Monday, January 9, 2017

January 7-9, 2017 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Luke 17:11-19 UNCOMMON MERCY LEADS TO UNCOMMON GRATITUDE!


EPIPHANY/364 Days of Thanksgiving Sermon Series

January 7-9, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Luke 17:11-19



UNCOMMON MERCY LEADS TO UNCOMMON GRATITUDE!



Luke 17:11-19 (NIV 1984) “Now on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12As He was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met Him. They stood at a distance 13and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14When He saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him—and he was a Samaritan. 17Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19Then He said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”



          Today we begin the Church Year season of Epiphany. Epiphany celebrates and focuses on the many ways Jesus was made known to be the true Savior, especially to Gentiles or non Jews. We are also joining with many of ours sister WELS congregations across the nation in a year long emphasis called 364 Days of Thanksgiving. Both come together today as God’s word has already pointed out how people would be drawn to the light of Jesus, how that message needed to revealed and proclaimed to Gentiles and how Gentile wise men brought gifts for Jesus and his family to use. The message of Jesus still needs to be proclaimed here at St. Jacobi, through our high school and our synod. And that happens when modern Gentile wise men bring their gifts. But something we can never overlook when it comes to Christian living and giving is motive. God wants it to come from a thankful heart. So that we have thankful hearts let’s focus on two things you don’t see every day: 1. uncommon mercy and 2. uncommon gratitude.

As we join Jesus he is heading to Jerusalem to complete His mission as Savior of the world. He came to a village near the border between Galilee and Samaria. Just as he is about to enter the village, ten men suffering from leprosy call out to him from a distance. Leprosy is uncommon today. Cases in the United States are extremely rare. But in Jesus’ day, it was more common. Since untreated leprosy can be spread by contact,  in Jesus’ day, a person who suffered from leprosy would be forced to live far away from other people in what were called leper colonies.

These lepers, though, had heard about Jesus. From a distance they yell out to him.  “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” (Luke 17:13). It would not be uncommon for someone to feel sorry for those who have leprosy. What was uncommon was the mercy Jesus showed. Earlier in his ministry, Jesus actually reached out and touched a man with leprosy to heal him. That was unheard of. They were considered unclean. No one would go near them, let alone touch them. Who wants to look like that? But that didn’t stop Jesus. He told the ten lepers to show themselves to the priest. In those days, the priest was the one who would declare a person clean (or healthy) from leprosy. The priest would declare that person able to return to family, worship at the temple, and rejoin life in society. On the way to the priest, Jesus again showed He was the Messiah as He miraculously healed them. He didn’t just give them a few dollars or say a few sympathetic platitudes. He changed their lives forever. He gave them a new life—a new beginning. The mercy he showed them was uncommon.

Care to differ? Well let’s think about the mercy we show today. We may feel sorry for those who suffer, but what steps do we take to alleviate their suffering? Maybe we will send a few dollars to help those suffering from Ebola in Africa. Few if any of us, would leave our home and job and then fly to Africa to volunteer to be in the middle of the action being with and touching those people. That kind of mercy is uncommon. Maybe we will give a few dollars or some food to a person who is down and out, but how many of us will invite that one into our homes, provide a job, or spend a significant amount of time helping turn that person’s life around? That kind of mercy is uncommon. But that is the kind of mercy Jesus showed—to us. Remember why Jesus came. It was to live with the sin sick that repulsed His holy nature and then to be infected with the sins of the whole world on the cross! Jesus’ mercy is uncommon!

I heard of a church recently that stopped its giving tree. It used to put up a tree where members could bring gifts and toys to be donated to those in need. But they don’t do that anymore. Do you want to know why? The church members got frustrated because the gift recipients weren’t very grateful. Some of them would actually complain about what they received. Can you believe people would be like that?

You better, because we do the same thing--to God.  Jesus showed us the greatest act of love ever by sacrificing everything to win for us forgiveness and heaven. He suffered the whippings and beatings and mocking. He suffered the hellish punishment of his heavenly Father for all of our selfish sins that are all too common in each of us. And how do we so often respond? We fall into the same stupid and selfish sins. We seldom thank Jesus like we should. Yes, there are times we remember to say or sing a quick, “Thank you.” But most of the time we take his love and mercy for granted. And then we have the gall to get upset and frustrated when he doesn’t give us everything we want, when we want it. In spite of all that, our God continues to forgive us, to love us.

Wouldn’t it be better to respond to the Lord’s uncommon mercy with our own uncommon gratitude? After Jesus told the lepers to show themselves to the priest, all ten of the lepers left. Can’t you just picture what it must have been like as the lepers went to the priest? They noticed their joints no longer hurt. Their skin cleared up. They were healed. Can’t you just see them pick up the pace and begin to run? Their lives were completely changed. All ten had won the leprosy lottery! But then one of them stopped in his tracks. He turned around and ran back to Jesus, praising God in a loud voice. He fell at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. We aren’t told anything more about the other nine. We can only assume that they too were thankful. They just didn’t show it. That kind of gratitude is all too common.

