John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that who ever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life

Micah 6:6-8

With what shall I come before the Lord
    and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

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Let us pray:

Hide me behind your cross, Lord Jesus. Articulate the Father’s heart through my voice and let the Holy Spirit breathe new life to us, opening our ears to hear the message of God. Amen

 

As we have been doing every week in this series, I will remind you of what it looks like to say that the love of God is found in every page of Scripture. Follow along on your sheets and whenever I point at you say whatever is bolded on your page:

What does it mean to say God loves?

God loved us enough to create us, to form us from the dust.

God loved us enough to let us fail, to let us choose our own way over God’s – to let us chain ourselves to sin and defeat and heartbreak and sorrow and death.

God loved us enough to provide a rescue, a way back: through wanderers, murderers, adulterers, defaulters, promise-breakers, foreigners, strangers, and lovers.

God loved us enough to show us mothers, judges, kings, and prophets who loved and spoke for God and kept reminding us of the promise of redemption

God loved us enough to show us how evil and wrong continually mess things up and how obedience to God fosters holiness and bestows blessing

God loved us enough to send us Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, to preach and live peace, grace, hope, joy, and love.

God loved us enough to see Jesus rejected, to see him die, to see him buried.

God loved us enough to raise Jesus from the dead and send the Holy Spirit to remind us of all we have in him and empower us to live like Jesus.

God loves us enough to want us to live like Jesus – an abundant life infused with all the fruit of the Spirit, redeemed, free, loved.

God loves us enough to still let us choose our own destiny.

God loves us enough to promise the hope of forever, of resurrection from the dead, and final judgement.

God loved us enough, God loves us enough, God will always love us enough.

For God so loved the world…

God loves you.

God wants you to know it. God wants you to live in it.

God wants you to be able to love others because you know you are loved.

God’s love is expressed to us every week, most tangibly, as we gather at this table: The Son who died and yet lives, gave everything so we could know the depth of God’s love.

So, Come. Drink the wine. Eat the bread. Know you ARE loved.

God loves you. Go, love the world with him.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that who ever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life
Jonah 3:3-3:10
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Let us pray:
Hide me behind your cross, Lord Jesus. Articulate the Father’s heart through my voice and let the Holy Spirit breathe new life to us, opening our ears to hear the message of God. Amen
Some of you may remember the Paul Harvey radio broadcast piece called “The Rest of the Story”. If you don’t, Paul Harvey would tell stories about people and leave their identity unrevealed in its entirety until the end – telling the trivial information that made celebrities or historical figures seem much more human and less extraordinary. For example, the young man Al who was so terrible at household finance that his wife managed their budget with much chagrin and hand wringing, was the first treasury secretary of the United States, Alexander Hamilton.
Or the vicar of Epworth whose son was saved from a burning house just in the nick of time was Sam Wesley – the father of John Wesley, who was saved from the fire.
These rest of the stories give us a glimpse into the persons and in many ways for some of us, the story of Jonah is the kind of story that we need to know the rest of in order to make sense of it. Most of us have heard the story of the guy who was told to go to Ninevah and instead got on a boat. We know that the boat was hit by a big storm and we know that the sailors asked everyone what was happening or who was the cause of the storm, except Jonah, who was sound asleep! Eventually they woke him and he admitted that he was responsible for the storm because of his disobedience. He advised them to throw him overboard to stop the storm. They reluctantly did so, and the seas calmed, and all was well – except Jonah was swallowed by a big fish (you may have heard whale, but scripture never really says and we just tend to make generic terms specific over time)
Jonah was inside the big fish for 3 days.
He prayed a prayer of repentance and remorse and the fist vomited him out.
Then Jonah does what he was told and goes to Ninevah.
There, usually, ends the children’s version of the story of Jonah – because we focus on the disobedience and repentance. Those are the easy parts of the story to focus on, because they are obvious. And definitely, we should remember that, as one commentary I read this week said, “Everyone is either headed to Tarshish (the disobedient way) or Ninevah (the obedient way) because God has called everyone to follow and proclaim the gospel”
But the rest of the story of Jonah is pretty interesting too, and one of the key things that we can take away from it is that God’s love is for everyone and God’s mercy is always available. The verses we read from chapter 3 make it apparent that God sent Jonah at just the right time, with just the right words to the people of Ninevah.
Jonah turns out to be the most effective and efficient preacher ever.
He walks one day into a city that takes three days to walk through and preaches the shortest message ever “Forty more days and Ninevah will be overturned” and everyone responds with repentance – from the king to the peasant. And God relented.
Jonah should have been thrilled. God used him, God redeemed those around him, and God worked in the lives of an entire city.
But Jonah was not excited. Jonah was not happy. Jonah was TICKED!
Jonah had some reasons for not going to Ninevah in the first place. He came from a country that feared the Assyrians as a constant threat to them (Ninevah was the capital of Assyria) so having God wipe them out would have worked out just fine in Jonah’s opinion. So when he refused to go, he was trying to save his home. And when he went and the city repented, he was annoyed, because he expected God to exact retribution on them, not grant them mercy.
To Jonah’s mind, allowing Ninevah the chance to repent was probably something like allowing Sadaam Hussein to repent or Osama Bin Laden to receive mercy. Ninevah was pretty good at being horrific to those they defeated – they would wear body parts of the leaders of countries they had overthrown and spike heads of conquered kings to their city gates. They were cruel and mean and God spared them because they repented in the face of Jonah’s prophesy.
And Jonah was angry.
God still looked on these cruel and harsh people and loved them.
And Jonah could not understand that kind of love. Jonah could not understand why God would want to give them even the chance at repentance, let alone actually stay the execution.
So Jonah storms off and pouts. And we learn once again that God has a great love for even the most heinous among us. Even the most hateful are given opportunity to gain mercy. Jonah’s book and Jonah’s proclamation about who God is are one and the same – we read it in Jonah 4:2:
He prayed to the LORD, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.
The entire book of Jonah is about a God who loves and is gracious and compassionate. This God cares deeply about those who are not even in covenant relationship with him, those who have so many marks leveled against them. The people of Ninevah have no expectations of mercy, they have certainly never given it. But God offers it and they accept it.
And Jonah is angry because he doesn’t like that God is willing to love even these.
But we are fortunate that God is a God of slow anger and long compassion. Because we too, even as Jonah did, have received the benefit of God’s grace. We too, have sinned and turned and been granted a reprieve from the devastation of a sinful heart. We have heard Jesus cry “repent” and have turned away from what we once were to become what God has called us to. We have received mercy we didn’t deserve in times when we have been reluctant to give it. We have scoffed at God’s mercy to others – and wished for a different outcome.
And still, God calls us to love. God calls us to live in right relationship with God and with each other. God asks us to let go of the things that have held us back from loving one another and others around us.
We can find ourselves in this story as Jonah – unwilling to recognize the depth of God’s mercy and its extension to those who seem most unworthy.
Or we can find ourselves in this story as the Ninevahites – recognizing the very depths of our own mistakes and sins and longing for the better news, the good news, of redemption.
Either way – here’s the rest of the story – God is slow to anger, gracious and compassionate, abounding in love. And in every instance, you can find that God waiting with open arms for you.

