Monday, April 10, 2023

April 9, 2023 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: John 20:1-18 (EHV) HE LIVES! What Easter Means to Me:



April 9, 2023

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: John 20:1-18 (EHV)



What Easter Means to Me:

1. John: I am free from my doubts.

2. Peter: I am free from my guilt.

3. Mary: I am free from my grief.


Christ is risen! A blessed Easter to all. Do you have everything ready? House clean? Got all the food? Goodies for the kids? If you forget something that will be a problem. Even if you have it all ready, there may still be problems. I was reminded a week ago of the infamous Krutz Easter when the dog grabbed the ham off the counter and made a run for it. That’s a problem. But as inconvenient as forgetting something or a doggy dash may be, there are bigger problems we face, aren’t there? It’s easy to believe in the goodness of God when things go well in your life but what happens when there are troubles and problems?  Is God for real? Am I maybe being punished for something? Maybe you are dealing with grief over a major disappointment or a first Easter without a loved one. Come along with me today and see what it means that Jesus lives. Let’s join others who also dealt with doubt, guilt and grief.

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she left and ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,” she told them, “and we don’t know where they put him!” So Peter and the other disciple went out, heading for the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and got to the tomb first. Bending over, he saw the linen cloths lying there, yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was following him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there. The cloth that had been on Jesus’ head was not lying with the linen cloths, but was folded up in a separate place by itself. Then the other disciple, who arrived at the tomb first, also entered. He saw and believed. (They still did not yet understand the Scripture that he must rise from the dead.)10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.”

The Gospel of John’s Easter account draws our attention to three people. Mary Magdalene, Peter and John, the Gospel writer who calls himself “the other disciple.” All of them had problems, big problems that the Easter message, “He is risen!” solved. John’s problem was doubt. Can we blame him? Given that fact that he would live around 70 years after Jesus rose and ascended he was likely a very young man at this time. He was one of the three that Jesus allowed to see His glory at the Transfiguration. With the idealism of youth, I’m certain he gladly saw Jesus as the promised Messiah and put his faith in Him. And then the Garden of Gethsemane happened. Jesus arrested. The disciples running away in fear. Then Good Friday happened. Jesus crucified. Jesus dead! How can this be? To be fair, Jesus had told his disciples multiple times that he was going to Jerusalem where he would be handed over to the chief priests, where he would suffer and die and after three days rise again. But is that something you could believe without seeing? If I told you that tomorrow I would fly like Superman around the moon and back would you believe me? I could tell you that plainly twenty times and you would not believe until I did it. John had his doubts. Until he ran to the empty tomb and found that Jesus is risen. While he did not understand yet all the why about what happened he tells us he believed. Ask John what Easter means and he would tell you “I am free from my doubts.”

What about Peter? Maybe the reason John got to the tomb before Peter was that he was faster. Or maybe Peter wasn’t all that eager to really go to the tomb of Jesus. After all, the last time Jesus had seen Peter, Peter had been cursing up a blue streak to try to get people to believe that he didn’t know Jesus. That night in the high priest’s courtyard, Peter cursed and swore and said, "I don't know this Jesus you're talking about. I've never met him." Then Jesus walked by and looked at him. Peter had a guilty conscience. He wept bitterly. All that Friday, while he watched Jesus die, Peter had to remember that look on Jesus’ face. All day Saturday, while the disciples sat in stunned silence, Peter recalled Jesus’ face. Peter would never forget that look. His last act for Jesus was to deny Him.

Unless Jesus lived. Unless He was exactly who He said he was. Unless Jesus’ death was done purposefully to pay for sin. Unless Jesus would forgive him. The Bible tells us that after the events of Easter morning Jesus appeared to the disciples as a group. He was alive. Before that though Jesus came to Peter alone. Can you understand why? Peter’s guilt. Don’t you wish you could have been there to hear Peter blurt out, "Lord, I'm sorry! I didn't mean those words"? Did Jesus wipe away the tears of sorrow from Peter’s eyes and look into his face and say, "Peter, I forgive you"? The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly what happened between Jesus and Peter that day, but we do know that Jesus forgave Peter and Peter’s last act was not to deny Jesus but gladly tell people everywhere about wonderful forgiveness provided by Jesus. Ask Peter what Easter means, what it means that Jesus lives and he will say, “I am free from my guilt!”

On to Mary Magdalene. “But Mary stood outside facing the tomb, weeping. As she wept, she bent over, looking into the tomb. 12 She saw two angels in white clothes sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She told them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they have laid him.” 14 After she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not know it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” Supposing he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you carried him off, tell me where you laid him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and replied in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means, “Teacher”). 17 Jesus told her, “Do not continue to cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father—to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” She also told them the things he said to her.”

Mary was overcome with grief. Jesus had driven seven evil spirits from her. Her gratefulness led her and several other women to followed Jesus and support his ministry out of their own means. She must have loved Jesus deeply. That’s why she was among the first to come to the tomb that morning to cover his dead body with spices. When she discovered Jesus was gone, she ran back in distress and confusion to tell the other disciples that someone had stolen his body. When she returned she just stood outside the tomb crying. She had lost more than a friend. The One in whom she believed was dead. How could she follow a dead Savior? But He wasn’t dead. He lives! Jesus appeared to her and her grief turned to joy. “I have seen the Lord!” Ask Mary what Easter means and she will tell you “I am free from my grief.”

