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An Overwhelming, Overlooked Verse in Genesis

photoDevotional Thought for the Day:

Seth had a son whom he named Enosh. It was then that people began using the LORD’s holy name in worship.  Genesis 4:26 TEV

To speak about “heaven”, therefore, does not mean to lapse into rapturous fantasy but rather to learn to know more deeply that hidden presence that lets us truly live and that we continually allow to be masked and withdrawn from us by whatever is in the foreground of our awareness. Heaven, consequently, is above all christological. It is not an extra-historical place “into which” we go. The very existence of “heaven” depends on the fact that Jesus Christ, as God, is man and has given human existence a place in the existence of God himself

“The Church originates, and has her continuing existence, in the Lord’s communicating himself to men, entering into communion with them, and thus bringing them into communion with one another. The Church is the Lord’s communion with us, which at the same time brings about the true communication of men with one another.”

It is an odd comment, sitting there at the end of chapter 4 of the first book of the Bible.

They began to worship him using the Lord’s Holy name….

They are talking about the name YHWH, or as it can be translated, “I AM”

It is a name that is amazing, even in its simplicity.  And for Seth and Enosh, it is a profound thing, once that doesn’t have a further explanation because.. well, how do you explain it?  It is too overwhelming.

God, who was betrayed by Seth’s parents, so much they were kicked out of Eden.  Betrayed by one brother as he killed his other brother in a rage of jealousy, this God still cares for and provides for people. 

“here is my name, YHWH, use it to call out to me.  

God wants us to identify Him, not just as GOd, not just as the Divine, not just as Master or Lord (which is why I hate the tendency to translate YHWH as LORD) but to reach out and call Him by name.  He wants us to call out with an intimate form of address, He wants that relationship with us.

We have to understand this, that Christ’s mission was not just to cleanse us from sin, but the purpose was to draw us into communion with God the Father, the Son and the Hoy Spirit.  That Jesus’s work was to draw human existence into the existence of YHWH, into existence in God.

As Paul taught the Athenians, 

27  “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28  For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ Acts 17:27-28 (NLT2)

This is what it all boils down to, a God who would come to us, with the express desire of having a relationship with us.  YHWH, whose wisdom we should realize is so incredible, and in relationship with Him, we realize that His best interests are guided by that wisdom. That’s why we hear and walk with Him. (Obey is simply  to hear in both Greek and Hebrew)

They began to worship Him, using His holy, precious, intimate name….

I pray you and I do the same today, and all this week.

Question to discuss:

What is hard about talking to God by His name?

 

 

 

 

Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 351). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Ratzinger, J. (2003). God is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life. (S. O. Horn & V. Pfnür, Eds., H. Taylor, Trans.) (p. 7). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

We Have Hope: A sermon from a broken heart.

We Have Hope!
Jeremiah 31:15-17

In Jesus’ Name

In this new year, may the hope of God’s rewards for you, the rewards of being His children become more and more real, as we see the hope for our future in Christ Jesus!

You have to wonder….

One of the guys I want to meet in heaven is the guys who chose and approved the readings for the three-year church cycle, and how we choose which readings to use.  I mean you look at the readings for today, they don’t seem like the kind of readings you want to start the year with, they don’t seem exactly what you might call promising!

They are the readings that call us to remember some of the youngest martyrs in the church.  An event that Matthew’s gospel compared to the time the young people of Israel were led off into captivity, a fate that was the result not of their unfaithfulness, but the unfaithfulness of the generation that preceded them.

That is the weeping that Jeremiah’s passage originally referred to, yet Matthew says it is equally applicable to the time of Jesus birth.  For then, the male infants and toddlers were sacrificed because of a man’s paranoia…

Again, the readings don’t seem to be the kind you want to start the year with!

Not auspicious…

Well, not at first…

The sobering reality…

The sobering reality is that babies are still killed because of the sins of the generation that would have given them birth.  You look to places where children are taken from their homes and conscripted into armies.  Others are simply killed because they won’t convert to another religion.  Estimates online say between 10,000, and 100,000 (  http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24864587) Christian martyrs in the world last year.  Worldwide the estimate is another 43 million children were killed before their birth in 2015.  Even as I wrote this sermon yesterday, the amount for 2016 was already over 171,000 (http://www.worldometers.info/abortions/)

It is enough to make you weep.

This is just one form of the trauma that exists, one that makes no sense, like those observed by Jeremiah and by those who watched Herod massacre young children.

