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God's Word In Our Lives
22 minutes | Aug 7, 2022
Hard Truth: Some Who Are Last Will Be First, And First Who Will Be Last
When it comes to the difficult and uncomfortable topic of who goes to heaven and who goes to hell, it is natural to want to avoid the issue. One way we do that is to direct our attention to theoretical questions. “What is heaven like?” “How old will we be there?” Today, someone asks Jesus, “Lord, are only a few going to be saved?” Jesus brushes these questions aside. Instead, he answers the question we should be asking. Rather than talking about how many will be saved, Jesus explains how to be among the saved. What he teaches today through his Word is a hard truth. The doorway into heaven is narrow. Scripture consistently teaches that those individuals who are certain they will be first through that door are more likely to be last, if they make it through at all. Instead, the one who believes he is the last one God should let into his kingdom and that his only chance of getting in is through the grace of Christ will enter first.
25 minutes | Jul 31, 2022
Hard Truth: We Want Peace, But God’s Word Divides - Pastor Ben Enstad
We often divide humanity into groupings that are not really significant: this ethnic group versus that one, men versus women, wealthy versus the poor. Yet, every ethnic group is under God’s law. That law convicts both men and women of sin. Because of sin, the wealthy and the poor will both die. Only through faith in Christ is sin forgiven and the sting of death removed. God’s Word creates that saving faith, but not in everyone who hears it. Fallen man retains the awful power to resist the working of the Spirit inside him… to reject the gift of faith. Therefore, God’s Word produces the only people grouping that ultimately matters: believers and unbelievers. We want to overcome division and live in peace with other people. Here is a hard truth: total peace is impossible for the believer to achieve. Those who embrace the gospel in faith will inevitably face hostility and opposition. Following Jesus will come at a price. Yet he promises us our perseverance will be rewarded.Thank you to Pastor Ben Enstad from St. Paul Green Bay for sharing God’s Word with us this week.
20 minutes | Jul 17, 2022
Focused Worship Seeks Service From Jesus, More Than Service For Jesus
We call worship a "service.” Which raises the question: who is serving whom? In answering that question, it is easy to focus on what we do in worship. “I set aside time in my week to come to church. I am singing praise to God. I brought him an offering. Clearly, I am serving him.” True enough. However, as God speaks this week, he clarifies our focus, letting us see that worship is primarily about him serving us. Through Word and sacrament, he delivers spiritual gift he wants us to receive. Our service to God is good. His service for us is perfect. Our service to God is important. His service for us is essential. God loves our service to him. But we desperately need his service for us. Receiving his service is actually the highest form of worship. “God wants to be worshipped through faith so that we receive from him those things he promises and offers” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV).
24 minutes | Jul 10, 2022
Focused Living Properly Values Earthly Wealth
Jesus wants focused followers. However, one of the things that can most easily get in the way of our focus is our earthly possessions. It is no surprise, therefore, that Jesus’ words so frequently focus his followers on wealth. Jesus’ followers don’t reject earthly wealth or despise it. They can be grateful for every good gift that comes from the hand of God. However, Jesus’ followers value earthly wealth correctly. They understand what earthly wealth can and cannot do. They don’t give earthly wealth a role in their lives it will never be able to fill. This week we focus on the fact that the identity and security earthly wealth can never provide is found fully and freely in Christ.
30 minutes | Jul 3, 2022
Christ Provides Ministers to Proclaim His Word
Christ has not only given us his powerful Word. In his grace, he gives us ministers who proclaim that Word to us in whatever ways we need at the time: words of comfort, words of instruction, or even words of rebuke. Those who are entrusted with the care of Jesus' flock are expected to shepherd that flock just as Jesus would. They humbly assume that privilege, not to proclaim their own ideas or opinions, but to speak Jesus’ own words. They share Christ’s words, not just when it is welcomed gladly by those who hear it, but also when it is not. Ministers carry out their calling, not because of what they might gain from the flock, but because of what the flock might gain from Jesus through them. God’s words possess God’s power. Therefore, God provides us with ministers to proclaim God’s Word, so that God’s kingdom might come powerfully among us.
27 minutes | Jun 26, 2022
Through The Word, Christ Creates Committed Followers
There’s the type of fan who follows his team if they make the playoffs. Then there’s the type of fan who, regardless of his team’s record, watches every game and knows the stats for every player. There are different types of followers: the halfhearted versus the committed. Jesus is uninterested in half-hearted followers who shoehorn him into their lives only when their other pursuits provide time for the Christ. Jesus wants followers who are all-in… who love him above all things… who would be willing to leave everything else behind if that were what it would take to be with him. We simply do not have it in us to produce that level of commitment. But Jesus’ words have Jesus’ power. In his gospel Jesus explains how he went all in for our salvation. He tells us he left the comforts of heaven behind to come rescue us. And through those words Christ creates within us the very commitment that he seeks.
23 minutes | Jun 12, 2022
Through The Word The Lord Crushes Evil
God’s words are so powerful! With only his words, Jesus cured illness and raised the dead. With his words, Jesus created the faith that receives his forgiveness. So we should not be surprised this week when we see that Jesus’ words also have the power to push back the spiritual forces of evil that are in the world. Jesus’ words expose idols as worthless and following idols as self-destructive evil. Jesus’ words are so compelling, even demons must obey them. It is not surprising that God’s words crush evil. It is a surprise, however, to see that Jesus’ words have Jesus’ power even when they are not coming from Jesus’ mouth. Jesus puts his words on our lips. He makes us his witnesses. And as we carry out that awesome role, Jesus continues to drive back Satan and his allies, just as he did when he walked the earth. When the gospel comes out of the mouths of sinners like us, Jesus “sends the power of evil reeling" (Hymn of the Day).
21 minutes | Jun 5, 2022
The Spirit Marches Victorious Through The Word
Jesus ascended into heaven. That does not mean the gospel has ceased to march victorious around the world! Jesus promised to send another advocate to represent God to the world: the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the constant companion of believers in these Last Days. This raises an important question. If God now reveals himself by his Spirit, where is the Holy Spirit found? God has not left the answer to that question in doubt. When Jesus promised to send the Spirit, he indicated that his work would be connected to words, specifically God's Word. As a result, we need never wonder where we can find the Spirit. He marches victorious through the Word.
20 minutes | May 29, 2022
Power From Heaven Marches Victorious To The Ends Of The Earth
When the Church gathers, it regularly remembers Christ's ascension. The words "He ascended into heaven" are found in all three ecumenical creeds which we use to confess our faith. In addition, the Church sets aside a day each year on which this event takes center stage. This is for good reason. Jesus' ascension marked the fact that his work was complete. Never again will a sacrifice for sin need to be made. However, Jesus' ascension also marks that his work is just beginning. Through the Church Jesus now proclaims forgiveness throughout the world. The Church consists of people like us who are often weak and timid witnesses for Christ. So Jesus promised to send us his Spirit to give us power from heaven, that we might take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
22 minutes | May 22, 2022
Joy Marches Victorious Over Circumstance
Conventional wisdom says that joy is a direct result of circumstance. Our disposition is nothing more than a product of the events, conditions, and relationships of which our life consists. Therefore, it would seem that for our disposition to change, our circumstances need to change. But Jesus offers us a joy that is superior. It is not a product of circumstance; it's a product of Easter. Easter proves that God can take what normally causes people to weep and turn it into what causes people to rejoice. Sin, death, and shame went into Jesus' tomb. Forgiveness, life, and glory came out. Our risen Savior gives us a joy that remains constant in the highest of life's highs and the lowest of life's lows. It is a joy that can never be taken from us.
23 minutes | May 15, 2022
Selfless Love Marches Victorious Over Self-Glorification
The disciples argued among themselves about who was "greatest" (Luke 22:24). We are not immune from such hubris. Sinful man is entirely self-focused. We often try and prove our goodness by comparing ourselves to others. You see this sense of superiority in the way we prioritize life, typically putting our wants ahead of others. Easter ends this focus on self. Right now, we know we have value, not because of the greatness of our actions, but because of the great things Christ did to save. We also know a resurrection to glory is in our future. Easter helps us avoid the trap of self-glorification and opens our eyes to a more excellent way: selfless love. Christ did not glorify himself, but selflessly did everything for the benefit of others. This week, he promises to be our inexhaustible power supply that we might also put selfless love into practice.
31 minutes | May 8, 2022
Fulfilled Works March Victorious Over Empty Words
The world is full of talkers. There are plenty of people who say they care about you. But we are aware of what many of those people will do when it comes time to put those words into action. Jesus tells you in his Word that he cares for you dearly… that he would do anything for you. How do you know you can trust him? Jesus followed up his words with works. Jesus said he would suffer and die for you, so that you might enter Paradise. He fulfilled that promise. Jesus words are followed by works. He once illustrated that point in a striking metaphor, that of the Good Shepherd. All shepherds use words, calling to the sheep hoping they will follow. What sets the Good Shepherd apart is the fact that his words are followed by his works, including his willingness to lay down his life. Every word our Good Shepherd speaks to us is trustworthy!
