Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 31 Day 2

Our reading challenge for the day is Psalms 76-80. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Psalm 76 - Do we fear those who rule over us with an iron fist? They in turn fear God, who overcomes them so as to defend his people.

Psalm 77 - Often what gives us courage is our recollection of God’s word, particularly the ways he has shown mercy in the past. This is one of many reasons that I love the historic liturgy. In it we recite God’s faithfulness again and again. I’ve seen many times how weak and infirm people can remember what they have sung and said so many times. This brings them hope in God.

Psalm 78 - Generation after generation we must confess that we have fallen short of God’s commands. We are exactly the kind of people who fell in the wilderness. Therefore we owe it to the next generation to tell of God’s goodness and mercy.

Psalm 79 - God often uses people, evil people, to judge sin and failure. May we be the object of his care, not of his wrath!

Psalm 80 - Who is the man of God’s right hand? It is Jesus, whose face shines upon all who believe him. He brings salvation and grace.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 31 Day 1

Our reading challenge for the day is Psalms 71-75. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Psalm 71 - God’s faithfulness through our lives makes us want to proclaim him to the next generation as well. He is the Lord whose mercy and grace never changes.

Psalm 72 - We sometimes wonder when our leaders pray for themselves. Is there something self-centered when the ruler prays for prosperity? No doubt. But we would rather God bless us with prosperity than that our leaders would plunder us.

Psalm 73 - What is it that makes us stumble and fall? It is getting our eyes on those people and situations around us rather than on God. When we look to him we see our world and ourselves rightly.

Psalm 74 - Sometimes God seems far away. He doesn’t seem to be defending his glory. But we never need to worry. He is the great and mighty one who can do all his will. We don’t avenge him. He takes care of all.

Psalm 75 - God is, in fact, the one who has judged sin and death. He did it in the person and work of Jesus, God the Son, who took upon himself death, the penalty of sin, and conquered it through the resurrection. We trust in Jesus, our judge.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sermon for 7/29/12

Rooted and Grounded (Ephesians 3)

Lord of all, may we be rooted and grounded in your love, that we may grow and flourish as fruitful vines in your kingdom, for you live and reign with the Father and the Spirit, one God, now and forever.

We’re in Ephesians chapter 3, verses 14-21. I hope you’ve brought your Bibles or found a pew Bible and are following carefully, taking in this Word of God, preparing yourselves to take the Gospel into your homes and your workplaces throughout the week. God’s Word is living and active. As our Lord speaks to us we can look to him in hope.

I have with me a little plant. It’s pretty small, just a beginner. But since I took the seed out of the packet and got it wet, this plant has germinated and sprouted. It’s begun to make roots. If I treat it right then it will continue to grow and will eventually produce a large number of seeds which can be eaten or can be planted to grow more pole beans like this one. But what will happen to this plant if I decide to stick it in the ground leaves down and roots up? Or what if I leave it lying here on the pulpit and forget about it? Or if I stick it back into my pocket and don’t plant it? No beans from this plant! It will be done. It sprouted but was then choked out. But if I plant it in good soil, if I make sure it has the conditions for growth, like adequate water and lots of sunshine, if I keep the rabbits from eating it, the plant will grow big and strong.

In the same way, Christians, as we see in Ephesians 3:16, are strengthened by the Spirit of God. How are we made strong? In verse 17 we see that we are rooted in Christ. He is our strength. He is our redeemer. He is the one who has called us out of darkness into his marvellous light. He is the one who gives us every spiritual blessing, including forgiveness, life, and salvation. We are rooted in Jesus, not in ourselves.

But how many times do we find that we have rooted ourselves in us? How many times do we find that we are following our own impulses, our own opinions, following our heart rather than following our savior? This is a serious issue. After all, we act according to our nature. If we are redeemed people, purchased by Jesus, we should be able to expect our actions, and deeper down, our attitudes, our beliefs, our values, will be conformed into Jesus’ image. Doesn’t that mean we can trust our heart? Sadly, the heart is deceitful in all its ways. When we trust our feelings rather than Jesus and his Word we set ourselves up for failure. We bring forth offspring according to our nature. In Genesis God created Adam and Eve. He gave them their lives. He made them in his own image. But after the Fall, when Adam and Eve began having children, they had children in their own image, in a fallen image, in a sinful image. We bring forth according to our kind. The bean plant will have beans, not corn, and definitely not kittens. We sinful humans have sinful children. When we act in ways that are rooted and grounded in ourselves we bring forth sin and evil. We bring forth offspring according to our nature.

But where is the Holy Spirit in all this? Don’t we look to him to guide us? Don’t we confess that in our Baptism the Lord has washed away our sin and given us a new nature? Don’t we confess that as we confess our sins our Lord is faithful to forgive us all our sins? Don’t we confess that we who believe on Jesus are new creations? Where’s all that bit (in Ephesians) about being created for good works in Christ Jesus? The Holy Spirit is right here. He’s right with us. He’s the one who binds us to Jesus. He’s the one who roots us in Jesus. We see that in verses 18-19 of Ephesians 3, where the Lord is rooting us in his love.

Where does this evil come from then? It comes about because when our Lord gives us a new nature he doesn’t take the old nature away entirely. That old man has to die. We drown him in baptism, but he’s an awfully good swimmer. So we put the old man to death daily by contrition, by sorrow for our sin, by repentance, receiving our Lord’s forgiveness again and again. And as we put that old man to death again and again we may see ourselves growing in grace, being rooted more securely in Jesus. Though we are at the same time saints and sinners, the word of Jesus grows in us as we grow in him.

But I know what you’re going to want to ask. What does it have to do with me? This is all well and good, talking about being rooted in Christ, growing in him. But this is all something invisible. What is the love of Jesus going to do in me? I want to see the evidence.

Maybe this is good news. Maybe not. But it’s the news our Lord has given us through his apostle. What does the love of Jesus do in me? In verse 19 he fills me with the fullness of God. In verse 20 he gives us more than we can ask and more than we can imagine. So how are we going to count those things? How can we tell how full we are with God’s fullness? How can we know when he has given more than we can ask or imagine. I know if you are like I am you can always imagine something else. But Jesus is the one who makes us grow in him, who fills us with himself, and who provides more abundantly than we can imagine.

