RECENT DEVOTIONS

*************************************


WEEKLY DEVOTION JULY 27

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

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

“Wheat and Tares”

READING: Matthew 13:24-30 – Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

The first sermon I ever preached was on the text I just read. I was the A.C.E. (Administrator of Christian Education) at Trinity Lutheran Church, Darmstadt, Indiana. I was in my second year there as principal of the school and assistant to the pastor. Our pastor had just accepted a call to another congregation, and we were vacant. The elders asked me if I would be willing to conduct one of the non-Communion services each month until we got a new pastor. I had agreed. So, here I was, my first attempt at preaching the Word.

I was much relieved when I looked up the texts for that Sunday and discovered that the Gospel lesson was Jesus’ parable of “The Wheat and the Tares”. Being a Michigan farm boy and having participated in numerous wheat plantings and wheat harvests, I understood the parable from a practical viewpoint. Nearly every year, a few weeks before the wheat was ready to be harvested (usually in mid-July), pretty purple flowers would suddenly appear in patches in one or two places in a field of wheat. These were thistles, and my father had a particular antipathy toward thistles that he passed down to me. Thistles may look like pretty flowers to you city-dwellers, but when they go to seed, they spread and grow and use up the ground depriving the crops of water and nutrients.

As in Jesus’ parable my father did not send us into the wheat fields to pull up or dig up the thistles’ roots. That would have resulted in the destruction of large amounts of grain. That had to wait for after the harvest when the whole patch could be attacked. All he had us do was to cut off those pretty purple flowers and put them in a bread bag. Those flower heads would then be burned in the trash to keep them from going to seed and spreading.

In his parable Jesus teaches that often it is hard to tell the Christian from the non-Christian. There are people who go through the motions of the Faith without every really having faith. They hold membership in the congregation. They come to worship now and again. They make a few offerings. They say nice things about the pastor. They may even hold offices in the congregation for a while. They appear to be very similar to the rest of the members.

On the other hand there are those who seem to be outside the Good Shepherd’s fold. They hardly ever show themselves in the Lord’s house – maybe for a funeral now and again, maybe an Easter service a couple of years ago. They grouse about the pastors and their salaries. They second-guess decisions the Voters or the Council makes. They don’t seem to have much “Jesus” in them. These might be good candidates to remove from the rolls as inactives.

Yet, Jesus says it is not our job to make judgements about who is and who isn’t worthy of the name “Christian.” He warns that by “throwing out” those we might think unworthy we may cause harm to those who are close to them. We may cause one of the weak ones to fall away because of our judgements. We may “pull up the wheat with the tares.” Jesus says he’ll take care of the sorting out at the Last Day. He knows the hearts of all people, so his judgements will be perfect and just.

As a pastor of long years now I can also tell you that on a regular basis some of those “inactives” suddenly and unexpectantly become very active. Things happen in their lives that lead them back to the Lord and to his house. They “wake-up” to the void in their lives and realize they have slid a long way from the Lord’s side. There’s always a special joy that comes from seeing one of those “lost sheep” being led by the Spirit back to the fold.

They’re about done with the wheat harvest in the homelands of Michigan. Those big combines they use have sieves and fanning mills built in them that do a very good job of separating the wheat from all the other foreign things that get picked up by the machine as it rolls over the fields. It sorts out most of the little stones, the weed seeds, the bugs, and all the dust that finds its way down into the wheat’s seed heads. In the hopper you’ll see all those bushels of wheat that will be gathered into the barns or grain elevators.

Jesus reminds us that the day will come when he, too, will gather up his beloved ones and bring them home to his Kingdom. On that day, too, the hypocrite and the unbeliever will receive his judgement. He will sort out the wheat from the tares. How we pray that hearts we cannot fathom will be found to have the love of Christ in them, that they along with us may be found in his “harvest-home.” Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) Our celebration of Pastor Woods’ 25th Anniversary of his Ordination is planned for August 22 in late service and in the dinner to follow the service. Watch for details coming to you on a postcard this week. Be sure to respond to it. What a blessing he has been to us!

2) Pastor Woods and Trish will make a trip to Alaska the last week of this month and the first week of August. Keep them in your prayers.

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

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDEVJuly27.PDF

*************************************


WEEKLY DEVOTION JULY 26

Monday, JULY 26, 2021

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

“Why Am I Still Here”

I can remember sitting with Grace Martin years ago a couple of years before she was called to the Lord. When I met Grace she was a widow of many years and by her own admission advanced in years. Grace struggled with back issues that left her hunched over her walker and her mobility was always a struggle. Yet whenever I would go to visit her home was always in order and I would always find her in her front room ready to go with a smile. Once a month she would ride with Pastor Kischnick or myself to see her dear friend Vivian Hoffman. We would pick her up and she would ride along and we would chat about anything and everything. Often the conversation would steer toward what she had been reading in her Bible that week. She was one who would read her Bible through and then start over and read it again. She loved the Lord and her faith was very deep. Grace was a joy to be around. When we would get to the nursing home in Corydon she would smile at me and in her gentle voice remind me not to leave her there. And we would laugh.

At one point her health had diminished severely, so much so, that Grace began preparing herself to be with the Lord. One could tell she was more than ready and longing to see her Savior. However, she recovered and I saw a side of Grace I had not encountered. She was frustrated and actually disappointed. And then the words came that I have heard so many times as a pastor also fell from her lips. “I don’t know why I am still here.”

I’ve heard this before from others often from those who are alone, those who’s bodies have diminished, or from those who have grown tired. The question implies that in the mind of that person they have nothing left to offer. But I would like to offer a different perspective in order to respond to this question that I often hear.

Please consider Philippians 1:18b-26. Paul is sitting in prison as he writes to the Philippians who have encouraged Paul. “Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

None of us remain in the body forever. But as long as Paul was in the body something good was happening. This is the first thing I notice. Something good happens when we are still here in the body. For example, recently we had a widow in GriefShare share her story about her husband’s poor health. He had been in a nursing home for many years. He was in decline for a long time and could not get out of bed. Yet she saw him many times each week for several hours caring for him and enjoying his company. He was incapable of doing much of anything for himself and yet she went. She was always glad to see him. When he passed she clearly missed him dearly. Remaining in the body was for this widow a blessing for her. At the time of the class this widow was still very emotional.

Paul had no family of his own. He was never married. At one time he was feared because he persecuted the church violently. However, to the believers in Philippi, Paul was loved and thought of as part of a family. And even though Paul sat in prison in less-than-ideal conditions it gave the Philippians great comfort that Paul was still in the body. In fact, we see it to be more necessary for Paul to be with them.

Grace was not an Apostle. She was not a figure that the world would come to know. She mostly lived a quiet life. She was someone we loved and those of us who knew her were always glad to have her with us. Her presence was a joy and a blessing. And one can never underestimate how much that matters.

One other thing that is spoken by Paul that I find interesting. “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain…It is far more necessary for you that I remain.” Could you be an avenue for the grace of God for someone? Could you in some way be necessary for the sake of someone else regardless of your condition? Could it be that someone benefits by you being there? A family member or a nursing staff person?

I can’t tell you how many times I have been to a funeral home for a visitation only to meet several of the staff members from a nursing home also visiting. Some of those folks take care of people for years. Some grow close to their residents and miss them like losing a family member. Just being present was a blessing. Knowing those residents blessed them in ways that the Lord may only know.

Years ago, I can remember sitting down at lunch with Frieda Ruhlow’s family after her son, Robert’s funeral. Robert was severely developmentally disabled and needed daily care for most of his life. One of the staff members at his group home got close to Robert and with Frieda. He made it a point to be with the family. Can the Lord work through those like Robert and leave some impact on others? Absolutely.

However, can we always weigh that blessing? Do we always see the fruits of being among others? Not always. Especially if we spend most of our attention looking ourselves as diminished, disabled, broken, in some sense of imprisonment. Paul was in prison when he wrote Philippians. And yet the Lord worked out some amazing things while Paul was in prison.
What is the answer then to the question: “Why am I still here?” Only God knows. But for the time being you may be necessary for the sake of another for the time that you are here for the Lord to work something out in His wisdom.
More importantly let’s also remember that we are called “human beings” not “human doings”. The Lord does not weigh your life on your abilities but values where your heart is. Out of love for human beings like you, like Grace, and Like Robert Jesus died on a cross and rose again. No one earns that kind of love. Jesus cannot help Himself. His love for you and me is eternal. The value of a person is intrinsic in the eyes of Jesus even when we have a hard time loving ourselves.

Perhaps if we know someone who is asking this question, “Why am I still here?” we may offer an alternative thought. Simply admit we don’t know. But perhaps offer a prayer asking for the Lord to bring His grace through that person so that we may be an instrument that blesses someone else. “Lord help so-and-so to be an instrument of Your grace today.” Or if one is still able, give people a call to encourage them and pray for them as one of our shut-ins has decided to do. Instead of trying to discover the wisdom of our condition perhaps look for the grace that can come from it. I hope that these thoughts help.

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. Amen.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDJuly26.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/895MNe_qbJg

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

*************************************


WEEKLY DEVOTION JULY 20

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

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

“I HATE CHIGGERS”

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 speak 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 form 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.

