Thursday, December 1, 2016

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


MIDWEEK ADVENT 1

November 30, 2016

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Luke 1:46-55



“GET READY FOR CHRISTMAS!”

LIKE MARY DID WITH MEANINGFUL PRAISE.

1.     It comes from a humble heart.

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



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, November 21, 2016

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


CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY

November 19-21, 2016

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Luke 23:35-43



“JESUS IS THE KING!

1.     Even though many reject Him.

2.     Even though it may not look like it.

3.     Great news for those in need of mercy.



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 7, 2016

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


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

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

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

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

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



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

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



Here is “Foresight about Arranging Your Departure”

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

Monday, October 31, 2016

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


REFORMATION

October 29-31, 2016

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: John 8:31-47



“TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES!”

1.     At Jesus’ Time.

2.     At Luther’s Time.

3.     In our Time.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

October 8-10, 2016 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: 2 Timothy 2:8-13 “A CHRISTIAN SURVIVAL GUIDE”


PENTECOST 21

October 8-10, 2016

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: 2 Timothy 2:8-13



“A CHRISTIAN SURVIVAL GUIDE”

1.     Remember Christ.

2.     Resist the easy way.

3.     Rely on God’s promises.



2 Timothy 2:8-13 (NIV 1984) Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my Gospel, 9for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s Word is not chained. 10Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. 11Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12if we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us; 13if we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.”



                 In case you haven’t noticed we are in an election year. Haven’t noticed? Are you kidding? Non stop commercials. Unsolicited phone calls, e-mails, mailings. Debates bumping out your favorite shows. Almost non stop news coverage. Some people have jokingly (I think!) offered Election survival guides. They urge you to get the sleep mask, the sound deadening headphones or to binge watch every episode of Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune. Anything to get you past the November election. How am I ever going to survive? We may say that tongue in cheek for the Election but maybe we should be asking that in a more important way. How will we Christians survive? We are past the time when Christian themes and morals were dominant in our country, probably in the time when Christian themes and morals are tolerated and probably moving to the time when Christians can expect persecution. Cause for worry? Remember what we talked about last week? There’s nothing new under the sun. The word of God we get to look at today was written by the Apostle Paul nearing the end of his life to encourage a young pastor named Timothy. He provided a Christian survival guide for him that serves us too.

                 He urges us first to Remember Christ. Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my Gospel, 9for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s Word is not chained.” At the time the Apostle Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy he was sitting in a Roman prison. This was his second imprisonment. Unlike the first time when he was basically under house arrest, this time it seems he was in the real prison, chained like a common criminal. He took the time to pass on to Timothy truths he would need to survive. “Remember Jesus Christ!” he said. Sounds strange. Who would forget Jesus? Paul knew how clever Satan is a distracting believers. He’s still pretty good at it. Think of the many different things in life that demand your attention. Job demands. Health needs of your children or your parents.  Crime. Elections. Buzzing cellphones. Children’s activities. The latest gossip on Facebook. I’m not sure what Timothy faced but we sure have a lot of things going on and if we are not careful they distract from what or rather who is most important. I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that if I polled you on the importance of daily Bible reading most if not all of you would say that it is very important. And if I polled you to answer honestly whether it is happening or not I would get less than a majority. I think the same thing is true for weekly worship. Yet it does not always happen. Think of what prevents you. It’s not that you think it is unimportant. You get distracted. I have to this and there and this needs getting done. Remember Christ. If we are going to survive and thrive as Christians we need to deliberately Remember Christ who died but rose again. Who promised that where 2 or 3 come together there He is, who gave us a faith sustaining meal called the Lord’s Supper where we remember Him. Remember Christ.

                 And resist the easy way. “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” When things get hard for Christians because they are Christians a very natural response is to seek the path of least resistance, take the easy way out. Paul could have done that. He was in prison for proclaiming Jesus Christ as the true God and Lord, the Savior of the world. He could have gotten out of prison by keeping his mouth shut and calling Caesar Lord. But he refused to take the easy way. He endured. He stayed in prison. Why? For the sake of the elect. So that others would be saved. Even though Paul was in chains God’s word was not chained. There was work to be done.

                 Resist the easy way is another tool we need to remember so that we survive and thrive as Christians in a country that isn’t so Christian anymore. When pressures are brought to bear when there are more people belittling the Bible than believing the Bible when Christian truth isn’t popular any more the easy way is to shut up and go away. Or to practice our faith privately. Or to give in and give up what we know is true. Resist the easy way. The easy way is often not the right way. If we stop living our lives with Christ as Lord, if we stop living our lives as lights for Jesus those around us who need Jesus lose out. They need us. They need us to stay faithful to Jesus so they can be pulled to Him too.

