August 23 2020

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Learning for Life: First Peter 9:30

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Listen to the sermon Joel Russell-MacLean

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Bulletin: August 23

Newsletter: Weekly Letter Aug 16 2020

Scriptures: Numbers 14; Psalm 95Hebrews 3.12 – 4.2


Joel Russell-MacLean

“The victors write the history books”

We’ve all likely heard this. It reminds us that whoever is telling the story likely wants to put their role in the most positive light. I suppose we all are tempted that way.

What are we to make of the book of Numbers? Israel wrote and preserved this collection of stories about their earliest origins but the stories are unflattering. In story after story, the people of Israel stubbornly refuse what is in their best interest.

To the reader, it seems obvious: God can be trusted; God is merciful and loving; God has a good plan for Israel. And yet Israel never seems to get it right.

This is what is shocking: Israel did not conceal their sin – they committed their litany of failures to memory! They teach us that anyone and everyone must make a regular, honest assessment of our failings, individually and as a group or organization.

Thanks to God, the story doesn’t end there.

The whole story is not about human failure, the story is about God’s love.

Numbers teaches us that Israel was not saved by obeying the law, but by God’s grace. This grace was brought to light most fully through Jesus. We depend upon God’s grace as well.

There is an ominous lesson here as well. There comes a moment when it is too late to change our minds. The moment came when one generation of Israel lost its chance to enter the promised land after yet another act of refusing to follow God.

God’s people took this lesson to heart and plead with everyone: Today! Listen to God today! Don’t wait, don’t hesitate:

Turn to God with all your heart today!

God’s purpose is to hold all humanity and all creation in a loving embrace, in Miroslav Volf’s beautiful metaphor. However, if it is to be an embrace, obviously God’s arms must, at some point, close.

What reason could they be for anyone to refuse to enter the grace and love of God? Today! Choose today to follow God in the love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

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