Listen to the Shepherd’s Voice – Follow


My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life.

John 10:27-28b

Listen to the Shepherd’s Voice – Follow

Have you noticed how many people think of God as a driver of the sheep. What I mean is this, they describe God as a hard God only demanding people what he wants them to do! Yes, certainly God does give us his law that demands. However, notice how Jesus describes himself and the sheep. He says they listen to his voice.

The shepherd of Jesus’ day walked ahead of his sheep and led them with his voice. He did not drive them as we often imagine. The shepherd knew his sheep and was with them all through the day and night. The sheep knew him and followed him through the countryside as they foraged for food.

By nature, we often can fall into that thinking of seeing God as a demanding Lord, driving his sheep and making us do what he wants. Let’s be honest, often that is how we work with others and certainly how we often treat God. We want and expect him to give us what we want, expecting and even demanding him to answer our prayers and bless us as we desire. We often judge God by the things he gives us. By nature, we have that law or driving mentality. Also, the less we hear and know our Shepherd’s voice, the more we fight and only see God as a driver. Satan loves to get us here. He is one of those enemies, along with the world and our sinful nature. He wants to destroy, to wound and finally to separate us from our Good Shepherd and eternal life!

“I know them” Jesus knows this about us. We are sheep! I may not like to describe myself in that way. But if I am honest, I need help. I need a Savior! Jesus came as our Good Shepherd. He knows you, me! He knows how easily we get lost or taken advantage of or belligerently bolt away on my own, only to need rescuing. In his Word he sooths my soul and forgives my guilt! In his Word I hear of his love and rescue. In his Word, I find peace and certainty. In his voice, I find his mercy that never turns away, but a Shepherd that goes out of his way to bring me back! They follow me. I give them eternal life.

How we get things too confused and mixed up about God. Jesus steps into our lives to love, to save and to give us eternal life – now and for eternity. In the church, we follow our Savior, listening together to our Savior voice! Come listen and follow Jesus!

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, You are the Good Shepherd. You know my life, my fears and where I have fallen. Jesus thank you for rescuing me and having brought me to faith. I am part of your flock. Help me listen and know your voice. Satisfy my soul. Give me strength to endure the challenges of this world. Amen.


Easter Sunday Worship at 7:00 & 9:00 AM

Join in celebrating Christ’s Victory & Resurrection on Easter Sunday Morning at 7 & 9 am.

Easter breakfast starting at 8 am.

Devil Seeks to Destroy

8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8–9)

That poor water buffalo is in trouble! He got separated from the herd as the lions wanted. The lions prey on the weak and lonely, working to separate them from the protection of the herd!

Satan is no different. God tells us that he is the father of lies, sneaky and is set on separating us from the love of God at all costs. He desires to devour and destroy! He knows that if he can separate followers of Jesus, Christians, from Jesus, his Word and the church (the gathering of believers around the Word), that he has the best chance of destroying them eternally. He knows that God has promised that through the Gospel in Word and Sacrament is where the Holy Spirit promises to give and strengthen faith. This spiritual battle is far more dangerous as it is for eternity! The end game is hell!

On the first Sunday of Lent we hear Jesus willingly go to be tempted by the Devil. (Matthew 4:1-11, see below). We get a chance to see how the Devil works. He tries to get Jesus to use his godly powers for his own good. Jesus uses God’s Word to defend himself. Satan comes back using that same Word of God. Yes, Satan knows God’s Word. He knows it well and knows it has power. He twists it to get Jesus to test his Father. Notice how Jesus came back and used God’s Word to fight back against the Devil.

The Devil then tries to deceive Jesus, telling him that he would give him all the treasures of the world if he bowed down to him. Oh, how the treasurers of this world entice us and take our souls. So many things I can’t do without: sports, cell phones, money, clothes, family, relaxation, busyness of our lives… I have to say, the Devil seems to be winning in this area. Leading us to think we have God’s blessings when we can see so much around us, leading us to not have time to listen to Jesus or to come encourage each other around Jesus and his Word! See how Satan leads us to put our trust in the things God has given us, instead of God himself. He is so deceptive! It is hard to get away from Satan when he has set his jaws around our life!

