After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9,10
At the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus rode into Jerusalem. He was seated on the back of a borrowed donkey. He was on his way to establish himself as King of kings and Lord of all. Crowds of Jews went before and after him. They also were headed to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. They placed palm branches and their traveling cloaks at Jesus’ feet. With raised voices they plead, “Save us now!”
At the beginning of Jesus’s glorious reign, John views Jesus again. He is surrounded by a great multitude. However, now Jesus isn’t going anywhere. He is seated on his throne in the heavenly Jerusalem. He has established himself as King—the Lamb who vanquished sin by laying down his life for the world and conquered death by taking his life up again.
The crowd that surrounds him isn’t going anywhere either. Their traveling days are done. These aren’t just Jewish nationals. They are people of every corner of earth, every skin color, and every language. With raised voices they proclaim: “Salvation belongs to our God.”
Are you struggling? Do you need help? You can count on Jesus. Because he is true God and true Man who died and rose again, he provides healing and hope for all who trust in him. Walk with him during your earthly life. Follow the path that he has laid out for you in his Word. When that way gets tough, plea for his help and trust his deliverance.
Your King heals diseases, feeds the hungry, raises the dead, and forgives sin. Just remember: his kingdom is not of this world, and this world isn’t your home. You are simply traveling through. From earth to eternity. From tribulation to triumph. From cross to crown. From grace to glory. Heaven is your goal. And it is worth it!
Lead me, O Lamb of God. I follow you. When my road gets rough, hear my plea. And accept my praise, when you deliver me. Amen.
St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church
313 East Montello St.
Montello, WI 53949
Emmanuel Ev. Lutheran Church
Montello, WI 53949
Pastor Peter Zietlow
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.
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XG O D ’ S W O R D
F O R T O D A Y X
The Risen One
Shepherds Us – Imagine if everyone on earth were a needle: there are well
over six billion needles in a huge pile. How can God keep them all
straight? How can God keep his eye on you in particular and hear your
prayers? He has no trouble at all—and not only because he is Almighty.
Jesus is your Good Shepherd. He knows you as well as he knows the Father,
and as the Father knows you. That’s why he laid down his life for you.
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
SCHOOL SINGS He Is Lord
HE IS LORD
He is Lord; He is
He is risen from the
And He is Lord.
Ev’ry knee shall bow
Ev’ry tongue confess
That Jesus Christ is
Worship His majesty.
Be all glory, honor, and praise.
Flow from His throne
unto His own,
His anthem raise.
Lift up on high the
name of Jesus.
MAGNIFY, come glorify
Christ Jesus, the King.
Worship His majesty.
Jesus, who died, now
King of all Kings!
& ABSOLUTION hymnal page 26
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.
O LORD, OUR LORDhymnal
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 Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Good Shepherd
who laid down your life for the sheep. Lead us now to the still waters of your
life-giving Word that we may abide in your Father’s house forevermore; for you
live and reign with him 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.
LESSONActs 13:15, 16a, 26-33
Summary: In Antioch the Apostle Paul
spreads the good news of Jesus the Good Shepherd
After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers
sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a message of
encouragement for the people, please speak.”
Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Brothers,
children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this
message of salvation has been sent. The people of Jerusalem and their rulers
did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the
prophets that are read every Sabbath. Though they found no proper ground for a
death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. When they had carried
out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid
him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen
by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his
witnesses to our people.
“We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has
fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the
second Psalm: ” ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’
PSALM 23 hymnal page 72
sings the first line, congregation sings the second line, everyone sings refrains
SECOND LESSON Revelation
7:9-19 (today’s sermon text)
Summary: In a
glimpse of heaven, John sees the Good Shepherd now as
the Victorious Lamb
After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no
one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before
the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were
holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the
Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the
elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the
throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and
thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever.
Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are
they, and where did they come from?”
I answered, “Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great
tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of
the Lamb. Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day
and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent
over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun
will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of
the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living
water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
VERSE OF THE DAYJohn 10:14
Alleluia. Alleluia. Christ is risen! He is
risen indeed! Alleluia. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep
know me. Alleluia.
Alleluia! Alleluia! These words are written that we may believe that Jesus is
the Christ, the Son of God. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
GOSPEL LESSONJohn 10:22-30
describes the loving relationship he as the Good Shepherd has for
Then came the Feast of Dedicationat Jerusalem. It was
winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The
Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense?