Yes, even with us. For example we hear about a 16 year old girl tragically killed as she drove to school after Christmas break. It makes us realize how blessed we are to have people in our lives. We think to ourselves, “As soon as I get home, I am going to tell my children, my husband, my wife how much I love them. From now on, I am going to live each day as if it were their last.” But then a couple of hours pass. We get busy with our lives. By the time we get home, we forget to tell our family how much we love them. Nothing significantly changes. Or sometimes we come to church and the message of Christ’s uncommon mercy moves us. We feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to God. We may even say a prayer of thanks to him. We think to ourselves about how we are going to change our lives—how from now on we are going to live for God. We imagine all the changes we are going to make. But then we get home and are distracted—by the TV or the bills or housework—and those feelings and thoughts quickly drift away. Nothing really changes.

Look again at the uncommon gratitude of that lone leper. He didn’t even make it to the priest. He could have been arrested for that, but he couldn’t help it. He had to go back to the source. He had to thank his Savior and God in an uncommon way. We can do the same. In 2017 let’s not be content with one day of Thanksgiving. Let’s add another 364! 364 days where we will strive for uncommon gratitude, showing our thanks to Jesus in ways that are above and beyond what everyone else does.  Don’t miss worship. Don’t just give what’s easy and won’t be missed. Don’t be like the millions of Christians who don’t bother to have the daily conversation with God in Word and prayer. Jesus showed He was the Messiah by word and deed. He has labeled us His Epiphany lights to in our time and our community by word and deed show that Jesus is our Messiah. We have a lot of things to be thankful for. We are recipients of uncommon mercy. We can now show uncommon gratitude. What ways will you pick? Amen.

Monday, January 2, 2017

December 31, 2016 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude “GLORIFY YOUR NAME!”


NEW YEAR’S EVE

December 31, 2016

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude



“GLORIFY YOUR NAME!”

1.     Can a child presume to choose?

2.     Can a Father’s love refuse?

3.     This alone shall be my prayer!



Have you ever had it happen that you get a song just stuck in your head, you keep coming back to it? Maybe you have some Christmas ones there right now. Well for the past year I’ve had the hymn we just sang stuck in my head. We sang it as the opening hymn for New Year’s Eve last year and the words, the meaning, the closing phrase just kept coming back to me. Glorify your name! What an honorable motto for us Christians to have stuck in our heads! Indulge me then as we use the hymn “Father, Let me Dedicate,” as our sermon text today.

Verse two begins, “Can a child presume to choose, where or how to live?” And now every parent here goes, “Bah! Yes, they can and do!”  Oftentimes against the advice and rules of parents children will presume that they know better than their parents. They will do their own thing. Yes a child can presume to choose where and how to live. But they shouldn’t, should we? You see the child alluded to in our hymn is not my child or your child but every child of God. Us!

Can we, have we presumed where and how to live? The sad answer is “Yes.” As we look back at 2016 we can all remember some of the times we presumed how to live. Our normal word for that is sin. We the children, told the Father, we knew best. He said, “Do not covet. Be content.” But we presumed to know better. We were dissatisfied. We let our eyes wander. The Father said, “Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,” but we presumed to know better. We talked how we wanted, perhaps with foul words to fit in, or stinging words to hurt. Father said, “Respect, obey, honor the authorities I put over you,” and again we knew better than Him. We had the right because they were wrong.

So what do you think our chances are for 2017 of fully following the Father? When after Communion we commit in our hearts to following what God says, of turning away from this sin or that one that we continually fight in our weakness, will we really be able to do it? Sometimes the answer is “Yes.” With the help of the Lord we can cut off and out of our lives some sins. Then others pop up. How can we glorify God’s name with our sin? Listen to a portion of God’s word from Joshua 7:19. “Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and give him praise. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.”

Some of you may recognize that verse from a portion of the story of the conquest of the Promised Land. When God led the Israelites to the Promised Land, their new home, the first time they refused to go in and conquer it. They did not trust God to keep His promise to fight for them. They presumed where and how to live. Their consequence for that sin was wandering around in the desert for 40 years. Moses died. God put General Joshua is in charge and told them to take the land. He would fight for them. The first test of their trust was the great city of Jericho with insurmountable walls. God made Jericho’s impregnable walls pregnable as they fell at His command. God’s command to the Israelites was that they devote everything in the city to the Lord, take nothing for themselves. But a certain child of God named Achan presumed to choose how to live and took some of the plunder of Jericho for himself. He tried to hide his sin. It did not work. Joshua told Achan how he could glorify God’s name after his sin. Confess it.

That’s what we can do in 2017. Our chances of living a sin free 2017 are exactly 0. We are going to fall into sin sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes out of weakness. Sometimes we’ll go running and screaming toward it like we are taking a polar bear plunge! Glorify God’s name. When He lets you know through your conscience or the voice of the Spirit in His word or through a truly loving friend or parent don’t pull an Achan and try to deny or hide. Give glory to God. Glorify His name and freely admit your sin.

Then what. Our theme hymn goes on to say in verse two, “Can a father’s love refuse all the best to give?” Now some who are children here are saying, “Yes, yes they do!” Some are nodding to that to tease their dad who while he is not perfect tries to do his best. Some sadly have experienced a human father who was not just a poor imitation of our heavenly Father, but no imitation at all. An earthly father’s love is supposed to lead him to provide the best for his children. Earthly fathers can’t always do that.

