Do not fear, only believe

“As He was speaking, they came from the synagogue ruler saying, Your daughter has died. Why do you still trouble the Teacher? But hearing the word spoken, Jesus said to the synagogue ruler at once, Do not fear, only believe.” Mark 5:35-36 (Read v. 21-43)

Do things ever seem beyond hope? Have you ever prayed for the Lord’s help only to have things go from bad to worse, with no intervention in sight?

Think how Jairus must have felt when he sought Jesus to come to his house and heal his 12-year-old daughter who was ill and near to death. While on the way, with crowds pressing in upon Jesus, a woman with a flow of blood touches his garment and is healed, and Jesus stops to speak with her. Jairus had hope – faith, whether strong or weak – that if Jesus would just get there in time and lay His hands upon his daughter, she would be healed. But then the bad news came. It was too late. His daughter had died! Why bother Jesus – “the teacher” – any longer?

But note what Jesus did as soon as He heard those discouraging words. He gave Jairus words of hope, words upon which his faith could rest: “Do not fear, only believe.” Rather than letting Jairus give up all hope, Jesus called upon him not to fear but to believe!

The Scripture record tells us what happened next. Jesus arrived and, accompanied by His inner circle of disciples, He puts out those weeping and mourning over the girl’s death, saying she’s not dead but sleeping. Then He takes hold of the child’s hand and speaks to her the words: “Talitha koumi; which is, being translated, Little girl, I say to you, Rise up!” (v. 41). The Scriptures tell us: “And immediately the little girl rose up and walked” (v. 42).

We may see no hope. We may think it is too late for God to intervene. We may even consider our sins too great and think there is no help for us. But Jesus says, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Cannot the God who created and still sustains all things help us in every time of trouble? (Cf. Jer. 32:17; Rom. 8:31ff.; Ps. 50:15.) And need we give up hope of salvation? Jesus will be our judge, and He is the one who died on the cross and paid in full for our sins and the sins of the world and rose again. As the Bible says, “Who is he condemning? It is Christ who has died, but rather also is raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Rom. 8:34; cf. 1 John 2:1-2).

There is still hope, no matter how hopeless all may appear. Rather than giving up in despair, trust Jesus. “Do not fear, only believe.”

O dearest Jesus, Son of God and my Savior, grant that I not despair and be afraid, even when all appears hopeless, but trust in You and in the everlasting salvation You won for me by Your death upon the cross and glorious resurrection. Amen.

Scripture quotations from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.

Words of Encouragement for June 27

Meditations in St. John’s First Epistle

“And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He is revealed we may have confidence, and not be shamed from Him in His coming.” 1 John 2:28

How can one face death or the day of Christ’s return without fear and terror over God’s judgment? How can one have confidence in that Day? John provides the answer when he writes: “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He is revealed we may have confidence, and not be shamed from Him in His coming.”

If God were to keep our sins before Him and hold them against us, who could stand? But, for the sake of Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice, God is merciful and forgiving toward us. There is forgiveness with Him (cf. Psalm 130:3-4).

The only way to face God’s judgment, the only way to stand when Jesus comes back to judge the living and the dead, is to be found trusting in Messiah Jesus and His mercy which he won for us and all mankind by His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross.

Those not trusting in His blood shed for the sins of the world will be put to shame, humiliated and condemned, on that Day. But those who abide in Him will not be condemned but received into everlasting life.

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the one who hears My word, and believes the One who has sent Me, has everlasting life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24).

To Nicodemus, Jesus said, “The one believing into Him [the Son of God] is not condemned; but the one not believing has already been condemned, for he has not believed into the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

Through faith in Jesus, our crucified and risen Savior, we can have confidence at His coming!

O Holy Spirit, keep me trusting in Christ Jesus and His blood shed for me upon the cross, that I may not be ashamed and condemned on the Day of His judgment but be received into His everlasting kingdom. Amen.

 

A Simple Explanation of Christian Doctrine

By Pastor Randy Moll

What does it mean to repent, or be converted?

To repent or be converted is, simply put, to turn from one’s sinful and rebellious ways to God for mercy and forgiveness for the sake of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ – God the Son and true man. Repentance and conversion are entirely the gracious working of God in us, for His Spirit convicts us of our sinful ways and shows to us the condemnation we justly deserve (cf. John 16:7-11) but also offers and gives to us comfort and forgiveness for the sake of the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of Messiah Jesus in our stead (Matt. 9:2; 1 John 2:1-2; Eph. 1:3ff.).

The Bible tells us that “we also once were senseless, disobedient, led astray, slaving for various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works in righteousness which we had done, but according to His mercy, He saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ, our Savior; that being justified by His grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).

Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus: “He worked in you who were once dead in trespasses and sins, in which you then walked according to the course of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience, among whom we also all conducted ourselves in times past in the lusts of our flesh, doing the things willed of the flesh and of the understandings, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even we being dead in sins, He made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are being saved), and raised us up together and seated us together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, that He might show in the coming ages the exceeding great riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, that not anyone should boast; for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God before prepared that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:1-10).

A true Christian lives his life here in this world in continual and daily repentance; that is, he acknowledges his sins and failures to the LORD God and receives His mercy and forgiveness for Christ’s sake – as well as the needed help and strength to amend his life and live for the LORD (1 John 1:8 – 2:2; Psalm 32; Psalm 51; Psalm 86:5; Ephesians 1:15-23; Philippians 4:13).

Next time, we shall look at what the Bible teaches about good works.

 

The pain of being a pastor

One of the hardest things for a pastor who deeply loves his parishioners is to watch as some of them stray far from their Maker and live in rebellion against Him.

One looks for a glimmer of light or something beside empty words to indicate that they do know the LORD God who created this world and redeemed all of us through the death of the Son, Messiah Jesus; but sometimes little hope can be seen. They may profess to know with their lips, but their lives offer little evidence that they know the LORD or have any desire to walk in His ways. No, this doesn’t mean they’re criminals or living wild and crazy lives – at least not that a pastor might know – but the desire to hear God’s Word and walk in God’s ways is not evident.

Of course, the gracious working of God’s Spirit is beyond our view and understanding. We know He works through His Word and Sacraments, but we don’t know His timing and can’t actually see Him at work – only the results. “The Spirit breathes where He desires, and you hear His voice; but you do not know from where He comes, and where He goes; so is everyone who has received birth from the Spirit” (John 3:8).

To attempt to pressure or force people to follow the LORD will do no good. In fact, if they were in some way coerced into attending church services and Bible studies, it could make things worse. They might become secure in their lack of faith and confident that all is well with their souls when, in fact, it is not.

The same is true of seeking a “revival” of sorts through some emotional experience. They could become confident in some decision they made in an emotional or moving moment rather than simply taking hold of Christ and His all-atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world – a sacrifice for sin which is efficacious at all times, regardless of human emotion.

All I can do is remind my parishioners of the truth revealed in God’s Word and pray God’s Spirit continues His gracious working, that He rekindles the ember which is about to go out, that He draws the wandering and straying into His Word and brings them to know and trust Jesus as the Savior of their souls.

(Note: This is also often true of parents in regard to their children.)

 

Bible Study in Preparation for Sunday

Scripture Readings for Sunday are: Psalm 30; Lamentations 3:21-36; Romans 1:1-32; and Mark 5:21-43. Please read them in their context as you prepare for worship on Sunday.

The Sunday Adult Bible Class will continue its study of the book of Hebrews, in chapter 12, verse 12ff.

 

Remember to Pray

Remember to pray for our church and for all our members, that none be lost to Christ’s kingdom but that all continue in repentance and be strengthened and built up in the true and saving faith in Christ Jesus through the hearing and study of His Word. We continue to pray for all who have been sick or who are suffering among us – for Sam Rusch who was hospitalized and for Mel Boren who is in a nursing home; for our extended families; and for believers who are alone and have no congregation. Continue to pray for Lutheran congregations and believers around the world who are persecuted or suffering for their faith in Christ Jesus.

 

Events and Announcements

A pot-luck dinner will be held following our worship service on Sunday. All are welcome and invited to join us.

Ray and Bonnie Hawes offer their thanks to all who helped with the meal and preparations for their 60th wedding anniversary celebration earlier this month.

Information for bulletins or newsletters may be sent to Pastor Moll by calling him at 479-233-0081 or by email at pastor@goodshepherdrogers.org.

 

Scripture quotations are from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.

In whose image is your god?

It is for a reason that God, after giving the commandment to have no other gods but Him, also stated: “You shall not make a graven image for yourself, or any likeness in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth; you shall not bow to them, and you shall not serve them; for I am Jehovah your God….” (Ex. 20:4,5).

While fewer people may make idols of wood or stone, many still create a god after their own image rather than accepting God as He has revealed Himself in the Bible. People, and even churches, create gods who think and judge as they do rather than accepting and conforming their belief and teaching to what God says of Himself in the Scriptures.

