Sermon for Sunday, November 12, 2017: “Serve Your Neighbor.” (Text)

Video to follow.

November 12, 2017 – Stewardship Sunday                       Text:  Exodus 20:17

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

 

Coveting is desiring something to which you have no right, something that belongs to someone else.  Covetousness is rooted in our basic human selfishness.  We want what we want, and we don’t care who gets hurt or left out in the process.  Happiness is our right, and we will get it.  In the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote that each person had inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of possessions.  In subsequent reviews, the wording was changed to the pursuit of happiness.  Yet our society has indeed come to identify the pursuit of happiness with the pursuit of possessions.  We think we will be happy if we have one more thing.

Some religions try to shut off all human desires.  It’s the solution offered by ancient Stoicism and Buddhism.  But God built desires into our very being.  Ambition is not evil.  Scripture urges us to “eagerly desire the greater gifts” (1 Cor. 12:31).  St. Paul urges the Romans to “never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor” (Rom. 12:11).

You should have ambition, no matter how young or old you are – it gives you energy and purpose.  It is not sinful to be rich, but work for it.  Don’t desire to get what you have not earned or worked for or what you have gotten in a dishonest way.

It is Stewardship Sunday and with the 9th and 10th commandments before us, we ask the Holy Spirit to lead us to . . .

“SERVE OUR NEIGHBOR”

Our Gospel lesson is the parable of the rich fool.  The farmer was not wrong to produce a huge harvest or build big barns to store it in.  He was wrong to call them “my crops,” “my barns,” “my grain,” “my goods.”  God had blessed him with the crops and the goods.  God trusted he would use these blessings properly.  They weren’t given for selfish enjoyment but they came with responsibility and accountability.

The rich man thought only of himself.  He didn’t think of the needs of others or God’s kingdom.  He wanted to eat, drink, and be merry.  The Lord wants us to be happy and He offers heaven to us, but we don’t get there through things or taking life easy.  Jesus said, “Everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life.” (Jn. 6:40)

Paul reminds us in Romans that we have “all things” right now through Christ.  We have no right to them because we have rebelled and disobeyed.  We have coveted and not served our neighbor as we should.  Yet the guilt we feel over that has been nailed to Jesus’s cross.  He rose in victory, and he takes you to be His own now and for all eternity.

The man was wrong to covet and to think he had a right to these things.  He was focused on the wrong goal.  As Luther explains in the Ninth Commandment, “We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbor’s inheritance or house, or get it in a way which only appears right.”  And the Tenth Commandment, “We should fear and love God so that we dot entice or force away our neighbor’s wife, workers, or animals, or turn them against him.”  As in the other commandments, the accent is on the positive attitude of serving one’s neighbor, “help and be of service to him,” and again, “urge them to stay and do their duty.”

What do you eagerly desire in life?  Where is your focus?  Where are you looking for happiness?  Do you live for others?  What is your ambition in life?  Are you directing your energy toward helping and serving others?

A student at a Bible School in the Philippines was unhappy because the men’s rest rooms were always in bad shape and seemed to get skipped over in the cleaning routine.  Seeing no improvement he went straight to the principal with his complaint.  A short time later the student saw the problem being corrected, to his amazement the man with the mop and pail in his hand was the principal himself!

Later the student commented, “I thought he would call a janitor, but he cleaned the toilets himself.  It was a wonderful lesson to me on being a servant and, of course, it raised a question in my own mind as to why I hadn’t taken care of the problem.”

Where can you serve your neighbor?  Where are your skills and help needed?  Today we vote on our boards for 2018 and looking at the list we are lacking the Lord’s servants that our needed.  Young, old, new member or veteran, we desire your service.  It is great for the soul.

Lord, in the grace and hope that you shower upon us through Christ our Savior . . . help us… serve our neighbor.

Amen.

 

 

 

Sermon Text for Sunday, November 5, 2017: “Feebly Strugglers Or Blessed Shiners”

November 5, 2017 – All Saints Day                                     Text:  Matthew 5:10-12

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

 

“We feebly struggle, they in glory shine.” (LSB 677:4)  Don’t you envy the saints who are now with the angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven?  These saints feebly struggle no more.  They have no more pain, no more tears, no more sin.  They will never again experience death.  They have no more problems with their kids or with their marriage.  They don’t have expenses to pay and figuring out what to get everyone for Christmas.  No more bad language to hear on television or the local restaurant.  No one to be angry with them anymore or social media drama.  They are blessed because their struggles are over.

But for you, as a baptized child of God in Christ Jesus, right now, as you feebly struggle on this earth, dear Christian, Blessed are you, Blessed are you!

It is early in the ministry of Jesus.  He climbs a hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee and He gets to teaching these new students, the disciples.  He is introducing them to Christianity and yes they are feebly struggling in this life.

And you, students of the Word, who also feebly struggle, Jesus is teaching you.  And so, we ask, are you . . .

“FEEBLY STRUGGLERS OR BLESSED SHINERS?”

Jesus spoke the first eight Beatitudes using the third person – they.  In this final beatitude He addresses His disciples directly using the second person – you.  He is speaking to you and me here with more emphasis.

Blessed are you who are persecuted and reviled and spoken against, for yours is the joy and the kingdom of heaven.  As Jesus brings these new disciples to himself and initiates them into His kingdom, He tells them that there will be a price; they will be persecuted on account of Him.

This sinful and fallen world will not treat you well, dear saints.  A recent question in Barna Trends asked “Who do people say that the Son of Man Is?”  First, people believe that Jesus was a real person, ok so far.  Second, “Younger generations are increasingly less likely to believe Jesus was God.”  We see this played out in the anger of people today.  Everyone wants to yell his or her opinion in your face.  There is no moral compass or shut-off valve if people deny the deity of Christ.  Third, “Americans are divided on whether Jesus was sinless.”  “He wasn’t sinless why do I have to be?”  Many of these same folks may not believe in sin or may not believe that sinning with no repentance leads to hell.  This mindset is played out in everyday actions in the east and west, north and south, and here in the Midwest.  No one is immune.  Barna’s president, David Kinnaman, sums it up:  “Americans’ dedication to Jesus is, in most cases, a mile wide and an inch deep.”

We feebly struggle.  We may or may not suffer the anger and hatred of this fallen world directly, but we all face it indirectly.  Pro-abortion and gay marriage advocates.  People shouting down others for their God-given opinions.  Less freedom in the workplace to share your faith.  The constant damning of God’s name by people in the public eye.  Satan’s leash is lengthened, sins run rampant, the Last Day is growing closer.

And the problem is worse in other parts of the world.  Christians are beaten and imprisoned for having a Bible or studying in their homes.  Christians are taxed and ridiculed for their beliefs.  Some are murdered because Christ is their Savior.

Could this persecution be at our back door?  It is very likely.

Still, Blessed are you, as St. Peter reminds you:  “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you…But rejoice insofar as you share Christ sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1 Pet. 4:12-13)

“We feebly struggle, they in glory shine.”  The glory of the saints in heaven will one day be your glory.  We feebly struggle because of our own sins and the sins of others.  But Christ assures us with the reality that we will live with Him forever because of what He has done.  The source of joy for a disciple who suffers persecution is the promise of heaven.  So we sing, “But, lo, there breaks a yet more glorious day:  The saints triumphant rise in bright array.” (LSB 677:7)

Blessed are you because, dear saints in Christ through the blood, suffering,

death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, this glory is yours even now, yet more fully to be realized on the Last Day, which will be for you a day that has no end.

Dear saints, I know you feebly struggle in this broken and fallen world of sin and death.  I see it in the weariness of your faces and the physical breakdown of your bodies.  In the last five years of my ministry I have seen these struggles among God’s people and His church explode.  You are weary and you are hurt, but you are the Lord’s.  God gives you his comfort and his mercy and he claims you as his own.  Think where we would be without His love and support.  His promise of a better and eternal future.  Blessed are you!  Yes, you are blessed!

Amen.

Elder, Usher, and Acolyte Schedules for November 2017

Elder and Usher Schedule

Date
8:30
Elder
10:30
Nov 5Gerald Semelka, Nathan Kluender, Paul GerikeBarry HamlinBud Kessler, Curt Kessler
Nov 12Joshua Parry, Mike FieldCurt KesslerBrian Dirks, Greg McNeely, Theron Noth
Nov 19Craig Culp, Daryle Schempp, Nathan Kluender, Steve ParryCraig CulpGreg McNeely, Mike Huth
Nov 22 7PMJeff Piper, Lucas PiperNathan Kluender
Nov 26Gene Fuller, Richard RossRandy ReinhardtBrian Dirks, Bud Kessler, Theron Noth

Acolyte Schedule

Date
8:30 AM
10:30 AM
Nov 5Tanner HitchPastor/Elder
Nov 12Pastor/ElderJustin McNeely
Nov 19J.T. PiperPastor/Elder
Nov 22 7PMThanksgiving EveJessica Isaac
Nov 26Pastor/ElderWill McNeely

Stewardship Corner November 2017

Our Father in heaven has claimed us as His own.  By the shedding of His Son’s blood, by the His death for our sins and His resurrection for our justification, God the Father has received us back into His family.  By water combined with His Word, promise, and name, the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in us.  We belong to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  He is in us, and we are in Him.  And being in Him, all things are ours. In Him, we are richly and abundantly blessed.

Our true treasure and wealth is that we belong to the most holy Trinity and everything that is His belongs also to us: righteousness, peace, eternal life.  Even our temporal treasures are gifts from His fatherly divine goodness and mercy.

We receive our treasures from Him, and thus, as (good stewards of His varied grace,) (1 Peter 4:10) we manage them in such a way that they may be returned to Him.  We bring them to Him, hallowed through prayers of thanksgiving and God’s holy Word, as an offering.

Thus, all our possessions, as gifts from God, are also offerings to Him, from which we eat to nourish our bodies, share with our family, neighbors, and fellow Christians, with the poor and even our enemies, as holy things given by the holy God.  His temporal gifts are blessings to and for us, and bring blessing upon us even as they are pressed into His service for His kingdom and the souls that receive them.

Thus we place all that we have into God’s hands, and He never fails to remember us and pours out the fullness of His promises upon us.  We give thanks for all that He has done, is doing, and will continue to do.  We give thanks by not taking for ourselves, but giving to all even as our heavenly Father has given to us.

As we prepare for the celebrations of Thanksgiving, may we all give thanks continually for all that we are and all that we have because of God’s providential care.  And may we be all the more diligent in bringing everything that we have received from God to Him, so that He may bless it and employ it for the good of all — even for us. “ For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance” (Matthew 13:12).

Celebrating November 2017

Birthdays

Karen Dale             Nov 1
Caleb Evans           Nov 2
Ryan Kleiboeker    Nov 2
Sheri Piper             Nov 4
Shirley Potter         Nov 4
Patricia Hanner      Nov 6
Jeanette McNeely  Nov 6
Phoenix Kleiboeker Nov 7
Denyce Berg           Nov 8
Holden Lueck         Nov 9
Curt Kessler            Nov 15
Ruth Gooding        Nov 17
Cannon Kleiboeker Nov 17
Theron Noth           Nov 18
Joshua Parry            Nov 23
Gordon Schroeder  Nov 24

Baptismal Birthdays

Jacquelyn Semelka Nov 1
Janet Evans             Nov 7
Bob Love                Nov 14
Cheryl Reichert       Nov 14
Ryan Kleiboeker     Nov 19
Thomas Anderson Nov 20
Penny Culp            Nov 26
Holden Lueck        Nov 28
Joshua Parry          Nov 28

Pastor’s Notes November 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Because it is so difficult in parts of the world to find clean drinking water, an organization called Water Is Life developed a wonderful resource called “The Drinkable Book.”  The paper in the book is coated in silver nanoparticles that filter out almost 99.9 percent of harmful bacteria.  Each tear-out page can be used and reused to filter up to 100 liters of water at the cost of only four pennies per page.

The Bible is also an unusually “drinkable” Book.  In John chapter 4 we have the story of the woman at the well.  She needed much more than just water to quench her spiritual thirst.  Because of the circumstances in her life she was desperate to know about “the living water” that Jesus was talking about.

Jesus said to her, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.  The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

The Lord gave us living water in our Baptism.  We need the “drinkable” Book as we face the circumstances of our life.  This “drinkable” Book points to God’s Son as the sole source of “living water.”  Those called and washed in the water through the Holy Spirit will experience “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Lord, help us discard the things that leave us empty and thirsting and exchange them for the blessings of the living water you offer.

In Christ,
Pastor