But the heavenly Father can and does. Listen to a portion of God’s word from John 12:23-24.  Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” Jesus spoke these words during Holy Week. He was going to be glorified. How? By His death. He used an interesting picture. For a kernel of wheat to give life it must die. But then it gives life to many. That’s our Lord Jesus. Can a Father’s love refuse all the best to give? Not when it’s the heavenly Father we are talking about. In His great love for us He gave His best, Jesus. Jesus was glorified as the Savior of the world. By His death He gave us life. Our Father gave us His best and His giving continues.

In Romans 8:32 we read, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” It’s simply heavenly logic. Since God has already given us the best in His own Son Jesus we can count on Him to give us all the rest of the things we need as well. Our hymn writer penned those truths. “Not from sorrow, pain or care, freedom dare I claim.” Sometimes God graciously gives us sorrow, pains and cares because they are good for us. They make or keep us God dependent. They help us let go something we are holding on to too tightly. They make us stronger or purer. Again to our hymn.  ”If in mercy you prolong, joys that now are mine, if on life serene and fair brighter rays may shine, let my glad heart while it sings, you in all proclaim and whate’er the future brings, Glorify your name. If you have for me a cross and its shadow come, turning all my gain to loss, shrouding heart and home, let me think you your dear Son to his glory came and in deepest woe pray on, Glorify your name.” In meaningful words the hymn writer sums up 2017. Our God may pour into our lives all the things that have brought joy so far and many more. He may have a hard road for us to walk just as He let Jesus walk a hard road. No matter what we can glorify God’s name by continuing to trust when things are hard and acknowledging the source when things go well. Glorify your name.

The final phrase that kept running through my head comes from the last part of the first verse. “This alone shall be my prayer: Glorify your name.” Now I don’t know about you but I can say for myself that I did a lot of praying in 2016. I can’t say that my only prayer was “Glorify your name!” There were some “Thank you”s and “I’m sorrys” and a lot of “Helps!” I suspect my prayer life in 2017 will sound similar. And I don’t think the hymn writer meant that “Glorify your name” would be the only prayer prayed but would be the desired year long attitude. What a great resolution to take into our new year. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) The Apostle Paul reminded us, “So whether you eat, drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) With every decision we make we can glorify the Lord, from what we eat and drink or refuse to, how we dress and won’t. The words we choose to use and refuse to use. All of them are opportunities to glorify God’s name. Look for them in 2017.

That’s why I hope the words of this hymn continue to stick in my head. They serve as a great reminder of why I am still here and so are you, to give glory to God. One added bonus for 2016. I recently learned there is going to be an extra second tonight. To keep up with the slowing of the earth’s rotation the official time keepers have added one second to the last minute of 2016. Any ideas on what to do with it? Glorify God’s name! Amen.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

December 25, 2016 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Galatians 4:4-5 “JESUS: GOD’S GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING!”


CHRISTMAS DAY

December 25, 2016

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Galatians 4:4-5



“JESUS: GOD’S GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING!”

1.     Jesus gives patience.

2.     Jesus gives trust.

3.     Jesus gives blessings that last.



Galatians 4:4-5 (NIV 1984) “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law 5to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”



          This year the Christmas service prepared by our Early Childhood students was titled “The Best Gift of All.” To introduce the service I asked those present what would make something the best gift, what makes some gifts better than others? I ask you that today. Think of gifts you received. What about them makes some better than others? Well one reason might be the joy that a particular gift gives you. As a child I remember going through the Sears and Penney’s Christmas catalog and circling my favorites. I remember the joy when I got what I wanted. Maybe, though, you are more on the pragmatic side. So for you it is when you get a useful gift, something you really need, that tool or kitchen appliance that will make your work easier. This year a snowblower! Socks or underwear usually don’t make that list but I remember a time when they did. When you are a grade school boy going to school at a time when you have to change in the locker room with all the other boys for every gym class and practice and your mom accidently washes your white underwear with a deep maroon fringed bedspread with the result that all your whitey tighties  have now turned pink there is great joy in getting some useful new white underwear for Christmas. I guess the best gifts that we receive are the ones that bring joy and are useful. Today I’d like to add one more characteristic for a great gift. It’s one that keeps on giving, that doesn’t wear out, that lasts and keeps providing more and more joy. The only gift that fits is Jesus.

          Brothers and sisters, if we ponder Christmas all year long we’ll see that Jesus keeps giving us patience. Paul reminded the Galatians, “But when the time had fully come.” What made the time when Jesus was born the right time? Some people have looked back at history and tried to get into God’s mind and guess a little bit. For instance they note it was a time in history where there was a common language. After Alexander the Great had conquered much of the western world it became cool to be like the Greeks. Greek influence spread and Greek became the common language of commerce. That would make it easier to communicate the good news of great joy that would be for all people. They also note that at that time the Roman Empire was in charge and they built good roads and were ruthless in stamping out crime so there was relative peace and safety for travel. That all may be part of the big picture looking back but the real answer to why it was the right time was God said so. He knew. He knows all things.

          He knows all things in your life too. There are some things in life that God puts into our control, some timing issues we are in charge of. If you get an assignment at school like a research paper you are expected to get it done. Deadlines at work are like that too. But there are many things in life that are out of our control. God has reserved control of those things for Himself. Don’t sweat the timing. You don’t have to stress out about what is out of your control like when a job you wanted falls through or someone else buys the house you wanted. You don’t have to get all upset if some of your plans don’t happen because something out of your control stopped it. When the time had fully come, Jesus was sent. God knows for the big things and little things. Remember that about Jesus and get patience. Jesus keeps giving.

