Monday, August 6, 2018

August 4-6, 2019 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Ephesians 4:17-24 “HOLY HYGIENE!”


PENTECOST 11

August 4-6, 2019

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Ephesians 4:17-24



“HOLY HYGIENE!”

1.     It’s absolutely necessary.

2.     You know what to do.



Ephesians 4:17-24 (NIV) So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.  20You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”



          Now don’t get me wrong. I love Saz’s. I love the food and the sauce. But mostly I love the company for giving my daughters some very good jobs. The problem I have is the smell. Not the cooking ribs smell but the smell my girls come home with from working the festivals. It’s the smell of deep fried food. Sometimes when they come home the shoes, the clothes, the smell is so strong the clothes and shoes just need to stay outside. We don’t want that smell in the house. In a much more important way there is a smell that we need to get rid of regularly, a smell we don’t want in our homes. It’s the smell of sin, the smell of defiance in the face of a holy God. I’m not sure if Robin ever said it to Batman but we’ll say it today, Holy Hygiene! God’s word will help us see that it is absolutely necessary and thankfully we know exactly what to do.

          Holy Hygiene. It’s absolutely necessary. Just like I like Saz’s despite the deep frying oil smell, I also like pig farms. I am glad there are pig farms so that Saz’s can make their delicious ribs and I can have a BLT and an Easter ham. I’m a fan of pig farms but I wouldn’t want to live near one. Have you driven by? This isn’t sweet cow manure from a dairy farm we are talking about. How do the farmers live there? Well they’re used to it of course so it doesn’t bother them and they probably don’t notice. That same thing can happen to us Christians with sin smell. We live in a society that is corrupted by sin and defiance of God. If we are not careful we can get used to it, not notice it anymore and become a part of it.

          Holy hygiene is absolutely necessary.  So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.” Like a good friend who offers you a breath mint and when you decline more firmly says, “No, I insist. Take two!” and is doing that for a reason, God had the Apostle Paul insist on holy hygiene.

          Don’t live like the Gentiles. Paul uses the word Gentile here as a synonym for unbeliever. Here are the signs of unbeliever living: a futility of thinking, a darkened understanding, separation from God shown in a loss of sensitivity to sin, indulging in it and a continual lust for more. We see this, don’t we? Futile thinking and darkened understanding. Did you know that according to the laws of the state of  Wisconsin, a senior citizen who gets confused, drives the wrong way on the interstate and accidentally kills a pregnant woman can get charged with two counts of homicide by negligent operation of a motor vehicle. One charge for the woman and one for the unborn child. At the same time, by state law, a doctor who murders a baby by aborting it from its mother’s womb and the mother who brings her child to get murdered will be charged with nothing. You kill by accident, a felony. You kill on purpose, a right. Does that make sense? Is that reasonable and logical? Yes, when you have a futility of thinking and a darkened understanding. That’s just one example and we are living in that swamp. You walk through it every day at work. How about loss of sensitivity and a continual lust for more? In 1972 a foul mouthed comedian named George Carlin got arrested after his act at Summerfest where he used his infamous Seven Dirty words. Now these same words are used in songs on the radio and in movies, on our TVs and from the mouths of children. We’ve gone from affairs shown on TV, to people in bed to same sex kisses and more. Where will it end? You know. You heard what God said. It won’t end. As unbelief grows it will get worse.  And we are living in this swamp of sin and it smells. God in His righteousness is offended. This way of living is separated from God. It may not look like it, but it is Hell on earth, separation from God. And you leave your home and you go out and work in it and you go to games, restaurants and bars and it’s all around and unless you have chosen a total media blackout and no internet it seeps into your homes. We need holy hygiene. We need to a spiritual bath and shower for if we do not, if we are not careful we will get used to the smell of sin in our lives and like the proverbial frog in the pot of boiling water we and our children will be among those described as those with a darkened understanding and a life separated from God. Holy hygiene! It’s absolutely necessary!

          And there is good news. You serve the God who provides for His people. He provides food like He did for the Israelites. He provided His Son Jesus when we needed the bread of Live even though that meant Jesus would die. When holy hygiene is needed God also provides. “You, however.” Sweet words! Beautiful words! “You, however.” With those two words God tells you that you are different from those with darkened minds who are separated from God. He reminds you you know how to practice holy hygiene. “You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desire. 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”” At some time, many years ago or a few you were taught to know Christ. You were taught in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.

