Have you ever felt like an outsider because of your Christian faith? You don't have to look too deep into the biblical record to realize that you aren't alone. Noah, Moses, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Paul, and Jesus are just a few of those who were opposed for what they believed and spoke. But they didn't give up. They didn't turn their backs on God. They were faithful in the face of immense pressure because they were fed by the powerful proclamations and promises of God's Word. With that same Word, God wants to feed and strengthen you for the life he's called you to live as his child in the world.
"I'm sorry," the child says, but they don't really mean it. (A parent or teacher told them to say it.) "I'm sorry," the adult says, but they don't really mean it. (Given the chance, they would do or say the same hurtful thing all over again.) We are all guilty of going through the motions of repentance, and we are all disgusted by it, when we are the ones hearing the apology. We may be able to fool others with feigned repentance, but we can't fool God. Because he loves us, God wants us to be as disgusted by our own sins as we are by the sins of others. And he wants only heartfelt, sincere repentance that shuns sin and seeks his mercy.
The Scriptures teach us that we are saved by grace alone--amazing, astounding, unimaginable grace. Yet how easy it is for us to slip into self-righteous judgment of other sinners, forgetting the pure grace that God has shown to us. Christ calls us to love the lost like he does and rejoice over every sinner that "once was lost, but now is found."
As we begin a new church year, it's a great time for a fresh start, a great time for renewed zeal for our Lord and his Word, a great time for remembering the unique and important calling we have received from our Lord. Advent prepares us for Jesus' comings. And because each coming has eternal significance, we want to be ready.
There are certain human feats and accomplishments that simply amaze us. But, in time, they lose their luster, and we aren't so amazed. Imagine how amazed you would have been 300 years ago, if you saw a room light up with the flip of a little switch, but how easily we take this amazing thing for granted today. Do the amazing things that our God does ever stop being amazing for us? Do we praise him less because we've seen it all before? Come, stand in awe of the great things our God has done and continues to do, and sing a new song of praise to him!
October 18 is celebrated as the Festival of St. Luke, Evangelist. Luke wrote the Gospel that bears his name as well as the book of Acts. He was a faithful traveling companion of the apostle Paul in his missionary travels. He dedicated his life and work to one thing--helping others to be certain of the truth of their salvation in Jesus Christ. We will celebrate that certainty that God has given to us through the faithful service of Luke and others.
If you are driving down the road with your eyes on your phone, the results could be disastrous. If you mow your lawn with your eyes on the back wheels of the mower, you won't mow straight. My cross country coach always told me to focus on the runner right in front of me. Where you fix your eyes makes all the difference. As we live between Jesus' ascension and his return in a world of suffering and sorrow, where we fix our eyes makes all the difference.
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.
Are you a planner? The busier life gets, the more important calendars and budgets and schedules and task lists become. And we generally put the most time and effort into planning the things that mean the most to us. (Think about how much planning often goes into a wedding.) When it comes to our giving to the Lord, planning is not only wise. It also pleases the Lord. Gifts given thoughtfully, intentionally, regularly, and wholeheartedly reflect lives devoted to our Lord, and the Lord receives them as sweet-smelling gifts of love.
In addition to major festivals (like Christmas and Easter) and seasons (like Advent and Lent), our Christian church calendar assigns specific calendar days to other “minor” festivals. The Lutheran reformers understood that there was great benefit in remembering the saints whom God has given to his church and in remembering their faith-filled deeds and words. The Apology (Defense) of the Augsburg Confession (Article XXI) gives three reasons to do so: (1) We thank God for giving faithful servants to his church and showing examples of his mercy. (2) Through such remembrance our faith is strengthened. When we see Peter’s denial of Christ forgiven, it teaches us that, where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. (3) The saints are examples whose lives of faith we imitate in our own callings. October 28 is designated as the Festival of St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles. The biblical record gives us little information about these two men, but in them, we see ourselves, saints in relative obscurity striving for the truth in the face of error and opposition.
When we have a church picnic, we provide a few things and ask everyone to bring something, and no one goes home hungry. There is always more than enough food. But do we always expect that from God? Or do we worry sometimes that there won't be enough? Do we live our lives and make decisions in a way that shows our trust in a generous and giving and powerful God?
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.
On New Year's Eve, it is common to look back at the year that is coming to a close and look ahead to the year just beginning. This Sunday is the final Sunday of our Christian Church Year. We'll take time to look back at what Christ has done for us in the past. We'll think about what he's doing for us now. We'll look ahead to what he promises to do in the future. And we'll celebrate the truth the Christ is our King from beginning to end! What an awesome and comforting truth that is!
