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Week 3 March 2024, Devotion Part 1

"If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, “Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38

Bottled water is big business in our fussy age. Bottled anything is big business. Look for bottled sunshine and bottled smog in the souvenir shop. Buy a worm in a bottle to increase the macho allure of the liquor content. The bottling principle works like a charm on a sated, gullible public. Joke or no joke, some laugh all the way to the bank.

God is less amused if the church goes into the bottling business. He frowns on the folksy medicine show that pushes the elixirs of hell-proof fundamentalism. He cringes at trendy programs and charismatic clergy so enticingly “bottled” as to stir up thirst in a competitive religious market. We cannot relate the things of God to an emporium; He runs an empire that encompasses eternity. However, He does not mock a man’s entrepreneurial spirit, because money and missions, for example, do mesh honorably. Even so, it does not take talent to grow rich toward God. Faith is a reliable commodity. (Part 1 of 2)

Comment:  This wordsmith just painted herself into a corner.  I merely meant to point out that I prefer the KJV translation of this RSV verse.  It substitutes “belly” for “heart” and has me relate it to life’s “gut” issues.  My belly barometer registers when I need to be gutsy, but also when I’m fearful. From the time I started to dabble in devotional writing, the RSV was my go-to translation, having considered the Living Bible too “paraphrased” and the King James too quaintly archaic. My first manuscript written in 1973 netted me 9 rejections, which I “stomached” amazingly well.  I was told that the word pictures I painted were great, while I kept taking pleasure in the title, Be Jubilant, My Feet!  I had borrowed it from the Battle Hymn of the Republic and the line, “Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him!  Be jubilant, my feet!  Our God is marching on…”  When I learned that 80% of the RSV is based on William Tyndale’s translation, I resolved to get to know the protestant reformer, Bible translator, and martyr for the Gospel.  As a result I fell in love with the man, but not with the endless semi-colons that dot his writings.  Tyndale was born in 1494 and suffered death by strangulation as a heretic in 1536.  He had vowed to present English believers with a translation in their common language for their personal edification.  “I will cause a boy who drives a plow to know more of the scriptures than the pope.”  Under Bloody Mary’s reign, hundreds of Tyndale Bibles were torched.  In 1519 a woman and 6 men were publicly burned at the stake for teaching children the Lord’s Prayer and the 10 commandments in English.  The Latin Bible could only be read and interpreted by priests.  They were infuriated when Tyndale rightly translated the Greek word “repent,” replacing their false “do penance,” which meant salvation by works, not faith.  For preaching a pure Gospel without purgatory and Mary veneration, he was strangled and his body burned at the stake with explosives.  His last words were, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”  Two years later Henry VIII decreed that a copy of the Bible in English should be made available in every church in England.  Catherine Paar, his sixth and last wife, was an outspoken evangelical. 


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