How are we going to measure this? Are we going to measure it by what some churches would call the “abundant” life, the “victorious” life? Maybe we can measure it by seeing instances of sin disappear. Maybe it’s because God fills us with His Spirit and we don’t end up yelling at our kids. Maybe the Lord works in us and we no longer have some of those sinful desires we had. Maybe he breaks our addictions. Maybe he gives us a desire only for the person we’re married to. Maybe he blesses us with money, with health, with good looks. But what if he doesn’t? What if we are conformed into the image of Jesus, whose family left him. What if we are conformed into the image of Jesus who was betrayed to death by one of his closest friends? What if we are conformed into the image of Jesus who had only one nice garment when he died? What if we are conformed into the image of Jesus who was tempted to sin in every way that we are? And what if we fall into that sin? What if those addictions don’t let go of us? What if our desires remain sinful? Does this mean that Jesus was not victorious over sin and death? Does this mean that Jesus has not redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse for us? Does this mean that we needed to do something, or a few somethings, or a lifetime full of somethings to earn our salvation because we didn’t believe well enough?

The fact is we can’t measure how we are growing in Christ. We can’t tell how fruitful we are. We can’t measure it based on anything that we know. In fact, all we do is trust that God’s grace is sufficient for us. We take Jesus at his word. We realize that when Jesus says he has finished conquering sin on the cross, that means he has finished conquering our sin. We realize that when Jesus plants us, roots us, in his love, we are rooted in a sure and certain hope that Jesus has given us. We look to the Word of God, not to ourselves, for our confidence. We find that Jesus is the one who has given us his nature and who will, somehow, sometime, according to his own plan and in his own time, make us fruitful vines.

Sadly, sometimes we have this idea that the Christian life is all about how we feel about our spirituality. Sometimes we think it’s all about our interpretation of Christ’s love. Sometimes we think it’s all about how we have decided the abundant life works. Sometimes we put our own standards on this life and we ignore God’s standards. May the Lord give us repentance and faith. May he give us grace to look into the Scripture and see that it is full of Jesus’ love for us. May we see the Word of God nourishing us, causing us to grow and flourish, just the way the water and sunshine can make this bean vine grow and flourish. May we be rooted and grounded in Jesus.

I wonder if some of us need to stop and realize that redeeming love of Jesus? Maybe there’s someone here who has never known that our Lord has really defeated sin on our behalf. Maybe you think the Christian life is for everyone else, that is is not for you individually. Maybe you believe but feel like you have been torn up by the roots. Believe in the Lord! He is the one who will strengthen you by the Spirit, who will root you and make you grow in him. He is the one who will give you more than you can ask or imagine, in this life and the next, as he gives forgiveness, life, and salvation, all as we believe Jesus as the one who has accomplished all we need.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. Now may the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 30 Day 5

Our reading challenge for the day is Psalms 66-70. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Psalm 66 - When we shout with joy to God we proclaim what he has done, including sustaining us during trials. Very often the praise music we choose in churches talks rather about our feelings, not God’s care. May we have a change of heart and mind so as to sing God’s praises without worrying about our feelings so much.

Psalm 67 - Sometimes in our worship we want to gather only with others like us. But our Lord gathers people of all sorts from all lands. Though we may be very different from each other, we worship the true God in Spirit and truth.

Psalm 68 - When God arises none can stand before him. He is so great and mighty that we all are moved to bow down. Yet he comes to his people and cares for us so gently. The mighty Lord is great enough to be humble.

Psalm 69 - When we are sinking and in trouble our challenges seem to multiply. Yet God in his mercy can rescue us. Though our opponents may not have mercy on us, the Lord rescues us. We can trust in the Lord. Our enemies - his enemies - trust in themselves and harm themselves.

Psalm 70 - When we are weak, let us look to the LORD. He is the one who gives us salvation, even when we pray hastily and briefly, as David does here.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 30 Day 4

Our reading challenge for the day is Psalms 61-65. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Psalm 61 - The place of blessed safety is not in the presence of the earthly king. The king himself looks to God as his refuge. This is the place of blessing.

Psalm 62 - Who can shake us as we look to God in faith? Nobody. Our Lord is our rock and salvation. There is no danger. There is none who can harm us as we trust in him.

Psalm 63 - Which of us can sing this Psalm wholeheartedly? We may want to seek God earnestly but life gets in the way. We want his love but we want our earthly life more. In fact only Jesus can sing this Psalm truly. May he always be pleased to put his Spirit and nature on us who believe.

Psalm 64 - When God delivers his people from trouble he protects them publicly. His enemies are caught in their own traps and brought to ruin. May we ever trust the Lord, not our own plans and our own devices.

Psalm 65 - How has God crowned his creation? With forgiveness and abundant love. No matter our need he provides life, abundant life, more than we can ever imagine.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 30 Day 3

Our reading challenge for the day is Psalms 55-60. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Psalm 56 - It is very hard when people twist our words. We find it very painful. Yet we should ask how careful we are to avoid twisting God’s word. May we have grace to treat his words with integrity.

Psalm 57 - Our plea for mercy results in our proclaiming God’s majesty and love. Do we call to God for mercy despite his will? Not at all. He is the merciful one who cares for us.

Psalm 58 - How do Christians deal with unrighteous civil rulers? May God judge them. We, if we have influence, can try to influence our leaders for good. But the Lord is the ultimate judge. He will avenge the righteous.

Psalm 59 - David prays that the Lord would not destroy his enemies out of hand but that he would let them be found out in their evil. Seeing the distinction between good and evil helps us see more clearly. It is of great value to Christians. Then we know about sin and repentance.

