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.

May 16-18, 2020 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: 1 John 3:11-18 “LOVE”


EASTER 6

May 16-18, 2020

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: 1 John 3:11-18



“LOVE”

1.     What’s love got to do with it?

2.     I want to know what love is.

3.     All you need is love.



1 John 3:11-18 (EHV) This is the message you have heard from the beginning: Love one another. 12Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the Evil One and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own works were evil, while those of his brother were righteous. 13Do not be surprised, brothers, if the world hates you. 14We know that we have crossed over from death to life, because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death. 15Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him. 16This is how we have come to know love: Jesus laid down his life for us. And we also should lay down our lives for our brothers. 17Whoever has worldly wealth and sees his brother in need but closes his heart against him—how can God’s love remain in him? 18Dear children, let us love not only with word or with our tongue, but also in action and truth.”



          If you haven’t been to a wedding reception lately some things have changed. You may remember that at many receptions guests would try to get the bride and groom to kiss by klinking their glasses. That’s not so common any more. The brides and grooms are fighting back. They make you earn the right to have them kiss. You might have to correctly answer a trivia question about the bride or groom. You might have to roll a large pair of dice or spin a wheel and do what it says or stick a bag on a board with the bags game. I’ve been to many receptions where the bride and groom would not kiss unless the requesters sang a song that had “love” in it. I’ve often threatened to Chris that I was going to get up and sing “Love Stinks” by the J Geils band. Now you can understand why there would be this request to have love songs at a wedding because love is a necessary ingredient for a marriage.

          And love is a necessary ingredient for a Christian. God made that abundantly clear through his Apostle John. If you recall John was the last living Apostle. While all the others had been martyred Jesus used John to grow up the fledgling Christian church. When it was brand new love abounded. This is what we are told about the early Christian Church in Acts 2:44-45. “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” They loved each other with word and actions. It was obvious. Some sixty years later when John wrote his first letter with its strong emphasis on love you have to wonder. Was love for one another waning? Were some of them wondering, “What’s love got to do with it?”

          If you are wondering what love has to do with being a Christian, I can answer with one word, everything. This is the message you have heard from the beginning: Love one another. 12Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the Evil One and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own works were evil, while those of his brother were righteous. 13Do not be surprised, brothers, if the world hates you. 14We know that we have crossed over from death to life, because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death. 15Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.” John takes us to two beginnings. First is the beginning of the Christian Church when Jesus had his disciples in the upper room and told them, A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  (John 13:34) Jesus said loving one another is necessary. It is a sign, evidence, that you are a disciple of Jesus. Then John took us to another beginning, the beginning of hatred, the opposite of love. Just like love is the evidence of belonging to Jesus, hatred is the evidence of belonging to Satan. And brothers and sisters in faith today need this warning just like they did at John’s time. Cain did not murder a stranger but his very own brother. Cain was jealous of his brother. He hated the fact that Abel’s righteous living testified against his own evil living. We need the warning that the ability to hate lives in our own lives. We have seen it come out when we have murdered a brother or sister in faith with our words, tearing them apart. We also need to understand that when we live as followers of Jesus unbelievers will hate us because we remind them they are wrong. What’s love got to do with it? Everything. It’s a sign that you are a Christian and its absence that you are not.

          Now someone might hear or read this and honestly say, “I want to know what love is.” That’s legit. That word love gets thrown around a lot and can be twisted to mean all sorts of things. But if you want to know what love is as a Christian you don’t have to guess. You just have to look—at Jesus. “This is how we have come to know love: Jesus laid down his life for us.” Look at Jesus as see what love is and is not. Love moves a person to do what they can to take care of the needs of others. All people have the need of having their sins removed. If sin clings to you when you die you go to Hell. People cannot like that truth all they want. You might not like it or want it to be that way but it is the truth. No one covered with sin lives in heaven. Only Jesus had the ability to take care of that need. Only He is the perfect holy Son of God. Now taking care of that need would cost Him dearly. But He loved. So He laid down His life. That sacrifice paid for the sins of the whole world. That’s love, sacrificing to take care of the needs of others. Love is not permission to sin. Love is not toleration of sin. Love is not letting others do what they want or giving them whatever they want. Look at Jesus and you see what love is: making a personal sacrifice to help someone in need.