As you might have guessed from the title for today’s devotion, I HATE CHIGGERS! I guess some people call them “No See’ums” and that’s a pretty good description. They seem to love the taste of me. As I do lawn work and tend to my garden the chiggers target me again and again. They can’t be seen or felt until too late. They do their damage and escape, leaving behind an itching, irritating little sore that mocks me because they’ve done their damage and are gone.

I find that people mistakenly believe that when the itching starts, the chigger is still embedded in the wound. Not so! Adult chiggers only suck plant juices. But to achieve adulthood, their larval form needs protein to make the transition. So the larval form jumps or falls on a host (me!) and crawls along unnoticed until it comes to a handy crease or wrinkle in the skin. They have weak mouth parts, so they tend to find those creases at your ankles and at your beltline. Then they clamp on, inject an enzyme into a cell that causes it to liquify, and then they suck up your essence! When they are full, they drop off and go their merry way. In the meantime your body reacts to the liquification and assault by sending antibodies to the site. Thus the itch and the scabs and the irritation!

Oh, the horror! Just think about it for a moment! They inject an enzyme that liquifies your cells, then they suck up your essence, leaving a wound behind without ever being seen or felt by you! If these things were the size of cats, we’d all be doomed! At least if a mosquito bites you, you can have the satisfaction of crushing it with a good swat! But the chigger is long gone before you realize what he’s done to you!

Isn’t that just like our sins? They creep into our lives, often disguised as something “fun” or “harmless” or “deserved”. They hang around, wounding us, weakening us, harming us or others in ways we could not or did not foresee. After they have landed and done their worst, we only then become aware of their effects. Too late! The damage has been done; the hurt and the trouble they have caused only then begin to show. Oh, what a mess we leave behind!

Think of King David’s mess that led him to pen Psalm 51. He saw Bathsheba in her bath. He liked what he saw and began to lust for what was not his. He seduced her, committed adultery with her, and sent her away thinking no one would be the wiser. But then comes word of her pregnancy! Now he has to cover up the evidence, so he sends for Uriah, her husband, thinking that if he spends time with her everyone will think the baby is his and just a little premature. But Uriah is a good officer and will not allow himself a pleasure his soldiers cannot enjoy. So, frustrated, he sends Uriah back to the front with his own death warrant in his hand. David has ordered a maneuver that is sure to lead to Uriah’s death on that battlefield. When that happens, David looks like a “good guy” by taking the poor widow into his own house. But he’s not a good guy and God knows it. A number of consequences follow that leave wounds, irritations, and an itch that cannot be scratched in David’s family for generations to come.

Like David, you and I must confess that we have sinned against God, “…against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…” Like David, we have wounds and irritations of our own making that only God can sooth and remove. Like David, we realize that only God can “cleanse us with hyssop,” wash us and make us “whiter than snow.” Only he can restore us to joy and grant us a willing spirit. That itch we have in our hearts, in the back of our minds, in the regrets and the rubble left in the wake of our sinfulness – all of that can only be healed, helped, and restored through the forgiveness available to us in Christ Jesus.

I hate chiggers! They irritate me. I must hate sins all the more because they can lead to my eternal death and condemnation. Thanks be to God that he has seen to our salvation by the death and resurrection of his Son! We confess, we repent, and he heals us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) Our celebration of Pastor Woods’ 25th Anniversary of his Ordination is planned for August 22 in late service and in the dinner to follow the service. Watch for details coming to you on a postcard this week. Be sure to respond to it. What a blessing he has been to us!

2) Pastor Woods and Trish will make a trip to Alaska the last week of this month and the first week of August. Keep them in your prayers.

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

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WDJuly20.PDF

*************************************


WEEKLY DEVOTION JULY 19

Monday, JULY 19, 2021

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

“Weighing Integrity”

Last week we talked about character. Character describes what a person is like. Integrity is what character is built upon.

Let’s get started with a recent example. By now we most of us have seen the pictures of the collapsed surf-side condo. A twin building was built beside it. You can find pictures of it all over the internet. The character of the building was ruined by a lack of integrity in its structure. The strongest theory I have heard is that the metal rebar that is normally within the concrete somehow got wet and swelled. This in turn cracked and broke the concrete around it weakening the structure. When the fractures had gone too far the structure could no longer support itself and it fell.

If we apply this illustration to integrity, we learn something valuable about ourselves. We learn that integrity is internal. One cannot notice what is going on inside until is exposes itself in one’s character like those concrete walls which were discovered too late. The metal rebar in the concrete eroded over time, constantly exposed to forces that little by little compromised the steal rebar. Until finally, it broke and the character of the building was lost.

In the same way Christian character cannot stand if it is not structurally sound in the Word.

The integrity of the building was compromised and therefore, ruined the character of the building. On the other hand, its sister building next door has been reported to be structurally sound. The integrity of the structure remains intact therefore, the building remains strong. This is a good illustration of how integrity affects character.

Now consider our reading for this week from Exodus 1:15-20. 15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”

19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

The Egyptians were getting nervous about the fertile Hebrews whom they worried may rise up and overthrow the Egyptians. So, Pharoah started looking for a way to cull the population by assigning the midwives to destroy the male newborns. However, these two midwives feared God more than Pharoah. Despite the risks to themselves they decided to let the Hebrew boys live.

When they were called back to Pharoah to answer for their actions Pharoah asked, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?” Their answer is one of my all-time favorites: “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.” This my friends was a creative answer if there ever was one.
These woman however, did not compromise their faith in the Lord. The integrity of their faith remained intact. And therefore, their godly character shined so much that God rewarded them with children of their own. Without this integrity, Moses would not have survived.

There are many examples of integrity in scripture. The three men in the fiery furnace. David before Goliath. Paul before his accusers. No matter the pressures nothing in their faith cracked or weakened.

In regards to faith integrity is essential. Allow me to borrow an illustration. There is an old story about two neighbors, a baker and a farmer. The baker began to be suspicious of the farmer, wondering if he wasn't getting his money's worth when he paid for a pound of butter. He weighed the farmer's butter on several occasions, and the butter consistently weighed less than a full pound. Enraged, he had him arrested for fraud.

The judge asked the farmer at the trial, "I presume you have scales?"

"Yes, of course, Your Honor," the farmer replied.

"And I presume you use standard weights to measure your goods?” the judge asked.

“Yes, generally,” said the farmer. “But I don’t use them when serving the baker,” replied the farmer.

"Then how do you hope to weigh accurately the butter you sell to your neighbor?" the judge asked.

"That's easy," the farmer said. "When the baker began to buy butter from me, I decided to buy my bread from him. I've been using his one-pound loaves to balance my scales when I portion out his butter.

If we weigh out integrity according to our own sense of things we will be found lacking. Integrity must be determined by a set of standards outside of ourselves or others. In the case of faith integrity is measured quite simply by how much the Word of God determines our actions. Do we fear God more than men? Integrity always exposes itself in character. If a man is honest his yes will be yes and his no will be no. Reputation will precede whomever is honest. And therefore, we are more likely to give him/her credibility. We are more likely to buy bread or butter from them. Integrity has a standard—God’s Word above all else. Character is the outward expression of many things but it is always built upon integrity. Low integrity equals low character. High integrity equals godly character. The reason for this is simple. Integrity always speaks the truth, and always chooses truth of Jesus’ Word above all else.

For those like the midwives this meant that it was more important to keep the first commandment first over Pharoah. Same goes for the three men in fiery furnace, for Joseph when tempted by Potiphar’s wife, and for the Apostle Paul, when pursued by his enemies. And, Lord willing, for us as well.

Lord willing our integrity is daily reinforced by the truth of God’s Word, and the power of the Gospel above all else. And by the grace of God the content of your character is so godly that it is unmistakable that you believe in Jesus. It is on the scales of God’s Word that integrity is truly weighed. Thankfully, no where is this more true then in Jesus who remained steadfast to the Father’s will to be sacrificed on the cross for our sins. And when all other things break down or erode, He will still be there for us.

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. Amen.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDJuly19.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/bRNsaA6oSmw

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

*************************************


WEEKLY DEVOTION JULY 13

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

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

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, OLD HICKORY”

READING: I Thessalonians 4:13-18 – Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.

My father, Bob Kischnick, would have been 92 today. He received his crown on the first of July last year, 12 days shy of his 91st birthday. And, I still miss him. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t think to myself, “I need to call Pa and tell him about this.” Then immediately I have that brief touch of sorrow and am reminded that I can’t do that anymore. If I see a deer, or a rabbit finds its way into my garden, or we get a 2-inch rain, I want to report these things to him. He always enjoyed animal sightings and weather reports, or at least I enjoyed telling him about them. Can’t do that anymore.

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord, that we have his word and promise about those who have gone before us. In our lesson today Paul says we are not “to grieve like the rest of men.” Nearly every religion and every culture around this globe have some vague idea of an afterlife and in their funeral rites they allude to these ideas with rituals and incantations. But in every case, it is a ritual bound and held by the finality of death. They are not based on any forensic truth. What I mean is that their “hopes” are wishful and without any real evidence that they will be realized. Not so the Christians! Our hope is founded and anchored in an evidentiary fact: Jesus Christ came alive out of his tomb on Easter Sunday! He was seen, heard, touched, and experienced by scores of eye-witnesses. He defeated death and overcame the grave. And, death has no more power over him, ever!

