RECENT DEVOTIONS

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WEEKLY DEVOTION
JUNE 11

Tuesday, JUNE 11, 2024

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN

“The Sundays after Pentecost”

READING: Acts 2:42-47 – They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Last Sunday we entered into the season that we generally refer to as “The Sundays after Pentecost”. Easter, the Ascension, and Pentecost are behind us. The paraments are now green and will probably stay green until sometime in November save for Reformation Sunday. This season used to be called “Trinity Season” back when our hymnal was TLH (the old red one). The “Festival” portion of the church year is over. We’re now in the “Non-festival” portion of the year. The emphasis for the next six months is teaching and learning. We’ll hear Jesus’ parables, sail with St. Paul on his missionary journeys, and be taught by Jesus and the apostles the essentials of the Kingdom. Sometimes we even learn a little about the Church and its traditions.

For instance, have you ever wondered what the story is with the candles in the chancel? The acolytes are always very concerned that they are lighting the right ones and in the right order. It’s sort of funny because the Scriptures say nothing about these candles. We just have some traditions that we try to observe but there’s no command from the Lord about how many we light or in what order.

Let’s start with the Christ Candle. That’s the stubby one the altar with the red “Chi-Ro” on it. The Chi-Ro looks like a capital “P” with an “X” over it. Those are actually the first two letters in the Greek word “Xristos” or Christ. As you might guess that candle represents the presence of Jesus at our worship. That candle ALWAYS gets lit first and put out last because Jesus is the “Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.” During the Advent season the Christ Candle sits in the middle of the Advent Wreathe, but it does not get lit until the Christmas Eve service, announcing that the Christ has come to us. During Advent we light one blue candle on the First Sunday of Advent, two on the Second Sunday, and so on. Then the Christ Candle holds its place the rest of the year.

Next let’s talk about the “Paschal Candle” or the baptismal candle (or as the kids call it, “The Tall One”). During the seasons of Christmas, Epiphany, and Easter the Paschal Candle is lit for every service. During Advent, Lent, and the Sundays after Pentecost the Paschal Candle is lit ONLY if there is a baptism taking place that particular weekend in any of the three services. So if during the summer and early fall you see the acolyte light the Paschal Candle, you know right away someone has been or will be baptized in one or more of the services.

The two Altar Candles are lit for every service with the possible exceptions of the Ash Wednesday service and/or Good Friday. Sometimes we don’t light them on those two days because they are so penitential, so somber, and so dark. Otherwise those two candles always signify the presence of the Almighty and our prayers ascending to his throne of grace. If we really want to light up the place, say for Christmas Eve or Easter, we’ll replace (or even add to) the single Altar Candles and bring in the Candelabra! Those are the stands that have seven candles each. They are modeled after the candelabras that were placed in the Lord’s tabernacle and later in the Temple.

It’s always a little comical to me that before pretty much every service the elder on duty will at some point ask Pastor Woods or myself, “How many candles do we light tonight or today?” They in turn tell the acolytes how many to light. Once in a great while, the signals get garbled and the Paschal Candle is burning when it’s not supposed to be, or it’s not burning when it should be. Someone’s usually embarrassed once they realize their mistake. Often none of us realize it. That’s okay. We do our best to do things in an orderly and meaningful way, but what’s most important in any service is God’s Word, his Sacraments, and “the peace that passes all understanding.” The candles play their part in our services, but their number and order of lighting are small potatoes in the greater scheme of things.

The Early Church developed traditions in their worship gatherings, too. Some they carried over from the Jewish customs. Some developed of their own accord. What was important to them was learning from the apostles, celebrating the Lord’s Supper, the fellowship they shared together, and the love the exhibited to each other and the folks around them. Those are still the joys and strengths of our worship. Those are the real gifts. Candles, artwork, stained glass windows, wood carvings, and even pew pads add to our experiences but it will always be the Word of God and the grace he gives us there that will bless us and carry us forward. Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1) VBS! VBS! VBS! Yes, it’s almost here! Sunday, June 23-Wednesday, June 26. Spread the word to any family you know with young children. This is for them! Pastor Woods can use you help if you are able. He’ll be there every Tuesday and Wednesday evening until it’s here.

2) FRANKENMUTH BUS TRIP – September 29-October 2. Registration is now open. Find information and forms in “News & Tidbits”, online, and in the Narthex. 53 seats available.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/4PO1Nuovlpc

PRINTABLE PDF: WDJune11.PDF

[email protected] — (502) 797-7407

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WEEKLY DEVOTION JUNE 10

Monday, JUNE 10, 2024

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana

“Passing the Baton”

We know the phrase ‘passing the Baton.’ It likely, comes from relay races in track where a baton is passed from runner to another—one baton carried by four runners. In our case the baton of Senior pastor will soon pass from Pastor Kischnick to the next guy—presumably myself. The baton in this case is the ministry of the Word and Sacrament here at grace. Many other pastors before us have carried this baton since 1927. One day it will pass again from me to another and Lord willing to many after that. It’s the Lord’s Church and it is for Him to determine the best course for His people.

In about a year Pastor Kischnick, our Senior pastor of 34 years will retire. He admits that he is a lot more senior than he used to be and is ready to step out. So, about one year from now he will retire. I thought on this one-year mark we might consider a few things. The main thought for this day is that I can’t help but think of the baton being handed off from Elijah to Elisha. I would suggest that you open your Bible to 2 Kings 2. I’ll be bouncing around in that chapter today.

First, notice that the time had come for Elijah to go up to the Lord and twice Elisha is reminded about it in vs 3 and 5. “And the sons of the prophets who were in Bethel (and later in Jericho in verse 5) came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take away your master from over you?” And he said, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.” Translation, “Yes I know, you don’t have to remind me.” Like Elisha, one is never ready to see a friend or a mentor go, especially one as faithful as Elijah.

Notice how Elisha handles the news. The Lord sends Elijah to Bethal but Elisha goes with him even though Elijah told him to stay behind. Then the Lord sends Elijah to Jericho and Elisha sticks with him again. Finally, as Elijah crosses the Jordan Elisha stubbornly stays right with Elijah while all the other prophets remain on the others side. Since Elisha refused to leave Elijah’s side the Lord sent a chariot of fire to separate the two prophets. Once finally separated the Lord sent a whirlwind (a tornado) to scoop up Elijah to the Lord. Elisha reacts by tearing all his clothes as he mourns the absence of Elijah.

Well, I don’t expect any whirlwinds for PK nor do I expect to start tearing my shirt in mourning. I wouldn’t mind a double portion of the Holy Spirit though. Who of us couldn’t benefit from having more of the Holy Spirit. But I, like many of you, will miss having PK as pastor at Grace. We have become friends over the years and have enjoyed serving the Lord as a team. For many at Grace here in New Albany, he’s been the only senior pastor they have known. Of course, he will be around, but it will be different.

Moving forward. In the rest of chapter 2 Elisha settles in as a chief prophet. At first his fellow prophets talked Elisha into allowing them to send a search party for Elijah’s body—thinking the tornado dropped him somewhere. Perhaps this request was a form of mourning by the other prophets. Notice how affected the others were here. Elisha knew it was an unnecessary task but patiently allowed them to search. Perhaps the activity would allow them some closer and help them move forward.

We at Grace will often look back to the last 34 years with PK even as we know we must move forward. Sometimes that might mean we don’t want anything to change. The next pastor may even feel unsettling. The lesson from Elisha here is patience. The baton remains. It’s still the Lord’s church. I might be different from PK. The next pastor will be different from both of us. I think we can breathe easy on this. The Lord has blessed Grace with many faithful pastors for the last hundred years. God can bless us with the next one too.

Finally, we see Elisha act as the Senior prophet for the first time in vs 19-22. 19 Now the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees, but the water is bad, and the land is unfruitful.” 20 He said, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. 21 Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says the Lord, I have healed this water; from now on neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it.” 22 So the water has been healed to this day, according to the word that Elisha spoke.”

This bowl of salt is the baton. The healing water of the Word spoken by the new prophet. We know how saline purifies water. That’s the point of the salt in the water—it is purified. Note, however, that it was placed in a new bowl. The new bowl is very symbolic of the new Senior prophet. The Lord purifies the land, “according the Word that Elisha spoke.” I would expect the same results here at Grace. A new bowl but the same water just like many runners with the same baton. If the baton doesn’t cross the finish line no one wins. However, if the baton remains the race is won. Likewise, if the Word is in Grace Lutheran we will run well and win our race. The goal of a good pastor is to keep that Word front and center—to be the UPS driver for God’s stuff and not the center of attention. That place belongs only to Jesus.

I too wonder what God will bring next year with a new pastor and a new music director too for that matter. I wonder whom I will be working with as much as anyone. But remember, at one time Pastor Kischnick was new and so was Helen, and so was I.

Will everything go perfectly in the future. We know that answer. I hope it goes better than Elisha’s initial trip back home. At the end of chapter 2, Elisha, on his way from Jericho to Bethel, is being harassed and teased by a bunch of kids. He must have walked through the playground of a school for so many kids to be harassing him. “Go up, You Bald head!” Maybe Elisha was sensitive to his loss of hair—not sure. Apparently, this pushed Elisah too far though. When he had had enough, he turned around and cursed the little runts. How did the curse play out? Right after the pronouncement two female bears came from the woods and tore-forty-two boys. Try that one at Confirmation class! Yikes.

Hopefully, we at Grace won’t have to wrestle any bears but we may have some problem solving that feels unbearable. (See what I did there.) No point worrying. Worrying isn’t problem solving. Instead, we will work our way through future challenges as we have done already many times at Grace. We didn’t get to a hundred years as a congregation by how much hair or lack of hair the pastor has but only by the grace of God.

As we enter the final year of Pastor Kischnick’s tenure as a Senior Pastor at Grace we certainly want to savor the time we have left. We also want to pray and prepare ourselves for what is next. The new pastor will be different and new to us, but we certainly look forward to seeing what the Lord may accomplish next at Grace because of it. In the meantime, we will keep carrying our baton and run our race that the Lord has marked out for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDJune10.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/uuZVNQbo_f4

[email protected] — (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION
JUNE 4

Tuesday, JUNE 4, 2024

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN

“St. Boniface of Mainz”

READING: Psalm 16:1-4 – Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods. I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names on my lips.

My “Pastor’s Desk Calendar” comes from Concordia Publishing House and it is designed specifically for Missouri Synod Pastors. I have every calendar I have used dating from 1991. They haven’t changed a whole lot, and I am glad, for that calendar is one of my most important tools. I would literally be lost without it. It keeps all my appointments and engagements before my eyes and uppermost in my mind.

So I looked at my calendar to see what was on tap for today. While I was looking, I also took a peek at tomorrow. Guess what I found? Tomorrow, June 5, is the Saint’s day for St. Boniface of Mainz, Missionary to the Germans! Imagine that! That’s the guy who ventured into the wilds of northern Europe and had the courage to evangelize the barbarians feared by the Romans as well as the Goths and Huns and the Franks.

He was born and raised in Britania, joined the Benedictine order as a monk. In the year 716, he sailed across to what was later Belgium, never to return to his homeland. He spent a year working with a missionary there. From there he went to the Germanic lands of Frisia. The story goes that there he found the local people worshipping pagan gods at the “Donar Oak” (sometimes Latinized to the “Jupiter Oak”). He took an axe, began to chop it down, and the wind came up and finished the job. The locals saw that he was not struck down by their gods and converted to Christianity. He made a total of three trips to Rome. On the second trip Pope Gregory III ordained him archbishop of all the Germanic lands. On a journey through Frisia in 754 AD, he and 53 companions were surrounded by a large company of bandits who killed all of them for what they supposed were chests full of valuables. After the killing stopped, they discovered only clothes and books in the chests. Boniface was interred in a monastery chapel and remains there to this day.

What struck me about this story is the thought that by the courage and faithfulness of this one man, Christianity came to the Germanic lands. It is quite possible that one or several of my direct forebearers was converted to the Faith by Boniface, and that Faith was passed down generation to generation until it came to rest with me. Who alone but God knows?

Now, we Lutherans don’t get quite as excited about “The Saints” as our Roman Catholic friends do. They have hundreds and hundreds of canonized people, and they continue to canonize saints to this very day. It is good for us to hear and know the stories of the heroes of the Faith. They can energize and encourage us to lift high the cross in our day. But our definition of “saint” is less “superhero” and more “faithful disciple”. When the Psalmist in our reading for today says, “As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight,” he is talking not about those few who dare great things for God, but about those who faithfully and diligently serve, worship, and love the Lord day after day in the vocation to which they have been called.

Not everyone finds themselves prepared and inclined to sail to exotic locales and distant shores to serve as a missionary. Not all of us are called to be evangelists, pastors, or teachers. But when you and I put in a good word for Jesus to our friends, neighbors, and workmates, when we help and serve others without thought of repayment or reward, when we regularly read, study, and hear the Word of God and then do our best to put it into practice, we are “…the saints who are in the land…”, and we are among those in whom the Lord takes great delight.

Remember the Latin phrase I have encouraged you to memorize? “Simul justus et peccator.” – “We are at the same time saint and sinner.” “Justus” is the Latin word for “saint”. Can you see or hear the connection there? Saints are those who are “justified” before God, and your basic catechism instruction reminds you that we are “justified by faith in Christ alone.” So, the saints in the land are those who put their whole trust in Christ Jesus and are justified before the Heavenly Father for Jesus’ sake.

