Monday, October 7, 2019

October 5-7, 2019 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Luke 15:1-10 WELCOME HOME!


PENTECOST 17/WELCOME HOME

October 5-7, 2019

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Luke 15:1-10



WELCOME HOME!

AN EFFORT TO FOLLOW JESUS…

1.     In caring about the lost.

2.     In seeking the lost.

3.     In rejoicing over the found.



Luke 15:1-10 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”



          Last weekend we had a wonderful hymnfest service prepared by Pastor Waldschmidt that helped us observe the Church year Festival of St. Michael and All Angels Sunday. With hymns and the word of God he reminded us of so many of the things God has angels doing. I couldn’t help but notice that he didn’t answer all the questions we might have about angels like, “How many angels can fit on the head of a pin?” “Or how do angels greet each other?” You know that one, right? No? How do angels greet each other? With a “Halo!” Okay, bad joke. I also don’t remember him telling us what makes angels happy. And that’s OK because the Word of God you just heard told you, didn’t it? What makes angels happy? Why do they rejoice? When the lost are found. When sinners repent. Today we begin an emphasis throughout our synod to welcome home brothers and sisters who have strayed from a weekly worship pattern, maybe haven’t had the blessing of Lord’s Supper, the announcement of forgiveness for their sins and the Lord’s Blessing for a year or more. It’s important that we do so with the right spirit. With a spirit that follows Christ. That’s what our Welcome Home effort really is: an effort to help us follow Christ by caring about what He cares about, by doing something about it and by finding joy where he finds joy. And we don’t have to guess the answers to any of the questions. They were answered by Him in His word.

          What Jesus cares about is the lost. Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” There are three very different players in this part of God’s word. First there are the tax collectors and sinners. It’s important to acknowledge that the people in this group had done wrong and they knew it. The tax collectors used their position to regularly steal from their own people. The “sinners” mostly likely refers to women who had turned to prostitution, probably out of desperation to feed children when they lost their husbands. No matter what the reason though, sin is sin. And these people knew they had sinned because others in their society let them know. Hopefully some let them know out of love so they would repent. They were excluded from their churches and since God’s word always works I have to believe not every Jewish synagogue was bad. Some followed the intent of God’s commands. But not everyone. That brings us to the next group. The Pharisees and teachers of the law. They were upset that Jesus was hanging around people who they didn’t want back. If the Pharisees and teachers of the law had simply told the tax collectors and sinners that what they were doing was wrong they would have been at least partially right. But what they told them was what they were doing could not be forgiven. There was no coming back. The lost were just plain lost. And that takes us to Jesus. Why was He hanging around these people? Let’s let Him tell us again.

          Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

          Some parables you have to work to figure out. These are easy. When you lose something precious to you, you want it back. You try to get it back. You are happy when you get it back. It doesn’t mean you don’t care about the 99 sheep who weren’t lost. The shepherd didn’t leave them hanging. He left them in a safe spot. The woman didn’t leave the other nine silver coins out to be stolen. Both shepherd and woman were happy to have them. It’s just that they ached for what they lost. The message is clear. Jesus cares about the lost. He cares for every soul. He is so glad when believers are with Him and following Him. And at the same time his heart aches for those believers who have slipped away from Him.

          Follow Jesus. Welcome Home. Those phrases remind us to work to care like He does for the lost, those of the family of faith of have strayed from Him. Honesty is needed. It’s easier to care about things that don’t really matter. There was likely more caring done about the Brewers’ loss Tuesday night than about people we know who have left the Lord. More angst. More disappointment. So repentance is needed. Lord, don’t let us become the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Don’t let us get to the point we don’t want the lost back. Do help us change our priorities. Do help us keep the things of this life that provide momentary escape and distraction like sports in their proper place and help us care more about people.

          Do help us seek the lost. Jesus did some things only Jesus could do. Only Jesus could live a life of perfect righteousness to cover over the imperfect lives of the lost and the found. Only Jesus could take the full punishment for sin so the lost and found can be free. We can’t do that. But Jesus did some things we can do also as we follow Him. He modeled caring for all people. He assured people that God loved them and forgave them. He said the same to crowds and to individuals. He prayed for people. Welcome Home. Follow Jesus. Those phrases remind us to work to seek the lost like He did. There are many different ways. You will need to figure out what is appropriate for you. Will you pray? Is it time to have the conversation you have been avoiding? If you have been having the conversation too often so that they shut you off is it time to look for someone in their life who might be the better seeker than you? None of us can do everything. All of us can do something as we follow Jesus.

          And then we can rejoice like Jesus. Do you really think there are 99 who don’t need to repent? We all need to. And Jesus loves it when we do. The angels love it. They rejoice. They are happy.  And so are we. The Pharisees and teachers of the law didn’t want to let repentant sinners back in. In the reading from Corinthians it’s clear those believers struggled to let a sorrowful sinner back. May the Lord prevent that from happening among us. Instead no matter what the sin our family members, our church family members, have done let’s always be happy when they repent to say, “Welcome Home!”

We have three weeks to go before our Welcome Home weekend. Let’s all make an effort to follow Jesus in caring, seeking and rejoicing. May the Lord help us get back as many as we can so that the heavens are filled with a joy filled Jesus, rejoicing angels and some day a whole bunch of Jacobians. Amen.