          The unbelieving world thinks it’s OK, cool, tough, to talk with a potty mouth, and to that God is a word that follows Oh my when you are surprised, that Jesus is a name to say when you were mad. It thinks sex jokes and drunkenness are funny. It thinks it’s right to be extravagantly expensive on entertaining oneself but pitch pennies to church or charity. You did not come to know Christ in that way. You came to know Him as your Savior who willingly gave His life to pay for that whole laundry list of sins and so many, many more. And you were taught to love that Savior in return and to show that love in the way that is most meaningful to Him, willing obedience to what He says is right.

          You know what to do. Holy hygiene. Off with the old sin smelly clothes. On with the new Christ like holy robe of righteousness. Just like you were taught to clean your teeth by brushing and flossing and to change your clothes and to clean yourself by bathing, and not to do this once a month or once a week but daily, you’ve been taught holy hygiene. It’s our regular repentance cycle where we hear God’s word so we know right and wrong, where we realize not just the world’s sins but our own, where we take that sin off through the forgiveness of Jesus and where we put Jesus on, that is desire to please Him in our lives. Holy hygiene!  You know what to do.

Today and for as many more todays that God gives you before heaven practice your holy hygiene. It won’t matter how much more sinful our society gets. It won’t control us or our children. Just like I can enjoy Saz’s ribs without being engulfed by the smells of a deep fryer or pig farm, all of us can enjoy our lives without worrying we’ll be overcome by the sin of the society we live in. God, who is faithful, has promised it. And He will do it. Amen.

Monday, July 23, 2018

July 21-23, 2018 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Mark 6:30-34 (EHV) JESUS CARES!


PENTECOST 9

July 21-23, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Mark 6:30-34 (EHV)



JESUS CARES!

1. He Knows Your Needs.

2. He Provides for Your Needs.



Mark 6:30-34 (EHV) “The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and taught. 31He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” For there were so many people coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat. 32They went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33But many people saw them leave and knew where they were going. They ran there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34When Jesus stepped out of the boat, he saw a large crowd. His heart went out to them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He began to teach them many things.”



          Jesus cares. Jesus cares about you. You know this in your head and your heart. All you have to do is look at the cross that stands as a fixed worship reminder of how much Jesus cares for you. So much He willingly suffered the punishment you earned through your sins. The Gospel, the Good News of the Bible proclaims this truth to us. God loves you. God cares. The proof is in Jesus. His primary work was to come as your substitute and save you for eternity. The Gospel, the Good News of the Bible goes on. God cares for your earthly life too. The Apostle Paul so beautifully and eloquently summarized that fact in the book of Romans when he wrote, “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not along with Him graciously give us all things? An obvious truth from the greater to the lesser, but not so easily believed when your life is a mess and your heart is hurting, when you are dealing with conflict or anger or a serious medical condition has suddenly appeared. Shhh! The Holy Spirit whispers to our faith in God’s word. Look at Jesus. Keep your eyes on Jesus. See how He cares.

          His disciples and the crowds in Mark’s Gospel certainly saw how Jesus cares. If you recall from the Gospel reading last week Jesus had sent out the disciples and so they were called apostles meaning “those sent out.” Jesus had told them not to take any provisions. God would provide for them through His people. They were given a bit of Jesus’ authority to cast out demons and heal people. Now they were back swapping stories. “The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and taught. Can you imagine their excitement? Thomas, “Lord I don’t have any proof but you have to believe me I healed sick people!” Peter, “Lord no one can deny what I did. I told demons to leave and they did. Three times!” James and John and all the rest, eagerly telling all that had happened and how they had told people the Messiah had come. And then Jesus had to tell them what had happened when they were gone. John the Baptist had been beheaded. This too happens to faithful servants of Jesus. What a rollercoaster. Jesus cared about them. He knew what they needed. “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” For there were so many people coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat. 32They went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.” After all their hard work, after emotional highs and lows they needed rest. Jesus knew exactly what they needed.

          Others had needs too. “But many people saw them leave and knew where they were going. They ran there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34When Jesus stepped out of the boat, he saw a large crowd. His heart went out to them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He began to teach them many things.” A large crowd of people followed Jesus. They probably felt they needed to see Jesus do more miracles. But that wasn’t their need. They needed to hear the word of God. Jesus knew that. In the following verses of Mark 6 we find the people had another need, food. They had run after Jesus without even thinking of a very real need. But Jesus knew.

