Knowledge is one thing; wisdom is another. Wisdom is the ability to take what you know and translate it into how you live. You can find Part 1 of Sex in the Bible on our website under worship/past sermons/September 10. The text was from the Song of Songs. Today the Spirit speaks to us through words he inspired in the Book of Proverbs. The main message of the Bible, and every book in it, is the salvation God freely gives through Jesus. But throughout the Bible he helps us apply that knowledge to every area of our lives, including our sexuality.
In Psalm 139, David prayed: search me, know me, test me, and lead me. Those simple requests are at first beautiful, but can you see how they may also be frightening. That’s really what you want God to do for you? Those prayers only become beautiful again when you learn to pray them for the same reasons David did: you belong to the Lord. Your life is his. Your times are his. You are his. And you can trust his plan in making you just the way he did. Of all the places to get to answers about who God is and what he’s like, you’ve come to the best place: his Word. We’re so glad you’re with us.
It's one thing to know the "why" of suffering, but even if you manage to get that answer (which many don't), it still leaves you with the "how" question: how do I get through this? The answer is, of course, comfort. Job helps us get the “why” but even more he helps us get the “how”—how do I find comfort? Is your question right now, how do I give comfort? Either way, we’re glad you’re with us, fellow comfort-seekers, to gain from our encounter with the living Word of God. If there’s any way we can serve you, we’d be honored to. Feel free to use your Connection Card to let us know how.
Song of Songs doesn't show up on many lists of preaching texts, but it's in the Bible so it shows up at St. Andrew. We're in a worship series on the Poetical Books of the Bible and that includes Song of Songs. As you read the love poem that is Song of Songs, you learn that God is not anti-sex at all. God created sex, not Satan. Sex isn't dirty, filthy, and disgusting. God intended his gift of sex to be a thrilling, physical, biological happening that's also spiritual. Yes, it's personal and private but we are not ashamed to discuss that which God was not ashamed to create. It's a discussion that's healthy for men and women, married and single, young and old. Oh, you're worried that you haven't gotten it right and might feel out of place for this one? You'll be in good company; no one here today has gotten it right all the time. That claim belongs only to Jesus. And no one here today has out-sinned the grace of God. Our thanks for that goes only to Jesus.
Solitary confinement is used as a punishment for a reason. Research has linked it to extreme negative effects. This doesn’t mean that ever being alone is bad, but God created us with a yearning and need for community. God’s Word in Ecclesiastes 4 gives us insight on the benefits of relationships. Today let’s look into four of those benefits.
Is God really in charge of all things, or do my choices matter? Or is it 50/50 my choices and God's choices? 60/40? 80/20? The book of Proverbs addresses the subject of wisdom: the ability to make wise choices. You’ve joined us as we enter a 15 weeks series on books of the Old Testament called “Poetical” or sometimes, “Wisdom” books. May the Spirit use these words he inspired to guide you in your decisions.
“Real isn't how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” “Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit. “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.” “Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?” “It doesn't happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.” ―Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit
That's more than just a poignant and sweet children's story. It's what God is doing in you when you suffer. We’re in a study of the poetical books of the Old Testament. This week: Job. May the Spirit use Job's words to give you resources for when you are suffering.
Many parts of the Bible, including some entire books, were written in poetic style. Over the next few months, we have the privilege of studying God’s wisdom through selected portions of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. Today we focus on the wisdom of Psalm 119: constant pursuit of life in the light of God’s Word because of a deep love for it.
What would you write at the end of a letter to loved ones? This weekend we come to the end of Paul's second letter to the little church in Thessaloniki. His final subject might surprise you, but it’s a subject he’s written about before. Whatever the topic of Paul’s letters, he ends with words that are so very good to hear: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all." Can’t top that.
Scripture presents two seemingly irreconcilable truths: (1) we can be confident of our salvation
in Christ and (2) we can reject our faith and fall away. Therefore, Paul’s encouragement in
2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 is to stand firm and hold onto the truth of Scripture. Let’s examine these truths we hold onto. Why should we stand firm?
The thought of secret power conjures up images of espionage, intrigue, and shadowy conniving. But when Paul warns the Thessalonians about a secret power, he's not referring to James Bond. He lays out for us a mystery that we can't completely unravel, but what we can know of it is immensely helpful. Let's be humble enough to admit we can't know everything but eager enough to learn what we can. We’re glad you’re with us to anticipate “the splendor” of Jesus' return. If you’re new, we’d love to welcome you, make you feel at home, or answer whatever questions we can. A good place to start might be by introducing yourself to one of our pastors or to email Pastor Clinton at email@example.com.
To marvel at something is so much more than just to admire it. It's more than just being impressed. To marvel at something is to have that thing radically exceed the expectations of your mind and your heart —whether it's the way someone treats you or a view you never expected. Or Judgment Day? Really? Yes, let the Holy Spirit, through words he gave the apostle Paul, tell you things that can move you to marvel at Judgment Day. That’s what we do. We call it worship and we’re glad you joined us for it today.
Ask the people around church to tell you their favorite Bible doctrine and what do you think you'll hear? Heaven? Forgiveness? Prayer? Baptism? Here's one I don't think you'd hear: Judgment Day and fire from heaven. Nope, that's not going to make it into anyone's top ten list of favorite Bible doctrines. But still, Judgement Day isn't just a doctrine to be tolerated. It's a Bible doctrine full of good news and grace. We are concluding a study of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. Today we’re asking the Spirit to give us good news . . . even about Judgement Day. Who knows? It might become your favorite Bible doctrine. Or not.
What do you think about when you're not doing anything else? Where does your mind go? God has given us so much in this world; there's no shortage of options. We don't have to go so far as to say that where our minds go is what we worship, but we can safely say when we come into the presence of God in his Word and sacrament, he pulls us away from our love and affection for those things and puts them on the living God. That's worship. We are here to experience what we are meant to be. And we’re glad you’re with us. If we can serve you in any way, please let us know and may God bless your worship today.
A long time ago, the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to write a letter to a church in a Greek city called Thessaloniki. Even though it was specific to their situation, much of it applies to us, including Paul's closing exhortations. A good summary of these is kindness to everyone. The visible marks of Christianity are not complicated. We’re glad you’re joining us as we review God's words from 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15 and see how they still apply 2,000 years later, over 5,000 miles away.
Life has a way of coming at us fast and furious. This crazy life also creates more questions than it does provide answers. Thankfully, we have God's Word to retreat to as not only our "answer guide,” but also to provide encouragement and comfort about why things are the way they are and how our gracious God works everything out for our good and his glory. This week in worship, we travel back to the Garden of Eden and watch sin rear its ugly head. Sin forcefully enters the world . . . but so does God's mercy and love. We worship together today proclaiming, "That explains everything,” marveling as a Savior is promised for the very first time.
Don’t blame me. Who hasn’t said that? Taking responsibility for a minor faux pas or a major accident is unpleasant at best and devastating at worst. For that and a host of other reasons, the Bible doctrine of Judgment Day is not a popular topic. But it is a prevalent one. When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, he was even bold enough to say God’s judgment helps Christians build each other up and encourage each other. We’re glad you’re here to sing, pray, fellowship, greet, welcome, commune, and give thanks . . . for Judgment Day.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a French philosopher in the Age of Enlightenment, wrote, "He who pretends to look on death without fear, lies." What words best describe how you look upon death? Paul wrote to a congregation of people in the ancient Greek city of Thessaloniki who had lost loved ones. The Holy Spirit inspired him to give them words of hope and comfort. Now, by God's grace, he gives those same words to us. We are people who have grieved, are grieving, and will grieve but may God the Spirit fill us with the kind of hope only he can give.
God’s Word tells us how to live in order to please him. We are pleased to share this opportunity with you to learn from 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 how our daily vocations, including our work, show brotherly love to each other and to people we do not know.
The Joy of Sex. Didn't expect that for a title, did you? It is the title of a wildly popular book on sexuality from the 1970s, recently republished. There's no shortage of advice and guidance for sex, and no shortage of people who want to influence our thinking about it. God the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to give us his perfect plan for sex. As you'd expect, it's better than any other source. We’re glad you’re hear to receive from the Spirit, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, and the most accurate information about God's gift of sex. Fear not, this service is suitable for children!
Some first-generation GPS units proudly announced when you pulled up to your destination, "You've arrived." Who doesn't like to hear, "You've arrived. You've made it. You've done it." Seldom, though, does it apply to bigger things in life. You're the best golfer you can be—"You've arrived?" Hardly. You've mastered a subject so well there's nothing left for you to learn? Keep dreaming. You're the perfect spouse—"You've arrived." That's funny. What about this one: "Live in order to please God." The Spirit inspired Paul to encourage Christians to do this "more and more." In a way, your Christian life is complete—you've arrived. Christ has accomplished his mission for you. It is finished. But in another way, such a gift moves us to want to thank him more and more. Enjoy the gift of God's grace—because you've arrived. Strive to please him more and more—because you haven't yet arrived. That’s life in the family of God.
Teflon makes for a better omelet, but a worse heart. If you're going to invest in other people, you have to take the Teflon off your heart. When you see someone in trouble but keep your distance, he or she knows it and so do you. But if your joy is bound up in that person, he or she knows that, too, and you know it. You've made an investment. Paul didn't invest personally in the Thessalonians (a town in ancient Greece, but also the title of the book of the Bible we’re currently studying) as some kind of power play or to manipulate them, but because of their identity: brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re glad you’re here and invite you to join us in investing in each other . . . maybe it will help take the Teflon off our hearts.
Paul was a great missionary because of his passion for the people he served. Most people are not shepherds in the strict sense of being a pastor of a church (the word pastor means shepherd), but with a general love of people, we can all treat people like family, under the care of one Good Shepherd who does delegate his work to many people for specific times and settings. We’re glad you’re here to learn from Paul’s good shepherding and from his teacher, the Good Shepherd.
A famous actress once said, "It's useless to hold a person to anything he says while he's in love, drunk, or running for office." A less punchy way to say the same thing is "integrity matters." Paul discovered that the message, even the message of the gospel, is inextricably tied up in the messenger. Integrity matters. God's grace covers our imperfections, but the same grace moves us to integrity. We're not perfect, but we are redeemed. Today, we gather to learn from Paul's teaching on the subject in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16, to receive grace and to pursue integrity. We’re so glad you’re with us. If we can serve you in any way, please let us know.
Two distinct elements can combine to create something wonderful. Hershey did that with peanut butter and chocolate; the result is the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. The Lord did that with a man and a woman; the result is marriage. This weekend we combine two distinct elements: the miracle of Jesus' resurrection and the beginning of a new study of Paul's letter to the Thessalonians. The result, should the Spirit grant it, is growth in Christian faith and life. Is that what you seek? We'd love to help you. This is the first of our four-month study of 1 and 2 Thessalonians. We invite you to study with us, see the difference Easter made for the Christians in Thessalonica, and savor and give thanks for the difference it makes in us.