I am glad to have learned a little about St. Boniface, “Missionary to the Germans”. Since I know a lot of German-Americans, and even a few German Germans, I am gratified to know that the faith I learned at St. Michael’s Lutheran School, Frankenhilf, Michigan, may very well have gotten its start in the 8th Century when an English monk dared to go where many feared to tread. Those Germans were a scary, violent, superstitious lot. Boniface had his work cut out for him, that’s a fact. But the Word of God is a living, powerful, life-changing word that points to one man, Son of God, who faced all things, endured all things, so that we might have life in his name. Thanks be to Jesus! Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1) Pastor Woods is back from his vacation and eager to make preparations for V.B.S. and so can use our help. He will be in the gym most Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Come give him your help in whatever time you are able.

2) GOLDEN SAINTS LUNCHEON: This Thursday, June 6, there will be a luncheon after the Thursday Saints Bible Class. You are invited to sign up at the office, then bring a dish to pass. I will provide the meat, the table service, and the beverages. Come, have a good meal and enjoy the fellowship of others of a “Golden Hue”!

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/pTAh2L7zj90

PRINTABLE PDF: WDJune4.PDF

[email protected] — (502) 797-7407

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WEEKLY DEVOTION
JUNE 3

Monday, JUNE 3, 2024

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana

“Why Don’t We Have Better Government?”

Election cycles come and go but the results always feel the same. A lot of money spent. A lot of lobbying is exercised. A lot of campaign promises end up like the palm branches of Palm Sunday, laying in the dirt, trampled by personal ambition and the insatiable need to be in power. A lot of ads and debates turn into as interruptions and gotchas during every Presidential season especially. We say we are tired of it all, but we, the voters, keep ending up with the same results.

The daily flush of news wears me out. I can’t hardly watch it on most days. We know just how much elected officials can quickly mess things up for us but we continue to vote hoping for a better outcome, but it’s only getting worse—farther from the Lord, more corrosive, cynical, and bias towards a secular state. The worst part about it are all the Christians in office who see themselves as champions of godly principles. Sadly, they too end up serving themselves and serving their own agendas to stay in power at the expense of Truth and morality. Even more troubling is the slippery slope that is deliberately and actively putting the crosshairs on any church who still champions the Word of God. So, why don’t we have better government?

I think the answer is revealed to us in the character of King Saul. Oh, like any who enter office, Saul began strong, and with very godly intentions. 1 Samuel 10 mentions how Saul received the Holy Spirit and prophesied with other prophets. At First, Saul looks the part just like a fresh and exciting candidate in a campaign add. In verse 23-24 the people are very taken by his outward appearance. Saul is described as “a head taller than the rest.” Well, he looks the part of a great king, prophesying and tall. “That’s good enough for me!” say the Israelites.

But let’s remind ourselves that asking for a king in the first place was a rejection of God as their king. Yet, all the tribes present themselves and subject themselves to this Saul as king. 1 Sameul 13:1 tells us that Saul would be 30 years old when he became king and reign for forty-two years. In time we the reader of 1 Samuel would soon discover Saul as typical of any other in office holder. He is arrogant and cowardly going which ever way the wind blows; according to the polling of the people instead of following the Word of God.

1 Samuel 13 everything begins to reveal itself. The Lord commands Saul to destroy the Philistines in 1 Samuel 13. If we keep reading, we discover that Saul was told by Samuel to wait for the prophet to arrive first before offering sacrifices to God and before initiating a battle with the Philistines. He didn’t listen. He became impatient with Samuel’s timing (The Lord’s timing) and plowed ahead with the sacrifice without Samuel. When Samuel shows up Saul gives a lame explanation for why he didn’t wait.

Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering (in fear of the Philistines), and that you did not come at the set time (It’s your fault Samuel for taking too long), and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash (I was becoming afraid and thought my way was better), 12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal (I was afraid of losing the battle), and I have not sought the LORD’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering (I took the matter into my own hands and on a time I am comfortable with. I am king after all.)”

Vs 13 Samuel responds. 13 “You have done a foolish thing (a very short sighted),” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you (Justify your actions all you want. Your actions are not in alignment with the Word of the Lord that was given to you); if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure (Someone else will become king instead of your son); the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command (because you were a coward and did not trust the Lord).” Saul you blew it!

Chapter 15 isn’t much better. The Lord gives the command to wipe out the Amalekites. The instructions were clear. However, Saul stopped short of finishing the job because the soldiers wanted the spoils. Saul gave in to the polls. The public opinion of the soldiers was that God was being too hasty and wasteful of all the spoils. When Samuel confronts him, Saul sort of confesses but half-heartedly. “The people spared the best of the sheep and oxen to make a sacrifice to the Yahweh” (1 Samuel 15:15). That’s a lie of course. In truth everyone wanted to go home with the loot.

Saul’s actions are called “evil” in the eyes of the Lord in vs. 19.

Vs 22-23 are even worse.

But Samuel replied:

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?

To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.

Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”

David would eventually come along. Jealousy would enter into Saul’s heart and an evil spirit would occupy the place that once held the Holy Spirit. Saul would try many times to kill David jealous of David’s popularity over his own and because Saul didn’t want to lose his position as king. Saul didn’t like the opinion polls that would eventually praise David and cast a shadow over Saul. Saul would eventually die on the battlefield and in so doing he would destroy his own family in the process.

Why don’t we have better government? Because as we learn from Saul eventually offices are eroded by the character of the ungodly. Selfishness gets it the way. The best of intentions are covered in excuses. Jesus says, by their fruits all people are known. A grape vine will not produce figs. The fruits always reveal what’s really commanding a person’s heart. And when the things are done in disobedience to the Word of the Lord evil things result. This is why we have national debt at the levels we have them. Officials fill bills full of “pork” that favors donors and ultimately to gain support for more time in office. And when the goal is reelection the best interest of the people they represent are held hostage to personal ambitions held by the office holder. Long-term stability of our nation is sacrificed on the altar of personal ambition as well. We all know this. And one or two decent people that are faithful and honest don’t get much done because the evil fruits of others smother them.

The answer is a genuine repentance by we the voters. Undoing the policies for example that cause harm to preborn life and the aged, policies that actually cut spending, or even putting term limits on officials will be a good place to start. Repentance would require humility even of the highest offices. Repentance would require a recognition that even kings and presidents will ultimately answer to the Lord. Philippians 2 reminds us that all will bow before Jesus and acknowledge Jesus as Lord to the glory of God. For those of us who feel that we are not represented, take heart because we are firmly represented by our Lord Jesus.

The answer is also in actually listening to and following the Word. Voting is good but even more significant is obedience to the Lord. Take the lesson from Samuel. This means not just loving what serves our own interest but seeking the interest of others. Again, from Philippians 2:3 we hear, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Obedience means loving Jesus first. It means trusting the Lord’s timing and way of doing things, something Saul never really understood.

Finally, it means standing up for what is important in our own lives and being a godly example to the next generation. Since the culture is shaped by who influences it most, it only seems right to be that influence to our children, to our neighbors, and to coworkers. If we expect someone else to seek the Lord, we need to be seeking the Lord in our own behavior and action. The Lord always considers such discipling to be worthwhile because of whom we serve. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says as much when it says, “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” If we want to make a difference in our country we will do well to make a difference in the circles we live in first. God’s grace by example is never wasted. The goal is to influence a heart for Christ and thereby influence a vote for godly government.

May the Lord bless us to be godly examples. May the Lord build trust in Jesus. May the Lord bless us to be wise in His Holy Spirit, repentant, and fruit bearers for the sake of our nation.

Pastor Matt Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDJune3.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/IbP6hxkmswY

[email protected] — (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MAY 28

Tuesday, MAY 28, 2024

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN

“The Faith and Theology”

READING: I Timothy 6:11-14, 20-21 – But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which your were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ…Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. Grace be with you.

Last week I spoke to you about my philosophy of preaching. I talked about “The Faith” as the main course of a meal and “Theology” as the hefty dessert to top it off. It is my firm understanding that doing things the other way around results in preaching that leaves most lay people without something to hang on to as they exit the church on Sunday. Today I’m going to make a statement about which some pastors might argue with me. Nevertheless, this is my statement: “The Faith and Theology are not the same.”

I understand “The Faith” to be the application of our knowledge of Jesus and his Gospel and the trust we put in him in our everyday walk as Christians. It is our desire to serve his kingdom and to love others as Jesus loved us. It is our daily struggle to live as He would want us to in a broken, messy, fallen world. It is his grace and the Holy Spirit’s urging that we rely on to proclaim Jesus’ lordship in our lives and in our living.

I look at it this way: “The Faith” is the muscle, the sinew, the blood and guts of Christian life lived in the midst of an increasingly godless, non-Christian society. Our Faith does the daily heavy lifting and work of being (to paraphrase St. Paul in our lesson) “righteous, godly, faithful, loving, enduring, and gentle men and women of God.”

Our “Theology” is the skeleton, the framework on which hangs all of “The Faith”. It supports, shapes, and articulates the work of “The Faith”. It provides the basis for and the impetus to our faithful living. It helps us stand up against the “outrageous winds of fortune” and the slings and arrows of the ungodly. It helps us to stand firm in “The Faith” even as “The Faith” does the work our Lord has called us to. As is true in nature, if a part of our “Theology” is broken, the Christian’s walk is hampered, and if enough of it is broken, “The Faith” itself becomes ineffective and crippled.

St. Paul warns Timothy (and us) to hold on to his “good confession” and to “guard what has been entrusted to your care”. “The Faith” will not achieve God’s calling if the “Theology” is false or misdirected. The “Theology” is of little use if “The Faith” is allowed to atrophy and be fruitless. Both are essential, just as our body requires both our skeleton and our soft tissues to work in harmony. It’s an interesting fact of physiology: the more the muscles and sinews are used and exercised, the stronger the bones of the skeleton are. The stronger the skeleton, the more work the muscles and sinews can perform. Each strengthens the other.

One more observation: our “Theology” is meant to be an “endoskeleton” – an internal skeleton like our own. It’s not meant to me an “exoskeleton” – an external skeleton like that of a lobster or beetle. There are church groups and sects that use their theology to shield them and ward of contact with other people. The Amish are an example. They have turned inward and use their Theology to shun others and “protect” themselves from contact with the world. That appears to me to fail in Jesus’ Great Commission to “Go, make disciples of all nations…” Their exoskeleton protects them from the thorns out there in the world, but you can’t find the lost if you don’t get into the brambles. Jesus did not avoid the scratches and the thorns. On the contrary…

St. Paul’s charge to Timothy also speaks to us. We need sound doctrine and godly understanding of the Scriptures to undergird what we, “believe, teach, and confess.” We also need “The Faith” to put those doctrines and understanding to work for the Kingdom. Both are essential. Both are gifts from God. If you and I are going to “fight the good fight” then we want to build up our “Theology” by increasing our knowledge of the Scriptures and their meaning. At the same time we want to build up “Our Faith” by putting it into practice by pursuing a Christ-like life. May the grace of God be with you as together we serve the Lord with gladness! Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1) Pastor Woods will be on a much needed and well-deserved vacation this week, May 27-June 3. He has begun preparations for V.B.S. and so can use our help. He will be in the gym most Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Come give him your help in whatever time you are able.

2) GOLDEN SAINTS LUNCHEON: Next Thursday, June 6, there will be a luncheon after the Thursday Saints Bible Class. You are invited to sign up at the office, then bring a dish to pass. I will provide the meat, the table service, and the beverages. Come, have a good meal and enjoy the fellowship of others of a “Golden Hue”!

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/Nxaguh6Q2Vk

PRINTABLE PDF: WDMay28.PDF

[email protected] — (502) 797-7407

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MAY 27

Monday, MAY 27, 2024

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana

“Remembering the Risen”

Memorial Day is a day where we remember the fallen, those who gave their full measure sacrificing themselves in service to our Country. Back in 2005 I attended a Memorial Day service held outside at the War Memorial in Charlestown. Many soldiers were dressed in their uniforms and many just wore their hats all decorated with various pins and awards. It was your typical service; a keynote speaker, prayer, raising the flag, an honor guard, and the playing of Taps.

I remember it so vividly because of how embarrassed and horrified I felt by the rude surroundings that kept trying to interrupt the solemn service. First, it seemed that anyone with a large, roaring diesel truck decided to drive through during the service. When they accelerated, I could hardly hear the uniformed MC speaking at the microphone. Then it got bad. A young man on a professional lawn mower decided he was going to cut grass right across the street from where we had gathered for the keynote speech. Thankfully, he was shooed away by several citizens. Just when we thought things were under control another pickup pulling a trailer full of lawn mowing equipment raced by. It was dragging the trailer’s tailgate that someone forgot to put up, sparks flying about accompanied by loud grinding metal sounds. Once again, the voice and message of the keynote speaker was drowned out. Shortly thereafter, an ambulance raced by sirens blaring. To his credit the keynote speaker didn’t miss a beat. Along with those standing next to me I would occasionally catch a sentence or a word. The whole thing was like a National Lampoon movie. As we were trying to remember the fallen the community seemed to forget.

This whole scene reminded me our faith in Jesus Christ. Acts 3-9 are wonderful chapters that describe the early church. The disciples go to the Temple and preach Jesus’ resurrection. Crowds gather to listen but with great regularity and with great hostility the religious leaders and the Captain of the Temple try to stop the message. The disciples are saying, “Remember the risen” while the Religious leaders are saying, “Remember who you are dealing with. This is our turf.”