So what does Easter mean for you? He lives. Do you struggle with doubts? All of us do at some time. Our belief and trust in God is easy for us when things go our way. But then tragedy strikes. The diagnosis is not good. The country and state you love moves further and further away from God’s good and gracious will. Doubts can creep. Are you real God? If so where are you? He is real. Jesus lives! He is in control even when it looks like everything is going wrong. For this time or any time when you struggle with doubts run to the open tomb. Jesus lives and will keep every promise to you. Or maybe guilt is your bigger problem. If not now it will be there at some point. When the bad things happen in life and the mind says “I know why. It’s because I did …” Listen. You can’t take back sin. You can’t undo it as badly as you would like to. Sin can only be forgiven. But that’s why Jesus died and rose. The very reason Jesus gave up His life was to pay for sin in full. Your sin in full. Everything, no matter how bad. The reason Jesus rose from the dead specifically so we would know today we stand forgiven, declared not guilty for every sin. One the price was paid Jesus came back to life. He lives! Or is grief what weighs on your heart? Some disappointment where something did not go the way you thought, hoped or prayed for or is someone missing from this year’s gathering? Just like with Peter John and Mary God might have you wait a bit to see the wonderful way He will work it out so while you wait go with Mary to Jesus’ empty tomb. He lives and because He lives we will too. Death is not the ending but the beginning. Jesus proves it. Jesus knows your grief and because He lives a day is coming when every tear will be wiped from your eyes.

Jesus lives. That’s the message of Easter. Now it may be that your life is so perfect you don’t need a living Jesus, eggs and bunnies will do, but I doubt it. Into every life comes doubts, guilt and grief and so for everyone comes Jesus. He lives. So what does Easter mean to me? I’m free, free to give up doubts about God when they come, free to let go the guilt of forgiven sin and free to let any grief turn to joy in Jesus, all because He lives. I pray the Spirit give you that meaning too! Amen.


Friday, April 7, 2023

April 6, 2023 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Mark 14:12-26 (EHV) His Final Steps Led to the Upper Room



April 6, 2023

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Mark 14:12-26 (EHV)


His Final Steps Led to the Upper Room

1. Where a lamb that had died was carefully prepared.

2. Where the Lamb that would die carefully prepared.

3. So that His lambs who would die were also prepared.


          Ask any Jewish person and they will tell you, it’s takes a lot of preparation. I am of course talking about the Passover meal. If you like, you can do a google search on how to celebrate a Passover meal and you will find mostly uniform instructions and you will see it’s going to take a lot of work, so many preparations. The true removal of all yeast from the home, certified by a spring cleaning most of us would never want to do. All the right foods. Sections of Old Testament Scripture to be read at the proper time. So many preparations. Ask any Jewish person and they will also tell you it’s all about the lamb, the specially chosen Passover lamb, what it signified and how everything in the meal changes once the lamb is present. We see those truths combine tonight as our journey with Jesus continues as Jesus final steps lead him to an upper room where a lamb that had died was carefully prepared.

          On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and there a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 Wherever he enters, tell the owner of the house that the Teacher says, ‘Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” 16 His disciples left and went into the city and found things just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover.” The celebration of the Passover is part of the Old Testament Ceremonial law that God gave the Old Testament church. One of its purposes was to help them remember how God had rescued their ancestors from slavery in Egypt and chosen them to be a special nation on earth. The way God had done that was by sending progressively worse plagues on the nation of Egypt to incentivize the Pharaoh to let God’s people go. The worst plague was the final plague where God sent the angel of death to kill the firstborn son in every household in the land of Egypt unless the blood of a lamb had been painted on its doorframe. When the angel saw the blood on the doorframe he passed over that household. It was spared from death. And so the name Passover. At Jesus’ time hundreds of thousands of people would be visiting Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover near the Temple. Thousands of lambs that had died were prepared. Jesus and his disciples got one of them.

          That preparation of the lamb by itself was no small deal. That’s because, for the Jews who were looking for the Biblical Messiah to come, the Passover was a whole lot more than their version of the 4th of July. The whole Passover was designed by God to keep the people’s eyes on their need for a Savior. They could not save themselves. They were doomed to die eternally. Only the Messiah could save them. Like the lamb of the Passover, he would die in their place. So the Passover lamb could not be just any lamb but a perfect year old male lamb now carefully prepared.

          With New Testament hindsight we know that the Old Testament Passover lamb pictured Jesus. The real slavery of all people is the slavery to sin and the Devil. The only way for freedom was a the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. So his footsteps led him to the Upper Room where he carefully prepared to do what He came for, to die. “When it was evening, he arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining and eating, Jesus said, “Amen I tell you: One of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.”19 They began to be sorrowful and said to him one by one, “Surely not I?”20 He said to them, “It is one of the Twelve, one who is dipping bread with me in the dish. 21 Indeed, the Son of Man is going to go just as it has been written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

          We talked about this when our Lenten journey started. What do you do, what do you focus on when your time with someone is short? Important things. As Jesus, the Lamb of God sent to take away the sins of the world prepared to die he stayed on mission. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn people but rather to save people. While those who refuse to believe in Him condemn themselves everyone who believes is saved. One was there at the Passover meal whose love for money had crowded out faith in Jesus as his Messiah. Judas, the Betrayer. What does Jesus do? In love reaches out to him yet again. What do you suppose happened when Jesus said, “One of you who is eating with me will betray me?” Did his face flush? Or was his control that good that he should have been playing on some world poker tour? We don’t know what Judas did other than join the others in saying, “Surely not I?” But Judas is not important here. Jesus is. He knew exactly what would happen and so He carefully prepared to die. And if you want to hear more of what Jesus said when His time with his disciples grew short you can read about it in the Gospel of John chapters 13-17.

