Table Worship, Sunday, 5:30pm August 2nd at the Fairhaven Library

dailybreadThis Sunday, August 2nd, we are back at the Fairhaven Library (1117 12th St.) for worship. Join for a shared meal at 5:30pm. From there we will pray, sing, and continue our summer study of Genesis. This week we are in Genesis 4, asking: “Who is God? And, who are we in relation to Him and each other?” Invite a friend, bring something to share, and we’ll see you at the library!

Consequences (Genesis 3)

Adam-nEve-230x300Read Genesis 3

This is not a feel good passage, but its real. This is the reality of the lives we live. Like the 1st couple of creation, we live with shame and fear, guilt and selfishness. That is reality, at least on some level. In the midst of this passage, we see our need for redemption, and we see the redemptive character of God. Who is God? And how is He revealed in this passage? Here we see that God is both just and merciful. He made it clear that there were consequences to certain actions, and when things went south, He provided.

The good news I see in the passage is that in the midst of disobedience there is grace. God provides relief both now and into eternity. When we are naked and in shame, God makes garments of warmth and provision (Genesis 3:21), with repentant hearts we go to Him and we are clothed. And to our great adversary, God brings victory, crushing the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). Jesus our champion will win the day.

So as you consider the consequences you are living with, it is important to acknowledge the reality of them. But in the midst of it, it is important to remember that this is not the end of your story. In the grand narrative of scripture, God created, and then humanity failed. But that is not the end. After the fall came redemption. And it was completed in Christ’s work on the cross, when He took all our poor choices upon Himself, and, there, they were PUT-TO-DEATH. He then rose to life again, inviting us into freedom, giving us access back into the garden, so to speak, where we enjoy the close relationship with God, a relationship we were designed to have. So as we go about our days, we are invited to live into this grace, to live into the purpose given by God without shame or fear, innocent and in community. In the midst of disobedience, God is faithful, just, and filled with mercy. He is our great redeemer, and worthy of our praise.

Table Worship, Sunday, 5:30pm July 26th in Ferndale

IMG_54542-225x300This Sunday, July 26th, we will be worshipping at Marty/Cheryl’s (contact for directions), starting at 5:30pm. Bring a dish to share, and your Bible. This week we will be looking at Genesis 3, asking “Who is God?” Let your friends know of the change, and we’ll see you there. The following Sunday, we will be back at the Fairhaven Library!

Perception and Genesis 2

FullSizeRenderI would like to offer a thought about perception. Perception can be defined as the way you think about or understand someone or something. Perception has to do w/ the ability to understand or notice something. But as we all know perceptions of the same thing or situation can vary from person to person. CS Lewis in his novel The Magicians Nephew said, “What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.” This reminded me of a story you have probably heard about a wealthy father, who decided to send his son off to understand and appreciate how fortunate he was. So he decided to send his son to what the father considered to be a very poor family out in the countryside. When the son returned three days later, the father said: “Well son, did you see how poor people can live?” “Yes father, I did,” said the son. “Tell me what you saw,” said the father. “Well, I saw that we have expensive lamps imported from Europe, and they have stars. I saw that we have one dog, and they have four dogs. I saw that we have a swimming pool in our garden, and they have a creek that never ends. So, thank you, father for showing me how poor we are.”[1] What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing.

Genesis 2 is another account of creation, a different angle on the same story.

I invite you to read it, and 2 questions: What is God doing in the given section in relation to man? And, as a result of His actions toward man in the text, how would you describe God (God is _______)? Genesis 2:4-25:

4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. 5 Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, 6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. 7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. 8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground -trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. [Dropping down to v. 15] 15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man: You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die. 18 The Lord God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. 19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the mans ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said: This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called: woman, for she was taken out of man. 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

What is God doing in relation to man in this passage? I observe 3 things that speak to who He is. God gives life. He gives purpose. And, He gives relationship. So in light of this, how would you describe God? I believe in this passage we see God revealing Himself as a generous provider, and that is the good news. God provides life, purpose and a companionship.

The challenge for us can come when we consider perceptions. From the text, God could be perceived as one who restricts and takes. Looking at v. 17, God give Adam some restrictions on his freedom. As a result, God could be perceived as a discourager, controlling, and distrustful. Considering the challenging situations we find ourselves in, God could be perceived as mean, neglectful, and harsh. So what shall we do with the good news? The difference to me is that we can accept the invitation to trust in God and rest in Him. God is worthy of our trust to provide, even in the face of struggle. God reveals Himself as a generous provider. My prayer is that He would show Himself as such to you this season, and that you would accept His invitation of rest in the midst of the storm. Our God is good. He is a generous provider, and He loves us

[1] http://www.mytowntutors.com/2014/01/high-school-psychology-lesson-perception-stories/

Table Worship, Sunday, 5:30pm July 19th at the Fairhaven Library

Mountain sunriseJoin us this weekend for a Table worship gathering this Sunday, July 19th at the Fairhaven Library basement (1117 12th St.). We will begin at 5:30pm with a shared meal, so bring something to share if you are able. This week we continue our study of Genesis, by looking at Genesis 2, asking “Who is God?” and “Who are we in relationship to God and other?” We would love for you to join us. Invite a friend, everyone is welcome!

