Hello, Crossroads Family!
Isaiah 43:1 says the following:
“Thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine.”
Isn’t that a hopeful word from God? He was speaking to Israel, but He could just as easily say this to you and me today: “I have called you by name; you are Mine.”
I’ve been reading through the book of Job recently and came today to the section where the final character, Elihu, a younger man than the others, takes issue with Job and the three friends of Job. When I came to the end of Elihu’s discourse, I scratched my head (as I’ve often done when reading Job) and asked, “What is it exactly that this man is trying to say?” (You may have asked that question sometimes on Sunday mornings!)
Elihu’s arguments seem “kind of” right; yet, like the other three men who argued with Job, there seems to be something not entirely on target about what Elihu says. Hard to understand; and, like you, I hate to read parts of the Bible then walk away not really having understood what I read!
One Bible commentator says the objectives of Elihu’s speech are these:
- Elihu maintains that it’s useless to argue with God. God does as He sees best, and He does not need to give explanations for what He does.
- Elihu says God is so great that He is beyond our understanding.
These two positions are both true ; yet, where Elihu errs is that he fails to understand what we read in Isaiah 43:1 — God, in addition to being great and beyond our understanding, also has a very tender and personal relationship with people. In addition to being a great God, He is also a loving and compassionate God who interacts with people in a personal way. That personal relationship was true of Job, and it’s true for all who know God through faith in Christ. In fact, God is the one who initiated the discussion with Satan at the beginning of Job’s story, saying, in essence, “Take a look at My man, Job ; there’s no one like him !”
This Sunday, we’ll reflect on the very personal relationship we have with God. The sermon will be from Genesis 43-44, Joseph’s second reunion with his brothers, this time with his full-blooded brother Benjamin present too. In some ways, I think this passage may be the highlight of the entire book of Genesis, the point to which the entire book has been moving. I hope you’ll join the Crossroads family for good worship, fellowship, encouragement and challenge Sunday morning at 10:00 at the Community Center, 200 N. Ash Street.
Youth Group Sunday following worship.
Part 2 of the new video study series “How to Face Life’s Challenges.” For everyone 16 and over. Meet at Jessica’s after worship.
The Big Serve, this weekend
If you’re making a last-minute decision to help on Saturday or on Sunday afternoon, let Michelle know so she can find out if you can be worked into the program.
Elders Meeting, October 2, following worship.
Thanks for your prayers for our church elders. We have a number of important decisions on our plate as we move toward the end of the year.
New Home Group starts October 2, 6 pm
I hope you’ll reserve 6:00 on Sunday evening, October 2, for the start of a fun new Home Group series. We’ll meet at my house every other Sunday evening in October and November.
Life Chain, October 2
You’re invited to take a stand for the unborn on Sunday, October 2, from 2:00 – 3:00 pm. Meet at the parking lot on the west side of the First Christian Church Fellowship Hall. For more information, contact 417-684-0528, or 417-667-1390, or visit the website, lifechain.org.
MAMS, October 5, 7 pm
The next gathering for women is Wednesday, October 5, at 7 pm, at Michelle’s home, 602 N. Washington St. All women and their friends are invited for discussion, support, and encouragement!
A God Who Enters Into Our Suffering
Bible scholar and author John Stott said that the cross — God entering into our suffering — was a main reason why he believed in God at all.
“I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the one Nietzsche ridiculed as ‘God on the cross.’ In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have had to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in Godforsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross that symbolizes divine suffering.
“Only God’s wounds can speak to our wounds,” Stott said, “and no god has wounds except the God of the Bible.”
I hope to see you this Sunday for worship! Gathering for worship keeps us healthy in mind and spirit. Rubbing shoulders with other people, even imperfect ones such as are in our church, helps us grow personally. Bring your family, and bring a friend!
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