As we have been doing every week in this series, I will remind you of what it looks like to say that the love of God is found in every page of Scripture. Follow along on your sheets and whenever I point at you say whatever is bolded on your page:
What does it mean to say God loves?
God loved us enough to create us, to form us from the dust.
God loved us enough to let us fail, to let us choose our own way over God’s – to let us chain ourselves to sin and defeat and heartbreak and sorrow and death.
God loved us enough to provide a rescue, a way back: through wanderers, murderers, adulterers, defaulters, promise-breakers, foreigners, strangers, and lovers.
God loved us enough to show us mothers, judges, kings, and prophets who loved and spoke for God and kept reminding us of the promise of redemption
God loved us enough to show us how evil and wrong continually mess things up and how obedience to God fosters holiness and bestows blessing
God loved us enough to send us Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, to preach and live peace, grace, hope, joy, and love.
God loved us enough to see Jesus rejected, to see him die, to see him buried.
God loved us enough to raise Jesus from the dead and send the Holy Spirit to remind us of all we have in him and empower us to live like Jesus.
God loves us enough to want us to live like Jesus – an abundant life infused with all the fruit of the Spirit, redeemed, free, loved.
God loves us enough to still let us choose our own destiny.
God loves us enough to promise the hope of forever, of resurrection from the dead, and final judgement.
God loved us enough, God loves us enough, God will always love us enough.
For God so loved the world…
God loves you.
God wants you to know it. God wants you to live in it.
God wants you to be able to love others because you know you are loved.
God’s love is expressed to us every week, most tangibly, as we gather at this table: The Son who died and yet lives, gave everything so we could know the depth of God’s love.
So, Come. Drink the wine. Eat the bread. Know you ARE loved.
God loves you. Go, love the world with him.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that who ever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life
Obadiah
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Let us pray:
Hide me behind your cross, Lord Jesus. Articulate the Father’s heart through my voice and let the Holy Spirit breathe new life to us, opening our ears to hear the message of God. Amen
It felt like she had been pregnant forever. The constant movement of the babies in her womb felt like her own body was at war within her. God had even told her that they were two nations!
But the pains finally had come and her water broke and now the midwife was on her way. The children were coming. Perhaps the war was nearly at an end…
It was not. The boys, Esau and Jacob were born to Rebekah that day, but only with more fighting – Esau was born first, but Jacob was holding his brother’s heel. The brothers were very different – Esau was hairy and a hunter. He was an outdoorsman. Jacob was a homebody. Esau was Isaac’s favorite and Jacob was Rebekah’s.
Esau gave up his birthright to Jacob for a pot of stew.
Jacob tricked his father into giving him Esau’s blessing.
Esau became Edom.
Jacob became Israel.
These nations (as they eventually grew to be) were not generally at war, they were neighboring countries, but neither was large enough to protect or attack the other – so they were mostly indifferent. The Edomites were well But when the Babylonians came and defeated the Israelites, and sacked Jerusalem – the Edomites gloated and boasted and rejoiced over their demise. We don’t know the exact date and time that Obadiah wrote this oracle, but it is essentially God’s denouncement of Edom’s actions, God’s pronouncement of judgement on the nation, and the promise from God (as always) of redemption and salvation for all nations.
That is the whole story of Obadiah’s oracle – Esau’s descendants not only don’t help Jacob’s descendants – they essentially dance on the grave of Israel. Eventually running in and looting whatever bits and pieces the Babylonians had left behind and God holds them accountable for this and tells them that they will pay.
Obadiah is not usually a book that preachers spend a bunch of time on. As we talk about minor prophets (which is a classification that is based on the length of the book, not what the prophets have to say) Obadiah would be the minorest. It’s a little tough to take an application from a book that is so specifically directed at a specific nation for a specific set of circumstances and that doesn’t really have a lot of other ideas in it.
But there are two things that we can look at in Obadiah: God is not a fan of those who are prideful and actions have consequences.
God’s love still extends to those who mess up – if you were to look back through the story of Jacob/Israel and Esau/Edom you would think that the wrong guy was the recipient of the blessing – he was a cheater and a trickster. And he did experience the consequences of his actions.
But God’s plan always includes the idea of redemption: when we repent, we are offered a way out. We’ll talk about this more next week as we move on to Jonah, but one of the key takeaways for us from this Obadiah text is that even though our actions have consequences – and by the way, salvation doesn’t necessarily remove them – God is always waiting for us to return to him and move away from what we used to be to what God has called us to be.
This week, we will begin a season of fasting and reflection called Lent. It covers the 45 days prior to Easter and throughout, it is an opportunity for us to explore the places where we need to repent. Many people fast during lent – finding ways to realign their hearts and spirits with the work that God is doing in their lives. Remember that God has called us away from a life of rebellion to a life of renewal and transformation: Be transformed by the renewing of your minds, Paul writes in Romans. We need this season every year to help us identify new places God is at work in ourselves.
The kick off for this season of reflection is Ash Wednesday. We will celebrate it this year, as I announced earlier. I encourage you to come. As we prepare our hearts for Lent, we have a devotional on the back table that each family is encouraged to take and use for this period. I would also ask everyone to get a post-it note and a pen from the back.
In one of our songs today, Come Thou Fount, there is a line that says “Here I raise my Ebenezer” it is a symbol that Samuel used to remind the people of the work of God in their lives. In our lives sometimes we need symbolism to remind us of the work of God in our lives, too – and today we will do that by writing on our post-it note the one area we need to pray about and ask God to be at work in our lives – this could be a sin that you need to repent of, a life issue that is a burden, or anything at all. I’m going to ask everyone to pray about it for a moment and then write it down.
Once you have it written, we have this red jar here on the altar. Please come forward and put your note in it. Once everyone has put their notes in (don’t worry we won’t be reading them!) I am going to take them outside and burn them. The ashes will be used with some olive oil and spices on Ash Wednesday here for further symbolism – to remind us of our need for repentance and redemption and our hope that has created in us the beauty of lifelong transformation as Christ works in us and through us.
As we work through this, we will also speak together our weekly confirmation of God’s love for us…
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As we have been doing every week in this series, I will remind you of what it looks like to say that the love of God is found in every page of Scripture. Follow along on your sheets and whenever I point at you say whatever is bolded on your page:
What does it mean to say God loves?
God loved us enough to create us, to form us from the dust.
God loved us enough to let us fail, to let us choose our own way over God’s – to let us chain ourselves to sin and defeat and heartbreak and sorrow and death.
God loved us enough to provide a rescue, a way back: through wanderers, murderers, adulterers, defaulters, promise-breakers, foreigners, strangers, and lovers.
God loved us enough to show us mothers, judges, kings, and prophets who loved and spoke for God and kept reminding us of the promise of redemption
God loved us enough to show us how evil and wrong continually mess things up and how obedience to God fosters holiness and bestows blessing
God loved us enough to send us Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, to preach and live peace, grace, hope, joy, and love.
God loved us enough to see Jesus rejected, to see him die, to see him buried.
God loved us enough to raise Jesus from the dead and send the Holy Spirit to remind us of all we have in him and empower us to live like Jesus.
God loves us enough to want us to live like Jesus – an abundant life infused with all the fruit of the Spirit, redeemed, free, loved.
God loves us enough to still let us choose our own destiny.
God loves us enough to promise the hope of forever, of resurrection from the dead, and final judgement.
God loved us enough, God loves us enough, God will always love us enough.
For God so loved the world…
God loves you.
God wants you to know it. God wants you to live in it.
God wants you to be able to love others because you know you are loved.
God’s love is expressed to us every week, most tangibly, as we gather at this table: The Son who died and yet lives, gave everything so we could know the depth of God’s love.
So, Come. Drink the wine. Eat the bread. Know you ARE loved.
God loves you. Go, love the world with him.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that who ever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life

