Monday, June 19, 2017

THE LORD’S PRAYER SERMON SERIES 1 June 17-19, 2017 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Psalm 103:8-14


PENTECOST 2

THE LORD’S PRAYER SERMON SERIES 1

June 17-19, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Psalm 103:8-14



“OUR FATHER”

1.     By Creation.

2.     By Redemption.

3.     By Compassion.



Psalm 103:8-14 (NIV 1984) The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor His anger forever; 10He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; 12as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14for he knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.”



          Don’t mess up God’s picture! If you have been a boy going through Confirmation Class with me and I taught you about the Lord’s Prayer you heard me say this. Don’t mess up God’s picture. Here’s how that comes up. The Lord’s Prayer starts with the Address, “Our Father in heaven.” When I begin that lesson I say, “Now boys, some day you’re going to grow up. Some of you may get married. When you are married God may give some of you children. If He does, don’t mess up God’s picture!” You see no matter how foolish people in our foolish world try to make God in their own image, calling Him she or other such nonsense the fact of the matter is when our Lord Jesus taught us to pray He told us to pray to God as Our Father. Here we are on Father’s Day. For some this is a happy day as the father God gave you is doing his sinful best to care for you like God does and that is a good thing. Count your blessings. For some today is a hard day. Maybe you are missing your earthly father as he is now in heaven. For some of you, your father messed up God’s picture. He did not take care of you like he was supposed to. He may have hurt you. Please know this was not God’s will. Every father or future father here needs to understand the privilege and honor we have to help the children of God view God properly as a much better and perfect edition of us. At the same time we need to dread the awful ability we have to mess up God’s picture. You see the Bible makes it very clear. God is our Father in heaven. That phrase that starts the Lord’s Prayer helps when we pray. If we think about it, it makes us bold in prayer and confident of a loving answer.

Let’s see how. God is our Father. First by creation. Do any of you know who is considered the Father of Electricity? It’s not Thomas Edison or Ben Franklin, but a man named William Gilbert. How about the radio we like to listen to? A man named Marconi. Getting more modern, who is considered the father of computing? It’s way before Apple. A man named Charles Babbage. Now a really important one for the kids. Who is the Father of video games? You’re right. Ralph Henry Baer.  How many did you get right? These men are all considered the “Father of” because practically speaking they got it going. Kind of sad that few people really give them the credit due, don’t you think? A similar but much worse thing has happened with God. He is the Creator of all. Sadly many don’t give Him the credit He is due. But you and I do. We are happy to know that God is our Father by Creation. He made us. We belong to Him.

          God is also our Father by Redemption. Through the prophet Isaiah God said, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Redemption signifies ownership. If you’ve ever taken the time to read the fine print on a coupon you will discover that the coupon actually belongs to the manufacturer who promises to redeem it from the store for the monetary value printed on it. Until the manufacturer buys that coupon back its lost to them. That  happened with us and God too. God our Father created us. We belong to Him. But we became lost to Him through sin.  Take any relationship you can think of: father/child, husband/wife, friend, work, what ruins those relationships? It’s always the same. Sin. Selfishness. I becomes more important than we. You all know how hard it is to mend a ruined relationship. It took the death of Jesus to buy us back from sin. God paid it, in fact He went ahead with creation knowing that going ahead meant the sacrifice of His Son to redeem us to get us back to Him. That’s the second way we belong to Him and the way He is our Father. Because He redeemed us He says, “You are mine!”

          But all of this really hinges on a characteristic of God that explains why He created, why He redeemed, why He continues to put up with us. Compassion. “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor His anger forever; 10He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; 12as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14for he knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” In my working Bible, my study bible, I have written a little note, that this is the John 3:16 of the Old Testament. Notice how it focuses our attention on how God so loves. He is more gracious, more giving than any earthly father can be. His patience is perfect as he is slow to anger. You know how dad gets mad when you do wrong or stupid things? God has the right but He gives it up. He doesn’t treat us as we deserve. Two word pictures. As high as the heavens are above the earth. How high is that?   One guess is 936 sextillion miles. See if you can get that in your calculator. But God the Father’s love for you is bigger. How far is the east from the west? They never meet. That’s how far God has removed your sins from you. As a father has compassion on his children. Gut check time dads. How are you doing with God’s picture? Do you parent with compassion? It’s needed. We all need it. Why? God knows. He remembers that we are dust.

          Unrealistic expectations can cause a world of hurt. When fathers expect their children to do something they are not capable of it frustrates the children, hurts them, makes them feel unloved. Fathers are not to do that. That’s what God meant when He said, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” God doesn’t do that with us. He doesn’t have unrealistic expectations. Now wait a minute you might be thinking. Doesn’t He demand that we live perfectly? That’s unrealistic. Yes, He does expect and deserve perfect obedience from us. But remember what He also did. He demands perfect obedience but that gave it to us by having Jesus live in place. We have His obedience. And for our sins, so that He could separate them from as far as the east is from the west, He punished Jesus in our place. This is a perfectly loving Father who does not exasperate His children.

