Thursday, December 8, 2022

December 7, 2022 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: 1 Chronicles 22: 5, 14-16; 2 Chronicles 6:13-14 “ANTICIPATING CHRIST’S ADVENT IN WORD AND SACRAMENT

 

MIDWEEK ADVENT 2

December 7, 2022

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: 1 Chronicles 22: 5, 14-16; 2 Chronicles 6:13-14

 

“ANTICIPATING CHRIST’S ADVENT IN WORD AND SACRAMENT

 

          Anticipation. It’s a looking forward to something. Something good. Sometimes it includes preparations. Thanksgiving dinner. You look forward to it. That morning cup of coffee that gets you going. You look forward to it as you roll out of bed. Speaking of bed…an afternoon nap on a cold dark day. Bedtime itself. These are things you anticipate, look forward to when your body and brain are tired.

          This year for our midweek Advent services we are anticipating Christ’s various advents or arrivals in our lives. Last week we were reminded to anticipate celebrating the birth of the right King, Jesus. Christmas is His birthday. He deserves our best attention. Today we anticipate the way Jesus comes to us more frequently in His word and sacrament. To help us do that we look at some Old Testament anticipation. It has always been important for God’s people to have a place to gather where God would come to them in a special way. King David recognized that and wanted to build a temple for God. God told him No. But David anticipated how God would come to His people. He was excited for it. This is what he said,

 

1 Chronicles 22:5 (EHV) “David said, “My son Solomon is young and inexperienced. The house to be built for the Lord will make his name very great and give him glory in all the lands. Therefore, I will make preparations for it.” So David completed many of the preparations before his death.”

 

Then David handed things over to his son Solomon. When he did he told him,

 

1 Chronicles 22:14-16 (EHV) “Look! With great effort I have provided one hundred thousand talents of gold for the House of the Lord, a million talents of silver, and too much bronze and iron to be weighed. I have provided lumber and stones. You may add to what I have provided. 15 There are plenty of laborers available to you, namely, stonecutters, masons, and wood workers, and those capable in all kinds of crafts, 16 also workers with gold, silver, bronze, and iron, too many to count. Get up and do it. The Lord will be with you.”

 

And oh what a mass of gold, silver, bronze, iron, lumber and stones that was. The nearest estimate I found to build this temple in today’s dollars was 220 billion. 220 billion dollars. One building. It took seven years to build the Temple. And it wasn’t really all that big. Here is a picture of what it might have looked like. Then came the day of dedication. This is what happened.

 

2 Chronicles 5:13-14 (EHV) “The trumpeters and the singers joined together as one to praise and give thanks to the Lord. As they raised their voices to praise the Lord, accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other musical instruments, they sang: Truly, he is good, because his mercy endures forever. Then the sanctuary of the House of the Lord was filled with a cloud. 14 The priests were not able to take their positions to minister because of the presence of the cloud, because the Glory of the Lord had filled the House of God.”

 

Can you just imagine what it was like being there? If you lived in Jerusalem you have been watching the Temple construction for the past 7 years until finally it was done. But never before have you seen it put to use for its purpose. A place where God advents. He comes to be with His people. The Glory of the Lord, the way God chose to appear to His Old Testament, people filled the Temple. This Glory of the Lord has been described as a bright shining cloud or a cloud on fire. You can’t miss it. It is dazzling. Wow! I can imagine the people coming faithfully Sabbath after Sabbath. They knew that when they went to Temple to worship God came to be with them.

          Sadly the history of God’s Old Testament people reveals that they gradually despised the way God chose to come to them. He did not appear in the cloud all the time. He wanted His people to live by faith and not by sight. Even if He had continued to come in that visible way it’s likely the same thing would have happened. God’s people take Him for granted. Over time the way God’s people despised the way He came to them led to neglect of worship, then to worshipping false gods instead of the only true one. This led to God turning over Old Testament Israel to her enemies and this temple was destroyed by around 580 BC by the Babylonians. A much lesser replacement Temple was rebuilt around 510 BC and it stood in Jerusalem until about 70 AD. But this time there was a new reason for the Temple to be gone. Jesus. Jesus had come. Now God would come to His people in Jesus. It’s all about Jesus.

          And today Jesus advents or comes to His people in word and Sacrament. When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper He told His disciples, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you.” And then He gave the meal that was to be repeated where He would come to believers, “This is my body. This is my blood.” Jesus gave this promise about our worship. “Where two or three come together in my name there am I in the midst of them.” He advents. He comes to be with us.

          Do we anticipate that and by that I mean do we look forward to being in worship and partaking of the Lord’s Supper? When you are blessed with Christ in your life for a long time sinful attitudes can crop up just like they did with God’s Old Testament people. What is special, God coming to be with his people, becomes routine, maybe even looked at as an obligation as though God needs us. Check your attitude. Is public worship a have to for you, something else to check off on the “To do list?” Danger! Are the first and third weekends of each month starred, circled, highlighted on your calendar or planner? Jesus will come to us! Or do we drag our obligated bodies through the church doors, see the altar prepared for Communion and groan, “Ugh, going to be a longer service.” Is it possible that today God’s people are anticipating the sacramental food of a secular Christmas, eggnog and cookies, more than the bread and wine which bring to us the presence of Christ Himself? Is it possible that the parents God has entrusted with His little lambs are more eager to bring their children to sit on Santa’s lap than to bring them to sit at the feet of Jesus who said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for the kingdom of God belongs to these?”

