“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” . . . Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” John 11:21,25,26
When someone you love dies, your first thought is probably of the hole it leaves in your life. You think about everything you went through together, and you want that person back. That is where Martha was at. Can you hear the frustration in her words? Martha knew that Jesus could have healed her brother but had not.
Doesn’t that make you wonder why? Whenever God does not fix things to our liking, we’re tempted to think that either God doesn’t have the power to help, or he doesn’t want to. Like Martha, it’s easy to want Jesus to immediately cure all our troubles.
So Jesus gently corrected her—and corrects us—with his promise: “I am the resurrection and the life.” You see, even more than he wanted Martha not to lose her brother, Jesus wanted her to know that he could do more than heal the sick.
Our biggest problem is death, and Jesus is the solution. Jesus came so that even if you get sick, even if your heart stops beating, you will never die. He came so that you can live forever with God in heaven. He came so that one day, even long after your body has been buried, it will rise and live again. He proved that he can do it by raising Lazarus from the dead.
That is why Jesus is the resurrection. He brings the dead back to life. In fact, Jesus is the life. He gave his life so that our place with God is alive and well. While you are on this earth, Jesus does not promise you a smooth ride, but he does promise you strength for the journey. As surely as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, those who believe in him will rise from the dead.
Jesus, thank you for being my resurrection and my life. Amen.
Wait, did you read that correctly? Jesus was late! His friend Lazarus was sick. Jesus is the Son of God, who heals the sick. But when he heard that the friend he loved was ill, he waited around for two days. Then, when he finally went to see him, Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days!
Why did Jesus let Lazarus die? The obvious answer is that he had a plan. Yet that seems like the kind of trite cliché we share when we don’t know what else to say. You’ve probably heard it. Whenever life takes a turn for the worse, people like to say, “God has a plan.” It’s true that he does, but often we can’t see God’s plan. Can you imagine the frustration of Martha and her sister, Mary, as they waited for Jesus and watched their brother die?
Perhaps you can, because you know what it’s like to experience pain and wait for God. When life is awful, God’s plan does not always make sense. The cancer that won’t go into remission. The spouse who dies slowly. The loved ones you bury. It all makes you ask, “Jesus, I know you can help. Where are you?”
He is exactly where he needs to be. He always is. In the case of Lazarus, Jesus’ plan was to glorify God by miraculously raising Lazarus from the dead. For that to happen, Jesus had to allow Lazarus to die.
Remember Lazarus the next time you are suffering and wonder why God is allowing it. Remember that he does love you and that he does have a plan. Remember that the one who had the power to raise Lazarus from the grave has the power to raise you out of whatever you are enduring.
Lord Jesus, give me strength in my troubles and faith in your glorious plan. Amen.
The longer you live on this earth, the more you realize how true this is. That faded rust bucket you see on the highway was once pristine and spotless. The eyesore of a house you see in the old part of downtown once smelled of new wood and fresh paint. The arthritic, overweight coach was once a lightning-fast force of nature on the football field. The old woman in the Alzheimer’s unit was once a quick-witted life of the party.
But in this fallen world, everything goes away. Whatever is young, new, strong, and fast does not remain that way for long. It all spoils and fades, and then it disappears. Except for Jesus and absolutely everything that he promises.
Because the almighty Son of God died for our sin and rose from death, he fills our cup to overflowing with gifts “that can never perish, spoil, or fade.” His forgiveness of our sins will never break. His promise of eternal life will never break. His friendship will never fade away.
Everything in this world breaks. Except for what we receive from Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus, in this fallen world where everything seems to wear out, remind us that in you we possess what will never perish, spoil, or fade. Amen.
This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. Matthew 3:3-6
God gave John the Baptist the mission of being the forerunner for the Savior God had promised in the Old Testament. He prepared the way for the Lord’s first coming by preaching that people should “make straight paths for him.” Just as people in those days cleared and leveled their roads for the arrival of their ruling king, so people should clear the way in their hearts for the arrival and rule of their spiritual King, Jesus.
Prepare! That’s still a vitally important message for us today. We prepare ourselves for Christ’s reign in our hearts and for seeing him at his second coming by believing his Word. We prepare by daily repenting of our sin and battling against our sinful nature with the power that God gives us in his Word. We focus each and every day on Christ and are filled with the peace that he paid for our sins.
