Philippians 3:20 “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
We are blessed as God’s children to have “Our Father who art in heaven” and in this world to daily remember that we are “Children of the Heavenly Father.” As we go through life with all the struggles and suffering and joys and challenges we can find peace and comfort in our Lord Jesus Christ! We are headed home to heaven to be with Jesus and all the saints for eternity! Knowing that certain future helps us to live in the present! In Philippians chapter 3, Paul gives us three reminders to help us along life’s way.
- KEEP OUR EYES ON THE FAITHFUL EXAMPLES AROUND US- There has been a “cloud of witnesses” that has gone before us and continues to be around us. Listening and learning from the “seasoned” believers is a great way to keep focused on God and His Word and His Ways! Together as a fellowship of believers we can stay empowered and equipped for battle. Ours is the victory in Christ!
- BE AWARE OF THE ENEMIES…KEEP OUR HEARTS AND MINDS ON CHRIST- There are a lot of things for our minds and hearts to look at in this world. The “enemies of the cross” are focused on themselves and do not see our Savior who went to the cross for our salvation. We can tend to be self-absorbed and let our pride veer away from the continual learning and studying of God’s Word.
- STAND FIRM IN THE LORD- The apostle Paul used the “stand firm” phrase over forty times in his writings. We can stand in the strength in which the Lord gives! It is not in us or the world, but only in our Triune God’s Word and promises. Romans 12:12 reminds us to “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and constant in prayer.” We have a glorious future and in the meantime may God continue to give us the spirit to live in His grace and be lights to His Word in this world!
“Exercise daily: Run from the devil, walk with Jesus.”
God’s Peace Every Day!
Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Are you finding plenty of peace during the busy months of December? Our days and lives can become quite hectic and filled with so many activities that an evening or an hour to just relax and have some peace and quiet seems difficult. Other times of the year can also be so busy that we struggle to find some peace. As God’s children we can daily enjoy the peace that comes from His grace and promises that we have received in Christ Jesus! A few suggestions:
- Pause- Make some time in your schedules to slow down and relax. As the days can become so filled with activities and things that have to get done, we fail to just step back and reflect and collect ourselves before moving on.
- Pray- Making timing to be in God’s Word and making time to talk with God each and every day helps us stay connected to our source of strength and peace. There are many resources and devotions available that focus on the promises of God’s Word that keep us prayerful and empowered for the day’s tasks.
- Patience- Praying for patience as we deal with tasks and people is beneficial. We can have that “gracious gentleness” as we interact and deal with those around us. Putting the best construction on situations is helpful in being reasonable and gentle in life’s circumstances with God’s people.
- Positivity- Paul says in Philippians to rejoice always! That’s a tough and tall task, but it is a directive as God’s children to realize that every day is a day that the Lord has made and we can rejoice and be glad in it! We can be a great witness in displaying the joy that comes from the Lord!
- Proceed in peace- Keeping God’s peace in our hearts and seeking His kingdom and His will as our top priority will help is to daily live and proceed with the peace that surpasses all of our understanding. God’s peace in Christ Jesus is what can keep our hearts and minds guarded and focused! Thanks be to God for the peace we have in Jesus!
Be Worth Your Salt!
Mark 9:49 “For everyone will be salted with fire.”
It’s amazing how many uses for salt there are! One sight on the internet mentioned over 14,000 known uses. That’s quite amazing! Various studies over the years seem to show that too much salt might be unhealthy and yet some studies show maybe that’s not the whole story. Regardless of those studies, most of us know how good salt can be on things such as French fries and popcorn. Salt is also used for making chemicals, deicing, treating wounds, cleansing agents, as well as for preserving food before refrigeration came about. One suggestion was to put some salt in your smelly shoes to get rid of the odor!
The expression to be worth one’s salt seems to have its roots in ancient Rome, where soldiers were sometimes paid in salt or given an allowance to purchase salt. The word salary comes from the Latin “salarium”, which originally referred to a soldier’s allowance to buy salt. Being worth your salt is an expression that usually means that you are competent and deserve what you are earning. It is a good thing for people to believe that you are doing your job, working hard and receiving a fair wage.
In Mark chapter 9, verses 38-50, Jesus is quite clear. He is giving his followers a stern warning. He is describing a clear picture of what hell is like and that hell is a separation from God and a place of God’s wrath eternally. He wanted His followers to see the seriousness of sin and the importance of staying in their faith. There is nothing more important than the retaining of our faith in Jesus! The Lord will be coming to judge the living and the dead and as followers of Jesus we need to practice self-control and let God’s Word and grace be our guide and strength.