Acts 3-9 are incredible chapters and in these chapters, we can see how the Lord grows His church even as the Religious Leaders keep trying to stop it. Acts 3 kicks things off with the healing of a Lame man who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate at the Temple. As he is dancing about praising God people notice him. Peter and John are quick to tell people that the man is healed by the Risen Jesus. Acts 4 the disciples are hauled off to jail and brought before the Sanhedrin who threaten the disciples, beat them, and release them with the command to stop preaching Jesus. Upon their release the church praises God and is emboldened. Acts 3-4 are really a unit.

In Acts 5 the disciples heal many more and once again are arrested. Somewhere in the night an angel frees them without anyone realizing it. When the guards are told to bring them before the Sanhedrin they discover their cells empty. Looking for them they eventually find them preaching at the temple again. “Pesky Disciples!” This time, because of their popularity with the crowds the guards are careful to politely but firmly ask for the disciples to go with them to stand before the Religious Leaders who desperately want to kill them. They were beaten and let go, grateful to have been counted worthy to suffer for the Gospel.

Chapter 6 there is more distraction when the non-Hebrew speaking widows were being left out of the food distribution. The disciples are quick to correct the oversight and assign seven men (all with Greek names by the way) including Stephen to care for the widows. Amazingly Stephen, who was full of the Holy Spirit did many signs and wonders like the disciples. Some didn’t like this so once again another follower, this time Stephen, is hauled before the Religious Leaders for another trial. In Acts 7 Stephen gives a very different speech then Peter does on Pentecost and Acts 4. This time Stephen presents an indictment of the Israelite nation. His listeners as being as guilty as their forefathers. He speaks of God’s gracious acts and Israel’s continued rebellion which culminates in the sinful rejection of Jesus and now Stephen. Instead of many coming to faith in repentance this time the speaker is stoned to death thus proving the guilt Stephen refers to. Stephen’s martyrdom emboldens a young Saul of Tarsus to turn on the church with great zeal. In turn persecution causes the church to spread out from Jerusalem with one example being the Ethiopian Eunuch that met with Philip.

Finally, we meet Saul who became the Apostle Paul. Once a man who rejoiced in Stephen’s death he Himself in Acts 9 became a champion for the Christian faith. And guess what? He too was constantly interrupted, beaten, threatened, and was even stoned like Stephen twice and survived. These first 9 chapters of Acts have one message, “Remember the Risen.”

The true irony is that these were the same disciples who had forgotten the rest of the plan in their sorrow over Good Friday. Several times Jesus told his disciples that He would suffer, die on a cross and then rise on the third day. Yet, they didn’t remember on the third day. In Luke 24 the angel had to remind them. “Remember how he told you when He was still with you…” Then in verse 8 we hear, “Then they remembered Jesus’ words.” These same followers of Jesus never waiver in Acts no matter how many times the world tried to interrupt their message.

The world is a loud place, full of distractions that sound and feel more comfortable. The world’s distractions have done a good job of making us believe that sacrifice is for someone else; that commitment is only necessary if our lifestyle is not interrupted. This is especially true when we make a deliberate effort to remember Jesus’ words and put them into practice. Yet when we do, rude distractions and interruptions of our faith are not far away. Just reading the Bible is challenged by getting the kids up, getting to work on time, spending time on the tread mill, preparing for upcoming deadlines, making bills, planning for the week ahead, by staying busy with sports events, or just taking a nap with the rare spare time that pops up. And that’s just in trying to read a Psalm once a day.

Memorial Day is a great illustration of how important things are being crowded out with distractions. Memorial Day is all but drowned out by deafening sounds of appliance sales, boating trips, baseball games, the Indi 500, bar-b-ques, and so on. Now none of these things are bad in and of themselves, but together they have effectively crowded out a day meant for remembering the fallen soldiers that have defended the very things that we enjoy.
I know that life is loud. I know that remembering doesn’t come naturally. But like the keynote speaker at that Memorial Day service years ago, Jesus’ message is still offered. We might have to work to hear it. We might have to sacrifice our pride, a desire, a thought, time, money, or something harder, in order to keep the faith. Yet, when our battles rage, we will not fall. So, remember the Risen. Let us honor Jesus with our faith and let us honor our fallen soldiers with our patriotism. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDMAY27.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/pG2cen2Q-HY

[email protected] — (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MAY 21

Tuesday, MAY 21, 2024

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN

“Preach the Word”

READING: II Timothy 4:1-5 – In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

Until I was in the seventh grade at St. Michael’s Lutheran School, Richville, MI, our pastor was Pastor Schoenow. Pastor Schoenow confirmed and married my mom and dad, baptized me, and missed confirming me by one year. He served a little over 30 years in that community. He was a good and caring pastor, loved and respected by the congregation. But I must confess that I do not remember a single sermon I ever heard him preach. I seem to remember listening to twenty or thirty minutes of him droning on without ever an illustration or story on which to hang the theology he was teaching. Now, some of it may have been my youth. Kids are not always equipped to learn the lessons being taught in our sermons, but some of it was also the training our pastors received in those days. I have heard professors and other pastors refer to it as “Dead Orthodox Preaching” – it was doctrinally pure, but dry as toast.

Now lest you think me picking only on Pastor Schoenow, think again. When I became an adult, serving the church as a teacher and principal, I heard plenty of “Dead Orthodox Preaching” from pastors much younger than him. They preached perfectly doctrinal, orthodox sermons, but most Sundays I walked out of the church and could not have told you what the sermon was about – and I was theologically trained and aware. There just was nothing on which to hang that theology. I could not relate it to everyday life and living. And there are still plenty of preachers out there who do much the same thing.

I have much preferred sermons that use illustrations to help us remember and relate the lessons being taught to the life we live the other six days of the week. I think that’s exactly why Jesus taught so often with parables and illustrations from the everyday life of his hearers. He talked about vineyards and wheat fields, weddings and banquets, fishing, winnowing, and orchards. He taught heavenly lessons with earthly pictures. That’s what I try to do as well.

I think of it in this way: a sermon should have as it’s main course “The Faith”, that is the application of our Christianity to our everyday chores, responsibilities, and relationships. It should help us live as the people of God with our families, our friends, and the people we meet. Then “Theology” should be the nice big piece of dessert that tops off the meal. We pastors want the laity to be knowledgeable and familiar with the doctrines that underly our Faith. That should be an important part of the sermon, but not the main course. When the sermon’s main course is “Theology” and maybe, “if you’re good” you get a dollop of the “Faith” in its everyday application, the sermon becomes a heavy, hard-to-digest meal that often fails to teach or satisfy.

Now, in our reading for today St. Paul warns young Timothy to be aware of the pitfalls of the pastor’s life: if he preaches just to entertain and please the “itching ears” of his hearers, he will be failing in the Lord’s calling. If the preaching delves into myths and psychological babble, if the preacher avoids preaching God’s law and speaking the truth about what God expressly names as sin, if the preacher aims for fame and accolades, then the preacher fails in his high calling and God will hold him accountable.

Paul calls on all Christian preachers to: “preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.” The three resources the preacher has are: the Word, the Sacraments, and the Holy Spirit. The tools to employ those resources are the training, the experience, and the personality he has received by God’s grace. In a world that less and less desires God’s unshakeable truth, his wisdom, and his Lordship, it’s never been more important for our pastors to be faithful men, winsome men, and men of ability. As Grace gets serious about finding a new Associate Pastor to serve our congregation, these are some of the important considerations we want to keep in mind. Call a man to preach God’s word in truth and love the Lord’s people, then love that man and support him in every important way. Always and in all ways our aim is to live together in the Faith and serve God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1) Pastor Woods will be on a much needed and well-deserved vacation the week of May 27-June 3. He has begun preparations for V.B.S. and so can use our help. He will be in the gym most Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Come give him your help in whatever time you are able.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/MIAHAXftB5s

PRINTABLE PDF: WDMay21.PDF

[email protected] — (502) 797-7407

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MAY 20

Monday, MAY 20, 2024

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana

“The Places You Will Go.”

It’s graduation season. You know what that is. It’s the transition time where one milestone in our lives gives way to the next. It’s a mixture of relief, accomplishment, and disorientation. Over the years we have seen our kids grow up. Their parents have held them, changed their diapers, fed them, shared hundreds of pictures on Insta-Tweet-Snap-Faceplant—Tik-Tumblr, and other online connections; we’ve been to your practices, paid your school dues, and fines, stayed up late after practice to get the science projects done, dragged you through Confirmation, and much more; been to countless matches, doctor’s visits, plays, games, and recitals, ceremonies and bought the yearbooks. We have watched our grads grow from little critters to young adults. We have argued with them, supported them, felt sad for them, frustrated for them, but love them and hold a deep sense of pride in them. And we at Grace feel a deep sense of gratitude in being included in their lives. And we hope whether you graduating from college or from high school that the places you go will always be a walk with Jesus.

No amount of bubble wrap, helmet wearing, filtered watering, phone tracking, nor lip smacking can prevent life from happening for any of us. As Jesus says, we are sheep among the wolves. But we are sheep who have a powerful Shepherd who goes with us wherever we go. And Jesus wants us to go places because wherever we go the Gospel can be heard. And let’s just say it; the world needs Christians to share the Gospel more than ever. It needs you to believe in Jesus.

In Matthew 10 Jesus is sending the disciples out for a trial run. It’s a kind of short internship of sorts—maybe weeks or months long. Jesus gives them very specific directions. Vs 5 “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go preach this message: “The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leper, drive out demons. Do not take any money with you. Take no bag for your journey, or pack extra clothes.”

To go only to the lost sheep of Israel meant that the disciples could focus on their fellow Israelites for now as they practice their preaching. The message was specific to the Jews, “The Kingdom of heaven is near” would immediately bring to mind the Messiah. They are given authority to heal people and do what Jesus has been doing. And they were do depend on their hosts for food and care which would build within them a sense of trust in the Lord.

But what if these disciples decided to do there own thing? How then would they have learned to trust in the Lord? What if the disciples changed the message to make themselves the most important thing? What if they said, “The Lord is here to bless you with success and comfort. You are free to do anything you want because Jesus will forgive you anyway?” What if the disciples misused their authority to heal the sick and heal the leper and used such miracles only for themselves, as personal trophies to get themselves noticed on Instagram or the Jerusalem evening news—to be famous? What if it they always worried what people thought of them and instead of shaking the dust from their feet from the towns that rejected them, choosing instead to make people happy? What if, rather than preach the truth about sin and the need for Jesus they didn’t say anything at all?

Thankfully, the disciples followed the Lord’s instructions, and learned to trust in Jesus, and make a real difference in the world by preaching the Gospel. This is our pattern. We win when we don’t go our own way which is tainted by sin. What’s more we learn to trust Jesus in real life situations. We see faith in real life. The Lord wants us to succeed more than anyone at life. His Word gives us direction that is designed for all the places we go to be places that bless us.

There are some places we should not go. Just because we live as sheep among the wolves does not mean we have to play by the rules of the wolf. The sheep’s job is to follow the shepherd not go where the wolf tries to lure us.

The greatest danger of the wolf is his ability to sneak up on us, to get into our heads, to diminish our courage, compromise our faith, bully or corner us into rejecting the Bible, wound us in our spirits, and if he can take us down. The wolves will tell you “that your parents lied to you; the church lied to you; your pastor lied to you. Jesus is not real. His Word is not truth. You get to decide your own moral code, your own beliefs. Christianity is dangerous, crazy. The Church is just a bunch of hypocrites and liars, fakes, frauds.”—By the way if that is true then they are calling our families frauds too.

There is always intense pressure in the present and the future to abandon Jesus, to condemn the Bible’s teaching and to make us more uncomfortable in expressing faith in public and make the church look more irrelevant and a stupid, as a boring waste of time. I pray that you would remember us here at Grace better than that. But remember the wolf looks at sheep only as a meal, an asset to gain for itself. It does not care for the sheep. It will pretend to care for as long as it serves the wolf’s purpose. The hardest part for a young Christian or even a seasoned one is to know where the wolves are.

A story is told of the man walking down the street who dropped a quarter into the tin cup being held out by a man wearing dark glasses and holding a sign reading, “Help the poor blind man.” After taking a few steps, the donor turned around and was shocked to see the “blind man” remove his dark glasses and peer into the cup. The donor hurried back and angrily declared, “You’re not blind!” to which the “blind man” replied, “No, sir, I’m not. The blind man’s on vacation, and I’m just taking his place. I’m usually the deaf-and-dumb man on the next street.”

What’s worse, being deceived, becoming angry at this pretender, or the idea that may creep into our head that helping people isn’t worth it or that they are all just taking advantage of us? How about none these options. The wolf gets a hold of us by stoking our emotions, anger and fear being the most powerful. However, if we play the Shepherds game, we didn’t give to a blind man for us to feel good or calm some hidden guilt. We give to honor the Lord. That’s a much different mindset. We saw a need and acted in love for Jesus. What happens after that isn’t why we give. I’m sure that some who were healed by Jesus wanted to be healed more than then they wanted Jesus. Even now, many want love and blessings of Jesus, but not Jesus, and certainly not the obligation of following Jesus.

Joshua1:5 tells us three times, “Be strong and courageous.” By doing so Joshua was a success. Playing the Shepherds game keeps the impact of the wolf to a minimum while at the same time making us stronger the next time the wolf makes another attack. Actually following the Word and putting into practice what it teaches will distinguish us from the wolves. But that requires you to believe that its that important. And no one can do that for you. It’s hard work to believe in Jesus and even harder to actually follow His Word. Jesus doesn’t promise easy. He is very clear about what it means to follow Him. But He is also clear about what you gain by following Jesus. You will have a distinct advantage over this world. You have a church family that loves you and wants the best for you. You will have an eternal hope that keeps you going and life after this world in the resurrection of Jesus.

Look, if I have a cure for cancer and I believed it would work with all my heart what kind of person would I be if didn’t advertise it; urge people take it and give it to everyone. I can’t make them take it. But how do they even have a chance if I don’t at least live up to my belief that it will save people.

You have something that lasts. You have the power of life in Your heart. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who seeks out lost sheep. He even leaves the 99 who are safe to go looking for the one that isn’t. When money, or bragging rights, or health are on the line, we’ll go looking for all kinds of things with a passion. Our prayer today is that we would at least have the same passion for the Gospel of Jesus and bringing that Gospel to the places we go. Because in the end it is the Gospel that brings us to the place we all want to go, to heaven with Jesus.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDMay20.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/X-KCuq3hZgg

[email protected] — (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MAY 14

Tuesday, MAY 14, 2024

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN

“It’s the Little Things”

READING: John 20:6-9 – Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

Luke 24:40-43 – When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.”

You may remember a Thanksgiving sermon I once delivered with the same title as this devotion. In that sermon I talked about giving thanks for the myriad of “little things” that we take for granted in our everyday lives and for which we seldom think to praise the Lord. One of the “little things” for which I said I am thankful is ChapStick. My lips tend to get chapped even in the summertime, so I carry ChapStick with me most all the time. Last week I found a whole new use for it. It’s one of the “little things” I have a whole new appreciation for!

Two Saturdays ago I went fishing with a good friend. He has a nice bass boat and loves to fish every chance he gets. So we went to Tipsaw Lake, a small impoundment out in the Hoosier National Forest. The regulations do not allow gas-powered motors on the lake, but his electric trolling motor was more than sufficient. We were about a half-hour out on the lake when he suddenly said, “Pastor, I think we have a serious problem here. We’re taking on water!” I was in the stern of the boat, and only then noticed we were pretty low to the waterline. He asked me to take a look into the compartment below my feet, and when I opened it, I discovered to my consternation the three 12-volt batteries there were nearly awash and more water was coming in!

We swapped places, and he started his bilge pump which began to drain away the water. I stood on the very bow of the boat to help get the stern higher. He began to examine the battery compartment and discovered that the water was coming in from an inlet that carried water from the outside of the boat through a tube to one of the live-wells. The fixture to which the tube was mounted had broken off, and water was streaming into the compartment. He had a cork for such emergencies, but it was too large for the inlet. What to do?

As he was discovering all of this, I had taken out my ChapStick to apply some to my lips. When he said the cork was too big to fit, I glanced at my ChapStick and asked, “Would this be about the right size?” He looked at me and the ChapStick, then said, “Toss it to me.” I did, and he bent back down into the battery compartment, pushed the ChapStick into the leaking tube, and guess what? Perfect fit! He pulled the ChapStick back out but the cap stayed put and not anther drop of water came into the boat from that tube the rest of the day! Saved by one of the “little things”!

In the two readings for today there are “little things” that have great meaning to us as Christians. The first one out of John mentions the burial linens and the face cloth that had once been wrapped around the dead body of our Savior. These now lie separate from one another, and the face cloth is neatly folded as well. Little details that tell a great deal. If the Disciples, or anyone else for that matter, had stolen away the body of Jesus under cover of darkness, with a great stone to move aside and a watch of soldiers to avoid, would they have taken the time to unwrap the body and fold up the face cloth before absconding with him? No way! They would have gotten out of there as quickly and as silently as they could. No time for niceties!

The second reading from Luke carries yet another of the “little things” that carries a great deal of weight. This time it’s a simple question from Jesus and a “little thing” given in answer to that question. “Do you have anything to eat?” And the response was a piece of broiled fish that the Savior eats in their presence. Pretty normal stuff, right? Normal – except the One asking was dead as a door nail for a full day and two nights. Dead people nor ghosts talk, get hungry, nor eat fish. It’s a “little thing” with a big meaning – the One they are in the presence of is a living, breathing, eating, talking resurrected Jesus who has done and continues to do “Big Things” for us.

I have seriously given some thought to writing a letter to the makers of ChapStick to tell them of a new use I have found for their product. Who knows, I might even get some free ChapSticks as a reward. It’s a “little thing” that became a “big thing” for two fishermen about to go down with the ship! But there is no comparison to the “Little Things” the Gospel writers recorded for us in their reports of the Resurrection. Those seemingly mundane details actually speak eloquently to the truth and the reality of Jesus’ Resurrection. Those are details that fabricators would not have thought of but those who were eye-witnesses naturally mention because they saw them with their own eyes. Jesus lives! And it’s the “little things” that give us confidence that we have a living Lord Jesus Christ who has destroyed death and defeated the grave so that we will, too! Thanks be to God! Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1) ATTENTION IU FANS: If you have signed up to go to Assembly Hall on IU’s campus, we leave tomorrow morning, May 15, at 8:45 sharp. The tour costs you $10.00 and you’ll buy your own lunch. If you want to know if any seats are still available, call Karen to find out and get your name on the list. See you in the morning.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/hnEP7mDwlz0

PRINTABLE PDF: WDMay14.PDF

[email protected] — (502) 797-7407

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MAY 13

Monday, MAY 13, 2024

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana

“Going Up!”

We’ve probably heard the saying, “What goes up must come down.” Physics pretty much confirms this. Most of us know the sounds of the chain pulling the roller coaster up the tracks. As the mechanical clinking sounds of the chain ring in a rider’s ears the anticipation builds for that first drop. And then that first hill is a rush. It’s often the best part of the ride and the part of the ride most anticipated. Yet when the ride is finished everyone ends up back at the gate where they started. Go up an elevator, an escalator, a rocket or airplane, anything that goes up must eventually come down back the to ground. This is the nature of gravity and the reality we all know.

However, something miraculous and unique happens in Jesus’ Ascension. Acts 1:6-11 describes the moment. 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Jesus ascended into the clouds. Jesus went up and won’t come down again until He comes in power to raise His people from the dead and take them to be with Him. Once Jesus disappeared into those clouds, the disciples stood staring into the sky like fans watching a rocket take off from Cape Canaveral straining to spot Jesus for as long as possible. Who wouldn’t. This isn’t exactly something one sees every day, right! Just out of curiosity, were others around the area able to see him ascend? Were others able to see ‘something’ go up but couldn’t process what that could even be? Or was it like the voice of Jesus speaking to Paul in Acts 9 on the road to Damascus where only Paul could discern the voice but those with him couldn’t?

Note a couple of quick things about Jesus’ ascension. First, note how Jesus ascended, namely, with a resurrected body. Just like the cross and the resurrection, the ascension was always part of the plan. Jesus doesn’t ascend until after He has been raised from the dead. The only scars on Jesus’ body were the ones He showed the disciples. The bruising, bleeding, scourge marks, etc. had all been removed before ascending. This body still ate and drank and had flesh and bones, but this resurrected body was completely new again and could no longer die. So, there is an order here. First, one must die. Then, according to 1 Corinthians 15, the body must be clothed with the imperishable and in power in Jesus’ resurrection and then ascend with Jesus into the Father’s house. Anyway you cut it one must first be raised in Christ to ascend with Christ. We will leave the details of how that actually works until another time.

Secondly, note the clouds. I’m sure you spotted the emphasis on the clouds. We see clouds a lot in terms of God’s work. Exodus 24:15-18 tells us that a cloud covered Mt. Sinai and God called out from it for Moses. In Matthew 17:5 We remember a similar event at the Transfiguration, that a cloud enveloped the disciples, and a voice came from the cloud then as well saying, “This is my son, whom I love, listen to Him.” When Jesus is standing before Caiaphas during his trial Jesus associates Himself as the Messiah coming down from the clouds. He quotes from Daniel 7:13 which says, “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.” In the end the Lord will come on clouds just as the Angel describes here in Acts 1:11, “Coming back in the same way He went into heaven.” And to make it more fun 1 Thessalonians 4:17 says we will be lifted into those clouds too after our resurrection. “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” Hope you are not afraid of heights.

Let’s change gears: What is Jesus doing in heaven now? Well, first he sends His Holy Spirit, as He promised many times. It begins at Pentecost with the disciples who were clothed with power from on high Just as Jesus promised. Like them we receive in Him our Baptisms. 1 Corinthians 12 speaks of God’s people receiving different gifts but always by the same Spirit. Romans 8:15 speaks of us “by the Spirit calling out Abba, Father.”

Secondly, Jesus is preparing a place for us in the Father’s house. John 14:1-7 famously tells us what Jesus is going to do. Jesus Himself says, “I am going to prepare a place for you, come back, and then take you to be with me where I am.” What this preparation actually looks like, God only really knows. However, the promise of a place with Jesus is full of all kinds of wonderous notions. The best of them is that Jesus loves us enough to want us to be with Him for all eternity. When all the hard work is done we go home and rest. Jesus is preparing for us to abide with Him forever.

Last, but not least, Jesus is interceding for us in heaven. John 8:34 tell us that Jesus is at the right hand of God and is interceding for each of us. Romans 8:26-27 tells us that the Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans. One of those great moments in Acts 7:55-56 where Stephen is being martyred is the view of heaven when Stephen looks up. He sees Jesus just as John 8:34 describes standing at the right hand of God. Jesus is not sitting but standing as if making a case before a courtroom on behalf of Stephen who is full of the Holy Spirit. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are our advocates for heaven interceding on our behalf.

Jesus came into the world and became flesh. Jesus ascended. And then He will descend again to gather His people and then we will all ascend with Jesus—that’s the promise. What goes up eventually never comes back down but will remain in the Father’s house with Jesus. Our own ascension will be the last step as it was with Jesus. Death. Resurrection. Ascension. Last stop is heaven. Sounds good to me!

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDMay13.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/vpj-aP-rMKc

[email protected] — (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION
MAY 7

Tuesday, MAY 7, 2024

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN

“A Gospel of Egalitarian Inclusion”

READING: I John 1:1-2, 2:15-17 – If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives……Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

My good friend Dr. Jeff Romer frequently shares with me his copies of “The Forum Letter”, a monthly newsletter published along with the periodical entitled “Lutheran Forum”. Both of these publications are “Pan-Lutheran,” meaning written by and published for Lutherans from all the various Lutheran branches. In an article written by Rev. Peter Speckhard, a Missouri Synod pastor, I found the clearest exposition I have yet read describing the growing divide between “conservative” and “progressive” Lutherans. Let me share an important paragraph:

“The age-old tension has finally broken because progressive denominations no longer accept the validity of the rules or principles that defined the tent (we occupied together) in the first place. Today’s theological progressive no longer argues for the exception that proves the rule; he argues against the rule itself, saying it cannot be known to be valid and is in fact oppressive. He no longer responds to the conservative’s declaration of the principle with, ‘True, but…” He responds with, “That’s your truth,” or, “Who cares?” or, “There’s no way of knowing.” Deconstruction has done its work. The tent has become undefined. The new progressive tent is defined by the effort to eliminate the things that define and hold up the orthodox tent.”

In brief he is saying that where once Lutherans on both sides agreed on basic principles of theology and doctrine, disagreeing on how best to communicate and practice those basics, now the most liberal ones cast doubt on the basic principles themselves. They have redefined the meaning of Scripture, cast doubt on historic understandings and practices, and made the Faith “a mile wide and a foot deep.” Anything goes. Pastor Speckhard goes on to say:

“The progressive theological tent in which the ELCA now dwells with its ecumenical partners, by contrast, is probably best and most succinctly defined by a “Gospel of egalitarian inclusion.” Egalitarianism and inclusion are the main guiding principles many of my ELCA friends these days take for granted as non-negotiable underlying assumptions. The problem most traditional, conservative, orthodox Lutherans have (with this Gospel)…is simple: inclusion is not the Christian Gospel, and the kingdom of God is not egalitarian.”

What he is saying is that Jesus very clearly says, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” Peter told the Sanhedrin, “There is no other name given under heaven, given amongst men by which we must be saved…Jesus.” Paul said to the Jailer of Philippi, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved…” Those are not words of inclusion. Those words are very exclusive: Jesus as the Scriptures proclaim him, not in some watered down, cartoon version of Jesus who winked at sin and has taken his place with a whole pantheon of gods and goddesses. Pastor Speckhard then defines “egalitarian inclusion” this way:

“Because in a church defined first and foremost by inclusion, the worst sin is “othering” or “marginalizing” any person, group, voice, or outlook…Everyone’s “truth” must be equally true, equally normal and central. Lutherans must not think Lutheranism truer or better than, say, Calvinism…Christians must not even think Christianity in general more true than other religions…If the Bible says something that seems hierarchical, the Bible must change; egalitarianism must not be questioned.”

For a Church that holds the Scriptures, Old and New, to be the unadulterated Word of God. For a Church that holds that Jesus Christ “…is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” For a Church that is serious about sin and confession and absolution. For a Church that defines itself by what God says to us, rather than a Church that defines God by what we say of Him, that’s some sad and scary stuff!

