Meditation

02/07/2023

‘Return, faithless people,’ declares the lord, ‘for I am your husband. I will choose you—-one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion. ‘Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.’ In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘men will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. At that time they will call Jerusalem the Throne of the Lord.’ No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts.” (Jeremiah 3:14-17)

God chose to start over with a small remnant He would lead out of captivity. The promises of the old covenant would be superseded by the promises of the new covenant. Gentiles would come to Zion in a fellowship where evil would not exist. Election purposes hold true even when election people are faithless and have to be rejected for a remnant.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Dear Abba, in this Scripture from Jeremiah, it states that You decided to use a remnant, to begin again in the training of Your people and to be their Shepherd that they would understand your teaching and retain its meaning. Once again, you name Jerusalem as the “Throne of the Lord,” that we might finally understand what and where it is that You were taking the remnant and to what extent their faith must grown and believe that He is our God; not theoretical or close to describing, but exactly what You are saying for our benefit. Help us to learn to read Your Word not as a book, but as message of clarity of all of our faith and what it is we believe. In the meantime, our hope for a peaceful solution to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. We pray for the innocents caught in the middle of this conflict and for You to end this conflict now, and let us all praise Your Holy Name. We also pray for those around this country and around the world who are suffering under persecution and the damages caused by the recent cold front snow and ice. We also pray for those who are suffering from the loss of loved ones, for all who are suffering in body, mind, and/or spirit, with friends, family, and for those we don’t know. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving.”

KNOWING GOD:

No longer will the people of Israel have malicious neighbors who are painful briers and sharp thorns. Then they will know that I am the Sovereign Lord. ‘This is what the Sovereign lord says: When I gather the people of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered, I will show myself holy among them in the sight of the nations. Then they will live in their own land, which gave to my servant Jacob. They will live there in safety and will build houses and plant vineyards; they will live in safety when I inflict punishment on all their neighbors who maligned them. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.” (Ezekiel 28:24-26)

Israel’s existence after the Exile was due to God’s holy love and power. He proved faithful to His elect people and restored their fortune. God created the remnant to have a people who would recognize Him as their God. For want His people to live in trusting security not in fear of punishment.

SECOND THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:9-10)

Obedience to Pharisaic laws did not determine the elect remnant of Israel. Salvation came to even a sinner like Zacchaerus, when he repented and committed himself to God. Election does not point to people who have achieved righteousness. In love and through Jesus Christ God elects sinners and saves them from a life-style of sin and alienation. Jesus’ mission was to lead people to a saving relationship with God. Such a relationship delivers from sin and selfishness to service of God and other people.

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Meditation

02/06/2023

In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.’” (Isaiah 19:23-25)

Worship of God by Assyria and Egypt reminds us that God is the universal God of Abraham. He owns the universe and welcomes worship from all peoples, even those who first enslaved Jacob and those who conquered the Northern Kingdom. All persons who recognize God are His people. Election is a call to mission, not a call to self-righteous exclusion of others.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Dear Abba, You love all of your people, and those that worship You are supposed to love others in the same manner towards all others who serve God. Help us to learn to look at others with the heart of God beating within us and to listen to the Holy Spirit, that we might be led to worship along side of all of God’s people. In the meantime,our hope for a peaceful solution to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. We pray for the innocents caught in the middle of this conflict and for You to end this conflict now, and let us all praise Your Holy Name. We also pray for those around this country and around the world who are suffering under persecution and the damages caused by the recent cold front snow and ice. We also pray for those who are suffering from the loss of loved ones, for all who are suffering in body, mind, and/or spirit, with friends, family, and for those we don’t know. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

The empty tomb proves Christianity. The empty church denies it..”

KNOWING GOD:

In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will steam to it. Many nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of he God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken. All the nations may walk in the name of their gods; we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.” (Micah 4:1-5)

Micah went about barefooted and naked, mourning and wailing like an owl and jackal because of the incurable wounds and sin sickness of Judah. He was hurt over he exploitation and immorality of the priests and prophets. He had a noble vision when nations would not take up the sword against each other. The law of God would go out from Zion. All nations would come to the mountain of the Lord to learn about Him. Israel’s election purpose of pointing the nations to God would be realized.

