Chosen ‘Few’ OR Chosen ‘All’?

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

No Matter the Road Ahead of Us

God Chose Us

To Go and Bless All People

As God Has Blessed Us.

Isaiah 41:9

I took you from the ends of the earth and called you from its farthest corners, saying to you, ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off.’

Romans 11:1

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.

Words of Grace For Today

The history is that God chose the Israelites, only the Israelites. Everyone else was unchosen and unclean. This we humans do to make ourselves special: we claim that we are chosen and all others are not. This does not make us special. It makes us typically self-centric, arrogant, and judgmental.

When Paul was converted after Saul went blind on the road to Damascus, he studied for years, held himself in retreat from activity. He underwent a profound change, from an effective, eager, persistent pursuer and persecutor of Christians, to a leading proponent of Jesus’ Way of living, i.e. by Grace.

Paul did not restrict sharing the Good News, which he encountered as Jesus’ Way of being God’s people, with just the traditionally ‘chosen’, the Israelites. Paul went out to share the Good News with anyone and everyone who would listen and wanted to be baptized in this Way of living.

That brought the obvious question: were the Jews wrong to claim God had chosen them, or had God changed God’s mind and rejected those God had earlier ‘chosen’?

Paul’s answer is simple: No. God’ choosing people is expanded, not ended. The Jews are still chosen, as are all other people who Christ calls to follow his Way.

History repeats itself. Many times God’s people have declared that only they are God’s chosen. As many times God’s message comes to bear on the mess this exclusive claim creates: God’s chosen are chosen, DOCH God does not choose only some people. God chooses all people.

Our human way of living does not make sense of this very well, if at all.

It does not need to. God still chooses all people and offers them abundant life. Not life in abundance (of wealth, things, etc.), but life filled to overflowing with blessings and the ability to share those blessings with others, all others.

God gathers us from the ends of the earth, from all corners of creation, claims us as God’s servants, does not cast us off, and sends us out to share the Good News. (Like Paul.)

What a life!

… No Darkness At All

Monday, April 26, 2021

The Dark, The Cold, The Wind

We Will Survive.

The Absolute Darkness of Evil

We Cannot

on Our Own.

Zechariah 14:7

There shall be continuous day (it is known to the Lord), not day and not night, for at evening time there shall be light.

1 John 1:5

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.

Words of Grace For Today

North and South of the 60th parallels the continuous day is well known in the summer, though it is matched by continuous night in the winter.

As fierce as the winter cold, wind, and dark can be, this is not the darkness that we need to take heed of and can well fear.

That darkness is the darkness that envelops our souls, convincing us that we are nothing, nothing at all and that we need to make our own way in the world, that we need to make something of ourselves, that we are alone, and that life must be gained at other’s expense.

This darkness is the Devil’s darkness.

This is the darkness that robs it’s victims and their victims of life abundant.

This is the darkness that convinces us that reality is not God’s creation, but some twist, some perversion, some Godless experience that we can make up as we wish or as we feel we must.

This is the darkness that teaches that there is no Truth, only relative experiences which give us at best subjective truths.

This darkness is like the wind that swept through my camp, shifting supports and tarps. The light of day shows that it is a wonder that it all did not come tumbling down in a pile of tarp and supports, rolled together like child’s playdo, taking me with it.

The light of day allows me to make repairs, and to be thankful that in the light of days past I put things together with extra support, and a 2nd layer of extra support, and a 3rd, not unlike the Trinity: One God, yet three persons, together working wonders for us, in us, and for all others.

In the light we can see and anticipate what might come upon us like thieves or wind in the dark of night, and we can prepare.

We can prepare our hearts, inviting God to dwell in us, resigning ourselves to our constant need for God’s Grace and Forgiveness, and practising God’s Grace and Forgiveness for all others.

Then we live each day, trusting that God walks with us no matter what comes our way, for we know, as Kathleen Thomerson wrote for us: We want to walk as children of the Light. We want to follow Jesus. God set the stars to give light to the world. The star of our lives is Jesus.

In him there is no darkness at all.

The night and the day are both alike. The Lamb is the light of the city of God. Shine in our hearts, Lord Jesus.

In him there is no darkness at all.

