Monday, September 21, 2020

September 19-21, 2020 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Matthew 18:15-20 (EHV) “WHEN YOU CARE ENOUGH TO SEND THE VERY BEST…”

 

PENTECOST 16

September 19-21, 2020

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Matthew 18:15-20 (EHV)

 

“WHEN YOU CARE ENOUGH TO SEND THE VERY BEST…”

1.     You send yourself.

2.     You seek salvation.

3.     You count on Christ.

 

Matthew 18:15-20 (EHV)  “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his sin just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And, if he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as an unbeliever or a tax collector. 18Amen I tell you: Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Amen I tell you again: If two of you on earth agree to ask for anything, it will be done for them by my Father who is in heaven. 20In fact where two or three have gathered together in my name, there I am among them.”

 

          It’s a slogan that always kind of bothered me. It felt manipulative. Hallmark Greeting Cards. “When you care enough to send the very best.” I get it. I have to buy your card for your newly made up holiday or I don’t care enough. Maybe another reason I didn’t like it is because it makes me come to grip with the fact that sometimes I don’t care enough. Jesus’s words to us today serve the same way. They kind of slap us in the face by pointing out we don’t care enough about each other. Now wait a minute! We do care. When someone is sick or having surgeries we pray for them. We do send cards. Pre pandemic meals were made to help out people in need. How often didn’t the freewill offering box go out to support this cause or that? We help family in need. We help the kids! What do you mean we don’t care? Well, it’s true we are often good about caring for each other’s physical needs. But today Jesus is talking about spiritual needs. Now wait a minute! Again we take umbrage. Look at this church and school and its ministry all designed to attract people to Christ as Savior and keep them with Christ as Savior. We just built an expansion to serve God better. All very good. Good examples of a congregation caring. But that’s not what Jesus is talking about. He is talking about personally caring for the spiritual welfare of one another. These words of Jesus in Matthew 18 are often cited as the basis for what is called Church Discipline but if you look, Jesus is not talking to the church but to you and in the Greek it is a singular you.  It’s personal.

          This part of Jesus’ teaching does not exist in a vacuum. Do you remember last week’s Gospel lesson from Matthew where Peter didn’t want Jesus to go to Jerusalem to suffer and pay for sin? This is what Jesus said to him.  “Get behind me, Satan! You are a snare to me because you are not thinking the things of God, but the things of men.”  Peter cared more for Jesus’ physical well being than everyone else’s spiritual need. Then Jesus said, “After all, what will it benefit a person if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul?” A reminder that all the physical care in the world is worthless if you go to Hell. In the first part of Matthew 18 Jesus said it is better to pluck out your eye or cut of your hand if your eye or hand would lead you to Hell. It’s the same message. It’s not that physical needs are unimportant but that your spiritual need which determines whether you spend eternity in heaven or hell is more important than physical needs which only last for earthly life. And right before today’s teaching Jesus told the parable of the Lost Sheep. A man had 100 sheep and lost 1 so he leaves the 99 to fend for themselves and goes after the lost one . That makes no sense. But Jesus says it does. Caring for a fellow believer’s spiritual needs is personal.

          Listen again to our Lord Jesus. “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his sin just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother.” Your brother. Jesus is talking about a fellow believer. Despite how we sometimes feel or some Christian churches have acted it has never been our responsibility to force unbelievers to live like we do. Your brother. You have a personal relationship with this person. That’s good. Who listens to a cold call on the phone? Who even answers the phone if you don’t know who it is and want to talk to them? “Sins against you.”  Jesus is not telling us to call each other out for every sin we commit. If that were so we would never get anything else done in this world. We are all sinning all the time! Remember the context. Lost. Headed for hell. He’s talking about when you know your fellow believer you have a personal relationship with is, as far as you can tell, now heading for hell through a refusal to repent or worse, neglecting to use Word and Sacrament to feed their faith. Who speaks? Who goes? You. It is singular. You. The one who has the personal relationship. When you care enough to send the very best you send yourself! You don’t talk with everyone else about your brother. You, the best, speak with them one on one.

          Why? When you care enough to send the very best you seek salvation. We’ve all been there. Someone in some way brings up the fact that what you are doing is wrong. First reaction? Defend. Excuse. Explain. First reaction is hardly ever repentance. Especially if there are other people around. When we care about each other spiritually we care that we will be together in heaven. The goal is a living faith in Jesus. The reason you point out sin is not to stop sin for another sin always takes it place. The reason you do is you fear their faith in Jesus is lost or may be lost. You seek salvation so you go by yourself. If that does not work at some future date you go with some other trusted Christians. If that does not work you tell your church leaders, pastors or elders, so they too can care and go, but only after you have gone. Why? If he listens you have regained your brother. No reputations need to be damaged. You are seeking salvation, not punishment. You are seeking their salvation not their embarrassment. You are not looking first and foremost for actions to change but for a heart to change. You are seeking salvation!

          So simple. So plain. But so hard for us to do. What is it that holds us back from, in a loving way, caring about each other’s spiritual welfare? Sometimes it’s wrong motive. All we really want is them to stop sinning because their sinning offends us more that the fact that they are heading for hell. Often we feel it’s none of my business. Sometimes it is fear of rejection. Sometimes it is fear that it will make matters worse or blow up the family. Sometimes it is because we are painfully aware of our own sins so how would I dare to talk to someone else about theirs? The answer to all these fears and questions is the same. Count on Christ. Count on Christ who made spiritual care our business when he spoke in the word and said “you” singular. It is His will. Count on Christ who gives you authority to care even though you are a sinner yourself when He said “Amen I tell you: Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Count on Christ for what will happen because He told you, “Amen I tell you again: If two of you on earth agree to ask for anything, it will be done for them by my Father who is in heaven. 20In fact where two or three have gathered together in my name, there I am among them.” You never go alone. You go for Christ and with Christ whose first and foremost concern is the salvation of souls.

          Count on Christ to help you care. This truly caring for each other’s spiritual welfare is not an easy matter. People are messy. Relationships are messy. Words don’t always come out right. While Jesus gives us principles on how to show our care He doesn’t give us a textbook. He doesn’t tell us how long we wait for a response or how many times to keep trying. What He does give us is Himself. Jesus cared enough to send the very best. He sought our salvation and He won it by taking the punishment we deserve. Heaven is our home. Because of Jesus your place in heaven does not depend on how well or poorly you care for your brother’s spiritual need. Jesus’ love for you is boundless. Jesus cares for you and for those who are lost. As we  continue to walk with Christ He will help us to care enough to send the very best. Amen.

Monday, August 31, 2020

August 29-31, 2020 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Isaiah 56:1, 6-8 “A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL NATIONS!”

PENTECOST 13

August 29-31, 2020

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Isaiah 56:1, 6-8

 

“A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL NATIONS!”

