Monday, February 19, 2018

February 17-19, 2018 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Romans 8:31-39 “WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!”


LENT 1

February 17-19, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Romans 8:31-39



“WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!”

1.     God is for us.

2.     Who can be against us?



Romans 8:31-39 (NIV 1984) What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He 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? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: “For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”



          Just in case you don’t watch the news and have not heard the theme song or seen the torch or five rings on a flag it is Olympics time across the world. The winter Olympics that is. With a competition that is held only once every four years the stakes are high as athletes from across the world who have dedicated their existence to their sport all come together with the same goal: Olympic gold, to be the champion. Many will dream. Few will be. The chances of any of us here becoming Olympic champions ranges from slim to none but God’s word tells us we are champions none the less. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” More than conquerors, literally super victors is what that means. We are the champions. Let’s find out why.

          The words of God before us serve as a kind of a crescendo, a culmination of the great things the Holy Spirit had Paul write down in the first 8 chapters of Romans. How man’s efforts could never make things right with God, how God had always then dealt with people on the basis of faith, trusting the promises of God to make things right through His Son Jesus, how all these things had been planned before the creation of the world so that we would know God works on the basis of grace. And then pondering all these great truths Paul points us back to them saying, What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” And then better than Perry Mason, in a lawyer like fashion with rapid fire questions that have obvious answers he makes it clear why we are the champions. God is for us.

          If you ever need proof in your life how valuable you are to God, if you need reassurance that He really loves you, yes even you, if your back is up against a wall and you are wondering if it will work out in any way at all, then take a Lenten journey with Jesus. Paul puts it this way. “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?” For you, God did not spare His own Son. For you. The first lesson today from Genesis showed us a man who did not spare his own Son when it came to showing his love and commitment to God. With Abraham and Isaac you can’t help but see a picture of God’s love for us, not sparing His own Son. In the Gospel lesson we heard the Spirit led Jesus out to be tempted making things worse with forty days without food. No, God did not spare his own Son and this is proof that God is for us. Follow Jesus during Holy Week and see the opposition, the cruel treatment and t mocking. No God did not spare His own Son. To understand the enormity of that one only needs to think of the lengths that parents go to spare their children heartache and disappointment and then ponder anew that while Jesus was tempted by the Devil God did nothing. He let it happen and when His Son was mocked and tortured God did nothing. When His Son was suffering the pangs of Hell the necessary price to pay for our sins God let it happen, He did not spare His own son but gave Him up for us all. There is the proof God is for us and since God is for us we are the champions. We win.

          That’s good news because there will be times we don’t feel like it, time when our opponents will look like they are winning, times when it looks like we are down for the count physically, spiritually, emotionally. “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Who can be against us? Satan will try. He will go against us. His name means accuser, finger pointer. He reminds us of our sin. He charges us. “You are a champion all right, a champion at sinning. Why should God help you when you win gold medals in gossiping, bronze in back biting and silvers in selfishness.” But God is for us. Jesus is for us. He died to pay for sin. He was raised to life to prove his payment was accepted. He is at the right hand of God sticking up for us. Satan our enemy bites the dust. He can’t stand against us.

          Others will try to be against us. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: “For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” Into the lives of champions trials come. Did you see that at one of the first events in this year’s Olympics? The Norwegians are calling it the miracle on snow. At the very beginning of a 30K cross country ski event first time Olympian Simen Krueger crashed. Other skiers fell on top of him. One of his poles broke. By the time he recovered he was in last place out of 68 skiers…and yet came back to win to be the champion and it was not even close.

          In our lives as believers we will have trials. The “as it is written” is a quotation of the Psalms reminding the Roman Christians and us that it has always been that way. Troubles and hardships happen in the lives of all believers. Paul had them. Shipwrecks. Unjust jailing. Concerns for sick co workers. You and I have them. Some of you have had to deal with cancer. Some of you have gone through the fears and worries of job loss. Some of you have dealt with the death of a child. Some with the ongoing heartache of family strife. And yet who can be against us? We are the champions. Eventually like with Simen Krueger those trials and hardships and heartaches are in the rearview mirror. With God for us we were brought through each and every one of them even though Satan threw his best at us He can’t stand against us.

          We are forced to accept the conclusion we want anyway. We are the champions. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” With God for us death can’t keep us from heaven. Nothing life has either. Angels won’t try, demons will and will fail. Nothing going on right now, nothing that will happen in our future nothing in the skies above, nothing in the depths of the oceans below, nothing else can separate us from the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus. Every opponent bites the dust and we are left standing, in Christ we are the Champions.

          In Christ. Good for us to remember. Olympic athletes can spend four years between Olympics training. They will compete and hope to win. In our case Jesus spent thirty three years for us, perfectly obeying to give us the status as righteous before God. Jesus went the grueling way of the cross and we are the champions. Very shortly the Olympics will go away. No more theme music, the torch will go out. Athletes will try to parley their medals into endorsements. Their championship glory will fade. Ours is yet to come when we reign with Christ in heaven. What shall we say in response to all this? How about, “Thank You Jesus.” And then let’s live lives that show it. Amen. 