Monday, September 16, 2019

September 14-16, 2019 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Luke 13:22-30 (NIV 1984) “MAKE EVERY EFFORT!”


PENTECOST 14

September 14-16, 2019

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Luke 13:22-30 (NIV 1984)



“MAKE EVERY EFFORT!”

1.     The Feast is ready!

2.     The entrance is narrow.

3.     There are no second chances.



Luke 13:22-30 (NIV) Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, 24“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26“Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27“But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ 28“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”



          It’s one of those really important questions that you kind of hesitate to ask because of the answer you might get. Like, “Is it cancer?” As Jesus continued to teach on His way to give His life in Jerusalem an unnamed someone asks, “Lord, are only a few going to be saved?” I don’t know why this man asked it but I hope it weighs on each of our hearts. We want everyone to be saved. Will they? While He does not answer that question here Jesus certainly did in His Sermon on the Mount where in Matthew 7 He said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  Sad! Here though Jesus turns the man’s question back to where it belongs, to his heart and so to each of our hearts. He doesn’t answer how many will be saved but instead looks the man in the eye and says, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” This man, it seems, was making an assumption, that he was one of the saved. Was he? That depends. Where was he placing his hope? More importantly, where are you placing your hope? Today let’s listen carefully as Jesus looks us in the eye and says, “Make every effort.”

          Make every effort because the feast is set. “People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.” God uses the picture of a feast or banquet many times to help people think of and look forward to the joys of heaven. When I hear the word feast I think back to growing up in Watertown where a restaurant called Amber Lantern had a $2.99 pizza smorgasbord, a buffet. We would make sure to go in hungry and oh the offerings! Or I think of Thanksgiving dinner that’s a feast. Or at Bible Class there is the feast of God’s word and then the people bring cheese and sausage, and deviled eggs and Danish pastries and ham and rolls and yeah some that fruit stuff too. It’s a feast you don’t want to miss. Heaven is pictured as a feast. It’s all set go. It’s happening. Only good things. No sin. No pain. No death. Happiness. Joy. Face to face with Jesus. Life eternal with every other believer, yes, all our loved ones who have died in the Lord. Of course we want to make every effort to be there.

          Jesus has a warning though. The entrance is narrow. “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26“Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.” Again we return to the picture of a great feast. There is an owner of the home where it is held. There is only one entrance, a narrow door. Now remember we are really talking about heaven here so the door is the way to heaven, how people get there. You know as well as I do that most people think the way to heaven is by being good. Good people should get to go to heaven. We feel that pressure too. You probably know someone in your life that does not profess faith in Jesus Christ but they are so nice and so good and the thought of them not being in heaven just doesn’t make sense. But you know what? What you think and what I think and what others think does not matter. There is an owner of the house of heaven and what He says goes. What does He say? The door is narrow. It’s only through Jesus who testified “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Most of you are probably familiar with John 3:16 which is known as the Gospel in a nutshell. Have you ever read the verses right after? The full context of what Jesus said there is this, “For God so loved the world He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because He has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” Only through believing in Jesus is the way to heaven open. The people of Jesus’ day who could say, “Hey, I saw you once. I liked some of what you said,” didn’t enter through Jesus. People in our day who say “I knew Jesus once. I used to belong to a church. I try to be a good person,” have not entered through the narrow door.

          And there are no second chances. “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ 28“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” This is a picture of the last day. People who thought they were going to heaven aren’t. They plead but it’s too late. There is weeping and gnashing of teeth because those on the outside don’t just stay on the outside looking in. Their fate is hell. How it must have hurt the people around Jesus to hear that others, non Jews, would be welcome into heaven and they would not. Those who had the Good News of Jesus first were last. Those who got it later became first. Why? They believed. I don’t know what would top your list of vile and offensive sins but the top of God’s, the ones He calls evildoers, are those who reject His Son as Savior. There are no second chances then.

          But there are now. That’s why Jesus spoke to the crowd and why He speaks to us today. Remember what Jesus’ first response to the man’s questions was. “Make every effort.” He’s not asking us to do what we can’t. He’s  not asking us to save ourselves. He is urging us to do what we can do and what He has given us to do, to feed and guard our faith in Jesus. He’s urging us to look at our lives to see if we have become spiritually lazy or apathetic. He’s making each of us do that gut check and answer the question “So why do you think you will go to heaven?” What’s your answer? “I try to be good.” “I’m WELS.” “I go to church—not as often as I should but…” None of those are the narrow door. How about  “Because Jesus died for my sins.” There it is, the narrow door. The efforts we can make include things like daily repentance, prayer and devotion. The efforts we can make include weekly worship and Bible Study. The efforts we can make include tuning out the false messages so prevalent where people make God out to be what they want Him to be rather than what He says He is and carefully and humbly accepting only what God says instead.   “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” a certain someone asked Jesus. To which He replied, “Make every effort.” Are you?

Amen.

