New Year’s Eve
“All men are like grass, all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall.” New Year’s resolution books and programs and articles make a lot of money off that Bible verse. Peter quotes from the prophet Isaiah and reminds us that all people are like grass or flowers of the field. We all wither and die. If you want evidence of sin in this world and the consequence of death, there is no better time to see this than at New Year’s.
Every year we do the same thing. We review the previous calendar year. We look at the things we have done, how our lives have changed, how we have aged. And with this review we quickly look to make changes for the new year because ever year we see the same sorts of things. I’ve gotten older this year and more out of shape and more flabby. I didn’t keep my resolutions for last year. Some of them fell miserably short. Some of the resolutions I made I didn’t even start on. Read the rest of this entry
8th Sunday after Pentecost
God’s Word Always Achieves a Purpose
Text: Isaiah 55:10-13
It’s that time of year again. It’s hurricane season, and we are right in the thick of it. It’s the time of year that people listen to the weather and watch the weather and check their computers for the weather and then check their phones for the weather. Floridians watch and wait during hurricane season because we know the power that hurricanes have. We know the damage and destruction that the wind and rain can cause.
As awful as they are, we know that God allows hurricanes for a reason. He has a purpose. Maybe it’s a wakeup call for people. Maybe it’s a disaster meant to draw people closer to him. Maybe it’s meant to make us band together to help others. But God has a purpose for allowing such destructive power.
Of course, not all rain is bad. If we don’t get enough rain in the summer wildfires are right around the corner. If farmers don’t have enough rain their crops don’t grow. The same actually goes for snow in the north. As awful as snow can be, when it melts it waters the land and runs into other water sources. Without enough rain or ground water, farmers won’t have crops, food costs will soar, and every other financial aspect of life will get tighter.
We hardly think about the weather, other then what a nuisance snow or rain or wind might be. But God has a reason and a purpose for every drop that falls to the ground. Sometimes we don’t like the purpose if it brings disaster, sometimes we love the purpose if it brings fruitful production. But the rain and snow that God sends always achieve the purpose for which God sent them. Read the rest of this entry
5th Sunday of Lent
You Were Grafted by Grace (so)
1. Keep humble
2. Keep connected
3. Keep sharing
Text: Romans 11:11-21
Inosculation. “A natural or surgical joining of parts of branches of tubular structures so as to make or become continuous.” Those of you who know me well, or have seen my yard and my plants, also know that clearly I found that definition on Google. I do not know how to do inosculation and I will not ever attempt to try inosculation. But at least I know what it is.
In layman’s terms, inosculation is grafting. Grafting occasionally happens naturally, but more often is performed by horticulturalists to save a branch. The loose branch is grafted into a branch on the tree and eventually that new branch becomes part of the tree. Did you know there are about 10 different ways or methods of grafting a branch? Neither did I. Thank you again, Google!
Spiritually speaking, there is only one way to be grafted—through Jesus Christ. This morning, in a very complex and deep section of Scripture, the apostle Paul explains that You Were Grafted by Grace. Read the rest of this entry
Christmas Message from Christ the King’s Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
Where is God This Christmas? As Mayan calendars make humans across the world look silly and make God look absent, we’re left to wonder Where is God This Christmas?
Crazed shooters are walking into movie theaters, Amish communities, and schools with guns blazing. Innocent lives, even innocent little children, are being massacred for no good reason. Where is God This Christmas?
Meanwhile the unrest and slaughter around the world increase, too. Tribal warfare in Africa, Christian persecution in the Middle East and Far East, nuclear weapons transactions—these things are only getting worse. Where is God This Christmas?
Our country is battling through financial times so terrible only the Great Depression was worse. Those once wealthy and comfortable are now poor and scraping to get by. Those with good jobs now are reduced to menial labor. Those with bright futures now don’t even want to know what tomorrow brings. Where is God This Christmas?
Look closely, friends. You won’t find God in million dollar winning lottery tickets. You won’t find God in the number of zeros in your bank account. You won’t find God in military defense systems. You won’t find God in the White House. You won’t find God on the internet.
Look closely. Look in a place where you absolutely would not expect. Look in a stable where a young maiden, a curious carpenter, and simple shepherds are surrounded by lowing oxen. Look amidst them all in a tiny little manger. There we see a newborn child with an incredible name—Immanuel, which means, “God with us.”
This is God’s modus operandi. He comes to us with great power in humble and unexpected ways. We see him lying in a manger. We see him riding on a donkey into Jerusalem. We see him dying on a cross. We see him buried in a tomb.
It leaves us to wonder: Where is God in all this? Yet while the manger, the cross, and the tomb don’t look like much, through these things our mighty God came to live for us, forgave all our sins, and won for us eternal life in heaven. God used the most humble of means to accomplish the most marvelous of miracles—our salvation.
Today God still comes to us in humble means to accomplish marvelous miracles. We see our God pouring out his power and his might through his holy Word, the Bible. There he reveals to us his plan of salvation and his will for our lives. There he reveals to us that though kingdoms, countries, and economies may fail, he is always with us. There he reveals that no ancient calendar will ever predict the end of the world because only he knows the day and the hour. There in his Word he reveals to us that though we are traumatized by wars and school shootings and hatred and sicknesses and diseases and cancer, he will still work all things for our good according to his loving plans.
This Christmas don’t look to Christmas lights or Christmas presents or holiday cheer to find joy or to find answers. Look to the manger, the cross, and the tomb. There we see our Savior God in action, taking away our sins and opening wide the doors heaven. Then look to God’s holy Word where learn how our Savior works in our lives in mysterious yet loving ways today.
This Christmas in the manger, at the cross, in the tomb, in the Word we find an answer to our question. Where is God This Christmas? Friends, his name is Immanuel. God is with us! Today and always.
Text: Mark 13:5-11
It’s one of the signs of the End Times that Jesus gave. People will be persecuted because of their faith. The walls will continue to feel like they are closing in on Christians. It won’t be easy.
Lest we fear or fret about our current situations in this country, we first must remember and give thanks for those who have endured such persecutions in the past. On this day, October 31st or Reformation Day, we take time to remember Martin Luther and the others who pioneered the Reformation of the Church.
We cannot fathom how difficult it was to face all the power and pressure of both the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Emperor. Jesus surely fulfilled his words with them:
Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
So on this day we can give thanks for those who boldly stood for the truth of God’s Word. Even facing death and disaster, Martin Luther and others proclaimed: Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.
As much as we might face persecution and pressure these days, it certainly is not as bad as it was in days past. However, it still is difficult and challenging today. Though the persecution is slightly more subtle, it is every bit as public with media and social media today. It can quickly feel like we are surrounded with nowhere to turn.
So our prayer on this day and every day is that God continues to send us his Holy Spirit to give us strength to speak and words to share that his good news and his truth might be clearly proclaimed to all!
Prayer: Holy Spirit, Comforter and Guide, continue to fill us with strength and courage to boldly proclaim the truth of your word. Give us the words to speak when we are sharing our faith. Help us to preserve the truth of your word for ages to come. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.