Monday, June 18, 2018

June 16-18, 2018 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Colossians 1:3-8 “THE GOSPEL IS BEARING FRUIT AND GROWING!”


PENTECOST 4

June 16-18, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Colossians 1:3-8



“THE GOSPEL IS BEARING FRUIT AND GROWING!”

1.     Among us.

2.     Among others.

3.     Thank God!



Colossians 1:3-8 (NIV 1984) “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—5the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. 7You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.”



          The Christians in the church at Colosse certainly had some reasons to feel down. They were living in a city that had been a center for commerce in the early Roman empire but at the time the Apostle Paul wrote to them Colosse was diminished and unimportant. A man named Epaphras had been converted to Christianity and had brought the good news of Jesus to the city. Some were converted and believed. A Christian congregation had begun. But at this time they were floundering. Some false teachers had come in and gained many followers. Watching the outward results of the false teachers flourish while the faithful congregation floundered had led some to question if this thing called grace was actually true and if Jesus, Jesus, only Jesus was really the way to go. They needed a pick me up. Some Good News.

          Do you feel that way sometimes? I have to think that those of you who lived closer to the post WWII years have to feel like you are living in a country that used to be preeminent but now is in decline. All of the data on our Milwaukee community from race relations, crime, taxes show no improvement and more likely decline despite all kinds of efforts. Gradually we are getting used to the idea that we are living in times when Christians are no longer favored in our country and God’s morality no longer even pretended to be accepted. This past week we had our WELS district convention and the news shared publicly and privately about the state of all Christian churches in America is the same. Declining numbers. Declining attendance. We see it here too. I have to tell you as a pastor that when you come back from vacation and see an attendance figure of 360 people for a 1200 member church it could get you a little down. Do you need some Good News?

          God provides! Here are the facts. All over the world the Gospel is bearing fruit and growing. God is in control. God’s word works because God works. That’s what God had the Apostle Paul tell the Colossians when Epaphras went to Paul on their behalf. Talk about someone who might have felt down. When Paul wrote this letter he was in prison. And yet he was filled with joy and confidence. You and I can too. Because the Gospel is bearing fruit and growing among us.

          Just like it was among the Colossians. “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—5the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6that has come to you.” The Colossian Christians had faith in Jesus Christ. They had love for one another. The Gospel was bearing fruit and growing. By the Spirit’s powers the believers in Colosse were looking forward to the riches God had stored up for them in heaven. That heavenly mindset was seen as they clung to their faith in Jesus. It was seen as they showed love for one another. It made Paul thankful. What that looked like among them I don’t know. But I do know what it looks like among us and it makes me thankful not down. It looks like Elaine Kyler praying to be in heaven and while she waits Ladies Aid members visiting here and sending cards and Girl Pioneers making her a blanket. It looks like members giving others a ride to church. It looks like meals being taken to those in need and prayers request abounding and being made by the ladies of St. Jacobi. It looks like men working hard all day and giving two more hours of free time at night to serve on boards. It looks like husbands and wives fighting their selfishness and holding their tongues to speak kindly to each other and apologizing when selfishness wins. It looks like brothers and sisters forgiving each other and children asking for Bible stories. It looks like members put the Gospel work of St. Jacobi in their wills and responding to financial needs and wanting to do more. The Gospel is bearing fruit and growing among us.

          And among others. “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. 7You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.” Just what did “all over the world” mean when Paul wrote these words? We know the Pentecost crowd took the message back to the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. We know where Paul went. Did Thomas make it to India? How far did it go? China, Russia, the British Isles? I don’t know. But I know where it is bearing fruit now. We heard at this last district convention of how WELS Committee on Relief which you support has helped people in need as close as Farmington WI for storm damage help and far as Texas, Barbuda, Dominica and Puerto Rico for hurricane relief, to Africa and India for clean wells. Now look at this! The gospel is bearing fruit and growing!

          Thank God for that. First remember that through what we are doing here people are thanking God. Parents are thanking God that you treat their kids as your kids so they get a Christian education. Members are thanking God for the help and kindness and prayers you are giving. People all over the world are thanking God for you, for your prayers, for your generosity toward missions that God has used to get the Gospel all over the world where it is bearing fruit and growing. The latest amazing work of God we heard is an open door in Vietnam, North Vietnam that is. Some of you lived in the history of the Vietnam War. You know what communism did to that country. What would you say if I told you that the government of the country that set up Ho Chi Minh city and the Hanoi Hilton is willing to have us set up the Hanoi Lutheran Seminary. Impossible! Yes, that’s what Jonah said when God sent him to Nineveh, a city filled with cruel and heartless pagans. Did you hear what God did? The Gospel is bearing fruit and growing. Thank God for that. And thank God that His Gospel is bearing fruit and growing among us. “But you just told us churches in America are in decline. We see our own attendance at worship going the wrong direction. Look at the morality. And my kids that I brought so faithfully to church, that went through our Lutheran schools! Pastor they are straying.” Did you hear the one about the farmer who just planted seeds and let the Lord bring the growth? Someone named Jesus told that one. He also told the one about the mustard seed. Have you heard that recently? What’s the point? Be careful how you make judgments. God’s word works. It may seem like it’s too small or not working but it is all over the world including in you. You appreciate God’s grace that He has not cast you away from His presence into the Hell you have earned. Your faith is in Jesus. You are worshipping and serving and caring and striving to be moral. The Gospel works. So be concerned about our straying family members and church members? Of course. Pray for them and make more efforts to encourage them? Yes. Give up on the Gospel? No way. Thank God by treasuring it and relying on it and sharing it.

