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Wildness of Love

Story of the Day--climbinghigher

Story of the Day for Friday November 22, 2013 

 

Wildness of Love 

 

                In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accord with the riches of His grace that he showered on us with all wisdom and understanding. 

Ephesians 1:7-8   

 

In The Christian Reader, a woman wrote about her brother and his bride on their honeymoon.  Late at night they finally got to their fancy hotel’s bridal suite.  The room had only a sofa, a table, and chairs. 

 
http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/02/b5/99/92/homewood-suites-by-hilton.jpg

Then, discovering the sofa pulled out into a bed, they spent an uncomfortable night on a lumpy mattress with saggy springs.  In the morning, they gave the hotel clerk at the front desk an earful.   

The clerk asked, “Did you open the door in your room?”  

The door?   

He thought…

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Posted by on November 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

The Joyful Christian – Our Source of Joy

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Psalm 51:7–12 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.

Did you know that God gives the gift of joy to Christians? The Bible uses the word joy 1179 times, and describes God as the source of joy. David said in Psalm 16:11 You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Our faith relationship with the Lord is designed to give us joy.

  • Joy is a natural byproduct of worshiping God.
  • It comes when we hear the good news that Christ has befriended sinners…Like us.
  • We come to know joy in serving him.
  • We even rejoice in our sufferings.

As much as the idea of true joy appeals to us, we need to spend some time talking about what it isn’t before defining what it is. True joy does not depend on circumstances or our experiences. Our culture has come to define joy as an experience that blows your mind:

  • It could be a dream vacation, dream house or dream date.
  • It could be an awesome shopping trip. [ A friend of mine calls this retail therapy]
  • It could be riding a roller coaster upside down at 75 miles per hour.

But when we unbuckle our seatbelts and step off of the ride – when we come back to daily life, the joy we thought we had fades in a hurry. And so our world invites us to become experience junkies: spending our time and energy chasing down the next high. True joy is not a roller coaster. It remains constant because it comes from our God who never changes.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.  WHEN THE WEIGHT OF SIN AND REGRET ARE REMOVED, WE ENTER INTO JOY. That weight was laid on Jesus as he was nailed to the cross. We pray a four word prayer: purify me…wash me. The result? I shall be clean; I shall be whiter than snow.

The hyssop plant was used as a brush to apply blood for purification – as when blood from a sacrificed lamb was painted on the doorposts of homes on Passover night. To pray purify me with hyssop, is to ask God to purify us with the blood of the Lamb of God.  BUT IT COMES WITH A WARNING: anything untouched by the blood remained unpurified, and instead will receive the touch of the Angel of Death. The joy comes when we come to believe that God has rescued us from the touch of death by purifying us with his Son’s blood.

The joy of our salvation has no expiration date. It remains constant. It is God’s gift to all who trust in Christ as their Savior.

Enjoy joy today.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in devotional

 

Where is God When it Hurts? WHY WE HURT

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The question that captures many of our doubts and misgivings about the goodness or existance of God sounds something like this:

If God really loves us, why is there so much suffering in the world?

It’s a question asked by faithful Christian, insecure Christians, Atheists, insecure Atheists – a question sooner or later that’s asked by nearly everyone. The answer – from a human point of view – is hard to swallow. God is not to blame…we are.

We don’t like being held accountable for our actions – especially when there are heavy consequences. We don’t wake up in the morning looking for more trouble or to add to our burdens, so it’s easier to shift the blame…to pass the buck. And that’s why we point the finger at God. When good things happen, we take the credit. But when bad things happen, God gets the blame.

Let’s just assume that this is all true for the sake of discussion. Here’s what the Bible says:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—Romans 5:12

Its the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God put Adam and Eve into a perfect world where they had everything they could possibly need – and they said NO THANKS. God set boundaries on Adam and Eve for their well-being and safety – and they said WE WANT TO DO IT OUR WAY.

As a result of their choices we’re not in the Garden of Eden anymore and the world has become a place of suffering and death – it’s in our spiritual DNA. After they abused their freedom by disobeying God, there were consequences. Creation was disrupted and humanity was wounded. When man and woman chose against God their free world was forever spoiled. We now live on a groaning planet.