          And yet still Jesus comes to us. He has not removed Himself from our country or our daily lives. Instead He has made His word, the one thing needful, available in many ways. You know that morning coffee you anticipate to wake up your body and your brain? Why not drink it while you spend some time with a devotion or reading God’s word. Jesus will come to you and as coffee perks up your physical body Jesus will give energy to your spiritual one. Or that sleep and rest that you anticipate for your body? You need it to function the next day. So also the rest for your soul that your faith needs to function happens when Christ comes to you in the word and Sacrament of worship. Never has it been that God came to His people because He needed to. Always when Christ comes it’s because we need Him to.

          And we need Him to regularly. Even on our best behavior our valuing of God falls short of His glory. Even when we fight sin the hardest our righteousness is as filthy rags. Only Christ cleans us up. Only Jesus makes us right in God’s eyes. So He comes in word and Sacrament. He comes as 2 or 3 of us gather together. He comes, bringing forgiveness and faith. That’s something to look forward to. Amen.

 

Thursday, December 1, 2022

November 26-28, 2022 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Philippians 4:4-7 EHV “THE LORD IS NEAR!”

 

ADVENT 1

November 26-28, 2022

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Philippians 4:4-7 EHV

 

“THE LORD IS NEAR!”

                                      A reason for…

1.     Joy

2.     Gentleness

3.     Peace

 

Philippians 4:4-7 EHV  Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 

There is a story told about a little girl who had never been exposed to the Bible, never heard any Bible stories at all. She was sick in a hospital. Like many hospitals it had started as a charitable arm of a Christian church so it was a tradition that at Christmas time the story of the birth of Jesus was read in the children's ward. The little girl was enchanted. When the reading was over she turned to a rather grim faced nurse standing next to her and asked "Have you ever heard that story before?" "Oh, yes, many times," answered the nurse. "Well,” said the girl, “you sure don't look like it!" Ouch!

          It’s Advent in the church year, almost December in the calendar year. As you approach the celebration of the birth of Jesus can you relate to either of those two? Would you put yourself in the category of the little girl who can't wait to hear that delightful story again, or do you find yourself feeling more like the grim faced nurse who has heard it many times before and with all the to dos on the list just can't seem to get excited about it? No matter which one or something in between you relate to, I have good news from God to help and encourage you. The Lord is near!

          That’s a reason for joy in our lives. Now there are many mini joys available this time of year. Retailers will rejoice if they get the extra sales they are hoping for. Children rejoice because they get know they will get some time off from school, maybe some presents. People in the work force rejoice at the prospect of a day or two off. There is the joy we experience in giving to others, the joy of receiving and the joy of seeing dearly missed friends and family. All of these things can bring people joy at Christmas time. But do you notice anything about those kinds of joys? They are conditional and temporary. What if the economy is not strong? What if money is tight for buying gifts? What if you don't get to be with family or if your family is having problems? And those vacations from school or work are over way to soon and its back to the grind. Then what happens to the joy?

It reminds me of a Chinese proverb I read about happiness. It goes like this. "If you wish to be happy for an hour, get drunk. If you wish to be happy for three days, get married. If you wish to be happy for a week, kill your pig and eat it. If you wish to be happy forever, learn to fish." Now we might not agree with those ways of pursuing happiness but the point is clear. If you want to stay happy pursue something that will give lasting happiness. I wonder if God had a little fun with the Chinese philosopher who came up with that proverb. The reason I say that is because the proverb's way to lasting happiness is learning to fish. And it just so happens that for centuries the fish has been a symbol for Jesus. The Lord is near. He most certainly is the way to lasting happiness.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Always? Yes! We can. The Lord is near! Just think of some of the joy stealers you have in life. Sudden or chronic sickness and pain. Financial hardship. Difficult people in your life. Loneliness due to death or disappointment. Guilt caused by sin. Those are real problems. We all have them. And yet we can still have joy because the Lord is near. First He is near to your heart. When Jesus ascended He promised, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” As we wait for the end of the world Jesus stays near. He only allows your sickness or pain when there is a good plan. He is near and knows what’s best for you. Money may be tight but you still have the daily bread His prayer teaches you to pray for. He will provide. If you think your putting up with difficult people in your life is hard just imagine how hard it is for Jesus. He has to put up with you! And His ongoing grace and love toward you and me allow us to smile and be joyful and fight fire with friendliness. You may feel alone but you are not. Jesus stays with you. And your sins are the very reason He came in the first place. He forgives you. And finally the Lord is near in another way. Today we are one day closer to the day He returns. None of this lasts. It’s only temporary. This too shall pass. Might as well enjoy it while we wait. The Lord is near. A reason for joy.

And a reason for gentleness. “Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.” Well, we survived another national election. Once again it was marked by nastiness. Once again we are characterized as a polarized nation. Once again in the aftermath people call for a return to civility. No one seems to know how to get there. You do. The Lord is near. That’s a reason for gentleness on our part. There is really no English word that makes for a nice translation of what we are encouraged to show. In our language gentle basically means being kind, thoughtful and careful in your treatment of others. What’s missing is the aspect of “Do that even though you have the right and ability to destroy another.” This gentleness is the gentleness of a giant who has the power and strength to crush but picks up the little kitten as carefully as he can. Let that gentleness be known to all. You are going to have all kinds of extra opportunities where you will tempted to use your tongue or your influence to crush and destroy others coming up before Christmas. Deadlines bring stress. Stress brings rushing. Lines cause impatience. People butt in to grab the last item, cut you off to get to where they are going, rush by without noticing as they hurry to get everything done. Now you can let them have a piece of your mind. You can demand your rights and your ways or you can let your gentleness be evident to all. Because the Lord is near. He will take care of it. Will it really matter when Jesus comes? Does it really matter now? The Lord is near.

