First Lesson - Lamentations 3: 22-33
Responsive Reading - Psalm 30:1-8
Second Lesson - 2 Corinthians 8:1-9, 13-15
Gospel - Mark 5 : 21-43
Have you ever been desperate? We can be desperate for big things and small things - sometimes in matters of life or death. Laurie is frequently desperate for some rest – for some peace and quiet and a chance to recover for a time before she gets back to caring for three active boys. Some would say that’s not a big thing. Laurie might beg to differ. It does impact her health but it not an urgent matter of life and death, but sometimes caring for the boys does become an urgent life or death matter. All three of the boys have a history having seizures when the run high fevers. Those can be scary but most times they are over in a couple minutes. She was home alone with the youngest boy, and he started to have a seizure. I was in the middle of a men’s Bible Study and Laurie called every guy in the study trying to get through to me, but we all had our phones off. She called 911. The seizure went on two minutes, three minutes The ambulance wouldn’t arrive from the neighboring town for 15 or 20 minutes. She was sobbing, praying and crying out to God. The seizure went on 4 minutes the little boy was blue. Was he going to survive. If he survived was there going to be damage from lack of oxygen. He was still seizing 5 minutes. She was desperate. Oh was she desperate.
In this portion of Mark’s gospel Jesus has been demonstrating his divine power. Power over creation when he calmed the storm when he was with the disciples in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. Power over diseases as he healed. Power over evil as he cast out a legion of demons. And he has been doing this on both sides of the Lake – both the gentile side and the Jewish side. Jesus has been showing that he is the long awaited Messiah and more than that that he is the divine Son of God and Lord of all.
His taught about the Kingdom of God with authority and his reputation for freeing people from evil and disease was spreading. His fame spread and the crowds grew and grew. After freeing the man plagued by many demons on the gentile side of the Lake he returned to the Jewish side where he was quickly surrounded by a crowd, and into the crowd rushed a man named Jairus a synagogue leader. He wasn’t a religious leader – maybe he was something like an officer on our church council. He was a godly man of some standing in the community. He had heard that Jesus, the powerful miracle worker, had just arrived and so in desperation he ran to him. This man of some status humbled himself and fell on his knees and pleaded earnestly with Jesus, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” He was desperate - the situation was urgent - it was a matter of life and death. 24 he was begging Jesus to do something for his little girl. And so, Jesus went with him. A crowd of people went with and on the way a woman tries to work her way through the crowd so that she can touch Jesus and be healed. Her situation wasn’t urgent it wasn’t life or death, but she had been plagued by this continual bleeding for twelve years and she was desperate. Because of her bleeding she was declared unclean under Jewish law. And there were three types of uncleanness serious enough to exclude you from society – leprosy, bodily discharges such as bleeding, and contact with the dead. She was an outcast. And to make matters worse she had spent all her money on doctors. So now in addition to suffering and being sick, in addition to being an outcast - separated from friends and family – she was broke.
This woman shouldn’t even be in a crowd, and she sure shouldn’t be touching anybody. But there she was pressing against one person and then another as she worked her way through the crowd to Jesus. She was violating all kinds of laws. She was desperate – she needed something from Jesus. She came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped, and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
Suddenly, the procession came to a screeching halt. Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes? I imagine the thoughts running through Jairus mind (why are we stopping Jesus? Hurry my daughter is dying. (Maybe today it would be like an ambulance racing to a critically ill child. Time is of the essence. But then the ambulance stops and uses its medicine to cure someone with a long-standing problem such as a longstanding back pain. chronic back pain is a serious problem, sure they desperately need healing – but it’s not an emergency)
The woman – this poverty-stricken social outcast – came with fear and trembling and fell at Jesus feet and confessed. And Jesus responds “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”But during the delay, people came up to Jairus and told him that his daughter had died. Jesus told him “Don’t be afraid, just believe.” And, of course, Jesus goes to Jairus’ house and raises the little girl from the dead. He puts the whole crowd of mourners out of the house and then41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (Which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).
Jesus comes into contact with this unclean woman and this unclean little girl. One unclean because of a discharge of blood the other unclean because she’s dead. Jesus is touched by one and touches the other by taking her hand. Anyone else would become unclean in the process but not Jesus. With Jesus it’s just the opposite He radiates cleanness to those He touches. Jairus and the woman came to Jesus because they were desperate the needed something from Jesus. And they had faith – they trusted that he could provide those things that they needed. Jesus provided those things and more. The woman who had the discharge – didn’t only need physical healing she needed to have that healing made public. She was rid of the discharge that made her an outcast. Now she could be welcomed back into the community. Now she could be welcomed back to worship. Not only was she healed physically, she was healed emotionally, socially and spiritually. Jesus emphasizes her identity and relationship. He calls her daughter.
Jesus has been demonstrating his power over creation, disease and evil. Calming storms healing the sick and casting out demons. And now in this passage Jesus demonstrates that He is Lord over death.He takes the hand of the dead girl and says little girl get up. We come to Jesus desperate for things – things that we really do need – sometimes life and death things. He may provide that thing – he may not. But often he gives more than we ask – healing emotionally, socially and spiritually. We go to Jesus for something we need – he answers our request for something by giving us someone – as He gives us himself over and over and over again. And as He gives us himself, he emphasizes our relationship to God and our identity as sons and daughters.
Dear saints you are beloved sons and daughters of the living God with whom He is well pleased. All because of what Jesus has done for you.
Written By :Chaplain Chris Belfield
I wasn’t there, but Cathy was. The long-anticipated return of Grandma’s Marathon. This was the first national marathon event held since the pandemic took hold last year. I imagine you would have to be there to take it all in. Well, the next best thing is to watch a video that the Two Harbors Chamber of Commerce posted regarding the start of this momentous occasion. Let’s see there was the train that brought the runners and others up from Duluth. There was an almost virtual sea of humanity as the runners gathered on the scenic highway at the starting line and extended several hundred yards back. Then the moment I waited for. No, not the start. As the camera panned around to take in the vista view, there was a group of lime green-clad individuals standing together like a miraculous growth of new vegetation. These were the Lake County Community Emergency Response Team volunteers, who were
there to assist the marathon organizers and runners. There was Cathy in her lime green vest. Shortly afterward the sea of humanity began an ebb and flow that slowly and inexorably made its exodus from Two Harbors towards the final destination in Duluth. It was a perfect day with sunshine, a gentle breeze, and temperatures in the 60s. What could be better? This observation from a former runner of many decades ago.
The day following the marathon was the official first day of summer. True to the North Shore, it had to start memorably and uniquely: that being 47 degrees at sunrise. Nonetheless, it was the start and everything else that goes along with summer commenced with determined vigor. All of the parks are full of visitors. The campgrounds abound with vehicles and tents of every description. Businesses are thriving again, and children are playing on almost every street. Plans are being made to maximize the time available for vacations, visiting, new projects to be planned, and old ones to be completed.
I have heard it said by wise sages of the past, that you can't finish what you don't start. And so it is that it seems that more time is often spent in planning to start than in actually starting the event and finishing. I look at all of the new construction throughout the north shore area and marvel at all of the meticulous planning that goes into some of these projects. Of course, there is always the possibility that experience has provided a good guide for future endeavors. I imagine that this also applies to road and building construction projects. Still, they are wonderful to see in operation. We have a new front patio going in at this time. The ground, rocks, and uneven lay of the yard made this seem like a daunting challenge. Trust the professionals, they know what they are doing. Within a few short hours, the ground was cleared and leveled with the forms for the patio set. The rocks were all gone and had been
re-purposed as a natural foundation border. Who would have thought? Another start greatly anticipated is the start of school with no restrictions, so children can complete their return journey to normalcy. Many may chastise me for even mentioning school at the start of summer, but trust me, plans are already being made on the start-up procedures. There are also new starts where there is a hoped-for outcome, but you’re never quite sure as you go along day-to-day. Starting a new business, a new
family, or even a life change such as retirement. Then there are those times when a re-start may be required. The pandemic affected so much of the economy that many had to start with new jobs, new
careers in new locations. Health issues can also affect when we may need to start new life patterns. Even the loss of a loved one may necessitate a re-start in living a new life. God has always allowed us to start a new life with him. Be assured that he will watch over us and provide what we need and also to know that no matter what happens in our lives, he is always with us, and will always love us.