          He knows you and me as we really are. Oh, we can come in here with our brave faces and give the standard answer, “Fine” to the expected question, “How are you doing?” but the reality is every single one of us here is broken. We are not fine. We are dust. We have weakness in trust. We have thoughts and deeds we are ashamed of and are glad other people don’t know about. But God knows. We put up a good front like we have it all together but inwardly we face often daily the gut rot of “How do I handle this one?” And God knows. He loves. He watches. He’s like dad running behind his daughter as she rides that bike without training wheels for the first time, letting her go free and feel the scares of a tippy bike but keeping her from any real danger, even though she doesn’t know it of feel like it. God is filled with compassion, a deep care that hurts when we hurt, is joyful over our success, always there when we need Him, sad when we choose to live without Him. You know, a perfect Father.

          Now what does this have to do with prayer? It’s motivation. God wants you to know that He is your Father by Creation, by Redemption and by Compassion so that you will pray to him a lot. So that you will pray to Him about everything, big things in life, like sickness or finances and little things like skinned knees and lost phones. He wants you to know that His answer whether it looks like yes or no always comes from love. He wants you to know that whether your earthly father was good or bad with His picture, you can always count on Him and He will always love you. He is your Father in Heaven. Amen.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May 27-29, 2017 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: John 15:9-17 “REMEMBER TO REMAIN IN CHRIST’S LOVE!”


EASTER 7

May 27-29, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: John 15:9-17



“REMEMBER TO REMAIN IN CHRIST’S LOVE!”

1.     It’s what He chose you for.

2.     It’s seen in loving obedience.



John 15:9-17 (NIV 1984) “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. 10If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love. 11I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are My friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name. 17This is My command: Love each other.”



          Originally it was called Decoration Day, this day we know as Memorial Day. Back in 1868 a group of veterans from the Union Army during the Civil War located in Decatur Illinois established a day for people to decorate the gravesites of Union soldiers who had died in the war. People would turn out in droves bringing flowers and other decorations, remembering those who had died. Eventually some other similar observances merged to become a national holiday. Memorial Day. Did you know that in the year 2000 Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act? It’s true. Now at 3 PM on Memorial Day all Americans are asked to stop what they are doing and to take a moment to remember those who died so we can enjoy freedom. I wonder why that was done. Do you suppose it’s because leaders in our country realized that too many Americans were not remembering? That for them Memorial Day had just become another paid holiday with a picnic if the weather is nice but too many were not remembering? You see, Memorial Day is a call to remember those who gave their lives for us.    In the words of Jesus before us today we also hear a call to remember the one who gave His life for all. Jesus calls on us to remember to remain in His love. And just like we need to as Americans check how well we are remembering those who died for our country, as Christians we need to check how well we are remembering to remain in Christ’s love.

Why? It’s what you were chosen for. Jesus said, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name.” Jesus spoke these words to His disciples as they were gathered in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday when Jesus was betrayed. He wanted them to know things were going to be different. Their relationship would different. He called them His friends. Jesus has the right to call those who follow Him anything He wants but He chooses the word friends. Why? It gets to the heart of the matter, the age old question of why you do the things that you do. Because you have to or because you want to? Servants or slaves do what they are told because they have to. Now think of how it is with a friend. Have you ever had a friend who needed you? Was it a burden to help them, or a privilege? You know.

So is the way we live our lives for Jesus. It is our sinful nature that looks at God’s commands as burdensome. It is the inborn selfishness that chooses self over others. We all know how good it feels to get chosen for a position or a promotion. Just like He chose His disciples Jesus has chosen you and me. We didn’t decide to be loved by Jesus. We didn’t choose to be in His love. He chose us as friends. Friends of the King of kings and Lord of Lords. He picked us to be his own and appointed us to bear fruit that will last that means to do things that will have results lasting all the way to eternity.

How does that happen? When we remain in Christ’s love by obeying His commands. “As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. 10If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love. 11I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are My friends if you do what I command. 17This is My command: Love each other.” Twice Jesus says it. “As I have…” As I have obeyed my Father. As I have loved you. He’s drawing our attention to the way we obey and the way we love so that we remain in His love. How did Jesus obey the Father? Perfectly probably jumps to your mind first and right there you are saying, “Well that’s not going to happen.” We know that no matter how hard we try the sinful nature even in us Christians is so strong we are not capable of perfect obedience. The only reason we are perfect in God’s eyes is because Jesus gives us His obedience. But there is another way that Jesus obeyed the Father that you and I can do. Willingly.

Children, I know that sometimes you struggle to obey your parents. And sometimes the only reason you obey them is so you don’t get in trouble, so that you don’t get punished. Did you know that doesn’t really make your parents happy? Sure they are glad that you obeyed but they don’t really enjoy forcing you. Do you know what makes them happy? Ask them. It’s when you obey willingly, because you want to without getting threatened. When you smile and say OK mommy. OK daddy. Just like Jesus said to His Father. Here I am. I have come to do your will. Not my will but yours be done. That’s love based obedience. And that’s a sign that we are remembering to stay in Christ’s love. Willing obedience. And we can do that because Jesus first loved us.

