Apr 24, 2017

Word of the Week: FORGIVENESS

Pastor Rob Sauers discusses the word "forgiveness" in our word of the week today.  We often think of the emotional response of forgiveness, but the Biblical definition of forgiveness is about a restoration of a relationship through removal of sin.  This is what God has done by sending away or blotting out our sins our transgressions.  God is merciful, but also just.  He cannot simply overlook our sin, His character must remove that sin through the punishing sin by death.  It is in the person of Jesus that we receive that forgiveness as He paid our debt, and we have been restored in our relationship with God.  God's forgiveness sets Christianity apart from the religions of the world.  God has done all that was necessary to restore us to Himself through the death of Christ.  Rejoice in the forgiveness of your sins through Jesus Christ.   

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Apr 17, 2017

Word of the Week: RESURRECTION

In the afterglow of the celebration of Jesus' victory over death we take a look at the word "resurrection" on this Easter Monday.  The resurrection of Jesus, while denied and rejected by many, has a great deal of evidence to support it.  1) The resurrection is prophecied in the Old Testament and many places.  Job (19:23-27) refers not only to the resurrection of Jesus, but also our resurrection on the last day.  2) Jesus Himself foretold His own resurrection (Luke 18:31-33) as well as our resurrection from death (John 14:19).  3) The tomb of Jesus was empty.  If Jesus had not risen from the dead, the authorities simply would have had to produce the body of Jesus to remove all doubt.  4) The followers of Jesus boldly proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus, and many gave their lives for that truth.  Who would give their life for a lie?  5) There are examples of other resurrections in the Old Testament (2 Kings 4:18-37), the Ministry of Jesus (Luke 7:11-16; Mark 5:35-42; and John 11), and in the ministry of the apostles (Acts 9:37-42; 20:9-12).  God has given us plenty of evidence to see that the resurrection is true for Jesus, and for us. What hope and comfort is ours in the resurrection of Jesus who died for our sins and was raised for our justification!

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Apr 10, 2017

Word of the Week: MAUNDY

As we enter another Holy Week and reflect on all that our Savior endured for our salvation, Pastor Rob Sauers defines the word "Maundy" from "Maundy Thursday".  You may be familiar with this word because it is the name given to the Thursday before Easter, the day when Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples and instituted the Lord's Supper.  The word "Maundy" comes from the Latin word Mandatum which means commandment. This is taken from the words that Jesus spoke to His disciples on that night, recorded in John 13:34:  "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another." On this night Jesus was giving His followers an example of love, a love that serves rather and desired to be served, an unconditional love, a love which Jesus had for sinners that led Him to the cross.  On this night Jesus also gave His disciples another gift of His love when He instituted the Lord's Supper.  Through this sacrament we have the assurance of the forgiveness of our sins as Jesus says:  "For this is the blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Finally it was on the night of Maundy Thursday that Jesus went with His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane where He was betrayed, arrested and put on trial.  He willingly went though all this and was crucifed where He suffered the agony of our hell and was forsaken by God for the sins of the world.  Oh, the depth of Jesus' love for sinners! 

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Apr 3, 2017

Word of the Week: VICARIOUS ATONEMENT

This morning Pastor Mark Tiefel looks at the Lenten concept of "Vicarious Atonement."  The word "atonement" means to appease or to remove something.  When it comes to sin, God has removed our sin thought the sacrifice of His Son.  The word "vicarious" means substitute, and this points to Jesus who had taken our place and made the sacrifice needed for our sins.  The Old Testament believers celebrated the Day of Atonement once every year.  One goat was killed and sacrificed, the other had the sins of the people placed upon it and it was led out into the wilderness where it was left to die.  These pictures point us to the sacrifice made by Jesus on Good Friday.  Jesus told his disciples that He had come to set sinners "at one" with God, through His death on the cross.  Jesus has become our substitute and made that sacrifice for our sin, removing it forever.  

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Mar 27, 2017

Word of the Week: SHEOL

This week, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew digs into the unfamiliar word "sheol" and its meaning.  This word is a Hebrew word that isn't found in all English translations.  It is used often in the Psalms, and has the basic meaning of "death" or "grave", although it is also translated "hell" a few times.  It is a reminder that death is the just judgment we deserve because of sin and God told Adam in the Garden of Eden and as Paul reiterates when he says:  "The wages of sin is death."  Death is a certainty in life for all people, both believers and unbelievers, because of our sin.  Sheol is used to describe sorrow (Genesis 42:38), mourning (Genesis 37:35), shortening of years (Isaiah 38:10), and loss of knowledge and wisdom (Ecclesiastes 9:10), even for the one who believes in Christ.  Without the message of Christ's work for us in His substitutianary death and resurrection, death is an extreme terror.  But the Old Testament also proclaims the message of the Gospel to believers through victory over Sheol.  “But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol (the grave), For He shall receive me. Selah” (Psalm 49:15).  It also foretells the Savior's resurrection from the dead:  “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10).

