God’s Will

“He does according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and no one can stay His hand, or say to Him, ‘What are you doing?’…” Daniel 4:35


“Thy will be done”, we pray in the Lord’s prayer. And it is. In truth, it is God’s will that finally matters for only God’s will is truly free. This means that only God’s will is pure enough, perfect enough and enduring enough to bring a holy, righteous, unalterable and gracious purpose to all things. To claim such a free will for ourselves, therefore, is nothing short of blasphemy, for it is to claim something that belongs to God alone.


The undiluted witness of the Bible is to the sovereignty of God’s Holy will over what we call history. He rules the world with relentless, gracious and almighty power. Providentially, the Bible tells us that God wills to send the rain upon the just and the unjust, freely extending the blessings of creation to all.


Through the course of time God’s will sets up and overthrows all rulers and earthly authorities. Good and evil alike are summoned into the task of governance, for judgment and mercy, where the wicked may be restrained and the benefits of life may be protected and extended.


Within the Church God’s will governs through His Word and the Sacraments, through which He exposes our sin and brings us to know and trust Him in Jesus Christ through the forgiveness of sins, restoring us to Himself and preparing us for an eternal inheritance.


Therefore, you may enter yet another day of COVID complexities with the confidence that God will rule your trembling heart and tentative steps, helping you to grow in the knowledge of faith and freeing you for the capacity to love. You may trust that in all the circumstances of life, even when you are tested beyond what you think of as your limits, you are never beyond the working of God’s good, holy and gracious will for you in Christ.


“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord”

  • Pastor Mark Anderson

The Logic of the gospel

Measure up. Make the grade. Prove yourself. Pass the test. These and many other commands are part and parcel of life under the law. Whether it is qualifying for a job, an athletic team, or any other endeavor, these words command attention. We know how this works. For all of us have spent our lives under these demands in every domain of life. They are relentless.
So, when we turn to the Christian life, why should it be any different? God has commandments, that’s clear enough. And the logic should be that if I am going to get anywhere with God, the world and the neighbor, I had better be about paying attention to these commandments and measure up. God lays out the expectations and it is up to me to meet them. It is up to me after all. Right? My efforts will make the difference. So runs the logic of the law.


But this is not the logic of the gospel. Jesus Christ is never going to expect you to see to the life of faith yourself. Instead, Christ gives what He commands. He bestows upon you and creates within you what He wants for you. And He does this by creating faith in you in three ways. We have come to call these the ‘means of grace’. These are the routes or instruments by which Christ Jesus brings to you what He desires for you.


The first of these means is His Word. The gospel stories give us the picture of Jesus time and again as He bestows His Word upon those who are hemmed in, bound and broken by life. When Christ brings His Word He looses what is bound and heals what is broken, sin is forgiven. And when you hear that same Word proclaimed to you, faith takes hold of your heart and you dare to trust that this same Word will make a future for you also.


The second means is baptism. When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan, He went down into the water with sinners. And the voice of the Father came from heaven validating what the Son of God was doing by joining sinners and identifying with them in this way. So in your baptism Christ Jesus adds His Word to the water. He forgives your sin and claims you, names you as His own. You are His. So, when you find yourself in life’s deep water and wonder how things will work out you may claim your right as a daughter or son and say, “I am baptized. There is no water too deep for Christ my Lord. He is here with me.”


The third means is the Lord’s Supper. As the community gathers around the table the bread and wine are bestowed with these words, “…given for you.” In this meal, this intimate encounter, the Lord Christ gives Himself to you. We gather at the meal as those first of His disciples. Our hearts are torn with the cares, doubts and fears of life, even to the point where we are faithless. But He is faithful, he breaks bread with His betrayers and remains faithful to them. In the same way you may receive your Lord in the supper, knowing that your Lord will never leave you or forsake you.


In these means of grace your Lord Jesus gives the righteousness of faith to you as His child. He will never demand payment or take it back. You are His forever!


