BiOY

Bible in One Year – Week 5 #BiOY

Having resolved this yearn to join with my church family (and many others) in reading the whole bible this year, I intend to hold myself accountable by sharing a key personal learning point each week.

This week I was reminded of what Jesus said about following traditions created by men rather than following God. Mark 7:5-13 says:

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, ‘Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?’

He replied, ‘Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

‘“These people honour me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.”

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.’

And he continued, ‘You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, “Honour your father and mother,” and, “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.” But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God) – then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.’

Later in Mark 8, Jesus goes on to warn the twelve apostles of ‘the yeast’ of the Pahrisees and of Herod:

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. ‘Be careful,’ Jesus warned them. ‘Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.’
They discussed this with one another and said, ‘It is because we have no bread.’
Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: ‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?’
‘Twelve,’ they replied.
‘And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?’
They answered, ‘Seven.’
He said to them, ‘Do you still not understand?’

I pray that I will always have eyes to see and ears to hear, and the wisdom to understand the teaching of Jesus, and to reject that which comes from mere men, whatever their apparent earthly authority.

The Master’s Voice

His voice called all into being
Thundering over the waters;
Powerful; and majestic,
It breaks cedars, twists oak;
It strikes with flashes of lightning.
His voice shakes the desert;
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

based upon Psalm 29

I Seek Your Face

Hear my call, O Lord
be merciful to and answer
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, I will seek.

Do not turn from me
Show me the light of your face
Shining upon me

inspired by Psalm 27

Bible in One Year – Week 3 #BiOY

Having resolved this yearn to join with my church family (and many others) in reading the whole bible this year, I intend to hold myself accountable by sharing a key personal learning point each week.

This week I really noticed the emphasis Jesus placed on our forgiveness of others. In Matthew 18:21-35 Jesus tells the parable of the unforgiving servant, who received the pity of his master when unable to repay him, but in turn would not show mercy to another servant who owed him money. His master hears of what has happened, and sees that the wicked servant is thrown into prison.

Jesus warns, ‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’ (Matthew 18:35)

– – – – – – –

I was also greatly comforted by these words from Psalm 17:

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
    turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show me the wonders of your great love,
    you who save by your right hand
    those who take refuge in you from their foes.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
    hide me in the shadow of your wings
from the wicked who are out to destroy me,
    from my mortal enemies who surround me.

Bible in One Year – Week 2 #BiOY

Having resolved this yearn to join with my church family (and many others) in reading the whole bible this year, I intend to hold myself accountable by sharing a key personal learning point each week.

This week I really noticed the barriers pride and familiarity can pose to belief.

As Jesus sends out the twelve apostles, he is mindful that there will be those who will not hear their message, and warns of the consequences of their unbelief:

‘And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgement for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.’
– Matthew 10:13-14

The comparison with the judgement of the city of Sodom is revisited in the next chapter as the people of three cities located at the north end of the Sea of Galilee have clearly not repented after hearing Jesus’s teaching:

‘he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgement for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgement for the land of Sodom than for you.’
– Matthew 11:20-24

I was reminded of the account in Mark’s gospel where the people of Jesus’s own town were so familiar with the Jesus they thought they knew that they could not perceive him as anything other than the man they had known for so many years:

‘He went away from there and came to his home town, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offence at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour, except in his home town and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief.’
– Mark:6-15

‘Familiarity breeds contempt’ is a well-known idiom, and I am sure many will recognise the challenges of witnessing to close friends and family and friends who don’t share the same faith – those who know all our faults and failings which then act as a barrier to their own conviction.