And that’s also a reason for peace. “Do not worry about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” You are probably quite familiar with verse 7. Many pastors, including me, have concluded their sermons with this blessing of peace. Perhaps we would be serving you better if we included verse 6 because they are linked. One leads to another. Ongoing prayer leads to ongoing peace. Worry is the opposite. Worry is that anxiety over not know what’s going to happen next. Worry is the fear that the worst will happen. Worry is the futile struggle to be in charge of what is out of your control. You can’t think your way out of it. You can’t logic your way out of it. It’s a spiritual condition. It needs a spiritual solution.

Prayer. Prayer connects us to the all powerful God. The Lord is near! Call on me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you. You will honor me. Cast all your anxiety on Him for He cares for you. How much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him. Recall the words of the Lord who is near urging us to pray more so we can worry less. Oh what peace we often forfeit. Oh what needles pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer. The Lord is near, just waiting to hear from you. This invitation comes with a promise. “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In just a few short weeks we will again get to hear the story that shows us God’s great love for us. Advent urges us to make ready to celebrate. But its message is really one for all year long. Your Lord is near. Because of that you get to have joy, gentleness and peace all your long. Your Lord is near. You’ve heard it many times before. Let’s work on letting our faces show that. Amen.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Nov. 12-14, 2022 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10 “FEELING LIKE YOU DON’T FIT IN?”

 

LAST JUDGMENT

Nov. 12-14, 2022

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10

 

FEELING LIKE YOU DON’T FIT IN?”

1.     Good! It’s a sign your faith is real and growing!

2.     Good! Just wait!

 

2 Thessalonians 1:3-10 (EHV) “We are always obligated to thank God for you, brothers, as is fitting, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love that each and every one of you has for one another is increasing. So we ourselves boast about you in God’s churches in regard to your patient endurance and faith in all your persecutions and in the trials that you are enduring. This is evidence of God’s righteous verdict that resulted in your being counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you also suffer. Certainly, it is right for God to repay trouble to those who trouble you, and to give relief to you, who are troubled along with us. When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his powerful angels, he will exercise vengeance in flaming fire on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. Such people will receive a just penalty: eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from his glorious strength, 10 on that day when he comes to be glorified among his saints, and to be marveled at among all those who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.”

 

          So how you feeling about things these days? Do you feel like you belong in your community, state, nation? Are you fitting in? Let’s do a little history review. Some of you grew up at a time when the moral values summarized by the 10 Commandments were held by the majority of Americans. Yes, there was the Roe V Wade thing in the 70’s but overall, law and order was the rule. Most marriages lasted. People backed the police. And parents believed their children’s teachers. Christians fit in. Over time that has eroded. Polls (are you sick of them yet?) polls show more new couples are choosing to live together without being married than are getting married. When most states passed amendments defining marriage as between one man and one they were fairly quickly declared unconstitutional. You may have thought the overturning of Roe V Wade would be a game changer, but it did not change anyone’s hearts. Now we have the whole gender thing to deal with. Apparently, you aren’t supposed to follow the science when the science is biology that clearly shows there are only two genders, male and female. Not that we needed biology to speak. God spoke when He said, “Male and female He created them.” But if you think it’s difficult to figure out what the alphabet soup of LBGQTI+ all means, now you have to figure out what all the other terms mean. One list presented 81 different genders you can choose from. And do you know what furries are? Well, they are people who identify as animals and want to be treated that way even demanding that litter boxes be provided for them in public places. As the kids text: SMH. Shaking my head. Are you fitting in?

          Those are all moral issues. We haven’t talked about what is really important. Jesus. Jesus is God’s Son. The only way to heaven. Only He saves from sin. Only He provides the life of perfection needed to enter heaven. Reject what Jesus has freely done for you and you condemn yourself to Hell. While roughly 70% of Americans believe there is a heaven and surprisingly to me about 60% believe there is a Hell most don’t think Jesus has anything to do with you being there or not. Most say the really, really bad go to hell and most others heaven, if there is one. It’s this marginalizing of Jesus, this Devil trick of removing Him from conversation that gets us most upset. Are you feeling like you don’t fit in?

          Good! It’s a sign your faith is real and growing. Listen to what God had Paul write to the Thessalonian Christians. These were mostly Jewish people who believed Jesus is the Messiah. But because of that the Jews in town who did not believe that persecuted them and made their lives miserable. You can imagine how unfair that felt. How it hurt to not fit in anymore. But God made sure they heard this. “We are always obligated to thank God for you, brothers, as is fitting, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love that each and every one of you has for one another is increasing. So we ourselves boast about you in God’s churches in regard to your patient endurance and faith in all your persecutions and in the trials that you are enduring. This is evidence of God’s righteous verdict that resulted in your being counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you also suffer.” Brothers and sisters, nothing new under the sun. This chafing that you feel, this almost daily shaking your head at what’s happening now, is actually good. It’s a sign your faith is real. God has judged you to be worthy of His kingdom. Not that you earned it. Jesus gave it to you, but you are living and thinking the way a believer in Jesus does, bothered by what is evil. Clinging to what is good. Trusting Jesus, Jesus, only Jesus for your salvation. As it becomes harder to be a Christian your faith grows. As it becomes harder to be a Christian our love and appreciation for each other grows. We need to encourage and be encouraged. Are you feeling like you’re not fitting in? Good! It’s a sign your faith is real and growing.

