No Need to be Afraid

August 26, 2013

I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. – Psalm 34:1-4

It’s hard not to be afraid, isn’t it? We live in a world where something as simple as going to a movie can be deadly, or going to work may put us in the path of a disgruntled employee who has armed himself intent on settling the score. Financial difficulties, health problems, death – there are plenty of things for us to fear. But fear can be a sinful lack of trust in God’s protection and care.

In our Bible reading today, the writer, David, tells us what he did when he was afraid. “I sought the Lord and he answered me.” As David wrote those words, he recalled a time in his life when he was in danger, and he was filled with fear. When he sought the Lord, he found protection and deliverance in the love and power of God. When we are afraid, we can also confidently turn to our loving and almighty God to help us in our fearful times.

How does God help us when we are afraid? He promises that he has our future in his hands and that all things work for the good of those who love him.  He also promises to rescue us from sin and death. God did just that when he sent his only Son, Jesus, to take the punishment for our sins by his death on the cross. Our Savior freed us from the fear of hell. And to prove it, he rose from death. Therefore, we have nothing to fear – not even death – because God is more powerful than the grave. Our living Lord promises to be with us always and finally bring us to be with him in heaven.

We know the Lord will keep his promises because he is the one who showed his love for us on the cross. We know he is strong enough to keep these promises because he was powerful enough to rise from the dead.

What should we do when we are afraid? Seek the Lord and trust in him as David did. Then, as David did, praise the Lord. Glorify and extol him for his love and his power.

Prayer: Lord God, teach me to seek you when I am afraid. Deliver me from my fears, and help me to praise and glorify you. Amen.

Advertisements

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

August 25, 2013

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

Today’s Readings

Today’s Adult Bible Class Notes

Listen to Today’s Sermon:

Read Today’s Sermon


Are You Connected With God?

August 19, 2013

The Jews began to grumble about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” – John 6:41-47

Find God within. Find God in nature. Find God through meditation. Our society is filled with thoughts and ideas of how to connect with God. Inside each individual, whether they acknowledge it or not, is the desire to know God.  But how? God seems so distant, so elusive, so intangible that to really connect with God…is that possible?

The confusion is not recent. The words of John 6:42 indicate that individuals at Jesus’ time were confused when they saw Jesus and knew he grew up in the family of Joseph, yet he claimed to come from heaven…from God. How could a human being make this claim? Because he wasn’t just a human being! He was God. As the angel Gabriel told Jesus’ mother Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Joseph was an earthly father figure, but Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father. This was a miracle of God that his Son became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ born of the virgin Mary.

So how do we connect with God?  We connect with Jesus Christ. We connect with his words and his teaching. As Jesus said, “It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” This is a connection you don’t want to miss! For whoever connects with God through Jesus Christ and believes in him, is the person who will enjoy heaven forever.

We can enjoy God’s creation in nature. We can focus our minds through meditation. But ONLY through Jesus Christ can we truly connect with the one and only true God.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for coming from heaven to live, die and rise again for me. Come to me to through your Word to connect me with you, my Saving God, forever. Amen.


Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

August 18, 2013

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

Today’s Readings

Today’s Adult Bible Class Notes

Listen to Today’s Sermon:

Read Today’s Sermon


In Search of Jesus

August 12, 2013

Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate loaves and had your fill.” – John 6:24-26

The people who were fed by Jesus (John 6:1-15) thought a good thing was getting away. They concluded, “If he fed us, what more can he do for us?” So they began to search for Jesus. Their search, unfortunately, was only going to end in failure because the very thing they pursued would never be found. Jesus ended that search when he said, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”

There are times when I am like the people in the crowd. I desperately want Jesus in my life. I need someone to change my bad habits. I need someone to make my life better. I need someone to rescue me from all the problems I have created. So I begin my search only to find that the Jesus I pursue is nowhere to be found.

I need to understand the truth concerning Jesus, and that truth is offered in the Bible. Here Jesus is revealed as the one who brings peace through the forgiveness of sins. Here Jesus is proclaimed as the one who restores what had been lost through our disobedience. Here Jesus is offered as the one who brings rest to weary souls. Through the Word the Holy Spirit opens my eyes to see Jesus as my Savior who went to the cross for my forgiveness.  Through the Word the Holy Spirit leads me to put my faith in Jesus as my Righteousness who perfectly obeyed God’s will as my substitute. By the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word, I place my confidence in Jesus as my Rest who triumphed over death and the devil.

There are many people who are like the crowds who walked around the Sea of Galilee. They are searching for a Jesus of their own making. This search will always end in frustration and disappointment. I need to search in the right place, and that is in the Bible. Here I will find Jesus my Savior, and I will never be disappointed or put to shame.

Prayer: O dearest Jesus, you came to bring life and peace with your precious life and work. Through your Holy Spirit open my eyes to see the truth of your Word, and lead me to trust, love and follow you. Amen.


Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

August 11, 2013

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

Today’s Readings

Today’s Adult Bible Class Notes

Listen to Today’s Sermon:

Read Today’s Sermon


Rest in Your Shepherd’s Love

August 5, 2013

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:1-4

It’s nearly impossible to rest when under stress. We’ve all been there. We think about something we forgot to take care of at work, or we wonder if we locked the front door. Or maybe we begin to think about an argument with a family member or friend, and we just can’t rest.

Sheep are kind of the same way. Sheep that are hungry or in pain or under any type of stress take a long time to lie down. But when the needs of sheep are met, when they are well fed and protected, they quickly lie down and rest.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” We can rest in our Good Shepherd because he has taken care of our every need. Our biggest problems aren’t just forgetting to do something at work or forgetting to lock the front door. Our biggest problem is that we have often strayed from the flock. We have sinned against God and others. But Jesus assures us: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Our Savior laid down his life to pay for our sins and make us his sheep. We can rest in his love.

Our Good Shepherd has taken care of all of our spiritual needs, and he also takes care of our earthly needs. He provides us with everything we need for this life: food, clothing, shelter, family, friends, time and energy. Even when we walk through the darkest valleys of this life, even when disease, sickness, persecution and death threaten, we can confidently say, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” Jesus walked through the darkest valleys himself – even death – and now promises to be with us through it all.

Sometimes it’s hard to rest. Sometimes things in this life can cause an enormous amount of stress and anxiety. At those times we need to remember that the Lord is our Shepherd. He leads us to drink from the refreshing waters of his salvation and promises to take care of us and lead us through this life. No matter what happens, we can rest in the green pastures of our Savior’s forgiving love.

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, please help me to rest in your promises of love, guidance and protection. Even when life grows dark and I pass through the valley of the shadow of death lead me to see my Savior Jesus right there beside me. Amen.