Month: June, 2018

“Joy Is Tried By Storm”

 

June 24, 2018 / Text: Mark 4:35-41 Theme: Joy is tried by storm

Introduction

One of the fun things my wife and I like to do when we attend the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden is to visit the horse barns and look at those huge draft horses, the Belgians, Clydesdales, Shires, and Percheron, some 6-7 feet tall and 2500+ plus lbs.   I have great respect and a healthy fear for these huge horses, in no small part due to a childhood friend’s dad being kicked in the head no less by a working horse he owned and had surprised from the rear.

  1. Don’t you care if we drown?
  2. Fear is something we all identify with, whether its source is outside of us or dwells deep within, or a combination of the two. It can be a burden that asks for help in carrying its weight.
  3. That has to be how the disciples of Jesus felt when they were out on the Sea of Galilee as spoken about in our gospel lesson. Jesus had put in a long day speaking to the crowds gathered on the hillside and shores of the lake. Together with the disciples, most of whom were seasoned sailors, they set a course that would take them to the other side, at most a few land miles distant.  Jesus let the sailing to his friends and he settles down for a nap in the back of the boat.
  4. It wasn’t long but a furious storm hit the lake and even the seasoned fishermen knew they were in trouble.  Fear engulfed them as the wind and waves pounded the boat.  The situation became doubly troubling and irksome by the fact, while they were bailing water from the boat, Jesus kept on sleeping.  Exchanging fearful glances at each other and looking to the back of the boat at Jesus, they said, “This isn’t right.  How can he be sleeping when we are about to capsize and lose our lives.”  With fear and frustration they awakened Jesus with a tug on his shirt and the words, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
  5. Don’t you care?
  6. We often join these disciples in this fear, for we recognize the signs of a threatening storm of unresolved guilt, or a bad report from our annual checkup, turmoil in relationships, and other personal and private problems.
  7. The fiercer the storm, the harder it becomes to keep our public face from disclosing what’s going on inside us. At times, our fear may be such that we feel like we are being sucked under the raging waters. So, where is he in the midst of all this?  Is he only a fair weather Lord?

 

  1. Don’t you have faith yet?
  2. God is in control
  3. Many years back I traveled as a PR man along with our Concordia Ann Arbor choir as it toured through Florida. On one relaxed day, the host pastor from Ft. Lauderdale asked the choir director and myself if we wanted to go fishing in the ocean.  I assumed the boat would be a 25+ foot power boat with fishing lines at the rear.  In fact it was a 15 foot aluminum boat with a small motor that he called his fishing “Dingy”.  Off we went, feigning confidence as we headed out onto the ocean.  It wasn’t long before the ocean waves began to intensify, and I’m sure I was pale with fear.  Before I had opportunity to make my anxiety obvious, the host pastor said something like, “Hmmm, perhaps a little too choppy today.  I think we should turn back.”  I didn’t object.  Yes, you may be able to say, “O you of little faith.”  And I’m also sure Satan was scoffing in the background.
  4. Hey, I got this!
  5. These fears do spawn questions and cries to God, “Don’t you know the anguish I’m in?” When those occasions arise, and they do for all of us, we need to know who he is.  Creator (see Job reading), Redeemer, Sanctifier.  You belong to him.  He has redeemed you, not with gold or silver, but with his holy precious blood, his innocent suffering and death.
  6. Sure there will be doubts. Welcome to humanity.  Yet Jesus doesn’t walk along side of us like a swim coach shouting down to you, “You need to try harder.  You can this.  Suck it up!”  God doesn’t want you to simply weather the storms of life by yourself.  He puts his life in you, he puts you inside of him, and there you are safe.  It’s not to say there will not be storms in your life, that you will not grieve and cry, but you will never have to go it alone.  Jesus says to you, “Hey, I’ve got this”.  See poem “Footprints in the Sand”.
  7. All your sins have been forgiven. You know, if one sin remained unpaid for on the cross (my sin or yours), Jesus could not have risen.  But he is risen, all sin if forgiven and death is conquered.

Conclusion 

Pastor tells the story of one of his unique members who was near death. Everyone called him Earl the Pearl.  He had been and still was a strong tenor in the church choir, and he decided that he would like to sing at his own funeral.  He told his pastor what Christian hymns he would record and desired to be part of the funeral service.  The day of the funeral came, and Earl the Pearl sang his favorite resurrection hymns.   Everyone who knew Earl were amid tears, smiling and happy at this “craziest funeral” the church had ever experienced.  After the funeral, the family gathered in the Fellowship hall and spoke of the joy of the resurrection, and sang along to their friend’s recorded songs and music.  The family cried tears of joy as they listened and laughed and danced.  For them joy was tried by storm.

