First Fruits

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

1 Corinthians 15:20-22 (NIV)

 

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FIRST SUN OF THE DAY!

Contemplate with me if you would please the number of firsts since time began….
I can’t even imagine the number….
the figure is to the moon and back several times of more, I’m sure!

The number of firsts in a day….. 147,000,000 results according to Google

SO….let’s talk about a few  firsts!

…this morning….the first slug of the year!

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….my time in the fire service.

Some big changes and firsts:

Women in the fire service…..it was no longer a MALE clubhouse.

Computers….we could now track everything.

My first Big fire….$10.5 million…..Uniflite boat builders

….my time on the farm.

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We had cows and horses.

So I understand FIRST BORN and FIRST MILK!…. also having an animal die every now and then.

Some  of the biggest joys here on the farm happen in the spring….

The first frogs croaking…normally it happens in February….just before the pussywillows bloom….frogs from all around…. the orchestra and choir of frogs….making music and praise to God!

The barn swallows….this year I saw the first barn swallows on March 22…every year they return plus or minus only a day or two in that range on the calendar.

In the spring all our fruit trees bloom….it’s special….very special and glorious  ….apples….pears….plums…..prunes….cherries… peaches….nectarines…..Asian pears…..I like to rate them as GOOD-BETTER-BEST!

SO……let’s talk about these verses.

In the fall of the year we get fruit…. As the fruit ripens the first fruit ripe is called firstfruit

The fruit is no different in the Bible…..firstfruit.

the Lord came to earth….was born of the virgin Mary …. was tortured …died on the cross….was buried…. The third day he arose from the dead….FIRSTFRUIT ….. he was and is firstfruit!…the first human to die and arise from the dead …. And taken home to be with his father GOD.

By his death he paid for our sins….by asking for forgiveness and believing in him we too can be picked as fruit from the tree of life to be taken home to heaven at the second coming of Christ!

On a daily basis I am grateful to be here on earth sharing time and space with each of you… praying and thanking the Lord for being FIRSTFRUIT for me.

“Be the person God made you to be and you will set the world on fire”

~Harry Rodenberger from 3R Farms

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Midnight is a great listener, and even the trees in the background
seem to be talking to each other, and are good listeners!

 

We Will See God

I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed
yet in my flesh I will see God.
Job 19: 25-26

 

The word redeemer appears many times in the Old Testament books of Ruth, Isaiah, Psalm, and Job. All of them refer to the Lord our redeemer, except in the book of Ruth. Ruth’s reference is to Boaz.

When studying the book of Ruth under Pastor Bert several years ago, he explained to us the concept of the kinsman redeemer. Kinsman is a male family member. A redeemer is one who purchases – or redeems – another out of slavery. At the time, Boaz was Ruth’s kinsman redeemer. He bought her out of slavery.

Boaz acts as an early and simple example of what our redeemer will do for us. Boaz was the kinsman redeemer for one, Ruth. Christ is the redeemer for all. Boaz made Ruth his wife, just as the church is the bride of Christ. Comparatively, Boaz made very little sacrifice to redeem Ruth. Christ suffered, died, and overcame sin in order to redeem us. Boaz, was the father of Obed, who was the father Jesse, who was the father of David (Ruth 4:21-22). Joseph, father of Jesus, belonged to the house and line of David (Luke 2:4). Boaz has long since passed away. Christ lives. Our Redeemer lives!

He not only lives, but is coming back. “He will stand on earth.”

This is strong language from Job. Jesus had not appeared yet as a baby in a manger or our Savior on the cross. He hadn’t yet appeared to his disciples after his resurrection. However, Job didn’t say, “I hear my redeemer might live,” or “I suspect he’ll stand on the earth.” Job had absolute faith and confidence in God. “I know that my redeemer lives.” “He will stand on earth.”

Job not only had a complete trust in God, he knew that his earthly body was wasting away, just like ours. He knew that earthly relief may not come to him, just like it doesn’t always come to us. He knew that God was his redeemer, though. Job knew that permanent and eternal relief was promised and guaranteed by God. His hope wasn’t in a doctor healing him. He knew his earthly suffering would not end until he saw God. And he knew that God, his redeemer, would walk on the earth.

What’s not part of the Messiah text is the next verse of Job, verse 27: “I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”

Job also knew that he would see God, not as a dream or figment or in some supernatural way, but in reality. He would see God with his eyes, like we see shoes on our feet and a car drive by.

We will see God. After years and years of striving, longing, wondering, and hoping, we will reap our reward. We will see God! It won’t be others telling us their version of a spiritual encounter. It won’t be our sister, saying her friend’s cousin thinks she saw him once on at hike at Mt. Baker. WE WILL SEE GOD!

~Nicole Moore

Hallelujah!

“They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings- and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
Revelation 17:14

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.’” Revelation 19:6

“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.’” Revelation 11:15

 

I admit, there have been times when singing or playing the Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus has been less than exciting for me. Oh, I know it’s a tremendous musical work and contains wonderful profound truths. But for me as a musician, it can be one of those pieces we might consider overplayed or cliché. After all, the Hallelujah Chorus is played or sung at weddings and funerals all over the world, and sung frequently by most every choir. Even the words of the Hallelujah Chorus are repetitive – the alto line alone sings a four-note motive “Hal-le-lu-jah” 36 times!