Monday, February 5, 2018

February 3-5, 2018 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Deuteronomy 18:14-20 “WE’VE GOT IT SO MUCH BETTER!”


EPIPHANY 4

February 3-5, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Deuteronomy 18:14-20



“WE’VE GOT IT SO MUCH BETTER!”

1.     A better prophet.

2.     A better message.

3.     Are we any better?



Deuteronomy 18:14-20 (NIV 1984) “The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so. 15The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to Him. 16For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.” 17The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. 18I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put My words in His mouth, and He will tell them everything I command Him. 19If anyone does not listen to My words that the Prophet speaks in My name, I Myself will call him to account. 20But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.”



          It seems the older I get the more I find myself longing for the “good old days.” Does that happen with you? It seems our minds have this ability to forget the hardships and struggles of the past and remember with longing simpler and easier times. Sometimes we are right. The good old days were better. Think of things like national unity and family time. But don’t forget war protests and gas rationing and fewer conveniences and not as good health care. The word of God before us today gives us a chance to compare God’s dealing with people in the good old days of the Old Testament to how God deals with us today. What we’ll find is those good old days weren’t so good at all. We’ve got it so much better!

          We join God’s people as their 40 years of wandering in the desert was nearing its end. If you recall, after God had freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and led them to their new home they had refused to enter it, refusing to trust God’s promise to fight for them and remove the people living there. As a consequence, to help them learn, God prescribed 40 years of wandering in the desert area to teach them to trust. Now as the time came for them to enter their promised land Moses gave them encouragements and warnings to keep them spiritually safe. “The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so.” Garbage in, garbage out. You are what you eat. Be careful who you listen to. It will have an effect on you. God’s people were not to be like others who got their information, their beliefs and morals ultimately from the Devil. A good warning for us today. Who are you letting shape your opinions and beliefs? The people around us listen to polls and public opinion. God expects His people to listen to his prophets. The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to Him. 16For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”

          Moses had been the prophet for God’s people. And the people were terrified. Moses had received the law from God on Mt. Sinai. The mountain shook. There was smoke and fire as God impressed on the people that He was serious about his laws. The people got it. They understood. They were rightfully scared of God’s anger and intimidated by what they heard. They didn’t want to hear from God directly. They wanted a go between, a mediator, a prophet. That had been Moses. But he would die. So God promised a better prophet. He would be like Moses in that God would speak directly to Him. He would also be a man. You and I know Him as Jesus. And you can see why we have it so much better. Jesus is better than Moses. Moses sinned. Moses lost his temper with the people. Moses fell into sinful pride. Jesus, our prophet, our spokesman for God, is God and man. He’s perfect. His love for us deeper than we can know. We have it so much better. We have a better prophet.

          We also have a better message. “The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. 18I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put My words in His mouth, and He will tell them everything I command Him.”  As God’s Old Testament prophet Moses told the people what God said. He delivered to them a two sided covenant. God gave the people laws to obey. God promised that if they obeyed them all unfailingly He would fight their battles for them. He would bless their crops and their herds. They would be healthy, wealthy and wise. Wow! The good old days. Obey God and become prosperous. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that set up where we as the obeyers of  God would get special earthly blessings? But it is important to remember that the promises of God extended only to perfect keepers of His law.

          We have it so much better. If you read only half of the Old Testament laws you know you would not want to live back then. All those laws in addition to the moral laws summarized in the 10 Commandments are impossible to keep. And that’s the point. God was helping the people see they could not do it. They could not keep a 2 way covenant. Only a one way covenant would work and it would all have to be done by God. That’ s what Jesus was commanded to say. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one, absolutely no one, comes to the Father except through me. I am the Resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. If you love me obey my commandments. Don’t obey because you are scared that the mountain is quaking and trembling obey because you came to me weary and burdened with sin and I cleansed you and gave you rest and now you love me in return.” We have is so much better. We have the full Gospel message straight from the lips of Jesus Christ.

          We’ve got it so much better. So, are we any better? That’s a soul searching question we each have to ask ourself. A quick read through the Old Testament will show you a people who were quick to abandon the God who loved them. They were like kids going through an idol candy store. Ooh, I’ll try this one. Baal looks fun. Ooh Asherah worshippers they seem to have it better let’s try Asherah now. Ooh, the Egyptians seem to prosper maybe their gods are better let me have  dozen of those.” The strict law message and the two sided covenant did not work. It was never going to work as long as sinful people were part of it. And God never wanted only outward obedience to begin with. He wants His peoples’ hearts. He set us up to be better to respond to Him because we love Him so He gave us a better prophet, His own son, God in flesh, with a better message. I love you! I forgive you. Love me in return.