But the Law isn’t that

But it is not the acts of death that I see confronting us today.  We need to find ways to help those being persecuted, and those who are told that life is disposable if it threatens our lives.

But I want to look at the Rachel’s, those of us who weep for this reason or maybe others.  Some of us have hit that point, and others of us have friends who are experiencing that level of grief, that level of despair or depression.  This is the law that confronts us this morning when the struggle to trust in God is too great, and we refuse to be comforted.

How do you help the person whose cry is described as, deep anguish and bitter weeping.”  How do we help the person, “refusing to be comforted.”

How do we help a person when faith doesn’t seem to be enough?

For that is the mission of the church, especially this church.  Remember how we are described,

Concordia is the place where broken people find healing in Christ while helping others heal.

So how do we, as the people of God, bring healing and hope to people who have none? And how is that the gospel message for this day, and for this year?

And the gospel is this…

We do it the same Jeremiah did, and with the same message:

We spend time with them, there in the struggle.  Praying for them, holding their hand, feeding them, caring for them, and sharing with them this message,

Do not weep any longer, for I will reward you,” says the LORD. “Your children will come back to you from the distant land of the enemy. 17  There is hope for your future,” says the LORD. “Your children will come again to their own land.

In the passage, God addressed the very issue that was causing the struggle, the pain over the children who were. No more.  He didn’t forget them, nor the pain that the people of God knew, as the innocent suffered because of the evil of that day.

In this passage in Hebrew, five times, the phrase, “says the LORD” is used, though we see it only three times.  The important thing is to realize this isn’t the title of God, the Lord Almighty, but the personal name we aren’t to use in vain, but to use in communicating to Him.

He keeps saying,

First he was the one who heard the cry of His people and recognized the depth of the pain. Even the fact that the people refused to be comforted.  That is what God says…

And then He says the promise. Do not weep. There is hope for your future.

In this case, the children will come again into the land, they will return from the land of the enemy.

For the Jewish person, this is a promise of reconciliation, that God will restore not the property, but the position of being the covenant people, the people He has promised to care for, the people He loves.

That is what so many fail to see when they talk about being the chosen people.  They look for the land, rather than the relationship.

But the hope, the hope which will dry up the tears is found in the relationship.  The very thing that was forgotten, that was trampled upon, is restored to those it should have been passed onto.

When Matthew’s gospel quotes this passage, he recalls to people’s minds the promise. Not a promise to one mother, but to the nation of Israel – that God’s people will be God’s people. He will restore them. That He will keep His promises, including the one we don’t always see occurring, that all things work for good, for those who love God, and are called according to His purpose.

You see, we aren’t waiting for God to keep this promise somewhere in the future.  The very thing that would call us “home” has occurred.  We have this relationship with God; we are His people that have returned.  We know that the promise is complete, even though we struggle to see its completeness…. Because we don’t see Him face to face…yet.

But we shall, and we have the promise of eternity with Him.

That is the promise, the ultimate promise, of that day when there will be no more injustice when there will be no more martyrdom or those who are sacrificed for the benefit of others.

For this is why He came….Jesus even said so, in his first recorded public sermon.

18  God’s Spirit is on me; he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, To set the burdened and battered free, 19  to announce, “This is God’s year to act!” 20  He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. 21  Then he started in, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.”   Luke 4:18-21 (MSG)

This is the message we have for those, who at first refuse the comfort we want to want dearly to give them. It is the message of the altar; the place were we find healing, and the peace that comes from knowing God will do what He promised.

For He always has.  He always speaks to His people, bringing them comfort, and hope.

God still acts, and He will in our lives, and in the lives we bring to find His love, His mercy, and His peace.

AMEN!

 

I love the LORD because He Listened to Me. A Sermon on Psalm 116:1–9

I love the Lord,
Because He Hears Me!

Psalm 116:1–9

  † In Jesus Name

 May you always respond with love and adoration to the God revealing His grace and mercy, and the love of God shown you in Christ Jesus!

Why Do We Love?

It is the topic of thousands upon thousands of songs, of poems and novels, artists in every form have tried to paint it.

The greatest philosophers tried to explain it, the greatest psychologists have no explanation for it, and no one comes near being able to explain it, it is a mystery.  Even languages can struggle to define it.

Yet, a child can express it in ways that brings tears and joy to your heart.

