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A Promise of Restoration, part 1

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. (Jeremiah 31:1-14, NRSV)

What God has scattered He is going to bring back together. God has a way of testing us and working through situations that we can not see or understand. God works through every situation to continue the works He has begun in us.

So just like a shepherd who lets their sheep roam and then brings them back together, that is what God will always do. God will work through all of the situations of our lives and bring about the life He has planned for us.

So hold fast to God and know that every season changes and God is always with you.

 

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Isaiah’s Call

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” And he said, “Go and say to this people: ‘Keep listening, but do not comprehend; keep looking, but do not understand.’ Make the mind of this people dull, and stop their ears, and shut their eyes, so that they may not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and comprehend with their minds, and turn and be healed.” Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is utterly desolate; until the Lord sends everyone far away, and vast is the emptiness in the midst of the land. Even if a tenth part remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak whose stump remains standing when it is felled.” The holy seed is its stump. (Isaiah 6:1-13, NRSV)

I love this story, but usually, it ends at verse 8, “Here am I; send me!” We all want to follow where God is leading us or sending us and we emphatically say yes, and then God says what we have to do. And usually again we start to backpedal.

Isaiah was sent to the people to tell them to listen but not hear, to keep looking but not comprehend what they see. They would not get it. Until the place was completely destroyed. Not what we want to do. We want to go and help people see love, but sometimes we have to tell those who can not hear what they need to hear and know that it will not make a difference, but that is what God called us to.

So let us all follow God and know that sometimes it will not be the cushy assignment but it is what we need to do.

So are you ready to say, “Here am I, Send me!”

 

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David is Anointed by Samuel

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah. (1 Samuel 16:1-13, NRSV)

We can not look at things as the world sees them. The world sees the outward appearance and only judges off of that.

God always sees the heart and knows the true intentions of a person.

So look at the world as God does. Allow your eyes to be focused through the cross so yo see what God sees.

 

 

 

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Israel Arrives at Sinai

On the third new moon after the Israelites had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day, they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They had journeyed from Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; Israel camped there in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.” So Moses came, summoned the elders of the people, and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. The people all answered as one: “Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.” Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord. Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak with you and so trust you ever after.” When Moses had told the words of the people to the Lord, the Lord said to Moses: “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and prepare for the third day, because on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. You shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Be careful not to go up the mountain or to touch the edge of it. Any who touch the mountain shall be put to death. No hand shall touch them, but they shall be stoned or shot with arrows; whether animal or human being, they shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they may go up on the mountain.” So Moses went down from the mountain to the people. He consecrated the people, and they washed their clothes. And he said to the people, “Prepare for the third day; do not go near a woman.” On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently. As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder. When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people not to break through to the Lord to look; otherwise many of them will perish. Even the priests who approach the Lord must consecrate themselves or the Lord will break out against them.” Moses said to the Lord, “The people are not permitted to come up to Mount Sinai; for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and keep it holy.’“ The Lord said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you; but do not let either the priests or the people break through to come up to the Lord; otherwise he will break out against them.” So Moses went down to the people and told them. (Exodus 19:1-25, NRSV)

The Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai and Moses went up the mountain to be with God.

No one could touch the mountain or they would die. God is so holy we cannot be near Him or look upon Him without dying. So God set up some guidelines for helping the people stay ok. But the people were still wanting to come through so God sent Moses down to warn them.

Isn’t that how we all are? We want things the way we want them. So we only follow when it meets our needs. How do we not listen to God to go after what we think we want?

 

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Change

It is September and time to get back into the routine of how things are during school. Routine?!?!?!

I’m sitting at my desk thinking about how we now have new staff members and things are not routine. Things are not happening the way they always have and that is not bad it is just different.

But isn’t it funny how we look for Fall to be that time when the hustle and bustle of Summer gives way to routine, and how nerve racking it can be to not have that routine.

We are joined this Fall by Patrick Kieper as our Youth & Family Minister and so things will be different. Patrick will bring new and exciting ideas for our youth and all of the congregation. His passion for ministry will hopefully ignite all of our lives and help us to grow deeper in our faith! But with this will come some different ways of seeing and doing things.

We are also joined in the office by Julie Cavil our new Office Manager. She brings a passion for helping others and using her talents to help us all be in the know and keep St. John’s moving forward. She will be a wonderful asset to our team. She will bring a new way of looking at and doing things.

All of this change might rock the boat a little, but I am reminded of the sign that hangs in my office, Change isn’t just something you get from a vending machine.

Change isn’t good or bad, it is just different. If we focus on where God is leading us, that is what it is about. Growing as disciples and following God where He leads us.

So get ready for the unroutine routine of Fall and settle in to deepen your faith!

 

 

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Ruth meets Boaz

Then Ruth the Moabite said, “He even said to me, ‘Stay close by my servants, until they have finished all my harvest.’” Naomi said to Ruth, her daughter-in-law, “It is better, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, otherwise you might be bothered in another field.” So she stayed close to the young women of Boaz, gleaning until the end of the barley and wheat harvests; and she lived with her mother-in-law. (Ruth 2:21-23, NRSV)

Naomi knew the blessing that Ruth had found in Boaz and advised her to stay with that blessing.

She knew that others would not receive Ruth as one of them, she was a Moabite woman, a foreigner, a stranger, an outsider. But Boaz accepted her and made her part of his clan.

When have we seen this?

Have you ever been an outsider and been made an insider?

Boaz knew that Ruth had given up so much for his relative, so he gave up just as much for Ruth.

Do we bless others, or only look out for ourselves?

 

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See

 

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