We have a Gospel promise in Jesus’ words that say we will be salted with fire. It is in the Word of God and the working of the Holy Spirit that our Lord leads us and cleanses and purifies us! It is in God’s Word and through the Holy Spirit, God’s means of grace, that we are forgiven and strengthened to do battle against sin, the world, and the devil. We need to be purified and preserved through God’s grace and see how God has provided the way! He has provided the way out of what we really deserve and also provided the way to faithfully follow as His disciples until he call us home to heaven!
As we are daily “salted” with God’s Word and the working of the Holy Spirit, we can be at peace with ourselves and with others as we go and walk in His ways. We can add flavor and seasoning to this world of darkness and point others to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world! Our daily prayer can be, “Lord, let me be worthy of Your salt.” He has gifted us with His salt-His Word and Spirit! May we enjoy being His empowered faithful followers!
Lamentations 3:22 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end”
Our God is faithful and will do as He says. He keeps His promises and His Word says that His love never ceases and that His mercies never stop showering down upon His children. We are blessed to be His children and this wonderful news of salvation in Christ alone needs to be shared. At our District convention this summer, the Reverend Michael Newman shared some wonderful reminders to us from his book, “Gospel DNA”. He reminded us that we can be like Peter and John who in Acts chapter four, boldly shared the Gospel and were so passionate to preach the good news about what they had seen and heard in the work of Jesus Christ! We are saved and sent servants and we all are MISSIONARIES! We need to wake up and be the salt and light of the earth and live to give glory to God and bring others to Christ. Here are the five markers of a flourishing church according the Reverend Newman:
- PEOPLE- The first marker of every Gospel movement is a love for people. Jesus demonstrated that love to all people and we can follow His example to love all, even those that are harder to love. Let’s have that passionate and urgent love for all!
- MULTIPLICATION-The second marker is the urgent need to share this good news of Christ with others. God so loved the WORLD, which includes everyone and we need to “share/pay it forward”. Who are my neighbors? Who in my family, workplace, neighborhood, and community needs to hear about salvation in Christ?
- TRUTH-Jesus is the way, the TRUTH, and the life! What a treasure we have been given! Truth matters and it truly is a matter of life or death. We can humbly and in love speak the truth of God’s love shown in Christ and in His Word!
- ADAPTABILITY-We are not always accepting to change and yet we need to hold onto the truth of God’s Word while looking at the various ways we can share this good news in the different contexts of our world. We can stay Bible-based and Christ-centered as we take this message out to our community!
- SELF-SACRIFICE-Jesus laid down his life for our salvation! He paid the price and made the sacrifice for us! What are we willing to give up in order that the GOSPEL can be moved and shared to those around us?
Are you willing to do whatever is necessary for the salvation of souls? We all have the same need as sinners and our Savior has provided the solution! May God work in us to MOVE and GO and continue to share this GOSPEL message of salvation in Christ! God’s peace!
On Sunday, April 22, we celebrated Jesus as the “Good Shepherd”. The imagery of our Savior as our Shepherd brings the peace and comfort that passes ALL human/worldly understanding! Leading up to Easter we remembered our Savior as THE Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Our Good Shepherd became the sacrificial Lamb to deliver us from sin, death, and the devil. Our Good Shepherd loves us, knows us, has called us and redeemed us to be His little lambs whose hearts can be ever glad.
Our Good Shepherd gently guides us through the challenges, difficulties, and struggles of daily living. The world can offer “other” guides and places to look to try and find that peace and/or right path, but it often only becomes a distraction to pull as away from THE Good Shepherd, THE true guide, THE Word of God! Let God’s Word be your guide.
Our Good Shepherd well provides for us! Our loving Savior knows our needs and takes care of them. We are blessed with the necessities of life and beyond! More importantly our Good Shepherd has provided us with the gift of salvation and the gift of faith which can be daily nourished through His Word and sacrament. We are well taken care of!
Our Good Shepherd has created us, called us by name, and redeemed us through the precious blood of Jesus! We do not have to fear. Isaiah 43 reminds us that He has formed us and called us by name to be His lambs and He says we are His! Enjoy the benefits of being Jesus’ little lambs safe in His pasture and in His hands!
Our Good Shepherd protects and defends us from all the dangers of this world and the devil and my own sinfulness. He knows His sheep and we know His voice. Sometimes we fail to hear and follow His voice and we pray for God’s forgiveness and continued guidance so that we strive to set our hearts on His Word and His promises all fulfilled in His Son, our Savior and Good Shepherd!
Our Good Shepherd is a promise keeper who will take us home to heaven one day! When our short life is ended, safely in His arms we’ll be found! Psalm 95 talks of how He is our God; we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. That’s grace! That’s comfort and peace! Because of THE Good Shepherd we can ever glad at heart be found! Enjoy being His little lamb!