Consequently, Christians look at death as a temporary state, a time when soul and body are separated and we who are still bound to earth are missing their presence with us. But Paul says we have the “Lord’s own word” on the future. There will come a day when with a “loud command, with the voice of the Archangel and with the trumpet call of God…the dead in Christ will rise first.” I think that loud command will be the same one that summoned Lazarus out of his tomb when Jesus called him, “Come out!” “Come out, Bob!” “Come out, Verna!” “Come out, all my Beloved!”

So when we are missing our grandparents, parents, siblings, spouses, children, and friends, Jesus speaks to us a comforting word. He tells us that since himself overcame death and it has no more sting, we can look forward to the day when a blessed reunion in heaven will be given and achieved. Certainly we grieve, but out grief is tempered and assuaged by the knowledge that we will see these again who had their hopes firmly laid in the hands of Jesus.

Dad’s nickname amongst his friends was “Old Hickory”. I’m not sure just how that label came to him. I think it had something to do with how tough he was in his younger years and how strong a man he was. Of course we always teased him that he was called that because of how hard-headed he was! But I was always pleased and proud when one of Dad’s buddies would approach him and greet him with, “Hey, Hickory! How y’a doin?” I look forward to the day when I see him again. And, that moment will be made possible by the blood and the resurrection of our Savior Jesus. So, Happy Birthday, Old Hickory!

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) I’ll be on vacation through the 19th. Pastor David Dehnke will lead my Thursday Saints Bible class this week. I thank him for that!

2) Pastor Woods and Trish will make a trip to Alaska the last week of this month and the first week of August. Keep them in your prayers.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/i5OaI1U7aCA

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDJuly13.PDF

*************************************


WEEKLY DEVOTION JULY 12

Monday, JULY 12, 2021

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

“What Spills Out”

Good morning. Happy Monday to everyone. This week and next I am going to take a closer look at the relationship of Character and Integrity. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech has a famous line. "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." MLK is aiming at the right place. It is the content of one’s character that means so much more to our Lord that our outward appearance.

Let’s consider the 1 Samuel 16:6-13 where the prophet Samuel meets with Jesse to anoint one of his sons. Especially notice what the Lord says to Samuel in verse 7.

6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.

The content of David’s heart is what the Lord looks at. The character of one’s heart is what matters most to Jesus as well. In Matthew 15:17-19 Jesus makes it clear that what comes out of a man’s heart is reflective of his true character. Out of the heart come things that make him unclean—things that reveal whether the love of Jesus is where it should be.

Consider an illustration that I think does a nice job of highlighting Jesus’ point. It says,
Imagine you’re holding a cup of coffee when someone bumps into you, causing you to spill what's in your cup. You didn't spill tea. You didn't spill grape juice or soda. You spilled coffee because coffee is what was in your cup. If you’d had tea in your cup, it would have been tea that spilled out. The point is, whatever is inside your cup is what will spill out of your cup if bumped or shaken.

We are each a vessel, not unlike a cup. Looking from the outside, no one can know what we “contain.” But when events of life bump up against us or shake us up, whatever is inside will likely come spilling out.

So we must ask ourselves, “What’s in my cup?” Is it love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Or is it anger, bitterness, anxiety, impatience, mean-spiritedness, ill will, faithlessness, harshness, and lack of discipline?

We might present to the world that we are full of one thing when really we are full of another. It’s easy to fake it when nothing is bumping into us or shaking us up. But bring on a little trial, a little temptation, irritation, conflict, inconvenience, etc., and what's inside our heart of hearts will come spilling out.

Nice illustration right? It gives us a picture of what Jesus is saying about what comes from the heart. This is called character.

Our English word, character actually has its roots in a Greek word… χαρακτὴρ (character). Take a look at Hebrews 1:3. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” The word as it is used in Hebrews 1:3 according to studylight.org has the notion of an engraving of an exact copy. It is like a stamped impression like pressing an image onto a coin. Hebrew 1:3 is saying the character of Jesus is the exact picture of who God is. The divine is completely present in Jesus who sustains all things by the power of His Word. https://www.studylight.org/language-studies/greek-thoughts.html?article=34

The goal of God’s grace is to imprint the image of Jesus into His people. 1 John 3:2
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” “We shall be like him…” does not mean we become gods. It means that we are remade in His righteousness. We will live forever with him. Sin will no longer be a part of us. Death will no longer be a part of us. Jesus’ image is imprinted upon us in faith; when the things of Jesus are imprinted into our hearts they are then expressed outwardly. God willing our fruits reflect a godly character from within the heart—and in truth, who we will be in eternal life.

What set David apart from his brothers was what was going on in his heart. We see in His actions how he would spare Saul’s life twice and become a man after God’s own heart. David was a man of high character. He was loyal to His Lord. He was humble before God. However, this does not mean that David was perfect or without sin.
Oh yes, he struggled with his demons. David was a ladies’ man. We all know about Bathsheba but I’ve often thought she was not the first. We all know about how David took down Goliath. But we also know who pride sometimes got the best of David when he decided to take a census that God didn’t ask for. We also see how David failed to be a good father to a very diverse family with many issues. However, no matter how much David wandered from the Lord, David would always return in repentance and remember his place before the Lord. David’s cup was full of His Lord. It would be in the line of David that the Lord would choose to establish His throne forever (2 Samuel 7). David was flawed like us but always came to appreciate his place before God even as a king. What’s more he sincerely appreciated calling the Lord his shepherd and trusted in His God even above himself as king.

So, what kind of impression does our character make upon others? A character is descriptive of what a person is like. Is it a godly character or an ungodly one? That only reveals itself by what spills out. Lord willing our character spills out with those things that identify us with Jesus.

Character is fluid. It can change. And this is good news for all of us. For example, the Apostle Paul’s character changed from one who hated Christians to one that loved the Lord and His church, willing to give his life for both. Once Paul was willing to do anything to destroy the church but would eventually do anything to advance it. That’s the power of God’s grace for all of us. He changes us to become more like Him. And some day we will be like Him and see Him as He really is. What a future that will be! I hope that today’s devotion has left some kind of impression upon you and blessed you.

Next week we will be adding in the element of integrity. What impact does integrity have upon character? Next week we will dive into that question.

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. Amen.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDJuly12.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/vZXn-T8yqSM

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

*************************************


WEEKLY DEVOTION JULY 6

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

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

“A No and a Yes”

READING: Isaiah 49:13-16 – Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…”

A couple of Sundays ago we sang the song, “On Eagles’ Wings.” It has the line, “He will hold you in the palm of his hand.” I was going to base my devotion today on the Bible passage from which that line was taken. I was going to talk about the comfort of that line since anything we hold in the palm of our hands is in the most secure place it can be. It’s not on the fingertips. It’s not between thumb and forefinger. It’s in the palm where it is surrounded by the hand and thus protected and secure. I was going to do that, but guess what? There is no such passage in the Scriptures! I even got out my trusty “Strong’s Concordance” thinking maybe it was translated that way only in the King James Version, but, no, it’s not in there!

I am a bit disappointed for I have always loved that song and in particular that line. I love the thought of God holding me tightly and firmly in his palm, safe from the edges and thus safe from falling. I am a bit chagrined to discover that the author of those lines is the one who utters them and not my Lord.

But all is not lost for in searching for one passage, I found another that gives me even more reason to rejoice and to feel secure in God’s love. The passage is the one I just read from Isaiah 49. Here the Lord himself speaks this line, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” Do you hear what I hear there? Do you see the beauty of that pronouncement? Do you see the prophetic nature of those words? Better than being held in the palm of his hand, our names are carved into the palms of the one who created us, redeemed us, and continually sanctifies us. And, when and how was that engraving done?

As soon as I read that line my mind went immediately to Calvary and then to the Upper Room where Jesus showed them his hands and said, “See, it is I myself.” You and I have been engraved on the hands of the Savior in a most deliberate and marvelous way. Those nail marks are Jesus’ trophies and emblems of his abiding love for us, his people. When Isaiah wrote those words, he was framing a promise that reached its fulfillment the moment those nails were driven through flesh and bone to suspend the Lord of heaven on a Roman cross. When Jesus visited the Disciples on Easter evening, he displayed his palms as a sign of his identity and as a visible statement of his sacrifice on their behalf.

Frequently these days, boyfriends and husbands will have the names of their sweethearts tattooed on their arms or chests as a sign of their devotion and as a promise of their “eternal” love for that one. Fairly frequently, doctors or tattoo artists make money removing or obscuring those tattoos when the “eternal” love has been extinguished. That’s sadly the way of the world. But not so in Jesus’ case! His “engraving” of our names upon his hands was etched in blood and secured by an empty tomb. Those marks will be there forever. We will see them with our own eyes, and we will stand in awe of what they signify. We will worship him in joy and thanksgiving again and again.

So I got a great big “NO” looking for the line from a hymn, but in the process was led to a passage in the Old Testament that once again found its completion in the New Testament. The engraving of our names upon God’s palms is testimony of His eternal “YES” in Christ Jesus. Any time we find ourselves in doubt of God’s caring and attention, we need only glance upon the hands of Christ to be reminded just how much he loves us. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/ZylSpKSa2Tk

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WDJuly6.PDF

*************************************

WEEKLY DEVOTION JULY 5

Monday, JULY 5, 2021

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

“God Has A Plan For You”

A reading from Jeremiah 29:10-13 “This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

I have heard people say, “God must have a plan for your life?” or some variation of this. Does God have a plan for your life, one that is specific to you? If He does are you actually willing to follow it?