This word.  Love

cHesed in Hebrew
agape

eros

storge

And  phileo in Greek

It includes within it the words devotion, mercy, loyalty, adoration, honor and so many more in English.  It is physical and spiritual, emotional and psychological.

And the psalmist dares to say…

I love the Lord….. and with the word because, explains what we need to hear today.
We love the Lord, for He hears our voice and our prayer for mercy.  Because he bends down to listen……

The Despairs of Life

These words, sweetly said by a 2 year old their mother, or said during a wedding or whispered between two people in their 90’s as they look in their lives, seem more powerful than any words said by any president or king.

The truth in that second is clear, blunt, disarming, and said with everything aspect of our beings.

It doesn’t matter if the 2-year-old just opened a present, or just finished a tantrum and is near exhaustion.  The same goes for a psalmist, the cries of love for God in scripture come from the times where God has blessed, but also when the blessing is harder to see.

That is the context for the Psalmist, the writer of these words,

He knows God hears, that God reaches down to him, even when life is as broken.

Death wrapped its ropes around me;

the terrors of the grave overtook me.

I saw only trouble and sorrow.

Then I called on the name of the Lord:

“Please, Lord, save me!”

In the midst of the cries of love, are these pleas for mercy.  It is as in the gospel story, as the father cries out in adoration and faith, there is also the desperate begging to heal, and even to given our broken faith the strength to believe, to trust, even to depend on God.

I love those words of the father,

“I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Been there, done that, Even as recently as yesterday.

We can know every instance of people crying out in Scripture, we can know all the prayers, but what I needed to hear, and I know we all need to hear, is that God will.

He won’t write us off because we don’t have the perfect life or enough faith.

He won’t write us off because we struggle to see His plan…

He won’t abandon us to our own wisdom, our own brokenness, We don’t have to remain condemned by our own sin,
No one is beyond hope, no one beyond God’s hearing range.

This is the testimony of the psalms, read them, over and over, as life tries to crush the writers, they find God’s peace, even if their problems aren’t alleviated the way they think is best.

They find as the psalmist describes so vividly here….something amazing.

He Leans Down.. and Hears

Hear it again…

I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.

Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!


Last week, when my friends Jon was here, his wife commented about something we take for granted perhaps.  She noted that when people come over and greet Debbie, many bend down, so as to greet her at the same level. (For reader’s, she is in a wheel chair) She, a lady whose husband has played and pastored in huge churches, said the love we show each other in this church is incredible and beautiful. I’ve seen the same thing done as people get on one knee to greet a child here.

It is that action that the psalmist pictures God doing, bending down, not in condescension, nor in anger, but with a heart full of love, a love which causes Him to listen intently, to listen carefully, to hear each one of us.

God listening to each of us, not like a potentate or world leader listening to us, but listening to us, hearing us.

God bending over to talk to you, to me, his eyes making contact with us, and we have His attention.  He hears us…. And we love Him for it

No wonder the psalmist responds,

Yahweh is merciful and upright, our God is tenderness.  Yahweh looks after the simple, when I was brought low he gave me strength.  My heart, be at peace once again, for Yahweh has treated you generously.  He has rescued me from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling.  I shall pass my life in the presence of Yahweh, in the land of the living.  Psalm 116:5-9 (NJB)

I used a different translation here for a couple reasons, but none as good as this.

You see that word Yahweh?

A lot of translations use the term LORD there, in all capitals.  LORD is a title.

But the Psalmist uses the personal name of God, the name God gave Moses to give to Israel to use when they talk or pray to them,  We aren’t talking about some God distant across a galaxy.  We aren’t talking about a god made of brass or wood.  We’re not talking about a God is weak and tolerates evil, but Yahweh, who is patient, not willing that any person should perish, but that all have the ability to return to Him.

As Luther reminds us, it is not enough not to use God’s name in vain, but we need to

He doesn’t just tolerate our prayers; He wants us to call out to Him.  God wants to hear us, listen to us, care for us.

And assure us that we will dwell forever in His presence.

And so we can say with the psalmist

My heart, is at peace once again, for Yahweh has treated you generously.  

For He is our loving God, who bends down to hear us, who comes to us to care for us, to reconcile us, to heal us, to send us to others to send us to the world, to let them know He will listen to them as well, and love them even as He loves us, cleanses us from sin, and makes us hole, and holy.

This is why we adore Him, why we are devoted to Him, why we trust and depend on Him, why we honor and praise Him!

