8.12.20 Wednesday

2020-08-12T06:34:46-05:00
Good Wednesday morning. I am loving the cool nights, how about you? Windows open, AC off! Much better. If you haven’t checked out the community garden yet, now’s the time to do it. It is flourishing and is a wonderful example of creation care. God bless the workers who have tilled, sowed, tended, weeded, and are now harvesting.

Paul is still wrestling with the Jewish thought of superiority in this next chapter.

Romans 3:1-9

3 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much, in every way. For in the first place the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Although everyone is a liar, let God be proved true, as it is written,

“So that you may be justified in your words,
and prevail in your judging.”
5 But if our injustice serves to confirm the justice of God, what should we say? That God is unjust to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my falsehood God’s truthfulness abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not say (as some people slander us by saying that we say), “Let us do evil so that good may come”? Their condemnation is deserved!

9 What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin,

The advantage of the Jew is real, just not exclusive. And, it does not exempt them from God’s judgment. Someone wrote that this section of Paul is a rhetorical method to bring the readers from guilt to glory.

Ray Stedman wrote this: “Just imagine, for instance, an island in darkness, populated with people. There is only one way to escape the island, a narrow bridge over a deep chasm, but the darkness is so great that only a few find their way over that bridge. Everybody on that island has been provided with a little penlight that enables them to dimly illuminate a small space around them, barely enough to avoid the more obvious obstacles in their path. But a certain group of people is given a powerful searchlight that can shine thousands of yards into the darkness. It is given to them not only so that they can find the bridge, but also so they can show others the way out. Yet these people, who have so much more light than the others, spend their time utilizing this powerful searchlight to look for needles in a haystack. They turn that searchlight on a mound of hay and search for needles. That, in essence, was what the Jews were doing.”

Blessings on your day,
Pastor Sue

8.12.20 Wednesday2020-08-12T06:34:46-05:00

8.11.20 Tuesday

2020-08-11T06:22:44-05:00
Good Tuesday morning. Yesterday was National Lazy Day. I think I nailed it!


I don’t know why Paul wrote so much about circumcision, but here goes:

Romans 2:25-29


25 Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 So, if those who are uncircumcised keep the requirements of the law, will not their uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you that have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. 29 Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God.


All that to say, that ALL are subject to the law. Paul answers the next logical objection, coming from a Jewish mindset: What about circumcision? Being circumcised, in obedience to God’s command to Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 17:9–10), ensured that Israelites would be identified as God’s people, the Jews. Apparently, many Jewish people believed that those who were circumcised were, by definition, saved. They would not be judged by God even if they broke His law. The ritual, for them, was enough to establish their salvation.


Paul disputes that idea, but he does not discard circumcision itself. He acknowledges that circumcision matters for the Israelites; it is an act of obedience in and of itself. However, the whole point of circumcision is lost if a Jewish person under the law breaks God’s law. Literally, Paul writes that their circumcision becomes “foreskin.” In other words, such a person is no better off than if they had not been circumcised, at all.


These words would have come as a shock to religious Jews who believed they were saved through circumcision and belonging to God’s chosen people. They should challenge the attitude of anyone who thinks that religious rituals, ceremonies, or other sacraments can overcome the stain of sin.


(I got some help from bible ref.com as I was as confused as you!)

😉


Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

8.11.20 Tuesday2020-08-11T06:22:44-05:00

8.10.20 Monday

2020-08-10T06:48:19-05:00
Good Monday morning. Monday again already?! What??? We sure needed the rain yesterday, but not right during Denny Stanius’ graveside. I guess that’s why umbrellas were made. Those military tributes are so powerful along with the flag presentation. Wow!


Romans 2:17-24

17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of your relation to God 18 and know his will and determine what is best because you are instructed in the law, 19 and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth, 21 you, then, that teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You that forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You that abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You that boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”


Paul is wondering aloud if being a Jew relieves one from accountability to God. He makes his point with this imaginary conversation with a Jew. Paul considers Israel’s privileges real and their responsibilities great. But, he concludes, just because you are God’s chosen people does not alleviate your accountability before God.


What does that mean for us today? Being a Christian does not give us special privileges; we are still accountable to God for our actions and our thoughts. We are called to be a light to those in darkness, to teach and to guide. But, we are not given immunity if we lie, cheat, steal, commit adultery, or otherwise break the law. Remember verse 16: “God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.”


We love to talk about God’s abundant grace and mercy, but we are not so quick to talk about judgement. Yes, it is true, that we are forgiven, but that does not give us a passport to sin without judgement! God loves you and God forgives you. We are asked to respond by loving others and forgiving others. How’s that going for you?


Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

8.10.20 Monday2020-08-10T06:48:19-05:00

8.8.20 Saturday

2020-08-08T06:26:42-05:00
Good Saturday morning. Pray with me for the Hooker family as Renae is declining in health and has begun her journey to be with Jesus. She is on Hospice and is not in pain; she is surrounded by her loving family, childhood friend, brother, and her angel, Lisa Gustafson. Pray for their strength through this difficult time.