          Are we any better? Are we doing better at giving God obedience that comes from love? In the good old days of the Old Testament if you didn’t worship each week you got stoned to death. People showed up in droves. But not always out of love for God. If you misused God’s name, if you committed adultery, if you were a persistently rebellious child you got stoned to death. But that didn’t mean obedience came from love. God said, “If anyone does not listen to My words that the Prophet speaks in My name, I Myself will call him to account.” God loves His Son. In the book of Hebrews we are told, “Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” Brothers and sisters, using the language of the unbeliever, dressing like the unbelievers, despising the Word and Lord’s Supper by putting other things, pursuit, hobbies ahead of them is a trampling of  the Son underfoot, and an insult to the Spirit of grace. We’ve got it so much better. Let’s each one of us today, commit ourselves to being better as our way to say, “Thank God for dealing with us through Jesus. Amen.

Monday, January 29, 2018

January 27-29, 2018 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Acts 13:1-12 “SET APART FOR THE WORK OF THE LORD!”


EPIPHANY 3

January 27-29, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Acts 13:1-12



“SET APART FOR THE WORK OF THE LORD!”



Acts 13:1-12 (NIV 1984) “In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. 4The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the Word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper. 6They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, 7who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the Word of God. 8But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. 9Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10“You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.” Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.”



          “What’s with all the names?” beginning and long time Bible readers say the same thing, feel the same way. In this reading it’s not so bad. Just Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen and Saul. But sometimes in the Old Testament you really hit a buzzsaw. Genesis 10. But the names are important. The Holy Spirit put them there for His reasons. One of them certainly is to teach us that God’s love and care, His plans and purposes, do not stop at the collective level of nations or families but extends to the very individual. Yes, they extend to you. What wonderful news from God we get as His word shows us we are set apart for the work of the Lord!

          Before we get to us, let’s look at others. The Book of Acts is the history of the early Christian church. It teaches us how God chooses to do His work after Jesus completed the work of salvation. God would use people. All kinds of different people.  “In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Saul and Barnabas were set apart for the Lord. Two very different people. Barnabas had a very good reputation and a good past. He was a Levite from the island of Cyprus whose given name was Joseph but was called Barnabas because he was an encourager. He was generous too. And Saul, well, you know Saul, whose other name was Paul. His past was horrible. He had been the church destroyer, heartlessly dragging men and women to prison leaving children parentless. Yet both were set apart for the work of the Lord.

          For them it meant some travel. “So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. 4The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the Word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.” You can see the journey they had to make. Service to the Lord is not always easy. There are sacrifices to be made, work to be done. And the messages you send aren’t always well received either. “They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, 7who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the Word of God. 8But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. 9Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10“You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.” Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand.”  More names. Individuals to God. A proconsul, like a governor,  named Sergius Paulus. A false prophet named Bar-Jesus called Elymas after his profession. One needed some bad news.

          Some of you know that our daughter Anna has entered a nursing program. We have discovered that one of the downsides to this pursuit is she knows a little too much. Over Christmas vacation she was warning us of bad habits and alerting us to possible conditions. “Daddy,” she said, “I’ve diagnosed you with halitosis.” “Nonsense!” I said, “My breath doesn’t stink to me at all.” Oh, and for the record I don’t snore either. I have never ever heard myself snore. But I can have bad breath, a sort of holy halitosis and so can you, as did Saul and Barnabas. Words that stink to others when you proclaim the truth. And yet those same words that stunk to Eymas were sweet to Sergius Paulus. “When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.” Did you catch that? He wasn’t amazed at the immediate blindness of Elymas, he was amazed at the teaching of the Lord.

          And that’s why it is so important for every one of us here to understand that we are all set apart for the work of the Lord, each in our own way. Now the Devil will try to distract and make you feel worthless and unimportant and that if you aren’t called pastor or teacher you are not doing the work of the Lord. I’ve heard some sisters say, “Well I’m just a mom.” I know of mom who never got paid for all the work she did once she got married but who brought her children up knowing Jesus and collectively between them they have proclaimed to the teaching of the Lord to tens of thousands and she was just a mom. I know of some dairy farmers who said our cows need us we can’t do church work but you can so we will pay you a lot of money for a little work so you can speak for us and they were just farmers. I know of a brother who has said I’m not good at speaking but I know how to invest what does the church need? And he is just a retiree. I know of a sister who has placed mission work in her will and she is just a widow. And now you see the beauty of how God works in His church. Each one set apart for the work of the Lord. Some have come with good reputations some with bad. Some of you children today might be ones who seem to always find yourself in trouble at home or at school and yet the Lord is going to wash your past away like He did with Saul and he has plans for you because He has set you aside for the work of the Lord. Once you have received the call to faith you never again be just a cop or just a doctor or just a teacher or just a grandma or just a kid or just a retiree. Open your eyes. You have set apart for the work of the Lord. Opportunities will be there, the most obvious and often overlooked are right there in your own home and with your own relatives and your friend group. Sometimes your words spoken in love to correct your children or your student or your parents will be holy halitosis and they will be mad at you and angry with you but to others those words will be sweet as they believe and are amazed at the teaching of the Lord.