Why we love Him… Because He hears us…

And promises to give our hearts the peace and rest that comes from knowing the love of God.  A love in which Christ keeps us forever.  AMEN?

 

 

We Call on His Name – Just as Jesus DId!

Treasuring God’s Gifts!Concordia Lutheran Church - Cerritos, Ca , at dawn on Easter Sunday
He has Given Us the Right to Use His Name!

Exodus 20:7, Romans 10:11-17

In Jesus Name!

May the glory of the cross, the love of God revealed, remind you that you are children of God, and can therefore cry out to the Father!

 

The Journey

We have almost completed our journey through the Decalogue, through the masterpiece God makes of our life, so beautifully described in words we normally call the Ten Commandments.  The journey where we have not heard them as hastily written words, given to cramp our style, to forbid fun.

Instead we remember to hear them as the words of God, which describe for us a way of life He considers His masterpiece.

On this day, when we hear Jesus cry out, “it is finished”, when we know of His cry, “Father, Into Your Hands I commit my spirit,” may we realize we can cry out to the Father, for that is why He has given us His name… to use.

The Third (4th) Word

The Third “word”, the “third commandment” is simple, “Do not use God’s name vainly” or to no good purpose.  If we think it through, that command is simply a correction, a clarification to the idea that we are called to use God’s name.

For as we heard, all who call on the name of the Lord will be delivered, we will be saved.

There are people who misuse God’s name, using it basically in frustration, in anger, to condemn, to mock God, and often His people.  That is sin.

There are also those who do not use His name at all, to lift others in prayer, to offer comfort, even the comfort of a glass of water, who do not care enough about others eternity to share God’s love with them, so they will know heaven and not hell.  Those who do not use His name to reconcile, those who refuse to forgive – for that too is the proper use of His name, and to not do so, is sin.

Seeing the Gospel

When William was born, we were shocked by his pediatrician giving us her cell-phone number.  She has a large office, and an incredible caseload.  Over the years we’ve called it, and been surprised when we didn’t get a answering service, but that she answered it herself.

How many places can you call, where the boss picks up the phone?  Never mind that, where a real person does.

Yet, God, Creator of the Universe, expects us to call out to Him, to give Him our burdens, to ask Him for forgiveness.
That is what the cross is all about, that is what this time and this place is all about.

God gathering His people here,

Gathering His people, marked by His name.

For Christ has been lifted up…..

We have been lifted up with Him.

 

Lifted up into His presence, into His place of peace, The peace that goes beyond all understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  AMEN.

What does Jesus “require” of His followers?

Devotional thought of the day:

 6 ‘With what shall I enter Yahweh’s presence and bow down before God All-high? Shall I enter with burnt offerings, with calves one year old? 7 Will he be pleased with rams by the thousand, with ten thousand streams of oil? Shall I offer my eldest son for my wrong-doing, the child of my own body for my sin? 8 ‘You have already been told what is right and what Yahweh wants of you. Only this, to do what is right, to love loyalty and to walk humbly with your God.’      Micah 6:6-8 (NJB)

Nunc coepi!—now I begin! This is the cry of a soul in love which, at every moment, whether it has been faithful or lacking in generosity, renews its desire to serve—to love!—our God with a wholehearted loyalty. (1)

If you know the Bible quote above, you are probably wondering why verse 8 just doesn’t sound right, especially if you are used to the KLV, the NKJV, NIV, or other main translations.

There are at least three reasons, at least three very important ones, in my opinion.

The first is that the NJB doesn’t use the word “require”, as in “this is what the Lord requires of you”.   Of the translations in Hebrew dictionaries and lexicons, require isn’t a major term for this.  To seek with care, or simply  to seek is how they translate they translate this.  This verse describes what God desires, it is what He has worked to, and is trying to develop within us.  It is the journey Christ takes, it is the mission of God, to seek this out in us, and to do it with care…

Yet, when the word is reduced to “require”, it becomes what theologians call “law”.  One translation even uses the word “demands”.  In doing so, it makes of God and omnipotent King, a demanding despot, a God who will strike you down, for not meeting His demands.  It is, in many ways, just the opposite of what the passage is trying to communicate, for it nullifies the very work of God, as He seeks out carefully, and He nourishes and develops us into what we are, in Christ.