          A lot of time was spent by our Lord in the upper room where Jesus made sure his lambs who would die were also prepared. John’s Gospel gives us for instance these super comforting words spoken by Jesus in the Upper Room. “Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that you may also be where I am.”  See how Jesus prepared His lambs for death, His and theirs. Don’t be troubled. Heaven has mansions prepared just for you. That’s where I will be going to and then when the time is right I will come back for you and take you with me. That’s all physical death will be. How kind and thoughtful Jesus is for His lambs. Of all those sitting around that table only the Apostle John would live to see old age. All the rest died young.

          And Jesus did more to prepare His lambs for their death. He provided a faith building and faith proclaiming meal. “While they were eating, Jesus took bread. When he had blessed it, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “Take it. This is my body.” 23 Then he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them. They all drank from it. 24 He said to them, “This is my blood of the new testament, which is poured out for many. 25 Amen I tell you: I will certainly not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” 26 After they sang a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” The Lord’s Supper. You know what it is. Jesus tells you exactly. He took bread. “This is my body.”  Not a representation, symbol or picture. Is means is. A miracle. He took the cup filled with grape wine. “This is my blood.” Not a representation, symbol or picture. Is means is. But wait there’s more. It is the blood of the new testament or covenant. This is the covenant God has made with us, to forgive us our sin and remember them no more. Jesus is preparing us, His lambs. Your sins are forgiven. You can live that way right now. No guilt in life. And no fear in death. With sins you forgiven heaven is your home. But wait there’s more. Jesus said He would not drink of the cup until that day when he drinks again in the kingdom of God. Look ahead lambs of Christ. Feasting is coming. Banqueting, with Jesus. Not only does Jesus prepare us to look at the ending of earthly life without fear but even with longing. Jesus, our Savior, face to face!

          That’s why Jesus’ steps led Him to an Upper room. Preparation. And lambs. Jesus carefully prepared to finish His work as Savior so that we and all His lambs are prepared. Soon the Passover replacement meal will be celebrated in this service. It has been carefully prepared for you. As you watch or participate as appropriate, remember, it’s all about the Lamb who has taken away the sins of the world. That means you too! Amen.


Monday, March 27, 2023

March 25-27, 2023 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Mark 10:35-43 “SERVING: A SIGN OF GREATNESS!”


LENT 5 (150th Service Sunday)

March 25-27, 2023

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Mark 10:35-43




          It doesn’t sound right at first. People want to be called the G.O.A.T. You wouldn’t think people would want that until you understand that G.O.A.T. is an acronym for Greatest Of All Time. Aaron Rodgers believes he is the G.O.A.T. Packer quarterback. Debatable. Many consider Tom Brady to be the G.O.A.T. for all NFL quarterbacks. Major league baseball has pitchers and hitters and the NBA has ballers that all want to be the G.O.A.T. Muhammed Ali made the claim. But it’s not only athletes who want to be considered great, musicians do too. They have come up with several awards invented by musicians for musicians. The Grammys. CMA. But it’s not limited to musicians either. Actors have made awards for actors. The Emmys, the Oscars. This past go round I saw a report that the stunt people were miffed that there was no Oscar for stunt actors. One quipped, “It’s not like were the Teamsters who just drive the trucks around.” MMM. And if there were no teamsters driving their trucks…? Noting this trend of groups of people wanting and creating awards for themselves I, in the past, have suggested to Pastor Waldschmidt and some other pastors that we should create an award for ourselves. We could call it “The Pastors!” I can see it now holding up the golden Luther statue. “First I want to thank my wife and children and my mom and dad and the ghostwriters for my sermons…” Okay, I guess that does sound a little silly. No wonder none of the other guys have jumped on my bandwagon.

          But it’s not just people in the entertainment industry who want to be considered the greatest, Jesus’ own disciples did too. “James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached him and said, “Teacher, we wish that you would do for us whatever we ask.” 36 He said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 They said to him, “Promise that we may sit, one at your right and one at your left, in your glory.” Hey, Jesus, we want to be the greatest. Give us those positions in heaven that we think have the most prestige. Jesus’ reply to them exposed how foolish it was to think of heaven in earthly terms. Glory comes from suffering for the kingdom. That’s what Jesus meant by the cup he would drink and the baptism he would undergo. That’s when the rest of Jesus’ disciples got in on the act.  “When the ten heard this, they were angry with James and John.” Now why do you think the other 10 were angry? You know. They wanted to be the considered the greatest themselves!

          Foolish athletes. Foolish musicians. Foolish actors. Foolish disciples. So concerned with their own greatness. Good thing we don’t do that. Or do we? In almost every area of life our sinful nature prompts us to desire recognition and honor from other people. It can happen when kids misbehave or pull pranks in school so other students will think they are the greatest in the class. Or where high school students’ days are made or lost by how many likes or followers or shares or retweets they get or don’t get. It goes on to the workplace where in subtle or blatant ways we portray ourselves as the smartest one in the room. Hey you dummies. Listen to me! I am the greatest. It is in our family life. Pay attention to me. Do what I want. Do it my way. Validate me!

          How good it is to have a Savior who forgives us and sets us straight.  “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But that is not the way it is to be among you. Instead, whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you will be a slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” I hope you noticed that Jesus did not rebuke His disciples for wanting to be the greatest. People were created to do things to the best of their ability and desire approval. The question is, whose approval are we looking for and whose standard of greatness are we using. If our primary desire is the approval of people we show ourselves to be idolators and if the standard of greatness we seek to attain is the world’s we will never be great. But it’s not, is it? The one whose approval we crave is Jesus. He really is the Greatest of All Time. He is the greatest preacher, the greatest teacher, the greatest to ever where human flesh. And yet he was not allowed to walk red carpet but rather the dusty ground stained red by his blood. He lifted up no golden statue but instead was Himself lifted up on a rough wooden cross. He received no cheers and applause but only the jeers and taunting of those He came to save. This world is not worthy of Him. And yet just like James and John and the other 10 Jesus has chosen us of all people to follow Him.