If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The
miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because
you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow
me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them
out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no
one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
be to you, O Christ!
Please be seated
THE DAY 550
a Host, Arrayed in White
SERMON Revelation 7:9-17
a Host, Arrayed in White”
Where they came from
How they get there
What’s in store for them
NICENE CREED hymnal page 31
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 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, Easter Season Prayer and
Intercessory Prayers are spoken by pastor. Please see announcements for those
on our Intercessory Prayers list.
E R V I C E O F T H E
S A C R A M E N T X
service we celebrate the gift of Jesus’ redeeming love, we bear witness to the
Christian fellowship we share, and we proclaim his death until he returns.
Please be seated for the distribution
At St. John’s and Emmanuel Ev. Lutheran Church we
practice closed Communion. If you are a guest at worship today and interested
in receiving the Lord’s Supper, please speak with the pastor prior to the
DISTRIBUTION HYMNS 766 The Lord’s My Shepherd (bulletin page 8)
As you leave today’s
service, please give your completed Friendship Register sheet to an usher or
Activities for the week of May 12-May
St. John’s Sunday School
Emmanuel/St. John’s Adult Bible Study
St. John’s Worship with
St. John’s Voters meeting
No Bible Information Class at St.
Adult Bible Study at St. John’s
St. John’s Elders meeting
Men’s Bible Study at St. John’s
St. John’s School Chapel
Adult Bible Study at St. John’s
Public School Teen Confirmation Class at St. John’s
St. John’s Worship
St. John’s School Teen Confirmation
St. John’s School Board meeting
4:30 P.M. & 7:00 P.M.
10:00 A.M. & 2:00 P.M.
MLC Graduation and Call Services
Theme for Next Sunday May 19, 2019
Easter 5: “The
Risen Lord Inspires Love for One Another” “
St. John’s Sunday School
Emmanuel/St. John’s Adult Bible Study
St. John’s Worship
Bible Information Class at St. John’s
Miss Sara Borck’s Bridal Shower at St. John’s lower level
INTERCESSORY PRAYERS – For those hospitalized, ill,
shut-in and facing trials: George Alexander, Ron Blada, Pat Bornick, 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),
Dawn Hirn (Linda Krause’s niece), Xzander Jahr, Bob Klapper (Sandy’s husband),
Arden “Bill” Klimke, Linda Krause, Jim Kunde (our former SJ member),
Pete Laun, Jean Muhlenbeck (WELS member at Zion–Bristol, St. John’s visitor),
Debbie Parrish, Arlene Prill, LuAnn Reber, Mark & Peggy Russell (Elsa’s son
& daughter in-law), Carol Schumann, Dennis Schwanke (Mary Isberner’s
friend), Amanda Stalker, 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: Jim Kunde, Arlene
For the family of Tim Saunders, Emmanuel member Patti Heller’s friend, called
home on Monday 5/6
– For our communicants
at St. John’s
TODAY’S service at St. John’s is our Voters meeting. See you there!
MANY THANKS to
our St. John’s Sunday School staff and students for a great year. After today,
we’ll take a break for summer and resume on September 9th, the
Sunday after Labor Day.
MEN’S BIBLE CLASSIs
held in St. John’s church basement. “One-Liners from God.” is the
topic. We will look for and read some of the powerful and personal truths God
shares with us through the Apostle Paul. Men, this would be a well spent hour
or so of your busy week.
NEW MEDITATIONS are available in St. John’s Information Room and at
Emmanuel. Grab yours today!
SCHOOLFACULTYHOUSING Plans are already being made
to prepare the teacherage to welcome our new principal and pre-school teacher,
Larry and Lynn Sellnow this summer. Our new lower grade teacher, Michelle Myers
has housing arranged. However, our current teacher, Rachel Naumann, will need
to re-locate from the teacherage and is looking for housing options. If
any members have any leads, please let the church office know.
PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL of your fellow
worshipers preparing their hearts for worship. If you are visiting with others,
please keep your voices down. Thank you!
USHER AND GREETER
you are signed up to be a St. John’s usher and/or greeter, please pick up your
April-May hard copy in St. John’s Information Room.
Schedules will be available for pick up every 2 months.
