I overthrew some of you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a brand snatched from the fire; yet you did not return to me, says the Lord.
2 Timothy 2:13
Even if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.
Words of Grace For Today
God works in all sorts of ways to bring us to participate in creation the way God created us to fit into creation.
We seldom cooperate, so driven are we to get somewhere in life. We turn what is good and blessed into trouble upon trouble for ourselves. We build castles and kingdoms, enslaving others to produce bread and wine for us.
God takes our castles and kingdoms, and our schemes of enslaving God’s people and overthrows them, so that we have nothing left. In that nothingness God demonstrates to us how much God has given us. God takes our self-assuredness and faithlessness to God and offers us a new beginning. Always God remains faithful to us, to what we need in life.
God’s faithfulness is the one sure thing in life, and most of us wave it off as easily as waving away a beggar or a homeless family or a refugee.
As sure as a day’s worth of steady spring snow covers everything with a fresh and pristine blanket that glistens in the next day’s sun, so God spreads blessings to everyone.
The faithful are those who notice, and share the blessings with others. The rest melt in the brilliant light of Christ faster than the snow on a warm spring day.
When the fires we create would consume us quicker than a dry log in the hot coals of a wood stove, Christ reaches in and delivers us, renews us, refreshes us with clear water, and sends us out to share the cooling water of life.
He answered, ‘Must I not take care to say what the Lord puts into my mouth?’
We cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.
Words of Grace For Today
Balak and Balaam: it’s quite the story. Look back a bit into Numbers 22: Now Balak son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time. He sent messengers to Balaam son of Beor at Pethor, which is on the Euphrates, in the land of Amaw, to summon him, saying, ‘A people has come out of Egypt; they have spread over the face of the earth, and they have settled next to me. Come now, curse this people for me, since they are stronger than I; perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them from the land; for I know that whomsoever you bless is blessed, and whomsoever you curse is cursed.’
Balaam repeats what God provides as God’s Word for Balak. It is not a curse, but a blessing of Isreal, the people who have come out of Egypt and spread, strong and mighty, over the face of the earth. Three times Balak tries to bring Balaam to curse Israel and three times Balaam repeats the word that God provides: Israel is blessed.
Waking to 10⁰ in the shelter, 11⁰ at the bed, and the propane furnace kicking in and then off before it’s 13⁰ at bed level tends to put a chill on things that reaches into one’s heart slowing down to a crawl in reverse any emerging eagerness to enter the day with hope.
Sliding back away from the urgencies of cold mornings … that bone chilling reality sits there a bit until one’s toes and lips crack from impending frostbite,
Forcing one to dress in a rush before arthritic joints freeze up one last time … and then venture out to the stove.
A bit of wood is shoved from the frosty, icy pile into the monster’s pie hole (though no pies but dried cow pies pass its lips). Ashes get dumped. Bits and pieces of leftovers of logs get whittled in beside the wood and miraculously there’s combustion, the chemical reaction of fuel, air and heat producing, unfortunately, more smoke than heat.
Then one retreats in haste back to the dream world’s place holder beneath the down duvet where one reads, waits, observes the thermometer and waits for a pressing reason or freedom to emerge again into the reality that awaits.
The wondrous miracle emerges eventually: 67⁰ is recorded in the shelter above the fire, some of it reaches to near the bed so that one’s arms stop aching on top the covers, and one’s heart starts to thaw along with one’s lips and toes, and one’s brain starts to complete a few wayward synapse firings. One starts to think …
To think sporadically wild and incomplete thoughts like the day ahead may give some basis for getting out of bed and hoping to ….
Hoping to eat and drink, and have a future of eating and drinking for a few more years.
Marvellous what a little heat can do. 19⁰ at the bed. Warm enough to get sleepy as the sun rises and hides beyond the clouds threatening to drop frosty snow and ice everywhere.
Then it all vanishes into vivid dreams of a fantastic life in a warm (bug free) and perfect paradise….
Until reality once again demands attention be paid… lest the stove, so nicely heated will otherwise then overheat and burn everything to the ground.
Just another typical day in God’s country begins beautifully blessed.
Like Balak my enemies have gathered many times to bring a curse on me, and failed. They have, with lies and corruption beyond most people’s imaginations, stripped me of every penny and driven me into debt from which I will likely never emerge. They have left me homeless. They have left me dependent on the food bank and government supports for those in poverty. They have spread false rumours about me, and left me isolated from my friends and my church. They have maintained their churches, their wealth, their position, and their smug self-righteousness, justifying their evil by pointing to records filled with lies.