The second thing that might sound odd is the “loving loyalty,” as we have always heard this as loving “mercy”.  If you’ve read my blogs for a while, or heard a sermon or two, this is my favorire Hebrew word, cHesed.  It contains the thoughts of love, mercy, favor, kindness, loyalty.  As a technical term, it describes a relationship that is so bound together that those in it will constantly work to make sure the other person is not only cared for, but that they will help the person fulfill the obligations they have to the one helping.  It is loyalty above and beyond the call of duty.  It is the loyalty that is so defined in the person of God, that we can see it in His patience with Israel, His work developing the people in scripture, from Moses and Gideon and David and Peter and Paul, to the ultimate example – God wants us in a relationship with Him so much that Christ comes to do what we cannot – to make us righteous – at the cost of His body and blood….

This kind of loyalty, mercy, love, is what God seeks to develop in us.  We can’t impress Him with what we bring to the relationship – but He works within us to help us see His love, mercy, loyalty….. and we fall in love with Him because of it.  That is what He seeks.

The third thing  is the reason I love the New Jersulalem Bible.  It doesn’t replace God’s holy Name with the substitute, “Lord” like every other translation does.   Luther’s explanation of the commandment “You shall not misuse the Name of YHWH (the Lord)” works with the positive as well as the obvious negative.  I roughly  Don’t use God’s name in vain means we should use it!  We should use it to lay our burdens down before Him, We should praise Him and thank Him and adore Him, with the name He has given us to use, to call Him by.

I sort of understand this – I have people I consider friends, people I have relationships with that are not just that I am their pastor, I am their friend as well.  It’s a little awkward when they call me Pastor Parker.  I understand the level of respect they have for me as a pastor, (or more precisely for God putting me in that office)   Some I can get to call me Pastor Dt (what i prefer to be called) or Pastor Dustin.  But there are some still that this is awkward.  I think it is the same thing – people want to humbly walk with God – which means, in their mind – calling Him “Lord” or “Master” or “Gracious Father in Heaven”.  Yet walking humbly with Him means looking for what He wants – a relationship where we call Him by name – where we bring His name and the message of His love to the world He died for, because He loves, He has cHesed for us.

What does God require of us?  What does Jesus “require” of those who are His disciples?

THe question still grates on me, because if this is what He requires, we are all toast, and abject and complete failues.

What does He seek to develop in us?  What is His desire for us? What does He want to develop is us, with all the mercy, love and loyalty that is His?

The righteousness and holiness that is ours in Christ, a relationship where we come to love and adore Him because of His mercy, love, kindness, and complete loyalty that He shows to us, and that we humbly walk with Him, hearing His voice, becoming His people, and realizing what it means to have a God who is so selfless in His desire to be with us.

That is what He seeks, someone to love……

Dearest Yahweh, thank you for the mercy You show to us, each and every day….

AMEN.

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 877-879). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

I Am the Lord Your God!

Cross & Clouds

Cross & Clouds (Photo credit: John H Wright Photo)

I Am The Lord Your God!
Lev. 18:-1-5, 19:9-18

 

†  In Jesus Name

May you always thank the Father, as filled with His joy, your find yourselves filled with all His glorious power, and having all the endurance and patience you need in your lives today!

It’s Not as Heavy A Burden as we Think!

At first glance, the Old Testament reading reminds me of my trainer at the gym.  Every time I think I am working with the right amount of weight, he’ll walk over and add 10 or 20 pounds, and I will have to really push myself to get another set completed.  Even as I dislike it when he adds the 10 pounds, the reason I have a trainer is to make sure I get the most out of my working out – so that I become healthier and stronger.

Often, our first reaction to lists of commandments like this is similar to a work out – we know we are going to struggle, we know we are going to be pushed past what we think our breaking point is.  We get anxious knowing we are going to be faced with failure, like when I try to bench press 60 pounds, we just give up.  The same thing here – how many commandments can we focus on at once, how will we grow spiritually and fulfill each of them?

It is easy to look at what God expects out of us, and look at the burden and wonder how Jesus expects us to be as perfect as He is.

What we are going to look at this morning, in both church and Bible study is this idea that the burden is too big, that it is too heavy, that we cannot live as God calls us to live.  The illusion we are only sinners, those who fail God.  Really, the burden is not too much and we can be described as Paul describes the church in Colossae.

…The way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. (Colossians 1:11b)

So let’s look at this list of commands, and consider whether it is a burden to obey these commandments….and walk in this life.

A Challenging List!

