Monday, June 27, 2011

June 26/27, 2011
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Hebrews 13:5

1. Never.
2. Forever.

Hebrews 13:5 (NIV) “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

In the city of Watertown where I grew up there is an odd shaped house sitting on a hill overlooking the Rock River. It’s known as the Octagon House because of its unique eight-sided construction. We never paid too much attention to it as kids because what was next to it was more important, the absolute best sledding hill in all of Watertown. It was rollercoaster fast with built in jumps and hills you could almost skim from the top of one to the other. It has ,of course, since my time, been deemed too dangerous for these days children and so no more sledding take place there. Now on the other side of the Octagon House in Watertown is another point of interest that is safe for children. It’s the building that housed America’s first kindergarten. It’s true, right there in little Watertown the very first kindergarten in America was started and I got to see it. Since that time I’ve also been privileged to see the best kindergarten. It’s the best because of the person in it. And as we gather today to observe the retirement of Mrs. Leona Hauer you know that I am of course talking about Jesus Christ.
Mrs. Hauer, for 36 of your 37 years in the teaching ministry of the Gospel you were privileged to serve in that kindergarten and you served faithfully. I don’t know if you always did this but my favorite time visiting your class was what you called God’s Time. Any of you who ever had a chance to see or be a part of that knows that God’s Time in Mrs. Hauer’s kindergarten was the most special time of the day and for me as an adult it was a wonderfully uplifting, encouraging spiritual experience. It was obvious the best was there. Jesus was there.
Jesus is here. Today our sermon time is yet one more God’s Time where we will look at God’s Timing based on your favorite Bible passage, Hebrews 13:5 (NIV) “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” We will see that God’s timing is at the same time never and forever.
In the last chapter of the book of Hebrews the writer reminded all readers of a promise of God. God’s promise to His people is “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Never! God says. Are you serious? Really? Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you. Would you make a promise like that? Oh people try. At their Confirmations they promise they will never leave Jesus or forsake His teachings but when a higher paying job or a more fun activity or a seemingly special person comes along that never is revealed to be the qualified “kind of” that it really is as Jesus or part of His truth is forsaken for an easier earthly life. “Never will I leave you!” is the promise husbands and wives make to each other but with a Wisconsin divorce rate of 1 divorce for every 1.5 marriages these days you can tell that promises is also conditional as some sins break those marriages and some are sinfully broken. “Never will I deny you,” bold Peter said and we all know how that turned out. Never is an awfully strong word that usually needs some qualifications attached. How about God’s “Never?”
“Never!” God says to a people He knows will sin against Him. “Never!” God says though He knows we don’t have the strength to keep our responsive promises to Him. Think, brothers and sisters of all the reasons you have given God in your life to leave you and forsake you. How many times have you come to the Communion rail with a repentant heart, truly sorry for sin, grateful for your forgiveness, promising never to do that again only to have the promise broken within the week? How often have you begged your God for forgiveness and then barely gotten out of church before the gossip and tearing down of others began all over again. Think of how easily we leave the 15% tip when we go out to eat or leave 20% for drinks at a bar and then have the gall to think we’re honoring God with a measly 2% or 3% of our income in offerings. To such people the holy almighty and merciful God promises Never? God says, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you”—when we give Him reason after reason after reason?
Yes. Never. Because God’s promise is a one sided promise and an unconditional one. It is not based on our performance but on God’s great love for us and it is powered and sealed by the one we talked about earlier. Jesus Christ. Your favorite Bible passage, Leona, comes at the end of a Bible book that shows in myriad ways why Jesus is the best—the best holy being, better than angels. The best one to speak God’s Word to you, better than any of the prophets. The best one to rule, better than any earthly king, the best one to intercede for you and sacrifice for you, better than any high priest. It’s because of Jesus that our heavenly Father says and means never. All our unfaithfulness, all our weakness, all our selfishness was taken by Jesus on to Himself and painfully paid for when He gave His life on the cross. So God doesn’t see our sin, our weakness, our broken promises and our valuing of so many luxuries as more important than Him. He sees Jesus. He sees perfectly obedient children that He loves and He will never leave them nor forsake them.
You know that Leona. Your life has not always been easy. I’m sure you can think of more than a few times where you found yourself saying, “Oh brother, how am I going to get through this one?” Yet when you look back, you did. How? “Never!” God said. Never, will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” And He didn’t. And that’s a truth you got to pass on to other of God’s children. Love for Jesus has motivated you to faithfully serve Him in Gospel ministry teaching His lambs. You did not serve perfectly. Only Jesus did that. You did however serve faithfully. No one could go through your class and not learn that Jesus is the most important, the only Savior. No one could come out unless they slept the whole time and not know how much Jesus loved them. You simply passed on what you learned by experience that God never left you and never forsook you.
And He won’t either. You see there’s something really neat about the word never. Its logical flip side is forever. When God says He will never leave and never forsake that means He will stick with us forever. In God’s time and God’s timing never becomes forever.
Forever with God includes right now. Your service to God in the public ministry of the Gospel has now come to an end. Your service to God will continue. So what are you going to do? How many times have you heard that question? Do you still like blue convertibles like you did in high school? Will you try to get one? Is it still a goal to fly around the world? What are you going to do with all the time on your hands? Everyone here who is retired is kind of snickering right now because they know that when you retire you don’t get all this extra time. You just do all kinds of things without getting paid. The Lord will put all kinds of opportunities before you of good things you can do in serving family or other people. He will place before you opportunities to worship Him by enjoying the world He created for His people and we can still enjoy it in its sin ruined state. You will have to make choices but for every one God will be there. He will be there forever for He will never leave you nor forsake you.
And God’s forever continues to the real forever. Heaven! How many questions weren’t you asked about heaven from those little ones you served? Some God may have allowed you to answer because He told you in His word, some not. But the best thing about heaven is that we will be with Jesus. We will see Him face to face. We will be reunited with all our loved ones who died with faith in Christ. We will meet all kinds of Christian brothers and sisters we never knew about before. We will be with them forever.
Look forward to that. In His wisdom God knows that sometimes we need hard things in our lives to keep us close to Him. When those hard things, death of a loved one, serious illness, heart wrenching relationship problems happen we can feel like God has forsaken us. We can feel like God has left us and the great enemy the Devil will do his best to get us to believe that lie so that we forsake Jesus. We’ll reject that lie because God has made a promise. It’s so clear even kindergarten children and their teacher can remember. For God has said, “Never, will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Amen.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 19/20, 2011 sermon by Pastor Paul G. Eckert