          That’s what all the names are about. Individuals. Loved by the Lord. Known by the Lord. Gifted by the Lord the way He wants. Doing different things that are important like tending cows or bandaging knees or making wise and profitable investments or counseling a pregnant woman. Each individual name with another name. Believer in Jesus and with Him you can never be just an anything. You’ve have been set apart for the work of the Lord. Amen.


Monday, December 4, 2017

December 2-4, 2017 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Genesis 6:9-22 (NIV 1984)   “WAIT!”


ADVENT 1

December 2-4, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Genesis 6:9-22 (NIV 1984)



“WAIT!”

1.     God saves.

2.     God’s people obey.



Genesis 6:9-22 (NIV 1984) This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. 10Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. 11Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. 16Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. 17I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18But I will establish My covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. 19You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.” 22Noah did everything just as God commanded him.”



          It started out just like any other worship day for Noah and his family. Worship together with the family was the highlight. What a joy it was to gather around the altar to worship and praise God for His goodness and to offer the thankofferings. Of course the all together family meal afterwards was a great tradition Noah was glad he had started. He and his wife had been careful to steer the boys to pick godly wives, wives who would help them stay close to the Lord. Noah didn’t understand what had happened with so many of the families of believers. They didn’t seem to mind that their boys were marrying unbelieving women. Didn’t they understand the power of a wife for better or for worse? Too much of the worse had happened. So many of the believing children had given up their faith, never stopping to gather around the family altar any more. Not bothering to call on the name of the Lord. It really should not have surprised anyone at what was going on. When people stop loving God they stop loving each other and it shows.

          Anyway time for the family meal. It was good to hear the boys needling each other. Eventually the conversation turned the way it always seemed to lately. Ham started it. “Happened again last night, dad. Three more wagon jackings. There is no respect for people’s property. Two of the wagons they just drove over a cliff and crashed them.” Japheth added his voice to the discussion. He lived too close to Tubal Cain’s Tavern. “Was bad by us too. Lot of yelling and screaming. People getting drunk. Too much blood on the ground for someone not to have died.” Shem shook his head. “Did you hear what happened to Mishal and his family? They were attacked last week. Mishal is dead. The women and children taken. Who’s next?”  “What is this world coming to!” the wives exclaimed almost in unison.  Noah just shook his head. The thought came again. When people stop loving God, they stop loving each other and it shows. But no more. It was time to tell them.

          “God spoke to me.” You could hear a pin drop. “He’s had enough. He’s going to put an end to all of this wickedness. He is going to kill everyone and start over. But to keep the promise of the Savior he is going to save the 8 of us.” Relief flooded over their faces. “When? How?” were the natural questions. “God hasn’t said,” Noah told them. “He is patient. He wants everyone to have a chance to repent before they die. And we have work to do. We are to build an ark, a large boat so big it can fit all of us and enough of each kind of animal to preserve all the species.”

          I hope you enjoyed listening in on my version of Noah’s dinner table. We aren’t told that happened but the facts that led up to it. How the believers in Noah’s time stopped valuing what God said was important. They adapted to the unbelievers when they married them instead of the other way around. People got more and more wicked. They stopped loving God and stopped loving each other and it showed. Wickedness increased so much God said, “Enough!”

          Now what can we learn from this. First God saves! Always. The Bible is a vocal testimony to that truth that in His own right time and His own right way God comes to save His people. The most magnificent example of that we are getting ready to celebrate. When the time had fully come. How many thousands of years from promise to fulfillment? The virgin was with child. Who would come up with the solution of the God man as substitute to pay for sins in full? God. Only God could and God did. He comes to save His people. Always. They just need to wait. The same thing was true in Noah’s day when it got so bad God said I’m going to wipe the face of the earth clean and start over with just 8 people. Until then they needed to wait. God would come and save His people. He always does. Now, my friends, do you really think this this big all powerful loving God who provided salvation for the world’s biggest problem, the problem of sin, through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ, do you really think He is not big enough to save you with the problems you have today? Do you really think that the God of law and justice who saw the wickedness of mankind at the time of Noah and dealt with it, do you really think He is unaware and unconcerned with the evil we live among? Of course He is. He will take care of it. God saves. It’s going to be on God’s time and in God’s way. But God saves.

