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Saturday, November 14, 2020

The Judge Will Be Jesus

"For God has not destined us for wrath" (1 Thess. 5:9).

To the dear people of Faith:

Today (Nov. 15) is the second-last Sunday of the Church Year.  These last days of the Church Year remind us that we are living in the last days.  And as Christians, we are looking forward to the Last Day - yes, longing for it to come!  Longing for Him to come: our dear Lord Jesus Christ!

We express this longing when we say in the Creed, "From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead."  And when we exclaim in the Communion liturgy, "Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus!"

But because we are sinful and weak and have only a little faith, thoughts of the Last Day, or Judgment Day, can easily frighten us.  When that happens, remember that the Judge on that Day will be Jesus, in whose righteousness you are dressed!

Luther preached it this way: "None other will hold court on the Day of Judgment than He who gave Himself for us.  He will certainly not deny Himself but will declare that He gave Himself for your sins, as you believe.  What, then, will sin do when the Judge declares that He Himself has taken it away?  Who will accuse you?  Who will judge the Judge?  Who will overcome Him?  He avails more than innumerable worlds with all their sins.  Had He not given Himself, but something else, for you, one would still expect much of Him.  But now, since He has given Himself for you, what can terrify you?  He Himself would have to be condemned before sin could condemn you for whom He gave Himself.  Oh, here is great, sure security!"

I would put it this way: On the Last Day He will say to you one last time what He says to you every day and every hour, "Take heart, child, your sins are forgiven!"

God bless you today, tonight, and this week!  I can't wait to be back with you this Wednesday and then Sunday!  I can't wait to say, "As often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord's death until He comes."

And I can't wait to hear you say, "Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus!"

With love and prayers,

Pastor Matt

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

45

Did you know that Martin Luther and the U.S. Marines share the same birthday?  It's today!

Monday, November 9, 2020

Happy Birthdays

Question: What do the U.S. Marines and Martin Luther have in common?  Answer: For one thing, they share the same birthday - November 10.  In the case of the Marines the year was 1775.  In Luther's case, 1483.

For another thing, the Marine Corps has a "warrior ethos" and is the "first to fight" to protect our freedom.  Luther was a spiritual warrior who fought to defend the greatest of all freedoms: the freedom of the Gospel, the Gospel of Christ and the forgiveness of sins.

And for a third thing, each may be summed up in two words of Latin.  For the Marines the two words are semper fidelis.  It means "always faithful."  General Berger wrote in this year's birthday message to his Marines, "While this year's many challenges are significant and unique, they are not unprecedented, and it is important to remember that our Nation and Corps have endured difficult times in our past."  And, "There is no challenge we cannot overcome, together, by holding fast to our core values."  He then signed the letter under the words "Semper Fidelis."

And for Luther the two words are sola fide.  It means "by faith alone."  It has been called Luther's refrain.  It is shorthand for, among other verses, Galatians 2:16: "...a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ."  In other words, you are counted righteous before God not because of the things you have done, or tried to do, but because of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ!  The following hymn lines put it perfectly:

Salvation unto us has come by God's free grace and favor;
Good works cannot avert our doom, they help and save us never.
Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone, who did for all the world atone;
He is our one Redeemer.

Happy birthday, dear Marines, and dear Martin!  Where would we be without you?

Sunday, November 8, 2020

This Will Pass, Too

"It came to pass" (Matt. 11:1).

By Richard Wurmbrand

It is said that King David once called a jeweler and said, "Make me a ring whose appearance will gladden my heart when I am sad, and make me sad when I am joyful.  You have two days for this.  If you bring the ring, you will be richly rewarded.  If not...."

The jeweler left in despair.  He knew his life would be forfeited.  Who could make such a ring?

When he crossed the palace yard, little Solomon, who was playing, observed his grief and asked him what it was about.  The jeweler told him of the foolish demand the king had made.

The child laughed and said, "Make him a simple ring of tin and write on it the words "This will pass, too."  Nothing more is needed.  In moments of darkness, the king will read that this will pass and find comfort.  In revelings, the ring will remind him that joys in this world are transitory."