The Kingdom of God

June 17, 2018 / Fourth Sunday after Pentecost / Deacon Rex Watt

Ezekiel 17.22-24 / 1 Corinthians 5.1-10 / Mark 4.26-34

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit +  Amen.

Dear Saints of Redeemer,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our text this morning comes from our Gospel lesson: “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground.  He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.  The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.  But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.  With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it?  It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

What a timely text!  Often I am utterly amazed at how the Lectionary readings assigned for a given Sunday speak to the lives of people, or to the life of the congregation at any given time.  Today’s two parables: the parable of the seed growing; and the parable of the mustard seed, follow after the famous Parable of the Sower which opens chapter 4 in Mark’s gospel.  These are timely for us because many of you may be wondering: “who is going to provide leadership now that Pastor is gone?” “what are we going to do now?” “when are we going to get a new pastor?” “where is the church going to go from here?” “how can we be church without a pastor?” and maybe even “why has this happened to us?”

Some of you may even be a little afraid of where Redeemer finds itself right now.  You’ve never been through a pastoral transition.  You’re not sure whether you want to stay, or go.  Fear is a cruel taskmaster.  Fear paralyzes people.  It makes them irrational.  Take for example someone who is afraid of spiders.  You can point out that none of the spiders in the house are really all that poisonous, but it won’t make any difference.  They will never go to the basement where they once saw a spider scurry under some door.  A co-worker of mine has a fear of ladybugs!  (No offense Mrs. Ladybug…she’s never met you!)  I was amazed at the physical reaction she had one day when she discovered a ladybug on her desk.  She ran out of the office in a panic.  She had difficulty breathing.  There was a look of terror on her face.  She was acting irrational.  She was paralyzed in that she couldn’t work at her desk until it was completely searched to make sure no other ladybugs were hiding anywhere!  Her fear of ladybugs was a cruel taskmaster.

Yes, dear Saints of Redeemer, some of you may be a little afraid of where you find yourself right now.  But I want to give you a word from the Lord.  “God loves you.”  Did you hear what I said?  “God. Loves. You.”

These are words we don’t hear often enough, I’m afraid.  They are most commonly used in an evangelistic sense as “God loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life.”  But we, the people of God, also need to hear those words.  God does love you.  He has such love for you that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, into the flesh, your flesh, your corrupt sinful flesh, to take on all your sins and nail them to the Cross, for you, so that you might become the righteousness of God.  Paul wrote just a few verses beyond our Epistle reading for today these words, For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5.21)

God has such love for you that He brought you into the Holy Christian Church when you were baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  The washing of water with the Word gave you new life.  As Paul wrote, “you are a new creation”.  The Holy Spirit brought this about in your life when you heard the Word that was sown by placing it in good soil.  And this, dear Saints, was none of your doing.  God did it for you.  It is His gift to you, because… He. Loves. You.

Luther wrote in the explanation of the Third Article of the Creed, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.  In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.  In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers.  On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.  This is most certainly true.”

So, you may ask, “What does all this have to do with our text today?”  When Jesus explains the Parable of the Sower, He tells his disciples, and us, that the seed which was sown is the Word.  The word of the Gospel.  Not all that was sown produced grain.  But that which did produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.  This seed is the same seed that was scattered on the ground by the farmer which sprouted even though he knows not how.  The kingdom of God grows mysteriously of itself, at its own pace, through the power of the Word.  Sometimes this causes angst among God’s people because they have their eyes focused on the things of this world and not on the things of God.  They think that they have to do something to facilitate the kingdom of God.

The Second Petition of the Lord’s Prayer is: Thy kingdom come.  The catechism asks, “What does this mean?” And the answer is, “The kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.”  The catechism goes on to ask, “How does God’s kingdom come?”  And the answer is, “God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.”

We learn in this Parable of the Growing Seed exactly what our Catechism teaches us.  Here Jesus speaks of the power and reliability of the gospel message.  All that need be done, in fact, all that can be done is to sow the seed, to proclaim the Word.  A farmer who plants the seed does not understand how it grows.  The power is in the seed.  So it is with the gospel.  It is sown; it sprouts as the Holy Spirit enables; it matures; and it is harvested.

