What does it mean to trespass? We usually think of crossing a line or boundary into an area where we are not supposed to be. Pastor Ben Libby tackles the Biblical concept of trespass in our Word of the Week. In a spiritual context, Scripture describes us as crossing a line when we sin. In His Law or 10 Commandments God tells us where we should not go and what we should not do. When we disregard Him, that action is a trespass deserving of death. We have failed and miserably! But through Jesus our failures have been erased. He was perfect and never failed. His righteousness becomes ours through faith, and our trespasses are not imputed to us, since they have been paid by Him. Join us for the study of this important Biblical concept!
The word "penitence" is related to the word "repentance" and has a two fold meaning: Sorrow over our sins, and trust in Jesus for forgiveness. In some cases people only think of the first of these two parts, but miss the most important. John writes "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:8-9). King David also describes and gives us an example of true penitence. In Psalm 32 David speaks of the LORD's promise of forgiveness, but also his deep sorrow over his sins. Part of this Psalm is used in the Confession of our sins in our Worship services, and is especially fitting during our Lenten reflections.
As we begin the season of Lent on this Ash Wednesday, we learn about the history, meaning and symbolism in the practice of the Imposition of Ashes on Ash Wednesday. It is sad that many see this as a "Roman Catholic" practice and do not make use of it in our Lutheran churches. While this practice has been misused by some, if properly used, it is a beautiful and very meaningful practice that was used in the Ancient Church and has been used in Lutheranism even to this day. It is a clear reminder of our mortality (Law) as well as our Baptism, though which our sins were washed away (Gospel). What could be more clearly Lutheran (or Christian) than that? Lord, bless our Lenten meditations on this Ash Wednesday and throughout this Passion Season!
What is the Sabbath and how does it affect us in the New Testament? Pastor Tom Naumann takes us into the book of Genesis and the foundation for the Sabbath, which means "rest". God knew our need and required that His Old Testament people rest from their work, and dedicate that time to God. This rest was a picture of the ultimate rest that God would give through the death of Jesus on the cross. This day of rest was a shadow of our rest in Christ. As New Testament believers, we are not required to keep the Old Testament laws of the Sabbath, because they are fulfilled in Christ, but we do rejoice in the salvation won for us as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus every Sunday.
In another word which relates to worship and the worship service, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew discusses the word "communion" and what it means from 1 Corinthians 10:16-17. Communion is a word that is often used as a synonym for the "Lord's Supper" - the sacrament instituted by Christ before His crucifixion. From these words of Paul we will discuss the Scriptural foundation for the teaching of the "Real Presence" of Christ's body and blood in and with the bread and the wine, as well as the Scriptural foundation for the practice of Closed Communion. This a very fitting title for this Sacrament and very important section of Scripture as well. Join us for this valuable study!
Absolution: It may be a familiar word, but what does it mean? Pastor Ben Libby goes into the subject of absolution and why it is an important part of our worship. It is the forgiveness of our sins in action. God assures us that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Only God is able to forgive us our sins, but He has truly given that to us and we are able to assure others of that same blessing. But it did not come cheap. In fact, the only way we were able to be absolved of our sins was by the blood of Jesus Christ, the spotless lamb of God. "And the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). Absolution and forgiveness only come through and by the blood of the lamb!
What is worship? It is a familiar word in our society, but what does it mean? Pastor Mark Tiefel show that already in the book of Genesis we have examples of worship. There were the acceptable and unacceptable offerings of Abel and Cain (Genesis 4), and people began to "call on the name of the Lord" (Genesis 4:26). The Old Testament people built altars to the LORD and the LORD gave them detailed instructions about how they should worship Him. The most common word for "worship" in the Bible, literally means to prostrate oneself (bow) before God. This is contrary to many forms of worship in our society today which emphasizes the sinner, and not God. But the Biblical concept of worship always emphasizes the work of God for the sinner which is what the Gospel really is. In John 4 Jesus explains for the Samaritan woman what true worship really is (4:24) believing it with sincerity in our heart (in spirit), but to be founded on the truth of God's Word and follow it in our lives (in truth). This is what true worship really is.
Lutherans are familiar with the word "Liturgy" while many others are not. In fact there is a trend in our society away from liturgical or "orderly" worship. The word simply means ministry or service. The concept of Christian worship is founded on the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:40: "Let all things be done decently and in order." The use of liturgy is not a new concept, but goes back to the very early Christian church. It includes these points: It confesses the Trinity. It confesses Christ. It is Evangelical. It is Historic. It confesses the Creeds. These qualities of our liturgy are taken from and based on the truths of Scripture, and are used by God to serve us!
What do you think of when you hear the word "service"? There are three main words in the New Testament that are translated service. 1) a servant or slave who serves another; 2) official service (also in a religious use) this is where we get the word "liturgy"; 3) service in the church either with the word like pastors, or deacons who serve in other ways as well. Paul reminds us in Eph. 6 that when we serve we are remember that we are serving the Lord. The Lord serves us in many different ways, and as a result there are many different ways that we serve our Lord and our neighbor. There is always something that we can do to serve using the gifts He has given us.
Who are the Magi and what do they have to do with Christmas? Pastor Mark Tiefel tells us that the word magi is related to our English word "magic" although it is not like the magic we think of today. The magi or wise men were students of many different subjects and sometimes even had "super"natural abilities. Think of the examples of Joseph or Daniel in the Old Testament and the God-given ability to interpret dreams. In fact the magi may have been influenced by the "ministry" of Daniel in Babylon centuries before who shared the truth of the coming Savior while he was in that foreign land. The magi knew about the coming of the Savior, and seeing His star, traveled many mile to worship the Savior sent by God. The account of the magi reminds us that God's Word is intended to bring hope and comfort to all people, which is one of the main themes of the season of Epiphany.