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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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The Lord Turns the Nile River to Blood

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany

  1. A Miracle of Terrible Judgment
  2. A Miracle Intended to Turn Hard Hearts
SERMON TEXT:  Exodus 7:14-24

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding. He refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning. When he goes out by the water, stand on the bank of the Nile to meet him. Take in your hand the staff that was turned into a snake. “You are to tell him: ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to you. He says, “Let my people go so that they may serve me in the wilderness.” But look, until now you have not listened. So this is what the LORD says: “In this way, you will know that I am the LORD.” Look! With the staff that is in my hand, I will strike the water in the Nile, and it will be turned to blood. The fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will stink. The Egyptians will not be able to drink water from the Nile.’” The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff, and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over its rivers, its streams, its ponds, and all the reservoirs—and they will become blood. There will be blood in the entire land of Egypt, even in containers made of wood and stone.’” Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and his officials, Aaron lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile. All the water in the Nile was turned to blood. The fish that were in the river died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians were not able to drink water from the Nile. There was blood in the entire land of Egypt. But the magicians of Egypt did the same thing by their occult practices. So Pharaoh’s heart was hard, and he did not listen to them, just as the LORD had told them. Pharaoh turned and went to his palace. He did not take to heart even this. All the Egyptians dug around the Nile for water to drink, because they were not able to drink the water from the Nile.

I’m sure that even people who haven’t been to church but once or twice in their lives, know John 3:16…
God loved the world so much he sent his only begotten son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
Whoever believes in him, whoever trusts in this man from Nazareth, knows not only a good man but a mighty God. A God who gave his life on the cross. Who was able to do that because of the joining of his God nature with his man nature. He was able to shed his blood as man and God that pays the price of your sin.

Sermon Audio & Transcript

The Lord Turns The Nile River To Blood

Word of God for our meditation this morning is the Old Testament lesson for the day, for second Sunday after the Epiphany from Exodus 7:14-24, where the Lord turns the Nile River into blood.

Grace mercy and peace to all of you from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Doesn’t it seem harsh? Isn’t that a rather, I mean that’s a rather outlandish punishment to bring on a nation. Isn’t it? A nation that had a wicked Pharaoh, a king as a ruler who refuse to let God’s people go. I mean who deserves having their entire river their entire water supply turned in the blood? For a whole week! God wouldn’t reverse that until eight days later. There was a water turned into blood incident. It shows the judgment of God and shows just how serious he is about sin. See God’s people had begun their time in Egypt as honored guests. God raised up Joseph and allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery in Egypt, but he worked his way up from a slave to a house manager. And then from being a house manager he became a prisoner, but then after being a prisoner he became second in command of all of Egypt. Because of the divine wisdom and insight that he was given, the Lord saved the Egyptian people and the neighboring communities and countries through Joseph’s leadership, but by 430 years later the Egyptian people had forgotten about what Joseph had done. Rather than treating the Israelites with respect, they treated the Israelites as slaves. The Israelites labored building their cities, building their farms, and tending their crops and animals. The Israelites were becoming too numerous even with all of that, and so the king of Egypt, the Pharaoh ordered that all of their children, boy children should be drowned in the Nile River. Throw them into the Nile was the command.

A woman by the name of Jochebed gave birth to a boy and she hid this boy. She preserved his life until she could no longer keep him quiet. Rather than having him be slaughtered by the soldiers, she hid this little baby in a basket and threw her baby into the Nile River. See! She obeyed the Kings order. She threw her baby into the Nile River. She just happened to prepare a basket, and she made sure that it was coated with pitch, or tar so that it would float. God provided that this basket would float near the Princess of Egypt, the Pharaoh’s daughter, as she was swimming or bathing with her friends, and when she saw this little baby delivered to her in a basket she fell in love immediately. She took this baby home to be her own. She raised in this baby she named it drawn out, which is the Hebrew word Moshe or in English we say Moses. Moses was raised in the palace he had the best education. He had all that money could buy, but he knew in his heart that he didn’t belong, he was an Israelite. And so as time went on, Moses began to feel more and more sympathy for the Israelite people and their slavery.

