Welcome To
Grace Lutheran Church
Weekend Services
Saturday: 6:30PM
Sunday: 9:30AM

Sunday School & Bible Class Sunday: 8:30AM
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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

 

BE SATISFIED WITH WHAT GOD GIVES YOU

The Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

  1. GOD’S GRACE IS SUFFICIENT
  2. OUR WEAKNESSES ONLY HIGHLIGHT HIS POWER
  3. WE HAVE DELIGHT IN EVERYTHING
SERMON TEXT:  2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Therefore, to keep me from becoming arrogant due to the extraordinary nature of these revelations, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me, so that I would not become arrogant. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that he would take it away from me. And he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, because my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will be glad to boast all the more in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may shelter me. That is why I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For whenever I am weak, then am I strong.

BE SATISFIED WITH WHAT GOD GIVES YOU

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in your sight oh God, our rock and our Redeemer.

Dear brothers and sisters

The word of God for today’s meditation comes from 2 Corinthians 12. St. Paul writes to people of Corinth, “to keep me from becoming arrogant due to the extraordinary nature of these revelations, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me so that I would not become arrogant. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this that he would take it away from me, and he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you because my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will be glad to boast all the more my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may shelter me. That is why I delight in weaknesses, in insults and hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For whenever I am weak then I am strong. This is the word of God.

It is very easy for us to be happy and content on days when things are going well. When we are well fed when we have plenty of money to pay all of our bills. When we are enjoying good relationships with family members and friends. It is very easy for us to be content when our bodies are cooperating and giving us good feelings but, when the opposite of all of these things happen it is difficult to be content. It is difficult to be content when you are hungry, or when you are living in poverty. It is difficult to be content when your body is racked with pain, and when relationships with your family members and friends are strained, or worse. St. Paul however tells us that he had found the secret of being content in any circumstance and he continues that thought by saying I can do all things through Christ who strengthens. In other words, the way to be content no matter what circumstance you’re facing in life is to focus on Jesus. When things are going well for you then you know that you don’t deserve them and you receive all benefits and blessings only by the grace of God. And when things are not going so well in your outward circumstances then you know, one that God means it for your good, and you know too that God will take you to heaven one day where all of the bad things of this earth are going to not even be brought to mind anymore. The glory that will be revealed in us is so much greater, yet how many of us have actually matured as Christians to the point where we can say that that is the case for us. How many of us can really begin the day with a broken shoestring and with a sour carton of milk, and say thank you Lord for this blessing. No, when things go badly for us we very quickly turned to the opposite of blaming God, don’t we? We’re just like little children and that way.

There is a phrase that I think most teachers of younger children have used and you can probably fill in the blank, you get what you get and you don’t throw fit. I saw this in action one time when I was teaching vacation Bible school a few years ago. When the teacher who was leading the crafts that year was passing out little ribbons of paper and everybody had to use the ribbon of paper in a project, and some of them were getting green ribbons, and some of them got blue ribbons, and some of them got purple, and some of them got red but, there was only one yellow ribbon. And of course that one yellow ribbon caused the disruption in the class because it was unique. Everybody wanted that yellow ribbon, not because they love yellow more than other colors but, because they want what they want and that’s when the teacher said you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. One of the children who wasn’t clamoring for it, got the yellow ribbon. You and I have trouble being content sometimes it’s because we want what somebody else has often times. It’s just because of our human nature that we have inherited from Adam and Eve, our first sinful parents. Discontentment is really what led to Eve’s falling into temptation and sin. When Satan had rebelled against God decided that he didn’t want to be alone in rebellion, he tried to tempt Eve and Adam to follow his way instead of God’s righteous way. And Satan came in the guise of a snake and met Eve when she was in the garden, and snake spoke and said to Eve did God really say you can’t eat from any of these trees in the garden? As he looked around at all the beautiful trees and, Eve followed his gaze, Eve looked and all of the trees were good for food and the fruit was beautiful, and she caught herself. She said, while God said we can eat for many of those trees but not this tree in the center of the garden, and we must not touch it, or we will certainly die. Satan grasp hold of that opportunity and he said he will not certainly die, but God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will become like God knowing good and evil. You see that’s why God is trying to withhold you from this tree. He knows he knows that if you eat of it, you’re gonna be like he is. You’re going to experience things that you’ve never experienced before. Your eyes are going to be open to a whole new world. Imagine how foolish that was for Eve to be discontent in the garden of Eden. Where all of the plants and all of the crops cooperated perfectly. When the weather always was beautiful. Where the animals even submitted to the domination of man, and where all things were pleasing to God, including Adam and Eve’s relationship. How could you be discontent in that circumstance?

