Feb 27, 2017

Word of the Week: REBELLION

This Wednesday begins the season of Lent.  As we prepare for Lent, Pastor Rob Sauers takes us into a study of the word "rebellion" as it is defined in God's Word.  Rebellion means “opposition to one in authority or dominance.” So the notion of rebellion presupposes the existence of authority. We often think of children rebelling against parents authority – not wanting to do what their parents tell them to do, and instead wanting to do those things their parents tell them not to do. Adults, too have engaged in many forms of rebellion from the household to the workplace. People don’t want to be governed and bound by a set of rules. We want what we want, when we want it, and we don’t want anyone or anything to get in our way.  The first rebel was Satan. Satan rebelled against God’s authority and was intent on setting himself up as the Most High. And when that didn’t work, Satan tempted Eve to rebel against God’s authority by eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Since those initial acts of rebellion, Satan has led mankind into a perpetual series of rebellions and the result has been chaos, destruction, and misery.  God warns us in His Word that rebellion is not a harmless and natural part of growing up, but it is a desperately wicked part of our sinful nature. There are terrifying consequences for rebellion. Samuel warned Israel in 1 Sam 12:15, “if you do not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers.” Maybe the most frightening consequence of rebellion against God is that God simply allows us to destroy ourselves if we remain rebellious. In Romans 1 verses 21 and 28 Paul writes, “Even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.… Just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper."
What was true of ancient man is still true today. We are all rebels at heart. We don’t want to listen to God. As Psalm 107:11 says we have “rebelled against the words of God, And despised the counsel of the Most High.” We have that same sinful nature that has been passed on to us by Adam and Eve. Paul writes in Romans 8:7, “the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” Since people have dismissed the concept of God, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” as Romans 3:18 says. Spiritual things are ridiculous to the natural man. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
By nature we rebel against God and as a result rely upon our own experience, reason, and feelings to guide our beliefs, attitudes, and behavior, and they won’t lead us in a godly direction. Our rebellion only leads away from God, and we deserve God’s punishment for our rebellion. Thank God that He has turned us from our rebellious nature. By His grace, the Lord leads us to repent of our sins, and as we turn to the Lord in repentance, the Lord comes to us with His love and forgiveness.

Maybe the best picture of this in all of Scripture is Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. The Prodigal son is the picture of rebellion. The prodigal son did not want to be under his father’s authority. He asked for his inheritance early so that he could go off and live as he wanted under no one’s authority. The father gave him the inheritance and so he went out and lived a rebellious life. But things didn’t turn out as He had hoped. He quickly got himself into trouble. The son repented, went back to his father to confess his sins and to beg his father to make him one of his hired servants.  And how did the father react? With pure joy at the sight of his son. He saw his son returning and ran out to meet him. The prodigal son confessed his sins of rebellion, but couldn’t even get out the part about being treated as a servant. The father was so overcome with joy that he had his son back that he right away completely reinstated him as his son. In this parable, we are the prodigal son, and the Father is God the Father. And that’s how He reacts to us when we repent of our rebellious ways and turn to Him. It’s that same love that moved Him to send His Son to live the perfect life in our place, never rebelling against the Father’s authority and will. And then he went to the cross to die for all of our sins of rebellion. Thanks be to God for His love in the face of our rebellion. 

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Feb 24, 2017

CPR - What to look for in a church.

In this CPR episode, Pastors Mark Tiefel, Neal Radichel and Nathanael Mayhew all join together to discuss the topic of Church Attendance and how to find a church home.  Why should we go to church?  In church the Lord offers sinners His forgiveness through His Word and Sacrament. So when we are looking for a church, we should be looking for a place where His Word is proclaimed in its truth, not based on how close it is to your home or the programs which are offered.  What about those who say "You don't have to go to church to worship God"?  We can see God in nature, but this is the natural knowledge of God which is limited and we need more than that.  We need to have God reveal what He has done with our problem of sin, and that is only found in His Word.  Consider this:  If we don't eat, we die.  The same is true for us spiritually.  If we don't feed our souls with the Word of God as Jesus says we should, we will die spiritually!  It isn't enough to THINK about eating food if we are starving.  We need to eat.  Similarly, it's not enough to think about going to church or reading God's Word. We need to feed on God's Word and receive His Sacraments to be spiritually sustained.  The true Church is about substance, not about style.  We shouldn't pick a church based on what we want it to be, but what God wants it to be.  That is what is important!  "Preach the Word!" Paul says.  The quality of what we take in is what is important.  It is easier in an earthly sense to go the big church that has many programs but offers no substance.  It is difficult to dig into God's Word and compare what a church teaches with what God says in His Word.  But it is very rewarding!  Finding a church isn't about the music, the programs, or even the pastor, but it is about how the church proclaims God's truth.  It is a lot of work to dig into the truth, but it is rewarding as we are pointed to Christ and the forgiveness He offers to us through the cross.