God does have a plan. He planned our salvation in Jesus all the way back to Genesis 3. One would born of a woman. The Savior would be established as part of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12. The Savior would be of Israel from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8-12). The line would pass through David and sit on David’s throne forever according to 2 Samuel 7. And be born in the fullness of time to a Virgin, born under the Law (Galatians 4:4). Our God wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:3-5). His desire it save all of humanity in Jesus. So, the Lord established His plan of salvation within the ranks of Israel’s history, its feasts and festivals, it’s Law, and its covenant. We can certainly say God has a plan for you in this regard.

We also know from Jeremiah and the prophets that Israel didn’t always follow God’s plan. Even as Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments the Israel’s were building the golden calf and rebelling against God’s plan. God’s plan for a perfect world was ruined the moment that Adam and Eve disobeyed the Lord in the Garden. And in our sin God’s plan for our lives is skewed by flawed reasoning, a worship of personal idols over the Lord, and a failure to follow God’s Word. It is God’s plan for us to go to worship each week. But we don’t. It is God’s plan for us to remain humble and forgiving but we keep holding grudges. It is God’s plan to be generous and faithful with our gifts but we often hoard them and skimp on supporting the plans of God. You get the idea. God does have a plan for us but we keep trying to rewrite it to suit our whims and desires.

That’s where Israel kept going. Israel was the sheep that never stopped wandering off. If finally cost them everything. The Babylonians roared in and devoured the Temple, the Land, and ripped the Israelites from their homes and made them live in Babylon. Those like Daniel were among them. The innocent was carried along by the sins of others right into exile. The Israelites were cast into a culture of idols, a new language, a new set of laws, and a whole lot of abuse by the Babylonians. The goal of the Babylonians was to saturate the Israelites so much with Babylonian culture that is left no room for their roots, their Sabbath, the Law, or their Lord. Can we say it is any different today? American culture has become less and less Christian and works harder and harder to crowd out our time with Jesus and our faith in Jesus. And yet, Jeremiah says to the Israelites, settle in. It’s going to be 70 years before you see the Land of Israel again. But all is not lost. It’s where is needs to be.

And yet God’s plan for the Israelites had not changed. In the midst of Israel’s fall the Lord reminds them, “11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Interesting words. Is it ‘prosperous’ to lose everything to the Babylonians? It is if it brings repentance and reestablishes a proper faith in the Lord. It was Jesus Himself who said in Matthew 16:26, “ What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” The Lord thinks very differently about what is means to be prosperous. Our riches are in Christ which many scriptures tell us are of greater worth than gold or silver or fame or power.

And what does the Lord mean by saying, “not to harm you.” The Babylonians had caused great harm. So does the consequences for ungodly choices. Harm comes to the innocent because of choices made by ungodliness. Harm comes from disease and random troubles we cannot control. But this is not what Jeremiah means. Jeremiah means that God Himself will not bring harm to the soul. The exile was not for the sake of harm but for something good for His people, to save them from becoming completely conceited and rebellious—to save their souls by taking away their comforts, their idols. It was to reorient them back to their Lord. As verse twelve makes known, “12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” God’s plans regardless of how they looked at that moment of exile were to save God’s people and preserve the covenant that would lead to the Savior.

And then comes this wonderful promise. The Lord, even while sinners and even while in their exile will not forsake them. He will remain with them and give them a future to hope in. “ 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” In the same way, the Lord will call and gather us, scattered around the world. The Lord will call as He did to Lazarus and we will rise. We will be brought into the Father’s House through Jesus’ resurrection.

God does have a plan for each of us. God does not plan for us to get cancer, or starve or for some to be lonely. He never planned for us to have broken minds or broken hearts or to die in our sin. Such things are not said or even implied in scripture even though tribulation is a part of this world. The Lord does plan for us to know Him. He plans for us to believe, to worship Him, and have a future with Him. When the Israelites were carried into exile in Babylon, I’m sure they questioned the wisdom of such things and maybe God’s love for them and God’s plan for them. I’m sure those like Daniel, who were still faithful, and yet were carried off pondered similar things. When we face trouble, we may feel the same way and question the wisdom of such things. But when we turn to what is written the Lord is clear. His desire is to know us, save us, and take us to be with Him in heaven. His plan is spelled out in Jesus’ cross and resurrection. The Lord is faithful. May we always be blessed in our courage to believe in Jesus and confident in His Character in and promise.

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. Amen.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDJuly5.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/1CLyhlgFXlo

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

*************************************


WEEKLY DEVOTION JUNE 29

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

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

“Milk Toast”

READING: Hebrews 5:11-14 – “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

At the moment I was writing this devotion I had the most delightful smell wafting up to my study from the kitchen! I had a crockpot simmering with Polish sausage and sauerkraut in it. Oh, my! Did that smell good! It was making my mouth water as I was writing. Do you like sauerkraut? I’m guessing some of you decidedly do not. And, to that I say, “That’s too bad! You don’t know what’s good!” My German heritage is well-served when sauerkraut is on the menu. Reminds me of Mom’s kitchen and home.

Another concoction that Mom sometimes served up was not one of my favorite things, and that was milk toast. In our household whenever someone got an upset stomach or ran a fever or had a stuffed-up nose, the remedy and the cure was deemed to be milk toast. Mom would make some toast from homemade or store-bought white bread, she’d butter it, and then pour warm milk over it in a bowl. This would be what sustained you during your illness, or it would be your introduction back into the world of three-squares-a-day humanity after you had barfed up every other offering for two or three days!

I haven’t eaten milk toast in many a year. I’m more likely to try chicken noodle soup or some Ramen noodles when my tummy has been upset. And, I certainly would not make milk toast the main course of any of my normal, everyday meals! Milk toast is for kids, sick kids, tiny little upset stomachs, not for a full-grown man! I eat meat! I eat solid food! I’m all grown up!

The writer to the Hebrews (who sounds an awful lot like St. Paul in this lesson) is chiding the Jewish believers to whom he is writing for not being ready to graduate to deeper theology in regards to Christ. He says they’re still on a milk toast diet for little kids when by now they should be digging into the solid stuff. He says that by this time they ought to be teachers themselves, but he can tell by their words and their deeds that they still need to be taught the “elementary truths” again. He’s a little frustrated by their hardheadedness. It was not easy for Jewish Christians to give up the sacrificial system, their adherence to the Temple, or their doubts about the Savior. Having been taught the basics, they are not yet ready to go deeper. They need again to be taken to the Old Testament prophecies and shown how Jesus fulfilled each one. They need to hear his words, review his actions, and listen to the eye-witnesses who saw these things and Jesus in his Resurrection. They need milk toast!

How about you? Are you eating “solid food”? Is it chops and steak and cooked greens, or is it milk toast for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack? Daily reading of the Word, devotions like this or like “Portals of Prayer” are all good, solid eats. Worship on Sunday brings you some solid helpings. And, a Bible class can help you to “grow up into Christ” and take you deeper into the marvels and connections we find from Genesis straight through to Revelation. If you’re new to Jesus, then theirs lots of good stuff coming your way. If you’re a “veteran of the Cross”, then feast on “the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (That is Paul in Romans 11.)

I wish I could share some good sauerkraut with each of you! It’s a dish rich in vitamin C and lots and lots of fiber. I’m sure it’s good for what ails you! On the other hand there’s milk toast – soft, mild, inoffensive, and weak. I know which one I prefer. I hope you will look to move up into the solid food of the Word. It might not take you all the way to sauerkraut, but it should at least take you to the Polish sausage! God bless your studies and increase your knowledge of his Kingdom and his promises. Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) VBS concludes tomorrow night (Wednesday) about 7:30. Send your power tool operators (men and women) to help us take down and clean up all the stuff we used during the week.

2) Remember to mark your calendars for Pastor Woods’ 25th Anniversary of Ordination celebration on Sunday, August 22, in the late service and the dinner to follow.

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

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDEVJune29.PDF

*************************************

WEEKLY DEVOTION JUNE 28

Monday, JUNE 28, 2021

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

“God’s Timing”

John 11:17-27--17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

I have heard it said, “Timing is everything.” Well, I think there is some truth to this. What if one had bought shares in Amazon in 1997? Or Apple back in 1980? Or what if you decided to sell a house recently? Or what if you decided to build a house in the last year? Timing may not be everything but it certainly seems to make a huge difference.

No one likes delays. As I mentioned yesterday. Just going across town drives me crazy sometimes. Somehow there are days when I catch every red light. Then I get behind a slow driver who seems to have all day. It used to be the case in New Albany when the trains would run that I get stuck waiting for a train which slows and then stops and then backs up before going forward. Or construction. The other day the road worker with the sign flipped to “stop” just before it was my turn. So, I had to wait. But what if that delay helps avoid other problems that we will never know about, accidents or trouble? The only time we notice some things is only when they go wrong. Ever wonder how much the Lord actually watches out for you. In the Lord’s hands delays can be very big blessings.