"He gave them bread from heaven to eat." Imagine what that must have been like - food that just appears every day to give you the strength you need to live and serve the Lord another day! How could you not receive it with pure joy? But a look at our own hearts reveals that we don't always receive God's gifts with grateful joy, especially when we are asked to endure trials. What an awesome God we have, then, who not only continues to provide for our bodies, but feeds our souls as well! Come and be fed!
It's the event many people wait all year to see--the culmination of a professional season, the game in which the champion will be crowned. Some will say you don't want to miss it. You want to tune in to see the game, the guts, the glory! But we have something even more momentous to see on Sunday. With Peter, James, and John, and the see the glory of the Son of God--veiled in humility during much of his time on earth, revealed to us through Word and Sacraments. You don't want to miss it!
Again and again in Scripture, we see God do the unexpected and seemingly impossible. His generosity and mercy are most clearly on display when God's people are in their most desperate hour of need. God sees your need before you recognize it, and he meets your needs in better ways that you could ever imagine.
It's the central message of the Scriptures: God's plan to rescue fallen mankind from death and hell, fueled by nothing more than his perfect and unimaginable love. As Christians, we get to watch that plan unfold on the pages of the Bible. But we are not just spectators. God chooses to use us--our prayers, our offerings, our talents, our time, and everything else he gives to us--to accomplish his saving mission. What a privilege!
The relationship between God and his saints will last into eternity. He has set the final day and hour when we shall be delivered from this world of sin and death. Today we remember the saints who triumphed by grace through faith in Christ alone and dwell with the Lord in eternal light. Our prayer is that the Lord would keep us ever watchful for Jesus' coming and bring us at last to the marriage feast in heaven.
God promises forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all. Repent and believe.
12/9/2019Pastor Meissner Daniel 4:19-37
God promises forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all. Repent and believe. “Praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (Daniel 4:37). “He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things” (Luke 1:52-53).
Christ the King Sunday - God promises rescue, redemption and peace. Colossians 1:13-20 sounds a song of triumph for Christ our King. We will live with him in his kingdom, rejoicing in his goodness and resting in his eternal peace.
Do you ever feel completely unworthy to be a Christian, much less to tell others about Jesus? Your past and present sins haunt you. Your shortcomings stare you in the face. Your fear of failing both yourself and God cripples you. This Sunday, we hear from someone who has been there. And we marvel at how God steps into his life and into ours.
Are you on a certain diet right now? We live in a time when there are dozens of different plans that claim to offer the best approach to healthy eating - Paleo, Gluten-free, Atkins, Keto, South Beach, and on and on. All of them have people who have found success using them. And that really seems to be the key: find a diet that meets your needs and use it. God wants us to be spiritually healthy and vibrant too. He wants to bless each of us with a faith that is strong and active and growing. In his Word, he both gives us both a spiritual health checkup and reveals his diet plan for good spiritual health.
There are many ways people show love to one another. Flowers, gifts, cards, hugs, or even a simple smile can be great ways to say, "I love you!" Without outward actions, the words, "I love you," are hard to believe. We often need to see love to believe it. How does God show his love to make sure that we believe it? And how does God's love affect our lives in good times and bad? God's Word answers those important questions.
Why? It's one of the most common and most difficult questions that people--even Christians--ask. Why did this happen to me? Why didn't that happen? Why am I going through this? God doesn't always give us specific answers to those questions. But the Bible does gives us one important and incredibly comforting fact to cling to and all the proof we need that it is true. Here we find hope in answer to every "why?" in your life.
My sinful nature hates the Bible. The Bible convicts me of being a lawbreaker and condemns me for living for myself instead of for God and for others. There are so many things my sinful nature would change, deny, ignore, or add to God's Word, if it could. But by faith, I know that God has not given his Word to hurt me but to bless me--in fact, to bless me in ways that I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams! And because I treasure those blessings and love the God who wants to give them to me, I use his Word carefully and eagerly!
He was not what the world expected. His true identity was hidden from plain sight, as he lay humble and lowly in a manger. But there was much more there than met the eye. And there's a lesson there for us: only the Word of God reveals who our Savior truly is and all that he has accomplished for us.
On this last Sunday of the Church Year, we rejoice because Christ our King reigns--the King who once came as a sacrifice; the King who still shepherds us day by day; the King who one day will conquer all of our enemies. Rejoice in his reign and look forward to the day when every knee will bow with us before the King of kings and Lord of Lords!