SECOND THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

As I begin to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?’ When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.’” (Acts 11:15-18)

Some of the Jewish Christians were narrow of mind and heart, continuing the nationalistic religion of their ancestors. The gift of the Spirit to the Gentiles shocked them. The elect cannot predict what God will do next or whom He will favor with spiritual or material blessings. The elect cannot control either God or the Holy Spirit. He Holy Spirit in a life reflects the person is one of God’s elect. We have no standing in even trying too control God or the Holy Spirit. God’s decision is based on things we are not even aware of yet. We are to be obedient to Him always, for He is our God and His will is to be done no matter what!

Meditation

Fifth Sunday in Epiphany 02-05-2023

Psalm 112:1-9; Isiah 50:1-9; 1st Corinthians 2:1-12; Matthew 5:13-20

In our lesson from Psalms this morning, we can note that both Psalm 111 & 112 begin with “Praise the Lord.” The righteous man will be remembered. The Lord provides for those who fear Him; good will come to those who mirror Go’s compassion. The works and precepts of the Lord are steadfast forever; the righteousness of he righteous will endure forever. Bot God’s compassionate acts and human character formed by God’s love are reasons to praise Yahweh, our God.

In Isaiah, we read where the sinner cannot take God to court and prove Him guilty. He did not divorce His people or sell them into slavery. Israel had separated themselves from God to worship idols and made themselves slaves through treaties with other nations. Still Yahweh, the God of Israel, held legal claim to them and in love would exercise His claim. The fault was Judah’s. God’s people did not believe He would act. To quit waiting expectantly for God’s saving intervention in your life is a sinful act. God’s servant can face adversity and persecution with confidence. Such confidence comes fro listening to and learning from God. God helps His servant in distress and reveals the servant has reason for confidence. Jesus lives out this servant role perfectly. He stands alone as a worthy model for all who seek to serve God. In verse 6, in the middle of the the third servant poem which spells out in detail how God’s Servant would suffer. The suffering Messiah was to endure scourging, spitting, and the pulling of His beard. This ancient description of a contempt is spelled out in all four Gospels (Matthew 26:67; Mark 15:65; Luke 22:63-65; John 19:1). Yet people even today, continue to disbelieve Who the Suffering Servant was. Jesus fulfilled every prophecy, and yet disbelief remains. You think it might be that some people would not feel comfortable trying to walk in His footsteps? It’s not always easy, and I for one will admit I fall short of doing do, yet I can repent of my ways and be restored as one of His own, but you cannot ignore Him and receive anything from Him.

In our Epistle from Corinthians Paul openly and unabashedly stated he refused to use clever language or to manipulate God’s Word. He presented the gospel with a simple and open statement of truth and depended upon the power of the Spirit to change lives. The dramatic change in the heart and life of individuals, which takes place when people are saved and it does not come about by the emotional power of enticing words but by the simple, straightforward presentation of the gospel in all it’s clarity and power. Therefore attention must be focused on the Word, and not on the proclaimer. Love is the central theme of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Saving does not take place accepting some system of theological propositions, but rather by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Our Gospel message comes to us from Matthew, whereby he makes the statement, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives to light to everyone in the house.”

So how does one succeed beyond the Pharisees and Scribes of the Law? It’s not by performing spectacular things or achieve awards or anything like this. You beloved, are the light of the world. You get up every day and seek to praise God for another day to serve Him in our ethical ways with others, by loving others as Jesus has loved you, by building a relationship with Jesus in your prayers and efforts for others, and not caring who gets the credit. It’s about living moral lives being neighbors with whomever you are with. It’s about being honest and seeking forgiveness when we mess up and ask for forgiveness with penitent hearts and a desire not to commit them again. It is about “letting your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” It takes effort, but is worth it; it takes determination, but reveals your belief in God through Jesus Christ, towards all who see you. It is about being a Christian, because it is the right thing to do! How’s your light shining? Amen

Meditation

02/03/2023

There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a man. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel! All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.” (Joshua 10:14, 42)

The God of election fights to preserve and protect those elected to carry out His purposes. Only God could command the sun so that Joshua and the Israelites could defeat the Amorites. In so doing He confirmed the power He had shown and the salvation He provided in the Exodus. Israel knew election as the continuing experience of God’s deliverance rather than a a doctrine to be learned and defended.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Dear Abba, You chose to participate in the destruction of the five kings and their lands, show that You are willing to fight for Your people and did so in the Exodus and also in Joshua’s time as well. In the meantime continue to pray our troops serving in faraway lands and those in the continuing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, that the recent offer from Ukraine for finding a peaceful solution brings Russia to come and work for a peaceful conclusion to the fighting. We also pray for those around this country and around the world who are suffering under persecution and natural disasters and man made disasters, hoping You will protect all. We also pray for those who are suffering from the loss of loved ones, for all who are suffering in body, mind, and/or spirit, with friends, family, and for those we don’t know. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

Faith is believing what the unbeliever cannot see.”