Psalm 60 - What a terrible thing it is to be rejected by God. We have no hope if he has departed from us. Yet we often live our lives as if God is irrelevant. May he show us mercy and reveal himself as the one essential to all.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 30 Day 2

Our reading challenge for the day is Psalms 51-55. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Psalm 51 - How serious is our sin to others? Very serious. David had entered into adultery and murder. Serious indeed. Yet his sin is worse before God. His cry? That God would have mercy on him. Do we consider how serious our sin is before God?

Psalm 52 - All our attempts to hide our motives and actions from the LORD are useless. We should rather look to him as our hiding place.

Psalm 53 - Compare this Psalm with Romans chapter 3. Our failing is dreadful. Let us look to God for help and hope.

Psalm 54 - It is only God who rescues us from our enemies. Who are those enemies? They are the people who reject our God. May he guard us from all evil.

Psalm 55 - When I wish to grow wings and fly away from my troubles I realize that God is my refuge. Was Jesus also betrayed by his friends? Yes. Finally I realize what is wrong with this world. I am. I need to depend on the Lord who will never forsake me.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sermon for 7/22/12

Sermon “Who Is That Woman?

Lord, grant us your grace on this day, that we may see ourselves as the pure and spotless bride of Christ whom you are gathering to yourself, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Today is the day the Church has historically recognized Mary Magdalene, one of the women who followed Jesus in his earthly ministry, the woman from whom Jesus cast out evil spirits, the woman whom he chose as the first witness of the resurrection. When we remember Mary we actually get a good look at ourselves.

We meet up with Mary in today’s reading from John chapter 20. When we see her she’s in a terrible state of confusion. She doesn’t know what to do. Not only is Jesus, the one she looked to as the Messiah, the Son of God, the eternal savior, dead. He’s been buried and everyone is in disarray. Yet when Mary goes to the tomb, it has been opened and he isn’t there any more. When she gets the disciples they verify he is gone and after wondering for a while they go away. Mary stays. What should she do? Jesus is gone. Maybe someone took the body? Jesus then appears to her, making Mary, this Mary of Magdala, from a backwater town, this woman from whom he cast out demons, this woman who is not a prominent member of society in any way, this woman whose testimony wouldn’t be accepted in any court of law, yet he makes her the first eyewitness of the resurrection. He didn’t appear first to Peter and John, who were there looking into the tomb. He didn’t appear to the disciples where they were when Mary first went to find them. He appears to Mary. He sends her as a witness of his resurrection. She’s about the least likely candidate as a witness.

I have an illustration that might shed light on this. One of my friends years ago was working in a ministry setting in a small town which was resistant to the Gospel. He had worked for a couple of years to establish a foothold for Christianity and was having a Bible study. It grew to about five people, and then some of them decided the claims of Christ were too radical. They left the Bible study. Even his friend who had seemed loyal and dedicated expressed doubt whether he should continue in this Bible study. My friend John was very disappointed that even Juan Baptista was not seeming reliable. Then John considered the fact that Juan Baptista was not the real name of this man, who lived in an asylum and really thought he was, well, Juan Baptista. But when John the Baptist leaves the Bible study you have to wonder.

What kind of credible witness was the delusional John the Baptist? No more than Mary Magdalene, who had a background involving demons. Ultimately, neither of these people is a more credible witness than you or I. We didn’t see Jesus raised from the dead. We just read about it and heard about it. We heard the message from someone, and it was probably from someone who heard the message from someone else. Very few people go and investigate the archaeological and textual evidence before hearing the Gospel. They tend to do it after hearing and usually after believing. And you know the kind of people we believe when we first hear the Gospel. We believe people like you and me. We believe witnesses who aren’t all that much more credible personally than Mary Magdalene. We would even believe people like, well, you name it. We aren’t expert witnesses. We don’t receive special divine messengers, angels from heaven. Or do we? What kind of witness do we have?

The title of this sermon is “Who Is That Woman?” And that woman we point at isn’t, in fact, Mary Magdalene. It’s the woman from Proverbs 31. Now is the time that I end up walking on eggshells. I have to say, and I can say confidently, that the Proverbs 31 woman, the one who brings us the Gospel, the one who is the kind of witness we can all believe, the kind of witness our world can believe, is in this room today. She’s here right now. But here’s where I get ready for trouble. She isn’t my wife. Martha tries, but she isn’t the Proverbs 31 woman. And I dare say, men, she isn’t the wife of any of you either. They may try. They may be very fine women. But they aren’t the people we’re going to believe as witnesses of the resurrection. Who is that woman, then? She’s not my wife, she’s not your wife, and she never will be. She’s the perfect bride of Christ. She’s the Church, the one Jesus has chosen, the one Jesus has forgiven, cleansed, and renewed, the one Jesus has made to walk in his paths, the one Jesus has proclaimed his witness. Who is that witness? She’s the Church. That’s the one who cares for her family. That’s the one who makes sure the poor are fed and clothed. That’s the one who makes sure her husband, Jesus, is exalted in the community. That’s the one who is a faithful witness. That’s the one who is a credible witness to the perfect life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, who came to die on our behalf and to give us his perfect holiness, to all who will believe on him. That Proverbs 31 woman is all of us, together, living the life Jesus has given us, living as his witnesses in this world.

Is the Church credible in the eyes of this world? Sometimes we aren’t any more acceptable as witnesses than Mary Magdalene was. We’ve done plenty of things to bring shame and disrepute upon ourselves. We’ve been full of trouble, full of strife, like Mary was full of demons we also have past. Like Mary was confused and wandering around in the graveyard, sometimes we are confused and wandering. We get off-message. We find ourselves majoring on minors. We find ourselves trusting in this world’s wisdom, the plans of man, setting our hopes on our own potential, our own goodness, our own ability. We make our plans and run with them regardless of what our Savior has given us. We confuse the message of the resurrection. We fail in our care for the poor, the hungry, the needy of all sorts. We welcome people into the Church as long as they are already respectable people, leaving everyone else out in the cold. We want people, maybe we even want ourselves, to get ourselves in order and then prove that we are worthy of Jesus. That’s the wrong message. That leaves us wandering around in the graveyard. That leaves us not seeing Jesus, who rose from the dead so that we, who were dead in sin and trespasses, could rise as well. That leaves us trying to save ourselves, something we confess we can never do. Yes, we, the Church, make ourselves into a witness who can’t be believed, who can’t be trusted.