Amos 5:7-15, 21-24

There are those who turn justice into bitterness
    and cast righteousness to the ground.

He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
    who turns midnight into dawn
    and darkens day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
    and pours them out over the face of the land—
    the Lord is his name.
With a blinding flash he destroys the stronghold
    and brings the fortified city to ruin.

10 There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court and detest the one who tells the truth. 11 You levy a straw tax on the poor and impose a tax on their grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine. 12 For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts. 13 Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil. 14 Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. 15 Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph. 21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. 22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. 23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. 24 But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!

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Let us pray:

Hide me behind your cross, Lord Jesus. Articulate the Father’s heart through my voice and let the Holy Spirit breathe new life to us, opening our ears to hear the message of God. Amen

A nation established, firmly and completely, by God. A nation with actual divine rights whose words and wisdoms were gifts from God specifically for them…a nation that watched dishonest people gain, that watched the oppressed become more oppressed. A nation that waited in their self-righteous white washed castles and denounced the devastation while doing nothing about it – a nation that knew God was going to come and punish the bad ones and give the good ones blessing and they couldn’t WAIT because they were sure it would be them blessed and everyone they didn’t like, didn’t accept – they would see.

God has nothing but harsh words for this attitude. These are people who refused to see that God did not love them exclusively and did not love them to the point of desiring evil to their neighbors or others. Instead, these are people who are in for a rude awakening as to just how much they have missed the point about who God is and what God expects. Amos writes it out pretty clearly – God is not interested in your religious festivals and whatnot. GOD is interested in your sincere efforts to bring justice now, to promote righteousness now, to hate evil, love good, and maintain justice.

Let justice roll on like a river and righteousness like a never-failing stream – these are the beautiful sounds in God’s kingdom.

God has asked us to stop being self-righteous, sure of our positions and our rightness. God tells the Israelites here and all of us today – are you sure you are in a Godly nation? Are you SURE? Because what I see is the continued evil of those who hate justice. Because what I see is the oppression of the poor who can’t eat because you tax them. You say you are righteous but you take every opportunity to get yours from those who have less.

God does not approve of this behavior.

God does not like it when babies are separated from their mamas at the border.

God does not like it when families are ripped apart because we’re afraid.

God does not like it when people are treated poorly because of the color of their skin, the country they come from, or the language they speak. God expects and demands that our love for God become love for those around us who look different, who didn’t come here the way we insist they come here, who don’t have the privilege we do.

You might say “Pastor, I don’t have any privilege. I’m poor myself” and you are right you don’t have the same privilege as someone who is wealthy, but you do have privilege – even if you can’t see it. If you were born with a different color skin, sometimes you get mistaken for a thief even if you aren’t one, just because you walk into a store. If you don’t worry about being arrested or accused of some crime every time you leave your house – you do have privilege – the privilege of not having to worry about something you can’t control changing how other people react to you.  I understand this isn’t always a popular opinion, and I get that we may not agree, but the reality is that when one group of people is treated differently for the color of their skin or their language or where they come from or even their religion, it doesn’t matter what we think about it – it matters how we behave. It matters how we speak and act on someone else’s behalf simply because we see them being mistreated or treated differently.

The bottom line is this: if we don’t stand up for those who are being oppressed, we are no different than these children of Israel all those years ago, who let justice slide because they were convinced that they had the right of it with God’s blessing.

Because at the end of the day, God had called the children of Israel to live differently so they could show others God’s love. And they missed the mark over and over. In this case, they were so certain they were righteous, they were actually making it seem that God’s love was not a positive to be sought after, but a detriment to kindness and grace.