NEW ACTS BIBLE STUDY After completing our
Study of Matthew, our Monday 7:30pm & Wednesday 10am Adult Bible Class
members & I began our study of the book of Acts making use of the Acts
DVD–“the only dramatization using the actual scriptures…word for word
from the New International Version.” Join us in the SJ conference
PARKING DURING SCHOOL HOURS Please remember that if
you plan to be at school or church during school hours, specifically around
7:30-8:00a.m. and 3:00-3:30p.m., to park in the back parking lot. We need to
leave room in front of school for the buses to drop off/pick up our children
properly. Thanks for understanding.
LITTLE LAMBS PRE
REGISTRATION NOW OPEN Pick up your 3K/4K registration form in the office
today! Please help spread the word!
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
MEMBERSHIP CLASS began on 4/28 11:15am at St. John’s..
Join us in the link-way conference room for an hour or so after the 10am SJ
ONE-LINERS (from a WELS pastor): “Many
folks want to serve God…but only as advisers.”
ST. JOHN’S LADIES, PLEASE
VOTE! All confirmed women are
eligible to vote for officers on the International Board of Directors of the
Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society (LWMS) and for mission projects for
2019-2020. A voting station is located in the linkway today. Voting ends on Sunday, May 19. Results
of this voting will be announced at the LWMS Convention in Des Moines, Iowa,
June 27-30. If you have questions,
please contact Reporter Linda Wachholz.
Your vote is very much appreciated!
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.In our particular case,
we would like to make this an available service as an offering option starting in
May. Look for bulletins to come for the ACH Application.
St. John’s Altar Committee
Welcome To Our
Visitors!Please Sign Our
Guest RegisterFind & Like
us on FacebookVisit our
website link:www.stjohnsmontello.orgPastor Peter
Zietlow: (608) 408-7830
Director & Teacher Sara Borck: (858) 731-7919
K & 1st
Grade Teacher Cassie Doering: (920) 723-8986
Grade Teacher Karin Stellick: (920) 342-3689
Lead & 5th-8th
Grade Teacher Rachel Naumann: (847) 913-2135
School Secretary Ciara Neuhauser: (608) 297-2866
Altar Ladies: Elaine
Kelm: (920) 344-0025 & Carolyn
School Mail: 313 E Montello
St, Montello, WI 53949
& School E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s nighttime. Outside there are only peaceful nighttime sounds. But inside the young family’s house it is anything but peaceful. A tiny baby is crying—crying so loudly that everyone in the household is awake. The parents make every effort to calm the child down, to silence his crying and put an end to his tears. If only they knew the reason why he was crying, they would remove the source of pain or displeasure and wipe away his tears.
What a relief it is when a tiny baby stops crying and drifts off into peaceful sleep. Whatever was bothering him isn’t bothering him anymore.
Our Scripture reading for today speaks of a time when there will be no tears and when whatever tears were being shed will be wiped away. It speaks of heaven, where there will be no pain, no cause for fear, no reason for sorrow, and not even a reason for repentance There we will have the perfect peace that comes from the fact that all our sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake.
But as Christians we don’t need to wait for a future time and place to have lives filled with peace. Such lives are ours already, as followers of the Jesus. We may still wince in pain, but God is our help. We may tremble in fear, but God is our strength. Life sometimes hurts, but God is our comfort. We still sin, but Jesus is our Savior.
In this world we shed tears and may do so right up until our dying day. But though tears flow from our eyes, peace fills our hearts. It is the peace that God gives. It is the peace that comes from knowing Jesus: the helper of the helpless, the worker of miracles, the payment for our sins. God comforts us when we cry, and he will wipe away our tears.
Jesus, keep my focus on you as my Savior, and fill me with the peace of forgiveness for my sins that I might live in the sure hope of heaven. Amen.
Life can get pretty heavy at times. A person can begin to feel like an overburdened pack mule plodding along with the weight of the world on your shoulders. Perhaps you can picture the packages you are carrying. There is the package of overdue bills on one side and strained relationships on the other. There is the package of worries at work and overdue projects at home. You may be carrying the package of meeting the endless needs of your young children or caring for an aging parent. On top of all these there can be chronic illness or clinical depression. And, as if all of these are not heavy enough, there is the guilt of thoughtless words you have said and kind deeds you did not do. You struggle from one day to the next with no relief and the weight is getting heavier and heavier. Plod…plod…plod…
Now, listen to God’s Word: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” God in heaven knows all about your burdens—your work and worry and guilt. He can carry the loads of life—whatever they are. He is the almighty Lord who never tires or grows weary. Rather than relying on your own wisdom or strength to see you through, put your hope in the Lord. He lifts your burdens off your back and frees you so that instead of plodding like a pack mule, you soar through life like an eagle.
