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.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Words of Grace For Today
People say that there is no reason to hope that … and then they go on to say what they have no hope for.
Everyday language would use the word ‘hope’ that way. But hope is really something much different.
It may help to put the word hope in a few wider contexts with comparisons to other words.
Pessimism is looking at all the evidence available and drawing a conclusion that gives the bad evidence more importance. So the glass is half empty and going down. The world is in the worst shape it’s ever been. Humans are the worst species and are quick capable of destroying the whole earth. That’s pessimism for you, always coming up with the trajectory straight into trouble and deeper.
Optimism is looking at all the evidence available and drawing a conclusion that gives the good evidence more importance. So the glass is half full and getting fuller. The world is in the best shape it’s ever been. Humans are the best species with the greatest chance of saving planet earth. That’s optimism for you, always coming up with the trajectory straight into a wonderful world and beyond.
Realism what people use to say their view of optimism and pessimism is right, not skewed like the other views.
Hope looks at all the evidence available, finds none that indicates God’s will is being done, and yet with no evidence to support this belief, lays everything on the line, trusting that God’s will is being done, God’s will is what we are supposed to be cooperating with, and in the end God will provide all that we need, even if that means all we get is a room prepared for us in the city of light, in life eternal.
Hope beyond hope is just hyperbole. Properly said one might mean: hope beyond all evidence, which is hope in it self anyway.
If we need to remember how great hope can be, remember Noah building the ark and ridiculed by all around … until the water starts pouring down, and keeps pouring down.
We may face challenges, on top of Covid 19, someone we most trusted has broken that trust by doing something blatantly illegal; of cancer has returned; or your lies in court have been noticed by the police; or your cheating on your taxes is being investigated, or (fill in your favourite sin) has been noticed by someone close to us and we have gravely disappointed them, or … the kids are just getting on your nerves too much … or the idiots are running their unlicensed motorcycles and quads all over the place, set off fireworks every night, and party until 3 and 4 in the morning so that it’s terrific when it storms at night to shut it down.
Pessimists would say: it’s just going to get worse.
Optimists would say: it’s just people blowing off steam. It will get better soon.
The person of Hope would say: God’s creation will withstand also these assaults on good sensibilities, and God provide all enough sleep, despite the neighbours late hours.
Perhaps Noah would like to take the fireworks, motorcycles and quads, and the party-ers on the ark for a little ride … somewhere far away. But that’s just hope beyond hope.
Perhaps God has other plans?
Perhaps there is hope yet, that some sense, respect and common decency will enter into these people’s lives …
or more likely I will gain an understanding of how helpful and beneficial all these late hour activities are for other people, so I will smile, instead of grimace, at their occurrences, waking me from my sleep.
There’s always hope.
Faith is beyond hope. It is a gift of trusting when there is no reason to trust, or to hope.
Faith is a gift that the Holy Spirit continually renews in us, since we wear it thin so quickly.
Faith is the most powerful thing we will ever know in our lives.
Love comes in almost tied with Faith.
Some have said Love comes in first.
Regardless, there are these three: Faith, Hope and Love.
Germany In the Fade is a movie about people choosing the
destruction of life. A German mother drops her young son off with her
husband at work so that she can make a visit. Leaving his office the
mother admonishes a young woman to lock up her new bike she’s just
left with a case on its rear carrier. When the mother returns the
police inform her that her husband, a German of Turkish descent, and
their young German-born son were killed by a fertilizer nail bomb.
The bike’s case held the bomb made by the perpetrator’s husband.
outcome of the trial seems obvious, but their lawyer creates
reasonable doubt; the bombers are acquitted. Captive to revenge the
grieving mother tracks the guilty-acquitted couple to a beach on the
ocean. There she kills them with a fertilizer nail bomb, and she
loses her life in the process.
movie denounces the rise of neo-Nazi killings. The first bomb was set
to kill as many non-native Germans as possible. More clearly it
demonstrates that, without the freedom of faith that calls us to
forgive, people choose to become captives to revenge. Revenge is a
two-edge sword that cuts everyone.
OT: As you enter the PL, Choose:
life or death, blessings or curses
comparison, living in God’s promise is a multi-sided blessing. As
God delivers God’s promise to Abraham and ushers the people across
the Jordan into the Promised Land, Moses admonishes them to choose
God each day. Moses knows they will need to or they will fall under
the curses of other gods, including gods that people still choose
today. Living in the Promised Land does not mean that life will be
easy, obvious, or without dire peril. Nor does it mean that all
people are free. Today people are regularly enslaved as labourers
around the world and on the high seas as well as those forced into
the sex trade.
delivers us into the Promise. God will not take us out of the
Promised Land. As God’s children God frees us so that we always
have a real choice between Life and Death, between blessings and
curses, even when we do not see the choices clearly.
Promised Land has God brought us to, long ago, or maybe just
yesterday? What Blessings and Curses must we choose between?
first that God’s Promise delivered at our baptism is that we are
always God’s children, made righteous by Jesus’ sacrifice and
Grace. God gives us a choice, but it is not about receiving or
earning God’s Grace and our salvation. Our choice is how we live in
that Grace. Do we, guided and inspired by God’s Spirit, choose
blessings and life, or do we choose our own ways that lead to curses
and death for us and for others?
