Category Archives: Selected Sunday Scriptures

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #128

Today’s first passages comes from the book of Sirach. I was inspired to use it thanks to this comment by Gunner Q about how daughters should be viewed as a potential liability. He is not the first to make this observation:

A daughter keeps her father secretly wakeful,
    and worry over her robs him of sleep;
when she is young, lest she do not marry,
    or if married, lest she be hated;
10 while a virgin, lest she be defiled
    or become pregnant in her father’s house;
or having a husband, lest she prove unfaithful,
    or, though married, lest she be barren.
11 Keep strict watch over a headstrong daughter,
    lest she make you a laughingstock to your enemies,
a byword in the city and notorious among the people,
    and put you to shame before the great multitude.

(Sirach 42:9-11)

An exchange started to develop in my most recent post. Lest it get any worse, I quote from this part of the gospel of Matthew as a refresher course:

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

(Matthew 7:1-5)

Finally, these words of hope in the Lenten season:

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

(2 Corinthians 5:16-21)

3 Comments

Filed under Selected Sunday Scriptures

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #127

We have started the period of Lent. This is a period of fasting and repentance- of turning back to the Lord. In that spirit, here are some passages from scripture which I found appropriate:

In the fourth year of King Dari′us, the word of the Lord came to Zechari′ah on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is Chislev. Now the people of Bethel had sent Share′zer and Reg′em-mel′ech and their men, to entreat the favor of the Lord, and to ask the priests of the house of the Lord of hosts and the prophets, “Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?” Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me: “Say to all the people of the land and the priests, When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted? And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves? When Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, with her cities round about her, and the South and the lowland were inhabited, were not these the words which the Lord proclaimed by the former prophets?”

(Zechariah 7:1-7)

A good gospel accompaniment would be this passage:

16 “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

(Matthew 6:16-18)

Fasting is of little worth if our hearts are not in the right place. If we fast for God, then our reward will come from God. But if we fast for the sake of men, our reward will come from them- and thus perish in the end. Our actions must mirror our internal state- otherwise we are just stage actors.

A key part of this is turning towards the Lord and repenting.

25 Turn to the Lord and forsake your sins;
    pray in his presence and lessen your offenses.
26 Return to the Most High and turn away from iniquity,
    and hate abominations intensely.
27 Who will sing praises to the Most High in Hades,
    as do those who are alive and give thanks?
28 From the dead, as from one who does not exist, thanksgiving has ceased;
    he who is alive and well sings the Lord’s praises.
29 How great is the mercy of the Lord,
    and his forgiveness for those who turn to him!
30 For all things cannot be in men,
    since a son of man is not immortal.
31 What is brighter than the sun? Yet its light fails.
    So flesh and blood devise evil.
32 He marshals the host of the height of heaven;
    but all men are dust and ashes.

(Sirach 17:24-32)

King David, a man who was all too familiar with sin, understand the importance of repentance well:

Be mindful of thy mercy, O Lord, and of thy steadfast love,
    for they have been from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth, or my trangressions;
    according to thy steadfast love remember me,
    for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord!

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.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
    for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

11 For thy name’s sake, O Lord,
    pardon my guilt, for it is great.

(Psalm 25:6-11)

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

When I declared not my sin, my body wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me;
    my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

I acknowledged my sin to thee,
    and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my trangressions to the Lord”;
    then thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let every one who is godly
    offer prayer to thee;
at a time of distress, in the rush of great waters,
    they shall not reach him.

(Psalm 32:1-6)

And of course, it is important to keep in mind how Jesus opened his ministry after being tempted in the desert:

12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; 13 and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Caper′na-um by the sea, in the territory of Zeb′ulun and Naph′tali, 14 that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

15 “The land of Zeb′ulun and the land of Naph′tali,
toward the sea, across the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.”

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

(Matthew 4:12-17)

Leave a comment

Filed under Selected Sunday Scriptures

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #126

[Sorry for the late post. Busy day, and this post itself was rushed out. Apologies for missed mistakes and poor construction.]

In my most recent post I explored women’s dress. Today I want to explore some scripture that deals with the matter. Here we have St. Paul’s 1st Letter to Timothy:

also that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire 10 but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion.

(1 Timothy 2:9-10)

Then we have St. Peter’s 1st Letter:

Let not yours be the outward adorning with braiding of hair, decoration of gold, and wearing of robes, but let it be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

(1 Peter 3:3-4)

I know there are some other passages that would be appropriate, but I cannot think of them at the moment.

