Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

September 26, 2016

[Jesus and his disciples] came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” – Mark 9:33-35

During his earthly ministry Jesus used a number of unique pictures to describe himself. These were usually preceded by the words, “I am.” With them Jesus not only united himself with his Father (John 14:10-11), he also revealed what he came to do. Consider just a few of those pictures. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25). “I am the Light of the World” (John 8:12). “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11). Each conveys a vivid picture of Jesus, and an important truth regarding his precious work. Still, there was one statement he never made. The words “I am the greatest” were never uttered by him. Everything Jesus did revealed he was the “servant of all” (Mark 10:45).

It is Jesus’ title of servant of all which offers me great comfort and peace. As true God and true Man Jesus was the perfect Savior I, and all people, needed. He served me by earning the perfect obedience I could never attain. He served me by securing the forgiveness I never deserve. He served me by offering eternal life even though I was dead in my trespasses and sin. He further served me by sending his Holy Spirit to lead me to trust him and his precious work.

It is also Jesus’ title of servant of all which moves me to serve and praise him in love. In love for the Twelve Jesus gave them an alternate way to live their lives. The disciples were not immune from the influence of the world. They craved the title of greatest. They longed to have others serve them. They believed they deserved more because of the status they held as Jesus’ disciples. Jesus showed them this was not his way. Instead of desiring to be great, Jesus told them to imitate him as the servant of all. Jesus tells me the same thing.

While Jesus’ words war with my flesh and with the perspective of this world, I know this is one way I can thank, praise and love him. Simply put, I trust the undeserved love he showed me, and I love others. I trust the selfless service he offered me, and I serve others. I trust the humility by which he reached out to me, and I reach out to others.

It is said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” While my desire is to imitate Jesus, it is not simply to flatter him. It is to live for him who first served me and rescued me.

Prayer: O precious Savior, you came as my faithful servant. Help me live a life of love and faithful service devoted to you, and directed to all people. Amen.


Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

September 25, 2016

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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Faith Alive, Yet Unseen?

September 19, 2016

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. – James 2:8-10, 14-18

What does natural gas look like? What do sound waves look like? What does wind look like?

Those are hard questions to answer because those things are invisible. They are impossible to recognize – at least with your eyes. But with other senses you can find those things. With your nose you can smell the odor that is added to natural gas. With your ears you can identify the howling wind or the presence of sound waves. Even though these things are invisible, you can identify their presence in other ways.

James tells us that faith is the same way. Faith is invisible. You can’t see it in people’s hearts, but there are other ways to tell if it is there. James tells us that a person’s good works are an indicator that they have a living faith. You can’t see faith on the inside, but it can be seen in action on the outside as people live out their faith. As parents faithfully raise their children in the way of the Lord, as workers honestly devote themselves to being the best employees that they can be, as a friend shares the precious message of Jesus as Savior from sin, invisible faith is made visible. When activity is carried out to God’s glory and praise, faith can be seen on the outside.

However, we don’t always let the outside of our lives reflect what is inside. Too often it’s hurtful words of gossip and slander that appear on the outside. Too often we let shine our desires to serve ourselves instead of the expression of faith to help others. But it’s at those times that we can be thankful for another thing that is invisible – love. The love that filled Jesus’ heart for people showed by words he spoke and actions he did. In love he lived for us, perfectly obeying God’s law! In love he gave his innocent life to earn the world’s forgiveness! In love he went to the cross, and in love he still rules and reigns for us. We can’t see that love in his heart, but we can see it in the acts of love that he puts on display for us.

And God has filled the hearts of his believers with that love. He has blessed them with his free gift of faith. Let’s seek to make that invisible gift visible, that through us the world might see God’s love.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the privilege of serving you and showing my faith on the outside. Enable me to live out my faith in all that I do today! In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

September 18, 2016

Divine Service, Page 6, Hymnal Supplement 98

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Hurting? You Need Healing!

September 12, 2016

One of [Jesus’ followers] struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. – Luke 22:50-51

They had made up their minds about him. They had decided that he was only a man – not true God. They judged his big, bold claims about himself as lies, labeled him a fraud, and concluded Jesus was a bad man.

What in your life has whispered in your ear that God is not as good or powerful or wise as he claims? A broken, hungry, violent world? A crushed heart? Shattered dreams? Often, what we see and feel seems to be shouting in the world and whispering to our hearts that Jesus is not good, or perhaps not God.

When Jesus’ enemies came to arrest him, one of Jesus’ close friends swung a sword and cut off a man’s ear. Jesus reached out and did what none of them could do. With a loving, gentle touch, he healed the ear of the man who came to arrest him. They came to kill. Jesus healed.

Jesus helped those who were looking to hurt and kill him. Jesus is a good man. Jesus miraculously healed the man’s ear. Jesus is much more than just a man. Jesus is true God. Jesus showed that he was exactly who he claimed to be–the perfect Son of God. Jesus can be trusted.

God allows bad stuff into your life. The car breaks down, your job disappears, health is lost, or a relationship crumbles. Since he is good and he is God, what kinds of hurts can Jesus heal for you? He can heal any of your hurts, but this side of heaven he has not promised to heal all of your hurts. Sometimes he heals the problem. Sometimes he heals your heart. Sometimes he holds your hand and heart until he brings you home to heaven.

Jesus does promise healing now. Through the forgiveness he freely gives you, Jesus heals your relationship with God and gives peace to your heart. And, Jesus promises that one day those who trust in him will be given a home free from pain, sorrow and suffering. Jesus will give you complete and perfect healing of body, mind, heart and soul forever in heaven.

Trust Jesus. He is good. He is your God.

Prayer: I am trusting you, Lord Jesus, Trusting only you,
Trusting you for full salvation, Free and true.

I am trusting you to guide me; You alone shall lead,
Ev’ry day and hour supplying All my need. Amen.

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

September 11, 2016

Divine Service II, Page 158, Lutheran Worship

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A Labor Day’s Rest

September 5, 2016

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work.” – Exodus 20:8-10

Did you know that the Labor Day holiday originally started in the late 1800’s? I can only imagine how excited the people were to take a day off from working. Some may have thought, “What a wonderful and new idea!” Created and implemented as a day of rest by those hard working blue collar laborers in New York City, this day continues to be one, that we as a nation, look forward to every September.

To put it rather loosely, Labor Day has become a man made American Sabbath day. A yearly day of rest from our labor, to say goodbye to Summer, to go camping, to gather family for a barbecue, and boy howdy, do us Americans look forward to our Labor Day weekend!

If you think about it, God has already created a special day for those of us who labor. As Christians our very own Labor Day doesn’t come only once a year, and it doesn’t only come on the first Monday of each September, that special day for us comes every seventh day of the week. If we are smart, we try very hard to honor it. We take that seventh day to stop from our labor and relax a bit. Our bodies weren’t created to run full steam ahead each and every day. We were created in His image, and if our God and creator, the great I Am himself rested from His labor on the seventh day, how much more so do we need that rest?!?

Friends, our bodies were made with Sabbath DNA. God placed this spiritual genetic matter within each cell that makes up our miraculous body. So today while you are taking an American Labor Day rest by traveling, painting your house, or doing yard work, remember that God had something even better for His children in mind… a weekly rest, a weekly time-out from our hard work. A time-out from our labor, we all need it.

Remember friends, God didn’t make rest on the Sabbath day a gentle suggestion, He made it a command.

Prayer: On this weekend, when we rest from our usual labors, loving Father, we pray for all who shoulder the tasks of human labor – in the marketplace, in factories and offices, in the professions, and in family living. We thank you, Lord, for the gift and opportunity of work; may our efforts always be pure of heart, for the good of others and the glory of your name. We lift up to you all who long for just employment and those who work to defend the rights and needs of workers everywhere. May those of us who are now retired always remember that we still make a valuable contribution to our Church and our world by our prayers and deeds of charity. May our working and our resting all give praise to you until the day we share together in eternal rest with all our departed in your Kingdom as you live and reign Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.