But you, gird up your loins; stand up and tell them everything that I command you. Do not break down before them, or I will break you before them.
2 Corinthians 4:5
For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake.
Words of Grace For Today
It is sometimes presented as a glorious calling that we receive in our baptisms: to serve Christ, to proclaim Christ, to obey Christ.
Jeremiah (though before Christ’s life in time on earth) knew well the calling to serve God, to proclaim God’s Word, and to obey God.
God makes it clear: Jeremiah is to proclaim God’s Word, clearly, loudly. He should not break down in front of powerful people or great rulers or in front of anyone. If he does God will show the powerful people and great rulers and everyone else how much more powerful God is than they: he will break Jeremiah as an example, a warning to them.
Driven by God’s command and warning Jeremiah proclaims God’s Word. Most people do not want to hear it and turn on him, the messenger, as if that could ever stop God’s Word! Jeremiah suffers humilities and punishments that would break most people. He survives and continues to proclaim God’s Word, the true inconvenient Word of God, to an obstinate people. Sometimes it is a Word of judgment and warning, other times it is a Word of love, forgiveness, renewal and hope. The people really do not want to hear any of it; for hearing any of it at all, any at all, requires that they recognize their own sins, confess them and return to serve God alone.
They are having too much of a good time serving themselves. They are having to lousy a time suffering as slaves for foreign powers. They do not want God to change things. They want to change things themselves for themselves. They want to become the oppressors of other peoples so that they can enjoy lives of privilege and power and comfort. God will have none of it.
God desires that all people receive life abundant.
Proclaiming Christ’s Word is exactly that. It’s not admonishments to good living. It’s not threats to live moral lives. It’s not an escape route from suffering and sin. It’s not some holy panacea pill that solves every ill.
Christ’s Word is the old, old story of Jesus and his love; God’s clearest demonstration of God’s unconditionally loving attitude toward all people. When that hit’s us, it’s a life changer, not just the first time but every time we hear it and listen. The Holy Spirit sweeps us off our stayed or escaping feet right into the lap of God’s mercy, love and hope, and then the power of the Spirit inspires us and moves us to exercise that same mercy, love and hope for all other people … so that all people have life abundant.
As messengers of Christ’s Word, we also will be persecuted, riled against, and unjustly blamed for things beyond our possible doing. Welcome to Jeremiah’s club, the club of God’s messengers sent to proclaim God’s Word. God’s Word, the fire giving life to our hearts and all creation.
Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?
I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!
Words of Grace For Today
In the dead-cold of winter (so mild before this week, but no longer at all mild at -36⁰C) a bit of fire is a welcome thing. Vented, directed, contained with plenty of snow at shovel length to put out anything that approaches too much fire, the heat of fire meets the bleeping cold air and provides a livable space.
Most people in homes enjoy the balance of fire against cold as a product of natural gas ignited in a furnace with the heat distributed to the rest of the home by electricity (either an air fan or a water pump.)
There are cautionary tales to be told or rather seen: the house that one day is an example of a grand house on a hill in the woods, and the next a scarred roof line behind an untouched facade, which on closer viewing displays the chimney standing on it’s own with the building around it on the side and back of what used to be a house, missing and what is visible is jagged and charred. A chimney fire it seems consumed a home, hopefully without loss of life. The 5th wheel RV appears setup along side the remains of the house for the remainder of the winter, spring and summer, with the dogs running outside as they usually had.
One sees on the news videos of thick smoke and vehicles making their collective and slow exit out of Fort McMurray as wildfires wipe out huge areas of the city.
One sees the photos of a railroad accident fire that has burst and melted rail cars and rails themselves.
It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others. Not every life can be a success, just like not every vessel can be seaworthy. But there’s no shame in being one spectacular shipwreck.
God’s Word is like all that, taking what is evil in the world, what is evil and sinful in us, and burning it up like chaff ….
Ah, what a fire that will be!
God’s Word always is a two edged sword, cutting away evil, also from us, among us, and from within each of us!
The Word of God cleanses with fire, and what a fire it is already in us!
The Word of God cuts away and burns away our sin and evil, and cleanses us, pure and righteous! By Grace we live through the cleansing fire.
God provides more than an RV replacement for a home. God provides us a home in the New Jerusalem, the City of God, the New Creation.
For some of us so connected to nature in our existence God provides that we need not move into a city; God provides a home in the wilds of nature’s wonders and beauty.
God’s cleansing fire that Jesus brings is destructive, powerful and wonderfully just. We pray it will be kindled soon among us. We pray the hammer of God will break apart Evil from within us and from among us, so that all will have homes, all will have food, all will have a good life, an abundant life!
