Can a Lutheran have a spiritual experience? Can we even talk like that? The record of God's dealings with mankind, the Bible, includes dreams from the first book to the last. So it’s not surprising we'll encounter dreams throughout our study of the Book of Daniel. We come to the first in chapter two. Whether you’re here today out of curiosity or seeking a spiritual experience, we’re glad you’re with us. If we can serve you in any way, please contact us.
Read the Bible and you'll encounter dozens of banquets—not the hot dish potluck kind, but the real deal. In some places, the Bible even describes heaven as a banquet. Isaiah wrote, "The Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines" (Isaiah 25:6). Yet when Daniel was offered a banquet we would gladly settle into, he refused. Why? Read Daniel 1 this week, then gather with your brothers and sisters to determine which banquets to refuse and which ones to enjoy. Salivate over the banquet Jesus prepares for you.
The book of Daniel in the Old Testament was written over 2,500 years ago about events that took place on the opposite side of the world. Yet, the book is about us. It teaches us how God is in control over all things, how believers can deal with a pagan culture and authorities in a pagan culture and how he gives gifts to his people so they can serve him. The book is about us . . . and the grace of God. We'll spend the next few months, until Easter, asking the Spirit to bless us through our study of the book of Daniel. This weekend we find Daniel taken into exile away from God's people and enduring pressure to conform. How will he hold up? How will you? We’re glad you’re with us to receive grace…and hold up under pressure.
You won't find Epiphany greeting cards, and you won't receive Epiphany gifts. We won't blow noisemakers and raise a glass to toast the celebration. Epiphany comes and goes rather silently. But we who find value in a "church year," annual reminders of key events of Christ's life for us, treasure the Festival of Epiphany. The word means "made known." God has made his grace known in Christ not just to the descendants of Abraham and not just to us, but to the whole world. More than that, he's entrusted to us the mission to tell others what Jesus has accomplished for all. It's why we're church. How fitting that this Epiphany weekend, we will install Pastor Clinton Kreuziger as Pastor for Service and Outreach of St. Andrew.
Another year of God’s grace to a sinful world has passed; 365 days of forbearance, an untold number of transgressions forgiven . . . every day. Who can count the stars in the sky, the sand on the seashore, or reckon the crimes of a lifetime? Wisdom can. Psalm 90 is a wisdom psalm written by Moses that assesses man’s stock in life. Moses reveals the tension that God’s people experience as they live their lives. God is eternal, yet we are dust, and to dust we will return. Sin brought death and separated man from life in eternity with a righteous God. That which is holy, blameless, and true endures forever, but we are none of those things. How can we measure the expanse that divides us . . . let alone bridge the gap? We cannot, but God can. God has. God will in Christ, the wisdom of God. The faith he has placed in our hearts looks back to his reconciliation in Christ and sets its hope on the future where all the labors of faith will flower and endure. We’re glad you are joining us, as we unite with God’s people in every generation of time, to receive wisdom and life eternal from our Creator and Redeemer.
New parents have throughout history heralded the birth of a child in different ways: a town When a friend describes someone as, “a straight-shooter,” or says, “you know where you stand with her.” You know your friend means you can trust that person. Christmas is God’s message to you, “You can trust me.” He took a long time to keep his promise to send the Savior, but he did. He is taking a long time to keep his promise to return to earth in glory, but he will. Don’t confuse your agenda of what you want him to do for you with faith in his agenda of what he wants to do for you. You’d be selling yourself way too short. Let Christmas show you what he has in store for you, in his time. We’re so glad you’re with us today to worship God for his faithfulness.
New parents have throughout history heralded the birth of a child in different ways: a town crier, community bulletin board, local paper, U.S. mail, and more recently Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat. But Jesus, a unique baby, received a unique kind of birth announcement. May the Spirit who filled the shepherds with faith, fill you with the same faith through his grace as you encounter it today.
Pregnant women know what it's like to have a baby in the womb give a good kick. Two thousand years ago, a woman named Elizabeth was miraculously pregnant with John the Baptist. Her relative Mary was in the same condition, only with an even more miraculous baby: the Son of God. The Bible says that when the two pregnant women met, John gave Elizabeth a good kick in the diaphragm. The Holy Spirit was at work in that baby already. From that baby's kick, Mary grew in her faith in what God was up to. He was convincing Mary that she could trust his promises. Today, the Spirit uses the gospel in word and sacrament to do the same for us: convince us that we can trust his promises. Welcome to the Spirit’s presence in God's house. May his Good News in word and sacrament strengthen your trust in his promises.