          “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—5the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6that is producing fruit and growing in you! Amen.

Monday, May 21, 2018

May 19-21, 2018 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: John 14:25-27 “PROMISES, PROMISES!”


PENTECOST/CONFIRMATION


May 19-21, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: John 14:25-27



“PROMISES, PROMISES!”

1.     Jesus kept His promises to you.

2.     Now you can keep your promises to Him.


John 14:25-27 (NIV) “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”



          Promises. We all make them. Big ones and little ones. How many promises do you think you have made so far in your life? “I will always love you,” moms promise their children. “I’ll be home by ten. I’ll pick it up on the way home. I will never do that again.” Promises. All kinds of them. Some big and important. Some about little and insignificant things. Now how many of your promises have you kept? There is a reason that the phrase, “Promises, promises” is said as a sarcastic reply when a person makes a promise. That phrase recognizes the truth that all promises are not kept. Sometimes because people forget. Sometimes because the person never had the ability to keep the promise in the first place. Sometimes because of sin. Promises. Promises. Today at St Jacobi we are celebrating Confirmation. For many of us, this weekend is a reminder of very important promises that we made many years ago. Twenty four brothers and sisters in the faith will make their Confirmation promises for the first time. Do you also, as a member of this congregation, intend to continue steadfast in the confession of this church, that is in the Word of God, and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it? Finally do you intend faithfully to conform all your life to the divine Word, to be  faithful in the use of God’s Word and Sacraments, which are His means of grace, and in faith, word, and action to remain true to the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, even to death?” Promises, promises. Important ones. Big ones. Will you keep them? It’s important that you do. Listen to the words of Jesus. “Be faithful even to the point of death and I will give you the crown of life. Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my father in heaven but whoever disowns me before men I will disown him before my father in heaven.” Confirmation promises need to be kept. The Good news I have for you today is yes, you can keep yours. Because Jesus kept his.

          A bit ago I read to you some promises Jesus made. He was with his disciples in the upper room the night before his death on the cross. He told them that things would be different soon. Jesus would visibly leave them. His work would be done. Theirs was about to start. They would have the mission of being Jesus’ witnesses to the world. They would proclaim God’s good news of salvation in Jesus. They would gather the church and teach the church everything Jesus had commanded. A daunting task! How could they do it? Jesus made a promise. “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

          This year Confirmation happens to fall on the same weekend as the Church Year festival of Pentecost. Pentecost is often called the birthday of the Christian Church because on that day in a most miraculous way Jesus kept His promise to the disciples and the Holy Spirit filled them in a special way. The Holy Spirit in a miraculous way reminded the disciples of what Jesus had taught them, the things He had said and done. Many of those things were then written down for us in the Bible. But before that happened and until that happened the disciples need not worry if they were up to that task. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” More promises from Jesus. He gave them His peace. That calmness that comes in the midst of trouble not from the absence of trouble. He did not give like the world gives with take backs and strings. Jesus kept His promises, this one and many more. It’s no wonder the Apostle Paul wrote later in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For no matter how many promises God has made they are “Yes” in Christ. Not one promise of God has failed.

          And because of that you can keep your Confirmation promises to stay faithful to Jesus. You are going to make many promises in your lifetime but of all the promises you make this one is the most important, yes, even more important than the promise you will make to your spouse when you get married. It is more important than the promise you will make if you go into law enforcement or the military. It’s more important because this promise connects you to Jesus to give you strength to keep your other promises. This promise connects you to Jesus who is the way, the truth and the live, the only way to the Father in heaven.

          I’m not sure exactly what your outlook on your future is. Younger people tend not to think too far down the road. I wonder what Jesus’ disciples thought when He told them of their future work and responsibility. Were they afraid they wouldn’t have the right stuff? And I have to believe that these promises Jesus made to them seemed like meaningless drivel that night when Jesus was arrested and the next day when Jesus died. But it wasn’t meaningless drivel. They were promises from Jesus and they learned something about the promises of Jesus. He keeps them and that meant the disciples could keep theirs too. And they did. Bible history and church history records that these disciples faithfully carried out the work Jesus gave them. Most of them died a lot sooner than they were expecting to. When that happened they saw Jesus keep more promises, to give them heaven.

