I Don’t Know What to Say

October 29, 2012

“Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” – Matthew 10:17-20

If you’re like me, you have probably had that awkward moment when you didn’t know exactly what to say. It could have been when your friend shared some really bad news. It could have come when someone dropped an odd comment on religion, a comment that you knew was contrary to the clear teaching of the Bible… but how do you react? And if you do offer the correction, then what will people think of you?

Such awkward moments aren’t unique to our times. Jesus prepared his disciples for such moments in their ministry. He told them to be on guard and to expect to be arrested and brought before people to give an account. But he comforted and encouraged them with his promise that their words testifying to God’s truth would be given to them by the Holy Spirit.

There have been a few times that I can relate to this as well. It’s not that I felt a buzzing coming over me or that I went into some kind of a trance. I simply spoke my faith in Jesus and shared what the Bible says. By speaking the truth – God’s truth – the Spirit was speaking and God’s Word was shared.

God calls us to testify to the truth of his Word. If we’re unclear about God’s Word, we have some options. We can tell the person that we’ll get back to them after we ask our pastor or another knowledgeable Christian. We can also work to better prepare ourselves by reading our Bibles and attending Bible classes more regularly.

Even then, if we have a greater knowledge and grasp on the Scriptures, the oppression of God’s messengers will not stop. The disciples experienced it throughout their ministry. Over the course of history, many Christians have been called to testify to their faith in tense and tough situations.  God gave them his almighty Word upon which they firmly stood, and with the help of God they courageously shared it.

Continue to grow in the knowledge of God’s Word, and trust that the Lord will keep his promise to help you speak its truth even under difficult circumstances when you don’t know what to say.

Prayer:

God’s Word is our great heritage and shall be ours forever;
To spread its light from age to age shall be our chief endeavor.
Through life it guides our way; in death it is our stay.
Lord, grant, while worlds endure,
We keep its teachings pure throughout all generations. Amen.

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Reformation

October 28, 2012

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost

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How To Be Generous

October 22, 2012

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. – 2 Corinthians 9:6-11

In the comparison that the apostle Paul uses of sowing seed, implied is the truth that the sower would not have seed to sow if there had been no previous harvest. So we would have no offerings to give if God had not blessed us with the money we have. We are givers because God has given to us. And he gives us so much more than we can ever return to him! How can we ever give back to God a gift equal to salvation, an offering comparable to the peace of the forgiveness of sins, a donation that even comes close to the gift of his Son?

We don’t just practice giving. We practice Christian giving. Christian giving involves our faith in the promises of God. God urges us to trust in his limitless ability to cause his blessings to abound in our lives. We can give our offerings generously, trusting in the promise of God that he cares for us and will supply all that we need for life.

God’s grace is poured out on us abundantly. His grace works in our hearts a willingness, yes a joy to give offerings to God. The joy of giving is a result of God’s miracle worked in our hearts to thankfully give to God who has given us the joy of salvation by faith in Jesus. When we focus on Christ, our giving is not a reluctant action or a compulsive habit, but a joyful and thankful response to God’s great love for us. This is the kind of cheerful giving that God loves.

Prayer: Lord God, increase my trust in your promise to supply all I need for life. Lead me to reflect my thankfulness for all your blessings in the joyful way I give my offerings. Amen.


Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost

October 21, 2012

Divine Service II, Page 158, Lutheran Worship

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Confession is Good for the Soul

October 15, 2012

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. – Genesis 50:15-21

“Confession is good for the soul,” …so the saying goes. Often that comment is spoken somewhat flippantly, but the truth that it conveys is actually solid advice. The brothers of Joseph demonstrated just how powerful confession can be. They had sold their brother into slavery, only to discover he had become a prince of Egypt. For seventeen years these brothers were haunted by the guilt of what they had done, and they lived in fear. Finally, after all those years, they confessed their guilt to their brother.

Joseph wept when he heard their confession. He wept for the seventeen years of fear that his brothers lived through even though he had forgiven their sin against him. Even though they had been forgiven by Joseph, even though their sin was gone, they had received no comfort from that fact for seventeen years.

Do you find yourself carrying the guilt of past sins on your heart? Do you live in fear of the things you have done against God and against others? As guilt haunts you, it can lead you to turn from God or to live afraid of him.

But God does not want you to live afraid of him. He urges you to turn from your sinful ways and repent. As you go before your heavenly Father and confess your sins to him, don’t try to hide or conceal parts of your sin. Fix your eyes on the cross of Jesus and open your soul and receive the comfort of God’s full forgiveness. Jesus Christ has taken away all of your sins—they are gone, no longer remembered by God!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, in many ways and at different times I have sinned against you. Forgive my sins for the sake of your son, Jesus, who died to take them away. Fill me with the comfort of your grace, that through Jesus all my sins are gone from your sight. Amen.


Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

October 14, 2012

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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Full of Grace

October 8, 2012

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. – Philippians 4:23

Again and again in this letter, Paul exhorts us to rejoice. No matter what the circumstance in our life, he teaches us to “rejoice in the Lord always (4:4).” The source of our persistent joy is the grace of Jesus. Though deserving to be separated from God forever because of our sin, Jesus came to rescue us from the horror of hell. He shed his precious blood to provide full payment for all our sins. Through him we have the free gift of salvation from eternal condemnation and rejoice in the sure hope of heaven!

The grace of Jesus sustains us every day. He is always with us. He guards us from harm and danger; he strengthens us against temptation; he assures us of his unfailing love; he supports us with his faithful promises; he hears us when we call on him in prayer; he comforts us with his forgiveness, and he leads us ever closer to the culmination of his eternal plan for us – to be with him in glory.

We can rejoice always because the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is with us.

Amen – This is certainly true!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, fill me with your grace. Lead me to praise you for your great love in saving me and your undeserved favor in sustaining me. Amen.