But what we have here is basic teaching on modesty. As I’ve argued elsewhere, modesty as the Christian understands it stands two functions: the first is to reduce sexual temptation, and the second is to avoid avarice and envy. Both of them, however, have as their base the following:

Wearing clothing or other adornment  such that others are not tempted into sin.

At the same time, that can be extended to include the wearer as well, who can no doubt be affected by the clothes she (or he) is wearing.

From looking at the admonishments above, and the previous post, we can see that a Christian understanding of modesty, as far as women is concerned, is about alleviating tendencies women face when dressing. As was pointed out in Dressed to Impress by Maea, “Women seem to fall into one of 3 groups– the women who dress for other women, the ones who dress for men, and the ones who dress for the sake of beauty.” Modesty aims to target the first two groups, or tendencies (which I think fits better).

The first tendency is to dress “for” other women. That is, to dress to impress other women with their own attractiveness, to show off their “value”, as well as to show off their wealth and social status. The second is when women dress “for” men. That is, to dress to impress men (or a specific man) with their sex appeal.

Modesty aims to stop both. It limits the signs of social status and wealth, and limits displays of attractiveness. Modest dress thus helps the woman who dresses as well as the men and women who see her later. Hopefully that third tendency, the one women should aim for, is what is elevated instead. At least, that is how I see it. Perhaps my readers have their own thoughts.

6 Comments

Filed under Selected Sunday Scriptures

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #125

Today’s post will feature three Gospel readings. The first is the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican:

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

(Luke 18:9-14)

The second is that of the Prodigal Son:

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons; 12 and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. 15 So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; 23 and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; 24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry.

25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

(Luke 15:11-32)

The third comes from Jesus’s denouncing of the Pharisees:

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity. 26 You blind Pharisee! first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

(Matthew 23:25-28)

All three passages deal with those who appear clean, that is, righteous, on the outside. The Pharisees in the first and third passage, and the older brother in the second. On the outside they are obedient- they do what the law requires of them. But inside, their hearts are just as full of sin as those they look down on them, whether they be tax collectors or wayward brothers. In all three situations you have as the principal sin that of pride. Pride, that most indispensable of sins. That which comes before the fall.

With the older brother we see more, of course. Envy and Avarice have also blinded him to the fact that his brother has returned. He has let his love of material things get in the way of his love for his brother. And if he cannot love his brother, whom he has seen, how can he hope to love God, whom he has not seen?

As we move along our spiritual journey, we need to watch out for pride and the other sins we keep inside. As we get better and better and keeping the outside of the cup clean, it becomes all the more imperative that we keep the inside clean too. It is good to appreciate and acknowledge our accomplishments. But at the same time we cannot let them give us a false sense of being “better” or more worthy than those around us. All have fallen short- all of us have missed the mark. And ll of us are equally dependent on the mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. At the end of the day, we will all be throwing ourselves at the feet of our Lord and begging him to show mercy. Let that reminder keep us on our toes, and prayerful in our hearts.

1 Comment

Filed under Selected Sunday Scriptures

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #124

Two passages for today’s post. The first is a section of St. Paul’s second epistle to the Thessalonians, which I propose to contain many valuable lessons:

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, we did not eat any one’s bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you. It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. 12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living. 13 Brethren, do not be weary in well-doing.

14 If any one refuses to obey what we say in this letter, note that man, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Do not look on him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

(2 Thessalonians 3:6-15)

Here is a quick list I have made of the important lessons which St. Paul teaches here:

  • Avoid those “Christians” who are idle, that is, given over to sloth.
  • Avoid those professed Christians who are living in a way which goes against Apostolic tradition.
  • St. Paul and his companions may have worked for their upkeep, but they had the right to expect their fellow brethren in Christ to support them.
  • Those who refuse to work should not eat- that is, be given food by the community.
  • Christians should not grow weary, presumably in the soul, of hard work.
  • Have nothing to do with fellow Christians who disobey the teaching of the Apostles. This will shame them and hopefully convince them to turn aside from their sin.
  • Those who have fallen away are not our enemies, and shouldn’t be treated as such. Instead they are wayward brothers who should be warned about the perils of sin out of love.

