July 28, 2014

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. – Colossians 2:13-14

This past year, Detroit became the largest city in the U.S. to declare bankruptcy. The city as a whole joins a long list of individuals, businesses, and municipalities that have more expenses than income and see no ability to repay their debt without intervention and settlement with their creditors.

Bankruptcy can happen for various reasons: from poor financial management, lack of fiscal control, accidents, sudden loss of income or perhaps many other reasons. The stress is great and the outcome plagues a person for years or leads to the end of a company. But our society has ways to recover from financial debt. It may take hard work. It may take legal intervention. Or it may mean giving property back to the owner.

Financial debt is one thing … Spiritual debt is another. But we probably don’t think about it much. What would happen if you received a statement from God every month with what you owed him for the times you broke his law … angry words, little lies, lustful thoughts, secret cheating, and more … each adding a debt to your account. Perhaps the statement might show a few “credits” with the kind and loving things you did that month, but the reality is the debt would be so large that the prospect of paying it off would be impossible.

Your only solution? Declare spiritual bankruptcy. When you declare spiritual bankruptcy and turn to God for forgiveness, he has a wonderful payment plan that has nothing to do with you and everything to do with his Son, Jesus Christ. He knew your ability to repay was nil. So he stepped in to pay the debt and completely clear your account.

This is the reality of what God assures every spiritually bankrupt person who trusts Jesus. Your debt has been forgiven. Your account is clear. A new life is yours.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for paying for my sins on the cross and blessing me with a spiritual account that is completely debt free! Amen.

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

July 27, 2014

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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Edward Larkin Lee Gardner, 1925-2014

July 26, 2014

The Memorial Service Bulletin

The Readings

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Vacation Bible School Closing Service

July 25, 2014

The Program

Before and After

July 21, 2014

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. – Colossians 1:21-22

Don’t you just love the commercials for cleaning products? The stove has tomato sauce spilled all over and baked on; yet with just one wipe, the stove sparkles like new. I have tried many different ones on the market, and none of them ever get my stove to sparkle like it did when we first installed it. Oh well, I guess you can’t get out every stain … or can you?

When the Apostle Paul writes these words to believers, he does a “Before and After.” Before you were in Christ Jesus, before you were a believer, you were enemies of God. Because of the sinful evil that you were born with and the sins you acted out each day, you were alienated, separated from God. You were down right filthy – worse than tomato sauce burnt onto a stove top. And though you may have tried to scrub away your sins by yourself, the stain of sin remained, and the consequences did too.

But look at what Christ has done! By the sacrifice of himself on the cross, by his holy perfect death every single bit of your sinful stain, wrinkle, blemish has been removed! This is what it means that your sins and mine are forgiven!

On the one hand, our mind reads these words, but our heart struggles to grasp them. After all, our own conscience keeps accusing us and knows full well what we have done in the past. Not only that, but there are probably a few people who could corroborate with our conscience. The problem is that our heart is focusing on the “before” and not on that “after” which is always true and real in Christ.

This is what God has done: “He has reconciled you by Christ!” God has removed every stain of sin so that now you can be assured that you are at peace with God through Jesus your Savior.

Prayer: Lord, help me to always remember that Jesus has removed all my sins. Thank you for this precious gift. May I be at peace this day and always. Amen.

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

July 20, 2014

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

Today’s Bulletin

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It is Time for a Reality Check

July 14, 2014

“Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” – Luke 10:20

The disciples were ecstatic. They just returned from doing the work the Lord sent them out to do. They were filled with enthusiasm and joy, because they did everything Jesus said they would do. This even included casting out demons and evil spirits. Jesus also rejoiced with them. At the same time he also gave them a reality check. He did not want them to build their faith and confidence on what they saw and accomplished. Rather, Jesus wanted them to build their faith on what he accomplished for them. This is why he said, “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Daily I need the same reality check. It is easy for me to look at my life and make quick conclusions. When everything is going well and I am on top of the world, it is easy to say, “God is good!” This euphoria can quickly disappear, though. I know what happens when sadness overtakes joy, failure surpasses success, and sickness replaces health. My conclusion also changes, “God is not good!”

This is why I need the same reality check Jesus gave to his disciples. They too concluded God was good when everything went according to plan. Jesus knew this would not always be the case. He knew they would face rejection, persecution, and even death. This is why he pointed them to a greater joy which could never be taken away from them.

It is the same promise of heaven to which Jesus points me. Daily I need to remember my name is written in heaven. What makes this such a wonderful joy is that Jesus wrote my name there. With his own blood he washed, purified, and prepared me for heaven. With his sinless death he declared me guiltless and tells me the gates of heaven are open. With his own hand he inscribed my name as one for whom a place is reserved.

This is why I turn my thoughts to heaven and not to the events and accomplishments of this world. This life can quickly change and its joys evaporate. Heaven, on the other hand, gives me an untarnished joy. Heaven gives me a never-failing promise of peace. Heaven gives me the confidence to know, regardless of what happens in this life, I will be with Jesus forever.

Prayer: O gracious Lord, I rejoice in all the great things you have done for me. I especially rejoice that you have prepared heaven for me and will bring me safely there. Amen.