          What would be bad is if you feel like you fit in. If deChristianizing and eroding morals don’t bother you, your faith is dying and may not be real. Young people, I want to address you especially. You face a lot more pressure than grandma or grandpa did. You will have times when you will be called unloving for sticking up for Jesus as the only way to heaven. You will be called a hater if you stick to what God says about who is male and female and how they should act and what marriage is and isn’t and the right and wrong ways for God’s gift of sex. You are going to want to fit in. Don’t do it. Stick to the faith as you are taught. Because at times like these it’s only when you’re feeling like you’re not fitting in that your faith is real and growing.

          And then, just wait! Don’t give into frustration. It’s easy to get angry when you get mistreated or treated unfairly because of your faith in Jesus. It’s easy to be angry when more and more Americans, some your own family members, drift away from Jesus. And I can tell you your anger is right and justified. On this Veterans’ Day weekend when we gratefully remember the sacrifices of those who serve to keep us free think of how a veteran’s family feels when people disrespect the military. On a much larger scale God is angered when people speak and act as though the sacrifice Jesus made is unnecessary.  God is angry when people use His love, patience and grace and permission to sin. God is angry when people defy what He made them to be and claim the right to be their own god and make their own rules. We should be angry about what God is angry at. But remember what He said, “In your anger, do not sin.” Don’t take matters into your own hands like those who bombed abortion clinics did. Don’t let your anger turn you into an actual hater who speaks or posts venom. Don’t get frustrated with God. His allowance of this mess does not mean He does not care. He does!

          Just wait! “Certainly, it is right for God to repay trouble to those who trouble you, and to give relief to you, who are troubled along with us. When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his powerful angels, he will exercise vengeance in flaming fire on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. Such people will receive a just penalty: eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from his glorious strength, 10 on that day when he comes to be glorified among his saints, and to be marveled at among all those who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.” We are coming close to the anniversary of the horrible Waukesha Christmas parade tragedy where a man’s actions caused the death of six people and injured scores more. People had to wait for justice to be done. But it was done. So too, brothers and sisters, God will take care of anyone who has mistreated you for the sake of your faith. On that day we will marvel while others will receive what they earned by rejecting God.

          So, are you feeling like you don’t fit in in your country, community, society, workplace? Good. Because it means you do fit in where it matters most. Heaven. Wait for it! Amen.

 

Monday, November 7, 2022

November 12-14, 2022 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Hebrews 11:32-40 “TOGETHER WITH US!”

 

SAINTS TRIUMPHANT

November 12-14, 2022

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Hebrews 11:32-40

 

“TOGETHER WITH US!”

1.     Saints have triumphs and trials.

2.     Saints get what’s better.

 

          It does not seem to me to be as popular as it once was, but it is still a part of American culture. I’m talking about trading cards. America’s heroes. Baseball cards are still probably the gold standard but many do football, basketball and yes, Pokemon and other fantasy games. Hey, we even got into it here at Jacobi. Look in your bulletin for information on your Jacobi pastor and principal cards and how to use them. I can already imagine it. “I’ll give you 2 signed Spaudes for a Waldschmidt. Are you nuts? You can’t tell whose chicken scratch that is!” Did you know you can get Bible hero trading cards? Might be a good way to review your Bible stories. The word of God before us does that too. It comes from Hebrews 11, the “Heroes of Faith” chapter of the Bible. Check out the names of our heroes. What it reveals to us about them comforts and encourages us as once again we celebrate the All Saints portion of the church year. Remember saints are people who God declares righteous through faith in Christ Jesus. The Saints Triumphant are the ones in heaven. The Saints Militant are us, still stuck in the sin filled world. And God makes it clear that in His plan He wants all of us together.

          Together with us saints have triumphs and trials. Prior to our reading the writer had drawn attention to saints named Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Rahab. An then he wrote this. And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35Women received back their dead, raised to life again.” Wow! Remember the triumphs! Gideon with 300 men defeating the Midianite army. Samson and his great strength defeating the Philistines. David and Goliath. Daniel in the Lions’ Den. Shadrach Meshach and Abednego and the fiery furnace. The widow of Nain whose son was raised back from the dead. The saints of the past had triumphs.

          And trials. “Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37They were stoned ; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-- 38the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.” Suddenly being a saint does not look so cool any more. Jeremiah put in prison. The Apostles flogged. Stephen and Paul stoned. Tradition says it was the prophet Isaiah who was placed inside a hollowed out tree and sawed in two. That’s not pretty. But it is real. God’s saints have had trials even leading to their deaths.

