RECENT DEVOTIONS

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MAY 11

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

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

“They’re Baaaaccckkk!!”

READING: 2 Peter 2:20-22 – If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “The sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.”

You may remember a couple of months ago me talking in a weekly devotion about the bamboo patch across Mel Smith Road from the “Church on the Rock”. A developer has purchased that acreage and is planning a development there. Previous owners had planted a clump of bamboo that had been allowed to grow wild for some years. It had nearly swallowed up the old stable there and was increasing in size year after year. The developer had sent in a bulldozer to take out the rhizome structure of most of the clump, and I was speculating whether or not they got all of it because if just one piece survived, the clump would start its comeback.

Well, they’re baaaaccckkk!! I had noticed in the fence row along the roadside a lot of brown bamboo stalks. I thought they may have hit those with an herbicide, but now I think they were just in winter dormancy. In the past two weeks all of those stalks have greened up and are growing madly. The whole roadside is sprouting bamboo and already new stalks are poking through. They’ll have their hands full trying to eradicate the bamboo.

In our text St. Peter is talking about men who had received the Gospel of Jesus with joy only to turn that Gospel into something tainted and destructive. They used the Gospel to feather their own nests and to gain the trust of the gullible. St. Peter says it would have been better for them never to have heard the truth for when the judgement comes, they will be held accountable for blasphemy and for the evil to which they led others.

What a sad state of affairs! To have learned the good news of Jesus and his death and resurrection. To have learned of his salvation and to gain the hope of eternal life in his name. And then to spurn it all or, worse yet, to twist it into a snare by which unknowing and unwitting others are lured away from the truth and led into emptiness or depravity. Such a result is truly worse than such people never hearing the name of Jesus. Their judgement would have been less severe.

But like those bamboo shoots on Mel Smith Road, sin and its roots are hard to eradicate. Left without repentance, left without a willing spirit to resist, left without a constant influx of God’s word, his sacraments, his worship, and the encouragement of his people, sin pokes through. It pulls us back into depravity. It threatens to turn the good news of Jesus into an opportunity for selfish gain and a return to self-righteousness and pride.

An example is a program on cable TV called “Camp Meeting”. It’s usually on in the early morning programming, and whenever I catch a couple minutes of it, I find myself gritting my teeth! It masquerades as a “Christian evangelism” program, but there is no Gospel. The whole “show” (and that is what it is) is based on one thing: plant “a financial seed and God will provide you with a harvest”. I cannot remember the last time I heard the name of Jesus spoken there. I cannot remember the last time any Gospel was spoken. The whole show is aimed at getting the hearers to “show God their faith” by sending a tithe of some size to the program so that God can reciprocate by bringing an even larger financial windfall to the listeners. The bigger the seed, the bigger the harvest: that is their promise. It is pure paganism. And I shudder to think what these “preachers” will face when they stand before the Lord at the judgement.

We rejoice in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. We rest our salvation on HIS works, HIS righteousness, HIS death, and HIS resurrection. We turn from the ways of the world and do our best to walk in his ways. And we trust his Word that tells us we are saved by faith alone in the Son of God, Jesus our Lord. When sin threatens to “poke through”, we confess it and let God’s grace keep us in his Kingdom. Thanks be to God! Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) CONFIRMATION REQUEST: Our Junior Confirmands are well into their preparations for Confessional Sunday and Confirmation Day, May 16 and 23 respectively. So, I would ask you to remember them in your prayers. Ask the Lord to pour his Holy Spirit upon them to clarify all they’ve been taught and to bring to mind the knowledge that they’ll need in the next two weeks. More than that, ask the Lord to hold them steadfast and sure through the coming years so that their gifts of baptism and their desire for communion will not desert them.

2) Our brothers and sisters in Christ at Shepherd of the Hills, Georgetown, have announced the installation of their new pastor, Rev. Andrew Becker, on Sunday, May 23, at 3:00. You are invited to join them in giving thanks for God’s gift.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/c0R_NNqqnrE

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDEVMay11.PDF

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MAY 10

Monday, May 10, 2021

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

“Luther’s Light Sleeper”

Hard Work and a Deep Sleep

Have you ever taken a nap that you couldn’t wake yourself up from? Friday, Tricia and I planted eight large trees. Each tree needed a huge hole. However, the ground was clumpy with clay. Not only did we have to dig each hole by hand but before each clump of clay could be thrown back in around the tree it had to be chopped up so that it didn’t create air pockets. My shoulders are still aching.

Somehow, we also had a squirrel get into the house recently through a vent. The dumb thing made a mess. That meant having to open up the drywall in the bathroom ceiling. We only finished the room a couple of years ago. But we had to get into the ceiling to repair the damage done by the squirrel.

So, it all finally came to a head on Saturday afternoon. I sat down on the couch for just a minute and the next thing I know I was out; not just out but in a deep, sound asleep. I heard the dog bark, and the TV running but it was like I couldn’t break out of my slumber. It was one of those naps that was hard to wake up from. Ever nap like that? Well, Martin Luther in a sermon from 1533 suggests that those who sleep in sleep lighter in death than I did on my couch. Sound’s strange but consider his logic.

The Raising of the Widow’s Son at Nain

Consider the text that he reads from in Luke 7:11-17. 11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” 17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

Luther-For Those in Christ Death is a Light Sleep

Luther makes the point that before the Lord Jesus, death is not death but a sleep. He says, “With all hope gone, and everyone disheartened by the death of son, our dear Lord comes, without healing medicines, and speaks merely a word. ‘Young man, I say to you Arise!’ At once the dead man arises and is alive…though we die, with him we are not dead. The boy’s death is gone, and life has returned. It is just as Christ states in the Gospel: ‘God is not the God of the dead but of the living.’”

“That is what should learn from today’s Gospel lesson, namely, the great power of God will exert it’s power upon us through Christ on Judgement Day, when with one word he will call forth from the dead all people and bless the believers eternally…. The widows son is dead, with all senses and hearing stopped; but as soon as Christ speaks to him, he hears. The one who does not hear, hears; the one who does not live, lives. And yet Christ does nothing more than open his mouth and tell him to arise. That one word is so powerful that death must yield, and life again returns.”

And here is the encouraging point from Luther. “We are to understand that Christ is saying to us, I know that you are afraid of death; but you must not be afraid, do not let your heart be troubled; for even though death has terrors for you, what can it do to you?....Jesus says, ‘I can very easily raise you from the dead—as easily as you rouse someone from their sleep—and He desires very much to do so, having both the necessary power and intention….”

“Therefore, those who lie dead and buried in the churchyard and under the ground sleep more lightly than we do in our beds. We know that a person sleeps so soundly that he is called ten times before he ever hears. But the dead hear that one word from Jesus and wake up. The moment he speaks just once, ‘Young man, I say to you get up!’; ‘Lazarus come forth!”; Young Lady, I say to you get up!’. They heard in an instant…. It is true, we sleep much more soundly in bed than we do in the churchyard! Thus, before God, death is not death but a light sleep.”

When Jesus Calls Your Name You Will Wake Up Too

Luther is long on words but his point is worth noting. Jesus refers to death as sleep; rest. As the end of the Easter Season gives way to the Season of Pentecost, I invite you to consider the power of the resurrection one more time.

When our name was called at baptism we were made as children of God according to Galatians 3. The Lord is not going to leave any child behind on the last day. When we hear the Lord call our name in the resurrection His voice will be recognizable and distinct. His voice will be life-giving. Speaking your name will make you alive. Our dead ears will hear and we will come to life again. Someday the Lord will say, “Matt I say to you arise.” And as 1 Corinthians 15 says that in an instant we will be changed in a flash in the twinkling of an eye, no longer mortal but immortal; no longer perishable but imperishable. No longer asleep but awake and rested.

Martin Luther makes a great observation. My nap was deeper than those who rest in Christ. When the Lord calls you by name no one can prevent your resurrection from happening. Nothing can keep you from hearing His voice. Nothing can keep you from waking up to the resurrection. This is the good news that we have been celebrating this Easter season. This in itself should give you peace and calm your fears. This is where we rest our hope, In Jesus.

May the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on you with His favor and give you His peace in Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDMay10.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/lsqBlGrAB48

matt.woods@glcna.com -- (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MAY 4

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

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

“BUMPER STICKER RELIGION”

READING: Acts 17:22-26a, 29-30 - Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth…Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone – an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”

Last week I was driving behind the car of a young woman who obviously loved to wear her philosophy and ideals on the back of her car in the form of bumper stickers – dozens of bumper stickers. Most of them were very liberal and very “woke” and a little “in your face.” Two of them in particular caught my eye and my attention. They were “NATURE IS MY RELIGION” and “WE SEE HUMANS BUT NOT HUMANITY”. As I contemplated those two slogans, I realized that as usual, both of them indicated more flash than true enlightenment and more emotion than thought. Those two stickers made her feel smart without being smart. Let me show you what I mean.

The first one – NATURE IS MY RELIGION – is her statement that there is no God, the Creator, but that nature is an entity in itself, designed and developed by natural forces, especially Evolution. She doesn’t wrap herself up in “magical thinking” and the “illusionary mythology” that religious people are sadly holding on to. She sees the natural world and her place in it as satisfactory, peace-loving, and benign.

The second one – WE SEE HUMANS BUT NOT HUMANITY – indicates that she has a broad-minded view that encompasses all people, whatever their race, nationality, or orientation. She holds that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. We should live in a world that is tolerant, non-judgmental, with equity and justice for all of humanity. Why, who could deny her altruistic viewpoint or argue with her wisdom? Well, I could!

Her view of nature is totally ignorant of the realities. It was Darwin himself who coined the phrase, “Survival of the Fittest”. A famous poet wrote, “Nature, red in fang and claw.” The truth is that nature is filled with violence, sudden death, cruelty, and fear, thus the phrase, “Eat or be eaten!” Human beings in their “natural state” would do without cars, electricity, homes, medical care, education, computers, or any other “unnatural” innovation, including bumper stickers!

When she tells us that WE SEE HUMANS BUT NOT HUMANITY she wants us to treat all with compassion, but I have to ask her, “Why?” If there is no God but nature, then there are no commandments, no natural laws, no one to hold us accountable, no one to see to ultimate justice. If humans were to deal with other humans based on the RELIGION OF NATURE, then the man with the most guns and gunmen would “naturally” dictate the terms of life and living in whatever area he controls. The closest we come to a completely “natural state” is when we make war. Every single war I’ve ever read about was ghastly in its affect on both the violence makers and on the violence receivers. Slowly but surely both reverted to an animalistic state of preying upon the weak or hiding and moving only by night to avoid the predators.

That young woman undoubtedly has tender feelings and well-intentioned attitudes, but without the Creator, his laws, his Gospel, his Son, his Sacrifice, his Word, the Resurrection, and the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment – her vision of the world is built on wishful thinking and unfounded confidence in the “goodness of man”. I think she faces a life of frustration and dashed hopes. Only the knowledge of God and trust in HIS goodness and HIS justice can give real hope and real life.

Paul knew such people. He met and spoke to many in our text who were “in the know” and wise by worldly standards, and yet they worshiped scores of gods who looked like, acted like, and were just as fickle as human beings. Why, they even reserved an idol for THE UNKNOWN GOD just in case they had missed one, not wanting to give offense! Foolish! Silly! And, sad fact: such are still among us to this day. NATURE IS MY RELIGION indeed! Christ, and him crucified is my religion! No bumper sticker needed! Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) CONFIRMATION REQUEST: Our Junior Confirmands are well into their preparations for Confessional Sunday and Confirmation Day, May 16 and 23 respectively. They have been working on their Personal Statements and now the answers to questions I will put to them on Confessional Sunday. So, I would ask you to remember them in your prayers. Ask the Lord to pour his Holy Spirit upon them to clarify all they’ve been taught and to bring to mind the knowledge that they’ll need in a few weeks. More than that, ask the Lord to hold them steadfast and sure through the coming years so that their gifts of baptism and their desire for communion will not desert them.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/4wh9p8XItC8

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDMay4.PDF

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MAY 3

Monday, May 3, 2021

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

“Little by Little”

For this week’s reading I ask you to consider the words of 2 Peter 1:3-8. “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Drip…Drip…Drip

I have in my house a faucet in my shower that has been dripping for years. The shower is all tiled and has a composite one piece floor that prevents any leaks. The Faucet has been dripping at a rate of couple drops an hour for year. Over time a limescale discolored path has formed where the drops of water have hit the floor and run into the drain. It didn’t happen over night but over many years and thousands of single drops of water—drip….drip…drip. The impact of this dripping has left a mark on the floor that seems impossible to remove. We have tried bleach, Limeaway, and host of other things but that discolored limescale path stubbornly remains. I’m not sure that I will ever be able to undo the impact of the dripping water.

Something similar happened at church. A valve was leaking in the room where Pastor and I put our robes on for church (The Sacristy). Unbeknownst to us our former Janitor had put a tinfoil tray in the drop ceiling to catch the drips that were falling from a leaking valve—a large one at that. Frank had been retired for at least a decade by the time it had revealed itself. None of us knew it was there. But over time the drips kept adding up until the tray got so heavy that it collapsed the drop ceiling tile and fell to the floor. It was a huge surprise. I’m glad I was not standing under it when it fell. But again, over time the drips added up and made an impact.

Jesus Left His Mark On Me.

In a similar fashion I can look back and see the accumulating effects of practicing the Christian faith. For example, I can remember back to my early days in the church. I did not grow up in the church but came in at about 15. I couldn’t tell you what a creed was back then or remember all the words of the Lord’s Prayer. I didn’t know what many others had know for years about worship, the Bible, communion, and a bunch of other things.

In college I was in the pre-seminary program at Concordia Ann Arbor. While taking a theology class in my Junior year our professor decided to offer us a chance at extra credit. It was simple Catechism memory work like the meaning of the first article of the Creed. I failed these miserably. The Professor asked what the deal was and I told him. I informed him that I had never read a catechism before—I was given one years before but never really studied it before, let alone memorized anything. He was shocked. But I wasn’t raised with the Catechism as the other class members—who had memorized it years before. So, the extra credit quizzes stopped. The Point I am driving at is that I’ve come a long way since those early days.

For years I have poured over the scriptures. Like the water drips, reading one passage at time doesn’t seem like it has an impact but reading the scriptures over and over again and studying them has added up. Taking time to pray one morning doesn’t sound like much. But practicing prayer for years and years makes prayer more natural and meaningful. It adds up. Going to church one or two Sundays doesn’t have the same staying power as going over and over. It adds up. Reading my catechism and teaching it for years and years to 7th and 8th graders has helped make those memory passages very familiar. Each time has added up.

It Adds Up

This is what Peter means when he says, --make every effort to add to your faith…” One drop doesn’t seem like anything but many drops, repeatedly, consistently, adds up to make its mark and bring weight to our ability to grow in Jesus. I can say that I am much more equipped than I was when I started as a Christian to discern where the word applies to life. Hebrews 4:12 says that “The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” When the Word gets into us little by little it brings alive more our conscience, our thinking, and our approach to problems.

What we gain is spelled out in the following verses. …“goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Drip…Goodness…Drip….Perseverance….Drip….self-control… Who couldn’t use a little more of what Peter is referring to here? I know I can. Over time these things build and build so that more goodness, perseverance, self-control, godliness and so on are filling us up and leaving a mark on the way we think and do life as a Christian.

As I look back on my life I can how significant that trickling effect of the Holy Spirit has done me much good. I am certainly not the same person I was back when. I am also grateful that the Lord gave me drips rather than firehoses of grace and understanding. Too much at one time might have drown me rather than filled me up with faith.

Again as Peter says, here this morning “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Everything we need is in those droplet moments of faith. I can certainly say I Know Jesus more because of them. So, if you are a little discouraged because of a lack of understanding of God’s Word; if you have faith questions; if you struggle with prayer; or are a little slow to worship then hear again Peter’s Words. “5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith…” Keep trying and don’t underestimate the little victories of faith. Little by little the Lord will equip you and teach you and help you. This is my prayer for you. May the Lord rain upon you with His grace.

And now the Lord bless you and Keep you. The Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on you with His favor and give you His peace in Jesus. Amen

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDMay3.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/zAuyo7XTyPU

matt.woods@glcna.com -- (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION APRIL 27

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

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

“LAVISH GRACE”

READING: I John 3:1-2 – How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he (Jesus) appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

In the movie “The Book of Eli”, the title character has possession of the only existing Bible in a desolate, post-nuclear war American west. There is no green anywhere: not any grass, not one living tree, no plant life anywhere. There’s been no rain since the war, and the only fresh water to be found comes from underground, and those who control those few wells control everyone else. The principal bad guy owns a well with an old-fashioned hand pump over it. He trades water for whatever valuables others can bring to him. The water is better than gold!