Thus, people believe from the Bible only what they choose; and they imagine that God is in agreement with them. Religious organizations and churches set aside and attempt to explain away Biblical truths they do not understand and with which they are in not in agreement. They challenge God’s own Word, reject what He says of Himself and explain away His teaching when it contradicts their own views or those of society.

Biblical teaching regarding the trinity and unity of God are challenged; the deity (and sometimes the humanity) of Jesus are questioned and rejected; the absolutes of God’s commandments are made subjective; the condemnation of sin and sinful lifestyles is attributed to ancient views and not to God Himself; and the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus for the sins of the entire human race is minimized and almost forgotten.

God had good reason to say, “You shall not make a graven image for yourself, or any likeness in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth; you shall not bow to them, and you shall not serve them; for I am Jehovah your God….” (Ex. 20:4,5). People and even churches do exactly what He forbids. They make their god after their own image and their own likeness – a god who overlooks sin and is pleased if they but try to love everybody and do good to others; a god who changes with the times and does not condemn lawlessness, sexual perversion and rejection of His designs in creation; a god who exalted Jesus only because of His example of love and kindness to others.

Biblical Christians, on the other hand, are on constant guard against making God conform to their own image and thinking. They accept God as he has revealed Himself in the Bible – one eternal and almighty God and yet three distinct and fully divine Persons; a just God who hates and punishes sin but who is also merciful and forgiving for the sake of the sacrifice of God the Son, who took on humanity, being born of the Virgin Mary, and suffered upon the cross the just punishment for the sins of all and rose again in triumph. Biblical Christians conform their way of thinking to that which God revealed about Himself in the Bible. They view God’s Word and Revelation as absolute and binding upon all. They let God be God; and they bow before Him, trusting in His mercy and grace for the sake of Christ Jesus!

In whose image is your god? Is your god an image and imagination of your own heart? Or, is your God the God revealed in the Bible? It makes a big difference. The first is idolatry and a lie; the second is the Triune God of the Bible, the Author of eternal salvation, and your Judge!

Scripture quotations from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.

The Work of John the Baptizer

“And you, child, will be called Prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give a knowledge of salvation to His people by remission of their sins, through the tender bowels of mercy of our God, in which the Dayspring from on high will visit us, to appear to those sitting in darkness and in shadow of death, to direct our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:76-79

What was the ministry of John the Baptist? What was the work which God appointed for him to do? His father Zecharias, speaking by the Holy Spirit, prophesied concerning his son John that he would be called Prophet of the Most High because he would go before the face of the Lord (before Jehovah in Isaiah 40:3; cf. Malachi 3:1) and prepare the people for His coming.

John himself, referring to Jesus, said, “I indeed baptize you with water; but He stronger than I comes, of whom I am not fit to loosen the thong of His sandals. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire, whose sifting fan is in His hand; and He will fully purge His threshing-floor, and will gather the wheat into His barn, but He will burn the chaff with fire that cannot be put out” (Luke 3:16-17).

And how would John prepare the people? By giving “a knowledge of salvation to His people by remission of their sins, through the tender bowels of mercy of our God, in which the Dayspring from on high will visit us.” John called upon all to repent of their sinful and rebellious ways and look to Jehovah God for mercy and forgiveness for the sake of the coming Messiah – “the Lamb of God, taking away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He baptized those who came to him, pointing them to Christ Jesus, God the Son in human flesh and their Savior.

Jesus is that Dayspring from on High who came into this world to visit and redeem fallen mankind. The light of His appearing shined upon those sitting in the darkness of sin and death (Isa. 9:2), revealing their sin but offering and giving to them forgiveness of sins and life everlasting for the sake of His holy life and innocent sufferings and death for the sins of the world. John pointed people to Jesus, the Light of the world, and proclaimed to them forgiveness and life in His name.

And that, too, is our ministry in this world. It is how we prepare the way before the Lord at His second coming. We preach God’s mercy and forgiveness for the sake of the shed blood of Jesus. We reach out to those in darkness and the shadow of death with the Light of Christ and the good news of salvation in His name. We direct their feet into the way of peace.

O Lord Jesus, Dayspring from on High, shine upon us with the comfort of mercy and forgiveness for the sake of Your sufferings and death in our stead and Your glorious resurrection. Grant also that we would prepare the way before You by reaching out to others in the darkness of sin and death with the comfort of the Gospel. In Your name we pray. Amen.

Scripture quotations from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.