           

God makes it clear that His standard goes beyond that of the world.  It’s not just their behaviors we aren’t to follow, the very laws they established were not reflective of God’s standard.  Sounds familiar, yes?

 

What is legal in the law of the Egyptians and Canaanites and for us according to the Supreme Court isn’t beneficial or proper for us, according to God.  We can’t say to God, we didn’t hear your laws, or we chose to do what is appropriate here.  His desire for us is to for life to be lived to its fullest, not just to make do.  We are called to live life in a way that Jesus did, valuing what He did, serving those He would serve, sacrificing things we want, and knowing that what He has in store for us is so much more fulfilling!

Look at the “commands”, look at the way God commissions us to live.

God’s law is all about caring for our neighbors, nor matter their race, their religion, their role in society, whether they are in LA or the OC or Cambodia.  That is the bottom line at every one of these commandments.

It starts with the “law” of leaving part of what is ours provide for others. God asks us to give part of what is ours by right, to help those who have nothing, the poor and the stranger – or in other translations, the alien – literally those “not of our people” or “the one who doesn’t belong”.  We are to care for them, to help provide for them – whether the government is involved… or not.

The list moves on to not cheating others, not deceiving, slandering, or exploiting them.  Luther would add that this obligates us to care for them, and their property.  Remember, sin is disobedience! It is walking away from God’s plan in our thoughts, words, or deed – and that includes what we fail to think, fail to say, and fail to do.  Again – God’s desire isn’t just about not harming them, but caring about them, even as God cares for us.  God’s love in action, through us.

We see this as well in not mocking or cursing the deaf, or tripping up the blind – whether they are deaf and blind physically – or spiritually. Our actions should be that which help – and comfort and guide those, not give them reason to hate us.

Caring for them goes to the extent of our not allowing resentment to build in our hearts!  If we do, how can we love each other, or prove that love in the way we care for each other?  We are called to carefully reprove those who sin, in such a way that reconciliation can occur.  It should go without saying, but sin isn’t any more individual than grace and faith are – and it is a sign of our love for our neighbor that we would carefully try to deliver them from their sin – even as Christ has done for us….

This is the way of life God that has commissioned, this is the way of life that He desires us to live and treasure. It is easily summed up as the young man and Jesus talked about… loving your neighbor as yourself… and Jesus will remind the young teacher – that our neighbor is simply the one in need…

What we’ve got to remember He’s Yhwh   
That is what God has commissioned our lives to be – lives invested in each other, and in those who are broken in this world, that our love for them would bring healing and hope – even as we are found in Christ – and are finding healing there for our sin-caused wounds.

Which would be a struggle, an incredible burden except for one thing.  The nature and character of God.   You see, He will not give us a burden we can’t carry, In the midst of this passage, we are reminded constantly of who He is, for that very purpose!

I chose the NJB translation for that reason this morning for our reading.  I’ve mentioned it before – when the Bible spells our LORD in all capitals – it is not the word for Lord or Master or King in scripture.  In fact, it’s somewhat the opposite – it’s God’s personal name… Yahweh/Jehovah.  Translated it is “I AM” and it reminds us of God’s power but even more, His presence in our lives.  For He “is” and that means He is here.. with us.

Knowing that is the key to understanding all of the passages of scripture where God lays out how our lives are to be lived.  Nine times in this passage, God reminds us of Who He is, not with titles that we see in Scripture – like, “God of heaven’s armies” or God on High, but rather His name.  Reminding us of what He desires most – for us to so trust in Him that we call on His name – that we realize that He is our God! He is with us.

This is what the cross is all about!  It isn’t just about forgiving our sins, though indeed that is where they were paid for.  It’s about getting rid of the things that stand in the way of our calling on His name,  Jesus living the way He did, being crucified and raised from the dead – it’s all about His restoring us to the Father, sharing with us their glory, as their love envelopes all of us.

Which is why this way God commissions us to live is not about rules and obligations, as much as it is the natural outcome of our relationship with Him.  This relationship, as we walk with Him, as we realize He is our God, results in a change in us, as we begin to love as He does. Our priorities change, not by our strength or character, but by living in His presence and knowing His mercy.

That is why I said this list is not a burden, The more we dwell in Him, the more we are conscious of the fact that He is Yhwh, the more we are sure that He is here, the more we find ourselves changed – the more we find out that we begin to live in this way.

For we find, in His presence, we dwell in His peace…a peace beyond all comprehension, for He guards as a great treasure, our hearts and minds.

AMEN!

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