Thank the Lord, Jesus came and defeated the Devil! He defeated our sin! In his Word, the Holy Spirit helps us to resist and to change our lives.  It is interesting that when you search for lions killing water buffalo, you find many times where the lions got killed by the water buffalo. The family of believers gather around the Word of Jesus to grow, encourage and help protect one another! This is why our Lord has brought us together as the family of God!  Praying the Lord helps you keep growing and fighting the Devil’s temptations!  Pastor Green

Jesus Fighting the Temptations of the Devil

Matthew 4:1–111 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

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Is It I?

Ash Wednesday/Midweek 1

Is It I?

Sermon Text: Matthew 26:20-25 (ESV)

When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.” (Mt 26:20-25 ESV)

In Old Testament times, God summoned his people to Jerusalem three times a year, in pilgrimage. They were to appear before the Lord at the three high festivals—Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. You know from the gospels that Jesus himself made that trip a few times, as well as one last time.

Today we begin our annual pilgrimage of sorts. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of our 40-day trek through the Passion History of our Lord, visiting familiar places along the way and culminating with us gathered, in spirit, in the upper room, at the foot of the cross, and at the entrance of the empty tomb. Forty days—for the 40 days in the wilderness, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, when he battled temptation to remain sinless for us.

Our Lenten series this year takes us to all those familiar places, and does so by using little phrases—three words of truth each week—that focus our spiritual attention on what is important.

Today, Ash Wednesday, we begin our Lenten journey by staring in a mirror at ourselves—reflecting on our sinfulness in the light of God’s Word, but then looking past our own reflection to see that Jesus is standing right there behind us—our Hope, our Cure, our dear Savior.

We begin by making the three-word question of the disciples our own: Is it I? What’s the answer?

  1. Yes—it is I whom God calls to repentance. But then, more important: Is it I?
  2. Yes—it is I for whom the Savior willingly goes.

God bless our Lenten journey through his Word.

  1. Yes—it is I whom God calls to repentance.

In that upper room on Maundy Thursday, Jesus spoke many, many comforting things to his disciples as he prepared them for the fierce trial of faith that they would undergo the next day—watching him, their teacher and Lord, hang in agony on the cross. But Jesus also dropped a couple of bombshells on his disciples that night as well.

One of them was this: While they were half-joking around about which one of them was the best of the disciples, Jesus, the Son of God, quietly got up and began to wash their feet, doing the work of a common household servant. I imagine it was pretty quiet all of a sudden; perhaps all they heard was the gentle splash of water in the bowl as each awaited his turn in ashamed silence. Actions sometimes speak louder than words, don’t they?

But then, a second—even bigger—bombshell. As they began their last meal together, Jesus became visibly agitated and then just said it: “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” Boom! . . . And more silence. Then troubled voices filled with concern and shock: “Is it I? Is it I? Is it I? Is it I? Is it I? . . .” And Judas too had to ask, otherwise his silence would have been too revealing; he knew how to cover his tracks: “Is it I, Rabbi?”

What’s interesting about the way each disciple asked that question is that each was expecting Jesus to answer, “No, not you.” Yet Matthew says they were all filled with grief over Jesus’ revelation, and so the questions didn’t come from pride or self-confidence (“It couldn’t possibly be me!”). By this point, all the disciples knew that Jesus could read the hearts and minds of people, including theirs. No, these were questions prompted by doubt and fear, and each was looking for reassurance.

But even asking the question “Is it I?” is revealing. What does it reveal? It reveals what sin has done to us and what sin has the potential to do to us. Although none of us here today is the one who actually betrayed the Lord Jesus to his enemies, each of us has sinned—daily sins—and has felt the same fear and doubt the disciples felt. Along with the disciples, each of us cannot brag about how strong we are in our faith. Instead, we simply must realize how powerful a force sin is in our own lives and what awful potential for self-destruction sin brings with it. How could Judas do it? He had seen Jesus heal the sick. He had seen Jesus walk on water. He had seen Jesus feed thousands . . . and had even helped pick up the leftovers. He had been sent out as a missionary by Jesus and had preached the gospel. He had been given authority to do miracles himself—and probably did many. “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born,” Jesus simply said. How—how could Judas do it?

