A Thorny Situation

September 28, 2015
To keep me from becoming conceited … there was given me a thorn in my flesh. – 2 Corinthians 12:7

The apostle Paul had a serious problem. The problem was that something was wrong in his body, and he suffered because of it. We have no idea what this physical problem was. Maybe he had to grapple with crippling pain. Maybe his eyesight had gone bad. Maybe he had severe arthritis. Maybe he had terrible digestive trouble. Maybe he had seizures. Maybe it was his heart. Maybe it was his lungs. Maybe what vexed him was something completely different. All we know is that this physical problem was serious and that the burden on him was profound. Paul simply described it as “a thorn in my flesh”.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Paul prayed about this physical problem. Paul asked the Lord to remove his thorn in the flesh. And, in love, the Lord answered Paul’s prayer.

His answer was “No.”

In his perfect wisdom, the Lord knew that this debilitating physical problem was necessary for Paul and his ministry. It gave Paul perspective. It reminded Paul that, on his own, he was frail and weak. As a result, he never forgot that his real strength was in the Lord and in his gospel. With that thought in mind Paul later concluded, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”

What is the thorn in your life? Perhaps it is chronic illness. Perhaps it is chronic pain. Perhaps it is a lifelong struggle with depression. Perhaps it is a deep emotional scar from an old wound. Perhaps it is a thorn only you and your Lord understand.

If, for the time being, the Lord has chosen to leave that thorn in you, just remember – he does this in love. It may be to give you perspective. It may be to nurture your compassion for others. It may be to keep your eyes fixed on the One who has washed your sins away at the cross and who lives to fulfill his every promise to you. Whatever the reason, never forget that there is love in that thorn – God’s love for you in Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Lord, when you choose to let a painful thorn remain, remind me that even that thorn overflows with your love. Amen.
Advertisements

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

September 27, 2015

Guest Preacher: Rev. Brandon Larson

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

Today’s Readings


Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

September 20, 2015

Divine Service, Page 6, Hymnal Supplement 98

Today’s Bulletin

Today’s Readings

Read Today’s Sermon


The Last Word On Eternal Life

September 14, 2015
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” – John 6:66-68

During the Revolutionary War, Ethan Allen made a name for himself as a capable colonel and the leader of the Green Mountain Boys. He was also widely known as a religious skeptic who had no use for the Christian faith. Allen’s wife, on the other hand, was a devout believer and taught their daughter about Jesus as the one who loves and saves sinners. It happened that the daughter fell seriously ill and her father was summoned to her bedside. As the girl was nearing death, she took his hand and asked, “Father, should I believe what you have taught me, or what I have learned from my mother?” The long moment of silence after her question must have felt like an eternity. Her father finally found his voice to say, “My child, believe what your mother has taught you.”

In the twists and turns of life, we can fool ourselves into thinking that there are any number of paths we can take and that any road will do. But when we are finally forced to face the question of life and death, with the prospect of where we will spend eternity, our viable options begin to dwindle very quickly. How will we stand before the Almighty on the great Day of Judgment? How can we hope to enter Paradise when we have angered our Maker with our selfish deeds and our self-centered lifestyles? Will any amount of scoffing or pretending that God doesn’t exist make him go away or keep me from falling into the hands of my eternal Judge?

When faced with the reality that we too will one day die, we cannot ignore the question: “Where will you go? Whom will you follow?” The answer, like the one given by Peter, should be, “I believe that Jesus has the words of eternal life. I believe that Jesus is eternal life.” His death for sinners has paid my debt. His rising from the grave assures me of God’s love. His word promises me forgiveness for my sin. Who else can give me these blessings but the eternal Son of God?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, keep my eyes and heart fixed on you through your Word. I have nowhere else to turn for blessings today and for salvation in eternity. Amen.

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

September 13, 2015

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

Today’s Readings

Read Today’s Sermon


Living the Never Ending Good Life

September 7, 2015
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” – John 6:51-58

It is said, “Repetition is the mother of learning.” By repeating his promises again and again, Jesus strengthens our faith in his promise of life.

God sent “bread from heaven” that fed millions of Israelites in the desert for forty years. They lived because of that bread; they would have died without it. Without shops nearby, without markets and supermarkets, the people of God learned to trust and rely on the only way God gave for them to live, the bread he sent from heaven. Yet this bread only kept the people alive physically.

Jesus proclaims that he is living bread from heaven. He gives himself for people to eat and drink. In this way, he teaches the vital importance of people believing in him as the Savior who came down from heaven to give spiritual and eternal life. Trusting in Jesus and all that he did to accomplish their salvation, people will not die eternally; they will live forever.

Feast on the promises Jesus emphasizes for us in today’s lesson from God’s Word:
• “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.”
• “If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.”
• “This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
• “…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”
• “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
• “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.”
• “I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.”
• “…he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”

Eight times in eight verses Jesus makes sure you know that he is your source of strength for eternal life. Not only that, Jesus is that source of strength for the whole world. Jesus gives eternal life now to every believer, and, he promises, “I will raise him up on the last day!”

Prayer: Gracious Lord Jesus Christ, my Strength and my Life, as I live in a world filled with death, continue to reassure me that I will live forever with you. Amen.

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

September 6, 2015

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

Today’s Bulletin

Today’s Readings

Read Today’s Sermon