          He has shown us the path to greatness. It does not come from demanding attention and the respect of others. It’s not gauged by likes and retweets. It is not measured by how many other people share our opinions on matters important only to us. It comes through serving others as our Savior served us. He took care of our needs. Friends when Jesus came to earth as the Holy Son of God it was not because He was bored with the glory and perfection of heaven and the perfect praise provided by the angels. He came because we needed Him to provide us with the perfect obedience we lack. And so Jesus came to serve. To do the job no one else would want to do and no one else could do. He came to the sinful cesspool called earth and let himself be surrounded by sin and sinners so He could undo what Adam and Eve had done and continually resist every temptation Satan threw at Him. And when He allowed Himself to be lifted up and that shame filled Roman cross it was not because it was something He liked doing and He was gravitating toward his strengths rather He was covering our weaknesses, our sins that condiment us to the Hell we have earned. So as disgusting as it was Jesus took off my shoulders and your shoulders every shameful lust and every bit of selfishness and all our filthy words and every bit of drunkenness and drug abuse and became every sin for us. Because we needed Him to give His life as a ransom for many. Serving is the sign of greatness.

          And Jesus wants you to be great. For the past 150 years the ministry of St. Jacobi has been blessed with members who serve, who do what needs doing whether they like it or not, who take their God given gifts, their professional skills, their abilities learned at home or in the workplace and placed them into the service of the Savior so that this congregation could survive and thrive at its mission: knowing Christ and making Christ known to as many as we can. That has happened because for the past 150 years Jesus is Lord here and people have valued the ransom He paid for us as the priceless treasure it is. Look on page 17 of your bulletin and you will be able to put in your name or the name of a loved one in several of those categories. Marvel with me at how much serving is done by volunteers. It is my estimation that if we had to pay market value for all of this work that is being done we would easily have to double our Operating budget from $1.7 million dollars to 3.5 or more. God has not given us that money but He has given us you. You who respond to appeals for help, not just doing what is fun or easy for you but what needs to be done. Never have I heard anyone say, “Hey, look at me. Recognize me.” You are not looking for the approval of people but the approval of Christ. That is a sign of greatness.

          And it goes further to your homes. Where you are serving faithfully in your roles as parents and children, good neighbors, reliable and trustworthy citizens. Praying grandparents and aunts and uncles. I seriously doubt that there will be an Oscar for best laundry doer or an award for most diapers changed in a single year. Nor will there be one for best supporting taker outer of the elderly neighbor’s garbage or most kind and encouraging note writer of the year. But I know a day is coming when the Lord Jesus will separate believers and unbelievers before him like sheep and goats and sadly those many who have rejected Him and desired to be an earthly G.O.A.T will find that lifestyle has led them to become and eternal goat while those who followed the Savior who did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for them will hear Him say the words that ought to have us racing to be the first ones to scrub the toilets. “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and share your master’s happiness.” Happy serving. It’s the sign of greatness. So says Jesus. So say we. Amen.

Monday, March 6, 2023

March 4-6, 2023 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: John 3:1-18 (EHV) “IT’S GOD’S WAY OR NO WAY!”



March 4-6, 2023

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: John 3:1-18 (EHV)




It just does not stop. The foolishness and arrogance of man to take what God provides and exchange it with lies provided by Satan. God provides the gift of marriage and when lived God’s way it is a wonderful blessing. What does man do but exchange it with free love, living together instead of getting married, same sex and hook ups. God provides the blessing of male and female deliberately designed to be different so as to complement one another in service to God. Man replaces it with transgender, non binary, genderless and furries. Every defiance of God is sin and comes from the Evil One but the worst and most damning of all centers on what matters most, God’s salvation plan. God provides His Son and man has found a thousand different ways to say, “No thanks, God! I can do it myself.” The words of God we dig into contain probably the most well-known passage of Scripture. There are likely 10,000 different sermons in these 18 verses. Don’t worry I will not try to preach them all to you today but rather focus on one main important point. It’s God’s way or no way.

“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these miraculous signs you are doing unless God is with him.” Jesus replied, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: Unless someone is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God! Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh. Whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be surprised when I tell you that you must be born from above. The wind blows where it pleases. You hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus is so typical of man. He was a Pharisee, a religious group who had exchanged the truth of God for lies of the Devil. It did not make sense to rely on God saving them. They believed and taught that your status and blessing from God depended on what you did. But like typical man, deep down he knew, his good wasn’t good enough. So he asks Jesus. Jesus made it clear to him. You want to be a part of God’s kingdom then it’s God’s way. Born from above. Born of water and the Spirit. If you want to be saved it’s God’s way. His doing. And don’t be foolish, Nick. You acknowledge the power of the unseen wind. Give glory to the greater power of the Holy Spirit.

“I hear what you’re saying, but…Yes, but…” Polite and impolite ways of telling someone you disagree. Nicodemus does that to God!  “How can these things be?” asked Nicodemus. “How can this be?” asks the created peon to the one who created the entire universe with a breath.  “You are the teacher of Israel,” Jesus answered, “and you do not know these things? 11 Amen, Amen, I tell you: We speak what we know, and we testify about what we have seen. But you people do not accept our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven, except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.” 14 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Nicodemus, it’s God’s way or no way. You are teaching God’s people in Israel. What else is the entire Old Testament but one example after another that if people are going to be saved God has to do it because people always fail their part. Remember the bronze snake? When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness for 40 years He provided free food for them. Manna in the morning, quail at night. They were just about to enter the Promised Land but got impatient with God and complained against Him. To chastise them God sent poisonous snakes into their camp. People were dying. You know what they did. They tried to fix it themselves. Try this herb. No, this one. Stand on your head, hop on one foot, cut an X and suck the poison out. By the way that only works in Westerns. People kept dying. Finally, they called out to God. God told Moses to make a bronze snake and put it on the pole. He was to tell the people to look at the bronze snake and they would live. Those who believed did and lived. Those who rejected God’s way died. So simple. It’s God’s way or no way.