The jeweler made the ring and received a rich reward.

One of the beauties of the King James Version of the Bible is that the expression "It came to pass" occurs so often.  What burdens you have today will pass.  Don't be so occupied with your present griefs.  What were you sad about five years ago, on November 8?  You don't even remember anymore.  So today's sorrows soon will be forgotten.  And when you are joyful, don't forget that you have not attained heaven yet.  All joys in this world are temporary.

Christians seek the eternal abode in which all tears will be wiped away.

Monday, November 2, 2020

44

God bless FLC as we serve as a polling place tomorrow.  And God bless YOU with a special peace and strength right now.

Lord, remember us in Your kingdom and teach us to pray: Our Father...

Monday, October 26, 2020

43

Hello from Frankenmuth, Michigan!  I drove here alone, but Mary, Joseph, and Christ will join me for the trip home tomorrow!

Thinking of all of you,

Pastor

Friday, October 23, 2020

42

Here it is - a denarius - just like the one in Matthew 22:19.



Sunday, October 11, 2020

41

Verse of the Week:

"The God of peace will be with you."

Philippians 4:9

Friday, October 9, 2020

40

This is the weekend that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it...

and in Him!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

39

How good to know that no matter the circumstances, God's faithfulness remains the same!

Take heart today!

PM

Thursday, September 24, 2020

38

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Amen.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

35

Reminder: NO SERVICES this coming Sun. and Wed. (Sep. 6 and 9).

I'll be on vacation, and you'll be...

in my prayers.

Pastor

Friday, August 28, 2020

34

September is shaping up to be a special month at FLC.  We'll talk about it on Sun. and Wed.  Plus, I heard the most beautiful thing about Communion this week - can't wait to tell you!

With joy, love, and prayers,

Pastor

Saturday, August 22, 2020

33

Dear Christians,

Tomorrow is the day of the week that Jesus rose.  So let us rise tomorrow morning with faith, hope, and love in our hearts!

Pastor

Thursday, August 13, 2020

32

The picture-taking went well.  Services are going very well.  Offerings have been ample.  The Elders meet tonight.  Christ is risen.  And another good Sunday and Wednesday to begin looking forward to!

Pastor

Thursday, August 6, 2020

31

Know that the Lord is with you today, that your pastor is praying for you, and that you are loved by your brothers and sisters in the congregation!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

30

"May the Lord give strength to His people!  May the Lord bless His people with peace!"

Psalm 29:11

Thursday, July 23, 2020

29

"As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people, from this time forth and forevermore."

Psalm 125:2

Friday, July 17, 2020

28

Last month we talked about how John the Baptist is the best man in the wedding of Christ and the Church (John 3:29).

Well, this Sunday and Wednesday I'll tell you who I think is the maid of honor!

Monday, July 6, 2020

27

Jesus says:

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Matthew 11:28

Friday, July 3, 2020

26

God bless our native land; Firm may she ever stand Through storm and night.  When the wild tempests rave, Ruler of wind and wave, Do Thou our country save By Thy great might.

Amen.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

25

"Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us" (Psalm 62:8).

Friday, June 19, 2020

24

Feeling fatigued?  With everything going on, it's no wonder.  What is a Wonder is that, in the middle of it all, the Risen Christ is with us with His peace and strength.  Peace for tonight, and strength that will be yours tomorrow morning!

Pastor

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

23

I wrote this in honor of Trinity Sunday, June 7.

All glory to the Father, Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three in One,
Who made, redeemed, and comforts me -
All glory to the Trinity!

Amen.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

22

The seven words of Pentecost:

"Come, Holy Spirit, and fill our hearts!"

The Perfect Pentecost Prayer!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

21

Hymn 528, stanza 7:

To God all glory, praise, and love
Be now and ever given
By saints below and saints above,
The Church in earth and heaven.

So simple, yet so rich!

With love and prayers for all of you,

Pastor Matt

Sunday, May 17, 2020

20

JOY has been defined as "Jesus, Others, Yourself."  Look first to your Savior.  Then to the needs of your neighbor.  And then you will find yourself - and the great joy of the Gospel!

Sunday, May 10, 2020

19

What a beautiful church!

Of course, I could be talking about the building.  But what I'm really talking about is the congregation!

1 Peter 2:4-5

Pastor Matt


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

18

Risen Lord, as the moon reflects the light of the sun, may we reflect the light of Your love.  Amen.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

17

"The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me" (Psalm 138:8).

The Lord Jesus loves you and is at work IN your life to benefit you, and is at work THROUGH your life to benefit others.

Amen.

Friday, April 24, 2020

16

Here's a fun thought:

It's Friday the 13th!

Because today is the 13th day of Easter!

Do something special to celebrate!

And read 1 Cor. 13:13.

Pastor

Saturday, April 18, 2020

15

During this Easter Season, be sure to say at least ONCE A DAY:

"Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!"

It's guaranteed to encourage you!

Pastor Matt

Monday, April 13, 2020

14

"This Easter"

Though the pews are all empty,
It bothers me none.
For the tomb, too, is empty
And the vict'ry is won!

Amen.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Two Weeks' Notice

Two times in the Bible, and no more, we are given the account of a week.  The first is found in Genesis and presents the six days of creation and the seventh day on which God rested.  The second is found in the Holy Gospel and records the events of the first Holy Week.  God means for us to consider these two weeks together.

As God made the world in six days and then rested, so on Palm Sunday He entered Jerusalem to redeem the world.  He "finished" (John 19:30) that work by day's end Friday and then used Saturday to rest.

We know from Genesis that man was created on the sixth day (Gen. 1:26-31), that is, Friday.  No coincidence then that Jesus died for man also on a Friday.

The Bible's two weeks and the parallels between them must not go unnoticed.  The One who made the world without sin in the course of a week, in the course of a week saved it from sin.  More personally, He who made you head to toe has redeemed you body and soul to be, again, His own.

To you and yours a very blessed Holy Week!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

13

Wash your hands.

Fold your hands.

And, as Holy Week approaches, remember HIS hands, His feet, His side, and His love for you!

Amen.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Strength for Today

"Give us this day our daily bread" (Matt. 6:11).

God gives us what we need one day at a time.  He is determined to teach us trust.  He calls us to trust that He will provide again tomorrow as He did today.

In the Old Testament He instructed the Israelites to gather just enough manna for the day.  He sent it again the next morning.  In the New Testament, in which we live, He teaches us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread."  In other words, just enough strength for today.  He will supply it again tomorrow.

All of this leads to two definitions:

Anxiety = looking at tomorrow's challenges without tomorrow's strength.

Trust = knowing that tomorrow's strength will be a match for tomorrow's challenges.

You are not yet in possession of tomorrow's strength.  It will be yours tomorrow morning, but not before.  You are given strength for today, bright hope for tomorrow, and the most blessed of all things: trust in your heavenly Father.

With love,

Pastor Matt

Saturday, March 28, 2020

12

Jesus says to you:

"Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

John 14:27

Amen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Annunciation

March 25 should be considered a great holy and happy day!  Called "Annunciation" for the angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary, it comes nine months to the day before Christmas.  If on Christmas we celebrate the birth of our Savior, on Annunciation we celebrate His conception.  "Conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary" (Apostles' Creed).

Let's go for a moment to Nazareth as it stands today.  We enter the Basilica of the Annunciation, built over the Grotto of the Annunciation, held by tradition to be the place where the angel came to Mary.  Inside the grotto, or cave, is an altar bearing five Latin words: "Verbum caro hic factum est."  They belong to John 1:14.  One word, however, is added: hic (in English, "here").  And so it reads: "Here the Word became flesh."

While there is no way to confirm that this was the exact location, the words should be understood more deeply as pointing to the Virgin's womb.  Of that location we can be certain!