There is a scene where the bad guy has come into possession of a small hotel-sized bottle of shampoo. He has a young woman as his concubine, and in this scene, he is shampooing her hair. He uses precious water to wet her hair, then applies the shampoo and lathers her hair. Both of them enjoy the process: the scent of the shampoo, the texture of the lather, and the sensual lavishness that they had nearly forgotten in the years of hardship. Then comes the moment when he rinses her hair. It takes a gallon and a half of precious water to get the lather out of her hair. In the stark emptiness of the setting, this rinsing process represents a lavishishness almost beyond her imagination. It is incredibly gracious.

In our text today St. John is thinking about the love of God and its effect for us. He exclaims, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us…!” The Greek word here translated “lavished” comes from the root of a word that refers to an anointing. When a prophet would anoint a new king, he would pour the finest olive oil over the head of the anointed one in such an abundance that the oil would run down over his face and the sides of his head. It would run down upon his garments and drip off the tip of his beard. It represented the fullness of God’s blessing and all the best gifts with which God would adorn the king’s life and reign.

Here in John’s text he uses this word to indicate just how fully and completely God has accepted us as his children and pours out on us spiritual and physical blessings that we neither deserve nor could anticipate. We are the children of God! We will see Jesus face to face when he comes again in glory. We will be like him then, glorified and immortal. And all of this is because Jesus took our place, suffered our punishment, and died, only to rise again on Easter morning so that we may rejoice in his love and in his lavish grace. We do not deserve any of it, but it will be ours because the Father accepts us as his own and pours out the Holy Spirit on us in lavish abundance.

It was said that Marie Antionette, consort of the King of France, (The one who said, “Let them eat cake.”) loved to take warm milk baths. After luxuriating in it for a time, she would transfer to a warm water bath scented with essential flower oils purchased from the perfumers at extravagant cost. The milk baths used scores of gallons of milk when children in the poorest corners of Paris were starving to death. She simply loved the lavish lifestyle, and since God had deemed her fit for royalty, well she must therefore be worthy in his eyes. She thought that until the rebels sent her to the guillotine.

We don’t deserve anything from the Father. But for Jesus’ sake, he forgives us and declares us righteous, lavishing upon us his grace, his love, and eternal life with him. We do not yet know what we will be, but we know that when Jesus appears, we shall be like him! That is lavish grace. That is undeserved love. That is our promise in Christ Jesus! Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) CONFIRMATION REQUEST: Our Junior Confirmands are well into their preparations for Confessional Sunday and Confirmation Day, May 16 and 23 respectively. They have been working on their Personal Statements and are now working on their third and final drafts. On April 30 and May 1 they’ll participate in their Confirmands Retreat. So, I would ask you to remember them in your prayers. Ask the Lord to pour his Holy Spirit upon them to clarify all they’ve been taught and to bring to mind the knowledge that they’ll need in a few weeks. More than that, ask the Lord to hold them steadfast and sure through the coming years so that their gifts of baptism and their desire for communion will not desert them.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/ah4ZmonIbFg

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDApril27.PDF

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WEEKLY DEVOTION APRIL 26

Monday, April 26, 2021

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

“Church, Why We Bother.”

A Perfect Solution for Imperfect People

1 Corinthians 12:12-14; 12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Church, why we bother? “It’s full of hypocrites, failures, and wanderers right?” Yes. That’s exactly right. We call ourselves sinners. It’s full of sinners—sinners who just so happen to need what fellowship with other Christians can provide.

The Corinthian Church was a church plagued by many things that divided the congregation from one another. Some segregated themselves by wealth leaving the poorer members hungry. Factions had formed because some believed of their ability to speak in tongues set them above others who didn’t have that same gift. The Corinthians were being heavily influenced by their culture as we are often influenced by our own culture. And yet Paul writes vigorously not to give up on the Church. He urged the Corinthians to get back to the fundamentals of faith in Jesus and love others as Christ did. He defends the church because he understands how important it is to be a part of the body—a living breathing thing. So, Paul speaks about the church as a body with many parts. All those parts are vital to giving life to the body. All of those parts are alive because they are connected to the body which is connected to Jesus. Each part gives life to the other parts. And when one part is wounded the rest of the body works to bring that part healing. Everyone’s gift is important for the whole but the life blood of the body is the love of Christ. Without it we are only a resounding gong or pointless noise. So, the first reason we bother with church is because worship is where life happens to the body. It is also where connections with others happen, and where we can be encouraged.

Jesus, The Lord of the Sabbath, Practiced Regular Worship With Others

Jesus Himself believed it was important to establish His church through the Apostles. Jesus believed in the Sabbath and made it a point to be visit Synagogues weekly and even preached in many of them including His home congregation in Nazareth. Jesus would often read from the Old Testament and then He would preach from that text. And those who were there heard Him. The boys from Emmaus were preached to for seven miles. The Word of God opened their minds in ways that they had not seen on their own. This too is why we bother with church. The Word is prominent. It’s spoken so that we hear it. And it is learned. Someone who knows that Word, or who may have life experiences other than our own may be able to open our minds to become more discerning and mature in our understanding. This in turn equips us to be more aware of obstacles to our faith and more aware of opportunities for our faith.

Meeting Together Brings Joy

During Covid Social Distancing has disrupted the fellowship of families and of worship. So now the question I hear some asking themselves is when should I go back to church? Now that the Covid Pandemic is winding down and vaccinations are being passed about are we ready to trade in our Pandemic PJs that we usually wear on Sunday mornings for our church clothes again? It is tempting to keep “playing it safe”. For a few this may be true, perhaps even necessary. But for most this is changing. We will continue to have Covid in some form with us as we have the flu with us in some form every year. Yet, being apart is not something that we can or should keep doing. So, consider some other reasons why we bother with church. These are some of my favorites.

Acts 2 gives us a glimpse of how getting together with others brought joy, purpose, courage, and a greater faith. Acts 2:42-47 says. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

The early Christians were having fun living as Christians and doing Christian things. They devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching which was the truth passed to them by Jesus. They were fearless and regularly went into the Temple courts unafraid of those who once condemned Jesus. The resurrection made followers as courageous as the disciples had become. The greatest miracle of those disciples was their courage from the resurrection. The disciples went into those Temple Courts instead of hiding from them. They boldly preached there as if to reclaim the ground that was stolen from the people of God. They continued to meet together in the Temple courts. They also celebrated the Lord’s Supper and ate together in each other’s homes.

We bother with church because there is joy in it. We bother with all the dinners and cookoffs and activities because it gives opportunity to interact and grow closer to the other members of Christ’s body. The Gospel tells us that we do not have to be afraid of anything but encourages us to keep meeting together. To receive communion and to interact with others. To receive hugs again and see one another’s faces in person. It is the interaction that makes it fun and meaningful. Worshipping together brings a reality to the Gospel message. Seeing others inspires us to see what they have overcome. Being with others encourages and allows us to actually experience the presence of the rest of the Body. It gives tangibility to the love of Jesus.

We Bother With Church Because It Brings Us Closer to Jesus.

We bother with church because it brings us closer to Jesus through other Christians. This is the bottom line. This is why a Sabbath is vital to life and essential to overcoming the world instead of being overcome by it. Maybe you are not sure about coming back to church. Maybe you don’t want to give up your PJs and your comfy sofa. Or maybe you simply can’t yet for health reasons or distance—if this is your case then let us know how you are doing so we can pray for you. And if you are still on the fence about it all I would invite you back to the church and to the family who misses you. It will be great to see you again. In the meantime, blessings to you wherever you worship. Hope to see you soon.

And now the Lord bless you and Keep you. The Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on you with His favor and give you His peace in Jesus. Amen

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDApril26.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/-dNpgZG4D3g

matt.woods@glcna.com -- (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION APRIL 20

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

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

“LIKE ANGEL-WING BEGONIAS”

READING: Psalm 84:1-5 – How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home and the swallow a nest for herself where she may have her young – a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their heats on pilgrimage.

Some six or seven years ago I brought communion to the apartment of Juanita Lane, now sainted. As we visited, I noticed a beautiful, sturdy, deep maroon, three feet tall plant on her patio. I commented on it, and she told me it was an angel-wing begonia. Then she said that it would soon be killed by the first frost. I asked why she didn’t bring it inside her home. She said, “Look around here. I don’t have any place to put it.” Then she said that it was all right because she already had taken cuttings off of it, and in the spring, she would have two new begonias from the original. She said she had done this for years.

I was intrigued and asked her if I could take a couple of cuttings from the plant and would she show me how it was done. She was happy to do so, and I have been propagating begonias ever since. I remember her telling me, “They really only need two things: plenty of water and plenty of sunshine.” Last summer I had six beautiful begonias on my deck all summer long, and they blossomed and grew with abandon. As the danger of frost came last fall, I took cuttings from the sturdiest specimens to start the whole process over. But the prettiest one of them all I decided to bring into the house whole. I wanted to see what it would do if I just let it keep growing. Well, that begonia grew to a little over eight feet tall. It put out three additional shoots that are each over three feet long now, and it merrily bloomed off and on, all winter long. Last Monday I took a cutting off of the top, and next week it and my other five will be moved out on the deck to bathe in the sunshine and pretty up the place all summer long.

In our text the Psalmist speaks about his joy and contentment in being in the Lord’s house. He says that even the sparrows and the swallows love it there. (Sort of glad we have windows in our house of worship! The birds would have left messes there, I’m sure!) He says that in the Lord’s house he finds blessing and strength. His whole being, soul and body, yearns for his courts and finds joy there.

I know just what he means. What a joy it was to have lots of people in church for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter morning! We had 187 in the late service this year. Last year we had 17 of us! What a difference it makes to have many voices raised in praise and prayer. I think many have longed and yearned to be in the Lord’s house during the COVID crisis. How good it is to be able more and more to welcome back those who have been isolated by the pandemic. You see, like those angel-wing begonias, the Lord knows we need two things, and plenty of them: God’s word and his sacraments. He gave those gifts to us because our souls cannot thrive without them. They give us hope and courage and meaning and direction. They bring us comfort and strength and assurance. And both of those gifts are best received in the Lord’s house surrounded by the Lord’s people and the ministry of his called servants. And when we are well supplied with his Word and his Sacraments then we can also bear rich and abundant fruit. We serve him better when we are fortified by the things we need most spiritually.

My begonias produce large clumps of pretty little blossoms that remind people of angel wings, thus their name. They only produce those lovely blossoms when they get enough of what they need: water and sunshine. They same is true for us as God’s people. We produce good fruits and love one another best when we are supplied with the spiritual things we need most: his Word and his Sacraments. So let us rejoice that as more and more of us are vaccinated and the fear of COVID recedes we can look forward to worshipping our Lord together again, thanking and praising him for all his blessings. And we can be nurtured and equipped by his Word and Sacraments often and with effect. Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) CONFIRMATION REQUEST: Our Junior Confirmands are well into their preparations for Confessional Sunday and Confirmation Day, May 16 and 23 respectively. They have been working on their Personal Statements and are now working on their third and final drafts. On April 30 and May 1 they’ll participate in their Confirmands Retreat. So, I would ask you to remember them in your prayers. Ask the Lord to pour his Holy Spirit upon them to clarify all they’ve been taught and to bring to mind the knowledge that they’ll need in a few weeks. More than that, ask the Lord to hold them steadfast and sure through the coming years so that their gifts of baptism and their desire for communion will not desert them.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/DhaTSe3lvgI

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDApril20.PDF

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WEEKLY DEVOTION APRIL 19

Monday, April 19, 2021

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

“Then Their Eyes Were Opened” -Luke 24

Getting Reacquainted

A few years ago, our family went back home to attend the funeral of my wife’s grandmother. We were sitting in the pews during visitation at the church. Her grandmother had been part of that church her whole life. As we sat around talking and reminiscing a friend of Tricia’s mom wandered by. Apparently, she had not seen her mom for a long time. She looked at Tricia, who looks a lot like her mom, and called out her mom’s name, “Patty?” We could tell by the lady’s face that she wasn’t exactly certain if she was talking to the right person. One can only guess why she was so confused. Maybe the last time she saw Tricia’s mom she looked a little bit younger and in a different context. Maybe it was because Tricia was sitting next to her dad in the pew at that moment. Who knows really but it was clear she confused Tricia with her mom. She looked right at my wife and couldn’t tell for sure.

I’ve also experienced this for myself more than a couple of times. I have encountered members of our congregation in stores or restaurants and they somehow don’t even recognize me. They sort of look right through me, over me, around me, and at me but somehow my face doesn’t register to them. Maybe because I wasn’t wearing a collar at the time or because we’re not meeting in church. I could walk right on by them without even a blink. Then I call their name and suddenly the light comes on. The moment is usually defined by surprise and a brief conversation. This is what I think of when Mary went looking for Jesus’ body in John 20:11-18. She runs right into Jesus but somehow thinks Jesus is the gardener. Only when Jesus calls her by name does she recognize Jesus.

The Emmaus Disciples

Something similar is happening on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. Consider the text. “Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him….

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So, he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Notice verse 16, “but they were kept from recognizing Jesus…” Jesus is right there walking along with them for seven miles. They could see his face, hear his voice, and yet somehow there was a disconnect. Only when Jesus broke the bread—something in the way He broke that bread caused them recognize Him. And then we hear their reaction. Verse 32 tells us, “They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’” Even in the disconnect there is something familiar.

When the Scriptures Are Opened to Us

I always appreciate it when someone is able to offer a new insight into scriptures that are familiar to me. No doubt when the disciples from Emmaus walked with Jesus, they had heard the scriptures that Jesus was teaching from. These scriptures were familiar but not fully understood. Jesus helped them see those scriptures as they were meant to be known. And when the Emmaus disciples realized it was Jesus who had been teaching them the ran back and told the disciples whom we know were still hiding. The burning in their hearts for the Word became their outward joy.

What am I getting at today? The scriptures cannot be read once and then be expected to be fully appreciated. Sometimes it takes several visits to those pages to fully appreciate and understand what they are trying to tell us. Each time a little more is revealed. While at the same time if like the woman looking for my mother-in-law, we are away from those scriptures a long time we may not fully recognize those scriptures as we once did. We can forget that studying the scriptures and practicing what they teach is the same as building a relationship with the Lord. Jesus is the Word made flesh after all (John 1). The more we spend time with the scriptures the more we spend time with Jesus. It’s a relationship that is being built not just knowledge.

I love it when a light bulb goes off because something new has been discovered. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I have read John 20 at Easter. Years ago, a professor opened my eyes to something I hadn’t caught before. In verse 11 we hear that Mary looks into the tomb and sees two angels sitting where Jesus’ body had been. One at the head and the other at the foot. It was pointed out that this is reminiscent of the Ark of the Covenant where the presence of God was between the Cherubim (Exodus 25:22). The Cherubim faced each other on the top of the ark and the pillar of cloud and fire were above that spot. In the tomb Jesus is no longer between the Cherubim but with His people in the flesh and risen from the dead. I love it when someone can open up my mind to see those connections. It makes the Word fuller and more exciting to read. And the best part, once I learned that little connection, I have not forgotten it. What I had been kept from recognizing I finally came to see. And I am sure there is much more for me to see in the Word of God.

Pursuing A Relationship With the Word of God

So, I encourage to become familiar with God’s Word. I would encourage you to approach it not like a novel but like one might pursue a marriage. Engage it every day with the hopes of building the relationship and knowing it more and more fully. By doing so we get more familiar and will grow closer to the Lord. What’s more we will become better equipped to recognize the truth of that Word in other contexts; in a classroom, at work, even at the store or restaurant; in places we would not normally or necessarily be looking for it. And hopefully as we go out-n-about we will recognize Jesus whatever the context in which we find ourselves—Like the Emmaus Disciples on the road to somewhere; or like the disciples behind locked doors because of Covid; or even like Mary Magdalene when we are struggling to understand when our world turns up-side-down. Whatever the context we pray that the Lord would open our eyes to see Jesus and recognize His work in our lives.

And now the Lord bless you and Keep you. The Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on you with His favor and give you His peace in Jesus. Amen

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDApril19.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/gB9tVSBB8O4

matt.woods@glcna.com -- (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION APRIL 13

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

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

“THEY DON’T BELONG HERE”

READING: Acts 5:27-33 – Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead – whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death.

Two weeks ago Becky and I took a little vacation to the north country in Wisconsin to visit our eldest son and his family. As we were coming home on the Tuesday of Holy Week, we could see more and more greenery the further south we drove. But as we were going past Scottsburg, I noticed a little Bradford pear tree all in bloom. I made mention of it to Becky because it was the first flowering shrub either of us had seen this spring. From there on south we saw white blossoms everywhere: in the woods, in the subdivisions, along the side of the road, in fence rows, and along the creek banks. Everywhere we looked we saw Bradford pears in bloom, a sure sign of spring, and a sure sign of trouble.

