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!”
“Look At Us!” Acts 3:3-7
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.”
“Devoted to What?” Acts 2:42-43
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.
We held our annual trunk or treat on Halloween.
This year it was a little cold but we had little ones come out for it.
We are starting to plan for next year already. Looking forward to Halloween 2018
The Stand- 1 Peter 2:9-10 Glory to God Alone
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.|
The Protest- Romans 1:16-17 Faith Alone
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 Door- 1 Cor.6:11 Christ Alone
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 men by 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.
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.