Yet, I remain blessed, for what is any person of God, who brings God’s Word to the ears of others, to say, when God has spoken a blessing eternal upon me?
And how shall I respond?
How shall anyone respond?
What else would we say, other than to join the writer of Acts: We cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.
For we have seen through the lies and corruption.
For we have heard God’s Word, and seen the results of God’s mighty acts of unconditional love, mercy, renewal, and provision for daily life, for daily life that is blessed by God’s presence.
So this day, what else shall we do other than speak of what we’ve seen and heard of God’s mighty works, in our midst, across the earth, and from the beginning of time?
So this day, what else shall we do other than be God’s Grace for others?
So this day, what else shall we do other than give God thanks for God’s blessings, beginning with the warmth of a wood stove, a mind that can think, and hearts that God has filled with faith, love and hope!
He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.
Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’
Words of Grace For Today
People have tried, in vain, to locate and control God since the beginning of time.
We’d expect, given the traditions that swirl about, that God is present in demonstrations of power:
in mountain and rock smashing winds, or
in ground splitting earthquakes, or
in the fires after the earthquakes.
God simply is not to ‘be found’ anywhere, or in anything.
God instead continually surprises us, demonstrating God’s wondrous power and might in unconditional love, a love that reaches so far beyond our tit for tat reckoning among people and our evil efforts to stand high in comforts, status, ‘power’, and wealth, standing high on the backs and heads of those we’ve stomped on to force them below us!
So we are reborn.
How it that possible? …
It really isn’t, unless, like the wind that we cannot see except in the effect it has on trees, flags, water, and dirt (and sometimes objects like vehicles tossed off highways, or houses shredded into the skies), …
Being born again is not possible unless like the wind the Holy Spirit comes and works God’s Will in us and among us, and then we see how much power the unconditional love of God has … for our hearts, minds and hopes find their focus in being God’s unconditional love for others!
Now that is a miracle, as powerful as the sheer stillness in which God appears to Elijah at Mount Horeb and as the bush that burns without being consumed when God appeared to Moses on that same mountain generations earlier.
It is a miracle that God works every day in us, and among us, and whose effects cannot be ignored, though only faith will help us understand what plays out in us and among us, and around the world, from the beginning of time to the end of time.
Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honour him.
And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
Words of Grace For Today
When God says God will be with us, that is good news for us, and …
And it is not good news for those who would do us harm or those who have done us harm.
While so much is done that people will be accountable for, what people will be accountable and fully accountable for, is what they do to God.
There are no rules of evidence, perjury that accounts for anything at all, or half truths that can make any difference at all. God knows everything. No corrupt police or unjust judges or criminals (though they are all pretty much the same, aren’t they?) can do anything to deceive God.
Justice will be based all on truth, and on truth alone, as what is done is done to God’s people and God’s own self.
Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.
Only God’s Grace saves any of us. I’m not sure what God does to those who harm God, whether it’s Grace or Justice, that God chooses in their end.
It’s not really important, other than to trust God’s Grace for ourselves, and God’s wisdom to work against all evil,
For today is a wonderful day, a day to give God thanks for walking with us each step of our lives.
God asks that we honour the needy, and provide care and truth for all of God’s family, all of creation, and even all God’s wayward people who somehow think they can get away with harming God’s good people.
Quite a task for each day …
each wonderful, awesome day that God gives us breath, grace, life, and hope.
The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and swore to me, “To your offspring I will give this land”, he will send his angel before you; you shall take a wife for my son from there.
The angel said to him, ‘Fasten your belt and put on your sandals.’ He did so. Then he said to him, ‘Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.’ Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel’s help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision.
Words of Grace For Today
To be uprooted up from one’s homeland, sent far into the unknown world sparsely populated by people though plentiful with wild animals, some wondrous and docile to human, others deadly ferocious (ever faced down a hyena or a wild boar?), and to be told one must find one’s spouse among the foreigners of that land, and settle there and make a new homeland for one’s offspring, for God has given this new land to them …
To be freed from one’s chains, guided past two prison guards, and taken out into freedom through a miraculously opened metal gate, all while one is barely awake and can only apprehend these events as if they were a dream, a vision of what is righteous …
To be stripped of one’s wealth and set deep in debt by false accusations, false reports, and unjust judges, and left to live homeless either in the city or in the wilds – and then to be guided by angels to find a meadow beside a small lake in the bush, to be loaned the tools and resources needed to establish a camp of a kind, and to build one’s safety from cold, heat, bugs, and thieves (and Covid it turns out, as well) with just enough to survive when one’s resources are less than $100/month …
One is given in these circumstances clear opportunity to recognize God’s angels at work. One finds it not difficult to follow whether that is an angel that guides one to find a spouse among foreign people in one’s new promised land, or an angel that guides one to freedom and life, or to precious solitude in the bush, or in many other circumstances as well, where one needs an angel in order to stay alive.
