For 1700 years the Church has celebrated with Hosannas and palm branches the festival of Palm Sunday that opens Holy Week. The time for Christ's glory had come. He did not, however, gain glory in the manner of other kings. Rather, he humbled himself in great acts of love for us, and then the Father exalted him to the highest place, because he fulfilled God's mission to save mankind - to save us!
It's a horrible feeling. You realize you've done wrong, and you are going to have to pay the consequences. Because of their sins, Israel was as good as dead. They were filled with hopelessness and despair - just was we are when God's law shows us our sins. But God promised hope to a people in despair. God promised life to a people who were dead in sin. God gave life to Israel, and he gives us life! As we continue our UNDEFEATED sermon series, we will find comfort and encouragement in how God overcomes death for us!
Did you ever notice that, when you read the Bible, God doesn't skip the ugly parts when he describes the lives of God's people? From Adam's fall to Paul's persecution, from David's adultery to Peter's denial, the sins of the Bible's "heroes" are recorded for everyone to see. And what a dysfunctional group they are! But their stories were written down for us, to show us how God saves sinners like us from our own dysfunction and how he uses dysfunctional people like us to accomplish his plan of salvation for others. As we continue our UNDEFEATED sermon series, we marvel at how God overcomes dysfunction to accomplish our salvation!
Because things were not as they should have been that dark Friday, God has restored things to the way he designed them to be at the creation of the world. Sin is destroyed. Death is defeated. Salvation is accomplished for all the world!
We live in a world of broken promises. It's not just politicians who make promises that they fail to keep. We've all done it. And we've all been affected by the promises others have broken. Such experiences make it hard to trust, hard to believe what even God has said. This Sunday, as we continue our UNDEFEATED sermon series, we will consider the beautiful gift of faith and how God overcomes skepticism to accomplish our salvation!
Most people don't like being "in the dark" about things. The only person who doesn't get the inside joke. The only one who hasn't heard the latest news. The only one who was left out of a crucial decision. When it comes to spiritual things, we are all "in the dark" by nature, defeated by the darkness of sin. But we aren't left in the dark. God kept his promise to turn darkness to light and blindness to sight. Through his Word, he continues to shine his light for us every day. As we continue our UNDEFEATED sermon series, we will marvel at how God overcomes spiritual darkness to accomplish our salvation!
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!
They were feeling pretty defeated when they went to the tomb that Sunday morning. Their friend, their teacher, the one they thought would be their Savior, had died. All hope seemed gone. Have you been there? Desperate and afraid in the face of death. Crushed by "what if"s and "if only"s. Hopeless, lost, alone, in a world seemingly turned upside-down. Join us, as we journey to the tomb with them. The news is true and life-changing!
Children need to know that their parents love them. They long for their parents' attention and approval. A simple hug or the words "I love you" go a long way. Jesus needed his father's love and approval as well--not for his own sake but for ours. This Sunday, as we remember the Baptism of our Lord, we will witness that approval and be amazed at what it means for us.
Your identity is so important. Just ask anyone who has ever had theirs "stolen" or who is often mistaken for someone else. There was a lot of confusion about Jesus' identity, but at his baptism, God himself clears up the confusion once and for all. In the same way, our God gives us a precious identity in our baptism.
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.
A little child keeps asking during Advent: Is Christmas here yet? As with the same eagerness for our Savior's coming, we ask: How come it takes so long? But Jesus promises to come, and he will never break a promise. So let's not lose heart. Let's not get distracted. Let's keep craning our necks and standing on tiptoe, busy with obedience to his Word and cherishing each proclamation of the message that helps us to prepare to receive him when he comes.
We are Called to Be Cross-Carrying Followers of Christ
9/16/2018Pastor Wagner Mark 8:27-35
About a year ago, after studying the Scriptures together and discussing the work God has given us to do, our congregation adopted this mission statement: "Rooted in Christ’s love, we are devoted to growing together in God’s Word and to proclaiming Christ in our community and world." Our God-given mission drives everything we do as a congregation. Jesus never promised that our work would be easy. Following him involves self-denial and sacrifice. But, because Jesus carried out his saving mission perfectly for us, we willingly bear whatever crosses may come as we follow him in faith and love.
Reformation Sunday is special in the Lutheran Church. It is not a day that we celebrate a new teaching or even a new truth discovered by a German monk name Martin Luther nearly 500 years ago. But it is a day in which we rejoice that the true message of the Gospel was brought up out of the cloud of man-made laws and traditions to shine on its own. Luther was only God's instrument to shine renewed light on the good news of Jesus Christ as the Savior from all sin, death, and power of the devil. The light of the Gospel message is what we celebrate on Reformation Sunday. Salvation through grace alone as revealed by Scripture alone and given to us by faith alone is the central message of the Scriptures and of the Lutheran Reformation. Here our Lutheran church still stands today. Here we rejoice every day in the grace and mercy of our loving and caring Lord. So our prayer is that God continues to bless us in holding onto and proclaiming this message of truth and grace in Christ alone.
Do you ever you just want to run and hide? One problem after another comes at you. One person after another seems to want to make your life difficult. But the truth is that you really can't escape. There's an enemy in your own heart that will always be there, tempting, taunting, and troubling you. Jesus was no stranger to troubles and temptations, either. His battle is the source of our comfort and confidence in our own daily battles.
Light and darkness are polar opposites. Where one advances, the other must retreat. Thus, they parallel the ultimate of polar opposites—good and evil, holiness and sin. Ever since mankind fell into sin, God promised to send a great Light to pierce the darkness of sin and death. In word and song, we discover the light that brings life to all mankind! And he sends us out to bear witness to the wondrous light we have seen.
When you look at the world, what do you see? Whether it is your neighbor walking their dog, a stadium filled with fans, or a few friends having coffee together at the next table over; whether it is someone you know well or someone you have never met, what do you see? Jesus sees souls in need of rescue. Jesus helps us to see the world more clearly as he sees it.
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.