A Message From Pastor for July

Masked vs. Unmasked

 

Lately in the news, we come across the distinction between names which have been Masked or Unmasked. In our country's information gathering, the names of United States Citizens are masked when they are caught in a conversation with a foreigner Their names should be masked or whited out before anybody reads them. This is to protect their presumed innocence. Higher ups in the Government, under strict guidlines can 'unmask' names, where it is necessary for national security. Unmasked numbers of people seem to have reached the thousands 

Luther talks about how we are “God's Masks.” God must be masked as a result of man's sins whenever he deals with us. In Christ, God reveals himself to us. In Christ, he shows us his law and also his love and grace. In Christ, he shows us the Way to Heaven by faith and gives us a glimpse of the glories of heaven. In Christ, God reveals himself to us in His Word.

In Christ, we are the salt and light of the world. People outside the church should be able to see the good things we do out of love for Christ and glorify our father who is in heaven. The God who creates these opportunities to do good things is masked in our doing of them. Ultimately we need to open the pages of God's Word to these people that they may see and believe in the Savior whom God has sent. The Savior, whom we see in God's Word, taking our sins and suffering for them, dying for them and rising again to show our sins stand forgiven.

 

There are some spiritual monsters, who put on masks to make people think they are really good, kind and loving. That they really know about God and his love. 'Wolves in sheep's clothing' is what Jesus calls these false teachers. The Devil masquerades as an angel of light. The sinful people of the world pretend they are your cool friends, and if you act like them, you can be cool also. And you sinful flesh, tries to pretend that you are your own master. That you can do whatever you think is right.

These are masks we need to rip off of these monsters. We need to id. them for what they really are – false prophets, the Devil and his demon army, the sinful world and me. God's Word shines the clear light on them so that we can see these foes for what they really are and what they are trying to do. They would lead us down the sinful path, until we are caught in the tentacles of hell.

Unmask them. They are not innocent, wise and smart, fun, loving ways to live your live. They are the very tools of the Devil who is prowling around looking for someone to devour. Other people are caught in their tentacles. So we need to unmask these monsters, using God's Word so that other souls can be snatched from the gates of hell.

That brothers and sisters is the work of Christ's church! That is your work as a Christian. Tell others about your God and Savior and what he did for you on the cross, and what he does for you every day. So that many others may break off from the monsters of hell into the loving arms of God their Savior. You are God's Mask – unmask your spiritual enemies.

A Message From Pastor for March

A Message From Pastor for March

March Newsletter – 2017

Did God Really Say..........? Fake News!

 

Fake News has been in the news just about every night lately. Fake News is something which is 'reported' repeatedly in the news yet it has not been verified with any facts, in fact many times the facts come up showing a different truth. Another name for 'Fake News” is a LIE! 

Our God is the God of Truth. He gave us the Truth in His Word. Truths which we are to study, believe, keep and treasure. The Devil is the Father of LIES. 

We see the father of lies, bringing forth the first 'Fake News' in Genesis chapter 3, where he comes and slyly is asking Eve “Did God Really Say.....? He wanted Eve to doubt the Truth about God and His Love for Her. 

Lies are still all around us as we try to live our lives as Christians. Liberals would ask us: “Did God Really Say …..?” “Does God Really Mean what He said?” As they try to turn the truth into something different. When God's Word says that He Created the world in 6 days, anything different, even if it is so called 'proven' Science is a LIE. When God says that He is in charge of our lives, and when we are born and when we die, anything different, even if it is so called 'birth control', 'my choice,' or 'death with dignity' is a lie. When God says he established marriage as between one man and one woman and that the marriage bed is to be kept pure, anything different, even if it is called 'love' or political correct is a lie. When God's Word tells us that faith in Jesus is the only way into heaven, anything else, even religions of peace are a lie and from the Father of Lies.

Lies, whether they are on the news or on the internet also are fabricated in the forges of hell, and produced by the Father of Lies. Since God is the God of Truth, His Children also are assigned the gates of truth. We should not even give the hint that what we are saying is not the truth.

When we see that we have been less then truthful in any way, thank God – The God of Truth for His wonderful Good News that our sins have been forgiven by the suffering, death and resurrection of His Own Son Jesus Christ. Jesus lived His whole life under Truth, always speaking the truth in love no matter what the situation. Even when His life was on the line, he spoke the truth that he was the Son of the Living God.

May we always work to know His Truth and spread His Truth wherever and whenever we can. “The Truth will set us free.”

A Message From the Pastor for December

A Message From the Pastor for December

How many times have we celebrated Christmas? How many times have we heard the Christmas story and the events leading up to it? 