And when Jesus came and showed us all how to live lives of kindness and grace and generosity and mercy, we still divided the world into categories of us vs. them and spent a lot of time congratulating ourselves on being the usses who were on the good side and not the thems who were on the bad side. And meanwhile Jesus keeps saying “hey, love them. Love them. Love everyone.” Because God loves. Because Jesus loves.

Listen to Jesus again, as we read in Luke today, as he tells us how to love:

Luke 6:27-38 New International Version (NIV)

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

I heard an old Brad Paisley song yesterday called bigger fish to fry. In it he talks about us vs. them, too (there is other bad theology in the lyrics, but today I read them just to point out this ONE theological error):

I said a bad word when I was a kid
Mama said that I'd be sorry for the sin that I did
My daddy whooped me and the preacher said shame
And I tried like hell to change

I cuss, I smoke
I laugh at dirty jokes
Minor vices man I know 'em well
I've closed down bars
And I've lusted in my heart
My exes think I oughta burn in hell
But the devil, he won't notice when I die
Don't you figure
He's got bigger fish to fry
Oh yeah

Politicians taking corporate bribes
Crooked CEOs are getting off with no time
Christmas eve burglars stealin' good children's toys
(Can't say Christmas)
Holiday burglars stealin' good children's toys

I cuss, I smoke
I laugh at dirty jokes
The minor vices, man I know I'm well
I've closed down bars
I've lusted in my heart
My exes…

I’m not as bad as the REALLY bad people, so obviously they are the ones who need to be worried.

But the reality is that God has said we are all sinners. We all need the grace and mercy of Jesus. We all need the redemption and freedom offered. And we all need to stop thinking the other guy is worse and recognize that our own mistakes and errors and sins are compounded by the fact that we know better and ought to be more easily convinced to love first, because we have been loved. It is our repeated mantra – God loved us enough, so we can love others. It is the simplest way to frame the gospel and it is GOOD news – we don’t have to wallow in an us vs them mindset and keep trying to build bigger walls to keep everyone else out. Instead we can welcome everyone to the table, loving them no matter what they’ve done or how much we’re different, because the very same God who loved us enough loves THEM enough too.

 

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As we have been doing every week in this series, I will remind you of what it looks like to say that the love of God is found in every page of Scripture. Follow along on your sheets and whenever I point at you say whatever is bolded on your page:

What does it mean to say God loves?

God loved us enough to create us, to form us from the dust.

God loved us enough to let us fail, to let us choose our own way over God’s – to let us chain ourselves to sin and defeat and heartbreak and sorrow and death.

God loved us enough to provide a rescue, a way back: through wanderers, murderers, adulterers, defaulters, promise-breakers, foreigners, strangers, and lovers.

God loved us enough to show us mothers, judges, kings, and prophets who loved and spoke for God and kept reminding us of the promise of redemption

God loved us enough to show us how evil and wrong continually mess things up and how obedience to God fosters holiness and bestows blessing

God loved us enough to send us Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, to preach and live peace, grace, hope, joy, and love.

God loved us enough to see Jesus rejected, to see him die, to see him buried.

God loved us enough to raise Jesus from the dead and send the Holy Spirit to remind us of all we have in him and empower us to live like Jesus.

God loves us enough to want us to live like Jesus – an abundant life infused with all the fruit of the Spirit, redeemed, free, loved.

God loves us enough to still let us choose our own destiny.

God loves us enough to promise the hope of forever, of resurrection from the dead, and final judgement.

God loved us enough, God loves us enough, God will always love us enough.

For God so loved the world…

God loves you.

God wants you to know it. God wants you to live in it.

God wants you to be able to love others because you know you are loved.

God’s love is expressed to us every week, most tangibly, as we gather at this table: The Son who died and yet lives, gave everything so we could know the depth of God’s love.

So, Come. Drink the wine. Eat the bread. Know you ARE loved.

God loves you. Go, love the world with him.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that who ever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life

Joel 2:12-2:32

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Let us pray:

Hide me behind your cross, Lord Jesus. Articulate the Father’s heart through my voice and let the Holy Spirit breathe new life to us, opening our ears to hear the message of God. Amen

These next 11 weeks, we will be walking through the last of the Old Testament on our way to the arrival of Jesus. As we do, we are exploring what are called the “minor prophets”. These are minor, not because what they have to say is not as important, or because they are somehow less than other prophets, but because they do not have as many prophecies to share. Their books give us insight still into who God is, and how much he loves.

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As we have been doing every week in this series, I will remind you of what it looks like to say that the love of God is found in every page of Scripture. Follow along on your sheets and whenever I point at you say whatever is bolded on your page:

What does it mean to say God loves?

God loved us enough to create us, to form us from the dust.

God loved us enough to let us fail, to let us choose our own way over God’s – to let us chain ourselves to sin and defeat and heartbreak and sorrow and death.

God loved us enough to provide a rescue, a way back: through wanderers, murderers, adulterers, defaulters, promise-breakers, foreigners, strangers, and lovers.

God loved us enough to show us mothers, judges, kings, and prophets who loved and spoke for God and kept reminding us of the promise of redemption

God loved us enough to show us how evil and wrong continually mess things up and how obedience to God fosters holiness and bestows blessing

God loved us enough to send us Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, to preach and live peace, grace, hope, joy, and love.

God loved us enough to see Jesus rejected, to see him die, to see him buried.

God loved us enough to raise Jesus from the dead and send the Holy Spirit to remind us of all we have in him and empower us to live like Jesus.

God loves us enough to want us to live like Jesus – an abundant life infused with all the fruit of the Spirit, redeemed, free, loved.

God loves us enough to still let us choose our own destiny.

God loves us enough to promise the hope of forever, of resurrection from the dead, and final judgement.

God loved us enough, God loves us enough, God will always love us enough.

For God so loved the world…

God loves you.

God wants you to know it. God wants you to live in it.

God wants you to be able to love others because you know you are loved.

God’s love is expressed to us every week, most tangibly, as we gather at this table: The Son who died and yet lives, gave everything so we could know the depth of God’s love.

So, Come. Drink the wine. Eat the bread. Know you ARE loved.

God loves you. Go, love the world with him.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that who ever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life

Hosea 1:2-2:1

--

Let us pray:

Hide me behind your cross, Lord Jesus. Articulate the Father’s heart through my voice and let the Holy Spirit breathe new life to us, opening our ears to hear the message of God. Amen

She only knew how to do one thing to earn money. It is the world’s oldest profession. The one that involves the desire for another that can parade as love, but is really lust. She knew nothing else and was able to tell herself that it was empowering.