          Together with us saints have triumphs and trial. I don’t know Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel but I do know other saints in heaven personally. So do you. For many of us that’s mom or dad. For some it is son or daughter, childhood friend or niece. Time seems to help us forget their whole package. We remember them fondly. But actually they had both triumphs and trials. They had times in their life that they were great examples of faith and times where they stumbled. Maybe they didn’t defeat nations but they fought for God’s truth in their own church and prevailed. Maybe they held the family together in tough times. Maybe their love for Christ moved them to sacrifice for you so you could have Christ in your education. Maybe they also had a drinking problem. Maybe anger led them to sin. Maybe they were not literally sawn in two but maybe you know how they agonized over some past sin and it had their guts tied in a knot in shame and guilt until the Lord released them from sin for good at their death. They had triumphs and trials together with us. And that’s where Gods’ word encourages us. You too will have times of great spiritual triumph. You and the church will triumph. Things will go well for us. And you will have trials. Things won’t go well. That’s OK. You are not alone. All the other saints went through similar things. You are not alone. God is with you, watching and guiding all things with His love. Together with us saints have triumphs and trials.

          And together with us saints get what’s better. “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” The saints, the believers of the past lived by faith. They believed what they did not see. They did not receive what had been promised. The Savior. Jesus did not come in their lifetimes. So they fought and they triumphed. They fought and they failed and never saw the Promised Savior come. Just like the saints you know personally, mom and dad and all the rest, fought their good fights of faith, had triumphs and trials and did not live to see Jesus come the second time. Why not? Because God has something better in mind for them and us. Together with us all saints will get what’s better.

          And what is that? An eternity together, with Jesus, and with them. The reward in heaven Jesus promised in the Gospel lesson. The new heaven and the new earth. Sin has royally messed up everything. Bodies break down, get cancers, vision goes, hearing goes. Minds slip. Dementia assails. Relationships suffer. People hate. Kids are mean. Spouses acted selfishly not selflessly. Kids rebel. Parents don’t care. There’s a lot of hurt you experience in life. Species God created have gone extinct. The world winds down. God’s solution is a Savior Jesus. He sends Him not to restore this broken world but to save people from it and for something better. What is it going to be like to have a new heaven and a new earth? If we enjoy the company of our pets now, what will it be like when the lion lies down with the lamb? If we enjoy the warmth of the sun on our face on warm fall day, what will it be like when we need no sun because we are in the glory of God Himself? When God tells us that he has something better planned what He is really saying is something perfect and did you hear what He said? Only together with us.

          Together with us. All saints. If there is ever an emphasis of the church year that brings truth to us in a way that digs deep into our emotions it is today. If you ever wonder whether your faith is worth it, all the time devoting to God’s Word, coming to worship Jesus, fighting against sin, feeling like the outsider; if you ever wonder whether whole hearted and full walleted support for the work of your church is worth it, if you ever wonder whether it’s worth it to witness for Jesus in your personal life or if devoting your life to full time church work matters, it is today. All saints. We may have to be separated for a time but not for an eternity. “Only together withs us” says the Lord. Who jumps from your heart to your mind. Who are you missing? Look ahead. Together with us. God has planned what’s better. Today we recognize with thanksgiving to God those associated with our church family who were transferred from the church militant to the church triumphant since last we gathered for this observance.

 

Barnard Nowak, Eddie Rivera, Marilyn Kloke, Gary Blahnik, David Mierendorf, Donald Doepke, Gary Anderson, Ryan Jeske, Joyce Hertig, LaVerne Denlinger, Louis Dominguez, Arlene Barber, Laurell Nommensen, Kenneth Price, George Schaser, Shirley Witt.

 

Together with us. Amen.

 

 

Monday, October 3, 2022

October 1-3, 2022 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Luke 17:1-10 (EHV) INCREASE OUR FAITH!

 

PROPER 22

October 1-3, 2022

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Luke 17:1-10 (EHV)

 

 INCREASE OUR FAITH!

1.     So we can watch ourselves.

2.     So we can forgive.

3.     So we can know our place.

 

Luke 17:1-10 (EHV) “Jesus said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for that person if a millstone would be hung around his neck and he would be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Watch yourselves.

“If your brother sins, rebuke him. If he repents, forgive him. Even if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times returns to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you could tell this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. Which one of you who has a servant plowing or taking care of sheep will say to him when he comes in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at the table’? Won’t the master tell him instead, ‘Prepare my supper, and after you are properly dressed, serve me while I eat and drink. After that you may eat and drink’? He does not thank the servant because he did what he was commanded to do, does he? 10 So also you, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants. We have only done what we were supposed to do.’”

 

          There is a movie I saw in high school. It’s not that good so don’t rush home to stream it. It’s called Fright Night. The reason I still remember it is because it had a moment of beautiful theology in it. In it some high school kids became convinced a family of vampires had moved in next door. When the vampires found out they were discovered they went after the kids. Much of the movie was this confrontation and its conclusion. During the chase one of the kids picked up a broken window frame that had formed a cross and whipped around and held it out in front of the vampire and if you are up on your vampire fighting techniques you know that vampires can’t handle the sight of a cross. So in the movie the pursuing vampire of course turns away in fear from the cross and that’s when it happened. The vampire turned around, pushed the cross away and said, “You gotta have faith for that to work!” Beautiful, stunning, accurate theology in a cheap B movie. A cross cannot be used superstitiously. “You gotta have faith for that to work.” These past weeks Jesus has pushed us in our sanctification life. He presented us with hard things to do as we follow him. Today there are more. And it’s true you gotta have faith for that to wokd so we pray along with Jesus’ disciples “Increase our faith!”

