Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus to dinner. Jesus accepted. He entered Simon’s home and took his place at the table.
Among the attendees was a woman who had lived a sinful life. When she heard that Jesus was at Simon’s house, she grabbed an expensive jar filled with expensive perfume. Somehow, she found her way into Simon’s house. In front of all the guests, she knelt at Jesus’s feet and began to weep. As her tears wet his feet, she dried them with her hair and covered them with kisses. Then she anointed Jesus’s feet with the costly perfume.
Simon was appalled. If Jesus was a holy man, he wouldn’t let this sinner touch him.
Knowing what was on Simon’s mind, Jesus told him a story. Two men were deeply in debt to a third man. One owed a year and a half worth of wages. The other owed two months of wages. Neither of them could repay their debt, so the third man canceled the debt of both. Then Jesus asked, “Simon, which man would be the most thankful?”
Simon grudgingly admitted, “The one with the greater debt forgiven.”
Jesus then pointed to the woman and praised her fragrant faith. While Simon assumed he had little to be forgiven, the woman knew she owed Jesus a great debt. When Jesus forgave her, she poured out her heart in thanks for his extravagant love. Simon, on the other hand, expressed little love toward Jesus.
If we, like Simon, think we don’t need Jesus’ forgiveness, we are fooling ourselves and denying the truth. But if we admit our sins, Jesus fully and freely forgives us and cleanses us from our moral decay.
How then will we respond? A fragrant faith admits that we are beggars, hands over our debt to Jesus, and leaves that life behind.
Lord Jesus, you have forgiven me so much. Help me to love much. Amen.
Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
A young man sat in church as a first-time guest. The pastor read these words of Paul, then asked for anyone who had these sins in their background to stand. At first, no one did. Then, after some hesitation, most everyone got to their feet. The young man thought, “These are my kind of people.”
Another young man stood in church as a guest speaker. He shared his story of sinful rebellion, God’s relentless pursuit, his eventual repentance and restoration, and his daily wrestle with sin. Then, someone asked him how he labeled himself. The young man replied, “I am a redeemed child of God.”
There is no difference between any of us. We can all point to a sin on Paul’s list that wants to master us. We can all say, “That was me.” We may have embraced that sin at one time, but we no longer identify with it. We are looking at that sin in the rear-view mirror. It may be closer than we would like, but by the grace of God and a life of daily repentance, it is behind us.
For we were washed. Certain household bleach may claim to remove 99.9 percent of germs. But in baptism, Christ cleanses us of 100 percent of our sin.
We were sanctified. Like the boy in the bubble, God’s protecting grace surrounds us. He sets us apart from everything that looks to disqualify us from inheriting eternal life.
We were justified. The devastating evidence of our wrongdoing is all around us. Yet because of Jesus, God sees past our sin. He focuses on his Son’s sinless life and sacrificial death on the cross and declares that we are not guilty.
You are not your sin. You are a redeemed child of God, an heir of eternal life!
Gracious God, thank you for my new identity in Christ. Help me daily to leave my past behind and press on toward the prize to which you have called me. Amen.
“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:19-21
Positioned prominently above the gates of Auschwitz, a sign greeted the Jewish prisoners as they entered the camp. Arbeit Macht Frei: “Work Sets You Free.” It was an empty promise. They worked themselves to exhaustion, but the only escape they found was in death.
Arbeit Macht Frei is an ideal that sounds reasonable, even appealing. If we do the right things, we will have freedom and approval. But no amount of work will add up to the standard of glory that God expects from us. The only payment we receive for our efforts is death.
Jesus Christ has set us free from our dead-end existence. For us, he labored flawlessly under his Father’s law. For our salvation, he paid for our guilt on the cross with his sinless life. By faith in Christ, we are free from the law’s demands and empty promises. Rather than our own works setting us free from God’s anger, it is Jesus’ work that sets us free.