I think Pastor Speckhard has done a masterful job of clarifying and highlighting the divide, not just in Lutheran circles, but in Christianity as a whole. Either we proclaim Jesus Christ, Son of God, incarnate by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, died on a Roman cross under Pontius Pilate, rose again from the dead, ascended to heaven, and coming again on the Last Day to gather up all his faithful people – or there is no truth, no God, no love, no eternal life, and no hope. The divide is becoming a chasm. “If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar…” It was Pilate, the heathen, who famously asked Jesus, “What is truth?” All the more important that we continue to proclaim and live out the Truth in Christ Jesus. Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1) ATTENTION IU FANS: If you have signed up to go to Assembly Hall on IU’s campus, we leave next Wednesday, May 15, at 8:45 sharp. The tour costs you $10.00 and you’ll buy your own lunch. If seats are still available, sign up outside the office or call Karen to get your name on the list.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/i4ORTxurf3w

PRINTABLE PDF: WDMay7.PDF

[email protected] — (502) 797-7407

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MAY 6

Monday, MAY 6, 2024

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana

“Time Is Precious”

Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 also says, “God has made everything beautiful in its time. And God has set eternity in the human heart.” The Bible tells us that time is precious. We should number our days, value them, and occupy them with things worthy of our Lord.

In an article from USA Today last week we learn how Americans value their time. 2204 adults were asked how much their time was worth to them. The average value given was $240 an hour for a standard 40-hour week. Millennials (born from 1981 to 1996) placed the highest value of their time at $328.84 with 25% of them suggesting more than $500 an hour. Gen Z, (born 1997 to 2012-my boys’ generation), was $266.92. The Gen X (1965 to 1980, my generation) was at 215.90 and boomers were at $137.19. Millennials value their time more because they feel they lost time in the 2008 financial crises when they entered the workforce and because of the shut downs from Covid among other reasons.

Those polled also said that they would take a %15 pay cut for more free time. Millennials were the most willing to take such cuts. They would also pay others to do things for them that would save them time. %36 would get an item delivered instead of driving ten minutes. More would outsource household chores to increase “life-balance.” Gen Z would pay up to 5K a year to avoid doing yard work and cleaning. Millennials would pay up to 10K a year to clean house and cook meals. %40 of those surveyed say saving time is more important than saving money and that number rises to %52 for millennials.

The article also asks, “What makes people feel wealthy?” Answer: %63 said they feel wealthy if they have enough time to spend with family and friends. Nearly one-third of all surveyed also feel comfortable taking on debt if it buys more free time or a memorable experience. Yet the article also points out that Americans wished they started saving sooner. And, many would also accept a longer retirement with less money rather than retire later with more. It’s an interesting article and one I recommend you read. The link is at the end of this article.

The article reveals a lot about our culture. It’s interesting that Americans view time as precious and valuable. It is good to recognize, for example, more time with our kids when they are little is so important. Now that I am a grandpa I savor every moment with my grands. Many moms, if they had the option, would stay home to raise their children. The article is interesting to me because most people seem to live their lives without any margins—meaning life is not balanced, every minute of the week scheduled out. Nothing is just unscheduled with a day that isn’t chopped up with something to do. Just ask a parent running their kids to school activities. Perhaps, it would be nice to retire at 30 years old and enjoy all kinds of free time, not having to clean my house, mow my grass, or even to work too much. On the other hand, one can be too busy with work; missing important milestones of family or friends. Balance is important. Even if we are to buy ourselves more time, what else might fill that time? Would we build in time for an actual meal at the dinner table? Would we travel more? What does more time actually lead to? Would more time be spent in the eternal things like the Word, in prayer, being more involved with discipleship in Christ? At least we know this much; Americans recognize that time is finite and should be valued. Yet how one values time varies.

In 2 Kings 20 Hezekiah, the king of Israel became terminally ill. He asked for healing and the Lord provided him with 15 more years. Hezekiah was a godly king who tore down the idols and lead the Israelites to live right with the Lord. He also sought the Lord when Assyria nearly destroyed them. The Lord responded by sending an angel to destroy the Assyrian army—the nation of Assyria would never fully recover. One would think, for such a godly king, that 15 more years for Hezekiah would be well-spent. It wasn’t. In a rare moment of pride Hezekiah welcomed Babylonian ambassadors who had heard of Hezekiah’s recovery. Hezekiah unwisely gave them a tour of everything. He showed them his treasury and his armory. Naïve and foolishly Hezekiah showed them everything of value and years later Babylon would remember. They would conquer the land and take everything. However time is used it must not be frivolous or too worldly.

Free time is not free. Something always occupies our time. For Christians time at work, time at home, time in between has within it elements of eternity. We number our days by filling them with the wisdom of God. Even something as simple as a meal is an important use of time if it is done with thanksgiving. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says simply, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Our days ultimately belong to the Lord and as Christians should carry some level of appreciation and respect for the Lord through each day. In the Lord some level of eternity exists in every minute we spend living our lives. There is nothing frivolous or too trivial. However, Jesus is also clear that our purpose is not just to take life easy. Our purpose is not just to build bigger barns for ourselves and hoard His gifts but to share what God has blessed us with (Luke 12:16-21—Parable of the Rich Farmer).

In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) Jesus shares a story of a rich man who left the responsibility of his property to the servants; one got 10 coins, one got 5 coins, and the third received one. Each was told to invest the money. The point is that the servants are to use the time to invest themselves in the master’s business. They are to use the time to put the owner’s property to good use. A great deal of freedom is given in which this may happen. When the owner returns the first two are rewarded for doubling their money. The third simply buried the one coin, deliberately keeping it from doing anything. He returned it as is because he had no desire to use his time for the owner. He had already prejudged the owner and his property as a waste of his time.
To our point here, our days are meant to be invested on some level in the master’s business; in the way we interact with coworkers, in the friendship we make, in the performance of our work, in the manner of the way we keep our house, in the thanksgiving for the food that we eat, and in the way we raise our children—teaching them in the way they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from it. And so much more. There is great freedom given to use God’s gifts but as Christians a responsibility has been left to us to use time wisely and in a manner that would glorify God. Whatever we do we are to do it all to the glory of God.

Finally, let us not forget that the most important element of time is that it runs out. Time is replaced by eternity. God has set eternity into our hearts so that our hope is in Christ. As the Easter Season winds down this week, it is good to remember that eternity with Jesus is the real goal and best use of our time. “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep…. 58Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:19-20, 58). We are certainly meant to fill our time in a godly manner. More importantly, any time that labors in the Lord to His glory is never wasted. Time invested in the Lord’s way of things is a true investment worth more than any dollar amount we may give it because something eternal is connected to it.

So, may the Lord teach us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom. And may everything be made beautiful in its time. To the glory of God. Amen.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2024/05/01/time-is-money-value-of-time/73514699007/

PRINTABLE PDF: WDMay6.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/wZHngi3ybUM

[email protected] — (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION
APRIL 16

Tuesday, APRIL 30, 2024

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN

“The Resurrection of Jesus”

READING: I Corinthians 15:1-8, 20 – Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born…….But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

In the past couple of months you have heard me mention a book I was reading, “The Resurrection of Jesus” by Dr. Michael R. Licona. It was a fairly technical book done by a man who is not a trained theologian, but rather a trained historian. He approached the resurrection of Jesus from a historian’s perspective, not from theology. His was not the attempt to determine “How” Jesus was raised nor “by Whom” Jesus was raised. He said that was the theologians’ work. He simply wanted to determine if the actual, physical resurrection of Jesus was the best hypothesis for the Easter events as told in the four Gospels. He himself is a Christian, so he was very aware of what he called his “horizon”, that is presuppositions that can tilt one’s conclusions toward a certain end. He set out to be as open-minded and methodical as he could be.

The first task he undertook was to determine the “historical bedrock” under-lying the Resurrection, that is what were the facts that are nearly unanimously agreed upon by scholars: Christian, skeptics, and atheist. These three facts are:

1) Jesus of Nazareth truly died by crucifixion under the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate.

2) Very shortly after his death, Jesus’ disciples had experiences that led them to believe and proclaim that Jesus had been resurrected and had appeared to them.

3) Within a few years after Jesus’ death, Paul converted after experiencing what he interpreted as a postresurrection appearance of Jesus to him.

He went on to describe and delineate six different hypotheses that claim to explain how the doctrine of the Resurrection came to be the foundation of the Christian Church. These six were the following:

1) Vermes’s Hypothesis: The tomb was empty and the followers experienced an “apparition” they interpreted as the risen Jesus. Cannot determine what happened to Jesus’ body. The “mystical experience” they had at Pentecost made them feel Jesus’ presence and propelled their ministry and testimony.

2) Goulder’s Hypothesis: Psychological conditions caused the Disciples to have “communal delusions” and later writers “filled in the gaps” with their own thoughts and hopes.

3) Ludemann’s Hypothesis: Peter experienced a “psychotic disorder” because of his shame and guilt in denying Christ. Then his report to the rest of the followers caused them to have a “shared hallucinatory fantasy” that became the foundation of their belief.

4) Crossan’s Hypothesis: Paul experienced a hallucination on the Road to Damascus. The “empty tomb story” was invented by Mark and copied by the other evangelists. His followers perceived that the Kingdom of God continued to grow and assumed Christ’s presence.

5) Craffert’s Hypothesis: The Disciples were in an “altered state of consciousness” and experienced the resurrected Jesus in a “subjective” sense – real to them but not physically.

6) The Physical Resurrection of Jesus: As the Christian Church has maintained from the start – Jesus’ corpse returned to life, in the flesh, breathing, eating, walking, talking.

Licona subjected each one of these hypotheses to 5 historiographical criteria and rated each criteria either plausible, tentative, or fail based on how well the hypotheses met each criteria. After assigning values to each hypothesis, Licona himself was surprised that of the six, the only one to receive plausible in all five criteria was the sixth one, The Physical Resurrection of Jesus. Only Verme’s Hypothesis had three of the five. The rest scored two or less.

For all of them the passage of Scripture that carried the most weight was not from the Gospels but our text for today. Paul’s proclamation of the Resurrection witnesses is widely considered the first written account available to the Church. Since this was written about A.D. 55, Paul is only about 20 yrs. from the first Easter. He is recording the facts as he has received them, and in turn is delivering them to his readers. Jesus LIVES! That’s the only good explanation for the Gospel accounts, Paul’s conversion, the fantastic growth of the Church, and the faithfulness of the Apostles and witnesses in the face of threat and martyrdom.

It is also OUR proclamation. We don’t NEED Licona’s research to affirm the truth of the Resurrection. We hold the Scriptures to be God’s word and truth. But, for some who teeter on the fences of faith, his method leads to the same conclusion: Jesus Christ took up his life again on the Third Day as he said he would. He lives to all eternity and so shall we, redeemed and saved by the blood of the Lamb. Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1) ATTENTION IU FANS: we are taking a bus tour to IU Bloomington to take a guided tour of Assembly Hall and a visit to the Fine Arts Building on campus on Wednesday, May 15. The tour costs you $10.00 and you’ll buy your own lunch. Sign up outside the office or call Karen to get your name on the list.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/2bS1gc_J3Q0

PRINTABLE PDF: WDApril30.PDF

[email protected] — (502) 797-7407

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WEEKLY DEVOTION
APRIL 29

Monday, APRIL 29, 2024

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana

“The War of the Worlds”

Most of us who are watching this today have probably seen or at least heard about the Movie, the War of the Worlds. Originally written all the way back in 1897 the latest Hollywood version, starring Tom Cruise, came out in 2005. The movie suggests aliens left behind war machines buried deep in the ground many years before civilization. They return with the intention of taking over the world. Their machines come out of the ground and begin chasing the startled, frightened citizens of Tom Cruise’s neighborhood, laser beaming everything from people to stuff. Thankfully Tom is a fast runner and manages to escape the carnage. Later in the movie, just when we think the aliens are winning, the aliens begin to die because of their exposure to normal bacteria found in the elements, like water. The pesky aliens with their super killer walking machines have no resistance to the bacteria that human beings had built a natural resistance to. Yea, humanity wins, and the world is saved.

Now let’s put a twist on our story. The world is tainted not just with bacteria but with sin. Sin eventually kills everything and everyone it touches. The enemy isn’t the alien but the natives, namely, “those of the world.” What we quickly discover in scripture is that God’s people are the aliens who are treated as a threat by the enemies of God because of their Christian faith. James 4:4 for example says, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” And there you have it, the Christian version of The War of the Worlds.

The reason is founded in the unbelieves heart who makes himself a friend of the world, who loves the riches and power of this world, who’s God is the stomach and who always chases his worldview at the expense of his neighbor. They often create a world of their own and try to force others to embrace it. The Pharisees lived in their own world of ideas and stubborn thinking so much so that they missed the kingdom of God in Jesus. Their worldview was very limited by their spiritual blindness. Thus, they war against God and His people.

So, today is a reminder. Our hope today is to distinguish which world we are part of and why all ‘worlds’ are different from God’s kingdom. First, what do we hear about the war of the worlds in scripture? Christian Pastor and speaker, Voddie Baucham routinely speaks of the different worlds mentioned in scripture. We’ve probably noticed them ourselves but perhaps haven’t given the subject a lot of attention. So, let’s consider the different worlds around us.

One is the world in terms of people. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through Him.” This is the first world, and it includes us as well as all humanity. Jesus’ love led to the cross. Jesus didn’t die on the cross for rocks or animals but for human beings. So, God gave His Son for us. This single verse is said to capture the Gospel of Jesus itself—“The Gospel in a nutshell.”

Another example of the ‘world’ is the creation of the world. Psalm 24:1—”The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Psalm 90:2 also says, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Not only is the world a part of the creation but God gets the credit. (Consider Job 38 for example.)

On a small level the ‘world’ can also refer to a specific region. Probably most familiar to us is Luke 2:1 “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.” The Roman world was its sovereign territory; everything under the jurisdiction of Caesar and the authority of Rome.

