Sunday: 30 August – Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; Psalm 15:2-5; James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 ~ what’s in your heart?
Father of light, giver of every good and perfect gift, bring to fruition the word of truth sown in our hearts by Your Son, that we may rightly understand Your commandments, live Your law of love, and so offer You worship that is pure and undefiled. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.
Why do people stumble over the cross? Because it undermines our self-righteousness…. The fact that Christ died for our sins is proof positive that we cannot save ourselves. But to make this humiliating confession is an intolerable offense to our pride. So instead of humbling ourselves, we ‘stumble over the stumbling-stone’.
Is it fair of God to hold us accountable to him, when he makes the decisions? To this question Paul makes three responses, all of which concern who God is. Most of our problems arise and seem insoluble because our image of God is distorted.
If therefore anybody is lost, the blame is theirs, but if anybody is saved, the credit is God’s. This antinomy contains a mystery which our present knowledge cannot solve; but it is consistent with Scripture, history and experience.
There have always been two Israels, those physically descended from Israel (Jacob) on the one hand, and his spiritual progeny on the other; and God’s promise was addressed to the latter, who had received it.
Calvin comments: ‘If [God] honored the whole human race when he connected himself with it by sharing our nature, much more did he honor the Jews, with whom he desired to have a close bond of affinity.’
Those of us who have never had to suffer physically for Christ should perhaps read verses 35–39 alongside verses 35–39 of Hebrews 11, which list unnamed people of faith who were tortured, jeered at, flogged, chained, stoned, and even sawn in half. Faced with such heroism, there is no place for glibness or complacency.
Sunday: 23 August – Joshua 24:1-2, 15-18; Psalm 34:2-3, 16-21; Ephesians 5:2, 21-32; John 6:60-69 ~ Lord, to whom would we go?
“Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.”