Remember this when your guilt is getting the better of you. Remember that the hard work of getting your soul to heaven has already been done, by Jesus. Then, like St. Paul, spend your life living for the one who has paid the price for your entrance through the pearly gate of heaven!
Lord Jesus, help me believe that all you did, suffered, and endured you did to rescue me and set me free. In the hope of your resurrection, teach me to live in the freedom I have in you. Amen.
The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. So the LORD brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. In his distress he sought the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 2 Chronicles 33:10-13
Would you put a tweenager in charge of your life? An entire nation?
Manasseh was twelve when he became the king of Israel. He did a poor job. Like a rebellious preteen, Manasseh was going to be different from his father. His father abolished pagan worship; Manasseh reinstated it.
What should God do? First, he tried to reason with Manasseh. When that failed, God didn’t give up. He used tough love on the king, allowing him to be taken as a prisoner to far off Babylon. Manasseh humbled himself before God and prayed for deliverance. God heard Manasseh and gave him a second chance.
You don’t have to be a tweenager to behave like one. We don’t always do things the way our Father wants. We worship our own modern-day idols. We fall into today’s culturally acceptable sins. We ignore God’s wisdom and counsel. The issue is not how big or small our sin-debt is. The issue is, we can’t repay it.
What should God do? Should he give us a second chance? That’s not what we deserve, but that’s what he does. He is the God of free and faithful grace. Because Jesus was an obedient Son who laid down his life for our sins, God’s mercy is always new.
As we live humbly before God, confessing our guilt, and trusting in Jesus Christ as our Savior, he delivers us. He gives us better than we deserve. Rather than death, he gives us life. Rather than hell, he gives us heaven. Rather than his fury, he forgives us and gives us a second chance—over and over.
Heavenly Father, I have disobeyed you in my thoughts, words, and actions. I am sorry for my sins and for Jesus’s sake, I pray: Lord, give me a second chance. Amen.
David was a man after God’s own heart. But one late afternoon, David decided to follow his own heart rather than God’s.
From the palace rooftop, David caught sight of Uriah’s wife, the beautiful Bathsheba. He coveted her, called her to his palace, coerced her into bed, and got her pregnant. Panicked, David tried to cover up his affair. First, he buried it under a lie. Then, he buried Uriah so he could marry Bathsheba. David thought he was free, but for a year he was a prisoner of his own guilt.
That’s when God sent Nathan to David. Nathan told David a story. There were two men, one rich and the other poor. The poor man owned a single lamb that he treasured like a daughter. The rich man had hundreds of sheep and cattle. One day, a guest dropped in at the rich man’s house for dinner. Not wanting to give up one of his livestock, the rich man stole the poor man’s lamb, slaughtered it, and served it to his guest.
David was furious. He demanded to know the identity of the man who had destroyed another man’s family. He deserved to die.
Nathan replied, “You are the man.” Hard words. Honest words. Humbling words. God’s tough love set David free. Heartbroken, he confessed his guilt. And the Lord had compassion on him. Because of God’s promised Savior, Jesus Christ, David found spiritual freedom. The innocent Lamb of God, slaughtered in place of the many, brings spiritual freedom to every man, woman, and child held in bondage to sin.
That’s all of us. We don’t like to admit sin. We don’t want our guilt exposed. We bottle it up, bury it, and build walls around it. We think we are protecting ourselves. In reality, we are prisoners of our own making.
Confession is good for the soul. It’s the door to freedom. It gives us access to God’s love and forgiveness in Christ.
O God, I recognize my rebellion against you. I know that I began life full of sin. Purify me from my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart. And, restore to me the joy of your salvation. Amen.
St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church
313 East Montello St.
Montello, WI 53949
Emmanuel Ev. Lutheran Church
Montello, WI 53949
XW E L C O M E
T O O U R
C H U R C H X
We extend a warm
welcome to everyone today, especially our visitors. In the bulletin you’ll find an outline of
today’s service, a calendar of events and other bits of information. In the red hymn book you’ll find the
songs we sing and the order of service that we follow. If you would like a large print hymnal or bulletin please ask one
of our ushers and they will gladly assist you. Restrooms and nursery area are located in the
parish hall at Emmanuel and in the lower level and link-way at St.