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Feb 20, 2017

Word of the Week: AUTHORITY

On this Presidents' Day, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew digs into God's explanation of the word "authority" in His Word.  In Romans 13 we are told that all authority comes from God. Authority given by God is to be used for the good, blessing and service of all involved. But it often doesn’t work out that way. Because of sin we often see abuse of authority in many areas of life. Proverbs 29:2 says: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” The government is entrusted with authority over its citizens. In Romans 13:1-3 Paul writes: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.”
God has given those in government authority to be used for the protection of society and the punishment of evil. When government leaders do not carry out that responsibility, or abuse their authority at the expense of others, they will be held accountable by God (Consider the account of Ahab and Jezebel in 1 Kings 21). At the same time, it is the responsibility of citizens to obey those who are in authority in government, even when we disagree with them! The only time we have a God given right to disobey our government is when our government forces us, by its laws or actions, to go against the command of God. In such a case Peter says, “We ought to obey God, rather than men” (Acts 5:39). When our government forms laws in areas where God has not spoken, even if we disagree for good reason, we are commanded by God to submit to those who are in authority. We are also called to pray for those who are in authority. He writes: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:1).  Paul doesn’t say that we should only pray for those leaders we like or agree with. He says we should pray for “all who are in authority” so that we might be able to lead a life that brings glory to God through our words and actions.  Lord give us good and faithful leaders, and help us to be good and faithful citizens!

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Feb 17, 2017

Bible Study - Interpreting Revelation

In a continuation of our introduction to the Book of Revelation last week Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Rob Sauers tackle the issues of Biblical Interpretation that are important to solid, Biblical understanding of Revelation (as well as all the rest of the Bible).  The literary structure of Revelation varies.  The book opens in a way similar to other New Testament books, but the majority of the book is described as being figurative or symbolic in the opening verses.  The events are real events, but they are described with picture language.  Revelation is not to be taken literally, but literarily or depending on the kind of writing that is being intended by the writer.  Some important rules of Biblical Interpretation include 1) The Bible interprets the Bible (use clear passages of Scripture interpret the less clear, not the other way around).  2) Don't take passages out of context (of Scripture or the individual book or section).  One example of bad Biblical Interpretation is found in Revelation 20 and the 1,000 years or "the Millenium".  Numbers in Revelation are symbolic, not literal.  The pictures of the angel, the dragon are not literal either.  Rather the 1,000 years refer to the New Testament Era (amillenialism).  The first resurrection of that chapter refers to a spiritual resurrection (conversion) as seen in John 5:24-29.  This does not indicate multiple physical resurrections as many millenialists say.  The purpose of Revelation is to point us to Jesus and the victory which He won for us over sin, death and the Devil through His life and death.  If we keep that in mind, the Book of Revelation is very easy to understand!       

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Feb 13, 2017

Word of the Week: LOVE

As we approach Valentine's Day, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew digs into the Biblical definition of the word "Love."  The word love is one of the most well known words in the English language. Even young children express their affection by saying, “I love you!” But in English, the word “love” is based on our feelings - on how we feel about someone else. Think of that same young child’s declaration when they are told something they don’t like: “I don’t love you anymore.”  In the Bible love is not based on feelings, but is an attitude of service toward another, even those who are may be “unworthy” or our actions. Love finds its definition and source in what God has done for us as Paul says: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God didn’t wait until we were worthy of His love before He sent His Son to bear our sins. He did this while we were still the enemies of God (1 John 4:7-11).  The love of God was not based on His feelings, but based on our need and His promise. Secondly, God’s love shown to us in Christ Jesus gives us an example of how we are to love others. Christians are to love God (Deuteronomy 6:5). Husbands are to love their wives (Col 3:19). Wives are to love their husbands and children (Titus 2:4). And even more, we are to love our enemies (Luke 6:27-28,32-33).
Finally, Paul's familiar words about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is a description of true self-sacrificing love as demonstrated clearly by God to sinners through Jesus. Lord, help us to appreciate Your love for us in Jesus, and to show that same kind of love to You and everyone around us!