          Now, brother, sister, all you need is love. Love that shows. “And we also should lay down our lives for our brothers. 17Whoever has worldly wealth and sees his brother in need but closes his heart against him—how can God’s love remain in him? 18Dear children, let us love not only with word or with our tongue, but also in action and truth.” Remember Jesus shows us that real love means that if you are able you make a personal sacrifice to help someone with a true need. Having received the love Jesus has demonstrated in action and truth on the cross we now reflect that love to others. Not by paying for their sins. We can’t do that. And Jesus already has. But from time to time we will find ourselves in position to make a personal sacrifice to meet a brother’s need. In this context brother is your fellow believer. What needs might they have that I can make a personal sacrifice to show love? Well they need the Gospel. While our Christian giving is important as a way to show love to God it also shows love to our brothers and sisters in faith who need pastors and teachers to preach and teach. Actually giving, making that personal sacrifice, loves with action and truth and let me tell you I have seen the love in the way you have been making such efforts to get your offering in. How wonderful it has been to have so many members contact us willing to drive or shop for or help other members in this shut down time. Others of you have offered your stimulus payment to help members in need. That’s action and truth. So many have given time for our building program, cleaning and painting and hanging things. Action and truth. Depending on where things go with unemployment there may be opportunities for you to sacrifice to help a fellow member whose hardship goes on. Before Covid 19 we were planning our emphasis to more deliberately live as the family we are. St Jacobi. Your church home on Forest Home. As we get back together and resume that emphasis you will be presented with opportunities to love each other as family and it is important that you do because if you don’t, you’ll give love a bad name.

          Love is what it’s all about. God so loved us. We love one another. There are literally thousands of songs about love. I checked. There will likely be more. But none will hold a candle to the one we already sang. Jesus loves me. This I know for the Bible tells me so. Dear friends as He has loved us, so we must love one another. Amen.

Monday, May 4, 2020

May 2-4, 2020 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Psalm 23 Because the LORD is your Shepherd…


GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY

May 2-4, 2020

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Psalm 23



Because the LORD is your Shepherd…

1.     You have everything you need.

2.     Your soul gets restored.

3.     You are on the path of righteousness.

4.     You have nothing to fear.

5.     You are well fed.

6.      You are blessed right now.

7.     The best is yet to come!



Psalm 23 (NIV 1984) “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3he restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

6Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”



          Psalm 23 is one of the most well known parts of the Bible. I was surprised to discover that in my over 25 years of serving as a pastor I had never preached on it. That changes today. The Holy Spirit caused King David to write Psalm 23. There is a little bit of foreshadowing going on here. David was a shepherd before he became king. Jesus is a Shepherd and a King. David, the shepherd becomes a lamb as he writes this psalm. That reminds us of Jesus, doesn’t it? Jesus, the Good Shepherd became the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. The reason Psalm 23 is so well known is because it gets read a funerals a lot! And with good reason. As we go through the Psalm you will see it is a beautiful expression of both comfort and confidence, the very thing that happens at Christian funerals. God’s people are comforted and are confident. But Psalm 23 is not just a comforting and confidence giving psalm for death time. It’s a comforting and confidence giving psalm for earthly life. We’ll see that today as we look at the blessings we have because the LORD is our Shepherd.

