Monday, August 31, 2020

August 29-31, 2020 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Isaiah 56:1, 6-8 “A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL NATIONS!”


August 29-31, 2020

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: Isaiah 56:1, 6-8



1.     Sin divides.

2.     Christ unites.


Isaiah 56:1, 6-8 (NIV 1984) “This is what the Lord says: “Maintain justice  and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed….And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain  and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called  a house of prayer for all nations.” The Sovereign Lord declares— he who gathers the exiles of Israel: “I will gather still others to them  besides those already gathered.”


          All of the portions of God’s Word we have listened to today were set up many years ago in a series of Bible readings for each Sunday called a pericope. The careful listener noticed each one had a similar tension in them. A tension that only God could overcome. A tension between Jew and foreigner, Jew and Gentile, Jesus and a Gentile. It reminds us of a similar tension that is boiling in our country, over issues of race. Apparently God knows what we need to hear way before we need to hear it.

          It’s important that we listen to Him. There are many voices talking to you about race issues. Reporters’ voices, bloggers’ voices, hurting people voices, angry people voices. I remind you that it is the privilege and responsibility of every child of God to listen to what God has to say first. What does He tell us in the word about issues of race? I guess first that there aren’t supposed to be any. God only created one race. The human race. Everyone is a descendant of Adam and Eve and the only distinction God ever made was between male and female, designed by God to be distinctly different and at the same time completely complementary. God did not intend that difference to be a divider but rather a uniter. Male and female need each other and only together are they the human race. God made man in his own image. Male and female He created them. Two sexes. One race.

          Then sin happened. And sin divides. Sin pits male and female against each other instead of working in harmony as a team. Even Christian husband and wife don’t always get along, do they? Sin also pits brother against brother. We are not told in years but we are told in generations just how long it took for hatred to develop between brothers. One. Just one generation! Adam and Eve’s first children. Cain and Abel. And Cain hated his own brother Abel and killed him. The history of the world recorded in Genesis shows more hatred and sin so much so that God reset things with the worldwide flood. Once again we find the convergence of ancestry. One race. All are descended from Noah and his wife. But sin continues to divide. The Tower of Babel happens resulting in the confusing of languages and the separating of clans leading to accentuating human characteristics in pockets of peoples leading to differences in how we look by color of skin, eyes and hair. What we identify as races are really sub races of the human race. Now I wonder what sin is going to do with that? You know. Divide. Hate its brother.

          The history of the world recorded in the Bible and outside of the Bible is an ongoing litany of brother hating and hurting brother. Jews hate the Gentiles and Samaritans. Samaritans hate the Jews. The early Christian church was divided by Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. You get a little more modern and black skinned people were considered inferior and in their right place as slaves. American Indian tribes fought and looted  each other and then were treated as inferior in America when Europeans took over. Turks hated and killed Armenians. Japanese hated Chinese. Chinese hated Japanese. Nazis tried to wipe out Jews, gypsies and Russians. In Africa’s Rwanda the Hutus killed some 800,000 of their Tutsi brothers.  Folks, I’m just touching the surface. You get the picture? Race related issues may look like a skin problem but it’s really a sin problem. Sin divides. Sin hates. Sin hurts.

          Now what does this all have to do with us? We are sinners. The same sinful nature that lived in the people whose history I quickly recounted lives in us. Each one of us is more than capable of hating our brother. It might be subtle in that I am just more comfortable being around people who look like me and talk like me than those who do not. It might be a little more overt as I think people like me are better than those who don’t look like me. It might come out stronger in words that disparage people whose skin color, hair color, eye color is different than mine. It might show in doing harm by refusing to hire or sit next to or by making fun of. Sadly, we fall into the sin of Cain because God says each person is my brother, my neighbor.

Let’s add to that. In America in addition to racism we also have what I might call jobism. By that I mean we disparage people and despise them grouping them together with a career we might not like because we or others have had a bad experience. Let me give you an example. I only personally know a handful of lawyers. Every one of them is a nice hardworking, honest person. One is a pastor’s wife. And yet I will laugh at the lawyer jokes and call them sharks. Shame on me! Some of you may have had a bad teacher along the way in your education, someone whose primary reason for going into teaching was getting summers off (which good teachers don’t actually get. I live with a teacher and work with them so I know.) But if you have a bad experience with a teacher would you say it is right to have all teachers take a pay cut because there are bad teachers out there? Would God say it is right? I know a number of police officers. Every office I know personally is hardworking and honest and became an officer to try to make a difference and to protect people. They sacrifice and have families praying they will come home each day. Would you say it is right for me to hate them and disparage them and treat them like they are officers who have done the wrong some officers have done? Would God say that is right? Again our local area has turmoil because of an officer involved shooting. I make no comment on the rightness or wrongness. I will wait until all information comes out. In our country we have the right to peacefully protest to make a point. But God does not give anyone the right to destroy or steal other people’s property or harm others if they are upset. God calls that sin. And sin divides, friends. My sin. Your sin. Others’ sin. When brother is set against brother, when people are hated and mistreated because of how they look or what they do it is sin. It is so important for us to remember it is a sin problem as we talk about solutions.