 And what to obey isn’t really hard to figure out either. “Love each other. As I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” That takes us back to Memorial Day doesn’t it? The history books are full of the true stories of soldiers who lay down their lives for their friends, who jumped on the grenade to protect the rest, who went through murderous machine gun fire to rescue an injured comrade. When you read about their heroic actions or see it replayed on TV or as a movie you easily recognize the honor of sacrificial love. As one chosen by Jesus you are uniquely equipped to see much more. You see a picture of Jesus. That’s how He loved us. He lay down His life for us.

His followers do the same. The Bible showed us the Deliverer Samson giving his life to free his people from the idol worshipping Philistines and Stephen trustingly giving his life for Jesus. Now we probably are not going to get opportunities or be asked to give our lives for each other but we certainly can live our lives for each other. Part of that is easy to figure out. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. How do you want to be treated? But Jesus adds something here. “Love each other as I have loved you,” said Jesus. Jesus cared about where we would spend our eternal lives. He gave Himself not for our perceived needs of food for our bellies and healing for our diseases. He gave Himself for our eternal needs. That’s how we show we are remaining in Christ’s love, caring about the eternal needs of others. Don’t get me wrong. Helping with physical needs is great. You’ve responded to food drives and clothing drives and shoe drives. You help each other with rides and meals when there is need. “As I have loved you,” said Jesus. “Fruit that will last,” said Jesus. When you pray for each other’s spiritual needs, when you have the Jesus talk with the family member, when you give offerings to proclaim Christ here or through missions, that’s fruit that will last. That’s loving others as we’ve been loved by Christ. It shows we are remaining in Christ’s love.

So what do you think you will do at 3 PM on Monday? Will you remember to remember? More importantly what will you do with the words of God we have heard? Remember. Remember to remain in Christ’s love. Amen.

Monday, May 1, 2017

April 29-May1, 2017 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: 1 Peter 1:17-21 “YOU DON’T BELONG HERE!”


EASTER 3

April 29-May1, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: 1 Peter 1:17-21



“YOU DON’T BELONG HERE!”

                                      1. So Live Your Lives in Reverent Fear.

                                      2. You’ve Been Redeemed.

                                      3. Your Faith and Hope are in God.



1 Peter 1:17-21 (NIV 1984) “Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 18For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, a Lamb without blemish or defect. 20He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”



          You. Don’t. Belong. Here. Those are four words. The tone with which you say them makes a big difference. “You don’t belong here!” are mean words when they are said to exclude a person from a playground game or planned sleepover. “You don’t belong here!” are loving words spoken by a mom scooping up a child whose crawling toward danger. It just matters how you say it. Through the Apostle Peter God says those four words to us today. You don’t belong here. How does He mean them? Let’s find out.

          “Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.” We call on a father who judges impartially. God doesn’t play favorites. With these words Peter reminds us that lip service to God does not cut it and never will. God did not put up with the lip service of the Jewish people even though His Son would be born from them. When they drew close to God with their lips but their hearts were far from Him God didn’t put up with it. Do you remember how they did that? Made sure they got to church each Sabbath but once they left the stole from each other and had no mercy. How would it look among us? Coming to church and then leaving only to curse at the guy who pulls out ahead of you in the parking lot or street. Worshipping God here, calling on His name for help, but then living the rest of the week with me in charge, giving no time to God, His word and prayer.

          Instead we are urged to live in reverent fear. There is a lot of fear mongering going on these days. And so you might find yourself fearing what North Korea is doing or Syria. You might fear growing crime. Maybe you fear how you will be treated as a Christian who holds to God’s Word and God’s morals in a country that more and more does not. Reverent fear is different. It means living with a desire for God’s approval and a fear of disappointing Him. Reverent fear happens when we hear God’s voice in our heads and our hearts saying “You don’t belong here looking at things that cause you to lust. You don’t belong here breaking up someone’s marriage by flirting with their spouse. You don’t belong here harming your body with drugs. You don’t belong here in this facebook post, chat room or Instagram/twitter feed that uses filthy language or is mean and derogatory.” You don’t’ belong in those places because you don’t belong here in a world filled with sin. Heaven is your home.

          Why? You are a redeemed child of God. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, a Lamb without blemish or defect. 20He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” You don’t belong here, you aren’t really a part of this world because you’ve been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ. To redeem means to buy back. They don’t seem to be real popular up here but down south there are pawn shops everywhere. If you need a little extra money you bring an item. They give you money. If you did that with something special to you, if you want your guitar or video game system back you have to buy it back. Not by God’s choosing but because Adam and Eve chose to sin they and we and all people were lost to Him. We pawned ourselves to the devil through sin. But God wanted us back. He wants us with Him in heaven. So He redeemed us. Even though God owns this entire world there is nothing in it that could pay the price so God paid the ultimate. Jesus. He came. He lived. He suffered Hell. He died. We are bought back. At the time Peter wrote this he acknowledged that the Old Testament believers didn’t know the whole story but New Testament believers like us do. It’s been revealed.