June 19/20, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Paul G. Eckert
Trinity - Sermon based on various texts
Last month I said that Mother’s Day was not a church festival, and I say the same thing now about Father’s Day. But let us tie both days together by saying that God compares Himself with both a mother and a father. In Isaiah 66:13 God says: "As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you." And in Psalm 103:13 He says: "As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him." What a comparison!
We can, however, go beyond a comparison and speak of God actually being God the Father. And that brings us to a mystery about our God that goes beyond our understanding. This Sunday, while it is used for Father’s Day thinking of earthly fathers, in the church year is called Trinity Sunday thinking of our heavenly Father who, with His Son and the Holy Spirit, is the one true God.
Now as we on Mother’s Day, with a little different format, talked about JESUS AND MOTHERS, so in a similar way this Father’s Day let us, keeping in mind the Trinity - Father, Son, and Spirit - talk about
Matthew 28:19 Jesus said, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, ---."
1. Notice the singular name (in the name of) and not names, and
then three persons mentioned: Father and Son and Holy Spirit.
Genesis 2:26 Then God said, "Let us make man ---."
2. Notice the plural us. One God, yet He says, "Let us."
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3. So God was there and the Spirit was there in the beginning. But
was the Son also there with the Father and the Spirit?
John 1:14, 1-3 Referring to Jesus we are told: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.... In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
4. The Son was there too, wasn’t He!
5. But why was God’s Son sent, why did He become flesh? Listen!
John 3:16-17 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
6. And what made this necessary for Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
1. The first mother, Eve, sinned; but Adam was right there.
Genesis 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
2. Sin came. And now Adam, the first father, with Eve, the first
mother, passed on to all people something besides body parts.
Romans 5:12 Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned ---.
3. That is why God so loved the world, loved it enough to send
His Son to do something about mankind’s eternal problem.
1 Corinthians 15:22 As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
4. How wonderfully this grace is summed up in Romans 3.
Romans 3:22-24 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
5. What a God we have, the one and only true God, Father and Son
and Holy Spirit! To Him be praise and glory forever!
6. But now let us move on more rapidly with our sermon points.
1. The first ancestor I’ll pick out of Jesus’ family tree is Abraham John 8:56-58 Here Jesus said about Abraham, "Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and
was glad." "You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to
him, "and you have seen Abraham!" "I tell you the truth," Jesus
answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"
2. Yes, Jesus is the eternal Son of God who became flesh for us.
3. Another well known ancestor in Jesus’ family line is King David.
Luke 1:31-33 "[Mary] will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
4. Jesus, the Son of the Most High, would be our victorious eternal King. But now let’s go back to Jesus’ birth and to His youth.
1. This was Joseph, a good and an honorable man
Matthew 1:18-19, 24-25 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly....
2. Then God sent an angel to Joseph with this result.
[Joseph] did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
3. To this guardian father Jesus gave honor and respect, like when
He was found after being left behind at age 12 in the temple.
Luke 2:51 Then [Jesus] went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.
4. Children, Jesus obeyed the 4th commandment perfectly for us.
Ask God’s help to do the same, and not just on Father’s Day.
1. We might think of Jesus’ long prayer to His Father in John 17, or
His prayer in Gethsemane that His Father’s will be done. But we
might think especially of the prayer Jesus taught us to pray.
Matthew 6:9-13 "This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father
in heaven, ---.’"
2. Marvel at the Lord’s Prayer our Lord gave us, at the fact that He
encourages us to pray "Our Father." Did you catch that
"Our"? Jesus says that we should call His Father our Father.
Only Jesus has made that possible. Only through faith in Jesus
are we members of God’s family and can call His Father our
Father. The next time you pray the Lord’s Prayer think a bit
more of those opening two words: Our Father.
1. A father’s son could apply to many.
2. I here am thinking of a son named Rufus. Sound familiar?
3. His father, Simon, had helped carry Jesus’ cross to Golgotha.
Mark 15:21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.
4. It seems clear that his son followed in his footsteps, because the
Apostle Paul in his Romans letter refers to a man named Rufus.
Romans 16:13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord ---.
5. May God help us to take up our crosses and follow in the same
footsteps, ready to confess Jesus in a world that will deny Him.
Luke 9:23 Jesus says this to us: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
1. Marvel at this!
Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" - which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
2. Why? You and I and the whole world - we are the answer.
3. The wages of sin had to be paid; with His innocent death for us
the guilty, Jesus paid, Jesus endured the hell we deserved.
4. Now we are forgiven not forsaken! Now we have eternal
assurance that God will never forsake us.
Hebrews 13:5 God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
1. The price for our salvation having been paid, Jesus proclaimed
His victory in a loud voice.
John 19:30 Jesus said, "It is finished."
2. Jesus’ resurrection was God’s proof positive that Jesus’ mission
was successfully finished, completed, that Jesus was no longer
forsaken, but that He had been received as the victorious Savior.
Acts 17:31 "For [God] has set a day when he will judge the world
with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of
this to all men by raising him from the dead."
3. Listen also to these words.
Philippians 2:8-11 Being found in appearance as a man, [Jesus] humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
1. Jesus was received, He returned to His eternal glory.
2. Now that glory will welcome us too. Listen to Jesus referring to
His Father and then to His promise about His Father’s House.
John 14:6, 2-3 "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. --- In my Father’s house are many rooms; 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 back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
3. What a promise! We’ll be home! With Jesus! And then we "will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Praise God the Father for sending His Son to be our Savior. Praise God the Son for being willing to be forsaken in our place so that we need not be forsaken. Praise God the Holy Spirit for bringing that message into our hearts by Word and Sacraments, for working faith in our hearts by the Gospel message of salvation in Jesus.
Truly knowing God revealed in His Son and brought to us by the Spirit, that makes every day for us children of God a special Father’s Day.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

