Hoping for a Jubilee

My husband preached on this topic recently, and I found it interesting and worth sharing, with his permission. I’m just using excerpts, and I have edited when necessary.

The word jubilee is our English translation of a Hebrew word that refers to the blowing of a trumpet or ram’s horn called a shofar.  The shofar was blow throughout Israel when there were important things happening.  It was a call for the people to gather for announcements or for the major festival celebrations.  One of the times the shofar was to be blown was at the beginning of a year of Jubilee.

While mankind was to earn its bread by the sweat of its brow after the expulsion from Eden, the Lord also understands the limitations our bodies face and so He required the observance of the Sabbath every 7 days.  This was meant to be a time of rest and also a time of remembering God’s grace in the lives of his people.  Rest was important, but even more so was the religious aspect of the day.  One of the sins we find in the hearts of almost everyone is the sin of thinking that we are in charge of our own lives and responsible for the good things we have.  Part of the reason the Lord calls us together on the Sabbath is so we can remember that every good thing that happens in life comes from Him.  So the Sabbath has always had a meaning far more important than football games, roast beef dinners or afternoon naps.  The Sabbath is our place of resting in the Lord.

God’s care for His Old Testament people included the welfare of the land which He had given to them as their home.  So every 7 years there was to be a different Sabbath, a Sabbath for the land itself.  The people were not allowed to sow seeds or reap the growth that come up naturally, that was to be left for the poor who could not amass a 2 year food supply over the preceding years.  Someone who sought to follow the Law knew that they had to save and store grain for those times of Sabbath.  Letting the land lie fallow allowed it to regain the ability to produce good crops.  It also reminded the people that everything they needed for live was provided by God Himself.

To be continued ……

Simplify–And Satisfy

Did you know that simplicity is a spiritual discipline?  Not something we think about much, is it?  I’m currently reading a book, Awake My Soul by Timothy Jones and I just finished a chapter titled, “The Soul and the Simple Life.”  He says that learning to live simply will allow us to be freer and less anxious, but it requires radical trust.  Here’s a quote:

“When I follow God, generosity becomes an option.  Knowing that today will provide the daily bread I need allows me not to exhaust myself in storing up what I think in my worst moments I will need.  I leave the issue in hand far bigger–infinitely so– than mine.”

Image result for images of the spiritual discipline of simplicity

I admit this is not easy for me.  I like to be prepared for the worst (or at least fool myself into believing I’m prepared).  However, Jones is right.  It can be exhausting trying to imagine and provide for every potential problem;  it’s probably not even possible.  How much easier to simply (no pun intended) trust God and do our best day by day.  I try to work on that, but often fail.  Here are some words of advice on simplification from Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline.

  1. First, buy things for their usefulness rather than their status ….Stop trying to impress people with your clothes and impress them with your life. ..

  2. Second, reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.  Learn to distinguish between a real psychological need, like cheerful surroundings, and an addiction.  …(he says if you find you cannot live without something such as particular foods or technology get rid of it).

  3. Third, develop a habit of giving things away.  If you find that you are becoming attached to some possession, consider giving it to someone who needs it.

    Sounds pretty scary and drastic doesn’t it.  What it boils down to is stop worrying about how to impress others, avoid the things that tend to control you, and be generous.  I know even I can take baby steps in trying to do this.  What about you?  Can you simplify your life so that it becomes more satisfying?

 

 

What is Our Daily Bread?

“Give us this day our daily bread.”  Matthew 6:11

This well-known and much used phrase comes from what Christians call The Lord’s Prayer, the prayer Jesus taught to His disciples.  I was just reading about it recently in Eugene Petersons’ book about the Scriptures, “Eat This Book.”  Evidently at one point in the history of Bible translation and interpretation, the word used for daily(espiousion) was not found in very any other ancient document written in classical Greek;  many scholars assumed this meant it was a very unusual word, and must refer to some deeper, uncommon, probably spiritual meaning.  However, after the discovery of a number of ancient “housekeeping” documents they realized that the word was actually one used in the everyday language of normal life.  It means exactly what it says:  bread produced today;  fresh bread, ready for consumption.  The word wasn’t in any literary documents, because it was too ordinary, too unassuming for a real author to use.  It was a word meant for housewives and shopping lists.

So when Jesus told us to pray for daily bread, He did, indeed mean we should pray for things that are real and physical.  Martin Luther casts a wide net for the term when he explains it in the Small Catechism:

What is meant by daily bread?

Everything that is required to satisfy our bodily needs;  such as food and rainment, house and home, fields and flocks, money and goods;  pious parents, children and servants;  godly and faithful rulers, good government, seasonable weather, peace and health;  order and honor;  true friends, good neighbors, and the like.”

Wow!  That’s a lot to ask for, isn’t it.  Many are things we accept from God without much thought at all.  Yet they are all gifts, gifts we should reflect on, and be thankful for.  So this month of Thanksgiving, let’s each make time to give thanks for those everyday blessings from our good God.

 

Seek The Kingdom

“And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.  For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your  Father knows that you need them.  Instead seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” Luke 12:29-31

Yesterday I spent most of the day with a group of ladies who are preparing to conduct a Via de Cristo Women’s Retreat weekend.  The leader gave us an ice breaker question.  We were tell the group what was the most important thing to us about our original weekend.  It was interesting to hear because there were so many different answers.  For one person it was the music;  for another a particular talk;  for another a conversation with a Pastor.  Women spoke about the love they felt, the acceptance they received and the people they met.  I heard comments like, “God must have planned that weekend just for me” or “I knew I was there to hear that one talk.”

What I got out of this was how different we all are.  Everybody needs something.  Not just food and drink, or money to pay the rent, but things like peace, friendship, mentoring, uplifting.  How amazing that God knows all our needs, physical and spiritual, and when we seek Him genuinely, He provides not only provides it all, but we get it at just the right time!

The key is for us to remember to seek His kingdom always;  to rest in His presence and His provision every day.  He knows our every need!  He’s taking care of things.  If we learn to seek Him, not just on retreat, but in the press of daily living, our lives would be so much easier!

So, I’m asking our readers, have you been on a Via de Cristo weekend, or any form of Cursillo retreat?  How did God provide for your needs that weekend?  I’d like to hear more answers.