You, dear Saints of Redeemer, have had that seed implanted.  You have been brought to faith in Christ by the Holy Spirit who called you by the Gospel.  When you go home today and pull out your Small Catechism and re-read Luther’s explanation of the Third Article of the Creed; and his explanation of the Second Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, notice who does all the action!  It is God who acts on your behalf!  He does it all: He calls you; enlightens you; sanctifies you; keeps you; forgives you; gives you the kingdom; all of this is for you, because… God. Loves. You.

You don’t have to be worried about the who, what, where, how or why of where Redeemer finds itself right now.  Those are God’s concerns.  You and I are called, like the farmer, to go about our daily tasks.  To believe His holy Word, and live godly lives here in time.  Yes, that daily living might include sharing the gospel with others, as Peter wrote in 1 Pet 3, Have no fear…nor be troubled,  but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”  All we are asked to do is to sow.  God will grow the kingdom.

And grow the kingdom He will.  As our second parable tells us God takes that smallest of seeds and grows it into the largest of all garden plants.  So large, that birds come from all over to perch in its branches.

Consider this closing thought…Jesus is the Seed!  He is the Seed of the woman promised in Gen 3.15; he is the promised Seed of Abraham, in whom all nations will be blessed; he is the promised Seed of David whose kingdom will never end.  Jesus is the Seed.  He is the sprig that Ezekiel prophesied would be planted on a mountain height of Israel for you.  He is the Seed that was planted in the earth for you.  He is the Seed that sprouted and came forth from the grave for you.  He is the Seed that ascended to the right hand of God for you.  When He became flesh for you, to take on all your sins, there was only He.  One.  One according to the world insignificant person.  But that small Seed, became 12.  Then He sent out 72.  On Pentecost that little beginning of the kingdom of God became 3,000.  The Book of Acts tells us that small kingdom of God continued to grow.  It multiplied the text says.  And from that small beginning, it has grown to around 2.4 billion Christians today.  Yes, God grows His kingdom.

And you, dear Saints of Redeemer, are part of that kingdom.  Redeemer is part of that kingdom.  So, let God do what God does…take care of His kingdom.  You, dear Saints of Redeemer rejoice.  Rejoice, that…God. Loves. You.  God’s love is perfect, and perfect love casts out fear.  He has promised never to, “…leave you nor forsake you.”  (Heb13.5)  He has also promised to be with you forever, even unto the end of the age.  And that certainly includes where we find ourselves today.  Amen.

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

“Living Uncommon”

Pastor Don Mossman

Text: 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1                Theme:  Living uncommon

Introduction

Nobody has to say anything about what is different about this Sunday.  It introduces a new chapter in our lives and the life of our community of faith here at RLC.  We bid farewell to Pastor and Cheryl Haugen last week as they readied themselves for a new ministry in the Beaverton, OR area.  Pastor Haugen was excited about new opportunities and tasks there, yet grieved at the thought of leaving us.  And so we turn the page.

We at Redeemer will let the dust settle and allow time to grieve his departure.  We also will be taking into account what our future may be and how ministry will continue to be done among us.  One thing is certain: we shall always be identified as a people of God where the true Word of God is preached and taught and the sacraments are properly administer.  That will not change.