You see, Bradford pear trees, when they were introduced, were said to be sterile. The developers claimed that because the trees were hybrids, they would not be able to reproduce. They were widely planted in subdivisions and on campuses of various kinds all through 1990’s and into the 2000’s. But as the movie “Jurassic Park” famously put it, “Nature finds a way.” Or, as the ad for a kind of margarine once put it, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!” Bradford pears found a way, all right. And as they blossomed this spring, you could see the extent to which they have been successful to the point of being a nuisance and considered an invasive species. They don’t belong in those places, and biologists and foresters are worried that they’ll crowd out more native and traditional trees.

In our text for today St. Luke records the confrontation between the Apostles of the Lord and the Sanhedrin, the same Council that condemned Jesus to death and delivered him over to Pontus Pilate for crucifixion. This is the time shortly after Pentecost, and fueled and fired by the Holy Spirit, the Apostles have been boldly and quite publicly preaching the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ. They proclaim his death at the hands of the leaders of Judah and his Resurrection on Easter. They do this with the slightest hesitation, even though they had been arrested by the chief priests and sternly warned not to preach, teach, or do miracles in His name. The Sanhedrin and the High Priest have reason to be alarmed for the Church is growing leaps and bounds. More and more people are putting their trust in the blood of Jesus. To the leaders of Judaism, these people don’t belong here in the Holy City. These people are like an invasive species that proliferates and propagates itself, threatening to overwhelm to local environment. Something has to be done! These “Followers of the Way”, as they call themselves, do not belong in Judaism, nor in Jerusalem, nor anywhere they may turn up.

As the text indicates, they were furious enough to think about executing all the Apostles as they had done their Rabbi, but a wise and influential teacher of the Law, Gamaliel, advises them not to pursue such a rash and dangerous plan. He tells them that if this Jesus cult is just a passing fad, it will fade away like so many others had done. And, if this really was from God, they would not be able to stop it and would find themselves fighting against God. So they flog the Apostles and order them to cease and desist. And, guess what? The Apostles leave the prison “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name”!

The fact is that they Church WAS an act of God as was the Passion, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection. Nothing that His enemies could do would stop the Church from growing and spreading and becoming strong – not plots, not floggings, not imprisonment, not persecutions, not martyrdom, not the Roman emperors nor the Coliseum with its lions and flames. Jesus rose on Easter, the Disciples were eyewitnesses of this, and after Pentecost these men were undeterred by threat and violence. Jesus lives! And the Church will continue to gather in His elect whether the world thinks they belong here or not.

In this season of Easter how wonderful it is to be renewed in our joy over Jesus and our calling to be his disciples, too. It’s been a long year, with many trials and uncertainties. But Easter reminds us why we are Christians: God paid the debt we owed him by sacrificing his one and only perfect Son, and then He raised Jesus up on the third day so we might know beyond the shadow of a doubt that because He lives, we shall live also. We don’t belong here. They’re right! We belong home in heaven, and Jesus makes it our home. Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) PASTORS CLASS: began this past Sunday, and it will meet on Sundays, 1:00-3:00 P.M. as we talk about the Christian basics from a Lutheran perspective. It’s not too late to join us and refresh your knowledge once again.

2) THANK YOU: to Helen Bohannon, the keyboardists, the Chapel Strings, the Choir, and soloists for blessing us with marvelous music to enhance our worship during Holy Week and especially Easter. I also want to make a shout-out to Kenny Morris for the Tomb he made for us two years ago. As I looked at it again this year, I did so with renewed appreciation for his vision and his talent. THANKS, KENNY!

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/BcRDJnlT7bg

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF:WEEKLYDApril13.PDF

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WEEKLY DEVOTION APRIL 12

Monday, April 12, 2021

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

“Transitions of Life” John 20:24-31

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Milestones of 25 Years Ago

Twenty-Five years ago, this year a lot of things changed for me. In the span of about two months I managed to celebrate several milestones that I had been working and praying for most of my life. After fifteen years of stops and starts I managed to finally receive my black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Shortly after that I graduated from Seminary. So many times, I considered stopping and doing something else. I had been offered construction jobs; an opportunity to go back to Yosemite and work with youth; even to be a manager of a Pizza Hut in Ypsilanti, Near Easter Michigan University, which was not far from Concordia, Ann Arbor where I did my undergrad. Somehow, I hung in there and reached my goal to become a pastor in the Lutheran Church.

So, after graduation I was ordained as a Pastor in my home congregation in Michigan and then later installed in my first congregation in Indiana. And most importantly, between my ordination and installation I married my bride. This year marks our 25th anniversary.

Yes, all of these milestones that I had been working toward and striving for, praying for, and wondering about all rallied to fulfilment within about a two month period. It was exciting and strange and disorienting and also reflective. It was probably the most significant time of transition in my life.

I had to stop thinking like a student and start thinking as a Pastor. I had to stop thinking as a single man and be a husband. The transitions also signified that I had to stop being one thing and become another. And we all do it. If we live in one house for decades and then move that’s a major transition especially if the move takes us out of state. When Mitzi, our previous youth director retired it was a major change to us here at Grace. Now Rosie has taken over and is running with the program; and doing a great job by the way. Our whole lives are a state of transitions from one thing to the next. And often it takes time to adjust.

Big Changes for Thomas

A similar thing is going on when disciples are trying to convince Thomas that they had seen the resurrected Jesus. Jesus had been saying for all three years of training that He would suffer at the hands of the chief priests, be crucified, and on the third day be raised to life again. Yet the disciples didn’t remember that part of their training or seem to tune into it for one reason or another . So, on Easter the disciples were in the midst of a lot of change in a short period of time. I know from experience that rapid changes can be very unsettling and cause a sense of uncertainty. Then add in mourning a loved one and your world is turned up-side-down. Being a disciple on Maundy Thursday was a joy. Suddenly, being a disciple of Jesus on Good Friday felt more like an ending rather than a transition. But it was a transition. The sin of the world was bought and paid for. And now the resurrection is preparing us for another transition that will inevitably come to all of us.

I had been preparing for years for the milestones I mentioned already. For three years Jesus had been training twelve men to be His disciples. A disciple is a student of Christ. The disciples were being prepared to become Apostles. An apostle is ‘one who is sent’. They could not be sent until everything was accomplished in the cross and the resurrection. The followers had nothing to celebrate until there was a resurrection, a change from death to life. However, the resurrection would change the world and the Apostles would be the messengers to do it.

And so back to Thomas. Thomas was stuck in mourning for a week. He kept looking back and reliving the events of Good Friday. I can imagine Thomas thinking to himself, “What were the last three years for? And why did all seem to go so wrong?” And with each day his doubts raised. With each attempt by the other ten to convince him that they had seen the Lord he resisted. Finally, Thomas put up his challenge. “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my and into his side, I will not believe it.”

Challenge accepted. The resurrected Jesus appears and insists that Thomas touch His wounds. “Stop doubting and believe…because you have seen me you believe; blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” When faith takes hold another transition of sorts takes hold of Thomas. No longer a doubter. No longer a mourner. Thomas is a believer. Thomas is part of the group again. Thomas is now not just a disciple but also an apostle and more ready to be
sent then before.

Big Changes for Us

Likewise, a change happens for us in Baptism. Romans 6:3-4 is quick this out. “3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” And 2 Corinthians 4:16 tells us, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” A change happens in us every time we are forgiven; each day when God’s grace remakes us again. The hard part is moving forward from the past toward the future. The challenge is to let go of our sinful nature and pursue a godly one.

Another challenge is to keep building on the new things that come. I wouldn’t be much a husband if I acted like a single man in the relationship. As a single man I spent time how I wanted without having to include others. I drove where I wanted; spent money on things I wanted or needed, etc. As a married man being a single man doesn’t work. Spending time and money must be considered as a team. There must be agreement to work together for common goals and lifestyles. A marriage by its nature moves my wife and I forward while at the same time celebrating all the good stuff of 25 years. For us our history makes the future work. And there will be many more changes in the years ahead. But one transition will always remain when all of our years are spent.

The last and greatest change as we all know happens in death. Yet, in the resurrection is our greatest milestone. Because we have a history with Jesus, we are called blessed; believing in Jesus in spite of doubts, trouble, loss, and joy we have an established future. Philippians 3:20-21 tells us that Jesus will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Talk about a change! I can imagine this last and greatest transition will take some getting used to I’m sure but I don’t think we will mind. So, celebrate the milestones. And take comfort in the transitions that can and do come in life. Change is inevitable…daily, in fact…especially for we who are the blessed ones who have not yet seen but believe.

And now the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on you with His favor and give you His peace in Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDApril12.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/U3V8DhRKGhY

matt.woods@glcna.com -- (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION APRIL 6

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

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

“MY THREE FAVORITE WORDS”

READING: Matthew 28:1-7 – After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for the angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he is risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 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.”

He is risen! He is risen indeed! A blessed Eastertide to you! There are a lot of words in the dictionary that I like a lot. “Dandelion” is a nice word. “Interstellar” is an interesting word. “Lunch” is a good word when I’m hungry! “Michigan” makes me smile. “Sycamore” brings pictures to mind. But of all the words in the English language (and in German, French, and Koine Greek – in all of which I know at least some words), my favorite three words in combination are: “He is risen!” (Always said with the exclamation mark!)

“He” is Jesus Christ, my Lord and Ever-living Savior. He went to the judgement hall for crimes uncommitted. He felt the lash of Roman “justice” for a rebellion he never fomented. He wore the crown of thorns, the garish robe, the splinters from the cross, and the nails that pierced him through. He felt the abyss of the Father’s wrath at sin, my sin, our sin. And at the last he gave up the ghost in order “…that I may be his own and live under him in his Kingdom and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.”

“Is” – Martin Luther famously said (and Bill Clinton forgot), “Is is is!” “Is” is a statement of fact. It isn’t “might be”; it isn’t “could be”; it isn’t “will be” – “is” means what it says. It’s a done deal. It’s for sure, for certain, without a doubt, and absolutely true. Jesus “is”, even as the Lord said to Moses, “I am that I am.” Believe it! Rejoice in it! Trust it! Live according to it!

“Risen!” – He’s not missing; he’s not absent; he’s not stolen away; he’s not buried elsewhere where Mary cannot find him. He is RISEN! He is alive and whole and holy and absolutely beautiful. He has overcome death and the grave, Satan and sin, the Sanhedrin and the Elders and the Chief Priests and Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas and Annas and all his enemies. He has foiled the executioner, overwhelmed the guards, surprised even his closest disciples, and he lives. He is RISEN! Never to die again. No longer in his humiliation, but now in his exaltation. Once again, the King of kings and Lord of lords! Once again, the all-powerful, almighty, hallowed and awesome Son of God who lives and reigns to all eternity.

HE IS RISEN! Those are, in my estimation, the most beautiful, most powerful, most meaningful words in any language because they tell us the price paid on Friday’s Cross has been accepted by the Father in full exchange for our salvation. That by his rising, Jesus has extended to us God’s grace and mercy. We are SAVED! And all of it comes with a number of promises, not the least of which is this, “Because I live, you shall live also!” We will know the joy of the Resurrection in full because we ourselves will experience it through Christ. Alive and well and living in heaven with him who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

HE IS RISEN! Those words bring an end to every Lutheran funeral – both at the church or funeral home and at the Committal. Each single time they are a reminder to all in attendance that the hope we have in Christ Jesus is founded on something real and powerful – namely, his Resurrection. Because he overcame death, every Christian heart can rest easy in his love because he has already secured our future and assured our everlasting life. They are my favorite three words when put in that order – HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUJAH! And AMEN!

HAPPY EASTER TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU!

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/ZAjxZxjG-Mg

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF:WEEKLYDApril6.PDF

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WEEKLY DEVOTION APRIL 5

Monday, April 5, 2021

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

“O God, It’s Monday!” Matthew 28:1-10

1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5The angel said to the women, “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.”

8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

“Read The Directions All the Way To the End.”

Years ago, we had a thing called typing class in high school where we learned to type on things called type-writers—like computers without screens. I don’t know if they still have those classes or what they call them today—keyboarding or something. Anyway, to those of us who grew up in the era of the smart phone this is like talking about the days of Noah I realize but bear with me a moment. Some of us are old enough to remember—and by the way I type better than I write by hand any more. Of course, the teacher had removed all the correction ribbon so mistakes were hard to hide.

As part of our final exam we were given a two page, front and back, list of exercises we were supposed to perform using the full extent of our new found typing skills. Two pages?! “How in the wide-world would I get this done in an hour?!” I thought. Everyone was complaining about the amount of stuff to do but the teacher simply said read the directions and do the best you can. To add insult to injury, on the pages were things like type this sentence while making the shape of a tree and type this sentence backwards, and things like that. Quite honestly, it was impossible to do all the things on those pages.

“What kind of stupid test is this?” I thought. But something about this test made me wonder. The directions at the top of the test simply said, “Read through all the questions first before beginning.” So I did, I skimmed actually—through the directions. The last thing on the test simply read, “Now that you have read through the test simply type your name at the top and hand it in.”

“Really?” “This is too good to be true.” Suddenly I looked up and wondered how many others had already seen this. In a class of 25 or so I quickly realized I was the only one not typing. I read the last sentence again. “Yep!” “Ok!” So I typed my name and handed it in with a smile and a lot of other strange looks from the others. Within five minutes I was done with my final exam in typing.

As Christians the Bible begs us to look at everything in the same way. “Go to the end—read carefully!” “Start with the end—start with the resurrection of Jesus.” Start with Good Friday and then we realize the rest won’t count against us. Then we see our sin erased and heaven on the horizon. Then our hope makes sense. It’s already happened. Salvation is as good as done. But this doesn’t mean there won’t be obstacles that try to bog us down, overwhelm us, or keep us from reading to the end. Easter Sunday is great but we still got to go on living on Monday too.

All Heaven Breaks Loose

That first Easter morning was rowdy. The women who went to the tomb Easter morning probably didn’t think of anything beyond anointing Jesus body. In their haste they realize they’ve got a big round problem—the stone. “Who’s going to roll away the stone?” The concern doesn’t stop them but I’m sure the violent earthquake gets their attention—they felt it before on Good Friday when Jesus died—as if the earth itself wept for her creator. Meanwhile before their arrival the Angel removes the stone and his appearance shakes the battle hardened soldiers to their core—making them like their victims—like dead men. It’s not said but by the time the women arrive these men seem to have gone.

Here is a notable distinction. The women like the guards see the same angel. His appearance was like lightening—like the glory described of Jesus at the mount of Transfiguration. The fear causes the women to bow down trembling but in humility. Whereas the guards were made like dead men the women were brimming with wonder. The experience made them ready to listen, in fact eager to hear the announcement that came next whereas the soldiers simply retreated. “Jesus is not here; He has risen just as He said. Come and see the place where they lay Him.” The women hurry away “trembling and bewildered” to tell the 1disciples and run right into Jesus and all heaven breaks loose. Matthew 28:9 says, “They came to him, clasped his feet (literally seized His feet) and worshipped him.” And then instead of sending the angels to the disciples Jesus commissions His first witnesses to be the ones to report to the disciples. “Go tell my brothers…”

“Easter is Still True On Monday”

We know what happens on Sunday. But then Monday comes and we need to be reminded to keep reading to the end. Babies cryin, kids fussin, bodies achin, bosses bossin, schedules demandin, worries wieghin, things breakin, along with all sorts of life happening. Easter is the promise of an everlasting God remaking us into people with a fresh start. Yet in the back of our minds some will linger with guilt over a life of unrealized dreams, or of a life of poor choices. Some will go on abusing their bodies with poor diets or substance abuse and we will go on not listening to our doctor’s advice. Some will hang on to your anger. Some of us will turn our employers into saviors and our comforts into idols. We will rip and run to baseball careful not to disappoint the coach. On Monday some will return to the relentless bully at school or to a feeling of anxiety about self or to a sense of dread about the world we just can’t shake. On Monday remorse will return over a failed marriage, or we will desperately try to revive a relationship we know isn’t good but it’s better than being alone. On Monday a few of us will have an important surgery or see a doctor…again. On Monday some go on mourning. On Monday the routine of things return. And we will be tempted to reduce Easter to yesterday. We will be tempted to tell ourselves that Easter isn’t relevant on Monday.

Oh, but it is. Jesus is still alive—your troubles and tribulations cannot kill Jesus a second time. Nothing can put Him back in the tomb. The disciples didn’t go on without trouble after the resurrection. The Apostle Paul knew plenty of heartache and trouble in his time as an apostle. The world threw everything at them. But when you have the promise of the resurrection guaranteeing an eternal life those women, and disciples of Jesus were literally as much unstoppable on Monday as on Sunday. They could see the end game and they focused on it.

