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Archive for February 2019

Enabled to Love

Enabled to Love
Genesis 45:3–15
Epiphany 7
February 24, 2019

Philippians 1:2(ESV) 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Old Testament reading is about Joseph. A little history: Joseph was a major victim of sibling rivalry. His brothers conspired first to kill him, but then relented to selling Joseph into slavery, telling their father that he died by a wild animal. Now the tables are turned so to speak. Joseph went from slavery and later to imprisonment, to complete charge of the country of Egypt. God has also revealed to through Joseph that there would be a famine, so Joseph was put in charge of the food logistics and distribution. Now his brothers show up to buy food and Joseph is in charge.

So how do you finish this sentence? Vengeance is Mine: your choices are an exclamation point! Or adding the words, “said the Lord”

Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely, Lord Acton said.

So one would expect Joseph to put an exclamation point, with an added fist pump, because Joseph had absolute power.

Not that I want to disagree with Lord Acton, there is an extra factor Lord Acton didn’t realize. Faith and trust in God.

Genesis 45:7–8(ESV) 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

First point we realize is that God turns evil to good.

St. Paul says it this way: Romans 8:28(ESV) 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

We may see this as is Joseph case, but we may not. Just because we don’t see God changing all evil works before our eyes, doesn’t mean we don’t trust that God does. Consider this statement, if God is powerless over evil, there He isn’t God. But we know that Jesus defeated Sin, death and the devil on Calvary’s cross, so even though God doesn’t execute His immediate vengeance upon evil today, we know that day will come.

Second point Joseph’s brothers deserved death, but what they received was life. Call it what you want, sibling rivalry, but Joseph’s position demanded that those who opposed him but put to death. That is what they did back then. Vengeance is Mine exclamation point.

We also deserve death, but through Christ Jesus we have life, eternally. This is better than any fairy book ending. Joseph saw how God turned the evil plan of his brothers into a loving saving way, for God’s people.

Genesis 50:20(ESV) 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Joseph knew that God had placed him there.

At this point we may be jealous of Joseph, which got Joseph’s brothers in trouble. We would love to know God’s plan for us.

Many people ask What is God’s plan for my life? It should be obvious, but we are not usually satisfied with generalities we want specifics.

Mark 12:29–31(ESV) 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Where are the details, as cry out. Joseph knew why can’t I know. Remember what I said that jealousy got Joseph’s brothers into trouble, well it works for us also. We are not given the details. We are given the 10 commandment and the rest well that is in the realm of Christian freedom. Before we roll our eyes at the 10 Commandments, let us ask why.

Why didn’t Joseph fall into the Lord Acton’s idea of absolute power corrupts absolutely,? Because of God’s grace. As 1 John 4:19 tells us (ESV) 19 We love because he first loved us.

Which allows Joseph to be concerned for his brothers and his father. Joseph was faithful to his calling of his family and the family of God. Joseph didn’t act out of vengeance, but out of the 4th commandment, Honor your Father and Mother.

In the midst of God calling us into our families, we are reminded to continue to love and forgive one another.

St. Peter reminds us 1 Peter 3:9(ESV) 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

We are called, we are enabled to love, which doesn’t come from ourselves, it is a gift from God. You also are enabled to love, that is your calling, to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself, all because God first loved you, you are now enabled to love others. In His holy name. Amen.

Philippians 4:7(ESV) 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

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Written by dballa

February 23, 2019 at 4:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Blessings from God

Blessings from God
Jeremiah 17:5-8
Epiphany 6
February 17, 2019

Philippians 1:2(ESV) 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Man vs. God, it is a no brainer, God is going to win. God is perfect, man is imperfect. God is all powerful, man is weak in comparison. So in the competition of Man vs. God. God was is the clear winner. Why would we even think otherwise. That is the problem, we usually do. Our imperfect sinful nature like the underdog so to speak. We relate better with sinful man because we are sinful man, even though we know that God’s way is best, we usually follow our own way.

Consider this idea, when we see the turmoil in the world around us from the shooting in Aurora to the conflicts among the countries of the world, is our first response to go to God in prayer or is our first response to complain, fret and worry.

In our Old Testament reading Jeremiah is warning the people, because they are not trusting in God.

Jeremiah 17:5(ESV) 5 Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.

So what does it mean to trust in man? It is answered by the rest of the verse, whose heart turns away from the Lord.

The First Commandment

You shall have no other gods.

What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

The Psalmist reminds us Psalm 50:15(ESV) 15 call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

But in the time of trouble, do we think that we can solve our own problem? God invites us to call upon Him are we?

It doesn’t matter how big the problem or concern or how small. Does God want you to call upon Him in pray if you lose your car keys? Yes.

What happens when we don’t call upon God? Jeremiah 17:6(ESV) 6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.

Are there shrubs in the desert, yes, but are they fruitful? No. What happens to the shrubs in the desert, when the water dries up? Think tumbleweed.

Jeremiah then looks at the other side so to speak Jeremiah 17:7–8(ESV) 7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. 8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

So when the water dries up, i.e. bad things happening in the land and world around, the result isn’t a tumbleweed, but still a productive tree. Why, because the Lord provides strength not in the things of this world, but through the things of God.

Consider Jesus, after talking with the woman at the well, His disciples return to Jesus in let’s pick it up in

John 4:31–34(ESV) 31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.

The disciples also failed to understand what Jeremiah was teaching. To summerize Jeremiah, remain connect to God through His Word, and you will be carried through anything the world puts in front of you.

For Jeremiah, he was preparing the people of God for exile, because they were not trusting in God. It was going to be bad, very bad when Jerusalem would fall. But even during this devastation, if they remained connected to God, they would still be fruitful.

St. Paul outlines the fruit of the Spirit for us in Galatians 5:22–23(ESV) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

It is possible to be producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness and self-control during difficult times, yes, as long as we remain connected to God.

We are reminded in Proverbs 16:20(ESV) 20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

But what are we feeding upon. Consider this comparison, do we spend more time consuming news local, world, politics, or do we spend more time reading and hearing God’s Word.

Last week we heard from:

Amos 8:11(ESV) 11 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.

You could call this Spiritual Anorexia. While anorexia, is an eating disorder characterized by low weight, fear of gaining weight, and a strong desire to be thin. Spiritual Anorexia I would call is the desire to be a Christian, but starving oneself from God’s Word, in order to be more worldly. By doing so we are creating our own famine, by starving ourselves. It seems that we would rather consume the “news” rather than the Good News.

Proverbs 3:5(ESV) 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Let me end with the closing verse

Jeremiah 17:8(ESV) 8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

The contrast is clear: trust in man and you are cursed, but trust in the LORD you have roots which go down into the living waters. We do not fear the drought or any other evil for those who trust in the Lord are nurtured and sustained by the Holy Word of the LORD.

Is His Holy Name. Amen.

Philippians 4:7(ESV) 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Written by dballa

February 16, 2019 at 4:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized