Dec 4, 2017

Word of the Week - Pagan Holiday

During the Month of December, our Word of the Week will focus on different words associated with Christmas. This week, Pastor Rob Sauers considers whether or not Christmas is a "Pagan Holiday." You will occasionally run into Christians who don't like to celebrate Christmas because they believe the celebration is pagan in origin. We will briefly consider whether or not that claim is true and whether or not that matters at all to our celebration of the Savior's birth. We pray that this study will help you consider how to respond if you are ever questioned about your celebration of Christmas. 

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Nov 27, 2017

Word of the Week: ORTHODOX / HETERODOX

This week Pastor Nathanael Mayhew considers two related words: Orthodox and Heterodox. Simply put, Orthodox means "straight teaching" and Heterodox means "other teaching." These words have been used to descibe "correct" and "false" teaching in theology for centuries. While you won’t find either of these words in the Bible, you will find other words that mean the same thing. Instead of straight doctrine, we will find the phrase “good doctrine” or “sound doctrine”. Adhering to sound teaching or that which is “orthodox” is an essential criterion for the pastoral ministry (See Titus 1:7-8, and 1 Timothy 4:6). In contrast to “orthodox” teaching the prophets of the Old Testament, the apostles of the New Testament and even Jesus Himself warns of the danger of “heterodox” teaching. The apostle Peter warns: “there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1). Notice the result of heterodox teaching - it is destructive! Jesus describes the heterodox teaching of the Pharisees as “leaven” which spreads (see Matthew 16:12), and Paul uses leaven (Galatians 5:9) and cancer (2 Timothy 2:17) as an example of how false teaching infiltrates and spreads. Some think that doctrine doesn’t really matter. God says otherwise. He says there is straight teaching (orthodox) and other teaching (heterodox), and it does make a difference. God has called us to: “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Thank God that He has revealed what is orthodox through His prophets and apostles and also through His Son, so that we might know the truth. 

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Nov 20, 2017

Word of the Week - Contentment

In our Word of the Week, Pastor Rob Sauers takes us through a study of contentment. Contentment seems to be one of those things a lot of people search for, but never find. Can we ever find true contentment? If so, where is that contentment to be found? Our study seeks to answer these questions by looking at both the places where people look for contentment and what the Scriptures have to say about the subject. We pray that this study will be a blessing to you.

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Nov 13, 2017

Word of the Week - Petition

In our Word of the Week this week, Pastor Rob Sauers takes us through the word "petition." When we hear that word, we might think first of a formal written request signed by many people, appealing to authority in respect of a cause. In a petition, we are pleading to one in authority to do something we would like to see done.

The Bible speaks of petitions in the formal setting of the court. We have the example of Esther making her petitions known to King Ahasuerus. In the New Testament, the Jews petitioned Festus to execute the Apostle Paul. 

The Bible also uses "petition" in the sense of prayer. When we think of petitions in this context, we probably most often think of the seven petitions of the Lord's Prayer. In this prayer, Jesus gives us a wonderful example of how we should bring our petitions before the Lord. 

And we can do so with confidence. Though we are not worthy that God should answer any of our petitions, yet we have the promise from our gracious God, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7). Surely, God will answer our prayers according to His will out of His grace and His love for us. 

And so, we can do what Paul encourages in Philippians 4:6 - "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God."

May God bless our study.

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Nov 6, 2017

Word of the Week: Courage

In our Word of the Week we cap off a week of Reformation celebrations with the word Courage. Courage is a word that comes quickly to mind when we think of Martin Luther standing before church and emperor and saying: "Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise." But he was not the only one. Throughout the history of His Church the LORD has constantely raised up leaders to encourage, direct and instuct His people through the teaching of His Word. The LORD called Joshua to be strong and courageous as he led the people of Israel into the promised land. The same was true in the New Testament era. Paul writes: "Most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear" (Philipians 1:14). This is what God's reformers throughout history have done. From Joshua, Jeremiah and Paul, to men like Peter Waldo, John Wycliffe and John Huss who preceeded Luther by a century or more. What caused these men to be courageous? It was God who was at work in them through His Spirit, and bringing them to the truth. Like Peter may we too along with Joshua, Paul, Wycliffe, and Luther, corageously proclaim: "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). 