June 12th, 2011 Pentecost

Sermon based on the Gospel of John, chapter 16, verses 5-11:
Seminary Graduate James Saatkamp
5 “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, held in the protecting hand of the Savior who loves us with an everlasting love,
How do you know that you are in protecting hand of the Savior? I can't see Jesus' hand hovering over you. I can't see his hand under you as you're sitting in the pew. If I were to ask you where Jesus is right now, you'd probably say everywhere. But I can't see him; is he really there if I can't see him? Yes, he certainly is here with us right now, just not physically. A short ten days ago we celebrated Jesus ascending back to heaven. As he told his disciples, they would see him no more, though he said and is with us always.
But have you thought about what life would be like if Jesus were still here physically? How would you feel if you turned to your left and saw Jesus sitting in the pew next to you? Imagine if you got to shake the hand of the almighty Son of God after church today. Sitting with Jesus, talking with Jesus, hearing the voice of the Lord of Lords--what an amazing opportunity I think that would be! If Jesus were still here physically, I think my whole life, not just Sunday mornings, would be different. I'm sure I'd try to enter every fishing tournament possible with Jesus as my partner, and I'd never have to worry about bad weather postponing the tournament. I would never have to worry about finding a snack to eat late at night, because Jesus would be there to hand me as many fish and loaves of bread as I wanted. I'm guessing I wouldn't have to go to the chiropractor anymore--Jesus knows how to fix a bad back. For that matter, with Jesus as my earthly physician, I'd never have to worry about getting sick. Doesn't think sound like a blessed life? Wouldn't it be better if Jesus were still here physically?
If you say yes, the disciples would agree with you. It is incredible, nearly unbelievable, for us to even imagine seeing such miracles of Jesus, but the disciples actually saw the incredible. They witnessed the unbelievable. They were there to walk and talk with Jesus, to very literally sit at his feet and hear the voice of the Son of God. And it was not as if they were watching their hero from afar. No—they were Jesus’ closest friends. They loved him. They were used to hearing his voice, seeing him, watching Jesus rescue them from storms, providing whatever they needed. Here we read today’s Gospel text from John 16. We find Jesus and the disciples during Holy Week, and Jesus says this to his closest friends who had come to know life with Jesus over the last three years, “Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief.“ Jesus tells his friends, “I am leaving,” but they don’t want to hear it. They don’t want to talk about it. They want to ignore this giant elephant in the room. They don’t even ask Jesus where he is going. Why? They thought life was good with Jesus with them physically. And they were right, life was good. They were blessed.
But now things were going to change. Jesus told them so. Jesus was leaving. They would not hear his voice as they traveled from town to town. They could not tap him on the shoulder to ask him a question. There were still storms to be stilled, sick to be healed, hungry to be fed, dead to be raised, and people to be preached to. How was Jesus leaving going to make their situation any better? How were they going to get along without their almighty and loving friend?
There’s a show on tv in the afternoons right now with a female star. She is one of the most powerful women on tv today. The ratings for her show are easily more than the ratings for any other daytime tv show, and she’s won the ratings crown for a few years now. Oprah? No—Judge Judy. One of Judge Judy’s favorite lines to say to a plaintiff or defendant who’s been making up a story is “That doesn’t make sense, and if it doesn’t make sense, it isn’t true.” Jesus left, and now things are supposed to be better? Does that make sense? If it doesn’t make sense, is it true? If Jesus were around today, he could touch me and heal my broken back. He could be the perfect mediator for settling the war between Israel and Palestine. He would do a better job of ending world hunger than the World Hunger Association ever could, because he is the almighty Son of God. And what is there now that Jesus is not here physically? Sickness, hunger, war. How is this any better?
When we celebrated Ascension only a few days ago, we stood with the disciples and gazed in awe at our Lord ascending back to heaven. Our hearts were filled, hearing that we could trust Jesus and that we have a home waiting for us in heaven. But now that some time has passed, do we still feel the same way. It’s easy for that peace and joy to fade in our hearts and minds. And we begin to ask ourselves, “Sure, I felt good on Ascension, but now I don’t feel the same way. Am I sure that Jesus ascending is better than Jesus staying here physically?”