John’s. It’s nice to have you visit
today. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of
doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more, as you see the
day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). Welcome to God’s house! May God bless our worship together.
Pastor Peter Zietlow
Like us on Facebook
XG O D ’ S W O R D
F O R T O D A Y X
Forgiven Much by
Jesus, We Love Much – When we sense how much we need God’s forgiveness, his
mercy becomes the most powerful reality in our lives. It transforms us. To
ignore our need brings ruin, but to hang on tightly to God’s gift of mercy
brings peace, joy, and purpose.
R E P A R A T I O N F O R W O R S H I P X
prepare ourselves to worship the one Savior God by expressing our humble
repentance, offering our fervent prayers and singing our thankful hymns of
HYMN304 Jesus Sinners Does Receive
& ABSOLUTION hymnal page 15
When we confess to God that we have
failed to live up to the perfect standards in his law, the pastor announces the
perfect forgiveness of sins won for us by Jesus.
LORD, HAVE MERCYhymnal
The Church brings her
concerns and prayers to a loving Father in heaven, who has shown great mercy to
us and promised to hear our ardent cries for help.
GLORY BE TO GOD hymnal page 16
This song of praise reminds
us of the wonderful things God has done for us, not the least of which is the
salvation he gives through Jesus Christ.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
M: O God, protector of all the faithful, you alone
make strong; you along make holy. Show us your mercy and forgive our sins day
by day. Guide us through our earthly lives that we do not lose the things you
have prepared for us in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and
reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
C: ♫ Amen.
Please be seated for the day’s Scripture readings
H E W O R D X
Lord Jesus speaks to us in Scripture reading, preaching and song.
LESSON2 Samuel 11:26–12:10,13-15
needed forgiveness; Nathan proclaimed it
When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for
him. After the time of mourning was
over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him
a son. But the thing David had done
displeased the LORD.
The LORD sent Nathan to David.
When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain
town, one rich and the other poor. The
rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had
nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his
children. It shared his food, drank from
his cup and even slept in his arms. It
was like a daughter to him.
“Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained
from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler
who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor
man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As
surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over,
because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel,
says: `I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of
Saul. I gave your master’s house to
you, and your master’s wives into your arms.
I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would
have given you even more. Why did you
despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the
sword and took his wife to be your own.
You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.
Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because
you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the
enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.”
After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife
had borne to David, and he became ill.
PSALM 72 hymnal
lectern side sings the first line, the pulpit side sings the second line, and
everyone sing the refrains and Gloria.
LESSON Galatians 2:11-21
Summary: We are justified by faith in
When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly
in the wrong. Before certain men came
from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles.
But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from
the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision
group. The other Jews joined him in his
hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the
gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live
like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How
is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
“We who are Jews by birth and not `Gentile sinners’ know that a
man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ
Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law,
because by observing the law no one will be justified.
“If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident
that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I
am a lawbreaker. For through the law I
died to the law so that I might live for God.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives
in me. The life I live in the body, I
live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if
righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
VERSE OF THE DAYPsalm 132:9
Alleluia. May your priests be clothed with
righteousness; may your saints sing for joy. Alleluia.
be to you, O Lord!Sung after Pastor announces the
Gospel lesson verse
sermon text)Luke 7: 36-50
Jesus was anointed by a sinful woman
who had been forgiven
Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he
went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in
that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an
alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she
began to wet his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself,
“If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what
kind of woman she is– that she is a sinner.”
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the
other fifty. Neither of them had the
money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will
love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see
this woman? I came into your house. You
did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and
wiped them with her hair. You did not
give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped
kissing my feet. You did not put oil on
my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.
Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven– for she loved
much. But he who has been forgiven
little loves little.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who
even forgives sins?”
to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
be to you, O Christ!
NICENE CREEDhymnal pages 18, 19
Please be seated
SERMON HYMN 479
Your Boundless Love to Me
Christ Communicates the Core of
CREATE IN MEhymnal page 20
Please be seated
X O F F E R I N G S O F G
I F T S & P R A
Y E R S X
THE OFFERINGJames Wachholz
& Lucas Stelter sing “My Country Tis of Thee” The ushers now gather the “Thank-Offering.” Members of this congregation show their
thanks to God for all he has done for them by returning a portion of their
income to the Lord. Through these free
will offerings, this congregation and its ministries are maintained. Guests need not feel obligated to contribute.
Please also sign our
Friendship Registers and greet one another.
The Offering Prayer, Prayer for Blessings on the
Church, and Intercessory Prayers are spoken by pastor. Please see announcements
for those on our Intercessory Prayers list.
Please be seated
HYMN 394Blessed Are the Saints of God
PRAYER & BLESSING hymnal page 25
God Bless Our Native Land
After the closing hymn, the congregation may be
seated and all active and retired military personnel remain standing and be
recognized for their service.
you leave today’s service, please give your completed Friendship Register sheet
to an usher or pastor.
Activities for the week of July 7-July 13
Emmanuel Worship with communion
St. John’s Worship
Bible Information Class at St. John’s
St. John’s Worship
Montello Care Center Devotion
WELS Night at Miller Park
Theme for Next Sunday July 14 , 2019
Pentecost 5 & Teacher Installation at St.
“Following Christ Means Confessing Who He
Is–the Suffering Savior”
St. John’s Worship with
Potluck and Welcome Baskets for our new teachers at St. John’s
– For those
hospitalized, ill, shut-in and facing trials: George Alexander, Ron Blada, Pat
Bornick, David Broderick, Sandy Buchholz, Pastor Raymond Cox (Marjorie’s
Fabian’s brother), Gene & Sharon Crook, Harley & Liola Crown & son
Terry, Agnes Dassow, Jerre Duerr, Reinold Eckelberg, Elaine Emond (Mark’s mother),
Earl Ewert, Marjorie Fabian, Harold Fandrey, Mike Farrell, Kellen Grucza (Judy
Fandrey’s daughter), Del Henke (6/3 gall surgery), Dawn Hirn (Linda Krause’s
niece), Xzander Jahr, Bob Klapper (Sandy’s husband), Arden “Bill”
Klimke, Linda Krause, Robert Lederer (Jackie & Jeanne Buchholz’ father),
Jim Kunde (our former SJ member), Delvin Mittelsteadt, Jean Muhlenbeck (WELS
member at Zion–Bristol, St. John’s visitor), Debbie Parrish, Arlene Prill,
LuAnn Reber, Elsa Russell, Mark & Peggy Russell (Elsa’s son & daughter
in-law), Carol Schumann, Dennis Schwanke (Mary Isberner’s friend), Amanda
Stalker, Jody Steigerwald (DuWayne & Pat Sommerfeld’s daughter), Jennifer
Strauss, Dennis & Ramona Wacholtz, Donny Weber (Betty’s son), Heidi
Weishaar (Dennis & Sharon Kekow’s daughter), Karl Whitrock, Millie Wildt
(John’s wife) – (added this week: Robert Lederer)
– For Sara Borck &
Pastor Nathaniel Buchner who were united in Christian marriage at St.
Paul’s–Green Bay on Friday (7/5)
For our country
– For those serving (or
who have served) in the armed forces
THANKS to all who helped our new
principal and pre-school director Larry & Lynn Sellnow move into the
parsonage this week.
