Frank Sinatra famously crooned, "I did it my way." And that's how many people want to live their lives. I don't want anyone to tell me what to do. I want to be my own boss and live by my own rules. And some insist that we should even be able to get into heaven by going our own way. But God gives us a much better way, the only way, a way in which he does everything for us - the way that is Jesus Christ.
This Sunday is the second of four special services 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).
Do you consider yourself to be wealthy? That question is a matter of perspective, isn't it? It depends upon what kind of wealth we are talking about and to whom we compare ourselves. God's Word teaches how to measure real wealth and assures us that we are part of the wealthiest nation in the history of the world--the kingdom of God. For such great blessings, the LORD is worthy of our praise.
Several Lamb of God volunteers are feeling pretty worn out after a week of Music & Arts Bible Camp, and we are ready for some rest. What about you? Are you in need of rest? Maybe you are physically rested, but your soul could use some rest. You are weary from the battle against temptation. You are worn out from a load of guilt you are carrying around. Jesus invites you to come to him to find the rest you need.
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.
Let the Word of God shape you as you look for Jesus' return confident that God's judgment is certain--and all because of Jesus' work for you and the world. When Jesus returns on the clouds we shall hear: "Well done, good servant." Rejoice in the grace is ours, and ours to share! Today's sermon text is Psalm 90 which begins, "Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God."
Live Confidently in the Promise of God's Salvation
12/1/2019Pastor Meissner Genesis 6:9-22, 7:11-23
The "Story of the Promise" for the first Sunday of Advent is the account of Noah and his family who lived confidently in the promise of God's salvation. The God who delivered Noah and his family has delivered us and the world through Jesus' cross, and His Spirit has brought you and me into the ship of the church. Jesus is with you now and he is coming again soon! Live confidently in the promise of God's salvation! Live in God's promise as you watch for Jesus' coming again. Live in God's promise as you rejoice in that Jesus comes to you through his Word and Sacrament. Live in God's promise and receive the hope God gives us in preparing to celebrate Jesus' advent as the baby born in Bethlehem.
God will come to save his people, just as he promised. He saves them through the virgin born Son of David who is also the Son of God, Immanuel. The Church prays for God to come in power to take away the burden of our sins. Since the Garden, there has been only one promised plan to do that: God would take on flesh and blood. Immanuel comes—God in the flesh—exactly as promised to save his people; to save you! Stand firm in the faith: Believe God's Promises.
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.
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!
On Christ the King Sunday, we have the opportunity to gather around his throne and see how Jesus is unlike any other king who ever has been or ever will be. We celebrate his awesome reign as king in every age and season of life on earth and in the eternal age to come in heaven. And we look forward to the day when we will see Christ the King with our own eyes!
Fruit doesn't last. Maybe you've discovered that peach with the fuzz that isn't supposed to be there, that forgotten apple that has turned to mush in your refrigerator. All you can do it throw it away and clean up the mess. But Jesus says that he has chosen us to bear fruit that will last (John 15:16). How do we produce such lasting fruit, and what does it look like?
"It is good for us to be here," Peter said on the mountain that day (Luke 9:33). He didn't want the moment to end--that moment in the presence of the glory of God, listening to his Lord and God's holy prophets. Peter was right. It is good for all of God's people to see God's glory. When days are dark and difficult, that glory assures us that everything will be okay. When death and disappointment cast their shadow over us, that glory provides light and hope that will never go out.
There is nothing the devil wants more than to divide the house of God-the Church. If it is divided, he knows it is weakened and he is in a much better position to attack. The house of God is divided in so many ways: sinful attitudes and behaviors, false teachings, misunderstandings, and more. In this week's worship, we see the devil at work to divide God's house and Jesus' work to overcome the devil.
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.
Imagine what it must have been like for him. He left heaven to rescue those who sinned against him. But many rejected him and even tried to stop him from doing what he came to do. How often he must have been tempted to give up, to abort the mission. But nothing would stand in his way. In his determination, we see his love and find hope and strength to go on when we feel like giving up.
So many families and homes are "broken" these days that, as a society, we hardly call them "broken" anymore. And the problem is only getting worse. The reality is that, in comparison to God's perfect design for the family, every family is broken. The only solution is to stop and look at the beautiful blueprints of God's design, blueprints made even more beautiful, when they are stained with the crimson blood of our Savior.
It can seem easy to trust in God when things are going well. But what about when things are not going so well? What about when your life or the life of someone you love hangs in the balance? What is in your heart in those moments? Fear? Worry? Sorrow? Perhaps, but through his Word the Holy Spirit puts one more thing there: Faith. And that makes all the difference.
