The table of Love proclaims the Gospel

A Series on Love, part 11

Jesus’ table here obviously proclaims the gospel. This is the body broken and the blood shed to make us sons and daughters of the living God. Our tables must likewise proclaim the gospel. But how? Our table fellowship has to reflect the reality of the Gospel and how it shapes all of our relationships, conversations, attitudes and actions. Jesus welcomed every tribe and tongue. He took away the dividing wall between Greek and Jew. In Christ all Christians are one body and the call to join is for everyone. Our tables therefor must reflect this unity and peace.

Our tables must be a place where everyone from dad to mom to the youngest walker are waiting for an opportunity to jump up and help with spills, getting more milk and passing the platters. No patriarchal lies are allowed where father sits at the head of the table while his dependents fetch everything.  The speech of the table must be edifying, building up the hearers and not full of backbiting or gossip. The Atmosphere must not be sullen, downcast or bleak. Christ’s table is a weekly feast of repentance, song, prayer, edification and rejoicing. Our tables must operate within the paradigm of this reality. At our tables the least shall be greatest. The last first. The master must be a servant.   Continue reading

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Vessels Cleansed, Filled and Shattered

We were all captive to the power of Satan; in sin we walked and in death, we lived. We were captives in Adam and God appeared in the flesh, fighting our captors that enslaved us. As it says in Eph 4:8, Jesus led captivity captive and gave gifts to men.

God so loved the world he gave. And when God gives, the vessel in which he pours his blessing is always overwhelmed. That is how we became the friends of God, believers. That is how we came to be here today, we were overwhelmed by God’s grace. It was stronger than our sin. God’s mercy was more potent and powerful than our selfishness. God’s compassion was stronger than our feeble shield of self-righteousness. Our resistance of empty darkness was no match for God’s infinite light. And with joy and loving-kindness we were overpowered, disarmed, ruined – remade.   Continue reading

Born To Trouble

Do you ever feel persecuted by your circumstances? Like trouble finds you, when all you are trying to do is be good and do good?  Marriage trouble, money trouble, tax trouble, mortgage trouble, family trouble. Trouble with your car or the fridge or a neighbor? Have you have wondered why?

It’s what I imagine David asked himself at the beginning of  2nd Samuel 10. I’m sure it’s what Joab, the commander of Israel’s forces, asked himself once he was trapped by two armies far greater in number then his own. And I’m sure its what Eve asked herself the day she was walking in the garden and heard a strange serpentine voice. Continue reading

Be a sign that points to Jesus

Conclusion to the Sign of Jonah series

All the signs of Jonah point to Jesus. The signs that reveal Jesus’ presence in our lives are sacrifice, death and resurrection, God’s word and Repentance that leads to life.  Are your lives defined by these signs?

Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh as the representative of God’s people to do the work of God. We will see next week that Jonah’s flight from God was consistent with kind of prophet he was. Jonah and Israel did not understand that their mission was not separate from their life as the people of God. That was the lesson Jonah was learning to teach Israel. It’s the same lesson we need to learn.

Your mission is not separate from your life as the people of God. I can ask all kinds of questions about missions. How many of us are foster parents? Support a missionary?  Visit lonely old widows tucked away alone in retirement homes all over the Puget Sound. But our problem is more fundamental than that. Why would we want to add to our church? How are we doing loving the people we already have? How many different families have you had over in the last two weeks? The last two months? The last two years?

We don’t reach out to the world because we do so poorly reaching out to each other.  Reaching across the street starts with reaching across the pew. I know you do not have an affinity with everyone. And being nice is not the same as loving people. You may not feel animosity toward anyone in this church but how many people’s welfare in this congregation would  you say you are passionate about? We think that because we are polite to the bank teller and the barista and are courteous drivers that we are loving people. We think if we ask someone how work is going while standing around the cookie table or make some amusing comments about baseball in passing conversations that we are loving people.  But love is defined differently by Jesus. Continue reading

Jonah the Evangelist

prophet Jonah being thrown into the Sea, catac...

prophet Jonah being thrown into the Sea, catacombe di Priscilla (photo by Wilpert, Joseph. Die Malereien der Katakomben Roms, 1903) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Sign of Jonah is Jonah’s word

God sends Jonah into Nineveh with words to save and this points the reader forward to when God will send His living Word into the world to save. The evidence of Chapter 3 reveals that Jonah’s words are powerful because God’s spirit goes before them preparing fields to be planted.

The seed clearly goes down and sprouts up quickly, but nothing about Jonah leads us to believe he is capable of such a feat. His words have a power quite above himself.  It says in Jonah 3:3 that it’s a three day journey across Nineveh and yet in verse 4 it says Jonah went one day’s journey and his word goes before him throughout Nineveh like a wildfire.

Jonah’s speaks a meager 8 words, only having traveled a third the way through the city and we have one of the greatest revivals in history. This is a rare instance where one Prophet’s words are effective instantaneously. Jonah doesn’t even need to be present, but the mere report of his proclamation is enough.  It is too miraculous to attribute to Jonah or his words alone. It points forward to a prophet, Jesus, whose word is spoken with real authority and is operative instantly.   Continue reading

God Vowed to Walk There With Them

Zampieri - Adam et Ève (détail)

Zampieri – Adam et Ève (détail) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Adam stood outside the Garden, with God, in the valley of death; ashamed and defeated. God cursed the ground on Adam’s behalf, increased the pain of labor for Eve and spilled the blood of a substitute to make a covering for His wayward and fallen children. In the midst of the first evil, God promised a son to restore the lost and broken relationship that God had  enjoyed with man.