Words of Encouragement for June 20

Meditations in St. John’s First Epistle

“I wrote these things to you concerning the ones leading you astray. And the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone teach you. But as His anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and as He taught you, abide in Him.”  1 John 2:26-27 (LITV)

We sometimes forget who our true teacher is. Though pastors, teachers and parents may teach us from the Scriptures, it is only the Holy Spirit who can open up our hearts and minds and give us knowledge of the truth, understanding, and faith in Christ Jesus our Savior.

The Holy Spirit – God’s anointing – works through the law of God to convince us of our sin and of the judgment of God we justly deserve; but He also works through the Gospel to convince us and assure us that “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” who is “the propitiation relating to our sins, and not relating to ours only, but also relating to all the world” (1 John 2:1,2). He convinces and assures us that “the blood of [God’s] Son, Jesus Christ, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Unlike the many false teachers around us in the world, the anointing we have of the Father – the Holy Spirit of God who was given to us and took up residence in us at our baptism – remains in us and teaches us from the Scriptures all that we need to know. He makes us “wise to salvation through belief in Christ Jesus” and He equips us to live for Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15ff.).

The Spirit’s teaching is always true and is not a lie. Though we are easily misled and deceived, the Spirit’s teaching and instruction from the Word is never false or misleading. He reveals to us Jesus our Savior and guides us in living for Him who died for our sins and rose again.

Therefore John urges his readers – us included – to continue and abide in that truth which the Holy Spirit has revealed and taught to us through the Scriptures. Rather than being mislead and deceived by the many false teachers who have gone out into the world, we should continue in what we have learned and been taught by the Spirit of God from His inspired and unerring Word.

Then, our faith and assurance will rest, not in our works and merits, but in the redemption accomplished for us when Jesus Christ suffered and died for our sins and rose again in triumph.

O Holy Spirit, Anointing from above, keep me in the true and saving faith You have revealed to me in the Holy Scriptures. Grant that I hold fast to the Son and trust in His blood shed for me upon the cross, unto life everlasting. Amen.

 

A Simple Explanation of Christian Doctrine

by Pastor Randy Moll

How does one come to faith in Jesus Christ as Savior?

The Bible makes it very clear that we are born into this world dead in our sins and cannot of ourselves come to faith in Messiah Jesus or trust in Him. It is only by God’s gracious working through the Gospel that anyone is saved.

Jesus Himself said, “No one is able to come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 8:44).

The Bible says in Ephesians 2:1-10: “He worked in you who were once dead in trespasses and sins, in which you then walked according to the course of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience, among whom we also all conducted ourselves in times past in the lusts of our flesh, doing the things willed of the flesh and of the understandings, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even we being dead in sins, He made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are being saved), and raised us up together and seated us together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, that He might show in the coming ages the exceeding great riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, that not anyone should boast; for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God before prepared that we should walk in them.”

The Holy Spirit, working through the Word of God (cf. John 3:1ff.), reveals to us our utter sinfulness and the just condemnation we deserve on account of our sins; but He also reveals to us that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God in human flesh, fulfilled the law for us and suffered our punishment when He was crucified and put to death upon the cross. He assures us that because Christ died for our sins and rose again, God’s wrath against sin is appeased and God offers and gives full pardon and forgiveness for Jesus’ sake. The Holy Spirit calls us to believe and take comfort in the fact that in Jesus we have redemption, that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (cf. Eph. 1:6-7; 1 John 1:7 – 2:2).

Next time, we shall look at what it means to repent or be converted.

 

Bible Study in Preparation for Sunday

Scripture Readings for Sunday are: Psalm 85; Isaiah 40:1-5; Acts 13:13-26; and Luke 1:57-80. Please read them in their context as you prepare for worship on Sunday.

The Sunday Adult Bible Class will continue its study of the book of Hebrews, in chapter 12, verse 5ff.

 

Remember to Pray

Remember to pray for our church and for all our members, that none be lost to Christ’s kingdom but that all continue in repentance and be strengthened and built up in the true and saving faith in Christ Jesus through the hearing and study of His Word. We continue to pray for all who have been sick or who are suffering among us – for Robert Hiebert who was hospitalized and for Mel Boren who is in a nursing home; for our extended families; and for believers who are alone and have no congregation. Continue to pray for Lutheran congregations and believers around the world who are persecuted or suffering for their faith in Christ Jesus.

 

Events and Announcements

Information for bulletins or newsletters may be sent to Pastor Moll by calling him at 479-233-0081 or by email at pastor@goodshepherdrogers.org.

Scripture quotations are from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.