To live a life without hunger, lack of shelter or transportation, and always with clean water and air, and plenty of meaningful labour and people to love and be loved by …
Well that is to be given the greatest challenge, for one has little reason to notice God’s angels for one seems to ‘take care of one’s self’.
There is no limit of evil perpetrated against people by people. There is no limit to the work of the angels to guide all people to follow Christ. There is only our chosen inability to notice angels’ work in our midst.
Were we to notice more often, we would be awestruck day in and day out, and it would leave us little room or time in our lives for greed, avarice, and all other sorts of ‘luxury sins’. We would be astounded into giving God praise and thanks. We would find ourselves surrendering our lives to be workers along with the angels, bringing God’s generosity, Grace, love and hope to as many people as we possible could in our short life-times.
Take a peek.
See the angels at work.
Be awestruck this day and start to pitch in.
There’s a wondrous life to be lived where the angels have brought you thus far.
We are more different than sticks in a pile of wood,
No Matter What we look like, inside or out,
God promises to respond to each of us with generosity.
When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honour them.
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.
Words of Grace For Today
The number of not connected or dropped 911 calls increased dramatically during Covid restrictions, as people faced emergencies like never before, both in the kind of emergencies and in the quantity. For so many people who have come to count on help being just a phone call aways, dialling 911 and not getting any help (on top of the emergency their were facing) at all must have felt like their world was coming apart at the seams.
911 does connect us to a whole raft of services designed to help us given a whole raft of kinds of emergencies, at the best of the worst of times (could we put it that way?)
Heart Attack, Stroke, or Seizure? Call 911.
Fire? Call 911
Robbery in progress, vehicle accident, or burned supper? Call 911 (oopps, maybe call takeout for to deal with the burned supper – if you have the money!)
Cat stuck in the tree? …
You get the idea? Probably.
And normally someone answers, the call is recorded and transferred to the appropriate service (police, fire, or ambulance), who answers and dispatches someone to help you survive your emergency until life returns to ‘normal’, whatever that really is.
But when no one answers your call?
Lots of people through life have no 911 or 999 to call. No Police they trust to help. No fire department. No ambulance service. And if they have to pay for these services, there simply is no reason to make the call.
Whether we are used to a 911/999 service or not, for the real terrible emergencies in life we need to deal with it some other way. Some people think they are tough or that God does not exist and will try to muddle through on their own.
The large majority of humans through history, especially in emergencies, have called on God.
What if God simply were to break down like the 911 service during Covid? What would that be like? Even for the most faithful, when we call on God, God seldom answers in the expected manner.
God surprises us again and again with God’s power … power of self-sacrificial love and Graces, instead of tromping on the normality of the universe that God created and said it was good, thank you very much!
That’s why we need to hear again and again, each day is not too often, how God always hears and responds to those who call on God’s name for help. We need to hear that when the real shtako hits the fan God is there with us, God honours us, and God saves us. It simply is not the case that God only hears and responds to some people, to those with this language or this piety, or with this outlook on life. God hears and responds to all kinds of humans. God responds with generosity.
That’s a promise.
That’s a promise that is more sure than anything else in all creation, for God makes it to us, each of us, and to all of us.
That’s a promise that will fill the empty void in each and any life.
That’s a promise that we need to hear again and again.
I remember the days of old, I think about all your deeds, I meditate on the works of your hands.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.
Words of Grace For Today
Wisely said often is that if we do not learn from history, we will repeat its mistakes.
More wisely said is that whether we learn from history or not, we will repeat its mistakes.
And hotly avoided or outright denied by so many, for it sets us up to know ourselves as fools and hopelessly forging ahead into the abyss that we ourselves create for others (and we get caught in the abyss, often before anyone else!)
How does remembering the past help with the future?
The first quote assumes that if we learn of the past, and learn from other’s mistakes in the past, even our own mistakes in the past, we can then avoid making those same mistakes.
