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Pastor Thomas Schuelze

“BREAD OF LIFE” READINGS May 2018

Date Verse Reading Comments

May 1 TLH 59 2 Samuel 7:1-16 God promised David that his throne would endure forever, a promise that was ultimately fulfilled in Christ, the greatest King of all.

May 2 TLH 524/LSB 691; Psalm 52 The wicked may boast, but in the end those who trust in God’s unfailing love will flourish.

May 3 TLH 602 Jeremiah 29:1-14 Jeremiah comforts the exiles with the good news that they would be delivered. He comforts us with the good news of our eternal deliverance.

May 4 WS 724 Mark 15:21-32 If Jesus had wanted to save Himself, He could have come down from the cross. But He wanted
to save us.

May 5 WS 780 2 Corinthians 4:5-12 We may be weak, but the Word of God we proclaim is certainly not!Read More »“BREAD OF LIFE” READINGS May 2018

Time to Think About Seed-Sowing

COVER STORY – Lent

“But Jesus answered them, saying, ‘The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.’” 

(John 12:23-24)

As you read this article, the weather is probably not looking very springlike. If you live in a northern region of our country, the temperature outside may be downright frigid. Snowflakes may be floating in the air. Even if you live in a region that enjoys warmer temperatures, you’re probably not thinking about engaging in outdoor gardening activities like planting flowers or sowing vegetable seeds. The time for doing such things is spring, and spring is a long way off.

It’s interesting, though, that the church year season we recently entered (Lent) comes from the Old English word, lencten, which means “spring.” And though it is true that we aren’t thinking about outdoor gardening work now, there is a seed-sowing that we love to think about especially at this time of year: the seed-sowing that Jesus speaks about in the Bible verse above.

It was Tuesday of Holy Week. Two disciples had just placed before the Savior the request of some Greeks to see Him. Apparently these Greeks had heard about Jesus’ reputation as a prophet and were looking forward to meeting Him. When Jesus heard about their request, His mind turned immediately to the work of redeeming mankind that He was soon to bring to completion. In three days He would be betrayed, arrested, falsely accused, condemned, crucified, and His body buried in a grave. The result of it all would be that souls out of every nation (Greece and countless others!) would be saved for eternity, a thought that filled His heart with joy.Read More »Time to Think About Seed-Sowing

Don’t Forget to Give Thanks

COVER STORY – THANKSGIVING

“Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.” (Psalm 107:21-22)

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” 

This prayer, drawn from the Psalms, has been a favorite of many a Christian down through the years. As believers have called to mind the Lord’s generosity in providing so many good things to eat and drink, they have united their hearts with the psalmist’s in exclaiming: “Thank You, Lord!” At this time of year we’re especially mindful of the Lord’s mercy. How lavishly our Thanksgiving tables are spread with a veritable smorgasbord of delicacies from His gracious hand! “Turkey and all the fixings,” as they say.

As children of God we know that we have reason to thank our heavenly Father for His cornucopia of blessings not just on a single day towards the end of November, but each day of our lives. In the verse quoted above from Psalm 107 we’re encouraged to do just that. Four times the psalmist’s call rings out: “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (verses 8,15,21,31) We might wonder why he made a point of repeating this thought. He did so undoubtedly for emphasis, because he knew God’s children need this reminder again and again. Aren’t we inclined to take God’s blessings for granted? Isn’t the temptation strong (especially for those living in an affluent culture) to forget that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17) and to begin thinking that the material benefits we enjoy are the product of our own doings and labor? (see Deuteronomy 8:11-17) The result of such misguided thinking is that we may neglect to lift our hearts in praise to the One from whom our blessings flow.Read More »Don’t Forget to Give Thanks

Called by Christ to Be Servants of His Servants

“‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.’ . . . And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

(Ephesians 4:8,11-13)

The day was Maundy Thursday. The location, an upper room in Jerusalem. Jesus was gathered with His disciples to celebrate the Passover. At the outset of the evening’s festivities, He stooped over, took a towel, poured water into a basin, and started washing the disciples’ feet. Peter tried to stop Him, thinking that this act of service was beneath his Master’s dignity. Jesus told Peter, “What you don’t understand now, you will later.” After completing the chore, He told His disciples, “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:15, for the full account see vv. 1-17)

Jesus was teaching a spiritual lesson that He wants His believers of all times to take to heart: He calls us to serve Him in those around us by kindhearted deeds. This is to be a response to the work of love He performed for us all by washing us clean of our sin by His blood shed on the cross. We rejoice to know that He views the acts of loving service we do for others as having been done for Him (see Matthew 25:40).Read More »Called by Christ to Be Servants of His Servants

Christ Loves You with a PASSION

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34, NIV84)

What’s your passion?

Is there a hobby you especially enjoy doing? Cooking? Playing piano? Fixing cars? Long distance running? Most folks have a set of activities they choose to include in their schedules depending on their interests. It’s good to have such diversions. They have a way of adding spice to life. They can also revitalize us for the respective callings in life which the Lord has given us (in the home, at work, at church, and so on).

Speaking of “callings,” we will soon enter the season of Lent.