The same for the kingdom of God and eternal life. And what is God’s way? Jesus. Nothing has changed from Old Testament times. Man’s good is not good enough.  If salvation depends on man in any way, it will fail. So God swoops in with the way that depends only on His great mercy and love. A way that is 100% the work of God from first to last. God sends Jesus. That brings us to that most famous passage of Scripture. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” This is personal with God. How many of you are giving even one out of every ten dollars God places in your care so that someone else can hear the Gospel and be saved? And He gives you many dollars. But God has only one only begotten Son and that is what He have given for you, for me and all the other wicked people of this world. And what did God give Jesus to? The cross. To be lifted up like the snake in the wilderness so that whoever looks to Him is saved. Our Lenten journey leads there. God does not send His Son on a tropical vacation but to suffer the torments of Hell, to be punished for our ongoing selfishness, our foolish choosing of sinful pleasure over Savior serving, our half hearted belief, our truth twisting to make ourselves look better and others worse, the ease in which we tear each other apart behind their backs and the umbrage we take if someone dare do that to us. Friends, it’s not that Jesus gets us. It’s that He got us--out of the Hell we have earned. That’s God’s way of saving. We can’t do it ourselves so He did it for us. And let there be no, “I hear what you are saying God, but… or Yes, but…or How can this be?” from created peons to their Creator. Instead let there be awe and appreciation for how great the Father’s love for us is. It’s God’s way or no way.

How many Israelites died physically and then eternally because they refused God’s way of looking at the snake because it seemed too easy or didn’t make sense? How many people we know will do the same because looking to Jesus seems too easy or doesn’t make sense? But remember, we don’t gather to listen to God’s word for other people but for ourselves. The Muslims are not giving up their allegiance to the false god Allah. Mormons are not changing their teachings to be more palatable to a God rejecting society, nor are the Jehovah’s Witnesses getting tired of being different. It’s the Christians in our country. God forbid that include us! You Senior Saints. It really must feel like you are strangers living in a strange land. Each day the news in our country brings something more to shake your head about. What we have today is not what the greatest generation sacrificed for. You carry your concerns for your children and grandchildren. You know. It’s God’s way or no way. Got it? Just hang on. It’ll be over soon. For us who fit into the midlife crisis manager slot. It’s on us now. What will we hand off to our children? The reason we cannot give up on any moral issue is that it leads to capitulation on the major issue, salvation through faith in Christ alone. It’s God’s way or no way. Got it? Hold the line. For you young people, I’m sorry. In our desire to make life better for you and easier for you I fear we have inadvertently let too many of you become soft. By example and permission we have taught that if it’s not easy, you don’t have to do it or go through it. You can’t be that way with faith in Jesus. It’s God’s way or no way. I’m 55. I’ve done well over half my time. God willing He will let me lay down my sword before you. You are up next. The next line of Christians soldiers who get to proclaim the true Christian faith. It’s God’s way or no way. Got it?

Sadly, those who follow their own ways and think they are climbing the stairway to heaven are in fact on the highway to hell. Here is the second half of the most famous passage in Scripture.  “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 The one who believes in him is not condemned, but the one who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.”  It’s God’s way or no way. Got it? Amen.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

February 4-6, 2023 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Matthew 5:13-20 “YOU ARE SUCH A GREAT BLESSING!”



February 4-6, 2023

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Matthew 5:13-20



1.     As you live your lives as salt.

2.     As you live your lives as light.

3.     As you live your lives as teachers.


          “You are such a blessing!” Have you ever heard or said that? Maybe you helped push someone’s car when they were stuck in the snow. Maybe someone shoveled all that plow slush from the end of your driveway. Maybe you are the primary caregiver for an aging parent. “You are such a blessing to me!” How did that make you feel? Good, right? You know why? Because it is good and godly to a blessing to other people and we feel good because it is good and that’s why God’s word for us today is such good news. Too often we get tricked into thinking that we need to do something great to have purpose or having meaning or be relevant but no less than the Lord Jesus Himself comes to us through His word, looks at you, looks at me and says, “You are such a great blessing!” simply for being who He made us to be. Let’s see why and how.

          We are in a part of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. His words are for all people to hear but especially directed at those following Him, His disciples. He corrects the bad teaching of the Pharisees and teachers of the law who taught you were not acceptable to God unless you lived like they did. Jesus taught that you were acceptable to God only through the forgiveness He provided. That changes everyone who believes in Jesus.

          “You are the salt of the earth.” When we think of salt we mostly think of its use to flavor food, or, this time of year, to melt snow and ice. The people of Jesus’ time knew its value for flavoring but likely they thought of another important use, a preservative. Before there was refrigeration meat was preserved by soaking it in barrels of salt water. The salt that the meat absorbed prevented it from becoming rotten. This is why you are such a great blessing. Simply be being you. At your Baptism you were brought into the family of God. You are believers in Jesus. Your presence as believers in this community and country are preserving it. Throughout history when God has had enough of blatant immorality and disregard for His will, He destroys. The world before the Flood. Sodom and Gomorrah. Rome. When that happens God ends people's time of grace. There is no longer a chance to repent. Souls are lost to Hell. As Christians we prevent that from happening. For the sake of ten God fearing souls, Sodom and Gomorrah would have been spared. So don’t get discouraged if everybody does not jump on our Jesus loving bandwagon. You are a reason this community and this country still enjoys God’s grace. You are still such a great blessing, as long as you maintain faith in Jesus. “But if salt has lost its flavor, how will it become salty again? Then it is no good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people.”

