You know what it's like to groan. When what you feel is beyond words, a groan will have to do. In Romans 8, Paul writes about groaning. Paul, creation, and the Holy Spirit groan. But God not only knows about your groaning, he is eager to encourage you and remind you that you are not alone or empty. You have Jesus as your substitute now, and you have future glory. Through the Word and sacrament you receive today, God removes the heaviness of life and gives you grace, hope, and healing.
All rights reserved. Music used by permission under CCLI #1600166, OneLicense #A-709447, Worshipflow.com, and Bensound.com. Pre-service music all rights reserved by Koine (koinemusic.com) & Michael Schroeder.
Just a few miles into the continent, the apostle Paul and his missionary entourage met a group of God-fearing women near a river, praying, singing, and listening to God's Word. One of the women, Lydia, had a fascinating name, job, and social status. But the most interesting thing about her is how the Good News of Jesus changed her. The joy of the gospel still changes us and always, always, always for the better.
There's no shortage of advisors, commentators, or people with opinions who would love to "share" them with you. But whose voice do you listen to? You can't listen to all of them. Do you listen only to voices that agree with you? That could be dangerous. Do you listen only to voices that disagree with you? That sounds just as dangerous. We want to listen to the voice that speaks the truth. How do you find it? That was the dilemma for the apostle Paul in Acts 16:6-10. We're not given a litmus test to determine which voice to listen to, but we are given an example of a fellow follower of Christ seeking his voice. Let's learn from him. We’re glad you’re with us to seek God's voice.
The apostle Paul met a young man named Timothy while traveling in Turkey. The two struck up a close relationship that lasted a lifetime. But it might not have always been easy. Together, they dealt with issues of an interracial marriage, reputation, traveling, and even minor surgery. The result of it all, though, is what we seek, too: strengthening in faith. Welcome, brothers and sisters, to the means by which the Spirit does that: the gospel in Word and sacrament.
American League baseball umpire Bill Guthrie was working behind the plate, and the catcher for the visiting team was repeatedly protesting his calls. Guthrie put up with it for a few innings, and then pulled the catcher aside. “Son,” he said softly, “you’ve been a big help to me in calling balls and strikes today, and I appreciate it. But I think I’ve got the hang of it now, so I’m going to ask you to go to the clubhouse and show whoever’s there how to take a shower.” Conflicts are unavoidable; how we handle them is optional. Today, let’s learn from the conflict between Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15:36-41. More than that, let the Spirit guide you to respond to your conflicts in ways that bring glory to God and good to his people.
Think of all the ways you respond to snail mail or email. Delete, delete, delete. Or recycle bin, recycle bin, recycle bin. But then comes a letter that makes you smile. You don't delete or recycle it. You anticipate opening it, savor its message, and smile over it. May the Lord give you more of these kinds of letters than any other! Of course, God’s Word is his letter to us. Today, we’re asking God to teach us and shape our minds through a letter sent from one church to another. A letter contained in his Word, Acts 15:22-35. It's an old letter, but it's meant for us today.
There are many decisions we make each day without thinking about them. One question that plays into this decision-making process is, "Is it worth it?" Is it worth it to stay a few extra hours at work? Or is it worth it to go home so you can return the next day refreshed, ready to work? As we enter the season of Epiphany, we learn from the Magi who set out to worship their newborn King. This journey had its detours along the way. So was it worth it for these Magi? This weekend we will dig into the question, "Is it worth it?" We are blessed to be able to gather, just as the Magi did, to worship our newborn King.
What will the market do this year? Will inflation continue to rise? Will the Omicron variant mark the end of COVID fear? And how 'bout them Packers? Everyone has an opinion, but no one can answer those questions with certainty. Together, let us come into God’s presence and ponder spiritual truths with fellow saints. You decide if from the spiritual truths you encounter today develop New Year's resolutions. This much is certain: from God’s truth you will better know your future. Nice to have you with us and happy new year!