                 But to do that we will need to rely on God’s promises. “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12if we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us; 13if we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.” It seems from the way this was originally recorded in the Bible that the early Christian church used this trustworthy saying as maybe a hymn or a creed, something everyone could hold on to because they needed it. If we died with Him, we will also live with Him. Notice it says “died.” Past tense. When did we die with Christ? The same Apostle Paul who is writing here wrote this to the Christians in Rome, “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. We were therefore buried with him through Baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:3-4 NIV 1984) At your Baptism you died with Him. Don’t try to figure it out. Just enjoy that it is true. God’s promise is that we will live with Him. Jesus is with us now and we will continue to live with Him in heaven. That brings us to our second promise. If we endure we will also reign with Him. Endure. Don’t give up. Don’t give up if trusting in Jesus means you have to be chained like a common criminal as Paul was. Don’t give up if you get made fun of at work or college. Don’t give up is some family members turn on you. Endure, hold on to the faith entrusted to you at your Baptism and God promises you will not just live in heaven you will reign with Jesus. Again, don’t try to figure it out, just enjoy that it is true. And to help us when the going gets rough this is also true. If we disown Him, He will also disown us. Paul is just paraphrasing what Jesus said, “Whoever acknowledges me men, him will I acknowledge before my Father in heaven and whoever disown me before men, him will I disown before my Father in heaven. There is no more devastating sin consequence wise than disowning Jesus, giving him up. Young people here today, remember this. You are often the Devil’s prime targets. You go off to college. Your faith gets challenged. You get distracted from remembering Jesus. You forget to regularly worship. You forget to remember Jesus at Lord’s Supper. Somebody special comes into your life and in your love for that person who does not believe and does not want you to believe you disown. Don’t do that. You will force Him to disown you. This too is a promise from God that we can rely on. Now if some of you are worried that this has happened to your children or grandchildren hold on to this promise as well. If we are faithless he will remain faithful. He cannot disown Himself. It’s not too late. God has clearly proclaimed in His word His joy at seeing the straying return. He remains faithful to that and no disowner who returns to own will be turned away.

                 Remember Christ. Resist the easy way. Rely on God’s promises. As Paul’s life drew to a close he passed on those survival truths to Timothy who would need them. And there’s nothing new under the sun. We need those truths too. Thank God we have them. Amen.

Monday, October 3, 2016

October 1-3, 2016 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4 “THE RIGHTEOUS WILL LIVE BY FAITH!”


PENTECOST 20

October 1-3, 2016

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4



“THE RIGHTEOUS WILL LIVE BY FAITH!”

1.     An often asked question.

2.     A most certain answer.

3.     A “simple” solution.



Habakkuk 1:1-3, 2:1-4 (NIV1984) “The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet received.2How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? 3Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. 1I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. 2Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. 3For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. 4“See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright—but the righteous will live by his faith.”



          King Solomon said it some 3000 years ago. In fact God had it written down in the Bible so you know it’s true. There’s nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Things that happen today have happened before and will continue to happen. Certainly that’s true when it comes to what goes on in the hearts of God’s people. Things that you and I experience other believers have experienced too. Things that make us happy. Things that bother us. Things that worry us. There’s nothing new under the sun. How thankful we can be that God knows this about us and has provided what we need to live as God’s people in our time and our place.

          He does that for us today through a prophet named Habakkuk. His short three chapter book provides a Bible quote that was repeated in the New Testament and those of you familiar with Lutheran history hold on to and appreciate. The righteous will live by faith. Let’s see what led up to that truth.

          “The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet received.2How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? 3Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.” Habakkuk lived about 600 years before Jesus was born. It was not an easy time for those who loved God and trusted in Him. The government wasn’t doing its job very well. There was violence in the streets. Not exactly safe for law abiding citizens to live their lives. There was injustice.  Guilty people going free. The people of God were hurting so Habakkuk voiced their complaint. It’s an often asked question. How long O Lord? How long O Lord until you do something about it? Here is the heart of the matter and why it is so important for you and I to study this word of God today. Look at what has happened to the view of God that his people back then had. Habakkuk is the emissary, the spokesman for all of God’s people but look at how he talks…to God. Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? There is an edge there. Blaming God. Resentful toward Him. Doubt that He knows what He is doing and is really in control.

          Now there is nothing new under the sun. We also live at a time and in a place where there is violence in the streets, when many people feel the government is not doing its job. We hear or voice many complaints about injustice in our country. Many of you who served in WWII or have loved ones who did wonder what’s going on. As you have seen immorality grow into blatant rejection of Jesus you say, “This is not what we sacrificed for. This is not why they died.” How long O Lord will you let this go on? How much worse will you let it get? Then it goes to our personal lives. Perhaps a loved one is dealing with cancer or addiction. Maybe there is family strife or a child dealing with difficulty or straying or disobedient. You have committed the matter to the Lord in prayer. Nothing has changed. Lord how long? Why aren’t you listening? When will you come and help me? How long O Lord?” There’s nothing new under the sun. It’s an often asked question.