          You are also such a great blessing as you live your lives as light. “You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. 15People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket. No, they put it on a stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16In the same way let your light shine in people’s presence, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Now some of you may be remembering that Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” It’s one of His great I AM statements. Here he says we are. What gives? A good illustration often used is as the sun is to the moon, so Jesus is to us. He is the light of the world. He has chased away the darkness of sin death and the devil. He brought us from the darkness of unbelief to the light of faith. He has revealed what God’s good and holy will is. We are reflectors as the sun is to the moon. Now I don’t want anyone going away from here saying, “Pastor told us to moon people.” I didn’t. What I’m saying is reflect Jesus.

          As Jesus has loved you, love others. Not just the easy ones but especially those difficult for you. And know this, it is no easy task for Jesus to love people like you and me. As Jesus has forgiven you, forgive others. Freely. Fully. As Jesus served you, serve others. He cared about people’s physical and emotional needs but was never content with that. So you and I can care about other people, help them as we have opportunity, praying that we can build a relationship to the point we can talk to them about what they really need, the same Savior we need. As Jesus prioritized the work of His Father, we prioritize the work of our Father in heaven. Another thought. Jesus said, “Let your light shine in people’s presence, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Shine in people’s presence. I am so glad the pandemic pushed us to offer online worship. It was a blessing for shutdown time. It has been a blessing for shut ins, people who are sick, when jobs have interfered. It has been a blessing for those who have moved to where there is no faithful to Christ church, people in the military, and our off to college students. For all our online worshippers we are glad to have you and if you need a pastor call us. For all those whose only way to worship is online keep it up. But for the rest of I’d like you to think about something. How are people going to see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven if you keep staying at home? You don’t light a lamp and put it under a basket, do you? You are such a great blessing as you live your life that can be seen, not hidden.

          And you are such a great blessing as you live you lives as teachers. “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy them but to fulfill them. 18Amen I tell you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not even the smallest letter, or even part of a letter, will in any way pass away from the Law until everything is fulfilled. 19So whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” There it is. Great. Jesus says you are a great blessing as you teach others to obey God’s commandments. Some portray Jesus as coming to proclaim a moral free for all. They misuse His forgiveness and mercy to set aside God’s holy will. Jesus does not. He came to uphold God’s will and keep it in our place. We are a blessing, a great blessing when we teach others God’s commandments as well. And no this is not just for pastors and teachers using Luther’s catechism. Some of you have been attending our Christian parenting class. We have been focusing on providing our children with the tools they need to thrive as Christians in a non Christian society with the goal of having them with us in heaven some day. For each of the tools the number one way for parents to teach is modeling. And this is how you are such a great blessing not by doing big things that make a splash but your quiet every day living for Christ. The way you talk and words you refuse to use. Your faithfulness at your job. Your kindness and your caring. The way you strive to live each day as a Christian is how you teach. You are such a great blessing.

          Jesus concluded this part of His sermon with some words that at first might sound scary. “Indeed I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and experts in the law, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” The people hearing this must have gone, “Oh, no!” because outwardly the Pharisees lived pretty good lives. For us it would be like He said, “Unless you are nicer than Pastor Waldschmidt, you’re not going to heaven!” Guess I’m out. But I’m not. Neither are you. As believers in Jesus we are covered by His righteousness which is perfect. He’s the greatest blessing to us. Which is why we want to be a blessing to others. For about 150 years now, the people of St. Jacobi have understood the importance of their presence as salt, light and teachers. Not because of themselves but because they are connectors to Jesus. May God in His grace give us many more years of being such great blessings! Amen.

Monday, January 16, 2023

January 14-16, 2023 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: John 1:29-41 (EHV) “LOOK! THE LAMB OF GOD!”



January 14-16, 2023

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: John 1:29-41 (EHV)



1.     He is exactly what we need.

2.     He is exactly what everyone else needs.


John 1:29-41 (EHV) “The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘The one coming after me outranks me because he existed before me.’ 31I myself did not know who he was, but I came baptizing with water so that he would be revealed to Israel.” 32John also testified, “I saw the Spirit descend like a dove from heaven and remain on him. 33I myself did not recognize him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34I saw this myself and have testified that this is the Son of God.” 35The next day, John was standing there again with two of his disciples. 36When John saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned around and saw them following him, he asked, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” 39He told them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying. They stayed with him that day. It was about the tenth hour. 40Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. 41The first thing Andrew did was to find his own brother Simon and say to him, “We have found the Messiah!” (which is translated “the Christ”).


          If you had been there and had been raised in a Jewish home you would have understood exactly what John the Baptist was saying when he exclaimed, ““Look! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” But we weren’t there. And to the best of my knowledge none of us were raised in Jewish homes so at first hearing we might miss everything John wanted us to hear so today let’s take a closer look at Jesus as the Lamb of God.

          Christmas might still be on some of our minds. Did any of you say or hear, “Thank you! That is exactly what I needed!” as a present was opened and mean it? We live in affluent times. Probably that did not happen. We all have what we need and more. Sometimes I see a movie or read a story of a Christmas past when people didn’t have much and that new shirt or pair of pants was really appreciated because people had need. Do we recognize our need?