Our encouragement verse for this week is:
Romans 6:4 (NIV) “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
May you be blessed by God's word. Chris
First Reading: Job 38:1-11
Responsive Reading Psalm 124
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Gospel: Mark 4:35-41
There are storms in life. Sometimes actual weather related storms and sometimes the storm can be circumstances in life that are chaotic and overwhelming. It can be a broken relationship, a serious illness, a serious accident or death. I know that some of you have had those kinds of storms and I would guess that most of you have. We have good friends from India – their names are Neeraj and Nijer – they came to the US to study at the seminary. After receiving their PhDs from seminary and the Univ of Minn they returned to India and started a training center for Indian pastors and missionaries. They came back to the US to get their kids settled in school. So they were in the US when Covid hit India. And it hit their friends and family hard. In just a 2 week period in May of this year they lost 25 people who were either immediate family extended family or dear friends. They were praying for the whole situation and each day they would receive news that a father brother brother in law or close friend had died from Covid – sometimes 2 or 3 a day. They have been blessed with tremendous faith and that faith and trust in God is what has been sustaining them. But circumstances like these bring many people to ask those hard questions – are you there God? Don’t you care God? Why in the world do you let this happen Lord?
Jesus had been teaching the people of Israel and showing what the Kingdom of God is like. At the end of a long day he and his disciples are in a boat and head across the Galilean sea and over to non Jewish territory. The Sea of Galilee is hundreds of feet below sea level and surrounded by hills and mountains. So the wind can come rushing down the hillsides and cause a windstorm. And there was quite a windstorm that night. Remember that some of the disciples were experienced fishermen. They had been out in boats on this lake for years. Surely this was not their first windstorm on the Sea of Galilee. But even they were scared. Mark records that it is a GREAT storm. In the original language a mega storm. The waves were coming in over the top of the boat. It was filling with water and there was a real danger of the boat swamping and sinking. And yet with all the pitching and rolling with all the spray of water Jesus is conked out in the back of the boat. And what do the disciples do? They wake up Jesus and ask him – don’t you care that we are going to die? Don’t you care Jesus? When faced with a storm in life many people ask Are you there Lord? do you really exist – and do you care?
These can be faith shaking events. An event that shook the faith of Europe was the 1755 earthquake that struck Lisbon Portugal. An over 8 Magnitude lasted 5minutes. It caused cracks in the earth 16 ft wide right through the center of town Survivors rushed to the open space of the docks for safety – but then 40 min later a tsunami hit the harbor and downtown area, There were Candles lit in homes and churches all around the city for All Saints' Day They were knocked over, starting a fire that developed into a firestorm which burned for hours in the city, The blaze was so intense it used so much oxygen that it suffocated people up to 100 ft away from the flames. Earthquake then flood then fire – the death toll was between 30 – 50,000 in Lisbon alone plus all the death and destruction to the surrounding area. All across Europe people were wondering why a loving God would allow such destruction.
Are you there God? Do you care? The disciples wake Jesus up saying don’t you care that we are dying. Jesus responds by rebuking the wind and the waves – peace be still. This is the response we’re hoping for – we want Jesus to rebuke the wind and the waves – to rebuke the break in the relationship, rebuke the disease, rebuke the suffering and death. We want him to speak the words Peace be still. Sometimes he calms the raging sea and sometimes He doesn’t Sometimes the cure comes – maybe even in a miraculous way – and sometimes it doesn’t Sometimes life is spared – and sometimes it isn’t Sometimes the relationship is restored - and sometimes it isn’t Jesus doesn’t always give us the answer we are looking for – Sometimes it seems that He doesn’t give us an answer at all.