Lent is for sinners. Nothing that Jesus suffers in his Passion is because of his own guilt. God gave Israel and Judah everything, and they threw it all away. So what does God do? He establishes a new covenant--a covenant by which he judges and condemns his own innocent Son just for sinners, just for you and me. It's a beautiful covenant straight from the heart of God, signed in the blood of his own Son. Let's follow after him and embrace him in this new covenant in these remaining days of Lent!
Christmas is a season of lights. The lights we see bring a smile to our faces and warmth to our hearts. The twinkling of Christmas tree lights and the glitter of tinsel reminds us of Light of the world who came to dispel the darkness of unbelief with the light of the gospel. Seeing his light brings unfading light and lasting joy to our hearts.
Love is rarely a gift. Typically, when you love someone, it is because you get something in return. You love your spouse in part because of the support and affection he shows to you. You love your favorite teacher because of what she gives you by making learning enjoyable. You love your dog because he is a loyal companion. In such cases, love is not a gift. It is something that is merited… deserved. Now, if you loved a spouse who always treated you like dirt, loved a teacher who taught you nothing, loved a dog that daily bit you, then your love would be a gift. If you love someone who gives you nothing in return, who makes your existence more difficult, then your love is a gift. You are showing undeserved love, which Scripture calls grace.
Love is rarely a gift. However, with God, his love is always a gift. God the Father looks at humanity and he sees us doing the evil we should not do. Just as bad, he sees us failing to do the good that we ought to do. Do we make God’s existence easier? No. Instead, God the Son took on human flesh and suffered and died to make atonement for our sins. Yet, he did so gladly. Why? Love! Love that is undeserved. The gift of love!
The Bible tells us to "pray continually" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Imagine that you were on the other end of that invitation, telling someone else to talk to you all the time, to come to you with "all kinds of prayers and requests" (Ephesians 6:18). Wouldn't you get tired of listening at some point? But God never does. In this sermon, we look a little more closely at the gift of prayer and learn from a faithful believer how to use this precious gift.
This Sunday, we begin a new church year with the season of Advent, a time in which we focus on the advent (coming) of the Christ as the Savior born in Bethlehem, on his coming to us in Word and Sacrament, and on his coming on the Last Day as King and Judge. For us who see him as their Savior, Advent fills us with real and certain hope in a world made hopeless by sin.
"It's the most wonderful time of the year." Do you agree? Or do the "magical" moments of the days before Christmas get overshadowed by the stress of how much has to get done with limited time and money before Christmas comes? Does the illness or death of a loved one steal the joy out of the season? This week, our God wants to lift our spirits above the troubles of life and fill us with true and lasting joy.
Do you ever feel completely unlovable? You've done or said something that really hurt someone. You've given in to that same temptation all over again. You've let someone down. And you feel terrible about it. How can they forgive you? Why would anyone love you? If we take God's law and his coming judgment seriously, we should be asking, "Why would God love me?" In this sermon, we hear what God promises to do, when we are unlovable.
Have you given up trying to find peace? You've decided it will just have to wait...until the holiday preparations are done...until the kids are grown up and move out...until you can finally retire...until you leave this world and go to heaven. But does peace really have to wait? Or is there a way to have peace, even in the chaos, stress, and struggle of life...even during the waiting season of Advent?
"Alleluia" is a Hebrew word that means "Praise the Lord." It is a common word in the songs and psalms of the Old Testament. But we don't hear that word in the New Testament until the final vision of the triumphant saints in heaven recorded in the book of Revelation. There, it is not a word of half-hearted praise, but a word of thunderous and joyous celebration, because Christ has won the victory for us and invites us to rejoice with him! To keep us ready for his return on the Last Day, Jesus gives us a glimpse of the celebration behind the doors of heaven, and he calls us who are invited to that feast "blessed."
It seems so simple--just a few drops of water and a few words. If you judge by appearances, you can understand why some see baptism as an optional symbolic ceremony. But, when we listen to what God says about it in his Word, we realize that there is much more than meets the eye. Baptism is a powerful and precious gift from God that changes our lives every day in this world and for eternity in heaven.
A new church year begins with the season of Advent. Advent is a season of watchfulness and waiting. But we aren't just waiting for Christmas and the celebration of our Savior's first coming. We are also waiting for his coming again on the Last Day to judge the living and the dead. Are you ready? Are those you love ready? Through Word and Sacrament God points us to our Savior's first coming to prepare us for that great and dreadful day of his coming again.