Monday, June 22, 2020

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


June 20-22, 2020

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Matthew 9:9-13

Happy Fathers’ Day!

1. Like Father…

2. Like Son…

3. Like You!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 1, 2020

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


May 30-June 1, 2020

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Joel 2:28-29

“We’ve got Spirit, yes we do!”

1.     The Lord has kept His promise.

2.     The evidence is obvious.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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