          The gift of Jesus also keeps giving us trust. “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law 5to redeem those under law.” But why? Have any of you ever gotten into one of those discussions with a younger child? The one where no matter how you answer or what you explain they just keep asking why? Did you ever do that with God’s plan of salvation? But why? Why did God do it that way? Why did God’s Son become a man? Why did He have to die? In the few words I just read to you from Galatians 4 we get that glimpse of the glory and wisdom and power of God. He sent His Son. His one and only Son. While there are and have been billions of people there is only one true Son of God. Value. Born of a woman, born under law. That one and only Son of God became also fully truly human. This was no fake, no shell game. Jesus started in the womb and by natural birth saw the world outside the womb for the first time, drew his first breath, ate and grew like every other human being. By so doing Jesus was under law, that means subject to the law, obligated to obey God’s laws for mankind just like every other human being. And to what the Devil thought was his delight able to die like every other human being.

          What was God doing here? To the Devil this didn’t make sense. But God’s plan was perfect. He is God and one aspect of being God is that He is just. When He says something, He means it. The guilty get punished. The innocent go free. How could God remain just about the soul that sins shall die and in love spare the people He loves so much? A substitute. Someone would have to be punished to maintain God’s justice. Someone would have to be perfect. In a brilliant exhibition of His love and wisdom God came up with a plan to redeem those under the law. He wrapped His Son in human flesh and lay Him in a manger so that He could live a perfect life as our substitute and then get wrapped in cloths and laid in a tomb after giving his life as our substitute. Brilliant. God knows what He’s doing.

          And that’s another way that Jesus is God’s gift that keeps on giving. As we look at what God did with Him we keep getting trust. How will this ever work out? A loved one falls and breaks a hip. A loved one is diagnosed with cancer. The layoff notice comes. Look at Jesus. Learn to trust. See the helpless baby lying in a manger. Do you doubt God’s wisdom? He is so vulnerable. No, He’s part of God’s plan. See He walk to the cross. Watch Him suffer in silence and refuse to come down. Look at Jesus. Learn to trust. God’s plans are perfect and they always work out for the good of those who love Him just as He promised.

          Jesus is God’s gift that keeps on giving. He provides blessings that last. Most gifts we receive don’t last. Clothes wear out and don’t fit anymore. I asked the 8th grade students about how long a new video game that just came out and every had to have would hold their attention. Answers ranged from a couple of months to a week. They don’t last. Even if you got that brand new Lexus with the red bow on top, it wouldn’t last. Door dings, corrosion from salt all take their toll. Eventually that new car smell goes away and even the new car air freshener can’t really match it.

In Jesus we receive gifts that last. Paul put it this way:  that we might receive the full rights of sons.” To the ears that first heard this people who thought they could never inherit and could never be any more than slaves or third class citizens this was exciting news. Full rights of sons meant protection, legal rights, inheritance. God is pointing out that by giving the gift of Jesus we have blessings that last. We have the right given by God to call him Father, Abba, and to know that he hears and answers our prayers always and only for our good. We have the right to the protection of his guardian angels, ministering spirit sent to serve those who will inherit salvation. We have the inheritance of heaven awaiting us. Heaven where the best this earth has to offer pales. What are gold and diamonds worth in heaven? Who needs a new car or money? Heaven where nothing wears out and our bodies work perfectly and where we enjoy eternity with all be believers around the throne. Heaven where we see Jesus face to face and we won’t have to ask “But why?” because we’ll know.

Our gift giving at Christmas is meant to be a reminder of what God gave us. I hope you receive some things that you need and things that you want. Some things that will give you joy and that joy will last beyond a day or two. But when you are saying or writing your thank yous, remember to thank God for Jesus, His gift that tops them all, His gift of which the others are just pale reminders, His gift that keeps on giving. Amen.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

November 30, 2016 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Luke 1:46-55 “GET READY FOR CHRISTMAS!” LIKE MARY DID WITH MEANINGFUL PRAISE.


MIDWEEK ADVENT 1

November 30, 2016

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Luke 1:46-55



“GET READY FOR CHRISTMAS!”

LIKE MARY DID WITH MEANINGFUL PRAISE.

1.     It comes from a humble heart.

2.     It focuses on the great things God has done.



Luke 1:46-55 (NIV 1984) “And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is His name. 50His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation. 51He has performed mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54He has helped His servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as He said to our fathers.”



          Important events require preparation. If you hosted the Thanksgiving meal this year you just went through it. If you are planning on getting married you are in the midst of it. Even all the secular or extras of Christmas, the parties, the presents, the decorating calls for proper preparation. It’s even more true when it comes to celebrating the real message of Christmas. This year for our Midweek  Advent services we will focus on getting ready for Christmas by looking at the ways some of our more well known fellow believers did so in the past: Zechariah, Joseph and today we begin with Mary.

