Translating God's Word for a new generation
In our Scripture readings for this weekend we hear about Jesus who wants us to celebrate. This weekend, Pastor Jacob Schultz preaches about God's invitation to celebrate in world surrounded by fear and uncertainty. Even when our lives do not go as planned we can celebrate because the One who is in control knows who we are and cares about what is going on in our lives. In the midst of uncertain circumstances, we are held safe by Jesus.
Celebrating sixty years of insight and entertainment this week was the comic strip “Family Circus” by Bil Keane. A frequent character in the comic strip is the little spirit-like character “Not Me”. He shows up when something has gone awry and Mom or Dad asks, “Who did this?” “Not Me,” replies the disobedient child. In this week’s Old Testament reading, Adam and Eve play the “not me” card and up the ante in the blame game. As God confronts them for their disobedience, they point the finger at “Not Me.” God’s response? “I will put the blame on... My Son!” To every one of our “Not Me”s, Jesus says, “Me.” He says, “I will take your disobedience as My own and will give My own life for yours!” Death will not have its way. Life wins and Jesus wins life!
Jesus is in charge and He loves you. The Scriptures sum up this truth with the words "Jesus is Lord." He is the one with the power. He is the one with the authority. And His way is always best for us. This weekend in our Scripture readings, we will hear about how Jesus was, is, and will always be in charge. He has not given up His power but is still ruling. And this is good news. In this broken world of chaos and corruption, we can take comfort in the knowledge that Jesus is lovingly working all things together for our good. Take heart. Keep up the good work. Trust in our powerful and loving Savior, who will see us through to our heavenly home.
The Richter Scale measures seismic events, shifts in the alignment of the earth’s plates. Transfiguration, too, is a shift. It is a seismic event in the life of Christ that sets the stage for what comes next. As Jesus gathers Peter, James and John on a mountaintop along with Moses and Elijah, the event is measured by none other than God Himself, who declares, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.” With the descent from the mountain, with the voice of God in our ears, we shift our attention from following Jesus as He teaches and heals to following Jesus as He resolutely heads for Jerusalem, for the cross, for us.
The Scriptures remind us that we love because God first loved us. In fact, the way God loves us is unique to Him. He so loves us that He forgives the sins of the entire world through Jesus. This is something that only God can do. God is good at loving. What are you good at doing? Maybe it is problem solving or an ability to fix anything. Maybe it is an awareness of the needs of others and a compassionate spirit to help. Maybe it is being a peacemaker among friends and family. Maybe it is leadership skills or musical abilities. Whatever it is, it is a gift from God to share His love. Our abilities reflect the love of the generous God who first loved us. This week, Pastor Jacob Schultz helps us explore how God gives us unique abilities to serve others with our deeds.
Several times in Scripture, God indicates how deeply He treasures His Son with these words: “This is my beloved Son.” In Matthew, Jesus, God’s own treasure, declares, ”Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” God placed His treasure here, with us. That means His heart is for us. His heart calls our hearts to be generous. Generous hearts generously and freely serve God with their treasure.
The mercies of God are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). We have a God who loves to be generous as he gives us not what we deserve, but mercy and grace. Today, Pastor Schultz shares with us the generous mercy of God, a mercy that extends to everyone and shows us how to be merciful to others as well. As you hear and sing of God's salvation this day, consider God's merciful power. Our God is good.
As we work our way through the Gospel of Matthew this year, we see a transition this week from the introduction of Jesus to the beginning of His ministry. Matthew summarizes Jesus’ ministry in three areas: Jesus taught, He proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom, and He met the needs of the people (Matt. 4:23.). This weekend, we will experience the light of Jesus and explore what generous faith in Christ looks like in our lives.
God’s heart is a heart of generosity. In His generosity, He called a people (Israel) to be His own . . . for a purpose. That purpose was to be a light to those who were strangers and foreigners (Gentiles). Those foreigners--which include us--also have a purpose. Our purpose is to share God’s salvation “to the ends of the earth.” The Apostle Paul calls this purpose a “partnership with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”. God’s Word encourages us to have generous hearts, fulfilling the purpose of our lives.
This weekend, we celebrate the baptism of Jesus. Come hear about the perfect Son of God who was washed in the Jordan River and see how extraordinary He is. Years before this happened, Magi from the East had come to realize how unique this individual was as they gave Him their worship and their gifts. He is the Lamb of God proclaimed by John. He is the glorious true King promised to God's people, descended from the line of King David. And He is the Savior who has come to bring us salvation. Let us gather at the river to share in the Baptism Day of our Lord!