If you are doing any traveling this summer, imagine hitting the road with nothing but the clothes on your back. It would seem pretty foolish, right? But that's exactly how Jesus sent out his apostles the first time, as they got some practical experience in gospel ministry. While their hands held nothing but a staff, they did not go empty-handed, and neither do we, as we carry out the mission Jesus has given to us.
We sometimes talk about the things we "live for" and the things we would "die for." While we might often be exaggerating when we say those things, Jesus is not exaggerating when he talks about being willing to live and die for something. His own story is proof. His words and his life help us see and live for something worth dying for.
Debt is a difficult subject to talk about. Many of us hate the thought of owing anything to anyone. But not all debt is bad. This week, God's Word teaches us that there is a debt we can never pay off but that we consider a joy and a privilege to make payments on.
What a year it's been! Hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, mass shootings... The tragedies and disasters seem to come more often and with greater intensity than ever before. God is sending us a message. Or rather, he's reminding us of a message Jesus spoke 2000 years ago (see Matthew 24): The end is near! Judgment Day is coming! God wants us to be ready so that we receive his reward instead of his wrath on that day. And the evidence on display that day will be the ordinary things of daily life. Love your God. Live your faith. And look forward to the judgment!
Are you a gardener? Do you plant seeds or transplant small plants into pots or beds around your house to feed yourself and your family? Jesus compares how his Word works in our hearts and in the world to a garden or a field. Understanding what he means gives us humility, patience, trust, and peace, as we think about our faith in God and our work in his kingdom.
When God blesses us in our lives, the devil so often sets up the traps of temptations right alongside those blessings. We may be tempted to lose sight of the source of our blessings, to get greedy for more, to let our physical blessings distract us from the far greater spiritual gifts God wants to give us, and so on. We are not alone in facing and falling into these and other temptations. In God's Word, we not only see the gracious and generous blessings God gives us, but we also see how he encourages and equips us in the face of every temptation.
Let the Word of God shape you as you look for Jesus' return confident that God's judgment is certain--and all because of Jesus' work for you and the world. When Jesus returns on the clouds we shall hear: "Well done, good servant." Rejoice in the grace is ours, and ours to share! Today's sermon text is Psalm 90 which begins, "Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God."
Our Lenten journey of repentance and renewal culminates this week. The journey of Lent has prepared our hearts to ponder anew the Passion of our Lord and his glorious triumph over death and grave. With repentant hearts we join our Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem, confident in his everlasting rule, hailing him as our Eternal King. At the same time, we are mindful that he is our King because he is the Messiah, the promised Son of David sent as the sacrificial Lamb of God. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
The other day on the radio, I heard someone say, "I don't like being called a sheep." (I think they were talking about being accused of blindly following the crowd.) The Bible often compares Christians to sheep. Do you like being called a sheep, especially when Jesus tells us that he sends us out "like sheep among wolves"? Like it or not, it's a good illustration of our life and mission as Christians in this world.
Live Confidently in the Promise of God's Salvation
12/1/2019Pastor Meissner Genesis 6:9-22, 7:11-23
The "Story of the Promise" for the first Sunday of Advent is the account of Noah and his family who lived confidently in the promise of God's salvation. The God who delivered Noah and his family has delivered us and the world through Jesus' cross, and His Spirit has brought you and me into the ship of the church. Jesus is with you now and he is coming again soon! Live confidently in the promise of God's salvation! Live in God's promise as you watch for Jesus' coming again. Live in God's promise as you rejoice in that Jesus comes to you through his Word and Sacrament. Live in God's promise and receive the hope God gives us in preparing to celebrate Jesus' advent as the baby born in Bethlehem.
Are you ready for the barrage of ads leading up to Christmas? "Black Friday" is right around the corner, and we will be inundated with advertisements, trying to convince us that we need more to make our lives complete and happy. Of course, we don't need those ads to get us to think that way. It's easy to want "more" (and not just when it comes to material possessions) and to let "more" consume our attention, our priorities, our lives! This Sunday, we find peace in the promises and providence of God to calm the chaos from the selfish race for more. The riches God has prepared for us give us contentment and joy, even in the most difficult circumstances.
Near the end of a race a runner forgets what is behind him and leans forward toward the finish line, exerting himself to the utmost, straining every fiber in his body to win the prize. Just so, the Christian forgets all the disappointments and bad experiences of the past and instead valiantly strives on, with eyes fixed firmly on the finish line, the victory circle, the consummation of all his hopes and dreams, the heavenly prize, which goes beyond all human understanding.
We confess nearly every week our confidence that Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead. It's a day we may not always want to think about. It's a day that is so final: heaven or hell, death or life for everyone. And yet it's coming. The wars, natural disasters, wickedness and unbelief of our world are things Jesus said would happen before his return. The very signs of Jesus' return are the things that make life so hard while we wait. But let us endure patiently, clinging to his promises, and living in view of his return.
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!
When you are hungry, what do you do? When you are hurting, where do you turn? When you are struggling, how do you cope? Since this is an email from a church, maybe you know that "God" should be the answer. But would you say God is the first answer or the backup plan in your life? This week, God teaches us to trust him. The overwhelming evidence of his love for us and power to help leaves no reason for us to look anywhere else. Come, you who are worn and weary and needy, and be fed by your Savior.
The Fourth Sunday in Lent was traditionally called Laetare Sunday, from the Latin word for "rejoice." Even in the midst of Lent, we have so many blessings over which to rejoice. Tremendous blessings that are ours purely because of God's grace (What a blessing that is!). Awesome blessings that are ours only through faith (This too is a great blessing!). Rejoice with us!
This year, we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation of the church. Luther's work of reform was not the invention of something new but the return to truths forgotten and obscured over time. This Sunday is the first of four special services focused on those truths.
There are so many thoughts and ideas in the world about truth. When our eternity is at stake, it's important that we know whom or what we can trust. God gives us something far more reliable than our own opinions--his unchanging, unbreakable Word.
Treasure hunts are not just the focus of children's stories and fairy tales. Every day, we live our lives to get or keep the things we treasure. What are you chasing after? What do you value most? Does what you say line up with how you live? We invite you to listen, as God blesses us with priceless treasure.
God wants you to be rich. Maybe you've hoped that that is true. Maybe you've even heard some Christians say it, or you've read it in a book by a Christian author. But is it true? Jesus himself had a lot to say about money during his earthly ministry. In this week's sermon, we listen to one story he told in which he shares exactly how he wants us to be rich.
Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay was home to a maximum security federal penitentiary for 29 years. Its location and security measures made escape virtually impossible. Such facilities are usually reserved for the most notorious and dangerous criminals. Imagine being imprisoned under maximum security for telling others about Jesus. That's what happened to the apostle Peter. We learn how he and his fellow believers handled this test of their faith and find strength and confidence in the face of obstacles to our faith and our mission.
Confused, disappointed, afraid, uncertain, worried, unsettled... These are just a few of the words to describe how those two men on the road were feeling on that first Easter evening. But then they met a stranger who helped them understand what had happened. And all of those troubled thoughts turned to overflowing joy and praise to God! Join us for truth to shatter whatever darkness you are dealing with, truth that turns our hearts to praise!
He didn't expect it, and neither did anyone else. His unexpected encounter with Jesus on the road is a remarkable story of power and grace that changed his life and the world forever. In this sermon, his story becomes our story.