We remember the Birth of John the Baptist being announced to his Father Zechariah. There he was in the temple serving the LORD, when the angel Gabriel, appeared to Zechariah gripping him with fear. Even though he and his wife were very old, and she could not conceive, they would have a son. The child would “make ready a people prepared for the LORD.”

The six months later, the same angel Gabriel is sent to “a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.” After he greets Mary, she is troubled wondering “what kind of greeting this might be.” But the angel announced the wonderful news that she would be the human mother of Jesus, “the Son of the Most High God.” We remember how Mary believed the news and accepted her role in the salvation of mankind.

Then, part of the proof that she, a virgin would be pregnant, the angel told her about her relative, Elizabeth, how she was pregnant also in her old age. So Mary took off to see her cousin Elizabeth. Then a wonderful thing happened. Even though Elizabeth did not know about Mary's situation, when Mary greeted her, her baby, John leaped for joy in her womb and the Holy Spirit explained to her what was happening.

In Mary's Song we see her rejoicing in her Savior who would be born through her. Then, John the Baptist is born, just as God promised. And his Father prophecied about his work as the forerunner of the Savior.

This is all mostly familiar to most of us. We have heard it year after year. But my point today, is that we can be sure that all this is true, which Luke tells us. He talked to those who were eyewitnesses, and those who followed the LORD during his ministry. Did he interview Mary, I think so! And the Gospel of Luke is his report. But more than that, we are sure that these accounts are real and truthful because Luke was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write these exact words of accounts from those whom he had interviewed. His Gospel is God's Word.

So when we listen again to these accounts. They fill us in awe as we think about what this means to us, that at God's right time, he sent the forerunner for his Son, and then sent His Son into the world “that whoever believe in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

Luke tells us: “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” Luke 1:1–4 (NIV84)

A Message From the Pastor for July

Titus 1:1–3 (NIV84)

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— 2 a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, 3 and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior,

Sometimes we might have questions about: What am I doing? Does it really matter? Am I sure of what I believe? Who? What? Where? When?

Pilate scoffed at Jesus asking: “What is Truth?” Truth was standing in front of him. God had set up this encounter between Jesus and Pilate before time began. Our loving Savior has planned and guided our whole life from beginning to end before time's clock even started. It was no accident when you meet your Christian friend outside the store. Did you encourage him/ her? Or the time when you were talking to your non-christian worker/ neighbor. He put the words in your mouth. His Words- which the Holy Spirit used for His good purpose.

    •    “Who am I?” You might wonder. God says: “You are my servant.”

    •    “What should I be doing?” God says: “You are my servant... for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.” 

    •    “Does it matter?” It is “a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life.”

    •    “Am I sure of what I believe?” God says: “A faith and hope... which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.”

Can you think of any other questions which might pertain to your life? Look in our verses to see if there is an answer there for you. Then look into the other parts of God's Truth. Seek answers from your fellow Christians. They may have gone through the same issues in their life and may have words of wisdom for yours. And, don't forget to take it to the LORD in prayer.

Remember what God's Truth did for you? He obeyed God's Law perfectly in your place, since you were not able to do so. Then, He took on your sin and paid for its guilt, so that your sins and guilt are washed away before God eternally. Isn't that truly wonderful? And He rose again from the dead and lives eternally on high! He hears your prayers. He knows the truth about your situations in life. He has the answers already cooked up for you from eternity. You are in good hands.

Don't forget those who you come to meet in this world. You are God's servants for their faith in Jesus. You have the Truth to lead them into godliness in their Christian living. You have a faith in the blessed hope which God promised to you by faith before time began. Use the opportunities to tell others of the hope you have so they may rejoice with you into eternity.

A Message From the Pastor for March

Psalm 68:19  Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Selah

Do you know the feeling when you are in the middle of the winter blues? The weather just seems to be the same, day after day. There doesn't seem to be any blue skies or golden sun. Some people try to escape this by seeking more Southern skies. But I remember having day after day of winter rain, when I lived down south. 

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Isn't this good news for the winter blues? Or whatever the day is bringing to you? The LORD, our Savior and God, created this earth, and mankind so perfectly. And when mankind fell into sin and death's trap, he promised and sent His Own Son to take up our burdens and sins and carry them. 

What a wonderful thought! Our Big Brother came and took up the load which we were not able to carry. He made them his. The first was our deep, dark burden of sin. We had no idea what to do with it. We could try to hide those secret sins and sinful thoughts, but they keep popping up to burden our consciences. And our sins of words and deeds, how hurtful they are. We are so ashamed of them. We know what we deserve! God's punishment here each and every day, and an eternity of punishment separated from him in hell. We carried that burden around every day, or at least we might have tried. But then He, Jesus our Savior came. He was tempted with the same thoughts, words and actions, and even more. (We were never tempted to turn stones into bread, proving we were the Son of God; Or to come down from the cross again proving his divine authority.) He had to carry our sins and burdens on his shoulders and bear the punishment for each and every one of our sins until he bowed his head in final victory. He died and rose again! The burden of our sins are gone, no one will be able to find them again. They cannot burden us anymore.