          There are times in our lives as Christians where we will wonder about the promises Jesus has made. There are some who have a negative and pessimistic view because of the way things are going in the world or in our country. Maybe you’ve heard an older person shake their head and say they are glad they don’t have to bring up kids now or some other such concern. That’s understandable but there is no need for fear. Jesus has left us with the Holy Spirit. He kept His promise. That means we can keep ours. We have what we need. You have what you need. In promising to be faithful to Jesus you are not promising to live a sin free life. You can’t do that because you have a sinful nature and sometimes the good that you want to do you will not do and instead the evil you won’t want to do you will do. To be faithful to Jesus is to cling to Him as your hope in this life that you don’t have to be afraid. To be faithful to Jesus is to cling to Him as the reason you will be going to heaven. To be faithful to Jesus is to be full of faith in Jesus, not yourself. And because Jesus kept His promise you can keep yours. He has left the Holy Spirit here and while you can’t keep your Confirmation promises without Him you certainly can with Him. The Holy Spirit is available for you in the Bible. He works through Holy Communion. You’ve got what you need to keep your promises. In a sense then a promise to stay faithful to Jesus is a promise to stay in the word, to be at worship, to receive the Lord’s Supper. Promises, promises!

          Will you keep yours? Sadly the history of every church records confirmands who made promises and who meant them but then walked away. Maybe you know some. Maybe you were one of those who walked away for a time. If so it’s not too late. Today is the day that matters. Today you will promise your faithfulness to Jesus. You are showing it by using word and Sacrament. When your next today comes, you do the same. And the next today and the next today and the next today. You will keep your Confirmation promises and then someday the today will be the day that Jesus says, “Today you will be with me in Paradise!” And you will be, because Jesus always keeps His promises. Amen.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

April 28-30, 2018 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: John 15:1-8 “YOU WILL BEAR MUCH FRUIT!”


EASTER 5

April 28-30, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: John 15:1-8



“YOU WILL BEAR MUCH FRUIT!”

1.     Keep your connection to Christ.

2.     Embrace pruning.

3.     All to the glory of God.



John 15:1-8 (NIV)  "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. {2} He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. {3} You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. {4} Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. {5} "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. {6} If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. {7} If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. {8} This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."



          Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Yes, He is. Jesus lives. And because He lives you too will live even though you die physically. Have you thought much about that day? That day when for the first time you see Jesus face to face? What do you think He will say to you that you will hear with your own ears from His lips for the very first time? “Welcome home!” “Well done good and faithful servant!” “Good job. You have borne much fruit!” “No way. Not going to happen. Not me,” you think with proper self evaluation and correct Christian modesty. Think again. Did you hear the words of Jesus and were you listening when He talked about bearing much fruit? These words are for you and me and give us an encouraging outlook for the rest of our lives. “You will bear much fruit,” Jesus said. Now let’s see how this is true.

          Jesus spoke these words first to His disciples as they gathered in the Upper Room the night He was betrayed. He had already told them He would be leaving them visibly and then comforted them with the truth that He would return, that they would not be left alone but would have the Holy Spirit. Their lives would not be worthless or in vain. They would have purpose. So do you. "I am the true vine. And again later, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. {6} If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”

          These are important words from Jesus. Not only do they make clear the only way to eternal life but the only way to a fruitful earthly life. Jesus said I am the true vine. That means the only legitimate or authentic source of life with God. All others are fakes. The attack on Christ in our country continues from New York City wanting to reject Chick fil a because it is Christian owned to our WELS pastor and his wife who were on the Southwest flight that had the engine failure receiving Facebook rants for daring to give credit to their safety to our Lord God. Too many Americans want no god or a god by whatever name you call him but hear Jesus’ truth. He’s the only real thing. Apart from Him you can do nothing God pleasing on earth. Apart from Him you your fate is the fire of Hell. You can expect the Devil to try to wear you down, pressure you to accept another vine, another source to heaven. It will start with “Well Jesus is my way but maybe there are others.” It will continue with a desire to fit in, a fear to stand out and stand up. Only Jesus is the true vine so pray with me now: “Dear Lord Jesus please keep me connected to you. Do whatever you have to do so I and my family and friends and my church family will always stay connected to you.”

          Now let’s use the picture Jesus provided. He is the vine. That’s the thick almost tree like part. See how it has roots in the ground drawing an endless supply of energy and nutrients from the soil and moisture God provides. Attached to the vine are the branches. Those are the things we normally think of as vines. Their only way to get moisture and nutrients is from the vine. And when it does, much fruit! You see what job number one is, don’t you? Keep your connection to Christ. The Holy Spirit made that connection at your Baptism. That connection has been maintained and strengthened through God’s faith giving Word. This is why you prioritize weekly worship. This is why you do a Bible reading, devotion or Bible story at home every day. It keeps you connected to Jesus so you will bear much fruit. It’s what Jesus meant when He said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

          A good pruning helps too. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. {2} He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. {3} You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” Did you hear that? Good branches get pruned. Pruning dead or sick parts of a plant make it healthier. Pruning a fruit tree that has too many branches, is too full of itself, protects is from wind damage. Go back to our picture. Those are loving hands with the cutter. God’s hands are even more loving. Jesus’ hands have the marks to prove it. So we need to learn to embrace the prunings that come into our lives. They come from a loving God who helps us bear much fruit. What’s a pruning look like? Normally something that doesn’t feel good. As simple as a reprimand from a teacher, a slow down reminder (speeding ticket) from an officer to the bigger disappointments in life and its hardships. Job loss. Relationship break up. Don’t make the team. Money loss. Maybe can’t play golf for a bit. A prized possession gets ruined. It is loving of God to guide and help us have the right priorities. It is loving of God to humble us when we are getting prideful. It is loving of God to help stay connected to Christ by cutting out of our lives those things that threaten our faith. It is loving of God to work in each of our lives so we will bear much fruit. Let’s learn not to complain about life’s disappointments but to embrace them as prunings from a loving God who is helping us bear much fruit.