Now back to God’s word. Finally, you say! Remember the tension. Remember how it was resolved. Only in Christ. Our reading from Isaiah was addressed to foreigners and eunuchs, people who by Old Testament law were not allowed to be in the Temple, God’s house. And yet God Himself said they would be welcomed in. He would have a house of prayer for all nations. How could that happen? Isaiah was looking ahead to what Jesus would accomplish. Jesus, the Messiah, would pay for sin. There would be no need for Old Testament laws that were used to teach how sin separates not just people from people but people from God. Jesus would live the perfect life of love. Jesus would make the sin payments for what everyone else had done in the past and would do in the future. Foreigners and eunuchs would believe and they would show their faith this way. They would Maintain justice  and do what is right, …and bind themselves to the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship him, and  keep the New Testament Sabbath  by loving God’s word and worshipping willingly, by bringing the sacrifices of a broken heart and lives as offerings devoted to God. And so God’s house is a house of prayer for all nations, for all who believe in Jesus.

That is an important distinction between people that God makes. Not by color or profession but by faith or lack of it. Most of you know John 3:16. It is unfortunate that the whole of it is not always quoted together. All of that portion of John 3 together reads, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into to the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him. Whoever believes is not condemned but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

Only Christ unites us with God. Friends, I contend that only Christ can truly unite us with one another. God calls us to look into ourselves and as believers repent where needed. Am I in any way hating, disparaging, wanting a person hurt because of how they look or what they do? Do I downplay someone else’s hurt because I am not hurting? Is St Jacobi a house of prayer for all nations? In Christ we have forgiveness for our sins against others. In Christ we know how to forgive others who have sinned against us. In Christ we find motivation to see His face on everyone else’s body so we know how to act and what we would never do or say. And finally only when Christ comes back to put an end to sin for good will there be true justice and peace. Justice delivered by God. Peace between God and man and one another.

A final note of encouragement and instruction. Brothers and sisters, it is the privilege and responsibility  of every believer to be an ambassador for Jesus. Jesus has left us on this planet specifically to be his witnesses. As you blog, tweet, post, talk, dialogue or advocate for change for any social issue that God approves, don’t abandon your post as an ambassador for Christ. Protect it. Remember it. Be it. Ask yourself it what you are posting will help you be a witness for Jesus or harm it. Do you really want to be known as anything other than a Christ first person? For only Christ unites for eternity. Our Lord Jesus said, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” If in our efforts to save babies from the murder of abortion, or to have fair and kind treatment for all people, or to stomp out childhood hunger or American poverty we forget to give Christ, and our work produces a bunch of well off, healthy and kind unbelievers, what have we gained for heaven? Sin divides. Christ unites. And with Him we get to look forward to a perfect house of prayer for all the nations. Until then let’s make sure this house and all of our own houses look as much like God’s as we can.

A side note. It’s hard to address the multilayered issues before us in a 20 plus minute sermon. I may not have spoken as clearly as I desire. If you have questions or concerns please speak with me. My heartfelt desire is that we unite in Christ. Amen.

Monday, August 10, 2020

August 8-10, 2020 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: 1 Timothy 6:17-19 “WHEN THE LORD IS YOUR FINANCIAL ADVISER…”


August 8-10, 2020

Pastor Timothy J. Spaude

Text: 1 Timothy 6:17-19



                             1. You know how to value your wealth.

                             2. You know what to do with your wealth.


1 Timothy 6:17-19 (EHV) “Instruct those who are rich in this present age not to be arrogant or to put their hope in the uncertainty of riches, but rather in God, who richly supplies us with all things for our enjoyment. 18Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they are storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”


          So, who are the rich? That’s an important question. We have a presidential election coming up and as platforms are laid out and ideas floated one that I have heard is to raise more government revenue by increasing taxes for the rich which might sound appealing to some unless of course you are rich. Now I’ve lived long enough to realize that people’s perception of who is rich and who is not can be a little skewed. According to the Census Bureau the median household income for the state of Wisconsin is $59,000. That means half of the households make more than $59,000 and half less. So I’m guessing half the people in Wisconsin would say if you make $59,000 or more you are rich. But I’ve talked with people who make much more than $59,000 and they do not consider themselves rich. Some would say if you make 6 figures, $100,000 or more you are rich. But I know people who have that kind of income and they do not consider themselves rich. I know of some folks who bring in over $300,000 a year in income and they fully support the idea of raising taxes on the wealthy. You know why? They don’t consider themselves rich. Just comfortable. So it seems to me people in America would only agree with this definition of rich: “Everyone who has more money than I do!”

