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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Acts 2:1-21 1… from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. …because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7… in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 1… calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
John 15:26-27 26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. John 16:4-15 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. The Work of the Holy Spirit “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5…away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me,
Who is the Holy Spirit? What Does He Do for Us?
You probably know a good father. You probably know a good son. In your mind’s eye you can picture a father and a son. We can easily relate to God the Father and God the Son.
What picture do you have for the Holy Spirit? We cannot see a spirit. We have no frame of reference for spirit. By definition a spirit is not limited to the physical world as we see and experience it. It is difficult for us to understand the third person of the Trinity.
On the night Jesus was betrayed He spoke to the 12 apostles words intended to comfort them and prepare them for the challenges to come. Jesus knew they would need help once He left them. Jesus did not want to leave them helpless.
Jesus was with them. We might say that Jesus had the keys to the car. Everywhere they went Jesus drove. But Jesus taught them to drive. Jesus sent them out on several occasions. He even had them do behind the wheel. It would soon be time for them to drive on their own. They would fear people, governments and leaders yet once the Holy Spirit came they faced those fears.
They would still need guidance. Jesus says he would send the Helper to guide them. The Holy Spirit would only come to help. He is the Helper. He comes to convict sinners, to guide believers, to glorify Jesus and bear witness to the truth about Jesus the Savior. They would be fearless.
So then who is the Holy Spirit? He is a “who”. The Holy Spirit is a person. He is unique yet HE is part of the Triune God. We worship One God but that one God reveals Himself as three persons. There is no human way to explain how God can be one God and be three persons. What God is, is beyond what we can understand. God is a mystery.
Each person of the Triune God is a personal being.
God the Father is the loving and just Creator.
God the Son is the Word, the Savior, Our Redeemer, the Friend of sinners and the Righteous Judge.
God the Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier(makes people holy), the Spirit of Truth and the Helper.
When the Holy Spirit came to help, here is what happened. The Holy Spirit needed to get the attention of the 12 as well as of other people.
“And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
The Holy Spirirt got their attention.
Ø HE made the sound like mighty rushing wind.
Ø divided tongues as of fire
Ø all filled with the Holy Spirit
Ø speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Sound, sight and speaking other languages! This was not babble or heavenly prayer language. They were speaking languages they had not studied. People heard clearly and understood what they spoke. They were given that gift of languages by the holy Spirit so that they could tell people the Good News – the news that Jesus the Savior had suffered & died for their sins. The Good News that Jesus overcame sin and death, the Good News that God loved them and that God wanted them to spend this life forgiven and eternity with Him.
The Holy Spirit helped the 12 to do what Jesus commanded them to do. The Holy Spirit helped them to make disciples, to proclaim the Gospel and to baptize.
Do we need help? Yes, just as the apostles needed help so we need help. We need the Holy Spirit. We need the Holy Spirit to “13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me,”
So the Holy Spirit guides us in God’s truth. Where is that truth found? It is found in the Bible. When we read God’s Word, when we hear it preached the Holy Spirit is active. HE is guiding us. As we learn God’s Word we will know how God the Creator wants us to live. As we follow God’s Word, the Lord will bless us. Will everything go well for us then? We will become healthy, wealthy and successful?
YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Holy Spirit is a spirit so we will become spiritually healthy. We will become rich in the spirit. And we will become spiritually successful!
In the USA things seem to be changing rapidly. People fear that the freedoms we have here are eroding. As much as I love our nation and as much as I appreciate those who sacrifice to preserve our freedom; I also know that on earth nothing is forever.
This past week Rev Matthew Harrison, President of our LCMS wrote: “Will we be fined for not performing same-sex marriages? Potentially. Will we be thrown in jail? Maybe. A recently deceased Catholic bishop (Cardinal George) described what I believe we shall now begin to face: ‘I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.’ ”
BUT in all of this we will have the HELPER, the Holy Spirit. HE will be with us to guide in the truth and keep us strong until the end!
The apostles faced worse. The Holy Spirit gave them what they needed. The same Holy Spirit is with us. He also gives us Peace.
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John 15:4-7 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Abide in Jesus
When most of you were infants your parents brought you to church for your baptism. When you were young children, adults, usually parents or grandparents brought or sent you to Sunday School and Church. If you were in my confirmation classes you memorized portions of God’s Word, the Commandments, The Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 23 and you learned about the God who loves you.
If we consider baptism a planting of the seed of faith then Sunday school, church and Confirmation classes are watering the seed. As you grow in age the faith in you sprouts, the stem forms then the leaves. But stems and leaves are part of a plant which exists to produce fruit.
As we consider the words of Jesus he explains that we are in a relationship with him. It is a relationship that is like a grape vine and the branches of the grape vine.