The Lisbon earthquake shook the faith of people all across Europe. In that crisis of faith people either turned to God or away from God. Thousands turned from God and became atheists and yet thousands turned to God and their faith grew. With modern science we have a much better understanding of the how and what of natural disasters. With modern medicine we have a better understanding of how and what of diseases. But we are still left with the question why. Are you there God, do you care, God? Throughout the Old Testament Yahweh demonstrated that he controlled creation. That He controlled the sea. In Exodus he parts the waters and the nation of Israel walks across the sea on dry land. The psalmists write of Yahweh’s power over the sea many times as in Psalm 89.9 You rule the swelling of the sea; When its waves rise, You still them. So when Jesus stands up and rebukes the wind and the waves the disciples really become afraid. They were fearing for their lives in the storm but now they were terrified. In the original language it says they were fearing with great fear. Yahweh was the only one who did those things. "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" Throughout his ministry Jesus is demonstrating that he is Lord over creation, Lord over demons and evil, Lord over disease and death. He is revealing that He is indeed Yahweh in the flesh. AND as Yahweh in the flesh he is using his awesome power FOR others. He calms the storm For the disciples he heals FOR the sick he casts out demons FOR the demon possessed He raises the dead FOR them and their family. And we know the end of the story. We see Jesus bruised and bloody hanging on a cross taking on the sin of the world for you and me we see him rising from the grave for you and me.
There is no easy answer to the question why. Why Lord if you are good and you are powerful – why didn’t you calm the storm for me. Are you there Lord? don’t you care? Why didn’t you stop Covid from killing those 25 people in India. Why did you allow tens of thousands to die in the Lisbon earthquake. Why are you allowing millions to die from the pandemic we are facing? Yes we know there is sin in this fallen world. Apart from that there are no easy and pat answers to our whys. But in faith we look to God’s promises – and trust that this one who bled and died on a cross – knows our suffering knows our pain – that He is with us and for us. And he keeps giving himself to us – by way of His Holy Word and His body and blood.
His is there and he cares. Amen
Sermon : June 13th 2021
I don’t get a chance to do much recreational reading anymore. But when I do I like a good adventure mystery – David Baldacci is one of my favorite writers. Do you like a good mystery? Once in a while I’ll join Arianna and Laurie while they watch Teagarden mysteries on hallmark. I used to enjoy an episode of Father Brown from time to time. Usually mysteries are who dun its – where you try to guess who it is that committed the crime – which is usually murder. The first part of today’s passage is not so much a who done it – but a how’d he do it The sower casts the seed – and low and behold it grows – it describes how it grows first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. Nowadays we can give an even greater and immensely more detailed picture of what happens, and we even have an understanding of the processes that are involved – but the how are why are still a bit of a mystery. And yet Jesus says the KOG is like the seed – it grows and it’s a mystery. The sower casts the seed – and it happens – it grows Our faith is rational, it is historical – there really was a nation of Israel – there really was a Jesus of Nazareth – and a whole host of people witnessed his miracles, teaching, death and resurrection – these are some of the best attested events in history. And yet there is mystery to God and His Kingdom. We sow seeds as we proclaim God’s word – not only when we do that on Sunday morning. There is mystery when God comes to us by way of His Word and Spirit in the waters of baptism and in the bread and wine – his body and blood. And yet by way of these real elements God’s Kingdom grows. We get glimpses of it sometimes – often when we look back we can see how God was with us and how He was working in and through us. How he brought certain people across our path that shared God’s love and God’s word with us. Since father’s day is coming up I’ve been thinking about my dad a bit. He was a pretty good athlete – fast, strong and athletic. And like most athletes they have athletic