What do you do when someone is going through a rough time? God tells Israel, "Look confidently to the rock from which you were cut," talking about their father Abraham. But it's not what you might expect. It's not that Abraham was so great, but that he had such a great problem. Why would God have them do that, and what does it have to do with the New Year? God points us backwards so that we might know what's in store for the year to come as we look at the rock from which we were cut as well.
Samuel's parents dedicated his life as one of complete service to the Lord. He was always taking of God the Father's business. While that may sound wonderful, the leader at the temple certainly left much to be desired. Was it wise to leave Samuel there? So also, Christ comes to take care of his Father's business. He's entrusted into the hands of those that would hurt and destroy. What's behind God's actions? Listen and find out.
The shepherds are eager to go to Bethlehem. It's not that they didn't believe the message that the angels told them about a child being born there, a child who was their Savior for sin. No, the believed the angel's words. But some things are so wonderful, you just want to go and see it for yourself. So they do. Then they go and share it with people, that their joy might overflow to others. Let's go with them, by faith, and see this thing that God has done!
We often see the tender scene of Christmas, centered around a manger with people lovingly looking on. John's Revelation shows Christmas from God's persepctive, with Satan (the dragon) drooling at the opportunity to destroy this child. In these signs of Revelation, though, we see signs of God's love for us, that he would risk so much in order to save us.
We have come to one of the most stressful times of the year. Yet God calls on us to rejoice always. How? The nearness of God, who comes to save us, keeps us focused on what this seaons is really all about. With our eyes on our Savior, Christ, we can be joyful always, even in hard times.
The Lord is coming, but people might understand why. They want him to be all sorts of things, but they don't see him as their Savior. Where, then, can there be peace? So God sends his messenger, John the Baptist, ahead of Jesus Christ, clearing the way of our love of sin and misconceptions of the Christ, so that when we see him, we may have the peace that he brings.
This time of the year always brings hope. But do we know what true Christian hope is? It's more than just wishful thinking. Because of the sure words of Jesus, our hope is an expectation of certain things to come.
The ultimate promise of God is that we will be with him forever. How can this be, since we are sinners? We'll take a look at the work of Jesus in his offices of Prophet, Priest, and King, and see how all of these bring us to this lofty goal.
How odd that millions of people gather for "Thanksgiving," and they have no idea to whom they should give thanks. We Christians know, and want to share the secret that we have. But to be thankful, we must also learn to be content. How do we do that? This is Paul's Thanksgiving secret that he has learned, and wants to share with us.
We often think of what heaven will be like for ourselves. But are we thinking about the blessing it will be for other people, or that other people will be a blessing to us? We are not alone. Both the living who trust in Christ and the dead who died in Christ will be united together when Jesus returns, as we all join the Saints Triumphant.
When the Last Judgment comes, there will be no chance for a "do-over." Because of the workd of Christ, there will not be a need for one for those who trust in Christ. All of his work is done, a sacrifice that is once for all, so that we can lift up our heads with conficence when that day comes. The end of this world is just the beginning of the realization of the full forgiveness that comes from Christ's final sacrifice.
What do you think of when you hear the phrase "The End of the World?" For many, it evokes feelings of fear and dread. But not so for Christians. This November, in the season of End Times, we will be exploring the theme, "The End Is Just eh Beginning." Whenever the end of days or the judgment of God is mentioned, the everlasting Gospel is there, rising above it all. And because it is eternal, so are all the things that it brings.
Sometimes, the things that we read in Scripture seem like a bit of a riddle to us. As with most riddles, it may seem confusing at first. But when you get all the pieces, you can't believe how you missed it before. Peter quotes King David in words that probably seemed like a "royal riddle." But when we see that he was speaking a prophecy about Christ, it all becomes clear. Yet that brings even more questions. Come along as we unravel these riddles together.
How far would we go in order to bring someone the Gospel? We send missionaries across the world, but we have trouble even crossing our own street. The Apostle Paul said that he enslaved himself to others, becoming all things to all people, in order that he might be able to save some.
We take plenty of measurements in life. The numbers are absolute, but they don't always tell us the whole story. How do you measure your treasure? When greed takes over and money is our pursuit, we'll never be satisfied. But when we have God, we have him fully and completely. He promises to never leave or forsake us. With him, our treasure will never fade.
