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February 16, 2021

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

We live in a world that gets increasingly fast-paced each year. People are in a hurry to get where they're going; their lives are crowded with a demanding job. parental responsibilities, and organizational obligations. Even though we often feel over stressed, we think we need to keep up a hectic schedule to get ahead in the world.

In stark contrast the apostle Paul tells the Thessalonians to "make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands." An "ambition to lead a quiet life" almost seems like a contradiction of terms, but actually it is a worthy goal for finding contentment. Quietly going about your business, not gossiping, and doing an honest day's work can, as the apostle says, "win the respect of outsiders."

More important than winning people's respect, our life is a testimony to our faith in God. Jesus said, "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). No matter what our job or station in life is, a godly lifestyle will give glory to the Gospel as we witness to others about the Savior, who loves and redeemed them.


Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

February 10, 2021

A relatively young man, Rev. Mark Spitz, age 45, died after a four-year struggle with ALS., a debilitating neuro-muscular condition also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Surrounded by family and friends, church leaders, and members of the congregation, Mark's casket was draped with a white funeral pall, reminding them of the white robe of his baptism and the white robe of Christ's righteousness, ushering him into the presence of God's heavenly throne. All grieved his loss as a vibrant witness to the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, but rejoiced in his deliverance from a dread disease into the Father's waiting arms of eternal love.

St. Paul's words to the Thessalonians also witness to our hearts: "We do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of man, who have no hope." He further assures his readers: "We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him". Clearly Pastor Spitz lives with Jesus because of his Spirit-worked faith. We claim that same sure hope because of God's unfailing promise.


Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

February 9, 2021

1 Thessalonians 4:12

Large trucks on interstates often serve as billboards. One such truck read, "Earned, not given." One can only guess the intent - perhaps, "You should do business with us because we have earned it through our reliability, service, and timely delivery."

Whatever the intended meaning that prominent truck message - earned, not given - provides a powerful thought for our Christian witness of faith in Jesus Christ. Words these days are cheap. We are bombarded with telephone and Internet sales pitches from unknown people and companies. Words alone generate skepticism, resistance, or even hostility. As we seek to set the world ablaze with the saving Gospel, we start by earning the respect of those we are trying to reach through our caring, our reliability, our lifestyle, and our daily life at home and at work. That right to speak the Gospel is earned, not given.

St. Paul makes a similar point to the Thessalonian Christians, bearing witness under persecution in 1 Thessalonians. He talks about them living in order to please God (4:1-2), avoiding sexual immorality (4:3-8), and showing love for one another more and more. Then he urges them, "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders" (4:11-12a). Now they have a platform for sharing the Good News that salvation comes only through faith in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, who will come again soon to take believers home to heaven (4:13-18).

Confessing our obvious sins in daily life, clinging to God's promised forgiveness through Christ each day, we ask for the power of His Spirit to use our lives for credible opportunities to witness - earned, not given!


Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

February 8, 2021

Matthew 2:1-12

Come winter, especially in Minnesota, daylight is of short duration and the desire for "more light" is often expressed.

Our world is in a spiritual darkness, winter and summer. The gloom that is sin deepens into the total darkness of godlessness, greed, hatred. People speak of the "seven deadly sins." Truth is, sins are more numerous than seven, more than seventy times seven. And each one is as deadly as the next because every sin merits God's condemnation. This is darkness - fatal darkness - and what is all the more frightening is that people, in Christ's day and now, "loved darkness instead of light" (John 3:19). If given the choice, they choose the darkness of sin over the light of salvation.

The Epiphany festival celebrates God's outreach to the heathen world. The coming of the Magi to worship the Christ Child anticipated the worldwide mission command given by the same Christ thirty years later. At the end of His ministry on earth, Jesus told His followers to evangelize the world - "all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Salvation from sin is God's gift to all who believe in Christ as Savior and are baptized.

Jesus is the "Light of the world" (John 8:12), the "Sun of righteousness" (Malachi 4:2), the "Radiance of God's glory" (Hebrews 1:3), the total expression of "the grace of God that brings all men" (Titus 2:11). He enlightens the road leading to heaven; He is our guiding light for a purposeful life here and now.


Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

February4, 2021

Psalm 2:7 "You are My Son; today I have become Your Father."

At the baptism of Jesus, the heavenly Father said, "You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased" (Mark 1:11). At Jesus' transfiguration the same heavenly voice said, "This is My Son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him" (Luke 9:35). Isaiah spoke of the Messiah as the Servant. He wrote, "You are my witnesses, declares the Lord, and My Servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He" (Isaiah 43:10. Peter testified that Jesus was God's Son, the Chosen One, quoting Isaiah: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious Cornerstone" (1 Peter 2:6).

If Jesus of Nazareth is the Father's Chosen One, and that He is, we need not look for another. he is God's Son who died and rose again for our salvation. Of this we are sure.

Also important is God's choice of us as His sons and daughters. This eternal election is inseparable from the Father's choice of Christ: "In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:11-12).

In brief, the Father chose Christ, and in Him, without an merit or worthiness on our part, God chose us to be His children. In the Bible, God assures us of our salvation. Adhering to Jesus Christ by faith, and faithfully using the means of grace, we will certainly prevail, for God has chosen us in Christ


Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

February 3, 2021

Psalm 2:1-6

While we don’t know the precise historical backdrop for this Psalm it’s clear that it was written at a time of national crisis. Those who felt that they were “chained” by Israel were conspiring to rebel. Regardless, the primary point of these verses is the complete sovereignty of God. No earthly power will be able to thwart God’s plans. Even the greatest powers on earth aren’t enough to get God to rise up off the throne of heaven. God simply sits and laughs!

The biblical narrative, from beginning to end, reveals the absolute sovereignty of God, at least at the highest level (as opposed to an unbiblical determinism which sees God controlling every detail of life and history). This is certainly true in the political processes recorded in the Bible. Consider Pharaoh, Xerxes, Nebuchadnezzar, Darius and Pilate. Each was a tool in God’s hand to accomplish God’s purposes without the significant interference or influence of God’s people. This is the central message of today’s reading from Psalm 2: God is large and in charge!


Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

February 2, 2021

Psalm 8:3-5

The last generation has seen many notable events in space. Sputnik, the fulfillment of President Kennedy's challenge to put a man on the moon, the exploration of Mars, the Challenger disaster, the return of Halley's comet, and the Hubble telescope are but a few of those worthy of mention. All have barely scratched the surface of the vastness of God's heavens. Mind-boggling is a word that must be used when trying to comprehend the vastness of outer space. In all this vastness, how can God be mindful of me!

The hymn writer begins to grasp the idea of God's perfect knowledge and care for us with the words "But God had see my wretched state before the world's foundation, And mindful of His mercies great, He planned for my salvation" (Dear Christians, One and All by Martin Luther)

Our God is a God who reveals Himself to us chiefly in showing mercy by sending His one and only Son, Jesus, to bring us back to Himself. This God who formed Adam by hand is the same God who watches over you and me, who has counted the very hairs on our head, and who has planned all our days before our life began. We are the crown of His creation, destined to live with Him forever in heaven. Such knowledge brings serenity and joy.


Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,