Monday, October 1, 2018

September 29-October 1, 2018 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: 2 Kings 6:8-17 “THOSE WHO ARE WITH US!”


ST MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS

September 29-October 1, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: 2 Kings 6:8-17



“THOSE WHO ARE WITH US!”

1.     Mighty servants of God.

2.     Mighty servants of God’s people.



2 Kings 6:8-17 (NIV 1984) “Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.” 9The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” 10So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places. 11This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Will you not tell me which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?” 12“None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.” 13“Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. 15When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. 16“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”



          It seems to me there are two spiritually dangerous mistakes we can make when it comes to God’s angels. The first is to adore them, to treat them greater than they are. Even our brother, John the Apostle, fell into that one. He was the one given the Revelation which is written down as the last book of the Bible. An angel delivered that revelation to him and he was so overwhelmed by the vision, so in awe of the angel, that he wrote this about himself,  I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!” (Revelation 22:8-9) How painful that must have been for John to own up to, getting rebuked by an angel. No you don’t want to adore angels, worship them, pray to them, in any way treat them as God. You also don’t want to ignore angels, act or live as they don’t exist, that God does not have them all around us, guarding and protecting us. If this was the 90’s we’d probably be talking about adoring them. If you remember that was when the angel craze was in full swing. Even in the early 2000’s I remember seeing ads in the Journal Sentinel with someone setting up shop at a local hotel meeting room offering to help you get in touch with your own personal angel, for a price, of course. No, instead I wonder if God’s people today aren’t more likely to ignore God’s angels. We live at a time with heightened concerns for safety, and rightly so. As we march to the end of the world there will be more wickedness and evil and people who do evil. We can tend to live in fear, too much fear, for people whose God is the Lord who commands the angel armies.

          If fear that forgets the presence of God’s angels describes you in anyway you are not alone. You heard in our reading of a brother in faith found himself very afraid, and with reason. The nation of Aram, where Syria is today, was raiding the nation of Israel. Whenever the king of Aram planned an ambush to destroy Israel’s army, God, through Elisha, warned the king of Israel. As you can imagine the king of Aram thought he had a spy in his camp. But his men told him, “No! There is a prophet of God named Elisha. He’s telling them where they are.” So the king of Aram sent soldiers to capture Elisha.

          Then this happened.  “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.” Can you blame him? Imagine you woke up in the morning and the breaking news was that Milwaukee was surrounded by troops from the People’s Republic of China. We’d be asking, “What shall we do?” Our thoughts would likely not be centered on the protection God provides through angels. Elisha’s was. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Those who are with us, we are going to find out, are the angels, mighty servants of God and God’s people. Who then are the “those who are with them?” Well the angels’ opposites of course, the fallen angels, we call demons. These attacks on Israel were prompted by demons who were using Aram’s greed and pride to try to wipe out the people who carried the Savior with them. That, God would not let happen. He provided those who are with us, angels. “And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” Angels. Mighty servants of God were sent by Him. They appeared as an army. Reminds me of the angels, the cherubim, guarding the Garden of Eden with a sword. Not little babies with tiny bows and arrows. Mighty servants. Of God. They serve Him. In the Bible we see angels serving God as messengers, taking to people the good news of salvation in Jesus. We see them serving God by praising Him for how great He is. We see angels serving God by protecting His people. The angels are powerful. God has given them the power to do things that are impossible for us, like be invisible and the appear, like making it so people cannot see for a time, like ending the lives of those who try to harm God’s people, these and many more for the mighty servants of God.

