You, Who Are Evil…

I’m having a blast doing this, but wow it’s difficult remembering to post each day! Yesterday came and went. Woops.

Daily Scripture readings, set #16 for June:

– Genesis, chapter 36
– Psalm, chapter 16
– Matthew 6:25-34
– Acts 9:20-43

Consider Psalm 16, verse 11:  “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures evermore.” Do we really believe this? FULLNESS of joy… that’s a big statement. Sure, anyone would admit that being in the presence of God sounds appealing, but David is claiming that joy finds it’s COMPLETION in God’s presence.

Jesus’ statements in Matthew 6:25-34 follow the logic of Psalm 16 perfectly. I memorized verse 33 when I was a little boy, but I still need to often ask myself if I really believe it: “But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Acts 9 describes Saul’s conversion to Christianity, and also some miscellaneous ministry by the apostles. I am ashamed to admit that prior to reading this chapter I had no idea that it contained an account of Peter raising someone from the dead. Verse 37 says that Tabitha, also known as Dorcas “became ill and died.” Dead… she was dead.  Not “sleeping” like in Luke 8, but truly dead. Peter then raises her to life! I guess I thought only Jesus had raised people from physical death to physical life on earth.

June reading set #17:

– Genesis, chapters 37-38
– Psalm 17
– Matthew 7:1-14
– Acts 10:1-23

Genesis 37 is the well-known account of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers. And then there’s Genesis 38… a strange story of widows and conceiving children. There are lots of things in Genesis 38 that leave me with questions, but a glaring one is Judah’s action in verse 16, contrasted with his actions in verse 24. Yes, he admits that his daughter-in-law has been “more righteous” than he has, but why is he so comfortable proclaiming judgment on Tamar for her immorality when he is so quick to visit a prostitute? Is this an old-world cultural norm issue, or is it that Judah’s sin in visiting a prostitute is just not addressed?

Psalm 17 has a reference to my previous post’s title and the Matthew 6 concept that there are some “rewards” that only pertain to this life. “Deliver my soul from the wicked… from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure, they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants.” (vs 13-14). This description that David gives for the wicked men that he is asking to be delivered from – it sounds kinda nice, doesn’t it? Treasure, satisfaction, abundance… these are things to be desired. But apparently they all belong to someone who is wicked, and someone that David is asking the Lord to punish.  It seems like the important phrase is “whose portion is IN THIS LIFE.” The assumption is that a portion that is ONLY in this life is not a very good portion.

I think it’s safe to say that the Sermon on the Mount is something that many Christians are familiar with, and I’m certainly one of them.  Most of this section of Matthew is stuff that, as I read it, I realize I have read many times before.  But then there are these little phrases that I’m realizing that, although I’ve read them, I’ve never actually NOTICED them.  For example, verse 11: “If you then, WHO ARE EVIL, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him.” Jesus very matter-of-factly points out that his audience is evil. A common topic these days is the question of whether humankind is fundamentally good or bad. It seems like this verse is yet another example of the Bible’s teaching that we are all fundamentally sinful (Total Depravity).

Acts 10 contains what seems to be another pivotal verse in understanding the difference between the Old Testament covenant of Law and the New Testament covenant of Grace: “What God has made clean do not call common” (vs 15).

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