Weekend Services
Saturday: 6:30PM
Sunday: 9:30AM

Sunday School & Bible Class Sunday: 8:30AM
Welcome To Grace Lutheran Church
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Welcome To Grace Lutheran Church

Yorba Linda, California

Weekend Service Schedule

Saturday Worship: 6:30 PM

Sunday Worship: 9:30 AM

Sunday School/Bible Study: 8:30 AM

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Latest Weekend Services At Grace

 

Who Is the Paraclete?

Pentecost

SERMON TEXT:  John 15:26-27 (NIV)

“When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”

Sermon Audio & Video


Bible Readings

FIRST LESSON:  Genesis 11:1-9 (NIV)

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

SECOND LESSON:  Acts 2:1-21 (NIV)

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

VERSE OF THE DAY:  Prayer To The Holy Spirit

Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts of your faithful people, and kindle in them the fire of your love.

GOSPEL: John 15:26-27 (NIV)

See Sermon Text

Jesus Loves Me This I Know

Seventh Sunday of Easter

SERMON TEXT:  John 17:20-26

“I am praying not only for them, but also for those who believe in me through their message. May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I am in you. May they also be one in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one: I in them, and you in me. May they become completely one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am so that they may see my glory—the glory you gave me, because you loved me before the world’s foundation. Righteous Father, the world did not know you, but I knew you, and these men knew that you sent me. I made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love you have for me may be in them, and that I may be in them.”

Sermon Audio & Video


Bible Readings

FIRST LESSON:  Acts 16:6-10

They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, because they were prevented by the Holy Spirit from speaking the word in the province of Asia. When they went as far as Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. A vision appeared to Paul during the night. A Macedonian man was standing there, urging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” As soon as he had seen the vision, we immediately made plans to proceed to Macedonia, because we concluded that God had called us to preach the good news to them.

SECOND LESSON:  Revelation 22:12-17,20

Look, I am coming soon and my reward is with me, to repay each one according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the Tree of Life and so that they may enter through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, that is, the sorcerers, the adulterers, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the bright Morning Star. The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears this say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who wants the water of life take it as a gift. The one who testifies about these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

GOSPEL: John 17:20-26

See Sermon Text

Jesus Delivers a Parting Blessing

Sixth Sunday of Easter

SERMON TEXT:  John 14:23-29

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will hold on to my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. The one who does not love me does not hold on to my words. The word that you are hearing is not mine, but it is from the Father who sent me. “I have told you these things while staying with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I told you. “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not let it be afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. “I have told you now before it happens so that, when it does happen, you may believe.”

Sermon Audio & Video


Bible Readings

FIRST LESSON:  Acts 14:8-18

In Lystra there was a man who was sitting down because he had no strength in his feet. He had never walked because he was lame from birth. When he was listening to Paul as he was speaking, Paul looked at him closely and saw that he had faith so that he could be healed. Paul said in a loud voice, “Stand up on your feet!” And the man jumped up and began to walk. When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form.” Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the main speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and garlands to the city gates, because he wanted to offer sacrifices, along with the crowds. But when the apostles Paul and Barnabas heard about this, they tore their clothes and rushed into the crowd, shouting, “Men, why are you doing these things? We too are men with the same nature as you. We are preaching the good news to you so that you turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to go their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without testimony of the good he does. He gives you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons. He fills you with food and fills your hearts with gladness.” Even though they said these things, they had a hard time stopping the crowds from sacrificing to them.

SECOND LESSON:  Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23

He carried me away in spirit to a great and high mountain, and he showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It has the glory of God. Its radiance is similar to a very precious stone, like crystal-clear jasper. It has a large, high wall. It has twelve gates. Twelve angels are at the gates, and twelve names are engraved on the gates, the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. Three gates are on the east, three on the north, three on the south, and three on the west. The city’s wall also has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the Lamb’s twelve apostles. I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God has given it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.

VERSE OF THE DAY:  –Book– CW #154

Stanza 1

GOSPEL: John 14:23-29

See Sermon Text

The Grace Messenger

Holy Week

As we finish our Lenten prepaprations for another year during the early part of April (Wednesday evening servies on April 3 and 10), we anticipate the start of Holy Week.

