Monday, April 17, 2017

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


EASTER

April 16-17, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Matthew 28:1-10



“GOD CARES ENOUGH TO SEND THE VERY BEST!”

1.     His Son.

2.     His angels.

3.     You!



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 14, 2017

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


MAUNDY THURSDAY

April 13, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: 1 Corinthians 11:23-28



“TURN TO JESUS THROUGH WORTHY RECEPTION”



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 6, 2017

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


April 5, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Mark 14:32-38



REPENT!

TURN TO JESUS WHEN YOU FACE TEMPTATION.



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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




Monday, March 27, 2017

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


LENT 4

March 25-27, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Matthew 20:20-28



“CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?”

1.     Not when we focus on ourselves.

2.     Only when we focus on Christ.



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

March 15, 2017 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Luke 23:35-43 REPENT! TURN TO JESUS HE HOLDS THE KEY TO HEAVEN!


MIDWEEK LENT 3

March 15, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Luke 23:35-43



REPENT!

TURN TO JESUS

HE HOLDS THE KEY TO HEAVEN!





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



            “Beware the Ides of March!” Those of you who like history or Shakespeare not doubt recognize that famous line from the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar. In the play, and in legend, a seer warned Julius Caesar about his upcoming assassination on March 15th, the day known to the Romans as the Ides of March. If that were true Julius Caesar certainly should have expected an attempt on his life and yet when it successfully came it was unexpected. March 15th, that’s today, the Ides of March and we are gathered to talk about the assassination of someone much more important than Julius Caesar and whose initials are also JC. Jesus Christ. As we gather at the foot of His cross we see what we would expect and what is unexpected.

          First some things we expect. Crucifixion was meant to be a public matter. Rome wanted conquered people to know that defying the Roman empire was not a good idea. You died and you died badly. When violent criminals were crucified the public could watch a measure of justice being served. So it’s not surprising that many people were watching Jesus’ crucifixion. That is what was expected. What was unexpected was the presence of the religious rulers and their reaction. “The people stood watching and the rulers even sneered at him.  They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” The rulers here are the religious leaders. Did you notice they acknowledged that Jesus had done good. “He saved others.”  One would have expected them to speak up for someone who had done good for others. But that’s not the case. They sneer and mock. Maybe that’s not so unexpected. Sinful human beings have a nasty tendency to turn on and hate those who do good. “What’s the saying? No good deed goes unpunished.

          The soldiers also turned on Jesus.  “The soldiers also came up and mocked him.  They offered him wine vinegar 37and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” Well that’s not unexpected. While there were good Roman soldiers history records more brutality. I’m going to guess that the kindest and gentlest did not get crucifixion duty. They join in the jeering. That’s not unexpected because sinful human beings have a nasty tendency to prey without mercy on those who appear weak.

          Pilate also mocked Jesus. “There was a written notice above him which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” This is not unexpected. Pilate had let himself get bullied by the Jewish leaders into pronouncing a death sentence he knew was undeserved. Like a little kid though he showed them. You  made me crucify your king. That’s not unexpected because sinful human beings have a nasty tendency of doing or allowing wrong and blaming others for it.

          It goes on. “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ?  Save yourself and us!” This is maybe unexpected. Shouldn’t there be a little honor among thieves? Some empathy? No. More mocking. But maybe we should expect that. Sinful human beings have a nasty tendency to throw others under the bus to take the attention off of themselves.

          But then there is that other thief. “But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?  41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.  But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  This is unexpected! In the midst of his own pain this criminal confesses his sins and turns to Jesus. He utters a memorable prayer. “Remember me.” And in a way the thief was not expecting Jesus does. “Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Today. That very day Jesus gave this criminal heaven and He could do that because He holds the key to heaven.

          Brothers and sisters in this whole account we have seen the expected and the unexpected. We were not surprised to see people turning on someone who had done good, preying without mercy on those who were weak, doing wrong and blaming others and shamefully throwing another under the bus. We aren’t surprised at that because we see people doing that all the time. We see ourselves in the same sinful behavior. But that is exactly why Jesus came and why Jesus stayed on the cross. He was urged to save himself but He didn’t so that He could save others. He made sure the one thief on the cross knew it. He’s made sure in your life and my life that we know it too so we would turn to Him.