          Mary had something to get ready for, the birth of her first child. I’m guessing there were no gift registries for her to fill out, no prenatal doctor’s visits. I wonder if they didn’t have something like a baby shower. But Mary’s preparations for Jesus’ birth were very meaningful. When the angel Gabriel had told Mary she would be the mother of the Savior, he also told her that her relative Elizabeth was also pregnant with John the Baptist. Mary hurried to see her. When Elizabeth saw Mary by the Holy Spirit’s power Elizabeth recognized the Mary would give birth to the Savior and greeted her that way.

          That’s when Mary responded with the words of our text. They are more well known as the Magnificat, Mary’s song of praise. Now when the Holy Spirit chooses to write down a song of praise in Scripture we should take note. It’s important and God pleasing.  All praise is not. For instance one strategy to help children and adults alike to learn to speak nicely to each other is to require what are called three build ups for every one put down. So if a child says to another, “Your hair looks funny.” That is a put down. Next would come three build ups, three praises. A child who wasn’t really into the spirit of things might say, “You’re lucky to have me in your class.” Yeah, that doesn’t really cut it. It’s not meaningful praise.

          What does Mary’s song of praise teach us about meaningful praise? First for praise to be meaningful it needs to come from a humble heart. Mary had one. “My soul glorifies the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is His name.” Mary knew who she was. She was a sinner. She needed God to save her from her sins and so she calls Him Savior. She realized she deserved nothing good from God. She calls herself His servant. She realized that every good thing she received from God was a privilege, not earned or deserved. Certainly being chosen to be the mother of the Lord was a great privilege and honor. This praise from God that flowed from her mouth started in a humble heart.

          Brothers and sisters, this is how we can get ready for Christmas. Make sure we have humble hearts. Like Mary let’s understand who we are, sinners deserving God’s punishment whose only chance to avoid that punishment is the Savior, Jesus. And that we are servants whose very relationship to God is a privilege. Now apply that to worship. Why are you here? Did you have to go to church? Do you really think that God can’t keep church pews warm without your behinds on them? Does God need your worship? Will He die without it? During Holy Week Jesus reminded the Pharisees who wanted Jesus to stop people from praising Him that the very stones would cry out. No, God doesn’t need us. We need Him. Our heartfelt praise pleases Him. A humble heart is grateful that God accepts our presence in His house. It doesn’t “have” to be here. It sees the extra worship of God this time of year as blessing not burden. As you do all your other preparations get ready for Christmas with a humble heart. Know yourself. A sinner deserving punishment. A sinner who sees that every good think in life is a privilege, not an entitlement. Meaningful praise comes from a humble heart.

          Now let’s move on to the content of our praise. Mary shows us that meaningful praise focuses on what God has done. “His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation. 51He has performed mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54He has helped His servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as He said to our fathers.” What has God done? He extends mercy. He brings down those with arrogant hearts who think they run things. He lifts up those who are humble. Those who are hungry, in this context it means those who realize they lack what God requires, he blesses. But the rich, those who think they don’t need God, go empty. He remembers His mercy to Abraham and his descendants forever. Here is the heart of the matter. It revolves around the Savior, the promise made to Abraham and to Isaac and to Jacob and to the rest of the descendants all the way down now to Mary. A Savior would be born, the one through whom all the nations of the world are blessed.

          Mary’s meaningful praise focused on what God had and would do through Jesus. This is a big book. There is a lot in it. It tells us very clearly what God expects from us. It helps us see where we sin. It instructs us on holy living. But it’s first and foremost focus is on Jesus, on what and why God did what He did. As Mary’s meaningful praise reminds us it begins with God’s mercy. God sent Jesus because He is so good not because we are so good. He loves us in spite of our sins. God sent Jesus because He is faithful to all His promises even though we are not. He sent Jesus because we need His help. He doesn’t need ours.

          But He loves our meaningful praise. As you get ready for Christmas keep making the time to focus on what God has done in Jesus. Focusing on ourselves is kind of like the kid whose build up is “You’re lucky to have me!” Doesn’t cut it. “God, I’m blessed to have you!” does. Whether this is your first Christmas focusing on the real meaning of Christmas or your 91st, like Mary, savor what God has done for you. Then you can praise Him for it. You’ll be ready for Christmas. Amen.


Monday, November 21, 2016

November 19-21, 2016 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Luke 23:35-43 “JESUS IS THE KING!


CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY

November 19-21, 2016

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Luke 23:35-43



“JESUS IS THE KING!

1.     Even though many reject Him.

2.     Even though it may not look like it.

3.     Great news for those in need of mercy.



Luke 23:35-43 (NIV 1984) The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at Him. They said, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” 36The soldiers also came up and mocked Him. They offered Him wine vinegar 37and said, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” 38There was a written notice above Him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39One of the criminals who hung there blasphemed Him: “Aren’t You the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom.” 43Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.”



          We’ve come to the last Sunday of the church year, the last Sunday of what’s called End Times. It’s fitting that the words of God we focus on today direct our attention to what comes last and will last. Jesus is the King. When He comes at the end of the world He will be recognized by all as the king. Every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. That is how it will be because Jesus is the King. But that’s not how it is now. Nor is it the way it has been, is it? Today we go to a portion of God’s Word that is often read during the season of Lent that help us to keep believing, keep rejoicing in and keep trusting Christ the King.

