Archive for October 31st, 2007

You shall have no other gods before Me.

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Today’s scripture: Acts 12:20-23 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Mark Shoup):

We’ve seen it in the Old Testament, and now we see it again. God doesn’t like it when people attempt to usurp God’s Glory! Time and time again we are told of people who God blesses with riches and power, who then fail to give God the glory for all that has been given to them, and God takes them down a peg. Or in Herod’s case, a lot more than a peg!

In case you are feeling sorry for Herod, or thinking that God was unjustly harsh with him, consider this historical information from the writings of Josephus, an historian of that time. It seems that on the day that Herod was to address the delegation from Tyre and Sidon, he was dressed in a garment woven entirely from silver. The address was to occur at daybreak and on a stage that faced east, so that the brightness of the rising sun would be reflected off his robes. All this for a group of people who had come to beg for food for their homeland. This would kind of be like showing up to work in a soup kitchen in a diamond tiara and furs, or asking a panhandler if they can break a hundred.

So after Herod makes a spectacle of how wealthy and powerful he is, the delegation decides that if they give Herod the flattery that he so obviously wants, maybe he will grant them the food they are seeking for their survival. This gross imbalance of power and need is apparently too much for God, and he steps in with a good old fashioned smiting. The ostentatious king is reduced to writhing on the ground in pain as worms eat at his insides. Elsewhere we are told that this excruciating pain lasts for five days until Herod finally dies. Not a pretty picture, is it? Well, vanity and arrogance seldom are.

I think with lessons like these occurring throughout the Bible, we really need to seriously think about ways in our own lives where we might be proud and not giving God the glory for all that we have and all that we are. We especially need to be careful if God has blessed us above and beyond those around us — whether it’s money, our intelligence, our position in society, or something else. We need to make doubly sure we give God the glory in those circumstances.

Prayer for the day: God, thank you for all that I am and all You have given me. I confess that without You I would be nothing. Help me to be a witness to Your glory, and help me to remember that all of it comes from You. Amen.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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