Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lent 35: Eat a sandwich

“Eat a sandwich and make a difference!” I can’t believe my ears. The TV ad says that the company selling sandwich ingredients will donate a portion (small portion) of revenue to some worthy cause. If only it were that easy – stuff bread with ingredients and save the world. Fulfill our obligation to care for others with self-indulgence.

Off screen, it takes great effort to make a real difference. One of our friends eschews chocolate and caffeine. “Giving up something is good for a person,” he maintains. Does it help anyone but him? Perhaps the discipline transfers to other decisions as well. Spiritual disciplines can be useful to develop maturity and give us a heart to serve God by caring for others.

When I think of the coming Easter weekend, I am amazed by the investment of God. Somehow there is separation from heaven, denial of God-privilege to be human in the poorest surroundings, born in a family that was puzzled by perfection in ordinary skin, betrayed and deserted by closest friends and trusted followers. And it’s all to save us from the terror of perfect justice. All to reconcile us to a loving heavenly Father.

Easter – the high holy season for followers of Christ. A salvation won that is worth much more than the indulgence of eating a certain brand of lunchmeat or cheese.

God’s peace to you today.

*David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing."

Before David got up the next morning, the word of the LORD had come to Gad the prophet, David's seer: "Go and tell David, 'This is what the LORD says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.' "

So Gad went to David and said to him, "Shall there come upon you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me."

David said to Gad, "I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men."

So the LORD sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the LORD was grieved because of the calamity and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, "Enough! Withdraw your hand." The angel of the LORD was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the LORD, "I am the one who has sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall upon me and my family."

On that day Gad went to David and said to him, "Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." So David went up, as the LORD had commanded through Gad. When Araunah looked and saw the king and his men coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground.

Araunah said, "Why has my lord the king come to his servant?"

“To buy your threshing floor," David answered, "so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped."

Araunah said to David, "Let my lord the king take whatever pleases him and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. O king, Araunah gives all this to the king." Araunah also said to him, "May the LORD your God accept you."

But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the LORD answered prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped. NIV

* Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Psalm 25:4-6 NLT

*Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance... Romans 5:1-3 NIV

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