aspirations for their kids. When I was playing football in high school I was plagued with injuries – I was always tearing up my ankles. So on one of those nights when I got banged up my dad was driving home from the game and really feeling sorry for me – kind of having a conversation with God and wondering why God would let this happen to me over and over again. And even in the midst of all the big and important things that God deals with caring for the world – he had time to speak to my dad’s heart about something as trivial as his son’s sprained ankle. Almost 30 years later my dad finally told me that God spoke to his heart as clear as could be that night and God’s phrase to my dad was “o ye of little faith.” Since my dad didn’t spend much time reading or studying the Bible he thought that God was condemning him and punishing me because of my Dad’s lack of faith. Now by the time my dad finally got around to admitting to me that God had spoke to his heart that Friday night long ago - I had completed a year of Bible school – by then I had learned enough to look at the whole passage when considering a phrase or a verse. There are several references to little faith in Matthew’s gospel but probably the most remarkable is this whole section of Matthew ch 6 – Matt 6:27 And who of you by being worried can add a single [q]hour to his [r]life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But [s]seek first [t]His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be [u]added to you. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will [v]care for itself. [w]Each day has enough trouble of its own. Now we have to be careful when God speaks to our heart – we have to be convinced that it’s really God – and the main thing we are concerned about – is it in line with God’s word? – and was it in my Dad’s case? – yes it was – word for word from Matthew’s gospel. And what was God saying to my Dad?
It was a little seed that the Lord sowed – a word of comfort – telling him not to worry – letting him know that God was watching over me, my dad and our family. And God utilized a whole set of circumstances to cause that seed to bear fruit 30 years later – in my life, in my dad’s life and in our family’s life and now 50 years later as I share it with you. You see that little snippet of God’s word – is like the seed that was sown – and grew somehow – like a little mustard seed – growing and spreading out and touching lives – encouraging faith and trust in this God that delights in showing His love for us – even if it’s just, when a dad is worried about his kid’s sprained ankle. Amen
Written By : Pr.Tom
Written by : Chaplain Chris Belfield
In a previous encouragement, specifically last week, the subject was signs of the season. This is almost a natural follow-on. A sure sign of summer is a good rain, followed by an uncomfortable hot spell and suddenly the world is a distinct and lustrous green. How did that happen so quickly? Regardless, there is now new growth everywhere. Another one of the sure signs of new life is the unique presence of motorists stopping in front of our house to take pictures. Now, I'd like to think it's because Cathy and I are so photogenic, but the truth of the matter is that it's our foliage, and we had absolutely nothing to do with it. It's the lupines. This year they are everywhere, even where we don't want them. The front of the property is covered with so many purple, and a few pink lupines that people stop to take pictures. In years past, a few even stopped to assist us in culling the abundant harvest, without our consent. I think this year I will put out a free-will donation box and see what happens. Maybe not as I may have to declare the proceeds as earned income. Last year, Cathy spent many hours toiling to produce a beautiful tiered garden that promised a wide variety of colorful plant growth for this year. To quote a familiar line from the movie, Christmas Vacation, "Cathy, I can see it in my mind." That's what was said all winter. Then the lupines showed up and had a family reunion in Cathy's garden. They have sealed their fate and will soon be a historical footnote. As though lupines were not enough, there were the other not-so-welcome signs of new life. The state bird, the mosquito, has declared our property to be the convention gathering site for this season. I’ll guess you are hosting them as well. I prefer to give my blood donation to a worthy source, and a mosquito does not qualify, but still manages to extract a sample…multiple times. And then there are those