          What do you do in the mean time? Wait. Wait for God to do what only He can do. And then obey. Our text ended with a passage that has been burning in my heart since I started wrestling with this text. It stays there because it is good and noble and admirable. It shows me an example of how I want to respond to God’s grace, to the one true God who saves always. It’s  verse 22. “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” Read that along with me please.  Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” Everything. Every detail. The ark built with the exact dimensions. All the preparations made. He obeyed. Why? Because of God’s kindness. God established a covenant with Noah. A covenant to save Him. And in response Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

          Brothers and sisters God made a covenant to save with us too. While we wait let us obey. Noah obeyed while he waited for the Flood. Old Testament believers obeyed while the waited for the fulfillment of the promise to send the Savior. Now it is our turn. We wait for the final coming of Christ. While we wait. We obey. We obey the Lord Jesus who told us we get to make more disciples that our purpose on earth whether male or female, young or old, pastor or pew sitters is the same. Be my witnesses. We obey as we carefully seek to show love to others but as we do that remember when people no longer love God they no longer love each other and it shows. The opposite is true. When people love God they love each other and it shows. Someday may the angels in heaven read our story, the story of believers in Christ who waited patiently for Christ to come. And may our last line read, “And the people at St. Jacobi did everything just as God commanded them.” Amen.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

November 19th, 2017 Saints Triumphant

I Thessalonians 4:13-18  We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you do not grieve in the same way as the others, who have no hope. 14Indeed, if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, then in the same way we also believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. 15In fact, we tell you this by the word of the Lord: We who are alive and left until the coming of the Lord will certainly not go on ahead of those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them, to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore, encourage one another with these words.
THE SAINTS ARE JOYFUL AND TRIUMPHANT!
Grace and peace to you from the God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
There are not many things I can quote from the Grinch in a sermon, but one here’s one.  The Grinch had just stolen all of the Christmas presents from the Whos down in Whoville when the sounds of Christmas corals begin to make their way to the Grinchs green ears.  “Those Whos!  They’re joyful and triumphant!  Joyful and Triumphant- those words fit well for us as we head into the last weeks of this church year.  Regardless of what is going on around us in this world that breaks your heart- because of Jesus we are joyful and triumphant!  And on this second last Sunday of the church year we see a true picture of those who have gone home to heaven- they are joyful and triumphant!  As we look  at god’s Word this morning let’s look at our believing loved ones the way God’s Word presents them rather than the Grinch’s or the hymnwriter’s order, triumphant and joyful.
Remember last week Pastor Spaude mentioned that the Thessalonian church had some messed up ideas about Jesus’ return.  Some thought that since Jesus return was on its way that they could and should quit their jobs and spend their days doing nothing but waiting for Jesus’ return.  There were also people who somehow thought that if you died before Jesus return that you missed out on the party- in other words not very triumphant.  So Paul writes, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you do not grieve in the same way as the others, who have no hope. 14Indeed, if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, then in the same way we also believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus.”   
A person who has died is not the picture of triumph.  The wages of sin is not very pretty.  It looks and maybe even feels like a person has lost.   So we can understand how some of the Thessalonians might have thought you missed out on the party if you died before Jesus came back.  But things are not always how they appear.  Those who trust is in Jesus who have died have won the victory!  A bliss won for them by Jesus: “We believe that Jesus died and rose again” (4:14). Jesus wanted so badly for us to experience heaven forever with him that he came down as man and experienced  death, the wages of sin,  in our place. He took all of our sins on himself and paid for them all with his death. But he didn’t stay dead. He rose to life three days later to guarantee that everyone who believes in him would have life too. And Jesus takes all who fall asleep trusting in Him to enjoy the bliss that he has won for Jesus will bring them back in victory!  
A triumphant return in victory is coming.  “In fact, we tell you this by the word of the Lord: We who are alive and left until the coming of the Lord will certainly not go on ahead of those who have fallen asleep.” If you are wondering how you know that your believing loved ones are basking in triumph, you have the Lord’s own word on it.  The one who won the victory over the grave itself assures you that his triumphant is your loved ones triumph.  On this side of Judgment Day, their souls are safe with Jesus.  On Judgment day, the Lord will raise their bodies and change them from dust and ashes to perfect flesh and our loved ones will be at Jesus’ side body and soul on the day Jesus comes again.  Maybe your believing-loved one who died had a battle with Alzheimer’s like my mom. For the last 10 years of her life she was not herself.  Maybe your loved one wasted away with cancer,  maybe they died in a car accident.   When Jesus raises our loved ones up at the Last Day their  minds, their bodies will be fully restored in a glorified resurrection body.   “16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” 
I can’t really say that the thought of loved ones who die before Judgment Day are missing out on heaven is a thought that bothered me so much.  But what does bother you about those who fall asleep?  Since my mom went home to heaven, there have been 5 grandchildren born in just our family along with many graduation and birthdays.  Does that bother you about your departed loved one?  That they missing out on weddings, birthday parties, graduations. Are they missing out? Not only are the saints triumphant, they are joyful! And one day we will be joyful with them. 
Remember the Lord takes our believing loved ones to heaven!   If we are thinking of them missing out we have been looking at this all wrong! We have been thinking about all the things that those who have fallen asleep in Christ miss out on. What we should be thinking about is what they are experiencing. Today is Saint’s Triumphant Sunday. This is the weekend  when we remember that those who have fallen asleep in Christ are right now enjoying eternal glory, bliss and happiness in heaven! Heaven is a beautiful place where nothing sad or bad ever happens.  
As much fun as it would be to have our moms and dads there with us on our special days, as great as it would be for our loved ones to play a round of golf with us or travel with us the fact remains that for a little while they are much happier than we are. They are not thinking about what it would e like to see Jesus, they are seeing Him, face to face. Paul said “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.”
So is it OK for us Christians to grieve?  Sure, we are human.  Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus seeing the mess sin and death had made of His creation. Abraham grieved for Sarah. King David grieved for his best friend Jonathan. Christians cry at funerals and many go through a deep grieving process. They know that their loved one is in heaven. But there is a difference in the tone of their grief.  They don’t “grieve as those who have no hope”.  It has the tone of I’m sad because I can’t see and touch my loved one again but doesn’t have the tone of “I’ll never see my loved one again.”  The tears are tempered by knowing the day is coming when we will share their joy.   
On those days until then, if you are missing our loved one remember that they are joyful and coming again with Jesus.  “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them, to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore, encourage one another with these words”  Caught up to meet the Lord in the air.  Jesus will be at the center of the picture that day.  But look down the line.  There’s your mom, your grandpa, your friend. No matter what your family didn’t get to experience together in this life because you were separated by busy schedules or geography or even death, one thing that you will for sure get to experience together is this meeting with the Lord in the air.  There’s Moses and Mary and Adam and Eve.  You’ll see and talk God’s people you’ve only known in your Sunday School folder. 
And remember from last week this is when Jesus will say, “I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” If your grandfather did not get to hear your name called at graduation, he will get to hear Jesus call your name and say, “well done, good and faithful servant,” and your grandfather will say “that’s my girl!”