          He is king even though many reject Him. Now rejecting something good and valuable is not uncommon or unique. Any of you who have watched the Antique Road show know that they regularly ask people where they got their prize. Many buy them at garage sales for a few dollars and are delighted to find out their find is worth thousands. Just consider these whoppers: In 1999, a Wisconsin man paid only $29 for a painting by Martin Johnson Heade that gave him an $882,500 payout. Teri Horton, a truck driver, bought a painting for only $5 that she claimed was “ugly” that she was going to use for a dartboard. The painting turned out to be by famed abstract painter Jackson Pollock. She has been offered $9 million. But this could be the biggest. A man paid $45 for a collection of negative photographs. The photographs are said to be by Ansel Adams and if they really are they could be worth up to $200 million dollars. One man’s trash is another’s treasure.

          Sounds odd to apply that to Jesus but that’s how many treat Him. As trash. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at Him. They said, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” 36The soldiers also came up and mocked Him. They offered Him wine vinegar 37and said, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” 38There was a written notice above Him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39One of the criminals who hung there blasphemed Him: “Aren’t You the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” Many people were there when Jesus was crucified. The people of Jerusalem, the religious rulers of the Jewish people, the soldiers whose job it was to carry out the crucifixion. The criminals who were also being crucified. What was the most common reaction to Jesus? He was rejected. It didn’t make any difference that the sign was partially right. Jesus is the king of the Jews and everyone else. They still rejected Him. He was trash. Not worth anymore to them than cruel entertainment as an object of mockery. But even though they rejected Him Jesus is still King.

          Let’s flash forward to today. How do many view Jesus? Some at least call Him a good teacher. Some wonder if there was a real Jesus. Some kind of make up their own Jesus taking all the loving parts but ignoring the parts where Jesus talks very plainly about the reality of Hell. But viewing Him as the King of kings? Not many see Him that way or treat Him that way. He is rejected. But just like selling a Jackson Pollock painting for $5 does not make it only worth $5 but rather exposes the foolishness and ignorance of the seller the fact that Jesus is rejected by many as King does not change the fact that He is the King. For He is!

          Even though it may not look like it. What do you think a king should do? Clearly the people gathered around Jesus at His crucifixion had in their minds what a king should do. “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” “Aren’t You the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” Did you pick it out? What a king should do, what Jesus should do to prove He was king was save Himself. That’s what people in power do. They think of themselves.  If Jesus were a king he would come down from that cross. But Jesus didn’t do that. It didn’t look like He was in charge.

          But Jesus didn’t come down because He is the real King. He thinks of the good of others first. He stayed on the cross because the King had come to give His life to atone for the sins of all people, even those who mocked him here. Even those who are clueless about what Jesus, the Messiah, the Chosen one, the King was sent to do.

          Remember that the next time you are tempted to ask Jesus to come down and prove He is king to you. Oh, we don’t do that blatantly but subtly in our complaining. How long will you let those people get away with it? Come down and take care of it! Why don’t you help me the way I think is best? If you love me you will do as I ask. Jesus is the King even though it may not look like it or his actions and decisions for our world don’t seem to be right in our eyes. Jesus is the King and He does not owe us explanation for why he lets terrorists get away for a short time with their evil or lets Christians be martyred. He is the King and is ruling for our good even when it doesn’t look like it.

          Jesus is the King and this is Great News for those in need of mercy. One person at the crucifixion is different from the others. “But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom.” 43Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.” We aren’t told how or when the Holy Spirit worked in this man’s heart. He was a criminal and to have earned crucifixion he was not a nice or first time criminal. Perhaps his stay in jail or his impending death caused him to remember what he had learned in Sabbath school about the Messiah. This man knew who he was, a criminal who deserved punishment. He knew who Jesus was, the King. And he asked for mercy. “Jesus, remember me.” And he got it. “Today you will be with me in paradise.” You see that’s what the full revelation of Jesus’ kingdom is, it’s paradise and in the famous words of Handel’s Messiah, “And he shall reign forever and ever.” What great news for that criminal.

          And what great news for other criminals. That man next to Jesus on the bench may not look like a criminal, but he is. Look around you. You are probably not sitting near any murderers or bank robbers, maybe a speeder or two. But you are surrounded by criminals and are one yourself. So am I. Criminals do crimes. A crime is breaking of the law. And we have all broken God’s laws many times. Have you sassed your parents? Do you make them threaten you before you obey? You are breaking God’s laws. You are a criminal. Are we really putting God first? Do we really care just as much about the other guy as we do ourselves? Are other people’s children just as important to us as are own? We’ve broken the law. That makes us criminals. We deserve whatever punishment we get.     But because Jesus is the King we don’t get what we deserved. He stayed on the cross. He took our punishment. We get mercy and the day is coming for each one of us that He will say, “Today is your day. Welcome to Paradise!” So says the King. Amen.

Monday, November 7, 2016

November 5,6,7 2016 Here is “Foresight about Arranging Your Departure” Pastor Bivens


Luke 19:11-27 (Last Judgment Sunday, 2016, St. Jacobi)

       11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. 12 He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’

        14“But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ 15 “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.