We in the Lutheran church believe that we are saved by grace and that no amount of works or good deeds can save us. Paul writes about that in Chapter 3:24, but here in Chapter 2, he says the doers of the law will be justified. Conflicting messages. The Jews were trying to keep the Leviticus laws to the point that they overlooked the point of grace. They also thought they were superior to the Gentiles who did not have the law. Paul is trying to educate them that all will be judged in the end, no one is superior.


Romans 2:12-16

12 All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. 15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.


I understand how important it is to live out your faith rather than just reading about it, or hearing it. It has been said that sitting in church no more makes you a Christian than sitting in your garage makes you a car. The point is that good deeds will not save you, but it is good to do them out of love for your neighbor. Be kind.


Those of you who have been reading this blog all along might remember what James had to say in Chapter 2: 14-20. Or go look it up.


Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

8.8.20 Saturday2020-08-08T06:26:42-05:00

8.7.20

2020-08-07T06:14:36-05:00
Good Friday morning. Yesterday, I took Rachel to the sunflower field on 65 by the Green Barn. I have never seen anything like that and it was so cool! Isn’t God, the creator amazing and interesting?


Sunflowers display a behavior called heliotropism. The young blossoms will face east in the morning and follow the sun as the earth moves during the day. As the flowers get heavier during seed production, the stems will stiffen and the mature flower heads will generally remain facing east.


Helen Keller said, “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.”


Jesus is the sunshine; Jesus is the light. Keep your face focused on Jesus and you will not dwell in the shadow.


Back to Romans:

Romans 2:2-11


2 You say, “We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.” 3 Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: 7 to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.


Look for the sunflowers!


Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue


PS: Like potatoes, tomatoes, and corn, sunflowers didn’t originate in Europe. They were cultivated in North America as far back as 3000 B.C.E. They were originally developed for food, medicine, dye, and oil. Later, they were exported to the rest of the world by Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s.

8.7.202020-08-07T06:14:36-05:00

8.6.20 Thursday

2020-08-06T06:47:51-05:00
Good Thursday morning. Sometimes God gives us tough stuff to wrestle with. This is one of those parts of the bible that riles up many readers who think they now have proof that gay sex is evil and against God’s plan. Hold on to your Bibles! Here we go…..


Today Paul takes us into what has been a very controversial passage. It is uncomfortable to read and to discuss and I am guessing you readers all have pretty firm opinions on the issue of homosexuality. It is here, in the church, that we should be able to discuss sensitive topics with respect and love and understand that not everyone agrees with you, me, and them!


Romans 1:26-32


26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.


28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.


Paul was referring to the pagan practices and his list of wicked indulgences comes from other Greek and Roman literature. He may have been referring to the awful orgies of passion that took place in the emperor’s court and he was trying to bring together the fractured Roman Church. It is possible he didn’t even write this passage, but inserted a quote from someone else that helped him with his argument that Jews were no better than Gentiles.

Writer Colby Martin calls these types of scripture as “clobber passages” as they are used by many to judge people of other sexual orientation.

Paul, or the writer, is using a common rhetorical device called “epideictic discourse,” used to heap blame on ungodly and wicked people to whip up a crowd’s emotion towards a common enemy. We see it all the time in our political arena today. The writer evokes the prejudices of the Jewish Christians in Rome, which went like this: Gentiles failed to know God—turned to idolatry–engaged in immorality–and received due punishment to build his argument. The next verse is the key to understanding the writer’s intent; he levels the playing field and springs the trap.


2:1 Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.


Gotcha! The writer has now turned the tables on the Jews who thought they were superior in their morality. He says, “you’re all in the same boat.”


I know this is a touchy subject and cannot be fully discussed in such a short blog. We still have a long way to go in understanding this letter to the Romans.


Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

8.6.20 Thursday2020-08-06T06:47:51-05:00

8.5.20

2020-08-05T06:54:51-05:00
Good Wednesday morning. The sunrise was hot orange this morning. Even I could see that. There were probably other colors mixed in, but it was ever so pretty. That is one of the reasons I love getting up early. I love sunrises and sunsets. God created such beauty for our enjoyment and for the ordering of the day and the night in perfect harmony.


Paul, in writing to the Romans was not thinking about creation and God’s beauty, but the WRATH of God. Yikes. That is scary to think about.


Romans 1:18-25 NRSV


18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.


24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.


This is definitely an indictment of human wickedness. Paul argues that God will punish anyone who willfully does wrong. Verse 23 condemns idol worship and verse 25 states an often quoted “they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” Remember your creator and sing praises to God.


Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

8.5.202020-08-05T06:54:51-05:00

8.4.20 Tuesday

2020-08-04T06:04:27-05:00
Good Tuesday morning. It is colder here this morning than in International Falls! I love the cool down. Today is the right day to come to Fellowship Cafe at LLLC from 9-noon. Bring your own beverage, snack and chair–no sharing. Bathroom is available.


