The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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May 16

Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.

Reading 1 - Deu 33:27

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deu 33:27).

"The word 'refuge' may be translated 'abiding-place,' which gives the thought that God is our abode, our home. There is a fulness and sweetness in the metaphor, for dear to our hearts is our home, although it be the humblest cottage, or the scantiest garret; and dearer far is our blessed God, in whom we live, and move, and have our being. It is at home that we feel safe: we shut the world out and dwell in quiet security. So when we are with our God we 'fear no evil.' He is our shelter and retreat, our abiding refuge. At home, we take our rest; it is there we find repose after the fatigue and toil of the day. And so our hearts find rest in God, when, wearied with life's conflict, we turn to Him. At home, also, we let our hearts loose; we are not afraid of being misunderstood, nor of our words being misconstrued. So when we are with God we can commune freely with Him, laying open all our hidden desires; for if the 'secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him,' the secrets of them that fear Him ought to be, and must be, with their Lord. Home, too, is the place of our truest and purest happiness: and it is in God that our hearts find their deepest delight. We have joy in Him which far surpasses all other joy" (CH Spurgeon).

Reading 2 - Isa 6:5

" 'Woe to me!' I cried. 'I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty' " (Isa 6:5).

"Whenever God has chosen men for some great duty and has prepared them for it by the vision of His holiness, their complete unfitness for divine use has been realized: 'I am a man of unclean lips,' said Isaiah, when he had heard the three-fold acclamation of God's holiness. This was not because he was base or depraved; on the contrary he was a 'holy man of God' chosen to be the channel of the most outstanding revelations of the Messiah. And not only did he realize his own uncleanness of lip, but he felt also that his race, his people, were likewise unclean: 'And I dwell in the midst of an unclean people.' The sin-conscious man is aware of his oneness with his fellows as members of a sin-enthralled race" (John Carter, "Galatians" 71).

Reading 3 - Col 3:5

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry" (Col 3:5).

This is an age dedicated to getting more and yet more money, in order to spend it on more and yet more selfishness: fine houses, fine foods, expensive trips, and the worship (yes, it is "idolatry" -- Col 3:5!) of car and garden and, last but not least, our own adorned, deodorized, tanned, and groomed selves! It is an age when millions succumb to the enticements of health spas and country clubs, to exercise, and diet, and build the new and improved "You". It is as though we can, and should, "recreate" ourselves in a more pleasing image -- an object suitable to be "idolized"! One cannot help but draw the analogy to Isaiah's ironic description of the idolater -- who seeks out a tree trunk and cuts and shapes and polishes it into an extraordinary beauty, finally to fall down and worship it: "Deliver me, for thou art my god" (Isa 44:14-17).

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