Deadly Deception

 

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January 25, 2017

Deadly Deception

“If we say we have not sinned, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”             1 John 1:8

 A radio ad promotes a service that will clean up the reputation of a business adversely affected by false online ratings. Why is there even a need for such a service? We live in a society heavily influenced by fake news and false narratives, especially in politics and global movements.  It takes diligence to search out who is telling the truth, and to figure out the agenda of those who deceive.  People will lie to promote their own business or to advance their own reputation or cause.

Of course, deception is nothing new. The Pharisees lied and paid soldiers to lie about the resurrection of Christ. False prophets in Israel spoke soothing lies to their king that they were safe from their enemies. Jacob lied to his father Isaac in order to get his blessings.

It all started with the “father of lies”, Satan, who told Eve that God was lying about the command not to eat of the fruit of the tree in the Garden of Eden.  This lying about God results in lying about ourselves. God says that all have sinned and so “if we say have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” John adds to that in vs. 10:  “If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.“

There are many deceivers in this world. Pray for wisdom to discern the truth from lies.  But above all, do not deceive yourself about your sin.  That is the deadliest deception of all. Instead, believe the greatest truth of all:  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”, for the “blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin”.(1 John 1: 9,7)

Peace and Truth be yours,

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

 

God’s Authority

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January 18, 2017

God’s Authority

The authorities that exist have been established by God. Romans 13:1b

St. Paul wrote this verse to the Romans who were living under the Caesar Nero, an adulterer, pervert, and murderer. He had no love for the Church and did not believe in the one true God, or His son Jesus. Yet, the apostle instructs them to be subject to this ruler, a few years before being beheaded by him.  He reasoned that all earthly rulers are in power with the permission of God. Through government, God keeps order. That is why we are to pay respect to authority. (vs. 7). And it is also why Paul encourages us to pray for those in authority.  (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Two of the most important Biblical figures lived by that principle.  When Paul was brought up before the Sanhedrin, the High Priest Ananias ordered that he be struck on the mouth. Paul railed against him verbally, calling him a hypocrite. When told that he had just insulted God’s high priest, Paul replied, “Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest: for it is written, ’Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people’” (Acts 23:5) When the future King David, at the urging of his men, had the opportunity to kill King Saul, who was trying to kill him, he only cut off a corner of his robe. Feeling guilty about even doing that, he said, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lift my hand against him, for he is the anointed of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 24:6) Both Paul and David respected God’s hand in establishing authority, whether good or bad, and determined not to usurp it, even if it seemed legitimate to do so. God assures us of his ultimate justice when he says, “It is mine to avenge, I will repay.” (Deut. 32:35) 

This week many are planning to protest and prevent the inauguration of our next president. Every past president has been at least verbally maligned, insulted, and disrespected. But none have been a Nero or Saul, out to murder their own family and subjects.  While it is not surprising that unbelievers, who already reject God’s authority over them, also rebel against His appointed rulers, it is fitting that Christians follow the example of David and Paul. The greatest example however is our Lord Jesus Himself. Peter, who also taught respect of authority (1 Peter 2:13-17), wrote these words about Jesus:

 “while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (1:21-24)

“Lord, by the power of your blood shed for us, forgive us and deliver us from the sin of every form of rebellion, Amen.”

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

 

 

What Do We Seek?

 

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January 11, 2017

What Do We Seek?

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? ~ Isaiah 55:2a

What are we looking for when we engage in activity that does not satisfy? What do we seek when we compulsively and excessively do anything that negatively impacts our relationships or our emotional, physical, or spiritual well-being? We find ourselves attracted and attached to behaviors that by themselves are not good or evil, but we make gods of them by demanding that they fill emotional or spiritual needs they cannot meet.

Perhaps we’re looking for peace, satisfaction, self-acceptance, significance, healing of hurts, concealing of emotional scars, or escape from boredom. We may not know the source of the unfilled hunger we are trying to satisfy. Often we don’t know what we are looking for.

Whether or not we know what we seek, God does know. We are looking for Him. Every dissatisfied impulse reveals a hunger for His presence and His fullness. St. Augustine wrote, “Lord, our hearts are restless, until they rest in you.” Jesus said, “come to me, … and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

We can’t find rest until we rest in God. Take time every day to sit still, listening to Him speak to you in His Word and speaking back to Him in prayer. What do you seek? In Him you will find it. Whatever your soul needs, He has it and gives it freely and abundantly.

Peace.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

In Paths of Righteousness

 

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January 4, 2017

“In Paths of Righteousness”

He leads me in paths of righteousness ~ Psalm 23:3

“Follow your father”, I shouted from the shoreline of the frozen lake. My three grandchildren had joined their dad on the ice that covered a lake we had just walked around. Since he is a life long northerner who knows when ice is safe to walk on, I wanted to make sure they went only where he went. They followed him closely, making a straight line behind him until they got to the shore. Actually, I don’t know if they even heard me or needed to, for they knew to trust and follow him anyway. (Still, parents and pastors call out, whether or not they are heard, for that’s what God has given them to do.)

King David, in his familiar 23rd Psalm, would offer the same safety instructions: Follow your Father, for He leads us in paths of righteousness. Through words of law he reveals where the danger lies before us and teaches us where to walk. To the extent that we follow His lead, we can miss much heartache and trouble in this world. We can avoid the “thin ice” that will crack beneath our feet.

However, our loving and wise Father knows full well that we will not always follow His path of righteousness and will bring upon ourselves shame and guilt. Still, we follow the Father, because he brings to us a righteousness that we do not and cannot on our own earn or deserve. He speaks tenderly to us, “Follow the Son”, for through Jesus, the Son of God, we are given righteousness that comes by faith. Trusting in the word of Gospel that points to the cross where Jesus bore our shame and guilt, we are counted righteous in the Father’s sight.

But that is not all. The Father also guides us through His Word of both Law and Gospel throughout our lives. In doing so, He invites us to “Follow the Spirit”, who works in us both the righteousness by faith and that which is revealed in righteous living. He does this not only for some, but also for all who come to Him from near and far. As we approach another day of Epiphany, we are mindful of those wise men that followed the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit when they followed the star. May we also have the wisdom to follow our Father!

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz