Category Archives: Selected Sunday Scriptures

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #140

I was reading Cane Caldo’s most recent post this week, and I immediately thought of this passage from First Timothy:

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, 10 fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching 11 that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

(1 Timothy 1:8-11)

The unfortunate truth is that society needs both criminal laws, as well as social sanction, to keep people in line. Those who are rebellious will not be motivated by virtue, therefore to restrain them you must appeal to their self-interest. That means using the laws of society to keep them in place.

As much as we would rather not have laws in place, or social sanctions, or whatever the particular instrument in question is, they are absolutely necessary. We are witnessing now the price that is paid when society gives those things up.

Also, I think I have found a corollary, of sorts, to the old engineer adage:

Cheap. Fast. Good…. pick two.

I suppose one could call it a social engineer’s adage:

Virtue. Freedom. Wealth/Comfort… pick two.

The obvious scripture passage to back this up involves a certain gate:

16 Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19 Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

(Matthew 19:16-26)

The more wealth there is, the more care needs to be taken to limit freedom (if only in a self-imposed way). Otherwise virtue will be pushed to the back-burner.

Finally, this passage from St. James’s letter appealed to me today:

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.

(James 3:13-17)

Well, maybe not appealed to me. Rather, convicted me. Envy is one of my long running problems, one that has been very difficult to stamp out. I’ve made progress in a lot of other areas, but this one still eludes me.  All the more reason for me not to boast, and to remember that I too depend utterly on the mercy of God.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #139

Today’s post will have no central theme. Rather, I will feature some scripture which caught my attention in the last few weeks. First up is a verse from Proverbs 31:

She girds herself with strength,
    and makes her arms strong.

(Proverbs 31:17)

I have tended to skip past this particular verse when reading through Proverbs 31 in the past. However, I am now of a different mind. This week at Church I saw a mother with two young children holding them throughout the service. Neither kid was a newborn- 1 and 3 years old, respectively. And she held them throughout much of the service. That couldn’t have been easy. [For those curious, dad was dealing with the older and more troublesome children.]

Physical strength is often something which is seen as a male attribute. But women need strength of their own as well- being a mother pretty much demands it. While I’ve intended to get my wife a gym membership when/if I get married, it was mostly focused on general health and keeping the weight off. But building muscle is another important thing which I had overlooked until today.

Next comes this passage from Romans:

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

(Romans 6:1-14)

I’ve never understood those Protestant traditions which have held that Baptism is “optional” for Christians. Scripture alone is clear on its importance- its necessity. We must die to the sins of this world, and be born anew into the family of God. And baptism is the means we do so. It is a spiritual drowning, if you will, which recalls back to the parting of the Red Sea. This leads to a seeming paradox- the only way to live is to die. But this life is bound by death already. The only way to escape that is through God. And in so doing we become His children. See also this from John’s Gospel:

12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

(John 1:12-13)

Going back to the passage from Romans, we can also see that if we choose to live a life of sin, we can bring back that part of us which was supposed to die. That life where we were the children of the Enemy, and not of God. We must keep that old self buried, and never seek to dig it up. If we can do so, then eternal life with our Heavenly Father is before us.

 

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #138

I have a post in the works (at least the workshop of my mind), and this post is tied to it. There is an obvious theme here which ties to the future post, which was prompted by a recent comment.

The first few verses comes from the Song of Songs:

We have a little sister,
    and she has no breasts.
What shall we do for our sister,
    on the day when she is spoken for?
If she is a wall,
    we will build upon her a battlement of silver;
but if she is a door,
    we will enclose her with boards of cedar.

(Song 8:8-9)

Then we draw from two selections from the Book if Sirach. The first is relatively short:

A drunken wife arouses great anger;
    she cannot hide her shame.
The haughty stare betrays an unchaste wife;
    her eyelids give her away.

10 Keep strict watch over a headstrong daughter,
    or else, when she finds liberty, she will make use of it.
11 Be on guard against her impudent eye,
    and do not be surprised if she sins against you.
12 As a thirsty traveler opens his mouth
    and drinks from any water near him,
so she will sit in front of every tent peg
    and open her quiver to the arrow.

(Sirach 26:8-12)

And then the longer section:

A daughter is a secret anxiety to her father,
    and worry over her robs him of sleep;
when she is young, for fear she may not marry,
    or if married, for fear she may be disliked;
10 while a virgin, for fear she may be seduced
    and become pregnant in her father’s house;
or having a husband, for fear she may go astray,
    or, though married, for fear she may be barren.
11 Keep strict watch over a headstrong daughter,
    or she may make you a laughingstock to your enemies,
a byword in the city and the assembly of the people,
    and put you to shame in public gatherings.
See that there is no lattice in her room,
    no spot that overlooks the approaches to the house.
12 Do not let her parade her beauty before any man,
    or spend her time among married women;
13 for from garments comes the moth,
    and from a woman comes woman’s wickedness.
14 Better is the wickedness of a man than a woman who does good;
    it is woman who brings shame and disgrace.

(Sirach 42:9-14)

The translation leaves something to be desired at the end.  My NASB NAB translates it thus: “Better a man’s harshness than a woman’s indulgence.” Given the context, that makes much more sense than this translation.

There are a few more like in throughout Scripture, but this is a good baseline. Feel free to add others in the comments below if you like.

