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Sunday, May 28, 2017
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 Pastor's Message

 


Marriage and the Bible

Those who define the words win the debate. (DMS)

I know we may all have anecdotal experiences with people or emotional responses to the decision of the Supreme Court to determine that the law of the USA requires same sex marriages be given the same status in all states and US territories as traditional marriage. Yet when Jesus is asked a question about marriage and divorce Jesus does not respond with emotion. Jesus does not point to exceptions or to subjective personal experiences to speak for or against the position of those asking the question. Instead Jesus reminds those who question Him what God’s Word teaches about marriage. It is wise for us to follow the example of our Lord.

 

          1 What does God say about people?

Jesus commands those who follow Him: Matthew 22:37-39 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

          We love God when we share His Words of truth. We love God when we trust him. We love God when we live according to His Word.

          We love others when we treat them with respect, protect them, share God’s love in Jesus and tell them God’s truth.

          Parents love their children when they protect, feed, clothe and guide them in God’s Word. Parents do not love their children when they allow the children to eat, act and speak the way the children feel they need to eat, act or speak.

          We love others when we tell the truth in love. We are not loving a child or neighbor when we feed them poison simply because they like the taste or the way it looks. It is not hate to tell the truth in love.

          For our look at the issue of marriage we Christians are wise and loving to begin with the words of the Creator. This is what Jesus did.

            Genesis 1:26-28 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

          God, the Creator, says He made people as male and female. Why do we assume that some people are gay and that some people are straight? People are people. We can label people by any means we choose. There are tall people and short people. We can call tall people giants. We may call short people dwarfs. Both of those are offensive terms. Tall or short, people are people.

          The whole world is affected by sin. People are no longer the perfect beings that God created. People are broken. People may be like Cain and rage with anger to hurt others. People may seek pleasure, power or riches. Those people are also broken. They become slaves to those things. Those things become their idols.

          Science has determined that some people may be born with a predisposition to drugs or alcohol, yet the same science says that drinking and taking drugs is a choice. No science or research has demonstrated that some people may be born with a predisposition to homosexuality; yet even if science can demonstrate a predisposition, acting on feelings is a choice.

          2 What does God say about marriage?

 Genesis 2:23-24 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Matthew 19:4-6 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

          God says marriage is one man to one woman. There are males and females. God joins them as one flesh in marriage. Notice that Jesus is speaking in the Matthew passage. These are words of love and truth.

          3 What do we teach about people?

Romans 3:21-23 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

John 3:16-17 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

          All people are sinners in need of Jesus the Savior. Jesus paid for all sins of all people for all time. God loves all people. God wants all to be saved. God did not send Jesus to condemn but to save people. Faith in Jesus as Savior saves people for eternity and is the only basis for a right relationship with God.

4 What do we teach about marriage?

1 Corinthians 6:12 12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.       
1 Corinthians 6:16-20 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

          People or governments may define what is legal. God tells us what is moral and what is good for us. When people give in to activities or indulge in behaviors based only on selfish satisfaction or their feelings, individuals run the risk of becoming slaves to the behavior or activity. Slaves have no freedom. When people become intimate they become “one flesh.” Sexual immorality is all sex outside of the union of one man to one woman in marriage.

          Christians are to flee sexual immorality. Sexual immorality is sin against one’s own body. We are not our own to do with as we please. We were bought by the blood, the life and death of Jesus. We do not belong to self we belong to God. We glorify God in our bodies when we use our bodies as God directs us.

5 What has changed in what we teach and what God says? NOTHING has changed in what God has said from the beginning to what we in the LCMS teach today.

6. Who are we to judge? We judge each other in the church.             1 Corinthians 5:12-13 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

7. What may we do now?

Titus 3:1-2 1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

Romans 13:1-7 1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. …7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Acts 5:28-29 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

Acts 5:40-42 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

          We live in obedience to the laws in this country. We Love and trust in the Lord and obey the law as far as we can without denying the Lord. There may come a time when we must obey God rather than men.

          We may be persecuted. We rejoice that we may be worthy to suffer dishonor for Jesus. We continue to proclaim God’s love in Jesus Christ; His love for all sinners.

          Marriage is the God given union of one man to one woman. In marriage one man and one woman complement each other. Together in marriage one man and one woman form a completed whole, one flesh.

Bible Study next week Saturday and Next week Sunday following worship. 7-2-15 DMS

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God’s Words to Live By

In Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus says the great commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”   His answer was to “Love God” and to “Love your Neighbor.” Jesus speaks the commandments in love, a positive, rather than a negative prohibition.