Surely, God has not left us to die, but He has redeemed us from the power of Sheol through the death of His Son Jesus, and by His resurrection from the dead, He has assured us that we too will be brought from death to life! What an important reminder, as we look to Easter during this Lenten season.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

 

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Mar 20, 2017

Word of the Week: PASSION

This week, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew digs into the word "passion" and its relationship to the season of Lent.  When we think of "passion" the English speaking mind usually thinks of love or a strong enthusiasm for something. But the word “passion” which is derived from the Greek word “pascho” actually means “to suffer.” For centuries the word “passion” has been used to describe the suffering which Jesus willingly endured for sinners to redeem them from sin and death and to reconcile them to God. When we think of the Passion of Jesus, we are reminded of all that Jesus suffered in the hours that led up to and culminated in His crucifixion. He was slapped, spit on, and beaten by the Jewish leaders and guards during the middle-of-the-night Jewish trials. He was scourged, mocked and abused by Pilate Roman soldiers. After being condemned, Jesus was forced to carry His cross to Calvary where his hands and feet were nailed to the cross and he was crucified.

The physical suffering of Jesus was indeed great. But if that is all that we think of when we consider the passion of Jesus, then we have failed to see the real suffering which Jesus endured for us. The suffering of Jesus was greater than just the physical pain He endured. Peter writes: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Through His passion, Jesus bore the punishment for the sins of everyone in the world. He endured the just anger of God against our sins.

Jesus suffered all this because of your sin and mine. If I had no sin, I could be released of my part in the suffering and death of Jesus. But I am not without sin, and my sin made the passion of Jesus necessary. 

Thanks be to our Savior Jesus for His passion - the suffering He willingly endured in the place of sinners, that He might bring us to God! 

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Mar 13, 2017

Word of the Week: CROSS

As we continue to focus on Lent, Pastor Mark Tiefel goes into the word "Cross" and its importance for the believer in Christ.  Most people don't hang onto or celebrate reminders of suffering in their life.  But the Christian faith does emphasize such a reminder in the cross.  Paul says that we boast not in ourselves but in the cross of Christ (Galatians 6:14ff).  It was through the cross that Jesus reconciled sinful human beings to a holy God (Colossians 1:20).  Christ has abolished death and the hostility that was against us through the cross (Ephesians 2:16).  For these reasons the cross is a comforting thing because it reveals the grace of God for sinners.  Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him (Mark 8:34).  The Christian will suffer and face persecution, but Jesus has overcome the world!  It is worth it.

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Mar 6, 2017

Word of the Week: CONTRITION / REPENTANCE

In our Word of the Week we continue to focus on a Lenten theme as Pastor Rob Sauers looks at the words "contrition" and "repentance."  Repentance was a major theme in the preaching of both John the Baptism and Jesus (Matthew 3, 4:17).  The Lenten season is called a “penitential season,” that is, a season of repentance, and so it’s good for us to ask, then, “What is repentance?” The Dicitionary defines repentance in this way: “to feel or express sincere regret or remorse.” This definition really describes the first part of repentance, namely, contrition. According to the Apology to the Augsburg Confession, contrition is, “the true terror of conscience, which feels that God is angry with sin and grieves that it has sinned. This contrition takes place when sins are condemned by God’s Word.”  So contrition is that internal condition of fear and terror in the conscience that feels God’s wrath against sin (Psalm 38:4,8).  Repentance starts with contrition. Sometimes this sorrow is more like fear – fear of being separated from God. This sorrow is not a worldly sorrow. That’s the kind of sorrow that Judas had after he betrayed Jesus. His was a self-centered remorse and despair that wrongly concluded that all was lost in this life, that there was no hope, and that there was nothing God could do. True contrition is godly sorrow that is worked in us by God’s Law. That’s the first part. But there is a second part of repentance. The word translated “repent” in Greek means to turn or to change one’s mind. There are many who think and teach that repentance is about turning from sinning to not sinning. In other words, they believe that repentance is about trying to do better. So according to this definition, the second part of repentance is good works. The problem with this definition is that it leaves us with no hope that we’ve done enough to turn away from our sins. Scripture teaches us that repentance isn’t about turning from doing bad things to doing good things, but it’s about turning away from ourselves and our own righteousness and turning to Jesus and His righteousness. Repentance is not saying, “I’ve sinned and so I’m not going to sin anymore.” Repentance is saying, “I’ve sinned and I can’t save myself, so I trust in Christ to forgive me and save me.” Think of the thief on the cross at Jesus’ crucifixion. He turned away from himself and to Jesus. And Jesus replied, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Repentance is a turning – not from sinning to not sinning, but a turning from trusting in one’s own righteousness to trusting in Jesus to save. And so, the second part of repentance isn’t good works, but it’s faith. When we understand repentance as Scripture teaches it, we have the true comfort that as we repent of our sins, we have God’s forgiveness. Because true repentance takes our eyes off of ourselves and our own efforts, we’re not left to determine on our own if our repentance is genuine enough to obtain forgiveness. Instead, true repentance turns us to Jesus who tells us from the cross, “It is finished.” The work of our salvation has been completed. True repentance, then, is a wonderful gift from God in which He works in us through His Law and Gospel. Though the Law, God brings us to contrition, a true, godly sorrow over our sins. Though the Gospel, the Lord works faith in our hearts to turn away from ourselves and turn to God for forgiveness and salvation. So rejoice in this wonderful gift of repentance. Rejoice to confess your sinfulness and inability to save yourself as this confession is a gift from God. And then rejoice that the Lord has turned you from unbelief to faith, from life to death – because you are forgiven of all your sins.

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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 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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