Monday, December 4, 2017

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


ADVENT 1

December 2-4, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

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



“WAIT!”

1.     God saves.

2.     God’s people obey.



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

November 19th, 2017 Saints Triumphant

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

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

Monday, November 13, 2017

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


LAST JUDGMENT

November 11-13, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11



JESUS DOESN’T LEAVE YOU IN THE DARK

1. About His Return on Judgment Day.

2. About What To Do Until It Happens.

3. About What Will Come Next.



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

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

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

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

Monday, October 23, 2017

October 21-23, 2017 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Isaiah 5:1-7   “LISTEN TO A SAD SONG!”


PENTECOST 20

October 21-23, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Isaiah 5:1-7



“LISTEN TO A SAD SONG!”

1.     Old Testament Israel made it that way.

2.     It didn’t have to be that way.

3.     We can change the tune!



Isaiah 5:1-7 (NIV 1984) “I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. 2He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. 3“Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 4What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? 5Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. 6I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.” 7The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.”



          Many of those who grew up in Wisconsin are familiar with the Gordon Lightfoot ballad, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” Are you? It’s a sad song with a mournful melody that recounts the loss at sea of the iron ore freighter the Edmund Fitgerald. Twenty nine men died in the cold waters of Lake Superior or “gitche gumee” on a fateful night in November of 1975. It’s one of those songs that I find hard to get out of my head and my heart. It’s such a sad song. Kind of like the song Isaiah sings in God’s Word today. It too is a sad song.

          Listen again to some of the sad lyrics. “I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. 2He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Isaiah sings a song for the one he loves. It’s a song to God. It’s a song about a vineyard. The vineyard owner obviously loves his vineyard. He placed it on a fertile hillside. He removed all the stones and if you have ever studied the topography and geology of Israel you know what a mammoth task that would be, so much hard work. The vines planted were not the leftovers from Menards at the end of the season sale. He puts in the choicest of vines. He puts a watchtower in it to watch over it and joyfully put in a winepress anticipating all the grapes that would be produced by a vineyard that had been given everything with no expenses spared. So far the song sounds good. But then it turns sad. “Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. 5Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. 6I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it” How sad and disappointing. The vineyard that received so much love and care yielded only bad fruit. It would have to be destroyed.

Now I know we are used to parables in the Bible being told by Jesus but here is one in the Old Testament too. We don’t have to guess at its meaning. “The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.” God has Isaiah talking about Old Testament Israel, the nation, the people. God was expecting Christian living from them, fruits of faith. He expected to see people that protected the innocent and punished the guilty, people that cared for each other’s needs. He was looking for love, gentleness, humility, reverence for God. What he saw was selfishness, perversion, greed, gluttony and mocking of God. Because of their rejection of God. They too were rejected. God took away their protection. He took away the rain of His Word. Those who deserted the Lord became a desert. It’s a sad song.

It’s even more sad because it could have been prevented. That’s the definition of a tragedy, a great loss that didn’t have to happen. In the middle of the song God asks, “Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 4What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?” Two questions. First God asks, “What more could I have done?” That has an obvious answer. Nothing. God graciously gave those people everything they needed. His word. Prophets to point them to truth. Special protection. Everything they needed and more. Question two. Why? Why did it yield bad fruit? This didn’t have to happen. Why did it? Why did those who had been given everything reject?

Now that’s an important question for the people gathered here today. Think about it. Could a wreck like that of the Edmund Fitzgerald happen again? Today radar is so much better, storm prediction so much better. Anyone who would go out on Lake Superior when the gales of November come early would be foolish today. So would Christians who give up their faith in Jesus. Honestly haven’t we been given more by God than Old Testament Israel? We have the whole Bible. We have the dots connected to Jesus. We have more history to learn from. Why would we yield bad fruit? Are we taking God’s word for granted? Are we letting it get crowded out of our lives? I watch trends. I’m a watchman for you the people of God. It seems that for those Christians who grew up in the Silent or Mature generation and most of those called baby boomers weekly worship was and is a given. Only the hospital will you keep you away. Generation X, mine, as well as Y (millennials) and Z have a different approach. Once a month, twice a month is good enough. Worship must fit into my schedule and be convenient for me. Says who? The Lord or sinful man. Satan’s most successful attacks on the saved do not come through head on assaults but subtly through apathy. Maybe I’m preaching to the choir. But you can take this message to your children or your children’s children. When God does everything for you and your bear no fruit you will be deserted and left to yourself in the desolate wasteland of Hell. A sad song.