He actually took action against one of the overseers of the Egyptians murdering him, causing Moses to flee into the desert, and that’s where Moses encountered the burning bush. You’ve heard about it. He saw up on a mountainside a bush that was on fire, and as he looked at it, he saw that the Bush did not get smaller. The fire did not go out, it just continued to burn. So he went to investigate. When he got close to that Bush, the Bush talked to him. You see t wasn’t actually a Bush, not alone, it was the Lord. The Lord told him to take off his shoes, because the place where he was standing was holy ground. God announced his name to him. He said I am the Lord the God of your fathers. God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I have heard the voice of my people as they cry out in their slavery, and I’m sending you to deliver them. Moses objected at first. He said I’m not very good at speaking, I’m not very brave. I’m not good looking and not well-connected. All of these objections God gave an answer to them. And when Moses finally said I’d really be more comfortable if you just find somebody else to do this job, God said go. I am sending you. You are the one Moses. So Moses went reluctantly, but he went. And went and stood before stood before Pharaoh and God allowed him to give miraculous signs, like turning a turning a staff into a snake, turning his hand leprous by putting it into his cloak. When he pulled it out it, was rotten and white. When he put back in, his hand was cured. Then God told him that because Pharaoh would not listen, and would not let the people go, that an even more terrible sign was going to follow. God said to Moses, raise up your staff over the Nile River in front of Pharaoh, and you’re going to turn that entire river to blood. When Moses lifted up his staff, that’s exactly what happened. The river turned to blood. Not only did it look like blood but it smelled like blood. If you’ve ever smelled blood you know that’s awful. You know that the fish would die and you know that nobody could drink that water. Terrible punishment for the people of Egypt who were enslaving God’s people. Terrible punishment for the entire people who allowed a wicked king to rule over them and to mock and blasphemed the name of the Lord. That water to blood miracle was an act of judgment and punishment, but it was also meant for a gracious purpose.

God sent that water to blood miracle in order to turn the heart of Pharaoh to repent of his sins and to turn in faith to the Lord, who could save him. God also sent that miracle not just in the privacy of Pharaoh’s own home, but to the entire land of Egypt, because God wanted the Egyptian people in whole, all of them, to repent of their sins and to find their salvation in God alone. See God has a gracious purpose when he allows or when he brings an event that brings pain or grief. God is serious about sin and God threatens to punish sin. Sins against an eternal God deserved punishments that are also eternal, and so every punishment, every chastisement for a Christian is a warning from God. Repent or worse things may happen to you. But God is not a God who seeks to punish. Yes, God does punish but God’s main impulse is to save. Through the punishment that God brought upon the Egyptians God was saving his people Israel. Through the punishment that God brought upon Satan, God was working salvation for all of the descendants of Eve. When God punished his son he was bringing salvation to everyone who believes in him. So when that savior went to a wedding banquet–seems like were thinking a lot about weddings in our house these days just had a wedding last year and where you have a wedding this year too–when Jesus and his mother and his disciples were invited to that wedding at Cana, Jesus was aware that they had run out of wine. See they didn’t drink water in those days because water was often contaminated and it was safer to boil the water and then also to mix a little bit of an alcoholic beverage with it. So they would drink wine mixed with the water. That was the normal course of events for children and adults. So running out of wine meant that there was a health hazard. It also meant that the enjoyment of the wedding would be somewhat diminished. Mary came to Jesus and said they run out of wine, and Jesus said something that sounds a little bit disrespectful. We know it’s not, because Jesus was not disrespectful. He did not commit any sins so what he said was simply a direct statement; woman why do you involve me my time has not yet come? I don’t know how Mary got a message from that, but she got a message that Jesus would probably help. So she went to the servants and said do whatever he tells you to do. Jesus went up to them later on in the he saw that there were six big water jars that were used for ceremonial washing. When the guests at a banquet would arrive, they would wash their feet. That this was not drinking water. This was foot washing water and he said fill those stone jars to the top and they filled him up to the top. And this is, can you do the math? This was about 20 to 30 gallons in each of these pitchers. There’s six of them. If you did the math real quick it’s between 120 and 180 gallons of wine. Jesus said draw the water out and show it to the wine steward the master of the banquet, and when they did master of the banquet was so impressed he said this is the best wine of the day. This is the best wine of the entire banquet. Most people bring out the best wine and then when everybody’s had too much to drink, they bring out the cheap stuff but you saved the best for last. The servants knew where the wine had come from. They knew that it was Jesus of Nazareth who’d produced that wine miraculously.