Monday, August 26, 2019

August 24-26, 2019 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:18-26 (NIV 1984) THE MEANING OF LIFE


PENTECOST

August 24-26, 2019

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:18-26 (NIV 1984)



THE MEANING OF LIFE

                                  1. Without Christ It Is Meaningless

                                  2. With Christ Everything Has Meaning.



Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:18-26 (NIV 1984) “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” 2:18I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? 23All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless. 24A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”



          I begin with an apology to anyone familiar with British comedy group, Monty Python. You saw the sermon theme “The Meaning of Life” and it took your mind to where you did not want it to go. So wipe it away and realize that long before that group existed the Book of Ecclesiastes was written to carefully expound the meaning of life here on earth. And a good thing. It’s one of the basic needs of all people to know that their life has meaning. That is why philosophers new and old spend so much time trying to figure it out. What a waste. Their work is already done for them contained in this book of the Bible we call Ecclesiastes. Now if you have read that book of the Bible recently or choose to soon you might come away feeling down or depressed. It does a good job of demonstrating how meaningless life can be. And yet Pastor Martin Luther wrote this about Ecclesiastes. “It is a book of comfort.” How does that work? Let’s find out.

Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon. Remember him? He’s the son of David that asked for and was given by God great wisdom for ruling the nation of Israel. He’s the one who told us the fear of the Lord is beginning of wisdom. It seems later in life he left the Lord out of his life. Ecclesiastes seems to be his fruits of repentance, his teaching to others to help them learn from his mistakes. What had he discovered? Without Christ life is meaningless! "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless."  That’s how the book starts. Solomon calls himself the teacher and goes on to describe how he had tried to find happiness, meaning in life, by pursuing the best knowledge the science of his time could provide. But when he learned it all, he was still feeling empty. Meaningless. Then he tried to find meaning by pursuing pleasure. First he tried neutral pleasures, laughter and entertainment, building projects and gardens and parks. Still his life was empty. Meaningless. He amassed great wealth. Still he felt meaningless. Then he tried sinful pleasures of all kinds. He summed it up this way in chapter 2:10-11 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. 11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

In this part of Ecclesiastes Solomon Teacher contemplated something that takes up a good portion of our lives, working and acquiring things. “I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless.” I guess that about sums it up. You work hard all your life. You save and take care of your things. You die and someone else gets your things. They may not value them like you do or take care of them. You can be frugal and save money and your heirs might waste it. That's it. What good did all that saving do? Meaningless.

Now we probably haven’t gone down all the roads to meaningless that Solomon did but you can recognize the times we have been heading there. You know how when you make a purchase and you got a great deal and how good you felt? But that feeling doesn’t last. Kids, remember that toy you had to have for Christmas, or that video game you had to have? Still using it? Oh yeah and how about that work thing. If all there is to life is an endless cycle of working to pay bills and keep your head above water and stress about things all night, life is meaningless. Working hard and saving up and building things only to have the next generation ruin and waste it all is meaningless. What did Jeffrey Epstein find with his pursuits? Meaningless. If that’s all there is to life then let us eat and drink and try to be merry for tomorrow we die life has no meaning. Meaningless!

But that isn’t all there is Solomon went on. “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” Did you catch it? “Without him who can find enjoyment.” Without whom? The Savior God. The Lord. In Old Testament times the Teacher, or Solomon, simply knew their Savior as the LORD, the powerful God how saves and promised to send a Savior. We know that Savior is Jesus Christ. While everything really is meaningless without Jesus everything becomes meaningful with Him!

With Him, with Jesus in our life we can find enjoyment now and know the best is yet to come. With Jesus in our life everything has meaning. Let’s take some of the things Solomon pursued and found meaningless. Knowledge and learning. Science. With Jesus in your life you are led to an awe and amazement of how wise God is putting this world together. That may lead you to a vocation where you will use your knowledge to help people in the medical field realizing God loves people and wants certain things cured or healed. You see that there is good entertainment and things that make you laugh and often the best laughter is at yourself. Laughter can really be the best medicine because it is a gift from God. There are pleasures in this world that aren’t sinful. Whether you eat drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. You can thank God for chocolate or coffee a good tasting wine or beer. None of that have to be used sinfully. Think of the gift of friendship as a gift from God. With Christ even amassing wealth is meaningful. A nice home or vacation home can be enjoyed with a grateful heart. You can use money to do the work Jesus gave you to do not only now but when you go to heaven with your will. With Christ my job is a gift from God, a mask He wears to provide for me. With Christ the job lost is an opportunity gained, the house offer that fell through a needed guidance from God who has something better for me. With Christ I realize that the people I am coming into contact with every day are there for a reason and who knows but I am the one through whom God will work to reach them. Think of what it would be like to deal with a sickness or hardship without knowing it too is guided by the hand of  a loving God. How can you deal with those things without being able to look at Christ on the cross to know your sin are forgiven and God has a good plan. Some people ask me how do those who don’t know Jesus as Savior deal with death and I say I don’t know. Without Christ it is meaningless. With Him the door to heaven.

With Christ everything is meaningful because with Christ the best is yet to come. No matter how hard I work at taking care of this body it will be destroyed. No worries. I’ll get a new one. A better one. A perfect one. All things amassed on earth will not only go to someone else but will ultimately be destroyed. I’ll lose this home and get a better one. The meaning of life then is to know Christ and to make him known to others. Because only with Christ does this life matter. Your job is to cling to Him above all else so you can share Him with others at all times. Amen.