          And when we do it gives glory to God. “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. {8} This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."  Brothers and sisters, think now of different sort of garden. A rose garden. One that has been meticulously planted, cared for and pruned. And the visitors come to see the roses in bloom and they ooh and ah. They are giving glory to the gardener, aren’t they? When you and I stay connected to Christ, when the word does its work and shapes us and prunes us and when fruits of faith show in our lives it gives glory to God. Sometimes it will be people who do that when they notice your acts of kindness to them, or your hard work and reliability. Sometimes it will be the angels alone who cheer louder than sports fans as your love for God moves you to speak kind words rather than angry ones or to secretly help someone in need. Sometimes it will be God alone as you glorify Him by praying. Praying to God is a fruit of faith. We honor God as we go to Him trusting in His power and love. Our prayers for ourselves and others work as God answers them in the way that is best. “You will bear much fruit,” said Jesus and this gives glory to God.

          Much fruit. Brothers and sisters, when you leave here today I want you to keep that phrase in mind. “Much fruit” your Lord Jesus said. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t matter, like your life here is worthless and has no purpose. Don’t put yourself down or think that you aren’t making a difference. And don’t just look for great big things to do. Much fruit, said Jesus, not one big large one. Your faithful Christian parenting. Your providing for the needs of your family. Your care for your aging mother. Your prayers for missions, for your church, for your grandchildren, your daily hard and faithful work in the workplace, not for recognition or money, but because it’s what God wants you to do, your daily diligence with homework and your refusals to cheat. You will bear much fruit and the day is coming when you will see Jesus face to face and He will welcome you into heaven with the words we all can’t wait to hear, “Well done!” Amen.

Monday, April 2, 2018

April 1, 2018 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: 1 Peter 3:18-19 “ONLY JESUS COULD GET UP SO EARLY!”


EASTER SUNRISE


April 1, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: 1 Peter 3:18-19



“ONLY JESUS COULD GET UP SO EARLY!”



1 Peter 3:18-19 (NIV) For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, 19through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison.”



          For our Lenten and Holy Week worship services this year we have been looking at things only Jesus could or would do. We understand that with things like being worth enough to pay for sins or cleansing His Father’s Temple. Today’s theme you might want to challenge. Only Jesus could get up so early. Lots of people get up early. Many don’t like to. What time did you have to get up to be ready for a Sunrise service? For you children, did you really want to? I remember the days with dread when I had an early morning paper route and some show shoveling jobs. Oh the dread when you went to bed with it snowing knowing how much earlier you would have to get up. But dairy farmers do that every day. So do bakers and anyone else with a job that needs to be done before normal folk are getting out of bed.

          So what’s so special about Jesus that we would be forced to exclaim only Jesus could get up so early? And He did get up early that first Easter. The women who went to the tomb to give Jesus’ body a proper burial got up early but when they got to Jesus’ tomb, they were too late. Jesus was gone. He beat them. But the women were not the only ones who got beat on Easter morn, the Devil and demons did. In the Apostles’ Creed we profess, “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into Hell. The third day He rose again from the dead.”  We want to focus on one of the truths proclaimed in it. Jesus descended into Hell. When did He do that? If you believe the Apostles Creed was set up to be chronological you would say His descent took place after His burial but before His resurrection. The truth of the matter is we don’t know. The Bible does not say. The second truth of the matter is, the exact time Jesus did this does not matter. Why and what Jesus was doing does.

          Why did Jesus get up so early? It was because He had defeated Satan. Now I’m not sure if there can be any such thing as glee in Hell. If there is it must certainly be classified as unholy glee. But have you ever stopped to think about what was going on in Hell the day Jesus died? Remember this is the Devil and the demons who tried to kill Jesus as a baby boy, using Herod’s paranoia to cause the death of so many baby boys at Bethlehem. This is the Devil and demons who tempted Jesus throughout His life trying to get Him to disqualify Himself as Savior by sinning. This is the Devil and the demons who coordinated the chief priests’ jealousy with Judas’ greed and Pilate’s wimpiness thinking that by to killing Jesus they would get rid of the Savior of the world. Their plot seemed to work to perfection and Jesus died. What were they thinking? I’m sure they were thinking they won. I’m sure they were thinking they got rid of  the world’s only chance for salvation. And they were wrong.