Set Your Hearts On Things Above

Consider Colossians 3:1-4. I’ve saved it for last today because this passage like many others tells us to start with the end first. Verse one starts off with confidence in Jesus. 1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ…” You know how this game ends. And in actuality it’s not even a close one. Jesus allows Himself to be the one who takes on the foul play of the Pharisees who attempt to play by their own rules; who abuse Jesus, brutalize Him, try to marginalize Him, and nail Him to a cross. The Lord may have been treated like the visiting team but by the time He is done with this world every knee will bow and every tongue will confess the fact that Jesus is Lord of this house. The clock is running out on team Satan and his team. In John 10 Jesus, the Good Shepherd, reminds us that He lays down His life for the sheep on purpose; with authority to lay it down and authority to raise it up again. No one takes it from Him but he gives it all on His own. It’s the Lord who sets the rules and by those rules Jesus dies and rises again.

Colossians then says, “Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Christ, your treasure, is hidden--locked up safe where nothing can get to it as in a vault or safe. And finally, Colossians 3: 4 finishes the thought. “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory

We cheer for our team because we want them to win! Nobody I know of cheers to just play a good game, but to win. That’s what I’m talking about here today. We are celebrating a big win—the biggest win ever. When Jesus rose from the grave we were given that big win. And that win is just as much a win on Monday as it was yesterday.

O God, Thank you for Monday

So now what? Remember where we started. The Typing teacher said read the directions all the way to the end. We know how this ends or we wouldn’t be making such a big deal about this morning. Now, the commissioning continues—the calling for us to tell others as those women did and the disciples after. Go and disciple…as we meet them in those routine places on Mondays and the days after. Monday after Easter has come the good stuff of Easter is here as much on Monday as yesterday. O God, Thank you for Monday! I’ve got another day in Jesus. Jesus is still risen! Alleluia.

And now the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on you with His favor and give you His peace in Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDApril5.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/tMonGzw6pTA

matt.woods@glcna.com -- (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MARCH 30

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

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

“DO NOT TEST THE LORD”

READING: Luke 4:9-13 – The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

Numbers 16:1-5a - Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites – Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth – became insolent and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?” When Moses heard this, he fell facedown. Then he said to Korah and all his followers: “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him and who is holy…”

The past two weeks you and I have looked at the Temptations of Christ and have reflected upon Jesus’ re-enactment of Israel’s 40-year journey in the Wilderness. The first temptation revolved around hunger and trusting in God’s providence. The second one involved earthly power and splendor at the expense of being led by selfishness that leads to the devil. This week Satan brings another powerful temptation to Jesus, and this time it is he, the devil, who first quotes Scripture. (He knows the whole Book, word for word, and has often misled Christians by putting a little devilish twist to God’s word.) He’s got yet one more trap to set before Jesus.

This one is well known in our nation, in the past, in the present, and in the future. This one is the temptation of popularity, the “WOW Factor!” Satan takes Jesus up on the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem itself. Then he suggests that Jesus jump off! After all, the Scriptures seem to promise that God will keep you from harm by surrounding you with his angels “…to guard you in all your ways!” Just think of the sensation Jesus would make by plummeting down to the Court of the Priests while the men of Israel stand gaping! And just before hitting the earth, a gentle two-point landing is achieved, thanks to the efforts of the angels. What glory! What fame! What notoriety to be gained! And all with God’s blessing! No need to walk the way of the Cross. No need to suffer agonies untold. No need to suffer the wrath of his Father when a straightforward approach can make Israel stand up and take notice of the Christ. How tempting!

You’ll remember that for the past two weeks I have pointed out how Jesus’ temptations in the desert were a re-enactment of Israel’s desert journey of 40 years. Jesus is the True Israel, Israel reduced to One, the perfect Son who is always obedient to his Father. The 3rd Temptation of Christ reminds us of Korah’s Rebellion in the Old Testament. He and his cronies are sick and tired of Moses and his commandments and requirements and sacrifices and his leadership. They feel that they, too, know God’s ways and stand justified before him. Moses knows trouble when he hears it. He knows that this rebellion is not against him, but against the Lord Almighty. He senses also that God will bring a terrible judgement upon Korah and all who follow him. They think leading Israel is all about glory and fame and fortune. Further on Moses says to the Lord, “I have not a taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.”

We are also tempted to think of our own reputations, our own social acceptance, our own popularity when following the Lord’s will is in the balance. Our teens are tempted to do the drugs, drink the liquor, flaunt their bodies in order to be noticed, accepted, or thought to be the latest word for “cool”. Our working men and women are tempted to cheat their employers, join in the gossip, disdain those different from themselves, or rob the IRS at this time of the year, all in the effort to be “one of the gang” or to elevate themselves in the eyes of like-thinkers.

That is not Jesus’ way. His response to Satan is one that warns us as well. To misuse the Scriptures or to seek our own popularity at God’s expense will not sustain us. It will lead us into more trouble and less joy. And at its extreme, it can take us out of God’s camp and into the dwelling of the devil. So we make it our goal to please him and to serve him only. Obedient as we can be and confessing our transgressions when we fail, we desire to be the ones “…who belong to him and are holy.” For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) HOLY WEEK AND EASTER SERVICES: Maundy Thursday is April 1 and Good Friday on April 2, both of them at 7:00 PM with Communion on Thursday and the Service of Darkness and the Burial of the Christ Banner on Friday. Easter this year will mark a return to normalcy with Sunrise Service at 6:30 and Divine Services with Communion at 8:00 and 10:30. Consider attending the services in person, especially if you’ve had your vaccinations.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/YVe9upRRODc

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF:WEEKLYDMar30.PDF

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MARCH 29

Monday, March 29, 2021

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

“More Than We Deserve or Expect” -- Matthew 28:1-10

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “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.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Easter is not what was expected. Easter is also not what was deserved. Columnist and Speaker Lori Borgman writes, We are a people concerned with getting what we deserve. We deserve child care, health care, good schools, good jobs, easy commutes and a comfortable retirement. We deserve smoke-free air, a strong stock market, happiness in our marriages and children who always remember our birthdays.

Lobbying groups and professional organizations around the country exist solely for the purpose of seeing that we get what we deserve. Well, that and to line their pockets in the process. When you listen closely, you hear the many things we deserve sprinkled throughout conversations: We deserve our money’s worth. We deserve to be treated respectfully. We deserve good customer service. With all that work at getting what we deserve, it’s no small wonder we also feel we deserve a vacation….We deserve the right to eat and not grow fat, the right to speak, the right to be heard and the right to have all of our questions promptly answered. https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/easter-celebrating-what-we-dont-deserve-1389657.html

Borgman is right on. We deserve something all right. Wrath. We should have been hung on that cross with the richly deserved penalty for sin, self-centeredness, arrogance, pride, greed, gluttony, hard hearts, mean spiritedness and all the rest. But, the thing is, we didn’t get it. Christ did. He took what I deserved, every lash, every hit, every piercing. He took what I had coming. He paid the price I deserved to pay, was crucified, dead and buried, and on the third day rose again.

Easter is also not what is expected. What was expected of the Messiah? “A miracle maker: the disciples had it. Able to calm the winds and the waves, feed thousands with a boy’s lunch, and ever raised Lazarus from the dead; Jesus did that. Spoke in parables and drew huge crowds: Jesus was famous. He was in many ways exactly what was expected of a Messiah. So, what went wrong? Why didn’t Jesus defend Himself? So many times, the Pharisees tried to trap Him with questions and failed. So many times they plotted to kill Jesus, tried to stone him, or throw Him off a cliff; each time Jesus escaped. What happened? Why did they treat Jesus so? Why would they beat Him so cruelly and why above all would they nail Him to the cross? Our Messiah wasn’t supposed to die. It wasn’t supposed be like this!”

The women went to the tomb to bring more burial spices as if the 75 pounds given by Nicodemus wasn’t enough. But the women didn’t want it to end. Mary, Jesus Mother, had pondered so much in her heart; but now her son was dead and in the tomb. She had cried so much and so hard since Friday that she had no more tears. Her heart was as broken as the rest. Like any of us who mourn Mary might have thought, “I wasn’t ready! I want Him back!” Maybe by bringing more spices these women could prolong their denial and somehow overcome that terrible emptiness that they had been feeling since Jesus’ death. The women were in mourning—It just wasn’t supposed to be this way.

And where were the disciples? Hiding in fear, without Jesus where do they go? What do we do now? It wasn’t supposed to end like this. Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God; Jesus was supposed to save Israel?

The disciples and these women were hurting just like we do when we have lost someone we love. We know that death will come to all of us, but it is always an unwelcome guest. It always feels so final; too soon; unfair and cruel. This is what death leaves for the living.

When the women arrived at the tomb Good Friday was flooding their hearts. But when they got to tomb everything changed. Jesus once again gave them what wasn’t expected; the tomb was empty.

With guards laying around like dead men, the rock, which was big and heavy, had been rolled away, angels appeared to the women and announced the good news. “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He IS NOT HERE; HE HAS RISEN, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.” When these women looked in all they could smell were the burial spices and not even the slightest hint of death. The tomb still looked unused expect for the strips of linen that lay intact as though once wrapped around a deflated balloon; as well as the burial cloth that was around Jesus’ head—folded up by itself, separate from the linen. No signs of a struggle or a theft. It was like…like someone woke up and made their bed. Not what they expected. Look for yourself, He is not here; He is risen, JUST AS HE SAID. Now go and tell the disciples—go to Galilee, there you will see Him.

What if we could see the ones we love, who died; the ones whose death made our hearts hurt. What if we could see them face to face again; talk with them again; hold them again; what if the words of the angel were spoken to you—He is not here, He is risen. Well this is exactly what happens with Easter—the unexpected becomes a reality. 1 Corinthians 15:17-22 lays it out for us. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." All who die in faith will live again; in the words of the angel-- JUST AS HE SAID.

That's what happens to us on this day. Easter Changes things. The once sad and mournful women run with a mixture of fear and joy. The joy overcomes the fear. Jesus and His Word keep saying to us: "Do not be afraid. I have redeemed you. Because I live you too will live. Go and tell My brothers." Jesus is my Brother. With Him I pray: "Our Father, Who art in heaven." The Resurrection completes the Gospel. The resurrection gives the Gospel power to change things.

Jesus’ resurrection is our resurrection. Even though it was unexpected on the first Easter is what Jesus tells believers to expect now. “Whoever believes in me will live even though He dies.” Eternal life is not what we deserve but what we receive. The resurrection does not leave us unchanged but promises we will live again. That’s good news. That’s something to talk about and celebrate. I pray we do exactly that this week and thereafter. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDMarch29.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/wrsiIG6858M

matt.woods@glcna.com -- (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MARCH 23

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

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

"SERVE HIM ONLY"

READING: Luke 4:5-8 – The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in am instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

Numbers 14:1-4 – That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

I told you last week that we were going to visit the Temptations of Christ this week and next. And I told you that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted because he was the True Israel, Israel reduced to One, the One who would be faithful and trust his heavenly Father against all odds. So in today’s text, Satan comes with a universal temptation, and one that is a clever mirror-image of Israel’s temptation and failure in the desert.

Israel was led by God from Mt. Sinai directly to the Promised Land. Twelve men, one from each tribe, were detailed to spy out the land and report back to Moses and the people. This they did. They saw how good and spacious and fruitful Canaan was. They saw how beautiful and desirous it was. And they saw descendants of Anak (giants!) and Amalekites and Hittites and Jebusites and Amorites and the Canaanites, oh my! And they were afraid! They had the Promised Land in sight, poised to go over the Jordan and take it for their own. Everything God had promised was right there in their hands, and they quailed and cried and complained and decided Egypt would be a far better choice than this place God was offering them. How sad!

When Satan comes to Jesus, he offers up the mirror-image of this test. Where God had offered Israel their inheritance and heritage, Satan offers Jesus glitz and glamour and power. All the nations laid out at his feet with all their splendor and all their earthly delights. And all it will take is a little kneel down before the devil; just a little worship, that’s all! Where Israel had lost courage and fell into distrust of God because of the other nations, Satan now offers Jesus control over them all with just a little trust in Satan’s power and authority. A small price to pay, right?

Oh, how many people over the ages have been seduced by this same temptation! The heck with God! Go for the gusto! Grab power wherever it exists; rule over others and be great! Use what the world offers for your own pleasure, your own purposes, according to your own will. Maybe you can’t rule the world, but you can rule over your spouse or your brother or your employees. You can grab your little piece of the world by the tail and make it your little fiefdom. It’s good to be the king, even if your kingdom is only a double-wide!

Jesus did not fall for Satan’s ploy. Jesus knows at least two things: Earthly power and glory last only a short time in the scheme of things, and Satan doesn’t own squat! What Satan is hoping is that Jesus will trade away his birthright as the only Son of God for the jaded splendor of earthly power and riches. Jesus sees right through Satan’s offer and will have none of it. “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only,” he replies, and Satan has no rejoinder. It’s the truth, and he has no means to overcome it.

We can be similarly tempted with what the world can offer. We can forget to be charitable in order to have the bigger car or the bigger house or the newest widget. We can parade our latest fashions or our shiny new jewelry or our brand-new NBA sneakers, and puff ourselves up so others will notice. Or, we can forego some of those things if it will enable us to spend more time, talent, or treasure for the good of others and the increase of God’s kingdom.

Israel failed the test. They failed to trust the One who had brought them out of bondage, through the desert, and right to the verge of Jordan. Instead they thought with nostalgia (can you imagine!) back on their days in Egypt. Jesus passed the test with flying colors. We can do the same by remembering that God owns EVERYTHING, we own NOTHING, but all we have is a gift of grace given by the One who created us, redeemed us, and sanctifies us now. Let us worship the Lord our God and serve him only. Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) WEDNESDAY LENTEN SERVICES: Our series is entitled, “The Road to Perdition”. We will walk beside Jesus as he experiences the various events that lead to the Judgement Hall and the Cross on Good Friday. This week we’ll conclude our series by being humbled as Jesus washes the Disciples’ feet. Join us on Wednesday at 7:00 PM.

2) HOLY WEEK AND EASTER SERVICES: Maundy Thursday is April 1 and Good Friday on April 2, both of them at 7:00 PM with Communion on Thursday and the Service of Darkness and the Burial of the Christ Banner on Friday. Easter this year will mark a return to normalcy with Sunrise Service at 6:30 and Divine Services with Communion at 8:00 and 10:30. Consider attending the services in person, especially if you’ve had your vaccinations.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/ChdFsdrLD1k

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDEVMar23.PDF

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MARCH 22

Monday, March 22, 2021

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

“What Truth Is”

In John 18 Jesus has been arrested, falsely accused by those who hate Him, and brought Jesus before Pilate with the desire that Pilate will crucify Jesus, which he eventually does. So, our reading this morning focuses on this conversation.

33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.

What is truth? By the time Jesus stood before Pilate Jesus had been betrayed by Judas for thirty silver pieces to men who are blinded by their hatred for Jesus. The Temple, a place meant to worship had become a cesspool of corruption, greed, and exploitation by the same men who hate Jesus. Caiaphas may have known the job of High Priest but he did not know God. Jesus is falsely accused of blasphemy at the Sanhedrin—a charge that the religious leaders would count worthy of death. And then these same men changed the charge to be more suitable for a Roman Governor. They falsely accused Jesus of trying overthrow Caesar as king in a made-up rebellion when he is before Pilate—a charge any Roman governor would count worthy of death on a cross. They just kept updating their tactics to ultimately get what they wanted until finally Jesus was crucified. And truth be told, Jesus’ enemies got away with nothing even after all of their power-hungry jealousy so carefully plotted and schemed to murder Jesus. Jesus was innocent, sinless and yet He died for the sins of these terrible men who in many cases never believed in Jesus as Messiah.

What is truth? What happens when the truth of the religious leaders does not match up with the truth of Jesus? What happens when the truth of the Gospel conflicts with our personal passions--when morality, money, humility, and love conflict with our truth about morality, marriage, pride, and priorities? Do we redefine the truth to fit a worldview or do we adapt our attitude to the truth of the Word?
Is truth adaptable? My computer on which I type this now is a Windows based PC. Updates for Windows now come regularly and update my computer even when I haven’t invited the update. Recently, an update was sent to my computer that hobbled my computer. After the update downloaded if I tried to send a document to a printer the screen went blue and all kinds of problems began to develop which were very unpleasant. Thankfully Ryan knew what to do and informed me that I was about the 30th person that he had helped with this particular update problem. We can understandably say, that not all updates are always helpful updates.

If it has to do with technology or comforts updates will keep coming. Every year cars get redesigned which more gadgets, and computers to run those gadgets. I was told that my latest car has seven computers in it just to make the thing work. Just to drive down the road.

Cell phones have come a long way too. I can still remember the big bag phones we would have to plug into our cars. We bought our first one for the same reason everyone else did; “…just in case of an emergency.” Now we carry around hand-held super computers with six cameras on them for movie quality selfies.

