Do you have that one person who just knows what to say when you need to hear it? They speak with patience and wisdom, with conviction and compassion. This Sunday, we meet someone like that, whom God used to bless countless people. We thank God for people like Barnabas and ask him to use us to encourage others like he did.
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.
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.
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?
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.
They are some of the most well-known and beloved words in all of Scripture. They give us hope and comfort when days are dark and dreary. They give us hope in the face of despair and even death. They are our confident confession, even if everything we are experiencing tries to convince us that they aren't true. In this sermon, we meditate together on the 23rd Psalm.
Confused, disappointed, afraid, uncertain, worried, unsettled... These are just a few of the words to describe how those two men on the road were feeling on that first Easter evening. But then they met a stranger who helped them understand what had happened. And all of those troubled thoughts turned to overflowing joy and praise to God! Join us for truth to shatter whatever darkness you are dealing with, truth that turns our hearts to praise!
Thomas could be the poster child for our existential culture. No matter how many times the others told him about the resurrection, he had serious doubts. He needed more evidence. He had to see him with his own eyes; he had to touch the wounds. Unless he got the evidence that he demanded, he would in no way ever believe it. What grace we see in Jesus! He came to Thomas and gave him the ultimate proof that he was alive and sin was dead. And this proof gave Thomas peace that could only be found in his Lord and his God! Jesus invites you to see for yourself and find the peace that only he can give.
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!
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!
1500 years before our Savior gave us his body and blood in the Lord's Supper, the blood of the Passover lamb foreshadowed his deliverance, as the Lord used it to save his people from death and deliver them from slavery.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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?
"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!
What would you do, if you won the lottery? Has anyone ever asked you that question? If you suddenly found yourself with more riches than you ever thought you would have, what would you do with them? God's Word reveals that we are indeed rich. God, the giver of every good and perfect gift, has blessed us with more than we could ever have asked for or deserved. Our attitude toward the Giver has a profound impact on our attitude toward and use of his gifts.
Overwhelming Gratitude Leads to Overwhelming Generosity
1/22/2017Pastor Wagner Luke 19:1-10
He was hated and despised by his peers, and perhaps he deserved it. He had betrayed his own people to serve the enemy. And he got rich by cheating others out of their money. But then one day, everything changed. Instead of hatred, he encountered love--pure love. And instead of shame, he received forgiveness. And he did the last thing anyone would have expected. Come and hear his story and see how it is your story too.
It can be hard to say "thank you" at times. At other times, it's not hard to say, but we just don't remember to say it. The apostle Paul writes, "Give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Is that asking too much? How is that even possible? This week, in our Bible Study and our Worship Services, we begin a special series called "364 Days of Thanksgiving." As we dig into God's Word we discover that Christian living is thankful living, and we have much for which to be thankful.
January 6 may seem like any other day. There are no special store hours, no day off work or school (unless it is because of the weather), no special plans for most families. But January 6 marks one of the six major festivals in the Christian church year, the festival of Epiphany. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. Epiphany celebrates his revelation as the Savior of all people (Some even call it the "Gentile Christmas."). For us, most of whom have no Jewish ancestry, this is cause for great celebration. Epiphany assures us the Jesus is our Savior!
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.