Let’s go to the words of our Savior in verse 7: “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away.” In the original text, Jesus emphasizes that not only is it for our good, but it will be better for us. Jesus’ disciples were so distraught that he was leaving, Jesus answers their depression with this soft word of truth: “It will be better for you.” Now there’s an understatement! It won’t just be good, or better, IT WILL BE BETTER! It will be better than what they could have hoped or dreamed, and it will be exactly what they need.
But how exactly is it better? Again, we go to the words of our Savior to answer this question on our minds and hearts: “Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” Jesus did return to the Father, and he did send the Counselor. We see that fulfillment today as we celebrate the Holy Spirit coming on the disciples at Pentecost. “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” The Holy Spirit worked on the hearts of the disciples, strengthened their faith, gave them boldness to preach God’s Word, and powered them to spread the message of Jesus, the Savior from sin, throughout Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and throughout the world.
Jesus describes the work of the Counselor, the Holy Spirit in verses 8-11. “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.“ What exactly does it mean that the Holy Spirit convicts the world? The Holy Spirit judges through the preaching of God’s Word. He convicts sinners of sin when he says, “See Jesus, the Savior of the world. You reject Jesus? This is sin, unbelief, and the door to heaven remains shut for you because you reject Jesus, the only way to heaven.” He convicts the world in regard to righteousness when he creates faith in the heart, faith which trusts and knows Jesus as Savior and Jesus righteousness as his own. And he convicts the world in regard to judgment, because through the preaching of the Gospel he says, “See, Satan? You are defeated! Jesus has won the victory over you, over sin, over death.”
See the blessing of the Holy Spirit poured out on the people at Pentecost! This blessing is poured out on us today too. No, we don’t have tongues of fire on our heads today. Would we want that? It probably would be pretty incredible to experience what the disciples experienced on Pentecost—the Holy Spirit resting on us like tongues of fire, speaking the praises of God in different languages effortlessly. At times, my sinful nature looks on what the disciples were blessed to experience with a bit of jealousy. Why doesn’t that happen to me? And we begin to feel that our Lord hasn’t given us what we need. We didn’t get to walk with Jesus. We didn’t get to see the risen Lord. We didn’t watch him ascend. We didn’t even get tongues of fire and the gift of speaking in tongues. We become sad, or even angry with our Lord.
And Jesus comes to us again and again through his Word and tells us, “My grace is sufficient for you. What I have given you is exactly what you need.” No, we may not have seen what the disciples saw or experienced what they did. Hear again the word of the Lord: “What you have now—it is better.” We have a Savior who was born among us, who walked with us, who died for us, who rose to show us that the victory is ours, and who ascended to complete God’s plan of saving us. And Jesus has poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit on us, his church. This is how Dr. Martin Luther explains the work of the Holy Spirit among us in his explanation to the third article of the Apostles’ Creed: “The Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian church he forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers.” What a blessing! What miraculous work the Holy Spirit does among us!
And not only among us, but also through us! As the Holy Spirit worked through Peter’s Pentecost sermon, so the Holy Spirit works through us when we tell others about the good news of Jesus’ victory over sin and death and the place in heaven waiting for us.
Maybe to you—and maybe sometimes to me—the season of the church year we call Pentecost may seem like a bit of a downer. There are no major festivals like Easter coming up for a while. There are no federal holidays like Christmas. Not that there is anything wrong with the season of Pentecost, but sometimes this season may seem less exciting by comparison to Advent through Ascension. If that thought starts creeping into your head during the season of Pentecost, remember that Jesus did just as he said he would and sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Remember that the Holy Spirit does his work among us in our hearts even today. If you ever feel like something else could be better, remember the words of Jesus: “Trust me—this is better for you!” Amen!

