After a long day at work and/or taking care of the kids, we sometimes just feel beat. Drained. Defeated. Busy schedules, expectations, and demands from every side don't help things either. Come and join us this Lenten season to recharge with God's Word. God promises to re-energize and fill up our hungry, tired souls as we hear his powerful, refreshing Word. During the Sundays in Lent this year, we take a journey through the Old Testament from the Garden of Eden to the empty tomb at Easter. Sin and Satan threaten to snuff out the Savior, but God remains UNDEFEATED. Because Jesus was undefeated, you can be confident that you are also undefeated against the enemies that try to destroy you. Come, find rest and victory this Sunday!
Jesus once took three of his closest friends up on a high mountain, where they experienced something incredible. On that mountain, they got a glimpse of Jesus' glory, a sight they would remember for the rest of their lives, a sight that would sustain them until they saw his glory again when they entered eternal life. This Sunday, you and I get to climb that mountain where Jesus wants us to bless us too, as we see his glory together.
This past Tuesday was Valentine's Day. Did you do something special for someone you love? Flowers? Chocolate? Jewelry? Dinner? All of these can be good things, but are they really love? The Bible says, "God is love." This Sunday, God will show us what love is, the kind of love that he wants us to show to everyone (not just our significant other), the kind of love that we could never invent (or even imagine) on our own.
If you are a procrastinator, you find ways to put things off until the last possible minute. Maybe you've even got it down to a science, thriving under pressure as the deadline looms. When it comes to our Christian faith and witnessing, there is a deadline. That deadline is either the day someone dies or the day Jesus returns, whichever comes first. The problem is, we don't know when that day is coming. Our Christian life and witnessing is too important to put off for another day. And in view of the blessings God wants to give, why would we want to procrastinate?
"Why am I here?" That's a question pastors often get asked. It comes from a confused teenager, from a depressed dad, from an aging and ailing Christian. In reality, it is a question we all should be asking every day - not in confusion or despair, but to make sure we are living our lives in line with God's plan. This week, we hear Jesus himself give an answer to that question, an answer that he wants to shape our lives every day. Jesus gives purpose and power to our lives!
What would you do, if you won the lottery? Has anyone ever asked you that question? If you suddenly found yourself with more riches than you ever thought you would have, what would you do with them? God's Word reveals that we are indeed rich. God, the giver of every good and perfect gift, has blessed us with more than we could ever have asked for or deserved. Our attitude toward the Giver has a profound impact on our attitude toward and use of his gifts.
Overwhelming Gratitude Leads to Overwhelming Generosity
1/22/2017Pastor Wagner Luke 19:1-10
He was hated and despised by his peers, and perhaps he deserved it. He had betrayed his own people to serve the enemy. And he got rich by cheating others out of their money. But then one day, everything changed. Instead of hatred, he encountered love--pure love. And instead of shame, he received forgiveness. And he did the last thing anyone would have expected. Come and hear his story and see how it is your story too.
It can be hard to say "thank you" at times. At other times, it's not hard to say, but we just don't remember to say it. The apostle Paul writes, "Give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Is that asking too much? How is that even possible? This week, in our Bible Study and our Worship Services, we begin a special series called "364 Days of Thanksgiving." As we dig into God's Word we discover that Christian living is thankful living, and we have much for which to be thankful.
January 6 may seem like any other day. There are no special store hours, no day off work or school (unless it is because of the weather), no special plans for most families. But January 6 marks one of the six major festivals in the Christian church year, the festival of Epiphany. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. Epiphany celebrates his revelation as the Savior of all people (Some even call it the "Gentile Christmas."). For us, most of whom have no Jewish ancestry, this is cause for great celebration. Epiphany assures us the Jesus is our Savior!
The Old Testament law required baby boys to be circumcised and named by their parents on the eighth day of their life. The parents of the baby born in Bethlehem, whose birth we celebrated last week, fulfilled the law and gave him his name on the eighth day of his life. On January 1, the eighth day of Christmas, we celebrate the name given to that baby--Jesus--and all that it means for us. Start off the new year in God's house, celebrating this name that makes a difference every day of the year.
For centuries, Christians have prayed a series of prayers during the final seven days of Advent known as the "Great O Antiphons." Each one heightens our anticipation of the coming of our Savior, as it focuses on a different name given to Christ in the prophecies of the Old Testament and the fulfillment of those prophecies in the New Testament. We turn our attention to those beautiful prophecies and prayers, as we look forward to his coming, singing, "Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel!"
When infants and toddlers want something, they want it right now! As we grow up, do we really grow much more patient? As we think about Christ's return, we look forward to it so much that it can be hard to be patient. And when we face suffering and persecution, we may struggle with questions and doubts about God's love and his timing. But this week, we hear again Jesus' promise to come and are led to patient trust while we wait.
