Prayer Psalm: 31
Prayer Point: It is easy to believe that God has abandoned us when bad times come. That’s why we need psalms like this one. You are listening to the cries of a forsaken man who refuses to surrender his faith. He will not give up. Who is he? He is one who said, “into your hands I commit my spirit” as he hung from a cross (Luke 23:46). Pray this psalm on behalf of someone you know who wants to give up. Pray that they (or you) might truly know that God has entered our suffering through Jesus Christ so that one day we might be set free.
Gospel: Luke 10:38-42, Old Testament: Ezra 3:1-13, Sirach 11:2-20*, New Testament: Revelation 9:13-21
*Sirach is a Jewish holy book written about 100 years before the coming of Christ. It is not considered to be Scripture by the Jewish faith nor our tradition, but the book is still worth reading. We offer Sirach in addition to the Old Testament readings.
What makes Mary’s choice better than her sister’s? What “one thing” did she recognize? What can this tell us about the way we schedule our lives?
Jesus, the lamb of God who was slain and now lives, is the one who is worthy to open God’s scroll (see Revelation 5:1-2) and set into motion God’s plan to judge evil, rescue his people and establish his kingdom on earth where he will live with his people in peace forever. The judgments of God are divided into seven trumpets. In chapter 8 we were introduced to trumpets one through four, trumpet five was sounded in the first half of chapter 9 and in today’s reading we hear the sixth.
Just as the demons were released from the Abyss to inflict judgment on the earth (see Revelation 9:1-3) so now four more fallen angels are released to carry out God’s will. What are these fallen angels released to carry out? What did the surviving two-thirds of unbelieving humanity refuse to do?
We see another tie to the Exodus which tells the story of God’s judgment on Egypt which freed his people Israel. An opportunity to repent was offered after each plague was inflicted on Egypt, but Pharaoh hardened his heart and rejected God’s gracious offer. Unfortunately this is also true of the unbelieving world.
Sirach 11:2-20 Appearances Can Be Deceiving
2 Do not praise individuals for their good looks,
or loathe anyone because of appearance alone
3 The bee is small among flying creatures,
but what it produces is the best of sweet things.
4 Do not boast about wearing fine clothes,
and do not exalt yourself when you are honored;
for the works of the LORD are wonderful
and his works are concealed from humankind.
5 Many kings have had to sit on the ground,
but one who was never thought of has worn a crown.
6 Many rulers have been utterly disgraced,
and the honored have been handed over to others.
7 Do not find fault before you investigate;
examine first, and then criticize.
8 Do not answer before you listen,
and do not interrupt when another is speaking.
9 Do not argue about a matter that does not concern you,
and do not sit with sinners when they judge a case.
10 My child, do not busy yourself with many matters;
if you multiply activities, you will not be held blameless.
If you pursue, you will not overtake,
and by fleeing you will not escape.
11 There are those who work and struggle and hurry,
but are so much the more in want.
12 There are others who are slow and need help,
who lack strength and abound in poverty;
but the eyes of the LORD look kindly upon them;
he lifts them out of their lowly condition
13 and raises up their heads
to the amazement of the many.
14 Good things and bad, life and death,
poverty and wealth, come from the LORD.
[15 Wisdom, understanding, and knowledge of the law come from the LORD;
affection and the ways of good works come from him.
16 Error and darkness were created with sinners;
evil grows old with those who take pride in malice.]
17 The LORD’s gift remains with the devout,
and his favor brings lasting success.
18 One becomes right through diligence and self-denial,
and the reward allotted to him in this:
19 when he says, “I have found rest,
and now I shall feast on my goods!”
he does not know how long it will be
until he leaves them to others an dies.
20 Stand by your agreement and attend to it,
and grow in your work.
We all know that while we are usually impressed by appearance, it is never a good policy to trust in it completely. Way back in 1 Samuel the LORD was looking for a replacement king for Saul who proved a sore disappointment. This is what he tells Samuel when he was reviewing the sons of Jesse: “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV)
“One becomes rich through diligence and self-denial, and the reward allotted to him is this: when he says, ‘I have found rest, and now I shall feast on my goods!’ he does not know how long it will be until he leaves them to others and dies.” (Sirach 11:18-19 NRSV) Jesus addressed this same issue: “And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.” Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of goods laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”‘ But God said to him, “You fool! this very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.'” (Luke 12:16-21 NIV)