16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’ 17 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’ 18 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’ 19 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’ 20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’ 24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’

25 “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’ 26 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”



Introduction: Carl McCunn died in December of 1981, 35 years ago. The story of the end of his life is a very sad one, but it’s one that can remind us of important truths. Carl, a professional photographer, hired a bush pilot to fly him to a remote area of Alaska and leave him there. He was flown into the wild in March and had with him 500 rolls of film, 1,400 pounds of provisions, two rifles, and a shotgun. His plan was to spend spring and summer there, photographing wildlife and the natural beauty in the wilderness. Things went well – until August. It was then that Carl realized that he had not arranged for the pilot to return for him. He wrote in his journal, "I think I should have used more foresight about arranging my departure.” Four months later, out of food and trapped by the snow and cold of the Alaskan winter, Carl decided to commit suicide – and did so in mid-December.

That’s a very sad story, isn’t it? But what about the sad stories in today’s Bible readings! Jeremiah addressing the unbelieving King Jehoiakim and the hard-hearted people of Jerusalem, all of whom were showing little “foresight about arranging their departure” from this world. Paul writing to the Thessalonians about people who “will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.” Throughout the Bible there are reminders that too many people should have used more foresight about arranging their departure from this world and arrival before the judgment seat of God. Today’s sermon text is a great example of this.



Here is “Foresight about Arranging Your Departure”

1.   It will seem a long time, so stay alert!

2.   It will be a rebellious time, so be careful!

3.   It can be a productive time, so be faithful!



1.      Foresight: It will seem a long time, so stay alert!

1.      We’re told why Jesus told the parable: He went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem and the people assumed this would be the final showdown and the end of all enemies of Jesus. They knew Christ’s power and assumed he would defeat & destroy those who opposed him. But Jesus tells them to expect a delay: He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. 13 So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’” It’s easy for us to see Jesus in the parable, following his resurrection and ascension, sitting at the right hand of the Father in the position of majesty and giving his servants, the church, tasks to accomplish until he returns. Time will pass; it will seem like a long time. So be patient. Don’t get distracted or drowsy or discouraged.  Stay alert.

2.      I recall the story of a Christian teacher warning those falling prey to greed. He took a penny and moved it closer and closer to his eye. He could see less and less as the penny (money) took over his whole focus. Important things get obscured while less valuable things get the attention. The “urgent” and “immediate” get top billing over the eternally more valuable. So be patient and stay alert: Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch (Lk 21:34ff.)   Here is wise foresight: It will seem a long time, so stay alert!



2.      More Foresight: It will be a rebellious time, so be careful!

1.      Our wait for Judgment Day will also be ugly and a time of rebellion against our Lord. The people were thinking Jesus would do away with his enemies when they got to Jerusalem, but he makes it clear that he would allow rebellion to remain for some time. But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ We easily think of their cry soon after this: “We have no king but Caesar” and their objection to the inscription on the cross: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” Jesus does say: But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me. But when is that? That’s at the very end of the parable, when the king finally returns. In the meantime, rebels can rebel and talk against the Lord. There will be hard times—don’t make light of that. Carl McCunn, for example, admitted in his journal that he prematurely disposed of boxes of ammunition in the river near his camp; he couldn’t imagine needing them later. That was foolish.

2.      Let’s be careful! “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars . . . Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. . . You will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. Many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other. . .Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” So be careful! Not pessimistic or discouraged, but cautious. Peter’s advice is golden: Dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pe 3:18). Secure position? Absolutely. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to suffer and die – and rise again. What’s that all about?? You know, don’t you? His focus is on forgiveness of sins, removal of guilt, reconciliation with God – for you. Here is assurance that you are a redeemed child of God rather than his enemy or citizen of hell. Our carefulness takes enemies around us seriously – but it takes the promises of God and power of the gospel even more seriously! We are careful and alert – but not pessimistic depressed.  Here is wise foresight: it will be a rebellious time, so be careful.



3        Foresight: It can be a productive time, so be faithful!

1.      Jesus uses most of his words describing how these end times are a time for activity as his servants. The familiar words: [The king] called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ The value of the mina (a weight of silver or gold) is relatively small (hundreds instead of millions of dollars as in “talents”) – perhaps the mina each received was $400 or so in today’s dollars. The important point is that every servant of the Lord has a gift (the gospel? skills?) and opportunity to “put it to work” until Christ returns.  

2.      The king returns to receive the reports:  Master, your mina has earned ten more. Sir, your mina has earned five more. The servants are excited and happy to report activity and productivity in using the Lord’s gifts. (They understood his love for them and loved him in return.) And his reply to them is gracious and generous: “‘Well done, my good servant!’ ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities... . five cities!” Faithful use of “small” limited opportunities results in huge privilege and responsibility – cities! But with one servant it is a different story: “Here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’ The servant did not like the master and considered him a heartless, vindictive tyrant. No wonder he didn’t like the idea of serving faithfully!  

3.      The basic point is clear: Our time on earth is a time to serve, to be productive with the everyday opportunities to serve Jesus and his interests. And the way we feel about Jesus will be reflected in the way we make use of opportunities. Remember how Jesus sent sinful yet forgiven Simon Peter to “feed my sheep” and “feed my lambs”? First he asked Peter, “Do you love me?



Conclusion: Do we love Jesus – the One who loved us first and most? Let that topic be and remain the central point when we grow in insight and foresight about our departure! As people loved by the Lord we may stay alert when the journey seems long, remain careful since rebellion is around us, and be faithful to opportunities entrusted to us. Amen.