1.     Sin divides.

2.     Christ unites.

 

Isaiah 56:1, 6-8 (NIV 1984) “This is what the Lord says: “Maintain justice  and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed….And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain  and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called  a house of prayer for all nations.” The Sovereign Lord declares— he who gathers the exiles of Israel: “I will gather still others to them  besides those already gathered.”

 

          All of the portions of God’s Word we have listened to today were set up many years ago in a series of Bible readings for each Sunday called a pericope. The careful listener noticed each one had a similar tension in them. A tension that only God could overcome. A tension between Jew and foreigner, Jew and Gentile, Jesus and a Gentile. It reminds us of a similar tension that is boiling in our country, over issues of race. Apparently God knows what we need to hear way before we need to hear it.

          It’s important that we listen to Him. There are many voices talking to you about race issues. Reporters’ voices, bloggers’ voices, hurting people voices, angry people voices. I remind you that it is the privilege and responsibility of every child of God to listen to what God has to say first. What does He tell us in the word about issues of race? I guess first that there aren’t supposed to be any. God only created one race. The human race. Everyone is a descendant of Adam and Eve and the only distinction God ever made was between male and female, designed by God to be distinctly different and at the same time completely complementary. God did not intend that difference to be a divider but rather a uniter. Male and female need each other and only together are they the human race. God made man in his own image. Male and female He created them. Two sexes. One race.

          Then sin happened. And sin divides. Sin pits male and female against each other instead of working in harmony as a team. Even Christian husband and wife don’t always get along, do they? Sin also pits brother against brother. We are not told in years but we are told in generations just how long it took for hatred to develop between brothers. One. Just one generation! Adam and Eve’s first children. Cain and Abel. And Cain hated his own brother Abel and killed him. The history of the world recorded in Genesis shows more hatred and sin so much so that God reset things with the worldwide flood. Once again we find the convergence of ancestry. One race. All are descended from Noah and his wife. But sin continues to divide. The Tower of Babel happens resulting in the confusing of languages and the separating of clans leading to accentuating human characteristics in pockets of peoples leading to differences in how we look by color of skin, eyes and hair. What we identify as races are really sub races of the human race. Now I wonder what sin is going to do with that? You know. Divide. Hate its brother.

          The history of the world recorded in the Bible and outside of the Bible is an ongoing litany of brother hating and hurting brother. Jews hate the Gentiles and Samaritans. Samaritans hate the Jews. The early Christian church was divided by Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. You get a little more modern and black skinned people were considered inferior and in their right place as slaves. American Indian tribes fought and looted  each other and then were treated as inferior in America when Europeans took over. Turks hated and killed Armenians. Japanese hated Chinese. Chinese hated Japanese. Nazis tried to wipe out Jews, gypsies and Russians. In Africa’s Rwanda the Hutus killed some 800,000 of their Tutsi brothers.  Folks, I’m just touching the surface. You get the picture? Race related issues may look like a skin problem but it’s really a sin problem. Sin divides. Sin hates. Sin hurts.

          Now what does this all have to do with us? We are sinners. The same sinful nature that lived in the people whose history I quickly recounted lives in us. Each one of us is more than capable of hating our brother. It might be subtle in that I am just more comfortable being around people who look like me and talk like me than those who do not. It might be a little more overt as I think people like me are better than those who don’t look like me. It might come out stronger in words that disparage people whose skin color, hair color, eye color is different than mine. It might show in doing harm by refusing to hire or sit next to or by making fun of. Sadly, we fall into the sin of Cain because God says each person is my brother, my neighbor.

Let’s add to that. In America in addition to racism we also have what I might call jobism. By that I mean we disparage people and despise them grouping them together with a career we might not like because we or others have had a bad experience. Let me give you an example. I only personally know a handful of lawyers. Every one of them is a nice hardworking, honest person. One is a pastor’s wife. And yet I will laugh at the lawyer jokes and call them sharks. Shame on me! Some of you may have had a bad teacher along the way in your education, someone whose primary reason for going into teaching was getting summers off (which good teachers don’t actually get. I live with a teacher and work with them so I know.) But if you have a bad experience with a teacher would you say it is right to have all teachers take a pay cut because there are bad teachers out there? Would God say it is right? I know a number of police officers. Every office I know personally is hardworking and honest and became an officer to try to make a difference and to protect people. They sacrifice and have families praying they will come home each day. Would you say it is right for me to hate them and disparage them and treat them like they are officers who have done the wrong some officers have done? Would God say that is right? Again our local area has turmoil because of an officer involved shooting. I make no comment on the rightness or wrongness. I will wait until all information comes out. In our country we have the right to peacefully protest to make a point. But God does not give anyone the right to destroy or steal other people’s property or harm others if they are upset. God calls that sin. And sin divides, friends. My sin. Your sin. Others’ sin. When brother is set against brother, when people are hated and mistreated because of how they look or what they do it is sin. It is so important for us to remember it is a sin problem as we talk about solutions.

Now back to God’s word. Finally, you say! Remember the tension. Remember how it was resolved. Only in Christ. Our reading from Isaiah was addressed to foreigners and eunuchs, people who by Old Testament law were not allowed to be in the Temple, God’s house. And yet God Himself said they would be welcomed in. He would have a house of prayer for all nations. How could that happen? Isaiah was looking ahead to what Jesus would accomplish. Jesus, the Messiah, would pay for sin. There would be no need for Old Testament laws that were used to teach how sin separates not just people from people but people from God. Jesus would live the perfect life of love. Jesus would make the sin payments for what everyone else had done in the past and would do in the future. Foreigners and eunuchs would believe and they would show their faith this way. They would Maintain justice  and do what is right, …and bind themselves to the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship him, and  keep the New Testament Sabbath  by loving God’s word and worshipping willingly, by bringing the sacrifices of a broken heart and lives as offerings devoted to God. And so God’s house is a house of prayer for all nations, for all who believe in Jesus.

That is an important distinction between people that God makes. Not by color or profession but by faith or lack of it. Most of you know John 3:16. It is unfortunate that the whole of it is not always quoted together. All of that portion of John 3 together reads, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into to the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him. Whoever believes is not condemned but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Only Christ unites us with God. Friends, I contend that only Christ can truly unite us with one another. God calls us to look into ourselves and as believers repent where needed. Am I in any way hating, disparaging, wanting a person hurt because of how they look or what they do? Do I downplay someone else’s hurt because I am not hurting? Is St Jacobi a house of prayer for all nations? In Christ we have forgiveness for our sins against others. In Christ we know how to forgive others who have sinned against us. In Christ we find motivation to see His face on everyone else’s body so we know how to act and what we would never do or say. And finally only when Christ comes back to put an end to sin for good will there be true justice and peace. Justice delivered by God. Peace between God and man and one another.