When people came out to hear John’s message, they were moved to confess their sins and they were baptized. The baptisms that John performed were “for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). Baptism is a wonderful gift of God in which he connects the power of his saving Word to water and gives us the forgiveness of sins. The Bible says, “Be baptized and wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16). Christians can look back on their baptisms and be assured that God has washed away their sins. They can be confident that they are members of God’s holy, eternal family. If you are not baptized, God wants to fill your heart with the peace that your sins are washed away and give you the blessed hope of eternal life. That’s how much he loves you in Christ.
Lord God, thank you for giving us your Son. Thank you for baptism through which you give us the forgiveness of sins. Preserve us as loved ones of your family and help us prepare our hearts every day for you to live there and bless us. Amen.
We prepare ourselves to worship the one Savior God by expressing our humble repentance, offering our fervent prayers and singing our thankfulness of praise.
WELCOME, EXPLANATION OF WHAT WILL FOLLOW & WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
HYMN 440 On Eagles’ Wings
Led by soloist Lucas Stelter.
INVOCATIONhymnal page 15
M: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
OPENING PRAYERhymnal page 10
M: O Lord — our Maker, Redeemer, and Comforter — we are assembled in your presence to hear your holy Word. We pray that you would open our hearts by your Holy Spirit, that through the preaching of your Word we may repent of our sins, believe in Jesus, and grow day by day in grace and holiness. Hear us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
CONFESSION & ABSOLUTIONhymnal page 38
M: We have come into the presence of God, who created us to love and serve him as his dear children. But we have disobeyed him and deserve only his wrath and punishment. Therefore, let us confess our sins to him and plead for his mercy.
C: Merciful Father in heave, I am altogether sinful from birth. In countless ways I have sinned against you and do not deserve to be called your child. But trusting in Jesus, my Savior, I pray: Have mercy on me according to your unfailing love. Cleanse me from my sin, and take away my guilt.
M: God, our heavenly Father, has forgiven all your sins. By the perfect life and innocent death of our Lord, Jesus Christ, he has removed your guilt forever. You are his own dear child. May God give you strength to live according to his will. Amen.
PSALM 116 hymnal page 107
Refrain led by soloist Lucas Stelter.
I love the Lord, for he hear my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
The Lord is gracious and righteous;
when I was in great need, he saved me.
For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
How can I repay the Lord
for all his goodness to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
And to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning,
Is now, and will be forever. Amen.
✠T H E W O R D ✠
The Lord Jesus speaks to us in Scripture reading, preaching and song.
OLD TESTAMENT LESSONEzekiel 37:1-14
Summary: God gives hope to the hopeless and life to the lifeless
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, `Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'”
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.'” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet– a vast army.
Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, `Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.'”
EPISTLE LESSON Romans 8:11-19Summary:God gives spiritual and eternal life
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation– but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs– heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.
GOSPEL LESSONJohn 11:17-27, 38-45 (today’s sermonette text underlined)
Summary: Jesus is the resurrection and the life
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
Eternal God and Father, help us to remember Jesus, who obeyed your will and bore the cross for our salvation that through his anguish, pain, and death we may receive forgiveness of sins and inherit eternal life; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
SERMONETTEJohn 11: 17-27
“Christians Comfort Christians!”
APOSTLES’ CREED hymnal page 41
I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker or heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
LENTEN SEASON PRAYER & INTERCESSORY PRAYERS read by pastor, bulletin page 13
LORD’S PRAYER hymnal page 43
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
CLOSING PRAYERhymnal page 43
M: O Lord God, our heavenly Father, pour out the Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep us strong in your grace and truth, protect and comfort us in all temptation, and bestow on us your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
BLESSINGhymnal page 44
M: Brothers and sisters, go in peace. Live in harmony with one another. Serve the Lord with gladness.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
Then Lord look on you with favor and + give you peace.
HYMN 327 God Be with You till We Meet Again
Led by soloist Lucas Stelter.
