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A People of Grace, Moreso Than A House of Worship

This title, perhaps our Lord's objective, came to me as I pondered a pattern I am now seeing as I make my way once more through the minor prophets.

The message is somewhat shrouded in the rant that these well meaning futurists project. In all fairness, their frustration is a mounting concern for the suffering around them and among the very "people of God."

Hear my heart for this as well!

Their perspective was however a hardened belief that suffering was the result of disobedience, their orientation not far removed from the wrathful god of their father's fathers. The same image of God that Abraham held, so it didn't come as a surprise when the sacrifice of Isaac was required.

Life is often frustrating, however, that does not mean there is some wrath that needs appeasing!

It seems to me, that the Isaac moment should have been a turning point in time, a transformational moment when the Father, who is Love would have sufficiently demonstrated to this earthly father, Abraham and to the generations that would claim his lineage, a trajectory toward grace.

God's gift to Abraham was a ram providentially caught in a thicket, preserving his and Sarah's first born son, whom both Abraham and God adored.

Yet, rather than asking for the "why" behind this misunderstood request, which could have otherwise easily resulted in an act of infanticide, the outcome so marvelously different, Abraham's only "aHa!" was a reduced expectation.

No longer would one's first born be required for appeasement of said wrath, now required simply the substitution a lamb. The need for appeasement still stood as a requirement in Abraham's mind and in fact would stand for centuries!

God was not finished, we were just slow in our capacity to grasp the goal!

This morning, I took a brief break in my thoughts in order to attend our own place of worship. Within minutes of the pastor's selected text, I heard an affirmation of the thoughts that had earlier pursued me this morning.

Psalm 115:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

"They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk, nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them."

We are like the gods we worship! If they are filled with wrath, we are filled with wrath. If they condemn, we condemn!

This may be a moment for introspection!

Our pastor's well communicated intent was that this very Passover Psalm was likely being sung on the night that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.

This message of the Christ, who had earlier said to the woman caught in the act of adultery, "neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more", this man, the very Passover Lamb whose hands were now touching their feet, had yet to be fully comprehended by those with whom he has spent years, themselves deterred from truth by the deep roots of their religion.

There is beauty here even beyond the soon to be removed suspect of any need for appeasement of wrath, the work of the cross.

The beauty I speak of is reflected in the pure patience of the Christ who was the YHWH of Moses. A long window had passed since Isaac, still yet the disciples in many ways were manifesting the god of their own making.

So desiring a righteous redeemer, not for all mankind, but solely to benefit the nation of Isreal. It seems they missed the message of the love behind the compassionate works of this Messiah, again detered by the lesser god which they had actually become, one religion had framed for them. Peter, the Rock, the most devout would in his confusion soon deny him.

Yet, in all our madness, the God who we can now call friend, who preferred "Love" as the more appropriate name, invariably leaks that love in even the harshest of texts!

In Zephaniah, verses 3:17 we hear, "‭‭The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Then again in Haggai's word to Zerubbabel, 3:6-9, “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

Yet, as we stubbornly reinforce dread and anger, like the minor chords on a piano, still love continues to leak, invariably springing forth in a chorus that shouts triumph and joy. That chorus constant enough throughout scripture, such that over time, when Christ appeared, a proverbial "aHa!" did in fact occur, one that reset the calendar and that shifted the song of heaven!

Well at least for a while, one sufficient for another long season of learning, though our post-Pentecost window, of late surpassing 2000 years, now seems in need of another breakthrough!

No problem, for with this patient Being a thousand years is but a day. Better things are yet to come.

Our religious acts of service, sacrifice, sabbath are meaningless apart from a spiritual shift that manifests a love for others, as he has loved us.

Read it for yourself in Isaiah 1: 13-18 as he pleads for us to "Come let us reason together...though your sins be as scarlett they shall be white as snow!" Those words were not meant simply to coral "sinners", but to reform the saints. Isaiah was speaking to the people of God!

Lest you plead escape by way of our handy Old Covenant vs. New Covenant argument, read it again in Colossians 2:16-23. We are not judged by God or others based upon our obedience to the rigors of religion, but by our alignment with the nature of the Christ, a free gift to us by grace! Christ in us is the goal of our Creator, the hope of all glory.

The 400 years of silence between Malachi and the first cry of the Babe in Bethlehem may have been necessary for God and man, to recover from what was being communicated by the religious of that day.

Maybe this "foreclosure" moment we seem now in, is the God of love and grace saying again to the people of God, "How's that working for you?"

Meanwhile, believe it or not, I am encouraged, for there seems an emerging generation, less likely to be "churched" as we Boomers knew it, even akin to that desired by the Millennials that initiated the current exodus from church. Perhaps these Gen Z's in time for my grands, the Alpha's, already identified as "Nones," yet deeply spiritual, will seek more serious impact upon the world, rather than simply an escape from it.

Truth is indeed marching on, maturing the Body, while requiring forgiveness of the people and spiritual leadership of our past.

We had a lesser knowledge then to base our beliefs upon, many bound only to what they were told. Now we are without excuse, the very heavens are crying out, and any question asked is no longer limited to some narrow opinion, but can be found in a collective base of knowledge, based upon the spiritual experiences acquired throughout centuries, all now at one's fingertips.

God is merciful, working quite at large, maturing the people of God with each progressive generation, though some resist, still fearful of change, they are loved!

The bottom line has never changed, perhaps best leaked in Micah 6:8. ‭‭"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."

Or more recently, from the Christ himself, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matt. 22:37-40 KJV.

I am excited!

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Our guest missionary speaker spoke about his experience in Africa since he was a month old in the early 60’s. His Father and mother both we missionary. He spoke about the Great Commissions

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