May the Lord give us repentance! May he convict us of our sinful efforts and show us his perfect victory over death, hell, and the grave, applying it to us by his mercy and grace. May the Lord make us into faithful witnesses of him, as the resurrection and the life.

Where are you today? Are you wandering around? Maybe you have been thinking of the Church as an organization for social change. We’re more than that. Maybe you have thought of your role as someone who will improve yourself so that you can be a witness for Jesus. Maybe you’ve never thought of the fact that Jesus proclaims you his holy Bride, part of his chosen people who show his glory. Maybe you’ve tried to work out your salvation, to make yourself righteous before Jesus, but you’ve found that it doesn’t work because you just can’t make yourself good enough for him. Or maybe you’ve fallen into the trap of thinking by all your good works, all your prayers, all your dedication you are makign yourself worthy of his love. Maybe you’re glorying in yourself rather than in the Lord. That isn’t what the Bible gives us. That isn’t the woman who is the witness of the resurrection. That isn’t the Proverbs 31 woman. She cares for others and makes her Lord, Jesus Christ, receive the respect he deserves. That’s what the Church is all about.

As we look to our Lord and his provision in the rest of today’s divine service, may the Lord give us grace to trust in him and be witnesses of his resurrection. If you are finding that you aren’t part of that, if you have questions, if you don’t know that Jesus has given himself for you and for your salvation, there are plenty of godly leaders here, people who have been witnesses of the resurrection for many years, people who can look to the Word of God and help you see how Jesus gives you help and hope. Seek us out. We can look into the Scripture and pray. Jesus’ resurrection is for you too. He came to bring us forgiveness, life, and salvation. Join with us as we trust in him.

Now may the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Bible Reading Challenge Week 30 Day 1

Our reading challenge for the day is Psalms 46-50. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Psalm 46 - God is our great fortress, our refuge. Do we feel a need to flee and seek ehlp and protection? Quite likely. When we look to him he will guard usand nurture us. His river washes us and makes us joyful.

Psalm 47 - What is our response to the Lord? We see him and sing his praises, not our own praises. He must increase but we must decrease, as John the Baptizer said.

Psalm 48 - We find our strength as we look to the specific ways God has revealed his mercy and his power and might. See the many citadels, strong places (v. 3) and reflect on God’s specific graces, all for you and me.

Psalm 49 - We look to the Lord instead of to our riches or power. All that we have will pass away. All that our opponents have will also pass away. God, the eternal Word, will never fade away. He stands forever. Our confidence is in him.

Psalm 50 - God is not made in our image. We are in his image. What does he ask of us? All our offerings are fine but none is necessary except that we return thanks to him for who he is, the great and mighty one.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 29 Day 5

Our reading challenge for the day is Psalms 41-45. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Psalm 41 - God blesses the one who cares for the poor. Who is that? It is Jesus, who has rescued countless people who were impoverished, in bondage to sin, and unable to help themselves. Of course, sometimes Jesus uses us to care for the poor as well.

Psalm 42 - Who is going to deprive us of hope in the Lord? Nobody. Whatever opposition or mocking we endure, we can seek God, our life, the one who sustains us as the fresh water sustains the deer.

Psalm 43 - Do we feel downcast and rejected? Jesus was also mocked, rejected, and cast out. He went through many times of rejection, even bearing the sin of the world as he died on the cross. May God give us grace to hope in God and to trust Jesus, who is the resurrection and the life.

Psalm 44 - It is not by our might.

Psalm 45 - These praises to the king don’t belong to any earthly king. They belong to the Lord. We look to him with all praise and adoration.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 29 Day 4

Our reading challenge for the day is Psalms 36-40. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Psalm 36 - The LORD who can see our very hearts is also the one who is loving and righteous. We can trust that he will never stop loving all those who look to him in hope.

Psalm 37 - How does our God give us our hearts’ desires? He often does it through changing our desires. As we trust in the Lord he adjusts our priorities. We begin thinking his thoughts and desiring his priorities. We can then have confidence. Whatever we ask according to his will, he does.

Psalm 38 - How do we confess our sin? Is it a kind of grudging “I’m sorry” like we sometimes make the feuding seven-year-olds transact? Or do we confess specifically to our Lord what we do and how destructive it is, throwing ourselves only on his mercy?

Psalm 39 - Often when we make confession before the Lord it doesn’t seem to us that He hears and answers. What hope do we have? Our hope is not in how good our confession is or in the feelings we have. It is in God’s goodness, in the sufficiency of Christ’s death on our behalf, and in his promise of forgiveness.

Psalm 40 - The LORD comes to his people, desiring their good, not desiring more offerings. He calls us to delight in him. Then he pours out his love and faithfulness on us.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 29 Day 3

Our reading challenge for the day is Psalms 31-35. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Psalm 31 - God is our refuge, the reguge we need. We confess our frailty and God’s power and love. This is great news as we see our own weakness. The more we lay our own glory down the more we see God exalting his glory and grace.

Psalm 32 - It is as we are forgiven by God that we see his deliverance and his direction clearly. He is the one who draws people to his side so we can walk in his paths.

Psalm 33 - God looks at those who trust in him as his inheritance. He values us, guards us, seeks to increase us. How precious those who trust in Jesus are before God!

Psalm 34 - God’s love is guaranteed to all who look to him in faith. He is the one who rescues his people from every affliction.

Psalm 35 - When we meet opposition we are often afraid the Lord will not deliver us. But he has promised to be the Lord of all mercy and grace. We have no need to fear.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 29 Day 2

Our reading challenge for the day is Psalms 26-30. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Psalm 26 - We would probably all like to sing this Psalm. We’d like to be the people who walk before God in our integrity without slipping or falling. But when we consider ourselves carefully we find we have failed. Who is the one this Psalm discusses? Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, who gives his innocence to all who believe.

