Advent Service I

November 30, 2016

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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Rejoice! Your King is Coming

November 28, 2016

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father – to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” – Revelation 1:4b-8

Think about the excitement as grandma and grandpa pull into the driveway on Thanksgiving or Christmas. How about the excitement of meeting a celebrity or important government official? Imagine your joy and excitement as you meet your greatest earthly hero. Now multiply that by 100. By 1000. Multiply it infinitely.

That is the joy and excitement of a Christian experiencing Jesus’ return.

Why? Because…
• Jesus is the faithful witness, the revealer of God’s will for you and all people, for time and for eternity.
• Jesus is the firstborn from the dead, winning and guaranteeing your resurrection and eternal life.
• Jesus is the ruler of the kings of the earth, the one who is over all, whose kingdom never falters or fails.
• Jesus loves you with an unfailing love, a love that never wavers or quits.
• Jesus has freed you from your sins though his blood, the perfect once-for-all payment for sin.
• Jesus has made you to be a priest in his kingdom, raising you up and enabling you to serve by declaring his praises in the world around you.
• Jesus has all glory and power for ever and ever.
• Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of everything good and noble, deep and lasting.
• Jesus is your living Savior.
• Jesus is true God from all eternity.
• Jesus will come again.

People stand in line for hours to get the autograph of a celebrity or sports hero. Hours for some ink on a scrap of paper. So much greater are the characteristics, qualifications, and accomplishments of Jesus that our earthly celebrities and heroes don’t even begin to compare with the Lord God Almighty.

Think again about all that Jesus is and does. Then look to him. Look in faith. Look in hope. Look with joy. Look with excitement! Look, your King is coming!

Prayer:
The King shall come when morning dawns
And light triumphant breaks,
When beauty gilds the eastern hills
And life to joy awakes. Amen.


First Sunday in Advent

November 27, 2016

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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Thanksgiving Eve Divine Worship

November 23, 2016

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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Thanksgiving Centered in God’s Eternal Love

November 21, 2016

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. – 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

Photos often capture that special moment in the hospital when parents are able to hold their newborn child for the first time. Embodied in that first embrace is the selfless love that parents strive to give to their tiny, helpless child in the months and years that follow.

Photos could not capture the moment God first embraced us with his love. Long before God gave birth to the earth and all living things, through Jesus he chose us to be his own. He knew us and loved us before time began.

God’s timeless love for us gives us tremendous comfort. For the Bible reminds us that we were conceived and born in sin. Like newborn babes who cannot help themselves, we were born spiritually helpless. As surely as we were unable to choose who our earthly parents would be, we also had no ability to choose God and his love. Yet he saw our helpless condition, and prepared to rescue us from sin.

In love that the human mind cannot fully embrace, God chose us to be saved. How can we be sure that he chose us? We turn to the good news of the Bible. The Word comforts us with the message of the perfect life of Christ and the cross he willingly bore for us. His death and resurrection assure us that our sins are paid in full and that God’s eternal love for us endures!

The Holy Spirit extends God’s timeless love to us through the gospel. Therefore, we can always rest assured that God chose us to be saved because he called us to faith in Jesus through the gospel.

God’s love is so great he even promises that we will share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. No photo can capture the splendor and joy that await us in our eternal home at our Savior’s side. Since God embraces us with endless love through Jesus, we are moved to give him endless thanks with our lips and our lives.

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, I confess that at times I have become so attached to this world that I have failed to look forward to the Last Day with joy. Continually assure me that my sins are forgiven and direct my attention to my Savior Jesus who brings healing in his wings. Amen.


Last Sunday in the Church Year

November 20, 2016

Order of Service Printed in Today’s Bulletin

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Best Day of Your Life – The Worst Day of Your Life

November 14, 2016

“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.” – Malachi 2:1-2

The day of the Lord is coming, the Last Day of time when Jesus will return. That day will be the best of days, and it will be the worst of days. All those who reject the Lord and go their own way will be punished. God describes his all-encompassing and awful judgment on all unbelievers as a furnace that totally consumes everything put into it.

But that day will also be the best of days. For those who revere the Lord’s name – for those who love and trust in God as their Savior – it will be the greatest day ever because “the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.” If you’ve ever watched the sun rise over a wide open field, you can understand the picture. At first the dark eastern sky begins to turn grey and blue. Then a small disc of orange appears and rays of sunlight reach out like wings across the horizon. When the Lord comes for his believers on the Last Day, his wings will carry the healing righteousness won for us by his perfect life and sacrificial death. And what will come to light is his gift of life – eternal life in heaven with him for all who trust in him as their Savior.

So there will be great joy for Jesus’ followers, “like calves released from the stall.” Young, healthy animals that were penned all winter, run and jump for joy when they are released. That’s what it will be like for believers on the Last Day. They will jump for joy on that great day because Jesus appears and releases them from the hold of the grave and the confinement of sin in this world. And Jesus clothes them in the purity of his righteousness so that they are fully confident to stand before the holy God without guilt or fear.

The Lord loves us so much right now that he comes to us in his word to give us the forgiveness of our sins and draw us to himself as his very own. So with joyful anticipation, we can watch for the Last Day when he appears. That will be the best day.

Dear heavenly Father, I confess that at times I have become so attached to this world that I have failed to look forward to the Last Day with joy. Continually assure me that my sins are forgiven and direct my attention to my Savior Jesus who brings healing in his wings. Amen.