It is a strange thing about human nature isn’t it that that we are so easily discontent. I mean those of you that have dogs in your home you know dogs just act like dogs act. A dog is a dog. He eats what he eats he sleeps when he wants. Goes to the bathroom where he wants. The dog is content being a dog. If you know anything about farm animals, you’ll notice the same thing. Farm animals are content being whatever they are. The sheep eats the grass. The cow. The pig does what a pig does, but then when you look at human beings, the crown of God’s creation. The highest achievement of God’s creation on earth. Human beings are always trying to be something, different something more. How foolish. That foolishness that began with Eve and Adam is part of our hearts and our daily experience as well. It would have been very easy for St. Paul to become puffed up with pride, to become arrogant. Because God had shown him things that he had not shown anyone else. The apostle Paul was able to look into the third heaven. It probably means that the veil was open so that he was able to see the spiritual reality that you and I are not able to see. Paul was able to receive direct revelations from God. Something that we don’t receive today anymore. Paul was told to write down what he saw to write letters to the Christians around the world. Letters that are still read today and still expounded today and still revered today. What an amazing privilege that the apostle Paul had, but God did not want him to be arrogant ,because that would not be good for Paul, and it would not be good for all of the other Christians who are listening to his words. So in order to keep him from becoming arrogant God sent him what is called a thorn in his flesh. We don’t know what that thorn in the flesh was. It’s described also as a messenger from Satan to torment me. The apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh, and we all have some kind of thorn in the flesh. It maybe something mental or emotional. It may be something physical. People have speculated for all of these centuries about what Paul might have been referring to. Bad vision. A speech impediment? Maybe it was a physical deformity or a chronic pain. Maybe it was a guilty conscience. Maybe it was some other kind of sharp temptation that he daily had to fight. We don’t know what the thorn in the flesh was, but what we do know is this, it caused pain and it kept Paul from becoming arrogant, because it highlighted his personal weakness. God sent it to them so that he would trust in God’s strength. So that he would look not to his own goodness, but to the goodness of his good God. It took Paul a little while to understand this and to mature to the point where he could truly rejoice in this weakness. Paul says three times he pleaded with the Lord to take it away, and I think that means a lot more than just three times saying God take it away, but he is talking about periods of time of intense prayer where he is wrestling with God.. Paul thought he could be a better friend, a better man, a better pastor. If only God would take this thorn away, but what did God reply? He said my grace is sufficient. So for you and I that struggle with temptations. For you and I that struggle with pain, illnesses, troubled relationships. We might pray all day, many days about those problems, but God’s answer for you is the same as his answer to Paul. My grace is sufficient. It is enough that you know the love that God has for you sent Jesus to become a human being. To live a perfect life of struggling against sin but never falling, never falling into temptation. God sent Jesus to die on the cross as a perfect sacrifice that took away all of your sins, and the sins of the entire world. God raised him from the dead so that your life, your eternal life would also be guaranteed. God’s undeserved love for you is truly all that you really need. It is enough to get you eternal life.

The work of Christ, being washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. In the waters of holy baptism. The Holy Spirit coming into your heart to create a faith in your heart, so that you trust in him. The body and blood of Christ that in a few minutes we will share for a personal assurance of forgiveness. All of that, the grace of God is sufficient. You don’t need all of the other things, and in fact, the apostle Paul grew in his understanding of his weakness. So much that he even understood that his weaknesses highlighted God’s power. That’s one of the lessons the pastors always need to learn is that our weaknesses our weaknesses highlight God’s power. So that for me I know that any success, it does not owe to me being a good pastor, but it is God being a good God. And a congregation that sees blessings, it’s not because the congregation is so good, but because God’s word is so good and powerful, and God is so gracious and blessing. Our weaknesses highlight God’s power, because on my own I would only fail and I would only receive damnation from God, because I constantly fall short of God’s requirements. But Jesus has given me eternity, forgiveness, and grace. We even take another step in our maturity when we can actually delight in everything, including our sorrows, including our weaknesses. The apostle Paul concludes this section by saying this is why I delight in weaknesses, because God’s power is highlighted by my weaknesses I delight in them, and in fact I delight Paul says in insult. That’s what Jesus says we should see when when he tells us in the sermon on the mount that we should rejoice and be glad when people mistreat us because of Christ. He says you’re in good company. That’s how they treated the prophets. Delight in insults. Delight in hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. Christians who followed this word of God appear to be very strange to the world. Really, you can find delight and comfort in all of these problems? Yes you can. Whatever difficulty you are facing whatever struggle you have. Whatever bad relationship you’re trying to fix. Whatever thorn in the flesh you encounter for the sake of Christ, and through the work of Christ, you have something much better. You are growing in strength. You are growing in understanding. You are growing unto eternal life. I know that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. And so no matter what I face, I can be satisfied with what God gives. No matter whether it’s a yellow ribbon, or blue, or green, because what God gives, is always best.

Amen

Why audio, video, and a transcript?
Though the video, audio, and transcript are for the same sermon, there are benefits to having all three.

Video
Video has the most obvious benefit in that it gives you the ability to watch and listen as if you were sitting in church on Sunday morning.

Audio
The audio gives you the freedom of being able to listen while doing something else, like driving. Also, the audio is much better quality then the audio track on the video. The audio comes from the pastor’s mic, which picks up his voice much more clearly. Another benefit is that most of the longer pauses have been shortened or removed, resulting in the entire length being several minutes shorter. Finally many audio players allow you to slow down or speed up the audio so that you can listen at your own pace.

