God Invites Us to His Dinner Party

July 29, 2013

Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank. – Exodus 24:9-11

Imagine that you’ve been invited to a dinner party. It looks pretty neat! The menu contains things which you like to eat. Also the time and the date work for you. But then you come to realize that you don’t know anyone who’s been invited to the party, and you have absolutely nothing in common with the people who are going. What do you think? Will you still be as excited to go? I’d guess most of us wouldn’t be as excited. After all, what really makes a party fun is being with people we know and enjoy.

Can you imagine a dinner party with God? At first, it’s a scary thought! After all, God is perfect, holy and eternal; we’re sinful mortals. What do we have in common with God, or he with us?

And yet God chooses to have fellowship with people. We read in these verses of the Bible how he allowed the leaders and elders of Israel to dine in his presence. What an experience that must have been!  But in a more wondrous measure, he chose to have fellowship with people when Jesus came to this world and lived among us. Now the Lord continues to do it today, promising that he’s with us always to the very end of time. And he’s preparing a place for us at the eternal “banquet feast” in heaven.

And yet that question lingers: why would God want us in his presence? Why would God want ME? I’m a sinner!

Ah, true.  But remember Jesus. He lived, died and rose, thereby paying for your sins in full. The holy life of Jesus covers you perfectly so that you do not fearfully stand opposed to God as a foe; rather you peacefully sit with him as a friend.  Indeed, you’re his welcome guest through Jesus! You might even think of yourself as a VIP.

And what a conversation you’ll have with all the other guests of his grace! People like David, Mary and Joseph, Abraham and Sarah – all sinners, like us; all saved by Jesus, like us. It will be a great party!

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for making it possible through Jesus for me to come to your heavenly feast. Fill me with longing for the day you will take me there. Amen.


Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

July 28, 2013

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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Vacation Bible School Closing Service

July 26, 2013

The Program

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Our Lord’s Lavish Gifts

July 22, 2013

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment – to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory. – Ephesians 1:3-14

What gifts do you treasure the most? Is it the handmade card you received from your child? Perhaps it was the ring you were given from that very special person in your life, or a precious heirloom passed on from generation to generation. Whatever the gift may be, chances are you treasure it because there is some sentiment attached to the item.

In this section of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul describes how great the treasures are that God has given to you. He calls them spiritual blessings in Christ. He explains how these blessings are the greatest gifts you could receive. One can only marvel at the magnitude of these gifts. The Father chose you before the world was created and determined that you would be one of his believing children. He freely gave his Son to redeem you from your sin. He works all things out according to his will for you. He sent his Holy Spirit to mark you as his own. He gave to you an inheritance of eternal life.

Paul praises God for all of these spiritual blessings so that you too can praise God for his grace. For these precious gifts of God bring you comfort and joy. God doesn’t want to leave you struggling with any doubts or worries when it comes to your relationship with him.  He doesn’t want you wondering if you are really his child. He doesn’t want you debating whether or not you are good enough to enter heaven. No, God wants you to sleep soundly at night and to live boldly in Christ. So God emphasizes that he chose you. He redeemed you. He marked you as his own. He has guaranteed your inheritance of eternal life.

As you contemplate the spiritual blessings you have received in Christ, treasure them. Then praise and glorify God for “the riches of his grace.”

Prayer: My heavenly Father, I praise you for the precious spiritual blessings that you give me through Jesus. While you also supply all my physical needs, your greater gifts are those that bless my soul. These are eternal treasures that lead me to glorify you! Amen.

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

July 21, 2013

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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Can You Believe Your Eyes?

July 15, 2013

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith. – Mark 6:1-6

I asked myself this question as I was fishing and reeling in the big one. Suddenly, another much larger fish started to attack the fish I was catching! After a 2 or 3 second ferocious struggle the bigger fish gave up… the first fish then spit out the lure… and I reeled in a bunch of weeds. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was unbelievable, and yet true.

For Jesus and the folks of his home town, I’m sure this question was tossed around quite a bit. “Hey, look who’s the guest preacher this Sabbath! I can’t believe it; it’s the carpenter’s son. Just a few years ago he was helping his dad in the shed and now he’s up there.”

While there was an initial excitement and many were amazed, their warm welcome quickly turned cold. The people couldn’t get past the past. Their ears heard what Jesus said, but their eyes couldn’t get past the memories of that local boy who was now claiming to be the Promised Messiah. In essence, they did believe their eyes and not their ears, and so they refused to believe him.

This phrase could fit with Jesus, too. Perhaps he couldn’t believe what his eyes were seeing. Here are the people with whom he grew up and worked. Now, as he comes to bring them the best news ever, for the most part, they reject him.  Unbelievable – but sadly, true.

Friends, this is one of the many pictures and illustrations of unbelief: spiritual blindness. Though the Word of God was presented and shared in all its glory, there are times when people just simply refuse to believe the truth. The devil blinds people’s hearts. The world clouds their minds with all kinds of false notions. Their own selfish pride forbids them to admit that they are wrong and God is right.

Spiritual blindness has a cure. It’s the Holy Spirit who works through the preaching and teaching of the Word and through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Through these means of grace, God removes unbelief and opens eyes to see and believe the wonderful truth that Jesus of Nazareth is the Savior of the world, your Savior and mine!

Every time God opens eyes and hearts to the truth, it’s a miracle. Furthermore, it is evidence that God is a patient, gracious and merciful God. Every day is a gift of his grace wherein we can open our Bibles anew and read about his incredible love for us. Each day we can share his Word with people who don’t know of God’s love. This is how the Holy Spirit continues to open eyes to see and believe Jesus.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for opening my eyes to know the truth. You are my Lord, my Savior and my God. Keep me from not believing your Word. Help me to share your Word. Send your Holy Spirit to more and more people to open their eyes so that they may see and believe in you! Amen.

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

July 14, 2013

Divine Service II, Page 158, Lutheran Worship

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