Timing makes a huge difference. God even makes the delays work for His people. In john 11 we are told that Jesus deliberately waited—waited FOUR days. He knew that Lazarus was sick and then let him die. Both Martha and Mary were troubled by this. “If you had only been here sooner, my brother would not have died.” And then in their faith Martha says, “But I know that even now God will do whatever you ask.” You can sense the tension between faith, trust, and trouble.

But notice Jesus’ timing. It is understood from Jewish tradition that a dead body is not truly and finally dead until the fourth day. In the Talmud (a source of Jewish tradition), it says, “The whole strength of the mourning is not till the third day; for three days long the soul returns to the grave, thinking that it will return (into the body); when however it sees that the color of its face has changed then it goes away and leaves it” (Gen. Rab. 100 [64a]; quoted in Beasley-Murray’s John, pg. 189-190). Basically, the soul lingers for three days until it cannot recognize itself. On the fourth day hope is lost.

Lazarus was essentially beyond hope. The fourth day therefore, was the day which would produce the maximum amount of faith for those who witnessed Jesus raise Lazarus. The delays made the whole event much more potent and significant.

I mentioned yesterday in Mark 5 the same idea. The delays for Jairus were in the Lord’s hands an opportunity to build faith within Jairus. He delays, I believe, for Jairus to hear the testimony of the woman who had suffered from bleeding for twelve years. And yet faith led her to Jesus who welcomed her as a daughter. “Daughter, go in peace. Your faith has healed you and freed you from your suffering” Mark 5:34. Right on the heels of this, reports come that Jairus’ daughter has died. You can almost see the hope in Jairus eyes evaporate. I’m sure he was thinking at this point the same as Martha, “Lord if you had not stopped for that woman-if you had only gotten here sooner.”

When Jesus arrives, the funeral has already started. But he takes the little girl’s hand and says, “Little girl, I say to you get up.” And immediately, like a twelve-year old would do, she hops up and walks around—her life and her youth restored.

God’s timing was important for Jesus’ crucifixion. Galatians 4:4 calls it the fullness of time. The Lord had found the sweet spot in history after thousands of years for Jesus to come. And if you read verse 5 we find that the delay had purpose namely, “to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” Rome had established roads and a common language, Greek. Caiaphas and his kind had settled into the Sanhedrin. All the right players were set for the cross. All of which were relatively unknown to David when he wrote Psalm 22 or when Isaiah wrote chapter 53. His timing will be important when the last day comes as well. In Matt 24 Jesus tells us that the last days will actually be cut short to preserve the elect. He will wait as long as possible to get every last soul that can possibly be saved.

What I am saying is that no one can fully understand why God’s timing works or how it works. But I would offer you that God uses His timing to bring the maximum blessings. Consider the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1,11

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

God makes every beautiful in its time. As an example, I met my wife on my vicarage. Her mom and my vicarage pastor tried fixing us up early that year but Tricia decided to meet in the last quarter of my vicarage year. It was a good thing too. Had I met her at the beginning of Seminary or at the beginning of my vicarage year it would have been a lot harder to focus on my goals. She was very distracting. But the timing for both of us was good and it worked out. And here we are 25 years later.

God can make everything beautiful in its time; not just marriage but even death. When someone we love dies it is natural to wonder as Martha did and struggle with our faith as Martha did. We may not always understand the wisdom of God’s timing. However, the one thing I hope to drive home today is that God’s timing always has in mind our best interest. God’s timing is meant to create the maximum opportunity for us to grow in Him. That takes a lot of trust. Yet when we look at the scriptures, we see that the Lord is consistent in making everything beautiful in its time. In faith we can rise each day with the words of Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

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: WDJune28.PDF

Youtube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1UZUm7jZ7g

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

*************************************


WEEKLY DEVOTION JUNE 22

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

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

“POWER IN THE SEED”

READING: Mark 4:26-29 – He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

My garden has really taken off. A couple of weeks ago, things were growing slowly, what with the cool weather and dry conditions we had then. But when the rains fell and the sun came up and warmed the earth, I could literally see my garden growing day by day. It must be the old farmer in me because I have a hankering to get my hands into the dirt come spring, and I love to watch things grow.

Seeds are a fascinating subject. Have you ever noticed how little the seeds resemble the plants they produce? Beet seeds are tiny little curlicues that in no way resemble a beet, yet when I broadcast those seeds in a corner of my garden, I believe every single one of them sprouted. I’ve had to thin them and then thin them again. Sunflower seeds are fairly large, yet they in no way resemble the long stalk and massive blossom that they will produce. And to think that the entire design of the plant is contained inside that one odd little seed! It’s amazing.

In our text today Jesus indicates much the same truth regarding the kingdom of God and the Church that came to fruition after Pentecost. The Gospel, he says, is much like my garden in that the seed that was scattered in the mission fields by Paul and Peter, John and Barnabas, and by hundreds, then thousands of Christians as the traveled or fled persecution, didn’t look or sound very powerful. It was just the story of a man lived, taught, died on a cross, and rose again three days later. That doesn’t sound like a threat to the establishment or much of a hope to his followers, yet that simple story, augmented by the theology of his virgin birth, his multiple miracles, his divinity, and his substitutionary sacrifice, changed the world and brought hope to a hundred or more generations to this very day.

The elders, teachers of the law, Pharisees, Caiaphas, Annas, and all his other enemies could never have guessed, would never have believed that this itinerant rabbi from Galilee would establish a kingdom that would reach to the very ends of the earth, encompass the Roman Empire, and bring salvation to all who believed in his name. Jesus planted the seed and the Holy Spirit weeded, watered, and watched over it as it sprouted, took root, grew, and blossomed. Even now he continues to gather into his garner the harvest of souls saved by the Good News of Jesus the Christ.

I was out in the countryside around Lanesville last week and was delighted to see the wheat fields turning. I’m thinking the harvest will start the end of this week or next week for certain. What a happy time that always was on the farm. Wheat was the first cash crop to be gathered in, and my dad, Grandpa, and Uncle Earl were usually in a good mood as the wheat poured into the combine’s hopper. It was a return on their investment and on their labor of the fall before when they planted the seeds in the ground. Whether they slept or got up, the seed had sprouted, grown, survived the winter snows, and now they were gathering it up.

Imagine the joy of God’s angels on that Last Day when the Master sends them out to gather up all his faithful in that final harvest. They will rejoice at the Master’s grace and marvel at his glory as the whole Church stands before the Throne and sings his praises. And to think that it will all have started with the seed of the Gospel sown in the little land of Palestine all those years ago. The power was in the seed – and the seed brought forth a harvest of righteousness and a heaven filled with the children of God: you and me! Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) VBS will run from this Sunday through Wednesday. No regular meetings during those days.

2) Remember to mark your calendars for Pastor Woods’ 25th Anniversary of Ordination celebration on Sunday, August 22, in the late service and the dinner to follow.

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

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDEVJune22.PDF

*************************************

WEEKLY DEVOTION JUNE 21

Monday, JUNE 21, 2021

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

“Show Us the Father”

Like Father…

Happy belated Father’s Day to you. Yesterday was Father’ Day so I thought that today we could talk about our Heavenly Father. But before I do first let me say thank you to all the godly fathers, grandfather’s and men who have been a father figure in the lives of our children. Although the world would say otherwise, godly fathers who bless their families and are faithful to their calling as husbands are essential to the health and well-being of our communities. So, thank you to the godly men who honor the Lord as good dads.

Most people know that I have a love for woodworking, fixing things, and doing things hands on. That only means I know enough to get in trouble most of the time. My wife will tell you I have many unfinished projects that need attention. While I was working last week for VBS I had a member ask me where I learned to do all of this. Well, that’s easy. Dad inspired most of it. I just happened to like doing the same things he likes to do. Growing up I can fondly remember many days working on our house. It was also the best time to go out to the house and help dad work on something. And something stuck. I’ve always enjoyed it. Dad taught me a lot and I am grateful for all of it. So, getting to know me you might get a good sense of who my dad is because of it.

Jesus and the Father are One

Jesus talks pretty regularly about Our Father in Heaven. Some of the most familiar passage in the Gospels speak to the Father and the Son. John 3:16-17 is perhaps the most famous. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him may no perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the World to condemn the world but to save the world through Him.”

Another very familiar Gospel passage is John 14 Jesus talks about preparing a place in the Father’s House for His followers. He tells His disciples to trust in Him—literally put their eternal lives into His hands. He also promises that He will come back to take all believers to Himself so that we may live with Jesus for eternal life. This passage is usually read at funerals up to verse 7 because it provides so much comfort. However, Jesus is also laying a strong emphasis on the Father and the Son being of one mind about our salvation. So, I invite you to consider verses 8-11.

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.

So, to see Jesus is to see the Father. To know Jesus is to know the Father. They are never in disagreement. In fact, they are of one will when it comes to our salvation. It is the Father’s love that sends the Son. It is the Son who willingly dies for our sins and rises in the resurrection. They are of one will. This is comforting but this is also challenging.

Jesus Illustrates the Father

Consider another very familiar Gospel passage from Luke 15:11-32. It is often called the Parable of the Prodigal Son. However, it is really about the Father. The younger son goes to his father and says, effectively, “Dad I want you to be dead so that I can have my share of the inheritance.”