What else is able to burden us? So many things try to burden us like: Our children (grandchildren), the spouse, our health (or someone we love), money, jobs, our church, our nation, and what not? WE need to hear it again: “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Our Loving Savior bears our burdens. He knows our total situation, he knows our weaknesses, and He KNOWS our Future! He knows our crosses because He carried His! 

The burdens he gives us to carry, may seem large and heavy. But they are packed with love and his purpose. These burdens are to make our faith stronger, that we might cling to him stronger, that we might share heaven eternally with him. 

Jesus knows the burden of the day, with your name on it. Yes, he does. He packed it especially for you. And at the end of the day, take it off and return it to him. Make it his through prayer, it always was his. And one day, there will be no more burdens for you, as he welcomes you into your eternal home in heaven. Amen.

 

A Message From the Pastor for February

As I write this article, the world is beginning to get ready for... Lent? Or at least they are getting ready for the pre-lent celebration of Fat Tuesday or Shrove (confession) Tuesday; or as they say it in French: Mardi Gras. This is about the carnival celebration beginning after the feast of Epiphany and ending on the day before Ash Wednesday. Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras reflects the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten Season. In New Orleans this celebration really has nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with drinking and lewd partying. The news will usually show us pictures of people drinking and dancing down the streets in New Orleans.

I imagine this celebration is a mixture of the Jewish observation of Passover as they rid their houses of yeast and the Catholics getting their houses ready for their fasting without meat. That is kind of a big stretch. As Christians today, it is not all about rules. Christ fulfilled the law and gives us the freedom to serve him with what we eat or drink.

The Christian Church used to celebrate with Sundays called: Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima Sundays. These were the three Sundays before Lent and they basically mean 70, 60 and 50 days until Easter. In church we heard statements in the liturgy like: “The sorrows of death compassed me: the sorrows of hell compassed be about.” “The LORD will be a Refuge for the oppressed, a Refuge in times of trouble” “Awake, why sleepest Thou, O Lord? Arise cast us not off forever.” “Let the nations know that Thy name is Jehovah.” “Be Thou my strong Rock: for an house of defense to save me.” And “Thou art the God that doest wonders: Thou hast declared Thy strength among the peoples.”

The Bible tells us: “Luke 9:51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” For us, we remember how Jesus knew everything which lay ahead of him up in Jerusalem. And yet he willingly went there. And there he lovingly completed everything necessary for us and our Salvation according to God's Plan. The result is that now everyone who believe in what he did for them is certain that they may have life in and with Him forever in Heaven.

 

Psalm 116 - I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;

he heard my cry for mercy.

2 Because he turned his ear to me,

I will call on him as long as I live.

3 The cords of death entangled me,

the anguish of the grave came upon me;

I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.

4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:

O Lord, save me!”

5 The Lord is gracious and righteous;

our God is full of compassion.

    Lent begins February 10th.  Join us in worship at 7pm every Wednesday during Lent; and/ or visit us on Sundays for Bible class/ Sunday School at 9:30 and Worship at 10:30 am.

A Message From the Pastor for December....

December, 2015

The Day of the LORD

 

Acts 2:20–21 (NIV84) The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood

before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.

21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

This year, Christians will begin to celebrate Advent on November 29th. My Webster's dictionary has two different entries for Advent.  With a small a = advent, it says: “A coming or arrival.”  The word comes from the Latin and means “to come.”  With a big A = Advent, it says:  “1.  The birth of Christ.  2)  The second coming of Christ.  3.  The season including the four Sundays before Christmas.”  During the Advent season – the four Sundays before Christmas we think about Christ's comings.  His first coming for us in the manger at Bethlehem; His coming to us today through Word and Sacrament; and His second coming at the end of time.  Advent is a time of anticipation and hope.  Our Christian hope is based on the promises which God has made of these comings of the LORD Jesus.

Christians celebrate the first coming of Christ on December 25th. Is that the correct day? I don't know, but it does not matter. What does matter is that as God had promised, on one specific day in History God came to earth in the Baby of Bethlehem.

Most Christians worship on Sunday, the first day of the week. When they worship Christ, He comes to them. He is there with them as they listen to His Word and hear and receive the Gospel in His Sacraments. Is there one day holier than any other? In the Old Testament times, God had strongly commanded His people to rest and worship Him on the Sabbath – which is Saturday. Christians choose Sunday to remember Christ's Resurrection from the dead after his suffering for their sins, His death and burial for three days. In New Testament times, we are not commanded to worship on any certain day, but rather each day we praise and thank God for what he has done for us.