Truth is we update our cars, our phones, our houses, our clothes, our appliances and much more. However, we also tend to believe that truth itself is updateable. We live in a world of evolutionary mindsets. Values tend to change toward things like money, marriage, education, race, gender. However, when a sinful mindset gets a foothold in our lives, we learn to justify our sinfulness in whatever form it takes and we miss the truth about ourselves or our world around us. That tends to lead to a belief that the Bible itself changes about the things that don’t align with what we want to be true; that Jesus will accept sin and tolerate anything as long as we love something enough. The old question: “What is truth?” remains a fundamental question.

Truth if it is indeed true is timeless. In 1633 Galileo was excommunicated because he showed that the earth revolved around the sun. The church back then believed that the sun revolved around the earth and consider anything else heretical. The fact of the matter is simple: The sun does not revolve around us. The world does not revolve around elitist people of power like, Caiaphas, Rome or Washington. It does not revolve around any disciple or person that thinks he is the greatest, because of wealth, education, prestige, or likes on FaceChat. It does not revolve around you or me when our emotions are high or when they are not. But that’s the battle that we always face. Even for a short-term sin acts like the world revolves around us it doesn’t because it is busy revolving around the other arrogant people. To win an argument; to be part of a cause; to support a certain candidate or idea; usually involve “me” winning. This is just good old fashion sinfulness being selfish. Truth about sin is timeless. Our sin is a liar and always skews a proper perspective of the world around us—namely that this world belongs to Jesus, who created it. Sin is always a problem and is always deadly. The wages of sin is always death.

But the other side of this truth is that the gift of God is eternal life. This Truth is timeless as well. Jesus teaches that His Word is truth (John 17:17) and it is timeless. “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8). “For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18). This also means that Jesus’ cross and resurrection are timeless and true. Jesus’ truth is the final truth for all of us. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Passages like 1 Corinthians 15, John 14, Revelations 7 and others that talk about our promise of eternal life are all still true. And when it comes to Jesus, He never pointed to a way of finding the truth but always pointed to Himself as the Truth, the Way home, and the Life (John 14:6). Finally we are told, “Be faithful to the point of death and you receive the crown of life.” Revelations 2:10.

When Jesus stood before Caiaphas, before an angry crowd, and before Pilate they held to a lie driven by ambition and hatred, accusing Jesus of being a criminal. Surrounded by all of this the truth of Jesus was not diminished or less true just because Jesus was outnumbered on Good Friday. In fact, Jesus was completely in control and willingly went to that cross. And one day Jesus will come back to judge the living and dead. That’s what truth is. And it is good news to us who believe.

We can count on the truth of Jesus. Believers in Christ can count on Jesus. We can count on Jesus to forgive our sins in repentance. We can count on Jesus raising us to eternal life in and through His resurrection. That’s what He has promised to us and this is the truth we celebrate most every Holy Week. May God bless us to believe with courage in the truth of Jesus.

And now the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be and abide with you always. Amen.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WeeklyDMar22.PDF

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

matt.woods@glcna.com -- (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MARCH 16

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

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

“Man Does Not Live by Bread Alone”

READING: Matthew 4:1-4 – Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Exodus 16:2-4 – In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.”

We don’t really get hungry very often. I mean REALLY hungry, like three days without eats hungry. We get a little rumble in our bellies and we already run to the snack drawer or our secret stash of goodies. The last time I remember being really hungry was a day spent helping someone move from one home to another. We had been at heavy labor with lots of stairs for five hours when I suddenly realized that I was HUNGRY! At that moment almost anything would have been satisfying, even if it was not one of my favorite foods.

Jesus knew hunger after forty days and forty nights of fasting in the desert. Even liver and Lima beans would have tasted good just then. (Those are a couple of my least favorite foods!) And the devil knew it! He comes to Jesus with just a mild suggestion that Jesus has the power to turn those stones into wonderful warm and delicious bread. No big deal, right? Except Jesus immediately sees through the rouse. Using his powers for his own pleasure will be the slippery slope to more of the same. He could start with bread and end up with a swimming pool and golden tableware.

You know why Jesus is led into the desert to be tempted in the first place? Because Jesus is the True Israel, Israel reduced to One. He will succeed where God’s chosen people had so miserably failed. He spends 40 days in the wilderness because Israel spent 40 years. He is tempted with hunger because Israel was tempted with hunger, and Israel rebelled and complained and whined about their food over and over and over. Rather than trust the One who had brought them out of Egypt with his strong right arm, they doubted God’s motives and overlooked God’s providence. Where Israel failed, Jesus must prevail. He has to do it well and right – for ALL of US.

That’s right, not just to redeem Israel, but us as well. We are not so different from those whiners in the desert. How often do we pity ourselves because our house isn’t as big as someone we know? How often do we whine, “Chicken again? We just had that last week!” How often have we felt we should have had better, bigger, more, or sooner? We who are “one-percenters” compared to much of the rest of the world. We sometimes doubt our Lord’s providence, too. Why do I have cancer? Why does my loved one have this disease? Why has God laid this upon me? What did I do to deserve this?

No, Jesus goes out into that desert to be tempted for ALL of us, to be the perfect Son of God who, as Hebrews says, “…was tempted in every way that we are, yet without sinning.” Jesus knew hunger, but his hunger and thirst for righteousness, his obedience and trust of his heavenly Father, and his willingness to suffer all, even death on a cross, for us enabled him to say to the devil, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

We’re going to visit the Temptation of Christ for the next couple of weeks. At the end of the temptations St. Luke tells us, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” Such a moment will come to Jesus again, on the cross, when he hears the very same words that Satan did in our text today, “If you are the Son of God…” “If you are…”: words that are often directed our way as well. “If you are a child of God, why…?” We lean not on our own strength, but we seek out the Lord’s by Word and Sacrament so the devil will flee from us, too. Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) WEDNESDAY LENTEN SERVICES: Our series is entitled, “The Road to Perdition”. We will walk beside Jesus as he experiences the various events that lead to the Judgement Hall and the Cross on Good Friday. This week we’ll see Mary anoint his feet, and we’ll be humbled as Jesus washes the Disciples’ feet on March 24. Join us on Wednesdays at 7:00 PM.

2) HOLY WEEK AND EASTER SERVICES: Maundy Thursday is April 1 and Good Friday on April 2, both of them at 7:00 PM with Communion on Thursday and the Service of Darkness and the Burial of the Christ Banner on Friday. Easter this year will mark a return to normalcy with Sunrise Service at 6:30 and Divine Services with Communion at 8:00 and 10:30. Consider attending the services in person, especially if you’ve had your vaccinations.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/gzhJzhZ1Y54

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDEVMar16.PDF

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MARCH 15

Monday, March 15, 2021

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

“What It Means to Have a New Name”

Today we read from Genesis 17 where the Lord reestablishes His covenant.
“Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. 2 Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

3 Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4 “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”

If most people today heard the name Michael King most probably would not recognize it. But if you were to look at his original birth certificate filed April 12, 1934 the name for five-year old Michael King was crossed out and next to it was a carefully handwritten name, ‘Martin Luther King Jr’.

In the summer of 1934 The Rev. Michael King, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta was sent on a tour that would change his life. He traveled to Rome, Jerusalem and to Germany where he learned about Martin Luther. As we Lutherans will know Martin Luther began a reformation with a little document called the 95 theses, nailed to the church doors in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. Inspired by the work of Martin Luther, the Rev. Michael King came back a changed man. Some time later he would change not only his name to Martin Luther King but also his son’s name by which we all remember him, Martin Luther King Jr..

Changing a name can hold a host of different meanings. For MLK Sr. it was to emulate a reformer like Martin Luther. Closer to home a name may change because a relationship has become a covenant. When my wife and I were married she chose to change her last name to include our family’s last name of Woods. It is an old tradition reflective of the name in a relationship from two to becoming one.

The Lord changed Abram’s name as well to indicate that a change has taken place. Abram meaning ‘high father’ was changed by the Lord to Abraham meaning “Father of many nations”. Notice that this name is given to Abraham before Isaac is born. It would not be Abram we remember most but Abraham who would bear Isaac and with this new identity Isaac would be Abraham’s one and only true son. We remember when the Lord tested Abraham God called Isaac Abraham’s only son multiple times. The Lord would do the same with Sarai “argumentative” to Sarah meaning, “Princess.” Like Abraham her status changed too from a mother of none to a mother of many nations. In both cases their names changed because something new was coming.

Of course, we see this again with Jacob, “Caught by the heel” because he was born holding onto the heel of his twin brother, Esau as he was born. And after an all night wrestling match with the Lord (Genesis 32), the Lord changed his name to Israel meaning, “To fight/wrestle with God.” Once again, something new was coming, namely the fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham. From Israel are the sons who eventually become the twelve tribes of Israel.

Fast forward to John 1 as Jesus is calling His first disciples. After spending a day with Jesus Andrew went to find His brother Simon, Peter and told him that they had met the Messiah and then introduced Peter to Jesus. We are told in John 1:42 that “Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter). Cephas is Aramaic for Peter meaning “rock”. Yet once again something new was about to happen and a name changed. Peter was being called to be Jesus’ disciple.

The changing of a name carries significance. It can indicate the change in a relationship. Abram became Abraham a covenant carrying father of many nations. My wife and I became a covenant two becoming one flesh. Changing a name can indicate a change in a person’s status. Martin Luther, a lowly monk teaching at a small-town university in Wittenberg nailed his 95 theses to the church door and became a reformer. The son of a Baptist preacher, Martin Luther King Jr. would become the name most associated with civil rights. A change in name may also indicate a place for which a person belongs or lives. To this last point; when I was in Spanish class my name was Mateo instead of Matt. If I lived in Puerto Rico that may be how I would be called. Where once Abram’s home was Ur, Abraham’s home was in Canaan a land that would also come to be known as “The Promised Land.”

So, what does this mean for us? Think of it this way. When a child was named by His Father in Biblical times under the Law the Father was claiming that child for themselves. For example, when Joseph pronounced the name of Jesus, Joseph was making claim to him as his legitimate son even though it was not his child but from the Holy Spirit. This by the Law would establish Jesus’ legal status under the Law as a descendant of David. When our names are called in Baptism something new is given and established. Galatians 3:26-27 tells us that we become children of God through faith in Christ Jesus and in our Baptisms we are clothed with Christ. And in vs. 29 we are called true descendants of Abraham and heirs of the promise established by the Lord long ago.

And yes, our name changes in this just by being called out in Baptism. When the Lord calls us by name, a legitimate claim takes hold. We are His because our relationship has changed from lost to found in Jesus. We belong to the Father as Jesus does; as family. It indicates that our status has changed from an enemy of God to a child of God in Jesus. It also indicates that we are citizens of heaven and that we have a place in the Father’s house. Most importantly when the Lord calls our name as He did Lazarus’ at the tomb, we will be raised to something new, no longer a broken vessel but eternal; fully transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Our legitimacy as God’s children is established and settled forever (Read more on this from Romans 3).

What this means is that our citizenship is in heaven. This also means that our joy is to bring a little heaven down to earth. May this be our legacy to those who remember our name.

Now the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on you with His Favor and give you peace in Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDMarch15.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/sevW0fg5I1c

matt.woods@glcna.com -- (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MARCH 9

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

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

“Get It All Out”

READING: Colossians 3:1-10 – Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Well, they’ve finally gone after it! They’ve finally attacked it! Now it remains to be seen if they’ve done it right and succeeded in killing the doggone thing! I’m talking about the bamboo patch across Mel Smith Road from the Church on the Rock. Years ago, whoever owned the home that stood there must have planted a small clump of bamboo to decorate their yard. There was a small stable there that housed a couple of horses years back. Since then, the house was torn down, the stable abandoned, and the bamboo left to its own devices. And did it ever go to town!

You might remember a sermon I preached last year in which I talked about that bamboo patch as a perfect picture of how sin spreads and grows in our lives if we’re not careful to avoid it. Bamboo puts out rhizomes (underground stems) and new shoots spring off of those rhizomes every few inches. I have watched that patch of bamboo grow and spread for the past 14 years. Each spring and summer it would expand its territory. By this spring it was threatening to totally envelope the old stable. In another year or two one wouldn’t even have been able to see the stable from the road.

However, someone bought that whole property, including the second house that stood just east of the stable and the bamboo clump. Last week they tore down the house and the stable and carted everything away. This week they went to work on the trees and the bamboo patch. They cut all the stalks off at the ground and it’s all going to be hauled away. They’ve cleaned it up and everything looks cleared off. I expect the bulldozers to come next. They’ll certainly try to level off that piece of property by moving the hill nearest Grant Line Road down into the lower end to the east. But I wonder…

Will they be able to get rid of the bamboo? If they miss even one of those rhizomes, if they leave just one buried close to the surface, the bamboo will rise up again. Shoots will pop up and start putting out new rhizomes, and before they know it, they’ll have a bamboo patch all their own. You have to put it to death, or it will grow back on you.

St. Paul warns the Colossians (and us) about the sins that so easily entangle us if we are not careful and diligent. He says our old human nature is always ready to rise up and take control of our lives once again. It’s all too easy for us to set our minds on the low things, the sinful things of this world. We’re all pretty good at coming up with excuses and justification when it comes to sin. But Paul says we must “put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature…” Just like those bamboo remnants, our sin has to be ruthlessly rooted out and cast away. Even just a few little “secret” sins can take root and establish themselves as a real problem in our lives and our relationships with God and others. But there is a remedy:

Paul says that by setting our hearts “on things above”, we can refuse the lower things from taking root. By being diligent in worship, Bible study, devotion, and Christian service, we can create an environment that discourages sin’s taking root. By keeping our minds and our hearts “out of the gutter”, by watching our language, avoiding gossip, and putting others first, we give the devil very little soil in which to plant his evil seeds. What does sprout has little to sustain it when Christ Jesus is Lord of our lives. And, most importantly, when we sin, we need to make confession and seek our God’s forgiveness for Jesus’ sake.

I’ll be watching the progress of the new owners of that corner. I’ll also keep an eye out for new bamboo shoots. I don’t know if they realize just yet what they’re dealing with. There may be a learning curve to observe. At any rate, it’ll be interesting to see who wins. As for our spiritual life, I pray that the Lord will draw us to himself and his Word in such a way that when the devil tries to grow foul things in our lives, he won’t find any place in our hearts that’s fetid and dark enough for his evil things to grow. Be on guard! Keep your minds on the things above, and the God of all grace will bless you, forgive you, and defend you. Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) DRIVE-THROUGH FISH FRY – The preschool will offer another drive-through experience on
Friday, March 12. You can pre-order your fish and set the time for pick-up by going to glcna.org.

2) WEDNESDAY LENTEN SERVICES: Our series is entitled, “The Road to Perdition”. We will walk beside Jesus as he experiences the various events that lead to the Judgement Hall and the Cross on Good Friday. We’ll listen this week as he bests the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law when they try to trick him. Next week we’ll see Mary anoint his feet, and we’ll be humbled as Jesus washes the Disciples’ feet on March 24. Join us on Wednesdays at 7:00 PM.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/zuATH39Ne3E

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDMar9.PDF

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MARCH 8

Monday, March 8, 2021

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

“The Benefits of Wisdom a Year Later.”

Today’s reading is from Proverbs 3 with selected verses. It may be familiar to you.

5”Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

13 Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,

14 for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.

15 She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.

16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.

17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.

18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
those who hold her fast will be blessed.

19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
by understanding he set the heavens in place;

20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
and the clouds let drop the dew.

Today marks the anniversary of when everything shut down for Covid. One year ago we just finished a beautiful weekend at the local Sugarbush Festival. Yesterday was the last day of this year’s Sugarbush Festival. So, we have come full circle.

One year ago the state of Indiana shut everything down for what we thought would be a few weeks. No one could have guessed the way the rest of this last year would go. Hindsight being 20/20 (as it has been said) we understand so much more than we did. We have grown wiser in so many ways. We know much more about the virus, enough to develop a vaccine in less then a year—which by all accounts is extraordinary. It is extraordinary because vaccines for viruses are tricky things and because three vaccines have been developed so quickly. It just goes to show what can be done when people put their mind to something.

A year ago we knew nothing really about what we were in for. And so, we were left to trust in the Lord with all of our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. Trust is only proven when it has to be put into practice. Proverbs 3 is a chapter about wisdom and it begins by saying the wisest thing you can do is trust in the Lord and not in your own understanding of things. When we don’t know how things are going to turn out—trust in the Lord. When we do not understand what it is that is making us sick—Trust in the Lord. When we cannot make sense of the way things are moving—Trust in the Lord. Notice it doesn’t say, trust in the Lord and everything will go great. It doesn’t say anything like it. It’s where we put our trust that makes one wise. And that is the emphasis. The Proverb calls us to trust in the one who in wisdom created all things. The Lord is the One who alone can save us from our sin and from this world. But we only know what trust looks like when it is tested. Many felt tested during this last year.