Listeners of this parable would have been amazed at the boldness of the younger son. We too are amazed that the Father gives a very rebellious younger son his share of the inheritance and then lets him go. But then again, the Father is gracious with all of His gifts. For example, He didn’t take Samson’s strength from him even though He was rebellious—at least until he went to Delilah’s hair salon. Another example: Jesus reminds Pilate that His authority was given from on high but does not pull rank on Pilate. And the Father’s love and grace are never withdrawn from us even when we demand His gifts like the Younger Son, and then ignore Him. The Father, like the Son, is a bigger giver to us then we are a receiver to receive His gifts. He gives to us not because of our goodness, nor because we deserve anything, but because of who He is—a loving Father who gives good things to His children.

And then the part of the Parable we love most. When the Younger Son comes to His senses and comes home the Father welcomes him back. The Father isn’t finger wagging and chewing him out or even reducing his son to a life of slavery. The Father runs out to his Son, grateful that he has him home. And to remove all doubt that the Father has welcomed him home as a son, he puts clothes from dad’s closet on him, a family ring on his finger, and sandals on his feet. Then he celebrates with a great feast letting the son know that He is most welcome. This too amazes us and gives us a sense that our Heavenly Father really loves us. All of Heaven rejoices over one sinner who repents rather than the 99 others who do not need to repent. The son who was dead is alive. That’s all that mattered to that father in the parable. And this is all that matters to our Heavenly Father as well.

Something Worth Celebrating

Father’s Day is worth celebrating because we have our Heavenly Father. Even if some of us do not have a good example for a father—and many do. We still have our Heavenly Father. And in Him we children have something to show. We have one who loves us, even when we go prodigal on Him, so we can love others. We have one who is generous with us and forgives us so that we can forgive others. We have one that is patient with us, which is good because kids like us demand lots of patience. We have a Heavenly Father who is worth celebrating for these and many other reasons. We have a Father who will never leave us nor forsake us, who pursues us, knows us, and opens His home to us. We have a lot to celebrate in and through Jesus who tells us, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father as well.”

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 forever and always give you His peace in Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Matthew Woods

John 3:30

PRINTABLE PDF: WDJune21.PDF

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

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

*************************************


WEEKLY DEVOTION JUNE 15

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

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

“Bone of my Bones”

READING: Genesis 2:18, 20b-24 – The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him…for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

On a Saturday 48 years ago tomorrow Rebecca Ann Weston became Rebecca Ann Kischnick. Rev. Victor Spiekerman performed the wedding and God made the marriage. We’ve been stuck with each other ever since! Becky, of course, robbed the cradle. I was just a child of 19. And…it worked the other way, too, because Becky was just 17 on that muggy day in June 1973.

In our text God declares that it is not good for the man to be alone. He sure had that right. Adam was also on to something when he said that his helpmate would be called “woman”, but I think we’ve been pronouncing it wrong. I really think Adam said, “She shall be called ‘WHOA-man’. See, without Eve Adam would certainly have drank too much beer, eaten too much bologna, and probably wouldn’t have changed his bed linens for months on end! It was Eve who reigned him in and made a family man out of him. Becky’s surely been my “WHOA-man” on a number of occasions.

When Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh,” he was definitely remarking upon Eve’s origins. However, there was even greater wisdom in that statement than he knew. Becky and I have pretty much eaten the same food, drunk the same water, and often shared the same illnesses over these 48 years. (It’s true she likes bananas on all of her ice cream, and for some reason that mystifies me, she loves the “Pink Drink” at Starbuck’s. I’ve tasted it and definitely can’t see the attraction.) In some very tangible ways we are bone of bone and flesh of flesh.

When Becky’s dad brought her down the aisle and gave her away, he was happy to do so. We always had a very good relationship, and I am sure he trusted that I would do my utmost to take care of her, love, honor, and cherish her. It also helped that he had five more daughters in the house, so giving away the eldest one allowed the younger ones to get more sunlight and grow into the beautiful flowers they became! Do you realize that when he “gave her away” he was simply re-enacting the scene of the first wedding when the Lord God brought the woman “to the man”? Every bride ever escorted down the aisle and given away is an image of the first wedding when the Heavenly Father gave Eve to Adam as his wife.

On that day 48 years ago, Becky and I responded to Pastor Spiekerman’s inquiries with the words, “I will.” Not, “I do” as is so often spoken in the movies and on TV. “I do” is used in some circles, but it’s inadequate. It’s obvious to all what the two are “doing.” But, in our Lutheran usage we use the vow of “I will” because getting married, making promises, and then keeping them is a about a whole lot more than “doing” the things expected. It is often a matter of the “will”. Marriage is work at times. There are shallow spots on the cruise where one or both have to drag their canoe over the rocks to deeper pools. There are times we put up with one another and do so only by our “will”. The abiding love that a marriage requires is the very same love God has expressed for us: “agape”. Agape love is a love that comes as much from the mind (or will) as it does from the heart. So God has loved us. So husbands and wives must love each other.

God has blessed me with many great gifts from my childhood to this moment. But aside from my salvation in Christ Jesus, the greatest gift has been the gift of Rebecca Ann nee Weston Kischnick. I thank the Lord for her and want to say today in a very public way, “I love Becky!” May God bless and keep all of you in his hand. We’ll talk again next week.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) VBS REGISTRATIONS: Don’t forget to tell your friends and relatives who have youngsters in their homes the our VBS is set for June 27-30 and that ALL registrations must be done online, in advance, and before June 20. They can do this by going to glcna.org. Helpers are also needed and can register at the same website.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/psz0fk-hQ60

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDJune15.PDF

*************************************

WEEKLY DEVOTION JUNE 14

Monday, JUNE 14, 2021

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

“The Power of Self-Control”

Self-control is not always my best fruit of the Spirit

Can we say that we are always self-controlled? Not me. I can remember working on my go cart in Jr. High. My temper was not so self-controlled back them. The chain was not staying on the sprocket so I swore and then slammed the socket wrench I was using down on the back tire in frustration. I never expected it to bounce back up and clock me in the forehead. It was like something out of a movie. It made my friend who was helping me laugh until he cried. It only made me feel stupid and angrier. And it left its mark for several days both outwardly and inwardly.

Self-Control reveals and reflects Jesus.

Self-control is not only a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23) but it is also a character trait of Jesus Himself. Consider two verses. Isaiah 53:7 says, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Consider also 1 Peter 2:22-24. “‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ 23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed’.”

What a contrast this is to the hateful Chief Priests, the guards, and passers-by who, we are told, sneered at him, spit on him, beat him, mocked him, and taunted him to come down off the cross. Self-control clearly reveals our Savior. As a fruit of the Spirit this also means that self-control is reflective of our Savior, who suffered in the cruelest way and yet continued to remain in control of Himself and the situation. When His people put it into practice, they reflect who they represent.

A lack of self-control can be very unhealthy.

On the other hand, Proverbs 25:28 tells us that “a man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” A lack of self-control may steal something from us. We may say something we wish we could take back. We may buy something that seemed like a good idea at the time but really only left our wallets lighter. Worse we may bring harm to our children with a bad example. Our children are often reflections of their parents.

Thomas Costain’s history, THE THREE EDWARDS, described the life of Raynald III, a fourteenth century duke in what is now Belgium. Grossly overweight, Raynald was commonly called by his Latin nickname, Crassus, which means ‘fat.”
After a violent quarrel, Raynald’s younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him. Edward captured Raynald but did not kill him. Instead, he built a room around Raynald in the Nieuwkerk castle and promised him he could regain his title and property as soon as he was able to leave the room.

This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynald’s size. To regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight. But Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent a variety of delicious foods. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, Raynald grew fatter.

When Duke Edward was accused of cruelty, he had a ready answer: “My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills.” Raynald stayed in that room for ten years and wasn’t released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined he died within a year … a prisoner of his own appetite.

Raynald’s bigger problem was the same problem many of us struggle with in America, self-control at the dinner table. Yet, it is not just our physical health that may suffer from a lack of self-control. It is also our spiritual life that suffers as well.

Self-control is a proactive fruit

Self-control isn’t just avoiding a bad response but being proactive about a good one. Prayer for example is not a fire extinguisher. Fire extinguishers are for the most part ignored until they are needed. I used one several years ago for a car fire out in front of the church. It was helpful for an emergency. Prayer is not a tool for emergencies. Prayer is a proactive part of Jesus’ ministry. Routinely, Jesus went out alone and prayed. He made it a point to deliberately take time out to talk with the Heavenly Father.
Jesus was self-controlled with what he ate. At one point he went forty days in the wilderness without food while be tempted by the devil (Matt 4).

Self-control includes disciplining ourselves to be in the Word of God. Even those like Nicodemus who had been in the Word His whole life did not understand Jesus’ mission until it was reveal to him by Jesus from the scriptures (John 3). Same goes for the disciples from Emmaus—Jesus walked with them the whole time revealing what those scriptures meant and their hearts burned within them with a new appreciation and understanding (Luke 24).
Self-control means anticipating a conversation that may come from a person who routinely tries to get under our skin. Jesus knew the Pharisees would set traps to discredit Jesus. What is something constructive and faithful that may be said if you are in that situation?

Practicing self-control may also mean that we need to maintain a proactive stance with our budget and be careful with how we spend. It may also mean being realistic with a busy schedule. When we value self-control we are placing value on a Word centered faith and we are being proactive in our Spiritual life.