He came and took her from that. He loved her, despite what she had once done.

She went back to it.

He came and got her.

She went back to it.

He came and got her.

And in the end, she realized that his love was not about what she did, but about who she was to him.

And she stopped running.

It sounds like a nice Hollywood story. But it is more aligned with this story of prophetic action, moments in Scripture when God asks a prophet to speak truth to power in the midst of doing something unexpected.

Hosea is asked to marry a woman who is, in the words of the Bible, ‘promiscuous’.

It is meant to be a picture of who we are before we accept the love God has for us and turn our backs on the sin that chains us to our own desires.

We live for ourselves.

And then God says, “I love you. You are my beloved. Come away from those chains. Leave that hurt. Surrender that pain. Give it to me.”

We think we leave it.

And then we go back to it, because we cannot believe that the God who made us can love us enough to actually forgive our past. We cling to our shame and our guilt as though they were badges of honor, ready to clip our arms back in the shackles that hold us captive to distress and despair.

We live for ourselves, staying in the mud that God would have us leave.

And then God says, “I love you. You are my beloved.”

This is what the Israelites did over and over

This is what every person in the world does, over and over.

Many times we convince ourselves that we are better off in the mud, that what we do when we live for ourselves makes us free. Keeps us uninhibited. Turns us loose from some wrath being who would strike us dead with the slightest misstep.

And God says “I AM. I love. I love you. You are my beloved. I came for you. I run after you. I will not stop.”

And we think we don’t we deserve the kind of abundant life God wants to offer. We think that following Jesus ties us to rules and don’ts that hold us captive. We think we are missing something others have when we surrender to God.

And then God says “You don’t deserve it, but I offer it anyway. It’s called grace. It’s called love. It is what I have for you – boundless love. You are my beloved.”

And when the day comes, when we finally relinquish our chains and follow Jesus, we find that the freedom we thought we had was simply slavery to desires we had no control over. And the wrath-filled being who would end us doesn’t exist, is in fact an imaginary being made from the expectations of who God is, but it is NOT in fact, who God is. We find freedom in the ability to forgive our enemies, to love our neighbors, to pray for those who persecute us. To be kind and gentle and peaceable and patient. There is freedom in knowing that nothing is bigger than the God who loves.

Over and over God says “I am love. I love you. You are my beloved” And when we finally believe it, when we finally embrace it, we find that the truth of what that love looks like, not only from God’s side but from our experiences and opportunities to give it away is even bigger and more magnificent that we could have expected.

We can read Hosea and the stories of the children of Israel and all the wanderings and unfaithfulness and shake our heads and cluck our tongues, but the truth is we are all just as prone to wander, just as likely to be unfaithful – it is only in our obedience, in our following that we can see our own foolish similarity to those who wandered so far. When we do, when we recognize our own limitations, when we let go of our need to be in control and our need to do our own thing, to rule ourselves then we stop running. We stop going back to the faithlessness. Instead, we cling to the One who gave himself for us, and finally we can hear God speak, can hear God say “welcome home, you are my beloved”

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As we have been doing every week in this series, I will remind you of what it looks like to say that the love of God is found in every page of Scripture. Follow along on your sheets and whenever I point at you say whatever is bolded on your page:

What does it mean to say God loves?

God loved us enough to create us, to form us from the dust.

God loved us enough to let us fail, to let us choose our own way over God’s – to let us chain ourselves to sin and defeat and heartbreak and sorrow and death.

God loved us enough to provide a rescue, a way back: through wanderers, murderers, adulterers, defaulters, promise-breakers, foreigners, strangers, and lovers.

God loved us enough to show us mothers, judges, kings, and prophets who loved and spoke for God and kept reminding us of the promise of redemption

God loved us enough to show us how evil and wrong continually mess things up and how obedience to God fosters holiness and bestows blessing

God loved us enough to send us Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, to preach and live peace, grace, hope, joy, and love.

God loved us enough to see Jesus rejected, to see him die, to see him buried.

God loved us enough to raise Jesus from the dead and send the Holy Spirit to remind us of all we have in him and empower us to live like Jesus.

God loves us enough to want us to live like Jesus – an abundant life infused with all the fruit of the Spirit, redeemed, free, loved.

God loves us enough to still let us choose our own destiny.

God loves us enough to promise the hope of forever, of resurrection from the dead, and final judgement.

God loved us enough, God loves us enough, God will always love us enough.

For God so loved the world…

God loves you.

God wants you to know it. God wants you to live in it.

God wants you to be able to love others because you know you are loved.

God’s love is expressed to us every week, most tangibly, as we gather at this table: The Son who died and yet lives, gave everything so we could know the depth of God’s love.

So, Come. Drink the wine. Eat the bread. Know you ARE loved.

God loves you. Go, love the world with him.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that who ever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life

Daniel 3:17-18

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Let us pray:

Hide me behind your cross, Lord Jesus. Articulate the Father’s heart through my voice and let the Holy Spirit breathe new life to us, opening our ears to hear the message of God. Amen

Babylon.

It is not what they wanted. It was not where they thought they were going to be. But they knew God had promised to be faithful.

Daniel 1

Refusing to eat the food.

Daniel 3

Believing God hates idols.

Daniel 6

Praying anyway.

How does this apply to us:

We might feel like we live in a place that is against us. Looking at things like laws that increase abortion or that hurts children by keeping them from their parents or any number of things that are anti-God, anti-compassion, anti-Christian. They don’t have to be laws, sometimes it is just the attitudes of people around us, or the sense that there is a lot of animosity generally toward us as believers in the One who rescues. After all, this world is NOT our final destination. We do live here now, and we do have the opportunity to help see it become more like the Kingdom we belong to, because following Jesus makes the Kingdom come to life where ever we are.

But we can look at Daniel and his friends and notice some things about how they respond in the face of adversity:

  1. They are respectful. They don’t storm off or stomp their feet. They listen to what the Babylonians want and they simply say no. They say no to eating defiled foods, they say no to bowing to an idol, they say no to ending prayer and ultimately, they are respected for it.