Also, this Saturday, from 10am-12pm, is our monthly Blessing. We will be help the Whatcom County Pregnancy Clinic (1310 N. State St.) with some painting projects. Join us if you are able to help.

See you soon!

Thoughts on Creation

creation_iconWhat is cool about the creation account in Genesis 1 is that God creates structures, and then fills them up. It could be argued that in Day 1 He created “space” and light; in Day 4 He filled it with the sun and stars, moons and planets. In Day 2 God created sky above and water below; in Day 5 He filled them with fish and birds. In Day 3 He created land from the water, and plants; in Day 6 He filled it with animals and people. God created a frame and filled it with life.

What’s encouraging to me is that we are each blessed with a frame, our bodies, lives, contexts. So what does God desire to do with our frames? He desires to fill them with life. He desire to bless our frames with activities that glorify Him, that our rich with color and vibrancy. He is a God who enlivens things. So, regardless of where you are at this day, May God enliven your frame with vibrancy and purpose.

Table Worship, Sunday, 5:30pm July 12th at the Fairhaven Library

genesis-graphic-300x231Join us this Sunday, July 12th for a Table worship gathering. We will gather together the Fairhaven Library (1117 12th St.) starting at 5:30pm with a shared meal. This week in worship we will begin our summer study of the book of Genesis (the beginning of it all). Look at Genesis 1 if you want to read ahead.

Invite a friend, everyone is welcome!

Just for Fun

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No Table Gathering July 4/5

capt usaThe Table will not be gathering this weekend. Enjoy the holiday weekend with neighbors and friends. We will see you back at the library for worship on July 10th.

Happy Independence Day!

Servant Song #4 – Isaiah 52:13-53:12

220px-IsaiahI would like to talk about belief. As you well know there are things, truths, and issues that some folks believe, that others do not. To those who believe these things they are obvious. To those who do not, what is obvious is missed, b/c of neglect or choice. For someone who holds a given position, the nature and reason for the position is obvious, but can be missed by others.

To illustrate this, I was reminded of a story about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The story goes that they went on a camping trip. And after a good meal and a bottle of wine, they lay down for the night, and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend. He said: Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see. Watson replied: I see millions and millions of stars. What does that tell you, Holmes asked. Watson pondered for a minute, and eventually said: Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see that God is all-powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you, Holmes? Holmes was silent for a minute, then said: Watson, it should be obvious -Somebody has stolen our tent!

For someone who holds a given position, the nature and reason for the belief is obvious, but may be missed by someone else. As believers in JC, His actions on the cross are obvious to us. But for an unbeliever, His actions seem unnecessary and impotent.

This is our final week of celebrating the season of Pentecost. After Pentecost we fall into a season on the church calendar called: Ordinary Time. This season of Pentecost we have been examining the Songs of the Servant in Isaiah. Pentecost is a season that celebrates: Gods Renewal, Gods Faithfulness, Gods empowerment via the HS, And Gods mission. Belief in the mission of JC and the outpouring of the HS is obvious to those who celebrate Pentecost. b/c of the sacrifice and resurrected life of JC, we are now blessed w/ the HS so that we might join the Father in fellowship and mission. But the problem is that JC was rejected by His own people. And if we are honest w/ ourselves, like Israel, we live like the His sacrifice was unnecessary and impotent.

 

Text

I would like to close out our Pentecost study by looking at the 4th Servant Song, found in Isaiah 52:13-53:12. So grab a Bible and turn to Isaiah 52:13. Like the other servant songs, here we see rich images and insight into messiah. In this fourth servant song we see greater detail of the servants suffering and vindication.[1] After God exults the servant, Israel acknowledges the servants work. They finally realize what was obvious all along. They had been living like the servants sacrifice was unnecessary and impotent. So, the Question I want to ask the text is: Why did Israel reject the servant? And, likewise, why do we? If I were to outline Isaiah 52:13-53:12, I would break it into 3 parts:

  1. 52:13-15 –The Honoring of the Servant
  2. 53:1-9 – The Confession of Israel
  3. 53:10-13 – The Promise for the Servant

So w/ that question and outline in mind, lets read Isaiah 52:13-53:12, in parts.

1st, we will look at Isaiah 52:13-15, The Honoring of the Servant:

13- See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. 14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him -his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness- 15 so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.

Here we see that God is speaking of the servant. God is Declaring Honor to the Servant. This comes as a shock. No one would have guessed that Gods chosen servant would have endured such humiliation. And so, nations and kings are amazed that such a sad example would be brought to glorious exaltation.[2] This arrogance is met w/ a surprise of humility. Now what was missed is obvious and the ramifications are sinking in. They realize the true, divine nature of the servant.

