Rich

You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. ~ 2 Corinthians 8:9

povertyDo you feel rich? An economist by the name of Robert Heilbroner once challenged people to imagine doing the following. Move your family into a building the size of an old tool shed. Have no electricity, no running water, no bathroom. Get rid of all your clothes except for one set. Keep one pair of shoes. Destroy all written material. Toss out all food except for some flour, sugar and salt, a few potatoes, some onions and dried beans. Throw away all your investments, pensions and insurance policies. Reduce your savings to ten dollars. Live about a three-hour walk away from the nearest clinic. And support your entire family raising crops on a few acres of land. Give a third of your crops to your landlord and a tenth of your crops to your money lender.

If you do that, says Robert Heilbroner, then you’ll know how over a billion people are living in the world right now. And then, perhaps, you’ll realize how rich you really are.

Now imagine something else. The world you live in is dark, cynical, senseless. If there is a God, you haven’t met him. If there is some grand reason for living, you don’t know it. And so you go to work, come home, cash your check on payday, get groceries, watch TV, catch up with the laundry on weekends, take in a ballgame with friends, discuss current events, pursue a hobby, vacation during the summer, go to the dentist, go to the doctor, feel your body getting old, put in for retirement, mow your lawn and weed your garden, watch your life get slower and smaller. And then you wait to die—empty, puzzled and frightened.

If you can imagine that, then you can imagine life without Jesus, life without the forgiveness, peace, joy, security, purpose and certainty of heaven that are yours in your Savior. And then, you, too, can realize how rich you really are.

Prayer: Forgive me, Lord Jesus, for all the times I have forgotten how rich I am in you. Empower me by your Spirit. Help me to see what I have with fresh insight. Amen.

WhatAboutJesus.com

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The first marriage

marriageThe Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.  A river watering the garden flowed from Eden.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

But 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 then 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.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

~ excerpts taken from Genesis 2

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Feed your soul

As for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. ~ 2 Timothy 3:14-17

wr1I was once a high school wrestler. This meant, among other things, that I learned to lose weight. Wrestlers want to be as light as possible because the lighter you are, the smaller your opponents. Unfortunately, I was not well-informed on the best methods for losing weight. My method essentially consisted of…not eating. I restricted myself to a few carrot sticks for lunch and a salad for dinner. I even counted each swallow of water every day so as not to put on pounds.

It does not take a professional nutritionist to recognize that what I was doing was not healthy. While I did lose weight, I was robbing my body of the fuel it needed to perform at a high level. At one point I was waking up with nose bleeds at night because my body was not receiving the iron it needed.

Like our bodies, our souls need nutrition. Our souls desperately need to be fed with God’s words which are served to us in the Bible. The apostle Paul says that the words of the Bible are able to make us wise for salvation. The Bible is the only place where we can learn that we have a Savior from sin named Christ Jesus. Jesus cures our guilty conscience with the assurance that he paid for each and every sin when he went to the cross. Knowing this naturally makes us want to thank him for this remarkable gift. The Bible tells us how we can thank him. It guides us in living a God-pleasing life.

It was unhealthy and perhaps dangerous for me to starve my body the way I did when I wrestled. It is definitely dangerous to starve your soul. Follow Paul’s encouragement and feed your soul with a regular diet of God’s Word.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for your Word. It is there that my soul’s thirst is quenched and my hunger fed. May I never tire of feasting on the spiritual food found there. Amen.

WhatAboutJesus.com

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Foxhole

We consider blessed those who have persevered. ~ James 5:11

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A few years ago, the Seattle Times ran a feature story on a man by the name of Paul Rogers. Paul was 96 years old. He got around with a walker. He lived quietly and comfortably in his house in Overland Park, KS.

Seventy years earlier, however, Paul Rogers faced a different reality. Seventy years earlier, Paul found himself in conditions few of us can imagine. He was in a foxhole in Northern Europe. The temperature was below freezing. He had no winter clothing. Enemy troops surrounded his company’s position. Random mortar fire rained down on him. And there was little Paul Rogers could do, except endure it. This frigid, nerve-shattering ordeal lasted for 29 days.

When our Lord speaks to us in his Word about life in this cold and broken world, he understands that much of it comes down to simple endurance. Perhaps it’s a difficult personality at work. Perhaps it’s a family member who regularly manages to cause pain. Perhaps it’s a period of financial stress that never seems to end. Perhaps it’s chronic poor health, where you can’t remember the last time you woke up feeling well. Perhaps it’s old regrets that insist on coming back to haunt you. Perhaps it’s old temptations that never tire of tempting you all over again.

The next time you find yourself in a foxhole of trouble that you know you will just have to endure, keep in mind a couple of things. First, keep in mind that there are many others who, no doubt, have had to endure you and your weaknesses from time to time. But most of all, remember the One who has endured all things on your behalf.