If we can accept that God was justified in banishing them from the garden – that they got what they chose – then the question of God’s love and goodness has to be answered by what he did next.

adam-eve1WHAT DID GOD DO TO THESE ARROGANT, IRRESPONSIBLE, UNGRATEFUL SPOILERS OF HIS CREATION? What would you do?

As the creator it was within his rights to destroy Adam and Eve and start over. What he did instead was to provide for them in their new life outside the garden, and promised a Savior who would come and bring restoration. Is this the action of an unfair, cruel, unloving God?

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous – Romans 5:18–19

God sent his son into the world to be the Fall Guy for our folly and ignorance. Even though we deserved punishment, Jesus took that punishment upon himself. His resurrection from the dead swallowed up death forever. This gift is ours through faith.

The fact that we live in a broken world is not evidence that God has failed to be loving. The evidence of his love is that he restores broken people through a Second Adam: Jesus Christ.  Believe in him and you shall be saved.

What a God!

pastor greg

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Where’s God when it hurts?

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The answer is of course…right next to you.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38–39

However, there are times in life when we have trouble seeing this. Let me reassure you on the basis of God’s word that he loves you and has promised to be with you in all seasons and circumstances [see Psalm 46.7, Isaiah 41.10 and John 14.18].

Let me also tell you on the basis of God’s word that we sometimes fall into unbelief and accuse God of being distant [see Romans 1.21-22]. The result is that we wallow in self-inflicted pain and bitterness. We continue to act as if we’re in charge while our world crumbles around us. That’s hard to hear. But that is why Jesus overcomes our self protectiveness with the gift of faith and the love of a God who is WITH US

There are several high-profile TV preachers that proclaim that it’s possible to escape pain this side of heaven – but it’s simply not true. Jesus has told us that in the world you will have tribulation [John 16.33]. As much as we wish it were not so, it’s a fact we cannot escape. But that doesn’t mean there’s no help on this side of heaven!

During the next few weeks I will be preaching a sermon series entitled WHERE IS GOD WHEN IT HURTS? I know this is a critical question that many people face. I also know that there are many who don’t realize that God generously gives hope, help and healing to those who trust in him. I want to encourage you to come and hear what the bible says about this, and receive God’s gift of help. This is also a great time to invite a friend.

Each week I’ll be posting sermon points and bible references for further study.

With my love to you in Jesus,

Pastor Greg

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2013 in devotional

 

The Surprise of Christmas

 Dear friends in Christ,

Without a doubt we are entering a season of surprises.

During the Christmas season we will be surprised by loving gestures – both expected and unexpected. We might also be surprised by what we find beneath the wrapping paper. And then, there’s the surprise of all surprises.

 Are you ready?

 God became a baby lying in a makeshift crib. From a stable a tiny hand reached out to touch our lives. What in the world was God thinking of? Actually, the right question is WHO IN THE WORLD WAS GOD THINKING OF?

 When we think about Jesus we picture the Prince of peace or the King of kings. What we see instead is something that would fit better in a World Vision hunger appeal. There’s no palace in this story – only a stable surrounded by livestock. Mary, Joseph and Jesus are temporarily homeless. Human logic screams that this is ALL WRONG. God’s logic says that this is exactly how it should be.

Immanuel means God with us. To be with us is to become part of our world – fully present in the nice parts and also in the ugly parts. Such is the miracle and surprise of Christmas. Who in the world was God thinking of? The answer is me and you. There’s really nothing quite as stunning as this in all the world.

This isn’t a fable. It’s not a story about somebody else who lived a long time ago. It’s a story that’s happening right now to each one of us while we listen to it. Jesus and his family became homeless people that slept in a stable. All of this so that we would know beyond doubt that the Son of God would go to any length to be with us. There is a savior born this day who is Christ the Lord. 

May the majesty and simplicity of the Christ child fill you!

With my love to you in Jesus,

Pastor Greg

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2012 in devotional

 

Faith and the Rear View Mirror

We don’t see the end of the story until the end of the story.

Abraham didn’t know the location of the promised land, and he never saw the big nation God promised to him. God told him, “Pack your bags and head to a land I’m going to show you…”

Moses was told to lead God’s people out of Egypt. When he looked at the situation all he could see was plenty of reasons NOT to upset a very powerful king of Egypt.

