Children from preschool through 5th grade (ages 3-10) are welcome to join us for our one day Winter Bible Camp: Christmas for Kids!
Paul recognized that the Christian ministry was all about adaption. That while the message of the Christian faith cannot be modified, changed, or compromised, he notes that we also can’t just ram-rod one, single-minded approach down the throat of anyone we come into contact with. We will want to adapt. But that begs the question here in 21st Century America, 21st Century Northern California, how do we become all things to all people?
If you have paid any attention to current events, you’ve seen a great deal of time spent and ink spilled on personal relationships. How should a man treat a woman? A woman a man? A husband his wife? A wife her husband? A parent their child? A child their parent? How should coworkers interact with each other? How should friends treat each other? How do members of a congregation interact with one another in a way that brings glory to God?
When you sit down with that friend or family member for that tough conversation, there may be no real fix to the problems. They just be things that now you have to deal with. But with God’s bad news? He provides the certain solution. The law that condemns us is overwhelmed by the gospel, the good news that Jesus has saved us.
So don’t rebel against what God says to you, painful as it might be. Listen to it. Listen to all of it. It might not be what you want to hear, but it is what you need to hear, because in that message of sin and forgiveness of that sin is comfort of your eternal life! Amen.
When God brought you to faith, when he gave you birth through his Word of truth, that was a life-changing event. It didn’t just change that moment; it changed the whole rest of your life. Enjoy that new life, that new status with God. Love that Word where he reminds you of all that he’s done for you every day. Love others as God has loved you. Live your life with the strength that God continues to give!
Jesus is home for now, and for eternity. Without Jesus, we have nothing to show for our lives. Without Jesus, we have hell as our eternal destination. Without Jesus, we may deceive ourselves into thinking things are fine when they’re really not. But what do we have with Jesus? With Jesus we receive the words of eternal life—the assurance of our complete forgiveness because Jesus lived and died for us. With Jesus we are with the Holy One of God—the Holy One who saves us, who have not been holy. With Jesus, we are home, truly home, eternally home.
In our Gospel this morning, we continue down the path of Jesus’ teaching the crowd in the events surrounding his feeding of the 5,000 men on the hillside. Jesus has been trying to get the people to lift their eyes heavenward, to see that there’s more to this life than what is immediately surrounding them. They shouldn’t be following him hoping for their next free lunch; they should be following them because he provides eternal life.
Jesus provides us with spiritual bread and water that leaves us refreshed and satisfied to eternity. That food and drink is his Word. That food and drink is his life, death, and resurrection. In the Bread of Life we have forgiveness for all of our misguided priorities and short-sighted prayers. In Jesus we have forgiveness that doesn’t just get us through a day, or week, or year; we have forgiveness that nourishes through eternal life. Every sin is gone; in Jesus we live forever.
While a lot of things are bad in large quantities, God’s grace, his undeserved love for us, is not one of those things. Not only is it wonderful to have an over-abundance of God’s grace, an honest self-evaluation will make it clear that we NEED that amount of grace.
Have you ever been in that situation where you feel pulled in about eighteen different directions? Stress doesn’t do anything good to us, and stress on top of physically and emotionally draining times can just compound things. When you’re under that kind of load, take Jesus’ advice. Go with him to a quiet place and get some rest. Quiet time in restful meditation with God’s Word is very often a solution to the problems that await us and the things that need our attention. Time with Jesus changes our outlook, drowns our sinful nature again, and recharges us to face what we need to do with renewed zeal. That’s why our personal and family devotions are so very important. Very often they may be the one time that we get some rest, emotionally and spiritually, to recharge.
God’s Word is not something we outgrow. It’s not something that uses up its usefulness. We will never have anything more important in our lives than that beautiful, perfect Word of God, through which God brings us to faith in our Savior and assures us of eternal life. May that Word be the center of your joy and the priority of your life now and forever! Amen.
Who do you think God is? He’s not some cruel master, working to make your life miserable. He’s not a vindictive judge, who relishes in your suffering. Your God is your all-powerful protector, the one who works good from trouble now and rescues from sin and death eternally.
Above all else, guard your heart carefully, because your life flows from it. Don’t let anything and everything come into your heart because it’s too precious, too much is riding on your heart being focused on your Savior. Thanks be to God that through his Word, the Holy Spirit keeps that focus on Him for us. He does what we cannot do, what we need Him to do. He focuses you on your Savior and then your life flows from it, your eternal life especially, but even your day-to-day life as well.
At the focus of our meditation is the motivation behind our actions. Why do you do the things you do? What drives you? What motivates you? Is it possible to do the wrong things for right reasons? Is it possible to do the right thing for wrong reasons?
The altar in Old Testament worship life was centered around sacrifices, usually burnt offerings. Thus, the angel brings a coal from this sacrifice to purify Isaiah. The ultimate altar had no coals; it had wood and nails. The cross is the altar upon which God ultimately took away our guilt and continues to provide forgiveness for our sins.