GIVEN for YOU

March 23, 2016

                                    GIVEN for YOU

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying,

“This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19

 

What else might Jesus have said about the gift of salvation that he gave on the cross for you?

                                             “My salvation is …

Given … because you need it.

Given … because you are separated from the Father without it.

Given … because your sinful nature would not think or desire to ask for it.

Given … because you don’t deserve it.

Given … because you can’t earn it.

Given … because you could never pay the penalty of your sins.

Given … because My Father keeps His promises.

Given … because you are My Father’s children.

Given … because you are loved.

Given … to take from you

               your guilt

               your shame

Given … so that you need not fear

               punishment

               your future

               death

Given … so that you may have now and forever

               Peace

               Life

               Hope

               Love

Given … Forgiven”

  May God’s gift in Christ Jesus show you how much He loves you!

               Receive that love in His Word and Sacrament

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

       

“Selfie-less-ness”

temptation

March 16, 2016

“Selfie-less-ness”

3For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.   Romans 12:3, 21

 

I saw a poster on line today that said something like, “Selfie… because it’s too hard to spell narcissist.”  That is not to say that everyone who takes selfies is pathologically self-absorbed.  However, one of the most prevalent maladies in the world today is thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought.  Actually, it’s not limited to the age of “selfies”.  It’s been around since Narcissus of Greek mythology. He so fell in love with his own reflection in a pool that he lost the will to live. It was at the root of our first parents’ desire to elevate themselves over the demands of God.  Luther identified the root of sin when he described it as “curved in on itself”

Tonight’s final look at the Lord’s Prayer brings us to the petitions, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”  What makes us sotemptable (and contemptable) is the tendency to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. When we do, we don’t examine ourselves objectively according to God’s law, but through rose-colored glasses. When confronted by evil, we answer in kind as if some grave and unforgivable crime had been committed. How dare someone offend us!

St. Paul tells us to overcome evil with good. That can only be done if we are not puffed up, but have room to endure suffering and insult for the sake of winning over an enemy. It is the way of our Lord, of whom Paul writes in the lead up to the epistle for Palm Sunday:Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Then in the appointed lesson continues, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, … made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, …  he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Though he alone, as God, had the right to elevate himself, he loved us enough to serve us all the way to the cross and grave.

Because Jesus, by His death and resurrection, has freed us from the curse of the law, we are able to judge ourselves realistically, see our sin for what it is, repent of it, and live “selfie-less” as people who seek the good of others. To that end, may God give us His grace!

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

Lessons in the Storm

storm picture

March 9, 2016

Lessons in the Storm

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us,

let us use them: …if service, in our serving; … Romans 12:6–7

As did our whole community yesterday, I heard the winds and rain of the day blowing at high speed early in the morning. I had just finished my morning devotions and showered when the lights when out. I thought they would come back on in a few minutes.  When they didn’t after a half hour or so, I left to get breakfast before going to the office so as not to open the fridge and since the stove was out.

While driving through various parts of town, I was again reminded of a couple of truths of life. One was how helpless we are against the forces of nature and what God allows it to do. The destruction is unpredictable as to its timing, severity, and location.  Secondly, it struck me again how we need others to make it through the storms. Our lives intersect daily anyway, but the awareness of our interdependence is heightened in seeing electrical, cable and phone line repairmen finding and fixing trouble spots. The sirens, whose destinations and purpose I didn’t know, were an audio reminder of the same. Help is needed and help is on the way.

Tonight, as we progress through the themes of the Lord’s Prayer we consider the petition, “give us this day our daily bread”.  Those are the only words directing us to pray for our material needs for this life, all wrapped up in the word “bread”.  We get this “bread” not because of merit, but by being part of a creation God made and cares for. He dispenses the bread also to those who are not His followers, because His goodness and mercy are far reaching.

The lessons in the storm remind us that He does this through each of us living out the vocations that He assigns to us by giving us our abilities, interests, and opportunities. We are the hands, head, and heart of Jesus in the flesh, the deliverers of this bread. How vital it is that we are ready to serve, for life is so unpredictable. Like emergency personnel, we go about our daily life, sensitive to the special needs that arise from our neighbors, friends, relatives, co-workers, strangers and even enemies.

Borrowing from Romans 12:1, we might call this service our “spiritual worship” or “logical response” to the mercy God has already shown us in Christ. Through Him God serves us forgiveness, life, and salvation. Through us, God serves our neighbor.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

What is God’s Will?

Understanding_God

March 2, 2016

What Is God’s Will?

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,

that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,

what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

There are many times that we want to know the answer to the question, “What is God’s will?”  It’s good to ask, for instance, when we are trying to decide between two equally acceptable alternatives, a direction to go, a life mate to choose, an amount to give, or a candidate to vote for in an election. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could hear directly from God like Moses and the prophets did?

The Good News for us is that God does reveal His will. The book of Hebrews opens, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (1:1-2a). John tells us that the Word of God (His Son)“became flesh” and lived among us.  (1:14)  This Jesus then told His apostles that He would send the Spirit of God to tell them what to teach the Church for ages to come, which is His New Testament.

In Romans 12, Paul teaches that the will of God is discernable as we live a life transformed by the Word of God working in our mind. We apply truths and standards from Scripture to each decision.  Sometimes, the answer is not easily determined, and we must trust that God’s sanctifying Spirit, received in Holy Baptism and actively heard in the Word, will direct our thoughts and hearts.  I like to call that “sanctified common sense”.

Tonight’s message on the petition, “Thy will be done, on earth, as it is heaven” will go into this further, but the bottom line is that God’s will is that we faithfully reflect His life in us.  To that end, we resist the works of the devil and all temptations from inside and outside of us. This we cannot do on our own, but only by Christ living in us.

Living in God’s will is not about always making the right decisions, but about living by faith in Him who died to make us holy and lives to keep us faithful to the end. We will make some mistakes in discerning His will from time to time, but his ultimate will for us is that we continue to trust His grace to forgive us and keep us in the faith. Live joyfully, then, in His gracious will.

KONZ, THOMAS; (Staff)43  Pastor Tom Konz