Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

June 30, 2013

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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I Don’t Know How it Happens

June 24, 2013

Jesus said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.” – Matthew 4:26-27

“I don’t know how that happened!” Every parent has heard that many, many times. Those words might be heard after a broken toy is discovered, after a sibling is in tears, or after a mysterious stain on the carpet shows up. And “nobody” knows how it happened.

But those words are not always shared because something bad has taken place. They might also be heard because a child just made their first basket, or tied their first shoe, or rode their first two-wheeler. In those contexts, the thought is, “I don’t know how that happened, but I’m really glad it did!”

That’s similar to the kingdom of God. In our verses today, Jesus compares the Word growing in the heart like seeds growing in the ground. They are planted. They sprout. They grow. They bear fruit. The farmer doesn’t control the growth of the crops just as the Christian doesn’t control the growth of the Word. But it happens, though the planter doesn’t know how.

There was an older, non-religious man who took a basic Bible doctrine course. After a few weeks of studying the Bible, the man said, “Pastor, I know that when I started this class, I was an unbeliever that didn’t know or care about God. I only came to this class because my wife made me. I always thought that if I ever decided I wanted to become a Christian, there would be a boom of thunder and a bolt of lightning – and then, at that point, I’d know that I was a Christian. Well, I know now that Jesus died for my sins, that he loves me forever, and that I am going to live in heaven eternally. I can’t wait to get there. And I love him, too. Things have changed a lot, and I know that now I am a Christian. But I don’t know how that happened! The Holy Spirit snuck it in there on me!”

Even though we don’t know how it happens, God causes the seed of his Word to sprout and grow in the hearts of people. He brings them to saving faith in Jesus, leads them through life as his followers, and fills them with eternal hope. That’s God’s loving will for you, too. Learn his Word. Come to know the love he has for you through Jesus and you also will say, “I don’t know how that happened, but I’m really glad it did!”

Prayer: Whenever the precious seed is sown, life-giving grace bestow. That all whose souls the truth receive, its saving power may know. Amen


Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

June 23, 2013

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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A Sabbath Day Gift

June 17, 2013

“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. …the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. …Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” – Deuteronomy 5:12,14,15

House-hunting. Writing project. Softball practice. Summer activities. Water and electricity bills. Basketball camp. Tomato plants and two trees next to the garage to get planted. Birthdays to plan. Work presentation next Thursday. Home projects. Details of the trip out west. These were all the activities that I heard about last week. Everybody is busy. Rarely do I hear, “I have nothing to do.”

Do you feel ransacked…exhausted…waylaid by endless demands and stifling routines? Even your upcoming vacation plans have a panicky, task-like edge to them. The mantra of your day: “If-only-I-had-more-time.” Is this the real problem?  Wouldn’t this be more accurate: you’ve forgotten God’s ancient wisdom for you? You have forgotten the Lord’s own rhythm of work and rest.

To remember God’s own Sabbath – given for you, not for him – is to be handed the elixir to the productivity game playing around you and in your own life. What a gift God has given you in the Sabbath! A gift for your sanity and wholeness. A gift to enrich your lives. A gift to make your joy complete. Sabbath restores your bent and withered parts.

The best part of the Sabbath? Jesus. “If you’re exhausted and panicky…if you are ransacked…come to me…I’ll give you ‘sabbath,’” Jesus invites.

Imagine if you had to secure your eternal position with God based on endless demands…stifling routine…panicky productivity? Much like your days now, you would grind…and obsess…and fixate…on what you could never actually secure by yourself.

Jesus has secured forgiveness for your sins, including the one where you ignored God’s wisdom of work and rest. Always living up to the demands of his Father and the law, Jesus has carried all of your weariness to the cross. There he paid your death sentence. He now lives. Jesus is the gift for forgiveness and eternal life…for rest.  Jesus is the gift for your sanity and wholeness. Jesus is the gift to enrich your lives. Jesus is the gift to make your joy complete. Jesus restores your bent and withered parts. Jesus is rest.

Take a breath and relax. Jesus is your Sabbath gift.

Prayer: Dear Lord, for my ability to work, thank you. For the wisdom to rest, thank you. For the gift of Jesus who is my true rest, thank you. Amen.


Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

June 16, 2013

Guest Preacher: Rev. Justin Pahl

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

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Keeping the Sabbath Day

June 10, 2013

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath? – Mark 2:23-24

The Pharisees were always watching Jesus and his disciples. Their purpose was to witness them doing something against the law, and then accuse them of breaking it.

On this Sabbath Day the disciples were accused of harvesting grain. While the Pharisees were quick to interrogate Jesus regarding his disciples’ unlawful conduct, they neglected to consider their own transgressions.

Jesus proceeded to uncover the Pharisees lack of regard and understanding of the real purpose of the Sabbath when he said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (2:28).

Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees is one that needs to touch my heart. From time to time I forget what the purpose of the Sabbath Day is. While it is called a “day of rest,” it actually encompasses much more. The Sabbath, or rest day, is all about the rest God provides for me when I am weary. It is a rest which comes through the forgiveness of sins. It is a rest which offers peace and assurance through the promises of God’s Word. It is a rest I can relish because I can stand in the presence of God.

This is the rest I need, and it is the rest Jesus offers. It is also the rest God the Father protects with his commandment, “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.”

Certainly there are many distractions and disruptions on Sundays, or any day for that matter. This is why I need to look past them and dwell on the precious gift God offers me through Christ. When I focus on Jesus, I will understand what the Sabbath is. I will also understand why I need to make every effort to keep it by gladly hearing and learning his precious Word every day.

Prayer: O gracious Lord, I rejoice in your Word as one rejoices in great wealth.  Make your Word my joy and my delight. Then, make your Word the source of my rest for this life and my peace for eternal life. Amen


Third Sunday after Pentecost

June 9, 2013

Divine Service II, Page 158, Lutheran Worship

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