“The Waiting Is The Hardest Part” — Sermon: Sun, 11-30-14 (10:30am)

Nov. 30, 2014 Text: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Dear Friends in Christ,

Can you think of times in our world when people were not prepared? How about these: The German invasion of Poland in 1939. The Japanese attacking Pearl Harbor in 1941. The Islamic terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001. The tsunami that roared across the Indian Ocean in December 2004. Hurricane Katrina that devastated the Gulf Coast back in 2005. Tornadoes that come without warning. The recent snowstorm in New York State.
Waiting is one thing when we’re prepared. Waiting is quite another when we’re unprepared. And how can we possibly be prepared when we don’t know what’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen?
Today begins the new church year and the season of Advent. This liturgical season is all about preparation and . . . waiting. I’ve titled the sermon after a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song from the 1980’s. Even though it was probably not meant to be theological this is the line in the song right before the title. “You take it on faith, you take it to the heart . . .
“THE WAITING IS THE HARDEST PART”
Paul as he writes to the Corinthians acknowledges that they lack nothing. They were enriched in speech and knowledge. They have been given grace through Jesus Christ. The testimony of Christ was confirmed among them.
We also lack nothing. We have been enriched through God’s good gifts. Christ revealed, salvation completed, surrounded by the grace and mercy of the Savior.
Yet we are waiting. We are waiting for “the day.” (v. 8) When I say that, what do many of you immediately think of? You think of the day that is still twenty-five days away. You think of the preparations that still have to be made. You will not be caught unprepared. You know it’s coming so why worry.
It is true that many of us are waiting for Christmas and the blessing of celebrating and worshipping Jesus Christ, the revealed Son of God the Father, born in Bethlehem. But Paul is not writing about Christmas. He is writing about the Greater Day. The return of Jesus Christ. And so we wait. Strangers in a strange land.
While many may agree that “waiting is the hardest part” when it comes to Christmas, do you feel the same way about the return of Christ? Is waiting the hardest part? Or is it not knowing when this will occur the hardest part? Do you take it on faith? Do you take it to the heart? Is the waiting the hardest part?
With Christmas we have a fixed date. Even though we may flitter around wondering how we will accomplish all that needs to get done, we can look back on a record number of years where we accomplished what we wanted. The worry melts away like the spring snows because we have been through it before. The rhythm of life helps us to be prepared.
The opposite can happen with the return of Jesus. Since we do not know the date, we can worry about whether our faith life is in the right place. Do I fully trust Christ as Savior? Has my heart been prepared for His salvation? We may even begin to join the scoffers of the day who insist that Jesus isn’t ever going to return, because after all, where has He been as the world falls apart?
And still, we are ready. We are prepared. This is not we scurrying to the mall to get eternal clothes for Jesus’ arrival. We are not the ones hanging the stockings by the chimney in hopes that Christ would soon be here. Paul writes, “as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (vs. 7b-9)
We are not sustaining ourselves to the end. God is. He is preparing our hearts and our minds for the expected arrival back to earth of our Savior. We are not always faithful. God is always faithful. We are no longer guilty of our offenses but through the death and resurrection of Christ we are guiltless. “Jesus has cleansed His church by removing the sins of believers through His own blood on the cross. This cleansing has been applied to Christians through Holy Baptism.” (Eph. 5:26) When Jesus returns the church will be blameless because God who is faithful keeps it in the cleansing flow of His grace. It all God’s doing through the Word and the Sacraments. He has prepared us. Yes, the waiting is the hardest part because we cannot wait to experience the joy of being with the Lord forever.
Take it on faith. Take it to the heart. The return of Christ our Savior is the blessed part.
Amen.

November 30, 2014 Bulletin Announcements

THE ADULT BIBLE CLASS, led by Pastor Lueck, is studying “Luther’s Small Catechism”.  The class meets in the basement at 9:15 a.m.

 TODAY IN SUNDAY SCHOOL:  Our children will study “Jacob’s Dream”, a story that shows God renewing His promise to bless all people through Jacob’s family.  God kept His promise by giving Jesus to be our Savior.  Your family could discuss, “What reminders does God give us of His promises to us?”

 THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  1 Corinthians 1:9:  “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  The faithfulness of God is our great comfort. He has made promises to us and He will keep them.  He is kind and loving toward us and will not break faith with us. This gives us the confidence to step out in faith, not fear, when it comes to following the Lord’s commandments for our daily lives: we know His will is best; God is faithful.

 ADVENT DEVOTIONS:  Pick up a copy of the “Advent Devotions” located on the table in the narthex.

 TODAY:  The Evangelism/Stewardship Committee invites everyone to be a part of decorating the church for Advent/Christmas.  We will gather in peace and joy to prepare for “the Light of the world to come”.  TODAY following the 10:30 worship will be the time for this festive fellowship event.  We will enjoy that time honored Christmas traditional meal – pizza – provided by the congregation.  Do not be “asleep on the hay” but “let every heart prepare Him room” as we look forward to seeing you today.

CHRISTMAS 2014 ADOPT A FAMILY:  This year we have adopted a family of 4 for Christmas.  We have placed their requests on the tree in the narthex.  Choose an item or items to purchase and return these purchases, unwrapped, by TODAY, November 30th.  We have put a box next to the tree for those who would like to make a monetary donation.  Please make checks payable to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and put “Adopt a Family” in the memo line.  Katie Kleiboeker and Toni Lueck will purchase items with these funds.  Please take this opportunity to share your blessings with a family in need.

THE MIDWEEK ADVENT WORSHIP SERVICES begin this Wednesday, December 3rd and will also be held on Wednesday, December 10th and the 17th.  Worship begins at 7:00 p.m. with a soup and sandwich supper at 5:30 p.m.  We have a sign-up in the narthex for the meal.  There will be a free-will offering for Seminarian Chris Suggitt.  Almost every Board in the congregation will not meet in December so that families can worship together and spend time with one another during this busy month.

 POINSETTIAS:  If you would like to contribute toward the purchase of a poinsettia for the altar at Christmas, the cost is $6.00.  There is a sign-up sheet and envelope to put your money or check in available on the table in the narthex.  We need to have your order by Sunday, December 14th.  You may pick up your poinsettia after the New Year’s Eve Worship Service.  If you have any questions, please contact Luanne Huth.

 THANK YOU notes were sent out to everyone but in case someone got missed, “Thank you” for all the wonderful cards, kind words, and gifts for Pastor Appreciation.  As I complete my 15th year as your Shepherd, I appreciate all the love and support for my family and I.  The Lord continues to bless us through you.  In Christ’s Love, Pastor

 THE LUTHERAN ANNUAL:  It’s time again to order copies of the “Lutheran Annual”.  The cost is $25.00.  If you are interested in obtaining a copy, please contact Janet or Sandy in the church office by phone (309) 662-8905 or email at: goodshepherdblm@frontier.com or even in person.

FROM THE OFFICE:  We have a 2015 Large Print Scripture Text Calendar available for anyone who wants it.  See Pastor Lueck.

 FINANCIAL STATEMENTS:  If you would like a copy of your 2014 Financial Statement please see or call Joyce Schneider.

 THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “We Need Something Stronger” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Mark 1:1-8.  Jesus exchanges our weakness for His strength.  The speaker will be Reverend Gregory Seltz.  Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720) at 6:00 a.m.; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.  Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.  Tune in!  You can also listen to The Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org.

“Why Your Life Is Worth His Life” — Dueteronomy 7: 7-8, Romans 5: 6-8 & John 2: 1-10 (11-23-2014)

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Nov. 23, 2014 – Stewardship Sunday Texts: Deut. 7:7-8, Rom 5:6-8, John 2:1-10

Dear Friends in Christ,

Two men crashed their private plane on a South Pacific Island. One of the men brushed himself off and proceeded to run all over the island to see if they had any chance of survival. When he returned, he rushed up to the other man and screamed, “This Island is uninhabited and there is no food or water. We’re going to die!”
The other man leaned back against the fuselage of the wrecked plane, folded his arms and responded, “No we’re not, I make over $100,000 a week.” The first man grabbed his friend and shook him. “Listen, we’re on a deserted island. We’re doomed!” Still unfazed, the man looked the other guy in the eye and said, “It’s OK. I make over $100,000 per week and give 10% to the church. My Pastor will find us!”
It’s Stewardship Sunday. Time to take inventory of how we use God’s precious gifts to us. It’s all about Him – the Savior, Jesus. He makes what we do for Him and His kingdom worth it.
“WHY YOUR LIFE IS WORTH HIS LIFE”
Our first text from Deuteronomy, “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set His love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”
That same truth applies to us. We are a chosen people that belong to God. And please know that we are not chosen and made His because we are all great and wonderful. Scripture says we are sinful people like filthy rags. We are his enemies because of our sin.
Christ through His grace has saved us. We are saved from the terrors and torment of hell. We are saved from having to prove ourselves to God. We are saved from the culture we want to adapt to. We are saved through a beaten, bloodied, spiked to a cross, facing the depths of hell Savior who loved us enough to bear the punishment for our filthy rags. Your life was worth His life.
Our Epistle lesson spells it out even more clearly. Paul writes, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
We are weak, aren’t we? Struggling with our sin. Giving into temptation and the devil. Sometimes making a real royal mess of our lives. Going after the self-helps of the world only to find that makes it worse. We need Jesus. We need His love, forgiveness and guidance through His Word every day. That changes how I live and how I treat others. It is worth everything. Your life was worth His life.
Our last text is the first miracle Jesus every performed. Commonly known as “changing water into wine.” Our focus today is on verse 10, “(The master of the feast) said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.’”
The master of the feast recognized the wine’s high quality, giving witness to the miracle’s greatness. The Lord always gives the best.
Think of the good wine you have been granted in this life. Financial blessings showered up on you. A country where you can come to worship without fear of retribution or imprisonment. The amazing abilities that the Creator God has given unto you. The time granted on this earth to serve God and your fellow man. The children on loan to you to shepherd in the faith. Do you recognize the good wine that comes from the hands of your Redeemer?
Sometimes though we drink from the poor wine and wallow in our self-pity. “I don’t have what my neighbor has.” “Why can’t I do ________ as well as so and so?” “Where is the time Lord to get done what needs to get done.” All this does is make us whiners filled with the poor wine of our own making.
We forget we are the ones chosen to attend the wedding feast and given the good wine. The miracle worker Jesus makes this all possible. The guests at the wedding didn’t do anything to deserve this gift. They were the blessed recipients.
What we tend to do in the church is turning away from the eternal truths of God’s Word and focus on human fulfillment. This guts the central tenet of the faith once delivered to the saints, namely God’s one-way love in his Son Jesus Christ.
Last year Tullian Tchvidjian, Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and grandson of evangelist Billy Graham, wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post deploring this capitulation of churches toward expressive individualism. He wrote:
“The hub of Christianity is not ‘do something for Jesus.’ The hub of Christianity is ‘Jesus has done everything for you.’ And my fear is that too many people, both inside and outside the church, have heard our ‘do more, try harder’ sermons and pleas for intensified devotion and concluded that the focus of the Christian faith is the work that we do instead of the work God has done for us in the person of Jesus.”
He cares for you. He loves you. He died for you. Your life is worth His life.
Amen.

November 23, 2014 Bulletin Announcements

TODAY IN SUNDAY SCHOOL:  The account of “Jacob and Esau” that our children will study in Sunday School today is a story of competition and bad feelings between brothers, parental favoritism, and family squabbling. Amidst this chaos,  God acted with grace toward all of them—and to us.  Parents might ask, “How do these sins afflict every family?  Why is forgiveness important in families?”

 

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  Matthew 25:44:  “Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’”  With this parable Jesus once again emphasizes that our good works come from who we are, not the other way around.  Sheep do sheep works, and goats do goat works. So first things first: if we want to live more faithfully, let us come to Jesus, receive His gifts, and ask him to increase our faith!

 ADVENT DEVOTIONS:  Pick up a copy of the “Advent Devotions” located on the table in the narthex.

 THANKSGIVING EVE WORSHIP:  Before Thanksgiving Thursday and Black Friday join us for Worship Wednesday under the theme: “The Good Life” as we praise our Lord and Savior for His many blessings.  This Thanksgiving Eve Communion Service will begin at 7:00 p.m. on November 26th.

 “THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD TO COME”:  The Evangelism/Stewardship Committee invites everyone to be a part of decorating the church for Advent/Christmas.  We will gather in peace and joy to prepare for “the Light of the world to come”.  On Sunday, November 30th, following the 10:30 worship will be the time for this festive fellowship event.  We will enjoy that time honored Christmas traditional meal – pizza – provided by the congregation.  Do not be “asleep on the hay” but “let every heart prepare Him room” as we look forward to seeing you on the 30th.

CHRISTMAS 2014 ADOPT A FAMILY:  This year we have adopted a family of 4 for Christmas.  We have placed their requests on the tree in the narthex.  Choose an item or items to purchase and return these purchases, unwrapped, by NEXT SUNDAY, November 30th.  We have put a box next to the tree for those who would like to make a monetary donation.  Please make checks payable to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and put “Adopt a Family” in the memo line.  Katie Kleiboeker and Toni Lueck will purchase items with these funds.  Please take this opportunity to share your blessings with a family in need.

 THE MIDWEEK ADVENT WORSHIP SERVICES begin on Wednesday, December 3rd and will also be held on Wednesday, December 10th and the 17th.  Worship begins at 7:00 p.m. with a soup and sandwich supper at 5:30 p.m.  We have a sign-up in the narthex for the meal.  Almost every Board in the congregation will not meet in December so that families can worship together and spend time with one another during this busy month.

 THANK YOU notes were sent out to everyone but in case someone got missed, “Thank you” for all the wonderful cards, kind words, and gifts for Pastor Appreciation.  As I complete my 15th year as your Shepherd, I appreciate all the love and support for my family and I.  The Lord continues to bless us through you.  In Christ’s Love, Pastor

 THE LUTHERAN ANNUAL:  It’s time again to order copies of the “Lutheran Annual”.  The cost is $25.00.  If you are interested in obtaining a copy, please contact Janet or Sandy in the church office by phone (309) 662-8905 or email at: goodshepherdblm@frontier.com or even in person.

FROM THE OFFICE:  We have a 2015 Large Print Scripture Text Calendar available for anyone who wants it.  See Pastor Lueck.

 FINANCIAL STATEMENTS:  If you would like a copy of your 2014 Financial Statement please see or call Joyce Schneider.

December 2014 Usher/Elder Schedule

Date
8:30
Elder
10:30
Dec 7Gerald Semelka, Jeff Piper, Matthew Holland, Steve ParryCraig CulpRyan Kleiboeker, Theron Noth
Dec 14Daryle Schempp, Nathan KluenderCurt KesslerBud Kessler, Greg McNeely, Marvin Huth
Dec 21John Hardy, Joshua Parry,Mike Field, Steve DavisPaul GerikeBryan Reichert, Holden Lueck
Dec 24
Christmas Eve
6PMMike FieldGene Fuller, Matthew Holland, Mike Huth, Richard Ross
Dec 25
Christmas Day
9AMSteve ParryAs Available
Dec 28Jeff Piper, Paul GerikeNathan KluenderBrian Dirks, Karson Lueck, Travis Henson
Dec 31
New Year's Eve
7PMJohn HardyCharles Nottingham, Craig Culp, Daryle Schempp, Steve Parry

Nov 16, 2014 Bulletin Announcements

TODAY IN SUNDAY SCHOOL the children will study the efforts Abraham made to ensure that his son Isaac would marry a person who loved God in the account of “Isaac and Rebekah.”  As a family discuss, “Why is it important to marry someone who shares your Christian faith?  What are the blessings of sharing your beliefs with your spouse?”

 THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:    Matthew 25:30:  “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness.”  Why did the worthless servant act the way he did?  Because of what he believed about the Master.  He didn’t trust or love the Master – and so he did not demonstrate love and trust in his actions, but rather hate and mistrust.  It’s the same with us, but in reverse: since we know our Lord God to be faithful and kind, we desire to serve Him and render faithful service with what He has given us.

 2014 COMMITMENT CARD:  Your 2014 Commitment Card is available for pick-up in the narthex.  Today, November 16th, the new Commitment Cards will be handed out and Stewardship Sunday will be on November 23rd.

 TODAY is Good Shepherd’s Annual Voter’s Meeting following the 10:30 Worship Service.  We will have a potluck meal.  The church is providing the meat and drink.  Please bring a side dish or dessert.  The 2015 Budget proposal and the list of candidates for church offices are located in the narthex.

 TODAY is the deadline for items to be submitted for the DECEMBER 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.

 THANKSGIVING EVE WORSHIP:  Before Thanksgiving Thursday and Black Friday join us for Worship Wednesday under the theme: “The Good Life” as we praise our Lord and Savior for His many blessings.  This Thanksgiving Eve Communion Service will begin at 7:00 p.m. on November 26th.

 “THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD TO COME”:  The Evangelism/Stewardship Committee invites everyone to be a part of decorating the church for Advent/Christmas.  We will gather in peace and joy to prepare for “the Light of the world to come”.  On Sunday, November 30th, following the 10:30 worship will be the time for this festive fellowship event.  We will enjoy that time honored Christmas traditional meal – pizza – provided by the congregation.  Do not be “asleep on the hay” but “let every heart prepare Him room” as we look forward to seeing you on the 30th.

CHRISTMAS 2014 ADOPT A FAMILY:  This year we have adopted a family of 4 for Christmas.  We have placed their requests on the tree in the narthex.  Choose an item or items to purchase and return these purchases, unwrapped, by Sunday, November 30th.  We have put a box next to the tree for those who would like to make a monetary donation.  Please make checks payable to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and put “Adopt a Family” in the memo line.  Katie Kleiboeker and Toni Lueck will purchase items with these funds.  Please take this opportunity to share your blessings with a family in need.

 FROM THE OFFICE:  We have a 2015 Large Print Scripture Text Calendar available for anyone who wants it.  See Pastor Lueck.

 FINANCIAL STATEMENTS:  If you would like a copy of your 2014 Financial Statement please see or call Joyce Schneider.

 ENERGY NEEDS ENVELOPES are still available on the table in the narthex.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “Clean And Thankful is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Luke 17:11-19.  Thanksgiving is not just a made-up holiday, it’s an attitude that is the key to life.  The speaker will be Reverend Gregory Seltz.  Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720) at 6:00 a.m.; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.  Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.  Tune in!  You can also listen to The Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org.