

by Bethany

M’CheyneLev 20 (text | audio, 4:34 min)
and Ps 25 (text | audio, 2:10 min)

Choices: Throughout the course of our lives, we make many life decisions—what vocational calling to pursue, whom to marry (or whether to marry), which home to buy or rent. We also make many daily decisions—what to watch on television, how to spend our leisure time, what to wear. Yet most of us are often unsure about the Lord’s will in these situations. How are we to proceed?

Instruction: In Psalm 25, David comes to the Lord with his fear [1], loneliness [2], guilt [3] and confusion [4], through prayer [5]. He praises the Lord for guiding him: “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies” [6]. How does God guide us—that is, how does he “mask” his instruction? John Piper says, “The Bible describes the ordinary guidance of God as the development of spiritual sensitivity. In other words, the prerequisite of divine guidance is not the quest for messages, but the quest for holiness. Guidance is the product not of ecstatic heights, but of spiritual depth” [7].

Will: How God guides us, however, is different than how we guide each other. As Elisabeth Elliot writes, “The more we pay for advice, the more we are likely to listen to it. Advice from a friend, which is free, we may take or leave. Advice from a consultant we have paid much for personally, we are more likely to accept, but it is still our choice; we can take it or leave it. But the guidance of God is different. First of all, we do not come to God asking for advice, but for God’s will and that is not optional. And God’s fee is the highest one of all; it costs everything. To ask for the guidance of God requires abandonment. We no longer say, ‘If I trust you, you will give me such and such.’ Instead, we must say, ‘I trust you. Give or withhold from me whatever you choose.’ As John Newton says, ‘What you will. When you will. How you will’” [8].

Prayer: Lord, Instruct us by developing our spiritual sensitivity. Make us humble and courageous so that we abandon our conditions of obedience. We trust you. Give or withhold whatever you choose. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] See Psalm 25:2, 19 | [2] See Psalm 25:16 | [3] See Psalm 25:7-8, 11, 18 | [4] See Psalm 25:4-5, 8-12 | [5] See Psalm 25:20, 16, 7, 11, 18 | [6] Psalm 25:8-10 ESV | [7] John Piper. “The Goodness of God in the Guidance of Sinners.” January 10, 1988. (emphasis added) | [8] Elisabeth Elliot. God’s Guidance: Finding God’s Will for Your Life. See also Tim Keller. “Your Plans; God’s Plans.” December 12, 2004. (one of the most helpful sermons on the guidance of the Lord).

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