Cherishing Chaff

Scripture Focus: Matthew 24.1-2
1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

Jeremiah 10.19-21
19 Woe to me because of my injury!
    My wound is incurable!
Yet I said to myself,
    “This is my sickness, and I must endure it.”
20 My tent is destroyed;
    all its ropes are snapped.
My children are gone from me and are no more;
    no one is left now to pitch my tent
    or to set up my shelter.
21 The shepherds are senseless
    and do not inquire of the Lord;
so they do not prosper
    and all their flock is scattered.

Reflection: Cherishing Chaff
By John Tillman

Some buildings are great by age and grandeur and some by the gleam and glisten of modern glass and steel. However, no matter how impressive a building is when you walk, ride, or drive by it regularly, it becomes just a part of the scenery. 

How impressive does a building have to be for you to still comment on it as you pass by, years later? Why would the disciples call Jesus’ attention to the impressive buildings of the Temple that both he and they had been worshiping in their entire lives?

The Temple had been standing for 500 years and had been extensively renovated and repaired by Herod during the disciple’s lifetimes. Perhaps the disciples were happy to see some scaffolding come down on an area that had been newly restored. 

But the Temple’s shiny new sheen couldn’t distract Jesus’ eyes from the self-righteous deceit within and the suffering he saw over the horizon. The disciples saw the Temple as grand, renewed, and a symbol of strength and status. Jesus saw its present and future, sinful, destroyed, and humiliated.

Herod was a ruler of nominal faith at best. (Even that is being extraordinarily generous.) Herod was corrupt, a womanizer, boastful, and lived in a sinful relationship. He “liked to listen” to John the Baptist, but that didn’t stop him from cutting off the prophet’s head. 

Herod’s work on the Temple wasn’t faith-driven. It was a political tactic to boost his status and generate support among the people—and it worked. Even the disciples of Jesus were impressed.

The Temple, and Herod, are just two examples of things unworthy of the esteem and attention the disciples gave them. Many things the disciples prized, Jesus recognized as poison. Many things they cherished Jesus called chaff in the wind. 

What catches our eyes? What chaff do we cherish or poison do we prize? A building? A politician? A charismatic leader? An institution? Point out to Jesus what catches your eye. Seek his opinion on whether you should hold it up for honor or whether it is destined to be thrown down.

Physical idols, whether statues, buildings, institutions, or living humans, are the product of inward sin. We worship them instead of God because inwardly we refuse to trust God or we have denounced God. Allow the revelation of outward idols to lead you to discover inward attitudes that must be torn down.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Small Verse
My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God. — Psalm 84.1

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 10 (Listen – 3:51) 
Matthew 24 (Listen – 5:59)

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Read more about Treasuring Our Temples
Judah treasured the Temple’s importance but not its inhabitant. They treasured the regalia, not the relationship.

Distrust of God and Fraud :: Throwback Thursday

Genesis 25.34
So Esau despised his birthright.

1 John 2.15
Do not love the world or anything in the world.

From John:
Esau sins by giving up something of eternal significance for temporal satisfaction. Jacob sins by resorting to deceit and theft to gain what had already been promised by God. They each despised God’s providence and acted faithlessly in their own way. May God have mercy on us when we fall in their same steps.

Reflection: Distrust of God and Fraud :: Throwback Thursday
By Richard Baxter

Cure covetousness, and you will kill the root of fraud and theft.

As a drunkard would easily be cured of his drunkenness, if you could cure him of his thirst and love to drink; so an extortioner, thief, or deceiver, would easily be cured of their outward sin, if their hearts were cured of the disease of worldliness. The love of money is the root of all this evil. Value these things no more than they deserve.

To this end, acquaint your hearts with the greater riches of the life to come; and then you will meet with true satisfaction. The true hopes of heaven will cure your greedy desires of earth.

You dare not then forfeit your part in that perpetual blessedness, for the temporal supply of some bodily want: you dare not, with Adam, part with Paradise for a forbidden bite; nor as Esau profanely sell your birthright for a morsel.

It is the unbelief and contempt of heaven, which make men risk it for the poor commodities of this world.

Be content to stand to God’s disposal; and do not allow discontented thoughts to feed upon your hearts. When your minds run all day long upon your necessities, the devil tempts you to think of unlawful courses to supply them.

He will show you your neighbour’s money, or goods, or estates, and tell you how well it would be with you if this were yours. He showed Achan the golden wedge; he told Gehazi how unreasonable it was that Naaman’s money and raiment should be refused: he told Balaam of the hopes of preferment which he might have with Balak; he told Judas how to get his thirty pieces; he persuaded Ananias and Sapphira, that it was but reasonable to retain part of that which was their own.

If you accepted God as your God, you would accept him as the one that is fitter to measure out your part of earthly things than you yourselves. Then you would rest in his wisdom, will, and fatherly providence; and not shift for yourselves by sinful means.

Discontentedness of mind, and distrust of God, are the cause of all such fraud. Trust God and you will have no need of these.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
For God alone my soul in silence waits; truly, my hope is in him. — Psalm 62.6

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Genesis 25 (Listen – 4:18) 
Matthew 24 (Listen – 5:59)

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Read more about Meditation in Spiritual Rhythm :: Throwback Thursday
Nor should we imagine it will be as well to take up with prayer alone, and lay aside meditation…We need the one as well as the other…and our speaking to ourselves in meditation, should go before our speaking to God in prayer. — Richard Baxter

Read more about Lament the Effects of Hard-Heartedness :: Throwback Thursday
Take notice of the doleful effects of hard-heartedness in the world. This fills the world with wickedness and confusion, with wars and bloodshed; and leaves it under that lamentable desertion and delusion, which we see in majority of the earth. — Richard Baxter