          Now the first thing you have to understand is everyone has a shepherd. Using the picture of a shepherd and his flock, the shepherd is the one you look to to take care of you, provide for you, protect you and comfort you. Some people have a shepherd named Sam, Uncle Sam that is. And they look to the government as the ultimate source of protection and wisdom and comfort in time of trial. To be sure God Himself established government to rule a country for the physical welfare of its people. But as Jesus pointed out in the Gospel lesson there is only one Good Shepherd. All others are hirelings who do not care for the flock like Jesus does. IF Sam is your shepherd you will be sadly disappointed. Some people choose shepherds named Jim or Jack, Jim Beam and Jack Daniels, that is. And alcohol is what they lean on to get through tough times. Another hireling that deserts you and leave you hanging. Probably the most popular shepherd that people have is named Mimi, you know Me. Me! Again, the Lord God has given to each of us a personal responsibility to care for ourselves and our families as He enables us but…if we look to ourselves as the ultimate shepherd, well, we are hirelings too, and limited in what we can do. Not so the LORD. Remember that is the name God chooses to use in the Bible to communicate that He is the Savior God, the one who uses His omnipotence to save people and show mercy, to always have their best interests in mind. Look now at all the blessings you have because the LORD is your Shepherd!

          First you have everything you need. “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” Now I know some of you kids out there are saying, “Hey, wait a minute! I don’t have everything I want. I want more legos. I want to be playing with my friends. I want to be back at regular school!” Oh yes, there are all kinds of things we want. But what the Psalm says is be in want. That means to lack something you need. When the LORD is your Shepherd you don’t lack anything you need. Mark this well. If the LORD has not provided it for you, you don’t need it. You may think you do. You may have your heart set on it, but you don’t need it.

          Secondly, because the LORD is your shepherd your soul gets restored. “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. 3he restores my soul.” King David, who had cared for sheep uses a picture to help us see how well we are blessed. The flock is at rest in an idyllic meadow with a peaceful supply of water. It communicates rest. Rest for the soul. Souls need to be restored. The soul is well, the “us” part of us, the part that feels. And when you live in a world ruined by sin your soul needs to be restored. Our souls falter and grow weak. Sometimes that’s because of sin. Guilt and shame drag us down. The LORD forgives us. Our soul is restored. It feels better. Sometimes we are down because things are out of our control. We face hurt and disappointment in relationships. The LORD smiles on us, assures us He is in control, that He has something much better for us. Our soul gets restored.

          Another blessing. Because the LORD is your shepherd you are on the path of righteousness. “He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” The path of righteousness is the only path that leads to heaven. Remember God’s standard. Be holy, perfect because God is holy and perfect. At first glance it might sound like the blessing we have is knowing right and wrong. And it’s true. Jesus our Good Shepherd has clearly told us what is right and wrong. He has stripped away all pretenses that outward behavior is good enough for God and that trying it good enough for God. We know what is righteous and what is not. And knowing that could lead us to despair. God’s demands on impossible! Who can control his thoughts? Who can be perfect all the time? No one! Not true. Jesus was and Jesus is and that means you are too. The paths of righteousness could be called the way of righteousness and remember something our Shepherd said? “I am the way, the truth and the life.” We are on the path of righteousness because we are riding on the shoulders or our Good Shepherd all the way to heaven. He is our righteousness. And what a blessing it is to know right from wrong. Even though our obedience doesn’t get us to heaven any more than our sin keeps us out when we have the LORD as our Shepherd, when we know the paths of righteousness we have a way to show Him our love. Willing obedience to what He says is good and right.

          There’s still more. Because the LORD is your shepherd. You have nothing to fear. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”  There are many things we can be afraid of, germs, heights, the dark. When we give in to our fears it can rob us of the fun and joy of life. I still remember the first time I was allowed to have a friend over for a sleepover. I was in 3rd grade. My friend and I had great plans. We were going to sleep in the basement. There was TV there. We were going to stay up all night and have so much fun. But we watched a scary movie. Sherlock Holmes meets Jack the Ripper. All of the sudden being in the dark basement by ourselves wasn’t fun any more. We just went to bed. Lamest sleepover ever! Fear. Makes you do stupid things. The saddest part is because the LORD is your Shepherd you have nothing to fear. He has a rod to beat off your enemies and staff to pull you back to safety. There may be things you are afraid of, but you don’t have to be. The LORD is your Shepherd!