Romans 1:8-17 NRSV


8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world. 9 For God, whom I serve with my spirit by announcing the gospel of his Son, is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers, 10 asking that by God’s will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as I have among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish 15 —hence my eagerness to proclaim the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” (this last sentence is a paraphrase of Habbakkuk 2: 4 “Look at the proud!

Their spirit is not right in them,

but the righteous live by their faith..)



Paul’s thanksgivings in his letters signal important themes. He describes his obligation to proclaim the gospel to the Romans and to reveal God’s power and faithfulness. I really like verse 12 “so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” That’s what ministry is to me. I am your spiritual leader and am obligated by my calling to preach and teach the gospel. You, in turn are obligated to encourage my faith as well so we will both be spiritually healthy. Let’s continue to encourage our brothers and sisters in the faith.


These are difficult times to be inviting new people into our church family, but don’t let your guard down. There are still many unchurched people who are seeking a better way. They are in need of the gospel of grace and love. Think of how you can encourage someone’s faith this week.


Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

8.4.20 Tuesday2020-08-04T06:04:27-05:00

8.3.20 Monday

2020-08-03T08:46:37-05:00
Good Monday morning. We had a lovely morning yesterday for our parking lot worship. Great attendance, too. There were even veggies from the community garden to share. COVID may have changed us, but it has not stopped us! God is Grrrreat!


I don’t feel like jumping into Revelation without face to face interaction even though it is next in line. How about going back to Paul’s letter to the Romans? This is the longest, but probably the newest of his letters. The intent of the letter is to persuade the Christians of Rome to support Paul’s intended mission to Spain.


Paul may have thought he might die before he got to Rome, so he wanted his message on the nature of the Gospel of Christ on file!


Many Jews had been kicked out of Rome or left due to the Emperor Claudius’ persecution and tensions within Christian house groups around 49 CE. Emperor Nero may have lifted the edict of expulsion and Jews returned, including Aquila and Priscilla (named in Acts). Anti Jewish sentiment was growing among Roman aristocrats and was beginning to emerge in non-Jewish Christian circles as well. There were also growing tensions between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians.


So, to begin, we’ll just stick our toe into Romans. Here is Paul’s salutation.

Romans 1:1-7 NRSV


1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3 the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, 6 including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

7 To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


Paul arrived in Rome three years after he wrote this letter and died about 8 years after. That’s enough for today!


Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue



8.3.20 Monday2020-08-03T08:46:37-05:00

8.1.20 Saturday

2020-08-01T06:20:01-05:00
Good Saturday morning. August 1st! I hope you are getting in some summer fun–before it’s gone!


Today, I’ll post the entire letter of Jude. Who ever reads this book? Jude is another form of the Hebrew word Judah (Greek Judas). He could be a brother of Jesus. This letter contains a stern warning, beautiful creative language and a lovely prayer to end it.


Jude NRSV


1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,


To those who are called, who are beloved in God the Father and kept safe for Jesus Christ:

2 May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.


3 Beloved, while eagerly preparing to write to you about the salvation we share, I find it necessary to write and appeal to you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4 For certain intruders have stolen in among you, people who long ago were designated for this condemnation as ungodly, who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.


5 Now I desire to remind you, though you are fully informed, that the Lord, who once for all saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their own position, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains in deepest darkness for the judgment of the great day. 7 Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.


8 Yet in the same way these dreamers also defile the flesh, reject authority, and slander the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael contended with the devil and disputed about the body of Moses, he did not dare to bring a condemnation of slander against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 But these people slander whatever they do not understand, and they are destroyed by those things that, like irrational animals, they know by instinct. 11 Woe to them! For they go the way of Cain, and abandon themselves to Balaam’s error for the sake of gain, and perish in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These are blemishes on your love-feasts, while they feast with you without fear, feeding themselves. They are waterless clouds carried along by the winds; autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the deepest darkness has been reserved forever.


14 It was also about these that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “See, the Lord is coming with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all, and to convict everyone of all the deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16 These are grumblers and malcontents; they indulge their own lusts; they are bombastic in speech, flattering people to their own advantage.


17 But you, beloved, must remember the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 for they said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, indulging their own ungodly lusts.” 19 It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions. 20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; 21 keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on some who are wavering; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; and have mercy on still others with fear, hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies.


24 Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.


Jude doesn’t mince words as to the nature of false teachers. He refers to certain leaders who have infiltrated the Christian churches as being “Godless men”, “creamers who pollute their own bodies,” and “like unreasoning animals they destroy themselves,” “shepherds who feed only themselves” and on and on. Very harsh criticism, very beautiful language!


There are false teachers in our world today. They work to undermine the message of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ through many tactics: fear, prosperity, corruptive teaching, sowing doubt, enticement of entertainment over Gospel, and more fear. Jude’s prescription is, “build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” Good stuff!


Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

8.1.20 Saturday2020-08-01T06:20:01-05:00
Go to Top