Brothers, sisters, we can change the tune! The opposite of apathy is caring and we can do that. We are God’s vineyard today. Look at all He’s done for us. He gave His Son Jesus into death for us. He has made us his own in Baptism. He puts a hedge around us gathering us into his church. He gives us pastors as watchtowers to guard and warn. He puts us in the fertile soil of having his word and sacrament readily available in print, multiple worship service times, in digital format, literally at our fingertips every day. He comes every day to us and looks for fruit. We can respond to God’s grace and write a happy song with a happy tune. Imagine. I will sing a song for the Lord, that I love. He planted a vineyard called St. Jacobi and blessed the people there with word and Sacrament, wisdom and knowledge, a church and school, pastors and teachers. When I looked for good fruit I found holy reverence. These people love my word. They wouldn’t miss worship for the world. They are kind to each other and care. They appreciate how much I have forgiven them and they forgive each other too. They have adopted my priorities. They pray to me daily. They work together to spread my word. They have not turned to the false gods of entertainment or sports or things or sleep. They have hearts only for me. When they sin the feel shame and they run to me with sorrow and remorse. I forgive them gladly. They go around with happy hearts because they feel so blessed by me. Husbands and wives work at showing love for each other. Parents are teaching their children about me. They have integrity in their workplaces and do their work with me as their boss. Therefore I will bless and protect them and their children. Though the rest of their country turn against me these are my delight. I will bring them safely to me in heaven. That’s a beautiful song, a happy song.

Brothers and sisters I am certain that if Earnest Michael McSorely was given another chance he would have kept the Edmund Fitzgerald in port. I am certain that the people of Judah and Israel now suffering in Hell would have taken the blessing of God’s words seriously. But you get no second chances when you are dead. But you do when you are living. This word of God calls us to examine our ways. To repent of sins that we’ve allowed into our lives, to rejoice that we have forgiveness in Jesus to dedicate ourselves to faithful use of word and sacrament and to write for God a happy song with lives that are filled with the fruit He  is looking for. Amen.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

September 2-4, 2017 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Colossians 3:22-4:1   “YOU GOTTA KNOW…”


PENTECOST 13/LABOR DAY

September 2-4, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Colossians 3:22-4:1



“YOU GOTTA KNOW…”

1.     When to work.

2.     When to rest.



Colossians 3:22-4:1 (NIV 1984) Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism. 1Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.”



          This weekend our nation pauses to observe Labor Day. For over 100 years Labor Day has been a national holiday designed to recognize the contributions of the American worker to prosperity of our nation. When I was a boy I always wondered why on Labor Day nobody worked. Seemed odd at the time but now I get it. Workers also need rest. Our nation’s observance then is an opportunity for us believers to recognize that both work and rest come as blessings from God. Even if you are not a country music fan you probably have heard the Kenny Rogers song about cards, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” Whether your favorite is sheepshead or euchre or bridge or poker you know that knowing when to do what is very important. And the same is true for God’s gift of work and rest. Let’s look at God’s word today asking the Holy Spirit to help know when to work and know when to rest.

          Paul wrote these words to the Christian church in Colosse. “Slaves.” Oop. Stop right there. We are going to have get past this slave issue so we can hear what God says. It shocks many Americans to find out that in the Bible God never prohibited slavery. What He does do is regulate it with the law of love. That’s what’s going on here. Since we live in a country that thankfully does not have slavery it’s best if we think about this word of God as it applies to workers and bosses, employees and employers. I’ll read it that way.

          Workers, obey your earthly bosses in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism. Bossess, provide your workers with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a BOSS in heaven.”

          The first thing for us to take from this, brothers and sisters, is that work is a blessing from God. Do you remember at the Creation of the world when everything was perfect how God gave Adam and Eve work to do in tending the Garden of Eden? That’s because it was a blessing! Having something useful to do the benefits others is a blessing. You know in Confirmation Class I tell the kids that if we lived in the Garden of Eden one of the most fun things to do would be homework. Can you imagine the conversations? “Why don’t you take a break from the studying and play a video game? Aww, Mom. I’m doing math facts. Can I play later. Please!” You think that’s funny but it’s true. Work, doing something useful that benefits others, scrubbing toilets, doing laundry, keeping citizens safe and healthy, keeping numbers and bank accounts straight, fixing broken cars, painting houses, homework, teaching all of it is a blessing. To be useful in God’s creation honors Him. That’s why you get satisfaction in a job well done. It’s your conscience saying, “Good job. God is pleased!” It’s also a blessing because God hides behind our jobs to provide for our needs and to let some of us retire so we can do work without getting paid.