It’s the time of year when we ponder in a special way the calling God gave to His Son, Jesus. We are reminded how Jesus’ one burning desire—His passion—was to finish the mission His Father assigned to Him for our eternal blessing. For Jesus it was, of course, more than a hobby. It was THE reason He was born into the world. As we meditate on His work for us, it saddens us to think how it was our transgressions that brought such woe on Him. At the same time, it makes us happy. The basis for our happiness could be pictured by an acrostic on that word PASSION, as follows:

The P in “PASSION” stands for PREDICTED. We hear again and again in the passion account that everything took place so the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled (for an example, read Matthew 26:55-56). This is important because it proves that Jesus is our true Messiah, chosen by God to serve us in love.Read More »Christ Loves You with a PASSION

All Saints’ Day A Minor Festival With Major Comfort

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened
in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,
the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” 

(Ephesians 1:18, NIV).

As you read this article, there’s a festival fast approaching on the church year calendar. It’s a festival that doesn’t receive much attention these days. It is “All Saints’ Day.” It falls each year on the first day of November.

How and when did the Festival of All Saints originate, and what is its significance? In the days of the early church, when Christianity was an outlawed religion, followers of Jesus were subjected to bitter persecution. Many were killed for refusing to knuckle under to the authorities and renounce their religious beliefs. It was during this period of open hostility toward Christians that the church chose a day of the year on which to remember those who had been martyred, and to praise God for His mercy in preserving them in faith amidst the fiery trials they faced. The name they ascribed to the day was All Saints Day. Later, all who died while anchoring their hopes in Jesus were remembered on this day, with thanksgiving to God.Read More »All Saints’ Day A Minor Festival With Major Comfort

God’s Institution of Marriage

It’s the “Same Old Same Old”

“Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said,  ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh”

(Genesis 2:22-24 NIV 84).

“Same old same old.”

This is the answer I received from a friend when I asked how things were going for him at work. He went on to share that he was feeling a bit burned out and yearning for something new and different from his daily work routine.

People generally use the phrase same old same old in a negative sense to describe situations that are boring or annoying (and which they might like to have changed). Yet there’s a sense in which it may be understood positively. Take God’s institution of marriage, for example. Though large segments of our society are attempting to morph it into something new (the thinking goes something like “Why should we stay mired in the same old tired ideas of yesteryear? We need to change marriage’s definition so that it includes couples of the same sex”), yet for us Christians, marriage remains the “same old” lovely institution God ordained at the dawn of time when He created Eve for Adam (Genesis 2:19-22). We hold fast to what God teaches about marriage and His “same old” definition: marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman living together as husband and wife.Read More »God’s Institution of Marriage

Luck Has Nothing to Do With It

“If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith”

(1 Corinthians 15:13-14 NIV).

“Good luck! And, by the way, there’s no such thing as luck.”

This was the parting comment a Christian friend made to us as he prepared to climb into his van and return home from the Sunday morning service. We knew what he meant. It was his way of encouraging us to remember that our lives aren’t guided by blind chance. We have an almighty Lord Who is at our side every moment, Who controls all events in the lives of His believers for their good.

Someone might ask, “What’s the guarantee of this?” A good answer (short but sweet) is, “EASTER!” We celebrate Easter with gusto and a multitude of hallelujahs because we know it is our heavenly Father’s assurance that the One Who died on the cross, Whose body was laid in the grave, also arose triumphantly. He is now orchestrating all happenings in the world at large and in our personal lives so they help us to attain a blessed end.

What would your life be like if the angel’s message, “He is not here, He is risen!” were a fairy tale? Then everything you believe about Jesus would be a mirage. The wall of sin that separated you from your God would still be there. Death would be pursuing you as an invincible foe. Your hope of heaven would be a delusion. The devil would have reason to celebrate, for it would mean he had scuttled Jesus’ mission as mankind’s Savior . . . IF the events of Easter didn’t happen.Read More »Luck Has Nothing to Do With It

Sharing the Good News of Jesus In A Bad News World

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news” (Isaiah 52:7 NIV).

“I sure could use a little good news for a change!” Do you ever have such thoughts? You encounter the plethora of tragic news stories broadcast on TV and the internet: natural disasters like earthquakes and floods causing widespread destruction; nations at each other’s throats, firing missiles at one another; Read More »Sharing the Good News of Jesus In A Bad News World

The Comfort of Your Confirmation

DEVOTION – CONFIRMATION

The Comfort of  Your Confirmation

“Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

“This certifies that (fill in your name), having received a thorough instruction in the sacred teachings of the Christian religion as found in the Holy Scriptures and confessed by the Lutheran Church, and having vowed before God and this Christian congregation to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ and His saving Gospel, was received into communicant membership by the solemn rite of CONFIRMATION.”Read More »The Comfort of Your Confirmation

Praise Be to the Paraclete!

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.” (John 14:16, NIV 1984)

PARACLETE—It’s a name we probably don’t use too often in our prayers. It may ring strange in our ears when we sing it in hymns at church.

What does that name mean and why is it ascribed to the Holy Spirit? “Paraclete” comes from two Greek words: para (“beside”) and kaleo (“call”). Putting these words together yields the word’s basic meaning: “Someone called to be at your side.”Read More »Praise Be to the Paraclete!