June 5th, 2011 Worship Service

Sunday, June 5, 2011

June 3, 2011
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Jeremiah 29:11


Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

So what are your summer plans? Are you doing anything special? Where are you planning on going to school next year? Have you heard any questions like that recently? I’m sure you have. It seems that much of our life involves making plans and carrying them out. Most of the time those plans are more general rather than detailed like “I’m going up north” or “I’m going to get a job.” I’ve got some plans here I want to show you. They are the plans that were used to build this church building. You and I might look at this building and simple see a nice place to worship with brick walls and a wooden ceiling but there’s a whole lot more to it than that. Look at these plans! They are detailed. They include specifics like the type of wiring to use, wiring you can’t even see. The plans make sure the materials used will support the weight of the roof but not add too much weight and that the furnace will be big enough to heat the building. All these things that you don’t see or even think about someone planned for you so you could have this place to worship.
But you know what? As detailed as these plans are they are nothing compared to the plans your wonderful Lord made for you before you were even born. The passage you chose as your theme passage and motto for your class is from Jeremiah 29:11. Let me read it to you again. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” There are three parts of this planning passage I want you to focus on tonight and take with you when you go. They are LORD, prosper and not harm, and hope and a future.
As you think about your theme passage focus on the word LORD. They tell you who is making plans for you. So far in your life many have made plans for you. Teachers planned what they were going to teach you and tests they would give. Parents planned meals for you. Those are all good. In the future upperclassmen in high school may make some plans for you to welcome the freshmen that are also known as fresh meat! Those might not be so good. But when God uses the name LORD in the Bible He reminds you that He is your Savior God who always has your best interests in mind. So when you leave here take with you the LORD as the one who has plans for you.
Focus also on the type of plans, plans that will prosper you and not harm you. Do any of you remember from your study of the Old Testament the times when these words were written by Jeremiah? It was written to God’s people when they were in exile. Do you remember that? Do you remember how so many people were carried off to Babylon because of their idol worship? Can you imagine how the believers felt? Strangers in a strange land. Can you imagine how hard it would be to have your entire family uprooted and have to start over from scratch? What was God thinking? What kind of plans were these? Plans to prosper and not to harm. God had their good in mind. His people would be cleansed of their idol worship. They would learn again to trust God and His promises. They would be brought back to their Promised Land so the Savior could be born. Plans to prosper and not to harm you.
Remember that as God unfolds His plans in your lives. If you are like all the rest of us you will find yourself in some uncomfortable places in life. Things will not work out as you want. Things will not always go your way. You may fall into sin and bring some consequences on your lives. Other people may sin against you and you will have to deal with that. You may make some great plans for your own lives and despite your best efforts they will not come to pass. You will feel disappointment. At those times remember, plans to prosper not to harm says the Lord. God always has your best interests in mind and if you are praying fervently for something to happen and working your hardest to make it happen and it does not then realize that it is not in your best interest. Your plans will harm you and not prosper you and they are then in conflict with the Lord’s plan to prosper and not to harm you. God’s got great plans for you.
Our third focus is that God’s great plans are to give you hope and a future. This is the God you serve and why you want to stay close to Him through His word all your life. Hope. Hope is the confidence of a brighter tomorrow. It’s the peace that when my plans are falling apart God’s are moving right along. God’s great plans for you give you hope in all situations. And a future. You may hear from high school guidance counselors as they try to steer you to a good career and away from a foolish one, they may say, ”There’s no future in that.” What they mean is it won’t lead you anywhere good. How different is the LORD. A future. It means great things to come. I don’t know how that will play out in your earthly life but if you stay in the faith in Jesus Christ that has been given to you it means heaven. It means glory. It means joy. It means happiness. It is forever. God’s got great plans for you! He will stick with you so you need to stick with Him. Have you made your plans for that? Amen.
June 2, 2011
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: John 14:1-6