If the branch is removed from the vine, the branch dies. The branch needs the nourishment from the vine. The vine is ok without the branch. But the vine and the branch are in a connected relationship. It is necessary for the branch to be connect. Without the connection the branch withers and dies.
Similarly if a Christian, if you or if I are separated from Jesus we will not be spiritually nourished. We cannot bear fruit. There is danger we will shrivel and die.
If we abide in Jesus, the vine, then we are fed and nourished. Then we will produce fruit.
Consider the fruit of a grape vine. The fruit does grow on the branches. The fruit is beautiful to look at. It makes my mouth water just to see this.
What does Jesus mean we will produce fruit if we remain branches on Him? It means several things.
Fruit may be other Christians- evangelism may be the first thing you consider.
But fruit is pleasing to others as well- Jesus may also mean that we as Christians will make the world, our nation, state, school, work-place, home and family a better place.
Perhaps Jesus thinks we will live differently from the world. How do we live? We should be different from others. Consider how Christians in the past have lived producing fruit. In every city I have lived in the US and Canada, hospitals Gunderson Lutheran, St Francis, St Vincent, St Mary, Froedert Lutheran, Deaconess all have something in common-They were begun by Christians to help others. 9 of the first ten universities begun in the United states were started by Christians to train Christian pastors and teachers. That is fruit from the vine.
Perhaps Jesus sees the fruit we bear as the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Virtues of the Holy Spirit lived in us
They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
The world can use more people with those virtues.
To bear much fruit includes all the many things that the church does here on earth. Bearing fruit includes teaching Sunday School, acolyting, serving on a board, helping with the youth, singing in the choir, playing for worship, encouraging others, setting up for events here, even supervising the youth.
Jesus says when we are connected to Him, by faith in what He has done for us we can do amazing things.
Jesus challenges us to seek to do amazing things and then to ask for His help.
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Keep in mind the context. He does not mean you will get what you wish for ,but that He will do through you what He needs done here on earth.
So what does Jesus do it this way?
He loves us so much that He wants us to be with Him. HE wants us to a part of what He does. He took our place in suffering and dying and bearing the punishment for our sins. He wants us to join Him in His successes in this life and in the eternal heavenly connection. So Jesus says to you and me; ABIDE IN ME.
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9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
The Contagious Love of God for You
What is Love? Before we talk about love being contagious we should know what love is. Jesus is not speaking about romantic love. HE is not speaking about an emotion that one may fall into or out of. Jesus is referring to a mature desire to make the best happen for another person.
You know John 3:16 “for God so loved the world that HE gave …” Love gives. Love sacrifices. Love works to get the best for another. Love does what is best and right for the other person.
So my simple definition of love is: “wanting the best for another at one’s own expense.” Love is sacrifice. Love gives and does not take. God loved… He gave what was most precious to him because he loves us.
Good Mothers understand this. Good Mothers give up their bodies, their figures, pretty clothes, and so much more to carry us for 9 months. Then mothers give up sleep, to feed, change and comfort us. Good Mothers sacrifice time for us. Why are mothers motivated to care for us, feed, us and make sure we have all we need? What do mothers get in return? Mothers get a card on Mother’s Day- if we remember. But they care for us for years and then worry and pray for us as long as they live. What good mothers want is the best for the child that is theirs. That is love. Giving and knowing her child, the object of love is better off for what has been done is all that the Good Mother wants in return.
Jesus shares with us that God the Father loves Him and that Jesus loves us with such a sacrificial love. The Good Mother carries and gives birth to her child. God the Father creates and gives life to us.
God the Father acts out of love to sacrifice Jesus for us. Jesus acts to give Himself to pay off the debt of our sins. Jesus pays the debt in full setting us free. Jesus gives us forgiveness and life eternal.
We are forgiven and free to live in God’s love. How do we live in God’s love?
How may a child prove his love for the Good Mother?
Do as mom asks
Keep room clean
Eat vegetables and fruit
Do homework and be a good student
How will mom feel if we do those things as a kid? It will bring her joy.
What will make Mom’s joy complete? We understand that and as we grow older we also live a life that makes mom proud of us. She will always love us but we wish to live to make her happy she invested herself and sacrificed for us. What we do with our life, being honorable, loving and kind will make mom’s joy complete.
So how may we live in God’s Love?
Jesus says, ” Abide in my love.”
How did Jesus love the Father? Jesus tells us. “I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”
Jesus proves His love by keeping God the Father’s Commandments. Living the life God the Creator intended for us is what made God the Father happy.
How may we “abide in God’s love?”
God the Father loved God the Son. God the Son loved us. We are to love. In loving we bring joy to God and to ourselves. Jesus when we abide in His love“…That my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
Here is how Jesus directs us to live to make His joy complete. And our joy full. We love in return ...