CLOSING ANNOUNCEMENTS, INSTRUCTIONS AND ENCOURAGEMENT
Next week’s theme: April 5, 2020 Palm Sunday: “The King Comes To Us”
Emmanuel & St. John’s Lutheran Church leaders offer their response to COVID-19 to align with all current bans and guidelines for the next few weeks.
1 “God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.”
Following the announcement from government officials on March 16, all worship services and gatherings are suspended at Emmanuel & St. John’s. However worship services will be offered online via our stjohnsmontello.org website “Videos” menu button & linked You Tube channel, or via recorded DVDs, or via printed bulletins and sermons.
4 “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.”
Every Saturday at 11:00am, I will record an abbreviated service that will be uploaded to our website/linked You Tube channel together with a bulletin (.pdf) file and available for viewing at your convenience. Remaining Wednesday Lenten Devotions (3/25 & 4/1) via printed materials will be e-mailed out to our members and made available on our website via the “Bulletins” menu button.
7 “The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
While we might be tempted to face this situation with a great deal of disappointment and chagrin, we also recognize the opportunity God is placing before us to ponder and grasp ever more firmly his promise of spiritual health for our souls and to reflect the light of his love to others. We can:
– pray for God’s healing for those affected by the virus
– pray for those involved in essential services – medical personnel, first responders, and those who keep the peace
– share the links to our website and worship service with family, friends, and acquaintances
– renew our daily devotional life
– continue to support the message and ministry of our congregation by responding in thanks to God for his gift of eternal life through offerings mailed to the church office or by electronic giving. Call secretary Ciara Neuhauser at the church office 608-297-2866 for details.
– offer care and compassion for those who need support and a listening ear
8 Come and see what the Lord has done.
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Church elders and I have begun contacting all E/SJ members (via email, text, and phone) to make all aware of the situation, to offer alternatives for those who do not have a computer or Internet access, and to offer any special assistance during these challenging times. Following our governor’s announcement on 3/24, all WI residents are to “stay safe at home”. We are suspending all communion distribution until further notice. Pastor Zietlow (608-408-7830 talk/text) and our E/SJ Elders are also available for emergency home visits. Please reach out to them directly.
We as your church family want to be able to help and serve you, but we can all rejoice as we look to the One who is our real and lasting helper. He is our strength and that’s especially comforting in a time like this, when our human weakness is made so clear!
We are drawing ever closer to Holy Week, when Jesus undergoes the incredible events of his Passion. Now, one week before that begins, we hear about our progress from death to life. Through faith in Jesus, we are raised from our spiritual death to a new life in Christ, and we are nurtured in this new life through the Word and Sacraments.
First Lesson (Ezekiel 37:1-14)
How does the vision of the dry bones characterize God’s people in Ezekiel’s time?
What tool was used in restoring life to the dead bones?
Second Lesson (Romans 8:11-19)
Through his Spirit, Paul says, God has breathed new life into our mortal bodies (v 11). What changes does that bring about?
Though life in Christ Jesus means sharing his suffering, what other observation is made?
Gospel (John 11:17-27,38-45)
What does Jesus mean by saying that he is life?
How would Mary and Martha see the glory of God in the raising of Lazarus?
The bones were many and very dry. This indicates the widespread condition of God’s people as they were exiled in Babylon. Their unfaithfulness had brought about God’s judgment, and they seemed beyond the point of resuscitation. Yet God’s grace is apparent.
The same tool we use today—the Word of God. “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.”
Paul previously had said that those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires (vv 5-8). We now seek to put to death the misdeeds of the body (v 13) and willingly share in Christ’s suffering with a view also to sharing in his glory (v 17).
Paul suggests a wise perspective: our present sufferings are “not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” As a runner endures the pain of the exertion by keeping his eyes focused on the finish line, so the Christian’s perspective will always be goal-oriented. What waits for us at the end far outshines the clouds that we encounter along the way.
More than saying that he is the source of life or the giver of life, Jesus for the first time (see also 14:6) claims to be life itself. There is no life apart from him. As life itself, final death is impossible for him. The events surrounding the raising of Lazarus occur just days before the Passion events in Jerusalem. What a comfort to know that Jesus was confidently assured of the outcome of his upcoming battle with evil—he would be victorious!