Have you noticed more lights on these days? We light candles and put up lights as reminders: Jesus is the light of the world. The world is filled with darkness: ignorance of God, sinful habits, and the resulting ease with which we end up consumed with ourselves. Jesus comes and turns on a light so we can see our sin, confess it, receive forgiveness from him, and turn away from it. That's peace. This weekend, we learn from an upright man named Zechariah. He showed faithfulness, unfaithfulness and, because of God's grace, faithfulness. Come, all you unfaithful, [all of us] and find light and peace.
An interviewer asked a British philosopher, "What’s wrong with the world?" He replied, “I am.” He got it right. It’s been that way since the fall. But Jesus came to the fallen and made us right. And when he returns, he’ll make the broken world whole again. As you worship with other broken believers, cling to God's promise this Advent season—Christ is born for you.
What does it take to finish well? The answer to that question depends on who you are and what you're finishing: an athlete finishing a competition, a student finishing a degree, or a musician finishing a piece. Think bigger. What about your life? It's a long life. What are you going to do to finish well? The book of Acts ends with little attention to how the apostle Paul finished his life. Paul's life isn't the point of Acts. Jesus' life is. Yet, we know from letters of Paul how he finished. Today we’ll gather around God’s Word to us in 2 Timothy 4 and learn how to finish well.
If the book you're reading has drawn you in and made you feel like a part of the story, "The End" makes your heart sink. What? No! You knew it was coming. You felt the pages in your right hand getting thinner. And you vow to read the sequel or watch the next season as soon as it's available. You've held the Acts of the Apostles study book in your hands for two years. You've felt it getting heavier on the left side and lighter on the right side. Now here we are: "The End." Gather with your fellow Acts sojourners today to thank God for the gifts he's given us in this book and to find ourselves in its ending.
Whoever said, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me," was either lying or just not very bright. God doesn't lie, he's very bright, and he has said, "The tongue has the power of life and death" (Proverbs 18:21). When the apostle Paul finally made it to Italy, brothers and sisters in Christ met him and encouraged him. What do you suppose they said? We don't know, but more important is what WE say. What words do you speak that encourage others? Today, the Spirit teaches us how to encourage others that we might his "power of life." Welcome to church!
The Reformation is often summarized by the five Solas—Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Sola Christus, Soli Deo Gloria. Each one is a bold confession, each one is a battlefield, and each one finds expression in John 8. Nevertheless, as Jesus teaches these eternal truths restored in the Reformation, the five are reduced to one: In Christ alone, the Word of God comes creating faith and granting grace. This is God glorifying Christ, and in him God alone is glorified. All who believe this truth are freed from sin, death, and the devil. They will walk in the light of life forever. Thank you for joining us for Reformation worship to receive and celebrate the freedom we have in the Son of God.
Throughout our study of Acts, we have witnessed the Lord's power in dangerous circumstances. Life is a voyage. We encounter winds, angry seas, and crises we can't anticipate. The Lord answers our petition to "deliver us from evil"—at times by preventing the storm but at other times by bringing us through the storm. This faith lets us be as calm as Paul was in the storm, during the shipwreck, and on the beach. God doesn't panic. Why should we? He knows the outcome and the destination. So do we. For Paul it was Rome. For us, it's the glory Jesus has prepared for us. You're not alone in this faith. Welcome to church: a gathering to receive God's grace in Word and sacrament, praise him for it, and encourage one another with it.
In the storm, Paul referred to "the God whose I am." In other words, "I'm his." You don't say "My Jennifer" or "My Owen," unless he or she is your son, daughter, or spouse. You don't use that term unless you're close, unless your relationship is intimate. Paul says what you can say in the storm, "I know I'm his. I belong to him. He's mine and I'm his. He loves me. He's committed to me." How can you say that in a storm? Today we seek to understand why it’s true and to grow in our conviction of it. We call this—church.
This week we press pause on “The Storm," our 3-week series from Acts 27, and pick up the gospel of Luke. In Luke 17:11-19 Jesus cleanses ten men from horrific disease but the miraculous healing fades quickly to the background as Jesus draws the attention of all to one thing: a Samaritan man worshiping at his feet. The image is dense and allusive, controversial and challenging, full of mercy and judgement, revelation and prophecy. Jesus tips the world and all its spirituality upside down. He never leaves a place the way he found it. That is why we gather in his presence, hear his Word, and partake in his sacraments. We come to worship him because he has changed us forever; because we never leave the same as we came. Praise be to Christ!