NEW TEACHER INSTALLATION is
scheduled for next Sunday, July 14th. We’d love to welcome our three new teachers
with Welcome Baskets and a potluck lunch following the 10:00am service. If you’d like to donate any gifts for the
teacher baskets, please drop them off in the office. Please see our signup sheets
in St. John’s link way and Emmanuel parish hall for the potluck.
FRIENDSHIP REGISTERS Please complete the friendship
register page each week. This helps your pastor and other church leaders stay
in touch and keep contact information up to date. Thanks!
ENCOURAGE FELLOWSHIP following today’s worship service, the ushers will
not be dismissing pew by pew from front to back as in the past. Instead,
all are encouraged to stay and visit and encourage one another. Please
give an usher or pastor your completed friendship register.
ST. JOHN’S SCHOOL & LITTLE
LAMBS PRE-REGISTRATION IS OPEN! Call
(608-297-2866), email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or stop by the office today
to pre-register today!
MEDITATIONS “Meditations” WELS
daily devotional booklets began on 6/2 and are available in the church entry
(many thanks to our generous members for covering the $2K/yr cost)
USHER AND GREETER
you are signed up to be a St. John’s usher and/or greeter, please pick up your
hard copy of June-July in St. John’s Information Room.
Schedules will be available for pick up every 2 months.
OUT OUR UPDATED INFORMATION ROOM This room is located at the top
of St. John’s link way stairs and the church entry way. Here you will find bulletin
boards labeled “Home Missions” and “LWMS”. Home
Missions will provide information on what’s going on at St. John’s church
and school, events, educational and youth group updates. You will also find
informational brochures and magazines, usher and greeter schedules, the church
newsletter, children’s coloring sheets and crayons and other miscellaneous
information related to our church and school. Please help yourself!
ONE-LINERS (from a WELS pastor): “If
a church wants a better pastor, it only needs to pray for the one it has.”
ACH What is ACH?Automated Clearing House is an
electronic payments network use by individuals, businesses, financial
institutions and government organizations. The network functions as an
efficient, electronic alternative to paper checks. It allows funds to be
electronically debited or credited to a checking account, savings account,
financial institution general ledger account or credited to a loan account.Please pick your form
up in the Information Room or the office and get started today!
2ND ANNUAL ST JOHN’S LUTHERAN CHURCH-PRINCETON SOCCER CAMP July 15-17 – “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is
ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me
heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13, 14). Soccer is a difficult game
that requires perseverance. But it is hard to persevere without a clear goal in
mind. In the same way, life is very difficult and requires perseverance. But it
is hard to persevere without a clear goal in mind. The Bible says that only
goal worth striving for is to know Jesus and be called heavenward in his name.
Your children are invited to a three-day camp where they will learn how
to persevere on and off the soccer field. Drills, exercises, and scrimmages will
help them set goals for soccer. Breaks for devotions, music and other
activities will help them set goals for life as they grow in the knowledge of
Jesus Christ their Savior. Soccer camp begins with a meal each evening at
5 and each camp participant will receive a T-shirt and soccer socks. And it’s
all FREE! Boys and girls, ages 3 through 12 are welcome! This year we are
asking your child to bring their own water bottle with them to the camp each
evening. Register by calling 920-295-4400 Monday-Thursday from 8:00am to 1:00pm
PASTOR WILLIAM RUNKE
RETIREMENT Dear Friends in Christ-We would like to invite you to join the members
of St. John’s Pardeeville for a celebration of Pastor William Runke’s ministry,
and to recognize his retirement on Sunday, July 28, 2019. Pastor’s final sermon
will be at the 9am service on July 28th, followed by a short program
and luncheon. To help the Ladies Aid in planning the meal, please let us know
how many people you expect to attend. RSVP by emailing your intent to
attend/desire to participate in the program to: email@example.com or call the office 608-429-3636. Thanks! –St. John’s Pardeeville
St. John’s Altar Committee
SUMMER OFFICE HOURS
Monday: 8:00a.m. – 4:00p.m.