I have to say that there is nothing worse then, not knowing something that we need to know. If I need to know how to fix something on my car, I just turn on the Youtube and get directions on how it can be done. Have you ever had to change a light build on a headlight of your newer car? I’ve had to turn on the Youtube just to figure out how to do it. I didn’t have the understanding of my own to lean on. So, I leaned on the wisdom of someone who knew how to do it. Something similar is being offered in Proverbs 3.

Proverbs 3 not a step by step guide on how to fix Covid, or escape fear, but it is directing us toward the Lord. When we do not know how things will turn out we at least know the Lord, Jesus and our Heavenly Father. We know that God loved the world that He gave us Jesus. We know that Jesus died for our sins while were still sinners and enemies of God in our sin. We know that Jesus rose from the grave on Easter morning and promises that all who believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life. Jesus is working harder to save us then we are to believe in Him. We know the Lord and that is the beginning of Wisdom.

But because of this last year more of us know the value of wisdom. The Proverb calls us “blessed”. We know that word from the Beatitudes (Matthew 5): “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted….Blessed are the pure at heart for they will see God…Blessed are the peacemakers for the will be called sons of God.” We especially know this word when the Resurrected Jesus tells a formerly doubting Thomas in John 20:29, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Thomas, like the other disciples heard all the times Jesus predicted His death and resurrection but he lacked understanding as all the other disciples once did. He did however gain that understanding from Jesus Himself—The Word…made flesh. He trusted in the Lord through the Word and learned to trust in His fellow disciples to go and see. And all of it came together.

Proverbs 3 tells us 13 Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, 14 for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. 15 She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.” Imagine how blessed we are to have vaccines, and people dedicated to making those vaccines. And I know that some have expressed doubts about the Vaccines. But I can’t even in my worst day imagine an army of scientists working night and day to come up with a failure or something harmful. First, in the secular sense, that would not be profitable. Secondly, it ultimately would be counterproductive to science in general. But as the Proverb reminds us if these vaccines help save lives then they are more precious than rubies, and yield better returns then gold. Lives benefit from what has been learned and the understanding that has been gained.

So, here one year later we are wiser. Scientists have learned more then they did a year ago about Covid 19. Their understanding has led to Vaccines. We also understand more then we did a year ago about schools, E-learning, Zoom meetings, working from home, and a little more about ourselves; fears, priorities, maybe some idols. Lord willing as we look back, we have learned to trust in the Lord a little more fully. A lot has happened in this last year. My prayer is that the cost that we have paid because of it will at least make us wiser and more eager to turn to the Lord, especially when we need the understanding.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDMar8.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/z1w9_oQGOCA

matt.woods@glcna.com -- (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MARCH 2

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

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

“We Get Used to It”

READING: Romans 1:18-23, 25 – The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen.

Do you remember that first 50-degree day back in October? What did you do? I know what you did because I did it, too. You stepped outside to get the paper or to get into your car, you stopped, shivered, and said, “I need a coat! It’s cold outside!” Last Wednesday was our first day back into the 50’s since last fall. I went out with just a light coat in the morning, and when I came out of church about noon to make an appointment, I shook off that coat and threw it into the back seat. Later, I came out of a shut-in’s home, and when I got into the car and began to drive, I put down two windows and drove the rest of the afternoon with those windows open. It was HOT in the car! What makes the difference? We got USED TO IT! After the previous two weeks of sub-freezing temperatures when it was REALLY COLD, 50-degrees felt downright balmy! We got used to it.

St. Paul in our reading today says that’s what happened to the bulk of humanity when they traded the true God and Creator of all things for false gods and idols, philosophies and legends. Already at the time of Noah, most human beings had become pagans. When Abraham comes to Canaan, all the tribes there were practicing pagan religions and idolatry. When Moses brought Israel to the Promised Land, all the peoples living there were polytheists, animists, idolators, and without knowledge of the True God, the Living God, their Creator. How come?

They got used to it. Generations back, sin had led leaders, kings, priests, and prophets to seek power and prestige for themselves, so they tweaked the truth the had been handed down. They added, subtracted, embellished, and omitted the truth about the God of the Universe so that they could extract wealth, hold power over the simple, make themselves important, and generally steal glory and honor from the True God and use it for themselves. And the simple, the unlearned, the powerless just got used to it. Finally, all semblance of the truth was lost, and paganism became the religion of the world.

Have you ever noticed while reading in the Old Testament that once in a while a prophet or priest appears who serves or at least knows the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Melchizedek is one such man. Abraham meets him returning from the rescue of Lot. Melchizedek is introduced as a priest of God, but not related to Abraham. Before they part, Abraham gives to him a tithe (a tenth) of all the loot he has taken from the Five Kings. Men such as these are remnants of tribes and families who continued to worship their Creator in spite of the paganism about them. They hadn’t got used to it.

In our day people have slowly but surely crept back into pagan thinking. They acknowledge a form of God without his substance. They talk about “The Big Guy Upstairs” or the “Spirit in the Sky” or the “Life Force”, but they don’t trust the Scriptures. They do not acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior. They don’t see a church as something good. And, they like bumper stickers that say, “C O E X I S T”, implying that all religions are essentially the same. They GOT USED TO IT!

Not so God’s people! We have the Truth, know the Truth, trust the Truth, and acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We know our Creator and worship him only. We see nature as created by God, subservient to him, and we as its stewards. And we know that by his Truth, we will live with him eternally, and it will ALWAYS fill us with wonder! I don’t believe we’ll ever just get used to it. Thanks be to God! Amen

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) SUGARBUSH MAPLE SYRUP FESTIVAL - We’ll be serving food out in Salem again this weekend. It’s not too late to sign up to help. We’ll provide transportation to and from. Give Karen a call at the office and she can sign you up. If you’re already signed up to help and want a ride, the bus leaves both mornings at 7:15, the van at 11:30 for the afternoon gang.

2) DRIVE-THROUGH FISH FRY – The preschool will offer another drive-through experience on
Friday, March 12. You can pre-order your fish and set the time for pick-up by going to glcna.org.

3) WEDNESDAY LENTEN SERVICES: Our series is entitled, “The Road to Perdition”. We will walk beside Jesus as he experiences the various events that lead to the Judgement Hall and the Cross on Good Friday. We’ll watch Jesus cleanse the Temple, listen as he bests the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law when they try to trick him, see Mary anoint his feet, and we’ll be humbled as Jesus washes the Disciples’ feet. Join us on Wednesdays at 7:00 PM.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/NpunpNk9nmM

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDMarch2.PDF

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WEEKLY DEVOTION MARCH 1

Monday, March 1, 2021

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

“A Fixed Point in an Ever-Changing World”

Today, I’d like to start off with a reading from Hebrews 12:1-3. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

That word perseverance always strikes me as important. It is a word that effectively states that we will be stretched almost to the point of breaking but by the grace of God we don’t. Because when we are weak then He is strong. One can certainly look at the previous chapter, usually nicknamed the hall of faith, and see in every example someone who was pushed to their limits but did not break because they remained focused on the Lord. “By faith” Noah worked his tail off building an ark based on the instructions God had given him, applying every skill. And in a world that was utterly fallen, he did everything God gave him to do. “By faith” Abraham, was a hundred years old when he had his son, Isaac. Then he agonized after a very sleepless night having been instructed to take Isaac to a place to be sacrificed. “By faith” Rehab welcomed the Israelite spies in Jericho at great risk to her own life. These and countless others are the great cloud of witnesses that Hebrews 12:1 is referring to.

These witnesses lived in our world too. They didn’t have it easier. I would guess that life was much harder. I would imagine Noah would have loved to have had powertools, cranes, and equipment to build the Ark. I would imagine misses Noah, would have been grateful for a convection oven or microwave, or a refrigerator, or a washing machine and dryer. I’ll bet Abraham would have preferred to be much younger before having Isaac.

Today most of us would have preferred not going through this last year. Some lost jobs. Some lost their loved ones. School is online. Meetings are online. Too much is online. Gag. Most of us didn’t realize what Covid would give us. But this is more evidence that we live in an ever-changing world. This is why we fix our eyes on Jesus and His cross. He is the fixed point when this life is rocking and rolling around, leaving us unsteady and off-balance.

How important is this fixed point? Consider one of the most famous scenes from 1995’s Apollo 13 movie. The movie’s most famous line is “Houston, we have a problem.” Many in fact. A design flaw caused an explosion of their oxygen tanks which made the ill-fated trip a story of survival. The astronauts didn’t sleep much. One ended up with a UTI and without heat the capsule was freezing. Truly these guys were stretched to their limits.

On day six of the troubled mission, the astronauts had to made a critical course correction or they wouldn’t get back home. To conserve power everything in the capsule was shut down, including their navigation computer. They had to do a 39 second burn on their main engine. Since the computer wasn’t working, they had to steer the ship manually making tiny adjustments to stay on course. It was easier said than done.

The key for any of this to work was to have a fixed point to aim for. They needed a fixed point in space. That fixed point was home, planet Earth. By keeping that reference point in the window, the astronauts were able to get back on course and eventually make it home.

So many things on the Apollo 13 mission didn’t go as planned. This last year felt a lot like the Apollo 13 mission-- Adapting to very uncomfortable scenarios, all the while hoping that at some point we finally get back to some kind of normal. But most things don’t stay normal forever. Just retiring for example, means all kinds of adjustments. Losing a spouse or a parent will change a lot of things. And then we adapt again. But as Christians we adapt with our eyes fixed on home. By keeping Jesus in our line of sight we are aiming at something fixed, that never changes (Hebrews 13:8). Like that capsule we may make a course correction or two, but the momentum of this life is always carrying us forward towards home. We will get their safely; maybe not comfortably; maybe not always according to our plans; but we will get there because Jesus promised a safe arrival for all who believe and don’t lost heart.

And now the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious unto you. The Lord look on you with His favor and give you His peace in Jesus.

Pastor Matthew Woods -- John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDMarch1.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/5is6vx5NGds

matt.woods@glcna.com -- (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION FEBRUARY 23

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

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

“Clean Up on Aisle Three”

READING: Romans 7:14-21, 24-25 – We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing! Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me…What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Last Wednesday was “Ash Wednesday”, the first day of Lent. All across Christendom, Christians confessed their sins and received ashes upon their heads as a sign of penitence and a reminder of our mortality. “From dust you came and unto dust you shall return.” It’s a recognition that as we walk with Jesus to the Cross, we know that it is because of our sin that he takes that path. We and our sin required a substitutional sacrifice – and Jesus willingly becomes the sacrifice for our sin.

After Pastor Woods and I had finished applying ashes to all in attendance, I went to the baptismal font to clean up the finger I had been using. We had a small bowl of soapy water there and a couple of wash clothes. But here’s the problem: that ash we use is a finely ground ash from the burning of palm fronds – historically the fronds used on the previous Palm Sunday. That ash is so fine and so black that it is really difficult to wash it off. As I applied the water and the cloth, I discovered that now I had ash on my other hand as well. And it had also spread from the first finger to a second one. Rather than getting cleaned up, I was only making matters worse! In fact, the following morning I discovered that my fingers were still black and dingy.

Isn’t that the way sin works in a person’s life? We recognize our sinfulness. We make up our minds to “clean up our act”. Then we find that the sin has only compounded itself, and we are worse than before. It’s exactly St. Paul’s point in our reading for today. That section from Chapter 7 I have long called the “Do-Do Section”. Paul uses the word “do” or “does” some 22 times. He expresses the Christian’s dilemma. We know that God’s law is perfect, and we have a desire to keep that law perfectly, but when we are honest with ourselves, we discover that the very things we desire to do we do not do. And, the evil we abhor is the very thing we do. How disheartening!

This is the very knowledge that distinguishes Christian theology from the pagan religion of the world. The pagan, the unbeliever, tells himself that with some effort he can perfect himself. His religion requires that of him. He must make the right sacrifices, say the right incantations, keep the right rituals, take the trip to Mecca, give alms, wear the right talisman, fast, suffer, chant, do, do, do! If he does enough, does it right, then “the gods” or Allah or “the Universe” may find him or her worthy of reward and favor. The Christian on the other hand realizes that what St. Paul says is true: I cannot perfect myself. I cannot DO enough to make up for the sin I continually do. I cannot make myself right with God. I sin even when I don’t “want to”. I am the “wretched man” in St. Paul’s picture - lost and condemned!

O give God thanks for our Savior Jesus Christ! O give thanks for Jesus’ steadfastness and determination to go to the Cross, to die my death and suffer my condemnation. O give thanks for the sweetness of the Gospel and the assurance the Scriptures give us that by trusting in Jesus, we already have God’s forgiveness so that we may stand righteous and without fear before the Throne, safe and at home in heaven. If we think we can clean up our own mess, well then, we’ll find ourselves in deep “doo-doo”! But, trusting in the Jesus of Good Friday and the risen Jesus of Easter, we stand clean and saved in Him! Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) SUGARBUSH MAPLE SYRUP FESTIVAL - We’ll be serving food out in Salem this weekend. It’s not too late to sign up to help. We’ll provide transportation to and from. Give Karen a call at the office and she can sign you up.

2) DRIVE-THROUGH FISH FRY – The preschool will offer a drive-through experience on Friday, February 26. You can pre-order your fish and set the time for pick-up by going to glcna.org. The next one is scheduled for March 12.

3) WEDNESDAY LENTEN SERVICES: Our series is entitled, “The Road to Perdition”. We will walk beside Jesus as he experiences the various events that lead to the Judgement Hall and the Cross on Good Friday. We’ll visit Lazarus’ Tomb, go get the donkeys for the ride into Jerusalem, watch Jesus cleanse the Temple, listen as he bests the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law when they try to trick him, see Mary anoint his feet, and we’ll be humbled as Jesus washes the Disciples’ feet. Join us on Wednesdays at 7:00 PM.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/WUXRl4EO-J8

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDFeb23.PDF

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WEEKLY DEVOTION FEBRUARY 22

Monday, February 22, 2021

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

“Go and Do Likewise”

Our Reading is from Luke 10, a familiar parable, the Parable of the Good Samaritan. 30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Last week during winter storm Uri— (I didn’t know we were naming winter storms now but okay)—During winter storm Uri you may have heard that Texas had a perfect storm. The storm brought very cold temperatures along with snow and ice just like we did here in Indiana. Except they don’t have the winter equipment that we have nor are they used to that kind of weather in the south. To make matters worse the Electric windmill farms froze up and stopped producing power leaving many in the dark for days, including some of my cousins. In one case the daughter of one of our preschool staff, who lives in Texas was without power three full days in the cold. Yikes. And to make matters even more unbearable a boil water alert went into effect for Houston. That must have felt like a slap in the face. How does one boil water in a home without power?

But there has been at least one reported bright spot in all of it by the name of Ryan Sivley who helped over 140 stranded drivers in the Austin area during the winter storm in just two days. Reports have said that Sivley did it all old school—like good neighbors used to do all the time. He got his four-wheel drive truck out, used chains, and tow straps and just started helping one person at a time. Since most Texans are not known for their winter driving abilities a lot of them got stuck in the snow and ice. But when someone is stranded in record low temps there is a real possibility of freezing to death in one’s car. And if you have kids with you that can be a very helpless place to be and very dangerous. So Sivley pulled them out one by one. And in some cases, he drove them all the way to a safe place. He simply decided to help anybody he saw stranded.

Here’s the kicker. In one interview he explained that he has had a second chance at life. Some time back Sivley in an accident himself. He got hit in a multi-car accident which shattered his pelvic bone and nearly took his life. Today he can’t lift more than 20 pounds with his left arm and can’t walk for more than two hours a day. So, he drives a truck.

And here is the other fun part—something I’ve said before. The world is hungry for good Samaritans. They just step up just because they see a need. They willingly take a risk and assume the cost, like paying for the victim at the inn or the gas to pull out the cars. What if the bandits came back and robbed the Samaritan—after all the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was notorious for such bandits. Such a picture would be very plausible. Trouble on the road is all that Sivley saw; he had the truck, the willingness, and the chains to pull them out and did over 140 times. The very fact that it made the news is evidence that Jesus reaches a very important place to people with this parable. Tow trucks may have driven right on by like the Priest and the Levite—the ones you would expect to help. But the one no one is looking for or expecting; he does the stopping and the helping and asks for nothing in return.
Now, I have absolutely no idea if Sivley is Christian, but one can’t argue that what he has done has helped a lot of people. And the world can’t get enough of that. The world is hungry for someone to love them, someone to be a good neighbor. The Samaritan wasn’t Jewish and Jesus gives not indication that the Samaritan was Jewish. But his actions were very reflective of an undeniable truth—a neighbor is anyone in need and if we see that need, we are called to action especially when the problem may be life-saving.