God is a God who wants to save us. He is not a God wants to punish us and he wants to save us in the way that his word prescribes, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ. You all know John 3:16. I’m sure that even people who haven’t been to church but once or twice in their lives, know John 3:16. It says God loved the world so much he sent his only begotten son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Whoever believes in him, whoever trusts in this man from Nazareth, knows not only a good man but a mighty God. A God who gave his life on the cross. Who was able to do that because of the joining of his God nature with his man nature. He was able to shed his blood as man and God that pays the price of your sin. See that’s another thing that the Nile River turned to blood reminds us of, the blood of our Savior Jesus shed on the cross. The very blood that he offers us together with wine in the Lord’s supper. The body and blood of Christ together with the bread and wine offers us not judgment, unless we eat and drink in unbelief and in penitence, but it offers us life forgiveness by the strengthening of our faith in Jesus as our Savior and by increasing in us the grace, the ability to live a God pleasing life. All of these blessings are yours because we have a God who is powerful enough to turn a great and mighty river of the world and the blood, and to change it back to water when the people repented. We have a God who is powerful enough to become a human being shown in the person of Jesus. Was gracious enough to give us wine. Was gracious enough to give us his blood of covenant, his blood of forgiveness and who is powerful enough to be with us today and sacrament and in word. And present with us because there are more than two or three gathered in his name.

He promises that he is with us today and always.

Amen


Bible Readings

FIRST LESSON:  Exodus 7:14-24

See Sermon Text

SECOND LESSON:  Ephesians 3:14-21

For this reason I kneel before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the entire family in heaven and on earth receives its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he would strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner self, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Then, being rooted and grounded in love, I pray that you would be able to comprehend, along with all the saints, how wide and long and high and deep his love is, and that you would be able to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled to all the fullness of God. Now to him, who is able, according to the power that is at work within us, to do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.

VERSE OF THE DAY:  Isaiah 49:3 (NIV)

“You are my servant in whom I will display my splendor.”

GOSPEL: John 2:1-11

Three days later, there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with you and me? My time has not come yet.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Six stone water jars, which the Jews used for ceremonial cleansing, were standing there, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” And they did. When the master of the banquet tasted the water that had now become wine, he did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew). The master of the banquet called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when the guests have had plenty to drink, then the cheaper wine. You saved the good wine until now!” This, the beginning of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

Jesus Appeared

The First Sunday After Epiphany

  1. Pouring out the kindness and love of God
  2. Renewing us for eternal life
SERMON TEXT:  Titus 3:4-7

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward mankind appeared, he saved us—not by righteous works that we did ourselves, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and the renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs in keeping with the hope of eternal life.


Bible Readings

FIRST LESSON:  1 Samuel 16:1-13

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I see a king for myself among his sons.” Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.” The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will let you know what you are to do. You are to anoint for me the person that I point out to you.” So Samuel did what the LORD had told him to do and went to Bethlehem. Trembling with fear, the elders of the city came to meet him. They said, “Do you come in peace?” He said, “Yes, in peace. I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” He consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they had come, he looked at Eliab and said, “Certainly this is the LORD’s anointed.” But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at how tall he is, because I have rejected him. For the LORD does not look at things the way man does. For man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” Then Jesse had Shammah pass by. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel. Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen any of these.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Is that all of the young men?” Jesse said, “There still is the youngest, but he is tending the sheep.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Send for him, for we cannot sit down to eat until he comes.” He sent for him and brought him in. David had red hair and striking eyes, and was good-looking. The LORD said, “Get up! Anoint him, because this is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers. The Spirit of the LORD rushed on David with power from that day forward. After that Samuel set out and returned to Ramah.

SECOND LESSON:  Titus 3:4-7

See Sermon Text

VERSE OF THE DAY:  Luke 3:22b

You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased

GOSPEL: Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John could be the Christ. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But someone mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing shovel is in his hand, and he will thoroughly clean out his threshing floor. He will gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. While he was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love. I am well pleased with you.”