As Christians we also know and believe that Christ will come again. As there was a first day of Creation, so there will come the Day of the LORD when he will judge all people. This Day is called: 1) A Day of the LORD's wrath; 2) A Day of darkness, clouds and doom; 3) A Day of Destruction; and 4) A Great and Glorious Day – as in the text above.

How can the Day of the LORD be all that? It is talking to those who do not believe in Jesus as their Savior and those who do. For those who do not believe, it will be as the prophet records: Zephaniah 1:14ff “The great day of the Lord is near— near and coming quickly. Listen! The cry on the day of the Lord will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there. That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness... on the day of the Lord’s wrath. In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth.” So yes, that day in History will not be a good or welcome day for those who do not believe.

But for the believer, it will be totally opposite, it will be our Happiest Day! As Jesus tells us: “Luke 21:28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.On that day, those who died and believe in Jesus will rise from their graves as he did and together with all believers of all time, they will rise to meet Him in the skies and so they will be with the LORD forever.

No wonder Christians celebrate Advent and remember how Jesus came on one night in history, how He comes to us through His Word and how He will come again and shortly as He promised. May we all be ready for the Great and Glorious Day of the LORD!

A Message From the Pastor for November

                      Hebrews 4:12 - For the word of God is living and active.

 

On October 31, 1517, to protest the selling of worthless pieces of paper called indulgences which promised people release from their sins in purgatory for a payment of money, Martin Luther objected and wrote 95 statements in Latin which showed why the sales of these indulgences were wrong. He nailed them to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany. This led to the Reformation which swept across the world changing it forever. Unfortunately, one can still buy indulgences from the roman catholic church. On the first Sunday of November, we will celebrate Reformation Sunday. Why? What is so important about the Reformation.

Can you imagine a church where the Bible was not read? Can you imagine a Dr. of Divinity (Andrew Carlstadt) receiving his degree and going about his church work for eight years without opening the Bible? What were they studying? What were they preaching and teaching about? And what good was that for anyone? Yet, that was the church in Luther's day, which was changed by the Reformation. Luther wrote his 95 thesis, or statements to challenge someone to debate him on the topic. But the statements were translated, printed and spread over Germany and all around much of Europe. The people were stirred by what they read. And the Reformation took off.

The main blessings of the Reformation to us are: 1) The Word of God being put into the hands of the people to read, meditate and to believe in their Savior Jesus Christ. This is why Luther began to translate the Bible into their language. 2) Then also, we benefit with the return of the Bible's Main Teaching of Salvation by Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ. 3) Other biblical doctrines and the Sacraments were given back to the people where they belonged, that they may grow in Grace and Faith.

Luther says in his Table Talks: “We ought not to criticize, explain, or judge the Scriptures by our mere reason, but diligently, with prayer, meditate thereon, and seek their meaning. The devil and temptations also afford us occasion to learn and understand Scriptures, by experience and practice. Without these we should never understand them, however diligently we read and listen to them. The Holy Ghost must here be our only master and tutor; and let youth have no shame to learn of that preceptor. When I find myself assailed by temptation, I forthwith lay hold of some text of the Bible, which Jesus extends to me; as this: that he died for me, whence I derive infinite comfort.

“He who has made himself master of the principles and text of the word runs little risk of committing errors. A theologian should be thoroughly in possession of the basis and source of faith – that is to say, the Holy Scriptures. Armed with this knowledge it was that I confounded and silenced all my adversaries; for they seek not to fathom and understand the Scriptures; they run over them negligently and drowsily; they speak, they write, they teach, according to the suggestion of their heedless imaginations. My counsel is, that we draw water from the true source and fountain, that is we diligently search the Scriptures. He who wholly possesses the text of the Bible, is a consummate divine. One single verse, one sentence of the text, is of far more instruction that a whole host of... commentaries,... I prefer the text to them all, though , in popedom, the glosses were deemed of higher value then the bright and clear text.”

Let us not lose the Bible, but with diligence, in fear and invocation of God, read and preach it... I would not give a straw for the rest.

Would a person come every Sunday to hear me rattle on about what I think? I would hope not! What I think and my opinions don't really matter inside the church. God's Word is what it is all about. God's Word is our Delight, our Light in a dark world, our Spotlight on the true God, on His Son our Savior and on The Way, He has provided for us by faith through the Eternal Gates of Heaven. What a benefit for us from the Reformation!

A Message From the Pastor for October.....

One thing I say to people, when different things are happening in their lives:  You have confessed a faith in the true God your whole life.  This situation is a time to put your faith into practice, to trust Him to do what is good and right - as he promised.

One place where we are reminded us of God's love and goodness is Romans Chapter 8. Look at the several promises there. 