This would make the world a wonderful place, since after so many generations the mistakes we humans make are never new or unique. They’ve been made so many, so many times in the past, often by even ourselves!
The second quote belies the flaw in human freewill: that given freewill by God so that we can freely choose to love, we do choose love, sometimes. But we are able, and so much more often we do, choose to hate instead. Sometimes we do this stupidly without noticing what we are doing. Most often we make the choice to hate and we deceive ourselves (with the help of the Great Deceiver) that we really are not choosing to hate, or only a little bit, so that our actions will not really cost us (too much) and they will cost others only what they deserve to pay for their sins against us or against others. The worst repeated piece from our histories is that even when we know and acknowledge that we are choosing to hate and that it will cost us and others tremendously, we forge ahead, full of hate and determination to take our revenge on others (which is really to take our revenge out on ourselves!)
Why bother with history then?
Why bother knowing of things of old, of anything at all, besides how to get ahead, in this time and place, whatever the cost?!
Remember how God acted with our ancestors from of old, how God responded to their repeated choices to turn from love and choose to hate (and all the destruction that comes with hate.) God did not desert our ancestors of old, nor of recent time. Nor does God desert us to our choices to hate.
God acts decisively.
God acts powerfully … with Grace, unconditional love, and freely giving us renewed life and purpose to hope for a future of peace, contentment, and thankful joy.
Looking out across the ice covered lake, the generator from the oil processing plant only a half mile away, drowning out all other sounds with its old and poor provisions for electric generation, it is not hard to be aware of the oil industries’ hugely destructive impact on this once ‘pristine’ land and waterways through the marshes and muskeg that so cleanse water to serve all life so well. That’s the fracking results that have forced all living here to haul water for the wells are contaminated and unpredictably flow with raw natural gas, even very deadly sour gas. In the land of some of the greatest fresh water on earth, we have poisoned huge tracts of it, and simply do not know how far our ‘poisoning the water’ has or will spread!
Taking a set of binoculars in hand one can then see the fishers minding their lines that sit below the ice to harvest food for their families. If you are so fortunate when those binoculars are to your eyes, you will also see a man, obviously old from his stilted and pained gait, obviously so content from his gentle movements with his young grandchildren, each with a hole, a line, and a hope that they will catch a fish. Looking closely you will see the love and care of the grandfather fisher, imparting knowledge of fishing to the youngest generation, as he kneels beside each one in turn, demonstrating and then encouraging, and proudly patting each on the back before moving on.
Looking at our past can be like the wide view of the oil industries’ destruction of precious resources, showing clearly the destruction of humans’ efforts to control their own lives through might and hate and revenge and greed and ….
Looking at the past through the eyes of Christ we can see the wondrous, loving view of the saints handing on the Grace of God, the mission to share Grace with others, and the love, faith, and hope that makes life in all its minutiae so precious, and so hope-filled.
On our own we will inevitably repeat the mistakes of the past again and again.
With God’s Grace and Spirit healing and guiding us we can look to the past and say with the Psalmist: I remember the days of old, I think about all your deeds, I meditate on the works of your hands.
And we can thankfully share all we are and have so that the youngest generation will know God’s Grace from our lives … and first hand, as we demonstrate, encourage and proudly pat them on the back before moving on … with thankful and joyful contentment, come what may.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer.
I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!
Words of Grace For Today
To whom do we look for security, for deliverance, for help in our distress?
If you, the reader think that you will not be persecuted, then either you are one who has chosen to be one of the persecutors, or you are simply blind, deliriously blind, to the reality of what others are doing to you.
All of the rest of us surely know we are persecuted, for our days are made more and more difficult by what others do to us, trying to ‘step on us’ to get ahead.
Ahh, what all the world does to us! It is best not to recount all the evil done to us. It is simply too depressing, unless …
We need not let ourselves sink into this dark reality, as if we were all alone in our misery (along with all the other people oppressed and stomped on into misery). For we know The Lord is our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer.
Even more so, though the people in this world may persecute us endlessly, we know that Jesus has conquered the world. In Jesus we have peace, peace in the face of everything evil that each day and all sinful people would ‘throw’ at us.
So we take courage. Unfaltering courage for each day, based on God’s protection and Grace for us.
Thus our recounting all the evil we experience is only a small part of the complete story of how God gives us life each day. For we know The Lord is our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him.
Words of Grace For Today
What do you see?
How do you see?
Can you see more if you look more closely?
