Is it any wonder that Independence Day is one of the biggest celebrations of the year in our country? Following in the footsteps of our forefathers, who resisted the tyranny of the British government, we are taught to be independent in the way we think and live. Depend on no one. Answer to no one. Live for no one but yourself. But God's Word for us this week reminds us that there is a better way to think about and use our freedom.
Are you feeling worn out and in need of rest? Rest for your body? Rest for your mind? Rest for your soul? God wants to give us rest. That's why he commanded his Old Testament people to observe a Sabbath Day. That's why he encourages us to regularly hear his Word and receive his Sacrament. Whether you are feeling refreshed or ragged, come this Sunday to receive the rest God wants you to have, as he fills you up with the precious message of hope, peace, and eternal rest through Jesus.
They grew up with him. They thought they knew him. They were so excited when he came back home. How their thinking changed when they heard what he had to say. Their excitement turned to murderous anger in an instant! What was it that Jesus said? What keeps us from reacting the same way?
What are you looking for in a God? What kind of Savior do you want? That's a question that the world has all kinds of answers to, and those answers will never describe the true God who saved the world. Even within the Church, we see evidence that the world's idea of God has influenced the sinful hearts of Christians. Why is that? And how can we live God-pleasing lives in a world that rejects everything about our God?
Lent has to last a while and Lent has to come around every year, because it is so hard for us to get the points made so strikingly in Lent. This Sunday we see God's seriousness in Lent in this: Salvation and suffering go hand in hand, for Jesus and for us too!
Are you a generous person? Do you enjoy sharing what you have with others? For the next four weeks, we'll consider how God wants us to be generous with what we have. And that generosity is truly joyful when it recognizes the gracious God who has been so generous in his blessings to us.
One man's trash is another man's treasure. I might look at things you throw away as very useful and valuable, and I might see things you value as worthy of the dumpster. Different things hold value to each of us for different reasons. And what is valuable to any of us today might one day lose its value in our eyes. But we all share one treasure that we can't put a price tag on, a treasure that will never lose its value.
As we tell others about our risen Savior, we may often be met with doubt and skepticism. We may even face ridicule and persecution for sharing the Savior we know and trust. But, like the apostles and Paul, the peace that Jesus' resurrection gives us moves us in love to take risks and keep sharing the hope that we have.
It is one of the saddest verses in the Bible: "From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him" (John 6:66). Some were confused by what Jesus was teaching. Others were offended. Still others simply didn't believe it was the truth. Jesus asked the Twelve, "You do not want to leave too, do you?" (John 6:67). It is a question we all have to answer every day. When God's Word doesn't seem to make sense, when what God says offends us as it uncovers our sin, when God's ways are so contrary to the ways of the world, will you leave Jesus or will you follow him? God give us strength to follow in faith the the only one who has the words of eternal life.
Last week, we celebrated the Ascension of Jesus. This easily overlooked festival of the Church Year assures us that he who once was humbled to the point of death on a cross has been crowned with glory and honor, that he reigns in heaven for our good, and that he will return one day to take us to our eternal home. What a difference our ascended Savior makes in our lives!
What Child is This? This is Jesus, who makes us God's children.
12/29/2019Pastor Meissner Galatians 4:4-7
On Christmas morning we saw that this Child was true God, creator and sustainer of all things. For our salvation, he also needed to be true man. It was we who had sinned against God. We humans were put under God’s law and expected to carry it out perfectly. So God became man in this child laid in a manger. “When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law.” The God-man did all of this so that we would be his own; heirs of heaven; God's children. And God cares for his sons and daughters. He cared for his son, the nation of Israel—though they were rebellious. He cared for his Son, Jesus—though Herod raged against him. He even cares for his newly adopted sons—though we do not deserve it. God cared for us by sending his Son to deliver us from the corruption of sin and transform us into sons just like Jesus. That work of Christ gives us peace that only sons and daughters can have.
Parents have certain expectations of their children. Bosses have certain expectations of their employees. Teachers have certain expectations of their students. When those expectations are not met, there is a problem and there are often consequences. This week, Jesus tells us a story that helps us to understand God's expectations of us and how those expectations are met.