 

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- # 137

Today (and tonight) is a period of expectation. Over two thousand years ago the People of God were awaiting the Messiah. Only the Savior they were expecting was not the one God was sending- the One they needed.  They were expecting a King, and that is what they received:

Clap your hands, all peoples!
Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, is terrible,
    a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
    and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
    the pride of Jacob whom he loves.Selah

God has gone up with a shout,
    the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
    Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the king of all the earth;
    sing praises with a psalm!

God reigns over the nations;
    God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather
    as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
    he is highly exalted!

(Psalm 47)

But they  missed- or their hearts were blinded, to the fact that the King would also be a servant:

Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him,
    he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry or lift up his voice,
    or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
    he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not fail or be discouraged
    till he has established justice in the earth;
    and the coastlands wait for his law.

(Isaiah 42:1-4)

And not just a servant, a lowly and humble one. For such is the path we all must walk if we too shall be saved and be part of the family of God.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirin′i-us was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; 11 for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”

(Luke 2:1-14)

 

To all men and women of good will, I wish you peace and joy and a Merry Christmas!

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #136

Resuming posting after a brief Thanksgiving week break. Today’s post begins with this passage from Ephesians:

25 Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

(Ephesians 4:25-32)

A couple of things caught my attention while reading this passage.

The first was this: “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.” It seems to me that St. Paul does give room for what we might call “Righteous Anger” to a Christian. However, he warns us not to sin, and gives two specifics: don’t let the sun go down, and don’t give room for the devil. The way I interpret this, he is saying that anger must be momentary, not a permanent condition for us. And that we must not let our anger be a source of temptation for Satan to exploit us.

The second part that got my attention was this: “ Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.” Elsewhere St. Paul warns about obscene language and foul language. Here what I found interesting was the mention of edifying and fitting the occasion. It seems to me that he might be giving a little leeway for what we might call “working blue,” but only if it fits the occasion. That is, it is absolutely necessary to edify a brother.

Then we have this passage from First Peter:

13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right? 14 But even if you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than for doing wrong.

(1 Peter 3:13-17)

We Christians should always be hopeful. Always. It should be a constant mark of who and what we are. Just as pagans should know us for our love, they should know us for our hope. This is especially important in this day and age, because it seems to me that we are entering an age without hope. I sense very little hope in most people. They don’t know what they are really living for. Consequently they are attaching themselves to various pleasure and diversions to try and bring meaning to their lives. Or at least satisfaction. Of course, that never works out for them in the end.

Finally I want to end with two verses from the Book of Proverbs. The first:

Take a man’s garment when he has given surety for a stranger,
    and hold him in pledge when he gives surety for foreigners.

(Proverbs 27:13)

Here translation makes a major difference. The RSV translates that last word as foreigners. But the literal translation is foreign woman. Which, if we consider what is being said before, actually helps everything make sense. The proverb is saying that if a man takes a loan and spends it on a foreign woman (aka, a harlot), then don’t give him back his surety afterwards. He deserves to lose his clothes for that.

And finally I leave with this verse, which I hope to talk about in a post tomorrow:

Iron sharpens iron,
    and one man sharpens another.

(Proverbs 27:17)

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #135

Today’s post is inspired by this recent post over at Zippy’s. A major point of discussion in the comments is Christian (in that particular context Catholic Christian) heroism. I want to move this post out of a narrow Catholic context into one that all Christians can address. A question is necessary: are we, as Christians, called to heroism? Lets look at some Scripture:

23 When they were released they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who by the mouth of our father David, thy servant, didst say by the Holy Spirit,

‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples imagine vain things?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves in array,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against thy holy servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever thy hand and thy plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, 30 while thou stretchest out thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

(Acts 4:23-31)

That whole chapter features boldness, which I think is a heroic quality.

I thank God whom I serve with a clear conscience, as did my fathers, when I remember you constantly in my prayers. As I remember your tears, I long night and day to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lo′is and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you. Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.

Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago, 10 and now has manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 For this gospel I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 and therefore I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; 14 guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

(2 Timothy 3-14)

These are just a couple of passages, but to me it seems like we as Christians are called to boldness and endure great challenges. Seems an awful lot like heroism to me. However, I could be wrong. So I ask my readers to offer their thoughts. And if they have passages from Scripture which they think would fit (or counter the above), feel free to mention them below.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #134

So I guess there was something of a debate over at Dalrock because of this post. Scott wrote his own thoughts about it over here. I’ve got a few thoughts of my own, but they are tied to scripture- hence why they are in this post. Reading through Dalrock’s post, I immediately saw the apparent “shallowness” of Mrs. Stone’s approach. At the same time, I was reminded of this:

He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a steward, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ And the steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that people may receive me into their houses when I am put out of the stewardship.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest steward for his prudence; for the sons of this world are wiser in their own generation than the sons of light And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations.

(Luke 16:1-9)

I also got to thinking of this passage from First Timothy:

Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 immoral persons, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

(1 Timothy 1:8-11)

The way I look at it is this:

Those who are truly good – or at least aspiring towards it- won’t need the kind of admonishment that Heidi provides. They will want to honor their vows, they will want to be loyal and faithful, etc. However, not everyone is like that. Some wives will not be like that- either because they never truly were, or because they are going through a time of personal weakness. Whatever the cause, they are not necessarily inclined to seek righteousness at that point. However, those who weak in that way might be persuaded by Heidi. She will appeal to their lesser nature- their cunning. And that is something that we as Christians should understand, and acknowledge as perhaps helpful. After all, that is the point of the first passage above- cunning has its use. And we as Christians should recognize it. Even if “lowly” methods are what is needed at the time, we can always appeal to the higher nature later.

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