          And they also serve God’s people. You picked that up from the reading in Hebrews, didn’t you? Look again at the last verse of that reading. “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” Those who will inherit salvation, that’s you and me. Because the one who is greater than all angels, Jesus Christ, gave His life as a ransom, because the Holy Spirit worked in your life to bring you to faith through the Gospel and keep you in faith, you will inherit salvation. And the angels, the mighty servants of God, are serving you, God’s people. They are all around us though most often unseen like with Elisha and his servant. They are here right now. The Bible tells us they long to look into and understand the truths of Scripture. They love to worship the Lord. Though they have no physical form they have appeared as human beings and some have entertained them without knowing it. And they do a lot of helping and guarding and protecting. The Devil and the demons who were behind the attack on the prophet Elisha want to hurt us too. The angels stop them. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them. They help God’s people like getting the Apostle Peter out of jail or helping lift a car off of a person. I still remember Clarence Zastrow telling me how his neighbor who had fallen whose weight was beyond Clarence’s strength was thanking him for helping her up and he didn’t know how that could possibly be. I still remember the triple rollover crash I and my friend survived in college. 60 MPH with no seat belts and all he got was a little scratch. I had nothing. Angels. Mighty servants of God and His people. This doesn’t give us the right to be foolish. Jesus refused to jump from the Temple when Satan urged him to trust God’s promise of angel protection. It doesn’t mean that we should stop being safety conscious. It does mean that because Jesus has made us heirs of salvation we don’t have to live in fear and worry for ourselves and our children. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.

          Those who are with us. Angels are mighty servants, of God and of you, God’s people. So don’t ignore ‘em. God has them here for a reason. To give us comfort and peace in a world where sinful people do evil things. But don’t adore ‘em. They are servants of God so it’s only Him that we praise. Amen.

Monday, September 17, 2018

September 15-17, 2018 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Isaiah 50:4-10 FOLLOW JESUS IN THE FACE OF SUFFERING


PENTECOST 17

September 15-17, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Isaiah 50:4-10



FOLLOW JESUS IN THE FACE OF SUFFERING

                                                1. Expect It.

                                                2. Endure It.

                                                3. Embrace It.



Isaiah 50:4-10 (NIV 1984) The Sovereign Lord has given Me an instructed tongue, to know the Word that sustains the weary. He wakens Me morning by morning, wakens My ear to listen like one being taught. 5The Sovereign Lord has opened My ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back. 6I offered My back to those who beat Me, My cheeks to those who pulled out My beard; I did not hide My face from mocking and spitting. 7Because the Sovereign Lord helps Me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set My face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. 8He who vindicates Me is near. Who then will bring charges against Me? Let us face each other! Who is My accuser? Let him confront Me! 9It is the Sovereign Lord who helps Me. Who is he that will condemn Me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up. 10Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the Word of His Servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.”



          Have you ever heard the word “utopia?” If you have you know it’s the idea or concept or desire to build a perfect place to live, a perfect society here on earth. That philosophy is really just an extension of man’s idea that we can fix anything, that this life can be perfect, if we work hard enough and try hard enough. A pop singer from the famous 80’s crooned “Ooh heaven is a place on earth.” Um, no it’s not. Heaven is heaven.  And earth, Earth has struggles, problems, sin and suffering. Life is not fair. Sometimes the guilty go free and the innocent pay the price. You can do everything right and be kind and people will turn on you. You can exercise, don’t drink, don’t smoke and still have a heart attack. Earth is no heaven. It will never be perfect. You know it. I know it. It will be that way until the Lord comes back on the last day and makes all things new. But God has not left us alone or helpless as we deal with suffering. There is help and hope and comfort. As we continue the Pentecost season emphasis of growing in our Christian faith life God’s words for us today urge us to follow Jesus in the face of suffering.

          The words of God we are looking at written down in the book of Isaiah are actually Jesus speaking through Isaiah 700 hundred years before He was born to the virgin Mary. He is the servant. And before he ever steps foot on His earth as Jesus He knows that His job description includes suffering. The Sovereign Lord has given Me an instructed tongue, to know the Word that sustains the weary. He wakens Me morning by morning, wakens My ear to listen like one being taught. 5The Sovereign Lord has opened My ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back. 6I offered My back to those who beat Me, My cheeks to those who pulled out My beard; I did not hide My face from mocking and spitting.” When you realize this is Jesus talking it makes sense. His Father, the Sovereign almighty ruling Lord, had passed on the plan of salvation. In order to be the Savior Jesus would suffer. Though He had done no wrong he would be beaten by Roman soldiers, mocked and spit upon. Because sin, defiance of God, is so bad to save sinners Jesus would pay the price. He would be forsaken of God. He would suffer. And He knew it. Nothing that happened to Jesus was a surprise to Him. Think of how many times He told His disciples what would happen. They were surprised when it did. Jesus was not. He expected suffering.

