Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin
Listen to Today’s Sermon:
As they [Elijah and Elisha] were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. – 2 Kings 2:11
Wow! What a way for life in this world to come to its end! What a way to go to heaven! The “ride” must have been amazing! Elijah must have been the best believer ever!
Well, maybe. But maybe not. Remember the time when Elijah went into deep despair, and traveled out into the wilderness to Mt. Sinai? There God confronted him, “What are you doing here Elijah?” (I Kings 19:9) Yes, Elijah was a believer, and from our perspective, a great one! But he was also a sinful human being, no different than I am, no different than you are.
And … he went to heaven! He went to heaven for the same reason that you will go to heaven someday: because Jesus lived, died, and rose for him, just as Jesus did for you. Jesus paid for Elijah’s sins, just as he paid for your sins and my sins.
And so someday? Yes, by faith in Jesus someday we will go to heaven too! Oh, we might not get the same dramatic ride which Elijah received, but the end result will be exactly the same: we will stand at the side of Jesus, our Savior, in eternal glory.
And then we can ask Elijah about the ride!
To know more about life after death, come to Pastor’s Bible Study beginning February 21, “Death … Then What?” at 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Prayer: O Savior, assure me that there is a place in heaven for me, just as there was for Elijah. Focus my eyes on my eternal home. In your name I pray. Amen.
At once the Spirit sent him [Jesus] out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. – Mark 1:12-13
“The company won’t miss an extra ream of paper and these pens. They have so much and besides, I do a fair amount of work from home. They owe me for all those extra hours.”
“Hey, it’s my lucky day! The ATM spit out an extra $20. Finders, keepers… If their machine can’t count money properly, it’s their own fault.”
Temptations are all around us. Sometimes we walk right up on temptation and act as if it’s no big deal. Other times, when we’re least expecting it, we’re tempted to do something that is clearly against God’s Word. It seems at those points we become wonderful excuse-making artists. We rationalize our actions so they look good. We act as though we’re not hurting anybody. We think that God is too busy to notice. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Not only have we been tempted, but we’ve fallen into sin.
Jesus knows what it’s like to be tempted in every way. This is how he began his public ministry. The Holy Spirit sent him into the desert where Satan tempted and tempted and tempted Jesus. The good news is that Jesus never once gave into any of those temptations. He knew that doing so would be wrong and a sin against God. If he did, he would fail to be the Savior. It didn’t matter if no one else was looking. Sin is still sin whether someone sees us sin or not, because God sees all.
Quite often we are quick to say that “Jesus died for my sins.” While this is true, we need to also remember that Jesus lived each day as a sinless one, overcoming every temptation. The good news is that Jesus died for your sins and mine, and he also lived a perfect life in our place. The blessed result is that through faith in Jesus, God sees us clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus his Son, our Savior.
Such a wonderful message not only lifts us up when we’re mindful of our many failings, but it also strengthens us with the resolve that we too, by God’s power, can overcome temptations. God gives us the strength to walk away. God empowers us to say “No,” even when no one is looking. And when we fail, God’s gracious call to repentance and the promise of his full forgiveness strengthens us to return once again to the fight, knowing full well that Jesus has defeated the Tempter, who has no power over us.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, when my thoughts, words and deeds become impure, have mercy when I become defiled. Forgive, lift up, restore me, your child. Amen.