          But work doesn’t always feel like a blessing, does it? You know why. Sin ruined it. One of the consequences of sin is that blessing of work has thorns and weeds even when you aren’t in the garden. Lousy bosses. Workplace politics. Not enough pay. Injuries. Failure. Frustration. All traced back to sin. Worse. We tend to look at the gift of work as a curse, not a blessing. That’s what Paul was addressing to the Colossians. Work is a blessing. But to be a blessing work has to be tied back to the one who came up with work, God. God wanted the Garden of Eden tended. God wants clean houses. God wants garbage collected. God wants the sick cared for. God wants godly citizens protected. God wants honest banking and accounting. God wants his gift of electricity used safely. It goes on and on. So Christian you gotta know when to work and who your boss is. You clean the house for the Lord, not the kids. You do your best at your job not to get a promotion or to keep from getting fired but to honor God who gave you that job as a way of providing for you. Your earthly boss may be a jerk but the Lord isn’t. He’s your real boss and He deserves your best. And if you happen to be a boss remember as you carry that work out that the Boss is watching how you treat others and will show no favoritism. You gotta know when to work. When you are at a task or a job whether for pay or volunteer we do our best for the Lord.

          But all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. That 17th century proverb almost has it right. What God actually blessed us with is rest. In the perfect world before sin God gave a day of rest. How much more important to get rest in a world messed up by sin. God designed our bodies to be blessed by rest. Sleep, good sleep is the way God reboots our brains. He uses rest to rebuild parts of our bodies that get damaged or strained at work. You gotta know when to work and you gotta know when to rest. Here is where Americans fall down. We are known as the most sleep deprived nation on earth. Many don’t take vacations and when they do they take their work with them on vacation. Parents can let their own and their kids schedules get so packed with the extras there is little or no time for rest. But God wants us blessed with rest. The concept of a Labor day where workers don’t labor but rest is actually a good one. In the Bible God commanded His Old Testament people to give rest to their workers, to their animals, even to their field and grapevines. All were to be given a chance to rest regularly. Are you getting your rest? Is there something you can cut out of your schedule? You gotta know when to rest.

          Now the word of God we’ve been looking at has really just dealt with physical work and physical rest. But it tied our attitudes towards work and rest to our relationship with the Lord. And it is in our relationship with the Lord that we also need to know when to work and when to rest. When Jesus gave the invitation to the weary and burdened to come for rest He was not talking about an afternoon nap or one day a week to sleep in. He was talking about spiritual rest, rest for the souls of people who had been taught they had to do works of righteousness to be loved by God. The religious leaders and teachers of the law made it clear to the people in Jesus’ day that they needed to do more and be better. Those that cared worked very hard at living righteous lives. And failed. Just like we fail. Perfection is not attainable. When it comes to your status with God, your place as a member in His family, you gotta know when to work. Not at all. There is nothing you have to do or can do to be right with God. You gotta know when to rest and where to rest. In the loving arms of Jesus. He worked for you. He lived perfectly. He signed your name on the time card. You get the credit. You gotta know where to rest your sins. On the cross. There Jesus paid for them in full. None of this making sure I get to church before the job interview or when mom is sick. Rest. You can’t make God love you anymore than He already does. He is your loving Father. Trust his decisions for you and your loved ones. Then the works that you do will flow from love because you know the real work is done.

          You gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold em, Kenny crooned. And every card player who hears that knows they will still make bad plays, they won’t always get it right. You gotta know when to work and when to rest in your relationship with God and every Christian knows, we’ll mess that up to. Thankfully it does not matter. Because of Jesus we we’ve already won. Amen.


Monday, August 14, 2017

August 12-14, 2017 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: 1 Chronicles 29:10-13   THE DOXOLOGY


THE LORD’S PRAYER DOXOLOGY

August 12-14, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: 1 Chronicles 29:10-13



THE DOXOLOGY

1.     A reminder to check motives.

2.     A boost of confidence.



1 Chronicles 29:10-13 (NIV 1984) David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; You are exalted as head over all. 12Wealth and honor come from You; You are the ruler of all things. In Your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.”



          It’s called the Doxology. The end of the Lord’s Prayer where we pray, “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.” In general a doxology is a hymn or statement of praise to God. You might think of the hymn “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” That’s known as the Common Doxology. There is some disagreement about how the Doxology got added to the Lord’s Prayer as it does not appear in Matthew’s Gospel account in the earliest manuscripts that we have. There is no disagreement that it’s been used by Christians for as long as anyone can tell and that it is a fitting ending to the Lord’s Prayer.

          It’s a fitting ending to the Lord’s Prayer because whether it’s the things we pray about or the decisions we are making on a daily basis motive is important. Motive answers the question “Why?” Why are we doing the things that we do? What’s our goal? What’s our purpose? What are we about? More specifically who are we about. In our Bible reading our brother in faith, King David, had it right. I don’t know if the Doxology of David served as the basis for the Lord’s Prayer doxology but it sure sounds like it could have.  David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; You are exalted as head over all.” Here’s how this happened. David was near the end of his life. Some of you know of the ups and downs of his life how he could at times demonstrate great faith like when he went against the giant Goliath and great weakness with his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband Uriah. But this David was a man after the Lord’s own heart. He repented of his sins and was forgiven by God. In thankfulness King David had wanted to build a Temple for the Lord, a great Temple that would honor God. God said No. His son Solomon would build it. David was allowed to gather materials for the Temple. He gave freely from the wealth he had. The people gave freely. In today’s values about 4 billion dollars worth of gold and silver had been collected. Then as you heard, King David doxed. He praised. He acknowledged the truth. Since God is God He is to get the glory. His people were to live for His glory. Not their own.