God’s Kingdom Compared to the Mustard Seed

“And He said, To what shall we compare the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard, which, when it is sown on the earth, it is less than all the seeds of those on the earth. And when it is sown, it comes up and becomes greater than all the plants, and produces great branches, so as to enable the birds of the heaven to roost under its shade.”  Mark 4:30-32

When one compares a grain of mustard seed to other garden seeds, it is the smallest of all seeds. But this small seed produces a large tree or bush-like plant in which the birds of the air can find shelter. So also is the kingdom of God. It had very small beginnings in the Babe of Bethlehem and in the preaching and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified and buried. It had small beginnings in the little band of disciples who were first entrusted with the task of taking the Gospel of the kingdom to the ends of the earth.

But look at the results! By His sufferings and death upon the cross, Jesus Christ paid the full punishment for the sins of the whole world and redeemed all people. Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God the Father. The saving Word of the Lord Jesus was carried to the ends of the earth by His disciples and is still heard and proclaimed today. Through that Word, people from all over the world have been brought to trust in Christ Jesus as their Savior and thus have become a part of God’s gracious and eternal kingdom. And through the faithful preaching and teaching of God’s Word, this kingdom continues to grow to this day.

When we view the Gospel of Jesus Christ and our task of spreading that message as insignificant or unimportant, let us remember the power of the Gospel to save (Romans 1:16-17) and look at what this seemingly small seed and humble task have produced.

Spread, oh, spread, thou mighty Word, spread the kingdom of the Lord, where-so-e’er His breath hath giv’n life to beings meant for heav’n … Lord of Harvest, let there be joy and strength to work for Thee till the nations far and near see Thy light and learn Thy fear. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn #507, Verses 1,6)

Scripture quotations from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.

The Seed and Its Growth

“And He said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed on the earth, and should sleep, and rise night and day; and the seed should sprout and lengthen of itself, as he does not know. For of itself the earth bears fruit: first greenery, then an ear, then full grain in the ear. And when the fruit yields, immediately he ‘sends forth the sickle, for the harvest has come.'” Mark 4:26-29

This parable of Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a man who sows his seed in the soil and waits until the seed of itself springs up and grows, maturing until the harvest. Then the farmer puts in the sickle for the harvest. The farmer can only sow good seed, cultivate the crops, and wait for the fruit to mature. He cannot himself make the seed grow and produce fruit.

The kingdom of God is like this in that all we as Christians can do is sow the pure Word of God. We cannot make it grow or produce fruit. The power to create spiritual life and produce fruit lies in God’s Word and His Spirit and not in us as the sowers. It is our task to sow the Word of God; but the results must be left up to the Holy Spirit, who brings people to saving faith in Jesus Christ and also sanctifies them through God’s Word. We cannot see how faith is created in the heart, nor should we expect to harvest immediately after the seed is sown. Our crucified and risen Lord Jesus has given us the simple task of sowing the good seed of God’s Word. The rest is up to Him!

Let us then diligently sow the Word! By means of God’s Law, the Holy Spirit will convict men of their sins and show them their guilt before the Almighty God. By means of the Gospel, He will comfort them with the assurance that their sins are forgiven for the sake of Jesus Christ’s holy life and innocent sufferings and death in their stead.

If we only sow the Word, we need not worry about the results. They remain in God’s hands, and He has promised that His Word will not return unto Him void (cf. Isaiah 55:10-11). Let us sow the Word and await the harvest!

On what has now been sown Thy blessing, Lord, bestow; the pow’r is Thine alone to make it spring and grow. Do Thou in grace the harvest raise, and Thou alone shalt have the praise. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn #46, Verse 1)

Scripture quotations from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.

Words of Encouragement for June 13

Meditations in St. John’s First Epistle

“Then what you heard from the beginning, let it abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you will abide both in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise which He promised us: everlasting life.” 1 John 2:24-25 (LITV)

False teachers and erring churches and organizations are all around us in this world. Many would lead us to believe that Jesus is not Jehovah God in the flesh come into this world to redeem fallen mankind. They deny the deity or humanity of Christ and cast doubt upon the sufficiency of His atoning sacrifice upon the cross for the sins of all.

St. Paul wrote and encouraged Timothy, in the face of persecution and suffering and with false teachers at work to turn people away from Christ and the true doctrine, to continue in that doctrine which he had learned from the Holy Scriptures.

He wrote in 2 Timothy 3:14-17: “But you keep on in what you learned and were assured of, knowing from whom you learned, and that from a babe you know the Holy Scriptures, those being able to make you wise to salvation through belief in Christ Jesus. Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that the man of God may be perfected, fully furnished for every good work.”

