How do you figure out where you are going? Do you count on your GPS? Are you a paper maps kind of person? Do you trust in Google Maps or Mapquest? Or do you just have an innate sense of direction? What happens if you lose your way to find your way? By nature, we are spiritually lost. Our sense of direction always leads the wrong way. It is quite literally a dead end! And there's only one way out.
On June 25, 1530, a group of Lutheran princes presented a statement of their faith to Emperor Charles V in Augsburg, Germany. The truth they confessed was not new. It was the truth of salvation by grace through faith as revealed in the Scriptures. But it was a truth that had been lost, distorted, forgotten, or hidden within the church. How tragic! With those Lutheran princes, let's treasure that truth and confess it boldly, so that we and many more will receive the salvation Jesus has won for us!
In Christ you are new. In Christ, you are set free. In fact, Jesus says you are salt, you are light. You are the light of the world, so be light for the earth. You are the salt of the earth, so be salt for it. This is gospel-driven living. You are blessed, in Christ. Let your light shine! Our calling as sons and daughters of God means our lives will reflect our new status, and the world around us will be blessed by us. Our prayer is that God would help us to believe and do the things that are pleasing in his sight. Alive in Christ, you are set free to do just that.
"Why am I here?" That's a question pastors often get asked. It comes from a confused teenager, from a depressed dad, from an aging and ailing Christian. In reality, it is a question we all should be asking every day - not in confusion or despair, but to make sure we are living our lives in line with God's plan. This week, we hear Jesus himself give an answer to that question, an answer that he wants to shape our lives every day. Jesus gives purpose and power to our lives!
You are REDEEMED by the Lamb! Today we’re continuing our sermon series with John 1:29-41 where Jesus appears as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This Lamb would take away the sins of the world and bring both Israel and the Gentile nations into the kingdom of God. Everything is new, and so are you, in Christ Jesus! You are redeemed by the Lamb!
It is one of the greatest mysteries of the Christian faith. We worship one God in three persons and three persons in one God. All three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - are God, yet there is only one God. It is a truth we accept by faith, because it is a truth clearly taught in the Scriptures. And it is a truth that we celebrate, because only through the work of our Triune God are we blessed to be children of God and heirs of heaven!
You are illuminated by the Light! Jesus appears as the light that shines in the darkness. Dark places remain covered in the shadow of sin and unbelief. Now there are, however, bright places, too, and there you find God’s children. Jesus shines his light by preaching repentance and the good news of the nearing kingdom, and he invites us to follow him to a life illumined by him. God has made you new in Christ. Following him means living in the joy of freedom and walking in the light of love for God and neighbor. You are illuminated by the Light!
Jesus appears as the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. Anointing is how God prepared Jesus for his mission. Since the days of Othniel (Judges 3:10), the Spirit of the Lord empowered God’s heroes to do his saving work. At his baptism, God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power and declared this son of Mary to be who he always has been, the Son of God—the one anointed to be the Savior of mankind. And yet there's still more! -- You are empowered by your baptism into Christ!
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?
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.
"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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.