          Habakkuk was trying to be a good pastor, to represent the needs of his people to God. He said, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.”       I don’t think this is the attitude of arms crossed angry posturing toward God. His heart hurt. The people’s heart hurt. They were hoping to hear from God. They were not disappointed. “Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. 3For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” God had an answer for His people, a certain answer. It was so certain he wanted it written on tablets, written in stone. That message revealed in the rest of Habakkuk was that the evil government would not last. God would topple it at just the right time with some invaders known as the Babylonians. And when God was done using the Babylonians He would get rid of them too. God had it covered. It was all in His control. He was using the evil and injustice to advance His real plan which is the salvation of souls. They simply needed to wait for the appointed time.

          Brothers and sisters, there is nothing new under the sun. When you and I see things going on in the world, terrorism and injustice, when we see things going on in our own country, dirty politics, when we find ourselves struggling in our families or personal lives, chronic issues that don’t seem to go away. People seeming to get away with ongoing evil. God has a certain answer for us. I’ve got it. It’s under control. I am working as I have always done on the primary goal of the salvation of souls. Any action that needs to be done simply is awaiting its appointed time.  There’s nothing new under the sun. God has it under control.

          And now we get to that well known phrase which offers a very simple solution to those whose hearts are hurting and wonder how long they have to wait for God to come and help. “See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright—but the righteous will live by his faith.” The puffed up one here refers to the evil doers that were bothering Habakkuk and his people. God opposes the proud. They would get theirs. But then that phrase. “The righteous will live by his faith.” When the Apostle Paul quoted this passage in the New Testament he emphasized the fact that we are declared righteous by faith in Jesus Christ alone and what He has done for us. But there is another nuance here. Those who are righteous through faith in Jesus will live, need to live now, by faith. Faith is believing in what you don’t see. Faith is trusting in God to come through for you before He has come through for you.

          That’s why in the service folder when I wrote a “simple” solution I put simple in quotes. It really is a simple concept. It’s really difficult to consistently live. Here is the simple concept. If God said it, you can trust it, 100% all the time. So when He says He has plans for you and they will prosper you and not harm you, you can trust that all the time. You can trust it when your plans seem to go the way you want and when what you wanted to accomplish fails. It’s His plans that you can trust, not yours. When He says that He works all things for good and you have an unexpected health problem you can trust that all even means a cancer or a fall. When He says that the blood of Jesus His Son has cleansed you from every sin you can trust that even when your conscience tells you you are still guilty.  The righteous will live by his faith. He trusts what God says even when his eyes don’t see the evidence or his mind and heart tell him the opposite. A simple concept.

          But not easy to do. Brothers and sisters living by faith and not by sight is not something you can talk yourself into. You can’t go to a big faith pep rally get all whooped up and come back with the ability to live by faith. That ability is given by God through His word. “Faith comes from hearing the message,” God said. We can trust that to be true. If you are having a hard time living that simple concept, if the hurts and worries of life are driving a wedge between you and God, check your daily schedule. Is there time each day where you hear the word? Faith comes from that and then you, the righteous, will live by your faith. Amen.

Monday, September 5, 2016

September 3-5, 2016 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Philemon 1, 10-21 “LOOK WHAT JESUS LETS YOU DO!”


PENTECOST 16

September 3-5, 2016

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Philemon 1, 10-21



“LOOK WHAT JESUS LETS YOU DO!”

1.     You can stop offending.

2.     You can let it go.

3.     You can be a peacemaker.



Philemon 1:1, 10-21 (NIV1984) “Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker, 10I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 11Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.12I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the Gospel. 14But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced. 15Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good—16no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord. 17So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.”



          It always seems to come down to people, the people in your life. People can be a source of great joy and happiness. Think of the joys parents get from their children, the happiness a husband can provide for his wife, a wife for her husband, the joy of true friendship, the camaraderie at work. It works the other way too. People can cause you great heartache and you can cause heartache to others. Think again of parents and children, husbands and wives, friends and co-workers. It comes down to relationships and because of sin many relationships can suffer. God’s Good News for us today is that with Jesus in our lives we have what we need for our relationships to be a source of joy and not heartache. Look what Jesus lets you do!