Ushered in with Palm Sunday (April 14), Holy Week marks the culmination of Jesus’ ministry and life here on earth as our Savior and Substitute. On Palm Sunday He was greeted with shouts of “Hosanna” and with the waving and spread of Palm Branches. So we will also celebrate during the services on April 13 and 14 with songs and hymns ringing out with Hosannas, the Hebrews word meaning “Lord, save us.” Our service will begin with a Palm Procession reminding us to welcome Jesus.

We have the opportunity on Thursday, April 18 to gather together as Jesus and His disciples did. No, we will not climb to an upper room, but we will gather in our santuary to remember what Jesus isntituted for us that evening, the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Reviewing the sections from Luther’s Small Catechism we will reinforce our understanding of the Lord’s Supper. The day is called Maundy Thursday from the Latin word command. On that night Jesus told His disciples “A new command I give you: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, so also your are to love one another.” (John 13:34 EHV). Jesus showed just how much He loved them and us the next day when He died on the cross. And in the Lord’s Supper He continues to give us that love. Our worship at 7 pm that evening will include the opportunity to receive Jesus’s true body and blood as we celebrate Holy Communion. At the end of the service the altar is stripped bare in preparation for Good Friday. The stripping of the altar is an ancient custom of the Church for Maundy Thursday. It is symbolic of the humiliation of Jesus at the hands of the soldiers. The lights are dimmed to signify the approaching sacrifice. The altar is draped in black to remind us that it took the death of Jesus, the Son of God, to atone our sins. The liturgy ends in silence; the congregation hears no benediction…yet. Rather the services of Holy Week flow into one another as the congregation leaves in silence to reassemble for Good Friday.

On Good Friday, April 19, we will assemble at 7 pm for a Tenebrae service centered around the Seven Words of Christ from the Cross. As the candles are extinguished and the church becomes darker we remember the darkness that coverd the earth as Jesus hung on the cross suffering for our sins. Again we will have the opportunity to partake of Jesus’ True Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Altar.

Maundy Thursday and Good Friday begin the three day or Triduum. Since the last half of the 20th century, Lutherans have been rediscovering the richness of ancient Triduum and adapting the traditional services associated with it for use in evangelical Lutheran worship. Christian Worship: Occasional Services includes these forms of the Triduum services: a Maundy Thursday service that includes the stripping of the altar in preparation for Good Friday; Good Friday: Service of the Cross of Christ; Good Friday: Service of Darkness (Tenebrae); and the Vigil of Easter. In keeping with their origins, the Triduum services are closely connected with one another. Conceptually they are a single service that extends over the Athree holy days.@

The Easter Vigil service is at 6:30 pm (normal Saturday evening time) on April 20. The Paschal Candle is lit at this service and will burn at every service until Ascension.

Easter morning (April 21) begins with a sunrise service at 7:30 am. The newly lit (from the Easter Vigil) Paschal candle is seen as people enter. The songs with returned “Hallelujahs” ring out from the voices of the people. The readings will be a compilation from the Four Gospels presenting the events of the first Easter Day. Easter hymns will be sung by the joyous people. Easter lilies fill the altar area. The response “Christ Is Risen Indeed” is shouted out by the participants. Following a breakfast and egg hunt for the children a second service will be held. The Easter Festival Service is a song service again filled with Easter hymns and readings.

May you use these opportunities during the high points of the Christian Church Year to refresh and strengthen your faith in your suffering, dying and risen Savior. Invite a friend to join you in these observances. Share the wondrous message: HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!

FASTING

Going without food for a given period of time is called fasting. It is not something that I have spent much time encouraging or studying, but recently I have begun to consider it.

A gentleman I know has begun the practice of fasting two days a week. He has lost significant weight, lowered his blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and feels better all around. As a healthy practice, fasting seems to be gaining momentum as studies and anecdotes show significant benefits, especially to those with diabetes or prediabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

Fasting has long been a spiritual exercise. Jesus fasted forty days at the beginning of his ministry. The Jews had a regular practice of fasting weekly; the Pharisees sometimes boasted about their twice weekly fasting. My grandparents fasted for a period of time before receiving the sacrament of Holy Communion. The Apostle Paul sometimes took a vow of abstinence from food for a period of time. He recommended the practice of pairing prayer and fasting. The Ninevites fasted in repentance after Jonah proclaimed God’s Word to them.

A friend of mine who attends a Non-Lutheran church often encourages me and many other friends of his to devote themselves to prayer and fasting. Recently he asked that we fast and pray for our country in view of the new law in New York that allows for abortion up to the moment of birth. As a nation, we certainly have reasons to repent, pray, and fast.