          Brothers and sisters, Jesus knows your needs too. Your real needs. Some people will talk about a difference between real and perceived needs. A perceived need, for instance, might be a better paying job.  A real need might be budgeting skills. A perceived need might be a distressed marriage relationship while the greater real need might lie in a missing relationship with Jesus. Then there is the whole wants and needs thing and we all know how that goes with our kids that they confuse wants and needs, but honestly we big kids do the same. The good news is no matter how we confuse needs Jesus, our Savior, knows exactly what our needs are. He cares and watches us daily. Is your heart hurting because something or someone is missing in your life? Jesus cares. He knows what you need. Got some family or health difficulties? Jesus knows. He knows what you really need. And for those times when difficulty and hardship become a way too familiar companion remember that Jesus knows what you need and if He is allowing something like that to pop up or stay in your life it’s because He knows you need it, like we heard a few weeks ago, that Paul needed a thorn. Jesus cares. He knows your needs.

          He provides for them too. Jesus’s disciples needed rest. He took them away. When the crowds caught up with them Jesus was their provider, their teacher, not the disciples. They got to rest and watch. By the way, American Christian, rest is still something God wants you to have. You don’t have to pack every hour of every day. It is God pleasing to get rest each week. The crowds who followed Jesus needed something different. They didn’t need to be entertained by miracles. They were like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus cared. His heart went out to them. He became their shepherd. Practicing the Biblical truth that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God, Jesus first filled that need. He taught them God’s truths. Now they did have that other need, the “we forgot to pack our lunch” need. In the next verses Jesus will take care of that too with the miracle we call the feeding of the 5,000 even though it was probably closer to 20,000. And you really can’t hear Jesus talk about a shepherd without automatically thinking about how as the Good Shepherd He lay down His life for His sheep. Jesus cares. He knows needs and provides needs.

          And you are included in that caring, knowing and providing. As your Lord Jesus watches you each day He is watching over you day by day. And day by day He knows exactly what you need and He provides it. This is the truth that enables us to fight fear of what happens next. My Jesus is in control. This is the truth that provides daily contentment. What I have and where I am at is good. And if I don’t have something I want it’s because Jesus knows that it’s not right for me right now. This is the truth that pushes us to be better budgeters of time and money because we know we have been provided what we need and so if we are a little short in time or money it means Jesus is pushing us, motivating us, to be better managers His gifts of time and money. This is the truth that enables us to meet adversity with a smile on our faces because Jesus cares, knows and will provide each step of the way. This is the truth that enabled Paul and you and me too to boast about weaknesses and relish the thorns in our lives. Jesus cares and He provides what we need.

          Brothers and sisters, the Pentecost season of the church year that we are in is all about focusing on growth in our faith life. Having every question in life answered, having every want supplied and problem fixed requires no faith. Peace, joy, happiness, contentment in want or plenty, in matters of death as well as life, in time of peace or time of strife, well that takes faith. God’s words give faith. 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? Of course He will. This is Jesus we are talking about. I’m reminded of the very clever motto our 8th grade had last year. “My lifeguard walks on water.” Yours does too. Amen.

Monday, July 2, 2018

June 30-July 2, 2018 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: 1 Timothy 2:1-6a (EHV) “ON BEING A BLESSING TO OUR NATION”


THE NATION

June 30-July 2, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: 1 Timothy 2:1-6a (EHV)



“ON BEING A BLESSING TO OUR NATION”

1.     Be here now.

2.     Pray, pray, pray!



1 Timothy 2:1-6a (EHV) “First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all those who are in authority, in order that we might live a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.”



          “You know what you should do is…. Hey, I’ve got a great idea, why don’t you...” Do you have somebody like that in your life? Someone who has all kinds of fixes and improvements and ideas about what you should do? Actually we can all kind of be that way. When there are problems or issues a natural way of thinking seems to be to focus on what others need to be doing. That’s an easy trap to fall into with our nation. We do have issues. The hot button ones now are immigration and international economics and tariffs. The festering ones are a two party political systems where each side seems to be more interested in getting each other than getting things done. Emotional political issues as well as personal failings by too many elected leaders have put obstacles in the way of our ability to respect as God commands. You know what they need to do is…Oops. See how easy that is? God’s word today shows us a better way. A God pleasing way. It doesn’t have to do with them. It’s about us. By God’s grace we are able to be a great blessing to our nation. So let’s talk about us.

          First, brothers and sisters, we need to understand that Christians living in nations where the government does not always work right, where leaders are immoral and lead the country into immorality, where Biblical Christianity is not always appreciated is nothing new. When Paul wrote this first letter to Timothy, Timothy was in city of Ephesus under the control of the Roman government. Talk about shady politics, graft, corruption, sleaze, immorality, that’s Rome. And the emperor at the time was a man named Nero, the one who would usher in some of the most brutal persecutions of Christians. Certainly this could have been a time for handwringing and complaining, calls to be subversive or urging Timothy and the congregation at Ephesus to flee. But Paul didn’t. He encouraged them where they were at.