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
3 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
God’s Commands are not to restrict us. God’s commands set us free and guide us to love Him and others.
When God says in the Fourth Commandment that we should, honor your father and mother, that does not hurt us or restrict us. It shows us how to love by honoring mom & dad obeying the ones with life experience who love us and who sacrifice for us. Mom and Dad will be filled with joy and so will we.
If someone falls down and you help them up two people smile, you and the one you help up. As we love others by our actions we both find joy. God’s commands do not limit us, the commands of God set us free to love others and find real joy.
The same God who loves you proves His love for you by sacrificing Himself for you. His love is contagious. The apostles of Jesus kept the commands of Jesus. They sacrificed themselves for the Gospel message. They loved one another and they loved the Lord. Proof of God’s love for you “but I chose you and appointed you” We did not choose Him. He chooses us. John 15:16. You are loved.
That contagious Love of God extends to us through the Word of God. We love God as we keep His commands. We love God as we grow as His people.
Mom’s joy is complete as her child becomes the honorable, loving and kind person that makes her proud of her child.
God’s joy is complete as we love Him by keeping His Commands. His joy is complete as we love God and those HE has placed around us. HE sets us free to love others as HE has loved us.
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31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Jesus is the Christ, The Son of God
Several Years ago two men came to my door. One asked if I read the Bible. They asked me if I knew why the Bible was written. They proceeded to explain that the Bible was written to tell people how to prepare for the end of the world. They said the Bible was written to tell us how to live.
What do you think? Why do you think the Bible was written? Is it written to tell us how to live? Is it a history book? Is it full of secret codes to make us rich or to tell us when the world will end?
Let me tell you what happened when I spoke to the two men who thought the Bible was a manual on how to live and when the world will end. I asked them to open their own Bibles to John 20:31. I asked them to read what it says. I told them that is why the words of the Bible are written. I reminded them that the Bible does not provide a manual for how to live. It does tell us what God has done. That is the Good News!
The apostle John wrote the Gospel that bears his name. John did not need to record what was already written by Matthew, Mark and Luke. For 30-50 years the other Gospels were read among the churches. John wrote his Gospel of the life of Jesus based on first-hand experiences.
The Gospel of Matthew was written for a Jewish audience. We know that because Matthew proves Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, records Jesus attending Jewish religious festivals and uses Hebrew /Aramaic words.
The Gospel of Mark records the actions of Jesus, not going to the extent of Matthew to prove His Jewish roots.
The Gospel of Luke is based upon research done by the physician, Luke, who writes for a Gentile reader.
John was not a philosopher. John was not a theologian with a doctorate. John was a man who lived by the strength of his hands, his arms, and his back. He was a fisherman. He grew up tough and crude. He was used to getting up before light, rowing out into deep waters, throwing heavy nets with weights into the water pulling the nets by hand through the deep; then hauling in the heavy nets of fish. He was accustomed to mending those nets by hand, cleaning fish by the hundreds and walking 20 miles at a time. John had to work hard and labor for his living. John could not write a book on how to live.
John does not need to record the birth of the Savior. Matthew and Luke did that. He begins his Gospel proclaiming Jesus as the Word of God, the One through whom all life comes and the Lamb of God who takes on human flesh to take away the sin of the world. John provides the Gospel in a nutshell with John 3:16
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.
John tells us the Good News of God’s work to save people. John says it simply. God loves; God gave; believe and you live forever!
So it is not surprising that John fills in the details of the Savior’s last days of His work of salvation. Half of John’s Gospel covers events in the last week Jesus is on earth.
Now we come to the purpose of John’s Gospel. After John records the works, words, death and resurrection of Jesus he writes John 20:30-31. 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
The apostle John wanted to summarize the Christian faith. John wanted to communicate in simple words, the Good News. “Believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and you live forever!”
The Bible is not written to tell us how to get rich quick. It is not written to guarantee success in the world, or to assure us that we will live a trouble free life. Actually Jesus indicates that those who follow Him will struggle in life. Those who trust in Jesus will be attacked by the world. Those who trust in Jesus will be persecuted for their faith. John records those words as well. John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
There is peace in those words. John records what Jesus offered to the 12 and what Jesus offers to us as well. When we struggle, when times are difficult Jesus encouraged those who followed Him with these words of hope and peace.
There is reality in the Bible. There is not merely “Pie in the sky, by and by.”
The Bible is written so that people may trust the Words of God and live for eternity. Great words to remember- to memorize are these simple words from the simple disciple, John The Bible is written the Gospel of John is written; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.
Believe that and live forever.
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Psalm 121:1-8 1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
Blessed to be a Blessing
Grace to you and peace from God our father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Shepherd of the Hills has Psalm 121 as its psalm. Perhaps the phrase, “I look up to the hills…” gave the members a reason for naming the church Shepherd of the Hills. We are surrounded by the hills, the bluffs. The words fit for us as well as the image.
Jesus the Good Shepherd watches over the flock below. We look up to Him for all that we need. It fits since the valleys are where the refreshing waters flow and where the green grass grows.
Some of you were here 35 years ago. Over the years you and those who passed through as well as those now here are part of the flock. What did you know 35 years ago? You knew you were sinners in need of a Savior. You knew you could not make it through this world and on to eternity on your own. “You looked to the Hills, to the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth” and in His great love and power the Lord set you free from your sins and the Lord Blessed you to be a blessing to others.
How did you get from a mission start to here?
Ø You did not have a building
Ø You did not have your own pastor
Ø You had to set up for each service
Ø You had to take down after each service
Ø You met in temporary facilities
Ø Each one of you had to do some work
Ø Everyone was inconvenienced
Ø You all had a stake, an investment of yourself into the work of the congregation
Ø You all shared a common goal
Ø You helped one another
The Good Shepherd, Jesus led His sheep. You did not need a building, your own pastor or conveniences. You had Jesus. You had His love and forgiveness. You followed Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Jesus supplied all that you needed. You were blessed by the Lord. You looked up to the Lord and the Lord who loves you, helped you.
Those of you who were here 35 years ago, did you have doubts, fears conflicts and challenges? Yes you did. You also believed that the Lord who made heaven and earth could also keep your foot from slipping. You also believed that the Lord who made heaven and earth was not sleeping but was always aware of your need.
The same Jesus who shed his blood and gave His life for those who were here 35 years ago is your Good Shepherd. Jesus still forgives your sins. Jesus still loves you even though you sin. Jesus still has the power to make great things happen through you.
Now Shepherd of the Hills is 35 years old! Now we have a new large building. Now you have a pastor and a DCE. Now you have a place to call home and two called people to minister to your needs.
Shall we go back to what was 35 years ago? Shall we go back to everyone sacrificing; everyone working; everyone inconvenienced; everyone having a job?
YES! Yes we should go back in order to go forward. We should go back to work together. In working together we will find joy. Joy in work. Joy in working together for a common goal. For this congregation to continue to grow we need you.
You see this pastor on Sunday and Saturday for worship. You see DCE Anne with children and youth. You see Rachael the organist and choir director. You see Kay the keyboardist on Saturday. You may see those who sing in the choir. You may see those who sing on Saturdays or Tim on percussion, and others on guitars.
Do you see the secretaries, Nel and Linette in the office during the week as they prepare bulletins, keep track of finances and print the lessons and do so much more to prepare for the ministry here?
Do you see the ladies on the Altar Guild who set up the chancel, care for the oil in the candles, set up for and clean up following communion?
Do you see the trustees who have faithfully serviced the many new needs of this building; monthly draining the fire sprinkler system, monthly changing many furnaces filters, replacing defective parts, lamps, and fixing what breaks?
Do you see the ushers for each service? Some of the kids think they are “hushers” because they occasionally tell the kids to “be quiet, hush.” Do you see the elders who assist? The Elders, who visit, call and send cards to many of you?
Do you see the members of the Evangelism Board who visit those who visit us? Do you see the education Board who works to plan Sunday School? Do you see Sunday school teachers and helpers? Do you see the VBS teachers and helpers? Do you see the preschool teachers? Do you see those who bring the food to the Onalaska Food Pantry? Do you see those who make quilts for the needy, volunteer to work with the teens, setup for coffee & donuts on Sunday or bring food for Saturdays?
Do you see those who make decisions on Church Council? Do you see Human Care Board or Fellowship Board as they work behind the scenes to make things happen to keep us close to each other? Do you see LWML and all they do for this congregation and for missions? Do you see those who pray for us all on the church Prayer Chain?
The author of Profiles in Courage- JFK thoughtfully challenged Americans-“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
Perhaps we can similarly challenge one another. Since Jesus suffered, died and rose for you; since Jesus forgives your sins and calls you to be His own for all of eternity, do not ask what more He can do for you, ask what you can do for Jesus!”
What gifts has the Lord given you? God has Blessed you to be a Blessing to others!
Sometimes we listen to the wrong voices. Satan points out our sins. Satan wants us to feel guilty. The Devil delights in making us feel unworthy. However the truth is that our gracious Lord takes the sinner and transforms the sinner into a saint.
Our job as a church includes encouraging and equipping the saints to overcome sins and be a blessing to others. We know we look up to the Hills. Our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.