If we remember that fasting is not a good work that gains us favor with God, we can certainly understand that it can help us think about spiritual things rather than earthly things. The time you normally spend preparing a meal and eating can be used in prayer, meditation, reading, or doing works of service. It is not necessary to fast in order to be prepared for the sacrament or to pray properly. But many have found spiritual, health, and even stewardship benefits with fasting.

Imagine the money you would save in one day of fasting. That money could be set aside for savings, given to the needy, or used to supplement your offering to church.

Perhaps it is not for everyone. But maybe there are some of you who have read this who will give it a try. Let me know how it goes.

THE MAGI

Every Nativity Scene ever sold has them. The Magi, or wise men, seem very familiar. They followed the Star from the East, went to Herod in Jerusalem, learned that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, and found him in a house there. They presented gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They worshipped the baby and then returned home by a different route, in order to avoid King Herod.

Matthew 2:1-12 is the only place where we read of their visit to Judea. We do not know their names or their number. The fact that there were three gifts led to the tradition that there were three men. We have no reason to think they were three kings as the popular song goes. The word Orient simply means from the east, but we don’t know how far East. Their home may have been Persia, Babylon, Assyria, or Arabia. It is doubtful but not impossible that they could have come from as far as India or China. We never hear of them again after Matthew 2.

The word “Magi” indicates they were men of learning, familiar with astrology and various sacred texts. They read in Genesis 49:10 about the scepter of Judah and in Numbers 24:17 about the scepter and the star. Herod’s advisors informed them of the prophecy in Micah 5:2, concerning Bethlehem. The Greek word for star, “Aster,” can refer to any of the lights in the sky including planets, meteors, comets, etc. We do not know what the Magi saw, but its illumination was specific enough that they followed the star to a house.

The brevity, lack of detail, and mystery concerning these people leads to many creative traditions. But we can learn from them some sure and important truths. First, Jesus is the Son of God who fulfilled the Old Testament Scriptures by becoming man. He is the Savior not only for the Jewish people but also for Gentiles like the Magi. He was protected in his infancy and throughout his life to preserve him for the ultimate sacrifice he was to give on Calvary’s cross to pay for the sins of all people.

FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH

But you, O man of God, flee from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of eternal life, to which you were called and about which you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:11,12; EHV).

Two of the hymns that usually make a list of favorite hymns at our church are “Fight the Good Fight” and “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” This always surprises me because I tend to picture our faith and our church life as seeking peace through kindness, gentleness, and the gospel. But the Bible itself shows an active, energetic, even athletic side of this pursuit.

A Christian fights on three fronts: he resists the devil, he battles his own sinful nature, and stands against the world and its influence. How is this fight carried out? It is not a fight using weapons and fists. It is spiritual warfare.

First, a Christian soldier must be armed with God’s Word and prayer. Just as a soldier goes through rigorous training, a Christian must be solidly trained in God’s Word to recognize good and evil, to place himself under the Holy Spirit’s influence by the Word of God, and to discipline himself. Physical weapons and armor are ineffective against the devil. Therefore, as we face spiritual oppressions and temptations, we need to be protected by the armor of God. Paul writes about this armor in Ephesians 4:10-17. The full armor of God is the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the footwear of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

The world with its philosophies and temptations must be recognized for what it is. Christians must be equipped to defend the truth. False philosophy and sinful pleasures lead people away from God and threaten their eternal salvation.

Too quickly and easily my sinful flesh falls for the world’s charms and Satan’s tricks. The only way I can win is to be in Christ. Through faith in him, I won’t perish. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, took on himself all the sins of the world. I have the white robe of Jesus’ righteousness. When I know this, I am clean in the sight of God. I am also motivated to spend my time, energy, and resources in pursuit of righteousness and peace.

Is it ever proper to take up arms for the sake of the faith? No, never. The Christian faith is not advanced by swords or guns, nor by civil unrest or disobedience to God’s “other” kingdom, the government. For the sake of civil rights, Americans might rightly protest, but don’t say you are advancing the gospel by it. A Christian might be a soldier or law enforcement officer, an elected official, legislator, or a judge, and in his or her duties might use force. This is not the good fight of faith. This is fulfillment of his or her earthly vocation.

