“Matters Of The Heart” — Isaiah 40: 1-2 (1-18-2015, 8am service)

Jan. 18, 2015 – Sanctity of Human Life Sunday Text: Isaiah 40:1-2

Dear Friends in Christ,

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Our focus is on life issues, like crisis pregnancies, abortion, post-abortion syndrome, assisted suicide and euthanasia. For some these topics are “hot-button”, or “controversial”, or “political.” For the Christian they are more than that. These are issues that touch people’s hearts with life and death decisions and challenges their faith. Should we be talking about them in church? Yes, of course, because they are . . .
“MATTERS OF THE HEART”
The word “heart” for the Hebrew described someone’s inner being or soul. Hebrew idioms expressed this. Joy may be expressed as a “leaping heart.” Grief as “evil of the heart” and guilt as being “struck by the heart.” In our text we have “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” It is literally translated “speak to the heart of Jerusalem.”
God’s people experienced much “evil of the heart” and they were “struck by the heart” because of their sin and constant rebellion. But God in His mercy and grace wants to give them a “leaping heart” once again. What a joyful message He gives, “Her warfare is ended,” “her iniquity is pardoned, “she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” (v. 2b) If they deserved X amount of punishment for their sin, they instead were given 2X the amount of grace from God. They didn’t get what they deserved but received twice as much of what they did not deserve.
Twice as much grace – we could use that as well. We like ancient Israel are rebellious sinners. We chase after other gods – love of money, love of power, love of self, love of pleasure. You have your own list in your heart. Our sins flow from a corrupt heart. And something else flows from our heart – nothing. Yes, nothing, failing to do what is right, failing to love and help others.
If life issues are just political, we don’t need to discuss them in church. But if they are matters of the heart that touch people’s souls and put our brothers and sisters in need and we have what it takes to deal with matters of the heart – the Gospel of Jesus Christ – but close our hearts to doing so, how can God’s love abide in us?
Are life issues matters of the heart or political issues? You be the judge. She is sixteen, pregnant, and frightened. She knows she made a big mistake and doesn’t want anyone to know. Abortion seems a quick and easy solution. But deep down she struggles with the decision. She is confused and feels so alone. Is this a political issue or a matter of the heart?
Every day in the US of A confusion and fear leads to nearly 3,000 babies being brutally destroyed through abortion. Babies created by God, babies for whom Jesus died, and babies God wants to call into an eternal relationship with Him. Is this a political issue or a matter of the heart?
At first he panicked when his girlfriend said she was pregnant. This would ruin everything. He would pay for the abortion. But then he realized this was his child. The circumstances were not ideal but how could he pay to have his child killed? He vowed to help his girlfriend and protect the child. She called and said the problem was over – she had the abortion. He was crushed, filled with guilt and wept tears of pain. A political issue or a matter of the heart?
His beloved wife had a stroke. Recovery was slow. She could eat, but needed assistance. She had some mobility in the wheelchair but only one arm worked. Speech was slurred and no improvement had been made in a long time. This was not the quality of life she wanted. Assisted suicide was legal in their state. Should he bring it up to his wife? They were Christians and what was wrong with sending her home to Jesus? Is this a political issue or a matter of the heart?
Brothers and sisters, you and I know these are matters of the heart. We have lived them or are living them. The gospel of Jesus Christ is made for such issues of life and death, pain and suffering, grief and regret and guilt. The Gospel speaks to the heart of the pregnant teen. It speaks of forgiveness and offers the presence and strength of Jesus. The Gospel speaks to the heart of that post-abortive man. A forgiveness big enough for all sins. The Gospel speaks to the hearts of those in situations involving disease, pain, suffering. It speaks of a God who, as long as He gives life, gives life meaning and purpose. It speaks of a God who demonstrated His ability to bring good out of suffering through the cross of His own Son.
How can anyone think they are just political? The Gospel is designed to speak to your heart and my heart and all hearts. It calls us to repentance and the cleansing of our hearts. Look at the wonderful words of our text, our “warfare is ended” and our “iniquity is pardoned.” Through Christ we have peace with God. We can trust Him and turn to Him, not death, as the solution to our problems.
We receive from the Lord’s hand twice as much grace that we do not deserve. We receive it in the overflowing waters of Baptism. We receive it through his Holy Word, and we receive it in his lavish meal. We live surrounded by this “double grace” and nothing can separate us from this.
The Gospel speaks to our hearts and calls us to action. “Comfort, comfort my people says your God. Speak tenderly…” (vs. 1-2a) How do you do that? First, become informed about how God’s Word speaks to the life issues. Speak through your prayers for those dealing with matters of the heart. Pray for our country that respect for life is restored. Speak with your actions. Walk beside those who have made mistakes. Support local pregnancy centers, like my family and I do. Speak compassion. Visit the home bound and those in care centers. Help them see the body of Christ cares. Support the families of these people. Learn other ways to help through lutheransforlife.org.
My prayer is that you understand that life issues are more than political issues. They are matters of the heart that touch people deeply. The Good News is that the Gospel of Christ Jesus is tailor made for matters of the heart. May it speak to all of our hearts today with its message of forgiveness, comfort, and hope.
Amen.

