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Salvation at Sea

19The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. 20It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night. 21Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. 22The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. 23The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. 24At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. 25He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”26Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.” 27So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. 28The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. 29But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. 30Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses. (Exodus 14:19-31, NRSV)

Did this happen as it says here?

I have had many conversations with people who find it hard to believe the things we read in the Bible because I have never seen that. the water parting and the Israelites walking on dry land and then the waters coming back over the Egyptians. Or how about Jonah in the belly of the giant fish. I mean that is a little hard to swallow… We have never seen it, but does that mean it didn’t happen?

People wonder about the things in the Bible and if they are true. Well, I can say that I believe in the wind. I have never seen the wind, but I have seen the effects of the wind. I know the wind is real because I can feel it. And that my friends is how I have faith in the promises and the stories of the Bible, and moreover I have faith and trust in my savior Jesus Christ.

Believe it because God did it. And God will give you an abundance of life.

 

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Pharaoh’s Pursuit

5When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the minds of Pharaoh and his officials were changed toward the people, and they said, “What have we done, letting Israel leave our service?” 6So he had his chariot made ready, and took his army with him; 7he took six hundred picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt and he pursued the Israelites, who were going out boldly. 9The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, his chariot drivers and his army; they overtook them camped by the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon. 10As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord11They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? 12Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” 13But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. 14The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.” (Exodus 14:5-14, NRSV)

We were better off in Eygpt even though we were slaves.

Would you rather be free or held in bondage?

You are probably saying to yourself that you have never been in bondage and not a slave to anything. But aren’t you? Do you have loan payments, for a house or a car or a loan for education? That is bondage.

We are all in bondage to things we owe for and to the sin we live in. We are not free. Yet in the freedom that Christ can give us, we think it is more restricting than the slavery we are held in.

We need not fear when we have placed our lives into the hands of the Lord. So give yourself over to Him and live in His freedom.

 

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Semper Reformanda

On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the door of Wittenberg Church.

It was the beginning of the Reformation.

The change of the understanding of who we are as the body of Christ. Martin Luther did not want to start a new denomination, or break away from the church catholic. He wanted to reform areas he knew were not aligned with the Holy Scripture in practices of Dogma in the church. He wanted to change the practices to match what was said in the Bible. Radical!

And is this a bad thing? To be in line with the Bible? How many things do we do today that are not inline with the Holy Scripture?

Ecclesia semper reformanda est is a Latin phrase first used by Karl Barth in 1947 and it means “the church is always to be reformed.” Barth derived this from a saying of St. Augustine an early church father. It means that the church must always reexamine itself, in order to maintain purity in doctrine and in practice.

A variation by Barth on his own phrase is Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda. This means “the reformed church (is) always to be reformed”. Meaning our need for change or evaluation is never down.

We need to not be complacent in the way we do things, but always evaluating the best practice. We must be willing to follow Christ where He is leading us, regardless of where we have been, or if we see we need to do something differently. We need to always be focused on Christ and where He is leading us.

To help all of us do this we will be doing a rededication process here at St. John’s starting on Reformation Sunday.  We will individually look at our lives and as a whole we will rededicate our lives to Christ and commit to follow where He is leading us. We will reform ourselves to the body He has created us to be so we might truly be His hands and feet in this place, at this time.

 

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The First Sin

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’“ 4But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; 5for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. 7Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. 8They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”10He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” 13Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” 14The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” 16To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” 17And to the man he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” 20The man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21And the Lord God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them. (Genesis 3:1-21, NRSV)

Why were Adam and Eve removed from the garden?

Was it because they sinned?

Or was it another reason. You see when God created Adam and Eve God created them in the image of God. So they are like God in every way. Except…

What tree did God tell them not to eat from in the creation story from yesterday and how many special trees were there?

There were 2 special trees and God said not to eat from one of them, which one. The tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. But what was the other tree?

That is in the verses just after our reading,

22Then the LORD God said, “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. 24He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.

The other tree was the Tree of Life which gives eternal life and God didn’t say to eat from that tree, but since Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they had to be removed from the garden so they would not become exactly like God. We were removed from the garden so we couldn’t be like God, not because of sin. we could have lived in the garden forever if we hadn’t known good and evil, which is better?

 

 

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The Garden of Eden

In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,5when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; 6but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— 7then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. 8And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 10A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. 11The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 12and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Cush. 14The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. 15The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” 18Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” 19So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. 21So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.22And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.” 24Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:4b-25, NRSV)

This is the second creation story in the Bible. It has God forming man out of the dust and breathing into his nostrils the breath or Ruach, the wind, breath, Spirit.

God filled the man with Spirit, and he lived, and then God formed every animal and every bird form the dust and brought them to man to name and to find a companion for man. But a companion was not found so God caused a sleep to come over man and God took a piece of the man’s side and closed it back up and then made woman. And woman was made from man. Every other being made was formed from dust except the woman who was made form man, Why?

Thin about communion and how when we partake of it we are partaking of Jesus body and blood, We are becoming one with God through the meal. And the church is the bride of Christ. And we are made alive through Jesus. So, in essence, the original creation mimics the creation of Christ and His church. It is that the church can only exist if it is made from Christ.

So be made of Christ and live your life in Him knowing He gave it all for you.

 

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Preaching the Gospel

This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, 3and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, 4a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. 5In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 6that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. 8Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, 9and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; 10so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. 13I pray therefore that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory. (Ephesians 3:1-13, NRSV)

Paul thought he was the chief of sinners and the least saint in the church. He thought he had done too much wrong to be in the light of Christ, yet Paul was the most prolific speaker of the gospel in his time. He helped gather congregations all over the known world and helped people hear the great news of how much God loved them. Because God could love Paul, God could love anyone.

And God will use all of us to tell the world about God’s love. God will speak through each of our lives to tell of the wonderful love that Christ brought for all of us.

Allow God to speak through your life and let God’s light shine so the darkness ios expelled and God’s love is made known.

 

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Sabbath Preaching in Corinth

After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3and, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together—by trade they were tentmakers. 4Every sabbath he would argue in the synagogue and would try to convince Jews and Greeks. 5When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with proclaiming the word, testifying to the Jews that the Messiah was Jesus. 6When they opposed and reviled him, in protest he shook the dust from his clothes and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7Then he left the synagogue and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God; his house was next door to the synagogue. 8Crispus, the official of the synagogue, became a believer in the Lord, together with all his household; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul became believers and were baptized. 9One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent;10for I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many in this city who are my people.” 11He stayed there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. (Acts 18:1-11, NRSV)

Do not be afraid to speak and do not be silent!

God wants us to share the good news, the wonderful news that Jesus came and lived among us and was killed because he opposed the authorities and loved all people. And he rose from the dead and went back to be with the Father and made a way for all of us to be with God.

We should share this with everyone, and if they won’t listen, then shake the dust off your feet and move on to tell others, but don’t be silent, tell the word about God’s love.

Speak the truth in love and share the Good News of Jesus Christ!

 

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