And because of that you are well fed. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” The picture kind of switches here. Sheep and lambs don’t sit at a table. Still the picture is clear. A scrumptious feast. While it is certainly true that we American sheep are well fed physically, (the scale does not lie!) we are more well fed spiritually. We have God’s faith feeding word available to us in print, online in so many ways. Can’t wait until get to feast on the Lord’s Supper again.

Still more. Because the LORD is your Shepherd you are blessed right now. “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” Oftentimes at Thanksgiving we are urged to make a list of all our blessings. How about making a list right now? Instead of focusing on all the things that the shutdown has taken away list all those blessings you still have. You’ll get a long one. We are so blessed!

          And as good as that is the best is yet to come! “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” One of the many frustrating things about the shutdown is at this point there nothing to look forward to. Whether it’s your favorite festival, concert or sport or other activity, there is no firm plan on when things will get going. Some of the hireling shepherds are forgetting that people need hope, something to look forward to. Your Shepherd, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is not a hireling. He knows you need hope. He gives it. I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever! What a house! Perfection. Joy. Happiness that knows no end. No matter what happens here, a better life, the best  is yet to come. No matter how badly this body breaks down, in heaven we will be perfect, compliments of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

          Now as we have been going along I’ve been telling you the truth. I’ve been pointing you to the blessings you have because the LORD is your Shepherd. Faith is the hand that takes what God says is true and makes it personal. Psalm 23 is a personal Psalm. It’s not a third person Psalm or a second person Psalm. It’s a first person Psalm. The LORD is my Shepherd. So now I invite all of you to join me in making this Psalm your very own as you say it as your declaration of faith.

          “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3he restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

PALM SUNDAY April 4-6, 2020 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Matthew 21:1-11 “HOSANNA!”


PALM SUNDAY

April 4-6, 2020

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Matthew 21:1-11



“HOSANNA!”

1.     Jesus is in control—ALWAYS!

2.     Jesus deservers our praise—ALWAYS!

3.     Not everyone knows why!



Matthew 21:1-11 (EHV)  As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, telling them, “Go to the village ahead of you. Immediately you will find a donkey tied there along with her colt. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you are to say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: Tell the daughter of Zion: Look, your King comes to you, humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. The disciples went and did just as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their outer clothing on them, and he sat on it. A very large crowd spread their outer clothing on the road. Others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them out on the road. The crowds who went in front of him and those who followed kept shouting, Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!

10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, asking, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds were saying, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”



          Word and phrase etymology has always interested me. I think you are aware that American English has borrowed heavily from other languages. Sometimes you can figure them out. Sometimes not. Take “Holy Cow” for instance. How did that become a phrase of exclamation? Some websites suggest it comes from the Hindu religion’s treatment of cows as their most holy animal. If you look up “Holy Smoke” another exclamation commonly used, most agree it comes from the burning of ballots at the Vatican when a new pope is selected. Another one I’ve heard is Jumpin Jehosaphat. It’s always sounded cool to me. Nobody seems to know where that comes from. Here’s another one. Hosanna! Now that’s not popular as an expression in American English but it’s used regularly in the speech of the Church. As part of the Sanctus, the song of Communion, Hosanna is used. And certainly on Palm Sunday Hosanna is everywhere. Where did that word come from? Why are we saying it? Today we look to God’s Word for answers to those questions.

          As you heard in the reading, on the 1st Palm Sunday Jesus was with His disciples heading to Jerusalem and getting ready to enter. He sends two of His disciples to a small village called Bethphage with some absolutely preposterous directions. “Go to the village ahead of you. Immediately you will find a donkey tied there along with her colt. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you are to say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” Can you believe that? He’s asking the disciples to saunter into Bethpage, grab the first donkey/colt model they see and take them. When questioned, as they most certainly would be, a simple “The Lord needs them” would suffice. This is Passover week coming up. Jerusalem is packed with visitors. The donkey rental agencies have been booked solid for weeks! The authorities would be on high alert for donkey jackings. There is no way. A modern equivalent right now might be, go into an ER and take all of their PPE, Personal Protective Equipment, and if questioned say “The Lord needs it” and they’ll let you have it, right? No way! It’s preposterous.