A Guide, A Sure Guide

Sunday, April 25, 2021

How Can We Find Our Way

Across Thin Ice

To Where God Wishes Us To Be

Psalm 48:154

This is God, our God for ever and ever. He will be our guide for ever.

Philippians 1:6

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.

Words of Grace For Today

There is work for us to accomplish each day. We can sometimes easily ignore it, or pretend that life does not demand that we accomplish anything …

… as long as someone else is providing our lunch and lodging.

The real challenge is to keep moving towards getting something good accomplished, and first to know what is the good thing to do.

If we try to calculate that on our own, we will inevitably fail.

Only God can guide us to know what is truly good, and what we can accomplish this day that will be truly good.

God starts with us, and no matter how much we try to run and go it on our own, we need God to guide us toward the good we can accomplish, that God would have us accomplish this day.

Thankfully, God will be our guide for ever.

We are not in this alone.

The one who began a good work among us will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.

Take Heart …

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Even in the Darkest Darkness

God Sends Us with Light

For All People

To Heal Them and Set Them Free

Isaiah 42:6-7

I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

Mark 10:49

Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’

Words of Grace For Today

Take heart; get up, Jesus is calling you.

It is one thing to be blind, blind to truth, blind to reality, blind to the consequences of one’s actions.

It is a whole other level of illness to be willingly, stubbornly, adamantly blind.

When we desire to be blind no longer, Jesus calls us – or rather: has already called us to come, to be healed, to become part of the Kingdom of God that is here, spreading the news of God’s Grace for all people, healing for all people, and abundant life for all people.

Called, healed, and given sight to see the wonders of God’s Grace, God gives us to the world as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

We get to be the ones who give our lives so that those held captive by darkness can see the Light of the World, and live.

Take heart; get up, Jesus is calling you.

Now get ready for the ride of your life, for there is nothing like serving God, bringing light to the blind, and freeing those captive by darkness!

Always in God’s Hands

Friday, April 23, 2021

In Darkness or Death

In God’s Time

the Sun Will Shine Again.

Isaiah 7:4

Say to him, ‘Take heed, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smouldering stumps of firebrands, because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remaliah.’

1 Corinthians 16:13

Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.

Words of Grace For Today

There are great words to be spoken at the right time, to inspire people to courage in the face of threats to one’s well-being and even to one’s life.

Take heed, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint

and

Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.

They may be effective words, though seldom are they in the face of the most powerful or the most devious of threats. For these real and great and present threats one needs to know, not that one can rely on oneself, one’s own abilities to be strong, firm, quiet, alert and courageous. Rather one needs to hear, be convinced again, and resign oneself to trust that one’s strength is in God’s unconditional and unending love and grace.

The sun will go down, our abilities will wane, fade, and disappear. God’s presence continues through the darkest night of the soul, even when the shadow of death covers everything around us.

That is the one and only sufficient source of courage that can meet the most dangerous threats, the one’s that would steal away our spirit and identities as God’s own people.

The moon may reflect the sun’s light through the dark night, or not.

Storms may whip about.

Even death may visit us.

Yet no matter what, God’s strength is with us. This gives us courage and strength so that we can stand firm in our faith that we have received from generation to generation. We need not be faint of heart, no matter the assailant, no matter their destructive powers to our trust, God’s truth, or the Holy Spirit’s hope given to us.

No matter what we are not alone. The sun will rise. The day will come when the storms subside and we can work again to share God’s blessings with all people. Until then God shelters us and carries us, even if we cannot walk or stand, in God’s own hands.

In God’s own hands.

This is home for us.

In God’s own hands.

Grating or Grateful?

Thursday, April 22, 2021

God’s Royal Colours

Show Every Day

To Address Our Very Not-Royal Realities.

Psalm 34:6

This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord, and was saved from every trouble.

Romans 12:12

Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.

Words of Grace For Today

There are lots of complaints floating about, people tired of Covid19 restrictions, and generally people stressed out about life’s little challenges.

Those of us who know who we are (God’s people saved even though we are miserable sinners) know that our cries are heard by God and that God saves us – and there is in all things great cause to trust God’s promises, to remain firm in hope (and resilience), to not be overwhelmed by suffering, and to persevere in prayer.

It is a life of gratitude no matter what comes our way.

