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Easy Like Flipping Pancakes - By Pastor Thomas Engel


It’s my routine to work on my sermons the first thing in the morning.

When my stomach starts to roar, “Send some food down here,” I take a break and get my usual bowl of Cheerios with a banana, and if Jewel had strawberries and blueberries on sale, I toss them in, too.

On Tuesday morning, when I was starting to write this week’s sermon, I didn’t have any strawberries or blueberries. If you can please explain to me why the price of fruit is either either sky high or dirt low, please text me.

And then, I was horrified as I looked at my last banana-it was loaded with soft brown spots. My sickly banana was a sign that I needed to do some shopping.

So, I threw out the banana and got to thinking about a real breakfast like pancakes with slabs of butter dribbled with maple syrup.

You know I’m not much of a cook, but I can make a pancake that any short order cook would be proud of.

I can make a perfect golden pancake for a few reasons:

First, because I am short of any natural talent in the kitchen, I don’t mind saying that I cheat. I buy the mix that just has to be poured out of a bottle.

Second, like most people, I use a non- stick pan that makes for easy flipping.

And I know the secret that you all know for making those perfect golden brown pancakes. When the pancake starts to get several bubbles on top, it’s time to flip the pancake.

My kept secret is that I’ve found the exact number of bubbles, and I count that number on each pancake.

Maybe it was my rotting banana that got me thinking about pancakes, but I also recalled that on Monday morning, when I began studying the readings for this week, I saw I theme developing about how God is the one who knows all about flipping things at the right time.

The Old Testament Reading for today is deep and deserves the attention of at least an hour long Bible study, but for our purposes, I will give a quick summary of it.

The Old Testament Reading tells us how the Nation of Israel is going to return to its home, Jerusalem, after God had given them over to their enemies as a punishment for their disobedience.

This returning of the Nation of Israel to Jerusalem is where I got the idea of God flipping things.

God is flipping them from exile to back home, but how God does this flipping is the deep part.

Today, I want to point out how, in all events in history, there are two levels.

There is the one level of facts that are on the surface. These facts are the ones I just told you about how the Nation of Israel was in exile and was about to be restored. A number of nations were involved, and specific leaders of those nations were making changes happen.

The headline back then could have been: “Zedekiah Rebels against Babylon.”

All events and situations have these kind of surface facts.

We learned these surface facts in our history classes back in school, or we are learning them when we watch the news like we will be seeing what happens at the G-7 summit when leaders of the world’s big nations meet in Europe this week.

The other level goes deep-it’s about what God is doing. In all events of the world and in our lives, we can say God is behind the scenes directing all things for His purposes.

From all past events like in Biblical days, on the world stage, in America, and in our own lives, we are basically seeing on the surface how we, as humans, have worked out things, but then going deeper, we see how God has always been flipping events just at the right time as He saw fit.

Here in the Old Testament Reading, God is saying that His judgment will prevail against the Nation of Israel, and He will also be the one to restore them.

Of course, it’s humans who are doing the work on the surface, but it’s God doing the work through them.

God is the Lord of history, and what He says happens.

Our Lord always has the last word, and He confirms that by saying, “I am the Lord, I have spoken, and I will do it.”

Getting back to the two levels of facts, in one way, I want to interpret what God is doing through humans.

I want to know all the inter workings of what is happening. In this way, I will know all the reasons and purposes of everything.

Like this past year and a half, I want to know why in the world did we have to go through this pandemic.

I’m a purpose-driven type of guy. If I don’t see an clear big apparent reason that will show immediate results, I’m not likely to be all that motivated to do the task.

I can get a little snubby about it.

But, in another way, I’ve learned and am still learning how I will not ever know exactly why things are the way that they are.

A lot of life is about acceptance without ever fully knowing all the reasons.

Although God does work through humans, we might never know the answers to all of our questions.

I feel like I’m left hanging because I like asking questions about what is happening in the world and in my life.

I’m a terrible person to watch the news with because I’m blurting out questions that I think that the reporter needs to be asking. In my opinion, the interviewers leave too many gaps, probably because they are up against a commercial break.

The lesson that I have to keep learning is that God does work through humans, but it’s God who does whatever He wants accomplished.

The reason this lesson takes situation after situation to keep understanding is that humans do have minds of their own.

It makes for an interesting world that we do have our different ideas, wills, and ways. We are not God’s robots, but just how God works by His will and also with our wills is on the mysterious side of things.

When we are in our situations and wondering how things will turn out, we can know God has the last word, and His will is always done-always done for the best.

After all, don’t we pray, “Thy will be done?”

God is in control, but His decisions are not arbitary or acted out to satisfy an ego.

When God acts, He acts only out of love.

God is all about love because He is love-a perfect love.

But as for humans, our wills and ways are tainted with sins, for we want to satisfy our egos-with acts that come from our selfishness, arrogance, stubbornness, and the list goes on and on.

When we are in our situations, especially when a situation is getting so messy, we need to put the brakes on sinful reactions and trust that God knows what He is doing.

God can flip and will flip events when He sees fit, and by faith, we trust that He will always do what is best for us.

Knowing that God can judge us can cause us to fear and tremble. God can chose not to flip things and let us burn-up like a pancake on a hot griddle, which I’ve done when I lost count of the bubbles.

But, God never will never do that, for He never gets distracted, even though it seems that God is not so involved in the world and our lives because we are seeing such big messes.

In those big messes, God is letting them play-out as He sees that they should for the best results.

God needs to judge for He is perfectly righteous. He had to punish the Nation of Israel for their disobedience.

God is a judge, but He also is a deliverer. He wants to restores us. His overall desire is to keep bringing us back to Him.

There’s a perfect example of the inter working of God and humans, and not to use this next event as only as an illustration of this inter working, but it’s the perfect example because it shows how God works as judge and deliverer.

Or, to say, how God flipped everything for us from our damnation that we deserve because of our sins to eternal life in heaven.

I’m sure that you know that I’m talking about the event of Jesus going to the cross.

On the surface, religious leaders like Caiaphas, political leaders like Pilate, and humans like the crowd who yelled, “Crucify him” played a part in putting Jesus to death.

But, if we go deeper, it was God who gave up His very own Son, Jesus, to die for the sins of the world-can’t get any deeper than that.

God sent Jesus to do that work of taking the punishment for our sins out of His love for us.

God flipped everything when Jesus died and rose for us.

In that flipping, sin, Satan, and eternal death were defeated forever.

It begs the question, “If God flipped over all that can harm us, what can God flip in my life, now?”

I can boldly tell you that God is flipping your life right now.

I know this because God is coming to you today by His Word that tells you of life and salvation in Christ. You can start new- right this moment.

I know this because in your taking of

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