small gnats that seem impervious to any man-made repellants. Just remember that all winter we anxiously waited for this time. Last fall we spent lots of hours and sweat equity clearing undergrowth and brush to make passable trails through the woods. We should have taken pictures. You guessed it – new growth has once again reclaimed its natural domain. We are just interlopers battling nature. Then of course there is the lawn. Didn't we just cut it last week? No matter as it is due again. There is something almost Zen-like about cutting the lawn, trimming, and admiring the finished product. It almost seems appropriate to stand on top of the hill and proclaim, "Yep, we did that!" Another sign of new life is new construction to make life better and safer. We were impressed to read about the new road change proposal for the Stewart River at Betty’s Pies beginning this fall: New turn lanes to enhance safety and still let through traffic proceed with minimal delay. There are also new sidewalks being put in along South Avenue in town. And finally, there is the emerging new life for the community as we continue the steady exodus from COVID-19 restrictions. This is a testament to what can be done when a community pulls together for the mutual benefit of all. Now is a great opportunity to support our local businesses as they come back up to full capacity operations. It is also the perfect time, as is every day, to appreciate and thank God for the new life that he has given us through his Son, Jesus. Any time is a great time to just say, thank you, father. Our encouragement verse for this week is: Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV) “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” May you be blessed by God's word. ~Chris
First Lesson: Genesis3: 8-15
Responsive Reading: Psalm 130: 1-8
Second Lesson.2 Corinthians 4 :13- 5
Gospel: Mark 3:20-35
After spending several weeks in the book of John we are now back in the book of Mark. Remember that Mark’s gospel moves right along, Jesus is baptized, then is tempted by Satan in the wilderness and then off He goes – casting out demons, healing many – curing them of diseases, forgiving sins and even doing these things on the sacred Sabbath day of rest. Never once is Jesus accused of being a fraud or a fake – his power was evident for all to see. But where was his power from? I mean after all what kind of holy man hangs out with sinners and tax collectors. What kind of holy man breaks the sabbath to heal people
Jesus is on a mission – to set captives free. Way back in Genesis ch 3 Satan enticed Adam and Eve and lured humanity into a prison filled with sin, disease and death. Now Jesus is on the scene. Mark demonstrates throughout His gospel the power of Jesus. He was more powerful than demons, more powerful than thousands of demons (in Mark chapter 5 he cast a legion of demons out of a man), and he is more powerful than Satan himself. Ever since the fall in Genesis, Satan had plagued God’s children – in a way he kidnapped them and put them in prison. Some, in particular, those with demons or disease were almost in solitary confinement. Because of their affliction – their uncleanness - they were cut off from the temple and from others in the community. And now God himself, in Jesus, had come to set them free. And by healing them and setting them free – they were once again able to participate in worship and be a part of the community.
Have any of you heard of the radio program – unshackled? It is the radio ministry of Pacific Garden Mission – a rescue mission in downtown Chicago. The Old lighthouse as they call it has been a beacon of hope for Chicago’s street people for over 70 years. And by way of it’s radio program - Unshackled - the Lord has reached millions of people around the globe. The program broadcasts modern stories of people set free by Jesus. They are people very much like the people that Jesus ministered to when he was on earth in the flesh. They are the outcasts – so lost to drugs, alcohol, violence and prostitution that they lost any sense of worth or any connection with society long ago. They are shackled and imprisoned by sin and evil and they know it. I’d like to share the testimony of young lady named Kimberly Golphin. She describes being unshackled. It may not be as dramatic as other testimonies that you have heard but let’s listen her story. Kim writes her testimony and then shares some thoughts about faith. She begins
Before I experienced [real] Life, I was the cool type; hanging out, getting high and in trouble.