  1. The family of God
  2. Common vs. uncommon
  3. As a daughter congregation of Trinity Lutheran, Bellingham, God’s people here have had men and women who have been and still are influential in establishing, supporting, and maturing us in the Spirit of Jesus.  Because of the faithfulness of these people, many of God’s people await us in heaven, having been called by God to enter into their eternal homes.   And the promise is ours that we shall see them again, some of us sooner than later.
  4. There are numerous organizations that one can join and become, well, family, as community clubs, walking and gardening clubs, sporting clubs, political and spiritual groups. We find people switching memberships in organizations like the changing winds blowing in unknown directions.  And amid that windy environment there remains something quite different about Redeemer Lutheran Church. And these groups may appear far more attractive to people than what happens here.  To the casual observer, we appear rather common and much like all the other churches and spiritual groups that line up on Smith Road.
  5. What sets us apart, however, what makes us uncommon, is that our ordinary congregation is directly attached to the Word of God and His promises. The common, of which we are, becomes very uncommon.  This is the underlying truth upon which the Church stands or falls.
  6. With change comes some uncertainty
  7. I’m one that doesn’t much like change. Children grow up and leave home, loved ones pass away and leave those gaping holes in our lives.  Sickness, pain, cancer, external and internal fears move us to walk through the valley of the shadow of death in a timid manner.  Pastors take calls, schools close, people move in and out of our lives.   I don’t much like it.
  8. Under these circumstances, what does the future hold for parents, staff, students and teachers of Bridgeway School? And there are those at RLC who have expressed the anxiety of the future here at Redeemer.  These questions are common and expected.  And if it were up to us alone to answer those questions and deflate the accompanying fears, we may well hope for the best but have no certainty.
  9. Yet Paul says in our epistle, we do not lose heart… (2 Cor. 2:16ff) While we meet and experience change and decay all around us, we do not fear or give up hope, for He who does not change is among us.  His love, his grace, his promises of forgiveness and new life is before us constantly, night and day.   Thank God for communities of faith as RLC and schools like Bridgeway.
  10. The uncommon truth that changes everything
  11. Living uncommon
  12. Everyday onlookers may acknowledge the gifts of Word and Sacrament among us, and be unimpressed. To those who are but jars of clay, as we all are, we keep in mind the treasures stored within them.  To those who are but jars of clay and have the joy of Jesus with in them, they will not be defeated.  For it is “by grace we have been saved through faith,” and there is a burning hope within them.
  13. When the Promise, the Incarnate Word of God is attached, the common becomes uncommon. So too, our good Father gives us His grace through ordinary, down-to-earth means with divine effect.  Regular tap water splashed upon a forehead, a taste of common bread and a sip of common wine consumed in the usual way; there is nothing uncommon about these things.  Yet, when the Word of God is attached to these ordinary things, these common things, in a word, become uncommon.  They are treasures within us.
  14. Treasures within us
  15. We are “gifted by grace and prepared for a purpose.” The promise of God’s life in us and among us brings hope now and for the ever after and meaning to our everyday life. It’s what makes us uncommon. This is the promise of Jesus Christ, Himself, the Word made flesh that transforms each day into something special.  What is true for us at RLC is true for each person who walks through our doors.  Sure, we are jars of clay, but oh, the treasures within us.

Conclusion

Story: Treasurers in clay balls

 

Bible Study: Living Uncommon

Pastor Don Mossman

Study on 2 Corinthians 4:7 – 5:1

Is there a theme you can develop from the above Scripture?

2 Cor. 4:7:  What’s this “jars of clay” reference all about?  Isaiah 64:8.

2 Cor. 4:13: “Since we have the same spirit of faith…”  What is Paul implying here?  Ps. 116:10; Romans 1:1-4.

  • 106:12 – Why do Lutherans sing so much? Martin Franzmann once said, “Theology is doxology.  Theology must sing.”   What does he mean by this?  Someone once said theology must be given a voice, and that the lips, not the pen, are the best instruments of theological expression.  Do you agree?  Reason why?  Can’t theology just remain in books?
  • Does theology find a home in our Divine Services (LSB)? In what way?  Liturgy: confession/absolution, lessons, sermon, prayers, sacraments, etc.
  • All communions in Christendom have their own distinctive hymnody? Why is this?  Do their songs mirror their theology?

2 Cor. 4:14-15: Paul grounds his hope on two things.  What are they?

  • Who does Paul include in the promise of the resurrection?

2 Cor. 4:16-17:  “So we do not lose heart.”  Why shouldn’t we lose heart?  Don’t we have reason enough to do so?  Synonyms for “lose heart”?

  • What is/are the comparison(s) here? How can anything “prepare” us for the future?
  • Why is Paul here using words to describe that which cannot be described with words?

2 Cor.4:18-5:1:  What is being compared here?

  • What are things that are referred to as “seen”? “Unseen”?
  • “We have a building from God…”   Hebrews 11:9-10; John 14:2-3; 1 Cor. 3:9,16

Do others benefit by our suffering?  Explain and give an example?

djm: 6/10/18

“Sweet Sorrow”

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father…

Please pray with me…

I asked a few pastors how best to break the news I was leaving and what I could expect when I do. They had all gone through this before. I have actually done this before, myself, when I left Zion Lutheran Church in Idaho to go to seminary. Just like last week, I was a blubbering mess.

One said it’s like a divorce, but that can’t be true in this case because we’re not parting because the relationship isn’t working out. These have been six of the very best years of our lives.