I know the world has given us plenty of reasons not to put ourselves out there. But let me just invite you to consider one more text before we finish up. Galatians 6:9-10 which says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” It is pretty clear that doing good as opportunities come up and not giving up is a pretty important message here.

Helping others in the pandemics of the early days of the church grew the church exponentially because Christians just helped out anyone without distinction. Helping others reminds our neighbors that they are still important. It may save their lives or change their lives or just make their day. But most of all as Christians helping others gives us chance to express our love for Jesus and for our neighbor. This by the way is the fulfillment of God’s Law. Sound’s like a winner to me. Since Jesus has been so good to us let us also lend ourselves in service to Him and maybe, just maybe, become instruments that lead others to Christ.

And now the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His Face to shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on you with His favor and give you His peace in Jesus.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDFeb22.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/R7R1q0LQ4QY

matt.woods@glcna.com -- (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION FEBRUARY 16

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

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

“Word Gets Around”

READING: Colossians 1:3-7 – We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints – the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

Last week in my devotion I talked about going home, and that’s exactly what I did last weekend. I went to Michigan to visit with my siblings and to go ice fishing. Yes, you heard me right, I went ice fishing. It had been 48 years since last I went out on a lake, bored a hole, set a tip-up, and waited for the flag to go up signaling that I had a bite. I waited 48 years for the opportunity, and what did I get? 6 degrees above zero with winds gusting to 35 miles per hour, for a wind chill of between 14 and 16 degrees BELOW ZERO! Man, is that COLD!

Oh, and I also caught the biggest northern pike I’ve ever landed: 36 inches long and about 12 pounds in weight. We used an auger to bore an eight-inch hole, and when her head came into the hole, it pretty much filled it completely. It took both my nephew Brad and me to get her out of the hole and onto the ice! That fish is my personal best by an inch, having landed one of 35 inches through the ice in the winter of 1972 – 48 years ago.

Of course, we took pictures, one of which I sent to Becky on my I-phone. Within the hour she had uploaded it to her Face Book page, and by the time we came in off the ice, she had already recorded over 50 looks and 28 comments! By the time I came back into the office on Wednesday, nearly every person I saw or talked to had already seen the picture! Before I could begin to boast about my accomplishment, they already knew most of the story! Word gets around!

In our text for today St. Paul tells the saints at Colosse that word has already gotten to him of their faith and their love for Christ and all the saints in the Church at large. By their actions and by their service, by their loving kindness and by their joy in the Gospel, word of their steadfastness had already covered the distance between their city and Paul’s current station. He rejoices in that news because it speaks to him of the work that the Gospel is doing under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It was working in many places, but in this letter, he rejoices specifically in the fruits it is bearing in Colosse.

There is a saying that “bad news travels fast”, and that has never been truer in our times. The internet is a marvelous tool, but it is a double-edged sword, for it can spread rumor, lies, innuendo, fabrication, half-truths, and suppositions at the speed of light. People get themselves amped up about something or other, write a poisoned pen email, and hit the send button without much thought, and BANG! – there’s trouble. Reputations get tarnished, the eighth commandment gets fractured, and anger, resentment, and hurt are the rotten fruits to be harvested.

Thank God that good words can also travel fast! When we share our faith and trust in God with those we correspond with, when we give God the glory and boast in our Lord Jesus Christ and his sacrifice of redemption, we can spread the Good News of the Gospel at the speed of light as well. When we encourage people, pick them up with kindness and prayers, when we empathize with their hurts and understand their fears, we can put in a good word for Jesus that may just be the seed to be sprouted or the refreshment on a parched soul that allows the Holy Spirit to break through and change lives.

So when you spend some time on Face Book or emails or even texts, remember that “word travels fast”. Give a little thought to how you respond. Let your faith and love spring from the hope that is yours in Christ Jesus. Put in a good word for Jesus and don’t be afraid to let your light shine. Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Witnesses are called upon to tell only what they know: the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. So help you God! Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) DRIVE-IN COMMUNION – will be offered again on Sunday, February 21, at 3:30. There will only be one session this time. Tune your radio to 87.9 FM and we’ll do an abbreviated service of prayer, confession/absolution, communion liturgy, and distribution. Takes about 15 minutes start to finish, but for those isolated at home, here’s a chance to receive the Sacrament.

2) DRIVE-THROUGH FISH FRY – The preschool will offer a drive-through experience on Friday, February 26. Watch the Website for details.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/fpVg5Q1-mJU

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDFeb16.PDF

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WEEKLY DEVOTION FEBRUARY 15

Monday, February 15, 2021

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

“Somewhere to Start”

I’m going to do things a little bit different today. 2021 has been a quite a year. As I share this with you today we are entering our 7th week of 2021 and as of this last Saturday we have had too many funerals, averaging more than one a week—three just last week. Some were unexpected and some were not. In every case most of us were not ready to let any of them go. So, what I’d like to do today if to offer you some guidelines for preplanning for the day that the Lord calls you home. I’d like to give somewhere to start.

Why do this? I realize that this is not an easy topic. Frankly, this is the kind of planning that one would just assume not have to talk about. But when our loved ones are mourning, they are also faced with many quick decisions to be made about what their loved one may have wanted or not wanted. Most families that I minister to at a funeral spend a lot of time guessing what their loved one may have wanted or not wanted for their service. Why do this? For two reasons. First, it takes the guessing out of the planning for those who mourn. Secondly, and most importantly, it gives you one last opportunity to tell your family that you love them and that you are okay because your hope in Jesus resurrection.

This last weekend was Transfiguration Sunday. In the Gospel of Mark something struck me for the first time. Jesus was preparing the disciples for what was to come in the cross and the resurrection. Mark 9:9-10 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.”

We know that at least three times Jesus told the disciples that he would suffer at the hands of the religious leaders, be crucified and the be raised on the third day. They disciples chafed at the idea of Jesus being crucified. Peter even tried taking Jesus aside vowing to prevent it in Matthew 16. It was not something the disciples even wanted to talk about. In the same way no one wants to take about their own death, even though it is inevitable. But its not death that Christians think about at funerals. It’s the resurrection. And the same was being said to the disciples. But on Good Friday, they were broken hearted and feeling guilty about running away when Jesus needed them most, among other things. And even when Easter morning did come these disciples were still looking for a dead body. It took a week for Thomas to come around. But once they met the resurrected Savior they were preaching Christ crucified because of the resurrection. We too have that same message and reason to tell others about our hope in Jesus. Lord willing when my family attends my funeral, they will think of that resurrection and a chance to be together again so that they might have joy in their mourning.

So, what am I proposing? Well, preplanning your funeral service is in many ways much more important than preplanning with the funeral home. It is at your funeral service that you essentially get to talk to your loved ones one more time.

When I put a funeral service together I always ask for the following things. I ask for a person’s information. When were you born? When were you baptized? Married, when and to whom? What are your favorite hymns or songs that you would like sung at your funeral? Perhaps write a sentence why they were your favorites. What are Bible passages that are significant to you and why? I would also encourage you to write up a one-page biography of yourself or even include a letter that could be read to the family. I would encourage picture of yourself to put on the bulletin. Along with that, it is common to run a picture slide show during visitation. What pictures do you want in there? Perhaps label some of the pictures on the back so those things can be expressed in the slide show. I’m always amazed at the wonderful pictures of those I’ve only known of older friends, days in their youth, and what they were interested in. You can learn a lot about them in those pictures. For example, I had no idea that Karen Lind was a barrel rider and loved horses. These were great pics and fun to see. Do you want flowers at your service? What kind are your favorites? Mine are sunflowers, for example, because they are bright, big flowers that stand nice and tall--happy flowers. How do you want to be dressed when that day comes? These are some of the things I would encourage you to pass along before the day comes. They are often overwhelming things when in the middle of our mourning and shock.

However, if these things are set to go, then I know that your friends and family will be grateful to have them. The preplanning itself is an act of love. Best of all, remember that all of these things are opportunities to tell you family one more time that you love them and that you are well in the Father’s House in heaven. You will be there when they get there.

So, I know that this is a little bit different this morning. But perhaps we hadn’t thought about those things before. And you don’t have to be older to preplan things. You can do this at any time you feel ready to put this stuff together.

One last thought. Please consider putting this in a file or an envelope where it can be found. It’s not much good if you can’t find it. The church has a file of some of the folks that have done this. At home its part of our love file which has a step by step process, who to contact, and what to do if something happens to us. Lastly, you may want to put things on a thumb drive too, pictures, letters, etc. so that you can update them once in a while.

At any rate my goal this week is just to put this out there for consideration so that your family has one last chance to know how much you love them and how much Jesus does too. I hope that this helps you.

And now the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on you with His favor and give you His peace in Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDFeb15

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/zM5igR15qWM

matt.woods@glcna.com -- (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION FEBRUARY 9

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

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

“Homeward Bound”

READING: II Corinthians 5:1-8 – Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made use for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be at home with the Lord.

Going home! There has always been a thrill and a comfort in “going home”. Becky and I have lived away from where I grew up for all of our married life. We lived in Ann Arbor, MI, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Evansville, IN, Ft. Wayne, and for the last 30 years, here in New Albany. Seeing my folks has always involved a drive, and except for our six years in Detroit where we were only an hour and a half away, those drives have been L-O-N-G!

Going home! Even our kids were excited about going home. That meant the freedom to run and explore a whole farm. That meant they were going to have Grandma’s sloppy joes and Grandpa’s cookouts in the summer. It meant Andy could hit baseballs as far as he possibly could without fear that the ball would land over the mean next-door-neighbor’s fence. It meant Dan could hunt for targets with the old BB gun. It meant Christa could play cards with Grandma and win a lot. It meant we would see aunts, uncles, cousins, old friends, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews…and especially Mom and Dad.

St. Paul in our reading today is talking about “going home”. He compares our mortal bodies to the tents that he knew so well, for he was a tentmaker and repairman. He knows that like tents, our bodies are not permanent dwellings, they are vulnerable to wear and tear, and the day will come when they cannot be patched or repaired. But he says not to worry, for we know our Lord has a new and improved place for us to live. He calls it “our heavenly dwelling” and he says it is “an eternal HOUSE” – not tent. And he says it is “not built by HUMAN hands”. That means our glorified, resurrected bodies will be permanent dwellings and since God will fashion them, they will not be vulnerable to the hurts, illnesses, and stresses of mortal life. That new body will be perfect, beautiful, and forever young.

I especially appreciate Paul’s repetition of the word “confident”. Twice he says that we are confident people and that we live now by faith, then by sight. We are confident of our resurrections and the life of the world to come because these are promises made by our God, who does not ever lie or take his promises lightly. We are confident people because we know that Christ Jesus came into the world on a mission that led inexorably to the cross on Golgotha, to a borrowed tomb, and to a glorious Resurrection on Easter morning. Because Jesus lives, we shall live also. He said so. He has promised us. And, we, God’s people simply say, “Amen!” That is, yea, yea, it shall be so!

“Going home” is still something I look forward to. To visit with my siblings and other family members is a good thing. But I must say, since Mom and Dad have gone on ahead of us, there is a bitter-sweet component to that journey. I miss them a great deal. The old house is just an old house, full of memories, but strangely empty. And, yet, St. Paul’s words ring with a firm hope and a confident faith. I will be with those loved ones again. Paul says, “…as long as we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord…(we) would prefer to be at home with the Lord.” All of us are homeward bound in Christ Jesus! Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) 9:35 KIDS – is coming on Sunday, February 14, Valentine’s Day. This is a special Children’s Church for kids in Grade Six and below that takes place between the worship services starting at 9:35. The whole family can accompany them in the gym.

2) DRIVE-IN COMMUNION – will be offered again on Sunday, February 21, at 3:30. There will only be one session this time. Tune your radio to 87.9 FM and we’ll do an abbreviated service of prayer, confession/absolution, communion liturgy, and distribution. Takes about 15 minutes start to finish, but for those isolated at home, here’s a chance to receive the Sacrament.

3) DRIVE-THROUGH FISH FRY – The preschool will offer a drive-through experience on Friday, February 26. Watch the Website for details.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/MNskXbf_vc0

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDFeb9.PDF

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WEEKLY DEVOTION FEBRUARY 8

Monday, February 8, 2021

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

“An Appropriate Gift”

Imagine the gifts that are given at Valentine’s Day. Sometimes they are flowers. Chocolates, jewelry. What is an appropriate gift to give? Gym Membership? Exercise equipment, Home Improvements, an appliance, vacuum cleaner, coffee mug with a heart on it, lingerie, or a football jersey from your favorite team?

Ever consider what might have been given by some of the famous couples of the Bible. The following is a list given to me by someone a while back. People used to hand me things to read for fun. This was one of those. It’s not mine so I apologize for not knowing the reference. But consider:

Gifts from Adam to Eve—New Victoria’s Secret Skins and a basket of Apples. For Him, new sheers to cut back the thorns in the Garden.

Gifts from Abraham to Sarah—A gift basket of ensure and baby-bottles.

Gifts from Jacob to Leah—A new veil. For Rachel a coupon book with seven years of special treats.

Gifts from David to Bathsheba—A basket full of bath-bombs and shower gels.

Gifts from King Solomon—new altars for all 1000 concubines and wives.

Gifts from Pilate to his wife—An apology for not taking her advice about Jesus.

Gifts from Hosea to his wife Gomer—A gps tracker to help keep her out of trouble.

Gifts from King Herod to his wife—A lucrative Life Insurance Policy that made him the benefactor.

Gift from Jezebel to her husband, King Ahab,--Permission to wear the pants in the family once in a while/and a vineyard.

Gift of Samson to his Philistine wife—a picture of himself and his long flowing hair.

Gift from Delilah—a pair of scissors and two glass eyes.

Moses’ gift to his wife, Zipporah—An all expense paid vacation in the wilderness.

Joseph’s gift to his wife, Mary—A new donkey with low mileage to ride to Jerusalem each year for Passover.

Rebekah’s gift to her husband, Isaac—new glasses, some stew, and a new fur coat.

This list is kind of fun. But God’s gift to us is much more helpful and meaningful. The gift is Jesus, of course. And the fullest expression of love ever given to the world is His cross. We all know the verse. John 3:16—“For God so loved the World that He have his one and only Son so that whoever believes shall not perish but have eternal life.” English translations have the emphasis on the fact that God loved the world.

The context in which Nicodemus inquires takes his secret conversation with Jesus much farther; back to Moses who raised a serpent on a pole. Nicodemus would immediately understand the context from Numbers 21. The Israelites in the wilderness were being bitten by serpents. They cried out to the Lord. So, the Lord instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent and put it up on a pole for all to see. Attached to the serpent was a promise that all who were bit and then looked at it would live. Listening to John 3 what do we hear?
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

And then what follows vs. 14-15 is the most famous verse in scripture. But here I offer a clarification to the way in which it should be read. John 3:16—“In this same way, God loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes shall not perish but have eternal life.” The verse doesn’t just tell us that God loved the world but it tells us in fact, how God loved the World; a world bitten by a serpent in the Garden. But lifting up Jesus on a cross, like a bronze serpent, so that anyone who looks to Him and believes will be given life.

Imagine how the pieces must have come together for Nicodemus when he saw Jesus lifted up on the cross. It was enough for his faith to come out of hiding. And he and Joseph of Aramathea took the time to bury Jesus in Joseph’s family tomb. Nicodemus believed Jesus as Messiah.

And isn’t this the true gift. It’s not the fact that you love someone that is the emphasis—but how you love them. Love is expressed and active—patient and kind, not envious or boastful; but sacrificial as one laying down His life for His friends. Jesus didn’t just say He loved us but loved us by what He did. He gave His life on the Cross. Now His resurrection promises eternal life.

Likewise, how we love people reveals how we feel about them. And the best gifts that we bring to those we love are much more transformational. I don’t remember all the individual things that my wife has bought me, for instance, or all the meals she has made, or how many times she has cleaned the house. I can say she has been consistent and gracious in all of them. I do remember her dedication to our children, her care of me, and her consistent and faithful attention to her family. I am a much better person not because of her gifts to me. I am a better person because she has given herself as the gift. And I am eternally grateful for the way that she loves me. That’s why I buy roses, and get candies, or offer something nice and do everything I can to help her. I do something as often as I have opportunities to say, “thank you” in as many ways as I can. I try to give my best to her in whatever form I can offer it.

And so, this week I offer a blessed Valentine’s Day. I encourage you to give thanks to Jesus by loving those who have been given to us as gifts. And may the Lord bless you with His love.

I’m Pastor Woods. May the Lord bless your week and your family.

