2nd Sunday after Pentecost
A Triune Blessing from Our Triune God
Text: Numbers 6:22-27
It was the last day of sightseeing and the last sight to see. Thursday morning we woke the seventh and eight graders early to rush back into Washington D.C. to visit the final locations on our itinerary. We stopped first at the National Archives, but upon finding a line that wrapped around the building and that it opened an hour later in the spring and summer, we moved on to the next destination—the Holocaust Museum.
There we found a line even longer, nearly wrapped around the block. The tickets were going quickly. But by the time we got to the front of the line, we found that they had 13 tickets available for the last tour of the day at 4:30pm. We grabbed the tickets, rushed off to Annapolis for an amazing tour of the Naval Academy, and then hurried back to the Holocaust Museum for our final sight to see on our Discover America trip. And what a sight it was!
Put it down as a “must see” on your bucket list. Words can hardly describe how masterfully they have designed that museum to immerse you in those horrible times of world history.
The museum walks you through the formation and rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. It describes the hunger for power and sickening racism that drove the Third Reich. Then suddenly the exhibits begin depicting how the Jews became the focal object of their horrific hatred.
The pictures and videos turn your stomach upside down. Walking into scale models of train cars and concentration camps leave you utterly speechless. Then you turn into one of the last exhibits of the museum—a room that has two massive piles of shoes worn by actual concentration camp captives. It’s enough to make the manliest men break down in tears.
We left the museum at closing time to return to our home for the last night. The normally bubbly and goofy seventh and eight graders were silent. Several had tears in their eyes. Others had blank stares of disbelief. One was literally trembling.
Every night on this trip we had an evening devotion with the students before bed. I don’t think they will forget Thursday’s evening devotion for a long time. I focused our thoughts that night on being thankful to God. Here these students are, traveling across the country for next to nothing, visiting some of the most incredible monuments, memorials, and museums in the world. Eight of the ten students had their own cell phone (one lost hers in D.C.!). The other two had iPods. Most of the cell phones were iPhones. They all have gigabytes worth of pictures and videos to keep forever. They had McDonalds and Burger King and pizza and soda any time they wanted. They wore “cool” and comfortable clothes and they slept in warm and comfortable beds at night.
In our devotion I compared that to the similarly aged children they saw at the museum who had absolutely nothing. They slept on the ground in freezing temperatures wearing prisoner clothing while many were separated from their families. They were herded into gas chambers only to have piles of them plowed into a pit by a bulldozer (That actually happened!).
For our last devotion we humbly discussed together that we have much to be thankful for. We would not have one blessing in life without the good and gracious will of our loving and compassionate God. Hopefully it was an experience that those ten students and we three adults will never forget.
Some three thousand years ago, God had the same intentions for his people. Those same Jewish people, the Israelites, also had horrific experiences in Egypt. They were used, abused, and driven to death as slaves to the Egyptians. Thus, when God brought them out of slavery and was leading them on to the Promised Land, they had much to be thankful for. Hopefully they would never forget how blessed they were by the good and gracious will of their loving and compassionate God.
So God gave to Moses and his brother Aaron the high priest a special blessing. This special blessing was to be a reminder for the people of who God is and what God does. This special blessing would remind them that the Lord—Yahweh, Jehovah, the loving and compassionate God—would always be with his people. This special blessing would remind them that the Lord is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit actively at work in their lives. This special blessing is A Triune Blessing from Our Triune God. Read the rest of this entry
Baptism of Our Lord Sunday
Our God Saves
1. By his mercy
2. By his means
3. By his grace
Text: Titus 3:4-7
What is your God like? Is your God like Buddha? If they try hard enough and renounce enough things of this world and live with enough kindness and love (and maybe after reincarnating a few times), Buddhists might possibly become one with their god and maybe reach nirvana—enlightenment.
Is your God like one of the Hindu gods? “Which one?” you ask? Good question. There are millions of Hindu gods. The ultimate high god is named Brahma and is much like Buddha in the sense that maybe if you are worthy enough (and lucky enough) you might become one with him or even become a god yourself.
Is your God like the god of Taoism in Japan? A force that pervades the universe like the movie Star Wars? Hopefully, if you are good enough, you can tap into the good side of the Yin and Yang and harness its power.
Is your God like Allah? Many Muslims portray Allah as a loving, kind God. Yet Allah demands obedience, and Allah abhors defiance. Americans know well how many Muslims take seriously Allah’s demands for jihad against infidels. If you are an extremist Wahabi Sunni Muslim you might need to sacrifice your life to gain eternity.
Is your God like the Jewish version of Yahweh? If you practice circumcision, if you eat kosher, if you obey the Sabbath, and if you follow the rest of the laws of Moses, then maybe you might find rest with God.
What is our God like? Our God is certainly almighty, all-powerful, perfect, and righteous. He tells us in the Bible, “I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One.” God’s people cry out in the Bible, “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.” In regards to holiness, might, power, and perfection our God is just like other alleged gods of the world. Read the rest of this entry
This is the sixth weekly reading in the plan for reading your Bible in one year. The assignment for this week is the book of Romans. It should only take about 10 minutes a day, or about 2-3 chapters a day to complete the assignment.
Here are some comments to help you grow in knowledge and faith as you read Romans.
Background: It is obvious that the apostle Paul wrote Romans because of the very first word and introduction of the letter. It seems from chapter 15 that he wrote this on his third missionary journey as he was about to return to Jerusalem, which would have been between 53-57 A.D. Other evidence may indicate more specifically that he wrote the letter around 57 A.D. from the city of Corinth at the end of that journey.
Paul wrote the letter to them because he was not able to visit them. The dominant theme and central concept of the letter is righteousness. Paul addresses how it has been lost by all people who are sinners, how it is received through faith in Jesus alone, and how it changes our lives to live for Christ. Thus, it could be said that the theme of Romans is Righteousness from God.
Romans 1: Paul begins this letter in typical fashion. It was a common opening for letters of this time, as it was also for Paul’s letters. There are three parts to the opening A) Identification of the author, B) Identification of the recipients, C) Greeting. Paul greets them appropriately in grace–God’s undeserved love–and in peace–God’s free gift through Jesus.
Paul then expresses his great desire to be with the Roman Christians. How he longed to share more with them about the gospel–the good news that Jesus Christ is Savior. That news of free and full forgiveness is a message that Paul was determined to share with all. He was not ashamed at all to share that great news with anyone and everyone. What a joy to know and to share that righteousness comes from God through faith and not through our works.
Paul continues in chapter one by showing the need for the gospel. All people in the world are sinners. All are and continue to act in a corrupt and sinful way. All deserve God’s wrath and punishment.
As a number of sins are mentioned here in this opening chapter, it should be noted that homosexuality is also mentioned. God is very clear in these words that homosexuality is indeed sinful and against his will. Gays and lesbians come up with all kinds of reasons to continue in their lifestyles: “I was born this way,” “It feels good,” “Times have changed,” “This is real love,” “God’s Word doesn’t apply any more,” and so on. Yet none of those reasons (or excuses) are valid. It is against God’s will. Even the “I was born this way” excuse is not valid. While that issue won’t be discussed here, even if a person were born that way, it doesn’t matter. All people are born sinful. Does that mean they should sin? If a person is born with a predisposition to hate (which we all are because we all are sinners), does that mean it is permissible to murder? It is not our opinions or thoughts or feelings that matter on such issues. God’s Word and his decrees are what matter. We must follow his commands and not our own desires. Read the rest of this entry