One day in April I was sitting in the back of my school with a friend when another friend asked me if I wanted to go across the street with her to get high. I said sure, why not. So I went. I noticed that all the while I was there I did not feel at all comfortable, I felt very dumb and out of place. I could not understand what was wrong with me. It seemed like the more dope I smoked the more out of place I felt. I tried lighting up a cigarette to see if it would help but I could not smoke away the deep conviction I [felt]. After returning to school I felt very sick. I told my friends that I would be back and that I was going to the nurses office to lie down. As I reached the nurses office, I ran into the bathroom and closed the door. It was pitch black in there, and I ran my hand up and down the wall trying to find the light switch; but it was of no use, the light switch was simply not there. Then I began vomiting all over the floor and all over myself, and I also began to shake uncontrollably. [I felt that] I was in the very presence of God. I heard a voice say where are all your friends now? Who can help you now? I said, You [can] God! She continues with some thoughts about her faith…She writes…There is more to Christianity than going to church every Sunday, singing in the Choir, and being on the usher board. Salvation Produces LIFE. this life [comes] Through Christ, for he said in John 14:6 I am the Way the Truth and the Life, No one comes to the Father but by me. I am now nineteen years old, and living my life for God. Oh Friend, I have peace that no party, joint, beer, sex or anything else could give [me]. For Christ said in St. John 14:27 Peace I leave you, My Peace I give unto you. The Scripture says in (2 Corinthians) 7:10 For Godly sorrow brings Repentance. [Once we are] tired of sin, tired of being mean and evil, tired of telling lies, tired of stealing, drinking, .. tired of being jealous and hating. Once we have reached this point [we recognize that] God is willing and able to help us and give us a brand new life. … The Scripture says in Romans 10:13 Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. And In 1 John 1:9 it says If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, Romans 10:9-10 reads If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ..That is the end of Kimberly’s testimony and her comments
Those that have reached the bottom of the barrel or the end of their rope know very well that they are shackled and imprisoned. Every 12 step group for every addiction includes recognizing that a person is unable to free themselves. They know they need God to free them. Jesus is powerful and he has come to plunder – that is to thoroughly rob - Satan’s prison – Satan has trapped humanity and Jesus is setting them free. Maybe you are one of those folks that have been shackled. Oh shackles can look deceptively fun and harmless to begin with - but for many it leads to destruction, despair, and death. Jesus having the power and authority to set people free from Satan and evil is the main point of this passage but there is more. In addition to Jesus and Satan there are four groups that are mentioned – the disciples, the crowd, Jesus’ family and the scribes. The crowd was captivated by this powerful miracle working Jesus. As news about Jesus spread the crowds grew – so much so that he could hardly enter a village without being mobbed. Jesus’ family hears about his claims, his miracles and the crowds and they think he has lost his mind.
The scribes from Jerusalem are powerful religious leaders and since Jesus does not fit their idea of a holy man so they assume his power is from the devil. So Jesus goes about his work of freeing those that know they are captives – those shackled by sin or by living in a sinful world -the sinners, tax collectors, demon possessed and the sick. But how does the story unfold? If we jump to the end of the gospel, we know it is these scribes and other religious leaders in Jerusalem that lead the crowds to cry out crucify him. In the end we see that all suffer from sin – all are Satan’s prisoners. Whose sin nailed Jesus to the cross – the sin of all of them – the sin of all of us. Whose sin did He forgive – all of their sin – all of our sin. Most Americans think there is a hell but only ½ of 1% are concerned about going there. Almost 90% of people believe there is a heaven and 85% of those believe they are going there. Why do so many think they are going to heaven and why do they have little concern about hell? Many believe that they are going to heaven because they are basically good and surely a good God will let good people into heaven. The notion that people are basically good is a human idea. And it’s partially true – each of us is made in the image of God – but it overlooks the fact that that image was forever hopelessly distorted by sin. The Bible says in Romans ch 3 – all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. In our passage and throughout the gospels the crowd looks on curiously and sees all the sinners being freed but I doubt that they thought they were imprisoned and in need of a savior. Maybe it’s kind of like people today listening to a radio program like unshackled or hearing a testimony about someone set free from drugs, alcohol, violence, or sexual addiction. We can look, like the crowds did in Jesus day, and think wow they really needed Jesus and this Jesus is really something look how he transformed their lives. But we can miss the fact that we are plagued by sin. I know what it’s like to be shackled. I know what it’s like to know that I need a savior. I know the joy and new life that there is in returning to God and it has been a joy to discover that I need Jesus every day to live free. There is a contemporary Christian song titled Mighty to Save – I’d like to read some of it’s lyrics to you