David was told by God he’d be king – except there already was a king named Saul who was none too happy about this.

The bible reads like a who’s who of frightened, anxious and reluctant people. Abraham, Moses and David were only three of many people who learned the all important truth: we don’t see the end of the story until the end of the story. Let me say it a different way. We don’t how God is going to do what he’s promised until we see it in the rear view mirror – until after he does it. That’s why the most powerful times of worship and spiritual renewal in the Old Testament involved remembering. Take a look into the rear view mirror and remember what God did a few miles back, and be encouraged for the upcoming journey.

We look at Abraham, Moses and David and we see ourselves. We see people doubting, sometimes struggling to follow the Lord. We also see how God led them through what appeared to be impossible circumstances. We have the benefit of seeing the big picture and what happened after the fact as we read our bibles. We see that God calls it faith because he asks us to follow him when we don’t know the whole story – HE ASKS US TO TRUST that he he will lead us in the right direction and take care of us along the way.

God is asking our congregation to step out in faith in a fundraising campaign called FORWARD in faith, prayer and promise. We can’t see exactly where he’ll lead us, and so we get a little nervous and reluctant. Being out of our comfort zone isn’t easy. But the good news is God has always been faithful, and he’s not going to stop now!

By the way, Abraham and the whole family who received the promise was rescued from famine and certain death by the Lord. Moses watched God humble the king of Egypt to the point that he gave God’s people permission to leave…with a large sum of Egyptian gold. David was crowned king and would be forever known as a man after God’s own heart. God had it all under control.

God has everything under control at First Lutheran, too.

Grace & Courage dear friends!

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2012 in devotional, outreach and missions

 

Minnesota Marriage Ammendment

Dear friends in Christ,

In about five weeks history is going to be made in Minnesota. In the November elections the definition of marriage will be decided. Even though this is the main issue, it’s not the only issue – neither is it a simple issue. For many it’s simply about “giving permission” for two people who love each other to join in marriage. There’s much more at stake.

First and foremost, God has defined marriage as a life-long union between a man and a woman. The Bible makes this clear in Genesis 2:24 where he says, For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. In their teaching on marriage Jesus and the Apostle Paul both make reference to this text. Marriage is a divine mystery instituted by God for mutual companionship, the procreation of children, and raising those same children to trust in God. Same-sex marriage cannot satisfy these three purposes because a homosexual relationship is sinful and forbidden by God, and because procreation is impossible.
The second issue has to do with the separation of Church and State. By this I’m not referring to a simple political distinction. We recognize that the church and government have different functions. History is full of examples of the terrible things that happen when either the government runs the church, or the church runs the government. It results in oppression. This is exactly why the Puritans came to America to establish freedom of religion. A dear friend of mine who pastors a congregation in Washington State told me, now that gay marriage is the law, that he can be fined or sued for refusing to perform a same-sex wedding. The core issue here is not political. The heart of the matter is that government is dictating the practice of the church. As Christians we believe that the only guide for faith and life within the church is the Bible.
The third issue has to do with redefining the family. God created the family to be the basic building block of society. Families are designed not only to lead their children to Christ, but also to teach them how to function as responsible members of their communities. In order for this to happen we require a moral compass – the bible calls it the conscience [Romans 2.15]. If we cannot stand on a truthful definition for the family as a God-given institution, this present generation and future generations will be cast adrift in a sea of conflicted moral standards. This is what happens when we trade the truth for a lie:
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie Romans 1:21–25
Futile thinking is to believe that society can be built on a foundation where absolute truth is up for grabs.
As Christians we need to respond to this issue. For us it’s not about a particular candidate or a particular political party. Neither is it a desire to somehow “Christianize” the government. The issue regarding the definition of marriage places pressure on the church to abandon the Bible. We simply can’t go there.
God’s word reveals a Savior who came into this world to pay for our sins, defeat death, and give us the hope of eternal life. The church must continue to have freedom to speak the truth. 
With my love to you in Christ,
Pastor Greg DeMuth
 
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Posted by on September 19, 2012 in Uncategorized