          Just like the Doxology of the Lord’s Prayer reminds us. “Yours is the glory.” God’s, not mine, not ours, the Lord’s. As we pray that prayer daily let the Doxology be a good reminder for each of us to check our motives. We need to, daily.  Have you ever noticed how painfully easy it is to be about yourself? To live for yourself, to take everything you hear, every decision to be made through the filter of “How does this affect me?” But self-centered selfish living is not pretty in a 3 year old, 33 year old or 93 year old. Me and Mine don’t have to be taught they come naturally. It is the default setting of our sinful nature. But like David you and I have been rescued from the slavery to self centeredness. We have been freed to live for God’s glory and God’s kingdom. When David desired to build a temple to worship God his motive was thanks and God’s glory. But God had so much bigger plans in mind. The Temple worship pointed to the work Jesus Christ would do. Sacrifices for sin were pictures of what Jesus would do on the cross. A High Priest would picture Jesus as the substitute and mediator. The Temple Court would proclaim salvation is for everyone, Jew and Gentile. Whether he realized it or not by living for God’s glory David did work that would last forever and ever.

We get to as well. Let’s think about our existence as a congregation. In just a few years we will be 150 years old. That’s a long time. Wow! Isn’t St. Jacobi great? No. God is great. For all these years God’s people have been gathering to worship Him regularly and proclaim the Good News of Jesus. And God has used our past, is using our present and will use our future to bring and keep people in His kingdom. Today as a new school year is just around the corner and we install new teachers our thoughts turn to the school we operate. Why? For our good? So we can say we have a private school or our kids go to a private school?  No! For God’s glory. To carry out His work. For our new teachers, why did you agree to teach in our school? For your honor? To get a paycheck? Of course not! To give glory to God. Whether we eat, drink, have a school, teach or learn, use God’s gift of Baptism, whatever it be, do it all for the glory of God. And brothers and sisters, something very neat happens when we switch from our natural born it’s all about me life to our Spirit born it’s all about Thee life. We find we are part of something much bigger than our own puny selves. We take our place in the kingdom of God that will last forever. We get to be part of the greatest work there is, the saving of souls. God’s is the kingdom and the glory.

          And the power. That’s another way praying the Doxology helps us. It gives us a boost of confidence. David expressed that in his doxology too. “Wealth and honor come from You; You are the ruler of all things. In Your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.” In God’s hands are strength and power. God can do anything. When we pray on a daily basis we can ask God for anything. The Doxology reminds us that God has the power to do anything. But why should He? Why should He when we sin against Him daily? Why should He when sometimes selfishness appears even in our prayers? Why should you new teachers be able to count on God’s help as you take up your work?

          The Doxology tells us why. God has the glory and the power. It is to the glory of God to save sinners, to forgive those who don’t deserve it. God combined his glory with his power on the cross in the miracle of Jesus substitutionary payment for sin. Yes we are sinners who don’t deserve God’s help. But we are forgiven sinners that He loves to help. He has all power and you can count on Him to use that power for you in the way that is best. There are days that you feel like you just don’t want to go on. Maybe you have a stressful job situation or you find yourself always surrounded by sin and evil and you just want to walk away from it all. There are times when the family and extended family that God gave you to be a blessing are just draining and exhausting and you wish you could ignore it all. Kids, with school starting soon, you may have some worries or anxiety about how it’s going to go especially if you will be at a new school. And teaching, even in a Christian school is not always easy. You have sinful teachers teaching sinful students who have sinful parents guided by sinful pastors. We’re not always going to get it right. But God has all power. Let your daily praying of the Lord’s Prayer provide you that boost of confidence that while you may not always get it right God does and in the big picture we are really along for the ride as He takes to our heavenly home. God’s almighty power provides a boost of confidence.

          That’s why we say “Amen” you know. While for some Amen may signal the end of a prayer, hymn or sermon that’s not what it means. Amen comes from a Hebrew word that our brothers and sisters in the past used to express confidence. You could translate it, “Yes, so shall it be” or the Lutheran “This is most certainly true.” Or let it stand as its own word. Its purpose is for God’s people to let others know they have confidence in Him. And while in my church it is not our custom to call for a “Hallelujah!” or try to get an “Amen!”  it is appropriate that when we say that word we say it like we mean it letting all know we trust the one true God whose is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Can I get an Amen? Amen.