As for this next passage, it was motivated by Dalrock’s long running series of weak men- many of whom seem to be screwing feminism up. This passage indeed features a weak man- Herod:

14 King Herod heard of it; for Jesus’ name had become known. Some[c] said, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Eli′jah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Hero′di-as, his brother Philip’s wife; because he had married her. 18 For John said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Hero′di-as had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Hero′di-as’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out, and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. 27 And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

(Mark 6:14-29)

Is it just me, or does this passage make Herod seem, well, kinda pathetic? He fears John, and yet it is only when a woman effectively blackmails him that he finally puts the prophet to death. Not to mention the fact that a pretty girl dancing (plus presumably a fair amount of drink) would compel the man to make that rash of a vow. And to make it even worse, Herod knew John was righteous and still was so full of pride as to keep on with his (initially) half a—d measures.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Selected Sunday Scriptures, Uncategorized

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #123

A year has come and gone. In many respects 2016 did not go as I had hoped. But it is past now, and nothing can be done about it. Instead I turn towards the future, and hope that it fares better. When times seem dark it is important to remember that God is always with us, and that he can turn any situation around. King David understood this quite well:

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up,
    and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
    and you have healed me.
O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol,
    restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones,
    and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment;
    his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

As for me, I said in my prosperity,
    “I shall never be moved.”
By your favor, O Lord,
    you had established me as a strong mountain;
you hid your face;
    I was dismayed.

To you, O Lord, I cried,
    and to the Lord I made supplication:
“What profit is there in my death,
    if I go down to the Pit?
Will the dust praise you?
    Will it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me!
    O Lord, be my helper!”

11 You have turned my mourning into dancing;
    you have taken off my sackcloth
    and clothed me with joy,
12 so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
    O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

(Psalm 30)

To me this Psalm has always seemed appropriate for New Years. It acknowledges the darkness and trials at the past, yet also points towards the light of hope in the future. I invite my readers to submit their own quotes from Scripture that they believe appropriate for this New Year, and to offer their thoughts on why they think so.

2 Comments

Filed under Selected Sunday Scriptures

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #121

We are now on the second week of Advent. With that in mind, I’ve chosen some passages linked to that theme. I begin with the opening of Matthew’s gospel:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

(Matthew 1:1)

And by opening, I mean that. Just the first verse. But a huge amount is contained in that single verse. Let us unpack it.

First, we have the name of our savior: Jesus Christ. That is how His name is translated in the Greek. If we were to say His hebrew name, it would be Joshua  the Messiah. Now, that is just His Hebrew name. That doesn’t actually translate what His name actually means.

Joshua is a familiar name to those fluent in the Old Testament. He was the Israelite who took over after Moses, and actually led the People of God into the Promised Land. A translation of Joshua into English would be “God Saves.”

Messiah is another important and old Hebrew word. It means “anointed.” To anoint someone was to mark them with oil as special, as set apart. In the Old Testament we see two different figures who were anointed, the King and the Priest. Some examples of this from scripture:

10 And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and fetch him; for we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

(1 Samuel 10-13)

12 Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tent of meeting, and shall wash them with water, 13 and put upon Aaron the holy garments, and you shall anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve me as priest. 14 You shall bring his sons also and put coats on them, 15 and anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may serve me as priests: and their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations.”

(Exodus 40:12-15)

I mention both of these because this separation was not how it was supposed to be. Originally the Patriarch, the head of the family of the People Israel, was both King and Priest. Both roles belonged to him as father. However, with the Exodus the roles are split- the kingship is retained by Judah, but the priesthood went to Aaron’s line, of the House of Levi. In Jesus we see them returned to their proper place together, hand in hand. Just as it was before in his ancestor, Melchizedek.

Then Matthew mentions that He is “the son of David.” This is important because it is a fulfillment of a promise by God to David:

12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men; 15 but I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.’”

(2 Samuel 7:12-16)

It is important to remember that as the first Gospel Matthew was writing to a primarily Jewish audience. By opening with this statement that Jesus was the Son of David, he is informing the reader that Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise I just quoted above. Jesus is the Son that was promised to David, the Son whose throne would be established forever.

Then we have the mention that Jesus was the Son of Abraham. Here again Matthew was informing the reader that yet another promise was being fulfilled. This was a promise of God to Abraham:

15 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, 18 and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”

(Genesis 22:15-18)

Jesus was the blessing to all the nations that was promised. And the gates of the enemies were the gates of the Underworld, of Sheol, which Jesus smashed after his Crucifixion. And by possessing them, he freed from the pit those righteous dead which had awaited the Lord’s Day.

Matthew is telling his Jewish readers all of that, and in a single sentence. For those who don’t really know the Old Testament, it seems like a mere prologue. But for those who truly know it, Matthew was actually giving away the whole book there- this book is about The Anointed of God, King and Priest in the order of Melchizedek, God Saves, who established a kingdom and throne forever and thereby blessed all nations and peoples by smashing the gates of Death.

Leave a comment

Filed under Selected Sunday Scriptures