 

  1. They are not offended – they are simply true to what they believe. They don’t denounce the other, they don’t create an us vs. them scenario, they don’t condemn anyone else – they simply stand firm for what they believe and do otherwise. They don’t call for an end to all food offered to idols for everyone, they don’t embarrass any other Israelites in exile who did bow to the Nebuchadnezzar statue, they don’t call out the ones who told them couldn’t pray – they just stick to what they believe and firmly refuse to do anything else. I was reminded just last night how important this is. Sometimes when we get outraged, it looks like we hate those who are against us. That may not be what we intend, but if we look closely at what these exiles living in a strange land did, we can remember the less angry way to stand firm and know that our outrage, our anger, our insistence that everyone believes the way we do only hurts our witness.

We don’t have to prove we’re right to be right.

  1. They trust God for the outcome. They know that things could go wrong in each of these instances: but they trust that God has got their backs and will be faithful no matter what they face

We can learn a lot from how they handle themselves. We can stop being disrespectful to those who oppose us. We can stop being offended or outraged about other people’s behavior – just stay in your lane and do what you are accountable for: Stand firm, but don’t whup and holler about, just do it.

And we can trust God for the outcome. Sometimes we might have to say with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

It’s not likely we will face a literal furnace. But we might have to walk through job loss, financial devastation, family derision, all kinds of things. And even if God doesn’t rescue us from those things specifically, we can absolutely trust that EVEN IF he does not, you can trust him to be faithful, to be who God is, and to walk through it with you, no matter what your battle looks like.

In Babylon, our best witness is us being true to God and letting God be faithful, no matter the opposition. We may live here, but we don’t have to serve the god of this place; we 100% know better.

---

As we have been doing every week in this series, I will remind you of what it looks like to say that the love of God is found in every page of Scripture. Follow along on your sheets and whenever I point at you say whatever is bolded on your page:

What does it mean to say God loves?

God loved us enough to create us, to form us from the dust.

God loved us enough to let us fail, to let us choose our own way over God’s – to let us chain ourselves to sin and defeat and heartbreak and sorrow and death.

God loved us enough to provide a rescue, a way back: through wanderers, murderers, adulterers, defaulters, promise-breakers, foreigners, strangers, and lovers.

God loved us enough to show us mothers, judges, kings, and prophets who loved and spoke for God and kept reminding us of the promise of redemption

God loved us enough to show us how evil and wrong continually mess things up and how obedience to God fosters holiness and bestows blessing

God loved us enough to send us Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, to preach and live peace, grace, hope, joy, and love.

God loved us enough to see Jesus rejected, to see him die, to see him buried.

God loved us enough to raise Jesus from the dead and send the Holy Spirit to remind us of all we have in him and empower us to live like Jesus.

God loves us enough to want us to live like Jesus – an abundant life infused with all the fruit of the Spirit, redeemed, free, loved.

God loves us enough to still let us choose our own destiny.

God loves us enough to promise the hope of forever, of resurrection from the dead, and final judgement.

God loved us enough, God loves us enough, God will always love us enough.

For God so loved the world…

God loves you.

God wants you to know it. God wants you to live in it.

God wants you to be able to love others because you know you are loved.

God’s love is expressed to us every week, most tangibly, as we gather at this table: The Son who died and yet lives, gave everything so we could know the depth of God’s love.

So, Come. Drink the wine. Eat the bread. Know you ARE loved.

God loves you. Go, love the world with him.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that who ever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life

Ezekiel 37:1-14

 

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Let us pray:

Hide me behind your cross, Lord Jesus. Articulate the Father’s heart through my voice and let the Holy Spirit breathe new life to us, opening our ears to hear the message of God. Amen

Rhetorical questions. Geico does a pretty good job of using them in their commercials. Here is a small sample

<<play video>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dtp_mq2fO24>>

Geico has made the rhetorical question a significant part of it’s advertising campaign because they have a tendency to make us think and get to a place where we can understand much better.

Today in our scripture, God asks Ezekiel a rhetorical question.

Ezekiel is a prophet whose visions and tasks have sometimes been a little, well, odd. He has eaten an actual scroll, laid on one side of his body for 300 days and the other side for 20 days, he has built a town in the middle of the group of people he is traveling with, and he has cut his hair in a weird way. He does all of these things to bring to life the information God has for his people -  they may be in exile but God has not forgotten them and he will redeem them.

God takes Ezekiel to a valley in a vision. He gets there and the valley is covered in bones, old, long dead, dry bones. I think the dry bones is mentioned multiple times for two reasons – to make sure we know that these bones aren’t just a little dead, they are all the way there, and maybe just a little so we can hear the rattle…<<rattle plate of shells>>

This isn’t exactly the same, but it certainly comes close. The rattling as Ezekiel walked back and forth while dry bones clicked and moved and were definitely not alive.

Can these bones live? God asks.

Think about that for a moment. The answer should 100% be no, because dead things do not come back to life – especially old bones that have been dead for a long time.

But it’s GOD asking.

So, maybe?

Ezekiel knows God well enough to know that the best answer is really no answer at all – he puts it right back in God’s court – Only you know, God.

And God says – you’re right. In fact – I am going to use you to bring them back to life – Tell them they can live.

I’m going to pause here and say what now?

These bones that Ezekiel is walking through, they are dead. Dead like these shells – there’s no life in them, there’s no way that Ezekiel can just speak to them and they will come to life – but that’s exactly what is happening.

At Ezekiel’s command, at God’s direction, the bones begin to grow tendons and blood vessels and muscles and then, finally skin. They become, no longer dry bones, but instead people. Of a sort.

Just as in Genesis 2:7, God sends breath and then the people are actually alive again.

This is a prophecy and message for Ezekiel to give the people of Israel who are now in exile: even as you cry out that your hope is gone, God has promised to put his Spirit in you and you will live.

This past week, in preparing this message, it seemed so relevant to where we are as a church family and to the community we serve. So many times people have said “we have no hope” or our town is hopeless.

But oh, they are wrong.

God says to us “Can these bones live?” and it’s a rhetorical question for us because we know that God has ALREADY made our bones live. We know that the crushing weight of hopelessness we felt before we began following Jesus is no longer the truth of who we are – instead we DO have hope. A hope for a living fruitful, abundant lives as followers of Jesus, a hope for our futures, a hope for LIFE.