          Do you expect to suffer for doing what is right or are you surprised when it happens? Last week as Pastor Bivens encouraged us follow Jesus in serving He reminded us of Jesus’ words. “A servant is not above His master. If they hated me they are going to hate you too.” Think about it with your reason controlled by your faith. If Jesus who is perfect suffered in this life, if the sinless Son of God suffered, why wouldn’t those who are imperfect and sinful? So why are you surprised Christian parent when your kids get mad at you when you enforce the rules or when they aren’t allowed to do what everyone else is doing? Why are you surprised Christian worker when the cheater, backbiter and manipulator gets away with it at work and your faithfulness goes unnoticed? Why are your surprised Christian student when you are made fun of or feel uncomfortable with all the sin around you? Why are we surprised that a congregation that holds to all of God’s teachings is not as popular as the feel goods? A servant is not above His master, is He? Follow Jesus in the face of suffering and expect it.

          Follow Jesus and endure it. “Because the Sovereign Lord helps Me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set My face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. 8He who vindicates Me is near. Who then will bring charges against Me? Let us face each other! Who is My accuser? Let him confront Me! 9It is the Sovereign Lord who helps Me. Who is he that will condemn Me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up.”  Jesus has an edge here, doesn’t he? He’s ready to fight the fight of a Christian solider. He sets His face like flint. He knows that to be the Savior He must endure. So when He is falsely accused He doesn’t throw a fit, a “How could you?” or threaten to sue. He remains silent. Though He is the Son of God with all power He does not retaliate. He takes it. When He is taunted to come down from the cross to prove He is the Son of God He ignores it. Why? He knows it will pass. He won’t be left disgraced. His endurance of suffering will not put Him to shame. His almighty Father would help him. Those who caused Him to suffer would fade away. He endured.

          You can follow Jesus and endure too. Are you at one of those times when you are dealing with unjust suffering? Where you have done what is right and someone else is attacking you and accusing you? Are you dealing with an injustice at work, school or home? Are you tired of Christian bashing? Follow Jesus and endure. Set your face like flint. Pull on your big Christian pants. Buck up little trooper. This too will pass. The Sovereign Lord is your helper. Endure.

          But you can do even better than stoic endurance as you follow Jesus in the face of suffering. You can embrace it. Quick review. Jesus knew that if He took the role of Messiah, Savior, He would suffer horribly and unjustly. He came anyway. He did not turn away. He came willingly. In the midst of His suffering He did not back away, throw Himself a pity party or whine, cry, complain, “That’s not fair!” How? Why? The book of Hebrews gives us a little insight into that. In Hebrews 12:2 we are told, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  For the joy set before Him. Jesus had his eyes on the prize. Jesus had us in mind. It gave Him joy to know He would win us for God and save us for eternity. Like a mom who knows if she gets pregnant what her body will go through yet for the prospect of joy goes through it and embraces it. Jesus embraced suffering by looking to the good that would come.

          You can too. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus. Follow Him in suffering and embrace it for the joy set before. Brothers and sisters, when we suffer for what is right, when we get treated unfairly whether that’s by our own kids, or our own parents, by the Christ rejecting society we live in or even by a brother or sister in faith who is following their sinful nature rather than Christ there is a joy set before us—to be like Christ. We servants can in some small measure be like our Master and it is evidence that we belong to Him. Do not misunderstand me. If you are a jerk to other people, if you are mean and spiteful, if you have a sharp tongue, are conniving and scheming and lie and manipulate and no one wants to be around you or be your friend or help you, that is on you. You need to change and repent. That’s the suffering of sin. But when you have sufferings that just happen because the world is ruined and especially when you suffer for doing what is right follow Christ. And then like those same disciples we heard about in the Gospel lesson who at that point were all about dodging suffering we will instead be like them after Jesus ascended when they were whipped and went away rejoicing. Why?  Because they had been counted worthy of suffering for the kingdom of God. Bring it on! Amen.