          And yet it happened exactly as Jesus said. “The disciples went and did just as Jesus commanded them.” Why? How? Because Jesus is in control, always. Matthew was careful to tell us, “This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: Tell the daughter of Zion: Look, your King comes to you, humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The prophet Matthew referenced is Zechariah who served the Lord around 520 BC.. You heard the prophecy in our Old Testament reading. About 550 years before the first Palm Sunday Jesus controlled Zechariah so he would write down what would happen. 550 years later Jesus controlled what would happen in Bethphage.

          Hosanna! That’s what we have to say to that! Whether it’s 520 BC, 30 AD or now Jesus is in control. He is in control always. What Good News this is! Jesus lives and He is in control in our time too. He is in control when our babies are born. He is in control when we die. He is control when our kids are living with us and we can take care of them. He is control when we or they are gone and we can’t. He is in control even when coronavirus is running out of control, our control that is not His Be safe. Be aware. Be worried? No, Jesus is in control always. Hosanna.

          And so Jesus deserves our praise always. “They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their outer clothing on them, and he sat on it. A very large crowd spread their outer clothing on the road. Others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them out on the road. The crowds who went in front of him and those who followed kept shouting, Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” When Jesus entered Jerusalem the people praised Him. Can you pick out all the different ways? First with their possessions. People used their coats for donkey padding and as their version of a red carpet. They used their abilities and ingenuity to cut branches to keep the dust down. They used their voices to praise which means to say good things about. Hosanna. Do you know what that word really means? “Save us now.” It’s a prayer directed to the one who has the power to help you in your time of need. They called Jesus the Son of David. That’s a title for the promised Messiah or Savior. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord identifying Jesus as the one who would save them from their enemies. Hosanna. Jesus deserved their praise.

          And ours too. Always. It’s important for us to remember that praising Jesus includes more than what we do at church. Yes, using our possessions to spread the Gospel is important. If you are following a percentage giving plan, or our 10 for 10 plan Jesus deserves that, always, not just when things are normal. Yes, it’s important for us to use our abilities. We thank people like Carl and Beth Nolte, Josh Walker, Dave Hosbach and Jeremy Fredrich for using their abilities so we can continue to worship together albeit electronically. Yes, it’s important when we worship that we use our voices to say good things about Jesus, like Hosanna. The Apostle Paul also reminded us in the book of Romans to offer our bodies as living sacrifices as our spiritual act of worship. That reminds us to praise Jesus all the time, using our possessions to provide for ourselves and family as He desires or to help those in need. Using our abilities for His glory. He desires to use us to provide quality medical care and safety and good shoes and all the other tasks that need doing. We need to say good things about Jesus not just at church but to people who don’t have a church. Why?

          But not everyone knows why Jesus deserves our praise.  “When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, asking, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds were saying, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Like normally happens when there is a big tadoo people wanted to know who the celebrity was. What was all the fuss about? Notice carefully the response. “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” A prophet. Now hold it. You don’t say Hosanna to a prophet. You don’t ask him to save you. You say Hosanna to God. Only He can save. Not everyone in Jerusalem knew Jesus was God and that He would save.

