A tradition in Christian worship that goes back to the 400s AD includes a service to celebrate the dates believers of the previous year died, which they called their "birthdays" into eternity. Their names were read at services or sometimes at cemeteries or catacombs. Since then, it's been called Saints Triumphant or commemoration of the departed saints. Whatever you call it, it's a way to allow departed saints, by the grace of God in their lives, to continue to encourage us. Gather with your brothers and sisters to worship the Lord for the rich variety of the young and old, learned and ignorant, people of action and contemplatives, whose common denominator is simply that the grace of God worked mightily in them.
Who doesn't want to encounter God? Ah, yes, with head bowed while soft light streams through stained glass. Ah, yes, like a picture-perfect Facebook or Instagram post, with a cup of coffee steaming next to an open Bible . . . bonus points for a journal next to it. Sure, those are ways to experience God. But Abraham, Moses, Ruth, David, Job, and a host of other Bible heroes would have gladly traded their experiences of meeting God with such idyllic scenes. They met God in suffering. And so might you. Welcome to the end of our series on the Poetical Books of the Bible. Today we'll ask the Spirit to bless us through the conclusion of the book of Job. It’s not just the end of Job’s suffering. May we see in it, the end of our suffering, and maybe some purpose to it.
All rights reserved. Music used by permission under CCLI #1600166, OneLicense #A-709447, and Worshipflow.com. Pre-service music all rights reserved by Koine (koinemusic.com) & Michael Schroeder.
They say God gave you two ears and one mouth so would listen twice as much as you speak. This proverb is not in the Bible, but it makes sense, as long as we’re listening to the right sources. Today, we’ll hear some of God’s words of wisdom from Job 38. Wisdom from above can be unexpected and counterintuitive.
God invites us to call him Father. He calls us his children. That makes Jesus our brother and makes us the family of God. In addition, the Bible tells us he places us in families. That's a lot of family. Yet no word likely conjures up more good or bad feelings than the word family. Today, we head back into the book of Proverbs and ask the Spirit to give us God's wisdom for families. Whatever our family situations, this is wisdom for all of us.
"Adversity assails us with hurricane force," has been attributed to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. That was true for him, and it was true for an earlier Dr. Martin Luther who wrote, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." A fortress will outlast a hurricane. So where do you turn when adversity assails you? For millennia, God's people have turned to the inspired words of Psalm 121. We’re glad you’re with us today to find in it our mighty fortress.
All rights reserved. Music used by permission under CCLI #1600166, OneLicense #A-709447, and Worshipflow.com. Pre-service music all rights reserved by Koine (koinemusic.com) & Michael Schroeder. Video used by permission from Sermonspice.
What's the difference between a medication and a placebo? A placebo has no real power; it's only effective because it's believed in. Medicine, on the other hand, has real power and can help you whether you believe in it or not. "Ah," some might say. "I see where you're going: some religions are real, and some are placebo." Not at all. Some religions are real medicine and will heal you, some are poisonous and will kill you, but no religion works because it's believed in. Believe in the revelation God has given us in his Word because it's true, but don't imagine it's only true because you believe in it. One purpose of the book of Ecclesiastes is to show us that it's foolish to imagine this life is all there is—that your belief in God only works because you think it does. Then life is meaningless. But another purpose of the book of Ecclesiastes is to point us to a heavenly solution: wisdom from above. May the Spirit who inspired it bless you through it today.
Solomon's Song of Songs 8:5-7 continues to describe the love of a man and a woman, but we can learn from some of its details about the love of God for his bride, the church. Marvel at the intense love of God that surpasses even the amazing love of a committed married couple.
What can we make of all the inequities of life? Does hard work pay off? How can we find satisfaction in life? Why does King Solomon seem to promote the Epicurean philosophy of "eat, drink, and be merry"? Let’s pursue godly wisdom and a meaningful life today and throughout our lives.
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.