Monday, August 12, 2019

August 10-12, 2019 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Sermon Text: Colossians 3:12-17 "KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL REMODELING/EXPANSION"


PENTECOST 8

August 10-12, 2019

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Sermon Text: Colossians 3:12-17



"KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL REMODELING/EXPANSION"

1. Clothe Yourself with Christ.

2. Immerse Yourself in the Word.



 Colossians 3:12-17 (NIV 1984) “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”



          This weekend brings us to an exciting point in our building expansion program. After services on Sunday our construction firm, Catalyst Construction, will be meeting with you to let you know how each of you can be involved in our building expansion and narthex remodeling project. With all their experience they have the keys to successful church projects. The word of God before us today also gives us some keys to some more important remodeling and expansion, the remodeling of our sinful selves for the expansion of Christ’s Church. Let’s see what they are.

          The word of God before us today comes from Paul’s letter to the church in the city of Colossae. Paul, the great missionary Apostle, was in prison at the time he wrote his letter, but even with Paul on the sidelines the work of the Church would go on through the Christians in the church at Colossae, like it does with us. But for that to happen there needed to be some remodeling done.

Paul first addresses why remodeling and expansion was important. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.” It’s been a long process so maybe you’ve forgotten. How would you answer this question? Why are we doing a building expansion and remodeling project? Some possible answers: To have a bigger, more open welcoming space coming into church. To get those bathrooms up to code. Because the current MPR is often too small and overused. To have a modern EC center. All good answers but not the ultimate answer. The ultimate answer is because we are God’s chosen people. He picked us for His family. We didn’t pick him. He made us holy by giving His only Son Jesus to take our sins away. He dearly loves us. How else can we respond but with our best? We want to do the best work for Jesus we can. Buildings serve ministry so we are building together to serve God better. That’s why. It’s also why we need to remodel ourselves daily. We can’t be content to let sin have a place in our lives. We can’t be content to look, talk and act like people who aren’t God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved. Only our best for the Lord will do.

How to remodel? “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” There’s a word picture here. Putting on clothes. Kids, have you ever read the story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes?” It’s a good one. You have to read it. In it a couple of tailors convince the emperor to wear invisible clothes so he ends up walking around naked. Can you imagine? As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, we don’t want to walk around naked. The clothes we are to wear is Christ. All the characteristics listed are really Him! Compassion, that’s caring when someone else is hurting or in trouble. Kindness which leads to doing things that bring a smile to someone else’s face. Humility, thinking of the needs of others first, gentleness, staying calm in dealing with other people, having a smily face not an ugly one. Patience, absorbing life’s yuck without getting yucky in return. Bear with each other. This part of God’s word always makes me smile. The ones we have to put up with, God says, are each other, not the unbelievers. He knows us so well! Forgive as we have been forgiven. Be at peace. The reason we need to put on Christ is because our sinful natures are the exact opposite. Without Christ on we are irritable, uncaring, arrogant, quick tempered and prone to bitter feelings against each other. Kind of reminds me of a great prayer I read. It goes like this: “Dear Lord, So far today I’m doing alright. I have not gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy, grumpy, thoughtless or selfish. I have not whined or complained. But I will be getting out of bed in a minute and I need your help.”

How do we get it? Immerse yourself in the Word. That’s our second key for a successful remodeling and expansion. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Three times this word of God urged an attitude of gratitude. “Be thankful, with gratitude in your hearts to God, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” We are urged to teach and admonish one another with all wisdom. But there is only one way we are equipped to do that. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Richly. Not miserly. Richly. Not a little bit. Richly. Why did Eli finally tell Samuel to say, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening?” What did Jesus say was the one thing needed? It’s God’s word. What did God use to create? His word. Why is the Devil working so hard in your life and my life to distract us from the Word? He knows where God has placed His power. It seems so unassuming. Words in a book. But they come from the mouth of God and they are filled with His power. They are faith food. Some of you may remember a story I told years ago of how one of our Apache brothers in faith described to some of his friends how his life was different as a Christian. He said, “Before Christ came into my life only a black dog lived in my heart and it was mean and nasty and liked to get drunk and fight and so that is what I would do. But when Jesus came into my heart He brought a white dog to live there too. And the white dog loves Jesus and wants only to please Him and so now the black dog and the white dog they fight in my heart over what I will do.” To that one of his friends replied, “Well how do you keep the black dog from winning.” To which our brother replied, “Ah, the white dog I feed.” So smart. A sinful nature. A Christian nature inside each one of us. How do we keep the sinful nature from winning? The Christian nature we feed with God’s Word. After service I’ll share some ways to help you do just that.