          Increase our faith so we are able to watch ourselves. We need to. “Jesus said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for that person if a millstone would be hung around his neck and he would be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Watch yourselves.” Here’s a picture of a millstone. How would you like to go swimming in Lake Michigan with one of those around your neck? Yet that is exactly what Jesus says is better than being responsible for causing a child to stumble in their faith or to lead them to sin. Now if you think it’s bad having surveillance cameras around everywhere watching your every move and if they are audio enabled listening to your every word try having a child around. They watch. They listen. They repeat. What do the little eyes see? What do little ears hear? You know when children use bad language commonly called swears they may have picked them up because they are playing online video games that connect with other kids and mom and dad are not monitoring what’s being said…or maybe they heard it from mom and dad. They may not value worship and God’s word because they are immature or maybe they picked that up from someone else. They may value things over people because of their natural selfish sinful nature, or maybe they see someone else doing that. They may…you get the picture. We need to watch ourselves. Thoughts are difficult to control. Words and actions are controllable. But you gotta have faith for that to work. Lord, increase our faith.

          Increase our faith so we can forgive. “If your brother sins, rebuke him. If he repents, forgive him. Even if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times returns to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” Here’s another hard thing to do. Fully forgive. It’s so hard if we think about it, we get scared when we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Do you really want that prayer answered? The measure of our forgiveness of others is the forgiveness we ourselves receive from God. Do you want your forgiveness limited? No? Then why do you limit your forgiveness of others? There is a lot to understand about forgiveness, more than we can talk about now but Jesus plainly is teaching that we are to keep forgiving our children, our parents, our spouses, each other, when they repent. Here He’s describing what sounds like a repetitive sin of weakness. Keep forgiving them? “Yes!” says Jesus. “Increase our faith,” said the disciples! They understood. You gotta have faith for that to work.

          And you gotta have faith to know your place. “Which one of you who has a servant plowing or taking care of sheep will say to him when he comes in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at the table’? Won’t the master tell him instead, ‘Prepare my supper, and after you are properly dressed, serve me while I eat and drink. After that you may eat and drink’? He does not thank the servant because he did what he was commanded to do, does he? 10 So also you, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants. We have only done what we were supposed to do.’” You gotta know your place. Jesus’ mini parable teaches us two things. Don’t get all high and mighty when you get something right. Don’t think you are better than others if your outward living is better. You are only doing what you are supposed to do. And don’t quibble with the Master about what you should or should not do or what is a reasonable expectation. Jesus is the Master. We are the servants. He tells us what to do. We don’t tell Him. 100Know your place.

          And know your place in another way. It’s next to Jesus. He is our master. He is our king. He is our Savior. We are His servants. We are connected to Jesus. Deliberately following Jesus is not easy. You have to deny your way of doing things. You have to carry crosses. You have to keep forgiving and watch your words and actions. And you gotta have faith for that to work. And that is exactly what He has given to us. Instilled at our Baptism. Strengthened through Word and Sacrament. Know your place, a place of privilege and honor, a believer in Jesus that connects you to His power.

That was the point Jesus was making when the disciples got all wide eyed about what they were supposed to do. It’s almost like they were whining, “I can’t do that! It’s too hard. I don’t have enough faith. Jesus’ response? “The Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you could tell this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” Even a tiny amount of faith is powerful because it is connected to the all powerful Jesus. And you are connected to the all powerful Jesus. You do have faith. So you can watch yourself. You can continue to forgive. You can happily know your place. And where you fail? You have forgiveness. Thank you Jesus! Amen.

Monday, September 19, 2022

September 17-19, 2022 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Luke 16:1-13 Lutherans Learn Lessons on Love from a Thief?

 

PROPER 20

September 17-19, 2022

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Luke 16:1-13

 

Lutherans Learn Lessons on Love from a Thief?

1. Yes! The lesson of Today.

2. Yes! The lesson of Tomorrow.

3. Yes! The lesson of First Love.

 

Luke 16:1-13 (NIV1984) “Jesus told his disciples: "There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2So he called him in and asked him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.' 3 "The manager said to himself, 'What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I'm not strong enough to dig, and I'm ashamed to beg-- 4 I know what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.' 5 "So he called in each one of his master's debtors. He asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' 6 " 'Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,' he replied. "The manager told him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.' 7 "Then he asked the second, 'And how much do you owe?' " 'A thousand bushels of wheat,' he replied. "He told him, 'Take your bill and make it eight hundred.' 8 "The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own? 13"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

 

          Over the past several weeks the Gospel lessons from Luke have presented us with some hard teachings of Jesus. His words remind us that while becoming a follower of Jesus is easy, (God does all the work), living as a follower of Jesus is not. As one writer put it, “Christianity is not for wimps!” Jesus has so far gotten in our face a little bit to make us understand that being a believer is a privilege. God does not need us. We need Him. He told us that the cost, the price of following Him is nothing less than everything. We can’t just be in 98%. It’s all or nothing. He will not accept second place. He changed our way of thinking about brothers and sisters who have fallen into sin from looking down on to wanting them back with His parables of the lost. Today He smacks our smugness yet again by urging us to learn from a thief. "The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.”