1. Because we can trust Him.
2. Because He’s coming back for us.
3. Because He is the Way!

John 14:1-6 (NIV 1984) “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Ascension seems to be another one of those paradox church festivals. You know, like Good Friday. On Good Friday the Church gathers to celebrate the death of God’s Son. It’s called Good but the church year colors are black. The tunes and tones of many of the Good Friday hymns are dark and doleful but the message is thrilling as Jesus cries “It is finished!” and we know all our sins are paid for. At Ascension we seem to have another paradox. The church gathers to celebrate a good-bye. It rejoices that Jesus leaves in a visible way and does not grace us anymore with His visible walking around presence. And the tunes and tone is triumphant and rejoicing. What gives? God does to us in His word.
Tonight we look at some words Jesus spoke to His disciples before His death to prepare them for His death, resurrection and ascension. In them God gives to us reasons for celebrating Jesus Ascension.
The first reason is because we can trust Jesus. He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” Oh, Lord Jesus, if only it were that easy. “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” He says. But we live in such troubling times. You go to the doctor and get the bad news about yourself or a loved one and how can the heart not be troubled? The whispers around the workplace speak of another downsizing and how can the heart not be troubled? Once again monthly income does not meet monthly expenses how can the heart not be troubled? But Jesus still says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” He was talking to men who also lived in troubling times. Their leader, their friend, says He will be arrested and killed. But He will rise. Then they won’t see Him. How could their hearts not be troubled? “Trust Me!” Jesus says.
If Pastor Waldschmidt would say, “Hey Pastor Spaude, why don’t you jump off the church roof and I’ll catch you, just trust me,” you could understand if I was a little skeptical. If he would say, “Why don’t you let the skunk out of that trap, it won’t spray you, trust me,” you would not blame me if I hesitated. Jesus says, “Trust me,” with our troubled hearts and we can. He has given us the proof. Even though the disciples did not understand all the whys and whats that Jesus was telling them it all went exactly as Jesus said and turned out great. Jesus was arrested. He did die. He did rise. And He did ascend. Everything went according to plan.
What’s troubling your heart tonight? Health issues, finances, family problems, trouble with friends, issues in government? Celebrate the Ascension with me. It proves we can trust Jesus in everything. God has a plan.
Celebrate Jesus’ Ascension with me because it means He will come back for us. “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” When hearts are troubled Jesus directs our attention heavenward. He reminds us that there is room for all. He promises that if He goes He will come back and take His followers with Him. Here’s a reason to celebrate Jesus’ Ascension. In order to come back He needed to go! What comfort Jesus’ disciples found in this truth later. Even though their hearts didn’t need to be troubled their lives often were troubled because they followed Jesus. They endured whippings and imprisonment, stoning, beating, rejection. In all this they did not deny or turn away. Jesus who had ascended before their eyes had promised to come back for them. At just the right time for each of them Jesus did.
And He will for you too. You may look at your life right now and when you add up the things that make you happy against the things that make you sad there is a negative balance. You may wonder what good you are. You may compare your life to others and feel you have the short end of the stick. If you aren’t enjoying the time God has given you on this earth, come and celebrate the Ascension with me. Jesus is coming back. For you! It won’t be at the time false prophets predict it, but personally at your death or collectively on Judgment Day Jesus will come back and you will be freed from this life that has way too many tears and begin the one that only has joys.
And you can be sure of this because Jesus is the way there! Jesus said, “You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” If you were to die tonight, are you sure you would be in heaven? I am and you have every right to be sure as well. When Jesus talked about going to heaven to prepare things and to come back, Thomas said he didn’t know the way there. He found out he was staring at the way in the face. “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Sadly so many people today are like Thomas. They don’t know the way to heaven even though they should. Jesus is before them. God’s gotten His word everywhere. They need to believe in Jesus because no one comes to the Father except through Him. Regardless of the faith state of other people tonight we can look at ourselves and rejoice because we know the way, Jesus! How happy that makes us. Something that should trouble our hearts but sadly often does not is our sin. Guilt and shame are a believer’s right initial response to their sin. Our hearts at first need to be troubled over sin. Then they need to rejoice because Jesus is the way to heaven and His Ascension proves it. One of the Epistle lessons often read for Ascension comes from Philippians chapter two. You will recognize it when I read it.

Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV1984) “ Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

If Jesus had not humbled Himself He would not have been exalted. If He had not finished His work, if He had failed in His mission, He would have been left on this earth—in the grave. But He didn’t. He was obedient to death on the cross. He paid for every sin and so God raised him to the highest place, gave Him that name that is above every name. He is exalted. He is the way.
And so we celebrate Jesus’ Ascension. There really is no paradox. We are glad to see Him go. It’s like when a small town boy makes it big and the town that stays behind rejoices when he goes to the big leagues or the big city or the big whatever it is, on a grander scale we rejoice that Jesus ascended because we can trust Him, He’s coming back for us and He is our way to heaven. Amen.