But let’s go back to why. Why is it so important for us to do the daily remodeling of our sinful selves. Let’s say that after we build they come. They meaning people from our community. They bring their children to our brand new Early Childhood Center. They enter our brighter more open welcome space. They come to some community outreach or service event that we hold in our new beautiful and large multi purpose room. Now remember again why we are doing this. Our best for our Lord Jesus with the express purpose of drawing souls to Jesus so they can be saved. But what do you suppose will happen with those folks if when they come they find people who don’t seem to care, who bicker and fight, who are grumpy and  complaining, who have no attitude of gratitude and appear not to even like each other. How’s that going to go? On the other hand what if they find a bunch of people who kind of look and act like Christ? Remodeled Christians get many more opportunities for expansion of Christ’s kingdom. And like our other remodeling/expansion it takes work and planning and daily diligence and we all can be involved as we follow the keys presented in God’s Word. Clothe yourself with Christ and immerse yourself in the word. Amen.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

August 4th, 2019 Luke 10:25-37 Pastor Waldschmidt


Luke 10:25-37  Just then, an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26“What is written in the law?” he asked him. “What do you read there?” 27He replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself.” 28He said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.” 29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He fell among robbers who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31It just so happened that a priest was going down that way. But when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32In the same way, a Levite also happened to go there, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 33A Samaritan, as he traveled, came to where the man was. When he saw him, he felt sorry for the man. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He put him on his own animal, took him to an inn, and took care of him. 35The next day, when he left, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him. Whatever extra you spend, I will repay you when I return.’ 36Which of these three do you think acted like a neighbor to the man who fell among robbers?” 37“The one who showed mercy to him,” he replied. Then Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
DON’T WALK ALONE ON A DANGEROUS ROAD
In the name of Jesus, the hero of the story, dear fellow redeemed  
    I would imagine that most of us have had the experience of walking on a road where we didn’t feel very comfortable.  Maybe there are roads that you don’t like to travel on for all kinds of safety reasons.  God’s word has a message for us today.  DON’T WALK ALONE ON A DANGEROUS ROAD.  Jesus tells the story of someone who got hurt that way.  Except the main point Jesus is making is not about staying on street where no one will rob you and beat you up or where you might get hit by a car.  Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan as he answers a question about the road to heaven.  Remember the man came asking “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus makes clear that the road to heaven is a dangerous road if we sinners are going to try to walk it alone.  Don’t walk alone on a dangerous road.
    “Just then, an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Just then” always sets off the radar to ask, “what just happened?  Jesus had just been talking with his disciples about the road to heaven, “the Kingdom of God.”  He sent out 72 of his followers.  They experienced joys and frustrations of living and sharing the good news of the Savior in a sinful world.  Through that whole experience they had their hearts more and more centered on Jesus as the way to heaven.  Jesus told his followers, "Blessed are the eyes which see the things that you see; for I say unto you, “Many prophets and kings desired to see the things that you see and hear." And along comes a man who is thinking that he can walk the road to heaven without any help.   That is a dangerous road.  If one is going to try to get right with God on their own.   Jesus reminds him what God requires.  “What is written in the law?” he asked him. “What do you read there?” He replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself.” He said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live.” Martin Luther wrote, “Christ shows him that he has as yet done nothing, when he allowed himself to think he had done everything.”  Yes, do this and you will live.  The problem is that we have not and we cannot.
    But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”   Jesus makes clear that if he is trying to get to heaven on his own he will need to keep the law.  The man is bold enough to try to parse down God’s law into what he thought would be a manageable bite.  “Who is my neighbor?” I  recently heard a joke about a conversation in a jail conference room where the attorney tells the accused, “I have some good news and some bad news.”  “What’s the bad news?” asks the accused.  “The bad news is, your blood is all over the crime scene, and the DNA tests prove you did it.”  “What’s the good news?”  “Your cholesterol is 130.”   There isn’t much good news there.  This lawyer might have thought he had done a pretty good job of outwardly keeping some of God’s commands.  But that was a little like having a good cholesterol count when there is incriminating evidence all around.
     In his love, Jesus doesn’t just wave the man away and move on.  Instead Jesus tries to get the man to see that God expected perfection in every single interaction with God and with every single person.  He tells  story that would probably have made the news in our day.  “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He fell among robbers who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.”  You would think that someone would be easy to spot and could easily get help.  Here comes a priest.  “It just so happened that a priest was going down that way. But when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.”  Maybe we might think that he didn’t want to take the chance of contaminating himself and thus not be able to serve on the priestly duties that day.  But he wasn’t headed to Jerusalem he was headed away from Jerusalem, like the man who was beaten up.  Well maybe it was just a bad apple and someone else will help.   “In the same way, a Levite also happened to go there, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.”  We are looking for a hero here.  The hero in Jesus story ends up being someone no one would expert-a Samaritan.  “A Samaritan, as he traveled, came to where the man was. When he saw him, he felt sorry for the” man.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He put him on his own animal, took him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day, when he left, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him. Whatever extra you spend, I will repay you when I return.’ 
     Jesus audience never would have expected a Samaritan to be the hero in Jesus’ story.  Racism and hatred are not brand new thoughts to our world.  At Jesus’ time, there was bad blood between the Jews and Samaritans, even though they were related, which went back over 700 years.  When the Northern Kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians they mixed everybody up.  They moved  some of the people out to far away land, left a few farmers behind and moved in new people.  They left behind a mixture of people and customs. When the remnant from the South returned to Israel after their captivity in Babylon, the friction began.  In America we take pride in calling ourselves the great melting pot, even though so often we don’t do very well at getting along. The Jews and the Samaritans didn’t like the idea of a melting pot and many hated each other.    That’s why it probably took everyone by surprise that a Samaritan was the hero in Jesus story. 
      Martin Luther King Jr once said, "I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was: 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?' The good Samaritan reversed the question: 'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”  The Samaritan didn’t pass by on the other side of the road.  He stopped and helped.  He bandaged wounds.  Put him on his own donkey and took him to an inn.  He paid for the injured man’s stay and provided for his future care from his own pocket.  By telling this story Jesus was trying to get the man to see that God doesn’t just expect us to treat our family and friends well.  He expects us to love all people, even our enemies.  Who is our neighbor?  Everyone! It’s pretty easy for me to be nice to my friends.  It is quite another for me to be nice to those who hate me- who have been mean to me.  Truth be told I haven’t always been kind to my friends and family-let alone showing kindness to those who hate me.  If you honestly examined your life too, which would you find selfishness or selflessness?  Would you find that you have passed by on the other side when you saw someone in need?  Would you find grudges held tight?  Those sins make traveling alone on the way to heaven a dangerous road.  Those sins crush any hope of making it into heaven if we are traveling alone.
       Who is the hero in Jesus’ story-one who sees someone in need and helps?  Jesus is the Good Samaritan.  He saw our need. He saw the damage sin did to us and he helped. He could have passed by on the other side.  Instead he traded places with us.  He put his perfect love on our record.  He took our selfishness and callousness, our shame and hatred upon himself.  He bound up our wounds and provided for our eternal care in heaven.
      That changes everything!  We don’t travel on the road to heaven alone.  Our substitute goes with us.  Our Savior’s loved changes the way we treat others.  We might think to ourselves.    But if I’m kind to others that’s a dangerous road too because I might get taken advantage of.  But our Savior goes with us.  His compassion toward us opens our eyes toward the needs of those around us.  We don’t have to think that there are so many people out there, I can’t help them all.  Help the people God puts in front of us in our lives.  God says, “as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”  The Bible says that God has prepared in advance good works for us to do.  I wonder how many I missed along the way.  But my Savior and your Savior goes with us.  He helps us on the road to heaven.
     There is a quote from Mother Teresa I saw the other day, “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love and there is a hunger for God. …I'm a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.”  Many people try to cure that hunger for God on their own like the man who asked the question of Jesus.  That’s a dangerous road.  But we know there is one who stopped to help us.  Yes, this world is a dangerous place but we don’t walk alone. Jesus walks with us.  One who showed compassion.  One who showed love.  Let’s show his love.  Let’s share his love.  Amen.