Jesus would perform what only God could do—raising someone from death. The glory of God would be seen in Jesus himself both here and then in the future as these events helped to initiate the events leading to the cross, where’s God’s true identity and love were revealed.
After earlier placing restrictions on the size of public gatherings, today Wisconsin governor Tony Evers issued an even more restrictive “Safer at Home” directive. The directive effectively closes all Wisconsin businesses and entities other than those that are deemed essential. Other states have issued, or likely will issue, similar directives.
Already after the first restrictions were imposed, many WELS congregations found ways to continue to serve their members with God’s Word and with new and different types of worship formats. I am thankful at the way so many of our congregations have put these things into place with only brief notice, and pray they will be able to continue in those efforts.
On Sunday, my wife and I worshiped via an online worship service provided by my home congregation. The service that was broadcast was a complete service with the normal liturgy, hymns, and prayers. Before we began, we wondered just how “worshipful” such a service would be. But by the time the service was over, we agreed that it was one of the most meaningful and moving worship experiences we had ever had.
First, we were reminded that the power of God’s Word and the comfort of the gospel is not in any way diminished by the way it is delivered. We heard law and gospel. We were assured of our forgiveness in Christ. We were directed as always to the cross and empty tomb. Our faith was nourished and our trust in God’s unchanging promises was strengthened.
Second, I couldn’t help but think that being prevented from gathering physically with other believers helped to renew our appreciation for corporate worship, where believers gather not only to be strengthened by the means of grace, but also to provide encouragement and love to each other. Perhaps God will use this experience to lead our WELS members to never take public worship for granted again. Perhaps he also will use this entire crisis as a time to draw many in our nation to see the value of faith and the Word of God.
Finally, we were not alone in this experience. Congregations around the synod moved quickly to see to it that the Word of God would not be silenced. Worship services were streamed live in many places. Devotions and sermons were posted online. Materials and words of comfort and instruction were sent via e-mail. Pastors assured their members that they continued to be ready to serve their flocks whenever called upon to do so.
I pray that the need for online remote worship will end soon. In the meantime, I will join you in thanking God that his Word will not be silenced. As he told us, “[My Word] will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
[Jesus said] “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:26-28
Have you seen the WWJD bracelets? WWJD stands for “What would Jesus do?” I wear one of these bracelets as a way of reminding myself that God has called me to follow Jesus, to try and imitate him in all that I do.
Unfortunately, just wearing a bracelet doesn’t mean I actually do what it says. Following Jesus, imitating him is hard for many reasons. For one, Jesus is perfect, while we are broken sinners, who are inclined towards selfishness. In addition, it can be hard to know what Jesus would actually do if he were in our situation.
But Jesus’ words to his disciples can lead us in the right direction. Jesus said that we are to be servants to others, just as he lived a life of service to all by giving up his life.
So what does that look like for you today? Maybe that means you look for ways to serve your spouse or children. Maybe you visit and care for your next-door neighbor. Maybe you see a need in your community that is not being met and do something about it. When you live a life of service, you are letting your light shine so that people might see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
When you make it your ambition to imitate Jesus, you will also immediately see how far short you fall from his example. That is why Jesus came to be more than just a good example. He came to be your substitute. He came to give his life as a ransom for your sins. Knowing that your sins of self-service are forgiven allows you to start fresh today and serve others rather than simply serving yourself. Not only will this be a blessing to them, but you will discover a joy and fulfillment that serving yourself could never bring.
Lord Jesus, thank you for serving me by giving your life. Lead me to give my life in service towards others. Amen.
When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:24-28
Government officials are a good gift of God, and God has called us to respect such leaders (Romans 13:1-7). But during an election year, it can be hard to watch all the backbiting and nastiness among politicians.
Jesus saw this same kind of attitude among his disciples. They were filled with envy, jockeying for positions of honor. He said that’s how the government officials of their day acted. They fought for places of power and control at any cost. But then he looked at his disciples and said, “Not so with you.”
You see, Jesus’ kingdom has different values than the kingdoms of this world. In the kingdoms of this world, it is all about power and prestige. It’s about lording control over others.
Jesus says that his kingdom is completely different. In Jesus’ kingdom, the first are last and the last are first. The greatest are those who are servants and slaves to all.