          “Remember me,” was the unexpected prayer of the repentant thief who turned to Jesus. But with what we know of Jesus “remember me” is a prayer Jesus can expect to hear from us. “Remember me,” we can pray when death has claimed a mom or dad or spouse and hearts are hurting. “Remember me,” we can pray when sickness has lasted so long we no longer remember feeling good. “Remember me,” we can pray when our lives are in turmoil because of the hurts from the ones who are supposed to love us. “Remember me,” we can pray when loneliness seems to be our only companion. “Remember me,” when guilt from sin overwhelms. And when our own death is imminent what a comfort to know we can turn to Jesus and plead “Remember me.” In each and every case Jesus will and Jesus does. He holds the key to heaven. He is the key to life right now. Turn to Jesus. Amen.








Monday, March 6, 2017

March 4-6, 2017 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 ON HANDLING TEMPTATION


LENT 1

March 4-6, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7



ON HANDLING TEMPTATION

1.     Know the Word.

2.     Love the Word.

3.     Use the Word.

4.     When you fall, Run!!!



 Genesis 2:15; 3:1-7 (NIV 1984) The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”



          Into the lives of all people comes the temptation to sin against God. It happened to perfect people named Adam and Eve. It happened to the perfect Son of God and Son of Man, Jesus Christ. It happens to you and me too at every age. In 1 Corinthians 10 we are told, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” That’s God’s truth. We will be tempted. We will have a way out. Let’s go to God’s word now and see how to handle temptation.

          God had created a perfect world filled with perfect plants and animals. He made a beautiful garden and called it Eden. Into that garden God placed two perfect people, Adam and Eve. The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Commandments from God are ways of showing love. God showed love to Adam and Eve by forbidding them to eat what was bad for them. Adam and Eve could show love to God by obeying. It was a beautiful setup.

          But into that perfect Garden in the perfect world that had only perfect people slithered temptation. We don’t know everything we want to know about the Devil. We do know what we need to know. The Devil was originally a created angel. At some point after Creation and before what we are talking about today Satan led an angel rebellion against God. Pastor Waldschmidt and I like to repeat the phrase, “Sin is stupid.” It just doesn’t make sense. Imagine the Devil as a created angel pausing to take in the fact that God has just created him and all things and then somehow going on to think, “You know, I should be in charge here. I should be God. My fellow angels, God has just created us with a word of His mouth. He is that wise and powerful. I think we can take Him!” Sin is stupid. Satan and the angels who followed him were cast away from God’s goodness and love forever.

          Sin is stupid. Evil does evil. So Satan slithered into the garden of Eden in the form of a serpent to tempt Eve and Adam to join him in rebellion against God. “He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” Look at how Eve handled the Temptation. First she knew God’s word. Satan came at her with an attempt to get her to sin and started with confusion. “Did God say you can’t eat from any tree?” Not true and Eve knew it. She knew what God said. “God did say, you must not eat from the tree that is in the middle of the garden.” She knew God’s word.

          She also loved God’s word. Some people get a little nervous about the fact that Eve went on to say, “ and you must not touch it,”  Hey, wait a minute. Isn’t she adding something to God’s Word? She’s perfect yet. Sinless. To me her words show respect. They show love for God’s word. Mr. Serpent. That is forbidden fruit. We are not to eat of it. Why would I want to do anything with it? Eve knew God’s word and she loved God’s word. But Satan didn’t back off. He didn’t go away. He kept on tempting.

          “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” There’s the lie. There’s the insinuation that God is holding out on you. God doesn’t want you to have fun. He does not have your good in mind. You need to disobey Him.

          At this point we would love to have seen Eve jump up in righteous indignation and say. “No! You don’t talk about my God like that. He loves me and knows what’s best for me.” But she didn’t. “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” Temptation entertained is temptation indulged. Eve sinned. Adam sinned. They fell into temptation and they ran.