“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord”

-Pastor Mark Anderson

The Law

Friends in Christ,
During Lent we are examining Lutheran basics. Today, I pass along a portion of an essay by the late Gerhard Forde. Dr. Forde addresses quite clearly and helpfully, the futility of looking to the law for any assistance in the Christian life. To take seriously that we have died with Christ means that our life in relation to God, now, is defined solely by His mercy and Grace in Jesus.
“The law does not end sin, does not make new beings, it only makes matters worse. Where the old continuity is maintained, sin does not end. No matter how much religious pressure is applied, sin only grows. But, Paul has the audacity to say where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more. But this is disaster for the old and its thinking. For then, it seems, the floodgates of iniquity are opened! Shall we not sin the more that grace may abound?
Here we arrive at the crucial point. Here the pious old Adam can only recoil in horror from the thought of unconditional grace and try to protect the continuity of the old self by making compromises: some fateful mixture of grace and law, a little bit of human cooperation, perhaps the addition of a third use of the law, some heavy breathing about sanctification, and so on.
But the radical gospel will have none of that. Shall we sin the more that grace may abound? By no means! Why? For you have died and how can you who have died to sin still live in it? The reason why abounding grace does not lead to sin lies in the fact that in its radicality it puts an end to the old, not in some species of compromise with the old. Furthermore, we miss the radicality of that if we do not see that this death is announced as accomplished fact: you have died. The death is not something yet to be done, one last act of spiritual suicide for “free choice.” If Jesus died for all, then all have died (2 Cor 5:14).”

Gerhard Forde (Radical Lutheranism Essay)

“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord”

“Jesus’ Righteous Anger”

Jesus and His disciples entered the temple grounds that day along with many others at a time in the Jewish year when Jews came to Jerusalem to make sin offerings at the temple. The animals that could be purchased ranged from expensive cattle to cheap pigeons, reflecting the varying social status of those who had come to make sacrifice. The money changers were there to exchange Roman coins (which displayed the head of the emperor) for temple coins. To use a Roman coin in the temple that portrayed the image of the emperor was considered idolatry. So the money had to be exchanged. Both areas of transaction – the purchasing of animals and the exchange of coins, were abused for profit.


So, again, it would be easy to portray Jesus as being outraged at this unjust practice of hiking up prices, and no doubt that was of concern to Him. But Jesus Christ was no two-bit social reformer demanding that the scales used to weigh the coins be re- calibrated or that the temple authorities set fair prices on the animals to avoid price gauging. Jesus displayed righteous anger to be sure, but He did not come that day to ‘speak truth to power’ or insist that there would be no peace if there were no justice.
The Lord came that day to a temple where it was taught that God’s mercy comes with a price. The Lord came to a temple where one’s knowledge of sin against God demanded payment. And we can fully understand this equation. For we, too, often operate on the same basis. We demand payment, compensation, retribution – there are many words – for the deficiencies in others that result in their sinning against us. Sin must be compensated for. We want our pound of flesh, too.This is the picture of God that the people received in the temple. God expects us to make amends for our sin.

And it was this, ‘this for that’ image of God, portrayed by the entire temple system, that angered Jesus to such a degree. Jesus righteous anger was leveled at those who were distorting God’s actual disposition toward sin and sinners. For Jesus Christ came into the world to reveal the true heart of God and to declare that God’s mercy is never earned and requires no payment.


So now we have come to the very heart of the Gospel: No sacrifice of ours can or will ever compensate for our sin. For every one of our thoughts, words and actions are tainted with this deadly disease. Compared to the devastating effects of sin, COVID is a minor malady. We have nothing in our power to compensate for sin, the theft of our existence from God. Sin must be forgiven and only God can forgive sin totally and completely.
In the heat of the moment, the temple priests confront Jesus and demand a sign to reveal by what authority he has caused such a scene.
“Destroy this temple,”, he replied, “and in three days I will raise it up.”
They thought, of course, that the Lord was referring to the physical temple, the building. But He was referring to His body. The sign of His authority to sweep away the law and forgive sin would be nothing less than the Father bringing Him from death (the law’s last move) to life and the beginning of a new creation; a creation grounded not in the law but in God’s mercy.
The temple building would be destroyed some 40 years later and with it the mercy seat, the lid of the ark of the covenant, would be destroyed. But now, Jesus Christ has become both the sin offering and the mercy seat of God, where His atoning forgiveness is located for all sinners who recognize they have sinned against the God of heaven.
And this is what the disciples remembered, as our gospel lesson tells us, after the Lord’s resurrection. This is what, years later, Paul came to understand as the foolishness of the cross. They came to understand that in Christ Jesus God had not come to be one law set against another. Rather, in Jesus, God is revealed as the one who turns the legal scheme up side down, who takes your sin upon Himself, as the God who does not demand payment, for Christ has paid your debt of sin, the God who wants sinners to know Him as the Good Shepherd who loves and forgives His wandering sheep.