What is your first reaction when there is a Bible verse that says that a husband is the head of a household, or that a wife should submit to her husband as to the Lord? Too often, the reaction is one of anger, embarrassment, or confusion. How have we lost sight of the truth that God has given us a beautiful bond? Husband and wife have different responsibilities, modled after Christ and his relationship with the Church. Let us recapture the beauty of this truth and appreciate the blessings God put there.
What does your wisdom tell you to do? If it says that you should take care of yourself first, that you should do whatever it takes to get ahead, then your wisdom is not God's wisdom. God's wisom seeks to serve the good and the interests of the people around us, as we live lives that honor the Lord.
We might be surprised after Peter's beautiful confession that Jesus is the Christ that Jesus tells him not to share that with anyone. Why not? He doesn't understand what it means yet. Do we understand what it means to be Christian? Do we expect it to be, or portray it to be something where there's no problems, no strife, and no suffering? God doesn't want us to have any surprises, so he tells us to expect sufferings. But we can also expect his faithfulness to keep us close and carry us through.
God often allows problems to enter into our lives, just so he can fix them for us. A man is healed in the name of Jesus. Jesus had died! How can his name mean anything? It is because God took the greatest problem, the greatest evil, the death of his Son, and turned it into the foundation of our salvation. Praise be to God! He turns all of our problems into reasons to give praise.
We plant seeds. We expect results. God has planted his word in you. Should he not also expect results? First, the word of the law crushes us. Then, the word planted in us is able to save our souls as we hear the Gospel, that Jesus has died and risen for our sins. Finally, we strive to produce fruits of righteousness, guided by God's law once again, to thank him, praise him, and worship him.
The world has its standard of what success looks like. But without the Lord, it is all nothing. Moses could have been king one day. Instead, he followed the Lord's call. What is caling you away from the Lord? As we walk by faith, we see that our reward comes later, given graciously and freely by our God.
Do you ever think about the way that you walk? God wants us to walk wisely. He's not talking about putting one foot in front of the other. He's talking about how we live our lives. And what is the wisest way to walk? It is by believing and trusting in the Lord in all things.
How much do you know about God and his Word? A better question might be this: are you satisfied with how much you know? God accepts as we are, forgiving us of all sins. That doesn't mean he doesn't want us to grow in knowledge of him and his grace. Strengthening our faith by connecting to the Word honors God and makes us ready for the worst of temptations. Are you ready to grow?
We fear all sorts of falling. The worst, though, is falling from grace. Through neglect of the Gospel and the sacraments, our faith can whither and die. Be careful that you don't fall! But rather than trying to find strength in our own hearts to forever hold on, instead always look to God, who is always faithful. He can hold you and defend you, no matter what attacks come your way. In him, we can stand firm forever.
We are captured by stories of great rescue, such as the recent rescue of a soccer team in Thailand. There is one kind of rescue that no one else can do. God has rescued us from our sins. But does he always rescue? Why do bad things still happen to me? Listen along as we see what Paul, who knows about God's rescue, says about that.
You might have a boss. But then you might have a leader. What's the difference? And what is special about leaders who teach the Word of God to you? God calls on us to honor them, imitating their faith. Their faith brought them through life all the way into the next, to be with God forever. They died in faith and cofidence. Don't we want the same? Let us all hold firmly to the Gospel so that we can be examples for generations to come.
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God says that the position of an overseer is a noble task. Why? The answer is found in what the Church truly is, and how God maintains and watches over that Church. Beware that we think that "church" is a building or an institution. When we see it for what it is, we will want to pray for pastors as they humbly carry out this noble task.
Is there a limit for how long or how far we will stay in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? How bad would things have to be for us to say, "That's too far. That's too much?" When we consider what the Gospel is, our answer must be "never!" Let us continue in the Word of God, no matter what it may bring in this life, because, since we know it is God's Word, we know what it brings us in the next.
People are always asking you to join them in some pretty amazing, even crazy things. Paul invites young Timothy to suffer with you. Would you join him? Timothy did. See, he saw something in the thing for which they suffered - the Gospel of Jesus. That Gospel was able to take the shame out of the suffering, and place us in a position of eternal hope. I am not ashamed of this Gospel, but will trust it and hold on to it. Will you join me?
Do people talk about our faith and our love? If not, why not? Does no one deem them as important and glorious as they are? Paul gives thanks for what he has heard about the Colossians, and it is truly thanks to God. For we could never have faith and love without a hope stored up for us in heaven. This hope is found and heard only the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which brings us faith and sparks our love. Thank God for that Gospel.