At the time of the crusades and the colonization of America and other places around the world, some Christians thought it proper to convert the heathen by force “for their own good.” No! The Church must stand against that wrong idea. Years ago, there were people bombing abortion clinics and assassinating abortion providers in the name of the Christian faith. They were wrong. There are some who disrespect fallen military and law enforcement personnel and disrupt their funerals in the name of Christ. They, too, are wrong. Wrong-headed and often mentally disturbed people have shot worshipers at synagogues, mosques, temples, and churches. In Christ’s name, let this not happen again! That’s not the good fight of faith! That is evil!

When people “insult you and persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of [Jesus], Rejoice and be glad . . .” (Matthew 5: 11,12). “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). Fighting the good fight of faith entails trusting God to protect you and to vindicate you. “Be still and know that I am God,” he said in Psalm 46:10.

Rejoice!

PHILIPPIANS 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
The Holy Spirit gave these words to the Apostle Paul to write while he was “in chains for Christ.” Even though the Apostle was imprisoned in Rome due to his preaching of the gospel, he found reasons to rejoice. He was always thankful to God for the Philippian congregation (Philippians 1:3). He was thankful for their gospel partnership, for their gift, for their faith and life.
Paul could pray with joy even though he was in prison and longing to die and go to heaven (Philippians 1:21-23). He said going to heaven is to be with Christ, which is far better; but to go on living means fruitful labor, which is also a good thing.
He knew that suffering, hard work, exhaustion, disappointments, rivalries and false accusations are a small price to pay for the good that God would work through him for others, and for the glory that would be revealed in him (see Romans 8).
This Epistle (letter) to the Philippians is truly a letter filled with joy. Sixteen times the word “joy” is used in these 4 chapters. The NIV translates it as “joy” when it is a noun, “rejoice” in its verb forms, and “glad” when it is an adjective. How could Paul be joyful in these circumstances? How can we follow his lead and experience the joy of Jesus more and more?
1. Focus on Jesus, and what he has done for you. Read and meditate on the good news of Jesus Christ every day (Philippians 2:5-11).
2. Consider the needs of others, not just your own interests (Philippians 2:4).
3. Be thankful. Gratitude is a big part of joy. Rather than considering yourself entitled to good things, see each blessing as a gift from God (Philippians 4:10-20).
4. Keep on thinking about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable, excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).
5. Present all your needs and requests to the Lord in prayer, confident that he hears you (Philippians 4:6).
6. Remember that “happiness” and “joy” are two different things. Happiness is dependent on what happens in our lives. I may feel sad because of sad events or I may be depressed because of illness, yet still have the deep joy of knowing my Savior loves me and is taking me to heaven.

Holy Week

As we finish our Lenten prepaprations for another year during the early part of April (Wednesday evening servies on April 3 and 10), we anticipate the start of Holy Week.

Ushered in with Palm Sunday (April 14), Holy Week marks the culmination of Jesus’ ministry and life here on earth as our Savior and Substitute. On Palm Sunday He was greeted with shouts of “Hosanna” and with the waving and spread of Palm Branches. So we will also celebrate during the services on April 13 and 14 with songs and hymns ringing out with Hosannas, the Hebrews word meaning “Lord, save us.” Our service will begin with a Palm Procession reminding us to welcome Jesus.

We have the opportunity on Thursday, April 18 to gather together as Jesus and His disciples did. No, we will not climb to an upper room, but we will gather in our santuary to remember what Jesus isntituted for us that evening, the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Reviewing the sections from Luther’s Small Catechism we will reinforce our understanding of the Lord’s Supper. The day is called Maundy Thursday from the Latin word command. On that night Jesus told His disciples “A new command I give you: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, so also your are to love one another.” (John 13:34 EHV). Jesus showed just how much He loved them and us the next day when He died on the cross. And in the Lord’s Supper He continues to give us that love. Our worship at 7 pm that evening will include the opportunity to receive Jesus’s true body and blood as we celebrate Holy Communion. At the end of the service the altar is stripped bare in preparation for Good Friday. The stripping of the altar is an ancient custom of the Church for Maundy Thursday. It is symbolic of the humiliation of Jesus at the hands of the soldiers. The lights are dimmed to signify the approaching sacrifice. The altar is draped in black to remind us that it took the death of Jesus, the Son of God, to atone our sins. The liturgy ends in silence; the congregation hears no benediction…yet. Rather the services of Holy Week flow into one another as the congregation leaves in silence to reassemble for Good Friday.

On Good Friday, April 19, we will assemble at 7 pm for a Tenebrae service centered around the Seven Words of Christ from the Cross. As the candles are extinguished and the church becomes darker we remember the darkness that coverd the earth as Jesus hung on the cross suffering for our sins. Again we will have the opportunity to partake of Jesus’ True Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Altar.

Maundy Thursday and Good Friday begin the three day or Triduum. Since the last half of the 20th century, Lutherans have been rediscovering the richness of ancient Triduum and adapting the traditional services associated with it for use in evangelical Lutheran worship. Christian Worship: Occasional Services includes these forms of the Triduum services: a Maundy Thursday service that includes the stripping of the altar in preparation for Good Friday; Good Friday: Service of the Cross of Christ; Good Friday: Service of Darkness (Tenebrae); and the Vigil of Easter. In keeping with their origins, the Triduum services are closely connected with one another. Conceptually they are a single service that extends over the Athree holy days.@

The Easter Vigil service is at 6:30 pm (normal Saturday evening time) on April 20. The Paschal Candle is lit at this service and will burn at every service until Ascension.

Easter morning (April 21) begins with a sunrise service at 7:30 am. The newly lit (from the Easter Vigil) Paschal candle is seen as people enter. The songs with returned “Hallelujahs” ring out from the voices of the people. The readings will be a compilation from the Four Gospels presenting the events of the first Easter Day. Easter hymns will be sung by the joyous people. Easter lilies fill the altar area. The response “Christ Is Risen Indeed” is shouted out by the participants. Following a breakfast and egg hunt for the children a second service will be held. The Easter Festival Service is a song service again filled with Easter hymns and readings.

May you use these opportunities during the high points of the Christian Church Year to refresh and strengthen your faith in your suffering, dying and risen Savior. Invite a friend to join you in these observances. Share the wondrous message: HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!

FASTING

Going without food for a given period of time is called fasting. It is not something that I have spent much time encouraging or studying, but recently I have begun to consider it.

A gentleman I know has begun the practice of fasting two days a week. He has lost significant weight, lowered his blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and feels better all around. As a healthy practice, fasting seems to be gaining momentum as studies and anecdotes show significant benefits, especially to those with diabetes or prediabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

Fasting has long been a spiritual exercise. Jesus fasted forty days at the beginning of his ministry. The Jews had a regular practice of fasting weekly; the Pharisees sometimes boasted about their twice weekly fasting. My grandparents fasted for a period of time before receiving the sacrament of Holy Communion. The Apostle Paul sometimes took a vow of abstinence from food for a period of time. He recommended the practice of pairing prayer and fasting. The Ninevites fasted in repentance after Jonah proclaimed God’s Word to them.

A friend of mine who attends a Non-Lutheran church often encourages me and many other friends of his to devote themselves to prayer and fasting. Recently he asked that we fast and pray for our country in view of the new law in New York that allows for abortion up to the moment of birth. As a nation, we certainly have reasons to repent, pray, and fast.

If we remember that fasting is not a good work that gains us favor with God, we can certainly understand that it can help us think about spiritual things rather than earthly things. The time you normally spend preparing a meal and eating can be used in prayer, meditation, reading, or doing works of service. It is not necessary to fast in order to be prepared for the sacrament or to pray properly. But many have found spiritual, health, and even stewardship benefits with fasting.

Imagine the money you would save in one day of fasting. That money could be set aside for savings, given to the needy, or used to supplement your offering to church.

Perhaps it is not for everyone. But maybe there are some of you who have read this who will give it a try. Let me know how it goes.

THE MAGI

Every Nativity Scene ever sold has them. The Magi, or wise men, seem very familiar. They followed the Star from the East, went to Herod in Jerusalem, learned that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, and found him in a house there. They presented gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They worshipped the baby and then returned home by a different route, in order to avoid King Herod.

Matthew 2:1-12 is the only place where we read of their visit to Judea. We do not know their names or their number. The fact that there were three gifts led to the tradition that there were three men. We have no reason to think they were three kings as the popular song goes. The word Orient simply means from the east, but we don’t know how far East. Their home may have been Persia, Babylon, Assyria, or Arabia. It is doubtful but not impossible that they could have come from as far as India or China. We never hear of them again after Matthew 2.

The word “Magi” indicates they were men of learning, familiar with astrology and various sacred texts. They read in Genesis 49:10 about the scepter of Judah and in Numbers 24:17 about the scepter and the star. Herod’s advisors informed them of the prophecy in Micah 5:2, concerning Bethlehem. The Greek word for star, “Aster,” can refer to any of the lights in the sky including planets, meteors, comets, etc. We do not know what the Magi saw, but its illumination was specific enough that they followed the star to a house.