On Sunday, January 21, 2018, we celebrated Life Sunday here at Guardian. It is a great reminder to celebrate the life we have been given by our Triune God and to be reminded of how we are to be a voice for life in a way that is God-pleasing! God’s Word is very clear on how He is the Author/Giver of life and only He is to take life. It is not our call.
Lutherans for Life chose the theme, “Hope for Life” for 2018. It is a great theme that points to Christ alone in whom we do have hope for life now and into eternity! Does life get messy? Yes! Does life give us hurts and heartaches? Yes! Does our own sinfulness bring about some of the messiness? Yes! Does our Triune God give us hope for this life and all its messiness? YES!! In Christ we do have hope! We can share that hope! We can speak of that hope! We can show that hope!
God’s Word is very clear on how He is the Author of Life and only He is to take life. Our heavenly Father created all things and is still in control of all things. He alone can deliver us into eternal life in heaven and He alone can destroy and send unbelievers to hell. We are to be faithful followers of His Word. His ten commandments are very clear on how He is the only true authority. He has given us the gifts of life and marriage and sexuality and set up the way it is to be designed according to His plan. Yes, we’ve all sinned and broken the commandments and yet as repentant children of God, we have His grace and forgiveness in Christ alone.
1 Peter 3:15 tells us to be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the HOPE that is in you. It is in God’s Word and striving to be His faithful followers that allow us to see the hope for life in Christ alone! God’s Word and promises gives us plenty of reasons to be people of hope! God does not give up on us and wherever there is life; there is God’s grace and compassion! May we continue to be people of hope that share the good news of hope in Christ alone that offers healing and promise in this messy and sinful world.
Romans 13:14 “but put on the Lord Jesus Christ…..”
December is a wonderful month and a great time of year! This year we have added a 1pm Advent Service on 12/6, 12/13, and 12/20. It will be another opportunity to gather and worship our King who has come as a baby and will come as the Judge of the living and the dead. The theme for these services is “Behold the Light”!” As we stay awake and prepared for His second coming, we can continue to focus on our Savior, Jesus Christ, and put Him on by staying connected to His Word and promises and by receiving His body and blood in our Lord’s Supper. He is the Light that has come in to the darkness and our message can be “Joy to the World, the Lord has come!” What good news this is for all of us! We can realize how the Light of the world has given us the ability to put Him on and be lights that can boldly and together shine and continue to point to Jesus in all that we say and do! The day after Thanksgiving is when our family goes and gets our real tree. Some years I pick out a good one and other years I don’t do so well. This year the tree I picked out is a little short. The good thing is that we put it up right away and then enjoy putting on the lights. The lights definitely add a nice look to any kind of tree. Well, we are all different types of trees that have been given various talents and abilities and by putting on Christ, the Light, we can all have a nicer look that radiates and brings Jesus to all those around us. May God’s peace and blessings be with you all at Christmas time and every day of the year! Enjoy the Savior who has come and enjoy putting Him on each day!
What a great place to be each and every day!! Living under the grace of our Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! It is good to be reminded of the countless blessings that we as baptized children of our heavenly Father can enjoy each day!
Linda and I were privileged to attend the Grace Place Wellness Retreat on Mackinac Island this past July. These retreats have been going on for about sixteen years with the goal of keeping our church workers healthy and joyful in their ministries. I was the chaplain/devotional leader for the week and the retreat was another good reminder of how we all, not just church workers, can find rest in God’s Words and promises and can continue to find joy in our lives and our ministries.
The week was spent in looking at the Wholeness Wheel as being baptized children…new creatures in Christ….and how that helps us in all aspects of our lives: Spiritual wellbeing, physical wellbeing, financial wellbeing, vocational wellbeing, intellectual wellbeing, relational wellbeing, and emotional wellbeing. Each of these areas was discussed along with their connections to the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. The Holy Spirit CAN and DOES help us along the trials, troubles, and tribulations of this world until we reach our home in heaven! The devotional pattern was Martin Luther’s Oratio, Mediatio, and Tentatio model.
Satan is alive and well in our world and in our lives. It is important to know and experience God’s Word and working in our daily lives as we struggle with the temptations and sins of living in this world. It is not always easy. We have crosses to bear and the challenges of life to deal with.
As we deal with the struggles of life we continually need to pray for the Holy Spirit’s presence. The Holy Spirit CAN and DOES carry us along. Prayer…talking to God…can be done anywhere, anytime, and in various ways. It might be while driving and listening to Christian music that can focus our hearts and thoughts on His goodness and mercy. Praying for God’s presence is a must to keep our focus and hope!
Meditating on God’s Words is the place to be to enjoy His Grace and be reminded of His mercies that never end! God’s Word is centered on Jesus Christ…..the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Meditating/dwelling in His Word will help us enjoy life in HIS GRACE PLACE! God’s peace!
HOSANNA AND HALLELUJAH!
Psalm 124:8 “Our HELP is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
Have you felt harassed and helpless lately? Life in this world can be challenging. We all have moments of feeling weary, dejected, distressed, and dispirited. The devil and the evil forces along with our own sinfulness can make things tough. BUT, our HELP is in the name of the Lord, who made HEAVEN and earth! God created all things and still takes care of His creation and His creatures! We can count on that!
When Jesus walked on this earth he saw the people who were harassed and helpless and he had compassion on them! Jesus knew they needed help and his love moved him to preach, teach, and heal and show love and mercy to them. Jesus still has that compassion and love for us and that is why we are people of HOPE! Our hope is in Jesus who journeyed to the cross for our salvation and forgiveness of sins! Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so!
We are strangers here on earth. HEAVEN is our HOME! We will spend eternity in heaven with our Savior and all the saints who have gone on before us. This is a gift that comes to us out of God’s grace. There is not a thing we can do to earn our way to heaven. It is only out of God’s grace that we are given the gift of faith! Knowing our future helps us live in the present and gives us joyful and HEALTHY hearts as we live and love and share this good news in Christ!
When Jesus walked this earth he saw that the HARVEST was plentiful and the laborers were few. It seems the same way in today’s world. The harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few. We are to be witnesses to those around us of the good news of salvation in Jesus alone. God uses all types of people with all types of personalities and talents. We also can daily in our prayers remember our missionaries who are serving in various places as they share Jesus.
In our lives we can and should HOLLER HOSANNA’S and HALLELUJAH’S as we know our salvation is in Jesus and He alone is worthy of our praises. This message can and should be shared with all people. The kingdom of heaven is at hand and we will all meet our maker one day. Knowing that our heavenly Father has reconciled the world to himself by sending His Son, our Savior, to make the sacrifice for our salvation needs to be shared. Our heavenly Father has us in His HANDS through all things!
Yes, HARDSHIPS will occur in this life. The devil is at work and we will have trials, troubles, and tribulations along the journey on this earth as we head home to heaven. We are not alone….we have HELP….we have the HOLY SPIRIT….we are equipped and empowered through His power!
So, let’s keep our HEADS up and HEAD out to share this good news in Jesus! O give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever! Our HELP is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth!
God's peace! Pastor Dan
John 15:4-5 (ESV) “4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
What are you “connected” to?.....what is your mind “dwelling” on?......what fills up much of your “free time”?.......what are you “obsessed” with? Answering these questions can make me squirm a little bit. There are some weeks that it seems I am using my time well and doing what needs to be done and following God’s Word. Then, there are other weeks or periods in my life where I know I could do better. It is a roller coaster ride as a Christian in this world. BUT, as baptized children of God, we have our IDENTITY in Christ and find that forgiveness and power to carry on with Him in His mission of sharing Jesus with all and being His lights in this dark world!
It is a command and a joyous blessing to abide in Christ the vine! We are able to “bear much fruit” as we stay “connected” to Him! On Sunday, January 29th, we will be “Celebrating our small groups”! Please note in the blue news all of the various ways to “connect” with Jesus and His people. It is a blessing to fellowship with other Christians and be strengthened in our faith. It is a blessing to serve and help others in these various small groups that regularly meet. It is a blessing when we look at ways to “step out of our comfort zone” and try something new or different. It is a blessing to join many of the faithful and seasoned members who have been connected to the various groups and learn from them and also continue to grow in our faith with them. It is a blessing to these various groups to add some new members that can continue these ministries. Please DO consider how you might want to “connect” with Christ and His ministries here at Guardian.
On Monday, January 30th, we will have our next Voters’ meeting. At this meeting information will be shared on the “State of Guardian…its church and school ministries”. Since 1947 we have been blessed by God in many and various ways and yet we want to continue to see how God can use Guardian and its people in various ways to share the Good News in Christ! We are going into our 70th year and in 2022 we will be celebrating our 75th year as a congregation! What a blessing! In the past years we have been Gifted by God’s grace….currently we want to keep Growing in God’s grace….and in the future we want to continue Going in His Grace as we move forward seeking His will, following His Word, and sharing Jesus in all that we do!
May we all continue to pray for God’s will do be done and for each of us to continue “abiding in the Vine” and doing His ministry! God’s peace and see you in church!
In His Service, Pastor Dan