Monday Reverb – 21August2023



The theme this week is God’s unifying work.    

The related passages are Genesis 45:1-15; Psalm 133; Matthew 15:21-28; Romans 11:1-2, 29-32  

  • In our call to worship Psalm, the psalmist speaks of the beauty of unity.
  • In Genesis, we see Joseph being reconciled to his brothers through forgiveness.
  • In Romans, Paul emphasizes God’s mercy to Jews and Gentiles in unison, and
  • in Matthew, Jesus heals a Canaanite woman’s daughter, showing that God’s mercy is for all people.


Part 1



When James Clear was in High School, he was accidentally struck in the face by a classmate’s baseball bat. The injury was so severe that he almost died at the hospital. After his horrific injury, James had a long road to recovery.

A year after the accident, James fell behind his teammates, but during his junior year he made it on the junior varsity baseball team. The next year they put him on the varsity team, but he saw almost no playing time.

James decided to find out how he could make improvements to his game. He studied everything he could find about making small daily habits that would eventually help him to succeed.

By his junior year in college, he not only played on his varsity team, but he also became the team-captain, and was named as an Academic All-American.

James became passionate about sharing his results with others and started writing a series of articles for major publications. His writings were read by coaches of various professional sports leagues, who in turn, shared those articles with their players.

His book, Atomic Habits, became a #1 New York Times bestseller which has inspired millions. He states none of this would have been possible without the tragedy that befell him on the baseball field.1

The Bible records a similar success story of a boy who had to overcome his own tragedy.  Out of jealousy, his brothers threw him into a pit and then sold him to slave merchants who sold him to Egypt.

As Joseph grew, he found favor in Pharoah’s household. He even becomes one of the most powerful individuals in the land.

Years later, during a famine, Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt for grain. When they arrive, they are brought before Joseph and don’t recognize him. Joseph recognizing his brothers, decided to play a little game with them. Ultimately, he couldn’t contain his emotions and he revealed who he is.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.  And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.   
Genesis 45:4-5

Despite the tragedies he went through, because of God’s intervention, Joseph was able to accomplish great thingsIf Joseph had just lived his life without his trials, he wouldn’t have ended up in the position to be a blessing to so many people.

Joseph recognized how God used his life circumstances to prepare him for leadership.  As he gave God praise for his plan, wisdom, and graciousness. Joseph also learned to hold no bitterness towards those who were responsible for his trials.

Most of us have probably encountered events that caused us to feel helpless.  Situations where we ended up thinking there can’t possibly be anything good that comes from this.  However, we can look back and see that God did make something good out of the situation.  What once felt hopeless, turned to another reason to praise God.

Maybe you are going through something difficult right now.  Acknowledge that God is greater than your situationAsk him to help see you through whatever it is that you are facing, all the while trusting that his intentions for you are always wise and loving.

Mi nombre es Heber Ticas, Hablando de Vida.


1) James Clear: “Atomic Habits” An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones: (New York, NY: Avery, An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2018)


Small Group Discussion Questions

From Speaking of Life

Share a time when you felt that there was no way out, yet God made a way out for you.

    • some bill payment ???

How has God worked through your circumstances and tragedies to help others?

    • ???

Where do we find the ability to trust God during unfortunate events in our lives?

    • in His Word


Part 2



His Mercy Endures Forever

Romans 11:1,2a,29-32 (NRSVUE) 

1 I ask, then, has God rejected his people?  By no means!  I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.    2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew ….   

29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable30 Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so also they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they also may now [a] receive mercy.   32 For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.  

      1. 11.31 Other ancient authorities lack now


A teacher is passing out graded assignments to his students.  When he gets to Johnny he says, “On this assignment I’m giving you an 8.”  Johnny replies, “Out of…?”  “Mercy” says the teacher.  “Out of mercy”.

While it’s good to have a merciful teacher, it’s way more important to have a merciful God.  Some in the church of Rome assumed that God’s mercy had run out for some but was still in effect for others.  Let’s dive deeper into the issue at hand and find if God’s mercy really does endure forever.

I ask, then, has God rejected his people?  By no means!  I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.  God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. (Romans 11:1-2a NRSVUE)

Paul starts out this section with the question, has God rejected His people?  To make sense of why Paul would ask that, we need to look at the context.

Throughout his letter to the Romans, he has been addressing the tension that has been ongoing between the Jewish believers and the Gentile believers.  Some of the Gentiles were assuming that since the gospel had come to them, that could only mean that God has rejected the Jews.

Paul’s answers this question by emphatically stating this is not the case.  Our modern versions of the Bible treat it politely, but Paul nearly swears with his response.  The very idea to him was ludicrous.  How dare anyone suggest such a thing!  

As proof of the absurdity of arguing that God’s mercy ran out on the Jews, Paul offers himself as an example.  He asserts that he, himself, the apostle to the Gentiles, is a descendant of Abraham.  Not only that, but he is from a tribe (Benjamin) that, had it not been for God’s mercy, was nearly wiped out (Judges 20:46-48).

Paul had even been a persecutor of the church, and yet God chose to show mercy to him and went so far as to give him the great honor in bringing many people to faith in ChristIf God had wanted to stop showing mercy to the Jewish people, Paul would have been a good one to start with.