Monday, July 22, 2019

July 20-22, 2019 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Luke 9:57-62 “IMPORTANT QUESTIONS FOR FOLLOWING CHRIST”


PENTECOST 6

July 20-22, 2019

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Luke 9:57-62



“IMPORTANT QUESTIONS FOR FOLLOWING CHRIST”

1.     How much does it cost?

2.     Is it worth it?



Luke 9:57-62 (EHV) As they went on the way, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59He said to another man, “Follow me!” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60Jesus told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61Another man also said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say good-bye to those at my home.” 62Jesus told him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” 



          It’s basic economics. It’s an important skill for everyone in life. For some it’s a cost/benefit analysis. For others it’s risk/reward. Whatever the viewpoint it’s really the same: How much does it cost? Is it worth it? Wise parents teach this skill to their children. The kids want something. Maybe the latest video game. They make them save and buy it with their own money. Later they ask, “Was it worth it? All the money you had saved up gone for this game you no longer want to play?” Adults practice the same analysis with important things like car buying and house buying. Same thing is true for our church life. How much does this ministry cost? Is it worth it? All kinds of that has gone on and will continue to go on with our building expansion. Architects and builders will tell you that you can do just about anything—for a price. OK, how much does it cost? Is it worth it? Today Jesus brings that process to the forefront with the most important area of our lives: following Him. His words cause us to ask important questions about following Christ. How much does it cost? Is it worth it?

          How much does it cost to follow Christ? In one respect we can want to  quickly answer that questions this way: Nothing! You know what the Bible says. “It is by grace you have been saved through faith and this not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast.” Becoming a follower of Christ costs us nothing. It is by grace. That is unearned and undeserved. It is not by works, not accomplished by us in anyway. God does it all from first to last. As the Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  By very nature you can’t pay for a gift of it is not a gift. It costs nothing to become a follower of Christ. But that’s not what Jesus was talking about. He was talking about living as a follower of Christ.