Can you see better if you remember … well for instance if you remember how kind someone was to you when you most needed someone to see you and respond with kindness?
When I flew all those years as an oil pipeline patrol pilot, ‘100 mph 100 feet off the ground, bored spitless for hours always 30 seconds from death’ (as I used to say, though it was really 110 mph and often 50 feet or even 25 feet above the ground – so 5 seconds from death-, and sometimes between fields a relaxing 500 feet) we pilots knew that in an emergency landing on a busy road was a terrible option. Roads always presented a danger of an unseen power line crossing the road (and if you hit it that would ruin your day for the last time), of a big pothole (a nuisance to road vehicles, but a day-ender for the planes we flew), or a whole host of other ‘challenges’ (like bicyclists, pedestrians, wild animals or pets or livestock, or – the worst to imagine – children).
All that was scary enough so that when we did land on roads which was quite often, for bodily needs (we were in the air for 4 to 12 hours otherwise) we were very alert with wide vision before landing, and we chose remote roads, though that meant gravel and gravel can be slick as ice and snow can be in the winter.
Then when we made it safely down onto the road we knew that the greatest danger was still always immanent. You might think we could relax once the wheels were down and, better, stopped on the road, but NO! That’s when the danger was even higher yet … because if a moving vehicle encountered the plane moving on the road, or even parked on the road, the driver would not likely recognize what was in front of him or her.
When the brain receives information from any of the senses, eyes included, it takes shortcuts, built from experiences, so that it can process quickly how to respond. Seeing a plane on the road is not an experience that any driver is likely to have had even once, yet alone often enough for the brain to build a path for that information coming into the brain to result in a quick enough reaction. Worse, the brain will most likely choose one or more familiar pathways with the result that the driver will not get the impulse to react until more information pours into the brain to even more slowly dislodge the already processed results in the brain and force a new take on the data that is there.
Instead of a plane the driver bearing down on the plane may well ‘see’ a ghost, or a large animal, or a plane in the sky instead of on the road, or tractor or a car or truck, or shimmering reflections of clouds or … the sky is the limit of the possibilities. The brain simply ‘runs back to mama’ to make sense of the extra-ordinary data the eyes have sent it.
By the time the brain has run down a few memory lanes and then finally been jolted back to reprocess from scratch the information still pouring in from the eyes, so much time passes that it is unlikely that the driver will react quickly enough to avoid hitting the plane.
So the newspaper will report: “Safely landed plane smashed to bits by a pickup truck. Pilot dead in the pilot’s seat. Truck totalled when the propeller cuts into it and it’s occupants. Crash discovered hours later by farmer ….”
The planes we flew at 100×100 were marvels of technology, most of it more than 50 years old. The planes were sufficient for the job, but not at all built to hit things, or be hit by things. In that regard they were rather ‘fragile’, shall we say. Still the planes were quite wondrous for all the things we got them to do. There were no pilots among us that were not highly skilled, the top 1% of pilots … or you would get yourself killed in so many ways that did not involve vehicles hitting the plane!
God created the universe. It is more wondrous than any airplane, or any of the marvellous things we did with them, no matter how wondrous the planes may be or the skills with which we flew them. God created all the wonders of the universe, including humans, most of whom are more skilled and wondrous than God’s other creatures.
The question is: how come we humans keep trying to ‘land on busy roadways’ with our lives in this wondrous universe?
The question is: how come we humans keep missing out on seeing ‘the airplanes on the road’, i.e. the wonders of God’s creation before us?
It takes training for the brain to process what the eyes actually see. One has to practice ‘seeing Jesus’ each day. God’s gift to us all is that there are so many opportunities to practice (like pilot training, really) seeing Jesus, when our lives are not on the line. When we practice, then when the real emergencies of life come at us, we will still be able to ‘see the airplane on the road’ for what it is, and we will be able to respond as God designed us to respond. We will be able to ‘fly’. We will be able to respond with Grace.
When we do that then we easily say with the Psalmist: This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
When we’ve gone down roads so often, roads where we destroy and destory other people to make our way taking their lives for our own gain (driving ‘fortified Hummers’ to take on even ‘moose in our way’ without damage to ourselves), like Zacchaeus the tax collector had, we pray and beg that we will ‘see Jesus’ and know what we are looking at soon enough to ‘climb a tree for a better view’.
What we can count on is that Jesus will always respond to us with grace, and say to us: hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.
For then we can surely say: This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.