Where we have stumbled, Jesus did not. Where we gave in, Jesus did not. Where we surrendered to temptations, Jesus did not. Then he went to the cross. And there he endured the unspeakable to wash us clean forever. He endured all things in our place and prevailed. And now he lives to send us the strength of his Spirit by the power of his gospel. In him we will prevail.

One more thing. Paul Rogers was not in that foxhole forever. You won’t be either. The One who died and lives for you has all things under his control.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, be with me in my foxhole. Comfort me. Give me courage and strength. Keep me warm in your grace. Amen

WhatAboutJesus.com

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Recent sermons available online

dove-cross for sermons

Click here to go to our Sermon page >

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Quarterly Meeting & Potluck ~ Jan. 22nd

cookiesSunday, Jan. 22nd, 12:00 – 1:30

date has been changed due to inclimate weather on the 15th

This is a working lunch. We try to keep these gatherings to 90 minutes. All of our members and their families are invited.  Find out what’s going on at Living Hope!

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You are God’s child

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. ~ Galatians 3:26-27

prayerThere is a story about a man who came to his pastor’s home office feeling very troubled. “No matter how much I pray, no matter how hard I try,” the man said, “I simply cannot seem to be faithful to my Lord. I struggle with my sins. I find it hard to believe that God’s family would ever include someone like me.”

The pastor pointed to his dog and responded, “Do you see this dog here? He is my dog. He is house-trained. He never makes a mess. He is perfectly obedient and he is a pure delight to me. Out in the kitchen I have a son, a baby son. He makes a mess, he throws his food around, he fouls his clothes. At this point in his life, he is almost entirely disobedient.” “However,” the pastor went on, “it’s not the dog who will one day receive my inheritance. My son will receive the inheritance.”

His point was to illustrate how it is that someone becomes a member of God’s family who will inherit heaven. The Bible says, “In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God—children of God—through faith.” Notice that it doesn’t say, “You are all children of God when your life looks good enough,” “when you keep God’s laws well enough,” “when you’ve been a Christian for long enough,” or “when you no longer sin too much.”

It’s easy to look at our lives and evaluate whether or not they look good enough to be worthy of God’s love. Have you worshipped God with your whole heart? Have you been kind enough to your neighbors? Have you given enough love to your family? Have you been patient enough with your children? Have you given a sufficient offering to God at church? Honestly answering those questions will only lead us to one conclusion: We don’t belong in God’s holy family.

And yet, God assures us in baptism that he covers a dirty, foul, sinful life with something new. “You who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” In other words, when someone is baptized, God looks at them and sees exactly what he would if he were looking at the life of Jesus Christ. He doesn’t see a disobedient life of filth. He sees a perfect life of obedience. He sees someone who belongs in his holy family.

Your baptism is a promise that, today, you are God’s child. You will be tomorrow too. And you have God’s word to live as such–to live in such a way that celebrates not only your place in God’s family, but also the truth that, as God’s child, nothing will keep you from one day receiving the inheritance of heaven.

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, thank you for making us your children through the precious gift of baptism. Help us to live obedient lives of faith out of thanks for bringing us into your family. Amen.

www.WhatAboutJesus.com

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What’s on your calendar?

feeder

Jan 22:  Quarterly Meeting & Potluck at noon

Feb. 14: Valentine’s Day

March 1: Ash Wednesday service at 7:00 p.m.

March 3-4: Men’s Retreat

Luther's_Rose4

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Judged by my own words

[Jesus said] Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.   His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant!‘” ~ Luke 19:20-22a  (The Parable of the Ten Minas)

speakOne of the most terrifying thoughts I could ever imagine is what the master says to his wicked servant: “I will judge you by your own words.” Although the statement is a small part of the parable, it conveys an important lesson. Jesus is going to return in glory to judge everyone on the basis of their faith which is evident by their works, including the words they speak.

It is easy to overlook my words. Rarely do I pay close attention to them until someone tells me I am wrong, or that I have hurt them. When the Lord says, “I will judge you by your own words,” I need to understand what he means.

Many people believe they will be able to plead their case before the Lord. At times, so do I. I may claim to be a good person. I may be able to recite countless good works. I may even promote all my good intentions. While this may sound acceptable to my ears, what happens when the Lord responds, “I will judge you by your own words?”

To all the good I’ve tried to accomplish, the Lord will say, “Didn’t I require you to be perfect?” Then and there, I would be judged by my own words to be unacceptable and undeserving of the perfect bliss of heaven. Since I would be judged in this way, I need to look past my words and works, and look alone to Jesus. He lived the perfect life required of me. He died the perfect death demanded from me. He provided the perfect confidence of heaven needed by me. Therefore, I can claim all that Jesus offers.

When I confess, “I trust in Jesus as my Savior,” God will judge me by my own words. Those words will never leave me hopeless, nor put me to shame. They will fill me with joy, because the Lord will receive me—perfect and completely acceptable to him because of Jesus, my Savior.

www.WhatAboutJesus.com

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