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We are Not Alone

“I think it’s arrogant of us to think
that we are alone in the universe.”

So said a network television news reporter
in a discussion of some new discovery in the universe.

That statement is surely one that we would agree with, though not as the reporter intended it. He was not talking about the arrogance of the atheist who says that we are alone in the universe because there is no God. His thought was that there surely must be life somewhere in the universe besides on planet earth; the universe couldn’t possibly be as vast as it is with life on only one little speck of a planet in one galaxy.

It is both arrogant and perverse to peer out into God’s universe looking for evidence that He does not exist, for the heavens declare His glory and the firmament shows His handiwork (Psalm 19:1), even to those who do not have His Word, or who reject it.Read More »We are Not Alone

Waiting for More than Christmas

The outcome is always the same. Christ and His Church
always come out victorious and all His enemies will be judged. 

“‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
(Revelation 22:20).

John was in exile, banished to the island of Patmos where he was isolated from the people he loved and prevented from preaching the Word of God to them.
Many of those whom he calls “my little children” were suffering terrible persecution. Some were fed to wild animals or slaughtered by gladiators, others were burned as human torches or crucified. Still others lost homes and businesses and wandered as fugitives, despised by all.

In such terrible times, one longs for and prays for deliverance. As the Children of Israel prayed for God’s deliverance from their cruel slavery in Egypt, so also John pleads with Christ, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” Read More »Waiting for More than Christmas

At the End of the Day . . .

How did it go today?

Some days are a challenge from start to finish. Others seem monotonous. Yet always, it is the Lord Who brings us safely to the close of each day. It’s easy to forget the Lord’s role, to feel that each day just grinds along on its own, somehow dragging us with it; or that by our own powers we have seized the day and bent it to our will.

In his evening prayer, Martin Luther (I mean, the first Martin Luther, 1483-1546, Bible-based reformer of the church in Germany) wrote, “I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me today.” YOU HAVE GRACIOUSLY KEPT ME TODAY! The Father has compassionately gotten you past the humps and bumps of today. He has helped you deal with the problems of your own making, and also with those of others’ making. He has given you strength to expend all, if need be. He has given you wisdom to solve the difficult issues. He has given you courage to deal with matters into which you had to be dragged. And so on, and on. “Father, thank You for bringing me safely to the end of this day.”Read More »At the End of the Day . . .

The Lord of Hosts Is with Us

The hymn “A Mighty Fortress” (TLH 262), is Martin Luther’s most famous hymn, and one of the most well-known of all Christian hymns. I was reminded of this recently when I heard a character refer to it in an episode from an old TV series. Not many hymn titles make it into popular culture.

“A Mighty Fortress” has long had a place in nearly every Protestant hymnal, and more recently even in some Roman Catholic hymnals. It has been translated into more languages than any other hymn, and there are more than seventy English translations of it.

To say that it is widely known and sung is not to say that it is widely understood or truly appreciated for its message. No doubt many who like it for its majestic tune may not pay much attention to what it says beyond its opening line.Read More »The Lord of Hosts Is with Us

The One Thing Needed

This year it is especially heartening to note that there are three schools in the Church of the Lutheran Confession that are either starting up fresh, or have plans to reopen.

“And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, 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’” Luke 10:41-42

Parents find plenty to worry about. We worry about what our kids are eating, who they are playing with, where they are, and where they have been. Having seen so many changes in society in our lifetime, we worry what the future of our community, our nation, and our world will look like for our children and grandchildren.Buildingblocks_small

In Luke 10, Martha was also worried and troubled. She was trying to be a good hostess for Jesus, while her sister Mary just sat at His feet listening to Him. But Jesus commends Mary’s choice: “One thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” While Martha was busying herself with things that would come and go with time, Mary had eternity on her mind. She chose to sit at the feet of Jesus, and hear the words of eternal life from the Lord of Life. Nothing, not even death itself, could rob her of this “good part” which she had chosenRead More »The One Thing Needed

Refreshingly Uncomplicated

Creation01Aurora_Borealis_EielsonAlaskaI remember the summer I was a tour-bus driver in Glacier National Park. Drivers were taught park history, information, and geological features. It wasn’t any surprise to me that the “geological features” section was full of terms, time frames, and explanations from evolutionary geology. It got old in a hurry. How absolutely refreshing one evening, in the quiet of my room, to open up to Genesis 1 and read the Lord’s simple, straightforward account of the miraculous creation of the heavens and the earth!

In the beginning God created. God said, and it was so.
The heavens, the earth, light, firmament (atmosphere), seas, dry land, vegetation, sun, moon, stars, fish, fowl, cattle, creeping things, beasts. And He made man, male and female. Everything was very good! 

How easy to follow! How simple! The beauties, intricacies, and mysteries of the world, all created by God in six days. Even a child can grasp it!Read More »Refreshingly Uncomplicated

Let’s Talk about God’s Program

ChurchState_artIn the introduction to his Sunday sermon, a pastor referred to the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:25, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city and house divided against itself will not stand.” After the service, he was approached by a visitor who said, “When you began your sermon by talking about how ‘a house divided will not stand,’ I thought your message was going to be political.” She was thinking of the political divisions in our country and expecting that the pastor would use his Sunday sermon to address them.