          And now we don’t belong here. We’ve been redeemed from an empty way of life. The empty way of life for people at Peter’s time included Jewish people whose religion was just a formality, a ritual. They went to church every Sabbath, they brought their tithe, they adhered to an outward keeping of the 10 Commandments but it was done just because that’s the way it was. It included Gentiles who tried to keep all their many gods happy knowing that in the end the Fates would decide what would happen to them. Today there are all kinds of empty ways of living. Think of a worker who hates his job, drudges through, gets home, falls asleep in front of the TV waking up to eat and go to bed, living for the weekend when a case of beer will make it seem bearable. Think of the teens who feel so empty only the drug high makes life bearable. Think of the millions who live to surround themselves with things only to realize to late that things don’t bring happiness. You don’t belong here says God. I’ve redeemed you. Heaven is your home. Because the tomb is empty your life is full. You get to live storing up treasures for heaven. You get to treat things as things. You get to have your  God sized heart hole filled with God. You don’t belong here.

          Your faith and hope are in God. “Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” Think of all the phrases or mottos that talk about believing. “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. – Buddha. Think of how many sports teams urge on their fan base with sayings like “You just gotta believe!” But see there’s this thing about belief. It’s only as good as what you believe in. Did you believe the Bucks would advance in the playoffs? Why didn’t they? Because you didn’t believe enough? No, they couldn’t deliver. I can believe all I want that I have the ability to fly but if I jumped off of a high rise building I would find my trust in myself misplaced. I can believe with all my heart that a board will hold my weight as I step on it to cross a narrow canyon but if it is not strong enough I will fall no matter how hard or how sincerely I believe. We don’t belong here, trusting in things or people that will inevitably let us down.

          Your faith and hope are in God. He has the power to deliver anything. Go back to Easter. God raised Jesus from the dead. He has the power to do anything. So you don’t belong here getting your hope and confidence from how much money you have saved up. You don’t belong here only being happy when things seem to be going well and getting all down and worried when you have to face obstacles or challenges or dealing with sickness and death. You don’t belong here letting your inner peace be robbed by countries and politicians behaving badly. Your faith and hope are in God who has promised never to leave you nor forsake you. Who has promised to work all things for the good. Who disciplines those He loves.  Your faith and hope are in God who gives us back our dead so you can look forward to the life to come in our real home where the peace, joy and happiness never wavers or gets robbed because we forget where we belong.

          Because, brothers and sister, you don’t belong here and neither do I. God says that us in love. He saw before the Creation of the world that it would not be the perfect place he intended. He knew we wouldn’t belong here. So from the start He planned and carried out our salvation. He committed Himself to paying the price of His Son. The next time you see a believer dying or are gathering at their funeral, remember what really happened. God said, “Shh! You don’t belong here with hurts in your heart and a body that is failing. It’s time to come home.” And until that day happens for you live in such a way that shows, you don’t belong here. Amen.


Monday, April 17, 2017

April 16-17, 2017 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Matthew 28:1-10 “GOD CARES ENOUGH TO SEND THE VERY BEST!”


EASTER

April 16-17, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Matthew 28:1-10



“GOD CARES ENOUGH TO SEND THE VERY BEST!”

1.     His Son.

2.     His angels.

3.     You!



Matthew 28:1-10 (NIV) After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." 8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."



          Hallmark Cards came up with it. An advertising slogan that stuck. “When you care enough to send the very best!” The message was clear. Anything less than a Hallmark greeting card wasn’t good enough, didn’t show enough care. If you really cared you’d send the best, a Hallmark card. Now, as my poor wife will testify I’m no greeting card giving expert and don’t actually agree with what feels like a manipulative effort to sell more  of  a specific brand of greeting cards. And yet, I have to admit there is truth behind the slogan. Love, caring, is shown by actions that match words and the depth of the love and care can in fact be measured by the quality of the sacrifice. You give your best for what is most important to you.  When you look at what God gave it’s clear that what’s most important to God is people. He cares for you and me. As we gather on this joyous Easter we see in the Easter message, God cares enough to send the very best.

          There’s a lot of joy and happiness around Easter especially if the sun is shining. American Easter customs have family dinners or Easter buffets, baskets and candy. But real Easter joy doesn’t come from those once a year things. Real Easter joy flows from the reality of death. That might sound kind of weird but let me explain. Some of have called death “Easter’s handmaiden.” In other words, death serves Easter. In a sense that is true. If there were no death there would be no Easter.

