So many things want to get in the way of the work and worship of God's church. So many obstacles want to interfere with the blessings God desires to give us through his Word and Sacraments. Because Jesus loves us deeply, he wants to remove whatever would interrupt the work he came to do and the gifts he wants to give to us.
It's the kind of sight that takes your breath away - a beautiful sunset, a view from a mountain, an exquisitely dressed bride. It's the kind of place you don't want to leave - a retreat from the stress, an escape from the worries, a glimpse of something greater still to come. You don't want it to end. That's how Peter, James, and John felt one day on a mountain with Jesus. But Jesus gave them that moment to prepare them for something still to come - for him, for them, for us.
This Sunday, we watch a man ride into Jerusalem in triumphal procession. Who is he? He is Jesus, the King of kings most lowly, the King of kings who unlike any other king has come to save us. Welcome him and follow him. Throw the robes of your own righteousness under his feet, so that he may dress you with the robe of his righteousness. Wave the palm branches God made and gives, those symbols of eternal life, in salute. Blessed is he, for he will finish what he has begun!
How exciting it can be to watch the last-second buzzer beater or walk-off home run, to be surprised by the plot twist in the last scene of the movie or last chapter of the book. If you saw the game or the movie or read the book before, it's not quite as exciting. The devil wants Easter to be that way for us. We know Jesus rose from the dead. It's no surprise. So what? But the truth is, the true (and familiar) story of Easter is your story. It's about your life every day and about your life forever. It gives every day meaning, purpose, hope, and joy, no matter what else we may be dealing with.
Because of Jesus' selfless love you are undefeated by dysfunction
3/22/2020Pastor Meissner Genesis 37:1-11
This fourth Sunday in Lent Jesus calls us from sinful selfishness to selfless service. We can view the world from the perspective of selfishness or selflessness. Selfishness puts self before all and leads to favoritism, sinful pride and envy. Repentance, however, means despairing of self, trusting in Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice and leading lives of selfless service modeled after our Savior who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for us and for the world.
Does it ever seem like God isn't listening? Do you ever think that God is too slow in responding to your needs and your prayers? You struggle sometimes, wondering why God allows you to suffer, why God doesn't take away the pain, why he doesn't come more quickly to rescue you from the ugliness that sin brings on our world. Come, find peace, find hope, find love in God's Word.
When Jesus promised, "Because I live, you also will live" (John 14:19), it wasn't just about the resurrection to eternal life. It was also about the time we spend in this world, waiting for eternal life. That life won't always be easy; we will face opposition and trouble from our world and even our own hearts. But Jesus does not leave us alone. He makes and keeps promises that shape every moment of our lives. How are you living your life?
It sounded almost comical - Jesus, the son of a carpenter, telling experienced fishermen how to do their job. A little reluctantly, they listened to his advice. And what happened changed their lives forever. What Jesus calls us to do sounds just as foolish. Will we trust him? And what will happen, if we do? Miracles? Life-changing experience? Are we willing to find out?
We put our faith in a lot of things. We trust that the lights will turn on, when we flip a switch. We trust that the drivers around us will (generally) observe the rules of the road. We trust that doctors will give us a correct diagnosis and treatment for our illnesses. But such faith will inevitably disappoint us at some point. Our Christian life is all about faith, but whom or what we put our faith in makes all the difference.
This sermon is the fourth in a series of four sermons focused on key truths of the Lutheran Reformation - that our salvation is in Christ alone (November 26), by grace alone (December 17), through faith alone (January 7), as revealed in the Scriptures alone (November 5).
We put our faith in a lot of things. We trust that the lights will turn on, when we flip a switch. We trust that the drivers around us will (generally) observe the rules of the road. We trust that doctors will give us a correct diagnosis and treatment for our illnesses. But such faith will inevitably disappoint us at some point. Our Christian life is all about faith, but whom or what we put our faith in makes all the difference. Our theme for this Epiphany Sunday is "Faith Alone.” And our sermon, based on Hebrews 1:1-2,8-12, is entitled, "Believing is Seeing." We hope you will join us!