A final note of encouragement and instruction. Brothers and sisters, it is the privilege and responsibility  of every believer to be an ambassador for Jesus. Jesus has left us on this planet specifically to be his witnesses. As you blog, tweet, post, talk, dialogue or advocate for change for any social issue that God approves, don’t abandon your post as an ambassador for Christ. Protect it. Remember it. Be it. Ask yourself it what you are posting will help you be a witness for Jesus or harm it. Do you really want to be known as anything other than a Christ first person? For only Christ unites for eternity. Our Lord Jesus said, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” If in our efforts to save babies from the murder of abortion, or to have fair and kind treatment for all people, or to stomp out childhood hunger or American poverty we forget to give Christ, and our work produces a bunch of well off, healthy and kind unbelievers, what have we gained for heaven? Sin divides. Christ unites. And with Him we get to look forward to a perfect house of prayer for all the nations. Until then let’s make sure this house and all of our own houses look as much like God’s as we can.

A side note. It’s hard to address the multilayered issues before us in a 20 plus minute sermon. I may not have spoken as clearly as I desire. If you have questions or concerns please speak with me. My heartfelt desire is that we unite in Christ. Amen.

Monday, August 10, 2020

August 8-10, 2020 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: 1 Timothy 6:17-19 “WHEN THE LORD IS YOUR FINANCIAL ADVISER…”

PENTECOST 10

August 8-10, 2020

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: 1 Timothy 6:17-19

 

“WHEN THE LORD IS YOUR FINANCIAL ADVISER…”

                             1. You know how to value your wealth.

                             2. You know what to do with your wealth.

 

1 Timothy 6:17-19 (EHV) “Instruct those who are rich in this present age not to be arrogant or to put their hope in the uncertainty of riches, but rather in God, who richly supplies us with all things for our enjoyment. 18Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they are storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”

 

          So, who are the rich? That’s an important question. We have a presidential election coming up and as platforms are laid out and ideas floated one that I have heard is to raise more government revenue by increasing taxes for the rich which might sound appealing to some unless of course you are rich. Now I’ve lived long enough to realize that people’s perception of who is rich and who is not can be a little skewed. According to the Census Bureau the median household income for the state of Wisconsin is $59,000. That means half of the households make more than $59,000 and half less. So I’m guessing half the people in Wisconsin would say if you make $59,000 or more you are rich. But I’ve talked with people who make much more than $59,000 and they do not consider themselves rich. Some would say if you make 6 figures, $100,000 or more you are rich. But I know people who have that kind of income and they do not consider themselves rich. I know of some folks who bring in over $300,000 a year in income and they fully support the idea of raising taxes on the wealthy. You know why? They don’t consider themselves rich. Just comfortable. So it seems to me people in America would only agree with this definition of rich: “Everyone who has more money than I do!”

          But if you ask someone in a third world country what would it mean to be rich they would simply say “to have more than I need.” And so with that definition if after you have paid for your needs you have enough money to have a Netflix subscription, you are rich. If you enough left over so you can buy Starbucks, or energy drinks at the gas station, or eat out regularly, or… your get the idea. Because of where and when God has chosen for us to live, pretty much all of us are rich. And it is important to know that not because of an idea of raising taxes on the wealthy but because in God’s Word before us today He speaks directly to the rich. “Instruct those who are rich in this present age.”

          Knowing how to handle wealth is very important. Either you educate yourself or you get some kind of a financial adviser. The Good News for us who believe in Jesus is He has not left us hanging when it comes to how to handle wealth. His word in the Bible instructs us first of all on how to value our wealth. “Instruct those who are rich in this present age not to be arrogant or to put their hope in the uncertainty of riches, but rather in God, who richly supplies us with all things for our enjoyment.” How do you value wealth? Our adviser tells us to value it as a gift from God. He says, “Don’t be arrogant that you are rich.” Don’t think you are rich because you are so great but because God is so great. Who is it that had you born when you were born and where you were born and to whom you were born? God. Who gave you your gifts and abilities? God. Did you have to use them wisely? Of course but you can’t use what you do not have to begin with. Do you remember what God told the people of Israel when He was about to give them the Promised Land? “You might say in your heart, “My ability and the power of my hand have earned this wealth for me.” 18 But then you are to remember that the Lord your God is the one who gives you the ability to produce wealth,” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18a)

          Value wealth then as a gift from God. It is not bad. Money is not the root of all evil, the love of money is. So when the Lord is your financial adviser you are careful not to value it more than God, and not to love or put your trust in it. “Instruct those who are rich… not to put their hope in the uncertainty of riches, but rather in God.” God gives daily bread. He can do so in all kinds of ways. One way is by giving us wealth. Trust and love the giver, not the gift. It was no accident the founding father put this on our money and yet how easy to forget. How easy to value our check books and paychecks and retirement accounts more highly than we should. How easy to trust them even though we know that markets go up and markets go down. Economies boom and economies recess. They are uncertain. But God is not. His love and mercy are new for us every day and He always keeps His promises. So we view wealth as a gift but not the most valuable gift.

That was the point of Jesus’ parables of the hidden treasure and the fine pearls. Being a believer is so valuable it would be worth paying everything you have for it. And yet we don’t have to pay. Jesus paid and gives us a loving relationship with God, forgiveness of sins, a mansion in heaven and a spot at the heavenly banquet as a gift. That’s a treasure. Solomon demonstrated too that the gift of wisdom, the ability to be a blessing to other people, that was far more valuable than wealth. Sad side note. By all modern parallel accounts Solomon was the wealthiest man who ever lived. Bezos has a ways to go. Did love of wealth lead him away from God into idolatry, adultery and other shameful sins? My fellow richies, listen to the Lord and value your wealth as just another gift from God among many gifts He has given you and certainly not the most important.

And when we have our values straight then we are ready to know what to do with our wealth. Listen again to the Lord, the financial adviser we can trust. “Instruct those who are rich in this present age not to be arrogant or to put their hope in the uncertainty of riches, but rather in God, who richly supplies us with all things for our enjoyment.” What should we do with our wealth? Enjoy it. Paul told us that God has supplied us with all things for our enjoyment. When you are relaxing on your patio, what a wonderful opportunity to have peace and contentment in your heart and a feeling of gratitude to God for what He has blessed you with. How nice to take a vacation and see God’s beautiful creation and feel peace and contentment that God has enabled you to enjoy such things. Go ahead and take pride in taking care of the nice car or truck God has given you. He’s provided all things for your enjoyment.