Transcript
The transcript has its own advantages in the same way actively reading something is often better than passively listening or watching. Reading a sermon means not wondering off and missing something. In addition, though video and audio are easy enough to keep around, transcripts are are even easier to archive and store. They also make it easy to search for past sermons for content. Even if you’re not able to remember the date or the service, you can still search for words in the sermon. For example, searching for “billboards on this road promise a lot of really good things.” will take you right to this sermon.


Bible Readings

FIRST LESSON:  Deuteronomy 30:1-10

When all these things come upon you, both the blessing and the curse that I have given you, and you take them to heart while you are among all the nations to which the LORD your God has banished you, and when you return to the LORD your God and listen to his voice with all your heart and soul, in every way that I am commanding you today, you and your children, then the LORD your God will restore you from your captivity. He will have compassion on you, and he will gather you together again out of all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. Even if your banished people are at the end of the heavens, the LORD your God will gather you together there and take you away from there. The LORD your God will bring you back to the land that your fathers possessed, and then you will possess it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, with the result that you will live. Then the LORD your God will place all these curses on your enemies and on those who hated you and persecuted you. Once again you will listen to the voice of the LORD, and you will carry out all of his commands that I am giving you today. The LORD your God will cause you to be overflowing with good things from all the work of your hands, in the fruit of your womb, in the fruit of your animals, and in the fruit of your soil. For once again he will rejoice over your prosperity, just as he rejoiced over your fathers, when you obey the voice of the LORD your God by keeping his commandments and his statutes written in this Book of the Law, when you return to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

SECOND LESSON:  2 Corinthians 12:7-10

See Sermon Text

VERSE OF THE DAY:  John 6:68 (NIV)

You have the words of eternal life.

GOSPEL: Luke 6:17-26

He went down with them and stood on a level place with a large crowd of his disciples, and a large number of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, as well as from the coastal area of Tyre and Sidon. These people came to listen to him and to be healed of their diseases. Those who were troubled by unclean spirits were also cured. The whole crowd kept trying to touch him, because power was going out from him and healing them all. He lifted up his eyes to his disciples and said: Blessed are you who are poor, because yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, because you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, because you will laugh. Blessed are you whenever people hate you, and whenever they exclude and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man. “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy because of this: Your reward is great in heaven! The fact is, their fathers constantly did the same things to the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, because you are receiving your comfort now. Woe to you who are well fed now, because you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, because you will be mourning and weeping. Woe to you when all people speak well of you, because that is how their fathers constantly treated the false prophets.

Get God’s Greatest Gifts

The Fifth Sunday after Epiphany

  1. Salvation
  2. Faith
  3. The Gospel
SERMON TEXT:  Romans 10:13-17

Yes, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” So then, how can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one about whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news of peace, who preach the gospel of good things!” But not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who believed our message?” So then, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message comes through the word of Christ.

Sermon Audio, Video, & Transcript

Get God’s Greatest Gifts

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

Dear friends,

The word from God through which the Holy Spirit stirs our hearts is Romans 10:13-17. I’ll read some of the key parts. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How can they call on the one they have not believed in, and how can they believe in one about whom they have not heard? How can they hear without a preacher and how can they preach unless they are sent? It is written how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news of peace. The gospel of good things, but not all obeyed the gospel. Isaiah says Lord who believed our message? Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message comes through the word of Christ.

Dear fellow saints who were washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior. Why did you come to church today? Did you come to make some business connections? Maybe you’re a lonely person looking for a date. Maybe you came to church to keep the wife happy or maybe need to keep mom and dad off your back. Maybe you came to church because you want to be a better person. You want to learn some things that may be important in life, or maybe the reason that she came to church tonight is that you are trying to repay a debt. Maybe you made a vow to God some time ago to get you out of a jam, and you said if you just get me out of this jam Lord, I promise you that I will come every Sunday. I hope you can tell that all of those reasons for coming to church are flawed. The first couple that I mentioned, well those are just looking for earthly advantages, aren’t they? The second few that I mentioned are either trying to present yourself as a good person, or to become a better person, so that you can present yourself to God as a good person. And boy, the last one, the last one just sounds like you feel so sure of yourself and think so highly of yourself that God must really want to be in a relationship with you. I’ll come to church every Sunday like that’s going to be a bribe that keeps God giving you blessings, because God certainly wants your stinking sinful self in church. You forget that all of your righteous deeds are nothing but filthy rags? Do you forget the reason for coming to church in the first place? It’s not about what you give to God because you have nothing that you can give to God that he needs. Nothing even really that he wants. There’s nothing that he is lacking. He is not a lonely person looking for a date.