          Same thing today. Friends, I have some breaking news for you. We’re going to die. We are all going to die! Now I didn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know. Unless Jesus returns while we are living we are all going to die. It probably won’t be from corona virus. Leading causes of death in America are heart disease, cancer and accidents. Those three alone account for almost 1.5 million deaths per year in America. In some way we are all going to die. That’s why it is important that everyone knows why we say Hosanna to Jesus. He saves. He saves from sin so that when you die heaven is your home. When we get there we can truly say, “Hosanna in the highest!” Amen.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

April 1, 2020 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: John 18:38 (EHV) “The Warrior Faces Satan’s Ally, the World”


LENT 6

April 1, 2020

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: John 18:38 (EHV)



“The Warrior Faces Satan’s Ally, the World”



John 18:38 (EHV) “What is truth?” Pilate said to him.

          The Son of God goes forth to war! That theme has guided our worship of Jesus this Lenten season. It’s helped us to view Jesus’ ministry on earth the way it really was, a war, a spiritual war with eternity at stake. And so we looked at the fact that Jesus was promised to be a warrior, that He didn’t always look like a warrior, that there were skirmishes leading up to the final battle, that the real enemy was the Devil, that sadly, Jesus our warrior, was rejected by many whom He fought for. Today’s word of God reminds us of another truth in war. Enemies have allies. The ally that Satan has is the world. We are not talking about dirt, oceans, mountains, plains and prairies. No, Satan’s ally is the people of the world who reject God’s authority and dominion. God’s word shows us how that ally of Satan often works, by undermining the truth.


          We join Jesus as He stands before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. John tells us how He got there. “Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”     30“If He were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed Him over to you.” 31Pilate said, “Take Him yourselves and judge Him by your own law.” “But we have no right to execute anyone,” the Jews objected.”

          Pilate is feeling trapped. The Jewish religious leaders have brought to him a man they want killed. He knows it’s bogus. He’s looking for a way out, some reason to justify killing Jesus and making the whole mess go away. “Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked Him, “Are You the king of the Jews?”  34“Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about Me?” 35“Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was Your people and Your chief priests who handed You over to me. What is it You have done?” 36Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, My servants would fight to prevent My arrest by the Jews. But now My kingdom is from another place.” 37“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.” Aha! There it was! If Jesus were proclaiming himself king he would be a threat to Roman rule. He could get rid of Jesus.

          But Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me.” Ouch. There’s that word that hurts. Truth. The opposite of truth is lies. Truth is right. Lies are wrong. There were only two sides in the war the Son of God waged. His side, the truth side, the righteous side. And the other side. Lies. Sin. Satan. That’s when Pilate uttered his oft repeated words. “What is truth?”

          How do you think he said them? If you watch any video production of this part of God’s word the actor playing Pilate always says them with a sneer. “What is truth!” It’s done with a tone of skepticism. And that may very well be how he said it and meant it. I wonder if it is also possible that he blurted it out of frustration. “What is truth?” How am I supposed to find it? Which story is really right? Others in authority, pastors, principals, parents trying to figure out what really happened between the kids or spouses can relate.

          The reason I bring that up is because even though Satan is defeated he still fights in our time trying desperately to get rid of Jesus. He still uses the world as his ally. There are some people who deep down in their heart of hearts know the truth and deliberately suppress it. It’s not quite the same thing but you will be hard pressed to find respected scientists today who actually believe evolutionary theory. The science and the math just don’t work. They know it can’t work. But because the only other common option out there is Creation they don’t express their views very loudly. There are others who want their truth to be the truth so they deliberately deny what their conscience says. I wonder though if most of the people who struggle with the idea that there is absolute truth in the Bible don’t come at it from frustration. Sometimes this way seems right. Sometimes that way. What is truth? We can relate. We’ve become skeptical people. We are used to terms like fake news and slanted news and media bias. We hear something, we are skeptical. You’ve probably run the whole gamut yourself on coronavirus news. What is truth?

