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Lead Story

God’s Gift Giving

Years ago in my hometown an elderly woman crafted new pairs of mittens for my brother, my sister, and me every Christmas. It wasn’t that this lady had forgotten what she had given us the year before. But she knew that the mittens she had made the previous year would likely wear out over the winter. She also knew that we children were still growing and would need larger sizes. So out of the goodness of her heart she dedicated her time and effort to keep our hands warm.

But our family friend isn’t the only one who has given us the same Christmas gift every year. Our heavenly Father has too—for countless years! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”
(John 3:16).

Of course, we know that Jesus is not born as a Bethlehem Baby each and every year. Our annual Christmas celebration is a remembering of the first time God’s Gift was given, when Jesus was “born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).

That one-time, God-given Gift should remind each of us every year of what changes…and of what doesn’t change!Read More »God’s Gift Giving

“Oh,Give Thanks to the Lord…!”

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  For His mercy endures forever! is a familiar prayer expressing our thankfulness to God for the food with which He has blessed us and reminding us to give thanks to God.

Such reminders are always in place because, quite frankly, we don’t always remember to return thanks to God. I am not just talking about thanking Him for food, but also for the countless blessings He graciously pours out upon us every day. Because of our forgetfulness and our tendency to take things for granted, we are apt to be like the nine lepers who, after being healed by Jesus, did not return to thank Him (see Luke 17:12-19). Lord, have mercy upon us for not thanking You as often as we ought!

The prayer  “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” is found in a number of psalms (see psalms 106, 107, 118, and 136). Please take your Bible and read Psalm 136. Do you notice how many times the psalmist encourages his readers to give thanks to the Lord? Why is this? Is it perhaps because we need to be repeatedly reminded to give thanks to the Lord for all His goodness towards us?

A striking feature about this psalm is the refrain at the end of each verse. The worship leader would speak the first part of the verse, and the congregation would respond with “For His mercy endures forever.”

I am not just talking about thanking Him for food,
but also for the countless blessings He graciously
pours out upon us every day.

Read More »“Oh,Give Thanks to the Lord…!”

Using the Reformation

Using a gift is a fine way to express appreciation and gratitude.

The sixteenth century Lutheran Reformation was a great gift from God, for through it God restored to us His greatest gifts. Our full and free Salvation in and through Jesus Christ had been put on the shelf by the Roman Catholic Church, which then substituted works that man himself had to accomplish, and God’s undeserved Grace had been shelved in favor of the notion that God infuses grace into man, enabling people to do His will and thus supposedly merit eternal life.

Those precious gifts were all but lost because God’s Word had been put away on a shelf and all but forgotten, being replaced by the teachings of men.Read More »Using the Reformation

“…Him?!”

…Him?!”

That may not have been the exact word that the prophet Ananias spoke, but it does convey his incredulity at the Lord’s instruction.

There is none better to do mission work, to share the gospel
of the Savior with others,
than you and I. 

The Lord had commanded the prophet in a vision to go to the place where Saul of Tarsus was waiting for him. But the only type of “waiting for him” Ananias could envision was in line with what Saul was known for doing:

“Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name” (Acts 9:13-14). 

It was as much as to say, …Him?!”

…Him?!” Ananias saw an enemy of the Savior. But God saw one who would be a great witness to His love, grace, and forgiveness.

Ah, yes! Things had changed concerning Saul since the last time Ananias had heard of him—for now Saul was praying! He was no longer the rabid enemy of Christ and His people that he had been, but he was a “chosen vessel” of the Lord “to bear [His] name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel” (9:15).Read More »“…Him?!”

The One Thing Needful

We are all familiar with St. Luke’s account of Jesus’ visit to the home of sisters Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). We recall that while Martha used her God-given gifts in the kitchen, Mary sat next to Jesus, listening to His words. With so much to do, Martha saw this as her service to the Lord, while Mary sat on the sidelines.

Often we too find our lives very busy as we use our God-given gifts and abilities in the specific calling in which the Lord has placed us. It makes for a busy life to provide a safe and secure home—paying the bills, putting food on the table, supporting children in their studies and activities, or caring for the elderly.

Such activities are God-pleasing, and with them we are busy serving the Lord. We might say, however, that this is “Martha busy,” which can result in our neglecting the one thing needful. Remember Jesus’ words to Martha, “’…You are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her’.” 

How important was this encouragement from the Lord for Martha! She also secured that one needed thing from Jesus, and it was there when she needed it—for when her brother Lazarus took sick, she knew to turn to the Lord. And when Lazarus died, she was confident that he would rise again on the last day.  “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (John 11:24).Read More »The One Thing Needful

Baptism: Mere Ceremony or a Sacrament?

 Dove_webOur title may seem at first to be a silly question,
but assuredly it is not. 

In the religious world of our day doctrine is no longer a matter of Scriptural integrity but is rather a matter of popular vote. We have seen this for some time and understand well that our Lord says: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…” (2 Timothy 4:3).

Saving faith in Jesus trusts in the Spirit’s clarity, wisdom, and life-giving power. If God says it, that settles it!

Human reason is the driving force behind much of modern theology. Because of it, we see all manner of deadly practices and teachings. Dr. Martin Luther said it well when he remarked that we should poke out the eyes of our reason and hear only what God says. Saving faith in Jesus trusts in the Spirit’s clarity, wisdom, and life-giving power. If God says it, that settles it!

Let us then consider what our Lord says on His precious doctrine of Holy Baptism. “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism…”  (1 Peter 3:21a).Read More »Baptism: Mere Ceremony or a Sacrament?