The ‘world’ also is a fallen place that we have no business being part of. Seems like a contradiction but when you read the passages in context the idea of the world is the fallen nature of things. For example, in Romans 12:2 Christians are being warned. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” John 15:19 Jesus tell His disciples, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” The world in this case is referring to its fallen state, its brokenness, and rebellion against God. Because of its fallen state the world will not last and those who cling to their sin condemn themselves with it. Matthew 18:7 Jesus says, “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!” The rebellion of the fallen world takes it ultimate shape in John 1:10 which tells us, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.” The world here refers to the creation but in the fallen state the people in it, especially His own kinsman, the Israelites, did not recognize Jesus.

Therefore, Jesus prays in John 17 in His high priestly prayer is that His followers overcome the world with Jesus and instead are unified with Jesus and the Heavenly Father. Verse 14 Jesus prays, “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.” This verse confirms that we are aliens on our home planet. This world in its current form is not something to conform to but a place to overcome in Jesus. In the meantime, we should seem alien in our faith to look and sound different than the unbeliever in this world. We are the salt and light of this world of darkness.

Back in High School, long ago in a land far away from New Albany, Indiana a younger version of me had a classmate that came to our country from Australia. When he came in 9th grade, Anthony had a very thick down under accent. In the early days of getting to know him most of us who got to know him had to ask him to repeat himself so we could understand what he said. He was, of course, an instant hit because who doesn’t like a great accent. Our English friend from here in our congregation still has her accent and it remains quite strong even though she has been in the U. S. for most of her life now. However, our friend Anthony, by the time we graduated from High School nearly lost most of his. In the same way, Christians have accents that we gain by knowing Jesus. We begin to sound like Jesus and live like Jesus in the way we do things in this world which should be a contrast to the world around us. It’s like the English having tea in the afternoon. Hang around a British person long enough and one will most likely be having tea and learn to enjoy it.

The goal is not to conform to this world by to be transformed for the Kingdom to come. The Kingdom to come centers itself on Jesus and way from self-interests and self-focus. It centers on love. And that love is centered not in the world but on Jesus who is not of this world. It is this love that distinguishes the world from God’s kingdom and God’s people from lovers of this world.

And what happens to the world in its current form? It is remade for the believers. Isaiah 65:17 speaks of a new heaven and new earth. “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” The old world will be forgotten and replaced. So, those who are tethered to the old world will be lost with it. Those who are connected to Jesus will find themselves with Him in His new Kingdom.

So, the next time you read passages that speak of the world consider the context of which you are reading. Which world is it speaking about? The creation? The People? A Region? Or is it all the stuff that we as Christians are meant to overcome. Or is it the unbeliever we are to witness to in order for more of the world’s residents to escape with us in Jesus? It is a war of the worlds and we are a part of it.

Pastor Matt Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDApril29.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/IROy8TqOAcY

[email protected] — (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION
APRIL 23

Tuesday, APRIL 23, 2024

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN

“The Passover of God”

READING: Exodus 12:1-8, 11-13 – The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the side and tops of the door frames of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast……This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into our belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover. On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn – both men and animals – and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.”

Today is Passover! Some years Good Friday coincides with Passover; some years it doesn’t. Christianity and Judaism have different dating systems because Christianity uses a solar calendar while Judaism uses a lunar calendar. I’m sure there is some ancient arcane method for determining the dates of Good Friday and Easter. It has something to do with the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox, but even after I Googled it I could not determine why they are so different this year. All I know is that the calendar hanging on the wall behind me while I’m writing this says today is Passover, three- and one-half weeks after we celebrated Easter! Go figure!

What is important is that the first Passover (and every one of them thereafter) was full of Jesus. Think about it: the Israelites were to take a year-old male lamb without any blemish, sacrifice it and catch the blood. That blood was to be smeared onto the wood of their doorframes. Then the lamb was to be consumed entirely by the household. When the Destroyer came amongst the dwellings, any home marked with the blood of the lamb would be “passed over” and no harm would come to that family.

Jesus, “The Lamb of God”, was in his prime when taken to the cross. He was without a sinful blemish, perfect before God. Then he was sacrificed on the cross, and by his blood we are “passed over” without condemnation for our sins. He was utterly consumed: physically tortured and bled out; spiritually rejected by the Father on our behalf; and abandoned by nearly every one of his friends and followers. What happened at the Passover was precursor to the sacrifice of God’s Son for the benefit of sinful humanity.

And, of course, the Passover is directly connected to the Lord’s Supper. Instead of pointing back to a sacrifice on the cusp of the Exodus, Holy Communion points back to a sacrifice on the Cross that brings hope and salvation to all who believe on Jesus’ name. When we eat his body and drink his blood, we are remembering and re-enacting his death while receiving its benefits at the present time. Concurrently, we are brought into the very presence of Christ himself in fulfillment of his own words of institution: “This is my body…this is my blood.” Jesus comes to us and joins himself to us In a most marvelous way. The Passover was evidence to Israel that God was with them and leading them out of bondage with a mighty arm. Communion is evidence to Christians that God is with us and leading us out of bondage to sin and death by the “Blood of the Lamb”.

So Happy Passover to you! We don’t celebrate it in the Church, but it is always a day worth remembering because in so many ways it heralded and pointed ahead to God’s deliverance of all people whose hope is in our Lord Jesus Christ. Christians can’t and shouldn’t look at the Passover without seeing Jesus all over it. He is the very Pascal Lamb sacrificed for us and our salvation. It is celebrated once a year by Judaism while the Lord’s Supper is celebrated by Christians often and frequently. And some day you and I will celebrate all of it at the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb in his Kingdom.” Now that’s something to look forward to! Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1) Please pray for our Junior Confirmands. This Sunday they will be confirmed in the Faith in the late service. Pray for Amelia, Madelyn, Maggie, Breena, Heidi, Knox, Landon, Asa, Kellen, and Lukas as they become communicant members of Grace.

2) ATTENTION IU FANS: we are taking a bus tour to IU Bloomington to take a guided tour of Assembly Hall and a visit to the Fine Arts Building on campus on Wednesday, May 15. The tour costs you $10.00 and you’ll buy your own lunch. Sign up outside the office or call Karen to get your name on the list.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/kZ8MbyizpsU

PRINTABLE PDF: WDApril23.PDF

[email protected] — (502) 797-7407

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WEEKLY DEVOTION APRIL 22

Monday, APRIL 22, 2024

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana

“Take Courage In Jesus.”

Dennis Prager, radio host and author of the Rational Bible, has a strong opinion about courage. In His Rational Bible commentary on Exodus he says, “I am convinced courage is the rarest of all good traits. There are far more kind and honest people than there are courageous people. Unfortunately, however, in the battle against evil, all the good traits in the world amount to little when not accompanied by courage.”

I would agree that courage is fundamentally critical if anything good is accomplished. When we visit Acts chapter 4, we discover very different kinds of disciples than the ones we met on Easter morning, namely ones with courage. In Acts 3 Peter and John heal a beggar over 40 who had been crippled from birth. It was his daily routine to go to the Temple to beg. Peter and John heal the beggar who immediately follows the disciples into the Temple. His dancing and glorifying God for his healing gets the attention of those who always knew him as the beggar at the gate. Peter and John are quick to identify Jesus as the source of the miracle. They are also quick to speak of Jesus resurrected from the dead. Speaking so boldly at the Temple gets the disciples arrested and thrown in jail for the night.

Enter chapter 4. Peter, John, and the former crippled man stand before the same men who crucified Jesus. Verse 5-6 reveal the political players by name. “The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family.” The list of names are Sadducees, and members of the same family. The Sanhedrin was very nepotistic as it seems. These men not only represented the aristocracy, but also the religious group that did not believe in a resurrection and hated Jesus. Now they hate Jesus’ disciples and especially their message. They had put Jesus to death on the cross and now they were looking for ways to “cancel” or silence Jesus’ disciples.

This is where we want to take special notice. In Acts 4:13 we hear, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” “They took note that these men were with Jesus” reveals why they have the courage that they held—they were with Jesus. Peter and John knew whom they followed and what Jesus had done and will do. The evidence was literally standing next to them dancing about praising God. These were not the same men that were hiding behind locked doors on Easter morning, huddled in fear of these very men that they were so bold to witness to by Acts 4. Peter and John were no longer afraid of what may happen to them and boldly chose to follow Jesus rather than heed any threats or warnings not to preach. In this one case we see elements important to courage. Courage deals with the truth and reality of Jesus’ resurrection. Fear only deals with possible scenarios and uncertainties such as the notion of religious leaders combing the streets looking for the disciples. Courage deals with certainty, truth, and gets noticed and respected even by one’s enemies.

We’ve seen it before in Daniel 3 where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow to the golden statue. Verses 16-18 displays a bold faith. “16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Courage here says the idol isn’t real and Nebuchadnezzar’s power is limited even if in the moment he seems so strong.

Laster in Daniel 6 that it was Daniel’s turn. Daniel was set up by other leaders who were jealous of Daniel’s position with the king. These leaders convince the king to make a law where all Persian citizens could only worship the king for the next 30 days. They knew Daniel would not abide by the decree. The plan didn’t phase Daniel who went and prayed as he always did. He was hauled before the King and the king, bound by his own law, threw Daniel into the Lion’s Den. An angel shut the mouths of the lions and saved Daniel much to the king’s relief.

In all three examples these men remained bold in their faith. In each case the followers of God were ready to give their lives. Any man willing to sacrifice himself for the cause is hard to stop. Their courage developed from a deep communion with God. Each one was willing only to worship God alone and serve him only.

What we should all come to realize is that the devil has no new tricks. He will threaten God’s people. He will try to silence them in fear. There will always be someone trying to outwit and shut down the church. Courage that is founded in a deep communion with God drives away fear. It doesn’t necessarily avoid fiery furnaces, or Lion’s dens, or even abuse from the religious leaders but it does have guts to say, “Even if the Lord does not save us from you, we want you to know that we will not serve your stupid idols or buckle to your evil ways.”

Courage is the ability to stand your ground refusing to stop even if one is wounded. Courage is inspired by whom we are associated with, namely the resurrected Jesus. Peter and John were no longer afraid of evil men because these same evil men couldn’t stop Jesus from rising. The contrast is stark. On the one hand Jesus is resurrected from the dead. On the other hand, there were a bunch of rich, entitled men who thought they could outsmart God but failed miserably. They failed again with Peter and John. The message of Jesus is what gives courage then and what gives us courage today. The circumstances have not changed.

The most powerful part of courage is how it focuses on purpose. In 2016 the movie Hacksaw Ridge came out. It’s about Private Desmond Doss, a pacifist and a 7th Day Adventist, who saw himself serving God as a medic in WWII. Many called him a coward. He endured many moments that were cruel and unfair. He even faced a potential dismissal from the military itself but finally won the right to serve without even carrying a gun.

His courage was proven at the Battle of Okinawa. In one of the worst fights the Allies were forced into retreat leaving behind many wounded and many casualties. Doss remained behind. Throughout the night under the cover of darkness Private Doss roamed the battlefield searching for survivors amongst the carnage of bodies and craters. He crawled around careful not to get caught by the Japanese who were wandering about finishing off the wounded. When he would find a wounded man, Doss would drag him to the cliff they climbed up and lower them down to safety where medics would get them to a hospital. By the time he was done he saved 75 soldiers.

The line made famous in the movie was what Doss would say to himself as he went searching for more. “Lord, give me one more, just one more.” His courage was motivated by a trust in the Lord. He was in a hostile place willing to give his life surrounded by many who wanted to kill him. This is a picture of courage. Although Doss wasn’t saving men for this purpose, but Doss would go on to earn the Medal of Honor for his actions.

Courage by any account is always admired and it gets noticed by the faithful and the unfaithful alike. Courage makes us respectable and powerful. But the last aspect of courage is its impact. Courage will always bring attention to the person who exercises courage. However, that person will likely use this courage to highlight a message and purpose greater than Himself. Doss’ message was Jesus and the Gospel. Peter and John’s message was Jesus and the Gospel. The three men in the fiery furnace, was the God of Israel as the only true God. For Daniel the message was the God of Israel alone is worthy of worship.

A faith that has courage is an unstoppable faith. This combo will inspire and transform the landscape. May the Lord give us courage to believe and boldness to proclaim it like Peter and John.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDApril22.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/i-WFIDiE0tE

[email protected] — (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION APRIL 16

Tuesday, APRIL 16, 2024

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN

“The Ephemeral Nature of Things”

READING: Psalm 33:8-11, 20-22 – Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations…We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

A couple of weeks ago I had been to a meeting at church, and on my way home I saw the most beautiful sunset I had seen in some time. The sun was lowering in the western sky, just over the Knobs. The sky was fairly cloudy, with great big banks of very tall, very chubby clouds. As I was coming up Klerner Lane just before Grant Line, the sun was shining on those clouds and turning all their edges to a blazing orange. Each individual cloud was fringed with a bright orange outline and the orange tint stretched across the western sky as far as I could see. I actually slowed my car almost to a stop so I could take it all in. And I thought to myself, “Lord, you are a fabulous artist!”

When I turned on to Grant Line and headed toward home, I kept taking peeks to my left to catch sight of all that glory. IUS’s woods obscured my view for a few moments, and don’t you know, by the time I got to The Pines Trailer Court the orange was gone! Just that quick! There were a couple of clouds with a dull orange tinge, but within moments, that too was gone. I was disappointed. I could have stared at that spectacular sunset for hours, but no, it lasted only mere minutes and it was gone.

As I reflected on the experience I was reminded just how ephemeral things are. We prepare a marvelous Thanksgiving feast, sit down with our family, and fifteen or twenty minutes later much of the food is gone and everyone is sated. We head out on a week-long vacation with great anticipation and expectations, and in no time, we’re on our way home again. We plan, prepare, and anticipate our wedding day, and a week later we have trouble remembering some of what was said and what went on. We wait 50 years to celebrate our Golden Anniversary with family and friends and all at once we’re celebrating our 51st anniversary. We say, “Where does the time go?” We take pictures and videos just to hang on to a few of the memories and impressions we have of big events in our lives.

Time marches on, and things that are new to us today are old and worn out tomorrow. People that were once young with us suddenly look lame and unhealthy. That beautiful brand-new 1999 Cadillac now looks saggy in the suspension, faded in the color, and much in need of a new set of tires. Movie stars we once idolized and bought posters of are now REALLY OLD PEOPLE (or dead!). Houses and buildings we once frequented are demolished and gone, replaced by other structures that have little in common with what once stood there. Yes, things (and people) are ephemeral. Here today, gone tomorrow.

BUT NOT SO THE LORD! His word, his ways, his truth, his law, his Gospel, his power, might, goodness, love, and compassion are NEW every day. He does not change with the changing times. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow – and we depend on that! We depend on his purposes and plans for us being steadfast and unmovable. We depend on his Word being trustworthy and true. We depend on his Son’s love, his intercession on our behalf, his promises that in his Resurrection we can see our own, and his promise that he is preparing a place for us so that we may be where he is. We depend on our God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be exactly the same from now to eternity. As the Psalmist says, “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.”

That sunset came, and just that quick it faded away. The second hand on your clock just keeps sweeping on. Our children were once babies; now they have babies of their own (or even grandchildren of their own!). Seasons come; seasons go. But the Word of the Lord stands forever. He was God in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. And may the Lord be praised for his steadfast love. He changes not! Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1) Please pray for our Junior Confirmands. This Sunday they will make their good Confessions in the Sunday morning services. And then on the 28th, they will be confirmed in the faith in the 10:30 service. Pray for Amelia, Madelyn, Maggie, Breena, Heidi, Knox, Landon, Asa, Kellen, and Lukas as they prepare themselves for the events of this month.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/zU5SVXB7IRw

PRINTABLE PDF: WDAPRIL16.PDF

[email protected] — (502) 797-7407

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WEEKLY DEVOTION APRIL 15

Monday, APRIL 15, 2024

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana

“Render to God What is God’s”

Today is April 15, tax day. In the spirit of the day, I thought it would be fun to talk about Matthew 22 where Jesus is challenged on the subject of taxes. “Render unto Caesar what is Caesars and unto God what is God’s.”

What exactly is rendered? Today I am going to read the whole passage from Matthew 22:15-22. “15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. 16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. 17 Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.”

Now let’s keep in mind the three groups represented here, the Herodians, the Pharisees, and the Followers of Jesus. The Herodians were a non-religious party that supported the dynasty of Herod, thus their name. They were Jewish supporters of the Roman Government who also supported the tax. On the other end of the spectrum were the Pharisees, a religious party who believed in the strict observance of the Law and especially of oral traditions such as the way one washes their hands. They did not see Jesus as Messiah, even with all the signs and miracles that Jesus did. These first two groups were at opposite ends of the spectrum and yet they come together to trap Jesus with a question. The third group is represented by the disciples who were no doubt at the temple with Jesus nervously and silently watching and learning as Jesus fielded many questions meant to trap him that day.

The kynsos is the poll tax which was exacted on all Jewish citizens, and all conquered territories of Rome. It was considered a special badge of servitude to the Romans. This tax was especially galling to the Jews because Caesar was often portrayed as a god and the coin with him image was inscribed with “divine” implying Caesar’s divinity. And Lord knows that when Paul instructs Christians to pay their taxes in Romans 13 those monies were used for troubling things back then too. Using this tax as part of the question posed to Jesus was a trap because in the minds of this mixed crowd the answer to this question essentially pointed out where one’s loyalties were, with God or with Rome.

The trap was simple. If Jesus were to answer that it was not good to pay the tax, he could immediately be arrested for trying to usurp Rome. To answer the other way was to insight the Jewish people against Jesus because so many were so opposed to the poll tax. Instead, Jesus sets up the challengers in their own trap in way that they answer their own question. “Show me a coin,” Jesus says. The image on the coin was that of Caesar. The very image of Caesar was never allowed in the Temple. Once when Pilate tried to bring shields into the city with Caesar’s image on it the people rioted yet many of these very leaders carried that image in their pockets without a single thought. “The image on the coin was Caesars. So, give back to Caesar that which has his image on it. And give back to God what has God’s image on it.”

So, do we? “Do we what, Pastor?” Do we give God what is God’s? What do we carry in our pockets that have other images on them—those things we probably shouldn’t be carrying our hearts and minds often without a thought? We often get ourselves in a twist over the way we see the government waste our taxes. Are we any less guilty about waste? Forgiveness for example is heavily spoken about in places like Matthew 18. Jesus speaks of the unmerciful servant. He is forgiven much but ends up loving little. Can we say we are as generous as Jesus has been to us in His mercy. In Luke 12:16-21 Jesus speaks of a wealthy man who is given a great crop. Instead of thanking the Lord and honoring the Lord’s generosity with his own generosity the rich farmer decides to build bigger barns for his own personal comfort and lifestyle. Can we say we have been generous in our love, our patience, in our words, in our own self-control. Are we grateful people or stuck on sourness over things we can’t really control. How much of what the Lord gives to us, who bear His image, is given to God.

The distinction between the followers of Jesus and the other groups is well spelled out in Matthew 25. The believers and unbelievers are distinguished by what they gave to the Lord. Visiting the sick or people in prison. Clothe those who need clothes. Both the believer and unbeliever alike ask, “When did we see you?” The goats did nothing. The sheep gave to the Lord what was the Lord’s. They gave to those in need with what the Lord had supplied them, a home to invite strangers in, clothes to clothe others, and time to visit the sick and those in prison. What these sheep do is instinctive, flowing out of a character shaped by the Lord Himself. They know the will of the Lord on loving thy neighbor; they hear his voice and follow it. These sheep do not consider the work of the Lord taxing but worthy of faith-filled response; as a form of thanksgiving for the gifts that enable sheep to love others.

As Jesus does in so many of His parables, Jesus draws a sharp contrast between the two kingdoms, the kingdom of the world and the kingdom of Jesus. Jesus is a king not of this world as He told Pilate in John 18:36 and we are citizens of that kingdom who yet live in the kingdom of the world. So, for now we give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and render to Jesus what belongs to him. We are not about the temporary securities of coins or taxes. We are about honoring the Lord. Romans 13 reminds us that means remaining good citizens. Romans 13:7 says, Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” Just as we would serve Jesus by offering a visit to the sick or clothing to the poor so too we honor Jesus by honoring the Lord under the authorities that He has established.

Like Caesar our modern government reps and officials are by and large corrupt, immoral, and power hungry. They spend our money on many contemptable things. Their abuse of their authority will not go unpunished, but vengeance belongs to the Lord and not to us. They tax our patience, our conscience, our incomes, and so many other things. We on the other hand are called upon to pray for them, to vote, and to encourage one another in the Lord above all else. So, on this tax day I would offer a reminder that rendering unto Jesus is good even if that means we must continue to live in a patient endurance for our Lord’s return. Give thanks that we have something from Jesus to render back to Jesus namely His grace, His cross, and resurrection. We have reason to render and share God’s grace that overflows through us. Happy rendering.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WD4-15.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/NZjBmOqGVo0

[email protected] — (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION
APRIL 9

Tuesday, APRIL 9, 2024

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN

“Who Will Roll Away the Stone?”

READING: Mark 16:1-6 – When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.”

Pharaohs built great pyramids in old Egypt filled with all kinds of luxuries and loot to while away the time until it was done. A Chinese emperor had a huge army of thousands of entirely different and unique ceramic soldiers and horses made to assure its happening. A famous baseball player had his body quick-frozen and kept perpetually at perfect zero until it could happen. The nobles and the wealthy of many ages and on nearly every continent had themselves buried in elaborate tombs supplied with utensils, gold, and now and again, a wife or two and a couple of servants so they wouldn’t be lonely or wanting until the time came. Nearly every religion known to man has some thoughts and even an answer or two when the subject comes up. So what am I talking about? The question the ladies asked one another as they hurried to Jesus’ tomb that Sunday morning: “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb?”

That is a question that has bedeviled human beings from their earliest times. “When I die and the family buries my body, is that it? Or will there be more? If so, who will open my tomb and bid me to come out?” Good question, right? Hard question for the unbeliever, the agnostic, the skeptic, but not so hard for the Christians. Who will roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb? The ancients outside Israel had all kinds of ideas. Most of them revolved around an afterlife that resembled their earthly existence only in a more ethereal plane. It was going to be so much like earthly life that they tried to pack every comfort, luxury, and tool so they wouldn’t be wanting “on the other side”. A lot of thought and a lot of expense went into it for those on the “uptown train.” For the poor and for the slaves, there was a plain and empty grave that might mean more of the same kind of existence in the afterlife. No promises of something better or freer.

Even still in our day there is much writing and speculating about what comes after death. Except for the hardcore and committed atheists, most people at least speculate about what might be waiting for them “out there.” Mostly it’s wishful thinking about “The Big Guy Upstairs” who’s been watching from a distance and knows that they “tried to be good.” They tried “not to hurt anybody” and they were good to kids and animals. They hope “The Big Guy” cuts them some slack “…cause after all, nobody’s perfect.” They have a nebulous hope to meet up with their family and loved ones somewhere, somehow. No promises; no assurances, just some wishful thoughts.

Not so you and me! We know EXACTLY who is going to roll away the stone from the entrance to our tombs. We know how he’s going to do it, too. “He will come on the clouds with the angels and the saints, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (I Thess. 4) That last and glorious day will be the fulfillment of every promise Jesus has made to us. No wishful thinking here. No nebulous hopes. We have HIS WORD on it.

When the women were hurrying to the tomb, their thoughts were filled with the practical details of a Jewish burial rite. Traditions and requirements had to be met. Things had to be done right. But the most practical of all their concerns was getting that tomb opened up. They had seen the stone rolled in place. They knew how big it was; all of them together would not be strong enough to budge it. So came the question, “Who will roll away the stone…?”

Little did they guess that the answer had already been given. Their greatest needs has already been addressed: forgiveness of their sins, reconciliation with God, through baptism a status of sons and daughters of God would be given, and a reunion in heaven with their dear Lord and all those who died in Jesus. It had all been taken care of for them and for us.

So as you and I continue to celebrate the Easter season and rejoice in Jesus’ resurrection, we don’t have to wonder and worry about the afterlife. When we give up our final breath, we already have a place prepared for us by the One who did not let the stone set before his own tomb hinder him. That thing got blown away. It could not hold him. The grave could not claim him. Neither will our graves hold us. When the Lord gives the loud command, “Come out!” we will do what Lazarus did when he heard the voice of Jesus: come alive and come out! Stone or no stone! Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1) Please pray for our Junior Confirmands. This weekend they participate in their Retreat. On April 21 they will make their good Confessions in the Sunday morning services. And then on the 28th, they will be confirmed in the faith in the 10:30 service. Pray for Amelia, Madelyn, Maggie, Breena, Heidi, Knox, Landon, Asa, Kellen, and Lukas as they prepare themselves for the events of this month.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/v5jtMa_Pd4M

PRINTABLE PDF: WDAPRIL9.PDF

[email protected] — (502) 797-7407

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WEEKLY DEVOTION APRIL 8

Monday, APRIL 8, 2024

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana

“Over the Moon”

Today is a special day. Today is the day of the Solar Eclipse here in Indiana. I’ve picked up my eclipse glasses and I have a place to go to watch within the zone of totality. The zone of totality is something we have been hearing a lot about for the last few months. This zone of totality describes the area that is going to be totally dark when the eclipse happens. In a nutshell it’s the zone that has the best seats in the house. Well, since this will be the last eclipse over Indiana within many of our lifetimes, (2049 being the next one), I am going to try to experience this rare moment.

What role does the moon have in scripture? Well, Genesis 1:14-18 speaks of the moon as one of the “great lights” that God made on the fourth day. The moon is part of the system of “lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and…to mark sacred times, and days, and years…God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.” The moon with all its phases is designed to mark the passing of time from day to day, month to month.

The new moons mentioned in scripture also marked the beginning of months in the lunar-based Hebrew calendar and signaled times for certain sacrifices. Numbers 28:11 speaks to the Israelites; “At the beginnings of your months, you shall offer a burnt offering to the LORD: two bulls from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish…” In speaking about the Passover, we hear Psalm 81:3 says, “Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival…” The time that the moon marks is often associated with a festival or sacrifice. Because of the moon’s association with Passover, it is possible that a full moon may have been in the night sky on the night Jesus was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Having just celebrated Passover the timing may have been just right for the moon to be full.

On another interesting front the moon is also associated with Joel 2:31: “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (See also Revelation 6:12). The moon seems to also have a role in the future for marking the end of time when the Lord returns on judgement day. In speaking about the restoration of Israel from Babylon Isaiah 30:26 marks the occasion with a day when “the moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter.” It certainly appears that the moon is a marker of significant moments in our future as well as our current calendar.