KNOWING GOD:

When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your fathers, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree. When when they came to Baal Peor, they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol and became as vile as the thing they loved. Ephraim’s glory will fly away like a bird—-no birth, no pregnancy, no conception. Even if they rear children, I will bereave them of every one. Woe to them when I turn away from them!” (Hosea 9:10-13)

At first Israel was as dedicated as luscious grapes and good figs, but at Baal Peor she left God to worship Baal (See also Numbers 25:1-3; Deuteronomy 4:3). Moral decay set in. Ephraim, like the city of Tyre, would be given up to destruction. Nations and individuals can lose their status of moral beauty and spiritual health. Election does not place a people in a moral and spiritual vacuum. The elect continue to face moral and spiritual decisions of utmost important. If you have lost your moral and spiritual compass, then you must call upon God to restore you to righteous living, or you risk losing salvation.

SECOND THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our Father. I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the foot of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” (Matthew 3:9-10)

Arrogance marked the crowds who came to hear John the Baptist preach. Their superiority complex moved them to believe that biological identity with Abraham: gave them immunity from the penalty of sin and guaranteed their election as children of God. John warned that like trees and vineyards destroyed for the lack of good fruit, the process was a work, already cutting them off from election status and promise. From stories God can raise up new children of Abraham to participate in His election purposes. Only true repentance guaranteed the blessings of election.

Meditation

To my brother Jack on the occasion of his birthday. Love you, Jack!

02/02/2023

But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’ When you pass through through the water, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold t hem back. Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of he earth—-everyone who is called by name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed an made.’ Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf. All the nations gather together and the peoples assemble. Which of them foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so that others may hear and say, ‘It is true.’ ‘You are my witnesses, declares the Lord, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, so that yo may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will thee be one after me. ‘I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—-I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses, declares the Lord, ‘that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand,. When I act, who can reverse it?’” (Isaiah 43:1-13)

Beloved, God initiated a new Exodus for the Exiles in Babylon, revealing His continued love for His elect remnant. In love God creates, redeems, protects, and forgives His elect people. Response to such love should come in witnessing to others as God’s chosen servant, because this is what those of the Exiles were guide on their new Exodus, following their captivity and ultimate release. We too, are also His witnesses, taking the stories and accounts of the Bible and making them part of our story as well. We are to witness to all those we meet, of the love that God has for us and the love that Jesus Christ, our Savior, has for us to share the salvation message with everyone.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Dear Abba, You have given us all a message to share with all others we encounter on this road of ours call life, so that they might find salvation in their lives, too. In the meantime continue to pray our troops serving in faraway lands and those in the continuing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, that the recent offer from Ukraine for finding a peaceful solution brings Russia to come and work for a peaceful conclusion to the fighting. We also pray for those around this country and around the world who are suffering under persecution and natural disasters and man made disasters, hoping You will protect all. We also pray for those who are suffering from the loss of loved ones, for all who are suffering in body, mind, and/or spirit, with friends, family, and for those we don’t know. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

We don’t have to know all of the answers in life, to remain faithful.”

KNOWING GOD:

For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to he children of men..” (Lamentations 3:31-33)

Judgment bringing grief and pain to people is not God’s election purpose. He does not abandon His election purposes. Love dominates His work with the people. He created and delivered. In times of trouble God’s people can cry out to Him and find mercy. The most profound expression of the love of God for us is the gift of His only Son to be our Savior. The word translated love here is one of special significance, meaning a love that seeks to give itself away in behalf of its object. It is a love that seeks the best interests of its object while seeking nothing for itself in return. For this very reason God is declared to be love.