When Dr. Martin Luther explains the Ten Commandments in the Large Catechism he begins nearly each meaning with, “We should fear and love God… Luther takes the words of Jesus to heart and explains the commandments as the key to developing a right relationship with God and fellow human beings.

Expanding what Jesus says, Martin Luther and other people have expressed the Ten Commandments with positive loving statements. The following list is from several sources I have acquired over the years. Much of this is paraphrasing of the Large Catechism as well as from a devotional book, “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” by Paul Brand and Phil Yancey. 

1 God says “I love you. I give you myself. I am the only God you will ever need. Place your heart and trust in Me.” 

2 “I give you my name to use in worship. Value the privilege but do not misuse my name. Use my name to praise and thank and ask for help.” 

3 “I give you a beautiful world in which to live but you and I need to get together regularly. Come to my home and commune with me. Take time to hear me speak to you.” 

4 “In personal relationships honor your parents and all those I put in authority. They are there to keep peace, order and to protect you; they act in my place to keep watch over you.” 

5 “Human life is sacred. I gave it. Respect life; human life has great value. It is for the sake of human life that I became a human to rescue people.”

6 “The deepest human relationship is between one man and one woman in the institution of marriage. I created marriage to end loneliness. Honor marriage.” 

7 “I entrust you with property. Be responsible as you work to obtain and retain things. Respect the right of others to work for and obtain things.” 

8 “I am a God of truth. I keep my promises. Lies destroy promises and break trusts. Tell the truth.” 

9/10 “I give you many things to enjoy. People are more important than things. Love people. Use things. Do not use people to get things.” 

So that is a summary of God’s law, a basic skeleton of trust, linking God to the individual believer and people to people.

Exodus 20:1-17  the Ten Commandments
1. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. ..

2. 7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, …

3. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…

4. 12 “Honor your father and your mother,…

5. 13 “You shall not murder.

6. 14 “You shall not commit adultery.

7.  15 “You shall not steal.

8.  16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

9. 17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house;

10. you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Pastor Stein

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What Does the Future Bring?

The Bible tells us about the future. It does not tell us how the stock market will do; nor predict the winner of the Super Bowl. God’s Word is more personal than that. God is concerned with our eternal future as well as our time on this planet. 

I know that people are again predicting the end of the world. This is not new; it may just be new to you. In the 1830’s John Darby a preacher in England began to teach about rapture and end times. Prior to that no one taught about either because, the Bible does not present that information. A girl, Margaret McDonald claimed to have visions and from that girl’s visions Darby constructed his ideas about rapture and end times. Darby is the founder of the Plymouth Brethren.

Also in the 1830’s Joseph Smith in America was experiencing his visits from the angel Maroni that brought Mormon doctrines to the world. John Wilson also had his dreams that were the spark that started the false teaching of British-Israelism. Then in the 1840’s, a Methodist who became a Millerite, Ellen G. White, received her visions that resulted in Seventh Day Adventist teachings. All these individuals received revelations of doctrines supposedly from God that were contrary to each other and conflicted with the Bible.

They have another common thread that is that they claimed to predict the second coming of Christ and the end of the world. In 1844 Miller, a Baptist preacher in America predicted the end of the world. When it did not happen the explanation was that a heavenly event occurred and the Seventh Day Adventist Church was born. Seventh Day Adventist predicted the second coming of Jesus in 1874 then again in 1878.

A disappointed Charles Russell left the Adventist church, gathered his own followers and predicted the end of the world would occur in 1914. When it did not happen, he explained it as a change in heaven. His followers are called Jehovah’s Witnesses. During the 1960’s the JW’s predicted that Jesus would begin a thousand year reign on earth starting in 1975. They have since changed that as well.

Others who have predicted the end of the world, the second coming of Jesus or some other end time event and have so far been wrong include:

Bill Brown -1970’s

Hal Lindsey-1984, 1988, 2000 ???

Tom Stewart- 1998

Latter Day Saints – 2000

Jack Van Impe- 2000, 2012

Ronald Weinland- 2008, 2012

Harold Camping- 1994, 2011

Tim La Haye and Jerry Jenkins wrote –the Left Behind books and movies. And there are so many more who make claims but they are always wrong. 

Here is what we know about our future.

Hebrews 9:27-28  And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,  so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Revelation 14:13  And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

John 18:36 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

Our future is where Christ Jesus rules and that is heaven and later in the New Earth. Death will greet us but it is a blessing. Death is not an end but a door to life with Jesus, and end to pain, suffering and sin. When Jesus next appears it is to save us, that is, to bring us to be with Him. His kingdom is not of or from this world. Jesus rules in a new and perfect world.

2 Peter 3:12-13 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.                 

PASTOR STEIN

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Why Do Christians Suffer?

Over the past few months several of you have asked me about suffering. Questions such as:

·         “Why do Christians suffer?”

·         “Why do things go wrong for good people?”

·         “Why is there so much suffering in the world?”

·         “If God is good and all-powerful why…?” 

First, do Christians suffer? Yes. Why do Christians suffer? Christians suffer because there is sin in the world. This world is broken. Genesis 3:16-19 clearly explains that all people will suffer. The ground is cursed; thorns, thistles, sweat, suffering and death will be the common human experience.

Christians will suffer because Satan is busy. We are taught by Jesus in the Lord’s Prayer, “deliver us from (the Evil One) evil…” Also 1 Peter 5:8-10
“8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

The evil spirits have set themselves to fight Christians. They seek to make us suffer.

Do things go wrong for good people? There are no good people. Romans 3:23
 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
All people are born sinners. All people sin. All people die. Things go wrong for all people.

Why is there so much suffering in the world? Satan causes the suffering. Sinful people cause the suffering.

“If God is good and all-powerful why…?” Why do Christians still suffer? Why do things go wrong when people try to do what is good? Why is there so much suffering? Can the Bible answer those questions?

 When we focus on the problem we cannot see the solution. The All-powerful, All-loving God has already solved the problem of suffering. Jesus our Savior is God in the flesh. God entered into our world of pain, suffering, sorrow and death. Jesus became the “man of many sorrows.”  A Bible verse to address those questions is: John 3:16-17        
 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

The solution is that we are not eternally destined to suffer. We are not destined to be forgotten. The answer to suffering is the salvation won by our loving God. We suffer for a time, the time we spend on earth. We do not spend eternity here. We have eternity with Christ; first in heaven, then in the new world the Lord will create. God does not condemn us. God saves us.

So while we are here and while we suffer, God lovingly encourages us to do as Peter did. 1 Peter 5:7 “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

Jesus and every one of His apostles suffered. Through their suffering they were forced to live by faith. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:9-10.

Pastor Stein

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HOPE

1 Corinthians 13:13 “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

I have never written nor preached from this text with a focus on the word “hope.”  We in the church talk about faith. At weddings brides want me to preach about love. What does hope have to do with the Christian life?

When the apostle Paul speaks of the glory to come when we are revealed as children of God he uses the same word, hope. Romans 8:24-25 “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

Hope is then what we do not yet see. Hope is the good to come. Hope is always in the future.

Do we live in a world where there is hope for the future? I am not speaking of hope for the Green Bay Packers to win a Super Bowl before I am too old to care. I am speaking of hope for a future for my children and grandchildren to find success and peace. 

Is there hope for the people of the world to trust Jesus? Is there hope that we can reach the people near us with the Good News that Jesus loves them? Is there hope that our own members will continue to worship Jesus? 

Martin Luther said, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” Luther had in mind what a farmer does every spring. He plants seeds. The farmer hopes for the crop to grow. A parent teaches the child to walk, talk and read all with the hope that the child will grow into a successful adult. When we go to work it is with the hope that we will accomplish something productive. When we rise in the morning it is with the hope that we have a purpose to live.

For what do you hope? Do you hope for the glory Paul writes about in Romans 8? That is heaven which Paul hopes to see one day. Do you find it difficult to hope for heaven? It seems all the hope we have is for this world. It is not our fault since all in this life is aimed at things in this world. It is a challenge for us to hope beyond this life. 

Yet I know many of you have realized great things for which you have hoped. Those things have not satisfied you. Success in life does not satisfy a spirit designed for something greater than what this world has to offer. 

C. S. Lewis claims, “Sadly, many of us are so tethered to this world and the things it offers that we scarcely take thought of the world to come. Yet it is precisely by reflecting often on the joys, beauties, and satisfactions of eternal life in the world to come that we find a hope that empowers us to live fully for Christ today.” 

So if Lewis and Paul are right I should not limit my hope to the things in the world. Jesus paid for me to become a child of God. Jesus has earned a place for me in heaven. Perhaps I should seek to plants seeds that will grow into everlasting life. 

More time reading God’s Word; more time in prayer and more time hoping for the people in the world, our nation, our community and in our families to come to share our hope in Jesus may be a good investment of time in a new year.

Pastor Stein