She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Lord was with Israel as they conquered Canaan, and Rahab lived in Jericho, one of the cities that would be destroyed by the Lord's army. On top of that, she was a prostitute - the perfect example of the immorality that the Lord condemned in the heathen Canaanite nations. So why did she survive? And why is her name listed in the ancestry of the Savior? There can be only one answer: God's grace for all people. Come and celebrate his grace for every unworthy sinner - including you and me.
As we approach the end of all things and the great Day of Judgment, we want to make sure we have it all straight. God's Word for for this Sunday helps us prepare by their careful description of what is coming, so that we will not fear as we look and long for the day of his appearing. Rather, clinging to his grace in Word and sacraments, we strive to live in a way that shows that we know what to expect at the end of it all.
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.
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.
Martin Luther once wrote, "A Christian without prayer is just as impossible as a living person without a pulse" (Luther's Works, vol. 24, p. 89). The conversation which God invites us to have with him is an important fruit of our faith and a vital component of our Christian life. But have you ever found yourself at a loss for words when you want to pray? You don't know where to begin. You don't know what to pray for. God's Word speaks to that very situation.
If you have a garden, you know that it's been a pretty good year. Unless your plants were flooded out, they are likely growing rapidly, and you may even have harvested some early fruits of your labor. As the season moves along, you'll need to keep an eye on your garden to be sure that you harvest each fruit or vegetable at the right time. It is harvest time in the Church as well. Jesus compares unbelievers whom he wants to bring to faith to a crop that is ready to be harvested. And he gives Christians the important work of bringing in the abundant harvest.
"Do you know who I am?" That question often is asked when someone isn't getting the treatment they expect based upon their wealth or fame or position. "If you knew who I was," the question implies, "you would treat me differently." There were many different ideas about who Jesus was. When Jesus asked a similar question, his goal wasn't to shame anyone into honoring him. Instead, he was inviting his followers to make a clear confession of the life-saving truth based upon the faith that God had planted in their hearts. It is good for us to hear the answer they gave and to wrestle with our own answer to Jesus' important question.
You are not proud of what you did. You screwed up! And some of the damage you did simply can't be undone. What do you do next? Do you come clean or cover it up? Do you make excuses or make amends? Do you hide from God or hide in God? In God's Word for this week, a broken king and a loving Lord show us how to handle our guilt.
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.
Father's Day is a day on which we take time to honor those men whom God has given to our families to be a blessing to us. In God's design for the family, he gives fathers a great deal of responsibility. But he doesn't leave them to carry out that responsibility alone. Whether you are a father or not, your heavenly Father calls you into a relationship with him, promises to love you, and wants your relationship with him to guide your life and decisions.
The "madness" has begun. The anticipation builds with each game. With each win, there are cheers and excitement, as a team of basketball players moves one step closer to a championship. But, with each round, there is another opponent to overcome, another battle to fight, another team trying to stand in the way of the march to the ultimate victory. This Palm Sunday, the excitement is building as well. Jesus rides into Jerusalem, hailed as the hero. But many of his fans will flee, when the opposition gets fierce. Let's not turn back this week. Let's watch intently, for he enters Jerusalem for us.
If you've ever stood beside the grave of a loved one to say "goodbye" one last time before the casket is lowered into the ground... if you've ever wept at Easter or Christmas or a birthday or any other time of year when memories of cherished moments with someone who has died come flooding back... if the thought of your own death makes you a little uncomfortable or downright terrified, this Sunday is for you! Following the darkness of Good Friday and a Saturday filled with uncertainty, the sun comes upon on Easter morning to reveal glorious and unexpected good news!
"I'd rather be..." You've seen the bumper stickers or social media posts. And we can all think of places we'd rather be and things we'd rather be doing at certain times, especially when we are dealing with troubles and pain and persecution. But, as Christians, our perspective on what is most important and most desirable is shaped by faith and not by sight; by the world to come and not by this world.
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.
Uncertain and afraid, they hid behind locked doors. And after they had seen Jesus alive, what did they do? They still hid. You've felt like that, haven't you? You have the greatest message in the world to share, and yet you hide in fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear of persecution. Fear of _________. How can we overcome our fears? What made Peter, the frightened follower of Jesus, into Peter, the bold witness?