The Seed Supplier

seeds

February 24, 2016

The Seed Supplier

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply

your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 2 Corinthians 9:10

 

Recently, two young boys in church were observed dropping coins in the offering plate as it passed by.  They were certainly not old enough to be gainfully employed or be given the responsibility of an allowance.  Yet, they had money to put into the plate for God’s work.  Where did they get it?  Their dad gave them the coins shortly before they left home. He was teaching them some valuable lessons about Christian stewardship:  1. What we have in our hand we have only briefly.  2. What we have in our hand we have from our heavenly Father.  3. What we have in our hand has a purpose outside of ourselves.

When we put our offering in the collection plate, or however else we give to charity, we are only returning what our Father has delegated us to manage, not giving Him from our personal property. Using Paul’s illustration, the farmer does not make the seed, only receives it. He doesn’t eat or hoard the seed, but plants it in the ground where it becomes much more than it was.  From that harvest, he gets more seeds to plant for more harvests. What grows is more than the farmer can possibly eat, so from his harvest he is able to bless others.  Likewise, while we are using for His glory what our Father has given us to use (time, treasure, talent), he blesses both us and others.        

Tonight’s Lenten message is about Christ’s command to pray, “Thy Kingdom come”. Here we ask God to use us in bringing His Kingdom to those who are not yet in it. Made righteous by faith in Him, we work for the Kingdom when we feed those who are hungry in body and soul with physical and spiritual food. Because our Father supplies what is needed, we don’t worry about daily necessities of life. We heed the command and promise of Christ who said, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

  Because God has already given the best gift of eternal life in Christ, we can be sure he will equip us with all that we need to do His Kingdom work in this life. Paul put it this way: He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?(Rom.8:32)   Having all that we need, we move forward boldly in faith. For whatever endeavor God will call us to do, we can be sure he will supply the seed for the harvest.  We only need to plant it.

KONZ, THOMAS; (Staff)43Pastor Tom Konz

The Fruit of the Forgiven

Seaset

Seaset

“Forgive us our trespasses … ”

 Matthew 6:12

 Tonight, Ash Wednesday, we begin a series on the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer.  I intend to tie Lenten Midweek Meditations to the petition that will be our focus in the evening service.  Today’s meditation, because it is the day of repentance, begins not with the first petition, but with the fifth, “forgive us our trespasses.”

How do we know we are forgiven?  If we look at how we feel, we are not relying on solid evidence. We can still carry around guilty feelings and deep regrets, whereby we keep beating ourselves up over our past errors, even though those we have offended have long ago forgiven us.  This it makes it hard to receive God’s forgiveness. So, it is important that we look not within us, but rather within the Word of God, whereby He promises to forgive all who call upon Him in repentance.  David wrote to God, I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Ps. 32:5.  St. John states, “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.   So, on the matter of forgiveness, trust God and his promises, not your feelings.

However, there are signs of forgiveness that are evident in the fruit of the forgiven.  Tonight, there will be a visible mark placed on our foreheads, the cross of ashes.  That sign, minus the ashes, was placed on us at our baptism to mark us as those redeemed by Christ.  His crucifixion on the cross effected that redemption for us. Holy Communion, which the forgiven receive, is another sign Christ gives us that He is present with His forgiving grace.  Other fruit of the forgiven includes a life of service, worship and thanksgiving.

But, there is another very important fruit of the forgiven that our Lord counts as so crucial that it completes our petition for God to forgive us: “…as we forgive those who trespass against us”.  More on that tonight.

Pastor Tom Konz

 

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Not Too Good, Not Too Bad

grace- plain

February 17, 2016

Not Too Good, Not Too Bad

“Two men went up into the temple to pray,

one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. Luke 18:10

 

I know it sounds like the beginning of a “two men walked into a bar” joke, but Jesus’ is not kidding when he teaches us about how we are to approach our Lord.

The Pharisee, a man proud of himself and eager to tell God why, was at least thankful to his Maker. However, the subject of his gratitude was himself. He thanked God that he was not like other people, especially the sinner next to him. Just in case God needed proof of his greatness, he reminded God of his fasting frequency and his generous giving. The tax collector, however, could only look down in humble repentance and ask God to show mercy to him, a poor sinner. Jesus told his listeners that of the two men only the tax collector went home justified in God’s sight. In truth, both were sinners, but the Pharisee had the greater sin, impenitent pride, for which forgiveness was neither sought nor granted.

Tonight, in our Lenten service, we are considering the petition, “Hallowed be Thy name”.  The two men in the temple showed what it means both to profane and to hallow God’s name. The “sinner” kept it holy by using it the way it was intended by God to be used: in prayer. The Pharisee exemplified a profane use of God’s name, giving glory to himself and not to God.