SECOND THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri during he reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezkiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel: When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, ‘Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord. So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and born him a son. Then the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Call the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel.’ Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Call hr Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer show love to the house of Israel, that I should at all forgive them. Yet I will show love to the house of Judah; and I will save them—-not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but by the Lord their God.’ After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son. Then the Lord said, ‘Call him Lo-Ammi, for you are not my people and I am not your God. ‘Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of he living God.’ The people of Judah and the people of Israel will be reunited, and they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.” (Hosea 1:11)

Hosea received God’s revelation during the reign of four kings. He communicated the word with words and with his family life. God’s word in this sense is the intention God wanted to reveal to His people and their leaders. Thus, Hosea’s marriage became a prophetic sign symbolizing Judah’s rejection of God in favor of Baal. Marriage language was appropriate because Baal worship included sexual fertility rites. Hosea denounced the actions of the people and declared that only God could enter into a true marriage alliance with Israel. The symbolic names given to Hosea’s children and the purchasing again of Gomer are designed to reveal both the separation of the people from Yahweh, their God, and His intention to bring them back into an intimate relationship with Himself.

Hosea, as a message to unfaithful Israel, gave his children symbolic names. Lo-Ruhamah, meaning “not pitied,” was the name of the second child. Israel would not find pity. He named the third child Lo-Ammi, meaning “not my people.” Instead of being God’s people, the people had broken the covenant relationship by their evil deeds. God desires to continue the relationship with His people, but each believer is responsible to maintain the relationship by serving and obeying God. God never truly forsook His people. He remains faithful even when unfaithful people break the covenant.

Israel became the sons of God because God chose them for His own and established His covenant with them. Because of rebellion, Israel could no longer be called the people of God, but God hose to restore them unto Himself and to call them the sons of God. God chose by His grace to restore His people despite of our sin. He remains faithful to us even when we are unfaithful. This is true love, my friends, and should be honored by us at all times.

Meditation

02/01/2023

Now Ii am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” (Joshua 23:14)

Present day secular history has no thought of God directing the events. The theology of Joshua is that God is involved in directing human history. God fulfills His promises. God can be trusted by His people. In His grace, God gave Israel the land and fulfilled all His promises even when Israel did not fulfill their commitments. Salvation is sure because of God’s grace and faithfulness to His promises.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Dear Abba, You have never made a false promise. You have never made a promise and then decided not to fulfill it. Abba, when You make a promise, it is an absolute guarantee, because it fits into Your will and purposes for us, so it is another example of the reason Your desire a relationship with us. In the meantime continue to pray our troops serving in faraway lands and those in the continuing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, that the recent offer from Ukraine for finding a peaceful solution brings Russia to come and work for a peaceful conclusion to the fighting. We also pray for those around this country and around the world who are suffering under persecution and natural disasters and man made disasters, hoping You will protect all. We also pray for those who are suffering from the loss of loved ones, for all who are suffering in body, mind, and/or spirit, with friends, family, and for those we don’t know. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

You can learn something from every person you encounter.”

KNOWING GOD:

Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of you youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your sisters, both those who are older than you and those who are younger. I will give them to you as daughters, but not on the basis of my covenant with you. So I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord. Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign Lord.” (Ezekiel 16:60-63)

Embarrassment and shame were all Judah had earned. They deserved punishment and destruction. God gave new life in a new covenant. Why? Because He is the faithful God committed to the election of His people and ever willing to start over with a new, humbled remnant. Election teaches God’s faithfulness in creating a people to be His people and to serve Him as their God. Beloved, God promised to established and everlasting covenant with Israel in which He would make atonement for their sins. Sodom and Samaria are included in the new covenant. If there is hope for Sodom, there is hope for all. God was progressively setting the stage for a once for all atonement for the sins of the world in the death of His Son.

SECOND THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.” (Haggai 2:5)

Haggai was able to fire up the people with enthusiasm and courage to complete the Temple. He based this motivation on the promises in God’s covenant. God’s election assured them of God’s approval and presence as they sought to rebuild the Land of Promise. Election points to God’s faithfulness to encourage and assure the faithful remnant.