We come to church because of what God GIVES to us. What God gives is what we need, and so I encourage you today to get the greatest gifts of God. Why is this message of Christ so vital? You know this message that we receive in church, this is one of the few places that you will hear this message. Yes, it’s in your Bibles. You can hear it on the radio and on the television. Not all of what you hear on the radio and television is going to be the gospel, and it’s not all going to be the pure gospel. Not everything that you hear in every church is going to be the pure gospel but coming to a church that does preach the pure gospel is so very important. This message of Christ is vital in verse 13 (Romans 10:13) it is summed up; everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Those last three words are so important, “WILL BE SAVED.” We’re talking about the difference between salvation and damnation. The difference between paradise and perdition. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Those who do not are lost. In other words, they go to hell and that’s the road that we were born traveling on. Jesus said broad is the road, wide is the gate that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. The billboards on this road promise a lot of really good things. Do it your way. You’re in charge. Who needs forgiveness? Fun fun fun! Seize the day. Party on. All of those are lies and propaganda. Although that’s what we were swallowing hook line and sinker. The devil was reeling us in and we weren’t even trying to get away. We thought we were happy with the devil’s lure hooked in our mouth. But remember our gospel reading? Jesus told the disciples to throw out the net. So when Simon threw out the net, he caught so many fish that the boats were filled and even began to sink because of the weight. The net of God’s word, the net of the gospel has come sweeping down and caught up you and me. His net rescued us from Satan’s lure. His net saved us. The bait that was the lie Satan, that bait was snatched away from us, and the net actually set us free from the destruction that Lure was leading us into. Through this net we had our mouths open. So that rather than grasping onto Satan’s lure our mouth was calling on the name of the Lord. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

The net that rescues us is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The good news message. Cherish it. How do we cherish the message of Christ? The word that we use to describe that his faith. As each day you continue to call on the name of the Lord. No matter what the danger is, you can call on God knowing that he will rescue you. Like the tax collector in Jesus parable who beat his breast and said God have mercy on me a sinner. That will be our gospel reading on Ash Wednesday March 3. God have mercy on me a sinner is all that we can say, to God. We don’t deserve his mercy. We daily sin much? Don’t we often feel regret, because we feel like we’re missing out on some of life because we follow Jesus? Yes, even after we come to faith, we still have a sinful nature. And sometimes the shiny lure and the wonderful smelling bait that Satan dangles in front of us causes us to have second thoughts about whether it’s really worth following Jesus. And then we get to feel guilty about that as well, and then Satan’s other lure tries to find its way into our mouth, the lure of guilt. Feeling like God can’t really, really love us because of all of the sins that we’ve done. Christian call on the name of the Lord because it is a precious and it is a saving name. Call on it in faith. Faith that believes the message of Christ. Faith that holds onto those promises. Faith that walks in the way that leads to salvation. Jesus says to you just as he said to the paralyzed man in Matthew 9; be of good cheer your sins are forgiven. Think of that? Your sins are forgiven. Could there be a more beautiful phrase in any language? And if that phrase is so beautiful and so are those who proclaim it. The prophet Isaiah said, and the gospel writer quoted, and St. Paul quoted, how beautiful are the feet of those who proclaim the good message? How beautiful are the feet? I don’t usually think of feet as beautiful. They’re to be walked on. They often get calluses, and bumps, and they get misinformed. Some people have beautiful feet. I know that I don’t. And yet Isaiah says how beautiful are the feet of those proclaim the good news. That’s how precious the message is. It is so precious to create faith in the heart and it is faith that also motivates us to not want to keep this wonderful blessing, this wonderful good news to ourselves. The gospel is ours to keep, and it is ours to share. Think about the chain of events that brought you to salvation. There’s kind of an interlocking chain. Paul starts at the endpoint. He says everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved that’s the bottom line. We have salvation. We have faith calling on the name of the Lord. Now how did we get to call on the name of the Lord? Paul says how can they call on the one they have not believed in? So, we must believe. How can they believe in the one they have not heard? So, we must hear. How can they hear without someone to preach to them or someone to tell them, and how can that preacher preach? How can that teller tell, unless he is sent? That has to happen in order for faith to get into our hearts so that we can receive the salvation that God wants us to have. Paul tells us that that message, the message is Jesus himself. The good news is Christ himself. He’s the one who appeared in the Old Testament in our first lesson today. The angel of the Lord. The one who described himself by saying I Am. Who replied to Manoah’s question of his name, he said why do you ask my name? It is wonderful. So Isaiah centuries later would say that the name by which the Savior would be called would be wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, and Prince of peace. How can they believe without someone preaching to them? Why did those preachers go out? Why did the prophets? Why did the apostles? Why did the evangelist? Why do pastors and teachers today go out, because they are being sent. Sent by God, sent by Christ, and sent by their fellow believers. Are you the end of the line? Actually no, if you want to picture all of these interlocking chains, or interlocking links as a chain, realize that this isn’t just one long line chain, this is an interlocking chain like a necklace.

We who have received the message continued to spread the message. So that those who hear the message from us can also tell others and so on and so on. You who call on the Lord in faith, send out preachers, pastors, and missionaries, and staff ministers, and teachers. That’s one of the great blessings that we have in our Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, is that as we continue to support the work of the Synod, more pastors, and missionaries, and staff ministers, and teachers, are being trained. And each year are being sent to proclaim the same message that you hear here each week, and just as the message of Christ has worked faith in your heart, so it will work faith in the hearts of others who hear it. Yes, we support this work with our offerings, and with our prayers, but we also encourage this work and spread this work, as we encourage our sons, and daughters, our grandchildren, and our other younger acquaintances to consider serving the Lord as full-time gospel workers. Maybe the Lord can even use you in full-time gospel work. Might he use you in part-time gospel work such as serving as a Sunday school teacher, or Vacation Bible school supervisor. Today our congregation is issuing, actually tomorrow, our congregation will be issuing a call for a new pastor to proclaim the gospel for the next number of years here at Grace Lutheran Church. We can have high confidence that our next pastor has been well-trained in the word of God and in pastoral care and has been tested in our ministerial education system. We can also be absolutely sure that he has been faithful so far in his gospel ministry. Having served as a pastor for at least four years. In most cases more. You can be sure that he holds to the faith just as we have held to the faith and confess it as Lutherans. But the pastor is not a Lone Ranger. The pastor is not here to do the work himself. It’s important to utilize the entire team. You continue the chain not only by sending others to tell, but also by telling others yourself. That’s why our Lord has chosen us as his people to declare the praises of him. Who called us out of darkness and into his wonderful light? As you share the message not everyone will believe. That shouldn’t come as any surprise to any of you have any experience with sharing the gospel. That was the case throughout history. Paul says not all the Israelites accepted the good news. Isaiah lamented, Lord who has believed our message? So, don’t let unbelief or rejection by others deter you. The apostle Paul and the prophet Isaiah faced rejection and so often will we. Jesus says if the reject us, they are rejecting him, but the joyful side of the coin is this, if they listen to you, Jesus says they are listening to me. If they listen to me, they are listening to the one who sent me. So be ready to share that message of Christ. That doesn’t mean you have to set up a soapbox on a street corner and yell loudly. Rather it means to cherish the message of Christ. To continue to come where you can hear the word of God, and be fed in your faith, and get God’s greatest gifts. Where God fills you with salvation, and faith, and the gospel. And then the more you are filled with these greatest gifts of God, the more you are going to overflow. Your daily conversation will naturally turn to Christ. Your daily exchange with people will be filled with the gospel and good works. It is God’s love that has called us to be part of his family. It’s God’s love that has washed our sins away by this gospel. It is God’s love that sent Jesus to die on that cross so that our sins would be completely washed, and so that our eternity will be completely guaranteed. Our acts of love do not earn salvation for us. Our good works do not prove anything to God that he doesn’t already know. Our good works are important because God commands them, and also because this is one of the ways that we attract others to want to know what it is that makes us happy. What it is that energizes our faith and our love and our life. So, acts of love may make others curious. May attract them to us, but it’s only the word of Christ that creates faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the word of Christ.

Amen

Why audio, video, and a transcript?
Though the video, audio, and transcript are for the same sermon, there are benefits to having all three.

Video has the most obvious benefit in that it gives you the ability to watch and listen as if you were sitting in church on Sunday morning.
 
The audio gives you the freedom of being able to listen while doing something else, like driving. Also, the audio is much better quality then the audio track on the video. The audio comes from the pastor’s mic, which picks up his voice much more clearly. Another benefit is that most of the longer pauses have been shortened or removed, resulting in the entire length being several minutes shorter. Finally many audio players allow you to slow down or speed up the audio so that you can listen at your own pace.
 
The transcript has its own advantages in the same way actively reading something is often better than passively listening or watching. Reading a sermon means not wondering off and missing something. In addition, though video and audio are easy enough to keep around, transcripts are are even easier to archive and store. They also make it easy to search for past sermons for content. Even if you’re not able to remember the date or the service, you can still search for words in the sermon. For example, searching for “billboards on this road promise a lot of really good things.” will take you right to this sermon.


Bible Readings

FIRST LESSON:  Judges 13:6-24

The woman went and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and he looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I did not ask where he was from, and he did not tell me his name. But he did say to me, ‘Listen! You will be pregnant and give birth to a son. So now, do not drink wine or beer, and do not eat anything unclean, because the young man will be a Nazirite dedicated to God from his mother’s womb until the day of his death.’”
Then Manoah pleaded with the LORD, “Please, Lord, the man of God whom you sent—please let him come to us again, to teach us what we are to do for the young man who is to be born.”
God heard the voice of Manoah, and the Angel of God returned to the woman while she was sitting in the field. Once again her husband Manoah was not with her. The woman ran quickly and told her husband. She said to him, “Come, see! The man who appeared to me came to me again today.”
Manoah then got up and followed his wife. He came to the man and said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to my wife?”
He answered, “I am.”
Manoah said, “Now, when your words come true, what will be the rule for the young man and his actions?”
The Angel of the LORD answered Manoah, “The woman must be careful concerning everything that I said to her. She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine. She must not drink wine or beer, and she must not eat any unclean thing. Everything that I commanded her she must observe.”
Manoah then said to the Angel of the LORD, “May we persuade you to stay, so that we may prepare a young goat for you?”
But the Angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “Even if you keep me here, I will not eat any of your food, but if you make a burnt offering, offer it up to the LORD.” (Manoah did not yet know that he was the Angel of the LORD.)
Then Manoah said to the Angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that we can honor you when your words come true?”
The Angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask about my name? It is wonderful.”
Manoah took the young goat and the grain offering, and he offered them on the rock to the LORD, who did something wonderful as Manoah and his wife were watching. As the flame rose from the altar toward the sky, the Angel of the LORD ascended upward from the altar in the flame. Manoah and his wife were watching, and they fell facedown to the ground. The Angel of the LORD did not appear to Manoah and his wife again, but now Manoah knew that he was the Angel of the LORD.
Manoah said to his wife, “We will certainly die, because we have seen God.”
But his wife said to him, “If the LORD wanted to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, and he would not have shown us all these things, nor would he have let us hear this message at this time.”
The woman gave birth to a son, and she named him Samson. The boy grew, and the LORD blessed him.

SECOND LESSON:  Romans 10:13-17

See Sermon Text

VERSE OF THE DAY:  John 8:12b (NIV)

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

GOSPEL: Luke 5:1-11

One time, while the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there along the lakeshore. The fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Jesus got into one of the boats, which belonged to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from the shore. He sat down and began teaching the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water, and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered him, “Master, we worked hard all through the night and caught nothing. But at your word I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their nets were about to tear apart. They signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, because I am a sinful man, Lord.” For Peter and all those with him were amazed at the number of fish they had caught, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Have no fear. From now on you will be catching people.” After they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.

Jesus comes home!

The Third Sunday after the Epiphany

  1. To proclaim good news
  2. To reveal himself as Savior
SERMON TEXT:  Luke 4:14-21 (EHV)

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through all the surrounding area. He was teaching in their synagogues and being honored by everyone. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. As was his custom, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began to tell them, “Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

 

Sermon Audio & Transcript

Jesus comes home!

Grace mercy and peace to all of you from God our father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.

My dear friends,

Dr. David Jeselsohn collects antiques from the Middle East. Nineteen years ago he met an antique dealer from Jordan. The man was selling, among other things, a 3 foot high piece of stone that had 87 lines of ancient Hebrew writing on it. The man was intrigued. Dr. Jeselsohn thought it was pretty cool, so he plunked down a good piece of change and he bought this for his collection. He held onto it for about seven years and finally, wondering what it said, he took it to an expert in ancient Hebrew who began translating the 87 lines. Finding on line 80, he found that it was written about a man who had been killed by the Romans, but rose again from the dead on the third day. The experts dated the writing at approximately 2000 years. Does that ring any bell? Does it sound like somebody you? The Jeselsohn stone as it has come to be known was a part of the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit in Milwaukee some years ago. When the Jeselsohn stone was found, it was hoped by many Christians that this would finally be the exclamation point on Christian history. That would convince all nonbelievers that Jesus is real. That He truly did rise from the dead. Historic proof… for the resurrection of Jesus however is not new and we did not need the Jeselsohn stone in order to tell us that Jesus rose from the dead. In fact, you may or may not know this, but even if we did not have the New Testament, there are 40 different historic sources that tell us about Jesus. There are 100 different facts outside of Scripture not to mention the fact that the New Testament is one of the most accurately transcribed and one of the most ancient of all writings that we have intact today. In fact, the New Testament is preserved much better than any of the old manuscripts of William Shakespeare, or Julius Caesar. In fact, there is better proof that Jesus existed then we even can find for William Shakespeare. Is it surprising to you that people don’t really notice this?

Is it surprising to you that there are so many people doubting it, that when such proof as a 2000-year-old stone that speaks about a man who only could fit the description of Jesus Christ? Does it surprise you that it is ignored by the world? It shouldn’t. In fact, Jesus even when he was walking the earth in human flesh, visible to all, wasn’t noticed by very many people. Jesus had been baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. John the Baptist had been proclaiming him as the Lamb of God for many years. He was raised by his parents Zachariah and Elizabeth to know that Jesus, his second cousin, was the promised Messiah. He was proclaiming the works of Jesus, and then he saw the miracles of Jesus, and heard his teaching, and yet the last recorded words that we hear from John the Baptist are these words. He sent his disciples to go and ask Jesus, “are you really the one who was to call him or should we be looking for somebody else?” Very shortly after Jesus was baptized by John, He went out to the desert for 40 days where he was tempted by the devil, and He withstood that temptation for 40 days, and at the end of it. He was very tired. But nobody noticed when Jesus then went home to Nazareth his hometown. He did what was customary went to the synagogue, and being one of one of the natives of that town of Nazareth, and being educated to read the ancient Hebrew, Jesus stood up to read. Not too many people noticed as as he put the shroud over his head (as is pictured on your bulletin cover), a sign of respect for the word of God. He unrolled the scroll and he started to read these words he found in the book of Isaiah where it says the spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. Yes, send me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind. To release the oppressed and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. When the people in the Nazareth synagogue heard Jesus reading these words they would have immediately thought about the year of Jubilee. You know what that is? Every 50 years, after seven cycles of seven Sabbath years, then they would have the 50th year, the year of Jubilee. Listen what would make you happy about this year? All of your credit card debt would be wiped out. Just totally forgiven on the year of Jubilee. If you had sold family property, the family property would’ve been returned to you. If you were a slave, an Israelite slave who was working off the debt in the year of Jubilee, you would be set free. The year of Jubilee was really something to look forward to. And this was God’s command, that everything, every 50 years, should all be set right.