Psalm 27 - When we see our enemies we look to the LORD for sanctuary. God is gracious to call us to him. No matter who turns against us, by faith in Christ, we know our God will always be for us.

Psalm 28 - All who cry out to God for mercy receive his love and care. He is our strength. Those who disregard God are considered workers of evil. They disregard God who will disregard them.

Psalm 29 - God is the great and glorious one who should receive all praise. Even as we confess his wonders we ask for his mercy and grace.

Psalm 30 - Our Lord is the one who restores his people. When we are downcast to the pit then our God raises us up.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 29 Day 1

Our reading challenge for the day is Psalms 21-25. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Psalm 21 - As we rejoice in God’s presence we realize that he is the one who guards us and who will finally bring his enemies to justice.

Psalm 22 - Pray your way through this Psalm, seeing all the many ways it refers to the events of Jesus’ death. Truly it describes the savior taking on sin and death on our behalf.

Psalm 23 - Probably the best known Psalm. Look at the comfort we receive in life and in death as Jesus, the good shepherd, walks ahead of us.

Psalm 24 - This is one of the Psalms that divides the Lutheran Reformation and the more radical branches of Reformation thought. Who may ascend? Only Jesus, the one received in the gates of the Lord. He is the one who has clean hands and a pure heart. He is the one through whom we enter.

Psalm 25 - This is an excellent Psalm to pray. In it we wait on the Lord. We confess our sins before God and realize his forgiveness. We pray for him to deliver us and others from every trouble.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sermon for 7/15/12

Sermon “Chosen, Holy, Blameless”

Holy Lord, grant that we may see our identity in you as we join with the innumerable hosts of saints who have come before us, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

I wonder if the name Hrant Dink is known to us? I first heard of him and his life back in 2007. I was introduced to his work by one of my students, at that time, a Latin student who was living in Istanbul. I won’t mention that student’s name or his family’s name. I’ve lost track of the family and don’t wish to endanger them in any way, as they may be living in a sensitive area of the world and my sermons are posted on the Internet. Dink was a Turkish citizen who was a Christian. This is relatively rare, but there are some very bold Christians even in Turkey. Many of them are members of the persecuted Armenian Church, either the Armenian Apostolic Church or the Armenian Evangelical Church. Both groups are persecuted, partially because of their Christian theology in a secular Islamic state, and partially because many of them are bold in their stance that the Turks had persecuted Armenians in the past, something officially denied by the Turkish mainstream As a Christian journalist, Dink spoke out about human rights offenses and societal injustice. He attempted to live out his Christian identity by affirming that people of all backgrounds can dwell together in peace, rejecting historic practices of ethnic cleansing.

On January 19, 2007, during one of my classes, held in the afternoon in my time zone, in the evening in Turkey, one of my students asked that we pray for safety for his family and for other Christians in Istanbul. After lunch, Dink, who was associated with this family in some manner, had returned to his office, confronted by a young man who said he wished to discuss something, and then was shot three times in the back of the head by the man, who fled, shouting boastful statements. He had killed his infidel. Dink was dead. Of course, we prayed for our many families throughout the Middle East and then went on to a gripping lesson about Latin verbs.

Was there reason for this young man to be shaken? Yes, there was. He had been confronted again by the reality of people dying for their Christian faith. Two years previously his family had fled from another country in turmoil. For their safety, they had to leave a place where they had gone to bring the Gospel of Christ, the message of hope and safety for all who believe. And while the machetes, daggers, car bombs, and revolvers of this world can’t kill the Gospel, they can kill Christ’s servants. They can end the open proclamation of the Gospel, at least in particular locations, very quickly.

Do we look at these people, missionaries and martyrs, as special people? They are indeed special. But even as we see they are special, we must realize that in God’s providence those special people, those heroes in this world, aren’t that different. Some of you have participated in military service in your lives. Some of you were recognized as heroes in your military service. Yet you didn’t go out there planning to be a hero. You went to do your duty. You didn’t know what challenges would face you on that particular day. All you did was what was in front of you to do. You see, when we end up being heroes, often we’re the last ones to know about it. We were just living our life, letting our Christian walk play out in God’s providence. We didn’t know we were going to be heroes. We just thought we were going here and there, doing this and that, as was needed.

Amos is very much that way. See how God identifies him as the prophet who will be instrumental in the fall of Jeroboam, the evil king of Israel. Yet Amos has no particular background. He isn’t from one of the families of prophets. He says he is nobody special. He, in fact, is very much like all of us. I know we’d like to think we are superheroes. But those special powers? We don’t really have them, do we. Just because we eat our Wheaties doesn’t mean that we are going to be Olympic athletes. We might just end up as people who had a good breakfast, like the million or so other people who eat the same breakfast that day. Amos is nobody special. Neither are we. But our Lord, now that’s different. God in Christ has blessed us. Let’s look at Ephesians again and see his blessings. This is where you might want to start making some notes, following along in your Bible. Because we’re going to see something about the identity God has given us in Christ his Son.

In Ephesians 1 verse 3 we see a magnificent claim. God has blessed us with “every spiritual blessing.” What are these blessings? In verse 4 he chose us, not because of anything we had done. He chose us before he created anything. It is not about what we have done. It wasn’t even for reason of anything we would do. Not at all. He chose us to be holy before him. And that holiness before the Lord is nothing we can do. It’s something only God can create in us. It’s something he does by the washing of regeneration. It’s something he does as he cleanses us and forgives us, giving us life and salvation. Look at that! Imagine that! Look at verse 4 and remind yourself, “God chose me in Christ.” Do you ever wonder whether the Lord loves you? He chose you, and he never goes back on his choice. He chose you even before you were born. That’s part of your identity as a Christian, chosen in Christ. This is great comfort.