It’s so much better than a life of bitching, complaining and draining goodwill from the people around us.

So why do we continually chose to complain about other people and their stupidities?

God helps us remember that we too can be the ones doing stupid things, and are each new day.

Which keeps God active saving us from ourselves,

For which we can, instead of complaining, be ultimately grateful.

What a life, filled with opportunities to be saved and to be grateful!

Adversity and True Strength

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Life is a series of reflections

on us.

What have we,

What will we,

do

for others to enjoy an abundant life?

Isaiah 48:10

See, I have refined you, but not like silver; I have tested you in the furnace of adversity.

Luke 6:22-23

Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

Words of Grace For Today

This life may be terrible and even horrendous, but it will be all right in heaven, so this is all right, too, right?

What doesn’t kill you, makes you strong, right?

Too often these rather stupid simplifications of valid ideas are used as excuses to allow psychological or physical violence and abuse to continue. The truth is there are scars from many things that do not make one stronger.

Perhaps the worse use of these is to justify that some people can enjoy great wealth, privilege, and comfort, while others struggle to stay alive, and others die very ignoble deaths, all in order to make the ‘chosen’ few able to be wealthy, privileged, and comfortable.

God did not make creation for us to live in a while and then escape from it’s injustices to heaven. God made all of creation, saw the accomplished work of creating, and said, “It is Good!”

Life for all people is designed to be GOOD!

GOOD does not mean without pain or suffering evil, for then there is also no possibility to love and experience joy. Pain and suffering – and – love and joy are part and parcel of the kind of life God created us for.

We live and love and experience joy. Some day the people we love will suffer and die. We will then also suffer and experience pain.

And it is all Good.

It is true that those who enjoy wealth, privilege, and comforts now at the expense of others being able to live abundant lives will, for eternity, suffer their choices to be blind and deaf to what they do to others.

It is also true that those who suffer and know only pain, will for eternity be released from that horrible kind of experience and they will know joy forever.

Our lives here and now are not to simply accept all suffering and pain as necessary. It is to work as hard as we can to mitigate and minimize all pain and suffering, to provide an abundant life for everyone!

That’s a life full and long of hard, dedicated work of love, not the sentimental kind of love, the real kind of love that puts one into action and pulls one to sacrifice so that others can live well.

What makes us strong, truly strong, is to know that even as we suffer and are in pain God walks with us, still creating, still seeing all that God does through us, and God says, “It is Good.”

Therefore we know that already today all will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well.

Promise, Resilience OR FEAR!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

What Do We See?

The Disappearing Light and Danger of Darkness?

Cold Water Filled with Dangerous Ice?

OR

The Promise of a New Day Coming in the Light of the Morning, and

Clear Water of the Summer, (both months if we’re lucky :-)?

Genesis 9:9-10-11

As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.

Colossians 1:21-2

You who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him.

Words of Grace For Today

God’s great works are really two-fold. First God sets things right between us and God. Second God promises that the future is in God’s hands and God will not destroy us … at least not by flood waters.

If you have ever been in a flood, or threatened for months by continually rising waters cutting you off from the rest of the world, then you will know the fear that is inherent in even coming close to being in a flood. That fear does not go away with the receding waters. It remains, always. There are many other disasters that have the similar effect on our ability to live fear-free.

Fear paralyzes us, reduces us to instinctual beings without the ability to reason or think: we fight, freeze, or flee.

Living in constant fear, or in fear that recurs without warming constantly throughout our days, diminishes life, sometimes to a small sliver of life. Fear robs us of abundant life. Fear robs those around us of abundant life … as they deal with our fears.

The complete lack of fear, on the other hand, leaves us unmotivated to work hard, as if life will just unfold for us. The difference is the quantity and quality of fear. The first stymies us and reduces us. The second reminds us of reality and invigorates us. Where the first kind of fear leaves off and the other begins is not a constant. It varies according to our resilience.

There is one ‘disaster’ that all of us face, which nothing can take away from us: we will all die. This fear is a constant in all of us.

Knowing that God sets things right between us and God, and trusting the promises that God is with us and will not destroy us, gives us a resilience that is out-of-this-world solid … and living with which enables us to enjoy life abundant … through even the toughest times, including through Covid 19.

