God Takes Sin Seriously

October 27, 2014

God presented [Christ Jesus] as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. – Romans 3:25-26

What good is a law if it is not enforced? For example, a stretch of road has a posted speed limit, but people go too fast because it is infrequently patrolled by the police. A parking space in front of the store is reserved for those with handicap permits, but able-bodied drivers ignore the sign because they are quite sure that parking there will be overlooked. We’ve all done things that go against the law. If we are not forced to pay the price for our wrongful actions, we are just emboldened to keep doing them. We conclude that the authorities aren’t serious or don’t care, so we can just do as we want without any fear of consequence.

It’s tempting to think that way about God. In his patience, he does not quickly bring judgment on us for our offenses against his law. As a result, we might be led to think that he is not serious when he threatens punishment for sin. And if we think that he is not serious about sin, we feel that we can just live according to our own desires without fear of his justice.

The truth is that sin is very serious. In fact, God says that the consequence of sin is death! And that’s more than the kind of death associated with cemeteries. The consequence of sin is eternal death – condemnation in hell!

The fact that God “left the sins committed beforehand unpunished” is not because he isn’t serious about sin. It is because he mercifully loves us. Instead of carrying out his justice on us who truly deserve it, he laid the punishment for our sin on his Son. By shedding his blood on the cross, Jesus died the death that God’s justice demanded for sinners. With his justice completely satisfied by Jesus who served as our substitute, God has justly declared us free from the condemnation of death. Trusting in Jesus we have the gift of life with God forever!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to never minimize the seriousness of sin. Lift up my eyes to see the cross to count the cost that was paid there by my Savior to take away the punishment I deserved. Lead me to praise Jesus always for the life he has given me. Amen.


Reformation

October 26, 2014

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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God’s Promises! Hang on to Them!

October 20, 2014

Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” – Ruth 1:16-17

For a social psychology journal, college students and adults with incurable diseases were asked to list five blessings every week for which they were thankful. They named things like friends…tropical beaches…iPhones and iPods…and DirecTV. Then…comparable groups were asked to count their hassles instead of their blessings. They listed aggravations such as hard to find parking and finances depleting quickly. The results? The grateful groups felt better about their lives…exercised more…woke up more refreshed and were more willing to help others.

Do you think Ruth might have listed blessings or aggravations? Do you remember her background? One of Naomi’s sons swept Ruth, the Moabitess, off her feet…what a blessing! Her heart stretched out to include her husband’s family. Enjoying laughter and love…what a blessing! Enjoying a place to live and a God who loved her…what a blessing! As quickly as blessings came, they went…death struck. Her husband dies. Her brother-in-law dies. Her sister-in-law decides to go back to her original family and Naomi to her original land.  What aggravations!

Do you think Ruth felt loneliness? Have you? A disaster disrupts your dreams…excluded from a group of friends…forgotten in your senior years…or politely thanked but dismissed after the interview. A spouse who’s not around or a parent who just doesn’t “get it”. And there’s nothing you can do about it, except vent…and so you vent. You slam a door…you pout…you cry…you throw a pity party for yourself…and…you give no thought to God’s good and gracious intentions. Yes, God who seems like a million miles away hanging out with the good and healthy people.

But the truth is that God allows us to be infected with loneliness and hopelessness and illness and aggravations so that we are led to call for help. God allows us to feel guilty. God allows us to make bad decisions. God allows us to get hurt. Then…our hopelessness and loneliness help us see what we wouldn’t otherwise see: a way that is much better than ours. It is perfect and divine. And we see Jesus. Jesus traveled out of his way to walk on this earth and leave the footprints of his forgiveness wherever we go. Jesus secured our hope and connection to God as he spilled his holy blood on the cross and as he rose from death’s knockout blow.

The rest of Ruth’s story (and, it is worth your time to read) shows that God had something better for Ruth…and she trusted in what the God of Israel had planned for her. So much good did the Lord have in store for her that you can find her name as one of Jesus’ ancestors in Matthew 1…Ruth, the foreigner, a Moabitess. God recorded stories like Ruth’s in the Scriptures for us to believe that he won’t turn away from anyone. God still listens today when feeble voices uncertain of what to say call to him. This promise is yours today. Hold on to it!

Prayer: Dear Lord, for life’s aggravations and difficulties that allow me to struggle, thank you. Please use those aggravations and difficulties to make me see Jesus…all that he has done for me, has planned for me and promises to me. Amen.


Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

October 19, 2014

Divine Service, Page 6, Hymnal Supplement 98

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Dalphrine Deppermann, 1922-2014

October 14, 2014

The Memorial Service Bulletin

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Don’t be Timid

October 13, 2014

God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7

Let’s start with a moment of candor. Not too many years ago, you and I could get away with living our Christian lives without taking much flak for it. Oh, sure, we could cite cases in which a secular society was attacking our faith, but for the most part we could go about our business as Christians without a lot of fuss and bother.

Let’s acknowledge what’s happened – those days are gone. The reality is that if we are actively working to follow the Lord’s will, and if we are at all open about our Christian faith, we will receive mockery and resentment and hostility from others.

We need a moment of candor about one other thing. We need to confess to our God and to each other that, more often than not, you and I have responded to our anti-Christian culture with plain, ugly, old timidity. We have remained silent when we should have spoken. We have chuckled nervously when we should have remained silent. We have cowered in embarrassment when we should have been standing up for the only Savior this world is ever going to have.

But here’s the good news. Jesus Christ came to this earth for our sins of timidity as well. On our behalf he lived a life of perfect courage. In our place he died for our every failure – every episode in which you and I have given in to fear.

Repent, therefore. Repent of timidity, both you and I. Bask again in the refreshing forgiveness we possess in the Son of God. And as we do, seize the moment to be brave in the days to come. Demonstrate the Christian courage that the Holy Spirit has placed within us. Shine the light that we have in Jesus Christ. For the world needs the gospel now!

Prayer: Holy Spirit, in a world that is hostile to the Christian faith, give me courage. Give me strength. Empower me by your gospel to let shine the light of my faith in Jesus my Savior. Amen.


Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

October 12, 2014

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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