Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The real power of prayer

I really appreciated these words from Pastor Michael Newman:

Jesus also bid His disciples to pray. The power of prayer is not as much in your speaking as it is in God's listening. Implicit in prayer is the promise that God hears you and responds. When you are overcome by anxiety, you can cast your cares upon your Lord and Savior, being confident that He will carry the burden and lighten the load.

From "Hope When Your Heart Breaks," page 192

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Known By the Master

             For three and a half years I served as a pastor of a Lutheran church on Hilton Head Island, S.C.  Hilton Head is a beautiful area to live, work and play.  Many folks from the Midwest and the East Coast retire there.  People love the beach, the beautiful weather and the friendly people. 

            And many of them play golf.  Hilton Head Island is 12 miles long and 5 miles wide.  It also features a couple of dozen world-class golf courses.  There are that many more off island in the community of Bluffton.  Hilton Head Island is also home for an annual PGA tour event, usually held after the Masters.  This is a PGA tour event and the locals love to come out and watch the best players in the world tee it up.  The Harbor Town golf course is one of the most beautiful in the country. While living in Hilton Head I had the opportunity to see the tournament in person.  

            I got to thinking the other day of an event I attended while living in Hilton Head.  I was one of more than 650 people gathered for the Christian Heritage Breakfast to hear the testimony of a champion golfer, Larry Mize.

            He’s a fellow who had a wonderful career on the PGA tour.  But in the golfing world he’ll always be known as the one who sank a 140-foot chip shot during a playoff with Greg Norman to win the biggest tournament of them all – The Masters.

            We sat listening, totally captivated by Mize’s description of how he snatched victory from the man who was considered to be golf’s best player at that time.  But after having told us about his marvelous and surprising feat, Mize made this statement: “I am known as the man who won the Masters.  But I’d rather be known as the man who was won by The Master, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to save me from death and give me eternal life.” 

            How are you known by your friends, neighbors and the community?  Recognized as a successful business person?  Praised by others as a faithful community volunteer?  Lauded as the best golfer at the club?

            Or are you known as a Christian business person?  Are you identified as a follower of Jesus who happens to do volunteer work?  At the club are you known as the missionary who does some of his best work walking down the 18th fairway?

            In the time of Jesus, a master was recognized as one who had absolute ownership and uncontrolled power.  Your master held your life in the palm of his hand.

            In Jesus, we have a Master like no other.  He does not consider us His servants and subjects.  He calls us His friends.  He treats us perfectly.  He knows us completely.  Jesus knows our names, our thoughts, and those times when trouble pays us a call.  He treats us with compassion, giving us just what we need when we need it.  He will never let us slip from His hands.  He is all this and even more.
            He is the Master who lays down His life for His servants, suffering their punishment, paying their penalty and freeing them from the guilt of sin and the power of death.  Jesus does all this while showing His mighty power – willingly laying down His life and taking it up again.

            This, my friends, is the kind of Master we joyfully worship, serve and adore.  Can there be anything better than being known, like Larry Mize, as a child of the Master?

Monday, November 12, 2018

The prayer for the day

Lord God, in a constantly changing world we look to You as our rock of hope. Hear us as we pour out our hearts to You, and give us grace and secure protection; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

From "For All the Saints," page 627

Down Memory Lane at Concordia University - Wisconsin

A picture of the chancel in the chapel at Concordia University - Wisconsin.  Sherri and I worshiped there when we attended the Parish Nurses convention last May.  The sound of the organ (below) sent chills down your spine.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

You will have witness

We are coming to the close of our fall sermon series, "Unshakable Hope."  We've learned that when we stand on God's promises, we stand on solid ground. In times of weakness, God's Word provides strength. Fear is banished by peace. Depression crumbles while hope stands strong. In a time of such uncertainty in our world, unshakable hope is what we need the most.  God gives that hope to us in great abundance.

Just before Jesus ascended into heaven He promised His disciples that they would receive Holy Spirit power to tell of His resurrection and His defeat of the devil and sin and death.  When Pentecost came, the disciples were changed people.  They fearlessly proclaimed the risen Christ despite threats of prison and death.The transformation is amazing and could have only come by God.

We have access to this power too.  In baptism, our sins were washed away and we received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Through the work of the Spirit we believe in Jesus; such faith justifies us before the Father and we get the joy of witnessing the salvation of the Son for all those who believe.  We do this faithfully remembering that God works the transformation from unbelief to faith.  Our joy is to share and witness Jesus with those who need to know and believe in Him.

Come and hear more about this power God gives so that we can tell what we have seen and heard about Jesus.  Worship with us today at 5 pm or tomorrow at 8, 9:30 or 11 am.  Hope to see you at LICL!

Friday, November 9, 2018

It's a miracle! Today's funny!

At the pearly gates, St. Peter greeted a minister and congressman and gave them their room assignments.
      "Pastor, here are the keys to one of our nicest efficiency units. And for you, Mr. Congressman, the keys to our finest penthouse suite."
      "This is unfair!" cried the minister.
      "Listen," St. Peter said, "ministers are a dime a dozen up here, but this is the first congressman we've ever seen."

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Preaching to those who mean the most

Any Sunday that I preach at Life in Christ, I receive generous comments from hearers who appreciated and/or were blessed by the message.

Such feedback is gratefully received.  It is a privilege to proclaim God's Word so to know that something was said that encourages a person to keep on living out their new life in Christ is special.

But when the feedback comes from one of your own kids, it is extra meaningful.

My youngest daughter was in town for three and a half weeks.  She left for home on Wednesday. During that time she was able to worship with us three times. On the day she left I received a text from her.

Among the things she wrote was something to the effect that the sermons I preached she was going to listen to over and over once she got home because "they gave her hope."

She and her family are going through some trials right now. She was blessed to be reminded that God's promises can give us unshakable hope when circumstances seem bleak.

What father doesn't want to help their kids? Mine will tell you that I'm not the always the most helpful guy.  I can't repair a car or fix a leaky faucet.  I can't cook them a meal or offer good financial advice.

But I can give them God's Word. At times that doesn't seem like so much.  But I was glad to be reminded by one of my kids that what I can do is often what they need the most.

And that makes me glad.