In the pain of that moment, betrayed, accused and hated by His own children whom He had given the world, God knew something profound. That all the sons of Adam and Eve would be unable to bear the burden, were too weak and broken to fight back against the dragon. God knew that the Son that was promised would be ravaged and that the battle would cost that Son his life. And God knew, God promised in that moment, at the very beginning, with the tears of betrayal fresh on His cheeks, that the Son whose blood would be spilled for mankind, would be His own Son; His only Son. Continue reading

There will be blood

English: Jonah Is Spewed Forth by the Whale (J...

English: Jonah Is Spewed Forth by the Whale (Jon. 2:1-11) Русский: Пророк Иона, изверженный китом (Ион. 2:1-11) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Sign of Jonah is the sacrifice of Jonah

Our tale begins with the descent of the prophet Jonah in chapter 1 of the book bearing his name. In verse 3 he “goes down to Joppa;” In verse 5 he goes “down into the ship,” then “lies down” to sleep. This descent places Jonah in the midst of the very people who will sacrifice him for their own salvation in verse 15. This set up alludes to Christ going down from heaven, down to Jerusalem to be crucified and being laid down in the tomb in the sleep of death.  Jonah flees from God and God uses him as a type of Christ.

Jonah is a substitutionary sacrifice for the sailors like Jesus is a substitutionary sacrifice for the new humanity. Jonah’s story is typological. It is not exactly the same in content or effect. Jonah’s sacrifice saved the lives of the sailors not their souls. But Jonah is a picture of Jesus. Jonah descends from a place of honor to a place of shame amidst those He will be sacrificed for. Jesus descends from a place of honor to a place of shame amidst those He will be sacrificed for. Jonah lies down and sleeps in a boat, Jesus lies down and sleeps in a boat. Jonah is awoken amidst a storm. Jesus is awoken amidst a storm. Jonah is sacrificed at the hands of the ones his sacrifice saves; Jesus is sacrificed at the hands of the ones his sacrifice saves. Continue reading

Is Jonah great?

The Sign of Jonah; Introduction

Matthew 12:41The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

Jesus says he is greater that Jonah. Why? Isn’t it self-evident that He is? Why not just say I am great and Jonah is Jonah. We understand Jesus is the greater Moses, Joshua, and David. But who would call Jesus the greater Jonah? Jesus did. We need to get the big picture. Who wrote the book of Jonah? Jonah did. Jonah learned an important lesson and wants you to learn it too. Jonah’s sins were startlingly revealed to him and he took the lesson to heart and wrote a book about it.

Jonah is a humbled prophet. Jonah is great because he wrote a book in which God is the hero. Besides pointing the reader toward God’s glory, Jonah is one of the most succinct, dynamic and multi-dimensional “types” of Jesus in the Old Testament.

What is the sign of Jonah? A quick read will point us to the fish and the three days of Death, but it’s more complicated than that. To properly interpret the book of Jonah we need to understand that “the sign of Jonah” is the Sacrifice, the fish, the word and the judgment of Jonah as they foreshadow Jesus’ ministry.

Too Young in the Meaning of Love

Are you in shadow? Are you pain? Do not cry to me. I can only cry with you. I will not die for you. I am still too young in the meaning of love. Talk to the Fool, to the one who left a throne to enter an anthill. He will enter your shadow. It cannot taint Him. He has done it before. His holiness is not fragile. It burns like a father to the sun. Touch His skin, put your hand in His side. He has kept His scars when He did not have to. Give Him your pain and watch it overwhelmed, burned away by the joy He takes in loving. In Stooping.

From Notes of a Tilt-a-whirl by N.D. Wilson

A wider reach, a deeper authority, a greater giving.

English: The Gathering of the Manna, c. 1896-1...

English: The Gathering of the Manna, c. 1896-1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902), gouache on board, 11 7/16 x 9 5/16 in. (29.1 x 24 cm), at the Jewish Museum, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joshua 5:10-12 “While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.”

God provided Manna for Israel in the desert and as soon as Israel crossed into the Promised Land, the Manna ceased and the produce of the Land fed the Children of the Lord. The link between the two; God’s provision of the Manna and God’s provision of the vineyards, wells and abundance of the conquered tribes was supposed to be obvious. God provided Israel with both. Israel was never meant to forget who provided the daily bread, whether it fell out of the sky or was planted, grown, sifted, mixed with yeast and baked.

The Triune God is a God of abundance, a God of Giving. Psalm 23:1 says “the Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” The second half of the verse is the natural outcome of the first half. Because God is our Shepherd, we shall not want.

The promise of God’s table is a promise of provision. Who among you is starving? Start with this basic necessity and move up and out and see all that God has given you.

Start at the bottom, not the top, and work through God’s abundant provision and grace visible in your life today.

Another thing is how boring, mundane and unremarkable daily bread seems when we buy it from Albertsons. We were born in a land of milk and honey and we forget all the labor others expend through God’s providence for our daily sustenance.

We would be impressed by the miracle of Manna, but there are fewer specific items to be thankful for when the bread falls out of the sky. Bread from the store requires a far greater reach. God provides your job to acquire money, the car, the store, the plastic bag, the twist tie, the rain, the farmer, the harvest, the baker and an infrastructure which allows for massive ovens and transportation.  So why are we less grateful when God displays a wider reach, a deeper authority, a greater giving?

This is the common grace which we all so abundantly enjoy just to get some bread, everyday.