Throughout the Old Testament we see the Jewish people turning away from the covenant God had made with them.  And each time, God spoke through a prophet to remind them that he is not going to break his everlasting unconditional covenant with them, but he will continue to show them mercy.

We can all think of things that we have done that were wrong.  Things that were not at all what God would have wanted out of us.  But in all our mistakes, all our sins, we can know that there is one who has shown us mercy and continues to do so dailyGod has not given up on you, nor will he do so.   His mercy endures forever.

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29 NRSVUE)

In the verses between 2 and 29, Paul makes his case that although many Jews have rejected Jesus, he has not rejected them, but he has also extended his invitation to the Gentiles.

Paul points out that the inclusion of the Gentiles did not diminish the importance of the Jews in God’s plan, and that through the Jews, blessings of God would come to the whole world, and have already done so.

Paul concludes then that God’s gifts and calling are irrevocable.   What God has promised will come to pass.  The calling that Abraham received in Genesis 12 to be a blessing to all nations has never been revoked.  In fact, the fulfillment of that calling was accomplished in Christ.

If God has not given up on his people, Israel, then he will certainly not give up on us eitherWe have inherited the everlasting covenant established in ChristGod could no more give up on us than he could give up on his son, Jesus.

You may understand that God will continue to show you mercy, but do you ever feel like you have messed things up so badly that God could not really want anything to do with you?  That his plans for you are to simply wait it out until eternity?

God is the God of infinite chancesThrough his covenant with you, his love has no limitsHe will never abandon you nor give up on you.  To use a sports analogy, he will never kick you off the team or make you feel less than.  Even if you are sitting on the bench, he reminds you of your significant contribution to the team.  He will keep you in the game.

Earlier in Romans (chapter 8) Paul asked another rhetorical question.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  The obvious answer was “nothing,” and “no one.”  It is not possible to be separated from his loveOne of the things in chapter 8 that was mentioned was “the future.”  Not even the things that we will do in the future will cause God to withhold his love and mercy from us.   His mercy endures forever.

Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so also they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they also may now receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all. (Romans 11:30-32 NRSVUE)

In these verses, Paul is explaining that God’s mercy extends to all people – both Jew and Gentile.   He points out that the Gentiles, who were once disobedient have now received mercy because of the disobedience of the Jews.  And similarly, the Jews have now become disobedient, but by seeing the mercy extended to the Gentiles, they may also long for that same mercy.  The problem was that the Gentile believers were falling into the same trap that the Jews previously fell into.  They started to conclude that mercy was only for them.

Paul’s point is that God’s mercy is not limited to any one group of peopleGod’s mercy is for all, regardless of their background or past behavior.  And this is possible because God has bound all men to disobedience.  All are prone to sin and in need of God’s mercy.

In WW2, a German pilot named Franz Stigler was ordered to shoot down a British plane flown by Lt. Charles Brown.  Stigler saw how poor of a condition Brown’s plane was in and figured out that the Brit was just trying desperately to fly home.  Brown was a sitting duck, and his death was certain.

Instead of obeying his orders, Stigler escorted Brown to a safe zone that was unoccupied by the Germans.  After the English lieutenant landed safely, the German pilot saluted him and headed back where he lied to his commanders about destroying the wounded B-17.

Lt. Brown tracked down his unlikely merciful savior nearly fifty years after the war.  The two remained friends until Stigler passed away in 2008.1

When it comes to mercy, God does not play favorites.  His concern is not which side of the battle lines you are on, what tribe you are a part of, or where your political leanings lie.  His design has always been to show mercy to allNone of us is beyond the mercy of GodLet us receive his mercy today, and let’s extend his mercy towards othersHis mercy endures forever!



Small Group Discussion Questions

From the Sermon

What would cause the Gentile believers in Rome to think that God’s mercy ran out on the Jewish people?   

    • There were fewer (?) Jews in the Church than there were Gentiles.

Share a time when you struggled with having to show mercy towards someone.  Also, share a time when someone showed you mercy.   

Find a few Old Testament passages that describe God’s enduring mercy towards his people.   

What are some ways that we can extend mercy towards others, especially towards those who are very different from us?  


The theme for this week is God’s unifying work … and the selected passages are Psalm 133, Genesis 45:1-15, Romans 11:29-32 and Matthew 15:21-28


Genesis 45:1-15  Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Make everyone go out from me!”  So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers.  And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it.  

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?”  But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence.  And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.”  So they came near.  Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.  But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.  7 And God sent me before you to preserve a [a]posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.  So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.  

“Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph: “God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not [b]tarry.  10 You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children, your children’s children, your flocks and your herds, and all that you have.  11 There I will provide for you, lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty; for there are still five years of famine.” ’  

12 “And behold, your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my mouth that speaks to you.  13 So you shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that you have seen; and you shall hurry and bring my father down here.”  

14 Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck.  15 Moreover he kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and after that his brothers talked with him.    

In Genesis, we see Joseph being reconciled to his brothers through forgiveness.

Matthew 15:21-28  Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.  22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David!  My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”  

23 But He answered her not a word.  

And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”  

24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  

25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”  

26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”  

27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”  

28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith!  Let it be to you as you desire.”  And her daughter was healed from that very hour.   

In Matthew, Jesus heals a Canaanite woman’s daughter, showing that God’s mercy is for all people.



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