Three Important Epiphanies to You

The Epiphany of Our Lord
WELS Walking Together Sunday

  1. God’s Word is True
  2. God’s Christ is Savior
  3. God’s Salvation is Intended for All
SERMON TEXT:  Ephesians 3:2-12

Surely you have heard of the administration of God’s grace given to me for you, namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation (as I have already written briefly). When you read this, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ. This mystery was not made known to people in past generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that in Christ Jesus the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and people who also share in the promise through the gospel. I became a servant of this gospel, in keeping with the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of his power. To me—even though I am the very least of all the saints—was given this grace: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ and to enlighten everyone about the administration of this mystery. In past ages this mystery remained hidden in God, who created all things. He did this so that, through the church, the multifaceted wisdom of God in the heavenly places might now be made known to the rulers and authorities. This was done according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus.


Bible Readings

FIRST LESSON:  1 Kings 10:1-9

The Queen of Sheba heard about Solomon’s fame, which was connected with the fame of the LORD, so she came to test him with hard questions. She came to Jerusalem with a very great entourage—with camels carrying spices and a large quantity of gold and precious stones. She came to Solomon and told him everything that was on her heart.
Solomon answered all her questions. There was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her.
The Queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon, the house which he built, and the food on his table. When she saw the council meeting of his officials, the careful attention of his ministers, as well as their attire, his cupbearers, and the whole burnt offerings which he offered at the House of the LORD, it took her breath away.
She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your accomplishments and your wisdom is true. I did not believe the report until I came and saw it with my own eyes. The truth is, not even half of it was told to me! Your wisdom and wealth surpass the report which I heard. Blessed are your men, blessed are your servants, who stand before you continually hearing your wisdom! May the LORD your God be blessed, who was pleased to put you on the throne of Israel. Because the LORD loves Israel forever, he made you king to administer justice and righteousness.”

SECOND LESSON:  Ephesians 3:2-12

See Sermon Text

VERSE OF THE DAY:  Matthew 2:2

We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.

GOSPEL: Matthew 2:1-12

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, when Herod was king, Wise Men from the east came to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this, he was alarmed, and all Jerusalem with him. He gathered together all the people’s chief priests and experts in the law. He asked them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, because this was written through the prophet: You, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are certainly not least among the rulers of Judah: because out of you will come a ruler, who will shepherd my people, Israel.” Then Herod secretly summoned the Wise Men and found out from them exactly when the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you find him, report to me, so that I may also go and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. Then the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them, until it stood still over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with overwhelming joy. After they went into the house and saw the child with Mary, his mother, they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Since they had been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route.

The Grace Messenger

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.

In God We Trust

IN GOD WE TRUST is printed on all our American money. Officially it is our national motto. It is good to glorify God in such a way. But consider this: it does not really say very much.

How many Americans worship the true God? God can be defined in many different ways. There’s the “higher power” of AA, the Universe (as in, “Can’t the Universe just give me a break?!”), any of the gods of the ancient peoples or world religions. In fact, if there are 330 million Americans, there is the potential of 330 million gods being recognized as many either proclaim or silently believe, “I am God.”
The One True God is the LORD (Jehovah). He is the creator and preserver of the universe. He created it for mankind, whom he created good. God’s desire was for man and woman to live in harmony with him forever, but Adam and Eve followed Satan who rebelled against God. Sin brought about the curse of creation, death, and separation from God.

The One True God gave us his moral law to show us the right and best way to live. But if we don’t follow the law perfectly, it is called sin and it separates us from God’s love—potentially forever. The One True God demands obedience.

The good news is that the One True God is Triune (3 in 1). God the Son took on human existence so that he could live under the law in our place, die on the cross in our place, and rise from the dead to guarantee that we too will live. God the Holy Spirit works in the Word to bring people to faith so that we can receive God’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

As Christians, we know who “God” is. We can sing “God bless America” and “God shed his grace on thee” and speak “under God” with thankfulness not only for God’s temporal gifts but especially his eternal ones. Don’t be fooled, however, by the outward appearance of spirituality that we see on display once in a while at Christmas time, national holidays, and state funerals. The outward form of American popular religion is not the same as Bible-based faith in Christ as Savior, the only faith that saves us from sin and guilt. American civic religion is based on good works. Therefore, it is important that we as Christians testify to the good news that faith in Jesus saves, not good works. God bless your witness.

Christian Education

The Bible contains abundant encouragement for parents to bring up their children in the training and instruction of the Lord. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Proverbs gives this general truth: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it.”