Our adviser also encourages us to do some investing of our wealth. “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share. In this way they are storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” Do good. Be generous. Share with others in need. Parents have been teaching those lessons to kids forever. Why bring it up here? Our adviser is opening our eyes to the way God’s kingdom works. He knows we have sinful natures that trick us into thinking our real joy and blessing comes when we use our wealth for ourselves. That’s like investing only for today. But when we let our faith show by doing good with our wealth, being generous and sharing we are investing for eternity. “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine you did for me,” Jesus will say on the last day. For me. For Jesus! What a great reason to use our wealth to help those in need. And when we use our wealth to share the Gospel with others we make heavenly friends, treasures for the future. What a great reason to use our wealth to support St Jacobi’s mission and the mission work of our schools and synod. With the Lord as our financial adviser we know what to do with our wealth.

Some of you will remember a financial firm that was huge at one time. EF Hutton. They had a memorable series of commercials that ended with the tag line, “When EF Hutton talks, people listen.” EF Hutton isn’t talking any more. But your Lord is. And you can trust Him. Why? He knows how to handle wealth. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor so that you through his poverty might become rich.” When Jesus talks, God’s people listen. And you are God’s people. Amen.

Monday, July 27, 2020

July 25-27, 2020 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23 BE A BLESSING TO YOUR NATION!


PENTECOST 8

July 25-27, 2020

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23



BE A BLESSING TO YOUR NATION!

1.     Be the good ground.

2.     Sow the seed.



Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23 (EHV) “That same day Jesus left the house and was sitting by the sea. 2A large crowd gathered around him. So he stepped into a boat and sat down, while all the people stood on the shore. 3He told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen, a sower went out to sow. 4As he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it. 5Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil. Immediately the seed sprang up, because the soil was not deep. 6But when the sun rose, the seed was scorched. Because it had no root, it withered away. 7Other seed fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and choked it. 8But some seed fell on good ground and produced grain: some one hundred times, some sixty, and some thirty times more than was sown. 9Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”



          At the beginning of this month we celebrated the 4th of July, Independence Day. So for the month of July in my online devotions I have been focusing on ways we can be a blessing to our nation. And our nation needs us to be a blessing. So much divisiveness. So much contention and discord. We certainly seem to have lost the ability to disagree nicely. Maybe you have found yourself just clamming up. A little frustrated. I mean, what can we do to make things better? Well, there are lots of things. Maybe go to our website and review my devotions. Today Jesus shows us how we can be a blessing in what is often called the Parable of the Sower and the Seed. Parables were teaching tools Jesus used that made a comparison with something the people would easily identify with to teach a spiritual truth that otherwise might be hard to grasp. Jesus was teaching a large crowd of people and the Parable of the Sower and the seed begins a series of parables Jesus used to help them understand how the kingdom of heaven runs. They had a hard time understanding how Jesus worked and ruled because their point of comparison was earthly kingdoms which worked far differently than the kingdom of God. For our purposes today we see how we can be a blessing to our nation.

          You heard the parable. It is simple. Following best farming practices back then farmers would take a sack or container of seed, go out to their fields and spread it by hand. As they walked through fields that did not have the advantage of machine cultivation the seed would fall sometimes on a hard beaten path, no chance to take root. Sometimes on rocky soil so no chance to thrive. Sometimes among thorns that choked out the good plant. Sometimes on good ground where it grew and produced a harvest.

          Often when Jesus tells a parable you have to look for the main point of comparison yourself but not here. He explains the parable for us. “So listen carefully to the parable of the sower. 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the Evil One comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the seed that was sown along the path. 20The seed that was sown on rocky ground is the person who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21yet he is not deeply rooted and does not endure. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. 22The seed that was sown among the thorns is the one who hears the word, but the worry of this world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it produces no fruit. 23But the seed that was sown on the good ground is the one who continues to hear and understand the word. Indeed he continues to produce fruit: some a hundred, some sixty, and some thirty times more than was sown.”

          Well there you have it! The parable is designed to teach about how the Kingdom of God works in this world. It spreads through God’s word. Someone sows the seed, teaches God’s word. Some people don’t grasp or value the word and faith never happens. The path. Some hear word and believe with joy but don’t want to take up the cross and follow Jesus, so faith dies. Rocky soil. Some take in the word but either thorns of worry fill their heart and choke away their faith or they value worldly wealth more than their faith and there is no fruit so in the end no faith. And then there is the good ground that eats up the word more and more and so there are more and more fruits of faith.
          Now what does this have to do with being a blessing to our nation? First, it compels us to be the good ground. Being the good ground does not mean working harder and harder to do what is right. It means making more and more time for the word. What did Jesus say? “Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.” And the seed that was sown on the good ground is the one who continues to hear and understand the word.” The ability to produce fruit, do good work, to be a blessing to our nation, is directly tied to continuing to hear and get understanding of the word. God takes care of the rest. The Holy Spirit does the heart changing and value changing. I ask you to take this one simple test. How are you feeling about the future? Angry? Bitter? Scared? Pessimistic? Or calm, peaceful happy, optimistic? Now think back. What have you been continuing to hear? More and more of the word or more and more of the news? “He who has ears to hear the Word, let him hear,” said Jesus. The Good News, not the evening news. The good news of the God who loves people so much He gives His one and only Son. The good news of the God who takes impossible situations like sinners who have doomed themselves to Hell and comes up with a plan to save them through the substitute of His Son. That God is in control. That God is the reason to have peace. That God is why we do not need to fear. That God is why we get to be optimistic. And people whose hearts are for God are at peace, optimistic, happy, trusting and are a blessing to their nation. They don’t sow discord, hold on to bitterness or lash out with angry words. They pull people toward Jesus.


          That reminds us of the second way this parable shows us we can be a blessing to our nation. Sow the seed. That’s the picture. With the large crowds that gathered around Jesus were His disciples, the one who would be in charge of the preaching and teaching of God’s Word after Jesus ascended. There was a lesson for them about how the kingdom of God works and what their responsibility was -- and wasn’t. Later they could identify with the farmer. What was the job of the farmer? Sow the seed. Did he try to figure out what soil was best? No, he sowed the seed. Did he go back with regret and try to pick up seed from the path or rocky ground? No! He sowed the seed. Later Jesus would tell them a parable about making judgments on whether someone was a weed or grain and not to do that. Their job was simple, sow the seed. Nothing else was their job.

          This is where we come in today. Sow the seed. Share God’s word. Do that personally where you can in your own sphere of influence, family, friends, co workers, neighbors, blog followers. You are here with a purpose, to be witnesses for Jesus. Sow the seed, Share the word through your church and schools and synod. Pray and support us. We don’t have to try to figure out who would be a good one to share it with. We simply need to share it. Now you might think what good does it do? People won’t listen to me. Or what about when we teach kids God’s word in our school and then shortly after Confirmation or graduation don’t see them again? So? Was that our job? To make sure they believe, listen, continue? Sow the seed. Or you may think what good does it do? I taught my kids and where are they now? So?  Sow the seed. Or maybe in your judgment the nation is just too far gone away from Christianity. So? Sow the seed!

          Did you follow the whole parable? Some will listen. Some will bear fruit, 30, 60, a hundred times. What a blessing for our nation when more and more hearts are changed by Christ’s love to love as we do! Someone sowed the seed in us. We are bearing fruit. It works the same way with other people. How different does America look with more and more believers in it? And you may sow the seed to someone the Lord will use to turn things around. Or that person might or that person. God makes the plans, not us. What did He say? Sow the seed.

          Here’s another parable. A farmer stayed in his house and sowed no seed. None fell on the path. None fell on rocky soil. None fell among thorns. And none fell on good ground. And so nothing good happened. Brothers and sisters, God has granted to us the ability to be a blessing to our nation. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! Amen.

Monday, July 20, 2020

July 18-20, 2020 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Romans 7:15-25a (EHV) “BLESSED WITH REST!”


PENTECOST 7

July 18-20, 2020

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Romans  7:15-25a (EHV)



“BLESSED WITH REST!”

1.     There is no rest without work.

2.     There is no rest without Christ.



Romans 7:15-25a (EHV) For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not keep doing what I want. Instead, I do what I hate. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17But now it is no longer I who am doing it, but it is sin living in me. 18Indeed, I know that good does not live in me, that is, in my sinful flesh. The desire to do good is present with me, but I am not able to carry it out. 19So I fail to do the good I want to do. Instead, the evil I do not want to do, that is what I keep doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who am doing it, but it is sin living in me. 21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is present with me. 22I certainly delight in God’s law according to my inner self, 23but I see a different law at work in my members, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me captive to the law of sin, which is present in my members. 24What a miserable wretch I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”



          Rest is something all people long for. You can only go so long in a day until your body grows tired. It wants rest. You can only push your mind so far in learning before it gets tired. It wants rest. Emotionally there is only so much stress or heartache you can deal with before you need rest. There is a reason people long for rest. It is a need that God built into us. If you want to right now or at home use a Bible search program and you will find over 500 times where God talks about rest. It is a need all people have. Now, you know God. When people have a need, a legitimate need, what is He going to do? Provide it! He wants His people Blessed with Rest!

          Certainly we see the Apostle Paul proclaim that truth as he wrote to the Christians in Rome. Although at first hearing or reading Romans 7:15-25 does not sound like Paul was getting a lot of rest, does it? He describes a great, spiritually painful, ongoing struggle. It’s a struggle against sin. His frustration is evident. “For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not keep doing what I want. Instead, I do what I hate.” His angst is clear. “Indeed, I know that good does not live in me, that is, in my sinful flesh. The desire to do good is present with me, but I am not able to carry it out. 19So I fail to do the good I want to do. Instead, the evil I do not want to do, that is what I keep doing.” You can tell how tired he felt. “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is present with me. 22I certainly delight in God’s law according to my inner self, 23but I see a different law at work in my members, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me captive to the law of sin, which is present in my members. 24What a miserable wretch I am!”

          What he needed was rest. And first of all let’s acknowledge a truth. There is no rest without work. You know how that goes. When you are working all the time, when the day is one meeting after another, one patient after another, one service call after another, you long to be done. You want rest. After a long hard day of sitting around at home and doing nothing it is not rest you want but something to do! Only the work points out the need for rest. Now here is where it is really important that we understand the kind of work Paul was doing, that you and I must do and why it is important. First make sure you understand that the struggle against sin that is vital for every believers is not the struggle to get to heaven. It is not a struggle to please God enough so that you are worthy of heaven. To do that you would have to be perfect and Paul plainly spelled out in the first part of his letter to the Romans that we are righteous apart from the law, apart from what we do.

          So why do all the work of fighting against sin? Since Jesus’ death paid off the debt of my sin what does it matter if I sin or not? And since God’s free forgiveness in Jesus shows how kind and gracious He is why not make Him look even kinder and more gracious by sinning as much as I can? Why do the hard work of struggling against sin. Working to resist temptation first of all is evidence of faith. Faith takes God at His word. When God says something is wrong and we are to detest or hate it only when faith is present will sin be detestable. Secondly working to resist temptation shows love for Jesus.” If you love me obey my commandments,” Jesus said. Not, “in order to get to heaven,” not “to earn blessings,” but “if you love me.” Only with faith in Jesus will we love Him. Thirdly, it shows you value Jesus’ sacrifice. When people say sins don’t matter they are in effect saying Jesus’ sacrifice was a waste. When believers fight against sin in their lives we are saying we understand the great debt each of our sins incurred.

          This is why we work to fight sin. And it is work. To be alone with your computer and the temptation to look at porn comes, to resist is work. To hold your tongue in an emotional discussion takes work. To respond to angry words with kindness is not easy. It’s hard work. To prioritize God’s word and worship when our society has so many things to easily distract us takes work. To keep up a daily habit of prayer and devotion—you got it. Work! To speak up and defend someone getting defamed, work. Work. Work. Work. It’s all work. And then you fail. You resist for so long and you give in. You don’t do the good you wanted to do, no the evil thing you were fighting so hard to resist, that’s what you do!

Failure. Loser. Paul’s words. “What a miserable wretch I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Rest! That’s what you long for. Not rest from seeking to please Jesus. That’s what you live for. Rest from the guilt of failure. Rest from disappointing your Lord and yourself. Rest from the Devil’s voice accusing you, reminding you what a miserable wretch you are. “And you call yourself a Christian!”

Rest is what you need. And rest is what God provides! “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Such simple words. They take the sinners eyes back where they belong, on to Jesus. There is no rest without Christ. God said that before. While many Christians have teased others physically tired Christians by quoting the passage, “There is no rest for the wicked, you sure must be wicked,” the Bible’s definition of a wicked person is someone who rejects their Savior, someone who tries to get right with God apart from Jesus. God speaks clearly on this. To be righteous on your own by what you do you must be perfect. That is impossible. God found another way. He sent Jesus who lived perfectly and everyone who believes in Jesus is counted by God as righteous, holy, perfect. Everyone who rejects Jesus stays imperfect. There is no rest without Christ.

But there is such beautiful rest with Him! You heard His invitation, “Come to me. I will give you rest.” Let’s take that struggle with sin. When you were a child say 3 or 4 years old did you ever help Dad with a chore, maybe moving a heavy piece of furniture or something like that? You did it because you loved Dad and wanted to be like Dad and desired his approval. Maybe he groaned and huffed and then when you helped all of the sudden the heavy box lifted. You know now Dad did all the real work. Jesus has done all the real work in defeating sin. Your work to fight sin isn’t taking care of it all. It has that different purpose: you love Jesus and want His approval. He’s made you perfect in God’s eyes. And there is more rest. Your guilt, your shame, your feeling like a failure when you fall? Jesus has forgiven you already. You may be fighting the same temptation your whole life. Jesus will be with you your whole life. With God’s help you may kick a certain sin. Awesome! Give God the glory! Another sin will try to take its place. Jesus’ forgiveness covers that too. Rest in Christ comes when we look at what He has done, not what we have done.