          “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.” It was early Sunday morning and Matthew tells us of two women who went to a tomb. Whose tomb? Who had died? You know. Jesus. Why had He died? Because God cared enough to send the very best. Death is Easter’s handmaiden. There would be no Easter if Jesus had not died. There would be no need for Jesus to die if people weren’t dying. And why were they dying? Why do they die today? Sin. Friends I know we live at a time and in a country where it’s just not polite to tell people what they are doing is wrong and still we can’t get away from news where people are telling other people what they are doing is wrong from anything to holding a press conference to deplaning paying passengers. The fact of the matter is the only one who gets to say to all, “This is wrong” or “This is right” is God. And when He calls something wrong, it is. Every death screams out to all people, “God is right. Sin is wrong. And because all people sin, all people die.” But that’s not the worst of it. The real wages of sin isn’t just an earthly body giving up its spirit. The real wages is the eternal death of separation from God in hell. Now you can join the 42% of Americans who believe there is no Hell if you want but it won’t change the fact that Hell is real. Nor will it change the fact that God loves people, all people, you so much He sent the very best to keep you out of Hell. He sent His Son Jesus. If you didn’t get a chance to hear a Bible based Good Friday message it was on Good Friday that Jesus Christ, the holy and perfect Son of God died after paying the punishment price for everyone’s sins. That’s why we call His death day Good. Good for us. God sent the very best.

          And God wanted people like the women who ran to Jesus’ tomb, people like you and me to know that so on Easter morning He cared enough to send the best, His angels. “There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." Angels! Angels are God’s servants. They are spirits. By nature they are invisible. They have no bodies. God has granted them powers beyond our ability to understand. Angels are very common. They are everywhere. You just don’t see them because they are spirits. One of the jobs God gives them is to protect us and they are very good at it. So good at it most of the time we are unaware of all the times they have protected us from danger and how they regularly stop the Devil and demons from harming us as they wish. In fact the only time harm comes to us is when God allows it to for the good plans He has that fit in with salvation. Angels are very common. The appearance of angels is not. In the Bible angels only appear as angels for the very import points in the history of salvation. Like Easter. Jesus Rises from the dead. God cared enough to send the very best. The women were expecting to find the dead body of their Lord. They needed to know for sure He was alive. God sent an angel. "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” It was important for the woman to be able to know and believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Everything hinges on it. The Bible itself tells us if Jesus hadn’t been raised from the dead our faith in Him is worthless. We would still have to pay for our own sins. It says if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead we are to be pitied more than anybody else for placing faith in what was not there. But Jesus did rise from the dead. Happy Easter! Our faith in him is worth everything. Our sins are paid for in full. To make sure we would know God sent the very best. Angels made the announcement that first Easter morning.

          But God wants everyone to know this. Once again He sent the very best. “Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." 8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.” Death is Easter’s handmaiden. The women went to the tomb expecting to find the dead body of a dead Jesus instead they found out He was alive.  They were filled with joy. Everything changed because Jesus lives. “Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." Others needed to know. Jesus’ disciples who thought He was dead and gone needed to know. They needed their sadness turned to joy, their despair to hope. God sent the best. These women? Yes. And you and me too. I know we don’t think we are God’s best. But we are when we carry with us the message of Easter. Especially to those who are dealing with a death.

          Easter buffets and dinners are great. But at every gathering this year someone will be missing. God has asked some of you here to deal with the death of a loved one very recently. When you gathered at the funeral or at the graveside, when you miss your loved one at the Easter table, baskets and candy won’t bring you hope and joy. But Jesus does. Hear the Easter message. Jesus is risen from the dead. That changes everything for those who died believing in Him. Remember what He said? “I am the resurrection and the life whoever believes in me will live even though he dies and whoever lives and me will never die.” And “Because I live you also will live.” Like the women, like the disciples, we have sadness at death. But God has changed that for us. He cared enough to send the very best—His Son Jesus to pay for sins and rise from the dead. Angels to make the first announcement. And now you. Whose face is missing from your Easter table? Who would you like to see there now? They may be missing from yours, but because God sent the very best they aren’t missing from the Lord’s Easter banquet. They live. And you will see them again. Comfort each other with these words. Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Amen.

Friday, April 14, 2017

April 13, 2017 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: 1 Corinthians 11:23-28 “TURN TO JESUS THROUGH WORTHY RECEPTION”


MAUNDY THURSDAY

April 13, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: 1 Corinthians 11:23-28



“TURN TO JESUS THROUGH WORTHY RECEPTION”



1 Corinthians 11:23-28  (NIV 1984)  “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.”



          Guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. If those words didn’t catch your attention the first time I read them may they do so now. They are chilling. Can you imagine standing before the Creator and hearing Him pass the judgment, “I find you guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord, my  Son, Jesus.” Let’s put some context to that. Imagine you are the one whose son was sacrificed for all. How would you feel if someone mocked his sacrifice, took it lightly? Not too happy. Guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. May it never be!

          How does that happen? When someone participates in the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy way. Please note it doesn’t say when someone who is unworthy participates. No one is worthy, no one deserves to be able to take the Lord’s Supper. It says when someone eats or drinks in an unworthy manner. As we observe the day when Jesus first gave this gift to the Church it’s a good time for us to review how to receive the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner.

          Repent. Turn to Jesus. That’s been the theme of our special services for Lent this year and continues to be today. And that single word repent when understood correctly is all the guidance we need to receive the Lord’s Supper in a worthy way. And we need that guidance, just like the brothers and sisters in the Christian church at Corinth did. As we piece together clues in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians we see a picture of a Christian congregation in conflict. And it showed in their celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Instead of a beautiful forgiveness meal of unity they had turned it into a celebration of self indulgence complete with drunkenness. It might be hard from the way we practice to think how they could be but it appears that before the Lord’s Supper the congregation had what some call an agape meal, a Christian love feast, like a church potluck only with plenty of wine available. And some drank too much before the Lord’s Supper. Some had terrible manners, cutting in line. Some saw it as a chance to eat for week. The rich members didn’t want to have to be near the poor members. Those who had liked Pastor Paul the best didn’t want to be with those who now liked Pastor Apollos better. Instead of focusing on forgiveness they focused their factions. Instead of turning to Jesus they turned on each other.

          So God stepped in though Paul. For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me. 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” Hey, Corinthians, this isn’t your supper to do with as you please. This is the Lord’s Supper to do with as He pleases. Celebrate the way He did. Be thankful. Use bread. Use the cup which has grape wine in it. Eat and drink. Understand that in a miracle this is Jesus’ body. This is Jesus’ blood. This is for forgiveness. Remember what He has done. Keep doing this as a proclamation of what Jesus did on the cross and that He will come again.

          Then it goes on. “Therefore.” Therefore—because this is so important, because this is the Lord’s Supper, not yours—”Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.” Those who take the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner sin not against bread and wine but against the very body and blood of Jesus. So how were the Corinthians to change? How can we make sure we receive in a manner worthy of the Lord’s Supper? Repent. Turn to Jesus. A man ought to examine himself. A simple question could do. “Am I repentant?”

          There is a whole lot of meaning in that one word. Some define it quickly as being sorry. Literally it means a complete change of mind or to think differently about sin. I think repentance is best seen with flesh on it. That’s what our lessons were today. They were examples of repentance in action. Let’s look at them again. The first lesson is a portion of the parable of the prodigal son, the lost son or the incredibly loving father, however you know it. Jesus showed us a man who thought it was fun to live a sinful life and waste his father’s possessions. But then he repented. He had a complete change of mind about what he was doing. He acknowledged it as sin. We need to as well. In every generation of believers there seem to be certain sins that are acceptable, you know, just kids being kids, sowing the wild oats. What is it among us? Being mean to other kids in school? Bad language? Looking at dirty pictures? Getting drunk or being sexually active before marriage? Disrespecting those we don’t like? Repent. Have a change of mind. Acknowledge your sin as sin and if you do not want to do that do not take the Lord’s Supper. You will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.

          Our second lesson we heard about in our Lenten services. Peter. Peter who had just hours before been warned about denying Jesus. Peter boldly trusting his own power to resist over the power of Jesus’ words. Peter, having a complete change of mind about his sin. No brash boasting. He went out and wept bitterly. I can’t think of the last time that I wept bitterly when I realized I sinned. Maybe you can. But we all need to have a feeling of remorse over sin. Not pride. Not a belittling that it was no big deal, rather a change of mind. Savior, what have I done to you? I caused you to suffer. I am sorry. That’s repentance.

          Turn to Jesus. Sorrow without Jesus led Judas to hang himself. Our third lesson showed us a man who acknowledged his sin, who was remorseful about it and who turned to his Savior. The tax collector in Jesus’ parable in humility pleaded for mercy. That too is repentance. Jesus, you are my only chance, my only hope. Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling. Father, for Jesus’ sake, forgive me. Jesus told us this man when home, justified, forgiven. That’s what the Lord’s Supper says too. You are forgiven!

          And forgiveness freely given changes our minds about sin. We don’t want them. We want to make them right. That’s what our last lesson showed us, a man who wanted to do things differently now that he had Jesus in his life. Zacchaeus, freely of his own accord, turned away from his sin and wanted it to show. What change of mind will you have toward sin? Hey, I’m going to be nice tomorrow at school. No more lying even if it means I get in trouble.

          That’s repentance. Acknowledging sin as sin, remorse over it, turning to Jesus for merciful forgiveness and that desire to turn away from sin. A man ought to examine himself. You and I need to examine ourselves. Am I repentant? And the answer to that question is so important because only the repentant receive the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner.

          The Bible doesn’t tell us how all the Corinthian church members responded to what Paul wrote to them. In his second letter though there is evidence that many listened. May there be evidence in our hearts and lives that we’ve listened too, so that every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we turn to Jesus through worthy reception. Amen.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

April 5, 2017 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Mark 14:32-38 REPENT! TURN TO JESUS WHEN YOU FACE TEMPTATION.


April 5, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Mark 14:32-38



REPENT!

TURN TO JESUS WHEN YOU FACE TEMPTATION.



Mark 14:32-38  “They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything

is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to

Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and

pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”



          In our Thursday morning Bible Class a few weeks ago we found ourselves doing reading from the book of Proverbs. One of the repeating themes in Proverbs is how wise it is to listen to advice. Where do you turn to for advice on handling temptation? As far as I know there is no newspaper or online advice group. I did find plenty of advice on how to handle the temptation to eat when you are on a diet—take a walk, drink more water, etc. But what about the temptation to sin? In the early Christian church it seems there was a sect that said physical things really didn’t matter only spiritual did. Apparently their advice on handling temptation was give in, then you won’t be tempted anymore! Kind of seems that would be like diet advice that says eat as much as you can until you are full and then you won’t be hungry. True enough. But there are consequences. Just like there are consequences for sin. Tonight we turn to Jesus for wisdom on how to face temptation.

          Jesus is a temptation fighting expert. The Bible tells us Jesus was tempted in every way just like we are yet was without sin. Can you imagine? All the thoughts we have, the desires, they came to Jesus too, trying to lead Him to sin. But He never did. A few weeks ago one of the Sunday readings recorded how the Devil tempted Jesus to sin. But Jesus defeated each and every one we are told about as well as all the ones we aren’t. As we follow the Passion History we see Jesus again dealing with Temptation.

“They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” I have heard people say that bunion surgery and recovery is extremely painful. In fact some have refused a second surgery because of what they went through in the first. Knowing what it would be like is too terrifying. Imagine the raw fear coursing through the heart of our Savior Jesus as he stands at the precipice of making payment for the sins of the world. As true God and true man Jesus is uniquely qualified to dread the events of the morrow. He knows what the wages of sin really means: cut off from God and His goodness, forsaken, despair. Certainly the temptation was there to turn away from it. Instead he turned to God in prayer. There is love expressed. “Abba, Father.” There is trust expressed. “Everything is possible for you.” There is a request. “Take this cup from me.” What’s in the cup? Punishment. Punishment for Cain’s murder, for Noah’s drunkenness, for David’s adultery, for Judas’ betrayal, for Peter’s denial, for our despising of God’s word, our lovelessness, our greed, our lust. Finally there is beautiful submission in prayer.  “Yet, not what I will, but what you will.” Thy will be done. That’s how Jesus handled temptation. He watched. He was aware of what he was about to face. He prayed. He put His trust in His Father.

That’s how those who turn to Jesus handle temptation too. “Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” The disciples did not have the urgency that Jesus had. While He watched and prayed, they slept. Jesus’ words have stuck in the minds of believers from then on. Watch. Be on your guard. Understand that the times and days are evil, that the Devil is real and he desires nothing less than your very soul for eternity. Watch. Do you? Are you on your watch when you watch TV for instance? I think we will all readily admit there are some things on TV that are no good, sinful. As far as I know, none of us have made the decision to have no TV at all. Then we must watch as we watch. Is Christ living in me comfortable with what my eyes are seeing? Am I becoming desensitized to what is wrong? How many times have hunters missed out because their eyes grew weary of watching? How many times have thieves found easy prey because people grew careless? How many times have we got sucked into sin because we were not watchful?

Pray. Prayer is how we get to talk to God. Prayer admits something. We are in God’s hands. He can do what we cannot. When prayer is done rightly, like that of Jesus, it expresses love, trust, request and submission to God’s will. Praying to God admits that we are helpless on our own but with Him we can do anything. Prayer focuses our attention on God and what He desires instead of sin and its desires. As we turn to Jesus when we face temptation we hear His voice reminding us to watch and pray.

If only Judas had, he would not have betrayed. If only Peter had he would not have denied. If only I had I would not have…We are living proof that while the spirit is willing the flesh is weak. But Jesus isn’t weak. Jesus successfully resisted every temptation. Jesus didn’t turn away from the cross. Jesus did that to save sinners like you and me, whose spirit is wiling but whose flesh is weak. It is true that Satan is very good at tempting. He will at times get us to fall. Too bad for Satan that as good as he is at tempting, Jesus is perfect at saving. Amen.




Monday, March 27, 2017

March 25-27, 2017 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Matthew 20:20-28 “CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?”


LENT 4

March 25-27, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Matthew 20:20-28



“CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?”

1.     Not when we focus on ourselves.

2.     Only when we focus on Christ.



Matthew 20:20-28 (EHV) Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to him with her sons, kneeling and asking something of him. 21He said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Promise that in your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit, one on your right hand and one on your left hand.” 22But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are.” 23He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not for me to give; rather these places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” 24When the ten heard this, they were angry with the two brothers. 25But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26It will not be that way among you. Instead whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first among you will be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”



          It seems to be building every year, this polarizing of America. From presidents and politics to policing and moral issues it seems more and more that it is impossible for people to have a civil discussion, to be able to disagree without getting disagreeable. And so a husband and wife divorce over the results of an election. And a fitness center in Scranton, PA bans its members from watching national news programs while working out.” Why?” you ask. Too many fights had to be broken up. You find yourself asking, “Can’t we all just get along?” But this nastiness isn’t always just out there on the news, is it? There can be angry yelling and nastiness in the workplace, with our classmates and in our own homes. “Can’t we all just get along?” Sad to say lack of civility and common kindness is nothing new. The sinful nature of human beings is hardwired to inhuman behavior. We see it in the word of God today with Jesus’ disciples. But we also see the solution.

          If any group on earth was going to be able to get along, you would think it would be a group of people led by Jesus. Throw out all your books on leadership and management styles, you cannot improve on Jesus. He is God. He is perfect. His example is flawless. But what do see among His followers? They can’t get along. “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to him with her sons, kneeling and asking something of him. 21He said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Promise that in your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit, one on your right hand and one on your left hand.” At first glance this does not seem very egregious. A mother wants what’s best for her sons. Is there any mother here today who does not look out for her children? Of course you do. It’s your privilege and your job. But this goes beyond taking care of the needs of children. What the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, wants comes at the expense of others. Give them more honor than the rest of the disciples.

          The response of the other disciples is sadly predictable. “When the ten heard this, they were angry with the two brothers.” Angry. Indignant. Mad. Why? You wanted better for yourselves than us? You think you are greater than we are? Hey, wait a minute. Can’t we all just get along? No. Not when you focus on yourself. Not when your view greatness as having more power, control and prestige than others. Not when your guiding principle is “What’s  in it for me?” Not when your measure of what is good and right or should happen comes through the filter of only if it’s good for me and mine. The sinful nature is hardwired to be selfish, self-centered and focused on self.

          God had a different James tell us plainly (James 4:1-3) “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”  This is why people can’t get along. This why we can’t always get along. By nature we are focused on ourselves.

          But we don’t have to be that way with Christ in our lives.  Look at how Jesus answered the original request. “But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are.” 23He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not for me to give; rather these places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” James and John wanted to be active in Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus reminded them that following Him means drinking his cup. Naturally, especially at this time of year, we think of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane for His Father to take the cup of suffering away from Him. No one else can drink that cup but the God man Jesus Christ who suffered for the sins of the world. There is another way we can think of this cup, a cup that refreshes. While Jesus suffered greatly the Bible tells us in the book of Hebrews that for the joy set before Him Jesus’ endured the cross, scorning its shame. In other words, the cross was awful but it gave Jesus such joy to save sinners that it was worth it to Him.

          Perhaps that’s why Jesus said what He did next. “You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26It will not be that way among you. Instead whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first among you will be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Here’s how we can all get along. Focus on Jesus. Jesus’ disciples needed to learn that greatness in the kingdom of God does not come from grabbing power, authority or prestige for yourself. It doesn’t come from looking out for number one. It comes from serving the needs of others. Like Jesus did. The number one need of all people is to be rescued, ransomed from the eternity in Hell that everyone earns for themselves by sinning. Only Jesus could fill that need. Only He is the perfect Son of God whose loving sacrifice is enough to pay for the sins of the world. So he did it, even though it was not easy, even though the thought of it caused Him to pray in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

          Can’t we all just get along? Yes, when we focus on Jesus. When we see what He did for us, His love, His sacrifice our selfish hearts get changed into selfless hearts. Me first is replaced with you first. Please self is replaced with a eager desire to please Jesus and you find you can get along. I see that here at St. Jacobi. Some of you know that thousands and thousands of volunteer hours are put in. For a Bible Class last fall I did a quick count and discovered that 343 different communicant members were serving here in some way. Recently we got almost 9000 pieces of mail ready for three different mailings. That’s a lot of serving. Sometimes when I see you serving I actually remember to say Thank you. Do you know what the most common response that I get when I thank members for serving? No, it’s not “You’re welcome.” It’s “No. Thank you. It’s my privilege.” Now we are talking about work here. You’re drinking the cup. You are keeping your eyes on Jesus. I think that’s why for the most part, we all get along.

          But this isn’t something for us to limit to our church life. We can do it in our home lives and our work lives, our school lives and our play lives. Think of the joy set before you that comes when husband serve the needs of wives and vice versa, when parents serve children and children serve parents. Imagine the difference in a workplace where employers are sensitive to the needs of employees and employees to the greater good of the company. And there was a president many years ago who said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Can’t we all just get along? Yes, when our eyes are on Jesus.

          You know that tells us what our most important task is. If we want our homes blessed, our workplace blessed, our country blessed, then we need the people there able to keep their eyes on Jesus. For your homes make sue Jesus is present daily in devotion and prayer. For your workplace, let your light shine. Pray to be used as a witness. For our country we need to fund and carry out as much Gospel ministry as we can. Only believers can keep their eyes on Jesus. You are. You will. Let’s pray and work for many more. Amen.