One said it’s like leaving your family and moving overseas. This is closer because we’ve always thought of you as family and I hope you have seen us in the same light. I’ve witnessed hard goodbyes in airports when a family member is leaving. It’s never easy.

Both times I have said my goodbyes it’s been two of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It would have been so much easier to stay, and I would have avoided all that. Yet, I believe with every fiber of my being that this is God’s calling for us just as I was sure of His call to seminary and sometimes following God’s call can cause heartache.

The weakness and anxiety goodbyes can bring, sometimes causes us to become deaf to the Lord’s calling, but I could not properly serve Him by having my own agenda.

This can be especially hard for the congregation when a pastor is leaving. It’s like starting over. It means, for a time, that the congregation will be without a shepherd, though here you have some very qualified people to carry on the work of God in this place. That’s probably the hardest thing to live with, knowing that your leaving could bring about a burden to the congregation you are departing from.

In Deuteronomy chapter 31, Moses is talking with the people he has led to the promised land. He’s 120 years old and, because of a past mishap, has been told by God that he will not be allowed to enter the land with those he’s walked this long journey with.

These people must go on without the one man they have looked to for strength and guidance.  Moses knows this, so he tells them in verse 6, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread…, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will never leave you or forsake you.” 

Now, I am no Moses. Not by a long shot. But my message to you is the same. If God has a plan for me, that also means he has a plan for you. If God sees great things for the congregation of Prince of Peace, then He also see’s great things in your future. Over the six years that I have been so blessed to be your pastor, I have seen a congregation with willing arms open for God’s next great adventure and I’m certain He will send you just the shepherd you need to lead you there.

Being called to a church is a great blessing. The excitement can be overwhelming. You’re wondering if everything will go OK. You hope people can accept your little quirks. You pray that everything will go well and that they’ll forgive you when they don’t. You have come to make a kingdom difference and you want your new congregation to see God’s vision for them and accept it. So many things to be concerned about. So many self-doubting hurdles to get over.

But it doesn’t take long and you’re in the swing of things. At Redeemer, you all made the transition from student to pastor seamless. You welcomed our family with open arms and you allowed me to grow in my vocation. You encouraged me when I needed it and you gently guided me when I went off track. I couldn’t imagine a better first church for any new pastor. It wasn’t long, and I was smitten with love for all of you.

Paul only knew the little church that could in Thessalonica for 3 weeks and he adored them. He was especially encouraged when Timothy brought him good news of their faith in Christ Jesus.  In Paul’s first letter to them he gave them this advice, “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.   And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the week, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-22)

Far be it from me to give better advice to you than Paul. Let’s break that down. First Paul asks them to respect those that God has placed over them. In fact, he says, “Esteem them very high in love because of your work.”

God already has a great plan for you and He, in His infinite knowledge, will send you someone to lead you to your next step in ministry. Whether you take that step is up to you. His plan is already taking shape and whoever He brings you will need the same kind of support you have always given me. Help him in his journey with Christ and give him a chance to shape his ministry as God leads him. Encourage him and challenge him when needed. But do everything in love.

Next, Paul advises them to admonish the idle. Just what does this mean? I think I’m going to speak of the idols in life we have and not the idle in life. Though idleness can be a killer also. God expects all to do their part.

No, I want to speak of those things in life we idolize that may get in the way of our faith in Christ. You are to have no idols. Not your free time, not your sleep schedule, not your entertainment, your greed or your selfishness. Anything you put before God in your life is your idol, and, if not controlled, those idols may one day become your God. Make everything you do a ministry. Glorify God in every deed. Pray constantly by taking every step with God in mind.

Next, Paul advises the church in Thessalonica to display patience, not just for the ones God sends you but for all people, especially the faint-hearted and the weak. You have all been blessed with so many good things but there are those who have traveled a much more difficult path than you, who need your guidance and the message of salvation you have to share. This takes patience and endurance, but the task God is calling you to is great. Soon, to serve others will be part of what defines you and you will learn what real, godly joy feels like.

Next Paul tells the people not to repay evil for evil, but always seek to do good. Revenge has broken up more churches than almost anything else. I don’t like His style so I’m going to gossip about him. I detest the things they believe in so I’m going to turn the church against them. They shouldn’t have handled this situation that way so I’m going to give them the cold shoulder. They’ve upset me, so I’m just not going to go to church anymore. None of these are Godly solutions.