The brevity, lack of detail, and mystery concerning these people leads to many creative traditions. But we can learn from them some sure and important truths. First, Jesus is the Son of God who fulfilled the Old Testament Scriptures by becoming man. He is the Savior not only for the Jewish people but also for Gentiles like the Magi. He was protected in his infancy and throughout his life to preserve him for the ultimate sacrifice he was to give on Calvary’s cross to pay for the sins of all people.

FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH

But you, O man of God, flee from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of eternal life, to which you were called and about which you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:11,12; EHV).

Two of the hymns that usually make a list of favorite hymns at our church are “Fight the Good Fight” and “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” This always surprises me because I tend to picture our faith and our church life as seeking peace through kindness, gentleness, and the gospel. But the Bible itself shows an active, energetic, even athletic side of this pursuit.

A Christian fights on three fronts: he resists the devil, he battles his own sinful nature, and stands against the world and its influence. How is this fight carried out? It is not a fight using weapons and fists. It is spiritual warfare.

First, a Christian soldier must be armed with God’s Word and prayer. Just as a soldier goes through rigorous training, a Christian must be solidly trained in God’s Word to recognize good and evil, to place himself under the Holy Spirit’s influence by the Word of God, and to discipline himself. Physical weapons and armor are ineffective against the devil. Therefore, as we face spiritual oppressions and temptations, we need to be protected by the armor of God. Paul writes about this armor in Ephesians 4:10-17. The full armor of God is the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the footwear of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

The world with its philosophies and temptations must be recognized for what it is. Christians must be equipped to defend the truth. False philosophy and sinful pleasures lead people away from God and threaten their eternal salvation.

Too quickly and easily my sinful flesh falls for the world’s charms and Satan’s tricks. The only way I can win is to be in Christ. Through faith in him, I won’t perish. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, took on himself all the sins of the world. I have the white robe of Jesus’ righteousness. When I know this, I am clean in the sight of God. I am also motivated to spend my time, energy, and resources in pursuit of righteousness and peace.

Is it ever proper to take up arms for the sake of the faith? No, never. The Christian faith is not advanced by swords or guns, nor by civil unrest or disobedience to God’s “other” kingdom, the government. For the sake of civil rights, Americans might rightly protest, but don’t say you are advancing the gospel by it. A Christian might be a soldier or law enforcement officer, an elected official, legislator, or a judge, and in his or her duties might use force. This is not the good fight of faith. This is fulfillment of his or her earthly vocation.

At the time of the crusades and the colonization of America and other places around the world, some Christians thought it proper to convert the heathen by force “for their own good.” No! The Church must stand against that wrong idea. Years ago, there were people bombing abortion clinics and assassinating abortion providers in the name of the Christian faith. They were wrong. There are some who disrespect fallen military and law enforcement personnel and disrupt their funerals in the name of Christ. They, too, are wrong. Wrong-headed and often mentally disturbed people have shot worshipers at synagogues, mosques, temples, and churches. In Christ’s name, let this not happen again! That’s not the good fight of faith! That is evil!

When people “insult you and persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of [Jesus], Rejoice and be glad . . .” (Matthew 5: 11,12). “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). Fighting the good fight of faith entails trusting God to protect you and to vindicate you. “Be still and know that I am God,” he said in Psalm 46:10.

Rejoice!

PHILIPPIANS 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
The Holy Spirit gave these words to the Apostle Paul to write while he was “in chains for Christ.” Even though the Apostle was imprisoned in Rome due to his preaching of the gospel, he found reasons to rejoice. He was always thankful to God for the Philippian congregation (Philippians 1:3). He was thankful for their gospel partnership, for their gift, for their faith and life.
Paul could pray with joy even though he was in prison and longing to die and go to heaven (Philippians 1:21-23). He said going to heaven is to be with Christ, which is far better; but to go on living means fruitful labor, which is also a good thing.
He knew that suffering, hard work, exhaustion, disappointments, rivalries and false accusations are a small price to pay for the good that God would work through him for others, and for the glory that would be revealed in him (see Romans 8).
This Epistle (letter) to the Philippians is truly a letter filled with joy. Sixteen times the word “joy” is used in these 4 chapters. The NIV translates it as “joy” when it is a noun, “rejoice” in its verb forms, and “glad” when it is an adjective. How could Paul be joyful in these circumstances? How can we follow his lead and experience the joy of Jesus more and more?
1. Focus on Jesus, and what he has done for you. Read and meditate on the good news of Jesus Christ every day (Philippians 2:5-11).
2. Consider the needs of others, not just your own interests (Philippians 2:4).
3. Be thankful. Gratitude is a big part of joy. Rather than considering yourself entitled to good things, see each blessing as a gift from God (Philippians 4:10-20).
4. Keep on thinking about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable, excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).
5. Present all your needs and requests to the Lord in prayer, confident that he hears you (Philippians 4:6).
6. Remember that “happiness” and “joy” are two different things. Happiness is dependent on what happens in our lives. I may feel sad because of sad events or I may be depressed because of illness, yet still have the deep joy of knowing my Savior loves me and is taking me to heaven.