May 29th, 2011 Worship Service

Saturday, June 4, 2011

June 5th, 2011

I Peter 4:12-17, 5:6-11 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Don’t Be Surprised!
I. By Trials
II. By The Devil
In the name of Jesus, our crucified, risen and ascended Savior, dear redeemed children of God,
The other morning I was out for my morning jog and I had something happen that never happened to me before. I was running in the parkway and I saw a deer. The deer watched me closely as I approached. I tried not to look right at the deer as I passed because I thought she would surely bolt away if I stared right at her. But instead of bolting away, the deer came running right at me. I slowed and then the deer stopped and stared at me from the edge of the road. (Later I wondered if there were a fawn around that I didn’t see.) I continued on my way as the deer stayed there by the side of the road. Up the road I met a motorcycle, I waved and pointed because I wanted to give him a “heads up” that the deer was there. I don’t think he understood because he just smiled and waved and continued on. Although I think he understood my “heads up” a little better when he got up the road and saw the deer because he slowed way down. In God’s Word today, Peter gives all of us a “heads up” about what we can expect as followers of Jesus. Don’t Be Surprised. Don’t be surprised by trials. Don’t be surprised by the devil.
Maybe you have a trip to Six Flags planned this summer. I would imagine that their three years had been a roller coaster for Jesus’ disciples. They had followed their Lord as he preached forgiveness and told of the Kingdom of God. They had seen him heal the sick and feed thousands of hungry people with a few scraps of food. They had seen Jesus raise people who were dead. They watched their Lord arrested and put to death. Three days later Jesus came back to life. That must have fed into the idea still rolling around in their minds that Jesus was going to set up an earthly kingdom. Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples asked him, “Lord are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?” Remember what Jesus said, “It is not for you to know the times or the dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” Now their Lord Jesus ascended into heaven with the promise that they will be his witnesses. But does he send them out into the world right away with swords and flashing light sabers? No, Jesus sent them back to Jerusalem to wait for the Holy Spirit. There would be some surprises for Jesus’ followers. Everything would not go the way that they expected.
Then after Pentecost, when the Lord made things clear to the disciples, it might come as a surprise to us that they did not travel on roads paved with feather pillows. Instead the disciples’ road would be paved with tears and blood. First the disciples would be thrown in prison and beaten up. Then Stephen would be killed for being Jesus’ witness. Soon after that, Herod beheaded James to try to win favor with the Jewish people. Paul and Silas would later be whipped and thrown in prison for casting an evil spirit out of a young girl. The Roman rulers would soon get into the act and persecute and kill kind and gentle Christians. History tells us that they once burned an 86 year old bishop at the stake as he sang a hymn to the Triune God.
We might be surprised that God allowed this to happen, but it was all part of his plan. The more the world tried to stomp out the message, the more the message spread. The Lord uses one of those men who walked back to Jerusalem on Ascension Day to give us a heads up so that we would not be surprised by the trials that come our way as Jesus’ followers. “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” At first, those might seem like strange words coming from Peter because Peter was the one who was quick to criticize Jesus for talking about suffering and dying. But the Lord had taught Peter something. When we suffer we look more and more like our Savior Jesus. “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” With the wedding last week I’m sure the children heard plenty of “Oh you look just like your dad” or “you look just like your mom.” When you and I are persecuted for our faith we look more and more like Jesus. The world makes fun of us and hates us because our actions bear a family resemblance to our brother Jesus.
I read recently that although the persecution of Christians usually gets most of the historical attention. More people were killed for their faith in the 20th Century than in all of the centuries since Christ combined. Thousands and thousands of Christians died in Russia and in China in the last century. By God’s grace we’ve been shielded from that kind of persecution. It may well come yet for us. There are people and governments that don’t like Christians very much who are gaining more and more influence in the world. If that day comes the Lord will keep us in His care. But we should not be surprised even now by trials that come to us because we act like our Savior. Problems might come our way even when we have done everything right.
How you ever thought that the unbeliever done the street has everything just perfect and my life is a mess? God points out that we should not be thinking that the wicked are getting away with everything while the believers suffer. “For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” If God’s people go through all kinds of suffering in this sin filled world, imagine how awful things will be for those who reject Christ when the Lord comes again.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Don’t be surprised when trials come your way because you trust in Christ. But when trials come your way more and more put your trust in Christ.
A few weeks ago police officers in Missouri responded to a call about a large alligator lurking on the embankment of a pond. An officer called a state conservation agent, who advised him to shoot the alligator because there was little that conservation officials could do at that time. As instructed an officer shot the alligator, not once but twice, but both times the bullets bounced off- because the alligator was made of cement. That gator could not harm anyone unless he was dropped on their foot. The property owner told police later that he placed the ornamental gator by the pond to keep children away. The devil would like us to think that he is really just a harmless cement alligator. Not able to hurt anyone. But don’t be surprised by the devil.
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” So often the devil masquerades as our friend. He is trying to take our eyes off of Jesus so that He can kill our faith. So often we fall into his trap. We believe him when he tells us the drinking too much will take away our pain. We believe him when he says that it’s OK to sit down and watch a filthy movie. Rather than acting more and more like our Lord Jesus we have acted more and more like the devil. We’ve said things that were not true and thoughts things that the devil would think. But we have a Savior Jesus. Out of pure grace he took our place. He took the punishment we deserved. Now we want to thank him
“Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” Because we have a God who loves us and forgives us, Peter launches into a song of praise. “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.”
This week’s Meditations had an illustration of a Sunday School girl who was drawing a picture of Jesus. The teacher reminded the little girl that we don’t have any pictures of Jesus. We don’t know what he looked like. The little girl responded, “they will when I get through with my drawing.” Let’s ask ourselves, “What kind of a picture am I drawing of my Savior Jesus with my life? As we out of love reflect the Savior’s love let’s not be surprised by trials, let’s not be surprised by the devil. Amen.