Consider some things that help me to practice self-controlled.

1. Expect to be tested, so pray. In Ephesians 6 while Paul instructs us to put on the full armor of God he also says, in vs 18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

2. Know what your triggers are. Do you have a temper? Do certain topics make you crazy? Do certain people push your buttons. Prepare for this. Look at Jesus wilderness temptations in Matthew 4. Satan thought he knew Jesus’ weaknesses, but he certainly knows yours. Better confront them before you are made vulnerable to temptation.

3. Consume the Word of God—Don’t just casually read it. Make a diet of it. Romans 12:2
Reminds us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

4. Expect to fail but keep trying. Galatians 6:9 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.”

5. Know your limitations and Confess them to the Lord. Turn to Jesus when you fall. Proverbs 28:13 –"Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

6. Remember that you are practicing self-control. Sin will not let you get it right every time. Philippians 4:8-9 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

7. Finally, remember that your strength is in Christ. Philippians 4:13—“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

May the Lord bless us with self-control.

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: WDJune14.PDF

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/MO6rPM290Us

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

*************************************


WEEKLY DEVOTION JUNE 8

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

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

“Devoted to the Apostles’ Teaching”

READING: John 14:25-26 – “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

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

A week ago Sunday we celebrated Holy Trinity Sunday. Trinity Sunday is the last Sunday of the “Festival Season” of the church calendar. We’ve just completed 26 Sundays of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost. Now we enter into the 26 “Sundays after Pentecost”. Back in our younger years that portion of the Church Year was known as the “Trinity Season”. I’m not sure why the change took place, but what’s important for us to know is this season we’ve just entered is the “Teaching Season” of the church calendar. We’re going to learn to put our faith and joy in Jesus into practice.

As you heard in the readings for today, Jesus had promised that after he had left the apostles’ physically, he would send to them from the Father the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. He also promised that the Counselor would “teach (them) all things” and would “remind (them) of everything I have said to you.” When the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles on Pentecost, he did exactly that, and immediately those men began to teach others what Jesus had taught to them. As the Church began to gain momentum and people began to come to Christ, they sat with the apostles and listened to their “teaching”.

What do you suppose that “teaching” was? My guess is that it was a lot of the material we will cover over the next 26 weeks! They heard and learned of Jesus’ miracles. They heard and had unpacked for them Jesus’ parables. They heard and had explained to them his “Sermon on the Mount” and other didactic lessons that Jesus had told to the disciples through their three years at his feet. They also had pointed out for them all the places where the Old Testament scriptures had spoken of and prophesied the Christ. They learned what it meant to be the Messiah, what it cost Jesus to be the Messiah, and what the Messiah meant for them. And, when they were filled with the joy of knowing Jesus and his great love for them and they asked the simple question, “Knowing all of this, how then shall I live?” they were instructed in the day to day living of their faith.

As you and I enter into the “Teaching Season” of the Church, we see that the paraments on the altar, the font, and the pulpit are now green. Green is the color of growth and regeneration, of living things and God’s blessings. It’s the color of growing crops and trees bearing fruits. It’s the color of grasslands and forests, of verdant pastures and fresh-mown hay. The green is there to remind us that in this “Non-festival” portion of the year, we, too, want to grow. We want to grow in our knowledge of Jesus and of his teachings. We want to grow in our ability to live the Christian life before our God and with our neighbors. We want to be prepared for that moment when someone we know or someone we meet needs to hear and experience the love of God in Christ Jesus. That’s when we get the opportunity to be the seed sowers, the evangelists, and tellers of Good News.

May this summer and fall be a time of growth for you. May you learn new things and be brought into remembrance of things you already knew but hadn’t thought of for a while. May the Holy Spirit teach you and prepare you and bring you more joy in Christ. We’ll look forward to growing and bearing rich and abundant fruit for our Savior and our God. Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) VBS REGISTRATIONS: Don’t forget to tell your friends and relatives who have youngsters in their homes the our VBS is set for June 27-30 and that ALL registrations must be done online, in advance, and before June 20. They can do this by going to glcna.org. Helpers are also needed and can register at the same website.

2) THANK YOU! A couple of weeks ago I told the congregation about two households I had become aware of who, through no fault of their own, had found themselves in financial difficulties because illness had caused them to be unable to work. I had no money left in the “Love Offering”, and so I asked that if they were so moved, would they please make some money available. Well, did this congregation come through! We were able to bless those two households, a third one that popped up that following week, and have funds to be a blessing to others still! So, if you had a hand in that, thank you!

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/5x49hmlNfeQ

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDJune8.PDF

*************************************


WEEKLY DEVOTION JUNE 7

Monday, JUNE 7, 2021

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

“What David Got Right”

The Battle With Erosion

Our house is seated on a piece of property that is one long incline from one end to the other. It may drop as much as 35 feet from one end to the other, maybe more. Of course, the biggest problem we struggle with is erosion. When it rains, we get not only the water off of our property but also from everything else off of our neighbor’s yards too.

We’ve managed a lot of water flow by placing ditches with rocks in the strategic places to control the flow. But it’s like a whack-a-mole game. Sometimes silt and dirt get into the ditches and fill them up. Once in a while the rocks have to be pulled out and the ditch dredged out again. And after a while new places get washed out and erosion continues. So new ditches are planned and, in the works, to move the water constructively. And little by little we are getting ahead of it all. When one lives on a hill as we do, it just goes with the territory. My neighbor must think I’m crazy when I have stood outside under an umbrella studying the flow of it all. If I am going to get this right, I must know how the water behaves so that I can act constructively. The most important thing in this circumstance is to have a plan before I go digging ditches and hauling rocks. If I get it wrong the erosion will continue. However, wherever the rock is carefully placed the water flows without causing any erosion.

David’s Life was Built on the Rock of Israel

David’s life was a life that was built on the Rock, the God of Israel. However, at times David would become impulsive, rash, and arrogant causing serious erosion to his character. But no matter how much his life would erode David always came back to His Lord and trusted in God to save him.

When one encounters young David in the scriptures one may think immediately of the day that he fell the Philistine Giant with a slingshot. David was a simple shepherd back then. He was the youngest of his family and was often relegated to the dirty jobs that no one else in the family wanted to do. Young David, shepherd David, was a man who loved in the Lord and trusted in the Lord with his life, even before a giant enemy like Goliath.

David Fought Erosion of His Character

Later in life David was really not so hot. Bringing down the giant was what he was remembered for before he was king. While David was king, he became most famous for bringing down Bathsheba in an act of adultery. We remember 2 Samuel 11. David should have been leading his men in battle instead of looking for trouble at the palace. He spies a neighbor lady taking her bath and looks too long at Bathsheba. His lust turns into adultery. His adultery turns into lies and deception. His lies and deception turn into murdering Bathsheba’s husband, a loyal soldier on the front lines. The sin of covetousness eroded into all the other sins. And more and more of David’s godly character as a shepherd washed away. Eventually a prophet straightens him out and he finally repents but the damage to David’s Kingdom has been done. Yet, David returns to the Lord and trusts in God to save him.

As a consequence of his sin with Bathsheba David’s life and his kingdom find no peace. Within the family a son becomes like his father in his lust for his half-sister. David’s son Amnon raped his half-sister, Tamar. Another son does as his father and becomes a man of action where he sees injustice. Absalom killed Amnon for his crimes against Tamar and then led a coup against his father, David whom he blamed for allowing it to happen. David was responsible. He was a lousy father, and a lousy husband, if we are honest. David had seven wives but in truth was close to none of them.

And let us not forget David’s occasional arrogance. He called for a census of his kingdom in 2 Samuel 24 which God rebukes him for. It was done in arrogance, pride over his kingdom not because the Lord commanded him to do it. David messed up a lot of things frankly. And when he did it wounded his marriages, his children, his kingdom, and especially God’s people who to this day have a record of David’s sins. Can you imagine generations from now having a record of your scandals, your sins, your biggest screw ups? Thankfully, in God’s forgiveness he keeps no record of wrongs.

David Remained a Man After God’s Own Heart

There is one thing David maintained throughout his life in spite of his sinfulness. He remained a man after God’s own heart. What does this actually mean? Most people do not fully understand what this means. For that we turn to Matthew 5:7. “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.” He trusted in God to be merciful, and to save David. Even in his worst sin David turned to the Lord and understood that God is gracious.

In 1 Samuel 24 David is being pursued by King Saul who has become jealously obsessed with killing David. David hides in a cave only to have Saul walk right into that same cave to relieve himself. As Saul was on the pot, David has opportunity to enact justice on Saul but chooses grace instead. David cuts off a piece of the King’s distinct robe. He would later show Saul what he had done demonstrating the mercy to Saul. God delivered Saul to David and gave him the option to execute Saul. But David refused “lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed.” He even felt bad for cutting off a piece of Saul’s robe. The point is simple; when David had the chance to kill Saul, David chose mercy instead. He chose to love his enemy by exercising grace “for the Lord’s anointed”. In 1 Samuel 26 David spared Saul a second time. When Acts 13:22 talks of David as a man after God’s own heart I believe the scriptures are referring to the fact that David sincerely appreciated the mercy of God that had given him so much. David understood that His Lord had given him everything from shepherd to King. And David understood that he as should exercise the same mercy to his Israelite brother, Saul.