Father, forgive me for how often I rely on my own wisdom and strength. My hope is in you. Today I hand over my heavy burdens to you, knowing that you are able to carry them far better than I can. Grant me the faith to spend this day soaring like the eagles. Amen.
We don’t know much about Saul’s life before he took his eventful journey to Damascus. However, it seems safe to say that if Saul’s life had not changed so drastically in Damascus, his life could have been rather easy by human standards. In Jewish society, he had every advantage imaginable. Even in Roman society, he had much going for him since he was a Roman citizen.
Yet, Saul’s life after becoming a Christian was anything but easy. By his own account, Saul was whipped on five separate occasions. Three times he was beaten with rods. Wherever he went, his life was threatened. He often went without food, clothing, and shelter. Finally, he spent his last days in a Roman dungeon before being executed for his faith in Jesus. These are the kinds of things that God was talking about when he told Ananias that he would show Saul “how much he must suffer for my name.”
It may not seem fair that those who follow Jesus can expect to face difficulties in life that they wouldn’t face if they weren’t Christians. Our human logic tells us that following Jesus should make our lives easier, not harder. The reality, though, is that being a friend of Jesus means being an enemy of Satan and all his allies in this sinful world. And Satan and his allies are not known for making the lives of their enemies easy.
This, however, is no reason to become discouraged. As Jesus told his disciples on the night before he died, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus, through his life, death, and resurrection, has totally defeated Satan and all his allies. This means that we who have been joined to him in baptism also have totally defeated Satan and all his allies. Saul understood this and later wrote, “For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Through faith in Jesus, we have the same confidence. When we trust in Jesus, we are strong, no matter how hard life may become.
Lord Jesus, when life becomes hard, help me always to rely on you for my confidence and strength. Amen.
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized. Acts 9:17-18
When Ananias arrived at the house where Saul was staying, the Lord enabled him to be a part of two astounding miracles. The first, of course, was the restoration of Saul’s sight. Yet, immediately after that miracle another miracle took place. This second miracle may not be as obvious at first. But in many ways, it is by far the more astounding of the two. The second miracle took place when Saul was baptized.
If you have ever witnessed a baptism, you know that on the surface it looks like anything but an astounding miracle. Water is poured over someone’s head in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And when it’s all over, the only thing that looks different is that the person who’s been baptized is wetter than he or she was before.
But through that washing with water and the Word of God, the Holy Spirit is performing an astounding miracle. Later in his life, Saul (who by then had changed his name to Paul) described this miracle in a letter to the Christians in Rome: “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:3-4).
That is the astounding miracle that happened when Saul was baptized. In his baptism, Saul died, was buried, and rose again with Jesus. Everything that Jesus did for Saul’s salvation became Saul’s own. And that same miracle has happened to each of us who has been baptized. When we were baptized—we died with Jesus, we were buried with Jesus, we rose again with Jesus. And everything that Jesus did for our salvation became ours. That, without out a doubt, makes our baptism a most astounding miracle.
Lord Jesus, I praise you for joining me to yourself in the miracle of Baptism. May I always grow in my appreciation of this precious gift. Amen.
In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.” Acts 9:10-15
Ananias knew who Saul was. He knew all that Saul had done in Jerusalem to arrest and condemn Christians to death. He knew that Saul had now come to Damascus, with the authority of the chief priests, to do the same thing. And so, Ananias was uneasy, to say the least, when the Lord told him to go to Saul and restore his sight.
Would any of us have reacted any differently than Ananias did? How easy is it for us to show love (or even kindness) to someone who has shown nothing but hatred toward us? How much easier would it be to just write that person off as someone who’s not worthy of our love?
But the Lord didn’t give Ananias the option of just writing Saul off as dangerous and not worthy of love. God had plans for Saul. Even more than that, God loved Saul. Therefore, God also wanted Ananias to love Saul. And with God’s love living in him, Ananias would be able to love Saul, even as God loved him.
Loving our neighbor is not always easy, especially when that neighbor has not shown love to us. Yet our neighbor’s lack of love does not excuse us from loving them. Regardless of who they are, God still loves them. Therefore, he also wants us to love them. And as God’s love lives in us, we also will be able to love all our neighbors, just as God in Christ has loved each of us.