May 22nd, 2011

Text: John 10:1-10
Jesus Is Our Good Shepherd
I. The Sheep Recognize The Shepherd’s Voice.
II. The Shepherd Opens The Gate To Life
In the name of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, dear fellow redeemed children of God,
Well, we’re still here. If we are still here, then yesterday was not the end of the world, nor was it the supposed “snatching up” of believers that some misguided spiritual guides say will usher in the end of the world. Some of you might know that a man by the name of Harold Camping had said that he had figured out by studying the Bible that the world was going to end yesterday. Mr. Camping now joins a long list of false teachers, some Christian, others non Christian, who have said that they knew something that God in His wisdom has hidden from our eyes. Still Harold Camping was right about one thing, this wicked world is going to end. On that day and as we wait for that day to come, sheep like us will need a Good Shepherd to guide us and protect us. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. I The Sheep recognize the Shepherd’s voice. II. The Shepherd opens the gate to life.
Did you ever find yourself locked out of your own house? Maybe you had to boost yourself or one of the kids through a window. Even though it is your own house, it feels kind of funny doesn’t it? You try to do it quickly so that the neighbors or a policeman driving by won’t see. The owner of a house usually comes in through the door and not through a window. Those who come through the window are usually not the legitimate owners. In Jesus’ day there were spiritual leaders who were trying to take some the sheep belonged to the Good Shepherd. Imagine coming home and finding someone crawling through your window to steal what belonged to you. That’s what Jesus the Good Shepherd found. There were so called spiritual leaders who were passing themselves off as the Good Shepherd. Yet they were not coming to the sheep the way that matched what God’s Word says. They were climbing over the fence. AI tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way is a thief and a robber.”
“The man who enters by the gate is the Shepherd of the Sheep.” Jesus came the way God’s Word said he would. He fit all of the prophecies. God’s Word’s said, “A virgin shall conceive and give birth to a son and will call his name Immanuel.” Jesus was born of a virgin girl in Bethlehem just like the prophets said. God gave a job description of the Good Shepherd through Isaiah, “The Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted and to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Jesus fit that description to a T. Jesus spoke of God’s forgiveness and love to the brokenhearted. He helped and healed the outcasts.
The Good Shepherd was there. But there were also the bad shepherds climbing over the gate them as wolves to steal souls away from their true Shepherd. In John chapter 9, Jesus had just healed a blind man. Near the end of that chapter we see that the man=s spiritual sight had also been restored. When Jesus asked, ADo you believe in the Son of man?@ The man who was healed replied, ALord, I believe.@ Yet the false shepherds came charging in, AThis man is not from God.@ After arguing with the man who had been healed they threw him out of the synagogue and accused him of being spiritually blind. Finally when these false shepherds confronted the Good Shepherd, Jesus told them plainly that they were the ones who were spiritually blind. The Pharisees of Jesus= day tried to steal the people by fear and intimidation. They robbed the people of the sure hope of forgiveness by piling many, many manmade commandments on them. Jesus said that many of their forefathers did the same thing, “All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers.”

On some days, it seems like Satan has an army of false shepherds, snapping at the heals of his sheep. Today those false shepherds might urge us to Ado what feels good.@ No matter what the Aold dusty book@ called the Bible says about it. There have been times when we have listened to and followed these false shepherds that we see in our world everywhere from beer commercials to books. What foolish and sinful sheep we are. But Jesus is our Good Shepherd. Fellow sheep, let’s to the voice of the shepherd.
AThe watchman opens the gate for the shepherd and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.@ When I was a little boy and our family went to the County Fair, I used to like to go through the cattle barns to look at all the cows. Each stall in the cattle barn had the animals name written on a sign. But the owners of those animals didn’t have to look at those signs. They knew each one of their animals. The farmer knew that this one was “Daisy@ and that she gets scared by thunder. They knew that that one over there was AClover@ and that she was so sick last month they had to call the vet. Just as the farmers know each one of their animals by name so our Good Shepherd calls each one of his sheep by name. Even with so many people in this world, you are not just a number to the Jesus. He knows your name. He knows if you were sick last month. He knows the things that are frightening you. He knows the temptations you are struggling with. His voice brings peace and comfort to our ears and to our hearts. Jesus is our Good shepherd and the sheep recognize Jesus’ voice. When we are tired out, His voice says, “Come to me all ye that labor and are heavy ladened and I will give to rest.”
When past sins torment us, the voice of the Shepherd calms us, “Take heart, your sins are forgiven.”
For safety=s sake, the shepherds would meet and bring all of the sheep together into one pen for the night. Then in the morning they would separate get their own sheep back by walking to the gate and calling out names. The sheep all knew the voice of their shepherd and when they heard their name called they would follow the shepherd out into the pasture for the day. AWhen he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger=s voice.@
It was interesting to hear the radio dj’s talk about Harold Camping’s prediction of the end of the world. Sadly many mocked not only Harold Camping but also mocked God and joked about heaven and hell Two voices stick in my mind. One said, “If it’s Saturday, I don’t have enough time to make up for all the bad things I’ve done.” Another said, “I’m in pretty good shape, I’ve been pretty good, but my dog is in trouble.” Did you notice that? Their admission to heaven centered on what they had done. If our getting into heaven depends on what we have done we are in bad trouble. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” But there is a gate to life. It is Jesus the Good Shepherd. He leads the sheep to life.
The Good Shepherd may not have chalkdust or a smart board clicker in His hand but this shepherd has a teacher’s heart. AJesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand.@ Many of the people Jesus was talking to did not understand what he was saying. So Jesus changed His picture from the Shepherd to the “gate.” ATherefore Jesus said again, AI tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.@ Jesus is the way to heaven. Jesus said, AI am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.@

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.@ Jesus left his throne in heaven to give us life by his keeping the commandments in our place and laying down his life again in our place on the cross. What a wonderful picture of the shepherd being the gate to life for His sheep.
Have you found yourself wishing more and more that Camping was right and that the end of the world was today? Are there days when you feel pretty defeated or lifeless? Are there days when you wonder where your Good Shepherd is? Are you feeling that way today? Know that you Good Shepherd has not left you. He is there leading you through life. Just like a shepherd he is there in front of you clearly out the thorn branches and fallen trees of life out of your way. I would imagine that the sheep never knew what how scraped up the shepherds hands and feet got as he cleared the way for them. You and I might never know all the dangers and problems our Good Shepherd has cleared out of our path. Yet we know what are on his hands and feet- nail holes from the cross. The timing of the end of the world is in his hands too. He’ll do it all right at just the right time. After all, Jesus is our Good Shepherd. Amen.

May 15th, 2011 Worship Service