          The naughty kid gets praised? Yes. Let’s see why. I won’t read the whole parable again as you just heard it but here’s what happened. There was a store manager who was about to lose his job because of incompetence. The owner told him that at the end of the day he was fired. The incompetent manager was afraid. How would he live? He came up with a plan to gain friends for himself who would take care of him once he lost his job. The plan? Steal from the owner. Immediately he found customers who owed considerable amounts of money and discounted their bills. They were extremely grateful and happy. The owner was robbed of money. Listen to the conclusion of the parable again. "The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.” The master praised the dishonest manager. He praised a thief. And so Jesus wants us to learn lessons from a thief?

          Yes, but not to steal. To be shrewd and while Jesus has a lot to say about money here what He’s really talking about is love. Love for God. Love for people.  "The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Lesson one is the lesson of Today. Urgency. When the manager found out he was going to lose his job he did not delay. He went into action. Time was short. Right away he called in customers who owed money. “Quickly!” he told them. There was urgency.

          Good lesson learned for our faith life and spiritual matters. Today is the day. There is urgency. We don’t know when our time on earth will end. We don’t know when someone else’s time on earth will end. Today is the day first to be doing what you are doing, feeding your faith, listening to God’s word. Today is the day for something else. Do you have people in your sphere of influence that you have been wanting to have that “What happens when you die?” conversation, the one that leads to Jesus? As you have been working on building relationships with other people has the Lord given you that opening that you forgot to take? You know where they asked you that question that you thought about later “What I should have said was…?” It’s not too late to reach out to them and say, “You know I was thinking about what you asked and what helps me through is Jesus.” See where it goes. First lesson Lutherans need to learn from this thief is Today. Urgency.

          The second lesson is Tomorrow. That there is a future to be ready for. "The manager said to himself, 'What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I'm not strong enough to dig, and I'm ashamed to beg-- 4 I know what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.” Those of you who know my frugal nature will get a kick out of knowing I once saw an establishment that had a sign prominently posted offering free beer tomorrow…and I went. You can play those games with words but the lesson of tomorrow is that you have a future life. God does not guarantee any of us more days on this earth but He does guarantee eternity, for everyone. Souls do not die. They do not end. They live forever in either heaven or hell. Either fully with God or full separated from Him and His goodness. Are you thinking about your tomorrow? When Jesus gives you the gift of heaven how many people there are going to say, “Thank you! Thank you, friend! Thank you for making sure I heard about Jesus?”

          And that’s why this is really a lesson on love as the third lesson we learn from this thief is you only get one first love. "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." This is a lesson we know well but have trouble putting into practice. Love God first. Bible 101. Love myself first. Human 101. It’s that nasty sinful nature we have. Even though when God brought us into His family in Baptism and gave us the new self that is connected to Christ we still have our sinful nature. It still leads us to value things wrongly. We can all think of many times in life when something else was first. Like being a part of a friend group. Like getting to start for a sports team. Like the latest video game. Those things are fine but need to be valued in their right place. Kids, who does Fortnight anymore? Two years ago rage is today’s lame. The thieving manager loved himself first and that’s why he misused money. Jesus used him to teach us the lesson of loving God first so we will know how to use money. Not as a rival to God but in service to God. To be his hands in helping others, yes with physical needs but more importantly with their need of knowing Jesus as Savior. It might be hard to do that so Jesus helps us. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?” There is a promise there. Show yourself trustworthy with the blessing of money and you will be entrusted with true riches.

          I guess it’s true. We Lutherans do need to learn lessons from a thief. But actually we already have. There is another thief in the Bible whose lessons we have loved to learn. The thief on the cross. Today! Jesus words teach us what happens when we die. Heaven! Tomorrow. Heaven is our eternal tomorrow. First love. All that happens because Jesus loved us first. We’re His first love. Let’s find ways to let others know that Jesus loves them too! Amen.

Monday, August 15, 2022

August 13-15, 2022 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Luke 12:49-53 (EHV) “WHEN HAVING FAITH ISN’T FUN…”

 

PROPER 15

August 13-15, 2022

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Luke 12:49-53 (EHV)

 

“WHEN HAVING FAITH ISN’T FUN…”

1.     Keep your eyes on Jesus.

2.     Keep your eyes on the prize.

 

Luke 12:49-53 (EHV) “I came to throw fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already ignited. 50But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is finished! 51Do you think that I came to bring peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52Yes, from now on there will be five divided in one household: three against two, and two against three. 53They will be divided: father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

 

          So, there are these things called uncomfortable or inconvenient truths. Such things are factually true but then in some way you wish you didn’t know it, or it makes your life difficult. Like what glue used to be made of, or what goes into a hot dog. Jesus presents us with one of those today.  “Do you think that I came to bring peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52Yes, from now on there will be five divided in one household: three against two, and two against three. 53They will be divided: father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” The very presence of Jesus in our hearts and lives will cause divisions, even with the people closest to us!

          You already know this and have experienced it, and it is nothing new, but it’s getting to be more and more. When our nation was at least culturally Christian it usually only showed up when a family member married someone who was not a church goer and so the family had that Sunday morning division. At least back then people watched their mouths at work and on TV. At least back then people talked about going to church even if they didn’t. Now things have changed quite a bit. We are not a culturally Christian nation, and we are heading down the road of being a culturally anti-Christian nation. I found out recently that some of our brothers and sisters who live in Portland, Oregon, are leaving for a church service that starts at 10 at 7 in the morning. You want to know why? So their neighbors don’t see them going to church. “That’s weird,” you say. Well you don’t live in a city whose anti-Christian sentiment  is so strong that the homes and vehicles of Christians are getting vandalized and graffitied and where it is not uncommon to have to clean the human  excrement off the church door handles before service.