Meditation

01/31/2023

Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son,.’” (Exodus 4:22)

When Pharaoh refused to liberate Israel, God’s firstborn son, God’s judgment destroyed Pharaoh’s firstborn son. God is a God of grace and judgment. He offers grace to His chosen and judgment to those who reject Him. Election is based on God’s parental love.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Dear Abba, You sent Moses again and again, and yet Pharaoh refused to let Your people go, leaving slavery to live in a land You would put them to serve and worship You. Pharaoh’s heart was as good as stone at that moment and its cost was the life of his firstborn son and his army. God we love and worship You as a result of this very action and make efforts every single day, to pray to you, to be obedient to Your Word, and to live as Your Son modeled for us on this earth, before he was so brutally sacrificed on the cross for our sins. Let us never forget the cost of our salvation. In the meantime continue to pray our troops serving in faraway lands and those in the continuing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, that the recent offer from Ukraine for finding a peaceful solution brings Russia to come and work for a peaceful conclusion to the fighting. We also pray for those around this country and around the world who are suffering under persecution and natural disasters and man made disasters, hoping You will protect all. We also pray for those who are suffering from the loss of loved ones, for all who are suffering in body, mind, and/or spirit, with friends, family, and for those we don’t know. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

Well done is better than Well said.”

KNOWING GOD:

The Lord did not set his affection on your and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord love you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. But those who hat him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him. Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws I give you today. If you pat attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land—-your grain, new wine and oil—-the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land that he swore to your forefathers to give you. You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor any of your livestock without young. The Lord will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you.” (Deuteronomy 7:6-15)

God’s choice of His people is based on the unconditional love He has for us and not because of our merit. Election involves God’s separation of His people from all other people so we will be different from all other people. Human qualifications do not come under consideration in election. God’s love and expectations are the focal points of the doctrine. God’s total faithfulness to His covenant promises is the foundation on which election rests.

SECOND THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it us and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. ‘Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.’ The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.” (Isaiah 5:1-7)

After giving the house of Israel every advantage, God sang of His disappointment at Israel’s bad fruit. Woe and destruction await those who disappoint God with evil and bad fruit. Rejected love turns to wrath when righteousness becomes riotousness and loyalty turned to lament. God show His love for us by providing everything we need to produce fruit as His people. When we do not return His love, He shows His love in judgment and discipline, seeking to save a remnant. The wrath of God results from His love being rejected. We accept His love by living in righteousness and justice.

Meditation

01/30/2023

Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and your father’s house would minister before me forever.’ But now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but hose who despise me will be disdained. The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your family line and you will see distress in my dwelling. Although good will be done to Israel, in your family line there will never be an old man. Every one of you that I do not cut off from my altar will be spared only to blind your eyes with tears and to grieve your heart, and all your descendants will die in the prime of life. And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you—-they will both die on the same day.’” (1st Samuel 2:30-34)

Election is no guarantee of blessings for all generations. Those who honor God are honored by God. Those who dishonor God are dishonored by God. Eli and his priestly sons were elected to honor God. The disobedient sons did not take God’s covenant seriously. God retains freedom over His announcements so that humans can not hold God hostage and force Him into actions contrary to His purposes or will. God will not force people to serve Him against their wills. A generation which will not take its identity in light of election promises does not have to enter the elect people of God.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Dear Abba, we fully understand the free will that You honor us to use in our service for You is truly a very special gift that we will use it for good. Although we sometimes fall short, we can come before You, with penitent hearts and ask for Your forgiveness and mercy and You will do so. Our hope is we will one day reach a point of honoring You in all that we do. In the meantime continue to pray our troops serving in faraway lands and those in the continuing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, that the recent offer from Ukraine for finding a peaceful solution brings Russia to come and work for a peaceful conclusion to the fighting. We also pray for those around this country and around the world who are suffering under persecution and natural disasters and man made disasters, hoping You will protect all. We also pray for those who are suffering from the loss of loved ones, for all who are suffering in body, mind, and/or spirit, with friends, family, and for those we don’t know. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late!”

KNOWING GOD:

I will forsake my house, abandon my inheritance; I sill give the one I love into the hands of her enemies. My inheritance has become to me like a lion in the forest. She roars at me; therefore I hate her. Has not my inheritance become to me like a speckled bird of prey that other birds of prey surround and attack? Go and gather all the wild beasts; bring them them to devour. Many shepherds will ruin my vineyard and trample; they will turn my pleasant field into a desolate wasteland. It will be made a wasteland, parched and desolate before me; the whole land will be laid waste because there is no one who cares. Over all the barren heights in the desert destroyers will swarm, for the sword of the Lord will devour from one end of the land to the other; no one will be safe. They will sow wheat but reap thorns; they will wear themselves out but gain nothing. So bear the shame of your harvest because of the Lord’s fierce anger.” (Jeremiah 12:7-13)

