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stilled the storm

Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the mighty waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their calamity; they reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.(Psalm 107:23-32, NRSV)

Life sometimes is a whirlwind all around us. Throwing us to and fro. Seeming to control everything in the winds and waves crashing around us.

But God is there and if we hold tight to Him, He will calm the storm around us so we can manage our lives. He will not take the storm away but calm us and it so that we can walk through it with Him.

Let Him hush the waves and winds of your life. Let Him accompany you on that journey!

 

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unbelievable!

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 14:13-21, NRSV)

Has Jesus ever asked you to do something that you found to be unbelievable?

Well I can relate to how the disciples felt here a little bit. Now I did not feed 5000 men and then women and children on top of that, maybe about 10,000 people here got fed with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread.

But when I was at my first call and it seemed about time for me to be moving on, I submitted my paperwork to seek a call, and I received a call from the assistant to the bishop of the Southwestern Texas Synod of the ELCA. He told me he had a congregation in a small town for me to look at. And I did not turn down any conversation with any congregation any where. This small town was a town of 65,000 people. I guess things in Texas really are big. And the congregation had a membership of 1,000. Now keep in mind they were looking for a senior pastor/head of staff, and I was in the 3rd year of my first call at a congregation that was just over 20 years old and a membership of 156. We had an average weekly attendance of 75, and the population of the town we were in was 1,000. So I was going from being the only staff, to head of staff, from a town of 1,000, to a congregation of 1,000, from a small town in Ohio to a SMALL TOWN in Texas! I have nothing to give, but God worked through me in that place.

How can we feed all of these people? Maybe we all need to change our outlook and ask God, How are you going to let us be a part of how you will do this?

All things are possible for God. Nothing should ever be unbelievable!

 

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for good?

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:26-39, NRSV)

All things work together for good…

Not that everything will be good, or good for us, but through every and all situations God is working.

And how is God working through the worst things in our lives?

I can’t tell you, but as Paul said, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” And that word if, is εἰ in the Greek, which is a word that means if, but it also means since. This is not Paul asking a question, but making an emphatic statement, “Since God is for us, who can possibly be against us!”

No one, so in every thing God will be with us and work through it with us.

 

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Have you understood all this?

He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52, NRSV)

Once the leaven is in can you take it out?

No, once the kingdom of Heaven is mixed in, it can not be removed.

But do we really understand all of this?

Is one pearl really worth selling everything you own?

And can we choose the kingdom? Not if we follow the last example because a fish caught in a net has no choice. The net captures it and pulls it in. The fish has a choice to bite that worm on the hook, but the net just grabs it.

So do you understand?

The kingdom is something small that becomes the biggest there is and pulls you in to make you give up everything to get one precious thing.

Seems like what God did to get you. Now do you understand?

 

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wheat and weeds

He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen! (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43, NRSV)

We, as children of God, are wheat.

And the weeds are the children of the evil one.

God sows us into the world and the evil one sows evil into the world.

But to try and remove the evil from the wheat will cause the removal of some of the wheat before it is ready.

The only way to have the wheat be fully ready is to let it live with the weeds, knowing that when the harvest comes the wheat will be removed from the weeds and taken to be where God has always intended for them to be.

So know that God has a plan and the weeds will not live forever.

 

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how much more

He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. (Luke 12:22-31, NRSV)

Do not worry!

Now that is easier said than done. I know it is hard. I have a new driver in the house and I worry every time she gets behind the wheel. Not because she can’t handle it or isn’t mature enough to be there. She can handle it and is ready to do this. I worry because of the things I can not control (as if I can control a 16-year-old!). The other drivers, the conditions under which she is driving. Not worrying is not easy.

But can any of us really change anything by worrying about it?

We can not keep our loved ones safe by worrying about what might happen to them. We can help them by praying that God would be with them.

We can help them and ourselves by remembering the care God gives to His creation and won’t He do that and much more for His children?

As the author says here, “Of how much more value are you than the birds!” You are of value to God. Remember that and don’t sweat it, because God has got this!

 

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refresh

At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall take your tambourines, and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall enjoy the fruit. For there shall be a day when sentinels will call in the hill country of Ephraim: “Come, let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.” For thus says the Lord: Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, “Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant of Israel.”See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here. With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble; for I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd a flock.” For the Lord has ransomed Jacob, and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall become like a watered garden, and they shall never languish again. Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. I will give the priests their fill of fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty, says the Lord. Thus says the Lord: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more. Thus says the Lord: Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for there is a reward for your work, says the Lord: they shall come back from the land of the enemy; there is hope for your future, says the Lord: your children shall come back to their own country. Indeed I heard Ephraim pleading: “You disciplined me, and I took the discipline; I was like a calf untrained. Bring me back, let me come back, for you are the Lord my God. For after I had turned away I repented; and after I was discovered, I struck my thigh; I was ashamed, and I was dismayed because I bore the disgrace of my youth.” Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he the child I delight in? As often as I speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore I am deeply moved for him; I will surely have mercy on him, says the Lord. Set up road markers for yourself, make yourself guideposts; consider well the highway, the road by which you went. Return, O virgin Israel, return to these your cities. How long will you waver, O faithless daughter? For the Lord has created a new thing on the earth: a woman encompasses a man. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Once more they shall use these words in the land of Judah and in its towns when I restore their fortunes: “The Lord bless you, O abode of righteousness, O holy hill!” And Judah and all its towns shall live there together, and the farmers and those who wander with their flocks. I will satisfy the weary, and all who are faint I will replenish.Thereupon I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleasant to me. (Jeremiah 31:1-26, NRSV)

What is refreshing for you?

What do you think of when you think of something refreshing?

A nice cold drink?

A beach?

A nice cold swim?

A nice warm swim?

Time alone in a shop?

A long ride on a bike? (motorized or not)

Refreshing is really different for all of us, but Jeremiah here tells us of how God will be refreshment for all of us.

God will satisfy the weary and refresh the faint. God can and will do this for all of us.

So live in God and allow His refreshment to be yours.

 

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