Lord, let your love overflow through me to all those who are around me. Amen.
As [Saul] neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:3-6
What would it take to turn Saul, the persecutor of Christians, into a Christian? Would it take a convincing debate with a prominent Christian teacher? Would Saul have to put in a lot of work researching Christianity so that he on his own could conclude that Christianity was true? I dare say that neither of those approaches would have worked in Saul’s case. He was absolutely convinced that what he believed was the truth and that Christianity was wrong. No amount of debate or research on its own could have changed Saul from a persecutor of Christians into a Christian.
The only thing that could turn Saul into a Christian was a divine confrontation. When Saul got close to Damascus, Jesus himself appeared to Saul in a flash of light and spoke to him. He confronted Saul with the reality that he truly was the Son of God. He confronted Saul with the reality of Saul’s rebellion against him. He confronted Saul with the reality of his resurrection from the dead. And in this divine confrontation, the Holy Spirit worked in Saul’s heart and brought him to faith in Jesus. Nothing short of such a divine confrontation—and nothing else besides—could have made Saul a Christian.
All who have been brought to faith in Jesus have experienced a similar, if less outwardly dramatic, divine confrontation. Through his Word in the Bible, through the water and Word of Baptism, Jesus confronted us with himself. He confronted us with the reality of who he is as the Son of God. He confronted us with his life, his death, and his resurrection, through which he rescued us from all our sins. In this divine confrontation, God the Holy Spirit worked in our hearts and brought us to faith in Jesus. Nothing short of such a divine confrontation—and nothing else besides—could have caused us to believe in Jesus as our Savior.
Lord Jesus, I praise you for confronting me with yourself and all that you have done for me. Amen.
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. Acts 9:1,2
Saul of Tarsus was not a Christian. Nor did he want to be a Christian. In fact, Saul firmly believed that it was his God-given task in life to root out and destroy as many Christians as possible. To him, these “followers of the Way,” as they were called, were nothing more than heretics who had been deluded by that charlatan Jesus of Nazareth. And he was willing to go to any length, including traveling several hundred miles from Jerusalem to Damascus, in order to get rid of them.
It is hard to imagine anyone less likely to become a Christian than Saul of Tarsus. And yet, as we will see in our daily devotions this week, Saul not only became a Christian but also one of the greatest Christian missionaries of all time. Saul of Tarsus, who once dedicated his life to destroying Christians and Christianity, eventually dedicated his life to spreading the faith that he had worked so hard to destroy.
Why would God even want to bring someone like Saul into his Church? Actually, why would God want to bring any of us into his Church? Were any of us any more likely to become a Christian than Saul was? While we may not have traveled hundreds of miles to persecute Christians, the Bible makes it very clear that all of us were from birth naturally hostile to God. That natural hostility toward God made us just as unlikely to be brought into God’s family as Saul of Tarsus was.
And yet, in spite of who we were on our own and all we had done against him, God still wanted each of us to be brought into his family of believers. Just as he did for Saul, God loved us and reached out to us. And by his grace, he brought us, who along with Saul were the most unlikely of converts, to saving faith in him.
Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing me, the most unlikely of converts, to faith in you. Amen.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. . . . So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. John 21:7,8,11
When I was a kid, I loved to go fishing. No matter how small the fish, I wanted to keep it just so I could pull up to the dock and show mom and dad how many fish I caught. Dad once warned me that I was going to catch every fish in the lake! “Naw, that’s impossible, dad. There are too many!” Of all those baskets of fish, I don’t think I ever came home with 153, let alone, all large ones. I could never do that.
Now, I’m older, I don’t take the time to fish like that anymore. But God has called me to be a fisher of men, women, and children, young and old, big and small. I fish for them by telling them about Jesus, their Savior. With every person who comes to trust in him, it’s plain to see another miracle of the Lord. With each person I see the Lord’s mighty power working in their hearts and lives. It’s exciting to see the Holy Spirit catch them. It’s fun to share with them that Jesus has cleaned them up perfectly. It makes me want to go back out fishing again.
As you go about your day, see the people around you. The Lord has brought them to you. Share with them the good news of Easter. Share with them the joy and excitement you have in knowing that Jesus your Savior lives. Invite them to come and hear more with you at church. Impossible? No, for Jesus is the Lord, and he is still doing miracles every day. Go fishing and see the power of the Lord!
Use me, Lord Jesus, to catch more people for you. Amen.