The section of Scripture that Jesus read from was about 700 years old when Jesus read it. Isaiah wrote about a man who would come proclaiming the good news to the poor. Freedom for the prisoners, release for the oppressed. As long as they followed God’s law they had a very real guarantee that at least once every 50 years, God was going to make good on his promise. Now, our society, our culture doesn’t work like that, does it? There is there is injustice in the world. There’s hurting. There are things that never ever get made right. And even though God is with us, sometimes it just doesn’t seem like it. Seems like people don’t notice our hurting. When people ask us how we’re doing and we kind of slump our shoulders and say I’m doing okay. Seems like, just like people didn’t notice Jesus, people often don’t notice if we are hurting, or if we’re tired, or if we are depressed, or if we’re troubled by debt, or we’re troubled by injustice in the world, or are troubled by what we see in the news, or what we experience in our families. Have you noticed that when we do deal with these kinds of things, not only does it feel like other people don’t notice, but very quickly our thoughts go to thinking God too has abandoned me? How often we allow that little seed of doubt that Satan plants within us to grow so that our discouragement becomes despair. And so that we lose our temper at things that we should have control about. We wish that things were different and then we convince ourselves that we’re helpless, and things can never be right. One of the members of our church just found out that her dad is suffering from dementia. Another one of the members of our congregation has a sister who fell and broke her hip. Another member of our congregation has a nephew who was born with a lung defect. Thankfully it’s been repaired surgically, but the little newborn almost a month old now will still have some future surgeries. When we have problems in life and we start to think God has abandoned us. When it starts to feel as if God is distant, but it’s not that God has moved away, very often it’s we who have moved away. This last week on Monday at the Wisconsin Lutheran College where my daughter attends, and where my son graduated, a 19 year old freshman girl was found having passed away in the dormitory. She died of complications of diabetes 19 years young. At the memorial service which I watched part of online, the president of the college said that the entire faculty and student body are grieving. He acknowledged that this hurts, but he also expressed that hope and that confidence that Aliya Hesseltine is at home in heaven where everything is right. Where there is no more disease. Where there is no more sadness.

The Isaiah text that talks about freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind. That talks about a release for the oppressed. That talks about the year of the Lord’s Jubilee, his favor. That message is one that should bring such joy to our hearts even in the midst of sadness. If you feel like you’re one of the oppressed, where Satan just keeps needling you. Where the temptations of the world keep getting the better of you. If you feel like you’re one of those people it’s constantly losing the battle against the sin whatever sin that is is your weakness. When you feel like you’re just too blind really to see what God’s plan is, then take a good hard look at your Savior Jesus. When we see Jesus we know that our poverty is nothing. We will be rich forever. When we see Jesus, we know that his suffering, we know that his death has paid the debt that we deserved to pay because of all of our sins. When we see Jesus, when we listen to his words, we know that the one who loves us better than any other human being ever could. The one who loves us with perfect giving, unconditional, gracious love is waiting for us in heaven. Jesus went about his business doing good, healing the sick, preaching the good news to the poor, and yet for most of the time it was not noticed. He was taken for granted. People thought he was crazy for a time. People thought that he was demon possessed and accused him of that. People thought that he was just making up a bunch of stuff, yet Jesus went about his business. He kept on teaching. He kept on obeying until that day that they led him to the cross and under the authority of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, they led him out to Golgotha, nailed his hands and feet to that terrible cross, and there he suffered the worst thing possible. He said my God, my God why have you forsaken me. As his own Father, the holy heavenly Father could not look at his son because of the sin that was placed upon him. Imagined that this is the sins of the entire world. I know the burden of my sins are a burden it’s too heavy for me to bear, and now he has the burden of the entire world. Yet they didn’t really appreciate his suffering, instead they mocked him. After God The Father had turned his back on the son, finally the suffering of Jesus was finished and He said, “it is finished.” He said, it’s paid in full. The price of redemption is paid and Jesus said, I commend my soul to you Father into your hands.