Jesus didn’t just preach these values, he lived them to the extreme. He did not take a throne of power, but he was lifted up on a cross in weakness. He did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life on the cross to buy our freedom from our sins.
Now Jesus calls us to live in his kingdom and spread the values of his kingdom to everyone. This means we protect and care for children and all the marginalized. It means we love those who have lost their way. It means we forgive others as we have been forgiven by Jesus. What a different, and wonderful, way to live!
Lord God, thank you for the blessing of government to keep outward peace in society. Thank you for the even greater gift of my King, Jesus Christ, who rules in my heart with love. Amen.
After earlier placing restrictions on the size of public gatherings, today Wisconsin governor Tony Evers issued an even more restrictive “Safer at Home” directive. The directive effectively closes all Wisconsin businesses and entities other than those that are deemed essential. Other states have issued, or likely will issue, similar directives. Already after the first restrictions were imposed, many WELS congregations …
In his book The Rise of Christianity, Dr. Rodney Stark estimates that Christianity grew an average of 40 percent per decade for the first few centuries of its existence. To put that in perspective, if WELS grew at that rate, in two generations we would have over two million members. How did that happen? Christianity was started by misfits from the …
WELS World Missions has always had very straightforward marching orders. “Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely …
WELS and Northwestern Publishing House (NPH) are offering several resources for free to help you stay connected to your Lord, to your church, and to WELS during this time of unrest and change. Resources include hymn downloads, Sunday school materials, digital access to Forward in Christ magazine, and access to Kids Connection and WELS Connection videos. Hymnal/music options Eighty hymns …
With Americans told to stay home—away from church, school, and in some cases work—in an anxiety-inducing time, WELS ministries are creating and making available resources to help. Here are a few that we found. If your ministry, school, or congregation is offering spiritual or Christian educational resources that can be used by individuals and families, let us know! We’ll continue …
Congregations are increasingly seeking out options for online giving to meet the preferences of members across generations. The current COVID-19 pandemic has made finding a donation platform even more urgent as restrictions on public gatherings have temporarily moved many worship services online. These platforms offer an array of popular giving options: Online donations—set up a page to collect one-time and …
You Should Also Know . . .
A Note from the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry
Per an order from Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, workers at the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry, Waukesha, Wis., will be working from home until April 24. We will do our best to serve you and thank you for a bit of grace should responses be slightly delayed.
WELS Investment Funds webinar
On Feb. 19, 2020, WELS Investment Funds hosted their inaugural live webinar featuring WELS Investment Funds Executive Director Jim Holm and Vanguard Senior Investment Consultant William Burns.
The webinar provided timely information:
• An introduction and overview of WELS Investment Funds
• A recap of the 2019 market performance
• Investment philosophy of WELS Investment Funds
• Performance and portfolio construction of WELS Balanced Fund and WELS Endowment Fund
Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. Matthew 20:20-22
Pride has been called the sin behind every other sin. Pride is thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought. Pride keeps us from thinking we need God’s forgiveness. Pride is spiritually dangerous.
It was pride that led two disciples, James and John, to ask Jesus if they could sit in places of honor in his kingdom. They believed that they were worthy of places of honor and respect. They wanted to make sure they got those special seats before the other disciples did. Their pride even led them to believe they could drink the same cup of suffering that Jesus would drink. But Jesus graciously responded, “You don’t know what you are asking.” Their pride kept them from hearing how foolish they sounded.
It can be easy to point out pride in others, like the disciples, but our arrogance keeps us from seeing it in ourselves. Pride blinds us from our own pride. So, how do we know when we are falling into the sin of pride? If we are feeling entitled, if we are filled with anger or arrogance, we can assume that pride is lurking behind those feelings.
So, what can a person do to extinguish pride? First, acknowledge it and confess it before God. Next, receive God’s forgiveness for your feelings of pride. Finally, fix your eyes on God. You see, when your eyes are turned upward towards your glorious, powerful, gracious God, it becomes much harder to look down on anyone else.
Lord Jesus, forgive me for my pride, for puffing myself up and looking down on others. Lead me to grasp your glory, power, and grace so that I walk in true humility. Amen.