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During a Sunday school lesson, a child learned about how God created human beings. The child became especially focused when the teacher explained how Eve was created from Adam’s ribs. Later in the week, the boy’s mother saw him lying down on the floor, so she asked him what was wrong. His reply was priceless: “Mom, I have a pain in my side—I think I’m getting a wife.”

-pastor mike

LET'S PRAY TOGETHER Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun.  Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Today, Lord we specifically lift up the people of Macedonia, Ecuador, Cambodia, Cote d’Ivoire, Venezuela.  Even if we’ve never heard of these places, You love these people as your children. Here in the Shenango Valley lift up the tired and discouraged. Stir the hearts of the complacent and fill us with the fire of Your Spirit To your glory and for Your name’s sake. May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us; may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm; may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us; may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors. Amen

MEDITATION “…(God) has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. (2 Corinthians 5:19-20 NIV) All this week we have been delving into what reconciliation means. This is our mission: it is how we become a tangible living example of loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Especially when we recall that Jesus went way out of his way to illustrate that “neighbor” means a lot more than the guy next door. Jesus used the story that we call “The Good Samaritan”. It’s rather ironic that in today’s world a “Samaritan” is a helpful person. Jesus chose this reference precisely because it implied someone his audience would despise. It would be like saying “The Good Felon” or the “The Good Drug Trafficker”, except that the issue Jesus’ audience would have had with the Samaritan was simply that he was a Samaritan. The parable was meant to select someone that the Jewish audience would have had a visceral response of hatred towards and then let that character be the only righteous one in the story.  So how does this connect to mending broken relationships/reconciliation? It was the upending of his audiences assumptions about “who” they could care about - Jesus is saying EVERYONE counts as your neighbor and so (going back to the Greatest commandment) we are to love everyone. If you’ve been around the church this is not news. However, just as Jesus’ Jewish audience had created all kinds of loopholes, legal mumbo-jumbo, and small print to excuse them from the task God had given them, which is to love with great abandon. We have done the same thing. As Christians, we have become good at creating hoops that people need to jump through to earn our love; be good, be kind, don’t be a criminal, look like me, think like me, agree with me, never hurt me…But in truth we can’t meet our own standards. We say things like, “I have to love you but I don’t have to like you”. We justify un-forgiveness by pointing to the others’ sins and shortcomings as a reason to shut them out of our lives or never let them in in the first place so that WE can stay “safe”. But we are Jesus’ ambassadors to a broken and fallen world, chock full of hurting people. It is reasonable to be afraid that we will be betrayed, judged, rejected, and hurt, but Jesus showed us how it’s done. His life was a “how-to” on loving the undeserving. Remember, He even loves us.


DAILY SCRIPTURE READING Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me. I would encourage you to visit for an overview of Hosea and for an overview of the book of Romans. These videos will help with the “big picture” and the main themes. Hosea 11:12-14:9 The Bible Project points out that this section of Hosea is a family history lesson. It begins with Jacob in 12:2. The idea is that there has always been a sense of dishonesty in the family line. We see it in the way Israel has become rich through unjust business practices. What is Hosea calling them to do? (12:6) In 12:9 we see a shift to the story of God’s deliverance from Egypt. The complaint here is their constant unfaithfulness to God. Consider 13:2, what are they doing to appease “other” gods? Hosea is saying, you have brought God's judgment upon yourself. And then in 13:10 Hosea will draw attention to the “king” Israel so desperately wanted. Kings that have led them into sin.  These chapters are a little difficult to follow. For example, in 13:14 we find an image of hope. Does this image sound familiar? The book concludes with chapter 14. Chapter 14 begins with what command?  Following God’s judgment, we see God’s restoration of Israel. There is a promise of hope. Again these chapters are a little random. 14:9 is a concluding remark. It is an invitation. An invitation to do what? This is a worthwhile invitation to reflect upon. Romans 9:1-21 Paul is going to pause for a moment as he lament's for the people of Israel. "His brothers." "His own race." In reflecting on what it means to be a Jew, he gives thanks for what has been given to them. In verse 4-5, what had the Jews received?  Paul will then, through the example of Isaac, talk about how Gentiles will become children of Abraham because of a promise. If you remember, Abraham and Sarah could not have children. Isaac was the result of a promise, and God's intervention. This will become a convoluted argument about election, or God’s sovereign choice. It is filled with a number of Old Testament quotes. Let’s not unpack this section today. But let’s wait to see where Paul goes with this tomorrow. Something to keep in the back of your mind about Paul… as a Jew, he was part of God’s chosen people. Israel has been set apart from all other nations, as we just talked about in verse 4-5, for a very specific reason. So again, Paul was a Jew. And then Paul had been visited by Jesus on the road to Damascus. He had been chosen a second time for a very specific purpose. Paul is wrestling with God’s call on his life as a Jew, and now his call to be the apostle to the Gentiles. What Paul is saying is being influenced by his experience. We'll come back to this tomorrow. Psalm 89:9-13 “Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?” The psalmist goes on to talk of the accomplishments of God. Some refer to the creation and some to the history of Israel. As you read these words, do you find yourself echoing these praises of God? Can you see God's majesty all around you?

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