          On a day like today some newspapers and TV stations like to try to have some fun with some headlines that people are likely to believe but aren’t true. Like in 1933 when The Madison Capital Times ran a headline and picture about the collapse of the state Capitol building due to a buildup of hot air. Many people fell for that April Fool’s joke. But the Bible defines a fool as one who says there is no God. We could add to that definition someone who thinks he can take God on and win. That definition fits the Devil who thought he could beat God’s plan to save people. But the joke was on Satan. Jesus got up early on Easter morn because he defeated Satan. As Peter reminds us, For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” Jesus’s death was God’s plan, not the Devil’s. His once and for all sacrifice brought us back to God. The Devil no longer has any claim on sinners. Jesus got up so early because He won.

          And to proclaim that victory. Our text is one of the few places in the Bible that references Jesus’ descent into Hell. The time frame is after He died to pay for sins, after He was put to death in the body and after He was made alive by the Spirit. But what did He do? He went and preached to the spirits in prison. The real key to understanding this verse is the word translated “preached.” That word can be confusing because normally we hear that word and think of what I’m doing now and what my goal is. I am preaching God’s words and God’s truths with the goal that anyone who does not yet believe in Jesus will repent and be saved and that those who are already believers will be built up by God’s Word to have the comfort of faith and the will and desire to be more useful in service to God.

          If that’s what Jesus were doing we would by quite confused. The devil and the demons who follow him cannot be converted. God’s Word makes it clear that Hell is their eternity. The souls of those who have died rejecting Jesus are also in Hell. They don’t get any second chances. God’s Word is clear in that area too. It’s given a man once to die, then, right then, you face judgment. It would have been better if the Bible translators had used the first meaning of the word translated here, “preached.” The first meaning is “proclaimed.” Jesus descended to Hell to proclaim to the devils in Hell.

          What did He proclaim? Victory! We don’t know the words Jesus used to proclaim the victory. Did He remind them of when He said, “No one takes my life from me rather I lay it down of my own accord.” Did He say, “What do you think I meant when I said I am the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep?” Did He remind them that God works all things for the good of those who love Him, even the evil plotted by the Devil? Did He show them how His resurrection was the proof to all the world that Jesus had won the victory? Did their unholy glee turn to hisses, boos, gnashing of teeth and uttering curses that they been foiled again? We don’t know. We’ve not been told. But we do know that by His descent into Hell after sin had been paid for Jesus proclaimed His victory over sin death and Hell. He triumphed over them.

          Remember that. Remember that when your enemy the Devil has tricked you into falling into sin. It’s never too late to go to Jesus in repentance. He will not push you away. He will love you and forgive you and remind you that it was for the unrighteous that He died. Remember that when in your struggle against sin you fall in weakness and feel like it’s no use, you’ll never get it right. You triumphed with Jesus. His victory is already yours and He has the power to turn the Devil on his head. Remember that when it looks like evil is triumphing in your country, your place of work, your family, your own life. God really does know how to work all things for the good of those who love Him. He even used plotting, jealousy and greed to bring about the salvation of the world. Don’t let your chin drop when things don’t seem to be going God’s way. Don’t give up and God forbid we switch sides. Triumph with Jesus! Let the victory He won power your faith no matter what you are facing.

          And let the victory Jesus won continue to be proclaimed. When the NCAA tournament is all said and done a certain group of fans will, if permitted, fill the playing floor to celebrate their team’s victory. They will spend lots of  money on  hats, T-shirts and other things that proclaim their championship. They will have a year of bragging rights in the college basketball ranks. The victory we have with Jesus is better. It’s once and for all. Never again will the Devil have a chance to beat Jesus. Since we belong to Jesus we have bragging rights forever, but not for ourselves. For Him. Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. We do that when we wear His victory in our lives, fighting against sin because Jesus already beat it for us. Getting right back up every time we fall, confident of forgiveness because Jesus already won it for us. Refusing to be pessimistic despairing people because God takes even the worst looking circumstances, the death of His Son, and turns them into great victories.   We do that when we consider it an honor to hear that victory and proclaim that victory. Isn’t that why you got up so early? Amen.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

March 21, 2018 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Matthew 26:36-46 “ONLY JESUS WOULD LET SOMEONE ELSE DETERMINE HIS DESTINY!”


MIDWEEK LENTEN SERVICE #6

March 21, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Matthew 26:36-46



“ONLY JESUS WOULD LET SOMEONE ELSE DETERMINE HIS DESTINY!”



Matthew 26:36-46 (NIV)  “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." (37) He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. (38) Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." (39) Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (40) Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. (41)  "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (42) He went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done." (43) When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. (44) So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. (45) Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. (46) Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"



          Giving up your independence, letting someone else be in control is not something we like by nature. Senior saints deal with those feelings when it comes time to give up the home you raised your family in to go to assisted living or maybe even bigger when it’s time to give up the car. You feel it at a job interview for a job you desperately want and think you need when you hear the interviewer say, “We’ll call you tomorrow and let you know what we decide.” It’s out of your control. Wouldn’t you much rather have the job offer and then you decide whether to take it or not? Of course you would. The fact of the matter is we all like to be in control or at least think that we are. Even as we mouth the words, “Let go and let God,” or pray “Your will be done,” there is a part of us that rebels and screams against it or really means “As long as it is what I want.” We don’t like it when we are not the ones in control when someone else makes decisions for us. Perhaps that is why Americans struggle so much with the Bible’s beautiful teaching of submission. But Jesus didn’t. Only Jesus would let someone else determine His destiny. He let someone else do that even though doing so meant He would have to go through Hell--literally.

