When the Day Turns Dark

Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 32.17-18
17 They sacrificed to false gods, which are not God—
    gods they had not known,
    gods that recently appeared,
    gods your ancestors did not fear.
18 You deserted the Rock, who fathered you;
    you forgot the God who gave you birth.

Deuteronomy 32.39
39 See now that I myself am he!
    There is no god besides me.
I put to death and I bring to life,
    I have wounded and I will heal,
    and no one can deliver out of my hand.

Romans 3.25-26
25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Reflection: When the Day Turns Dark
By Anna Beth Vollema 

Come, let us contest child, 
    if you will not leave me again.
If you will not bend
    to the whisper of the air; 
Soft and Sweet,
    easy and enticing,
    everything you asked for;
When you spoke out of the night,  
    out of desperation and impatience, 
    out of fear and forgetfulness;
You’ll want it all,
    and you’ll want it quickly.
Like a junkie wanting his next fix, 
    you’ll strip your gold bangles,
    you’ll pull out your hairs,
    you’ll throw in your shambles,
    you’ll give up your years,
To an idol of your own making; 
    a statue in your own image; 
    a chasing after the wind. 

Tremble my child, and quake.   
 For I AM he; 
    there is no god besides Me!
My presence is life; 
    My absence is death.
The justice you long for is the crown of my head;
    the chaos of the world is reigned by my ropes;
    and the floodgates of my wrath will clear all the wrongs. 
So, bask in the light of my face, oh child; 
    shelter in the rays of my eyes
For I see what you need,
    and I see who you’ll be.
So, be with me.
Or I’ll have to let you go;
    go stumbling after the wind;
    go traipsing into the floodwaters, 
    so that you taste darkness again. 
The darkness of my absence; 
    My face turned away. 
You’ll bear the burden, 
    I bear for you every day. 
You’ll bear the sadness, 
    of remembering what once was; 
The sweetness of the food,
    in the house of your First Love. 
I’ll let you bear this burden
    so that you remember again, 
       who I AM; 
       who I’ve been; 
       the redemption, 
       in my hands. 

Rest my child, be still. 
For I AM He;
    there is no contest,
    there is no god besides Me!
By my life there is Truth; 
    by my death, there is life. 
Justice was quenched by my time on the tree, 
    the chaos of the world will end by my love, 
And from the floodgates of my wrath, 
    you will be protected. 
So, bask in the light of this lamb, oh child; 
    shelter in these lion eyes. 
By wrath and mercy intertwined,
     my love, unified; 
To set you free
    free to run back to Me; 
    free to skip like a child,
    on a holiday at the sea. 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Search for the Lord and his strength; continually seek his face. — Psalm 105.4

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings

Deuteronomy 32 (Listen7:10)
Romans 12 (Listen 2:58)

Read more about Platforming Idols
What a difference between the gods of the earth and the true God of heaven!

Read more about Idolatry as Parody
We become like our idols: fraudulent, shameful, unable to think, and unable to respond.

Balaams and Balaks :: Readers’ Choice

Selected by reader, Brian, from Washington D.C.
I get angry at church leaders that promote one candidate or politician…Not at the politician. It breaks my heart because my secular neighbors tell me how much they hate the church because of the hypocrisy of our leaders.

Scripture Focus: Number 22.6
Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that whoever you bless is blessed, and whoever you curse is cursed.

Reflection: Balaams and Balaks :: Readers’ Choice
Originally published May 13th, 2019
By John Tillman

Last week we celebrated the bravery of the prophet, Nathan, who confronted King David with his sins and described the terrible consequences that would be the result of the king’s actions.

This week’s readings begin with a very different prophet—one who could not be further from the ethical stance of Nathan—Balaam. Balaam is not concerned with whether what the king wants is right or moral. He does not care about reconciling men or nations to God as Nathan does. Balaam’s prophecies are for sale. But rather than allow Balaam to put words in his mouth, God puts his words in Balaam’s mouth.

God takes extreme measures. He causes Balaam’s donkey to speak to him to get his attention. Then, once Balaam sees the threatening angel, God sternly warns Balaam to only say what God tells him to say. Although God speaks through Balaam, there is no relationship of love or trust—no expectation of good faith.

In the end, Balaam says what God commands. This could be because he is overwhelmed by the visions or because he is simply obeying out of fear of the angel who threatened him. Scripture does not tell us.

Perhaps the best lesson we can learn from Balaam is that there will always be prophets willing to buddy up to powerful, political leaders. These modern Balaams do their best to put words in God’s mouth that are pleasing to the powerful.

There are many political leaders today who are just like Balak. They want prophets of God to come to them, stand with them, worship with them, and bless their evil practices and desires. And there are many Balaams in the world today who claim to speak for God and yet seem willing to tickle the ears of the powerful in exchange for assurances of influence and power.

As God’s people, we can’t do much about the Balaams or the Balaks of the world. We must leave them up to God, for he is more than able to deal with them according to their sins.

Instead, we must simply keep serving our God and following him through our desert of sojourn. When the Balaams look down on us, may they be unable to deny the beauty of the love of God that is among us.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his mercy endures for ever. — Psalm 136.1-3

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Samuel 3 (Listen – 3:03) 
Romans 3 (Listen – 4:30)

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Read more about Resisting Herods
The conditions in which the gospel makes its way in the World have little to do with influence and wealth and power.