The closest we can get to a mirror of the love of God for us is the mirror of the love that he wants us to have for one another in the family. The goal of family members is to reflect the love of God for us in self giving love for one another in the family. How tragic that in our society such a mirror is clouded indeed! There is much to repent of and much to strive toward.
Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” This commission is reflected in the mission of our Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, which “exists to make disciples throughout the world for time and for eternity” and in the mission of our congregation, "...proclaiming Christ in our community and world." Mission and Ministry Sunday is a time to refocus ourselves on the mission Jesus has given us.
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?
Would the world know that you are a Christian by the way you live your life? We rightly confess that our actions don't make us Christians. Our connection to Christ, who died and rose again for the sins of the world, makes us Christians and heirs of heaven. But the evidence of that connection is not merely in what we say or in the faith that's hidden in our hearts. The one who is connected to Christ "will bear much fruit," Jesus says. Celebrate your connection to Christ and the difference that connection makes in your life.
The flags will fly. The parades will roll. The fireworks will light up the sky. All celebrating the freedom that is our as citizens of the United States. Yet, how easily we sometimes give up that freedom. Threatened by the persecution of the world, we don't always use our freedom to speak about Christ. Tempted by worldly freedom and pleasure, we sometimes give up our freedom to gather for worship and hear God's Word. Praise God that he sent his Son to set us free even from our abuse of the awesome freedom we have!
You can change the world forever. It doesn't take great wealth or mighty armies. All it takes is time with the child who sits on your lap or next to you at church. All it takes is a moment in prayer and a word of encouragement. All it takes is using the gifts you have to serve the One who gave them to you.
Freedom! It is arguably the defining word of our American nation and culture. And the freedom we have as Americans affects how we live and act every day. But that freedom can't compare to the freedom we have in Christ, that precious freedom bought with the blood of Christ himself. Our freedom in Christ is an absolute freedom, an unconditional freedom, a freedom that can never be taken away, a freedom that changes our lives forever.
When you see something incredible, you just have to share it. But sometimes those you tell won't believe it unless they see it for themselves. In this Epiphany season, we have something incredible to share.
Fifty days have passed since the Resurrection of Jesus, and the promised Holy Spirit is poured out upon the Church. The once-hidden gospel is no longer the possession of a chosen few. For the Spirit enables the message of salvation to enflame hearts for bearing witness to the ends of the earth.
Do you ever get an invitation to a wedding or another party that you really don't want to attend? If you decide not to attend, the reaction of the one who invited you will depend upon how much they wanted you to attend. Because of his pure grace and unconditional love, God invites all to attend his feast, and he wants us all to attend. The ultimate feast will take place in heaven, but every time we gather together with fellow Christians around God's Word, we get a foretaste of the feast to come. Join us for the feast. No RSVP is necessary!
We all need a break from time to time. If we put everything we have into everything we do, soon there won't be much of us left, especially as live in a world frustrated by the effects of sin. Even if we don't give everything we have, we can still feel run down and worn out physically, emotionally, mentally and/or spiritually. Jesus knows what it's like. He got tired too. And he offers us just what our weary souls and bodies need - rest. Accept your Savior's invitation, and find the rest he knows you need.
Let's face it. It can be scary to share your faith, to talk about Christ. Many have lost their lives for speaking the truth about Jesus. What are you afraid of losing for talking about Christ? Your reputation? Your friends or family? Your peace? Your job? Your comfort? You aren't alone in your fears, but Jesus helps us face those fears and strengthens us for the work he's given us to do.
Trust no one. Question everything. The world often promotes this kind of skepticism. And it can be good advice in certain situations. But, when it comes to our standing before God and the path to heaven, we have no reason to doubt the truth. Through Word and Sacraments, the Holy Spirit convinces us that we are forgiven through faith in Jesus, our crucified and risen Savior. Whether your faith is firm or wavering, come and celebrate the gift of certainty that God gives us by his Holy Spirit.
The world tries to distract us with so many things--worries and hardships, joys and pleasures. The world trains us to focus on what we can see with our eyes and hold with our hands. But what our eyes can see can so easily disappoint us. What our hands can hold so quickly crumbles. Faith takes an entirely different approach, ignoring the distractions and focusing on unseen things that are far better than the world can offer.