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“Of Drunkards and Gluttons”

Proverbs 23: 20-21: “Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; for the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.” Two things: Notice how Solomon equates gluttons with drunkards? But how many guys do you see preaching hard against drinking who can’t even see their own feet because of their big bellies? Secondly, lest we get too judgmental, glutton is not the same as overweight. There are people who are thin, yet qualify as gluttons; there are others who are overweight but are not gluttons at all. You can’t judge from the outside.

“Simple Discussion …”

John 3: 25-26a: “There arose therefore a discussion on the part of John’s disciples with a Jew about purification, and they came to John ….” The Bible translators were very kind here. John’s disciples weren’t having a discussion, they were having a heated argument. And then they tried to involve John. What did John do? He demonstrated the things we have learned in the first three days of the MDR this week. While refusing to become involved in the controversy, he gave some of the New Testament’s most sublime understanding concerning the believer’s relation to Christ. Pure doctrine shared, but without contention: that’s what we’re talking about!

“Know the Source”

Psalm 38: 12-14: “Those who seek my life lay snares for me; and those who seek to injure me have threatened destruction, and they devise treachery all day long. But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; and I am like a dumb man who does not open his mouth. Yes, I am like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no arguments.” Why did David suddenly make like Marcel Marceau when confronted with oppression from his enemies? Partly because he knew the lesson from yesterday’s MDR (remember, Solomon learned this stuff from his Papa) and partly because he knew that the Lord was just using his enemies to get his attention. The whole thing started with David’s sin (vv. 3-5). He knew that, so

“Proper Pacifism”

Proverbs 15: 18: “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger pacifies contention.” This may come as a shock to some, but needless contention is not a virtue. Nothing feeds and provokes a contentious heart more than an uncontrolled temper; as a later proverb says, “The beginning of strife is like letting out water (once you pull the plug, it’s hard to get it back in!), so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out. (Proverbs 17: 14) But the ill-tempered have a problem with that; they never met a quarrel they didn’t like. The solution: Get hold of your temper, and eliminate the contention.

“Strange Doctrines”

1 Timothy 1: 3b-4: “Instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.” On the heels of yesterday’s Trinity Sunday, the only major feast that celebrates a doctrine rather than an event, comes this exhortation from St. Paul to keep our doctrine straight. This is not to ram it down people’s throats, but rather so that we can identify unchristian beliefs when they surface, and not be led astray. Fruitless discussion (v. 6) is fruitless, but keeping the sheep’s pasture green rather than toxic will lead to love, as well as a sincere f

“Universal Truth”

Psalm 117: “Praise the Lord, all nations; laud Him, all peoples! For His lovingkindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord is everlasting.” Finally this week, one more word about God’s wisdom and truth – it’s eternal and universal. That’s why the psalmist encourages all nations and peoples to worship Him, and reminds us all that this is forever. It was good and true three thousand years ago, it will be good and true ten thousand years from now, and it’s good and true today. No mere philosophy can make that claim!

“Too Far”

2 John 9: “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.” The teaching of Christ is simple and clear: Love (v 5). But for some that is not enough, and they want to move into what they call the “deep things of God”, which St. Paul says is “falsely called knowledge” (1 Timothy 6: 20). The Gospel is not complicated to hear, but for those who don’t want to follow through with action, and thus move into true wisdom, understanding, and knowledge (Proverbs 3: 19-20), the continued search for these things outside of Christ is nothing but an attempt to escape from His requirements.

“Sure to be Answered”

1 John 5: 16: “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will give him life to those who commit sin not leading to death.” In the previous verses St. John promises that God will answer any prayer we pray according to His will. This is to build our faith to pray this kind of prayer – asking Him to forgive others. This doesn’t necessarily require boisterous confrontation, accusation, or condemnation, just prayer. So when you hear someone break the third commandment, or the first, or the tenth, or any other, simply pray quietly, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus seemed to think it was important (Luke 23: 34); who are

“Wisdom Ain’t All There Is …”

Matthew 11: 19b: “Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” After hearing wisdom extolled in Proverbs, we have a balance today from the lips of Jesus. It is not enough to, like the ancient Greeks, seek after wisdom for its own sake, deifying it in the process. True wisdom, as a means to be closer to God and be more like Him, will produce deeds of love and service to God and neighbor, and thus vindicate itself as an instrument used by Him. Anything else is just high-sounding windy words (Job 38: 2); again, readily available in mass quantities and with minimal effort.

“Heart-Healthy Diet”

Proverbs 4: 23: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Jesus could well have used this verse as His resource text when He said, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. From within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts …” (Mark 7: 20, 21) Indeed, what goes in is what will come out, so we must guard our hearts, taking in only what is good and true, so that the output of our hearts will be springs of life to those around us.