Monday, August 27, 2018

August 25-27, 2018 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18 (EHV) “CHOOSE!”


PENTECOST 14

August 25-27, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18 (EHV)



“CHOOSE!”

1.     gods

Or

2.     GOD!



Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18 (EHV) “Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel at Shechem, and he summoned the elders of Israel, its heads, its judges, and its officers, and they presented themselves before God. 2Then Joshua told all the people, “Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve him wholeheartedly and faithfully. Remove the gods that your fathers served in the region across the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15But if you see no benefit in serving the LORD, then choose for yourselves today whomever you will serve—whether the gods that your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household—we will serve the LORD!” 16The people responded by saying, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD in order to serve other gods! 17For the LORD our God, he is the one who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, where we were slaves. He is the one who performed these great signs right before our eyes and protected us on the whole journey that we made and among all the peoples through whom we passed. 18The LORD drove out of our presence all the peoples and the Amorites who were living in the land. We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God!”



          Choices. We make all kinds of them every day. We make choices on small things. What will I wear today? What time do I set the alarm for? What will we eat? We make choices on big things. Fix the car or get another one? Do I accept the job offer? Every choice we make whether little or big has potential consequences for our lives. Food choices can affect our health. Clothing choices can effect what other people think of us. Car choices effect our wallets. Jobs can dictate much of the rest of our lives. Today in God’s Word we join some people who are much like us as they are faced with a very important choice: whom to serve, gods or GOD. With the Spirit’s help we’ll see how this same choice plays out in our lives.

          So that we can make the right choice we need to be in the same context as Joshua and the people of Israel. If you recall, God used General Joshua to bring the people of Israel into the Promised Land. The walls of Jericho came tumbling down. 31 kings and their little kingdoms fell to Israel because God was fighting for them. The crisis was over. It was time to settle down. Now you know very well how it works in your life. When there is trouble, when you lose your job, when you face a serious health issue you know you are God dependent and it shows in your life. You worship, you listen, you pray. And then when things get back to normal what can happen? We can lose our intensity and let God fade to the background. No more kings to conquer. No more battles. What would happen with God’s people called Israel? Joshua was not just their general but their God appointed spiritual leader so he went into action. Before he asked the people to choose he reminded them of their choices. What I need you to do now is grab a Bible from the pew or, yes, you have my permission, get out your smartphone and open your Bible app to Joshua 24 and let’s quickly review the verses missing from our printed text, verses 3-13. Before Joshua exhorted the people to choose He reminded them what the God who had chosen them had done for them. Verses 3 and 4 God’s goodness to Abraham, then the rescue from Egypt with Moses and Miriam, then the giving to them the land they now lived in and the defeat of their enemies. This is the GOD who loves and saves His people and the people knew Him.

          These were believers gathered before Joshua just like you are believers gathered before me. They needed to understand that each day of their life they would be making a choice, not whether or not to be a believer, but whether or not to live as believers. “Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve him wholeheartedly and faithfully. Remove the gods that your fathers served in the region across the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15But if you see no benefit in serving the LORD, then choose for yourselves today whomever you will serve—whether the gods that your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household—we will serve the LORD!” Choose. Not whether or not to serve but whom they would deliberately serve.

          Choose! GOD or gods. We’ll talk about the only GOD in a minute but first we need to talk about gods, with a small g. What does this mean? Pastor Luther provided an explanation to that as well. He gave this practical definition of a god.
“Whatever is your first priority that is your god.” With that definition you can see there can be all kinds of gods and which ones people may choose to serve depends on their culture and their circumstances. The people of God gathered before Joshua lived in a culture that definitely believed there were higher powers and that they needed to please those higher powers to have good crops and healthy babies, to avoid plague, drought and war. The people of that culture had very few comforts easily available to them and mostly hoped for full bellies and a safe place to sleep. So the gods those people were tempted to serve had names like Baal and Molech and Asherah. And people believed if you served those gods you would have good corps or healthy babies. If Israel served those gods they would keep the idols in their homes and spend their money on wine and grain to buy that idol off though it would neither eat or drink. If they chose to serve God they would worship Him like He told them to and would trust Him for babies and crops and herds.