Paul commands fathers, “Do not exasperate your children but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” There are also warnings abundantly stated throughout the Bible. After the Fall into sin, the descendants of Cain did not teach their families about God and each generation became more and more wicked. The descendants of Seth also became lazy in the raising of their children and their descendants also followed the ways of the wicked world. After the Israelites settled in the Promised Land, they neglected to pass on the Word of God to their children and in a few generations they had become so far estranged from God’s Word that “everyone did whatever was right in his own eyes,” without caring what God said.

These examples and encouragements show us how important it is for parents (especially fathers) to teach the Word of God to children. The church and its called teachers and pastors can assist, but cannot take the place of parents. Parents need to be learning the Word and being nourished by it so they can teach them every day by word and example.

My suggestion would be for the head of the household to read a section of Scripture at an agreed-upon time every day. Maybe it is after dinner or just before bedtime. Maybe start at the beginning and read a paragraph or a chapter and then discuss it. Of course the devotions in Meditations are also a great resource.

Grace Lutheran Church is privileged to be part of the California Lutheran High School Association. While we do not have any high school students attending CLHS at this time, we have many supporters. Eric Erickson, Garrett Challacombe, and Rob Krueger have attended in the past. We also are a member congregation of the WELS, which operates two high schools, a college, and a seminary for the preparation of pastors, teachers, and staff ministers. WELS congregations also support Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Grace member Bethany Wagenknecht is currently a senior there and Austin Wagenknecht is an alumnus. We are in fellowship with the ELS, which operates a college in Mankato, Minnesota. Former member Christi Jenkin Hagen is an alumna of Bethany.

Confirmation class, also called Catechism class, is meeting after church on Sundays. Three excellent teachers share responsibilities for teaching children on Sunday mornings at 8:30, beginning September 9. Please bring the children!

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.

In God We Trust

IN GOD WE TRUST is printed on all our American money. Officially it is our national motto. It is good to glorify God in such a way. But consider this: it does not really say very much.

How many Americans worship the true God? God can be defined in many different ways. There’s the “higher power” of AA, the Universe (as in, “Can’t the Universe just give me a break?!”), any of the gods of the ancient peoples or world religions. In fact, if there are 330 million Americans, there is the potential of 330 million gods being recognized as many either proclaim or silently believe, “I am God.”
The One True God is the LORD (Jehovah). He is the creator and preserver of the universe. He created it for mankind, whom he created good. God’s desire was for man and woman to live in harmony with him forever, but Adam and Eve followed Satan who rebelled against God. Sin brought about the curse of creation, death, and separation from God.

The One True God gave us his moral law to show us the right and best way to live. But if we don’t follow the law perfectly, it is called sin and it separates us from God’s love—potentially forever. The One True God demands obedience.

The good news is that the One True God is Triune (3 in 1). God the Son took on human existence so that he could live under the law in our place, die on the cross in our place, and rise from the dead to guarantee that we too will live. God the Holy Spirit works in the Word to bring people to faith so that we can receive God’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

As Christians, we know who “God” is. We can sing “God bless America” and “God shed his grace on thee” and speak “under God” with thankfulness not only for God’s temporal gifts but especially his eternal ones. Don’t be fooled, however, by the outward appearance of spirituality that we see on display once in a while at Christmas time, national holidays, and state funerals. The outward form of American popular religion is not the same as Bible-based faith in Christ as Savior, the only faith that saves us from sin and guilt. American civic religion is based on good works. Therefore, it is important that we as Christians testify to the good news that faith in Jesus saves, not good works. God bless your witness.

Christian Education

The Bible contains abundant encouragement for parents to bring up their children in the training and instruction of the Lord. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Proverbs gives this general truth: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it.”

Paul commands fathers, “Do not exasperate your children but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” There are also warnings abundantly stated throughout the Bible. After the Fall into sin, the descendants of Cain did not teach their families about God and each generation became more and more wicked. The descendants of Seth also became lazy in the raising of their children and their descendants also followed the ways of the wicked world. After the Israelites settled in the Promised Land, they neglected to pass on the Word of God to their children and in a few generations they had become so far estranged from God’s Word that “everyone did whatever was right in his own eyes,” without caring what God said.

These examples and encouragements show us how important it is for parents (especially fathers) to teach the Word of God to children. The church and its called teachers and pastors can assist, but cannot take the place of parents. Parents need to be learning the Word and being nourished by it so they can teach them every day by word and example.

