Fully Joyful

Pastor Kay tells us this weekend, “Grace is God’s joy to give, and as it is revealed in Jesus, and in his walking with us in our lives and world, he points us to his eternal world where the joy comes from and will be complete.  The gifts of this world help us to know the joy of God’s love for us, and help the whole world rejoice in the love and life God intends for us.  Knowing that we have the pleasure of the Lord upon us and with us, and in us, certainly gives us peace of mind and love of the heart, and joy to serve him.  Praise God!

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Live Fearless

The final three weeks of the Church Year are traditionally concerned with “the last things.” The lessons of the Church bring a special opportunity to reflect on the end of time and on the end of our earthly lives. In the Apostles’ Creed, we affirm our belief in the resurrection of the body, which is God’s good but temporary gift to us while we are living on earth. With all who have died in the faith before us, we await the coming of the Lord. Paul writes, “We shall all be changed.” Our faithful worship helps us prepare for that glorious event!

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Saints Before Us

Pastor Kay tell us, “Jesus Christ was the shepherd of the saints who rest from their labors and will see him face to face.  The same shepherd, is also our shepherd now.  The saints before us were those who lived and died, and now rest eternally in the arms of Christ.  And the saints before us are those we see now, here in this place, and in the lives of our homes and worlds.  

Saints know the power of the cross, the strength of God’s Word and the necessity of the Lord’s Supper.  Saints strive to be like Christ in all ways possible, and to be the arms and hands of one another whenever ordeals take place.  Take a look around at one another.  Pray that we see is Christ alive, and what we do together is the hint of what will be ours eternally.  And then, like the saints before us and with us now, and yet to come, we will see Christ face to face.  What a glorious, comforting and joyful expectation to keep us going!  Blessed are you for the kingdom of heaven is yours!  Amen!”

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Double Vision

Martin Luther learned how we are saved. Luther learned the truth that wasn’t focused on doctrine or dogma, or ritual, but on Christ Jesus himself. He is the truth of the Church then and now, and in and through Christ’s death and resurrection, we learned the truth of the gospel. It is seen in the cross, marked on us in baptism, where we are claimed forever as a redeemed child of God. It is in the cross that our debts are paid by the One who took upon himself all the sin of the world. We can do nothing to earn this love, but by every means possible we share it. We are saved from our sinful past, present and future already, as we believe and hold firm to the Word of God made flesh in Jesus Christ. This is at the heart of what we preach, teach and share to all people gathered in house and dwelling in our communities.

Let us never miss the opportunity to preach the Good News of Christ Jesus!” Praise God!

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What is Caesar’s and What Is God’s?

Our God rules the lives of His faith-filled people by grace for Jesus’ sake. It’s what we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come.” The Lutheran Confessions call this His kingdom of the right hand. But, on the other hand, the left, He also rules through civic authorities. Through Isaiah, He tells King Cyrus that he will be His servant. And the king did let the Jewish exiles return from Babylon! When Jesus’ opponents thought to trick Him in saying something against Caesar, He taught about giving the powers that be their due. When the Church in Thessalonica spread the Gospel, they certainly benefitted from the orderliness of the Roman Empire. On the one hand, God is to be thanked for His grace and mercy; on the other hand, we praise Him for using the government that we may enjoy the physical life He gives us.

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Seating Arrangements

“Whenever we come together for the Lord’s Supper, we anticipate the eternal worship of heaven, which the Bible compares to a wedding feast. The Sacrament is a foretaste of the feast to come. God invited His people through the prophets. The description of that Meal includes seeing God face-to-face. In today’s Gospel, Jesus again extends the invitation through His parable, but He notes the varying responses it receives. Paul leads us to respond with rejoicing. Knowing that the eternal feast is ready, we may be content in all circumstances.”

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Bought the Farm

2017 marks two significant anniversaries: the 500th anniversary of Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses and the 75th anniversary of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. Confessing the faith has not gotten any easier since these two events occurred. In fact, it may be more difficult to speak and to live as Christians now – and the future may even more challenging. Yet God is faithful and has promised that His church will survive all the trials that the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh can throw at us. Building on God’s promises, we know that this is our time to be distinctly Lutheran.

Since 1942, the LWML has affirmed each woman’s identity as a child of God and her relationship with Jesus Christ, encouraged and equipped Christian women to live out their lives in active mission ministries, and supported missions around the world through their sacrificial gifts of mites, tithes, offerings, and tireless service. Now is our time to “Be Ready to Confess!” faithfully and boldly of Christ’s redemptive work for us and for all the world. Praise God!

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God Gives Us Joy!

Sometimes it feels as though this time in which we live is the very first time that people directly challenge God. Yet this feeling is inaccurate. We are reminded by Ezekiel that God’s people were going around saying, “God is not just” already at the time of the prophets. Distrust of God has been around even longer, since Adam and Eve questioned the goodness of God. In the Gospel, chief priests and elders question the authority of Jesus. Nothing new. But Jesus doesn’t react angrily. Instead, He lets His actions speak louder than words. With very few words, Jesus would go on trial, be wrongly convicted, suffer beatings, be mercilessly crucified, and be raised from the grave. In Christ, we need not fear scoffers. We don’t need to respond by being snarky. We don’t need to try to silence anyone. We simply trust the authority of Jesus’ death and resurrection and follow His way of loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us. Rather than return evil for evil, we turn to the crucified and risen Jesus and live.

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Generosity Isn’t Fair!

Our reward for being called to work in God’s kingdom does not change based on how long we have been in our Lord’s service. After all, we are saved by grace through faith, not by works. Isaiah’s call for the wicked and unrighteous to return to the Lord shows God’s immense compassion for all people, no matter when they return to Him. God’s ways are not our ways, yet we continue to work in His kingdom until He calls us when we die. Paul is struggled with a desire to depart and be with Christ and a desire to go on living and laboring for the Lord. Death and life content, but Paul knows life will win. He knows that Jesus will return, raise the dead, and dwell with them forever.

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You Are Not the Judge

The Readings for the weekend focused on living together under the kingship of God. Joseph forgave his brothers, even though they had sold him into slavery. Paul urges us not to quarrel over opinions about earthly matters, but to honor the Lord in all we do. Jesus tells a parable about God’s overwhelming forgiveness and how such forgiveness leads us to forgive others. We can live under the kingship of God only because He has forgiven our sins. In Jesus, God has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west. We practice such forgiveness with one another, living together as the family of Christ. Praise God!

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