People often fail to recognize their God given potential by giving up too quickly, rather than struggling on the achieve their very best. At times the call to perseverance is hard to follow, but as in things in our lives, we must continue to love and trust God mission regardless of the cost of our efforts. Family ties are supposed to bind people together; when hatred breaks such ties, the tragedy is extreme. Always remember that God’s loving nature does not mean He is blind or indifferent to the character and actions of the persons He loves when that is truly needed. Even those who are not God’s people receive compassionate treatment as God seeks to lead us to worship Him.

SECOND THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

‘I have loved you, says the Lord. But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’ ‘Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?’ ‘Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals. (Malachi 1:2-3)

Esau was the eldest brother and by birthright, was supposed to receive his father Isaac’s blessing and inheritance. Jacob had deceived Isaac knowing his father was blind and he wore covers around his wrists to convince his father that he was Esau, for he had hairy arms and Jacob did not. Isaac questioned him trying to be sure, and Jacob lied to his father, convincing him he was Esau and not Jacob. Soon after Esau returned from hunting and told his father he had gone hunting as he directed him and had brought him food to eat, and was ready for his father to bless him. Esau was chosen to receive the blessing, but Jacob had already taken it from him and this angered Esau for his deceptive actions to take what was his.

There is mystery surrounding the process of election by God, for one is chosen and another is not. It may be as simple as God seeing how Jacob had disrespected his own father and stolen the blessing of his father and the inheritance that rightfully should have gone to Esau. We just don’t know for sure. It is sure that Esau did accept his father’s blessing of honoring his brother Jacob, and maybe this was what eventually caused them to reconcile with each other. God loves us and He seeks to help us to love Him and one another. What I do know it that it is easier to get along with people if you show them God’s love than not. As Christians, we are to honor and love all others, showing love and respect to others will then come back to us eventually.

Meditation

4th Sunday after The Epiphany for Jan. 29, 2023

Psalm 15:1-5; Micah 6:1-8; 1st Corinthians 1:18-31; Matthew 5:1-12

Our Psalm this morning, the psalmist asks God who may dwell as His guest, and who are invited to worship? Public worship ceremonies include prayers which help God’s people learn His expectations including prayers which help God’s people learn His expectations of His worshipers. God want His people to honor those who fear and worship Him, whereby fear is a reverential and distinct honor towards being in God’s sanctuary. Those who love and fear God are those we see treating people well and meeting their needs, they treat them with an ethically sound attitude to not rob them; rather they seek to help them in a positive manner and see to it that they are not taken advantage of by other people. The people understand that treating others as we want to be treated, is the only right way to treat anyone.

From our Old Testament lesson in Micah, we are reminded that Israel’s worship was supposed to center on confession of God’s historical acts. Too often it centered on complaint about God’s lack of action. God called Israel to remember what He had done and know He promised to continue to be their Redeemer. History justifies God. It does not condemn Him; it calls to praise and not confession not complain and self-pity. Micah raised the question of priority for all who desire God’s acceptance. He gave a clear answer. Pleasing Him requires a person to be rightly related to others. Nothing we bring to Him will be acceptable apart from a life characterized b properly motivated justice in relation to others. Our actions must result in justice for all people, not special privilege for a few. Our hearts must love mercy rather than demand justice for self and every act must come from a relationship built on love with God.

One kind of preaching, teaching, and learning emphasizes elegant language and scintillating ideas but is devoid of spiritual energy. It can be entertaining or boringly dull. In either scenario, it fails to transform lives. Authentic Christian teaching does not bypass the intellect. It is predicated upon the assumption that a rational understanding of the faith must be infused with the spiritual power that reaches to the roots of personality and causes the Word to become “flesh!” The preaching of the gospel is “foolishness” only in the sense that unredeemed people regard it so. Paul neither confessed to foolishness nor advocated it. He certainly was not arguing for an uneducated ministry. Nor was he denouncing education in general. Human knowledge is not opposed o the wisdom of God. It simply falls short of the spiritual understanding that comes through Jesus Christ.