And one day that rest that is so temporary here on earth will change into the Sabbath rest of heaven, the kind pictured by God on the 7th Day when He rested, not because He was tired, but because of a job well done. Keep working, keep struggling, but most importantly, keep your eyes on Jesus who has blessed you with rest for your earthly life and one day will welcome you home with the phrase we all can’t wait to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and enjoy your Master’s happiness. Blessed with Rest! Amen.


Monday, June 22, 2020

June 20-22, 2020 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Matthew 9:9-13 Happy Fathers’ Day!


PENTECOST 3

June 20-22, 2020

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Matthew 9:9-13



Happy Fathers’ Day!

1. Like Father…

2. Like Son…

3. Like You!



Matthew 9:9-13 (EHV) As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting in the tax collector’s booth. He said to him, “Follow me.” Matthew got up and followed him. 10As Jesus was reclining at the table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were actually there too, eating with Jesus and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “The healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. 13Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ In fact, I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”



          Happy Father’s Day! To all of you who are fathers and all of you thinking of your fathers. My heartfelt sorrow for any of you who have had difficult relationships with your fathers. God did not intend that to be that way. As a Christian father I have to admit feeling a bit of pressure, pressure to not mess up God’s picture. Think about it. God could have chosen any title to define Himself and help us understand who He is to us but the one He chose is Father. “When you pray,” Jesus said, “Say Our Father in heaven.” Think of the parable of the extremely outrageously impossibly loving Father which most know as the parable of the Prodigal Son. That is how God wants us to think of him and if I, as a father, am a lousy father, an unloving father, a selfish father, I am responsible for destroying the picture God wants to use to have my children view Him. That’s heavy stuff. Fathers, we have a high responsibility.

          God is not just our Father in heaven, He is also Jesus’ father and there is something that our collective father in heaven wants us to learn today from the portion of God’s Word that I read to you. It began with Jesus calling a man named Matthew to follow Him. Matthew is identified as a tax collector. Now if we were back in Jesus’ day and I said the phrase tax collector all of you would start to boo and hiss. Let’s practice. Tax collector. Now why would you do that? Because tax collectors blatantly stole from their own people. They were Jewish men working for the Roman government that had conquered your country and used that threat of Roman force to extort money from their own people. They got rich abusing their fellow citizens. Now that is wrong and sinful and so most of the time tax collectors were excommunicated from their churches. It’s the right thing to do to try to help someone repent when they are not doing so. One big problem though. When tax collectors repented they weren’t welcomed back. And yet Jesus called this tax collector to be one of his disciples who would become an Apostle!

          As you heard Matthew immediately left his life of tax collecting and followed Jesus. Clearly he was thrilled that Jesus would accept him so he thought of other people like himself, people who would never again be welcome in the Jewish church. He invited them to a meal with Jesus. There were more tax collectors and “sinners.” When it’s said like that in the Bible it means people whose known sins made them undesirable. We don’t have  a lot of stigma with sin in our country anymore so it’s hard to come up with something similar other than a known prostitute or maybe a drug dealer. Matthew wanted others to know Jesus.

          That’s when the Pharisees, (now in our day that’s who we boo and hiss for) when they saw this they asked Jesus’ disciples a really good question. “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” So often people focus on what others do or say. The Pharisees (boo, hiss!) wanted to know why. Why would Jesus eat, associate, with people who everyone knew had sinned so badly they were put out of their synagogues? Great question. Better answer. “When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “The healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. 13Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ In fact, I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

          Now since you are all paying such close attention you are connecting the dots. Jesus just quoted what you heard in the Old Testament reading from Hosea. Jesus was reminding these people who knew their Old Testament what the Father was like. Merciful. He’s the one who, when Adam and Eve spit in His face after all He had done for them, did not wipe them away but promised a Savior. He’s the one who when Cain killed his brother Abel instead of immediately taking his life gave Cain lasting consequences to call him to repentance. He’s the one who put up the with the grumbling and complaining Israelites over and over again. Why? Mercy! While many people get impressed when God shows His power in destroying and punishing that is not what God wants. He only does so when people force Him to. What He wants is every sinner to repent. Every sinner forgiven. Every sinner with Him in heaven. That’s the Father.

          And like Father, like Son. That’s the answer to the Pharisees’ question “Why.” Why did Jesus eat with tax collectors and sinners? He’s like the Father. He desires everyone to recognize their sin, despair of ever having God’s love and forgiveness and then He delights in giving what you don’t deserve. Forgiveness. Mercy. Jesus mission was not to stop all prostitution and stealing by tax collectors. He was the Father’s mercy in action. Just think, as Jesus looked around that table He knew all their sins and He knew He would be punished for every bit of greed, lust stealing and adultery. He would do that because His Father was merciful. And so was He even though it meant He would suffer. And He was willing to do that because He knew He would win some souls for God. We don’t know because we haven’t been told but likely not everyone around that table repented. Some may just have been curious. Some may have liked their sinning and had no intention of stopping and saw no need for Jesus as their Savior. But some would be like Matthew who left everything, left his old life behind and in faith followed Jesus.

          And in faith acted like Jesus, showing mercy, wanting all souls to be saved. Like Father, like Son, like Matthew, like the Apostle Paul. You can tell, can’t you, why the reading from 1 Timothy was put with the other readings today? It shows us how someone we think of as one of the greatest Christians ever got that way. He realized how badly he needed mercy. And having received mercy he wanted others to get the same. Do you?

          This part of God’s word demands a response for us. When Jesus said “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners” you have to self identify. Do I think Jesus is for me? Then I have to admit I am not righteous. I am a sinner. I’m not sure how the Pharisees responded but I’m guessing they identified themselves as the righteous, at least in their eyes. They didn’t need Jesus and if they stayed that way they didn’t get Him. They died and faced Jesus’ Father as rejecters of Jesus forcing Him to send them to Hell. If I, like they, am better at seeing other people’s sins than my own, if I am more bothered by other people’s sins than my own, then Jesus didn’t need to come for me. But if I, like Matthew and Paul, realize my wretchedness and am overwhelmed that Jesus would actually want a person like me then it will be like Father, like Son, like you and me.