Break my Heart, (Set me on fire!)
well-known prayer … reads: “May my heart be broken by the
things that break the heart of God.” (World
Vision’s founder, Bob Pierce).
risk of praying this prayer is that God might just answer it with a
Holy Fire that sets our hearts on fire to bring blessings to every
human of the 7.7 plus billion whom we can possibly effect, starting
today, with those beside us, those we meet each step through each
day, and those we go out of our way to encounter, until everything in
our lives changes as we become the hands, voice and blessings of
Christ. We join the great cloud of witnesses to Christ’s love for
NT Philemon’s Real Story: Giving FREEDOM
second lesson for today we read part of the letter Paul wrote to
Philemon and his congregation. It is about an escaped slave,
Onesimus, the man who carries the letter to Philemon. Paul sends him
back to his master, Philemon, and lights a Holy Fire under Philemon.
slaves were crucified, a dire warning to any other slaves who tried
to escape. Anyone, through a terrible turn of fortune or war, could
become a slave. Becoming a freed slave was very, very rare.
Paul admonishes Philemon, with the congregation listening, to do the
rare but right thing, the good thing, the personally costly thing.
C.S. Lewis: Paint and Eggs, Stain and Get
C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity called this the difference between paint, which merely covers the surface, and stain which soaks in deep to protect to the centre. Paul trusts that the Gospel daily seeps down into Philemon’s heart and strength. As with all Paul’s new converts in congregations spread so far, Paul nurtures the seeds of faith, like a mother hen sitting on her eggs. It is fine to be a fertilized egg, waiting to become something, but now it’s time to get cracking. It’s time for Philemon to show his colours and give Onesimus his freedom.
does God place before us
this day the choice of blessings gained by
sacrificing our rights
and privileges in
order that another human can live in freedom? What egg needs
to hatch in our lives bringing us into a new reality?
What choices does God give us today?
Route 44, Not Getting it Right
We may not get it right. We may be more like the 88 year old driver of the car the cop pulls over because it was going 44 kph on the highway where the speed limit is 110. When he approaches the car he notices that the four elderly passengers appear to be shocked into a daze, the air taken out of them.
officer warns the driver that it is dangerous to drive so far below
the speed limit. She responds that she was going exactly the speed
limit of 44 kph just like the sign said.
officer starts to answer sternly until the light bulb goes off for
him and he says: “No ma’am, the speed limit is 110 here. Though
this is highway 44.”
says the driver as it’s obvious the wheels are churning for her.
Then the officer asks, “Is everyone alright? They all seem shell
driver answers as it falls into place for her, “No, officer. Thank
you. Yes, they will be alright in a minute or two. You see, a few
miles back we turned off highway 169.”
Taking care of ourselves, our faith, and the promised land we live in is hardly simple. Sometimes it’s the most difficult thing in our lives to get right. When we make mistakes with the freedom Christ gives us, we often add a huge dose to the challenges the Devil tries to suck us into. The results can often scare the living daylights out of us, at least they should.
Luke: Know the Cost
today’s Gospel Jesus admonishes the crowd to know and prepare for
the cost of discipleship as they commit themselves to following him.
not Jesus’ way, but it is an example of the extreme commitment that
following Jesus will place on us. Nothing else can be more important
to us than following Jesus, nothing, not even love for family. Jesus
tells us to count the cost before we jump in, for the cost will be
more than any love or even all of our possessions. Better to count
the cost first and be prepared, than to run into a wall too high, or
a battle too big, and collapse in shame.
not unlike marriage. If we really knew what we were getting into
there are precious few of us who would be able to make such a
commitment. Fortunately, endorphins and hope help us commit to each
other in marriage. Its challenges are God’s way of bringing us to
understand God’s love for us.
fortunately, most of us are baptized as infants, a choice made for us
by our parents and sponsors, otherwise the high cost could stop many
of us. Yet the cost of discipleship is required for us to participate
in life overflowing with God’s blessings for which we are created!
White tells the story of Heddie Braun, a woman who lived the first
four years of her life in Norway and then emigrated to Little
was a powerful presence at the age of 88 with all of her 80 lbs. hung
on a 5’ 2” frame. On a cold fall evening Heddie was kidnapped
from her single-story home where she lived with Eddie, her blind
husband. The kidnapper cut power and telephone wires to the house,
entered through the backdoor, picked up Heddie and put her in the
trunk of his car. He drove her to his home, put chains on her legs
and hid her in a tiny trailer out back. For days Heddie was always
cold, she didn’t have her heart medicine, and she lost track of
time. A confusing ransom call was made on a disposable phone to her
grandson. It was a total failure.
time melted into a well-stirred soup, Heddie was not confused about
who she was and to whom she belonged. Held captive she knew Christ
made her free.
police identified the kidnapper. He had worked for the family, but
was now unemployed and desperate. At one time he had been a friend.
Heddie almost lost her foot to frostbite but she was tough and her foot was saved. Asked later how she stayed so strong, Heddie replied. “I’m Norwegian. The whole time I was in the trailer I remembered that my kidnapper was just a person like me. No matter what the cost I was going to choose life. It was so hard, harder than anything I’ve ever done, but I forgave him.” She turned to her grandson, “You have to forgive him, too.” (In Over Our Heads, pp. 14ff, Augsburg 2007, re-told TL and KAS)
So we pray
sets us free, so we pray: May our hearts be broken by the things that
break the heart of God.
joy be in choosing life, blessings, and freedom for all people.