          Be here now. That’s a phrase that has popped up in our society, in business and home. With our smartphones giving us access to so much info at our fingertips there can be a tendency to consult it during meetings, family meals, sermons. Be here now means to pay attention where you are at. Mindfulness some call it. Don’t think about what you have to do or what is going to happen later. Be aware of what is going on around you right now. Be here now is way for us Christians to be a blessing to our nation. In that context it would mean we don’t look back with longing for the good old days, which by the way had their own set of problems.  It would mean not worrying about the future but focusing on being a blessing now. And brothers and sisters do you realize what a blessing you are to our nation just by being you, by being what God made you in Jesus? As we heard last week we are new creations in Christ. We have the Holy Spirit living in us, shaping and forming us to be more and more like Christ. The nation is blessed as we grow in faith and live our faith. And did you hear what Jesus called you? Salt of the earth and the light of the world. “You are,” He said. By your very nature you attract people to Jesus, you light the way to heaven. And like salt you are a preservative for the nation. Let’s go back to our first reading. Sodom and Gomorrah were wicked, so wicked, God knew the best thing for the rest of the people in the world was for Sodom and Gomorrah to be destroyed. And then we got to listen in on Abraham’s prayer that led us to see that the mercy of God is such that for the sake of just 10 believers, 10 righteous people, God would have spared the wicked in those cities. If only there had been 10. But there wasn’t. There are more than 1o here! Be here now. You are a blessing to your nation by being a believer by raising your children to know Jesus, by influencing your family and friends to stay true to the one true God.

          And now that I mentioned Abraham it reminds me of another way we can be great blessings. Pray. Pray. Pray. For others. Like Abraham prayed for the wicked people. Like the Apostle Paul urged. “First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all those who are in authority.” Paul urges us to use four different aspects of prayer. Petition, that is asking for something. Prayer has the idea of reverent and humble asking. Intercession is a pleading on someone else’s behalf. And thanksgivings are just what they sound like, thanking God. But did you notice here that Paul isn’t  instructing us on what to pray for but whom to pray for. All people. Then specifically those in authority. Let’s return to be a blessing for our nation. If you are like me you have a visceral initial gut reaction that is negative towards our fellow citizens who are misbehaving, defying God or in some other way making a mess or things. Think of the carjackers and baby murdering abortionists. Think of how you feel when yet another government leader has their moral failings exposed. You know what should happen to them…“First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. for kings and all those who are in authority.” No matter what our political views, no matter what our opinion is about your federal state or local government officials we can be a blessing to our nation by praying for them and all the people in our country.

          And why would we do that? “In order that we might live a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.”  Brothers and sisters, praying instead of complaining, praying instead of bashing, praying for instead of cursing out is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior. We could stop there but we have more reasons. It helps us live a quiet and peaceful life with godliness and dignity. That failure of a politician could very well be in God’s plans to be a swing vote in legislation that will be a blessing. That thug might end up donating organs that will save lives of someone you know. And do we need more motivation? “God wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.” Let’s remember what’s really important, the salvation of souls. There will be no perfect nation on earth. There will be no end of sin and struggle here. But there will be an end. And whether that end is the end of earthly life here or the end of the world the eternal future of every person rests on Jesus. Only Jesus is the way to heaven. He gave His life as a ransom for all, not only for all those people in our country that irritate us and make us mad, not only for the dirty politicians, but even for people like us, who know what is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior and still would rather complain and think evil than pray, pray, pray.

          Many years ago, President Kennedy made this plea to the citizens of our country. “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country.” I’m not sure what inspired him or his speechwriter but I do hear refrains of what is good and pleasing to God our Savior as we focus not on what they or others should do but what we can do. May I suggest a change to a popular phrase? How about, “God bless America—through me!” Amen.

Monday, June 18, 2018

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


PENTECOST 4

June 16-18, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Colossians 1:3-8



“THE GOSPEL IS BEARING FRUIT AND GROWING!”

1.     Among us.

2.     Among others.

3.     Thank God!



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 21, 2018

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


PENTECOST/CONFIRMATION


May 19-21, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: John 14:25-27



“PROMISES, PROMISES!”

1.     Jesus kept His promises to you.

2.     Now you can keep your promises to Him.


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

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


EASTER 5

April 28-30, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: John 15:1-8



“YOU WILL BEAR MUCH FRUIT!”

1.     Keep your connection to Christ.

2.     Embrace pruning.

3.     All to the glory of God.



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 2, 2018

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


EASTER SUNRISE


April 1, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: 1 Peter 3:18-19



“ONLY JESUS COULD GET UP SO EARLY!”



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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