It was to the mercy of God that David turned when he sinned with Bathsheba in Psalm 51 and in Psalm 32 where David proclaims:

Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit….
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.

We’re Not So Different

These same verses apply to us. God has been merciful to us. And it is by grace we do as the Lord has done for us—forgiving as the Lord has forgiven us. Loving one another as the Lord has loved us. David did that too. It was in mercy and in devotion to covenant with Jonathan that led David to welcome Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son and only remaining heir to Saul’s family, back to the king’s table.
And it is in mercy and grace to all of us that we hear in 2 Samuel 7 God’s promise to David that one of his descendants would sit on David’s throne forever. Of course, that promise is fulfilled in Jesus who came to the world and while we were yet sinners died for our sins and then welcomed us to His King’s Table as family.

What David got right his whole life was trusting in the God of Israel. David was a sinner and the first to rely on the Lord for everything. David was the first to repent when he was called out for his sin with Bathsheba. David was not a great family man. He failed at a lot but did not fall so far that His faith was lost. The bottom line is when sin eroded parts of David’s life sin never took what was built on the rock. He remained a man after God’s own heart. And by the grace of God, we too will remain on that same rock, King Jesus. By grace we too will remain a follower of Jesus, people after God’s own heart.

Lord make us gracious like you. Make us forgiving like you. Make us people who appreciate and love you as you love us. And help us to love others like you love us. Make us people after your own heart.

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: WDJune7.PDF

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

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

*************************************


WEEKLY DEVOTION JUNE 1

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

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

“The Athanasian Creed”

READING: John 14:25-27 – All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Matthew 28:18-20 – Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

If you were in church this past Sunday, or if you tuned in the services online, you know that it was Holy Trinity Sunday. You also know we did our once-a-year confession of the Athanasian Creed. It is our custom to use that creed on Trinity Sunday since it is the most detailed confession of the church in regard to the doctrine of the Trinity. Perhaps a little background would be of interest to you here.

A Christian bishop in Alexandria, Egypt, by the name of Arius began to teach that the Son of God was created by the Father as the first of all Creatures. That there was a time when the Son did not exist, and therefore the Son was subordinate to the Father and was only called “Son” because the Father adopted Jesus as such. As this teaching began to spread across North Africa and across the Mediterranean Sea to Rome and beyond, a great controversy erupted with many bishops calling Arius a heretic and some inclined to agree with him. To deal with this, the Church called for the bishops to meet in Council at the city of Nicaea in 325 A.D.

One of Arius’ most outspoken critics was Athanasius, who at the time of the Council was just a deacon and not allowed to address the Council. But he was credited with doing a lot of the legwork and the composing of the confession that was adopted by the Council of Nicaea – the instrument we now call the Nicene Creed. Later Athanasius became first a priest and later a bishop and dedicated much of his life to fighting Arianism and weeding it out of the Church.

The Creed we call the Athanasian Creed was not written by Athanasius. It was written in the 400’s A.D. long after Athanasius had died. But it came to bear his name because in its formation and in its theology, it very much represents the teachings and understandings of the man whose name it bears. It is one of the three Ecumenical Creeds of the Christian Church, meaning it is accepted and it is used by the broad majority of the denominations within Christendom.

So why is all of this important? First, because Jesus himself attests to the Trinity in a number of passages including the two above, as do the Apostles, especially St. Paul. Secondly, if Jesus was just a man, a creature, like us, his death and even his resurrection would avail us nothing. If Jesus is not True God begotten of the Father before all worlds, then his death could not possibly justify all the believers of all time, past and future. Thirdly, the Arians are with us still.

When those nicely dressed, very polite folks from The Jehovah’s Witnesses come calling at your door, they will talk to you about family life and life after death, but the one thing they will not want to talk about is the Trinity. That is because they do not believe there is such a thing. They believe that the Church was led astray by the Emperor Constantine in the early 300’s A.D. They believe that Arius had it right, although very few of them will have ever heard of Arius. They hold that Jesus was, at first, just a very good man who led a life so righteous that when Jesus was unjustly put to death on a Roman cross, Jehovah (the Father) raised him from the dead and adopted him as his son. Jesus therefore became the “Great Example” for the rest of God’s people and the 144,000 are those who have achieved the kind of righteousness that Jesus exemplified. And the Holy Spirit? Well, that’s just the euphemism the Scriptures use to highlight God’s “active force in the world.” When we see God do something (like a miracle), we say, “The Spirit of God came to that person’s aid.”

The Doctrine of the Trinity is the full revelation of God that was only possible after his Son, Jesus, came in the flesh and revealed to us the Father, the Counselor (or Holy Spirit), and himself as the Son of the Father from all eternity. Jesus said more than once, “The Father and I are one.” And, you and I, now knowing God most fully through the fulfillment of his plan of salvation in the death and Resurrection of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, do well to recite the Athanasian Creed with a sharp eye and an open heart as it says, “…that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance…Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.” We believe it. We confess it. We rejoice in it. Amen.

PRAYER:

ANNOUNCEMENT(S):

1) VBS REGISTRATIONS: Don’t forget to tell your friends and relatives who have youngsters in their homes the our VBS is set for June 27-30 and that ALL registrations must be done online, in advance, and before June 20. They can do this by going to glcna.org. Helpers are also needed and can register at the same website.

Youtube Video: https://youtu.be/18KOYU0TJd0

pastork@glcna.com — (502) 797-7407

PRINTABLE PDF: WEEKLYDJune1.PDF

*************************************


WEEKLY DEVOTION MAY 31

Monday, May 31, 2021

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

“Remember”

Years ago, when Tricia and I were newly engaged we got to visit a very special memorial that had come to town. The traveling Vietnam Wall Memorial had come to Effingham, Illinois. Today it is referred to the Wall That Heals. It is a three-quarter scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The replica is 375 feet in length and stands 7.5 feet high at its tallest point. The replica is constructed of Avonite, a synthetic granite, and its 140 numbered panels are supported by an aluminum frame. Machine engraving of the more than 58,000 names along with modern LED lighting provide readability of The Wall day and night.

As on The Wall, the names on The Wall That Heals are listed by day of casualty. Beginning at the center/apex, the names start on the East Wall (right-hand side) working their way out to the end of that wing, picking up again at the far end of the West Wall (left-hand side) and working their way back in to the center/apex, joining the beginning and end of the conflict at the center.

The Traveling Wall was very new and had made it first appearance in Effingham, Illinois. It had arrived with great fanfare and solemnity. Many went to see it and appreciated its visit. That was then.

Today, back here at Grace, every Memorial Day we remember five former members who gave the fullest measure to their country, two of which have their names on that Memorial Wall.
 

 
 

One of them is Donald Kidd who served in the army gave his life in Vietnam at Gia Dinh on March 14, 1968. You will find his name on panel 44E, line 47.

 
 

 
 
 

 
 

Another is Sergeant Walter ‘Edward’ Lewellen who also served in the army who gave the fullest measure to his country on February 18, 1971. You will find his name on 5W Line 117.

 
 

I never met these two men. They lost their lives more than fifty years ago. But I am pleased to know some of the vets that tell their stories of their service which helps to understand to level of bravery of those like Kidd and Lewellen. And to all who have served in our armed forces I give you my thanks. But today I think it is a good day not only to remember what was lost but also remember what as Christians we have gained by the sacrifice of those who fight for us. Yes, I am talking about our freedoms, our country, its people, and its way of life. But I am also talking about something more eternal.

Consider what I mean from John 10. 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Every soldier goes into war with a strong possibility of losing one’s own life in the process. Jesus goes to war against our sin by deliberately laying down His life as a sacrifice. Yet, Jesus does so not just have His name on a wall but to put His name on our hearts. He lays down His life only to take it up again. Nothing in the world could take the life of Jesus. Jesus has the authority to lay it down and bring it out of grave again. Jesus laid down His life on purpose so that Donald Kidd and Edward Lewellen have more than their name on a wall—that they could be remembered by the Almighty and share in Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus has fought, died, and rose again in the greatest battle the earth has ever known and won. This was Jesus’ whole purpose in coming to the world in the flesh.

For us Jesus is not just a memorial but our hope. Good Friday was a day of sadness and death. Easter is our victory.

And by the way isn’t it interesting how the faith is referred to as a battle. Ephesians 6 tells us that our battle is against the spiritual forces of this dark work therefore, put on the full armor of God. Ephesians 5 tells us that our flesh is at war with the Spirit of God because of sin. Romans 7 Paul describes the war within Himself because of sin. And let us not underestimate the battle on the cross. The cross was violent and brutal. And make no mistake the religious leaders treated Jesus as an enemy that needed to be killed. Life in Jesus is not a Memorial Weekend on the Lake but a violent and bitter battle with sin. Jesus played for keeps and won.

The goal today is to see our names written in the Lamb’s Book of life (Revelations 20). It is not a book describing the fallen but a family album that has every name within that countless multitude of Revelation 7. Those names are the names of the living, believers who have been raised with Jesus. These are those who have conquered the world in and through Jesus.

So, let us remember our friends who have died defending our country. And let us remember that Jesus has overcome the world and its fallen nature.

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: WDMay31.PDF

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

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *