An Update on Your Status – From God

October 31, 2016

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. – 1 John 3:14

Most of the time they are inconsequential: “Just had the best burger ever.” “Can’t wait to see a movie with friends tonight.” Other times they are more important: “Excited to add a new baby to our family.” No matter what the event, social media has changed the way we share our lives with the world around us as we now give snippets of our life through “status updates.” In fact, it seems we often judge our own lives and the lives of others through these status updates.

How can you be sure of your updated status before God? How can you know that you have passed from death into life? The answer is love.

First of all, we have God’s love for us. He loved us so much that he sent his only Son to live among us and to die for us and then to rise from the grave to bless us. In Jesus, we have payment for our sins so that death is defeated and we have life forever. All of this is a result of God’s love for us.

Then, God’s love to us motivates us to love one another. As we have opportunity to serve our brothers and sisters in Christ, the Holy Spirit enables us to show Christian love. This might be through meeting the needs of our brothers and sisters emotionally, physically or spiritually. It might be through sharing with them the truth of God’s Word. In whatever situation or place we find ourselves, we have many opportunities to show love to one another. Every day God creates a desire and ability to love our brothers and sisters.

Let us then abide in love, God’s love for us which results in our love for one another – a love that assures us of our updated status of passing from death into life.

Prayer: Father, thank you for updating our status from death to life. Help us to love one another as you have loved us. Amen.


Reformation

October 30, 2016

Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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Keep on Praying! Don’t Give Up!

October 24, 2016

Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice quickly.” – Luke 18:1-8

Prayer is such a wonderful gift and privilege from God. His disciples can pray to him at any time. We can ask him for anything we need, and he promises to hear us and help us. Still, we find that it isn’t always easy to use the gift of prayer as God intends it to be used. We might treat prayer like it’s our duty, rather than our privilege. We might pray thoughtlessly. We might forget to pray all together.

It’s easy to think that the key to improving our prayer life is just try harder. So we think of weak spots in our prayer life and say, “Well, I’m just going to have to buckle down and do better next time.” But our commitment isn’t the key to improvement.

The key to a stronger prayer life is to remember that through faith in our Savior Jesus we are God’s own dear children. As dear children of God, we can pray confidently to him just as dearly-loved children confidently ask their parents. We can ask our Father for anything, and we can trust that he will always give us what’s best for us.

In today’s reading Jesus tells the parable of a persistent widow who keeps asking an unjust judge for justice against her adversary. Since he’s an unjust judge, he ignores her. But she keeps at him, and because of her constant pestering, he finally helps her. Jesus’ point is clear. If even an unjust judge is willing to help someone who keeps bothering him, how much more will our loving Father in heaven want to receive the prayers of his dearly loved children and answer them!

Is there something in your life you’ve been praying about? Does it seem as though God hasn’t answered you yet? Don’t give up. Pray persistently in Jesus’ name. Your dear Father in heaven will most certainly hear you and help you.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me to pray boldly and persistently without giving up, trusting you to give me the best answer at the best time. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.


Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost

October 23, 2016

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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Anything is Possible

October 17, 2016

Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” – Mark 10:25-27

Every year the Pacific Golden Plover, a ½ pound bird about the size of a dove, makes an eighty-eight-hour trip over open ocean from Alaska to Hawaii. It loses half its body weight during the non-stop journey! That’s impossible, one might say. Scientists have been awestruck by what this little bird does year after year after year, but that’s the creative work of the almighty God. He makes the impossible possible.

Jesus’ disciples had just watched a very rich man walk away from Jesus with a sad and heavy heart. He was not willing to give up his love for wealth in order to follow Jesus. That’s when Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard that, they were surprised and wondered, “Who then can be saved?” If it’s almost impossible for rich people with all of their money and possessions to be saved, well, then, who can be saved? What about all the lesser privileged people of this world? How will they ever get to heaven?

“With man this is impossible,” Jesus replied. Jesus was reminding his followers that it is simply impossible for people to buy their way into heaven. They can’t purchase a place in heaven with their money or with their good deeds. Heaven’s rest and joy simply can’t be bought or earned by sinful human beings no matter how rich or how good they are.

Why? Because our debt of sin is too great. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The only thing we can earn with our life, no matter how rich or poor in money, no matter how rich or poor in good deeds, is the way to hell. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). When it comes to getting to heaven by what we do or what we have, Jesus says, “With man this is impossible.”

“But not with God; all things are possible with God.” God sent his Son Jesus into this world to live the sinless life we could not live, and he credits us with Christ’s sinless life. Jesus also took the curse of hell that we deserve for our sins. That means that through Jesus we are freed from eternal death in hell. Heaven that was and is impossible for us to attain by ourselves, was purchased for us by God through the life and death of his Son, Jesus Christ.

The impossible is possible with Christ. Listen to God’s Word of promise: “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). That’s our almighty God at work with his saving love for you and me.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for making my eternal salvation a reality through Jesus Christ who lived, died and rose again to save me. May I praise you with my words and works of love for making the impossible possible through Jesus. Amen.


Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost

October 16, 2016

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

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Falling In Love Could be Dangerous

October 10, 2016

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him…The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. – 1 John 2:15,17

“Do not love the world or anything in the world.” Could God have asked anything more difficult of us? There are so many things in this world to love! Good things. Bad things. Things that we need. Things that we want. Things that we have no business longing for.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world.” What are you in danger of loving too much? Perhaps it is money and things money can buy. Maybe it is the new all-terrain vehicle or fishing boat that you just can’t live without. Then again, maybe it is the praise and admiration of your coworkers and the image that you portray for all to see. Or is it your family? Your love for them is so great that it dwarfs even the love you have for your Savior. Just maybe, the one that you are in danger of loving too much is you. So much so that you will do whatever it is that makes you happy and makes you feel good, even if it goes against God’s will for you as his child.

The danger in loving this world and the things of this world is that such love replaces the love we ought to have for God. If we are found to love the world above God, we will miss out on an eternity with our Savior in heaven.

God had a different kind of love for the people of this world. It wasn’t an idolatrous kind of love, rather a saving kind of love. “God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God’s love for you in Jesus is the most amazing kind of love there is. It moved him to sacrifice Jesus in your place in order to win for you an eternity of peace and joy in heaven. This love will never end and you will continue to bask in it forever and ever.

Keep that in mind the next time you are falling in love with the things of this world. None of those worldly possessions will last. The only love that endures to eternity is the love God has for us in Jesus. Love him above all else today and every day.

Prayer: Dear Lord, heavenly Father, thank you for your love for me in Christ Jesus. Help me always to love you first and best. Amen.