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDFeb8.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/DIS2pkxV2lU

matt.woods@glcna.com -- (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION FEBRUARY 2

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

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

“Whiter Than Snow”

READING: Psalm 51:1-12 – Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you soak and justified when you judge. Surely, I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Today is Ground Hog Day…Today is Ground Hog Day…Today is Ground Hog Day! (I couldn’t resist a little tribute to Bill Murray’s movie, “Ground Hog Day” when that day repeats itself over and over and over.) If he sees his shadow, we’ll have six more weeks of winter…or something like that. I really don’t care. But winter has already brought us a little gift, or at least it was a gift for a northerner like me: we had a beautiful snow last Wednesday!

Coming from Michigan, snow in the winter was a constant for us. We had snow EVERY winter, sometimes less and sometimes more, but we always had snow. Some years it snowed for the first time in early December and stuck around until late March. That made for a long winter. Of course, we knew what to do with snow as well. We hunted rabbits and foxes. We went sledding and tobogganing and snowmobiling. We built igloos and snow caves and had massive snowball fights. We made the most of the snow and the winter weather.

The first nice snow of the year is always so pretty, especially when it hangs on the trees and the shrubbery and turns them from a boring gray to a dazzling white. It covers the ugly brown grass, the muddy patches, and the empty garden spaces and leaves them soft and pure. That is why David uses that picture to describe the righteousness God in his grace is able to give us when we repent of our sins and he forgives us.

David wrote Psalm 51 after he had been confronted by the prophet Nathan regarding his sins of adultery with Bathsheba, deceit, and the murder of her husband, Uriah. Having been confronted with his sins and having felt the weight of them, he turns to God and asks for forgiveness. He recognizes that only God’s grace can repair his spirit and restore his place before God. He uses the imagery of the purity and cleanliness of new fallen snow to convey his desire that the blot and foulness of his sins be covered by the righteousness only God can give.

We see the same sort of imagery in the New Testament when in Revelation 7 the Elder asks John, “These in white robes, who are they?” And the Elder answers his own question by saying, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” The imagery is again of something that covers sin, purifies the soul, and allows for God’s people to stand before him in holiness without fear.

We seek God’s forgiveness through the merits of our Savior Jesus Christ and have his assurance that he has blotted out our iniquities, washed us in our baptisms, and made our souls white as snow. By so doing we are restored to the joy of his salvation and given a willing spirit in tune with God’s word and desires. Covered by Jesus’ righteousness, we can look forward to standing before the throne of God and singing his praises with his Church eternally. Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

1) I’ll be on a little vacation in Michigan this coming weekend. Going to visit with my siblings and do a little ice fishing on Houghton Lake. It’s been 48 years since I was out on the ice! I’m looking forward to it, and I’ll probably regret it 40 minutes after I get out there! I’ll let you know.

2) Pastor Woods and I have scheduled another drive in Communion service for Sunday, February 21, at 3:30 PM. Just one session this time, and it’s later because Pastor has “GriefShare” class until 3:00.

3) We are doing the “Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival” again this year. We’ll be serving take-out food on the weekends of February 27-28 and March 6-7. Sign-ups are open. We’ll need your help.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/HGt4SKWGz4I

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDFeb2.PDF

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WEEKLY DEVOTION FEBRUARY 1

Monday, February 1, 2021

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

“Who is Jesus—The Giver of Life”

On May 2, 2001 Mattie was born too early. At 1 ½ pounds her little underdeveloped lungs strained to catch the air she needed from underneath the plastic oxygen dome, which was just big enough for her body. Her mom blamed herself for her baby’s condition but reality said she did nothing wrong that made this happen. The pregnancy had become high risk and the doctors found themselves in a stage where they needed to buy as much time in the womb as they could.

It was already late in the evening when we got the call at the parsonage. Mattie’s grandma called asking for us to pray for Mattie. Mom and baby were at St. Vincent’s in Indianapolis (two hours from home) in intensive care and Mattie is not doing well. Mom and baby had been there.

I was just asked this week to think of a moment when I experienced the Lord, one of those unmistakable moments where you knew the Lord was working on you. This was one of those moments when I deep inside a voice said I needed to get back there right away.

It was shortly before midnight. I walked into ICU at the hospital to find a clumsy curtain fence surrounding Mattie’s family. Grandma, Grandpa, mom and dad all stood helplessly next to Mattie’s table, heat lamp keeping her warm…hoping for a miracle that sadly would not come. Mattie’s little body barely bigger than her daddy’s hand just wasn’t strong enough. We prayed and cried and hugged. The machines were not working so the excruciating decision was made to let Mattie go. Mattie died on a Tuesday -May 15, 2001 two days after Mother’s Day. Just 13 days after Mattie was born she was carried into the hands of her Savior. When it was over, mom held Mattie for a long time while dad and I went outside to talk. “Did we make the right decision, Pastor?” I can’t remember what I said, but I believe the Lord gave me the words, because anything I could have offered would not have been enough. It just wasn’t supposed to be this way.

In a packed room, Mattie’s funeral was held on May 18, 2001. It would be the last one I would perform as Pastor in Winamac before I took the call to Grace. It however, still leaves a profound impact on me to this day. Since then others have felt the same sting and I have shared that sting with them.

Luke 4:38-39 tells us, 38 Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39 So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.”

Human life at any stage is valuable. In Capernaum at Peter’s home his mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever. In that one line we know a lot. Peter’s married. His father-in-law has died, which explains why she is living with Peter. And Dr. Luke makes note that the fever was a high fever. I’ll bet that many of us have experienced high fevers—weak, five blankets but still chilling in bed, not hungry, perhaps, dehydrated, perhaps life-threatening—it’s a sign something is very wrong. Jesus rebuked the fever as he did the winds and waves, demons and disease. Once, Peters mother-in-law was healed she instantly got up and began to wait on them. And by the end of the day Jesus was healing dozens who heard about it. Why did they come do you suppose? Why did people bring them? …To be healed right? But this was not the reason that Jesus came. Jesus did not come just to heal but to transform.

What we have in Luke are small illustrations of the transformation that Jesus can bring. One possessed by a demon is set free from it and made whole. One with a fever is set free from it and made whole—notice not made young, not spared the pain of being a widow, but spared for the brief moment from their ailments. The cross, however, transforms completely. The resurrection brings about a new reality that does return youth and there are no widows or mourning mother’s in heaven. This is the good news of the Kingdom of God that Jesus says, He has come to share. Dr. Luke, a healer by profession, the writer of the Gospel of Luke, writes to show us that these healings are nothing compared to what Jesus will bring about in the cross and the resurrection. Jesus will transform as well as heal.

Grace sees the individual. Jesus loves little Mattie. Jesus loves all who are small, troubled, helpless, hurting, and healthy. Jesus loves the little children; for such is the kingdom of heaven. And as a Good Shepherd calls each child of God through Baptism by name. Tiny little Mattie was loved so deeply by her parents; imagine how much more Jesus loves her still—for He is the God of the living and not the dead. Jesus loves her mother and father and each family member. He knows the number of hairs on each head, and every thought that we conjuring in our limited brains. Look all over scripture Jesus sees the individual. And He calls us as well to love the individual too; ironically by doing so we create a community that loves one another and low and behold the greater good is realized.

Grace sees the individual. My guess is that there are many individuals that the Lord has placed in our paths. Even little ones, however brief their lives, can have the power to bring something meaningful in the pain.

I challenge you to pick one who isn’t family. Pick one and help transform their world. How? Show up and see. We can’t feed five thousand but we can feed one. We can’t heal the body but we can give one some company or drive them to the doctors. We may not always know what to do or say, but sometimes all we need to do is listen and care. So, if you are thinking of an individual right now—if someone has just popped into your mind, or evoked your heart to wonder, give them a call and see how that individual is doing. You could wait. You may have enough things to do already, but then why is that person coming to mind? Is the Lord moving in your thought of that person because you are exactly the one who can help?

Today there are philosophies that speak of wearing out our welcome when we get older; philosophies that believe once a person cannot contribute to the greater good of all then they should no longer be allowed to live. However, we know as Christians that only one death was absolutely necessary; only Jesus’ death on the cross was voluntary and for the greater good of all. The cross of Jesus went to the heart of the problem and absorbed our sin, through pain and suffering, and death. And then the resurrection follows. The resurrection promises another step that philosophies fail to realize; new life, new creation, real peace, without death or mourning or pain, in a place shared, and distinctions like tribe, people, and language pale because of the shared joy in Christ. Jesus doesn’t want us out of the way He wants us to be with Him forever.

Two things to remember as the life debate goes forward: First, Human life is valuable in any form. The Person of Jesus Christ declared this to be so. By the authority of His Word we continue to declare it. And the second thing: God is as much the Lord in the hurt as He is in the help. The hurting does not erase anyone’s real value. Thank God for the gift of life and those of us who choose to honor it with the love of Christ. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on you with His favor and give you His peace in Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDFeb1.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/skxJJt8ms2c

matt.woods@glcna.com -- (502) 523-9327

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WEEKLY DEVOTION JANUARY 26

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

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

“Not Like the Seed!”

READING: I Corinthians 15:42-49 – So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the man made of earth, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

Do you know what a sugar beet is? In the Saginaw Valley where I grew up, farmers grow thousands of acres of sugar beets. Imagine a white radish or a turnip but much, much larger with a big green leafy top and very white, very sweet flesh. They can get as big as a 2-liter bottle of soft drink. When they are processed, they produce the very same sugar that sugar cane produces. It’s a big business up north.

Now as big as a sugar beet might get, and as big and leafy its top, you’d never guess what its seed looked like. Sugar beet seeds are about as big as the trimmings from your pinky finger when you trim your nails, and they are about the same shape, too. They’re small, black, and look nothing at all like the beet they will become.

We’ve had a hard, sad stretch of deaths in our congregation the last couple of weeks. It started with Angie Graham whom COVID-19 claimed; a few days later the Lord called home Ewald Grieb and the very next day our brother, Bruce Mater. On the day of Bruce’s funeral we learned of the passing of a former member, Teala Been (Willa Daniel’s sister), and on the following Saturday the Lord called home Betty Mayfield (Angie’s and Ed’s mother) followed the very next morning by the sudden death of our sister, Vickie Shafer. One hard knock after another! I cannot remember such a confluence of funerals in all my 30 years here. Pastor and I have been immersed in grief and hurting folks, day after day. We pray there will be a respite for a good long while.

I’ve had people ask me how I deal with the sorrow I experience whenever one of these precious ones that have been my family for so long is called home. My response is always the same, “I have a promise that I will see each and every one of these again when I am called away or when they come in the clouds with the Lord Jesus at his Second Coming. I HAVE A PROMISE!” And when we see our loved ones again, they will not look like they did in death. They will not be ravaged by cancer or age or Altsheimers or COVID or strokes or heart disease. They will not bear the marks of accident or violence. They will be whole and hale and beautiful and full of life and joy!

St. Paul says in our text that what was “sown” in burial was an earthy body composed of the water and minerals of the earth. “We are what we eat,” right? But the resurrected body will be like that of the “man from heaven”, our Lord Jesus Christ, who at his Resurrection did not bear the whip marks, the blood stains, the anguish of the Cross. Kept only are the nail marks and the wound of the spear as trophies and signs of his love for us. He rose never to die again. And along with St. Paul, St. John tells us in his first epistle that, “What we will be has not yet been made known, but we know that when he (Jesus) appears, we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is.” So we “sow in sorrow, but we reap in joy!”

We never want to give up our loved ones, and yet we know that death will come. We see our grandparents age, and then our parents. We see our older friends begin to fail, then it’s our turn. We know people who have tragic accidents or terminal illnesses. It’s as much a part of our lives as are the births, the graduations, the weddings, and more births. But our Lord has GIVEN US A PROMISE. Death will not have the last word. The body made of earth fashioned after the man made of earth will be sown perishable. But the spiritual body that will arise at the Last Day will be very little like what was sown. It will be “like Jesus”, not like the seed!
Thanks be to God! Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) A NEW “GRIEFSHARE CLASS”: Pastor Woods is conducting a new “GriefShare Class” for anyone, member or not, who are struggling with grief over the loss of a loved one, recently or not so recent. This class has helped a lot of folks find healthy and effective ways to work through their grief and find peace under God’s promises. Tell friends who may benefit, too. It started this past Sunday, 1:00-3:00, but it’s not too late to join it this coming Sunday in the Fireside Room.

2) ENVELOPE PACKETS: If you find that on-line giving is more convenient for you these days and find that you are no longer using your offering envelopes, we’d encourage you to call the office and let Karen know. She can cancel your subscription for you. We save money that way, too. And if ever you want to use them again, you can be added quite easily.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/xSGv-Ey1RqM

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDJan26.PDF

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WEEKLY DEVOTION JANUARY 25

Monday, January 25, 2021

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

“Praying for The 46th President…”

Well, the inauguration has passed and we have another President, our 46th in our nation’s history. I remember each one that has served in my lifetime, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41’ Clinton, Bush 43’ Obama, Trump, and now Biden. Each one can be associated with something that they did that became their legacy whether they wanted it or not. And currently, many opinions are shared about our current President and our previous President. We all aware of their platforms and we tend vote for the vision that most represents our own vision.

In my fifty-one trips around the sun, I understand even more fully that all of our Presidents are all flawed. They are all influenced by the same sin that infects us. This means that their decisions are literally hell bent on pursuing things that do not coincide with the things of God. For example, all my life our country, (the richest country in the history of the world), has carried large debts, and has always spent more than it makes. Our debt is swelling to impossible levels. Every President that signed the many bills passed by congress authorizing that debt is creating huge problems for everyone down the road. Likewise, how many of us have carried impossible debt, perhaps even become bankrupt because of the things we signed on for. While the matters of the Whitehouse are much larger than our own house the principle is the same. We are all capable of good decisions and bad ones. And our personal policies can have a major impact on the well-being of our families, our jobs, and us bring good or harm. Sin skews everything.

In a world of division, I would encourage Christians to be united in the things of God. And one of those things is spelled out in 1 Timothy 2:1-6 which says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people….”

Note by the way who Paul is telling Timothy to pray for. Caesar, who believed himself to be a god, believing himself to be the ultimate authority. Those like Pontius Pilate, who rather than free a man whom he knew to be innocent condemned Jesus to save his own career. Or how about the Herod Antipas who beheaded John the Baptist because John called out Herod’s immorality. Or how about Caiaphas, who held the position of high priest in Jerusalem but condemned, the Messiah, Jesus out of sheer hatred. And yet Jesus died for them. Paul is arguing in 1 Tim 2—God wants all people to be saved. If Jesus wants all people to be saved, even flawed presidents, then it is important that we pray for them.

It is important that we pray for those like former Presidents and for President Biden. By doing so it keeps us on Jesus game and not wrapped up in the thorns of endless debate. It also keeps our heart from becoming embittered or overly proud. Prayer takes us to the highest authority and leans not our own understanding of things however, passionate our position may be.

Whenever a discussion of politics comes up, I have learned to wait to see if I am being baited for a challenge or if I am being asked to provide a sympathetic set of ears to vent their strong feelings. Truthfully, I have lost much of my appetite for most of it. I will however, argue for the sanctity of life and take a strong stand in that regard. I will argue for the truth of the Gospel to be freely preached. I have decided to concentrate on those things of faith. I have also consciously decided to pray when I do get angry.

Politics is by its nature frustrating after all. But as in all cases when I do make a discussion of a relevant topic I make it a point that it be done with the words of Romans 13:7—with respect and honorably. “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.” Angry words never win any arguments.

Respect and honor dignify a person even if we disagree with his/her politics. To disagree is not the same as hatred. To disagree is fine. To succumb to hatred is not. Embitterment never brings peace nor anything godly. Lord knows we have had plenty of this. Lord knows many of us have been passionate about the issues. However, Jesus gives us an example in which to follow. For example, Jesus certainly disagreed with Simon the Pharisee in Luke 7 when Jesus was anointed by the woman but never berated, nor dishonored, nor disrespected the man. In fact, he tried to teach many such people and then said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” We are always free to disagree but it is best done with a temperament of humility and love.

As President Biden exercises his office, I would encourage us to pray in this same humility and love. First, because we are called upon to do so. Secondly, by doing so we keep ourselves focused on the things of Jesus which go way beyond the next few years.

And for what should we pray? I would submit that the Lord’s will be accomplished. That the President would truly exercise the faith in Jesus that he calls his own; to aim not for what he can gain from his position but for what should be done. I pray for the President to seek out good not just political gains. I pray for President Biden to remain well and safe. I pray for godly voices to reach his ears and that he leans not on his own understanding but seeks first the will of God. I pray for rhetoric that is calming and respectful to and from his Whitehouse even when there is disagreement. I pray for a godly character and for a genuine concern for the people he leads. I pray that he may turn to the Lord with a genuinely eager heart and for ears to hear the Word he confesses to believe. I pray for strength to endure the hard things of his office. I pray for his family and for our country. And I do it all in Jesus name.

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord look on you with His favor and give you His peace in Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

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matt.woods@glcna.com -- (502) 523-9327

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