1)  It will turn out in God's positive way for you. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

2)  The end result - is our glorification.  For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

3.  God is for us, on our team .... so we can't lose. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?

4.  We stand innocent - so no one can accuse us of any sin.  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.

5.  Jesus died and is interceding before the Father for us. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

6.  We cannot be separated from God and his love. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

        God will always act in love, with every situation we are in. And as we see in verse 37 – we are winners in every situation.

 

     Now - which promise gives you the most confidence in God?  But now, put all these promises together and you have several rock solid promises which can calm any troubled soul.  You can stand in the faith and trust God to keep his promises for you.

A Message From the Pastor for August.................

What does it mean to “Call on the Name of the LORD?” This is one of those questions which has different answers. Remember first of all what the 'NAME' of the LORD is. God's 'Name' is 1) All the titles and names by which he is called. For instance, Christ is a Title and Jesus is a name. Here in this article we are focusing on the all-capitalized name “LORD,” or in the Hebrew, “Yahweh”. This is a special name which is used in the Bible for the God of the Promise, the God of the Covenant, who wants all people to be saved and so made a promise to save them and carried out that promise through Jesus' suffering, death and resurrection. God's 'Name' is also 2) Everything we know about God. His characteristics or attributes which describe him, especially as he shows Himself to us in His Word.

Calling on the Name of the Lord then is first of all identifying Him. How do we distinguish this God from false gods? God identifies Himself as he proclaimed His name to Moses on Mt. Sinai. He says: “Exodus 34: 4 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” God is proclaiming or telling us about his Name, the LORD.

Calling on the Name of the LORD is also a confession. As the prophet Joel writes: “2:32 - And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved;” So everyone who confesses faith in Jesus as their LORD and Savior, everyone who believes, will be saved.

Next, calling on the Name of the LORD is worship and proclamation. One could maybe say this feature covers all of the other uses. It started early among the family of God. As early as in the days of Adam and Eve, we are told: “Gen 4: 26 - Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time men began to call on the name of the Lord.“ This seems to be a public worship service where one of the people 'preaches' to their family and household, and also to the people around them, about the LORD and what he has done and promises to do for them. We see this also in the worship lives of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 12, 13, 21 and 26.).

Part of our worship is calling on the name of the LORD, or prayer. We see this in the story of Elijah on Mt. Carmel, when he tells the priests of Baal, you “call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD.” We see how Moses and Aaron and Samuel (Psalm 99:6) called on the name of the LORD, and in times of trouble we say with the Psalmist 116:4 “Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, save me!” And we know that he promised to hear our prayers and will answer them. And then we call on the name of the LORD with thanksgiving (Ps. 105:1).

Last of all we see how God's Old Testament church bore the Name of the LORD, as the ark of the covenant and the city of Jerusalem did. And like God's people then (Deuteronomy 28:10), we today also bear his name. When people look at us, they are to see us as the people of God, as Christians who carry the Name of the LORD, people who confess and proclaim what God has done for them. The greatest gift which the LORD gave us for which we can offer him thanks every day, from now into eternity, is the gift of Salvation through His Son. Isaiah says: “In that day you will say:

                                            “Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name;

make known among the nations what he has done,

and proclaim that his name is exalted.

5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;

let this be known to all the world.

6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,

for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

A Message From the Pastor for July...........

                          Powered For Life!

Romans 1: 16 – I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.

 

Last month, we celebrated Father's Day. Did you see some of the commercials which were aimed at gifts for Dad? One was from a Building Supply store, and they were advertising an amazing power tool. If you got the whole packet, you could do anything you needed to do. You could use the screwdriver/ drill. You could use different kinds of saws and even a blower, all with a change of the battery.

In the Gospel, the Good News of the Savior from God, we, Christians, have a powerful tool which has different uses. As this verse says: It has ...the power of God for Salvation of everyone who believes. It also has the power to make us believe; and the power for us Christians to live a God-pleasing life. Let us think about those three uses.

As the Power of God for the Salvation of everyone who believes, this tells us that the power to save us does not come from the law. When an unbeliever hears the Law: “Do this and do that, and don't do this...” He still is an unbeliever. Oh sure, he would know that he is a sinner who is responsible to the God of Heaven. He might be sorry for his sins when he hears the Law, but he cannot believe until the power of salvation through the preaching of the Gospel is worked on his heart by the Holy Spirit.

Closely related to our last point is the one which shows us the Gospel as God's power to make us believe. God's Law commands us to be holy, totally perfect! But even doing our best we cannot obey God's Commands perfectly – all of them, all the time. The Gospel tells us that Jesus was holy. He was the Holy Son of God who became a man child, born of the virgin Mary, and so was placed under all of God's laws for humankind. Then the Gospel tells us this innocent one, who was not worthy of the death penalty, which the law places us all under, suffered and died on the Cross, as the perfect sacrifice of blood for all of our sins and guilt. He rose again showing his sacrifice was sufficient and that we also one day will rise.

