Joseph of Arimathea was a man who became noteworthy in the Bible for the role that he took in the burial of the body of the Lord Jesus, so much so that he is mentioned in the four Gospels. Joseph, we are informed in these passages, was a rich man, a good and just man that also awaited the kingdom of God. He was a member of the Sanhedrin and had become a disciple of Jesus, but not openly for fear of the Jews. We are informed that he had not consented in the counsel and in the actions of the Sanhedrin regarding Jesus but, if he ever did express his opposition, it had no effect.
Jesus having been crucified, after His death His body (as that of all who were crucified) was destined to be buried in a common grave. The Messiah’s crucifixion had taken place on “Preparation Day”, preceding the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, in which all work was prohibited. The Jews would not admit anyone to remain on the cross on that Sabbath of the Feast (John 19:31).
Twilight was approaching, and it was then that Joseph of Arimathea, taking courage, went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus, showing openly his love for that Man. We can imagine the surprise of Pilate, and the insult to the Sanhedrin when this illustrious member of their brotherhood openly took the side of Christ who they had despised, insulted and crucified.
Joseph bought a cloth of fine linen, and went over to the cross, accompanied by Nicodemus. With Nicodemus, they removed the body from the cross and, wrapped it in linen cloths with the spices and placed the body in the tomb. Only Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph and James, called “the other Mary” by Matthew, is recorded as witnessing the burial. After depositing the body of Jesus in the tomb, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus rolled a great stone against the door of the tomb and left. (David Jones)
Question:What prophecy was fulfilled when Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus and laid the body in his own tomb?
Answer: In Isaiah 53:9, the prophet Isaiah wrote about a sinless servant (the Messiah) being put to death with the wicked and buried with the rich. This was among the many details that Isaiah prophesied about in regards to the Messiah. About 700 years after Isaiah recorded this prophecy, Jesus was put to death along with two criminals and was buried in a tomb owned by a wealthy man, Joseph of Arimathea, as explained in Matthew 27:57-61, Mark 15:42-47, Luke 23:50:56 and John 19:38-42. Jesus was resurrected three days later.
What does Paul mean, “You were called to freedom?” Where were we to begin with? Who held us captive? Freedom has a price doesn’t it? Who is paying for that freedom? As we have freedom, do we have to defend it, fight for it?
Where were we if we were not free? We were trapped by the just law of God. Yes, we are now free from the law and the curse of not being able to keep the law. How did that happen? The one who calls us to freedom paid the price. Christ calls us to live free in the Spirit, living not under the law but released from the law to fulfill the law. Yes, we do fight for the one who gives us the freedom. “The Bible says,” as Billy Graham so often said, use your freedom to love, not to stray away from what is Godly. How does this happen? Guided by the Spirit we live each day free loving as Christ loves us.
Question: What ii the Christian understanding of virtue?
Answer: A Christian understanding of virtue is that true virtue comes from the power of Christ working through us. Virtue is a trait or disposition of character that leads to good behavior. One example is that someone with virtue displays wisdom, courage, kindness, good manners, courtesy, modesty, generosity, and self-control in their life. They treat others fairly and esteem others highly and value the sanctity of life. They treat others better than they are treated. Someone who has virtue has good, moral ethics and makes Biblical choices in life.
Spit and blood. Sounds like a battle and terms not used in polite company and certainly not in a church. But here we are, polite company in a church ready to learn from Isaiah about a faithful servant who gets ridiculed, sworn at, bullied, spit upon and flesh ripped apart.
We question who is this servant and why the cruel treatment? In the ancient Near East, a servant was a “trusted envoy,” a “confidential representative,” or “one who is chosen.” So who sent this servant to be treated so badly? Who was he sent for? Why so much anger and hatred toward him? The servant does not back down. The servant choses to serve, to suffer and be faithful to his calling. Our text reads, “He sets his face like flint,” ready for the battle. Can’t he see that he cannot win?
Question: What are the Servant Songs in Isaiah?
Answer: There are four “Servant Songs” of Isaiah that describe the service, suffering, and exaltation of the Servant of the Lord, the Messiah. All four songs show the Messiah to be God’s meek and gentle Servant. He is a royal figure, representing Israel in its ideal form; He is the high priest, atoning for the sins of the world. Isaiah predicts that this Servant of the Lord would deliver the world from the prison of sin. In the royal terminology of the ancient Near East, a servant was a “trusted envoy,” a “confidential representative,” or “one who is chosen.” The Servant Songs are found in Isaiah 42:1–9; Isaiah 49:1–13; Isaiah 50:4–11; and Isaiah 52:13—53:12.
Rev. Dr. Dale A. Meyer, The President of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, recently was a guest speaker on the Lutheran Hour. He stated, “Some years ago I came across two sentences that have had a profound impact upon my spiritual life. I was reading a book called Devotions for the Chronologically Gifted. You’ve got to love that title: Devotions for the Chronologically Gifted! I was reading a devotion by Rev. Arnold Kuntz. He wrote this, ‘Life narrows down, and crisis comes. And suddenly only one thing matters, and there, in the narrow place, stands Jesus.’”
