“What Happens When Things Fall Apart?” — Psalm 46

October 26, 2014 – Reformation Text: Psalm 46

Dear Friends in Christ,

Isn’t life interesting? The ups and downs. The good times and bad times. I like to say that all of us in this sanctuary are dealing with something. Some have health challenges. Some have family upheaval. Some have job uncertainty. Some have problems with a spouse. Some have college choices to decide. Some have financial issues. Some of you have to live with the consequences of life choices.
The church is also not immune to life. Because of job movement, deaths and leaving our area we have less people in our worship services. The church at large is under attack from its adversaries to the Word of God. The church in the world is being massacred for believing in a Savior. It surrounds us. I’ve seen more of it in the last few years than at any other time in my ministry. What do you say?
“WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THINGS FALL APART?
We will look at these questions this morning through Psalm 46. These words will help us discover how we should respond when things fall apart.
The psalm is familiar, isn’t it? Martin Luther based “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” on it. As we look at Psalm 46 we will see the events described are happening all around us right now. God’s Word is always contemporary.
Right away the author makes a bold statement about the position people of faith take when things fall apart: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.” (vs. 1-2a) We will not fear. Period.
Then the author describes three scenes. Verses 2-5 describe hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. The earth is giving way. The mountains are falling into the sea. The oceans are in chaos and the earth is shaking and trembling. In the middle of the scene what do we see? “There is a river who streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.” (vs. 4-5) God is in the river. God is present. God is there to help.
Verse 6 gives us our second scene. “The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.” Sudan, Syria, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, ISIS, geopolitical conflict and terrorism, Ebola outbreaks. Yet in the middle of the chaos what do we see? “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (v. 7) A fortress. The Lord Almighty is with us. A place of safety and security. A hiding place where we can rest secure.
Our third scene is verses 8 and 9. Here we have some fascinating words that describe the holy, unbridled power of God, doing things that God in his wisdom sometimes does without our comprehension. Breaking spears, destroying kingdoms, bringing desolation upon the earth. Sometimes God’s mighty, unbridled power intersects with our lives and there is collateral damage. In the middle of this what do we hear? A voice. “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (v. 10)
Which of these three scenes do find your life right now? Natural calamities where things are falling apart in your home or with your health? Interpersonal conflicts? The power of God where things just happen you can’t explain? In the middle of the chaos and anxiety and uncertainty, how is your faith? Where is your faith? In whom is your faith?
Without intending it, Luther found himself in the midst of conflict that rocked the world. He raised some questions, 95 of them, that he wanted to debate and have an open discussion about. Those questions changed the face of Europe and the world and brought the threat of death and excommunication from his church. Where could Luther put his faith? In whom?
No matter what scene you are in, God comes to us like he did with Luther, with these words: “Be still. I am your refuge and strength. I am your fortress.” The writer of Hebrews states, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (13:5) God stands beside us through His Son Jesus. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection took away the sin that had separated us from God. This Table – this body and blood – is the guarantee that the Lord is always with you providing you strength to face life. The waters of baptism were poured over you like the river that the Lord is in the midst of during your challenges. We depend on the Lord’s presence throughout our lives. We can say with the psalmist: “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (v. 11) This enabled Luther to stand against popes and armies.
Do you ever notice that in the midst of things falling apart the Lord through His Holy Spirit still gives us some joy, something to hang on to? Think of it this way. You may have health problems, but your children are a blessing. You may have job insecurity but your marriage is loving and solid. You may face financial challenges but your favorite sports team is doing well. I mean if you are a fan of the Cardinals you have nothing to whine about. They have been the most fortunate team in all of sports the last few years. Believe me, my stomach and anxiety level knows! And one thing to add on the blessing side – our church here at Good Shepherd. If we know of things causing your life to fall apart we are praying for you and lifting you up to the Lord. You have brothers and sisters in Christ who care because none of us are immune to the foibles of this world. The Lord continues to bless.
We are going to see these three scenes continue to play out in front of us. How will we respond when things fall apart? God comes in this psalm to encourage: Do not be alarmed. Do not worry. Do not be afraid.
These are opportunities for us as Christians to speak these words to one another. We will not fear. Be still. We can sit at home or in our workplace and read the words over and over again: God is our refuge and strength. In the middle of the chaos, we have a calm, peaceful river that warms the heart of God. A strong and mighty fortress. A voice speaking to us: “Be still. For I am your God.”
Amen.

October 26, 2014 Bulletin Announcements

Today Because of the harsh winter we had we have blown by the money budgeted for heat/gas for fiscal year 2014 and still have a few month’s to pay for.  The Church Council voted to include “Energy Needs” envelopes in today’s bulletin.  If you can give above and beyond your regular offering for this expense it would be appreciated.  We thank the Lord for His many blessings as we work together for His Kingdom.  (And pray for a warmer winter!)

Next Sunday Two things are happening next Sunday morning, November 2nd.  In order to ensure your timely arrival for worship please “fall back” when setting your clock before going off to la-la land on Saturday evening.  The second is that we will be celebrating All Saints’ Day in worship.  We will remember those who have gone before us and are now breathing heavenly air.  Clock and worship, easy to remember, isn’t it?

Annual Voter’s Meeting  Mark your calendars for Good Shepherd’s Annual Voter’s Meeting on Sunday, November 16th following the 10:30 worship service.  More details to follow.

Portals of Prayer  The October – December Portals of Prayer are available on the bookrack located in the narthex.  Large print also available.  Pick up your free copy today.

Food Collection  We are collecting food for the Home Sweet Home Mission.  The box is located in the narthex.  We will do this through Saturday, November 15th, when we deliver the food and serve a meal at the Mission.

Thank you  The church has received a “Thank you” note from Seminarian Chris Suggitt thanking the congregation for your continued support.  The letter is posted on the bulletin board outside of the church office.

Fellowship Hosts  The sign-up for help with coffee/doughnuts is posted on the wall by the north stairwell.  We need an individual/family to sign up each week to pick up the donuts and make the coffee.  If no one is signed up by Friday of each week, the order will be cancelled.  We thank everybody who continues to help with this part of our church fellowship.

Can You Help:  Greetings to all of you, my dear Church family.  I wish to thank each and every one of you for ALL you have done for my family and me:  meals, prayers, other help.  I am overwhelmed by the love shown to me by so many people.  This has been the hardest challenge so far for us and we pray that our Lord will heal and restore me to my family.  Stave IV and secondary cancer is no joke and when I have to sleep, I am left with no choice – go in and lie down or fall down!  Which leads me to my point.  I have had to learn to ask for some help.  So here is my humble request: would any of you have some easy slow cooker recipes you would be willing to share with me?  I am collecting some recipes but would sure love to have some of yours.  If anyone has slow cooked a roast or a ham or chicken in one, please let me know for how long you’ve cooked it.  Please email any recipes or instructions to me at: dogdiva2@comcast.net.  Thank you again for everything!  Love in Christ, Laura Kessler.

The Lutheran Hour  Keep it Simple and Straightforward is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Romans 3:22-25.  The Bible’s message is simple and straightforward: the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ, our Lord.  The speaker will be Reverend Gregory Seltz.  Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720 AM) at 6am; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3pm.  Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7am and 7pm.  Tune in!  You can listen to the Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org

 

Elder/Usher Schedule November 2014

Date
8:30
Elder
10:30
Nov 2Charles Nottingham, Craig Culp, Gene Fuller, Richard RossMike FieldMike Huth, Theron Noth
Nov 9Jeff Piper, Matthew HollandNathan KluenderBud Kessler, Curt Kessler, Ryan Kleiboeker
Nov 16Daryle Schempp, David Orr, Gerald Semelka, Steve ParryJohn HardyBryan Reichert, Marvin Huth
Nov 23 John Hardy, Nathan KluenderSteve ParryGreg McNeely, Holden Lueck, Karson Lueck
Nov 26
Thanksgiving Eve
7PMSteve ParryJoshua Parry, Mike Field, Paul Gerike, Steve Davis
Nov 30Charles Nottingham, Craig Culp, Gene Fuller, Richard RossBarry HamlinBrian Dirks, Mike Huth, Travis Henson

Acolyte Schedule November 2014

Date
8:30 AM
10:30 AM
Nov 2J.T. PiperPastor/Elder
Nov 9Pastor/ElderIsabella Kessler
Nov 16Anna HollandPastor/Elder
Nov 23Pastor/ElderWill Dowell
Nov 26
Thanksgiving Eve
7PMJessica Isaac
Nov 30Lucas PiperJustin McNeely

“The Great Debate” — Matthew 22: 15-22

October 19, 2014 Text: Matthew 22:15-22

Dear Friends in Christ,

Let me paint a picture for you this morning and you see where you fit. It’s a family dinner. You are with extended family. There is one person in the group who starts talking politics or social issues or whatever. This does not surprise you because this has been happening for years. How do you react? Do you engage in the debate? Do you change the subject to the weather or something safe? Do you run as fast as you can to the kitchen to help with the gravy? Who are you and where do you fit?
Knowing almost all of you here this morning, I would say we have all three. For those of you who change the subject or skedaddle to some other part of the house I am with you most of the time. Experience has taught me that. At times I like to engage the debate. But think about it this way – do you ever leave that family dinner thinking you really ever changed someone’s mind? Many times it just causes tension and the joy of another family gathering goes right down the toilet.
Jesus got dragged into many debates. The text says, “You do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.” That should be part of the constitution of all of us. But the problem is He is God and we are not. Oh, how we would love the magic words to put someone in their place. He’s Jesus – Son of God and Savior. You – sinful human being. We are on two different playing fields. What can be done? Come along as we step into . . .
“THE GREAT DEBATE”
Do you remember a great debate when an opponent was silenced? They rarely happen. Here is one that worked. While receiving some tough questions from the press during the Desert Storm conflict, General Norman Schwarzkopf found himself debating with a reporter as to why we didn’t look to the French for more support. Growing tired his quick wit offered, “Going to war without the French is like going deer hunting without your accordion.” Insulted, but not converted, the reporter didn’t ask the general any more questions.
The great debate today is Jesus versus the Pharisees/Herodians. These two groups of people were not usually on the same side. They ask the debate question: “Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (v. 17) Remember the Herodians are puppets of the Romans and believed taxes should be paid to Caesar or that person was a traitor. The Jews believed paying taxes to Caesar was against God’s will and they shouldn’t have to do it.
So we see the trap. If he speaks against the Pharisees, he’ll show He is a traitor to his own people – the Jews. If he agrees with the Pharisees, the Herodians will have cause for his arrest. Then they could lawfully kill him. In this way the Herodians could carry out the dirty work of the Pharisees. They have to be thinking: “We’ve got him.”
In a simple way, we see ourselves. Can’t we manipulate others to get what we want? Spouses do it. Kids and parents do it. Workers and employers do it. Neighbors do it. Oh, we like to play the game. Herodian or Pharisee? Take your pick, we have been there.
In this great debate, Jesus has an answer. He does not avoid the question or withhold the truth. You and I might be looking for a quick exit. Not the Savior. He proclaims both Law and Gospel. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (v. 21) Since Caesar is on the coin they are obeying the Fourth Commandment, by honoring the ruling authorities by paying taxes. That is being faithful to God, because He put the government in place. Doing our duty as citizens we are giving thanks to our loving and generous God for his gift of civil governance and peace.
But that is not the end. We are to understand the “give to God what is God’s.” It is to see the Holy Spirit at work in the Gospel. It is to believe that same gospel and to recognize that faith in Christ is the highest worship of Christ, the ultimate “rendering to God.” We receive the bounty of his grace in the Lord’s Supper, Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution. It is to cling to Jesus as the one who paid the tax debt by his suffering and death on the cross for you. The tax bill is paid in full. The bill collector of the grave was unable to hold Jesus. The effects of the debt – death and hell – had no power over him. He rose from the dead to prove that the debt is truly and completely paid.
Jesus won the great debate as only he could do. What does that mean for you and I? Don’t go off running from the great debates of our society. Recently, the Supreme Court took a pass on marriage. This is our great debate because society is on the precipice of falling. Have we learned nothing, sociologically from the breakdown of the family these last 40-50 years? If we add another layer away from God’s design what can we expect?
This is a tough one because it is government that gives me and other clergy the right to marry men and women. It is not official until I sign a piece of paper and send it to the county clerk. So, does God want us to just throw up our hands and give up because people are making these laws? No, of course not. He wants us to engage in the great debate. How do we know that? Because in his Word – our only source of right and wrong – He only blesses one avenue for His creation – male and female. “Be fruitful and multiply.” Science teaches the parts only work one way. The Creator knew this and called it good. When people want to be God they do nothing but mess things up. A gentle reminder – I’m not God, you are not God, the Supreme Court is not God, the pontificators of our time are not God. There is only one true God and He is in control.
In the greatest debate ever waged – Satan against Jesus – Jesus has won. Don’t run to the kitchen to make the gravy, but share God’s Word and keep it at that. The Holy Spirit has to do the rest. Many of you get frustrated and I feel your anguish – I too share it at times. But lean on the Great Debater. The one who loves you so much He doesn’t want to see you perish. The One who cares for you so much that He has promised not to leave you or forsake you. That’s what I take from the Great Debate. I pray you do too.
Amen.

October 19, 2014 Bulletin Announcements

Today is the deadline for items to be submitted for the November Newsletter. Mandy Kluender is our Editor for the church newsletter and any announcements you want to be published in the Newsletter should be submitted to her at mgkluender@hotmail.com.

Next Sunday October 26th, we will celebrate Reformation Sunday.  Holy Communion will be celebrated in both worship services.

Next Sunday:  Because of the harsh winter we had we have blown by the money budgeted for heat/gas for fiscal year 2014 and still have a few months to pay for.  The Church Council voted to include “Energy Needs” envelopes in next week’s bulletin.  If you can give above and beyond your regular offering for this expense it would be appreciated.  We thank the Lord for His many blessings as we work together for His Kingdom.  (And pray for a warmer winter!)

Today is our 2nd Sunday Offering for Reverend Michael Kearney and Seminarian Christopher Suggitt.

Next Sunday is the deadline for items to be submitted for the November Newsletter. Mandy Kluender is our Editor for the church newsletter and any announcements you want to be published in the Newsletter should be submitted to her at mgkluender@hotmail.com.

Annual Voter’s Meeting  Mark your calendars for Good Shepherd’s Annual Voter’s Meeting on Sunday, November 16th following the 10:30 worship service.  More details to follow.

Portals of Prayer  The October – December Portals of Prayer are available on the bookrack located in the narthex.  Large print also available.  Pick up your free copy today.

Food Collection  We are collecting food for the Home Sweet Home Mission.  The box is located in the narthex.  We will do this through Saturday, November 15th, when we deliver the food and serve a meal at the Mission.

Thank you  The church has received a “Thank you” note from Seminarian Chris Suggitt thanking the congregation for your continued support.  The letter is posted on the bulletin board outside of the church office.

Fellowship Hosts  The sign-up for help with coffee/doughnuts is posted on the wall by the north stairwell.  We need an individual/family to sign up each week to pick up the donuts and make the coffee.  If no one is signed up by Friday of each week, the order will be cancelled.  We thank everybody who continues to help with this part of our church fellowship.

Can You Help:  Greetings to all of you, my dear Church family.  I wish to thank each and every one of you for ALL you have done for my family and me:  meals, prayers, other help.  I am overwhelmed by the love shown to me by so many people.  This has been the hardest challenge so far for us and we pray that our Lord will heal and restore me to my family.  Stave IV and secondary cancer is no joke and when I have to sleep, I am left with no choice – go in and lie down or fall down!  Which leads me to my point.  I have had to learn to ask for some help.  So here is my humble request: would any of you have some easy slow cooker recipes you would be willing to share with me?  I am collecting some recipes but would sure love to have some of yours.  If anyone has slow cooked a roast or a ham or chicken in one, please let me know for how long you’ve cooked it.  Please email any recipes or instructions to me at: dogdiva2@comcast.net.  Thank you again for everything!  Love in Christ, Laura Kessler.

The Lutheran Hour  Keep it Simple and Straightforward is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Romans 3:22-25.  The Bible’s message is simple and straightforward: the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ, our Lord.  The speaker will be Reverend Gregory Seltz.  Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720 AM) at 6am; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3pm.  Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7am and 7pm.  Tune in!  You can listen to the Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org