Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Promise is not a Contract

All this talk about promises this week and it makes me wonder if there were any reason God would break His promise. In our human experience people break their promises all the time. One reason is because one person in the relationship doesn’t live up to the bargain. Since one person broke their promise we feel there is no need for us to maintain our promise. The truth is, this is a contract relationship rather than a genuine promise. When God makes a promise, He is not limited to whether or not we uphold our end of the bargain.

Take Noah in today’s reading as an example. As soon as stepped out of the Ark we hear of hem getting drunk and losing control. One might expect that God would go back on His word after Noah’s behavior. The Scriptures just finished calling Noah righteous, and today we hear of him cursing his own family. Where is the righteousness in cursing your family?  Every time we turn around humanity is cursed from within, but not from God.

God is steadfast in His promise to rescue us from this fallen world. Nothing we can do, nothing YOU can do, will make God break His promise. When God makes a promise, it isn’t a contact, it is a promise. That shouldn’t give us license to act ungrateful. But it should remind us that God’s love for us is worthy of our love in return. Take a moment this week and think how you might be able to express your love for God. As Orthodox Christians we express our love for God in the way we treat others. Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me more than these......fee my sheep.” (John 21.15) Today is a good day to feed someone.

Here are today’s Old Testament Readings:
Isaiah 26:21-27:9 (RSV) -  For behold, the LORD is coming forth out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed upon her, and will no more cover her slain.  In that day the LORD with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea.  In that day: "A pleasant vineyard, sing of it!  I, the LORD, am its keeper; every moment I water it. Lest any one harm it, I guard it night and day;  I have no wrath. Would that I had thorns and briers to battle! I would set out against them, I would burn them up together.  Or let them lay hold of my protection, let them make peace with me, let them make peace with me."  In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots, and fill the whole world with fruit.  Has he smitten them as he smote those who smote them? Or have they been slain as their slayers were slain?  Measure by measure, by exile thou didst contend with them; he removed them with his fierce blast in the day of the east wind.  Therefore by this the guilt of Jacob will be expiated, and this will be the full fruit of the removal of his sin: when he makes all the stones of the altars like chalkstones crushed to pieces, no Asherim or incense altars will remain standing.
 Genesis 9:18-10:1 (RSV) -The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan.  These three were the sons of Noah; and from these the whole earth was peopled. Noah was the first tiller of the soil. He planted a vineyard; and he drank of the wine, and became drunk, and lay uncovered in his tent.  And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.  Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it upon both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father's nakedness.  When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, "Cursed be Canaan; a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers."  He also said, "Blessed by the LORD my God be Shem; and let Canaan be his slave.  God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his slave."  After the flood Noah lived three hundred and fifty years.  All the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years; and he died.  These are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth; sons were born to them after the flood.
 Proverbs 12:23-13:9 (RSV) - A prudent man conceals his knowledge, but fools proclaim their folly.  The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.  Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.  A righteous man turns away from evil, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.  A slothful man will not catch his prey, but the diligent man will get precious wealth.  In the path of righteousness is life, but the way of error leads to death.  A wise son hears his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.  From the fruit of his mouth a good man eats good, but the desire of the treacherous is for violence.  He who guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.  The soul of the sluggard craves, and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.  A righteous man hates falsehood, but a wicked man acts shamefully and disgracefully.  Righteousness guards him whose way is upright, but sin overthrows the wicked.  One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.  The ransom of a man's life is his wealth, but a poor man has no means of redemption.  The light of the righteous rejoices, but the lamp of the wicked will be put out.

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