First, remembers something. There is truth. Do you remember what Jesus said about truth, all from the Gospel of John? “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”(John 14:6)  “If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free!” (John 8:32) And Jesus’ prayer in John 17:17 “Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth.” It is natural for us to have doubts and worries. We are not perfect. Jesus’ solution to doubt is truth and truth is found in His word. It is the truth. It points you to Jesus. You can trust everything Jesus says. There is no fake news or slant from Him. Only truth. Make sure you read His words daily. Then remember that just like the Devil has allies trying to cause people to doubt the truth that Jesus is Savior, that He has paid for the sins of all in full, that through Him heaven is our home, Jesus has allies too. You! It may very well be your friend, your relative, your family member who is out of frustration asking, “What is truth?” You can tell them. Remember you are a witness, not a lawyer. You don’t have to convince anyone of anything. But you can testify to the truth.

Now is a really good time in our country to do that. So much uncertainty. So much worry. So much fear. Let the people in your life see what knowing the truth does. Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. This too will work out for good. Hey, I wonder what great thing God will work out of this. Wow, what an opportunity we have to show love to others. No guilt in life. No fear in death. This is the power of Christ in me. The power of the truth, Jesus. Knowing Him changes everything so don’t keep Him to yourself. He didn’t just go to war for us, but for everyone. Spoiler alert for next week. Jesus wins! Tune in. Amen.

Monday, March 23, 2020

March 21-23, 2020 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Romans 8:1-4 “JESUS’ VICTORY GRANTS YOU FREEDOM!”


LENT 4

March 21-23, 2020

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Romans 8:1-4



“JESUS’ VICTORY GRANTS YOU FREEDOM!”



Romans 8:1-4 (EHV) So then, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3Indeed, what the law was unable to do, because it was weakened by the flesh, God did, when he sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to deal with sin. God condemned sin in his flesh, 4so that the righteous decree of the law would be fully satisfied in us who are not walking according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.”



          So, who do you have going all the way to the Final Four in your tournament brackets? March Madness is upon us and….oh, wait, that’s right we have a different kind of March Madness we are dealing  with—all the changes because  of the coronavirus. I feel for all of you for whom the NCAA tournament was something to look forward to. Many have their favorite team you were pulling for. But I have a question for you. What would their victory really have gotten you? Let’s say the Badgers won. Beyond that moment of absolute elation what difference would it make long term? Here’s a little test. Who won the NCAA championship 6 years ago? One of the things the consequences of the coronavirus have reminded us is that sports is entertainment. Nothing more. Nothing less. The victories our teams win don’t matter when it comes to things like life and death.

          There is a victory that was won that does matter. The victory won by Jesus Christ. As contagious as the coronavirus is it is nothing compared to the contagion of sin. We are all infected. As many deaths as Covid 19 has or will cause it cannot hold a candle to sin which brought death to all. No worries! God sent Jesus. His victory does mean something for you. It has lasting effects on your life now and your eternal future. Let’s see how.

          To do that we actually need to back up in our Bibles just a little bit. If you have yours open go back Romans chapter 7. A quick glance will tell you that is where the Apostle Paul describes an ongoing struggle that we are all familiar with, the fight against sin. This is how he described it. (Romans 7: 18-19) “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” Surely he was describing his fight with his pet sins. You and I have our own with improper sexual thoughts, lying, alcohol abuse, a potty mouth, anger issues, doubts, fears, and worries or fill in the blank. Why this bothered Paul so and why it should bother us is we know God’s righteous decrees. We know He deserves perfectly obedient children. But we can’t deliver. That helps you understand how Paul ended Romans chapter 7. (Romans 7:24-25) “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

          I’m wretched. Who will rescue me? Thanks be to God for Jesus. That helps us understand the last verses for today’s sermon text. “Indeed, what the law was unable to do, because it was weakened by the flesh, God did, when he sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to deal with sin. God condemned sin in his flesh, 4so that the righteous decree of the law would be fully satisfied in us who are not walking according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.” What the law was unable to do was to make us right with God. Why was it unable? Because of the sinful nature, “the flesh.” There is just no way for imperfect people to live perfectly. We can try as hard as we want and we will fail. So God provided a work around. His own Son, Jesus, became human. He dealt with sin. As Jesus hung on the cross as the world’s one and only sinner God condemned sin in Him. Sin’s offense was paid for in full. Jesus’ perfect holy living was given to us through faith in him. The righteous decree of the law that people live perfectly is satisfied for us who live according to spirit. That means who trust in Jesus and have that new nature, the new creation. That means for those who aren’t thinking they get right with God by what they do but by what Jesus has done. That’s the victory that Jesus won.

          Now for all of us who can’t remember who won March Madness 6 years ago or 14 years ago, for all of us who understand that when it comes to the victories won by the sports teams we love the only one that really matters is the next one, how does Jesus’ victory some 2000 years ago affect me? Brothers, sisters, freedom! Freedom first of all from condemnation. “So then, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” No condemnation. Do you realize how often and how easily we label people? Many times it can be mostly harmless. So we’ll call someone “the tall guy” or like people call me “the right size guy.” Labels. Oftentimes they can start to hurt. “Dummy. Why can’t you do anything right?” The most spiritually damaging though are the labels we have earned for ourselves through our sin. Adulterer. Liar. Drunk. Addict. Cheater. Pornophile. Narcissist. The list can go on and on because sin goes on and on. Probably the most damaging labels are the ones we put on ourselves because we know better than others how bad we really are. “So then, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Did you hear that? Let me read it again. No condemnation! In Christ you have no label, more specifically, no sinful label. I’m reminded of one of our sisters in Christ who got to go to heaven almost a year ago. Pat Bauknecht. I still remember the first time in Bible Class when she came up to me and said she’d like to make an announcement in class. “Sure,” I said. “What for?” “Well today I am X years sober.” I was a little taken aback. Many people do not broadcast that they once had a problem or are still having one. On another occasion when I asked her about it she said, “I’m not a recovering alcoholic. I’m a Christian.” Do you see? No condemnation! Your sins of past or present do not define you. Jesus does. You are a follower of Christ. His victory gives you freedom. Sins of the past do not control you either. Temptations may still come. There may be falls. But connected to Christ there will be little victories as well.

          Jesus’ victory gives you freedom from condemnation and more. “For in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” OK, let’s talk coronavirus. It’s definitely changing the way we live our lives with school closings and social distancing and disrupted plans and economies. Why? Fear. Fear of what, getting sick? That’s happening all the time. No, it is the fear of death. A couple of weeks ago before things ramped up here in the good old USA I was watching a news broadcast. By video they were interviewing an elderly man in Italy when it was fast becoming the epicenter of the pandemic. They asked him, “Are you afraid of getting the coronavirus?” He replied. “Yes, of course I am!” “Why?” was the necessary follow up question. He replied. “I’m afraid of dying. We’re all afraid of dying!” That struck me. Does it strike you? Are you afraid of dying? You may be but you don’t have to be. I’m not afraid of dying. I can easily come up with the names of several members who are not afraid of dying at all but are praying for it. I know that because they have told me so as they are at a point in their life when they don’t know what God’s purpose for them is.

          Now don’t get me wrong. We should not take lightly what our government officials are telling us. Nor should we ignore precautions we are asked to take. We never have the right to take our life in our own hands. God gives life. God takes away. But we do not have to be afraid of dying because Jesus’ victory frees us from the fearing what happens after death. End of earthly life when it comes, and it will come one way or the other, is the beginning of real life with God. When our bodies die we who are in Christ get to be with Him in heaven and see Him face to face. We have joy and we have happiness. We get to be reunited with loved ones who have died in the Lord before us. That’s nothing to fear. I don’t know where this will all go. I don’t know what will happen next. I do know that God knows and He has brought His people through worse trials than this. I do know that He is in control. I do know He will work this for good. Jesus’ victory grants your freedom, freedom from fear.

          And so brothers and sisters, at the risk of sounding a little trite in borrowing from a movie several years ago, I close with this encouragement. Coronavirus may change your life, it may even take your life, but it can never take your freedom--in Jesus. Amen.