          How much does that cost? Let’s learn the answer from Jesus. As they went on the way, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59He said to another man, “Follow me!” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60Jesus told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61Another man also said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say good-bye to those at my home.” 62Jesus told him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”  We join Jesus in His last year of public ministry. He goes to Jerusalem to lay down His life for all. A man offers to follow Him wherever He goes. Jesus tells the man that following Him means putting Jesus’ work ahead of comforts like a nice home. Another man Jesus calls to follow. He makes what seems to be a normal and legitimate request. “First, let me bury my father.” While we don’t know exactly what “Let the dead bury the dead,” means, we know what Jesus is saying to Him. If you do that, if you put that task ahead of me, you can’t follow me. Another man wants to follow Jesus but all he wants to do first is say good-bye to his family. Sounds reasonable right? Not to Jesus. Just like you can’t safely drive your bike or car looking backwards, you can’t plow a straight furrow when you are looking backwards either and the point again is clear. You can’t follow Jesus if you are looking back at your former life. So what it costs to follow Christ is everything! Following is more important than a comfortable home. It is the most import item on the schedule. The relationship to Jesus is more important than family and friends. That’s what it takes to follow Jesus.

          Have you ever heard the term “Cheap grace?” That term was coined by a man named Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was a Lutheran pastor in Nazi Germany who spoke out against the atrocities and was executed shortly before the fall of Germany in 1945. This was what he wrote. “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession...Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” Cheap grace. Sounds funny at first. Grace is free. What do you mean cheap? He meant when you take God’s grace and the sacrifice Christ made without the changes the come from following Christ you treat grace like it’s worthless. He’s talking about saying you follow Christ without a willingness to sacrifice, to give up living like the unbelieving world, without giving up my wants and priorities and replacing them with Christ’s. It’s all a matter of priorities. It’s not enough to say I will put Jesus first. We must truly put Jesus first. I’m so glad in New Testament times that we have the freedom to worship on any day we choose and I’m glad we offer 3 different days and 4 different times each week at St Jacobi because you can’t always control your schedule. I have to tell you that that my pastor’s heart is really hoping that we aren’t unintendedly sending the message, “Worship Christ when it is convenient for you.” And never does following Christ give freedom to not worship. Then we make grace look cheap. Of if we say, “I will follow you Jesus but first let me excel in my career, or the sport of the season.” That makes grace look cheap. I’m glad God trusts us to pick an honorable percentage of our income to give back to Him in thankfulness and to further His work but you can’t follow Christ and not have picked that percentage and be giving it first. “I will honor you Christ but first let me pay off my school loans or the new car I always wanted or pay for my kids to get through school.” That’s no following of Christ. How much does it cost to follow Christ? Everything because it requires putting Jesus before earthly comfort, Jesus before friends and family, Jesus ways before our own.

          Is it worth it? Well how much is God’s one and only Son worth? Recently our picnic committee asked if I would be willing to spend some time in the dunk tank with a potential for getting dunked. I remember saying, “Sure. But one thing I ask, don’t sell me cheaply.” They settled on three shots for a dollar. Guess I know how much I’m worth. Some of you may have read a recent story about the Disney heiress who visited Disney to check on the morale of the employees. She was aghast to find out what they were being paid compared to the CEO who makes about 65 million a year. Her next quote caught my attention. She said, “Jesus Christ himself isn’t worth 500 times a median worker’s wages.” I didn’t crunch the numbers. Didn’t need to. She is wrong. What is Jesus worth, the one and only Son of God? What is he worth when His sacrificial death pays for the sins of all people of all time? Priceless. What is it worth to be a follower of  him?

          Everything! Jesus is no beggar. If we don’t follow He can choose others. If we don’t worship others will. If we don’t do His work He will let others have that honor. It is a privilege to be a follower of Jesus and enjoy all the blessings that comes with it. What is it worth to hear the doctor say, “There’s nothing more we can do,” and be able to say, “That’s OK. I’m going to heaven.” What’s it worth to know mom and dad, brother and sister, baby from the womb is in heaven and you will see them and live with them in the glory of heaven forever? What is it worth when hardship comes to know that a loving, not punishing, God stands behind it and is using it for good? Is it worth it? Are you kidding? It’s the deal of eternity.

          But not always easy for us to put into practice, to wholeheartedly, not half heartedly follow Christ. So what does He do? He helps in in our weakness by promising blessings to calm our fears of losing. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well,” is promised to help us prioritize our time and money. “No one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and in the age to come, eternal life” is promised for when we make real sacrifices for Christ and his work. And there are many more. It’s basic economics, folks. Following Christ will cost us time, money, maybe an easier earthly life. But it’s worth everything and more. Amen.

Monday, July 15, 2019

July 13-15, 2019 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Genesis 39:6B-12, 16-23 (NIV 1984) “THAT’S NOT FAIR!”


PENTECOST

July 13-15, 2019

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Genesis 39:6B-12, 16-23 (NIV 1984)



“THAT’S NOT FAIR!”