What else has God done? We see in Ephesians 1 verse 5 that he predestined us. Now this is a topic that creates conflict. It’s a hot-button issue. Some churches like to deny God’s predestination. We can’t do that. It’s there in the Bible. Some churches like to explain it so that God doesn’t really take charge of our destinies. But the Bible says he does. We’ve got to come to grips with this. The Bible says it. We say we believe the Bible. I guess we have to deal with it. But we sometimes wonder what God destined us for. This is an area that sets Lutherans apart from Calvinists, particularly like Presbyterians. There are a large number of Calvinists who will teach that when God predestined us, he chose some to rescue from sin and chose others to condemn and destroy. This gives God some sort of a secret, evil agenda. But we don’t find it here in Ephesians! What is the predestination here in verse 5? It’s a predestination to adoption. We are chosen to be the sons of God through Jesus. Do you see predestination going another direction? Not here. We can talk about Romans chapters 9-11 in the adult Bible class if we want, where it works for a discussion. But here and now let me point out that God’s predestination, his deciding what would happen to us, is to be adopted by God. When we are adopted by him we take on his nature, his character. We are holy. There’s part of our identity. We are chosen, we are to be adopted by God as his holy people, and then in verse seven he has given us redemption, forgiveness of sins. This is all from God’s grace. We are forgiven. No blame can be attached to us. He has forgiven everything. This is all of God’s good pleasure. It’s all from his good will. See that in verse 9.

It’s odd, isn’t it? We don’t look much like heroes. We don’t look much like people who were chosen beforehand in Christ. We don’t look much like heirs of heaven. We don’t look much like people who should be blameless. We don’t always look too victorious. But who are we to complain? Our Lord has chosen us, and he has chosen us so that he can change us. He is changing us into his image. He is working out salvation, not only for those of us in this room, but for all who believe. He is going to change the world, one person at a time, until he has gathered his people from all over the world. We don’t set out to be heroes. We just tell the truth. We just do what our Lord has put in front of us. We just live out our Christian life in our world.

Is that world hostile? Sometimes it is. Sometimes, thousands of times every year, the testimony of Christ brings someone face to face with death. And sometimes the gun goes off. Sometimes the Christian’s next public appearance is at his own funeral. But in Christ we can have confidence. We can know that we are chosen, we are holy in him, we are blameless, not because of our own good works, but because he has chosen us and proclaimed us holy and blameless. What is going to harm us as we, the heirs of Jesus in this world live and work for him? What is going to separate us from the love of God? There’s nothing at all to fear. The body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still. He has called us out of darkness into his marvellous light. Jesus has re-created us in his image, for his glory.

Do you believe that God chose you in Christ? Do you believe that Jesus has given you his own inheritance, an inheritance of holiness? Do you believe that you are blameless because Jesus himself forgives you all your sin? Are you ready to walk in this world, living out Christ’s calling, showing his mercy, asking that he would give his love to the people around you? Maybe you are wondering what else you do, how you are supposed to earn God’s favor. There’s no earning of it. There’s only receiving his favor. All we do is believe.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. Remind us of our identity in you, chosen, holy, blameless, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 28 Day 5

Our reading challenge for the day is Psalms 16-20. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Psalm 16 - While David’s psalm speaks of God’s care for him, it also speaks of the relation of God the Father and God the Son, particularly in verse 10. The good news here is that all who trust in Christ become partakers of his perfect fellowship with the Father.

Psalm 17 - How do we receive the blessed care of God? It is as we look to him in repentance and faith, asking him to rescue us even from the evil within ourselves. It is Christ’s righteousness that guards us.

Psalm 18 - When we look to God to deliver us we expect him to shake heaven and earth. Yet often the way he changes our world is through our efforts. Did God deliver David from the enemy army? Yes. He used David’s spear. We don’t always recognize how the Lord works. He drives away demons and gives new life through the spoken word and water. Yet it is God’s great power.

Psalm 19 - We look to God in his word, trusting that he will correct us and purify us. As we meditate on God’s word we find we can trust him.

Psalm 20 - Do we want permanent defenses? Rather than trusting in our power we trust in the Lord who delivers us from all danger.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 28 Day 4

Our reading challenge for the day is Psalms 11-15. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Psalm 11 - When we feel like game birds being shot at by hunters we can find refuge in God. Being in His sight is not fearful for the righteous. He is the refuge of all who are dressed in Christ’s righteousness.

Psalm 12 - When we realize we are liars, flatterers, those who speak with a double heart, people who plunder the poor, then we can also realize that the Lord is the one who rises up for salvation. He is the one who purifies his people, burning away their evil.

Psalm 13 - When we feel abandoned by God, like he is not coming to deliver us, what is our main concern? See verse 4. We want God’s enemies to remember he cares for his people. We trust in the Lord and hope all will see his mercy and love.

Psalm 14 - We confess that all are sinful. This is not a concept only from the New Testament. Because all are corrupt we cry out for salvation from God. Take comfort. It has come, with God’s own Son, Jesus, living a perfect life then taking our sin upon himself and dying for us so we who believe can live in his righteousness.

Psalm 15 - Who dwells with God? Jesus, and those to whom he has given his own righteousness.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 28 Day 3

Our reading challenge for the day is Psalms 6-10. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Psalm 6 - When we are suffering it seems God will never hear and answer. Even during that time, as we wait for God’s deliverance, we can have confidence that he has heard.

Psalm 7 - When we are challenged by enemies we should examine ourselves to see if we have brought evil upon ourselves. At the same time we look to the LORD to judge, correct us, and grant us repentance and forgiveness.

Psalm 8 - The mighty God has placed man in a position of great dignity. This shows the majesty of his grace.

Psalm 9 - We praise God for his mighty deeds, his righteous judgment, his protection of the oppressed. In the last day God will judge the wicked and deliver the righteous.

Psalm 10 - Evil people are always going to try to have their way. We cannot fight it by ourselves. We call on God to remember us when afflicted. He is the one who does justice.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 28 Day 2

Our reading challenge for the day is Psalms 1-5. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

As we read the Psalms I encourage a very careful, meditative reading. Possibly stop to pray the concepts you read about as you are reading. Fill your mind with the praises of God and the sorrow the Psalmist expresses over the pain of this sincursed world. Above all, look to the God of all mercy, revel in his love shown by sending Jesus, God the Son, to bear all our sorrows.