As sinners, we could never believe that news. We could never choose to believe in Jesus as our Savior or love God. We were just not in the position to do so because we were spiritually dead and blind. Even if we heard the gospel, we would not understand it or believe it. God the Holy Spirit had to work his miracle of faith in our heart. He had to create a new being inside of us – which through baptism takes on the Name of the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So the Gospel is God's Power which makes us believe.

Then when we know and believe in Jesus as our Savior, and when we know and believe what God did through him out of love for us. Then the Gospel motivates us to live our love for God. Paul wrote: “Christ's Love compels us...” and “He gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Notice here how the Gospel is our motivation to obey the commands of God. The Gospel motivates us to live as Children of God and Heirs of Heaven by faith. We obey the Laws, not because we have to, because we were commanded, but because the Gospel worked the power to love to obey in our lives under Christ Jesus.

May God bless us through the Gospel of Jesus so that we see its power to Save, it power to make us believe and it's power to make us live as Children of God.

A Message From the Pastor for June....

Acts 19:20 

In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

 

June is a month of growth. Gardens are planted; and children are home from school. During the Summer and into the fall, one might ask: “How's your garden growing?” And at the end of summer, many times parents and teachers are amazed at how much the children grew during the summer.

The book of Acts tells us about the Acts of the Apostles, and shows us how the early church grew. It started on Pentecost with the addition of 3,000 believers, and it multiplied throughout Jerusalem. Then it tells us how it was taken into Africa, and spread into Syria, Turkey, and then into Europe. We are recipients of the Gospel then being bought into America.

Like a vine growing along a wall, the word of the LORD must spread. First it must grow in us. As each one of us use whatever opportunities we have to read the powerful word of the LORD, to hear the word of the LORD, to study it and meditate upon it. As we use the powerful word, we will grow in our faith.

When we have some good news, we can hardly wait 'to spill the beans'. The good news of Jesus our Savior, who came to earth as our substitute for sin, who paid the penalty of our sins on the cross and who rose victoriously from the dead and now sits on the right hand of the Heavenly Father is more important than any news we may feel compelled to share. This news can make the difference between an eternity of suffering or one of complete joy in our hearer. What is more important than that?

This summer I plan on studying the two letters of Paul to the Corinthians. Read over the letters yourselves and if you have any questions, write them down and give them to me, talk to me about them, or email them. I would be glad to help you grow in God's Word.

Also this summer, we will be looking and thinking over ways where we can share the message of the Savior with other people. Think what you can do. Let me know if you have a good suggestion for an opportunity to talk about our Savior. Perhaps, I can help you think over what you can say. And use every opportunity God gives you to open your mouth and share the good news which can make a real difference in someones life and eternity.

May God help us and use us so that “In this way the word of the Lord (will) spread widely and grew in power.” May God bless us with growth this summer.

A Message From the Pastor for May

A Message From the Pastor For May

A Lesson from some flowers

Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount gave us a familiar lesson where he teaches about birds and flowers. He says: “Matthew 6:25–34 (NIV84) 

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Spring, the time of birds and flowers, teaches us not to worry. Worry is not a innocent pastime, but it is sin. It is not trusting God to take care of you, or those you love. Worry is saying: “I don't think God can handle this situation in my life. I sure can't, but can He?” Can you hear the echo from the Devil, the father of lies. It is like he is whispering: “Did God really say: 'He loves you and would take care of you?'” Which Father are you going to listen to? Which Father will you believe?

What did the season of Lent teach us to do with sins like worry? It first of all showed us a Savior who was like us and tempted like us in every way – even to worry. Yet he always trusted his Father to take care of him. Then Lent shows us what Jesus did to our sins like worry. He suffered greatly, to wash us clean. His Resurrection shows us how we are free to serve our God without worry.

Worrying is not a right we were born with, or that you grew into when you became a mother. Worrying is a sin. Remember what he said when he was woken up from a sleep during the storm on the lake? Mark tells us: “The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?

Jesus is true God! He took the worry out of our life. If you doubt that at any time, look up some of the other passage which talk about worry. And smile and trust God to be true to His Word.

A Message From the Pastor for April.......

