Based on: Deuteronomy 6:1-9
One of my seminary professors was talking about family devotions with a group of people. He showed them a picture of a family from the late 1800’s. The mother had died and the picture showed the father with his seven or eight children. I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember the very compelling main point. This man had plenty to do to raise his children, but he consistently took time for devotions with his family and taught them the truths of God’s Word. The value this man placed on God’s Word showed throughout his life and his example made a huge impact on his children. Not only his children, but also on his grandchildren and great-grandchildren as his love for God’s Word was passed on from generation to generation. In fact, you can still see his love for God’s word in many of his descendants, one of whom was my seminary professor. From this one family has come two Synod presidents, dozens of pastors and teachers, and hundreds of faithful lay men and women. If you think about the many people that would have heard about Jesus through this one man’s descendants, you could say that he had and still has an impact on thousands of people because he shared his love for the Gospel with his children.
Based on: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Think about Job for a minute – that man that God allowed Satan to test so severely. Do you admire his faith? Job suffered so much in a short period of time. He lost all his wealth. His children were all killed in one tragic accident. He suffered from a painful skin disease. On top of all that his friends caused even more suffering by telling him that it was all his fault. The amazing thing about Job is that in spite of all his suffering he held on to the promise that the Lord Jesus was coming. He didn’t know that his name would be Jesus, but the coming of his Savior was the one thing greater than all of his suffering. So he couldn’t help but exclaim, " I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God."
Based on: John 5:25-29
Today is “Saints Triumphant” Sunday. No, I’m not talking about the New Orleans Saints football team, even though they are undefeated so far this season. If you are a Saints fan, that might make you feel “triumphant”, but if you are a fan of another football team without a perfect record, you might feel not quite as triumphant. However we are here to talk about an even greater triumph than winning football games. We are here to remind ourselves that Christ’s death was our victory over death. We are here to focus on the victorious life we have and the triumph we will enjoy when God calls us home to eternal life.
Based on: Genesis 6:17-18
I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.
In the early 1800s the British East India Company controlled much of what is now the country of India. In 1857 many Hindus rebelled and threatened to kill as many of the English people as they could. As the rebellion began one young child was separated from her parents. One man went to get her and put her on his horse. They rode through the riots that had begun in the streets as the the little girl’s rescuer defended her from people who wanted them both dead. When they reached the girl’s parents, the little girl was furious. To her the trip was a disaster. She had been forced away from her friend, held too tightly, and bounced around way to much. Yet, by this disaster she was delivered from those who would have killed her. Think about deliverance by disaster as we remember the flood at Noah’s time and as we consider the disasters of our own life.
Our brief overview of Old Testament history in summer worship and Bible class will bring us next to Noah’s flood. According to an article in the Answers in Genesis magazine, there are hundreds of ancient stories about a disastrous flood from cultures all over the world. The stories are not identical to the account in Genesis chapters 6-8, but they do share interesting similarities. Here are some examples cited in the article:
Hawaiians have a flood story that tells of a time when, long after the death of the first man, the world became a wicked, terrible place. Only one good man was left, and his name was Nu-u. He made a great canoe with a house on it and filled it with animals. In this story, the waters came up over all the earth and killed all the people; only Nu-u and his family were saved.
Another flood story is from China. It records that Fuhi, his wife, three sons, and three daughters escaped a great flood and were the only people alive on earth. After the great flood, they repopulated the world.
If you ever had any doubt, pastors do like to get together and talk! I was recently at a pastors’ conference where pastors of the Minnesota District of the Wisconsin Synod gathered together. We talked, shared ideas, got to know one another better, and just in general enjoyed the fellowship of Christian brothers in the ministry.
But fellowship is more than just getting to know one another. It is more than sitting down with each other over coffee or a meal. When we talk about fellowship in the church we mean we share the same faith in Jesus, our Savior, the same trust in the sacraments, and more. In fact, it means we hold to the same faith in everything the Bible tells us because it is God’s Word. This applies to our members as well as pastors.
Based On: Mark 11:1-10
We don’t know what it is like to have a king. It has been more than two hundred years since the original thirteen colonies separated themselves from the king of England and began ruling themselves. We have long lost the sense of awe and reverence people once had for royalty.
Certainly the President of the United States gets very special treatment. Whenever he goes anywhere there are many people preparing the way for him – in a sense, laying down their coats and palm branches before him.
Based On: John 12:20-33
When Johann Sebastian Bach, the famous composer, would write a piece of music he often began with the letters J. J., an abbreviation for the Latin phrase “Jesus Juva” which means “Jesus help”. Then, at the end of the piece he wrote the letters S. D. G., an abbreviation for the Latin phrase “Soli Deo Gloria” which means “to God alone the glory”. Bach said, “The aim and final reason of all music should be none else but the glory of God.”
Based On: Hebrews 9:1-9
Have you had a chance to look into the manger? I don’t mean the manger in our chancel. I’m talking about the manger in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. In a figurative way have you looked into that manger this Christmas season and considered who it is you see there?
There in that feeding trough you see a baby – a small, fragile, weak infant who needs someone else to take care of him. Just like any other baby he doesn’t look like a threat to anyone. In fact, have you ever come across a baby who you thought might hurt you? No, I didn’t think so. Perhaps that is why this world is much more willing to celebrate Christmas than Easter. Jesus as a little baby is not very threatening to anyone, but a Jesus who dies and comes back to life is someone with power – someone you better pay attention to.
Based on: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Rumors and lies can cause many problems. Even worse, false information about God’s Word can harm and even kill souls. In the first century AD, a group of Christians in Thessalonica were concerned about what happened to their fellow believers who had died. Do those who die before Christ’s second coming miss out on the blessings of Christ’s return? Rumors and lies made the problem worse. Christians were struggling with doubt and fear – not at all what our Lord wants for his children.