So also the Apostle John writes to his hearers: “Then what you heard from the beginning, let it abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you will abide both in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise which He promised us: everlasting life.”

John urged his hearers to continue in that truth which they were taught of him and the other apostles in the beginning. They were to let what they heard in the beginning remain in them. They were not to turn aside and accept the doctrines of those who denied the deity or the humanity of Christ Jesus but to hold fast to the truth that God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, born of the virgin Mary and made true man that He might take our place under the law and fulfill all righteousness and that He might bear the just condemnation for our sins and the sins of the whole world.

John urged his hearers to continue to trust in Christ Jesus, who shed His blood to be the propitiation for our sins and for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:1-2). They were to confess their sins and hold fast to Him whose blood cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7-9).

And, indeed, if they continued in the truth of God’s Word, taught and revealed to them by the Holy Spirit, if they held fast to Christ Jesus, they would also be abiding in the Father. Apart from Jesus, no one can know the Father or come to Him. In Jesus, we also have and abide in fellowship with the Father.

“Jesus said … I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you do know Him, and have seen Him” (John 14:6-7).

And what has God promised to all who trust in the Son? Life everlasting! Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, the one who hears My word, and believes the One who has sent Me, has everlasting life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24); and “The one believing into Him [the Son] is not condemned; but the one not believing has already been condemned, for he has not believed into the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

And so, in the face of false doctrine and error, ridicule and persecution, remember the truths you learned from the Holy Scriptures and continue to trust and believe them. Hold fast to the Christ Jesus of the Bible and take comfort in His atoning sacrifice and the forgiveness He has won for you. Remain in Him, for God has promised us eternal life in Jesus’ name.

“There is salvation in no other One, for neither is there any other name under Heaven having been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

O Comforter and Anointing from above, keep me in the true faith, that truth I learned from the Holy Scriptures, that I may continue to trust in the Son and His blood shed for me upon the cross, unto life everlasting. Amen.

 

A Simple Explanation of Christian Doctrine

by Pastor Randy Moll

How does the redemption won for all by Jesus Christ becomes our own?

We learned from the God’s own Word that God, for the sake of Jesus Christ’s holy life and innocent sufferings and death upon the cross for the sins of the whole world, has forgiven us and all people, declaring us to be pardoned, just, righteous and acceptable in His sight.

The Bible tells us that “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He is the propitiation relating to our sins, and not relating to ours only, but also relating to all the world” (1 John 2:1,2). It tells us that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not charging their trespasses to them, and putting the word of reconciliation in us” (2 Cor. 5:19). It says that “He favored us in the One having been loved, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:6,7). It tells us that “all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23,24).

We receive that forgiveness, individually and personally, through faith in the Gospel message of forgiveness and life in Christ Jesus. God’s forgiveness and pardon becomes our own when we believe His word to us and trust that God is gracious to us and has forgiven us all our sins for Christ’s sake.

Again, the Bible says, “So it is written, and so the Christ must suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day. And repentance and remission of sins must be preached on His name to all the nations” (Luke 24:46,47); “But to the one not working, but believing on Him justifying the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as also David says of the blessedness of the man to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawlessnesses are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed the man to whom the Lord will in no way charge sin'” (Rom. 4:5-8); and “To this One all the Prophets witness, so that through His name everyone believing into Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43).

Therefore, the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation which Jesus won for all when He suffered and died upon the cross and rose again becomes our own through faith – simply by believing the word of God which tells us that God pardons and forgives us for Jesus’ sake.

Next time, we shall look at how one is brought to faith in Christ Jesus as Savior.

 

Bible Study in Preparation for Sunday

Scripture Readings for Sunday are: Psalm 1; Ezekiel 17:22-24; 2 Corinthians 5:1-17; and Mark 4:26-34. Please read them in their context as you prepare for worship on Sunday.

The Sunday Adult Bible Class will continue its study of the book of Hebrews, in chapter 12, verse 1ff.

 

Remember to Pray

Remember to pray for our church and for all our members, that none be lost to Christ’s kingdom but that all continue in repentance and be strengthened and built up in the true and saving faith in Christ Jesus through the hearing and study of His Word. We continue to pray for all who have been sick or who are suffering among us – for Robert Hiebert who was hospitalized and for Mel Boren who is in a nursing home; for our extended families; and for believers who are alone and have no congregation. Continue to pray for Lutheran congregations and believers around the world who are persecuted or suffering for their faith in Christ Jesus.

 

Events and Announcements

Information for bulletins or newsletters may be sent to Pastor Moll by calling him at 479-233-0081 or by e-mail at pastor@goodshepherdrogers.org.