          Why? The first reason was His love for His heavenly Father. Did you know that the Book of Revelation, which looks not only to the future but also to the past calls Jesus, “the lamb that was slain from the Creation of the world?” (Revelation 13:8) What do you think that means that He was slain, killed, already at the Creation of the world? It means dear friends, that our all knowing, all loving God had a plan. He knew Adam and Eve would blow it and we would be no better. Yet He loved them and us so much He went ahead with Creation even though the only way He could redeem them and us was for His Son to die. God had a plan.

          It was Jesus’ plan too. He also wanted to crush Satan and win you and me for God. That’s why something we heard Jesus say tonight might have surprised you. Jesus said, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." (39) Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."  Jesus was in agony as he looked to what would happen on the next day—beatings, torture, thorns, dried and cracked lips, thirst, pain. Remember, Jesus was human too. And just like none of us look forward to pain, especially the closer it gets, neither did Jesus. None of us tell the dentist, “Don’t use pain killer. Please drill closer to the nerve. Yeah that’s it. Really grind it.” Jesus didn’t look forward to the pain. We can understand that.

          But there was more pain in store for Jesus. Pain we can’t understand. We can’t understand what it means to be holy and pure and sinless and then have the vileness of sin piled on you. Think of the agony the Holy and pure Son of God felt when the guilt burden of rape and murder and blasphemy was tied to Him on the cross. We understand why He pleads that there be some other way. And yet how does He close His prayer? “Not as I will but as you will.” Jesus was willing to let someone else determine His destiny. He loved His Father so much He was willing to submit to His will.

          And He loved us too. We can see that in the progression of Jesus’ prayer. The first time Jesus prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." Then he went back to His disciples, His friends, Peter James and John, the three He was counting on for support. The three He had asked to watch with him for one little hour. And what were they doing? Sleeping! Can you imagine Jesus’ disappointment when He had to say to them, "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. (41)  "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." How weak they were!

          But let’s not blame them too much. It was late. They’d had a full meal. They’d had the Passover wine. From our Thanksgiving Dinners we know how they felt. And we’ve been weak too, haven’t we? It is a display of our weakness when we start praying in the morning and before we’re two minutes in our mind has wandered. It’s a display of our weakness when we proclaim with our lips that Jesus is the Lord of our lives but can’t even live the 16 waking hours of one day in a way that proves it. It’s weakness when we let our children watch a few more minutes of TV rather than read them a Bible Story. It’s weakness when we spend two hours a  night watching sitcoms but can’t find the time or energy for God’s Word. It’s weakness when can only complain to God about the things we don’t have rather than thank Him for what we do.

          When Jesus saw the weakness in His disciples what did He do? He went back to praying. Now look at how this second prayer differs from the first. This time Jesus prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done." Do you hear the difference? It’s as though Jesus were saying, “I see this is the only way. I see the weakness of these ones I love. I’m still not looking forward to it but I’ll submit, not just because I love you, Father. I love them too.” Could it be that Our Savior saw the sleeping disciples and said, “If I leave it to them they’ll never make it.” Could it be He saw us with our minds wandering prayer? Did He see our misplaced priorities, our short sightedness, our doubts? He did. And He loved us. And His love for us gave Him the resolve to let someone else determine His destiny. And willingly suffer in our place. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. (46) Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"

          Sometimes love gives you no choice, doesn’t it? Ask the father who dashes into the burning home to save his baby daughter from the flames. Does he think of the pain? Does he think of the scarring, the endless hours of agonizing recovery? Does he ask if someone else will go? NO. Love determined his destiny. Just like love determined Jesus. Roman soldiers did not force Jesus Christ to the cross. Nails did not hold Him there. Love did. Love for the Father. And love for you and me. A type of love only Jesus has! Amen.

Monday, March 12, 2018

March 10-12, 2018 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Ephesians 2:1-10 AMAZING GRACE!


LENT 4

March 10-12, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Ephesians 2:1-10



AMAZING GRACE!

1. The Reason We’re Saved.

2. The Reason We Serve.



Ephesians 2:1-10 (NIV 1984) “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”



          So how many times do you think you have sung or heard that hymn we just sang, Amazing Grace? A hundred, a thousand? Depends on your age. It’s been around a long time. Its simplicity and catchy or haunting in a good way tune is hard to forget. It’s difficult to avoid an emotional reaction when your hear the bagpipes playing Amazing Grace at the funeral of a police officer or fireman. Amazing Grace, a great hymn. My question for you today is “Are you?” Amazed at God’s grace that is. In the Bible we hear a common reaction to a great thing God has done, a miracle or a teaching of Jesus as this, “And the people were amazed.” Are we? Are we amazed at God’s grace? Today as we dig into a word of God that highlights God’s Amazing Grace we do so with the prayer that the Holy Spirit would build up or restore if necessary our appreciation for God’s Amazing Grace.