Why is it that our pastors do not use the pulpit, or the church bulletin, to promote a political point of view?

We may find this woman’s expectations about a Sunday sermon troubling, but we probably are not surprised at them. We know that many preachers use their pulpits for political messages. They endorse candidates, comment on legislation, and freely give their opinions about foreign policy.

Why is it that our pastors do not use the pulpit, or the church bulletin, to promote a political point of view? It is because behind these practices lies the idea that the mission of the church is the transformation of human society by means of social reform. But the Bible from beginning to end tells us that the problems of this world, age-old problems such as poverty, war, disease, and injustice, will never be eradicated; we are not to look for a golden age in this world because the world’s problems have their roots in human nature. Read More »Let’s Talk about God’s Program

Jehovah Blesses You!

 Jehovah Blesses You!Page3Bkgd

“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, “This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: ‘The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.’” ‘So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them’” (Numbers 6:22-27). 

We hear those words every Sunday. This is not just the wish of your pastor; God instructed Aaron to use these words to bless His people. When His servants pronounce this benediction, something wonderful happens: God’s name is placed upon you. Remember, when you see the word Lord with all capital letters, that represents God’s personal name. The popular English pronunciation is Jehovah, but most Hebrew scholars believe it was something more like Yahweh.

God gave this benediction to Moses after the people had shown their rebelliousness and worshiped the golden calf. God still wanted to bless His people. That is amazing grace!

Jehovah places His name upon you and identifies you as His own, so that you receive Him and have His promise, “I will bless them.”

There are three parts to this blessing, each coming from Jehovah, the Lord. These blessings can be summed up with the words “protection,” “grace,” and “peace.”Read More »Jehovah Blesses You!

The Christian Pentecost

“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit”  (Acts 2:4). 

An expression I remember from my childhood is Emma go ‘het. It didn’t make much sense, but I knew what it meant. Forward with zeal and determination! I suppose the words were a rendering of a German-English phrase Immer go ahead! Always forward!

The Jewish festival of Pentecost was named Shavuot in Hebrew—meaning weeks. It fell seven weeks, or a “week of weeks,” after the Passover Sabbath. The festival, by count, was on the 50th day after the Passover Sabbath (Leviticus 23:15-16). The Feast of Weeks marked the end of the grain harvest and was the time to offer the first fruits (Leviticus 23:20). The name Shavuot later became Pentecost—Greek for fiftieth.

On the first Christian Pentecost, the one after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the promise Jesus had given to His disciples was fulfilled. He had said, before ascending, “Tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49), and “You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5). The Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, was poured out upon the disciples on Pentecost (Acts 2). The Holy Spirit had already brought the disciples to faith in Christ. Now the Holy Spirit was giving them special blessings to proclaim the saving Name of Jesus—courage, zeal, wisdom, understanding of the Scriptures, ability to speak other languages, power to work miracles—all to further their witness that the crucified and risen Jesus was the Savior from sin.Read More »The Christian Pentecost

Resurrection Power

“. . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death”  (Philippians 3:10).

Before his conversion, Paul was a man who knew power. He knew the power of a sharp mind and a good education, of high social standing, of friends and allies in high places. He knew the power that goes with confidence in the rightness of one’s cause. He also understood the power of intimidation by the threat and use of force and violence.

It was surely with a sense of power that Paul set out for Damascus to deal with the Christians there (Acts 9), for he had the full authority of the high priest for his mission. Read More »Resurrection Power

Into the Wilderness

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“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry” (Matthew 4:1-2).

Just when we are seeing signs that spring is coming soon, as the days are getting longer and warmer, we begin what may seem to be a darker, colder journey—the journey of Lent. We follow Jesus into the wilderness.Read More »Into the Wilderness

The Transfiguration of Jesus Is Your Glory!

The Transfiguration: 

The last painting by the Italian High Renaissance master Raphael. Commissioned by Cardinal Giulio de Medici (the later Pope Clement VII [1523-1534]) and conceived as an altarpiece for the Narbonne Cathedral in France, Raphael worked on it until his death in 1520.

He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Matthew 17:2).

Suddenly Jesus was dazzling—His face, His clothes! Then, He was speaking with Moses and Elijah, prophets of long ago! Astounding! Why was this happening?

I. Was it for Jesus’ benefit? Yes. Did not angels minister to Him after Satan tempted Him? Did not an angel strengthen Him in the Garden of Gethsemane while He earnestly prayed to His Father? Surely it was for Jesus’ benefit that Moses and Elijah came to speak with Him about His “decease,” His departure, His end. Moses and Elijah had labored among God’s people many years earlier to point them to God’s merciful and gracious atonement through the Messiah to come. Salvation through Christ was their “work.”

II. Was the transfiguration of Jesus for the benefit of the disciples (Peter, James, and John) who were with Him? Yes. They had heard Jesus speak wonderful words of forgiveness and compassion. They had seen Him work miracles of love and of might. They had heard Him soundly refute the Pharisees. Jesus was their Messiah, the “Christ,” the “Anointed One!”Read More »The Transfiguration of Jesus Is Your Glory!