For centuries, the Lord had fallen silent. No prophets appeared in Israel for about 400 years. Meanwhile, Israel had lost all prominence on the world scene, becoming a conquered prize of one empire after another. Had the Lord turned his back on his chosen nation? Had the Lord forgotten or taken back his promise made to Abraham and his descendant? But then, everything changed.
A new church year begins this Sunday with the season of Advent, which means "coming." While we don't know when Christ is coming again, we know that he is coming. His coming shapes our thoughts and our lives, because he comes with judgment on the unbelieving world and grace for his people. Because of his coming, we are filled with hope, with love, and with light. With eager and joyful anticipation we say, "Come, Lord Jesus!"
Showered with blessings (in good times and in bad), we have so many reasons to praise the LORD. The psalm writer helps us find even more reasons and shows us the kind of praise that is pleasing to our generous God.
On Christ the King Sunday, we have the opportunity to gather around his throne and see how Jesus is unlike any other king who ever has been or ever will be. We celebrate his awesome reign as king in every age and season of life on earth and in the eternal age to come in heaven. And we look forward to the day when we will see Christ the King with our own eyes!
It's been called the most beautiful piece of music ever written. Legend says that King George II of England was so moved by its opening strains that he rose to his feet and to this day, crowds of people still rise to their feet every time they hear it. Legend also says that Georg Fredrich Handel himself had a vision of heaven that prompted him to compose "The Hallelujah Chorus." But as sublime and transcendent as Handelâ€™s work is, it will pale in comparison to the real Hallelujah Chorus. In Revelation 19, we get a glimpse behind the doors of heaven to encourage us while we live on the other side of those doors on earth.
Those in our world who allow the possibility of a day of judgment at the end of the world often approach it like the Christmas song that warns children, "You'd better watch outâ€¦Santa Claus is coming to town." As long as you aren't too naughty, you'll be okay. But Judgment Day is no idle threat. The wrath of a holy and just God should terrify even the "nicest" of people. And yet, the Christian's attitude toward Judgment Day is not terror but anticipation. That's because the Christian clings to the verdict that was already pronounced at the cross and empty tomb of our Savior: "Not Guilty!" That verdict not only prepares us for death and judgment; it also motivates every moment we live in anticipation of that day.
499 years ago, Martin Luther posted 95 statements for discussion that God used not only to bring about needed reformation within the church, but also to change the world in profound ways. But what Luther did was really nothing new. He simply held up and held out the beautiful gospel--the good news of salvation by grace through faith. That message continues to change the world--one heart at a time--still today.
James knew Jesus like few other people in the world have. They grew up together. But it wasn't until after Jesus died and rose again that James really knew his brother. And when he did, what a difference it made! We join James on that journey from doubt to faith, from skepticism to certainty, from death to life.
Martin Luther once said, "A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all." This paradox makes Christians utterly unique. Like Jesus, our Savior, we don't use our freedom to serve ourselves but to serve others. Join us this Sunday to be served by your Savior, that you might be empowered and equipped to serve others.
So many families and homes are "broken" these days that, as a society, we hardly call them "broken" anymore. And the problem is only getting worse. The reality is that, in comparison to God's perfect design for the family, every family is broken. The only solution is to stop and look at the beautiful blueprints of God's design, blueprints made even more beautiful, when they are stained with the crimson blood of our Savior.
The church can be a fragile thing. That's because it is made up of people who bring with them such varied backgrounds and experiences, strengths and weaknesses, ideas and opinions. How the devil loves to take advantage of our differences to divide us and try to destroy God's Church! It's a wonder that our church or any other survives! We are here only because the same Savior who calls us his body and himself the head uses his Word to unite us and to equip us to serve him together.
The Olympic Games wrapped up a few weeks ago. The Paralympic Games conclude this Sunday. Athletes from around the world have been competing to be called the greatest. Whether we are athletes or not, donâ€™t we all throw ourselves into that competition for greatness? But often, we go about it all wrong.
Stand on a street corner and ask people who Jesus is, and you'll hear a wide variety of ideas and opinions. It can be pretty eye-opening to know what the world thinks of Jesus. But the more important question is, what do you think of Jesus? Who do you say Jesus is? And are you ready to follow him, no matter the cost?
Unbelief mocks and says that if God did all things well and is the source of all good because he is good, then he shouldn't allow misery and need in the first place. But especially in need and suffering God does all things well; that truth is the center of our quiet confidence. It is the reason for his hope based on the promises of God and earned for us by the work of Christ and its eternal consequence for us.