          Division. In your family too. Have you started to be a little bit more careful about how you talk about moral issues that deal with sex. marriage, gender identity and abortion? Are you noticing how people you know who have grown up knowing the truth that only Jesus sets them free, that only the Bible is absolutely authoritative, that there are absolute rights and wrongs, suddenly don’t think their faith or their church life that connects them to Jesus is all that important or they blatantly question what God clearly reveals is right and wrong? Have you had it happen that your Facebook friends whom you assumed would certainly take Jesus’ side in any online discussion are taking the anti-Jesus side so that maybe they unfriend you or you feel like unfriending them or just dumping Facebook totally? (I would not discourage you from that. Doing so has brought a lot of peace to a lot of people’s lives.) It seems that those who have living faith in Jesus and are living their faith in Jesus are the odd ones out. When you get the opposition in your family there is hurt, pain and confusion. When you get it at work or in social circles there can be first some anger and then some questioning as the Devil works on your heart to get you to give up your faith. You start wishing the hymn went “Sit down, shut for Jesus, your life will be easier” as you realize you are living at a time when having faith isn’t always fun.

          So, shall we spend our time today throwing ourselves a little pity party? Woe is us! Shall we rush to have our names enrolled on the list of martyrs? Nonsense. When the blessing of faith and living your faith is no fun, keep your eyes on Jesus. “I came to throw fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already ignited. 50But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is finished!” Life was not always easy for Jesus. As He speaks these words he has his eyes set on Jerusalem. He has spent the last three years proving beyond all doubt that He is the Messiah God promised and world needs. He did the miracles to prove it. As Matthew points out in his Gospel Jesus fulfilled every Old Testament prophecy. He faithfully proclaimed God’s words and will and offered salvation freely to all who believe in Him. He knows the fire is coming, the refining fire when it will be clear to these Jewish people He is the Messiah and family members will need to choose. Stick with your society which will be your own family members and with what they feel is right or stick with Jesus. It’s time for Jesus to complete His work as Messiah. He calls it a Baptism to undergo. It will be no fun. He will feel the hurt of betrayal and denial. He will not defend Himself when He is arrested, falsely accused, spit on and tortured. He will submit to the will of His Father and become the world’s one and only sinner so the full wrath of God will be on Him when He is forsaken. And why does He do this? For you! For me. Sinners. To spare us what we have earned for ourselves. Does he throw Himself a pity party? Shy away? Whine and complain? No. “Let’s get this started. I want it finished.  Let’s save these souls no matter what the cost!”

          And Satan wants us to turn our backs on Him? No way. That’s why when the Apostles got their backs ripped open with a flog by the Sanhedrin they left rejoicing because they had been counted worthy to suffer for Jesus who suffered so much more for them. And that’s why when we have these times that having faith is no fun we need to rejoice to. It’s simply a sign that we are faithful to Jesus who was faithful to us first. And let’s understand what is really going on here. Satan is trying to get us to give up our faith. He can not snatch it away from us. God has forbidden him that power. Only we can give it up. So if he can get us to compromise Bible teaching, if he can get us to accept the lie that what the Bible says is not necessarily true anymore he can set us down the path of unbelief. All the moral issues that cause division, all the friction you feel with family members and friends really stems from that root cause, unbelief. It is rejection of Jesus. It’s what Satan wants in you because and it’s what condemns to Hell.

          So when having faith isn’t so much fun also keep your eyes on the prize. You don’t want to give up that faith. “Do you think that I came to bring peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Hey, wait a minute. I thought when Jesus was born the angels sang, “Peace on earth, good will toward mankind?” They did. But the peace they were singing of was not peace between people, but peace between God and people. They looked ahead to when Jesus would remove the divider of sin. Ever since Adam and Eve plunged this world into ruin and imperfection is has never been God’s plan to leave us stuck here in shame and pain and hurt. He has perfection in store for us. Call it heaven. Call it paradise. Call it amazing. Jesus did not come to bring peace on earth but between God and his people so we can one day live in the glory of heaven. That’s the prize! Keep your eyes there. It will keep your chin up for those times when being blessed with faith is not fun.

          The hymn doesn’t say, “Sit down, shut up for Jesus.” It’s “Stand up, stand up. Our last hymn is not going to urge us to surrender the good fight but to fight the good fight. Our opening hymn did not tell the church to kneel down and wave the surrender flag but to arise and put our armor on. We are not alone. Jesus is with us The Spirit is with us. The Father will never leave us or forsake us and as one dear Christian sister once put it, “One person plus Jesus always makes the majority.” And we have more than one person. We have each other. That’s why it is so important to gather regularly so we can encourage one another. That’s also why we give extra thanks today that our Lord has provided us with more called workers to serve us, be served by us, serve with us, serve Jesus. Pastor Langebartels, Mrs. Hackmann, Mrs. Mork you have been given a unique privilege and honor to serve God’s people at St. Jacobi. I hope you don’t take that lightly. I know you will have lots of fun. These are great people. But not perfect people. So sometimes serving won’t be fun. Wah, wah! Get over it. Join the called workers of the past who rejoiced if they got to suffer for Jesus. Join the rest of us in keeping your eyes on Jesus and your eyes on the prize. For one day, because of Jesus, all we’re going to have is FUN! Amen.