Can these bones live? is answered over and over in the life of a Christian with a loud Yes and then it should be, it must be followed up with shouts to those around us – Come, Live! You do not have to be hopeless – the God who made you, loves you, and wants you to LIVE. He will pick you up and then he will fill you with his spirit and then you WILL LIVE. Can these bones live?

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes – in Momence we are the ones crying out “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord” We are the ones speaking the truth God wants known and believed and carried throughout the world – you can know Jesus, you can follow him, you can be filled with the spirit of the living God and when that happens – when that becomes true for you – everything else changes! You are no longer hopeless, you are full of hope. You are no longer living as though you were dried up, dead bones, rattling only when someone else moved you – instead you become alive in a way you never thought possible – you become alive enough to know peace and joy and love in ways you never thought possible. You have hope. You can live.

Can these bones live? Is the rhetorical question of a loving, living God who longs to see everyone live in relationship with him. It is because of the yes to this question that each of us can say together the statements that follow this message – God loved us enough to ask “Can these bones live?” and we know the answer is yes.

---

As we have been doing every week in this series, I will remind you of what it looks like to say that the love of God is found in every page of Scripture. Follow along on your sheets and whenever I point at you say whatever is bolded on your page:

What does it mean to say God loves?

God loved us enough to create us, to form us from the dust.

God loved us enough to let us fail, to let us choose our own way over God’s – to let us chain ourselves to sin and defeat and heartbreak and sorrow and death.

God loved us enough to provide a rescue, a way back: through wanderers, murderers, adulterers, defaulters, promise-breakers, foreigners, strangers, and lovers.

God loved us enough to show us mothers, judges, kings, and prophets who loved and spoke for God and kept reminding us of the promise of redemption

God loved us enough to show us how evil and wrong continually mess things up and how obedience to God fosters holiness and bestows blessing

God loved us enough to send us Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, to preach and live peace, grace, hope, joy, and love.

God loved us enough to see Jesus rejected, to see him die, to see him buried.

God loved us enough to raise Jesus from the dead and send the Holy Spirit to remind us of all we have in him and empower us to live like Jesus.

God loves us enough to want us to live like Jesus – an abundant life infused with all the fruit of the Spirit, redeemed, free, loved.

God loves us enough to still let us choose our own destiny.

God loves us enough to promise the hope of forever, of resurrection from the dead, and final judgement.

God loved us enough, God loves us enough, God will always love us enough.

For God so loved the world…

God loves you.

God wants you to know it. God wants you to live in it.

God wants you to be able to love others because you know you are loved.

God’s love is expressed to us every week, most tangibly, as we gather at this table: The Son who died and yet lives, gave everything so we could know the depth of God’s love.

So, Come. Drink the wine. Eat the bread. Know you ARE loved.

God loves you. Go, love the world with him.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that who ever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life

Lamentations 3:17-25

 

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Let us pray:

Hide me behind your cross, Lord Jesus. Articulate the Father’s heart through my voice and let the Holy Spirit breathe new life to us, opening our ears to hear the message of God. Amen

It was about 6:30am on April 18, 2013. The phone rang and the voicemail picked up and the message said “Lisle Schools are closed because of flooding”. Immediately aware that something very new was happening, I raced to the front porch and there, confirming all I was most terrified of, was 3 feet of water in the front yard.

We lived in a flood plain, it wasn’t unprecedented for us to flood, but it had never before looked like this: water continued to rise. Tom was recovering from a surgery that left him unable to walk and I knew it was going to get really bad for us pretty quickly.

I had my daughter move our van up as close to the garage as possible: that was the highest ground and least likely, from past experience, to flood. I called the fire department next. They arrived not too long after and had as little preparation as any of us for what was going to transpire that day.

There was no evacuation plan, they said. I told them that this was definitely the worst I had ever seen it and we were all leaving. But of course, that my husband would need some other method of leaving than walking. I gathered bits and pieces of things from around the house, threw them in a suitcase and a laundry basket and along with my dog, my daughter, and a firefighter, I left my house for the last time as a resident.

The water was now waist deep and it was extremely cold. We walked about ½ a block to dry ground, and neighbors whose home had not flooded at all took us in to dry off and warm up. But I was anxious about Tom, and so I did not stay in the house. I also had managed to leave my cell phone in my pants pocket when I left the house, so my phone was dead. As I watched my block of neighbors and friends become homeless, and as I realized that we had most certainly lost our home permanently, a strange peace fell over me.

I was comforting my neighbor Fran, who was waiting for her disabled son to be rescued as well. Our other neighbor had been pumping water out of their basement so well that the water pressure collapsed a wall in their basement. Once that happened the firefighters became concerned about a gas leak, and now they too were frantic to get us out.

And these words came to me:

His mercies are new every morning.

Great is thy faithfulness.

And I knew in that moment, that no matter what happened that day, God was still God and God was still faithful.

There were certainly, in the days and weeks to come, lots of moments when I lost sight of God’s faithfulness, especially as I dealt with insurance companies and FEMA and claims adjusters.

But I watched my church and pastor be Jesus to me and my family by providing some of our immediate needs, including housing for a week.

I watched as my daughter’s softball coach got her cleats and a bat and the things she would need to participate in the coming softball tournament.

I watched as God showed up, over and over. Not just with the things we needed, not just in that space of several weeks of homelessness, but in every single day since.

And I realized – God is always faithful. It doesn’t matter what my circumstances look like, it doesn’t matter what I’m going through – God. Is. Always. Faithful.

Eventually, as all of you know, Tom was rescued from our house in a little paddleboat. And we did lose everything, pretty much, in that house. But some of that loss made it possible for us to be here. I’m not saying that we had to lose everything to gain anything, but I am saying that even through that – the God who works all things for good to those who are called according to his purpose – that God, worked the evil of a flood to the good of those who are hearing this message today.

Jeremiah, the probable author of Lamentations had a lot of reasons to doubt and mistrust God. Listen to the way he describes himself in this chapter:

I have been deprived of peace;
    I have forgotten what prosperity is.
So I say, “My splendor is gone
    and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.