On that last day when you and I go to meet our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, it will be a joyful day because when we open our eyes, we who had been blind on earth, will see him perfectly. We who have been oppressed by our sins, will be completely freed from the influence of our sins and others sins, and will bask in the glory of the perfect love of our God, and our Savior. Maybe life gives you a lot of reason to think that this freedom isn’t real. You don’t feel forgiven, or you don’t know that God really loves you. Then it’s time to take your scroll. We don’t usually use a scroll right, but we we open the pages of our Bible. Then it’s time to open to that place where Jesus speaks about the fulfillment of these words, Luke 4:14-21. I hope you can remember that reference, because your Savior Jesus leaves no doubt in our poor imprisoned blind, and oppressed eyes, in our child of God selves, why he came he came to redeem us. He once spoke to his disciples and he said, why are you troubled and why do doubts arise in your minds?

Listen to Jesus again, as he says today these words are fulfilled in your hearing.

There is good news.

Amen


Bible Readings

FIRST LESSON:  Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10 (EHV)

All the people gathered together at the public square that is in front of the Water Gate. They told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel. So on the first day of the seventh month, Ezra the priest brought the Law before the congregation, both men and women and all who were able to understand what they heard. From dawn until midday in front of the public square in front of the Water Gate, he read from the scroll, while facing the men, the women, and those who could understand. All the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. All the people could see Ezra as he opened the scroll, because he was elevated above all the people. As he opened the scroll, all the people stood. Then Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen! Amen!” while they lifted up their hands and then knelt and bowed down with their faces to the ground.
So they read from the Book of the Law of God clearly and interpreted it, and the people understood what was read.
Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites, who helped the people understand, said to all the people, “Today is holy to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or cry!” because all the people were crying as they heard the words of the Law. Nehemiah said to them, “Go, eat rich food and drink sweet drinks and send portions to those who have nothing prepared, because today is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, because the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

SECOND LESSON:  Acts 4:23-31 (EHV)

After Peter and John were released, they went to their own friends and reported everything the high priests and the elders had said. When they heard this, with one mind they raised their voices to God and said, “Master, you are the God who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them. By the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David, your servant, you said: Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers are gathered together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. “For certainly, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and people of Israel, were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did whatever your hand and your plan had decided beforehand should happen. “Now Lord, look at their threats and give to your servants the ability to keep on speaking your word with all boldness as you stretch out your hand to heal and as signs and wonders take place through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken. Also, everyone was filled with the Holy Spirit, and they continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

VERSE OF THE DAY:  Matthew 4:23 (NIV)

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching, preaching, and healing every disease.

GOSPEL: Luke 4:14-21

See Sermon Text

The Grace Messenger

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

february

thu21feb10:00 amBible Study 10AMWeekly Adult Bible Class10:00 am Grace Lutheran Church

sat23feb6:30 pm7:30 pmWorship 6:30PMSaturday Evening Worship6:30 pm - 7:30 pm Grace Lutheran Church

sun24feb9:30 am10:30 amWorship 9:30AMSunday Morning Worship9:30 am - 10:30 am

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Facebook & Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

 

Grace News & Events For The Week Of Feb 10 – Feb 16

THE PREP SINGERS OF LUTHER PREPARATORY SCHOOL, Watertown, Wisc. will begin their tour of the western US with a concert at our congregation, Thursday, March 14. We need host families to host pairs of students that night. Please see the signup sheet in the hall. We will also be serving them supper that night, and are invited to join them.

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Grace News & Events For The Week Of Feb 03 – Feb 09

BYLAWS REVISION PROPOSAL: A new printing of the Grace Lutheran Constitution and Bylaws was distributed last week. This revision is not proposing any changes to our current practice, but is intended to define what our current practice is. The revisions are found on page 7, under Article III.

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Grace News & Events For The Week Of Jan 27 – Feb 02

BYLAWS REVISION PROPOSAL: A new printing of the Grace Lutheran Constitution and Bylaws was distributed last week. This revision is not proposing any changes to our current practice, but is intended to define what our current practice is. The revisions are found on page 7, under Article III.

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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.

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Upcoming Events

 

Grace News & Events For The Week Of Feb 10 – Feb 16

THE PREP SINGERS OF LUTHER PREPARATORY SCHOOL, Watertown, Wisc. will begin their tour of the western US with a concert at our congregation, Thursday, March 14. We need host families to host pairs of students that night. Please see the signup sheet in the hall. We will also be serving them supper that night, and are invited to join them.

read more

Grace News & Events For The Week Of Feb 03 – Feb 09

BYLAWS REVISION PROPOSAL: A new printing of the Grace Lutheran Constitution and Bylaws was distributed last week. This revision is not proposing any changes to our current practice, but is intended to define what our current practice is. The revisions are found on page 7, under Article III.

read more

Grace News & Events For The Week Of Jan 27 – Feb 02

BYLAWS REVISION PROPOSAL: A new printing of the Grace Lutheran Constitution and Bylaws was distributed last week. This revision is not proposing any changes to our current practice, but is intended to define what our current practice is. The revisions are found on page 7, under Article III.

read more

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

Messenger Of Grace

 

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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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...

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