Is Pain Good?

August 29, 2011

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart… Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. – Hebrews:12:1-3, 10-12

Eat this, not that. Go to this or that gym. Buy this machine or that fitness gadget. Trainers, workouts, and nutritional supplements promise a healthier, stronger you. What would you do for a stronger, fitter body?

God’s goal for you is that you would share in his holiness. God promises a “harvest of righteousness and peace.” What would you do for a stronger faith and closer relationship with God?

Do you know how he grows and gives that? Discipline, sometimes painful discipline, is used by God to build a stronger you. Painful trouble is not fun, but God allows it. He allows it, but not because he wants you further away from him. No! Just the opposite is true. When sin and guilt, or hurt and problems push down on you, God wants you in his Word and at his side.

God is not punishing you for sin because Jesus already took your punishment in full on the cross. Hear God proclaim his love for you as he forgives all your sins. Listen to God’s care for you when he tells you his highest goal for you is an eternity at his side in heaven. Know that he loves you dearly and deeply. The pain you’re experiencing does not disprove that love. Rather, God says this painful discipline emphatically proves his love for you. Through it, God promises “righteousness and peace.” These blessings are yours in Christ.

God may allow very difficult things into the lives of his children. But, Christ’s followers know that God’s intent is not to cruelly treat his children. God’s desire is to turn our eyes and hearts to him and his Word. God’s goal is to grow our faith as we trust in his promises. Our almighty, all-wise and loving God will use even painful troubles to discipline us and “produce a harvest of righteousness and peace.” This pain is temporary. Our joy with God in heaven will be eternal.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, increase my trust in you when you allow trouble into my life. Drive me back to your Word and your strength. Pull me close to you with your sure promises and love. Use difficult times to grow my faith. Amen.

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

August 28, 2011

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

Today’s Readings

Today’s Adult Bible Class Slides

Listen to Today’s Sermon:

Read Today’s Sermon

Baptism of Katja Gabrielle Stange

August 26, 2011

Holy Baptism, Page 199, Lutheran Worship

The Bulletin

God Still Keeps His Promises

August 22, 2011

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. – Genesis 15:1-6
Abram (later known as “Abraham”) was down. God had made some awesome promises to him: that he’d become a great nation, his descendants would inherit the land of Israel, and most importantly, someday the Savior would be one of his descendants. Amazing promises!

However, Abram had no children. How could he become a great nation, inhabit a land, and be the Savior’s ancestor if he didn’t have a child?

God allays his fears and concern. He takes Abram outside and says, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Have you ever tried to count the stars in the sky? That’s tough to do because of the vast number! Yet God said that Abram would have that many offspring!

The word of God was fulfilled just as he promised. Later God gave a son to Abram and his wife; they named him Isaac. Isaac gave birth to twin boys, and one of those, Jacob, ended up with 12 sons and a daughter, and the great nation had begun – the nation from whom Jesus would eventually be born. To Abram it looked hopeless, but God promised a fulfillment exactly as he determined it would turn out.

God promises to be with you and use every situation in your life for your good. He is in control to help you reach your heavenly home. Oh, there may be times when the way is tough and things look bleak. But God assures you through Jesus that he is always concerned for your welfare and working for your eternal good.

When you’re struggling, look up into the night sky. When you see all the stars, recall how God fulfilled his promise to Abram. Then, like Abram, believe God who still keeps his promises that he gives you in his Word!

Prayer: Oh faithful God, remind me that you always keep your promises so that I might live in confidence and joy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

August 21, 2011

Divine Service, Page 6, Hymnal Supplement 98

Today’s Readings

Today’s Bulletin

Today’s Adult Bible Class Slides

Listen to Today’s Sermon:

Read Today’s Sermon

Kenneth Milton Obermann, 1941-2011

August 15, 2011

The Memorial Service Bulletin

Read the Sermon

Like a Charging Bear

August 15, 2011

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. – Colossians 3:5

Greg Brush is a veteran fishing guide who lives in Alaska. Last summer he heard a twig snap behind him. He turned around just in time to see a massive brown bear charging straight at him.

“When I spotted him, he was within 15 yards,” Brush later said. “He was coming like a freight train.”

Brush had but one option. He raised his gun and started firing. The bear kept coming. Brush stumbled and fell on his back. Then his gun jammed. The last shot, however, had finally stopped the bear. It was just five feet away.

In your life there’s at least one temptation that regularly comes at you like a charging bear. Give yourself a few moments of candor and no doubt you’ll identify what it is. God’s Word tells us when that temptation comes, you and I have but one option. We need to raise the gun and pull the trigger. We need to put that temptation to death.

Too often, of course, you and I do the opposite. We think that we can befriend the temptation. We think we can domesticate it. We tell ourselves we can keep it under control. But the bear keeps charging. And in our heart of hearts we know what that bear wants to do.

Confront the bear. Pull the trigger. Come to repentance. Be washed in the blood of your Savior. Be renewed by his forgiveness. And be ready to confront another charging bear tomorrow.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, when temptation charges at me, empower me by your Spirit to put that temptation to death. For this I look to you alone. Amen.