          Amazing grace is first of all the reason we are saved. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”  Do you consider yourself a wretch? One online dictionary uses this definition: “a base, despicable, or vile person.” Do you own that description? I’m reminded of one of the corporate confessions of sins we used when I was younger. Some of you will recognize it. “O almighty God, merciful Father, I, a poor miserable sinner confess all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended Thee and justly deserve Thy temporal and eternal punishment.” Do you consider yourself a poor miserable sinner, a wretch that has offended God? Those are powerful words. And they describe me to a T. You too.

          God put it this way. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”  God uses powerful words here. Dead. Helpless. Unable to do anything for ourselves spiritually. Dead in another way. Dead to God like when you say someone is dead to you. We’ve offended him. By nature, objects of wrath. We’ve all seen the pictures of our military with the laser sights on the target, the house, the tank, the truck and then boom. God’s laser sight is on us, targeted for wrath, anger over sin. And just in case we are smirking instead of squirming who would you say has a greater degree of culpability, guilt? Someone who breaks a law they didn’t know about, out of ignorance, or someone who breaks a law they know very well. Of all the people on this planet most of us in this building know far better than most what they ways of the world are and that Devil is behind it. We know that the cravings or our sinful natures are wrong. And yet I’m guessing we would consider a drug addicted prostitute who has never known Jesus Christ to be a worse sinner than we are. Do you think she would be amazed to know that Jesus wanted her in heaven so much He died for her?

          And yet even though we have greater guilt than a drug addicted prostitute who has never known Christ we are saved. God says so! “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9not by works, so that no one can boast.” Did you hear that? It’s grace, all grace. Note the adjectives. Because of God’s great love. Rich in mercy. That’s why. We were dead. Needed faith is not our decision, not our work. It’s a gift from God, a grace. Something given to someone who has not earned it and does not deserve it. That’s not how we act. Think of what you would do with someone in your life who made promises but broke them often, who repeatedly did the opposite of what was right even though they expected others to do right, who hurt you, mistreated you, offended you, daily? And instead of letting us remain objects of his wrath, pushing us out of His life as we deserve, God saves us. That’s amazing. That’s how great His Grace is.

Grace goes on. “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Did you hear what it moved God to do? He raised, (past tense, done deal), us and seated us with Jesus to share in heavenly riches. Picture it this way. At the heavenly banquet that has joy beyond all measure there is a seat reserved with your name on it. Some day you will take your place. What do you do now? Some of you may remember me talking about my farmer friends, the Eberts, that I worked for growing up. Dairy farmers, hard daily work. I remember times when they had to go to an event for their grown daughter who lived in town. But first we have to do the chores. They understood that as dairy farmers before the fun there was a responsibility and purpose.

That’s us too. No we are not dairy farmers but before we get the glory and joy of a heaven we don’t deserve as ones saved by grace we have responsibility and purpose. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” That little word “for” connects what God is about to say to what he just said. Because grace is the reason we are saved, it’s also the reason we serve. Have received the gift of faith, having been made alive with Christ, until we take the place that Christ reserved for us have responsibility and purpose. Grace is the gas in our tank. It’s the reason we want to do what we are created to do, good works. We’ll get to them in a minute but before we do savor the fact that you are God’s workmanship, think handiwork or hand crafted. God in grace has made each one of us just like he wants and knows is best. He has given to each one of us the right gifts and abilities and circumstances for what He has planned for us.

What has he planned? Good works prepared in advance. God knows, shapes and directs our lives. He does that daily for each one of us. Good works are things God says are good. They are done out of love for Him appreciation of grace. They serve God and help others. Don’t think about big things like ending world hunger or establishing world peace. Think of things Jesus pointed to as great. Giving a cup of cold water to a fellow believer who was thirsty. Taking care of those who can’t care for themselves, like babies or aged parents, like the widow’s mite. What will it be today, tomorrow? A hug for mom when she’s said? Inviting a classmate to play at recess? A kind word to a down co-worker? These and more each according to the way God hand crafted you, all prepared in advance, just waiting for you. “Do or do not, there is no try,” someone once said. Grace leads us to do.

God’s grace is amazing. It’s the reason He saves us. Nothing we do helps or contributes. It’s the reason we serve, our motivation. Grace is unearned. There are two things people tend to do with what they have not earned. They will either consider them worthless or an entitlement or they will cherish them as a precious gift. What’s your plan for God’s amazing grace? Amen.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

