What does your vision of heaven look like? Who's there? God says that there will be people there from every tribe, nation, language, and people, made up of every person who calls on the name of the Lord to be saved. For this Mission Festival, are we ready to be part of the great chain that sends out people to preach, so that the message may be heard, that it may be believed, and that people may call on God's name?
Everybody's running. Why do you run, dear Christian? We do not run aimless through life after money and other things that never fill the hole we feel inside. But for God, we flee temptation and the trap of loving money, and pursue godliness and all good things that keep us close to God and His Word. Run, Christian! Run!
"It's ok." Why do we say those words when someone has wronged us and then asked for forgiveness? It's not ok. It's forgiven! So let us say that. Let forgiveness be on in our hearts, on our lips, and in our lives, so that we don't get trapped by the devil's schemes. What are those schemes? First to think nothing of sin as we enter into one. Or then, once trapped, to believe we could never be forgiven.
What does it cost for us to get into heaven? The cost to us is nothing. It is free! Christ has already paid the dear price. But there are still costs that come with being associated with Christ. We give up the things that the world values so highly, so that nothing clutters our view of Christ.
The "Royal Rule," which is, "love your neighbor as yourself," must mean that we cannot have favorites. If we love one person more than another, we have held back our love from the one, and we have not loved them fully. God does not play favorites with us. He loves us each the same. Let us strive to do the same and love everyone as well.
Not every kind of grief is bad or wrong. Paul is heartbroken that there were many of his fellow Jews who did not believe and would not be saved. What can we do about that kind of grief? Continue to share the promises of God what can do something about that grief. Only the Gospel can create faith that will turn our grief for others into joy. Share it!
Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the devil, his demons, and all powers at his disposal. How do we fight that? We put on the full armor of God and put our trust in Christ, our victor, who has broken the devil's power.
What Christian doesn't think he or she is ready for the return of the Lord? Yet our Savior, Jesus, must warn the Christians in Sardis that they might look alive (and might even think it), but they are dead and dying. We must be careful that we don't mistake our business for proof of our readiness. Rather, we must be overcome by God's words of warning, that we might be overcome by His words of grace.
Our Vacation Bible School this past week had the theme, "Let's Build an Ark." Children saw the goodness of God as well as His justice. Who is good? Who is bad? How do we make those calls? God is the One who is completely good. Yet His justice meets mercy in His compassion, found in Christ our Savior.
You want to do what is good. Have you ever struggled to know what the right choices are, though? Paul prays that peace would rule your hearts, as you live in the peace with have with God, are guided by the word of Christ, and look to the good of others around us.
Evil hits us from all sides. Wouldn't it be great to overcome evil? With God by our side, we can! But we first have to overcome the evil within us. Looking to God's grace in Christ, we strive to live at peace with one another.
Would you like to know a secret? How about the secret to being content? How about the secret to be able to anything through Christ who gives you strength? There is one other secret that stands behind these. Is it the greatest "secret" ever, one we want the whole world to know.
Do we really have that much to brag and boast about? The Apostle Paul is driven to boasting about the things he suffered for Christ in order to defend the message he brought. But he masterfully switches things around, and shows that these things really highlight his weaknesses. God's power, however, shines through when we are weak. Let us boast about that.
Jesus says that if we want to follow Him, we must deny ourselves and take up a cross daily. Moses had that kind of mindset. Fathers, let us lead our families in doing this! Endure shame and scorn for the sake of Christ, giving up the temporary pleasures of sin, keeping our eyes on the reward of heaven that God has in store for His believers.
Don't we know? The wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God! Paul's list is long and his message is clear. These things bar us from God's heavenly home. But, we were washed! But, we were sanctified! But, we were justified! God's grace has saved us from the punishment for these sins and allows us to fight against those sins daily. Let us live according to what we know.
Christians have a "win-win" situation, no matter what. If I live, it will be living for God, that He may be exalted in my living. And if I die, He takes me to heaven, an act that glorifies Him and benefits me. To live is Christ, to die is gain. How can we lose?
If you could ask God for anything, what would it be? What's keeping you from asking? Are you convinced He doesn't answer prayer anymore? James tells us to ask, not with a mind that doubts and is tossed about, but with faith that confidently trusts that God gives generously.
As confirmands make a promise to cling to Christ no matter what, so we still stand by our convictions on Trinity Sunday. We draw a line, by our confessions and our creeds, and say, "This is what the Triune God says!" As we are overcome by the testimony of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit about how God has saved us, so we overcome the world and everything it throws at us to lead us astray.
The Holy Spirit's wondrous signs on Pentecost drew attention to what the disciples spoke. The tongues of fire resting on them indicated that their message of Law and Gospel would change people that day. We still listen to the same message from the same Spirit of God, and it sets our hearts and tongues on fire to share and to proclaim the wonders of God.
In His High Priestly Prayer, Jesus ask the Father that those who come to faith through His message may be one. What is the nature of this unity, and what purpose does Jesus have in us being one, just as the Father and Son are one?
Does it ever feel like the command to love God and love our neighbors conflict with each other? How do we love our neighbor who is caught in a sin that we don't agree with? Learn how real love for God and keeping all of His word solves the apparent love conundrum.
Jesus says that He gives us a "new command." It is to love one another. As He loved us, so we must love one another. This love that He showed to us makes us what we are, for it brought about our salvation. This love we are to show then marks us a His followers. May God help us to grow in that true love each and every day.
Jesus, calls Himself our "Good Shepherd." Today, He invites us to look at His hands. They give us an extraordinary gift - eternal life! How could we possibly hold on to it with our feeble hands? See, those hands that give also hold us and protect us. No one can snatch us out of the hands of God.
Thomas has forever been dubbed, "the Doubter," but he's not alone. Jesus chases those doubts away. He comes breathing "Peace," peace of forgiveness to His disciples, and peace He wants to speak through them. He tells them to go and forgive others, applying Easter to their lives.
Jesus' parable about the wicked tenants killing the master's son doesn't leave much doubt what Jesus is talking about. The leaders of Israel have killed God's prophets in the past, and now they plot to kill the Son of God. They will get what they deserve. But know this: through His death, we find an escape from death.
You will not find the living among the dead. Everyone was looking in the wrong place to find Jesus, for He is now alive. And He shall never be found in a grave again. We will not rise just to die again, but to live with Him forever.
What was that night like when our Savior gave us the Lord's Supper? What was the setting? Once Christ is there, then we are set. And so it is when we celebrate this sacrament in the way He gave it to us. He, our host, is really there full of blessings.
Jesus takes His victory parade before His hardest work was done. Was He getting ahead of Himself? Or is He inviting us to never hold back in this celebration, no matter what? Rejoice! Here comes the King!