Peace on Earth

Midweek Meditation

December 24, 2014

Peace on Earth

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace…” Luke 2:14

 

Maybe it is a good thing that we have all this pre-Christmas rush of activity that can become so overwhelming. By the time the actual day of Christmas arrives, for most people it will seem relatively calm. And isn’t that what the day is all about! Peace!

The arrival of Jesus in the flesh ushered in peace for the world, not just for a day, but for eternity. What does peace mean? The angelic proclamation was not just about us getting along with each other, but about God’s decision to make peace with us sinners. Jesus said that He gives peace that the world cannot give. Paul calls it a peace beyond our understanding. We would try to comprehend and create peace by treaties, truces, and time-outs. Jesus brings peace that is much deeper and eternal. With His peace, accomplished on the cross, He erases with forgiveness the sin that causes conflict among us and with our God. He lifts the fear of facing death and final judgment. No human arrangement can bring this peace. Only a divine sacrifice so pure and holy can reconcile the Holy God to sinful humans.

I pray that Christmas Day brings a calm spirit of celebration and rest in your heart and mind. The “duties” and “preparation” of the season are mostly finished. Now receive Him who has done all things for you to bring peace in your life, today, all year, and forever.

Peace Love and Joy in Christ,   Pastor Tom Konz

 

 

“Born to Die”

Midweek Meditation

December 17, 2014

“Born to Die”

These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation.

They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” 

Revelation 7:14

 

It’s not something I want to think about during the joyous Christmas season. Yet, there it is–school children massacred by the enemies of Christ. Other children, lambs in the sheepfold of our Good Shepherd, are being beheaded.  What’s going on? Only God knows, and I really do mean that. Only He knows. Jesus predicted that there would be times of great persecution before He returns. They have come in waves throughout history. We don’t know if this is the beginning of the final great persecution signaling His return, or if this enemy will be repelled for a season, as others have been.

While the shedding of the blood of martyrs and the persecution of Christ’s church is nothing new, we are always emboldened in our faith for such times by the shedding of the blood of Christ. In dying for us, Jesus was not a victim but a victor. This is wonderfully expressed by Jesus in the song “Lord of the Dance”:  They cut me down and I leapt up high. I am the life that will never, never die.

God’s people are “crucified”, cut down.  The Church is seemingly buried, and yet it lives on. It will never die because Christ lives.  His death was the substitute punishment for our sin. His life affirms that it was sufficient and gives us life, even after we die.

You may not like to think of Christ’s death at the time of Christ’s birth. But there it is—the reason he was born. Without it, we could not live. Be assured, no matter how grim the news, the victory and ultimate joy is ours in the end.  Pray for the persecuted, that they may remain faithful, covered by the blood of the lamb, who was born to die for us and now lives for us.

Peace and Joy, Pastor Tom Konz

 

Giving to Jesus What He Gives to Us

Midweek Meditation

December 10, 2014

Giving to Jesus What He Gives to Us

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” Luke 4:18

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.“ Matthew 5:3

 (the) King will answer … as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

 Matthew 25:40

A few weeks ago, a speaker reminded us whose birthday we celebrate on Christmas: Jesus. Then he asked, “Who gets presents on birthdays?” The answer of course: the one whose birthday we celebrate.  So instead of just giving presents to each other, why not also give presents to Jesus?

And how we do that?  The preacher’s point was that we remember the well-known truth from Jesus himself in Matthew 25, that what we do for the least of those in our society, we do for Him.  That includes clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, welcoming a stranger, and giving food and drink as needed. Of course, such giving is not to be limited to Christmas time, but if we say we are celebrating the birthday of Jesus, then it should certainly occur then. Otherwise we are not properly celebrating a birthday according to our usual custom.

On the other side of identifying Jesus in the recipients, we can also identify with Jesus as the giver.  He came in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy and the anointing of the Spirit of God to proclaim good news to the poor. And he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for to them belong the kingdom of heaven.”  That means that the greatest gift we can give to the poor is the good news that their sins are forgiven and heaven is open to them.

No doubt you have received many appeals to be generous with your money and time this season. Remember that helping those in need is seen by our Lord as helping Him. You can’t love God and not love your neighbors, and you can’t love your neighbors if you are turning your back on them.  Then consider that as the giver you represent Jesus Himself in the giving. Supplied with all that you need to be generous from His vast store of riches and grace, you can give out of the abundance of your heart. You can give forgiveness as one forgiven, love as one loved, mercy as one having received mercy, and hope as one who has the certain hope of Christ.

In all those appeals, remember that the poor are not just those without this world’s goods. They include those who are spiritually impoverished, no matter how much they have.  So you are invited to fill the empty cups and souls of all of the poor.  May God, who fills us with his Spirit, move us to give to others what He gives to us.

Blessed giving this Christmas,  Pastor Tom Konz

One to One

Midweek Meditation

December 3, 2014

One to One

 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.

If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”   Matthew 18:15

 

In an online article, the Christian Science Monitor reports, “US Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) of Missouri said on MSNBC that Ferguson had been “invaded” by agitators from other communities.”  It is distressing to note that those who don’t have a stake in the original grievance will exploit tensions to advance their own causes.  Other reports tell of well-orchestrated professional protests groups whose agenda is anarchy and chaos, not healing and reconciliation.

How quickly we condemn such actions of agitators, and rightly so. Yet, the spirit that motivates such actions exists in each of us in what we think is a “benign” form.  However, that too is not harmless. When we pass on gossip, even if it is true, but harmful, we agitate discord.  When we criticize someone to other people, instead of offering helpful criticism one on one to that person, we sow distrust and animosity.  We can so easily ruin a reputation by minding everyone else’s business but our own. It may advance our own agenda of enhancing our self-esteem and reputation or covering up our own mistakes, but it is still wrong.  That’s why Jesus instructed his followers to take up their grievances directly with the person that caused them, one on one. Only later, if there is no reconciliation at that level, is it to include two or three others, but again with the goal of reconciliation.

This offense is so easily and thoughtlessly committed that we are all guilty of it, to which I also plead guilty. Thankfully, Jesus came to each of us on the cross, and directly in our Baptism, with the grievance that God had against our sin. Instead of wrecking our reputation, he redeemed it. Instead of talking to others about our sins, he intercedes to the Father that they be forgiven. What a gift, and what an example.

Peace to you and grace through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,  Pastor Tom Konz