 

Scripture quotations are from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.

Man’s fall and God’s remedy

“And the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and the tree was desirable to make one wise. And she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed leaves of the fig tree, and made girdles for themselves. And they heard the sound of Jehovah God walking up and down in the garden at the breeze of the day. And the man and his wife hid themselves from the face of Jehovah God in the middle of the trees of the garden.” Gen. 3:6-8 (Read Chapter 3)

What do you do when you hear the voice of the LORD God? What do you do when God calls to you through His Word and asks you where you are and why? Do you hide from the presence of the LORD? Are you ashamed and afraid of the LORD because of your sin?

Indeed, many hide themselves from God and His Word because they would rather not have their sin exposed. They don’t go to church and have quit reading their Bibles because they would rather not be reminded of their sins and of the just judgment of God upon them. Right after the familiar words of John 3:16, the Bible also says: “And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness more than the Light, for their works were evil. For everyone practicing wickedness hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, that his works may not be exposed.” (John 3:19-20). But, as Adam and Eve could not hide their sin or themselves from the presence of the LORD, neither can you! Nothing is hidden from His sight (cf. Psalm 139).

But why do you think that the LORD God came and sought out and questioned Adam and Eve? Was it because God did not know of their disobedience or of their attempts to cover and hide themselves? Not at all! God sought them out and confronted them with their sin and its consequences (very serious consequences for one “small” act of disobedience) because He wanted them to admit their sin and trust in His promise of a Savior in the Seed of the woman who would one day crush the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). Even though Adam and Eve had brought sin into the world, suffered spiritual death (being afraid of God and separated from Him) and brought sin’s curse upon themselves and all of God’s creation, God wanted them to know that He had a remedy to deal with their sin and one day restore all things.

And, why does God’s voice call out to you through the Scriptures, saying: “Where are you?” “Why are you hiding from My presence?” “Have you broken My commandments?” Of course, God already knows; but He would have you face the truth, admit your sin and turn to Him for mercy and forgiveness! God wants you to know that, though you are a sinner deserving of His eternal wrath and punishment, He has a remedy to make all things right. That remedy is in His Son, Jesus Christ, the promised Seed of the woman, who lived a truly righteous and holy life without a single act of disobedience to God, and who then went to the cross and suffered and died for your sins and the sins of the whole world. Sure, there are consequences for sin in this world; but God wants us to know that Jesus has already paid in full the punishment we deserve that we might have forgiveness for our sins and everlasting life with Him in the new heavens and earth which He will create. So, quit hiding from the voice of the LORD God, face your sin, and receive the forgiveness and life which God has for you in His crucified and risen Son!

O LORD God, I have sinned against You and broken Your holy commandments. Be gracious unto me, forgive my sin, and cleanse my heart for the sake of the innocent sufferings and death of Your beloved Son in my stead. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Scripture quotations from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.

Words of Encouragement for June 6

Meditations in St. John’s First Epistle

“And you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I did not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because every lie is not of the truth. Who is the liar, except the one denying, saying that Jesus is not the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one denying the Father and the Son. Everyone denying the Son does not have the Father. The one confessing the Son also has the Father.” 1 John 2:20-23 (LITV)

As baptized children of God, we have an anointing from the Holy One – He has poured out His Spirit upon us and He dwells within us, teaching us from the Word of God, opening up our hearts and minds to the truths of Scripture and guiding us into all truth.

The Holy Spirit has convinced us of the truth – that Jesus is the promised Messiah and our Savior, that He is Jehovah God Himself in human flesh come into this world to take our place under the law and to suffer our punishment, redeeming us from sin, death and the power of the devil. We know the truth and trust that God is gracious to us, forgives our sin and accepts us as His own dear children because of Jesus’ sufferings and death in our stead and because of His glorious resurrection and ascension.

But, as in John’s day, so in ours, there are those who would turn us away from the truth taught and revealed to us by God’s Spirit through the Word. There are those who say Jesus is not the long-promised Messiah and Savior of the world. There are those who say He is not Jehovah God in the flesh, or who reject His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.

Notice that John says these are liars and antichrist. This is so because they deny that Jesus is the one and only Savior of the world. They deny that His death upon the cross is full payment for the sins of all and lay upon people burdens of the law which no man is able to bear.

Those who deny the Son – who deny that Jesus is the God-man Savior, who deny the sufficiency of His sacrifice for the sins of the world, who say that man can be righteous in God’s sight by good works – also deny the Father. Thus, we must also say that those religions and organizations which teach that Jesus is less than God, or that one can be acceptable to God apart from Jesus and His atoning sacrifice, are liars and enemies of Christ.