Psalm 1 - The blessed person delights in God’s Law. He bears fruit in his season. What fruit might I see as I delight in God’s Law?

Psalm 2 - Our rejection of God’s will does not in any way remove God from his throne. He has given the world to his Son who will judge rightly.

Psalm 3 - Even when our families turn against us and threaten us we can look to the LORD who saves and blesses his people.

Psalm 4 - The LORD is the one who gives us protection, mercy, joy and peace. We look to the LORD who gives us safety.

Psalm 5 - When we are challenged by evil we look to the LORD who hears us and loves us. He guides us and covers us with his favor.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 28 Day 1

Our reading challenge for the day is 2 Timothy 1-4. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

2 Timothy 1 - Timothy, who has lived in the Christian faith, is to stir up the fire of the gifts he has been given, sharing in the apostolic work of suffering for the Gospel. God is able to keep us in his will, working through us until the end.

2 Timothy 2 - The labor of Timothy and other saints is to pass on the true apostolic Gospel. See the multiple generations in verse 2 as Paul taught Timothy, who is to teach other men so they can teach. The great message of chapter 2 is that God’s servants must keep themselves on the message of Christ crucified for sinners. When we deviaate from the apostolic message we work in vain.

2 Timothy 3 - Unlike the false teachers, Timothy is to be devoted to the Scriptures, which guide us to Jesus.

2 Timothy 4 - The Christian minister is to be faithful to God’s Word no matter what. How many so-called ministers spend time explaining away or even ignoring the Scripture rather than proclaiming it?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sermon for 7/8/12

Sermon “Impudent, Stubborn, Rebellious

Our Lord, once again as we stand before you we confess that we have sinned. We need your forgiveness. Give us ears to hear and hearts to believe. Conform us to your image, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

I have just a few words to say, from our reading in Ezekiel. Impudent, stubborn, rebellious. Three words. Three words which describe me. Three words, which, if I may be so bold, describe you also. Impudent, stubborn, rebellious. That’s what God’s prophet says to Judah. That’s what God’s prophet says to us. Why could that be? After all, just look at us. We’re respectable folk, aren’t we? We love our country, we love our local church, we love God. We’re not in prison, at least not right now. We had a pretty small group marching in the 4th of July parade, but that was because many of our people need to be careful in the heat and many of them are involved in so many different local groups that we were kind of scattered. Thanks, by the way, to one and all who marched with us. Thanks to all who were able to stand with us or watch us go by or remember that you were part of us even when you were somewhere else. Thanks to everyone who remembers Jesus as the one who grants true independence, freedom from the bondage of sin. There’s real independence. We celebrated political independence from Britain last Wednesday but every Sunday and every other time we assemble together, we celebrate the freedom from sin we have in Jesus. Yet we are the people God calls impudent, stubborn, rebellious.

How does that play out? We thought we were doing our duty. We thought we were being loyal, faithful, wise, and gracious. And it looks like we are, at least most of the time. But in Mark chapter 6 verse 4 we saw that a prophet doesn’t have honor when he is at home. Jesus went to the people in his own neighborhood. He went to the people who had grown up with him. But now he went as God’s prophet, as the very Word of God incarnate, the one who has revealed God’s character in detail, because he is very God of very God. How did the people receive him? They didn’t.

Are we any different from those people who grew up around Jesus? Do we receive the word of God? Or are we people who have been adopted into the Yabut family. Remember them? The Yabuts. I know some Yabuts. Guess I am a Yabut sometimes. You know the Yabuts, right? They read the Bible or hear about God’s loving kindness for them and for their neighbors. Then they respond, “Ya, but...” They hear about God’s righteous demands, the demands of his Law, and they respond, “Ya, but...” They hear about what God’s Word calls us to, then say “Ya, but...” and swallow down the poison of our popular culture and all the lies it tells us. They confess their dependence on the Lord on Sunday morning and then say “Ya, but...” and cheat on their taxes, defraud their neighbor, rob their employer, cheat on their wife or husband, or treat their children shabbily. They hear of God’s life-changing grace and then say “Ya, but...” and live an unchanged life. The Yabut family is a great tragedy. And, well, brothers and sisters, we are all Yabuts. Impudent, stubborn, rebellious.

Tell me, do we really think we’re wiser than our Lord is? Do we really think the Scriptures don’t have anything to say about our situation? Do we really think all our other areas of knowledge are more vital than what our Lord has revealed in His Word? I guess when we look at those questions our answer becomes “No, but...” I suppose that’s the family of first cousins to the Yabut family, is the Nobut family. Impudent, stubborn, rebellious, every last one of us.

What’s God going to do about this? Our Lord keeps sending his prophets to us. Why? This bunch of Yabuts need God’s mercy and grace. Jesus sends his apostles out, two by two, praying God’s peace upon the houses they enter. They heal the sick. They cast out demons. God sends his messengers to you and to me also. They have the same kind of messages. Peace be on this household. If I come into your house and say that, know it is not just a customary statement. It’s my prayer, the same prayer Jesus sends his apostles out with. It’s fine to greet one another’s homes that way. Go as God’s messengers, bringing his peace wherever you go. I know, we want to say Yabut. Pray for the sick. When someone says “pray for me” interrupt the person long enough to pray, don’t just say we’ll pray and then we go and forget about it. Our Lord has said that when we ask things according to his will in his name he is going to do them. Or are we Yabuts there too? What about driving out demons? What do you think we are doing when we baptize people? What do you think we’re doing when confirmands reject the devil and all his works and ways? What do you think we’re doing when we welcome members into this congregation? Did you notice that there is an exorcism, that we rebuke the devil? Are we going to be a bunch of Yabuts about that too? Impudent, stubborn, rebellious, and I’m talking to me. You just might be listening, but I’m talking to me there.