According to Wikipedia, The Moon is a planetary-mass object or satellite planet. Its mass is 1.2% that of the Earth, and its diameter is 3,474 km (2,159 mi), roughly one-quarter of Earth’s (about as wide as Australia.) The moon also has a significant role to play on our oceans. The high tide is caused by the gravitational pull of the moon. The moon effectively causes the tides to bulge out on both sides of the planet. (See illustrations from Nasa sight– https://science.nasa.gov/moon/tides/). The earth seems to be interdependent upon the Earth and the Earth to the moon. And based on all the pot marks and craters on the surface of this rock it also seems to me to be a nice little shield from various garbage floating about. The science of it all is pretty amazing. The Lord has been very creative with this lessor light.

As spiritual lessons go the moon as bright and as amazing as any full moon may shine it is still just a rock with no actual light of its own. All it can do is reflect the light of the sun. Without the sun there is no light of the moon. Human beings are likewise a reflection of the Light of the Son, Jesus. We are the light of the world says John 1:4-5, but only in so far as we are people of Christ. We are created in His image made to reflect that image. Seeing us is to see Jesus. We are not to be the center of attention but to remind others of the greater light of Christ.

Years ago, during a season when I worked at Yosemite National Park in California, I once got the opportunity to hike up to the top of half-dome in the full moon light in July. Half-dome in Yosemite is basically a huge bald granite mountain. The face of mountain facing the Yosemite Valley is flat but the 11.5 acres on top is as bald and rocky as it gets. My friend and I got to the top of the mountain at about midnight. The best part about it was the full moon. The light of the moon reflected off the granite so brightly that the whole mountain seemed to glow in the dark. It was so bright that neither of us needed a flashlight to see. It will always be a once in a lifetime experience that I will remember all my life.

Today’s eclipse is a once in a lifetime experience as well. The hope is for us to be the light of Christ to someone in a way that we can leave a lasting impression as well. You see, the moon is a daily reminder of a greater Gospel truth. God’s people are designed to reflect the greater light, a light that shines in the darkness. As followers we are the lessor light. We are a light in the darkness only because of Jesus. The design of who we are as God’s people is to shine in a way that the people see our good works but then give God the credit for the goodness that is demonstrated. To see us God willing they see Christ.

It should not be lost on us that Jesus Himself also represented the Father in a similar fashion as well. In John 12:44-46 Jesus cries out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” In John 14:9 when Philip asks Jesus to show him the Father Jesus immediately reminds the disciples, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father as well.” This is the same Jesus who said, “I am the light of the world.” What that means for us is spelled out in 2 Corinthians 3:18; “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” Just as the moon is tied to an intricately and brilliant eco system which relies on the light of our sun so too we are part of a greater body of work by our Lord. We too rely on the Light of Christ and we too are part of the greater body of work by our Lord in the saving of many souls.

I don’t read much into eclipses except that they are a marvel and a unique conjunction of God’s creation. I do think however that the moon holds for us Christians a strong example of what we are designed to be as image bearers. We are not here independently in this world. We are part of a body as much as the moon is part of a greater celestial creation and together we groan for the Lord’s return. In the meantime, we are designed to influence those closest to us much like the moon affects the tides. We are to be a reflection of the greater light; no light of our own, but made to reflect a greater image than ourselves. And just as the light of the moon is evidence in the night that light is still shining Christians are evidence in this dark world that light is still with us. Praise God for the moon and for its humble service in our night sky.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDApril8.PDF

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WEEKLY DEVOTION
APRIL 2

Tuesday, APRIL 2, 2024

Pastor Bruce Kischnick, Grace Lutheran Church, New Albany, IN

“The First Word”

READING: I Corinthians 15:1-8 – Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! A Blessed Easter to each and every one of you. What a marvelous day Easter is! Lent and Holy Week with all their gloom, their doleful music, and their sorrow give way to the loud and joyful sounds of celebration and victory. There’s nothing like it. Not even Christmas can match the triumphal pitch of Easter.

Our text for this morning may be more important than you’ve ever imagined. Certainly it’s St. Paul stressing the importance of Jesus’ resurrection to the Christian community. He goes on in the chapter to remind us all that if there is no truth to the Easter story, if Jesus did not physically rise from the dead, then the entire Christian message is humbug and without merit. Then our faith is worthless, and we are still mired in our sins. After this discussion he sounds the triumphal note with these words, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

What you might not be aware of is that our reading today is widely considered in scholarly ranks as the earliest written attestation of Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead. You see the learned people think that Paul wrote I Corinthians in 55 A.D. near the end his three-year stay in Ephesus. The best guesses for the writing of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) seem to point to a late 50’s, early 60’s. John is typically considered to have been written in the 70’s or even 80’s. If (and I say, if) the scholars are close to correct, St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is the first written testimony we have of the Resurrection. That makes it an important text to those who want to investigate the Easter story.

St. Paul is the only one to give us a list of the various witnesses to the Resurrection. Look back at his list and ask yourself, “Who is NOT on that list?” The answer is: the Ladies. That’s always of interest to the scholars, for the Gospel writers all give prominence to the women being the first to receive the Good News and even to be the first to see and touch the living Jesus. Paul says nothing about them. Of course the skeptics always veer towards, “Obviously, the early church was at odds over who saw Jesus and hadn’t yet solidified their story.” (To that I say, “Bologna!”)

I think that Paul’s purpose here is to establish his credentials as an evangelist. Having already brought the good news of Christ to the Corinthians, he mentions some of the most well-known and prominent eye-witnesses such as Peter, James, and “The Twelve” before listing his own testimony. He doesn’t need to mention the women because the Corinthians wouldn’t have known them, nor would they bolster his place on the list. Whatever his reasoning, the Gospels all testify to the role of the women on Easter morning.

If Paul did write this letter in 55, we realize he is doing so only some 20-25 years after the Passion and Resurrection took place. There would have been many of the eye-witnesses still living who could attest to his report or contradict it if it was not accurate. Paul is already well aware of the importance of the Easter message to the salvation offered in Jesus’ name. Without the Resurrection there IS NO CHURCH! Without the physical resurrection of Jesus we have no real hope in him. If there was a dead Jesus in some grave on the third day, then the whole thing is a sham and a shame. The skeptics and the unbelievers have always realized this, that’s why they so often attack the Resurrection. It is the column on which the Church stands or falls. Thanks be to God that we have eye-witness testimony and the martyrdom of so many of the principal leaders of the Church. That they were willing to die for the Savior attests to their absolute faith in the truth of that Sunday morning. Who is willing to die for a fabrication they know to be a lie?

Jesus lives! Paul knew it. Peter knew it. James knew it. Mary Magdeline knew it. The Twelve knew it. And because they knew it, we know it, too! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia and amen!

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1) Please pray for our Junior Confirmands. Next weekend they participate in their Retreat. On April 21 they will make their good Confessions in the Sunday morning services. And then on the 28th, they will be confirmed in the faith in the 10:30 service. Pray for Amelia, Madelyn, Maggie, Breena, Heidi, Knox, Landon, Asa, Kellen, and Lukas as they prepare themselves for the events of this month.

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[email protected] — (502) 797-7407

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WEEKLY DEVOTION APRIL 1

Monday, APRIL 1, 2024

Pastor Matthew Woods from Grace Lutheran Church in New Albany, Indiana

“The Tomb is Empty”

Empty things are usually discarded. Ever notice that. When the paint can runs out of paint what do we do with it? (Throw it away.) When tube of toothpaste has been squeezed and flattened until no more can be gotten out what do we do with the empty tube? (Throw it away).

We are not normally keen on empty things. If we were to get an empty box all for our birthday it probably wouldn’t mean much. “Yes, but look how pretty it is wrapped. I wrapped it really pretty just for you.” Yea, no. If the outside is really pretty but nothing is inside of it what’s the point? Right?

We are not really fond of things being empty. If our gas tank is empty we fill it. It’s either filled up again or the car won’t run—for most of us. If we use the expression, “my tank is empty” we may need to fill our stomachs or get an energy drink to “fill our tanks” because we may be tired. Most of us like things that are full. We fill our garages. We fill our closets. We fill our stomachs and our schedules. Let’s face it. Empty things are usually thrown out or refilled.

On Easter Sunday the Tomb that Jesus was laid in was empty. Matt 28 tells us that an angel came down from heaven and rolled away the stone. His appearance was like lightening, and his clothes as white as snow. It was so overwhelming that the guards of the tomb shook and became like dead men.

When the tomb was sealed Pilate put a Roman seal on it which meant than anyone who opened did so under penalty of death. However, the angel was of a higher authority than Rome and opened the tomb for the women to see what was inside. It was empty. It was a tomb without a dead body. Oh, the grave clothes were there but no Jesus.

Maybe they got the wrong tomb. How many of us who have buried a mother, or father, or a child would ever forget where their grave was. Come on! Matthew 27:61 tell us that Mary Magdalene was watching as Joseph and Nicodemus placed Jesus in the tomb. And something tells me that the view of the angel also gave it away. John 19 mentions that all that was left when Peter and John looked inside later on was Jesus’ burial clothes. His resurrected body passed right through them but the head clothe was folded up by itself. The tomb is empty. No dead body. Jesus was not there.

Maybe Jesus wasn’t dead and just walked out on his own. Come on! Even the chief priests saw how beaten and bruised Jesus was. They watched Jesus die. They insisted on his death. Can anyone seriously believe that those men who hated Jesus so much would let him slip away. Besides the Roman soldiers did this for a living. The had crucified many. The callous way that they cast lots for Jesus’ clothes right at the foot of the cross illustrates how routine this was for them. Besides all of this they made sure Jesus was dead when one of them thrust the spear into Jesus’ side—blood and water flowed. Jesus didn’t flinch or move. He was dead. Even Mary Magdalene, goes looking for a dead body for a bit in order to put Jesus back into the grave. Everyone knew Jesus was actually dead. And even if he did survive how would he have the strength to move the large stone? Not dead. Come on! It would take a lot more faith to even consider such things as possible. Anything but the Gospel truth is an empty story.

The angel’s words say it all. “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

The tomb is empty because Jesus isn’t in it anymore. He is risen! He is risen indeed! If He didn’t our faith would be futile. The empty tomb became the loudest place on the planet. It may be empty but it is full of meaning for us. Isn’t it cool! The cross which was a symbol of death becomes the symbol of life. The tomb which is a place of death becomes the place for life.

What’s amazing is how the chief priests react to the guards’ report. Somewhere they had heard Jesus’ prophecy that he would rise on the third day. They were hell-bent on keeping Jesus in the grave; posting the guards and getting Pilate to seal the tomb.

The tomb is empty. The guards undoubtably went looking for a body when they woke up. If Jesus body were to be found they would have gladly paraded it back to the tomb. But there wasn’t a body. To be fair I guess even Mary Magdalene went looking for Jesus’ body.

The guards were definitely shaken by this and reported everything to the chief priests. And what was their reaction. “Praise God! Looks like we were wrong after all. Let’s go and worship at the empty tomb!” Not even close. Nope. They devised a plan. More plotting and scheming behind closed doors. They came up with their own story. Here is what you are to say…. “Tell everyone you are really terrible soldiers who slept on the job. Then somehow while you were sleeping and not aware of anything, you saw the disciples come and steal the body.” These religious leaders filled the empty tomb with a false narrative, fake news, anything but the truth. Because the truth for these religious leaders is having to face a resurrected Jesus on judgement day. No. They were too full of themselves to allow that.

And why would the guards even go along with a plan that would ruin their careers and make them look like fools? For the same reason we all distrust politicians today—Large sums of money; bribes from lobbyists trying to get their agendas passed into law. Large sums of money were offered to the guards. And if the news reaches Pilate, which it would, Large sums of money will make him happy too no doubt. “No one will go away empty…as long as you stick to our story. Forget what you saw.” And yes, by the way those large sums of money would come from the same coffers as those thirty silver pieces came from—the temple treasury.

I wonder if at least one of those guards would at some point share with someone what he actually saw and regretted taking the money. After all who could forget the sight of an angel in all of its brilliance. I wonder if those guards second guessed themselves when they started hearing rumors of a resurrected Jesus appearing to over 500 people at one time. I wonder if any of them went to listen to Peter on Pentecost who spoke of Jesus resurrection. And then stood in wonder as thousands of pilgrims became believers and were baptized. I wonder if one of them noted Peter and John’s bravery as they spoke out in the Temple and went to prison for it– in direct opposition to the religious leaders who threatened them with the same end as Jesus. I would like to imagine at least one of those guards come to faith because the tomb they once guarded for three days was empty. I could imagine that soldier perhaps following pilgrims who went to the tomb to see for themselves. To watch their reactions and listen to some who may have spoke about seeing Jesus. The story of the religious leaders had to be bought with large sum of money and would seem so void of life while the Gospel story blesses people so freely and is full of life. The question then becomes which story will he follow? Which do we follow?

The message we know and love and believe is that the tomb is empty. What does this mean? We all know that that means. So, I think we should answer this question together because the answer applies to all of us who believe in Jesus.
It means… the Word of God is truth. The Bible is completely true.
It means… that my death has been swallowed up in victory.
It means… I am going to heaven.
It means… I am going to live in the Father’s House.
It means… no more death, or mourning, or crying or pain.
It means… that the old things have passed away and the new has come.
It means… I will be reunited with loved ones and never have to say good-bye to them again.
It means… I will see Jesus face to face.
It means… He will wipe every tear from my eyes.

The empty tomb means a lot. The cross of Jesus is where Jesus emptied Himself and took upon Himself our sin and died. Now, the tomb is empty and full of life. The empty tomb is actually very full of meaning for us. It means that Jesus’ promises are never empty. It means that our lives are full of purpose as representatives of the Gospel. It means eternal life is real and we have reason to hope. Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDApril1.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/O36kbvAwfTA

[email protected] — (502) 523-9327