Life narrows down and reality becomes clear. Maybe, you say. What are the conditions that make it true? For those who are blessed to know our Savior, who have been called by Him to serve, yes for us it is true. But what does it mean, what does it feel like to experience life narrowing down?
Two men were walking home to a village called Emmaus. It had been a long weekend filled with grief and sorrow because their friend, their Rabbi had been crucified. And now there were confusing reports of this Rabbi being alive. It just didn’t make sense. What did it mean? And then as their life narrowed down came their answer, our answer. The true credible answer of life.
Question: Where had the two disciples walking to Emmaus been?
Answer: The two disciples (Cleopas and one unnamed) of Jesus were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the day that Jesus rose from the dead. As they traveled, a man joined them—the resurrected Jesus, although they did not recognize Him. The man asked, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” (Luke 24:17).
“Remember: you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Those are the words that are said as the ashes of the palm branches are placed on our forehead at the Ash Wednesday service. But there is more. Dust is not our destiny. Our destiny is to be with God forever. Paul quotes the Old Testament prophet Hosea, “Death is swallowed up in victory,” and then adds, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:54 & 57 Jesus, the descendant of David, fulfilled the promise of a king, a Messiah to come. Jesus was the Word but before the Word came the Voice. Listen to the voice tonight and remember we are dust but buried with Christ we are raised with Him and live in His Kingdom now and forever.
Question: When was the practice of Lent started?
Answer: Lent is one of the oldest observations on the Christian calendar. Like all Christian holy days and holidays, it has changed over the years, but its purpose has always been the same: self-examination and penitence, demonstrated by self-denial, in preparation for Easter. Early church father Irenaus of Lyons (c.130-c.200) wrote of such a season in the earliest days of the church, but back then it lasted only two or three days, not the 40
What attributes does a leader need? Why is someone chosen to lead a project, a team, a company, a nation? Terms such as dynamic, wise, dedicated, and charismatic come to mind. Considerate, tough, kind, knowledgeable, thorough and organized also are terms used to describe leaders. Today, we will look at how God chose a leader that led a nation with his voice. As the Spirit led Isaiah he spoke to God’s people and told them of God’s demands, justice and unending love.
What assets did Isaiah have that made him the right one to be selected by God for this task about telling people about the Messiah to come? Certainly Isaiah had been prepared. Yes, he was in the Royal Court with the advantage of being in contact and knowing powerful people. He was educated. But the first and foremost asset that he and we also have, is he was selected, chosen. Concerned that he was not worthy to be in God’s presence he was forgiven. Then he heard the words, “Who Shall I Send? There could only be one answer for Isaiah and only one answer for us, “Send me!”
Life Received, Life Together, Life Giving- John 10:10
Question: Why did the nation of Israel split into the northern and southern kingdom?
Answer: When Solomon’s died, his son Rehoboam wanted to raise taxes and the northern 10 tribes rebelled. The northern kingdom is called “Israel” (or sometimes “Ephraim”) in Scripture, and the southern kingdom is called “Judah.”
The word Almighty is used 56 times in scripture and it always refers to God; never to anyone else. God is all powerful, or omnipotent. There is nothing He can’t do. What a staggering thought. In today’s text God, through the prophet Elijah, demonstrates His superiority over the power of darkness – false gods and their prophets. This is the all-powerful God that we gather to worship. So how to you envision God? As timeless, in?nite, all-powerful, unchanging, glorious? Or do you see Him as one who can be fooled or manipulated by human hypocrisy? If one sees and believes Him to be one who has unlimited power and strength we can’t help but ?nd security in him to face any and all challenges and temptations in life. Today we are called to re?ect. How big is our God? If the Lord is God, then it’s time to follow Him.
Question: What is Baal worship?
Answer: Baal was the name of the supreme god worshiped in ancient Canaan and Phoenicia. The practice of Baal worship infiltrated Jewish religious life during the time of the Judges (Judges 3:7), became widespread in Israel during the reign of Ahab (1 Kings 16:31-33) and also affected Judah (2 Chronicles 28:1-2). The wordbaal means “lord”; the plural is baalim. In general, Baal was a fertility god who was believed to enable the earth to produce crops and people to produce children. Baal worship was rooted in sensuality and involved ritualistic prostitution in the temples. At times, appeasing Baal required human sacrifice, usually the firstborn of the one making the sacrifice (Jeremiah 19:5). The priests of Baal appealed to their god in rites of wild abandon which included loud, ecstatic cries and self-inflicted injury (1 Kings 18:28).
We can all agree that human life is fragile. After all, we know by experience that life can end suddenly, tragically. Can we agree that human life is precious and should be protected? That brings questions doesn’t it? What is life and where does it come from?
Blessed by God, through His grace, we know the answer. Our Creator God brought life into existence. As God brought time, light, water, dry land, plants, animals and man and women into existence God declared. “It was good.” Then He commanded to us to take care of it. Take care of what? Take care of life!
Question: When does the unborn baby’s heart begin to beat?
Answer: The heartbeat begins as early as the 21st day after conception.
We hope you can worship with us this evening for our 6:00 pm Christmas Eve Candlelight Service called, “For Unto You!” Luke 2:10-11” What happen that star lit night, the birth of the Babe proclaimed in the field, brought “life abundant” to each shepherd and to us. Let’s go to that hillside, sit down beside the shepherds and listen as the angel announce, “For unto you,” and run with them to worship the Babe lying in a manger. Pre- service music begins at 5:45
Question: Is it true that during World War 1, the fighting stopped at the front line on Christmas Eve and Silent Night was sung by the soldiers of opposing armies?
Answer: Yes, it is true. The song was sung simultaneously in French, English and German by troops during the Christmas truceof 1914, as it was a Christmas Carol known and loved by soldiers on both sides of the front line.
As John writes that we should keep God’s commandments and keep from sinning he once again brings clarity into the dilemma presented us. What dilemma? How is it possible for us who are sinful to live without sin or even not wanting to sin? The secret is this. His commandment, better translated His instruction is, “That we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another.
We put our trust, our hope in Jesus Christ. As John writes, if we do this, abide in Jesus He abides in us. We will know this by the Spirit abiding in us and through the Spirit we love one another and live life abundantly.
Question: What was the Apostle John like?
Answer: John was especially loyal to Jesus. He was the only one of the 12 apostles present at the cross. After Pentecost, John teamed up with Peter to fearlessly preach the gospel in Jerusalem and suffered beatings and imprisonment for it. John underwent a remarkable transformation as a disciple, from the quick-tempered Son of Thunder to the compassionate apostle of love. John experienced the unconditional love of Jesus firsthand, and he preached that love in his gospel and letters.
John’s love and concern for us is boldly apparent in his actions and the words he uses. He knows how to get and hold our attention. In our text today he gives us a riddle. Paraphrased John says, “I am writing you little children something that is old but yet it is new.” How can that be? Is John saying keep the law, the Ten Commandments, but now there is something new added but yet it is the same?
John gives us a clue. “Darkness is passing away and the true light is shining.” v.8 True light, that has to be Jesus, right? How does that make an old commandment a new commandment but not change the old commandment?
Is that what Jesus meant when he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 Christ is the light that leads us, allows us by grace to live not under the law but of the law. Could it be the commandments of God have not changed but have received clarity and a performance enhancement?
Life Received, Life Together, Life Giving- John 10
Question: What connection does 2nd and 3rd John have with 1st John?
Answer: The Concordia Commentary calls 2nd John the introductory letter to 1 John and designates 3rd John as a complement piece to 1st and 2nd John.
The Apostle John served His Lord and God’s people in Ephesus. Early in his ministry he preferred to tell God’s truth by speaking and he did not write to his people until the end of his life. As God planned John became the last disciple living. The Emperor Domitian condemned him to death in a vat of boiling oil before the senators but that failed to kill him and then he exiled John to the island of Patmos. There to comfort the persecuted believers John wrote Revelation. After Domitian died the senate brought John out of exile and he returned to Ephesus. Then, as the only disciple now alive, he wrote 1,2,&3rdJohn, and finally the book of John.
John writes with a passion to let his readers know the truth of Christ. He writes as the only one left that could share, “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands,” 1 John 1:1 So he wrote that we may have fellowship with him, the Father, with Christ and with each other. The purpose of fellowship? So that all may have joy.
Question: The Apostle John served the church in Ephesus as their pastor / bishop. How did the church in Ephesus begin?
Answer: In Acts 18 we are told Jewish Christians, including Priscilla and Aquila, and Apollos brought the Gospel to Ephesus. Then Paul, over a period of three years, taught, preached, instructed and lived with them.
Word of Life is blessed to have Gary Thies of Mission Central as our worship leader this morning. “Mission Central in Mapleton, Iowa, was dedicated in a service held on August 23, 2003. What a blessing that the Lord has provided a place missionaries can stay when on furlough, offices where correspondences and meetings can take place, facilities for statewide mission events and worship space for more than 300. Not only that, Mission Central is the largest mission supporting agency, as a part of Synod’s LCMS World Mission global Gospel outreach, has been blessed by God to be the conduit helping to raise millions of dollars every year to send and keep LCMS World Mission Missionaries in the field. Since 2003, Mission Central has had hundreds and hundreds of visits from LCMS missionaries and their families (many have come several times) and has had tens and tens of thousands of people from hundreds of congregations visit. God has indeed blessed this place to be a mission center, focusing on telling others about Jesus!
What is the mission and vision of Mission Central?
MISSION: “Telling more and more people about Jesus, so that there will be more people in our real home in heaven.”
VISION: “Every Christian praying for and PERSONALLY supporting a missionary or mission project!”
Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he (man lame from birth) asked to receive alms.And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Acts 3:3-7, guest Bible p.911
Now healed the man followed John and Peter into the temple walking and leaping and praising God. What had happened? He had looked as directed at Peter and John and by the power of Jesus tendons, cartilage and muscles in his legs, ankles and feet became strong, bones were realigned and this lame man was no longer lame. People were amazed and wondered what power Peter and John had for this miracle to happen. The lame man knew, the power was from God.
Question: Why did Peter and John and other Christian Jews go to the temple after Pentecost?
Answer: As Jews, and followers of the one true God, they continued to go to the Temple to pray. Peter also preached the Good News in the Temple, teaching “Jesus the resurrection from the dead.”
Suddenly the church of a hundred grew to over 3000 that day of Pentecost those many years ago. The promise was accepted by those who heard Peter preach for repentance and forgiveness. “Save yourself and look to the risen Christ,” was the word of Peter. Baptized they received the Holy Spirit as was promised.
Now they gathered together with excitement and joy for fellowship, prayer, breaking of bread devoted to the apostles’ teaching. What were their interests and needs? What did they seek to hear and what did the apostles teach that brought their devotion?
Jesus had told the disciples, “teach them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Earlier as Luke reports it, Jesus opened up the minds of the disciples to understand the Scriptures. Now they would explain and teach from the Scriptures, speak about Jesus who they had lived with, and the resurrected Christ they had seen with their own eyes. What did it feel like for the new believers as they listened? Luke simply says, “And awe came upon every soul.” Amazing time. Which brings the question? Can we be filled with awe?
Question: Why did Peter, cite from the Old Testament Prophet Joel, in his sermon at Pentecost?
Answer: The power of the Holy Spirit was so visible on that day of Pentecost that the Jewish people were confused and tried to explain away the Spirit given ability, for the followers of Christ, to speak the languages of those from foreign lands. The explanation, Peter declared, was to be found in the Old Testament Book of Joel, a text the doubters recognized. And so he cites Joel, “God says, that I will pour out my Spirit on all people,” to explain what was happening as they heard all around them.
Luther’s discovery and proclamation of a loving God was heard and cherished by nobles and common man alike. At the Diet at Worms in 1521 he based his beliefs on the authority of Scripture and there was no turning back. His attempt to bring an end to false teaching and practices in the Roman Catholic Church was a protest that made him an enemy of the papacy and an outlaw with death his sentence. Scripture alone, was revered and believed as the source of a loving God by those in power. His Elector, Frederick the Wise protected him and in 1522 had Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum (The Word of the Lord Endures Forever) on right sleeve of his court’s official clothing. Times had changed. By grace through faith, there was a rediscovery of the Biblical understanding of the relationship between Christ and each believer. Scripture identifies our new Christ given status as members of the priesthood of all believers.
The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and the papacy tolerated the Evangelicals (Lutherans) until 1530 when Charles called for a “charitable hearing” to be held at Augsburg. His declared intentions for the hearing with the German princes was to establish peace. John the Steadfast, the brother of the deceased Frederick the Wise and other princes requested Peter Melanchthon to draft a common statement of faith for the Evangelicals to present to Charles.
The statement of faith, known as the Augsburg confession, was signed and presented by seven princes, including Luther’s prince John the Steadfast, to Charles V on June 25, 1530. Charles did not accept their beliefs and demanded that the Evangelicals come back into conformity with the Catholic Church. They refused, took their stand and now there was no turning back.. The princes stood behind the Augsburg confession that defined their beliefs- to the glory of God alone.
Question: Why did Luther believe that pastors could marry, contrary to what the Catholic Church believed for priest?
Answer: Luther condemned vows of celibacy on Biblical grounds. Celibacy had been taught as a way to be more righteous in the sight of God. Luther believed that Scripture teaches marriage is superior to celibacy except for a few who were chosen to be celibate.Luther wanted to restore freedom to everybody and leave each person free to marry or not to marry. Luther believed that mandatory celibacy led to the fall of many a priest and to the decline of the priesthood in general.
Just how big, how important was the Reformation? Salvation once again was understood as a gift of a loving God by grace through faith in Christ. We champion the liberation of the Scriptures. There is nothing more important, more significant than a release from damming beliefs to Gospel truth. Yet religious reform and insight also brought huge political and social change. Historian Timothy Maschke writes, “What began as a quiet protest against indulgences, made by an unknown Augustinian friar at a new university in an inconspicuous town of northern Germany, quickly, almost miraculously, transformed from gentle ripples of spiritual concern to a political and spiritual tsunami, affecting all of the European world and, rightly understood, all of Christendom.”
The tsunami moved fast. Luther’s understanding of Scripture and what Augustine and other church fathers taught expanded. He wrote and spoke for the independence of church and state. He taught and wrote that there is a direct relationship between believers and Christ who loves and forgives believers by grace through faith.
But now came the challenge from the papacy and demand for Luther to admit his mistakes and stop the protest. All watched to see what Luther would do. Would he step away from his stance that by faith alone we are saved?
Question: How was the name Luther originally spelled?
Answer: The surname Luther is first found in Saxony as one of the notable families of the region during mediaeval times. In northern Germany the name Lueder was more popular, while in southern Germany Leuther was used and in central Germany Luther was common. Martin Luther’s father wrote his name Luder. It is thought that Martin started using the spelling “Luther” during the time he studied at Wittenberg.
The 95 Theses led to the door to Christ being opened wide once again in the 16th century. Peter and John, in the 1st century, had testified to the Sanhedrin that the power they had received allowing them to heal a lame man had come from “…Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well.This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among menby which we must be saved.” Acts 4:10-12 Peter and John and the other apostles declared Christ alone.
Over the centuries the truth of Christ as our only means of salvation was lost. The 95 Theses not only led to debate about indulgences, as Luther desired, but also broke the strangle hold by the church on truth. In four short years Luther would be brought to trial to defend his belief that only through Christ we have salvation. At a city named Worms, he would be instructed to confess that he had mislead people and sinned against the Pope and the church. The question he was asked was, “Are the collection of books on this table yours, and are you ready to revoke their heresies.” If he would say yes, he would be forgiven, he no longer would be regarded as a criminal with a price on his head, But a yes would keep the door to Christ closed. What was his answer?
Question: What was the Holy Roman Empire?
Answer: The Holy Roman Empire was a feudal monarchy that encompassed present-day Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland,Austria, the Czech and Slovak Republics, as well as parts of eastern France, northern Italy, Slovenia, and western Poland.
In 1512 the name “Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation”became the official title of the empire. Charles V was ruler of both the Spanish Empire from 1516 and the Holy Roman Empire from 1519.
The National Lutherans for Life Regional Conference will be held Saturday, October 21 at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Lincoln.
Speakers will be:
Rev. Michael Salemink – “Standing Out in the Field” – How to be a life-minded congregation and
Laura Davis – “Defusing the Tension: Revealing the Heart of the Abortion Debate”
David Zach of acoustic band “Remedy Drive” with a pre-conference concert at St. John Lutheran Church
gymnasium 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, and speaking on human trafficking Oct. 21
Brian Young on Creation
Greg Baker – “Christian Witness in the Public Square”
Adult registration $50 and student registration $25 for all workshops and meals. Children 12 & under are free, but you will need to reserve a meal. To register and for more information from National LFL, go online here or e-mail Virginia Flo at email@example.com.
The Nebraska LFL Federation will reimburse attendees for the full registration amounts. After registering, contact Treasurer Kirk Goertzen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (402) 725-3592. Late registrations will be accepted at at the start of the event on October 21, with late registrants signing in at 8:30. Conference events will be held from 9-4. A special LFL rate of $89 for Friday or Saturday night will be given at LaQuinta Motel, 4433 N. 27th Street in Lincoln (402-476-2222.)
Still Time to Get Tickets for the 500th Reformation Dinner at Concordia University, NebraskaConcordia University, Nebraska invites you to a Germanfest dinner at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday,October 29, complete with entertainment. The menu includes German potato salad, beef roulades, chicken schnitzel, bratwurst with fresh saurkraut, pretzel breads, cheese blintzes and German chocolate cake! (Kid-friendly options will also be available.) The dinner follows the Reformation Worship Service at 3:30 p.m. Please join us for an afternoon of worship and fellowship! Click here for tickets to the meal. Space is limited! Find more information on CUNE 500 events on their website.Click here to download a bulletin insert to use with your congregation.
Concordia University’s music department will present “Redeemed by His Grace: A Hymn Festival Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation” at 3 p.m., September 17, 2017 in St. John Lutheran Church.
Dr. Jeffrey Blersch, professor of music and University organist at Concordia University, Nebraska, will accompany the event. Senior Assistant to the President of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, Rev. Dr. Jon Vieker, will act as commentator and give historical and spiritual background to the hymns.
Concordia’s A Cappella Choir conducted by Dr. Kurt von Kampen, Cantumus Women’s Chorus conducted by Dr. Blersch, and the Male Chorus conducted by Paul Soulek will all perform along with Professor Andy Schultz on trumpet and Dr. Wendy Schultz on trombone.
The festival will include traditional reformation hymns such as “A Mighty Fortress” with a special arrangement by Blersch commissioned by Concordia Publishing House for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Other arrangements by Dr. Blersch, Dr. von Kampen, Paul Soulek and Professor Emeritus Dr. Charles Ore are included in the program. Dr. Blersch is especially excited to introduce, “a new hymn that was the winner of the LCMS’s Reformation hymn writing competition.
With the words, “for better or for worse” those that marry pledge their love and commitment. Solemn words, hopeful words said before God and those who have come to witness. Jesus said: “’God made them male and female.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”
God created this world in love so that we can live in community with the love of Christ in our heart giving and receiving love from each other. Is marriage and family a crucial part of God’s plan? What are the concerns, what threatens marriage and family and how is this precious gift protected and sustained?
Question: Why did Martin Luther, a former priest, decide to marry?
Answer: Luther understood that there is nothing in Scripture requiring celibacy. He taught, the Bible wants people to “be fruitful and multiply” and preachers should be married so they aren’t tempted to sin. At the age of 42 he married a former nun, Katherine Bora, 16 years younger than him. The wedding of Martin and Katherine was not done lightly, nor was it without controversy. Luther thought long and hard about whether he should get married. Melanchthon and others felt that Luther’s wedding would be scandalous and harm the cause of the Reformation. Ultimately, Luther came to the opposite conclusion. As he put it, there was “a battery of reason in favor of his proposal: his marriage would please his father, rile the pope, cause the angels to laugh and the devils to weep.”
Just get out there and do your best. Sound advice but is it helpful advice when living your life as a believer in Christ? Is our task in life to walk the line between good and bad, eliminating sin? Paul answers that question with a yes and a no. Yes, but it is not job alone. Raised with Christ from death of sin we can separate ourselves from the old ways, the natural desire to elevate ourselves into the place of God. Those old ways were buried with Christ and raised with Him we are washed clean ready to walk the line, empowered with the mind and heart of Christ. We walk the line in love, His love.
Paul, inspired by the Spirit paraphrased says, “Go out and do the best that is in you.” We are to walk that line but it is not by ourselves. Paul writes, “….you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is…” Col. 3:1 So you walk the line with “Christ who is your life”.
Question: Why did Martin Luther write the Small Catechism?
Answer: The Small Catechism is also known as Luther’s Little Instruction Book. Luther wrote it in 1529 as a guide for fathers in teaching the main points of the gospel to their children and servants. He had noticed that while the Protestant gospel had been preached for ten years, there was a lack of understanding of the gospel and the Christian life. Religious education in the family home was in a sorry state. In his words, “How pitiable, so help me God, were the things I saw: the common man, especially in the villages, knows practically nothing of Christian doctrine, and many of the pastors are almost entirely incompetent and unable to teach. The Small Catechism was written to fill the gap.
Look again at the person that is approaching you. How the person is walking says a lot doesn’t it. Is the individual walking quickly, stealthily, staggeringly or confidently? Where a person is walking says even more. We walk to get to a destination, to reach a place that in most cases answers a need that we have. The early Christians were called “The Way,” because their walk was together with others who had seen the light. They were following the path, the walk of “The way, the truth and the life.” Paul addressed the followers of the Way in Colossae and told them and us to be filled with spiritual wisdom and walk with power doing good in a way that is “worthy of the Lord.”
With spiritual wisdom we seek to walk in the light. Tomorrow there will be an unnatural darkness with the total solar eclipse. An awe producing phenomena is predicted with a darkness that will come over us. Interesting that tomorrow in the darkness of the solar eclipse we will see the sun more clearly than any other time. The corona of the sun will be visible and research and observations will be made. Light leads but darkness propels and clarifies the need for light. As the light dims and then returns the Creator reigns and we walk in a way that pleases Him.
Question: How many Bible verses are there about walking with God? Life Received, Life Together, Life Giving- John 10:10
Answer: There are over 100 Bible verses about walking with God including today’s text, Col.1:10.
The very first reference in the Bible to walking are these words, “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the coolof the day.” Genesis 3:8
There is a battle going on. The Apostle Paul uses war and athletic competition to help us understand just that. We all have experienced and know firsthand that losing is not fun. Winning is our goal and it feels great. When we are dealing with life and death victory not only feels good but is absolutely a necessity. The battle needs to be won!
A pressure situation? Absolutely! A coaching colleague by the name of Jim Wacker had a favorite quote. “Do your best and don’t sweat the rest!” That eased the pressure for his athletes in the competitive world of college athletics. What about us in our extremely intense battle in this secular world?
The good news, the Gospel news, is the victory is won. We just need, as Paul tells us, “to fight the good fight,” which is another way of saying, “Do your best and don’t sweat the rest!” The “rest” has been won for us. We claim victory in Christ, through Christ and with Christ. The victory is won!
Question: How often is the word victory used in Scripture?
Answer: The number of times the word “victory” occurs in the English Bible depends very much on the particular version one uses. This is because a variety of Greek and Hebrew words are used to communicate the concept. The Revised Standard Version contains forty-four occurrences of the word. In its Old Testament use, the concept of victory signifies more than just a military conquest, though it includes that. For the writers of the Old Testament, victory is ultimately something that comes from the Lord, and it is the Lord who carries on the fight.
The Fourth of July weekend brings parades, picnics and fireworks as we celebrate our country’s birthday. Recognizing how precious the life and opportunities we are given in our country, cherishing our citizenship, moves us to share our thankfulness with those we love and with whom we live. What we are celebrating is truly a gift of God recognized in the very Declaration of Independence with these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
As followers of Christ, we celebrate our country and it’s founding with an insight and clarity of Creator who gives us both an earthly government and a heavenly government. Two kingdoms, separate but connected as Jesus revealed answering a question of the Pharisees designed to trap Him. The question was, “should we followers of God pay taxes and thus pay tribute to the Roman Emperor who calls himself God?” Jesus answered with these words, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” (Matt. 22:21) Those that heard the words of Jesus were amazed. Understanding that we are citizens of both “kingdoms” give us a unique understanding of God’s blessing us with the freedom to worship Him in this country we call our home. Yet, the question remains, might we lose the right to worship as we choose? More ominously, what religious freedoms have we already lost? Life Received, Life Together, Life Giving- John 10:10
Question: What grants us the Freedom of Religion in United States ?
Answer: The United States Constitution addresses the issue of religion in two places: in the First Amendment, and the Article VI prohibition on religious testsas a condition for holding public office. The First Amendment prohibits the Congress from making a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.
The apostle Paul writes that we should be watchful, stand firm in the faith and be strong. The implication is evident. We have to be on guard because there are enemies that will destroy us. What enemies? They are there we can be sure. Didn’t Pogo state the truth when he declared, “We havemetthe enemyand he is us?” How can we resist those forces that want to sweep away, break us down, starting with the self- destructive motives of our own desires?
Shouldn’t it be as simple as understanding our purpose in life? Isn’t it to gain, to gather and to conquer? We are geared that way, aren’t we? We can and are winners, victors, but not by what the world tells us is important. Paul speaks to this in his letter to the Romans when he writes “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Romans 12:2 As our minds are renewed, as we understand our purpose in life, who gives us life, we can and will remain firm in our faith and strong in His victory. The challenge then is, how do we renew our mind?
Question: What remains of the city of Corinth today?
Answer: In 1858, the old city of Corinth, Ancient Corinth; (a town 2mi SW of the modern city) was totally destroyed by an earthquake. The new city of Corinth was founded on the coast of the Gulf of Corinth.
We welcome “Pastor Barry Kolb as our guest pastor Sunday. Dr. Kolb has been and remains involved in life and the love of our God that binds us together. Barry and his wife Nancy now live in Branson, Missouri. Barry continues to teach at the Louisiana State Prison in Angola and serve on the board of Christ for India and serves as President of the doctrinal oversight council for Crossways Ministry. Barry continues to write and post a weekly sermon at: docvmp.sermon.net. And yes, Barry loves college baseball. The College World Series in Omaha has been a cannot miss event for years for Barry. We are fortunate to once again welcome Barry and Nancy to Word of Life and have Barry share the Good News with us.
Question: How often is the word “Spirit” used in the New Testament?
Answer: The Greek word pneuma, which in the New Testament is most often translated as “Spirit” or “spirit,” has many meanings. This presents challenges to translators as they try to bring the sense into English. The NIV translates pneuma as Spirit, 246 times.
Paul wrote to the young Christians in Corinth, “Hold fast to the Word!” Jesus had chosen Saul to be His apostle but certainly Saul didn’t know that as he pursued Christians on the road to Damascus. His introduction to Christ came with a flash of light and hearing the incriminating probing question, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” A new normal began that day for Saul. Now blinded he would be nurtured, baptized and healed by the Spirit so that he see clearly. Seeing clearly Paul would be led by the Spirit to proclaim and declare allegiance to the Savior who claimed him.
Paul appealed to the Corinthians and to us to “Hold fast to the Word.” In our Scripture today he summarizes the truth of Christ and the witness that Christ gave in the days following Christ victory over death. As Paul had new vision he presents the Good News of the Victory of Christ and tells us who are chosen, to hold fast to the Word.
Question: What did it mean to “Corinthianize”?
Answer: Corinth citizens were known for their extreme decadency and immorality. “To Corinthianize” means to be engrossed in a lewd and sexually immoral lifestyle.
Pentecost Day, the day all heaven broke loose. On that Pentecost Day in Jerusalem the promised Holy Spirit made His presence known, with roaring wind, spikes of fire and a gift of “tongues.” A new normal emerged with power in the hope given by the life, death and resurrection of our Lord. Power and signs were specific for that day when all heaven broke loose but that power and strength runs through the generations to us.
Jesus granted the disciples peace and acceptance and then sent them granting them and us the power of the Spirit to go forth living lives that glorify, reflect and give witness to Him. Ascending into heaven Jesus told them to wait for the Spirit. The Spirit arrived, as all heaven broke loose and unbelievable signs were given. Filled with the Holy Spirit, each day is an adventure for us powered with the love of the Father, the grace of Jesus and the direction of the Spirit.