21 minutes | Apr 24, 2022
Witness Marches Victorious Over Restraint
The good news of the risen Christ is bigger than a single day. The Easter gospel will continue to march across centuries and continents. However, there will always be forces that try to slow that march. Those forces could be self-inflected fears and doubts (Gospel). They could be various types of persecutions (First and Second Reading). Whatever the case, the good news of Easter will not be restrained. For it is not some myth or fable, not a hoax or conspiracy. The reality of Easter rests on the testimony of eyewitnesses. Therefore, the gospel cannot be boxed in any more than Christ could be put back in a tomb. Many may try and restrain the good news of Christ. But the march of the Church's witness will never slow down.
27 minutes | Apr 17, 2022
Death hung like a suffocating shroud over us all. It was a constant source of sorrow and shame. Death doesn't just bring life to an end. The impending threat of death spoils every moment of life that leads up to it. The moment Christ emerged from the tomb, however, nothing would be the same. Life was unleashed on humanity and it will reign until death and its effects are no more. The salvation Christ brings is not just a rescue from a world gone bad but a resurrection to a world that will once again be good. Christ's victory restores life to us even now. Even as we continue to wipe the tears that death causes, we can defiantly taunt this fallen tyrant, because today LIFE marches victorious over death! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
8 minutes | Apr 16, 2022
A Meditation on the Holy Suffering of Christ
Based on Martin Luther's 1519 sermon of the same name.For our entire Tenebrae service, visit one of the links below.https://www.facebook.com/MtOliveSuamicohttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfY99-PfZ7d68O2KdjtChzghttps://vimeo.com/mtolivesuamico
17 minutes | Apr 15, 2022
His Food, Our Fill
As the sun set on Holy Thursday, the day marked the end of something old and the start of something new. The Old Covenant, which God had established through Moses, was two-sided. God's people would follow God's commands; God would bless his people. However, rather than providing God's people the opportunity to live up to God's demands, the Old Covenant only exposed their flaws. When God established his New Covenant, it was not a two sided contract. It was more like a will, listing all the blessings God promised graciously to give his people. No matter who you are or what you have done, the blessing of the New Covenant are "for you." Eat the food Christ offers, and all your spiritual and eternal needs are satisfied
31 minutes | Apr 10, 2022
His Humility - Our Hope
The events of Palm Sunday might not seem pivotal to our salvation. Christ sheds no blood on this day. However, Palm Sunday sets the tone for all of Holy Week. It perfectly illustrates that Jesus came to be kind of king this world will never understand: one who conquers his enemies by surrendering to them, one who crushes his opposition by himself being crushed, one whose path to kingly exaltation begins with humiliation. This is the kind of King we have marching into battle as one of us and for all of us this week. As a result, we are drawn to him in faith rather than driven away in fear. This humble King is our only hope.
28 minutes | Apr 3, 2022
Human Rejection Is Crushed
People often look to the judgment of experts. The opinion of experts can greatly influence the general population. That poses a problem when it comes to Christ. The world's experts and culturally elite generally see little value in Christ and his Word. Thankfully, Christ tells us to expect this. He also reminds us that when it comes to judgments about him and his kingdom, only one opinion matters. God the Father would render the final verdict about Christ and his work when he raised his Son from the dead. This week, we learn to evaluate the world's experts properly. They might see heaven's greatest treasure as trash. Fine. That treasure remains ours for the taking!
29 minutes | Mar 27, 2022
Our Condemnation Is Crushed
We assume people get what they deserve. We assume what goes around comes around. We assume God helps those who helps themselves. And all those assumptions must be crushed. Got does not operate on the principle of merit but of grace. Like gravity, grace is a constant force at work in how God deals with us and how he wants us to deal with others. No one is beyond the reach of God's grace. God never turns it off. When the weight of our sin makes us fearful of God's condemnation, he reveals his grace yet again.
23 minutes | Mar 13, 2022
False Security is Crushed
Where is God? This is one of human beings' most frequently-asked and incorrectly-answered questions. We are tempted to believe that evidence of God's presence is found in outward circumstances. We equate good fortune with God's favor and bad fortune with his judgment. So, as long as nothing terrible is happening, God must not be too angry with us, right? We are free to go on sinning. Such foolish assumptions must be crushed. Therefore, God must constantly remind us where he intends to be found—in the gospel. He makes himself present in Word and sacraments. Because he is always present, we realize the urgent need to turn away from the sin he despises. Because his presence is graciously hidden, we are drawn to him for forgiveness rather than driven away from him in fear.
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