Life is a Blessed Adventure!

Monday, April 19, 2021

No Matter What Comes Our Way,

We Need Not Hide From Life.

God Holds Us by the Hand.

Psalm 37:23-24

Our steps are made firm by the Lord, when he delights in our way; though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand.

Romans 8:37

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Words of Grace For Today

The evening dark had settled firm. My parka, long underwear under insulated work bib-overalls, cover mittens over the warmly insulated gloves and an insulate hat, scarf, hood and a prayer kept the -15⁰C and a west wind from biting. A recent storm blanketed everything with white, and high speed traffic through the day cleared tracks, though at intersections the snow was packed.

I exited town on a road that turned gravel for about a mile. Heavy trucks regularly travelled here. The week before I had found a rather smooth track just outside the regular traffic lines. The bicycle carried a heavy load of groceries from the food bank, loaded on the rear panniers and above the rack in a ‘milk crate.’

This week even with the headlight on brightly illuminating the roadway, there was not much to be seen but dark here and light there. It was rough bouncing the bike and my back with more than a little discomfort. I tried the lighter track inside the really rough tire tracks. It’s rough and slow going pushing through the snow and slush. I turn to the outside, and there turn the wheel to head straight down the road. The wheel turns easily to the left, the bike keeps going to the right far out of balance with not even a split second warning dumping me, right butt cheek to the ice, bike and groceries on top me, and my right elbow catching the weight of my upper body.

Stunned …

Stunned I slowly pulled my self out from under the bike as a vehicle went by without pause. I could move. Nothing seemed broken or damaged beyond use. I knew the shock would wear off and that might be different in a moment. I inspected the rear wheel. It was still good. The shape of the pannier had protected it from damage.

It took minutes, long minutes down on the roadway of black ice before I could get upright. More minutes before I could pull the bicycle upright and reset everything in the rear ‘milk crate’ carrier.

I did not dare ride on that ice again that night. I walked the mile until the pavement started again, and further until the traffic had cleared it down to the black pavement. Still when I peddled again, 22 km left to get home, I stayed clear of the dark black pavement-maybe-ice.

Our steps are made firm by the Lord, when he delights in our way.

I guess God did not delight in my way?

Though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand.

Or maybe God had me by the hand and I did not fall headfirst, knocked unconcious.

It did take weeks for the deep buttocks bruise to not hurt and the purple-yellow-green to fade more to normal pale pink-white

In life, if we live it to the fullest and do not hide from life, there are many times we will stumble and fall, be bruised, and require time to heal.

God promises always to be with us so that

in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Life is not safe. No one gets out of it alive.

Life is not to be lived hiding from danger. God calls us to engage, to face danger, to provide for those God loves, which means all people, including ourselves. Even if that means biking 55 km or more in the cold to get food to return in the dark on questionable roads against the wind making it a 4 hour return trip instead of the usual 2 plus hours.

If we fall …

Well, let’s be honest: WHEN we fall, God is there to protect us, to help us get back up, to heal, and if it is our day to die, to receive us into heaven where we need not fall again.

Life is an adventure (all too full of enemies that would do us in) that, for God’s beloved people, always ends well.

Hallelujah!

By Grace … Still Why Us?

Sunday, April 18, 2021

There are fault-lines everywhere,

no more than in each of us.

Why then does God bless us with Grace?

2 Samuel 7:18

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and said, ‘Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?

1 Corinthians 15:10

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

To live is good!

To live blessed by God is wonderful!

To live aware that all the good one can do is not from one own self, but possible only by the Holy Spirit working in and through one is most wonderful!

To live aware that God has brought us thus far by grace, making us what we are is to live with gratitude… and that is awesomely wonderful.

Being aware of God’s blessings and grace does not relieve us of the necessities of working hard. This awareness drives us to work even harder to play our small parts in God’s Kingdom come for all people.

Hard work is sweet and wonderful, when one works for God’s purposes: to bring the blessings of God’s Kingdom to all people. Some would say it is the sweetest, most wonderful sweat of all life.

Even with such Grace prodigiously poured over us, we must wonder, God, ‘Why us?!’

Help us Lord! We are so far from your kingdom even though you have brought it here long ago.