Hebrews 10:25: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

We like to sing the words: “When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun.” But my question is. When we have been there that long, how will we look at these short years here on earth in this tent, our earthly bodies? My guess is that it only be a distant memory in our rear view mirror in eternity. So the writer to the Hebrews told his readers and us: “Let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Think of the word 'courage'. What would it mean to en-courage someone? Do we know anyone who needs courage to be put into them? The Greek word picture here is when you call someone to your side, put your arm around them and tell them what they need to hear so they would have courage. “Let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

In our verse for today, why were people not going to their church's worship? Was it the thought of the end of the world which was disturbing the brothers; Were people just not caring about what would happen at the end of time; Or, were they staying away from church because they didn't have the courage, as some were being tempted to give up the faith and return to the Old Religion of Judaism. So the author tells his readers to call them to your side, put your arm around them and give them courage.

The lack of courage was showing in their not joining the other believers in worship. But the end of the world is coming, Jesus Christ will return. Soon some of you will step into eternity. What could your lack of courage cost you? “Let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

This Sunday is Easter, a time when many people used to go to church. I say used to, because many people have given 'up meeting together.” They've gotten into the habit of not coming, and so they need to be encouraged to get back to church. They need to hear God's messages for them. They need forgiveness proclaimed in the Gospel and receive through Holy Communion. “Let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

If you have gotten into the bad habit of skipping church, no matter what your reasons or excuse might be, come to my side, let me put my arm around you and encourage you to restart the good habit of worshiping our LORD and Savior in His House. And “When we've been there ten thousand year, bright shining as the sun,” you might look back and thank a fellow member who encouraged you to meet together- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

A Message From the Pastor for March

 

Were you there when they crucified my LORD?” So asks an African American hymn. Were you? The answer is definitely “yes!”

There were so many people we would like to have known in the Bible. What were they thinking? What happened to them later? What were the rest of their stories. Once in a while you can find a book or see a movie which follows a character through the Christmas story or through Holy Week. They are interesting fiction stories, which are fun to read.

Did you ever put yourself into the Passion story? Did you ever think: “Where would I have been? What would I have done?” Do you see yourself in the crowd when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday? Were you singing: “Hosanna to the Son of David?” Do you see yourself in the temple area as he taught there during the first part of the week? Were you amazed at his teaching? Where were you on Good Friday? Were you shouting for his crucifixion? Were you there making fun of him on the cross? What did you think when you saw the darkness and felt the earthquake? Where were you on Easter Morning?

Yes, It was your sins and my sins which put Jesus on the cross. But we were there also – ON THE CROSS with Jesus. There on the cross, you died with Jesus. There on the cross, Jesus died for your sins, and so his death is yours. Your sins were washed away, so his resurrection is yours. His Home is yours.

Because we have been washed clean, we no longer are so enticed by sin that we have to submit to it as if it were our master. We can say no to sin. We would rather stay far away from it rather then fall into it. WE see sin for what it is: rebellion against God. So we thank Jesus for what he did for us and try to keep our lives clean from sin's dirty stain.

The Book of Job Is a Study of...

Last Sunday I preached on the book of Job, the words from chapter 13:15 “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in him...” I will be again preaching from Job (7: 1-7) in a couple of weeks. In doing so, I have been reading through the book of Job and, as I see it, it is a study of the man Job, of his comfortless friends and a study of God Himself.

First of all, we see a study of Job himself. Job is the ultimate good guy. He tries to please God with his life. He is a sinner and he knows it and knows he needs a Savior. The Devil, our adversary and enemy, gets permission from God to test Job and his faith. He tells God that God has blessed Job so much that of course he is a good guy. He said that if God will take away Job's blessings, he will not trust in God anymore. So God permitted the Devil to do “bad” things to Job. Job lost his possessions, many of his servants died, and all 10 of his children died. But the Devil and his purpose failed. Job did not turn his faith away from God. Rather when these “bad” things happened, Job worshiped God knowing that “bad things” are a blessing from the LORD. So the Devil returns complaining that the test wasn't real, since Job was selfish and he still had his health, that is all he cared about. So the Devil is allowed to go after Job again, afflicting his health seriously. Job was in absolute misery and pain which continued for many days. Yet he would not sin against the LORD.

Some of Job's friends came over to comfort him. But they were no comfort; rather, they begin to argue with Job telling him that since God punishes sinners, and since God “punished” him, he was a very bad person. So Job has to defend himself saying in effect, “Yes, I am a sinner. No, I am not guilty of the great sins you are accusing me of. God is not punishing me for my sins.” Job confesses his faith in his Redeemer, his Savior, who he would see with his own eyes on the last day.

After pages and chapters of this dialogue God speaks to Job. God doesn't give Job a reason for the “bad” things which happened to him, rather He points out His power, His knowledge, His love and His justice. He wants Job to trust Him to be God, knowing that God always does what is right for his children. We don't always know God's reasoning, but we know our God's reasons are loving.