Sadly, many Christians miss the significance of March 25 as an opportunity to remember, ponder, and celebrate the Incarnation: God's Son putting on our flesh.  But you needn't miss it at all!

Take time to read Luke 1:26-38, say the Creed, and sing perhaps this ancient hymn:

Not by human flesh and blood,
By the Spirit of our God,
Was the Word of God made flesh -
Woman's offspring, pure and fresh.

Here a maid was found with child,
Yet remained a virgin mild.
In her womb this truth was shown:
God was there upon His throne.

And celebrate the day with your family and Christian friends!  Forget your Lenten fasting for a day and prepare a feast instead!  Give thanks with greatest joy for the love of God shown to us in the incarnation of His dear Son!

Pray the Holy Spirit to come upon you.  See your faith as the womb in which Christ is conceived and grows.  Then give birth to Him through words and works of love so that He may touch the lives of others.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

11

A prayer before bed:

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety (Ps. 4:8).

Amen.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

10

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:7).

Amen.

Friday, March 6, 2020

9

If you give up something for Lent, use it to remember the Father who gave up His Son, the Son who gave up His life, and the Holy Spirit who gives up on no one.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

8

Trouble getting up in the morning?  Put these words of Jesus near your bed:

"Rise, and have no fear" (Matt. 17:7).

Amen.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

7

Phone Blessing

Father in heaven, bless this phone.  Help me to use it in a way that pleases You, benefits me, and encourages others.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Right Eyes

"If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away" (Matt. 5:29).

These words of Jesus move us to avoid temptations to sexual sin, many of which enter through the eye.  Remove and resist visual stimuli that would appeal to a sinful heart.

But the eleventh-century Archbishop of Bulgaria, Theophylact, explained, "When you hear 'eye' and 'hand,' do not imagine that the Lord is speaking of parts of the body, for He would not in that case have specified 'right eye' and 'right hand.'  He is speaking instead of those who appear to be friends, but who are in fact harming us.  Take, for example, a young man who has friends living in debauchery, and who is harmed by their bad influence.  Cut these off from you, the Lord says, and perhaps you will also save them, when they come to their senses.  And if you cannot save them, you will at least save yourself.  But if you continue in your affection for them, both you and they will be destroyed."

We are reminded in the Small Catechism that God has given us our eyes (First Article).  It would not be right or thankful to throw away a divine gift.  Far better to see that He has also redeemed our eyes (Second Article) and makes them holy for new use (Third Article).

See your eyes as precious, think of what they are able to do, and resolve not to set before them "anything that is worthless" (Ps. 101:3).  Use them to "look at the birds of the air," as He instructs later in the same sermon (Matt. 6:26).  Lift up your eyes to the Hill and to the Crucified, from whence come both forgiveness and then help, much help, in the fight against temptation (Ps. 121).

Remember that lust is never satisfied (Prov. 27:20), but that love always finds fulfillment.

If you (or someone you know) seem trapped in sexual sin, seriously consider talking with your pastor.  He will hold the matter in strict confidence, offer a listening ear, and share with you God's Word of forgiveness, hope, and help.

Friday, February 14, 2020

6

If we think about it, Jesus preached a second "Sermon on the Mount."  The first, of course, is found in Matthew 5, 6, and 7.  And the second?

Mount Calvary.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

5

You receive the body and blood of Christ.

Then, using the words of Simeon, the pastor says, "Depart in peace."  This means: Have no fear of death!

Amen.

Friday, January 31, 2020

4

Happiness eventually runs out.

Joy in the risen Christ lasts forever!

Amen.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

3

John sees Jesus coming toward him and says, "Behold, the Lamb of God...!"

Which is why we sing "Lamb of God" when we see Jesus coming toward us in Communion.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

2

Faith sees the cross of Christ.

Hope sees His resurrection.

And love sees one another, our neighbors, and even our enemies.

Amen.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

1

The wise men gave three precious gifts to Christ at His birth.

And God gave three priceless gifts to you at your Baptism: faith, hope, and love.

Amen.