          The Lamb of God shows us. If we had all grown up in Jewish homes back at the time of Jesus and John the Baptist pointed to someone as the Lamb of God the first thing we would have thought of was the Passover lamb. We would have been used to every year watching Father select a perfect lamb. Maybe he took us with him as he went to the priest who slit the lamb’s throat and drained its blood into a bowl. We would have sat around the table as once again we were told the story of the Passover. How God rescued our ancestors from slavery in Egypt. We would hear again of the powerful plagues God sent so the Pharaoh would let them go. Special attention was paid to the 10th plague, that of the firstborn, where the firstborn son of every family living in the land of Egypt died that night unless the home had the blood of a perfect lamb painted on its doorframe. And while our little hearts felt so bad for the lamb that was slain we also felt great relief that no one in our home had died. That was the Lamb’s purpose, to be a substitute. Someone was going to die. A person or the Lamb.

          And if we were blessed enough to grow up in a believing family, Father would have told us that the Lamb was a picture of Messiah. He would have reminded us that our real slavery was to the sin we can’t stop doing and the Devil who had the right to accuse us and to death that would take us to the Devil’s prison called Hell. He would have told us that Messiah was coming and when He came He would be the Lamb for us all. He would be punished for our sins. His blood would be shed just like the Passover Lamb but since He was the Lamb of God His once and for all sacrifice would set us free. You see, sin was so bad someone had to be punished either the Lamb or…That was the purpose of the Christ. To be our substitute, to be sacrificed. And so when John the Baptist saw Jesus he did not exclaim, “Look the Dr who will heal all your diseases!” for even though Jesus could have done that it was not His purpose. Nor did He exclaim, “Look the Financial Adviser” for although Jesus can make all people physically rich that is not His purpose. Nor did John exclaim, “Look the Life Coach” or “Look, the Teacher” for even though Jesus can and has taught us exactly how to live and we are blessed when we do so that’s not what we needed. We needed someone who could be punished so we are not and so John exclaimed, ““Look! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” He’s exactly what we need.

          May the Holy Spirit help us to appreciate and value what we have in Jesus and not be disappointed. “Thank you for the shirt, Grandma, (what I really wanted was an Xbox.) We may want our diseases or a loved one’s disease healed but it may be that having that problem is what’s best. We may want more money but maybe learning to live within our means is what’s best. We may want to be more popular or less lonely but maybe having those struggles is what’s best. We may want some pet sin or hurt or guilt to be gone but maybe a continued reminder of our need for a Savior is better for us. What we need is forgiveness, our sins taken a way so we can live in the glory of heaven. Only Jesus does that. Look the Lamb of God. He is exactly what we need.

          And exactly what everyone else needs. This word of God shows how those in the know tried to help others know too. First there was John the Baptist. He attracted a crowd. Dressed funny. Camel’s hair cloak. Ate funny. Locusts and wild honey. No fermented drink. Probably had never cut his hair. Spoke way too bluntly. Called people snakes to their face! But when Jesus came by he made sure the people gathered around knew Jesus was the one they needed, not John. “The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘The one coming after me outranks me because he existed before me.’ 31I myself did not know who he was, but I came baptizing with water so that he would be revealed to Israel.” John also had friends, disciples, people who were attracted to him, not offended by him. He made sure they knew who they really needed. 35The next day, John was standing there again with two of his disciples. 36When John saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of those disciples John the Baptist pointed to Jesus. And what does he do? 41The first thing Andrew did was to find his own brother Simon and say to him, “We have found the Messiah!” (which is translated “the Christ”).

          And here brothers and sisters we see one of the important reasons God still has you on this planet, to point others to Jesus the Lamb of God that everyone needs. Those regular jobs you do to make other people’s earthly lives are important too. God wants homes built well and maintained, children cared for, cars running and finances in order. He wants people fed and clothed. But ultimately what He really wants is people with Him in heaven. He sent His Son Jesus to be the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world. None of us can do that. So He lets us do what we can, point people to Jesus.

          Some of you, like John the Baptist attract people to you, not because you dress and eat funny. Because you are nice, caring, helpful, dependable. There is a reason God gave you those gifts. You will build relationships with people. They will like you and trust you. When they time is right, when that right opportunity comes, just like it did for John the Baptist, seize it. Point them to the one they need. Not you. Jesus, the Lamb of God. Pray that the Lord help you recognize those right times. Some of you attract no crowd of people. But you have family. You have friends. They are going to have troubles and problems in life. They may come to you for help. You may have to tell them. “I can’t fix that. Maybe nobody can. But can I tell why I can continue to go on with my problems? I have Jesus.”

I heard of a real story recently. A woman was in hospice care. Her death was coming. Her pastor visited her. She had her faith. She knew heaven was coming. Her husband was an atheist. One day he called the pastor. He said, “My wife is fine. I am not. Tell me why.” You know what happened next. Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the word. Exactly what everyone needs. Amen.


Monday, December 26, 2022

December 25, 2022 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: John 1:1-14 “A REAL HUMAN INTEREST STORY”



December 25, 2022

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: John 1:1-14



1.     God had every reason not to care.

2.     He cared enough to come himself.


We all love ‘em. All across the world people can even be suckers for ‘em. A good old human interest story. We love the ones that tug at our hearts. The neglected child shuffled around in the foster care system until finally she finds the loving home. The street kid doing so much wrong, doing time and then finally getting out and becoming a useful contributing member of society. A family who has experienced the tragic loss of a child due to drug overdose using their pain to force legislation to try to prevent the hurt of others. People even love canine interest stories. There will in fact be more tears shed in our country with a well done expose of the abuses in a puppy mill than the factual publishing of the number of babies killed at abortion clinics. You see, whether you realize it or not many human interest stories are not really about the humans, they are about raising emotion, awareness and money for a cause. That’s why so many pop up around Christmas time. Here’s an excerpt from an article on how to write a human interest story.