          We live in a different culture and time. Sad to say a lot of people in our culture don’t believe in any higher power. They mostly believe they are in control of their own lives. We also live in a culture where we enjoy a lot of nice things: more food than we need to survive and good tasting foods. Almost endless entertainment opportunities and we don’t have to work every day just to stay alive. The gods Americans serve are usually listed as money which gives a sense that we are in control, leisure and rest, entertainment and hobby.  Most Americans are not concerned with getting a meal today but what will entertain me today, and will I have enough to retire and do fun things. Those are just some gods we could serve.

          Now choose. If you are at a crisis time in your life right now, if another 9/11 happens today, if the economy goes back into recession so you are losing jobs and houses, your choice will be easy because you will realize how God dependent you really are. But if your life is fairly normal right now, no health scare, job is OK, the Devil is going to tempt you to get sloppy in your sanctified living, to put your relationship with the Lord on the back burner. Like Joshua did with the people of Israel let me do for you today. Choose. The people who know you, your family, friends and neighbors, what would they say your number one passion is (your god)? I could be wrong but it seems to me that some among us have slipped into a pattern that worships God when it is convenient rather than a prioritized choice. In the New Testament times we live the Third Commandment gives us freedom on which day of the week to get together and worship, not the freedom to put other things ahead of worship. And let me suggest that if you can’t get your worship choice right the chances of getting your other ones right aren’t very good. Choose. God or sports. Choose. God or recreation. Choose  God or sleep. Choose entertain yourself or get the name of Jesus to more people. You will make a choice. Now choose.

          Joshua and his people did. “But as for me and my household—we will serve the LORD!” 16The people responded by saying, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD in order to serve other gods! We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God!” They recognized how good God had been to them and they responded. You can too. Today is a good day, brothers and sisters, to take stock of your life. First whom have you been serving? Look at your choices in words you use, how you schedule your time, how you prioritize your budget, why you believe what you do. That’s your past. Today is your present. Whom will you serve? Let me help you. This is what the Lord says, He who formed you in your mother’s womb, who chose you as his own before the creation of the world, who made sure you knew it at your Baptism, who keeps forgiving you far after any person in your life would have given up, who never leaves you or forsakes you, who loves you do the death of His Son, who has prepared your place in heaven and deliberately works all things in your life for your good, He says, “Choose for yourself this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of the Americans or the only God who saved you through Jesus.” Choose! Now if it’s true for you say it with me. “As for me and my household—we will serve the LORD!” Amen.

Monday, August 6, 2018

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


PENTECOST 11

August 4-6, 2019

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Ephesians 4:17-24



“HOLY HYGIENE!”

1.     It’s absolutely necessary.

2.     You know what to do.



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 23, 2018

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


PENTECOST 9

July 21-23, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Mark 6:30-34 (EHV)



JESUS CARES!

1. He Knows Your Needs.

2. He Provides for Your Needs.



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

          Brothers and sisters, the Pentecost season of the church year that we are in is all about focusing on growth in our faith life. Having every question in life answered, having every want supplied and problem fixed requires no faith. Peace, joy, happiness, contentment in want or plenty, in matters of death as well as life, in time of peace or time of strife, well that takes faith. God’s words give faith. He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also along with Him graciously give us all things? Of course He will. This is Jesus we are talking about. I’m reminded of the very clever motto our 8th grade had last year. “My lifeguard walks on water.” Yours does too. Amen.

Monday, July 2, 2018

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


THE NATION

June 30-July 2, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

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



“ON BEING A BLESSING TO OUR NATION”

1.     Be here now.

2.     Pray, pray, pray!



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 18, 2018

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


PENTECOST 4

June 16-18, 2018

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Colossians 1:3-8



“THE GOSPEL IS BEARING FRUIT AND GROWING!”

1.     Among us.

2.     Among others.

3.     Thank God!



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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