5 or 6 years ago our family had to put our dog Archie to sleep.  Archie didn’t live with us his whole life.  He grew up on a farm with some of our family and then came to live with us for the last three years of his life.  When it became clear that Archie would not be able to go on, I talked with our relatives he grew up with and they came down to see him.  Archie had not moved from his spot all day.   He didn’t make a sound when the door bell rang but when he heard their voices he let out what I’m sure in dog language was an, “Oh it’s you!” “And so we will be with the Lord forever”   We look forward to saying, “Oh it’s you! Lord Jesus”  when Jesus comes again.  Oh It’s you when Jesus brings our parents, our grandparents, our children with him.   “Therefore comfort each other with these words” The Saints are joyful and triumphant.  Amen

Monday, November 13, 2017

November 11-13, 2017 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11   JESUS DOESN’T LEAVE YOU IN THE DARK


LAST JUDGMENT

November 11-13, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11



JESUS DOESN’T LEAVE YOU IN THE DARK

1. About His Return on Judgment Day.

2. About What To Do Until It Happens.

3. About What Will Come Next.



1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (NIV 1984) “Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”



          Distractions can be deadly. That’s why we see so much advertising today about the dangers of texting and driving, so many avoidable accidents and deaths caused by distracted driving. But it’s not just the texting. Every driver here can think of a time when their attention was diverted by changing a radio station, dropped food, spilled drinks or rubbernecking. You thank the Lord when that happens and all you got was the scare and not the accident. Distraction has long been recognized as a successful strategy in war. Distract the enemy. Get them thinking you are attacking one place and then strike another. Think Normandy. D Day. Our real enemy Satan knows this strategy too. Distract believers from what is important and maybe they will give up their faith.

          We see an example of that in God’s Word today. The believers in Thessalonica, the Thessalonians, had a strength. When they were told the truth that Jesus could return for a day of Judgment at any time, they believed. They believed it wholeheartedly, so much so that some of they quit their jobs, stopped working. I mean, why should they? Jesus is coming soon. But it’s good to believe that. Jesus said it. Here though the Devil started to distract them. They got all caught up trying to figure out exactly when Jesus would come. So the Lord had the Apostle Paul remind them. He hadn’t left them in the dark about His return on Judgment Day. “Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” Hey Thessalonians, why are you so concerned about trying to figure out when? We aren’t going talk about times and dates. You know it doesn’t work that way. By God’s design it is not revealed. Not known. It’s like a thief. Everyone knows it can happen but when it does it’s not expected. Mothers here can tell that about labor pains. By the calendar they know it’s coming. But when it actually does it’s like what? It’s an unexpected expected.

          That’s all we need to know too. If you are reading a book or watching some TV show where they are using Bible prophecy, Daniel and Revelation and telling you this is when the end will come throw it away, turn it off. The Devil is distracting. Many over the summer months with hurricane after hurricane and wildfire after wildfire and earthquakes wondered is the end coming soon? Yes. It is. Jesus said so 2000 years ago. Don’t hold him to human timetables. No one will know the time and date. He’s not left you in the dark. It is an expected that will still come unexpectedly.