Monday, October 31, 2016

October 29-31, 2016 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: John 8:31-47 “TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES!”


REFORMATION

October 29-31, 2016

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: John 8:31-47



“TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES!”

1.     At Jesus’ Time.

2.     At Luther’s Time.

3.     In our Time.



People in America have always enjoyed game shows on TV. There are some long running ones that all seem to know about like Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and the Price is Right. There have been hundreds of others. One was called “Truth or Consequences.” Do any of you remember it? The contestants were asked a question and if they got it right, truth, they would go on. If they got it wrong there were consequences, usually some gag or stunt was done that got everybody laughing. As we observe the 499th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation today it’s a good time to remind ourselves about truth or consequences in another way. However in this case, it’s not a game. And the consequences are no laughing matter.

We start in Jesus’ time. To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”33They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can You say that we shall be set free?” 34Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill Me, because you have no room for My Word. 38I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.” When Jesus first started His public ministry he seemed to be popular. Crowds flocked to hear Him and see His miracles. Those crowd gathering miracles gave Jesus the chance to proclaim the truth. He was the God sent Messiah. All were sinners and needed Him. Many did not like to hear that message. Jesus reminded the people of the importance of the truth, God’s truth. Holding to that truth proclaimed in Jesus’ teaching is a sign of authentic discipleship. Knowing that truth sets you free from the slavery to sin. If you reject that that truth there are consequences.

“Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. 40As it is, you are determined to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41You are doing the things your own father does.” “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” 42Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on My own; but He sent Me. 43Why is My language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me! 46Can any of you prove Me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe Me? 47He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

          At Jesus’ time many simply did not want the truth. God had given them the truth in the Old Testament through Moses and the prophets. God demanded holy living. Man could not do this. Man sinned. Sin was offensive to God. Sin needed to be paid for. Man could not do this. No offering was good enough. No amount of good deeds could make up for even one sin. God would send a Savior. He would do it. Sadly over time God’s truth was replaced by lies. If you have the blood of Abraham in your veins you are good enough to God. Only blatant breaking of the commandments mattered. Not the sins of the heart. God’s truth was rejected and there were consequences. 44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. 47He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

          We know that Jesus restored the truth to God’s people. After His ascension the Apostles carefully held to Jesus’ teachings. The Devil tried many times and in many ways to substitute his lies but it didn’t work. God’s people held to Jesus’ teachings because they were really His disciples. Creeds like the Apostles, the Nicene and the Athanasian were developed to clearly proclaim the truth from God’s word in short ways, memorable ways and clear ways and to point out there were consequences for rejecting the truth. Those who did not hold to the Creeds were not allowed to be part of the Christian church. While the church was constantly fighting against the Devil who kept trying to get people to buy his lies for several hundred years it didn’t work.

          Things began to change. Just like what happened to the Old Testament church the teachings of man began to replace the truth of God. Instead of looking to the Bible for truth people looked to the church leaders called bishops. Headed by the bishop of Rome who called himself the pope various teachings were added as coming from God himself. Salvation was found in the church. While Jesus’ sacrifice paid for eternal punishment in order to pay of the temporal debt of sin man had to do things before he could get to heaven: venerate relics, say certain prayers and then of course by Luther’s time, buy indulgences, pieces of paper that promised forgiveness for a certain amount of the temporal debt of sin.

          By God’s grace and at his working a monk named Luther started studying the Bible more and more. He found the truth that set him free. We are forgiven not by what we do but because of God’s grace, his undeserved love. We are forgiven through faith in Jesus and what He has done. Only the Scripture is the truth and authority for what God says. You can see how grace alone, faith alone and Scripture alone became this simple ways of proclaiming the truth. Luther wanted everyone to know that truth and he sought to share it but his church at the time rejected it. They threatened Luther with death if he continued proclaiming the truth. Luther did anyway. He knew that it is truth or consequences. If he didn’t get the truth out many people would live their lives in fear without knowing the comfort, peace and joy of being set free from their sins. Because he was an authentic disciple he held to the truth.

          Now it’s our turn. Once again it’s truth or consequences. The truth of God’s word in America is under attack. It has been for some time with the lie of evolution proclaimed instead of the truth of Creation, with a free love instead of married love and with God’s truth about marriage of one man and one woman replaced with the Devil’s lies. And while those things certainly get us shaking our heads the worst lie was pointed out to you a couple of weeks ago by Pastor Waldschmidt Jr. All gods are equal. There are many ways to heaven. Truth is relative. What is true for you does not have to be true to me. How clever Satan is! We feel the pressure already. While there are appropriate times and places and inappropriate times and places for proclaiming God’s truth I’m sure we can all think of a time we kept our mouth shut when it should have opened. Do we let our own view of right and wrong change because the wrong is going on in our family? And so for instance when a man and woman lived together and had sex before was a sin but now when it’s my son or my daughter, my grandkids, it’s not so bad. More pressure is likely to come.

          But remember my friends it’s truth or consequences for all of us. If we give up the truth then Jesus says we are children of the Devil. If we stop proclaiming truth how will people who need to know that Jesus has set them free hear it? It’s truth  “To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Or consequences 47He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” Let’s make sure we choose truth. Hold to Jesus’ teachings. No matter what. Then you really His disciple. And the win is much bigger than a game show prize. It’s that glory of of heaven! Amen.