“To Have and to Hold”

Proverbs 3: 18: “She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.” For the first two weeks after Pentecost the MDR includes readings from Proverbs, a book often quoted in the New Testament and revered even by secular academics. One common principle throughout its verses is this: Wisdom won’t just fall into your lap, and once you acquire it, you must exert an effort to hold on to it. Multitudes of trite clichés and platitudes can be found at the click of a mouse but real wisdom – which comes only from the Lord – takes serious study and contemplation.

"Purifying Power of His Spirit"

Our Lord had said: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Paraclete, another Consoler, to abide with you forever” (John 14:16). When the disciples were gathered together in one place, suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were. At the same time, parted tongues of fire appeared and rested upon each one of them (Acts 2:1-2). We should be aware of the work of the Holy Spirit all around us, and within ourselves. We should recognize the gifts He distributes, the movements and institutions He inspires, the affections and decisions He provokes in our hearts. The Holy Spirit carries out in the world the works of God. He is

“The First Name in Spirits”

Ezekiel 36: 27: “And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes.” If you failed to make the connection between yesterday’s passage from Jeremiah and the Holy Spirit here’s another chance, this time from Ezekiel. He gives the same promise as Jeremiah, but patently includes the role of the Holy Spirit. They both highlight the moral side of the Holy Spirit; maybe that’s why He’s called Holy.

“Covenant of the Heart”

Jeremiah 31: 33: “’But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it…’” Much attention is given in the New Testament to the Power/Anointing aspect of the Holy Spirit, but in the Old Testament there is a moral element that is as strong or stronger. In transferring the seat of Covenant from head to heart God is making it a matter of the Spirit, as the Letter of the law is superseded by the life-giving Spirit (2 Corinthians 4: 3).

“Just One of the Guys”

Zechariah 4: 6: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, saying, ‘Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” This, one of the most well-known prophecies concerning the Holy Spirit, was spoken not to a priest, nor to a prophet, but to a political figure - the governor - a part of the Laity. But Haggai even calls Zerubbable the Lord’s signet ring (Haggai 2: 23), which symbolizes his authority before God and man. Is this possible for a non-cleric? It is when the Holy Spirit is involved. Remember, “Poured out upon all flesh” (Joel 2: 28; Acts 2: 17).

“Man of the Spirit”

Isaiah 4: 4: “When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning ….” Isaiah, the source of so many Messianic prophecies, also mentions the Holy Spirit more than any other book of the Bible except 1 Corinthians - even more than any of the Gospels. When he mentions the spirit of burning, spirit of judgment, spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, etcetera, remember that these are different expressions of the one Spirit (Ephesians 4: 4), the Spirit of the Lord, in which we all, through Christ, have our access to the Father (Ephesians 2: 18). Obviously, the Holy Spirit is m

“The Holy Spirit Strikes Again”

1 Samuel 16: 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.” This sounds a lot like the Day of Pentecost, but one thousand years before the fact. To say that the Holy Spirit debuted on the Day of Pentecost is to misunderstand the Trinity in general, and the Spirit specifically. Even as far back as David, the Spirit anointed him for works of service and love for His God. He still gives that power and anointing, even today.

“New Guard, New Anointing”

Joshua 1: 1: “Now it came about that after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant.” For forty years God, through the Holy Spirit, spoke to Moses alone, and to no one else. Others, Joshua included, had good things to say, but never things precluded by the words, “The Lord said to Joshua …” or Aaron, or Miriam, or Domingo, or Gertrude. But the guard has just changed (Numbers 27: 18), Joshua’s received the Holy Spirit, and God speaks to him directly. And now in this post-Pentecost age, those filled with the Holy Spirit can hear the same voice of God, straight from the throne.

"Purifying Power of His Name"

The Ascension is not about Jesus’ evacuation to a remote place. It’s about Him being seated at God’s right hand far above all rule, authority and power, and filling all things everywhere with Himself (Eph 1:20-23). He had promised to be “with you always, even to the end of the age.” Far from being absent, He is now more fully present and accessible. The Eucharistic Prayer for Ascension Day (and today) says He ascended and passed beyond our sight, not to abandon us but to be our hope, so that where He has gone, we hope to follow. Where? To a higher realm, behind the veil, not limited by space, time, matter or earthly power. There, at the unveiling, freed from the corruption of sin and death,

"Purifying Power of His Name"

Every day people worry about their future, and keep on struggling to pursue their dreams and desires for their lives. They want a better life for themselves and for their family. But one must realize that Jesus already made provision for this beforehand. Even before He sacrificed His life He made a petition to the Father that He would bestow all provision and protection upon everyone who believed in His Name, Jesus. One must discover this mystery that is the ultimate fulfilment of one’s life journey on this earth. In His name lies all satisfaction and enjoyment, happiness and unity, provision and protection, longevity and strength, deliverance and freedom, peace and wellness in life. Living

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