Bulletin Announcements – January 18, 2015

+ Bulletin Announcements +

January 18, 2015

 THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  1 Corinthians 6:19-20:  “You are not your own, {20} for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”  God owns everything, including our very selves.  We were made to serve Him and glorify Him and will never truly be happy or find our fulfillment until we learn that lesson.  Jesus has redeemed us and brought us back into the Kingdom of the Father – and that has set us free to serve Him in joy, generosity, liberty, and faith.

TODAY is the deadline for items to be submitted for the FEBRUARY 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 or you may call her at (309) 838-9868.

20th CHURCH ANNIVERSARY CONTAINERS:  If you have not yet picked up your 20th Church Anniversary Container, please do so following the worship services today.  They are located in the narthex.  As you know, the money is going for updates and repairs of the church organ.  We are collecting these funds until July, 2015.  Any questions please feel free to see or call Marvin Huth (309) 829-6897.

ANNUAL TRIP TO FORT WAYNE, IN:  John & Paula Hardy will be making their annual trip to Fort Wayne, IN.  Please bring to the church any slightly used adult and/or children’s clothing and any household items such as small appliances, kitchen items, etc. and place in the box located in the narthex.  We will be loading the items on Friday, January 30th and will be leaving for Fort Wayne on Saturday, January 31st.  Please see or call (309) 310-7917 John or Paula if you have any questions.  Thank you.

OFFERING ENVELOPES:  If you have not done so, please pick up your 2015 Offering Envelopes located on the table in the narthex.  Thank you.

THANK YOU:  The Kessler family would like to THANK EVERYONE who has come forward to bring us meals, prayers, visits, special gifts, and all the blessings that come with this.  We are all overwhelmed by the love shown to us by everyone in our church family.  The Sunday School ornament hangs right where Laura can see it and she cherishes the cards and other good wishes.  Laura remains under ‘house arrest’ as her white blood cell counts are very low, however, visitors are welcome!  In another week, she will begin the next and perhaps hardest chemo challenge which will last for 12 weeks before her surgery can be scheduled. Please continue to keep her in your prayers as she continues to fight back against cancer. God’s blessings to all of you.  Laura, Curt, Bud and Isa Kessler, Bud Barnett

THANK YOU for all the cards, thoughts and prayers throughout Dave’s illness and his passing.  Your acts of kindness were so comforting and we truly appreciate your thoughtfulness.  God’s blessing to all of you.            The David Orr Family

FROM THE OFFICE:  We have free tickets in the church office for the ISU Redbirds Women’s Basketball Game TODAY, January 18th, at 2:00 p.m. against Indiana State.  Please help yourself.

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.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “Just The Facts” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Isaiah 5:20-21.  God’s truth, as revealed in the Bible, remains true regardless of whether anyone believes it or not.  The speaker will be Reverend Ken Klaus.  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.

 

Bulletin Announcements – January 11, 2015

+ Bulletin Announcements +

January 11, 2015

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THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  Mark 1:7:  And John preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.”  John is right: Jesus is immensely greater than any of us, yet behold how He came to serve!  That is the upside down, outlandish grace of God: the innocent Jesus takes our sinner’s place.  This is the greatest act of giving the world has ever known or will know: the Father gives His Son to die in the place of sinners.

TODAY is our 2nd Sunday door offering for Seminarian Chris Suggitt and Reverend Michael Kearney.

OFFERING ENVELOPES:  If you have not done so, please pick up your 2015 Offering Envelopes located on the table in the narthex.  Thank you.

QUILT SEWING:  Due to the weather Quilt Sewing was cancelled this past Thursday.  We will meet this coming Thursday, January 15th from 1-4:00 p.m.

ANNUAL TRIP TO FORT WAYNE, IN:  John & Paula Hardy will be making their annual trip to Fort Wayne, IN.  Please bring to the church any slightly used adult and/or children’s clothing and any household items such as small appliances, kitchen items, etc. and place in the box located in the narthex.  We will be loading the items on Friday, January 30th and will be leaving for Fort Wayne on Saturday, January 31st.  Please see or call (309) 310-7917 John or Paula if you have any questions.  Thank you.

THANK YOU:  The Kessler family would like to THANK EVERYONE who has come forward to bring us meals, prayers, visits, special gifts, and all the blessings that come with this.  We are all overwhelmed by the love shown to us by everyone in our church family.  The Sunday School ornament hangs right where Laura can see it and she cherishes the cards and other good wishes.  Laura remains under ‘house arrest’ as her white blood cell counts are very low, however, visitors are welcome!  In another week, she will begin the next and perhaps hardest chemo challenge which will last for 12 weeks before her surgery can be scheduled. Please continue to keep her in your prayers as she continues to fight back against cancer. God’s blessings to all of you.  Laura, Curt, Bud and Isa Kessler, Bud Barnett

THANK YOU for all the cards, thoughts and prayers throughout Dave’s illness and his passing.  Your acts of kindness were so comforting and we truly appreciate your thoughtfulness.  God’s blessing to all of you.  The David Orr Family

FROM THE OFFICE:  We have free tickets in the church office for the ISU Redbirds Women’s Basketball Game for next Sunday, January 18th at 2:00 p.m. against Indiana State.  Please help yourself.

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.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “The Antidote” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from John 1:43-51.  Jesus is the antidote for our cynicism and doubt.  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.

 

Bulletin Announcements – January 04, 2015

 

WELCOME TO ALL OUR VISITORS:  We are glad you could join us for worship today.  If you are a first-time visitor, please sign our guestbook and pick up a Church Handbook.  If you desire more information about Good Shepherd, please note it on the pew sheet.  May the Lord bless you this day and in Christ’s name we invite you to return.

WE BELIEVE CHILDREN BELONG IN WORSHIP:  However, if you or your child needs a break, we have a staffed Nursery at all our services.  Please see an Usher who can direct you to it.

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.

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  1 Kings 3:4:  “And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place. Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.”  Now that’s a big sacrifice! But of course Solomon offered sacrifices in proportion to his wealth – the Lord had blessed him greatly, so his sacrifices were correspondingly large.  Jesus also praised the widow’s mite, a small amount of money, but a great sacrifice in proportion to her means.

ANNUAL TRIP TO FORT WAYNE, IN:  John & Paula Hardy will be making their annual trip to Fort Wayne, IN.  Please bring to the church any slightly used adult and/or children’s clothing and any household items such as small appliances, kitchen items, etc. and place in the box located in the narthex.  We will be loading the items on Friday, January 30th and will be leaving for Fort Wayne on Saturday, January 31st.  Please see or call (309) 310-7917 John or Paula if you have any questions.  Thank you.

THANK YOU:  We appreciate the kind words and cards regarding the passing of our Dad & Grandpa, Bob McNeely.  Your kindness and sympathy during this time has been appreciated as we are reminded of the great people here at Good Shepherd.  God’s blessings to you all.     Greg, Jeanette, Eli,  Will and Justin McNeely

THE LWML would like to thank everyone in the church who either purchased supplies or helped put together the quilts and health kits this year.  We sent 37 quilts and 65 health kits.  Thanks again!

PORTALS OF PRAYER:  The January – March 2015 Portals of Prayer are available on the book rack in the narthex.  Please pick up your free copy today.  Large print also available.

FROM THE OFFICE:  Good Shepherd has received a recent correspondence from both the Suggitt Family (at the Seminary in Ft. Wayne) and the Hilbert Family (LBT Missionaries).  These have been posted on the bulletin board outside 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.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “Are You Qualified?” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Romans 6:1-11.  God qualifies us for eternal life through our baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection.  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.

INFORMATION REQUESTED:  Please notify the church office if someone in the congregation or any family or friends are ill or hospitalized.

FROM THE CHURCH OFFICE:  If you miss church, please be reminded that copies of the previous week’s sermon are available on the table in the narthex.  Also, the sermon will be available on our web site at www.goodshepherdblm.org.  Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating this Month

Birthdays:

Carin Henson                  1/1

Jason Scott                     1/1

Nicholas Hitch                 1/2

Pat Orr                             1/3

Curt “Bud” Kessler, Jr      1/4

Donald Gronert                1/6

Mary McEleney               1/6

Cathy Cloyd                     1/9

Robert Hanner                 1/9

Jake Scott                       1/12

Heather Brown                1/17

Nancy Thomas                        1/19

Gregory McNeely            1/20

Beth Mosier                     1/20

Linda Dirks                      1/28

Jill Holland                       1/31

 

Baptismal Birthdays:

E. F. Bud Barnett             1/1

Lillian Barnett                  1/1

Charles Nottingham        1/1

Shirley Potter                   1/1

Chloe Hitch                      1/2

Jacqueline Kwasny         1/11

Curt “Bud” Kessler, Jr      1/21

Bulletin Announcements Dec 28 2014

 

WELCOME TO ALL OUR VISITORS:  We are glad you could join us for worship today.  If you are a first-time visitor, please sign our guestbook and pick up a Church Handbook.  If you desire more information about Good Shepherd, please note it on the pew sheet.  May the Lord bless you this day and in Christ’s name we invite you to return.

WE BELIEVE CHILDREN BELONG IN WORSHIP:  However, if you or your child needs a break, we have a staffed Nursery at all our services.  Please see an Usher who can direct you to it.

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:  On this First Sunday after Christmas, the Sunday School lesson focuses on “The Presentation of Jesus.”  In the Divine Service, we join with Simeon and Anna, the angels and archangels, and the great cloud of witnesses in heaven and on earth hailing Christ as the fulfiller of the Law.  Parents might ask, “Where do we sing our praises to God?  How has Christ fulfilled the Law for us?”

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  Luke 2:39:  “And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord. . .”  The Law of God is good.  Of course, it always shows us our sins: but that is good, too!  We need to be driven back to the forgiveness of Christ.  But the Law also shows us the truly blessed way to live – as Mary and Joseph found their joy in a godly life, so should we see the Law as a guide for Christian living, as the roadmap for saying thank you to the Lord for all His grace and mercy to us.

WORSHIP SCHEDULE:  Join us this Wednesday, December 31st at 7:00 p.m. for our New Year’s Eve Worship Service with Holy Communion celebrated.

THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD:  One week from today (January 4, 2015) we will celebrate the Epiphany of Our Lord.  On that date we will have the Installation of Officers, those duly elected to serve in 2015, in both worship services.  Come be installed, we promise it is painless!

IN OUR PRAYERS:  Dave Orr continues his rehabilitation in Chicago.  His liver transplant has been pushed back to the end of January if he recovers and is ready.  If you would like to send a card to Dave and Pat here is the address:  Dave & Pat Orr, c/o Lindsey Orr, 940 N Damen #2F, Chicago IL 60622.  We continue our prayers for all of them.

PORTALS OF PRAYER:  The January – March 2015 Portals of Prayer are available on the book rack in the narthex.  Please pick up your free copy today.  Large print also available.

THANK YOU:  We appreciate the kind words and cards regarding the passing of our Dad & Grandpa, Bob McNeely.  Your kindness and sympathy during this time has been appreciated as we are reminded of the great people here at Good Shepherd.  God’s blessings to you all.          Greg, Jeanette, Eli,  Will and Justin McNeely

THE LWML would like to thank everyone in the church who either purchased supplies or helped put together the quilts and health kits this year.  We sent 37 quilts and 65 health kits.  Thanks again!

FROM THE OFFICE:  Good Shepherd has received a recent correspondence from both the Suggitt Family (at the Seminary in Ft. Wayne) and the Hilbert Family (LBT Missionaries).  These have been posted on the bulletin board outside 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.

ANNUAL TRIP TO FORT WAYNE, IN:  John & Paula Hardy will be making their annual trip to Fort Wayne, IN.  Please bring to the church any slightly used adult and/or children’s clothing and any household items such as small appliances, kitchen items, etc. and place in the box located in the narthex.  The trip date has yet to be finalized but will take place in either January or February.  Please see or call (309) 310-7917 John or Paula if you have any questions.  Thank you.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “Gospel Power for Personal Patience” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Luke 2:40-52.  Jesus teaches us to be patient and wait with hope in God’s promises.  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.

 

 

 

 

“Everybody Counts” — Luke 2: 1-5 (12-25-14, 9am Service)

Dec. 25, 2014 – Christmas Text: Luke 2:1-5

Dear Friends in Christ,

The great census in those days of Caesar Augustus that, humanly speaking, set in motion the Christmas story is plenty familiar to us today in the United States and Canada. Every ten years in the U.S. or five years in Canada, the government sends out forms in the mail and then follows them up with energetic, real-live human census takers – 585,000 of them in the last U.S. census. As with that famous Roman census, the goal was that “all the world would be registered,” that not a single soul would be missed. A census taker today could in one day knock on the doors of million-dollar houses and run-down apartments. Every person, literally, counted.
The Roman census was so that Caesar could extract taxes from every citizen. He wanted no one missed so that not a denarius would be missed for the imperial treasury. There was to be an accounting from every person. Our census is actually for a different purpose: so that no one citizen misses out on the benefits of citizenship. Every district is to be fairly represented in Congress, and every qualifying resident is to be noted for government programs. Every body counts.
Today is Christmas and we are so blessed with the coming of a Savior. Because of what that baby would someday do on a Calvary hill, we can exclaim with the angels and the whole host of heaven . . .
“EVERY BODY COUNTS”
Christmas reminds us that every single person, every soul, counts before God. Every single human being in this sanctuary right now – and every other human being who’s ever lived or ever will – will one day be called to give an account. God’s registration misses no one. Everyone will one day stand before God for final judgment. But God, in fact, set in motion the events of the first Christmas not to tax us, but to see that no one be missed with the blessings of citizenship in his kingdom. God knows each of us, each of you, by name. He calls you again this Christmas to himself. You count. Every body counts.
The census of Caesar Augustus counted millions. The census today counts hundreds of millions. But it really is the One that counts. Yes, it’s the One that counts, because God sees every single one of us through that One, the One who was first counted in that first census, a poor and easily overlooked baby boy just born in the little town of Bethlehem. He is the One for whose sake we count with God.
When Paul in Romans talks about Abraham believing in God “and it was counted to him as righteousness,” we are part of that. We too have been counted righteous. Scripture also says, “blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Rom. 4:8)
Whoever you are, therefore, and whatever your circumstance in life, this gift of the Savior is “for you.” You count. It has your name on it. Whether you are rich or poor, Jesus is your true treasure. Whether you’re young or old, he is the only one whose days are without number. Whether you are overwhelmed by loneliness or caught up in the crowd, He is the One who is your true friend and companion. You could not be any more important to Him.

“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be take of the entire world…So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David…I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people (see every body counts). Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:1,4,10a,11)
Amen.