          Those who have received mercy want others to get it too. Listen, let’s be honest. We all have skeletons in our closets. We all have things we are ashamed of. Jesus paid for them all. In full. He wants you. He wants me. Now let’s want that for others. Do you have a family members, an acquaintance, someone who’s hurt you that you don’t want in heaven? Repent. God desires mercy. And you know, it’s not just fathers that can give God the Father a bad name. Every Christian can do that for Jesus. Our country is polarized on many issues. It gets easy to see people as enemies rather than the Devil. He is the enemy. Hell is for him. People we want saved. All people. Does the way we talk about all people show we want them saved? Are we careful with what and how we post things on social media which can be so easily misunderstood and taken out of context? Do our words and actions say “Why would Jesus want someone like you?” or “Why does Jesus want someone like me?” He desires mercy. Like Father. Like Son. Now like you. Amen.

Monday, June 1, 2020

May 30-June 1, 2020 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Joel 2:28-29 “We’ve got Spirit, yes we do!”


PENTECOST

May 30-June 1, 2020

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Joel 2:28-29



“We’ve got Spirit, yes we do!”

1.     The Lord has kept His promise.

2.     The evidence is obvious.



Joel 2:28-29 (EHV)   After this, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions. 29 Even on the servants, both male and female, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.”



          Cheerleading has sure changed over the years. If you have seen modern cheerleading with its flips and throws and standing pyramids you might pray for your kids to play something safer like football. Many of your memories of cheerleading, like mine, are of something much simpler, the cheerleaders leading cheers that the crowd would participate in. Who could forget classics like “2 bits, 4 bits, 6  bits, a dollar, all for St. Jacobi stand up and holler!” And then of course the crowd would do so. Or another standard after a made goal or point or free throw, “We want another one, just like the other one, Go, go!” And then of course there was that rabble rousing cheer that pitted fan bases against one another. “We’ve got spirit, yes we do, we’ve got spirit, how bout you?” Back and forth. Brothers and sisters that phrase jumped into my head as I thought about celebrating Pentecost. Pentecost celebrates the Holy Spirit, that unseen but absolutely necessary always working person of God. As we’ll see what joy and confidence it gives us to yell “We’ve got Spirit, yes we do” when we are talking about the Holy Spirit.

          The part of God’s word we are looking at was penned by the prophet Joel. We don’t really know when he served God’s people but the date is unimportant. The message is important. Joel served God’s people at a time when a great swarm of locusts had devoured all their crops. It is a time of natural disaster. God was using it to call His people to repent of their idol worship, putting other things ahead of God. God had Joel remind the people of two things. One, He is in control. Two, He will deliver His people. Good truths for us to hold on to as the world suffers from a different kind of swarm. Hold on believer. God is in control. He never promised you a rose garden. We must go through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God. Hold on believer. God delivers. Why the doom, gloom, sadness and fear? While the world says, “We’ll get through this together,” the believer knows, “God alone will get us through this!”

          For God’s good reasons He chose that time of natural disaster when locusts were everywhere to announce a time when the Holy Spirit would be everywhere.  After this, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions. 29 Even on the servants, both male and female, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” In Old Testament times God used the tool of prophesy, dreams and visions to reveal His holy will. For prophesy God in various ways communicated directly to the one who would speak His word. Think Moses and the burning bush or up on Mt. Sinai. He used special supernatural dreams and visions as well. Think Jacob and the ladder to heaven, Joseph with Pharaoh’s dreams and Daniel with Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams and his own visions. Very few of God’s people got the privilege of saying, “This is what God says.”

          Through Joel God announced a time when he would change the way he would reveal His will. A time was coming when all of God’s people would be ones who would reveal God’s will. Young and old. Men and women. Masters and servants. They would all be proclaiming the great things God had done. What was going to change? The way the Holy Spirit worked. Instead of working through a select few He would be poured out on all of God’s people. I imagine the people of the prophet Joel’s time as well as Joel himself a little dumbfounded. Like when Mary heard she would bear God’s Son, they must have asked, “How can this be?”

          The always simple answer is “Because God says so!” And then He told us exactly when He changed things. Pentecost! God kept His promise. When the people on Pentecost day wondered how common people, fishermen, ex tax collectors and others could be proclaiming the wonderful works of God Peter told them that this was the fulfillment of what God had announced through the prophet Joel, this very prophecy that we are talking about. We too are living in the time period, the New Testament time period, when the Holy Spirit is poured out on all of God’s people.  All of God’s people can reveal what God says because we have this, His holy word, completed, unchanged, always reliable and true. Little ones proclaim it when they sing “Jesus loves me this I know.” And every believer armed with this can confidently tell family member, friend and neighbor, “This is what God says.”      

          Do you see what this means? We’ve got Spirit, yes we do! What cause for rejoicing! The main work of the Holy Spirit is to bring people to faith in Jesus so they are saved. He works in people’s lives so that they give glory to Jesus by proclaiming Him as the only way to heaven. He works in people’s lives so they obey Jesus because they love Him, not because they have to. He works in people’s lives so they make the mission Jesus gave their priority. He works in peoples’ lives so His fruit, love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, are more and more present to the glory of God.

          And I have to say the evidence is obvious, the evidence that you, the people of St Jacobi, you’ve got Spirit! The Holy Spirit that is. It’s obvious you have the Holy Spirt because you have what the Holy Spirit works through. Hopefully most of you are familiar with the term “the Means of Grace.” That’s the phrase used to describe what the Holy Spirit work through. His tools. That’s what Means means. Tools. While the Holy Spirit as God can work where and how he wants the only way He’s told us He works is through the Gospel message as it comes through God’s Word and Sacraments. I am not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone that believes. Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ. We have our Bibles. We have Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The evidence is obvious. We’ve got Spirit, yes we do.

There’s more obvious evidence. You believe in Jesus as your Savior. Remember the chief work of the Holy Spirit has always been to reveal God’s will and that will is clear. He wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth that only Jesus saves. The Bible is clear. No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit and you all say Jesus is Lord. He has saved you and you are pleased to have Him as your master. You may take that for granted but it is a miracle the Holy Spirit worked in you. You say that even though many of you fellow Americans won’t. Even though many of them say you are crazy. Your loyalty to Jesus shows. You have continued to worship Jesus at home, online and together. We have seen the evidence of your tuning in to devotions and Bible stories. You have banded together in prayer for one another and the country and the world.  You are making sacrifices to carry out the mission Christ gave us to be His witnesses here and throughout the world. You are patterning your life after Christ’s will because you want to and to show love to Him. You are striving to treat one another with love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.” We’ve got Spirit, yes we do. Thank you dear Lord God!