Welcome To Grace Lutheran Church

 

Grace Lutheran Church is a Christian church located in Yorba Linda, CA, We are a member of Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). We believe that the Bible is the true word of God and the only guiding principle for the life of a Christian.

Our Mission

The mission of our congregation is to make disciples for Jesus Christ by sharing the gospel in God’s Word and sacraments.  With the help of God, we will fulfill this mission through the following activities:

  • glorifying and praising God through public worship services,
  • teaching classes for all ages (to strengthen those who believe, to train (equip) members to lead exemplary Christian lives, and reach out to others).
  • seeking the lost and the wayward,
  • administering the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion,
  • to help and encourage one another through fellowship activities,
  • supporting one another (carrying each others’ burdens),
  • finally, Grace Lutheran is a contributing member of a synod of churches (WELS). We do this to help to carry out Christ’s command to, “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

Grace Events

Upcoming From The Grace Calendar

(See Full Calendar)

june

20jun10:00 amBible Study 10AMWeekly Adult Bible Class

21jun5:30 pm6:30 pmAA Meeting

22jun6:30 pm7:30 pmWorship 6:30PMSaturday Evening Worship

23jun9:30 am10:30 amWorship 9:30AMSunday Morning Worship

27jun10:00 amBible Study 10AMWeekly Adult Bible Class

28jun5:30 pm6:30 pmAA Meeting

29jun6:30 pm6:30 pmWorship 6:30PM*Saturday Night Worship w/Communion

30jun9:30 am10:30 amWorship*Sunday Morning

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Facebook & Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

 

Grace News & Events For The Week Of May 26 – Jun 01

GOOD SHEPHERD BIBLE CAMP (GSBC) Registration MonthGSBC has been a ministry of the WELS AZ/CA/NV district since around 1960. The GSBC website has pictured albums since 2006 to help you see the camp in action or just to look at some memories. Check it out at 222.lutherangsbc.blogspot.com.

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Upcoming Events

 

Grace News & Events For The Week Of May 26 – Jun 01

GOOD SHEPHERD BIBLE CAMP (GSBC) Registration MonthGSBC has been a ministry of the WELS AZ/CA/NV district since around 1960. The GSBC website has pictured albums since 2006 to help you see the camp in action or just to look at some memories. Check it out at 222.lutherangsbc.blogspot.com.

read more

Messenger Of Grace

 

Messenger Of Grace – May 2019

May 2019 PASTORAL VACANCYWith the retrun of the divine call by Pastor Daniel Johnston, the Voters met on Sunday, April 28 and voted to ask Pastor Buchholz, the District President of our Arizona-California District, for a Seminary graduate for Grace. Call Day at our...

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Messenger Of Grace – April 2019

April 2019 Holy WeekAs we finish our Lenten prepaprations for another year during the early part of April (Wednesday evening servies on April 3 and 10), we anticipate the start of Holy Week. Ushered in with Palm Sunday (April 14), Holy Week marks the culmination of...

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Messenger Of Grace – March

March 2019 PASTOR GLENN WENZEL Let me introduce myself as I will be serving as your pastor the next few months as you are calling your next full time pastor. I grew up in the small city of Menasha in Wisconsin, about 40 miles from Green Bay and about 100 miles from...

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Messenger Of Grace – February

February 2019 PET PEEVES Is there something that bothers you way beyond its actual importance? That would be a pet peeve. Some examples: Slow drivers in the left lane Toilet paper comes around the back of the tube instead of in front (or the opposite) Toilet seat left...

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