We, by the grace of God, have an anointing from above. The Holy Spirit who awakened us from spiritual darkness and death and caused us to be born from above (cf. John 3:3ff.) has revealed to us Jesus as God Himself in the flesh, as our Messiah and Savior, as the holy Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world by His sacrificial death upon the cross (cf. John 1:29). Through faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, we have forgiveness for all our sins and walk in fellowship with the Father. Confessing the Son, we have the Father as well!

O Spirit of God, You have graciously regenerated me and caused me to be born from above as a child of God through faith in Jesus, my Savior. Preserve me in the true faith and keep me from the lies and assaults of the devil and his false teachers that I may walk in fellowship with You, the Son and the Father, unto life everlasting. Amen.

 

A Simple Explanation of Christian Doctrine

by Pastor Randy Moll

What God has done to save man and to restore His creation?

Perhaps the most simple and clear answer to this question is recorded for us in the words of John 3:16: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone believing into Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Though God is a just God who must punish sin, His first desire for each and every one of us is that we might be saved from eternal condemnation and punishment and live forever in fellowship with Him. In order to provide salvation for fallen and sinful mankind, God sent His Son into this world as a true man to take our place under God’s law and fulfill it for us, and to suffer and die upon the cross to bear the full punishment and condemnation for the sins of all people.

God promised a Savior from the beginning, immediately after the fall of Adam and Eve. He said in His words to the serpent: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He will bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Gen. 3:15).

God’s Word tells us: “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, having come into being out of a woman, having come under Law, that He might redeem the ones under law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4:4-5).

Since man was unable to fulfill the righteous demands of God’s law and could not make atonement for his own sinfulness, God sent His own Son into this world, born miraculously of the Virgin Mary, true God and true man (cf. Luke 1:26ff.; Matt. 1:18ff.). God’s Son, Jesus the Messiah, or Jesus Christ, lived a sinless life under God’s commandments. He walked in perfect fellowship with God the Father in heaven. In obedience to the Father, He then went to the cross and was forsaken and condemned of God the Father that He might suffer the full and just punishment for the sins of all mankind (cf. Matt. 27:46).

Again, the Bible says: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be a propitiation relating to our sins” (1 John 4:10). The Bible tells us that “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He is the propitiation relating to our sins, and not relating to ours only, but also relating to all the world” (1 John 2:1,2).

The Bible tells us “that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised the third day, according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3,4).

Because Jesus died for our sins and rose again, God is gracious to us, forgives our sins and accepts us as His own dear children. Through faith in Jesus and His blood shed for us upon the cross, we have forgiveness and life everlasting in God’s eternal kingdom.

“Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies with Christ, according as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, for us to be holy and without blemish before Him in love, predestinating us to adoption through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace in which He favored us in the One having been loved, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…” (Eph. 1:3-7).

Next time, we shall look in more detail at how the redemption won for all by Jesus Christ becomes our own.

 

Bible Study in Preparation for Sunday

Scripture Readings for Sunday are: Psalm 130; Genesis 3:1-24; 2 Corinthians 4:13 – 5:1; and Mark 3:20-35. Please read them in their context as you prepare for worship on Sunday.

The Sunday Adult Bible Class will continue its study of the book of Hebrews, in chapter 11, verse 32ff.

 

Remember to Pray

Remember to pray for our church and for all our members, that none be lost to Christ’s kingdom but that all continue in repentance and be strengthened and built up in the true and saving faith in Christ Jesus through the hearing and study of His Word. We continue to pray for all who have been sick or who are suffering among us – for Robert Hiebert who is hospitalized in Neosho, Mo., and for Mel Boren who is in a nursing home at Holiday Island; for our extended families; and for believers who are alone and have no congregation. Continue to pray for Lutheran congregations and believers around the world who are persecuted or suffering for their faith in Christ Jesus.

 

Events and Announcements

A Pot-luck dinner is planned for this Sunday, June 10, in honor of the 60th anniversary of Ray and Bonnie Hawes. All are invited.

Information for bulletins or newsletters may be sent to Pastor Moll by calling him at 479-233-0081 or by e-mail at pastor@goodshepherdrogers.org.

 

 Scripture quotations are from Green’s Literal Translation (LITV). Scripture quoted by permission. Copyright 1993 by Jay P. Green Sr., All rights reserved. Jay P. Green Sr., Lafayette, IN. U.S.A. 47903.