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring.
For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.’
Words of Grace For Today
Thirsty land. Dry ground.
Anyone who has lived even a tiny bit aware, knows of thirsty land and dry ground.
Anyone who has lived even a tiny bit aware, knows of God’s spirit, living water, and blessings, poured out on thirsty land and dry ground.
This is God’s promise to all us descendants of Abraham, and all of our offspring, and all the people God calls to exist in God’s creation, every single one!
God’s promises are sure.
So what are we doing living like there is only thirsty land and dry ground surrounding us, holding us hostage in life that is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
Open our eyes, open our ears, open our hearts, open our eyes and open our lives. There is a reality right in front of us, all around us, that belies God’s intention for us. God intends us to be vessels, if fragile and precious pots, who bring God’s Grace to bear on God’s entire creation and all God’s creatures.
Choose: will you live on thirsty land and dry ground, making life all around you solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
Or will you carry the goodness of God’s blessings, spirit and living water, overflowing, to all you encounter.
As for me, with no household or home, I have chosen long time ago, to be that fragile vessel, to know all I can of Grace, and to carry God’s Grace to everyone I encounter. God’s truth is not mutable or fickle. We can hold on to this immutable state of reality, God’s promises, and stare into the face of those who claim truth is relative.
That would be the thirsty land and dry ground, which would consume us.
Doch. God’s promises we will be blessing always. God’s spirit goes with us always. Therefore life is not solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, or short! Life is a great community of holy people, rich with the abundance of life, kind, loving, and eternal, if you so choose to but see clearly.
Because your heart was penitent and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me, and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, says the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:9-10
For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
Words of Grace For Today
Because we do something, therefore God does something good for us.
This is the half faith understanding of God.
It is good to humble ourselves before God. It is good to be penitent before God. Nothing we do, though, can effect how God exercises Grace for us. That is something God does even though we clearly do not deserve anything good from God.
In fact we deserve nothing but condemnation.
God graciously gives us life abundant, adopts us as children, promises us life eternal, and walks with us each day.
Everything that we are is by the Grace of God.
Knowing we are all God’s Grace can make us to be, inspires us to be more than we otherwise could be.
Life is wonderful, by Grace, even though we may think the Devil is running our lives to ground.
So we work hard, very hard at being the best people we can be, by living God’s Grace for others.
Turn your gaze away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more.
He answered [the disciples], ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But [the Canaanite woman] came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.
Words of Grace For Today
There are many sayings that poignantly highlight some aspect of human existence. One is ‘no on gets out of life alive.’ Another ‘the fatality rate for humans is 100%.’ Another, ‘In the end what do they call the man who accumulates the most [fill in ‘power’, ‘money’, ‘status’, or anything else humans compete for]? … dead.’
Knowing we will die is part of knowing who we are … and what we are not. We are not immortal, nor godlets. God gazing on us directly is a most terrifying experience (or so we are told, never having experienced it myself.) As one approaches the end of life, it is a simple step, one that every instinct drives us to avoid until it is unavoidable. Then it becomes an inevitable, immediate, one way event, with no mulligans.
One can waste all of life fretting about one’s inevitable death. Or one can learn to immerse oneself in the present, find great joy in the abundant blessings God fills and overfills our lives with, and we can smile. Our smiles are not mere lips turned up at the corners, nor even a twinkle of life in our eyes. Our smiles at the great abundance and wonders of the universe and our lives in it, stretch from our mouths, far past our eyes, deep into our minds and to the foundation of our souls.
Those smiles help us imitate the Canaanite woman, who knows enough: 1) Jesus can heal her daughter, 2) she can beg to Jesus, 3) she will persist no matter the insults thrown at her. She trusts that God wants to heal her daughter, and Jesus is the One who God sends to heal all who he encounters.
Being insulted always matters, it just does not matter even one iota in the context of saving her daughter. She’ll take whatever scraps of Grace Jesus has for a non-Jew, for a Canaanite, for a woman. Even a scrap is enough to save her daughter.
No matter who we are, even a scrap of Grace is more than we need for life to be wondrously filled with breathe, love and hope.
No matter who we are, Jesus has time for us.
That ought to put a smile into us who know Jesus is our judge, or it will scare the living daylights right out of us, if we do not trust Jesus’ to provide us wretched sinners Grace.
We pray, with simultaneous smiles and terror for we are saint/sinners always, that Jesus will show us the way as we follow him, and that Jesus will turn away for we would like to smile without the terror ripping our hearts out of us.
Always in terror and in our joyous smiles, God is with us. The Spirit guides us. And Jesus reaches out, and asks us to lend him our thoughts, our voices, and our hands, that we can be Jesus’ presence for others.
Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds— his name is the Lord— be exultant before him.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Words of Grace For Today
Our human survival instincts keep us much more alert for trouble, mindful of the troubles of the past, than basking in the good things of life.
It would have done our for-bearers little good (and we might not be here) to sit around the campfire regaling their escape from the mountain lion (who hunts humans for sport) earlier that day, letting the mountain lion pick them off in their relaxed stupor. Better to notice their success with a slight sigh of relief and continue building their defences, keeping a very alert watch for the silent hunter.
So also today we need to keep sharp, guarding ourselves against dangers of this life, much less from four legged animals, and much more from the Evil One working through two legged animals (ourselves included.)
Yet that war is already won, and the battles we are left to fight may even destroy us, but they cannot determine the outcome of the war: Jesus conquered death and all evil with his sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection to life.
While yet alert for danger, we also need to not turn everything into danger. We do need to celebrate all that God has done for us, meeting our daily needs for survival in this abundant life God provides for us. Celebrating God’s work for us, God’s protection, reminds us we cannot survive on our own, that the Evil One can snatch us away if we try to survive on our own.
Songs since the beginning of time have carried profound meaning, combining the rhythms of life, the melody of the spheres, and the words of God-given visions. Not all songs do this. Many cheapen the possibility reducing life to a crude and corrupt perversion of life as God gives it to us. Perhaps the worst version of those crude songs are ones that mention God’s name and carry little of God’s real blessing.
There are plenty of good and profound songs, the songs that carry God’s love and purpose for us give life. These we can sing to express our joy each day for all God has done for us. Some of these songs are simple chants, mantras really, like Dona nobis pacem. Others are complicated working through the darkness of life to a purpose of health and resilience, like Cohen’s Anthem. Some even bring hope and thanks to our hearts in spite of the composer’s intent, like Tikaram’s Cathedral Song. Many have no words, like Anthony’s Song of Hope.
There is no shortage of songs already composed and many more will be composed. They provide us a full song book from which we can sing God’s praise, rejoicing each day for all that was, all that is and all that will be – only by God’s Grace.
Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is at hand; the Lord has prepared a sacrifice, he has consecrated his guests.
And he said, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’
Words of Grace For Today
Be silent! The day of the Lord is at hand!
Let anyone with ears to hear listen.
Silent Dread, no opportunity to protest.
If one has not believed then now one will, without a doubt.
For God is all powerful and all knowing.
It’s not like the threatening spam email I received that claimed my computer was locked! Well it’s not. But the email claimed that the writer could see through my camera, but it’s physically covered so even if someone activates it, it’s blank. And of course the email demanded bitcoin payment to a numbered account, untraceable, with the threat to share the video made of me with all my contacts.
This is a bad hoax, a spam email, a real idiot who wrote it, but a poor sucker who would fall for it and make payment.
One could treat God like a stupid spammer, wait and see that God is real, for real and one’s own judgment day is real.
There are things to take seriously by trusting them; God’s Word is the prime example.
There are things to not take seriously by acting as like the joke is on in the ‘threatening’ idiot: a good example is a spam email that demands money.
Place dread where it is accurate.
Place trust where it is warranted.
As one knows quite well that Jesus’ pure record stands in for one’s own very imperfect record there is nothing to fear of the Day of the Lord.
Rather it is something to await with great anticipation and joy.
He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.
2 Timothy 2:8-9
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David—that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained.
Words of Grace For Today
People’s responses to God’s Grace can all too often be rejection and attack of the messengers.
God’s Word is not affected or restricted or limited or stopped. God’s Word permeates the universe like the strings that physicists theorize may make up the universe.
The Word, like subspace transmissions, travels faster than light, travels instantaneously everywhere.
Jesus Christ lives. Not even death can stop God!
God’s Word will where it wants, makes what it will.
We know, it wills not that we are enslaved, but that we remain free in God’s own good creation: free to choose to love instead of hate; free to choose to do righteousness for others instead of harm others striving for our own self realizations; free to choose to sacrifice ourselves in order that others may live, as Christ did for us; free to choose to live an abundant life, measured not by comfort, things, privilege or power, but measured by how many other people benefit from us reflecting God’s free, gracious, generous forgiveness, renewed life, and spirit (sometimes called chutzpah or gumption or nerve) to reflect the Light of Christ instead of our meagre attempts to shine.
travels instantaneously to where it is needed,
to strengthen the defences against the Devil and his evil perversions of good creation.
to heal our every ill
to renew life.
There is nothing else that is trustworthy other than God’s Word.