Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

September 30, 2012

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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Living Each Day in Certain Hope

September 24, 2012

God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.’” Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage. – Exodus 6:2-9

We call them “dreams,” the way we would like our lives to turn out. Those “dreams” envision good things we would like for our lives. It doesn’t take a lot of living, however, to know that some bad things will happen in our lives. Our God has even told us that there will be difficult times, trials and tribulations. And though he has not told us the future, he has given us promises that give us hope.

It was hope that the Lord wanted his Old Testament people to have. They were groaning under harsh slavery in Egypt, and there didn’t seem to be any end in sight. The Egyptians had all the power and the Israelites were helpless. So God sent them a leader by the name of Moses who brought the word of God’s promises to the people that he would free them from slavery. God promised that they would be his people. He promised that he would bring them to the land he promised Abraham, a land of abundant blessings. What good news! How excited the Israelites should have been! There was only one problem … they didn’t believe the promises. All these good things were going to happen but the Israelites would continue to live without hope because they didn’t believe.

God has rescued us from the slavery of sin and death through our Savior Jesus. He has promised to bring us to the ultimate promised land, heaven. He has promised that we will be his people and he will walk with us every day of our lives. He may not have told us everything about our future but his promises are intended to give us hope for life and eternity. Hear his promises. Believe his promises. Don’t be like the Israelites. Don’t miss out on your hope.

Prayer: Lord, I thank you for securing my future for me. I ask you to help me live each day in that hope. Amen.

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

September 23, 2012

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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The Secret to Contentment

September 17, 2012

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. – Philippians 4:10-12

An important reason for which Paul wrote this letter to the Christians in Philippi was to thank them for the gift they sent to support him during his detention in Rome. Though very thankful for their generous help, Paul explains that life’s satisfaction has a much deeper base than the physical and temporal things that we handle and consume.

Honestly, our voices of thankfulness are closely connected to the contentment in our hearts. If we are content with our situation in life, then it’s easy to give thanks. When we are content with our job, we are thankful for it. When we are content with the way other people treat us, we give thanks for our favorable relationships. If we have good health, we may often pray to God and thank him for this blessing. When our heart’s desires are fulfilled, thankfulness is easier to express.

However, when there is discontent, then thankfulness is harder to generate. How can I be thankful when my job is hassle, or I can’t seem to earn enough, or other people treat me terribly? How can I be thankful for that accident I had, or the surgery I need to have, or many other circumstances which disturb me or adversely affect me?

There is a way to be truly content no matter what the circumstance. Paul confessed, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” The apostle found contentment in the fact that he was forgiven, justified by God because of Jesus Christ who died on the cross to give him eternal life. It wasn’t financial security that made Paul content; it was spiritual security – he was saved from the fury of hell and confident in the eternal loving-kindness of the Lord.

He didn’t look within himself either, hoping that somehow by his own power he could make himself better and be more satisfied. He looked to Christ whose precious blood cleansed him of all sins and in whose perfection he was clothed. His contentment didn’t stem from the goodness of others, but came by the grace of God who elevated him to the honored position as one of God’s children.

True contentment is not attained by the quantity of things or the quality of life. The secret of contentment is the glorious status that we have with God through Jesus.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to see that you are my highest good. Fill me with your love that my heart may be truly content. Amen.

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

September 16, 2012

Guest Preacher: Rev. Vern Kohlinger

Divine Service II, Page 158, Lutheran Worship

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New Wheels for North St. Louis Mission

September 11, 2012

Otis Woodard at the controls of the new mini-car he will use in his Lutheran Outreach mission. Offerings from Ebenezer’s Vacation Bible School in July helped purchase the car, which was delivered by the Donatti family on Labor Day.

Lord, Grant Me Peace

September 10, 2012

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7

Our minds and hearts strain for peace by trying to remove the things which cause stress and hurt. If we get sick, our distress is removed when we are well again. If we find ourselves in serious financial trouble, the stress weighs heavy on our minds and we are not relieved until the red ink turns to black. We tend to equate peace in our lives with an absence of adversity.

How different is the peace of God that we have in Christ! God’s peace far surpasses our understanding of peace. The peace that God gives exists in the midst of difficulties. It settles and flourishes in the minds and hearts of believers. Though we experience all kinds of troubles and struggle to overcome many challenges, we have peace in the midst of everything. That’s true because the peace of God is founded on what he has already accomplished through Jesus. He charged his Son with the guilt of our sin and inflicted Jesus with the suffering and death that we deserved.

True, lasting peace is knowing with our minds and believing with our hearts that our sins have been forgiven by our heavenly Father and that we will spend eternity surrounded by his glory and filled with his blessings. Instead of condemning us to hell, God has promised us heaven. Instead of separation from God, he promises to hold us near and dear to him. God has made us his own through Jesus and he will not forsake us. He guards us by his power so nothing can separate us from his love for us in Christ. As God’s own people we can confidently face every situation – no matter what it is. We have the peace of God through Jesus.

Prayer: Fill me, O God, with the peace of knowing that in Jesus you love me and are guiding me on the course that keeps me close to you. Amen.