So, this morning, we, too, are about to remember the Risen Lord. When we eat the bread and drink the cup, we are called to the remembrance of the Lord who gives Himself out of love and mercy to sinners who know their need and recognize in Jesus Christ the God of mercy who meets that need. And our dear Lord is so determined that we know Him in this way, that he gives His very self, His very life and Spirit to us in this simple meal, in this means of grace, His last will and testament to us. In this remembrance Christ Jesus actually comes among us and gives Himself to us.
This morning Jesus Christ comes among us not to speak truth to power, but to proclaim the word of mercy and forgiveness to sinners. This is His awesome glory – and our hope.

“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord”

Pastor Mark Anderson

The New Heresies

 

https://anderdad.wordpress.com/2018/04/03/the-new-heresies/

Something that isTruly Sustainable

Listen to last night’s Lenten message from Pastor Mark:

https://www.lightofthemaster.net/sermons

Then…pass it along.

His Grace…and Peace to you.

Pastor Mark’s Devotional book is now available.

”Life in Christ” by Rev. Mark C. Anderson

https://www.amazon.com/Life-Christ-Rev-Mark-Anderson/dp/1544841345

If you don’t get one for yourself and a few to give for Christmas presents, then your car’s muffler will fall off at a totally inopportune moment.

Just sayin’…

Maundy Thursday

Still without a computer. Doing this with my IPhone ( I know that is a computer) Anyway…this sermon from a while back is well worth a listen.   If the link won’t work, type “The Last Day” into the search box and the sermon should come up.

When Hardship Comes

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“As your days, so shall your strength be.”  Dueternomy 33:25


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A man once laughingly observed to a friend, “God has extremely high regard for my capacity to endure hardship; for hardship is pretty much all I know!”


As we stand on the threshold of a new and untried day, we do not know what this day will bring. Will it bring good? Will it bring unwelcome misfortune and hardship? Perhaps it will bring both. It’s probably best to not dwell too much on these questions as we make preparation to enter the day. Instead, God invites us to dwell on His promises.


He has promised to give strength for every need. He has promised that no burden is too great for us to bear because we have Him. He has promised to those who belong to Him that He will work all things for our good.
With these promises going before us we may enter the day with gratitude, anticipating the opportunities it brings; the chance to provide daily bread, be with friends, share the love of family, enjoy our interests and serve others where we may.


When hardships come it may be more difficult to see our Lord at work in them. Faith may falter. When this happens we are invited to return to our baptism and kneel at the foot of the Cross, under the steadfast love of the Redeemer who gave Himself for us. There we are reminded that no trial, suffering, discouragement or hardship fall outside the vast perimeter of God’s grace.
Therefore, we may step across the threshold of each day in the sure and certain knowledge that we are held in the baptismal promises of God; and that the story that will be written, even this day, will be the story of God’s faithfulness to us – in all things.



“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 –                

                 – Pastor Mark

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Thank you, Pastor Mark.

Photo by motherrr.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Growth

joeyplanting

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Here’s another gem from Gerhard Forde:

“Christian growth is forgetting about yourself.”     
  (…and your Christian growth)

                        – Gerhard Forde

* The parenthetical statement is my addition.

 

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Personally, I don’t think there is anything more tedious and boring than talking to, or hanging out with someone who is engaged in working on their “Christian growth”.

I’d rather gouge out my eyes with a claw hammer.

 

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photo by joeyplanting