Jeremiah is despondent. He is living out what God told him would happen at his call – he is despised by the people he has been called to preach to. He has been mocked and tortured and at some point (as you will recall I mentioned last week) he has been thrown in a pit and left to die…

BUT he doesn’t stay in his pity party – oh yes, he is having one and well he might, things are not easy and sunshiny and joyful where Jeremiah lives. His city is under siege, people are starving and dying all around him. His words are thrown back in his face and everyone pretty much despises him – but his next words are beautiful reminders of WHO God is:

Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;

He has hope. He has nothing else. But he has hope.

Why?

Because he knows that God loves him.

He knows it. The same way he knows that the sun rises in the east, Jeremiah tells us that he knows that every single morning his God will pour out new mercy because God’s love never fails.

Great is thy faithfulness.

It is a beautiful expression of what God will do and what God can do and who God is.

Jeremiah knows it isn’t happening immediately, he knows it isn’t necessarily going to happen as soon as he would like, but he says to himself – God is enough. I will wait on God and God is good to those who hope in him.

You see, Jeremiah knew that if he waited on God, God would take the evil and use it in a positive way. That doesn’t mean everything will turn to sunshine and roses for Jeremiah – it does mean that Jeremiah’s work is not in vain…even though Jeremiah himself may not see the results of his efforts in preaching and writing down his prophetic words and even sitting in the lovely muck of a cistern – Jeremiah can trust that God’s work will be accomplished and God’s love will be visible to him and to others because that is who God is.

Every time.

I know one thing – Jeremiah’s words in lamentations have meant much to many people because of a hymn written by Thomas Chisholm. It is one we sang this morning – and I would ask us to remember the chorus together now:

Great is thy faithfulness, Great is thy faithfulness, morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed thy hand hath provided, great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me.

Thomas didn’t write the hymn because his life was in turmoil either – he had had some health issues, but truthfully, nothing was terrible – he would later tell people that the hymn was not written with any kind of dramatic story, it was just written and then he sent it to a friend who wrote the music for it.

But that’s the even better part – we don’t have to have flood stories to know that God is faithful. We can have every day my tire is flat, my kids are not behaving, my boss is a jerk, my washing machine went out, my spouse is great, the weather is beautiful, today is payday – whatever kind of days and still KNOW that God is faithful and that tomorrow, God’s mercy and love will pour out on us anew.

We serve and love a faithful God who loves us and who is working all things for our good – no matter what those things look like. It is a wonderful thing to be loved by God and I for one am ever grateful that God works faithfully whether our lives are good or bad or boring or exciting – God is faithful. Always. Forever.

---

As we have been doing every week in this series, I will remind you of what it looks like to say that the love of God is found in every page of Scripture. Follow along on your sheets and whenever I point at you say whatever is bolded on your page:

What does it mean to say God loves?

God loved us enough to create us, to form us from the dust.

God loved us enough to let us fail, to let us choose our own way over God’s – to let us chain ourselves to sin and defeat and heartbreak and sorrow and death.

God loved us enough to provide a rescue, a way back: through wanderers, murderers, adulterers, defaulters, promise-breakers, foreigners, strangers, and lovers.

God loved us enough to show us mothers, judges, kings, and prophets who loved and spoke for God and kept reminding us of the promise of redemption

God loved us enough to show us how evil and wrong continually mess things up and how obedience to God fosters holiness and bestows blessing

God loved us enough to send us Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, to preach and live peace, grace, hope, joy, and love.

God loved us enough to see Jesus rejected, to see him die, to see him buried.

God loved us enough to raise Jesus from the dead and send the Holy Spirit to remind us of all we have in him and empower us to live like Jesus.

God loves us enough to want us to live like Jesus – an abundant life infused with all the fruit of the Spirit, redeemed, free, loved.

God loves us enough to still let us choose our own destiny.

God loves us enough to promise the hope of forever, of resurrection from the dead, and final judgement.

God loved us enough, God loves us enough, God will always love us enough.

For God so loved the world…

God loves you.

God wants you to know it. God wants you to live in it.

God wants you to be able to love others because you know you are loved.

God’s love is expressed to us every week, most tangibly, as we gather at this table: The Son who died and yet lives, gave everything so we could know the depth of God’s love.

So, Come. Drink the wine. Eat the bread. Know you ARE loved.

God loves you. Go, love the world with him.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that who ever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life

Jeremiah 1:4-10

 

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Let us pray:

Hide me behind your cross, Lord Jesus. Articulate the Father’s heart through my voice and let the Holy Spirit breathe new life to us, opening our ears to hear the message of God. Amen

Jeremiah

Called

Loves the people

None listen

None follow

Still proclaims

Still obeys

 

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As we have been doing every week in this series, I will remind you of what it looks like to say that the love of God is found in every page of Scripture:

What does it mean to say God loves?

God loved us enough to create us, to form us from the dust.

God loved us enough to let us fail, to let us choose our own way over God’s – to let us chain ourselves to sin and defeat and heartbreak and sorrow and death.

God loved us enough to provide a rescue, a way back: through wanderers, murderers, adulterers, defaulters, promise-breakers, foreigners, strangers, and lovers.

God loved us enough to show us mothers, judges, kings, and prophets who loved and spoke for God and kept reminding us of the promise of redemption

God loved us enough to show us how evil and wrong continually mess things up and how obedience to God fosters holiness and bestows blessing

God loved us enough to send us Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, to preach and live peace, grace, hope, joy, and love.

God loved us enough to see Jesus rejected, to see him die, to see him buried.

God loved us enough to raise Jesus from the dead and send the Holy Spirit to remind us of all we have in him and empower us to live like Jesus.

God loves us enough to want us to live like Jesus – an abundant life infused with all the fruit of the Spirit, redeemed, free, loved.

God loves us enough to still let us choose our own destiny.

God loves us enough to promise the hope of forever, of resurrection from the dead, and judgement.

God loved us enough, God loves us enough, God will always love us enough.

For God so loved the world…

God loves you.

God wants you to know it. God wants you to live in it.

God wants you to be able to love others because you know you are loved.

God’s love is expressed to us every week, most tangibly, as we gather at this table: The Son who died and yet lives, gave everything so we could know the depth of God’s love.

So, Come. Drink the wine. Eat the bread. Know you ARE loved.

God loves you. Go, love the world with him.

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