          But if you ask someone in a third world country what would it mean to be rich they would simply say “to have more than I need.” And so with that definition if after you have paid for your needs you have enough money to have a Netflix subscription, you are rich. If you enough left over so you can buy Starbucks, or energy drinks at the gas station, or eat out regularly, or… your get the idea. Because of where and when God has chosen for us to live, pretty much all of us are rich. And it is important to know that not because of an idea of raising taxes on the wealthy but because in God’s Word before us today He speaks directly to the rich. “Instruct those who are rich in this present age.”

          Knowing how to handle wealth is very important. Either you educate yourself or you get some kind of a financial adviser. The Good News for us who believe in Jesus is He has not left us hanging when it comes to how to handle wealth. His word in the Bible instructs us first of all on how to value our wealth. “Instruct those who are rich in this present age not to be arrogant or to put their hope in the uncertainty of riches, but rather in God, who richly supplies us with all things for our enjoyment.” How do you value wealth? Our adviser tells us to value it as a gift from God. He says, “Don’t be arrogant that you are rich.” Don’t think you are rich because you are so great but because God is so great. Who is it that had you born when you were born and where you were born and to whom you were born? God. Who gave you your gifts and abilities? God. Did you have to use them wisely? Of course but you can’t use what you do not have to begin with. Do you remember what God told the people of Israel when He was about to give them the Promised Land? “You might say in your heart, “My ability and the power of my hand have earned this wealth for me.” 18 But then you are to remember that the Lord your God is the one who gives you the ability to produce wealth,” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18a)

          Value wealth then as a gift from God. It is not bad. Money is not the root of all evil, the love of money is. So when the Lord is your financial adviser you are careful not to value it more than God, and not to love or put your trust in it. “Instruct those who are rich… not to put their hope in the uncertainty of riches, but rather in God.” God gives daily bread. He can do so in all kinds of ways. One way is by giving us wealth. Trust and love the giver, not the gift. It was no accident the founding father put this on our money and yet how easy to forget. How easy to value our check books and paychecks and retirement accounts more highly than we should. How easy to trust them even though we know that markets go up and markets go down. Economies boom and economies recess. They are uncertain. But God is not. His love and mercy are new for us every day and He always keeps His promises. So we view wealth as a gift but not the most valuable gift.

That was the point of Jesus’ parables of the hidden treasure and the fine pearls. Being a believer is so valuable it would be worth paying everything you have for it. And yet we don’t have to pay. Jesus paid and gives us a loving relationship with God, forgiveness of sins, a mansion in heaven and a spot at the heavenly banquet as a gift. That’s a treasure. Solomon demonstrated too that the gift of wisdom, the ability to be a blessing to other people, that was far more valuable than wealth. Sad side note. By all modern parallel accounts Solomon was the wealthiest man who ever lived. Bezos has a ways to go. Did love of wealth lead him away from God into idolatry, adultery and other shameful sins? My fellow richies, listen to the Lord and value your wealth as just another gift from God among many gifts He has given you and certainly not the most important.

And when we have our values straight then we are ready to know what to do with our wealth. Listen again to the Lord, the financial adviser we can trust. “Instruct those who are rich in this present age not to be arrogant or to put their hope in the uncertainty of riches, but rather in God, who richly supplies us with all things for our enjoyment.” What should we do with our wealth? Enjoy it. Paul told us that God has supplied us with all things for our enjoyment. When you are relaxing on your patio, what a wonderful opportunity to have peace and contentment in your heart and a feeling of gratitude to God for what He has blessed you with. How nice to take a vacation and see God’s beautiful creation and feel peace and contentment that God has enabled you to enjoy such things. Go ahead and take pride in taking care of the nice car or truck God has given you. He’s provided all things for your enjoyment.

Our adviser also encourages us to do some investing of our wealth. “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share. In this way they are storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” Do good. Be generous. Share with others in need. Parents have been teaching those lessons to kids forever. Why bring it up here? Our adviser is opening our eyes to the way God’s kingdom works. He knows we have sinful natures that trick us into thinking our real joy and blessing comes when we use our wealth for ourselves. That’s like investing only for today. But when we let our faith show by doing good with our wealth, being generous and sharing we are investing for eternity. “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine you did for me,” Jesus will say on the last day. For me. For Jesus! What a great reason to use our wealth to help those in need. And when we use our wealth to share the Gospel with others we make heavenly friends, treasures for the future. What a great reason to use our wealth to support St Jacobi’s mission and the mission work of our schools and synod. With the Lord as our financial adviser we know what to do with our wealth.

Some of you will remember a financial firm that was huge at one time. EF Hutton. They had a memorable series of commercials that ended with the tag line, “When EF Hutton talks, people listen.” EF Hutton isn’t talking any more. But your Lord is. And you can trust Him. Why? He knows how to handle wealth. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor so that you through his poverty might become rich.” When Jesus talks, God’s people listen. And you are God’s people. Amen.