          So don’t waste your time trying to figure out when. Don’t fall for the Devil’s distractions. Focus on being ready. Jesus hasn’t left you in the dark on that either. “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” Some people are in the dark, the darkness of sin and unbelief. They yuck it up now mocking God’s ways, feeling like they can make laws that allow the murders of unborn children through abortion, that mock God’ gift of marriage by putting immorality and perversion on par with what God ordained. They call sin good and make people like us who call sin sin feel like we are unloving. Laugh now. Pay later. When Jesus comes on Judgment Day their laughter will turn to wailing, their mockery of God and His people to pleas for mercy but it will be too late. Not so with you. Jesus didn’t leave you in the dark. You are children of the light. You belong to Jesus, the light of the world and while you wait for Him to come live as children of the light. Twice we are encouraged to be self controlled. That means to have some self discipline. To be able to say No. I am not taking this job that will keep me from worshipping the Lord. No, we are not putting our children in this activity that will overload us so we know what will give. Yes, I will plan my weekly worship. Yes, I will make sure I have time for God’s Word each day. That’s how the picture of spiritual armor plays in. Faith, love, hope all listed as pieces that are put on the Spirit who works through the word. Who goes to battle naked? Only a fool and you are not fools. Jesus hasn’t left you in the dark about what to do until he returns.

          Nor about what will happen then. “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Did you hear that? You have an appointment. You have an appointment on Judgment Day. It’s an appointment to receive salvation. It’s an appointment to live with Jesus forever. Think about the connotation of Judgment Day in our world. It’s ominous, right? If they put Judgment Day as the sequel to a movie or video game title it’s to give the impression it will be bad, dark and scary. Now it’s true that the thought of Judgment Day should be scary and it will be for some and ought to be for us. Just think if we had to stand before God and try to explain or justify our sins. Just think of the dread we would have if Judgment Day meant a video replay of the sins of our youth and the thoughts of our old age. And then the punishment. You think your heart beats fast when you get pulled over for speeding and you are afraid of getting a ticket. Try standing before God without Jesus and waiting for Him to pronounce judgment.

          But that’s not what Judgment Day will be like for us and for one reason only. Through Jesus. His perfect life is recorded as ours and our shameful sins were placed on to Him and now through Jesus Judgment Day means salvation, joy, happiness, a life where we are in full communion and harmony with God and each other. So encourage one another and build each other up just like you are now doing. You do realize that right? You could read your Bible all on your own at home. You could watch a worship service live streamed and if that was your only option to worship in spirit and in truth that’s great. But what you can’t do at home by yourself is encourage and build others up. Here those who know they are not alone because Jesus is always with them see that they are not alone here in this community. There are others who believe the same, others who care. Others who will put their spiritual armor on each day to fight the good fight. Others who will help you to avoid distraction. Others who have not been left in the dark and look forward to the day and the time known by the Father, a wonderful day where we have an appointment to be at Jesus right side and be surprised at all the wonderful things he says about us, all because He has not left us in the dark. Amen.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October 29th, 2017 Matthew 22:1-14 Pastor Waldschmidt