How can I do it? How can I do it—after I have heard God speak so clearly in his Word about right and wrong, about being holy in thought, actions, and speech? How can I do it—when I read many examples of people in the Bible and see examples today (perhaps, sadly, in my own family) of those who once believed but chose to turn away from Jesus? Do I really stop to think about what sin can do in my life? I mean, besides the problems and irritations it causes or the frictions in personal relationships, do I really realize that it can drive faith from my heart and leave me to stand before God’s holy throne when I die with no excuse and an eternity of hell before me? As one of my professors emphatically said, “Sin isn’t like having a cold; it’s a terminal disease.” And every funeral we attend, every cemetery we drive past ought to remind us of that. This day too—Ash Wednesday—is a reminder of our own mortality and the judgment that will follow.

“Is it I?”—Yes! It is I whom God calls to repentance, for it is I who am sinful from birth, I who daily sin against my Lord. The letter of Hebrews says that God’s Word is sharp, like a sword, and reveals the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Heb 4:12). Jesus’ announcement in the upper room did just that and forced the disciples to examine themselves. When they did—when we do—what do we find? Grief, doubt, and fear when we honestly look at ourselves.

     2. Yes—it is I for whom the Savior willingly goes.

But in that upper room there is also Jesus. There, in the person of that God-man Jesus, is love we can’t understand. In love, he does confront us with our sin. But like a doctor diagnosing a disease, Jesus confronts us so that we stop living in denial or entertaining wild dreams about entering heaven because of our own goodness. He does it so that we turn to him and are saved, for apart from him there is no Savior. Although his words reveal who we really are behind the façade that we so often put on, more important, his words also reveal who he is and why he came.

“The Son of Man goes as it is written of him.” Almost a passing comment by Jesus in this text, but a statement loaded with love and comfort for us! He is “the Son of Man”—true man, yet true God. But by taking on our human nature, Jesus became our brother. He shares our humanity. He’s been here on planet Earth. He knows what temptations we face; he faced them all. He knows how we struggle in weakness; he chose to live in weakness too. He knows what grief and sorrow we carry around in our hearts; he knows how frightened by the future we become at times. And he knows all these things not simply because he is true God but because he is true man who experienced life in the sinful world just as we do.

And this Son of Man “goes as it is written of him.” No, Matthew here in our text really isn’t highlighting the tragedy of Judas (although it certainly is that). Rather, this is Jesus’ story; it’s all about him—this story that began before the creation of the world. It’s the history of how he, the Son of God, created all things good in the beginning and how his enemy Satan declared war against him by corrupting the crown of his creation, mankind. In that garden, he stood there with Adam and Eve. He cursed the serpent and then promised to come and make all things right again. Here he is—in the flesh and in the upper room. All the prophecies pointed to him and this night, this weekend. The final, hellish battle was about to commence. He “goes.”

He will go for you, for me, for all. Although later that night he wrestled in prayer and in fear with his Father about this battle, perfect love drove out fear. He “goes” to the mock court, to Pilate’s hall, to the flogging post, through the streets of jeering Jerusalem, up gory Golgotha, onto the cross. He “goes” into the tomb, a place utterly foreign to the living God.

But he will go out of the tomb too. And he will tell his frightened followers: “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:10). Then he will go to the right hand of God and rule all things for them—but also for you, for his people. He will go as it was written and make all things right again.

Is this really for me? Is it—this work of Jesus that washes away my sins? Is it really for me—forgiveness and peace? It is really for me—a glorious future in heaven that he (who cannot lie) promises to me and to all who believe in him? Yes, it is for you, it is for me. Put your faith in him! Whoever trusts in him will never be put to shame.

And walk with him—not just during these 40 days of Lent but every day. Fight the good fight of faith by the power of the Spirit—struggling against sin and clinging to your Savior. This is the truly Christian life, and this is the blessed life. Amen.

Be our Guest this New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve Worship — 5:00 PM

We would love to have you come worship Christ as we remember his coming to give us light in our dark world. In him we find the certainty of salvation and eternal life! 

LWMS rally

VBS 2018