Question: Pentecost was a Jewish festival prior to the Spirit coming on the first Christian Pentecost, What was the Jewish nation celebrating?
Answer: Pentecost is the old Greek and Latin name for the Jewish Festival ofShavuot, also called the Feast of Weeks, a prominent feast in the calendar ofancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses at Sinai fifty days after the Exodus.
Jesus appeared to His disciple on the day of His resurrection and said, “Peace be with you.” Then Jesus showed them His hands and side, again blessed them with the words, “Peace be with you” and sent them out to the world breathing on them the words, “Receive the Holy Spirit!” What Spirit? We read in Genesis, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth……….. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:1-2 That Spirit was now given to disciples as Jesus appeared to them on that resurrection day we know as Easter.
Earlier, much earlier in the ministry of Jesus, a man named Nicodemus sought out Jesus in secret. He was there to find out who Jesus truly was.
Jesus responded with what appeared to be a riddle to Nicodemus, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said how can a man be born again? Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Yes, we along with the disciples receive the Spirit that hovered over waters of the creation. Luther puts it this way, “…The Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the one true faith.” “Receive the Holy Spirit!” We are sent! Peace be with you!
Question: Where do we hear again about Nicodemus?
Answer: Nicodemus defended Jesus in John 7 and with Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Christ from the cross and buried him.
What was it like for the disciples to suddenly understand with clarity what they previously knew about but only partly understood? Similar perhaps to what we have experienced when we describe what has just happened as a light bulb just turned on. Or even better when we have a breakthrough which we describe as an epiphany, a moment of sudden revelation or insight.It is so clear that we are filled with excitement and energy. What Christ gave to His disciples when He opened their minds was that, plus more.
We all understand that what we experience in the present sometimes doesn’t become clear until we can look back at it with a perspective the future brings. Luke brings us the words of Christ speaking to His disciples and opening their minds so they now understood what they had seen and learned previously as they were taught and led by Jesus. The past became clear and now changed they were led by the revelation of truth shining brightly leading them into the future. So charged, they saw their Savor ascend into heaven after hearing His words, “I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.” Luke 49
Today our three confirmands, Connor Anno, Grace Donovan and Shauna Moran will bear witness to their faith. They have been blessed through the Spirit to have their minds open and to see and understand the truth that Christ came to witness. We welcome their families who join us today to witness and celebrate with them as they have been led to a saving belief in Jesus as their Savior.
Question: When and where did the ascension of the Lord take place?
Answer: Forty days after Jesus rose from the dead Jesus ascended into heaven in front of His disciples gathered at the Mount of Olives, as recorded in Acts. Luke’s account states Jesus led them to the vicinity of Bethany. Bethany is a village on the Mount of Olives about two miles east of Jerusalem. So both accounts are consistent and there are no discrepancies in these different accounts.
What were the 40 days between the resurrection of Christ and the ascension of Christ like for the followers of Christ? Is it accurate to describe those days as the calm before the storm? There must have been curiosity and also apprehension of what was going to happen next. Confidence was growing but what was going to happen next?
The true sense of God’s plan for them slowly became more visible as it does for us know. Jesus was alive and now much was to come. God’s promise had been fulfilled. The King was alive and Kingdom building was in progress and soon would be released into the world. Luke writes in Acts that Jesus appeared to His followers and spoke to them about the Kingdom of God. Why did He do that and what was He saying?
Question: How often is the phrase Kingdom of God (Matthew uses the phrase Kingdom of Heaven) in the New Testament?
Answer: One source indicates the phrase Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven is used over 100 times in the New Testament.
John begins his Gospel boldly with the words “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
That Word, that is Jesus, came into this world and John was led by the Spirit to write about His coming and His signs so that we may believe and have the life and light that Jesus gives. What signs? Changing water into wine, driving out evil spirits, healing the blind and the sick and bringing the dead back to life. Oh yes, also dying and rising from the dead and showing Himself as the risen Lord. Why did John write? So that we might believe and as we believe we live.
Question: Jesus remained on this earth 40 days after His resurrection. The number 40 is used on other occasion in the Holy Bible. Is there a special meaning with the use of the number 40 in Scripture?
Answer: The number 40 shows up often in the Bible. Here are a few examples of the Bible’s use of the number 40 besides the number of days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension: The rain fell 40 days and 40 nights, when God destroyed the earth with the flood. After Moses killed the Egyptian, he fled to Midian, where he spent 40 years in the desert tending flocks. Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights. In the New Testament, Jesus was tempted for 40 days and 40 nights. Whether or not the number 40 really has any significance is still debated. The Bible definitely seems to use 40 to emphasize a spiritual truth, but the Bible nowhere specifically assigns any special meaning to the number 40.