What is that message that Jesus gives us? What is the message we bring with us? That message is that Jesus Christ, the savior of the world, has come to live a perfect life, die a perfect death, and to apply his perfect death in your place to you so you may be a participant in the resurrection. Jesus loved us while we were still sinners. he gave himself for us so that we could live in him. he promises that in his rising from the dead he will be the first of many to rise, and that all who believe on him will rise with him to new life. Jesus gives us his peace, peace which passes all understanding, to guard us in this life and to lead us into the next life. And we receive that life by faith. Are we going to believe it? Or are we going to be a bunch of Yabuts. Are we going to trust that Jesus is the resurrection and the life? Or are we going to despise this prophet who came to give us the words of life? Impudent, stubborn, rebellious, that’s us. We’re a bunch of Yabuts. We need a good case of resurrection. We need a strong dose of the Gospel, each moment of each day, bringing us healing and forgiveness.

We’ve confessed our sins before the Lord. Yet we realize and confess again that we are among those impudent, stubborn, rebellious people. We need his forgiveness again and again. Let us rise then in prayer, looking to Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, to take away the sin of the world. Stand with me to pray.

Our most merciful God, heavenly Father, we confess yet again that we are stubborn. We are rebellious people. We have sinned against you in thought, in word, and in deed. We have sinned against you in what we have done and in what we have left undone. We have not loved and trusted you with all our heart. We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves. We justly deserve your everlasting punishment. Yet we realize that you have come to us. The message you brought which we reject again and again is your message of forgiveness, life, and salvation. Grant us your forgiveness. Fill us with your life and salvation, for as we confess our sins you are faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Make us to walk in your paths, to the glory of your holy name. This we pray in the matchless name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 27 Day 5

Our reading challenge for the day is Job 38-42. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Job 38-39 - The LORD answers Job. He doesn’t answer Elihu or any of Job’s other friends. He describes the creation and points out that he, the LORD, i the one who lovingly knows it all, in every detail.

Job 40-41 - Job, who had wished to confront God, says he has no more questions. The LORD who governs all is greater than he. But then God reinforces this idea, proclaiming his own glory and control of all creation.

Job 42 - Job confesses he did not understand. God is great and able to care for us. Our questioning is resolved when we are confronted by God himself.

God then confronts Job’s friends. They have provoked his anger by speaking wrongly of God. Job was righteous but they were not. They should ask Job to pray for them.

God restores Job’s fortunes, greater than before. He showed that he is the Lord who blesses his people.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 27 Day 4

Our reading challenge for the day is Job 32-37. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Job 32 - We meet a new character, Elihu. He is young but says he has wisdom and will speak briefly.

Job 33 - Elihu clearly claims righteousness and that God is speaking to Job through him.

Job 34 - Elihu defends God’s righteousness. Then he says we receive what we deserve. Therefore Job must be a sinner.

Job 35 - Elihu continues (notice he has now spoken longer than anyone else) by telling Job that his sin or righteousness doesn’t matter much to God because God judges differently than man.

Job 36 - God is the mighty one who, Elihu says, has given his wisdom and made him righteous. Because he blesses the righteous (like Elihu) and does not seem to be blessing Job, Job must be unrighteous.

Job 37 - Elihu continues by looking at God’s power. As he views God through this lens, he cannot see God’s mercy and grace.

In all his attempts to explain God based on his observations, Elihu manages only to create a false god, one who is capricious and self-centered. Yet in Jesus, God has revealed himself as the God of all mercy and grace.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 27 Day 3

Our reading challenge for the day is Job 26-31. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Job 26 - Job responds to Bildad. All he has done is proclaimed condemnation. God’s power is astonishing.

Job 27 - Job has no doubt that people under God’s judgment suffer.

Job 28 - God knows all the hidden things of the earth. Yet he doesn’t disclose all his wisdom.

Job 29 - There was a time when Job was blessed by God and was able to live in righteousness and joy.

Job 30 - Now Job does not have the blessed life he did before. He is mocked and shunned, not helped as he used to help others. Job’s hopes have been turned around.

Job 31 - Job considers that he has acted righteously. God knows his integrity. He catalogs numerous ways he has been righteous.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 27 Day 2

Our reading challenge for the day is Job 21-25. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Job 21 - Job answers his comforters again. They can mock him, but though sometimes wicked people fall to ruin, sometimes they don’t. Maybe the same is true of righteous people. He seems to start looking at the sin-cursed world here.

Job 22 - Eliphaz answers Job by asking what of value man can bring to God. This is actually a question we would all do well to ask. Yet his answer is still that Job is being judged for his sin.

Job 23 - Job, tired of his accusers, says he wishes he could appeal to God. He has lived a righteous life and thinks the Lord would answer him.

Job 24 - Yet Job questions. It does seem that the wicked prosper and are not called to account. The world does not work the way he would expect. He’d like to understand it.

Job 25 - Bildad now answers, saying that all people are evil. He has no further answer.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bible Reading Challenge Week 27 Day 1

Our reading challenge for the day is Job 16-20. I’ll hit a few highlights. You make comments too and fill in the gaps. What strikes you as specially significant?

Job 16 - Job now responds. he himself would comfort his friends but he receives no comfort. His conclusion is that God is against him.

Job 17 - If God has turned against Job he has no hope. He is cursed by all people as well.

Job 18 - Bildad replies, saying Job is speaking to his friends as if they are foolish. Evil people like Job come to evil ends.

Job 19 - Job says his friends are doing nothing but tormenting him. Yet his greatest terror is that he feels forsaken by God. Yet he trusts that God has not entirely forsaken him. One day Job will see his redeemer.

Job 20 - Zophar answers to tell Job that the joys of the wicked are very brief.

Back to work?

It's been a whirlwind in the past month, with a death in the congregation, a vehicle burned to the ground, the birth of a grandchild 450 miles away, the death of a brother-in-law some 300 miles in the other direction, and our church body's annual convention. Yes, the car is very ready for an oil change, with over three thousand miles in the past three weeks. I'm very glad to be at home and plan to stay for as long as I reasonably can.

While I was away I did have the opportunity to write a number of days' worth of Bible reading challenge posts. I haven't kept up with other reading and summaries. But hopefully all will be in order and maybe even proof-read shortly.