My suggestion would be for the head of the household to read a section of Scripture at an agreed-upon time every day. Maybe it is after dinner or just before bedtime. Maybe start at the beginning and read a paragraph or a chapter and then discuss it. Of course the devotions in Meditations are also a great resource.

Grace Lutheran Church is privileged to be part of the California Lutheran High School Association. While we do not have any high school students attending CLHS at this time, we have many supporters. Eric Erickson, Garrett Challacombe, and Rob Krueger have attended in the past. We also are a member congregation of the WELS, which operates two high schools, a college, and a seminary for the preparation of pastors, teachers, and staff ministers. WELS congregations also support Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Grace member Bethany Wagenknecht is currently a senior there and Austin Wagenknecht is an alumnus. We are in fellowship with the ELS, which operates a college in Mankato, Minnesota. Former member Christi Jenkin Hagen is an alumna of Bethany.

Confirmation class, also called Catechism class, is meeting after church on Sundays. Three excellent teachers share responsibilities for teaching children on Sunday mornings at 8:30, beginning September 9. Please bring the children!

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)

january

thu24jan10:00 amBible Study 10AMWeekly Adult Bible Class10:00 am Grace Lutheran Church

sat26jan6:30 pm7:30 pmWorship 6:30PMSaturday Evening Worship6:30 pm - 7:30 pm Grace Lutheran Church

sun27jan8:30 amSunday School/Bible Class 8:30AMChildren's Sunday School & Adult Bible Class8:30 am Grace Lutheran Church

sun27jan9:30 am10:30 amWorship 9:30AMSunday Morning Worship9:30 am - 10:30 am

thu31jan10:00 amBible Study 10AMWeekly Adult Bible Class10:00 am Grace Lutheran Church

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Facebook & Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

 

Grace News & Events For The Week Of Jan 20 – Jan 26

EASTER FOR KIDS PLUS: a.k.a. Spring Festival, will take place on April 13, from 9 am – 3 pm. Steve Bautista will be here to perform an outdoor concert. We hope to have many other attractions; games, bouncies, carnival attractions, booths, and a huge rummage sale. Watch for more announcements and information soon! If you have contact with organizations and businesses who would be willing to sponsor a booth, let Pastor know about it.

read more

Grace News & Events For The Week Of Jan 06 – Jan 12

EASTER FOR KIDS PLUS: a.k.a. Spring Festival, will take place on April 13, from 9 am – 3 pm. We hope to have many attractions; games, bouncies, carnival attractions, music, booths, and a huge rummage sale. Watch for more announcements and information soon! If you have contact with organizations and businesses who would be willing to sponsor a booth, let Pastor know about it.

read more

Upcoming Events

 

Grace News & Events For The Week Of Jan 20 – Jan 26

EASTER FOR KIDS PLUS: a.k.a. Spring Festival, will take place on April 13, from 9 am – 3 pm. Steve Bautista will be here to perform an outdoor concert. We hope to have many other attractions; games, bouncies, carnival attractions, booths, and a huge rummage sale. Watch for more announcements and information soon! If you have contact with organizations and businesses who would be willing to sponsor a booth, let Pastor know about it.

read more

Grace News & Events For The Week Of Jan 06 – Jan 12

EASTER FOR KIDS PLUS: a.k.a. Spring Festival, will take place on April 13, from 9 am – 3 pm. We hope to have many attractions; games, bouncies, carnival attractions, music, booths, and a huge rummage sale. Watch for more announcements and information soon! If you have contact with organizations and businesses who would be willing to sponsor a booth, let Pastor know about it.

read more

Messenger Of Grace

 

Messenger Of Grace – January

January 2019 EPIPHANY On January 6, the Church celebrates the Epiphany of our Lord. Epiphany means revealing. The main emphasis of the season in the revealing of Jesus as our Savior; as prophet, priest, and king; as Savior of all peoples, not just the Jews. During...

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Messenger Of Grace – December

  December 2018   ADVENT Advent is from the Latin word for “Coming.” The four weeks leading up to Christmas are the time of Advent. Advent is the beginning of the “Church Year”, which is different from the usual way we mark the time using the Julian...

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Messenger Of Grace – November

November 2018 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...

read more

Messenger Of Grace – October

  October 2018   IN GOD WE TRUST is printed on all our American money. Officially it is our national motto. It is good to glorify God in such a way. But consider this: it does not really say very much. How many Americans worship the true God? God can be...

read more
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