“A good human interest story will spark anger, empathy, compassion, sympathy, motivation, laughter, fear and love. Not in equal measure, but if a journalist can tick all these boxes in some way, the story is bound to be a success and likely be shared and highly engaged with. The fundamental objective is to move someone with a story.”


I don’t mean to put down the good and proper use of human interest stories but the sad truth is that the best and most real human interest story is being largely ignored by many of our fellow Americans today. The story of the Christ, the only reason there is CHRISTmas. We have to admit that we can devalue Christ too and it might in fact be true that some of your younger ones are here because mom or dad said so and not because you want to. No matter. We’re here so let’s listen to a real human interest story.


John 1:1-14 (EHV)In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him everything was made, and without him not one thing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 5The light is shining in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6There was a man, sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as an eyewitness to testify about the light so that everyone would believe through him. 8He was not the light, but he came to testify about the light. 9The real light that shines on everyone was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not recognize him. 11He came to what was his own, yet his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who did receive him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. 13They were born, not of blood, or of the desire of the flesh, or of a husband’s will, but born of God. 14The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. We have seen his glory, the glory he has as the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”


John’s account of the first Christmas is not anything like Luke’s that we are so happily familiar with, not like Matthew’s much shorter but still heart warming version. There’s no baby, no manger, no shepherds, no angel. But it’s full of grace and truth. John’s Christmas account is meat and potatoes. Heavy chewing, yet put there by God with purpose, so we can grow and mature in our faith. John abruptly and bluntly helps us see that the greatest human interest story should never have happened. Why not? Because God has no reason to care. Or to put it in a more accurate way, we and all other people have not given God a reason to care. It goes back to the beginning when God was there. As true God Jesus was there with God when all was created and put into place. He was there when the breath of life was breathed into Adam and the keys to Creation were handed over to Adam and Eve, a most beautiful and stunning world that was designed on purpose by God with one surprising purpose: to bring joy and happiness to people. Oh the love of God! And how did they respond? They chose to reject the love and words of God and listen to God’s enemy instead. They chose to doom paradise to becoming a pig sty of corruption and sin and everything vile and gross. God had no reason to care.

Now to move you to anger and empathy I could tell a human interest story of a father who worked overtime, gave up sleep and free time to get extra money to take his family on a special vacation only to have the kids ruin it by spending all their time on their phones wishing they were with their friends instead. I could tell a human interest story of a mother working hard to make that Christmas meal special for the whole family only to have it ruined because dad came home drunk. Instead I’ll tell a real one. “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not recognize him. 11He came to what was his own, yet his own people did not accept him.” He is Jesus, the Word who was with God in the beginning. The Word who was God and through whom all things were made. He came to the world He created, the people that were His and they did not accept Him. King Herod tried to kill Him. So did the recognized religious people of His day. And many of the regular people who at first delighted in Jesus left Him in droves when He would not fulfill their immediate desire for free food. Has anything changed? Most of our politicians today do not seem to act, talk or legislate like they recognize Jesus and accept Him as their ruler. So many of the religious people of our day will not stand up for Jesus as the only Savior. So many who claim to know Jesus choose not to follow Him because He’s not doing things the way they would. Even we, who know better, understand our own struggles to treat Jesus as Lord of our lives. He is forgotten, marginalized, kept in a box until we feel we really need him. God has no reason to care. We’ve given Him no reason to care.

But remember this is a real human interest story. In spite of the unbelieving world’s blatant rejection, and in spite of the believing world’s often half hearted acceptance God still cares! That’s what the Christmas story teaches us. He cares so much for people that He comes Himself to be our Savior. He will not sacrifice the cattle on a thousand hills. He will not throw thousands upon thousands of Christian soldiers into battle to be cannon fodder in front of Him, He will not leave the job of saving up to the holy angels. He comes Himself.

“The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. We have seen his glory, the glory he has as the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The Word became flesh. True God became true man. Why this impossibility that makes us marvel? It is the glory of God. When John says “we have seen his glory” we may think of how he saw the many miracles of Jesus and they were glorious! We may think of how he and Peter and James saw Jesus transfigured, just a tiny glimpse of His majesty as God, so great they did not want to leave. Or perhaps John is emphasizing more the glory of the only begotten Son of the Father as His arms were stretched out on wooden cross. Who stayed there even though He had been given no reason to care by Adam and Eve in the beginning, nor by Cain as he slew Abel, nor by the masses who had made the world so bad God had to destroy it in a flood, nor by the babbling idiots who tried to make a tower for their own glory, nor by the too long of lines of infidel kings of His people, nor by the Herods, Pharisees and Sadducees, not even by His own disciples who so quickly ran away to save their own skins in the Garden of Gethsemane, nor by Peter who denied rather than accept guilt by association with Jesus, nor by us who are too often too busy enjoying the blessings of living in a wealthy country that just don’t have the time and energy for Him. And still He came Himself. And still He stayed the course of the cross because it is to the glory of God to give Himself for His people.

See, this is a real human interest story. It is not designed to get your anger or your money but to show you grace and truth. God’s interest is in you. You are what mattered that first Christmas. You are what matters now. And when our Christmas is over He will not take you down like you are cheap decorations. He will not throw you away like the ripped and torn paper everyone throws away. He will keep you where He always keeps you. Close to His heart. “But to all who did receive him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Now that is what you are! Merry Christmas! Amen.