March 7, 2018 Midweek Lenten Worship


Only Jesus Can Tell Us To Look Up On The Last Day
Luke 21:25-28 "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Experts in body language will say you can tell a lot about a person by their chin.  They say that the neutral position of the chin is the horizontal position. If the chin is lifted above the horizontal, it means the person is displaying superiority maybe even arrogance. Some say that by lifting the chin up, the person is trying to increase their height so that they can ‘look down through their nose’ at someone. 
When the chin is positioned down below the horizontal, it can signal that the person is sad or dejected. It's an unconscious attempt to lower one’s height and status. This is why our heads 'hang' in shame and don't 'rise' in shame.   Tonight in God’s Word Jesus tells us to lift our chins- to lift up our heads when we see the signs of the end of the world around up.  Sadly there will be plenty of people hanging their heads on Judgment Day. Only Jesus can tell us to lift up our heads on the last day. 
I have to say that my alarm sounds pretty harsh when it goes off in the morning.  But it is telling me that it is time to wake up.  Jesus’ words to those who were making plans to kill him might sound harsh to us but they are meant to say wake up!  On the Tuesday of Holy week, Jesus announced the judgment to come for those who were lifting up their chins to look down their noses at Jesus and at other people.  Jesus said, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! . . . You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?" Jesus wanted them to wake up. Jesus made it clear that a day is coming when chins raised in rejection of Jesus and noses in the air to look down on others would come crashing down.   If they remained in their unbelief, there would be no escape from condemnation.
After sounding the warning to the religious leaders, Jesus and his disciples left the temple. As they were walking away from Jerusalem to go back to Bethany for the night, they must have come to a spot where they could take in the beauty of Jerusalem and the temple. His disciples marveled at the beauty of the and the architecture of the temple.  Jesus chose this moment to tell his disciples about some traumatic days ahead included in His words was comfort for Jesus about the Last Day.  They could and should keep their heads up. 
"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”   But Jesus has given us signs to watch for. Those signs can be put into three categories. First, there are signs which remind us that Jesus IS coming. Second, there are signs which remind us he is coming SOON, and finally, there are signs which will tell us HE'S HERE.
Jesus gives us the signs that remind us he is coming in Luke 21, "When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away"  The Lord Jesus also speaks of earthquakes, famines, terrible plagues, and fearful events in nature.  Reading history books and watching the news tells us that all of these prophecies have been taking place-from the time Jesus ascended into heaven down to the very present.
So if things things have been happening right along we might ask ourselves, “Why did Jesus speak of these signs?” He gave us these signs so that when we see these terrible things happening in the world, not only to others but also to us, that we wouldn't lose hope and despair. "Stand firm!" Jesus says. "Hang on!" Jesus says. "Because I will not forget you. I will come again. I will come for you."
These signs certainly tell us Jesus will come, but they don't tell us when- in other words Jesus does not give us a timetable. There are other signs that tell us he will come soon. Matthew 24:14 says, "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." ls there a continent or nation where Christ has not been preached? On our WELS connection videos, we hear about the good news of Jesus being preached all around the world.  Again in Matthew 24, Jesus says, "Then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now-and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. "  Some days we might wonder if the world can get any worse.  Perhaps it will.   But it sures seems like God will not put up with the evil much longer and Jesus must be coming soon.  All these signs say Jesus is coming soon.
Then there is the third set of signs in our text- signs that will say, “Jesus is back!   "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (vv.25-27). I cannot point to these signs, because we have not seen them. Those alive on earth will see them on that last day, when Jesus comes again in all his glory.
      Have you ever thought about what you want to be doing when Jesus comes again?  Will I be able to lift up my head?  Or will it be like that time when mom told you she did not want you eating cookies before dinner and when came walking back up the stairs unexpectedly there you munching cookies with cookie crumbs on your shirt?  I’m not able to say, “I will lift up my head when Jesus comes because I’m always in the right place or always doing the right thing or always thinking the right thing or always saying the right thing.”  I can’t lift up my head because I know the truth about me and the truth about you.  God’s law forces our chins down to look at our dreadful sinful hearts where bitterness too often simmers, it forces our chins down to see the hearts we have stepped on by careless sinful words and actions.  We heads would rightly hang in shame when Jesus comes again.
      But Jesus who knows all of these things says, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." He knows our sins because he carried them-carried.  The Bible says, “"He himself bore our sins" in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; "by his wounds you have been healed."  Jesus bowed His head in death so that we could lift up our heads on the last day.  Our own actions, our own righteousness brought us nothing but “chins down” on the last day.  Only Jesus could do that only Jesus could tell us to lift up our heads on the last day.
     What a comfort!  We don’t have to worry about what will happen to us on Judgement Day!  "Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him". Our Jesus has made things right with God, so Judgment Day will be a chin up day for us rather than a chin down.  So now what do you want to be doing when Jesus comes again?  Let’s lift up our heads.  See the people God has put into our lives- our friends, our families. Let’s be about serving them when Jesus comes again.  Let’s lift up our heads and see the work God has given us to do and when Jesus comes again let’s be about “Serving wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.”  Let’s lift up our heads to look above this wicked world, remembering the words of the little songs we learned long ago, “be careful little feet where you go, be careful little feet where you go cause the Father up above is looking down in love, o be careful little feet where you go.” 
     Are there gloomy things in your world right now that have you down?   Chin up!  Only Jesus can make us look up on the Last Day. Jesus and only Jesus shed his blood to wash us from sin. Live today aware that he is coming soon.  Carry in your hearts his forgiveness and his righteousness and give it away to others.   And be ready-ready to look up when he comes! Amen.