Likewise, some people come to church profaning God’s name by boasting that they are good enough for God. In a way, they are actually too good for God to help. It’s like sick people who convince themselves they are well and never seek healing. Others come knowing they are neither too good nor too bad. They know they are sick and, yet, not so sick that they cannot be saved. They exemplify the hallowed use of God’s name in repentance. They are contrite over their sin and, yet, express faith in God’s forgiveness.  Come to church like that and you, too, will leave justified in God’s sight.

I believe Jesus is saying something also to those who don’t go to church. If that’s you, please read: You are not too good to stay away.  If you measure your life by God’s standards and not yours or the world’s standards, then you will know your need to confess your sins of thought, word, and deed. Otherwise, your sins will separate you from your salvation.  God established His Church for the purpose of proclaiming His grace and forgiving sins in His name.

Perhaps, some of you just need to know that you are not too bad to stay away from church. No matter how often you have sinned, how you have sinned, and how long you have been away from God, your sin cannot possibly overwhelm His grace.  You, too, can be justified in God’s sight. Christ took your sin’s punishment on the cross.  Freedom from condemnation waits for you to claim it by faith. Church is where poor sinners seek and find mercy.

  KONZ, THOMAS; (Staff)43  Pastor Tom Konz

The Fruit of the Forgiven

Seaset

Seaset

February 10, 2016

The Fruit of the Forgiven

“Forgive us our trespasses … ”

 Matthew 6:12

 

Tonight, Ash Wednesday, we begin a series on the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer.  I intend to tie Lenten Midweek Meditations to the petition that will be our focus in the evening service.  Today’s meditation, because it is the day of repentance, begins not with the first petition, but with the fifth, “forgive us our trespasses.”

        How do we know we are forgiven?  If we look at how we feel, we are not relying on solid evidence. We can still carry around guilty feelings and deep regrets, whereby we keep beating ourselves up over our past errors, even though those we have offended have long ago forgiven us.  This it makes it hard to receive God’s forgiveness. So, it is important that we look not within us, but rather within the Word of God, whereby He promises to forgive all who call upon Him in repentance.  David wrote to God, I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Ps. 32:5.  St. John states, “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.   So, on the matter of forgiveness, trust God and his promises, not your feelings.

However, there are signs of forgiveness that are evident in the fruit of the forgiven.  Tonight, there will be a visible mark placed on our foreheads, the cross of ashes.  That sign, minus the ashes, was placed on us at our baptism to mark us as those redeemed by Christ.  His crucifixion on the cross effected that redemption for us. Holy Communion, which the forgiven receive, is another sign Christ gives us that He is present with His forgiving grace.  Other fruit of the forgiven includes a life of service, worship and thanksgiving.

But, there is another very important fruit of the forgiven that our Lord counts as so crucial that it completes our petition for God to forgive us: “…as we forgive those who trespass against us”.  More on that tonight.

KONZ, THOMAS; (Staff)43Pastor Tom Konz

Living on Purpose

love of christ

February 3, 2016

LIVING ON PURPOSE

(Jesus said), “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” Luke 4:43 

I recently heard the author of the book You Win in the Locker Room First say in an interview something to the effect that often what we call being tired is actually just forgetting our purpose. Perhaps you have felt that way when you don’t want to get out of bed.  You tell yourself you are tired, but if you had a reason to arise, you know you would.  I started to ask myself what my purpose for getting out of bed would after I retire from my vocation as full time pastor.

That’s a good question to ask no matter what age you are or what work status you now have. Getting up because you have to go to work, or get the kids to school, or feed animals, is not the same as getting up with purpose. Purpose is not just something forced upon us by outward expectations or necessary tasks. It is something we own personally that expresses itself inside out.  It is why we want to get out of bed.

Jesus was the epitome of a man with a purpose.  He knew his life mission: To preach the good news of the kingdom of God, to fulfill the Scriptures by giving His life as a sacrifice for sin and rising again from the dead.  His purpose continues to be lived out through the Spirit by which He called us to faith that we might be His own, through the Church into which He has planted us, through the gifts of the Spirit He has given us, and the mission to which He has sent us.

If you are a disciple of His, you know the purpose for which you live.  You are the light to the world and the salt of the earth, revealing the love and grace of God in everything you say and do, to everyone you encounter, and at every opportunity given you. Your purpose is to be a blessing.  I can think of no higher calling, and no better reason to get out of bed.

KONZ, THOMAS; (Staff)43Pastor Tom Konz