When the missionary Apostle Paul and his companions were caught at sea in a hurricane, "All hope that we would be saved was disappearing." (Acts 27:20) Hope is a combination of trust that the Lord will keep his promises and the Lord perfectly times his invasion into our affairs. It's hard to live without hope. . . whether you’re in a hurricane in the Mediterranean 2,000 years ago, or the one that hit Florida this week, or the one that’s hitting your life with enough force to knock the wind out of you right now. Why does God do that? While there are no pat answers, God does reveal some answers to us. We’re glad you’re here to search for them and worship God for them.
Is your life a pre-planned course of events, already rigged, so the speak? Then what you do or don't do doesn't really matter. Is your life all up to you? Then what you do or don't do determines everything. Which is it? One view leads to complacency, the other to panic. This weekend we begin a three-week series on Acts 27—the storms in our lives. We all have had them, are having them, and will have them. We’re glad you’re with us to learn from how Paul dealt with a literal storm and to seek God’s wisdom for weathering the storms in our lives.
Ever since Aristotle, authors have offered their advice on how to persuade others. Most tell you to us fact, feelings, show humility, care for the other, etc. Persuasion is a complicated effort. If you say only empirical evidence proves anything, how do you prove that statement? If you say all we need are feelings, you've just created chaos. Paul stands before world powers, and his life is on the line. He lays out facts. He bares his heart. But he includes a third element in his attempt to persuade King Agrippa to believe in Christ that Aristotle and best-selling authors miss. Today, gathered in God’s very presence, we receive it. Glad you’re with us.
Welcome to St. Andrew. Today we continue our study of Acts with the meeting of Festus and King Agrippa II. We have very little in common with these ancient men of influence, but we do share one thing. In fact, we meet for the very same reason that Festus met with King Agrippa II. It’s the reason we live, love, hope, and sing. The reason? A certain Jesus was dead and now lives. In his name we teach and preach the gospel of the Living God. Thanks for joining us to worship him. May God bless our time together.
Sometimes, just a few words define a person. Here I stand. I have a dream. Give me liberty or give me death. Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country. See how it works? Big moments in life often provide the opportunity for such big words. In the last few chapters of Acts, the apostle Paul finds himself in one big moment after another. This week, in Acts 25:1-12, he's facing another threat and speaks defining words, "I appeal to Caesar." The funny thing about those defining moments and big words is that you don't usually see them coming: a child asks a question, a coworker expresses an openness to Jesus, etc. Jesus says to you, his child, "Don't worry about what you will say. I'll supply the words. You just stay faithful to me." We’re glad you’re a part of the fellowship of saints here today and pray that the Spirit uses the gospel to keep you faithful to him.
A “knowing smile” is one that implies that the person smiling is aware of circumstances that put him or her at an advantage in a situation. Watch the opening credits of the old Perry Mason series and you’ll see a great example. The judge hands Mason a manila folder, Mason looks at the contents, turns to the camera, and he smiles. The Bible doesn't come with pictures or video, but you might expect the apostle Paul flashed the same "knowing smile" in the episode before us this weekend, Acts 24. We’re glad you are part of the gathering today. May the Spirit bless you, maybe even with a knowing smile.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his powerful "We Shall Overcome" speech on March 16, 1966. It took two and half minutes. The refrain, "we shall overcome," didn't sugar-coat the suffering that might be necessary for some but expressed the hope that finally God's grace will lift us out of suffering and into glory. First suffering, then glory. First cross, then crown. It's been a refrain of God's children since the fall into sin. Is it your song? If not, praise God. Don't seek suffering. If it is, praise God. Children of God have this confidence: we shall overcome. We've reached the point in our study of the Book of Acts where the Apostle Paul is a prisoner. He'll never be free again. But in his suffering, he proclaims freedom from sin, death, and suffering through Christ. We’re glad you’re with us today to celebrate that, because of Christ, we shall overcome.
Audio used with permission, crossway.org
At one time or another, all of us have felt burnt out in some way. There are so many things happening to us and around us and around us that cause us to feel stressed and hurt and burdened. When we feel the weight of life and its burdens pressing down on s, we naturally look for something to give us rest and release, at least for a little bit. What is it for me? My career? My relationship? Friends? An addiction? It will look different for each of us, but the truth is, those sources of rest can't last forever. We need something better. And we have it. Hear Jesus' invitation of lasting rest, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."