Tuesday: 8:00a.m. – 4:00p.m.
Wednesday: 8:00a.m. – 4:00p.m.
Thursday: 8:00a.m. – 2:00p.m.
Welcome To Our Visitors!Please Sign Our Guest RegisterFind & Like us on FacebookVisit our website link:www.stjohnsmontello.orgPastor Peter Zietlow: (608) 408-7830
E-mail:zietlowPL6@hotmail.comLittle Lambs Director & Teacher Mrs.
Lynn Sellnow:K, 1st & 2nd
Grade Teacher Ms. Shelley Myers:3rd-5th Grade
Teacher Ms. Rachel Naumann: (847)
Principal & 6th – 8th
Grade Teacher Mr. Larry Sellnow:Church & School Secretary Ciara
Neuhauser: (608) 297-2866
Altar Ladies: Elaine Kelm: (920) 344-0025&Carolyn Rosenthal: 589-5036
Church & School Address/Mail: 313 E Montello St, Montello, WI 53949
Church & School E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
“So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. . . . I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:16,20,21
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is told that to get to the Emerald City she must follow the Yellow Brick Road. It’s the only path to the great and powerful Oz. There were obstacles: a wicked witch, flying monkeys, scary woods, fields of poppies. But to leave that path meant never reaching Oz, and never getting home.
We’re faced with a similar situation. God’s Word shows us the only path to heaven: Jesus Christ. It’s the good news that we’re forgiven, crucified with Christ, new men and women because Jesus lived and died in our place. There’s no “good work” that we can do to cause this all to happen or make ourselves right with God. The path to heaven, though, is littered with obstacles: false teachers and teachings; our own sinful natures that lead us to try things that we hope will get us right with God; human reason telling us that there must be something we can do, to name a few. But we must stay on the true path.
Have you been straying from the path? Have you fallen asleep in the poppy fields of your own good works? Paul says if you have, then Jesus’ death means nothing! Adding works to God’s plan rejects God’s love and empties the cross of power. But there is hope in the love and mercy of Jesus Christ, who was crucified for you!
Because of Christ, we can stop asking, “What must I do?” By faith, we ask God to see Christ instead of ourselves. This is reality: we have died to sin and the law, with Christ. Here is the center of our life—our constant comfort, joy, and hope—Jesus Christ. Him for me!
Lord Jesus, help me recognize the immense gift of grace that you have dropped in my lap, through faith—eternal life, freely bought and paid for by your blood, for me! Amen.
In September of 1876, a Civil War veteran by the name of Lew Wallace was on a train headed for Indianapolis, Indiana. He was going there to attend a soldiers’ reunion, to catch up with old comrades. On the train, Lew got into an extended discussion with a man who happened to be a prominent atheist in America.
The conversation left a deep impression on Lew. Through the years he had never taken much interest in religious matters. But now, this atheist—Robert Ingersoll—had argued against Jesus and Christianity with such fervor that Lew felt compelled to study the story of Jesus on his own.
As he researched and read, a remarkable thing happened. As the story of Jesus spoke to Lew, he came to realize this was not a story at all. Rather than some made-up tale, this was an actual account of real events. Even more so, Lew came to see how this account demonstrated that Jesus was, in truth, the very Son of God. Most importantly, through the printed word in his Bible, Lew came to faith in Jesus as his Savior from sin.
In addition, Lew’s study led to something else. He decided to write a novel set in Judea during the first century A.D. The novel is about a bitter and angry man who encounters someone the likes of whom he has never met before. He entitled his novel, Ben-Hur. The book exploded into a best-seller. Well into the twentieth century, it became the basis for the Oscar-winning film by the same name. Without reservation both the book and film declare that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, Savior of the world.
All this from a train ride.
Lord Jesus, drive me to the pages of your Word. Refresh me in the reality of who you are. Empower me by your Spirit to proclaim that you are the Son of God, the Savior of all. Amen.