Don’t Worry! Really?

April 27, 2015

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. John 20:19-20

Not too long ago there was a popular song with a refrain that said, “Don’t worry, be happy.” If only that worked! For most of us sinners, we have plenty of things which can cause us worry, plenty of things which drive happiness out of our hearts.

Can you imagine if the disciples on Easter Saturday or even on Easter Sunday had heard the “Don’t worry, be happy” song? How do you think they might have reacted? Probably with some skepticism, at best! “Don’t worry?! Be happy?! With Jesus dead??? For what reason possibly should we be happy?!”

Oh, but how things changed that Easter Sunday evening, as Jesus comes popping into the room! “Peace be with you!” were his gracious words to his scared disciples! And then?

Then he showed them his hands and side. Why? Because Jesus nail-scarred–but RISEN!–hands and sword-pierced–but RISEN–side were the proof that they really had peace, for Jesus had won peace for them on the cross! Jesus’ hands and side were proof positive that God loved them! The risen Jesus with scarred hands and pierced side were proof that death had been defeated, that they had a home in heaven, that Jesus really was their God and Savior who loved them dearly!

What was true for them is just as true for you and me. This isn’t just a “don’t-worry, be-happy, the sun will come out tomorrow” kind of empty reverie. Rather, this is a FACT-BASED, REALITY-DRIVEN peace! Peace between you and your God.

Don’t worry! Eternal joy is yours through the risen Jesus!

Prayer: Focus me on your hands and side, O Savior, that I might have the peace that only you can give. Amen.


Good Shepherd Sunday

April 26, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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An Attitude Adjustment

April 20, 2015

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!  Philippians 2:5-8

The owner of a large corporation decides to step out of his luxurious 87th floor office, exchange his $3000 suit for a work uniform, and position himself behind the counter of one of his restaurants. He is not there to figure out better ways to run his business and save money. His goal is to gain first-hand experience of what it is like to work at the very lowest level of his company.

Such an attitude of humility! Such a heart for service! It makes for a great news story, even a captivating reality-TV show.

The Lord of the Universe, the Creator of everything that exists decides to step down from his heavenly throne, exchange the glory that is rightfully his for human flesh and blood, and position himself in the very world he created. He is not there to simply see how things are going or even gain first-hand experience of what life is like in this world. His goal is to save you from your sins and their damning punishment.

In order to accomplish this, he not only humbles himself to become a real human being, he lowers himself all the way to death, and a most painful and humiliating death – death on a cross.

It is not a death he deserves. He never did anything wrong. Yet, he willingly takes your place and accepts it because it is what you deserve for your sins. As he dies, his Father in heaven turns his back on him because he has covered himself with your sins. Now, the Father will never turn away from you because your sins have been removed.

Such humility! Such a servant’s heart! Such love for you! It is the greatest story there is! And it’s not a fairy-tale. It is very real. Jesus willingly humbled himself, stepped down from his throne in heaven, set aside his glory, and became a human being just like you. His purpose—to be punished in your place and die so that you can live with him forever.

Prayer: Dearest Jesus, thank you for your servant-heart. Thank you for loving me enough to die for me. Fill my heart with joy and peace and motivate me to humbly serve those around me. In your name I ask it. Amen.

Third Sunday of Easter

April 19, 2015

Divine Service, Page 6, Hymnal Supplement 98

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April 13, 2015

I will exalt you, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit.  Psalm 30:1-3

If you’ve ever seen a helicopter rescue, you’ll agree, it’s remarkable! (I saw on the news the rescue of a man who was lost at sea for 44 days.) The victims are stranded on an ice flow or trapped on a sinking vessel. They are stuck and often moments from perishing, but then from the skies comes the sights and sounds of rescue – the helicopter rotors buzzing in the sky, the rope dangling from the chopper to the place of danger, the rescuer ready to slide down the rope and work to save the desperate people. It’s an emotional event and an amazing sight when a rescue takes place.

Yes, it’s emotional to watch even when you don’t know any of the people involved. But imagine if it were you being rescued! Imagine what the scene would look like with you standing in the place of danger! You are the one in peril. You are the one moments from destruction. You are the one being saved. It’s a whole lot more moving when you are the one who is being rescued.

But you don’t have to imagine being rescued, you were rescued. Maybe not by a helicopter, but you have been rescued. We all have. We were drowning in a sea of sin and unbelief. We were moments away from destruction when a rescuer came from above. He came down to us, not on a rope, but in flesh and blood. He saved us, not by strapping us to a stretcher, but by strapping himself to a cross. He rescued us by defeating sin, and he conquered death with his resurrection from the dead.

God spared us from something worse than flood or fire or storm, he saved us from sin and death. He saved us by coming down from heaven to earth, and after finishing the work of rescuing us he ascended back into heaven. Trusting in Jesus our rescuer, we are confident in his promise that he will return to take us back to be with him in heaven. He will lift us up to everlasting security and joy and peace with him in glory.

All praise and glory to the one who has rescued us, our Savior God!

Prayer: Thank you, Lord God, for seeing our peril and for answering our pleas. Thank you for saving us from sin and death and for promising us your guidance, your protection, your glory in heaven. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Gregory Levi Pointer, 1964-2015

April 12, 2015

The Memorial Service Bulletin

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Second Sunday of Easter

April 12, 2015

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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