          When I was a younger boy, my brothers and I discovered early some of the laws of physics and science. On the campus of what is now Luther Prep School were some beautiful crabapple trees. They had apples on them that were somewhere between golf ball and tennis ball on them. What we discovered is that if you took a stout stick about two feet long and stuck an apple on the end you could fling that apple a lot farther and a lot harder than you could throw by hand. And then one of the brothers the Lord gave me got the idea that we could hide behind a bush and launch said apples at cars driving down Western Avenue never suspecting we might actually hit one. The memory is a little fuzzy on who that was but one such apple got launched at one aforementioned cars and hit it square on the side panel.  Thunk went that apple. Screech went the brakes. Run went the boys. The wrong way. We ran away from the driver of the car instead of to him to express our sorrow over a foolish childhood prank. Adam and Eve did the same. You know the rest of the story. How they ran from the God who loved them and blamed each other and God for their own sin.

          Now what can we learn from this about handling temptation? Because remember, God won’t let you be tempted beyond what you can bear but will provide a way out. First, know the Word. You have to know what God says. Do you have your daily habit of reading God’s words yet? Secondly, love the word. Like Eve, have such respect for what God says that you want God’s approval and know He has your best interest in mind. Third, use God’s word. Keep using God’s word. The Devil doesn’t automatically give up. Where we wanted Eve to keep going and sticking to God’s Word, that’s where we need to. Use that word of God as shield that blocks the Devils temptations with a No, Father knows best. And use that word as sword. Get away from me Satan. Resist and he must flee.

             But the most important thing we need to remember is that when you fall, Run! Run the right direction. Not away from God but to Him. Temptations will keep coming. They will be different at different ages. During this Lenten season as we are reminded of what Jesus went through to pay for our sins we will respond with love for Him. We will want to fight hard against temptation and remove pet sins from our lives.  The fact is we will not defeat them all. In weakness that shames us we will fall. And when that happens, Run! Run to Jesus. You will not successfully defeat every temptation but Jesus did for you. You heard about that in the Gospel reading. You heard in the God’s Word in Romans how Jesus’ perfect obedience makes us righteous. When you fall and feel guilt don’t stay away from the Lord and church and the Lord’s Supper, run to the Lord, to worship, to Lord’s Supper. There you will hear God say again. I love you. I forgive you.  Go and sin no more. But when you do, when you fall. I will catch you because I love you.” What an awesome God we get to serve! Amen.

         

Monday, February 20, 2017

February 18-20, 2017 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Matthew 5:20-37 “SQUIRMIN’ ON THE MOUNT”


EPIPHANY

February 18-20, 2017

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Matthew 5:20-37



“SQUIRMIN’ ON THE MOUNT”

1.     Your hatred is murder.

2.     Your marriage harming is adultery.

3.     Your mouth is evil.



Matthew 5:20-37 (NIV 1984) “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. 21“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. 25“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.    27“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.      31“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.      33“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ 34But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35or by the earth, for it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

          Have you ever been hit hard, right in the face? I have, by that wall right over there. Sometimes when I come home at night after a meeting and the north wind is blowing I like to take a “warm cut” through the church. Because I’m familiar with the layout of our church and don’t want to waste electricity turning on the lights I walk through in the dark trusting my instincts. One time though I misjudged. I don’t know if I subconsciously shortened my long legged stride or what but all of the sudden, Wham! Smack into the wall. My eyes were tearing.  I saw lights. I learned something that night. I learned that I’m not as good as I think I am at navigating like a bat. I learned I need the light. Well, brothers and sisters as hard as that wall is and is much as it hurt to run into it, the Law of God is harder and it hurts more when you run into it. Today we take up a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount that I like to call Squirmin’ on the Mount. For if you listen with honest ears and read with honest eyes and think about yourself and not others, you will be squirmin’!

          Jesus is talking to people who had been taught that an outward keeping of God’s laws was good enough and that even then there were loopholes, justifications, for breaking God’s laws so that you weren’t sinning. Kind of like how we like to get righteously offended at murder and same sex marriage but maybe not quite so righteously offended at sins common to us. In the Squirmin’ on the Mount Jesus makes clear that the outward righteousness of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law was not good enough. In fact it was sin.