 

But if I open my heart to beauty of these words, how could hearing all those Hallelujahs be anything less than meaningful worship? For our Lord God Almighty reigns… It’s easy for me to imagine angels surrounding Jesus in heaven singing it with such joy, Hallelujah! Praise God, the King of Kings, for he reigns forever and ever.

 

Our sin makes it so easy to let these wonderful words of these passages and the Hallelujah Chorus become commonplace and redundant, meaningless at times. We hear these truths so often – in sermons at church, worship songs on the radio and in discussions with family and friends. May we always be open to the Lord, so his song will fill our hearts and our response can be nothing short of Hallelujah…over and over again.
~Bethany Hilt

 

 

The True King

Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.

9 You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Psalm 2: 1-3, 9

For when one man sinned, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So it has always been, whether one person or entire nations and/or their rulers. The whole of human history has been a story of obedience or rebellion to God’s rule in their lives. Over and over we are given stories of good kings and rebellious kings in the Old Testament. They believed God and obeyed and lived and prospered or they rebelled and died. Nothing has changed, we still have nations and rulers today.

Every king or ruler of any nation should consider the entire 38th chapter of Job to see if he measures up to its standard of rule and power:

 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
    or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been shown to you?
    Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
    Tell me, if you know all this.

Finding themselves far short they should throw themselves on God’s mercies and ask for wisdom and humility to rule with the authority given to them by Him.

If any king uses his power to enjoy the oppression of his people, grasping for power of life or death; then like Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Napoleon, Genghis Khan and countless others, “Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”

And after that comes judgement.

What is the desire of a king? What does he desire to hear? He will live a life and give himself two choices in the end: “Well done, good and faithful servant,” or, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”?

In either scenario all kings and nations will bow to the True King.
“The King’s under the law, for it’s the law makes him a king…For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there’s hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land.”

The Chronicles of Narnia, The Horse and His Boy, by C. S. Lewis

Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter now into your Master’s rest.
~Chris Lovegren

Did They Not Hear?

Did they not hear? Of course they did:
“Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
   their words to the ends of the world.” 
Romans 10:18

Of course we did.

But we are listening-impaired, choosing what to hear and what to ignore.

The sound of salvation has gone out into all the land,
resonating and echoing in each human ear,
ready to settle in each human heart.

But we clap our hands over our ears as if deaf.

The words are plainspoken for all to understand yet we fail to discern.
We poke holes, fuss over meaning, walk away from their call.

Did they not hear?

Of course we did.
~Emily Gibson

The Beauty of Good News

How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”
Isaiah 52: 7a

 
A traveller’s foot would not normally be considered a thing of beauty. Even modern socks and shoes do not protect feet from grime or wear as we walk in a world as rough, hard, and dirty as it is fallen. When I used to do long distance backpacking, my feet would first blister and bleed, and then develop layered callouses in thick pads. Yuck. Ugly. But things can take on a beauty not directly related to the way they look. A pair of blue jeans long past mending that we have developed a relationship with. A chipped bowl that is your first choice when you are baking rather than the equally usable new bowl next to it. When I think of the places these feet have taken me, I am dazzled by their design and durability, and that makes them beautiful to me. To be beautiful to others, there has to be something more. There has to be a qualifying attribute. When we dedicate our selves to delivering the Good News we become beautiful. Our feet, our hands, our lips, even our back sides that allow us drive to someplace/someone, and then allow us to sit patiently and tell the Good News – all become beautiful because of what they are doing, not because of the way they look.
~Brian Vander Haak

Lift Up Your Gates (2)

I assigned the same verses to two people without realizing it, so here is reflection #2 on these verses from Brian:
Lift up your heads, you gates;
    be lifted up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord strong and mighty,
    the Lord mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, you gates;
    lift them up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
    The Lord Almighty—
    he is the King of glory.
Psalm 24: 7 – 10 (NIV)
In Japan there are historic gates everywhere. We visited a castle this past week and the gates were as impressive as the high, carefully constructed stone walls, deep moat, and layered towers. Gates are designed to keep out anyone and anything undesirable. Gates can be massive, and they are cleverly designed to allow access yet protect what lies inside them. You often see a smaller door built into the large gate, or in another part of the wall nearby.
Throughout Japan the ancient doors referenced in this passage, the ones that are keeping the King of glory out, are everywhere. They are physically present, but they also exist in the cultural context. The gates on the hearts and minds of too many are massive and cleverly designed. Our lives in Japan are a prayerful effort to get these gates to lift their heads and allow the King of glory in. To find a door, whether it is the main gate, a back door, anything that might be opened. We are weak and our efforts against these intimidating gates seemingly futile, but fortunately, before we despair, verse 8 reassures us that God is strong and mighty. The battle will be His.
~Brian Vander Haak