Handle adversity in love. Admonish with a gentle spirit. Stay away from hatred and malice because these things are not of God. There are no problems that the guidance of God cannot get you through. Always seek the goodness of God in everything you do and find forgiveness in your heart, even for those who you feel have wronged you.

Paul says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” It is God’s will that you have things to rejoice for. It is His will to bless you with good things. It is His will that you have many things to celebrate and he eagerly waits for the opportunity to shower you with love and peace.

You have so many reasons to rejoice. You have a God who loves you so much He allowed His son to die on your behalf. He has given you a church family that you can count on, share concerns with, and celebrate with when the occasion calls for it. He has given you everlasting life so that the celebration you start here on earth doesn’t have to come to an end. He has given you family so you don’t have to face the darkness alone. So, rejoice!! God has promised to take you to places of joy that you could have never imagined. Let Him guide you to green pastures, lead you beside still waters, restore your soul and lead you to paths of righteousness for His name sake.

Finally, Paul ends his urgings to them with one simple sentence as sort of a summary of the whole, he says, “Abstain from every evil.” In this world the devil will attack you every day. He will try to tell you that right is wrong and that good is bad. We know this because it has saturated our world so secretly that it’s becoming the prevailing thought in all of society.

Do not let go of what is right and good simply because society is telling you something different. Do not listen to the lies the devil is spewing to confuse you. Do not let yourself become weak to worldly charms and continue to make Redeemer a refuge from the world and a place for truth. Always demand the truth of Christ.

The definition of truth rests in God’s Word to you so do not forsake your daily reading of godly wisdom. God’s almighty ears yearn to hear from you, so do not forsake your constant prayers shown even in how you live your lives. Keep up your communication to the one offering you eternal life and the forgiveness of sin. Share with Him in all honesty and urgency and trust in His guidance and not in the guidance the world is offering you.

The only way to abstain from every evil is to trust in God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Trust in Him to make you whole again through repentance and complete forgiveness. Trust in Him to lead you.

I titled this sermon “Sweet Sorrow” because that is what I am experiencing right now. On the one hand I’m excited to see what new opportunities God has planned for us, but on the other I am filled with sorrow at leaving people I love. Some of you are upset, others are sad and there might be a few of you wondering why it took me so long to go. Whoever you are, please understand I did the best I could. I always tried to follow God’s lead even if some of you thought I might be taking the wrong path. I always had the best interest of Redeemer in mind within every task I took on and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

Thank you for being so very kind to my family and me. Thank you for your patience, your laughter, your hugs, your encouragement and even your admonishment. All of it helped me to grow into a much better pastor.

To end, I borrow from Paul again in his letter to the church of Thessalonica:

“May the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.” Amen.

 

Bible Study: “Sweet Sorrow”

Bible Study Questions – 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22

Paul tells the readers to “respect (also translated “appreciate” or “recognize or “honor””) those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you.” Who is Paul speaking about and what does this kind of “respect” look like? 1 Corinthians 16:17-18; Philippians 2: 25-30

Next, he goes on to say that they should “esteem them very highly in love because of their work.” When can this start to become unhealthy for the congregation? (Think Pharisees)

Do these passages only apply to pastors? Explain

Why do many churches have trouble being at peace with one another? How can Redeemer stay away from this trend? Mark 9:50

How can someone make a conscious decision to “live at peace”? Psalm 133

Why are the idle (lazy) in the church dangerous? Why does Paul advise the congregation to admonish and avoid them? 2 Thessalonians 3:6-7

Describe the faint-hearted and weak in verse 14. Isaiah 35:4; Hebrews 12:11-12; Acts 20:34-35; Romans 15:1-2

Why is patience so important towards the faint-hearted and weak?

Give examples of repaying evil for evil within the church. Romans 12:17; Hebrews 12:15; 1 Peter 3:9

How does seeking to do good destroy the evil upon evil problem?

Is it possible to “Rejoice always,” “pray without ceasing,” and “give thanks in all circumstances?” Just what is Paul trying to say? Luke 18:1-7; Ephesians 5:20-21; Philippians 4:4

Name some ways we “quench” (stifle) the Holy Spirit? Ephesians 4:30; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6-7

Why is important to first test things like the doctrine and theology of a church you are considering attending?

In verse 22, Paul warns his readers to abstain from every form of evil. Why are the lesser evils sometimes even more dangerous than the major evils and why does God see all evils the same?

(Note:  Bible study materials are gathered from various resources, i.e. Bible.org)