          For instance He lets you, enables you to stop offending. When a relationship goes bad it’s because one or both parties in that relationship have caused hurt or offense by sin. In the word of God before us today the offender is named Onesimus. The book of Philemon is a very short book of the Bible, just 25 verses. It’s also a very personal book of the Bible. The Apostle Paul writes a personal letter to a man named Philemon regarding Onesimus. Onesimus had offended Philemon. How? He was a runaway slave. A word on slavery. In the Bible God does not condone slavery but as hard as this might sound to American ears, He doesn’t forbid it either. What He does do is teach Christian slaves and slaveowners how to live in a slave owning society to the glory of God. Anyway, Onesimus had run away from his master Philemon. By doing so he had stolen from Philemon. Philemon was out the money he had paid and the work he had hoped to accomplish. If we read between the lines of verse 18 Onesimus probably had not left empty handed. Probably stole some money to live on as he ran away. Onesimus, whose name means “profitable” had become very unprofitable for Philemon. Onesimus was the offender.

          But he stopped offending. How? “Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker, 10I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 11Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.12I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the Gospel. 14But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced. 15Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good—16no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.” Somehow (we know how!) after running away Onesimus came in contact with Paul, heard the Gospel message of a Savior for all people, even slaves, named Jesus.  The presence of Jesus in Onesimus’ heart changed him. He wanted to make things right. He needed to go back to Philemon. You can imagine his fear, his worries but his connection to Christ meant he needed to make things right.

          Your connection to Christ means you need to make things right too. Look what Jesus lets you do! You can stop offending. Now I want you to think of your relationships. Are there any that are broken right now? If so take an honest look. We all know how easy it is to blame others. But as Christians we know we need to look in the mirror first, the mirror of God’s law. Do I have a sharp tongue? Were the words that I said, true as they were, not spoken in love? Have I let drugs or alcohol or pornography get a hold of my life harming the people in my life? Brothers and sisters, if the mirror shows us we are the offender we can stop. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Believers in Jesus have beat drug addiction and alcohol abuse. They have quit porn. They have learned to say and mean those hard words, “I’m sorry.” If you are having trouble, give your pastors a call. We can help you with God’s words and point you to other help if you need that as well. Don’t let those relationships suffer. Look what Jesus lets you do! You, like Onesimus can stop offending.

          And you can let it go if you are the one hurt. Most of the time when relationships have trouble there can be fault on both sides. Oftentimes there is more on one side than the other. Such is the case with Philemon and Onesimus. Philemon was living in slave owning society. He was a believer in Jesus. We are not told what kind of master he was but he had suffered loss. A successful escape would only embolden others. If Onesimus came back to him what should he do? Why make an example of him of course. The law back then allowed all kinds of punishments for escaped slaves, including death. Masters who were too easy on their slaves were looked at as inciting violence and rebellion. How should Philemon handle this? “So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.”

          What should Philemon do? Let it go. He needed to welcome Onesimus back just as he would Paul, a brother in the Lord. Why? Jesus. “If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.” Somehow (we know how!) through the ministry of Paul Philemon had become a believer in Jesus. He was freed from the slavery of  sin, death and the devil through Paul’s work. In that sense he owed a debt of love. So instead of collecting on the debt owed by Onesimus Philemon could let it go. Not in the Frozen way, in the forgiveness way. As someone who had experienced forgiveness from Christ Philemon could forgive as well.

          So can you. You can let it go. In the best case scenario the person who has hurt or offended you will like Onesimus come back and apologize. When that happens there is a part of us that thinks, “Well I will, but only after you’ve paid a bit. You need to hurt like I hurt.” Make sense. But it’s not Christ’s way. Look what Jesus lets you do. You can let it go and forgive and welcome that person back into your life as a brother or sister in Christ. What if they are not sorry? Still Jesus lets you let it go. Through Christ you can put it into the hands of the heavenly Father who knows just what that person who offended you needs, mercy or justice.

          There’s one more thing Jesus lets you do when it comes to relationships. You can be a peacemaker. Paul found himself in the unique position of knowing both parties, the offender and the offended. He knew both of their stories. He knew what Jesus would let him do, be a peacemaker, one who could intercede on behalf of another. Is that you? Are you the person, neither offended nor offender, who knows both and the misunderstandings and the hurts and the fears? Nobody should be a meddler or a busybody but in some cases the one that God wants to use to bring reconciliation is you! Look what Jesus lets you do.

          Jesus is the big difference maker in all of our lives. When Pastor Martin Luther studied this letter to Philemon he concluded, “We are Christ’s Onesimi!” In other words he saw a picture of Jesus. As he read of how Paul interceded on behalf of Onesimus he was reminded of how Jesus has interceded with the heavenly Father on our behalf. We the offenders. He the offended. We know how that has turned out. God let it go. That’s what Jesus enabled God to do. And with God it’s all about people. What joy we bring to Him when we follow His lead. Amen.