Their books are short. They have been labeled the “minor prophets.” And their messages are anything but minor. The prophets are sent to speak God’s Word, to be “loudspeakers” for God—not just in biblical times, but now!—confronting our sin and bringing us to repentance, in order to restore a right relationship with God. Luther doesn’t mince words about the importance of the prophets: “We Christians ought not to be such shameful, satiated, ungrateful know-it-alls, but rather read and use the prophets with earnestness and profit.” OK, then. Let’s get to it!
“No way! I’m not going to Nineveh!” So, Jonah runs the other direction. How often do we do the same thing? Disobey. Run from God. Get swallowed by a whale. But when Jonah finally goes to Nineveh and shares God’s message about repentance, much to his dismay, the people actually do repent! If he had only listened to God the first time. Same for us. Oh, that we might be like the first disciples, who immediately drop their nets to do what He asks.
“You’re worshipping the wrong things! Because you have money and religion, you think you’re better than everyone else!” Not a street preacher. This is Amos, a simple shepherd who is delivering God’s fiery word of judgment to a rigid, self-serving people. As Amos shakes his finger at the Jewish people outside of Israel, the people of Israel are piously nodding their heads in agreement…until the finger points to them—as is does to us as well. In these days of COVID, we long for hope. And God brings it! After telling us about the judgment that we deserve, Amos concludes with a message of hope and restoration. What would life be like if we could shed our old ways and live into God’s new, life-changing message of hope?
“I want you to marry someone who will be unfaithful to you and will have many children with other men, And I want you to love her…always.” Right! Yet, that’s what God tells Hosea to do—marry Gomer, a woman who would be unfaithful to him. And Gomer lives up to her reputation as she follows her selfish desires, wandering from the marriage, sinning against Hosea, over, and over, and over. Even still, Hosea goes after her, loving her, despite all that she has done to him. The people of Israel have wandered away and have sinned against God, just as an adulterous woman sins against her husband. Now, imagine this (it’s gonna blow your mind!): we are Gomer. And God still loves us, always and forever. Amen!
Who are the blessed ones of God? For Micah, they are those who do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. For Paul, they are the ones who find wisdom in the weakness of the cross. For Jesus, they are the poor, the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who mourn, and those who hunger for righteousness This isn’t what the world teaches us. But, through our baptism, we find our blessed identity and calling to live as God teaches us, not the world.
Habakkuk 1:5 The Lord replied, “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.”
God is at work. God is working in our everyday lives to make amazing things happen through the little things. These little things can make big impacts and bring us to our knees in awe. A baby’s birth, a small act of kindness and just a little faith can change the world. How can you participate in God’s amazing work with an act of generosity, a gesture of kindness or a tiny bit of faith? God can use them to make a big impact in someone’s lives.
A baby is born every day, every minute. But what difference does a little baby make to the world? God is at work doing amazing things. Through the birth of this little baby, God changes the world forever. This little gift makes a huge difference in the life of God’s people. What little gift do you have to offer that will make a big impact?
Sharing a meal, opening a door, little acts of kindness can make a huge impact in the world. God is at work doing amazing things. Through little acts of love, God’s work is revealed in the world. Reaching out to help a neighbor in need seems like a small thing, yet it can make a lasting impression on someone. How are your small acts changing the world? What small action can you take?
A Holy Spirit fire within, an inspired preacher and a little faith changed the world. From Habakkuk to John the Baptist to Luther, we’ve seen voices that shout in the wilderness, our call to carry the gospel message in a constantly changing and shifting world. A little faith can help us navigate these changing times. A little faith can change a person’s life. How can our faith change the life of those we know and care about? How can our faith make a difference?
Grief, loss, and death are an inescapable part of life for us all. Where we see an ending, however, Christ molds us by faith in Him to see a new beginning. We come to God like clay in the hands of a loving potter, asking Christ to shape us into people who live to serve him both now and for eternity.
When you’ve come to the end, when you’ve hit a brick wall, when all options have been exhausted and everything inside you is saying, “It’s over!” then what? That’s where Ezekiel finds himself, in a hot valley filled with dry, separated bones. There is nothing about that sight that brings hope. Can these bones live again? No way. But I’m not the giver of life. God is, and he knows whether or not dem dry bones can live again.
This Advent season is going to look VERY different than it ever has in our lifetime. It’s going to be unusual. But here’s the thing, God’s love is steadfast. God’s work is ever happening. God is still God and is at work.
Each advent we look out the windows and say, “Come Lord Jesus!” Well, guess what… Jesus has come, is here and will come again. The story of God changing the world isn’t worlds of time away. It’s here and it’s now. The prophets call us to look for the Day of the Lord. What if it’s happening already, right now, in your life?
God is changing the world as we know it, right now. God is gracious to all and saves everyone through Jesus. So, what, during this season of Advent do WE get to do about it?
Where has the Kingdom HAPPENED?
Where WILL the Kingdom HAPPEN?
What’s it got to do with ME?
Haggai calls the people to come together and SEE what comforts they have now. It’s a time of seeing blessing and giving Thanksgiving for all God has done. Even if it isn’t perfect, it’s a gift. But why has God given us these gifts? Just for us? What about a place to worship for them? Is it for God? No! God doesn’t need a house built. God builds houses: in us, for others. How is God at work in you and in the community you have around you? God brought them, and us, together for SO MUCH MORE.
A month out from a pretty crazy presidential election, has the craziness subsided? Are we more divided? Have we yet come together? What unites us? Maybe a better question is WHO unites us. Zechariah is speaking to two groups: 1) those who were stolen away in exile and 2) those who weren’t important enough to even attack (yeah, imagine being one of those folks!) But NOW they are back together. Zechariah is calling these people together for a purpose. Yes, they are different, but one doesn’t invalidate the other. There is a great diversity in our neighborhoods, our country and our world. How is God calling us to find our similarities over our differences? God calls us to come together.
There are those days aren’t there? Where you just aren’t feeling much good news? Yep, we’ve all been there. All of us. All of God’s people have felt it at one time or another. Joel talks about beasts and plagues and grasshoppers consuming everything. But it’s not about predicting the future; it’s about changing the behavior of the people. These were a people who needed to hear, and see, that the world around them isn’t going to be consumed before they get a share.
And church, this is why we do what we do.
We seek to NOT consume everything around us.
We seek as the church to give to those who don’t have.
We seek to bear one another’s burdens. When the beasts come, we defend those who can’t defend themselves. We, the church, bring HOPE to a world desperate for it.
If you are or have ever been married, you know…marriage is hard. Disney sells us that all relationships are happily ever after. But, we all know that that isn’t actually true. Relationships are HARD. All of them. They have ups and downs. They go through seasons. The people of God in Malachi are feeling that big time, and truthfully, so is God. God has seen this relationship with God’s people ebb and flow. The people have seen God at work but walked away again and again. They have fallen short, again and again. But there’s something MORE.
It’s the DAY of the LORD!
There will be one day when God takes all the dissension and contrition out of this and ALL relationships. There will be a Day that everything changes – a day where the Kingdom of God rules forever. It will be an endless season of the light of Christ. GOD doesn’t run out of love or energy for US. That is such good news. One day, soon, that will be our forever, hope-filled reality!