Concordia, Nebraska Presents Hymn Festival
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.
The festival is free and open to the public.
For Better or For Worse-Col. 3:14– 4:1
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.”
Walk the Line Col. 3:1-11
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.
Walk in a Manner Worthy of the Lord!” Col. 1:10
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 cool of the day.” Genesis 3:8
“God Gives Us Victory!” 1 Cor. 15:57
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.
Freedom of Religion!” Matt. 22:20-22
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”.
Stand Firm, Be Strong!” 1 Corinthians 16:13
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 havemet the enemy and 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.
“The Forgotten Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 5:15-21
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.
“Hold Fast to the Word!” 1 Corinthians 15:2
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.
Filled With the Holy Spirit!” Acts 2:4
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.
“Receive the Holy Spirit!” John 20:22
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.
Then He Opened Their Minds!” Luke 24:45
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.
“Speaking About the Kingdom of God!” Acts 1:3
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.
So that You May Believe!” John 20:31
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.
Do You Love Me?” John 21:17
What words would Jesus choose as He addressed Peter regarding their relationship? Continue reading Life Notes Do You Love Me?” John 21:17