Jeremiah lived during a tumultuous time. He not only warned of the coming Babylonian exile but watched it unfold. His words were not all doom and gloom, however. Even as exile drew near, he had words of hope to offer too. He reminded the people that impending hardships would not last forever. His words can provide encouragement to us as well. In them we find a reminder, that God does not abandon his people, and that better days will come.
Today's message reflects on the powerful message of a small book, the book of Jonah. Far from a children's story Jonah offers one of the most challenging aspects of the Christian ethic. The idea that God loves even our enemies and that we are called to do the same. But what precisely does that mean?
We often question our ability to meet the demands of life or to make a lasting difference in the world. On our own, our doubts may indeed be well founded. However, when we are responding to a true call from God, God meets us and makes whatever it is we have to offer enough to advance his purposes. Is it enough? Who we are, what we have to offer? Perhaps that is the wrong question. Perhaps the right questions is this, "Is God enough? To be at work in me?" The answer is a resounding "yes."
Today's message considers briefly the promise of God to David. While it is David who offers to build a house for God, God opts instead to build a house for David. This house is not a place but a people of whom we are a part through Jesus Christ. In Christ and through Christ, the promise to David is fulfilled but that house is still expanding even today. Through God's work in and among the body of Christ, the church, more and more people are being enfolded into God's great house every day. To this work, we are called.
Today's message focuses on Hannah of 1 Samuel. We learn of her role in Old Testament history but we are also reminded of two important truths. This is that we ought to include God in every season of our lives, not just the bad and not just the good. We ought to include God in both of these, as well as everything in between. Secondly, we are reminded that our God is one who hears us, even when others cannot. God hears us even when can't find the words to speak.
We look today at an important episode in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan. The Israelites did not know what had become of Moses and in his absence they built an idol. This message explores what may have led them to make such a grievous mistake and suggests how we might increasingly avoid the same. Our best bet is simply this, to trust that we belong to God and that God is with us even when he is hard to discern. It is through faith in the promises of God that we are freed from fear, and only in the absence of fear, can we live the faithful lives to which we are called.
The Passover refers to that event, during which the ancient Israelites are spared God's judgement over all of Egypt. This was the straw that broke the camel's proverbial back and led to their liberation from bondage. Even so, what a great cost, the death of the firstborn. Today's message considers that cost. How are we, as people of faith, to respond. Our liberation from sin and death, it too was won at great cost. We rejoice but there ought to be in our celebrations a solemnity as well as we consider the suffering that made that liberation possible.
There are many places in the Old Testament where we can see hints of what is to come, of what God will do in Christ. The life of Joseph is a fine example. Similarities include betrayal for a few pieces of silver, being thrown into a pit/grave, but also the rise to a place of power. And from that place of power, both choose mercy over judgement.
God made some pretty incredible promises to Abraham. God makes incredible promises to us as well. Often it is hard to trust in promises. We have been let down so many times before. But God's promises are trustworthy, not because they are easy to wrap our minds around, but because it is the Lord, the God of Heaven and Earth, who makes them.