From the Gospel of Matthew we hear of the Beatitudes. The first Gospel contains the most teachings of Jesus. Jesus describes the blessings of citizens of the kingdom of God in nine beatitudes and to be in His kingdom is to be truly happy. Humble service and devotion to God rather than human accomplishments bring happiness. The Ten Commandments were given at Sinai; these commandment give guidelines for faith, and in His Sermon on the Mount, He gave a new and extended ethic for the people of he new covenant. The Law of Moses is still intact, but the One who gave this teaching is greater than Moses. Jesus and His disciples removed themselves and He continued teaching His followers, teaching with blessings, not commands.

The heart and will of was being taught as never before. Inspired witnesses preserved for us the teachings of the Son of God and they inspired words were collected by the disciples, taught to the early church and gathered up to become an ongoing record of God’s revelation about who He is, what He commands, and what He promises. God led Matthew to preserve Christ’s Sermon on the Mount to teach is the essence of the Christian life. A mark of the Spirit within us is a hunger to live out the will of God and without it, we lose the energizing power of the message. Purity is the result of a cleansing. To sinful persons, and that is all of us, being pure at the very core of our being is an awesome task, but that is the reasoning behind our need to repent of sin and be restored or cleansed, to restore our relationship with Jesus. Happy, satisfied, fulfilled will be the one who works for and does the things that make for peace. Thus, those who live by these guidelines will be known by their words and their actions and the peace that is readily recognizable by those who live by Jesus’ guidance.

As Jesus’ sons and daughters are born anew into the new creation. As people become bound together in their faith and service, evangelization takes place, as others see these brothers and sisters coming together in praise and joy and other people have a desire to find the same thing in their lives. Jesus taught His disciples to rejoice and be glad when they were persecuted for following Him. Their reward is found in the kingdom of heaven. How about you, have you found peace and joy in your spirit, that comes from serving Jesus Christ, our Lord? I’m not talking about being rewarded for helping someone in trouble, I’m talking about living a life of servanthood and finding joy for helping people not for others to see, but to help others because it is the right thing to do! It is about living out our faith in a multitude of ways and not being concerned about who might get the credit. It is a life well worth your time, your skills, your money and it warms your heart. Amen!

Meditation

01/27/2023

God also said to Moses, ‘I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord. I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan where they lived as aliens. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. Therefore, say to he Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then ou will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians, and I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will gift it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’” (Exodus 6:2-8)

Moses was told to inform Pharaoh that only God is sovereign Lord. Human rulers are subservient to God. Only God is all-powerful. He has determined to, can, and will fulfill His purposes for His chosen people. His basic purpose is to let all people know Him as God. Beloved, God’s salvation is deliverance. He frees us from every bondage. His deliverance arises out of His covenant relationship with His people; because of the aforementioned relationship, the Lord remained faithful to His promises and His people. Moses needed to be reminded of God’s work with the covenant community. God does not need to be reminded that He is God and we are His people, as He always remembers us.

PRAYER FOR THE DAY:

Dear Abba, we forget just how much You have done on behalf of us and for us, and that You have promised to always be with us. You give us free will to return Your commitment to love and serve You who have showered us so many times before. If anything, we need to be reminded of God’s commitment to us and the promises He made on our behalf, so that we remain committed to Him always. In the meantime continue to pray our troops serving in faraway lands and those in the continuing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, that the recent offer from Ukraine for finding a peaceful solution brings Russia to come and work for a peaceful conclusion to the fighting. We also pray for those around this country and around the world who are suffering under persecution and natural disasters and man made disasters, hoping You will protect all. We also pray for those who are suffering from the loss of loved ones, for all who are suffering in body, mind, and/or spirit, with friends, family, and for those we don’t know. Amen

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

Your self worth is more important than your net worth.”

KNOWING GOD:

The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over hem the lowliest of men.” (Daniel 4:17)

The God of election is the sovereign Lord of history. He has the first and final say about the kingdoms of this world. He elevates the lowliest of persons, and He pulls down the mighty from their thrones. God is in charge of this world and He can and will place or remove those who serve His purposes for this world and never for their own purposes. God always seeks the better good for all of His people, not just a select few.

SECOND THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11)

Peter had attempted to protect Jesus from the bitter cup of suffering. Jesus’ suffering was not irrational or unexplained suffering. Jesus’ suffering, by God’s own decree, was redemptive and saving in nature. God chose the way of suffering, not that of the sword, to establish the kingdom for His chosen people.