EVERYONE needs compassion ,Love that never failing ,Let mercy fall on me
EVERYONE needs forgiveness ,The kindness of a Savior The hope of nations,Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is Mighty to save,He is Mighty to save
Forever, Author of salvation,He rose and conquered the grave,Jesus conquered the grave
I don’t know where you find yourself in our gospel this morning - maybe in the crowd - maybe one of those that has been unshackled - set free - but wherever we find ourselves - we need a savior not just to be set free but so that we might live free. And we can take comfort knowing that our God is mighty – He is mighty to save. amen
Signs of the Season
Written By Chaplain Chris Belfield
Well, here we are at the unofficial beginning of summer. I say unofficial because there has been the misnomer that Memorial Day weekend begins summer. Forgive me, but summer does not officially commence until Sunday, June 20th – which also just happens to be Father’s Day this year. However, that being said, Minnesotans do not acknowledge summer but only the two certain seasons of the year: winter and road construction. It is for certain that road construction season has begun as the presence of orange is becoming prevalent along roadways in the form of cautionary signs and cones intruding at the most inconvenient locations. At least it's inconvenient when I am at the same location and my otherwise trusty cellphone GPS has failed to appraise me of the delays. In addition to road construction, there is the construction of a different type – building construction. This is good news as it signifies a returning economy with new, or updated business opportunities. Three noteworthy items are worth mentioning. There has been the anticipated grand opening of the Burlington Depot and Callie’s Sweet’s shop on the eastern edge of town. A Facebook posting even showed an impressive tour inside the new business which highlighted a sparkling interior and friendly staff. Up the shore on Highway 61, in Castle Danger, the new owners of the Rustic Inn have already begun new modifications to the building to enhance your dining experience. And finally, ground has been broken for the new Black Beach Mini-Golf Course in Silver Bay, which is anticipated to open later this summer. I am sure that there are many more local community events to be enjoyed, in addition to those mentioned here. Of course, there are other signs as well. There is the ever-popular and free semi-annual Two Harbors RV and Boat Show, otherwise known as Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. The traffic through towns sometimes is of almost historical proportions, but also a sure sign of a return to some semblance of normalcy. It is also a time of significant transition for high school seniors graduating. The photo banners around town are a great way to know who these proud graduates are. The local Dairy Queen is doing a brisk business dispensing a vast array of delights to meet the needs of ice cream aficionados. I am partial to strawberry sundaes, almost as much as the strawberry pie at Judy’s Café, which has also been enjoying a full parking lot. In amongst all of these noteworthy and appreciated signs is one that is a little more subtle, but ppreciated. There are fewer and fewer masking requirements. Patience, vigilance, and practicing sound safety precautions have brought us to this way station towards the conclusion of the pandemic. To be sure – we are not at the finish line yet, but so very close that we know we will hopefully celebrate it soon. With all of the signs of the season already considered, what is left? Plenty! Just a short preview of some of the exciting events we can look forward to including Grandma's Marathon is back and being held June 22nd. The Duluth Airshow is June 26-27 featuring the U.S. Navy aerial demonstration team, the Blue Angels. Closer to home we have our own Two Harbors Heritage Days, July 8-11, and the companion Silver Bay Days, July 9-11. Among these notable events is the season for camping, hiking fishing, traveling throughout the area, excursions on Lake Superior, and memories to be made with family and friends. It is also a season to take time and be thankful for what we currently have and the ability to share with others. A shared meal. A kind word of appreciation. A friendship rekindled after a long absence. Even just being present during difficult times, all go towards sharing the blessings that we have been allowed. Our encouragement verse for this week is: Psalm 146: 5-6 (NIV) “Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them- he remains faithful forever.”
May you be blessed by God's word.