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Feb 10, 2017

Bible Study - Revelation

In this Bible Study episode, Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Rob Sauers dig into the complex and comforting book of Revelation.  This last book of the New Testament was written by the Apostle John in the 90's AD while he was exiled on an island called Patmos.  Here he writes to seven churches of the early church describing for them the visions which the Lord Jesus gave him to assure and comfort His church, both then and now.  The book of Revelation is a symbolic book as John states clearly in the very first verses, so these are not literal events, but symbolic descriptions of what would take place in the furture.  See our next Revelation podcast on the interpratation of the book for more information on this topic.  The main message of the book is to show how God, in Christ, has defeated death and the Devil and to comfort the troubled child of God with the hope of salvation in and through Christ.  Christ calls us to take comfort and to endure knowing that He is our strength and our redeemer! 

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Feb 6, 2017

Word of the Week: ENMITY

Today Pastor Nathanael Mayhew defines the word Enmity as described in Scripture.  Enmity or hatred is obvious in the world around us as seen in human interactions like political rallies or racial riots.  There are many differences between human beings, but Christians have been called out of the world and are to be different than the world.  They are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and to love their enemies (Mattew 5:44).  Christians have been called out of the world, because the world is enmity against God (James 4:4 and Romans 8:7).  Christ came to bring unity, not just between those who believe in Him, no matter who they are or what they have done, but more importantly to bring peace between God and man (Ephesians 2:15-16).  This was the purpose for Jesus coming to earth as a man and living and dying for sinners.  He came to remove the enmity which stood between sinners and a just and holy God.  May that truth bring you peace and comfort in the assurance of your sins forgiven in Christ Jesus!

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Feb 3, 2017

CPR - Baptism

In this episode, Pastors Neal Radichel and Nathanael Mayhew discuss the topic of Baptism.  They cover many topics related to the form and function of baptism from Scripture.  First, God reveals clearly that Baptism is not a work of human beings, but rather the work of God (Titus 3:5-8).  God is at work through water and His Word to wash away our sins.  They talk about "Believer's Baptism" the "Age of Accountability" and "Infant Baptism."  Children are sinful and have Original or Inherited Sin and are in need of the cleansing which God offers through baptism (Psalm 51:5; Acts 2:39).  Scripture also reveals that children can believe (Matthew 18:6).  God's work of faith is a miracle of His Grace, and it is no less a miracle in a child than in an adult.  Baptism, because it is an act of God and not depending on us, is a one-time act. There is no need to be rebaptized again and again because you have fallen into sin.  There is also a connection between Circumcision in the Old Testament and Baptism in the New Testament (Colossians 2:11-12) which point to the foundation for infant baptism.  Regarding the form of baptism they show that the idea of immersion in baptism is forced on the Biblical accounts of Matthew 3 and Acts 8 in particular.  The Greek word "Baptizo" means to "wash" and does not neccesitate washing by immersion.  What a blessing God has given to sinners through Baptism!     

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Jan 30, 2017

Word of the Week: GOSPEL

As we contine in the Epiphany season, Pastor Mark Tiefel defines the word Gospel in the Scriptures.  The word Gospel is used so often in our society that it looses its meaning in the true Biblical meaning.  Literally the word means "Good News" or "Evangelism."  Isaiah says that the Good News of Salvation is what the Gospel is.  Jesus is the fulfillment of this Gospel.  Jesus preached the Gospel and healed people from sickenesses.  There is a distinction between these two.  Paul says that the Gospel "is the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16).  The Gospel why we have the hope of heaven (Colossians 1:5,23).  The real Gospel message is not about prosperity here on earth or political or social causes, but simply about the forgiveness of sins through Christ.  Thanks be to God!

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Jan 27, 2017

CPR - ABORTION RIGHTS AND WRONGS!?!

In this episode, Pastors Mark Tiefel and Neal Radichel discuss everything from Abortion rights and Abortion "exceptions", as well as Bible quotations that shed light on life before and after birth and conception.  What kind of impact has Abortion had on our society?  How has Abortion affected relationships and a mother's responsibility?  What can a Christian or non-Christian recognize about the growing scientific evidense since the Supreme Court's ruling in the early 1970's?  What can an individual do in the wake of the political protests recently on Abortion throughout our nation?  Explore the depths of these questions in light of God's Word and the staggering effects we see of the choices on either side that are made today!

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