1.     That’s life in the sin-filled world.

2.     That’s OK. The LORD is with you!



Genesis 39:6B-12, 16-23 (NIV 1984) “Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. 11One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. 16She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.” 19When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21the Lord was with him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”



For us to get the most from the Word of God before us today it will be helpful to know a little more of the history of this man named Joseph. Joseph was one of 12 brothers, the sons of Jacob. Jacob made the parental mistaking of having favorites among his children and Joseph was his favorite. Now you can just imagine how the other brothers felt and what they were thinking or saying and if you know it, say it with me. That’s not fair! Jacob’s favoritism showed. For instance he gave only Joseph a special multicolored coat while the others got regular coats. Do you know how the others felt? Say it. That’s not fair! One time Jacob sent the other brothers out to watch the sheep and let Joseph stay at home. Again. That’s not fair. Then Jacob sent Joseph out to check up on his brothers. When  they saw him coming what did they think? That’s not fair! So they made a plot to kill him. One brother, Rueben,  had a little bit of conscience and hoped to rescue Joseph and convinced the other brothers to throw Joseph into  a pit. When they did that you know what Joseph must have thought? Say it. That’s not fair! Before Rueben could rescue Joseph though, the other brothers sold Joseph to some slave traders. What must have been going through Joseph’s mind? That’s not fair! The slave traders sold Joseph to a man named Potiphar, the captain of the guard for the Pharaoh in Egypt. That’s not fair. Joseph did his best to serve. Potiphar noticed and put Joseph in charge of his house. And that’s where our reading picked up.

If Joseph were alive today they would try recruiting him for one of those smutty shows like the Bachelor or Bachelorette. Mrs. Potiphar noticed. Joseph was her slave. She wanted him. She ordered him to commit adultery. Joseph said No. Not only did he say No but did you catch the reason why? “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” There’s no, “What if we get caught?” No, “Potiphar will kill me!” Instead Joseph is living his life very conscious of God. What Mrs. Potiphar wanted was wicked. A sin against God! Can you do any better than that? Seriously, is there any better way to resist temptation than to refuse because you don’t want to dishonor, disappoint God?

Here is where we expect, “And God saw Joseph’s faithfulness. He was pleased with Joseph and an angel of the Lord came and rescued Joseph returning him safely to his father, Jacob.” But that’s not what happened. Mrs. Potiphar persisted. When Joseph continued to refuse she falsely accused him. “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.” 19When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison.” There are words for women like her. You know what? Say it with me. That’s not fair.

Now what does this word of God teach us? First, that’s life in the sin filled world is not fair. It is not perfect. It falls short of the glory of God and so will not be fair and it was God’s decision to leave it that way. You have sinners dealing with sinners and God dealing with sinners so it’s always going to be a mess. The heart attack hits the in shape athlete and the lifelong smoker. Cancer doesn’t check your skin color, your bank account or your diet before striking. God hating blatant evildoers can have and enjoy nice things. Hard working lifelong Christians can constantly struggle and have little. To each and every one of those examples and so many more we can rightly say, “That’s not fair!”

And we need to get over it. We need to give up these unrealistic expectations of fairness by our standards. We need to because most often holding on to those thoughts leads to bitterness and sinning on our part. It led Joseph’s brothers to hatred and selling him as a slave. It leads you to envy, anger bitterness and maybe retribution against others. This is a true store about me. I kid you not. One time as growing up in a home with 8 children and not a lot of money we badgered my poor mom so much on a perceived unfair distribution of the evening treat that she actually pulled out a postage scale to show us how fair she was being. Isn’t that awful? She should not have given us anything. Kids, don’t do that. You make your parent’s life miserable. That is sin. It’s bad enough when you do it to parents who love you and make sacrifices for you. It’s worse when we start getting angry with God and accuse Him of unfair treatment of us. And now let’s be honest. Most of the time our cries for fairness are revealed to be a part of our own selfishness because the cries of “That’s not fair!” really only come if we feel we got shorted. When is the last time you cried “Not fair!” to God because people in third world countries have so much less than you do? Been a while if ever? That’s not fair!

Brothers and sisters, here is why that unrealistic expectation of our brand of fairness need not rob us of joy and contentment. It’s OK. The Lord is with us. He was with Joseph. “But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21the Lord was with him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.” No, God did not end right away the unfair imprisonment. Joseph endured 13 years of slavery and imprisonment. But God stayed with Joseph. He carried him through. Joseph grew spiritually. Then when the time was right God used Joseph to spare the physical lives of many people and to further the plan of salvation so that later when Joseph’s brothers apologized Joseph was able to answer from the heart, “You intended to harm me but God intended it for good.” The unfairness was OK because God was with him and God had a plan for good.

Brothers and sisters, it’s OK. It’s OK when life is unfair because the Lord is with you. What has He promised? “I will never leave you nor forsake you. I am with you always even to the end of the age.” And when God is with you all things work for the good. So it’s OK. Wait for God to make it right in His time and His way. And instead of getting angry, bitter and resentful, get curious. I wonder how God is going to use this for good?

You know if present trends continue and America becomes less and less Christian, those who hold to Bible teaching can expect some unfair treatment. It might come through the courts. It may happen in your workplace. Churches might get the financial squeeze put on us. When those things happen you know what we’ll want to say? That’s not fair. May God give us strength instead to say with a smile, “That’s OK. The LORD is with us.” And maybe God’s plan in that is to use our calm witness to draw others to Jesus so that we can say to those who mistreat us, “You intended it for harm but God intended it for good, to save many lives.” And in so doing we will join the ranks of believers like Joseph and Moses and many others who follow Jesus in dealing with unfair treatment. Think of Jesus, who when he the holy perfect Son of God was treated as the world’s one and only sinner did not cry out, “That’s not fair!” but “It is finished!” so we would know to say with words and lives, not “That’s not fair!” but “Thank you, Jesus.” Amen.