          “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” As I look out I see murderers. Remember the last time you got mad at someone and wished them harmed or out of your life? Murder. Or the time you got mad because someone else blew it, conveniently forgetting all your mistakes?  “Yes, but that’s not sinful,” you say. Anger might not be, but do you mean to tell me those angry thoughts came out of love? Only one other choice. Hatred. You are a murderer. Are you squirmin yet? Children, you murderers, you call names and make fun of a classmate because of their teeth or their hair or their clothes or how they act? You think it’s funny. God calls that hatred. You are a murderer. Are you squirmin yet? You think it’s OK to yell at your parents or get mad at your teachers and call them names when they discipline you? Hatred. Murder. Are you squirmin’ yet? Your hatred is murder.

          And your marriage harming is adultery. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Technically the word adultery refers to a married person sharing their sexuality with someone other than their spouse. Jesus points out that the law of God is much harsher than that. Any harming of God’s gift of the blessed joining of one man and one woman for life is adultery. Husbands who speak harshly to your wives you are adulterers. Wives who nag husbands are adulterers. Are you squirmin’ yet? Guys whose eyes linger at the models pictures in the checkout line, aduleterers. Porn on the computer, on the phone. Adultery. Are you squirmin’ yet? Friends with benefits. Sexting, suggestive text messages. Are you squirmin’ yet? I’ve never watched the Bachelor or Bachelorette so forgive me if I’m wrong but isn’t the goal there to have attractive men and women showing of their stuff with multiple makeout sessions and portray that as love. How does that uphold marriage? Adultery. Are you squirmin’ yet? I remember in the congregation I served in San Antonio a sweet little old southern belle asking in a Bible Class, “Pastor, just what is lust anyway?” I felt my face flush as I started to explain and think of appropriate examples and then stopped and finally just blurted out, “Well you know what it is!” Yes, we know what it is. Adultery. Are you squirmin’ yet?

          If the realization that you are a murdering adulterer doesn’t do it maybe the fact that you have an evil tongue will. “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Before this Jesus had talked about phrases that people use to try to get others to believe them. Let’s think about our phrases. “Oh my…” then you use God’s name. No big deal. It’s so common. It’s also blasphemy and comes from the evil one. Parents should I ask the kids to reveal how many of  you say that? Are you squirmin’ yet? Any other choice words?  What about the way we tell stories that make ourselves look good but others not so much or pass on the gossip not to get anyone in trouble but to do good. That’s evil. Are you squirmin’ yet? We like to think of child molesters as perverts but in the book of proverbs you know who God labels a pervert? A person who uses words to cause division and separate friends. (Proverbs 16:28) Are you squirmin’ yet?

          Now what’s the point? Why did Jesus get so harsh? Why does He tear away from us any pretense that we are good people and expose our sinfulness with such sharp words? Why does He make us squirm? He does it out of love. Like that wall with me the true law of God shows us we are not as good as we think we are. And we need the light of the world, Jesus Christ. Jesus doesn’t just expose us and leave us hanging out to dry like we do to others. He left Himself hanging and squirming on the Mount of Calvary when He paid in full for all the sins His words just exposed. All of our murder, all of our adultery, all of our evil and everything else Jesus took on Himself  and was punished for in full. And Jesus gives us His own righteousness that far surpasses that of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law because Jesus is perfect.

Sometimes it takes a good hard smack in the face for us to learn. I walk much more carefully in here now. Still too cheap to turn the lights on. My prayer for all of us here today is that we learn to walk a little more carefully out of love for Jesus. Yes, our sins our paid for but that’s no reason to keep doing them. It’s reason to stop and fight and show Jesus we appreciate what He has done for us by being more careful with our words, more careful with what we let our eyes see and more careful with what we let into our hearts.  Ours is not to walk in the ways of the world but in the ways of our Lord Jesus Christ. Living by that higher standard is a privilege, not a right. Amen.