We’ve got Spirit, yes we do. Do you remember how that rabble rousing cheer ended? Back and forth it went with each fan base trying to outshout the other until both were shouting, “We’ve got more! We’ve got more!” I suggest a different ending for our cheer today. We want more. More of the Holy Spirit. That’s a prayer God will gladly answer with a yes and has given us the means to do so. Through these past few months many of God’s people made a renewed commitment to God’s word. They viewed online devotions and Bible stories and had their own. I’ve heard many people longing for a return to normalcy, things back the way they were before. I share that desire except for this. Let’s not return to a normal where we took God’s word for granted. Let’s have a new normal that has us digging in daily to get more and more of the Holy Spirit in us and showing in our lives so that without boasting and in all honesty the fan base of St Jacobi could end the cheer, “We’ve got the most!” Amen.

Monday, May 18, 2020

April 18-20, 2020 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: John 20:19-31 (EHV) “PEACE!”


EASTER 2

April 18-20, 2020

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: John 20:19-31 (EHV)



“PEACE!”

1.     For those who are afraid.

2.     For those who doubt.

3.     For those who believe.



John 20:19-31 (EHV) On the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were together behind locked doors because of their fear of the Jews. Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you!” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you! Just as the Father has sent me, I am also sending you.” 22After saying this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23Whenever you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven. Whenever you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” 24But Thomas, one of the Twelve, the one called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, and put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe.” 26After eight days, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands. Take your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue to doubt, but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  30Jesus, in the presence of his disciples, did many other miraculous signs that are not written in this book. 31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”



          One of the not so good things about this shutdown is I find myself watching more TV commercials. Normally Chris and I use our DVR to avoid watching them but recently since we are doing a little more TV watching we don’t have the buffer or the recording. One of those commercials brought a smile to my face. It was for Geico and had some people trying to hide from a killer. You’ve probably seen it. Instead of taking off in a car, they say “Let’s hide behind the chainsaws!” Really? Don’t you know what’s going to happen? It reminded me of the way so many dramas are set up. The lady is home alone. She has been threatened. She hears a noise in the basement. She goes to explore. The light doesn’t work. So she starts down the stairs. At that point you are just screaming. “Seriously, don’t you know what’s going to happen?” You want to jump into the program and stop them. I find myself feeling the same way as we walk with Jesus’ disciples after Jesus’ resurrection. Guys! Come on. Are you really going to be fearful, really going to doubt when Jesus has already given proof  He is alive! Don’t you already know what’s going to happen? But it’s good for us to see how Jesus’ disciples act because we are Jesus’ disciples too. And we often act like they do. More importantly, we see Jesus and how he provides all his followers with exactly what they need to have peace!

It’s the evening of Easter Sunday. The disciples have heard from the women that Jesus rose from the dead. Peter and John have seen the empty tomb and folded grave clothes. The Emmaus disciples have rushed in and told them how Jesus walked with them. So of course they are rejoicing and celebrating and…No. They are behind locked doors afraid of the Jewish leaders who had opposed and killed Jesus. Fear will do that to you. It will make you act irrationally. It will paralyze your ability to have joy and happiness. But Jesus came. “Peace be with you!” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” Look how things changed when they knew, they knew, Jesus lives. Peace. That’s calmness even in difficult circumstances. Joy because Jesus lives. Purpose. Remember the real mission is to get folks forgiven.

          Peace is what Jesus gives to his disciples who are afraid. Good thing too, because sometimes we are afraid. Fear can cause you to do things that appear irrational. I don’t know anybody who would arbitrarily say that shutting down a booming American economy, stunting the education of 54 million k-12 students and millions more college kids, having over 22 million Americans lose their jobs and not letting children see their parents in their last days of life is a good idea. Yet that very thing has happened. Why? Fear. Fear what the coronavirus could do. Fear because we don’t have all the facts. Fear that is robbing people of peace and joy. Maybe it is robbing you. But this is nothing new for us, is it? Like the disciples we have been told Jesus lives and rules all for our good. We have seen the proof in our own lives. Our personal history proves the proverb “If God brings you to it He will bring you through it.” But then the cancer diagnosis comes. Then the job loss comes. Then___________________. We feel anxious. Fearful. Sad. Stressed. Peace! Jesus lives! The conqueror of sin, death and the Devil lives and is with you. He rules for you. That Good News needs to be the focus of our lives.

          Peace is also what Jesus provides for the doubters. Poor Thomas is always going to carry that label. He didn’t always doubt. He was the one who urged the disciples to go die with Jesus when He went to Jerusalem knowing full well the opposition he would receive. He has this moment of weakness. He’s heard all the testimony the others disciples have. Now he gets theirs. They keep telling him Jesus is alive. The response? “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, and put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Now I know we wanted to rush in there and try to stop him but it’s good for us that Thomas went ahead with his bold skepticism. It’s good because while sometimes we are like Thomas and are bold in our trust in Jesus at other times we are like Thomas and we doubt even though all of the voices in the Bible are telling us the truth, even though we can look back at the fingerprints of God in our lives but when a time of testing or trial pops up we doubt. Look what Jesus gives to the doubting. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands. Take your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue to doubt, but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Peace with proof. The exact proof Thomas had boldly demanded proving that not only does Jesus live but He is with us always. Do you think it made an impact on the rest of Thomas’ life to realize Jesus had been with him the whole time he was setting his conditions? Jesus lives so Thomas got peace.

          Good news for us. Because no matter how many times Jesus gets us through another rough patch, no matter how many times he provides in a way were not anticipating, the next time there is a tight spot we find it so easy to doubt Jesus’ wisdom and power in our lives. We doubt that we will get through it. The result? No peace. But Jesus lives. And just like He gave Thomas exactly what he needed to believe Jesus has done the same for you and me.

          Jesus pointed us to it when He said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  And then He had John write these words, “Jesus, in the presence of his disciples, did many other miraculous signs that are not written in this book. 31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Peace. A calmness no matter what is happening, is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. It’s a blessing the Holy Spirit brings into our lives with faith. While Thomas believed because he saw, Jesus says it is better to believe because you have heard. He said those who believe on the basis of being told are blessed, made happy, at peace. Think about it. If I can only have peace once I see how God bailed me out that means I will live most of my life without peace because I can’t have peace until I have seen. If you can’t have peace until you see how this whole covid 19 thing plays out, you will have weeks or months of no peace. On the other hand if I have peace because God says so then I get to live the largest portion of my life at peace. I get peace right now because Jesus lives. Jesus who did so many more miracles than we know of. Jesus who rules all for the good of the church. Peace. Do you want it? You know how to get it. These things are written so you may believe in Jesus and have life in His name, a life of peace now that will extend to the perfect peace of heaven.

          I urge all of you to continue to be in this word if you already are. And if you are not to make it your first priority to get that going. We don’t want people to have to look back at how we handled this or any other crisis and say, “What were they thinking? Didn’t they already know that Jesus lives?” Yes, we do. So we will have peace! Amen.