God Graciously Loves

All three readings this weekend ring out with the gift of humility. Jeremiah, deeply hurt by those who sought to destroy him, still humbly leaves vengeance to the Lord. James exhorts believers not to think of themselves as wiser than anyone else, especially when the evidence of their lives was full of bitter jealousy and selfish ambition. James urges the wise to repent and to exhibit the humility Christ demonstrated by being “peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” When Jesus makes clear that He is on a path that leads to humiliation on the cross, the disciples haughtily argue about who among them is the greatest. By this they demonstrate that they did not understand what Jesus was saying. Jesus then teaches that the greatest thing in life is to be the servant of all. And to show them the simplicity of it, He picks up a child and exhorts them to receive him in humility. We live in a world still ruled much of the time by brashness, boasting, and exulting in lording over others. At times we are tempted to treat others who are not Christians in these sinful ways. Yet these readings work together to show us another way to live – humbly trusting God.

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Listen To Yourself

Three weeks ago we heard John’s gospel’s version of Peter’s confession of faith. This week we hear Mark’s version, when Peter says, “You are the Messiah.” In John, the stumbling block in Jesus’ invitation to eat his flesh, given for the life of the world. In Mark too the scandal has to do with Jesus’ words about his own coming death, and here Peter himself stumbles over Jesus’ words. But Jesus is anointed (the meaning of “Messiah”) in Mark only on the way to the cross (14:3); so we are anointed in Baptism with the sign of the cross.

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Jesus Opens Our Ears and Tongues

Every election cycle, millions upon millions of dollars are poured into campaigns across our land. Yard signs are displayed with candidates’ names imprinted in patriotic colors. Political pundits make their case for why their candidate is good and the other side’s is bad. Perhaps these are all warning signs that we can be tempted to put our trust in elected officials to save us from our woes, rather than in the Lord. Today’s Psalm reminds us, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation (Psalm 146:3). Rather than putting our trust in princes, politicians, and presidents, we put our trust in the Prince of Peace. Jesus Christ is the one, the only one, in whom there is salvation. Praise God!

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Follow the Rules

Fellow Christians –

It has been said, “The Church is never more than one generation away from extinction.” This bold statement perhaps finds support in the admonition found in today’s Old Testament Reading. There Moses writes this concerning the works of the Lord, “Make them known to your children and your children’s children (Deuteronomy 4:9). Each generation has the responsibility, and privilege, of passing on the works of God to the next generation.

While much of this teaching happens in the setting of a local congregation, the Christian instruction that happens in the home, in our own family, is key. This teaching is always centered in Jesus Christ, the one through whom our Lord has worked the mightiest work of all – our salvation. That same Savior promises that even the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church! Praise God!

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Never Stale

Pastor Kay’s message this weekend was based on John 6:51-58 where, in John’s gospel, the feeding of the five thousand leads to extended teaching in which Jesus identifies himself as the true “Bread of Life”. Finally, in these verses, he makes a connection that would not be understood until after his death, in light of the church’s celebration of Holy Communion.

Pastor states, “This gift of life at the holy table gives us the incentive to be servants of Christ who offer the same gift to others to receive it with us. And all of us together will never need to worry about an expiration date for this food. It never goes bad or needs to be thrown out. It is food that is everlasting and food that nourishes us for life eternal. Come and taste the love of Christ for you. Jesus speaks again to you and me today – “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” Come to this table to eat and drink life everlasting. The Lord be with you.”

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Taste and See

As we live out each day, we reflect on our faith in our words and actions. Each of us is an example of the Christian life as we struggle to live in forgiving love toward one another, and also as we continue to trust in the forgiveness Christ won for us.

In this weekend’s Epistle, Paul provides a list of what our life in Christ should look like because of our new birth in Baptism. In the Gospel, Jesus spells out the connection between receiving His body and blood in the Lord’s Supper and living in hope each day. He is the bread of life from heaven, who enables each of us to discard our old ways, live in the new life of God’s forgiving love, and adorn ourselves with gladness. Praise God!

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What Have We Already Been Given?

God cares for us, but we aren’t always aware of it. When Jesus stilled the storm that was hindering the disciples in the boat, all they saw was His power, and they were terrified. But when other people saw Him, they recognized a healer and brought the sick to Him. God always cares, of course; the rainbow is a reminder He won’t flood the earth again – out of care for us. In today’s Epistle, Paul prays that God’s love in Christ would fill us. God will do that; He cares that much for us. We ask this weekend that God would strengthen us to care for the people around us. May they see His love through our caring.

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Jesus Is Our Peace

The Old Testament Reading for today speaks of Israel’s failed shepherds. They scattered the flock and failed to care for their people, yet Jeremiah records God’s promise of a righteous branch who would reign as King. That righteous one is the Good Shepherd, Jesus. In the Gospel, He fulfills the words of Psalm 23 by making the crowds of five thousand sit down in the green grass to be fed with five loaves and two fish. Jesus is the promised righteous Shepherd.

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Jesus Graciously Makes Us Righteous

When Amos speaks God’s Word to Israel, they do not want to hear it. Amos is told to prophesy elsewhere. John the Baptist’s message of repentance landed him in Herod’s prison and, eventually, in the grave. Speaking God’s Word is not always easy. It often meets resistance and sometimes even violence. As you gather with fellow hearers of God’s Word, consider how you have been resistant to God’s Word. Which portions have you chosen to skip over? Consider how you might better hear and speak God’s Word this week.

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Our Hometowns

Our culture is fascinated with rebels. Characters such as Han Solo, Ferris Bueller, and Katniss Everdeen are not perfect, but we admire how they stand up to authority. Whether being a rebel is good or bad depends on whom one is rebelling against. When the authority is God Almighty, rebels are not looked upon so fondly. Israel rebelled against God, and Ezekiel told them just that. The people of Nazareth rejected Jesus, rebelling against their own hometown prophet. Paul was a rebel himself, first against the followers of Jesus, and then on their behalf. Sin is rebellion against God. Yet God forgives our rebellion through Jesus’ death and resurrection, turning our rebellion into reconciliation and rejoicing. Despite our weaknesses and inclination to rebel, God’s grace comes to us in Jesus, and He is sufficient for us.

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