And so in the next section, Isaiah 53:1-9, we see a Confession and Acknowledgment by Israel:

1 -Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

What a picture of our saviors suffering! Here Israel realizes what was obvious all along. They had not expected Gods servant to undergo such pain, so they disregarded Him. But now in His exalted state, they know His suffering was necessary for their own redemption. Here Israel confesses its former unbelief and acknowledged the power of the servants work. They confess that they never had considered such a thing possible for they had not accepted Gods power revealed through the servant. They regarded him as insignificant and interpreted his intense sufferings as a sign of Gods divine displeasure. But Now in His glory, they are forced to reevaluate their former opinion. As one commentator says, they realize that the servants suffering was due to their sins and for their ultimate benefit.[3] As the NLT says in v. 5: He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. Relief was given for our rebellion. Peace was given instead of punishment. Healing was given instead of wounding. He was innocent of wrongdoing, yet he silently endured oppressive treatment and a humiliating death. Israel realizes its sin, confesses, and acknowledges what was obvious all along.

Lastly, lets look at Isaiah 53:10-13 – The Promise for the Servant:

10 Yet it was the Lords will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. 11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

It is hear that we see the vindication of the servant. One scholar said, the song ends as it began, with the Lord Himself declaring His pleasure with the servant.[4] B/c the servant submitted to suffering for the sake of Israel, He is now able to redeem many, and finds His reward.

The Good News I see in this entire passage is that b/c of the servant, we are healed and whole. He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. b/c of the servant, we are healed and whole. This is good news.

 

Today

So why do we reject the servant? Why do we live as if His work was unnecessary and impotent? There was a brief article in the magazine, Psychology Today, that may speak to this. A psychology professor writes about a day she had on campus. She says: A few months ago, I was rushing across campus worried that I would be late for teaching a class. I wanted to check the time, but my phone was buried in my backpack, and I was carrying too many books to get my arm in a position to see my watch. Just then, the bells in the campus bell tower chimed, and I relaxed. It was 15 minutes before the hour. As a gesture of appreciation, I looked up at the bell tower and saw its clock face. There was the time staring right back at me. I had been teaching at the college for 21 years, yet this was the first time I realized that I could tell the time on campus simply by looking up. This professor then asks: Was I uncommonly unobservant? She says: curious, I asked my colleagues and students if they knew of a way to tell the time while outside on campus without checking their phone or watch. Few mentioned the bell towers clock, and many laughed with surprise when I pointed it out. Our bell tower was built in 1897 and is located right in the center of the campus. I bet most students consulted its clock 100 years ago, but few do today. Have we become so wed to our personal devices that we have forgotten how to observe the obvious external cues around us?[5]

I would argue that in the face of what has become normal to us, we miss the obvious. In the face of busy schedules we forget the clear, simple blessing of sitting and resting in Gods grace. In the face of anxieties of the future we forget the obvious peace of knowing we live in Gods provision. We miss what is obvious.

The Good News is that b/c of servant, we are healed and whole. b/c of the servants suffering, we and He are exalted. And now we can live in peace, even in the face of our challenges. Easier said than done, right?

Consider something that is weighing on you today and this season, something that occupies your thoughts. It could be a family issue, a job situation, or the fact that you have to wait until Xmas to see the new Star Wars movie. Consider something that is weighing on you, and listen again to Isaiah 53:5, and see how that thing on your mind responds to Gods word. In the ESV it says: But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. His punishment brought us peace. The word peace here is a Hebrew word you know: Shalom. In the face of your challenges, the thing on your mind, Gods servant brings Shalom. A simple definition of Shalom is peace, but it has many nuances. In the face of the things that weigh upon your mind the Lord brings: Completeness, Safety, Health, Prosperity, Quiet, Contentment, Friendship, Completeness. [6] He brings Rescue and Safeness.[7] As Isaiah 9:6 says, the servant Messiah is the Prince of Shalom, brining all these things. How does that thing that is weighing on you respond to God word and message of Shalom?

Being in the thick of challenges, we neglect the obvious. We end up living as if the servants sacrifice was unnecessary and impotent. But regardless of our feelings or lack of observation, the good news is that b/c of the servant we are healed and made whole. Whether on this side of heaven or the next, we find relief. The Prince of Peace fulfills His mission. So as you face that thing that is weighing on you, may the servant bring you His peace. And may we, in the face of so much, rest in His peace.

Amen.

 

[1] Chisholm, R. B. (1998). The Major Prophets. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary (p. 287). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Chisholm, R. B. (1998). The Major Prophets. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary (p. 287). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Chisholm, R. B. (1998). The Major Prophets. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary (p. 287). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Chisholm, R. B. (1998). The Major Prophets. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary (p. 287). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/eyes-the-brain/201402/overlooking-the-obvious

[6] Strong, J. (2001). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[7] Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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