Matthew 22:1-14                                          
                                           A Hall Full Of Guest
                                                                   I.  Each One Invited By Grace
II.                  A Hall With No Room For Those Who Can’t Make Room For Jesus.
In the name of the King calling us to His Wedding Banquet, dear children of God,
     The earliest Sunday school lesson I can remember was the story of the crowded house where Jesus was teaching.  The house was so crowded that when some men came with their paralyzed friend they could not get close to Jesus.  So the friends went up on the roof and broke open a whole to lower the man down in front of Jesus.  Shortly thereafter there was the story of the Feeding of the 5,000 where Jesus did the miracle of feeding them all with a few fish and scraps of bread.  Or the crowds pressing around Jesus when the woman who had been sick for years just touched the edge of his garment and was healed.  When I think of crowds around Jesus I think of the crowds of saints and angels singing Jesus’ praise in heaven in John’s revelation vision.  I occurs to me that as good as Jesus is one on one sitting with Nicodemus at night or sitting and listening to my rambling fragmented prayers that Jesus loves a crowd of people.  Today in God’s word he pictures for us a crowd of people in a wedding hall-A Hall Full of Guests!  I.  Each one invited by grace.  II.  A hall with no room for those who can’t make room for Jesus.
     Jesus is speaking these words on the Tuesday before he would suffer and die on the cross.  The rumble of his enemies has now turned into a roar against him.  The Pharisees want to know from Jesus "By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?"  They were talking about the authority to do the things only God can do, like forgive sins and invite to heaven.   Jesus answers their sassy question with a parable about a King who wanted a hall full of guests.  ““The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.”   What a happy time!  While the way that we do weddings today might bring a little bit of stress they are a fun and happy time.  Here’s a king who wants to share the joy of his son getting married with all of his friends.  He wants to have a hall full of guests to share his happy day with. The invitations are sent out.  “3He sent out his servants to summon those who were invited to the wedding banquet, but they did not want to come.”  Now remember this is the king who is inviting.  No one who is invited is on his level.  They are invited by the goodness of the king.
        God’s amazing  love and man’s sinful stupidity don’t fit our way of thinking, so the parables Jesus tells about the Kingdom of God take some stunning turns sometimes.  Think of the Father receiving back the prodigal son or the group of numb skulled tenants who though that if they killed the heir that the inheritance would belong to them.  Imagine this, those invited don’t want anything to do with the king and his wedding.  That would be like getting an invitation to a royal wedding and declining it because you are going to use that time to mow the yard.   The gracious king still wants a hall full of guests.  4“Then he sent out other servants and said, ‘Tell those who are invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner. My oxen and my fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet!’ But now those invited really make clear that they didn’t deserved the invitation. 5“But those who were invited paid no attention and went off, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6The rest seized the king’s servants, mistreated them, and killed them.”
     The King wanted a hall full of his friends to share his joy but those invited showed that that were not the king’s friends that they did not deserved his initial invitation nor his repeat invitation.  Jesus was looking the Pharisees in the eye, calling to them, urging them to come to the Wedding Banquet the King of heaven and earth had prepared.  He had made the preparations.  He wanted a hall full of guests.  But Jesus’ enemies threw aside God’s invitation.  They made clear they were not worthy of the invitation. 
      In the second half of our Psalm for today, Psalm 23, God tells us that the Shepherd King invites to a dinner.  He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  But remember the words of Scripture, “We all like sheep have gone astray.”  Before we look down our noses at the Pharisees we recognize our own unworthiness.  One of my daughters (I won’t say which one, but her name starts with B) was home this week for teachers’ Conference.  Her car had a terrible odor in it.  After some of my fatherly badgering she admitted that she had forgotten a gallon of milk in the back last week when it was so warm and it had sort of exploded with a stinky, curdly mess all over the back of the car.  That stinky curdly mess is like even the very best of our actions.  “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags,” the Bible tells us.  That sin stink shows itself in our lives all too often, the words we say even to those close to us- the thoughts we think that we would never want anyone to see- the things we do when we think no one is watching.  On top of this we act like there is no smell at all to our sin.  We think we don’t we need Jesus too much.  We push the King our out of life because we are too busy with other things.                But the King wanted a hall full of guests.  The King wanted you and me there.  The King came himself.  The King poured out his life so that we might have enjoy life-eternal life in heaven.  He washed away the stench of sin.  He did all that not because we deserved it.  The king did it all because by grace-undeserved love.  You and I have a place in the hall because of God’s grace.  
     Some of the other places Jesus used this parable put more emphasis on the shallow excuses the miserable invitees gave, but with Jesus’ enemies standing right there with their threatening chins sticking out the emphasis is more on how final and awful the rejection of the King’s invitation is. Listen. “7As a result, the king was very angry. He sent his army and killed those murderers and burned their town.”  Sounds pretty final and awful!  The King wants a hall full of guests.  But there is no room here for anyone who doesn’t have room in his heart or life for the King.
     “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9So go to the main crossroads and invite as many as you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10Those servants went out to the roads and gathered together everyone they found, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12He said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wearing wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. 13Then the king told the servants, ‘Tie him hand and foot and throw him into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14For many are called, but few are chosen.” 
     In Jesus’ day most people did not have a closet full of clothes nor a store nearby to pick out something nice to wear for the wedding.  So it was pretty common practice to send wedding clothes along with the wedding invitation.  Apparently there was one man in the crowd who felt he didn’t need the wedding clothes-that his old dirty clothes were just fine.  His arrogance stood in stark contrast to the King’s graciousness.  Again bringing home the finality of rejecting Jesus, the King throws him out of the Wedding.  Lord keep me from that kind of arrogance!  Keep that arrogance that thinks I don’t need Jesus far away.  Keep that sinful stupidity that pushes Jesus out of our lives.  The King wants a hall full of guests.  But the truth is that there is no room for  anyone there for whom there is no room for Jesus in there lives.  By his grace the Lord has given us eternal life.  Now would be a good time to re evaluate our lives.  Now would be the time to check to see if the King and his kingdom have there proper place in our lives.  Now would be the time to get rid of the things that are crowding the king out of our lives. 

     The King wants a hall full of guests!  One of the children’s bulletins for today has a drawing of the King with the table and hall all prepared.  There are all kinds of people in the street walking by.  There are all kinds of people in the streets walking by today too.  The king wants a hall full of guests.  Let’s tell them.  Let’s gather them.  Let’s bring them.  Amen.