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Oct 30, 2017

Word of the Week: Means of Grace

In our Reformation Word of the Week today, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew takes us into the phrase "Means of Grace." This phrase is not found in Scripture but is descriptive of a truth that is taught in Scripture. God has chosen to impart His grace to sinful mankind through means or particular "tools." The tools that God has chosen to use to bring us to Himself and give us His grace are the Gospel in Word and Sacrament. God uses three particular tools to accomplish this work: His Word which is truth (John 17:17), and through which faith is imparted (Romans 10:17). The Sacrament of Baptism which washes our sins away (Acts 22:!6) and offers forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38-30). And the Sacrment of the Lord's Supper which Jesus instituted and through which He still today imparts forgiveness (Matthew 26:28). God has chosen to use these means to give us His grace, and so these should be of the most importance in our lives, knowing that God is working through them for us. Thanks be to God for these gifts and means of bestowing His grace!

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Oct 23, 2017

Word of the Week - Antichrist

In our Word of the Week this week, Pastor Rob Sauers takes us through the word "Antichrist." The way that the Antichrist is usually thought of in Christianity today is as a political figure who is going to rise up and unite the world into a one world government near the end of the world. He’s thought of as more of a political figure than a religious one, though he will, in the end, try to turn the world against Christ and Christianity – so the thought goes. But does that fit with what Scripture says about the identity of the Antichrist? One of the things that came out of the Reformation was the proper, Biblical identity of the Antichrist. As Martin Luther grew in his appreciation of the gospel, he also grew in his recognition that the Papacy is the Antichrist. This identity comes from the Bible itself, most specifically from 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10 which will be the basis for our study. We pray that this study will be informative and beneficial!

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Oct 9, 2017

Word of the Week - Justification

As we continue our series of Reformation words for the Word of the Week in October, Pastor Mark Tiefel defines the Biblical word Justification. He discussed justification in its objective and subjective sense. Christ's death is an objective truth through which all sinners have been declared not guilty before God (Romans 3:23-24, 28; Romans 4:25; Romans 5:18-19) but the benefits of this declaration are received by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 2:16) We are all sinful. But through God's work for sinners in Christ and through faith, we have been justified (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Romans 1:16-17). Thanks be to God! Listen, learn, study and proclaim God's Word of Truth as faithful heirs of the Reformation!

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Oct 2, 2017

Word of the Week - Three Solas

For our Word's of the Week this October, we will be focusing on words related to the Reformation. This week, Pastor Rob Sauers takes us through a study of the three "Solas" of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), and Sola Fide (Faith Alone).

Sola Scriptura is really the foundation for the other two as we would know nothing of Grace Alone or Faith Alone without the Scriptures. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” John 20:31 summarizes the primary purpose of the Scriptures: “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” 

Sola Gratia is the Scriptural teaching that God chose us for salvation because of His undeserved love for us. 2 Timothy 1:9 speaks of God "who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began." 

Sola Fide is the Scriptural teaching that God saves us through faith in Jesus Christ, not through our own good works. Romans 4:5 says, "But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness." 

A good summary passage for these "Solas" is Ephesians 2:8-9 - "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

May God help us to cling to these important Scriptural truths.

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Sep 25, 2017

Word of the Week - Pastor

In our Word of the Week, Pastor Rob Sauers takes us through a study of the word pastor. There are a number of words that are commonly used to refer to the pastor of a church, including Reverend and Minister. The term pastor is derived from the Latin word meaning shepherd. Shepherd is the term Paul uses in Acts 20:28 where he says, "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." We find many of the qualification for pastors listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, 2 Timothy 2:24-25, and Titus 1:5-9. Maybe the best summary of the work of the pastor is found in 2 Timothy 4:2 - "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching." Your pastor's main responsibility is to bring the Word of God to you, and this is something he is happy to do whether it's through sermons, Bible studies, visits over the phone, or in private home devotions. Let your pastor know how he can serve you. And also pray for your pastor. Pray that he would be faithful to God's Word and that the Lord would give him a love for souls that motivates his work among God's people. 

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