Let Job be your Book of the Month. Read it over and learn from Job and his example of a Godly life. Learn from his friends how not to be a friend who brings empty comfort to someone with a crisis in their life. Learn from God, and learn to trust God. Learn to trust Him to be your powerful and loving God who knows what He is doing, no matter what is going on in your life. And trust your Savior who washed away all your sins so at the end of your trouble-filled lives, you will rest with Him for all eternity

Job 40:6–8 (NIV84)

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm:

7 “Brace yourself like a man;

I will question you,

and you shall answer me.

8 “Would you discredit my justice?

Would you condemn me to justify yourself?

May God bless your month, especially as you read through Job and understand better your God and Savior, who loves you and will always do what is best for you in life.

A Message From the Pastor January 2015

HERE IS YOUR GOD!

 

Isaiah 40:9 - “ You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. 

You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, 

lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, 

Here is your God!

This past hunting season, I had a book out where I hunt and when there is enough light I take it out and read some. It was about the study of Christ. I'm not done with it, but so far I read about the Person of Christ, that He is the One who lives in us and among us; and the Office of Christ, the work of redemption which he would do for us. It was interesting to read as I was preparing for the Christmas Season, when we celebrate God becoming our brother.

The Season of Epiphany, which begins in January, studies the same thoughts. Epiphany says:  “Look at this man, Jesus of Nazareth. Here is Your God! Look at his sermons. He teaches in a totally different way. Not only because his message was different than the do's and don'ts of the Pharisees but also different because He could teach with an authority as the Son of God.”

“Look at his miracles! Here is your God! Look at the wonderful things he does when he heals the leprous, the lame, the blind, the deaf, sometimes with just a word or a touch – ailments which our medicine today may not even be able to help! Look as he walks on water, or with a word stills the storm. Look how he commands the demons and they leave the afflicted alone. Look at how he commands and the dead are raised. Here, this Man, is your God!”

The Bible is rich with promises of God becoming man and the work which he would do. The Bible says: “No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him.” When Adam and Eve sinned and rebelled against God, Sin became our Slave Driver with its whip over our head; Death closed its jaws around us; and the Devil became our lord and master. We needed a strong man, one who was God to be the perfect life and the perfect sacrifice which God demands for us. 

Resolve this year to study God Word. Look for those promises and their fulfillment in this God-Man, Jesus of Nazareth. Listen for the references in readings and sermon about who he is and what he would do. Join us in Bible classes to study deeper into God's Word. And your soul will rejoice, when you learn more about God and His Love and what He has done for you.

Message From The Pastor - December 2014

December is the month of Advent for Christians. The word 'Advent' comes from the Latin language and is a verb form with the meaning of “coming towards, approaching,” or “he comes.” The “He” who is coming is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Our Emmanuel- which means: “God is with us.”

How does Jesus come to us today? The first way which Jesus comes to us today is in His Word. He tells us He is “with us” when we gather together around His Holy Word. In His Word, Jesus comes to us and blesses us with the comfort that He is our God; that He has died and risen again as He had promised; that our sins are forgiven and that Heaven has been opened for us.

The second coming which we celebrate this season is His Coming again in the future as His Word proclaims. On the Last Day, Jesus will come and raise all the dead. Those who believe in Him as their Savior and LORD will be brought to live with Him in the mansions prepared for us in Heaven. Those who rejected Him as their Savior and King will be rejected by  and cast out of His Presence into the darkness of hell. There the Bible says: “will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The Last coming which we celebrate this Advent Season is His Coming at Christmas, “Galatians 4:4–5 (NIV84) But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” The Bible is full of promises concerning this coming of Jesus the Christ, these promises all totally came true. The unusual circumstances of his birth (of a virgin, in Bethlehem) and even His death and resurrection show this child is indeed the very Son of God!

The length of Advent is a little different every year, since it is officially celebrated as the 4 Sundays before Christmas Day. This year, the first Sunday of Advent is November 30th. In the past, (around the 4th century) Advent was celebrated with fasting, or abstaining from some foods so that we might concentrate on Christ's coming with repentance and prayer.

Some families today will use an Advent Calendar, which begins December 1st and when the box for the day is opened it will suggest a passage or a devotional thought which points us to the coming Christ. Most churches will have an Advent Wreath with 4 colored candles and 1 white or Christ candle. Different churches have different name for the candles like “shepherd, or Bethlehem; hope or joy.” Three are usually purple (the color of repentance) or blue (the color of royalty) and one is usually pink or rose colored (Joy). The readings of the Sundays usually focus on one of the three comings of our LORD.

This advent, see Christ coming to you in His Word. Let Him bless you as He strengthens you with His promises. Use the opportunities to worship and thank Him together with your fellow Christians, in the House of the LORD. Witness again how He came one day into our World as a little baby and our brother. Remember how there is still one promise to be kept. That He will come again!