In our Bible Study, Pastors Rob Sauers and Nathanael Mayhew take us through the book of 1 Peter. This epistle is written by the Apostle Peter most likely near the end of his life. He is writing to those Christians who are “sojourners and pilgrims” in this world (2:11). Though this letter deals quite a bit with the suffering and persecution Christians can expect to face in this world, it often, and rightly called the “Letter of Hope.” That hope is the Christian’s serene and confident dependence on God that is based on the unshakable certainty of the resurrection of the dead which is begun and guaranteed in the resurrection of Jesus. As we study through this letter, we will be encouraged that no matter what suffering comes our way (and we can be assured that suffering will come) we can have a confident hope through our Savior. May the Lord bless our study!
In our Bible Study, Pastors Rob Sauers and Neal Radichel discuss the Imprecatory Psalms. The word imprecation refers to a spoken curse, and so these are Psalms which speak curses against the enemies of God and His people. One of the more striking examples of this type of Psalm is Psalm 137:8-9 – O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed, Happy the one who repays you as you have served us! Happy the one who takes and dashes Your little ones against the rock! Christians have struggled for centuries with questions of how to deal with these Psalms, and so our discussion focuses on how we should understand and use them. May the Lord bless our study!
In our Word of the Week, Pastor Mark Tiefel examines the word “tragedy.” When we think of the terrorist attacks that occurred sixteen years ago on September 11, 2001, many of us can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when those events occurred. The images from that day are burned into our minds. That is the effect tragedy has on our lives. Many in our country are currently dealing with tragedies due to hurricanes and wildfires, and people around the world are suffering due to earthquakes and other natural disasters. At these times, some people have trouble reconciling how God can be a loving God and yet allow these tragedies to occur. As we consider this word, we will see that while God does allow these tragedies to come into the lives of His people, He is indeed a loving God. He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins, and because of this, the tragedies that come into our lives can actually be used as tools. James 1:2-3 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” When we face the tragedies of life, Jesus invites us in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And so, we wait and trust in Him confidently by faith in the face of tragedy.
In our Word of the Week on this Labor Day, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew takes a look at the Biblical perspective on work or labor. Many people in our world today view labor as a burden or a negative. But God reveals something very different. God has given work as a blessing to mankind. Even in the perfect world God gave Adam work to do in naming the animals and tending the garden. After sin entered the world that labor would become more difficult, but it still can bring satisfaction, and be a blessing to our neighbor. Throughout Scripture, God emphasizes the importance and blessing of labor. But labor also has its limitations. While work is a gift from God, we are not able achive our own salvation before God through our own labor. What we were not able to do, Jesus has done for us. Through His labor (His perfice life and sacrificial death) our debt of sin before God has been paid in full. We are invited to come to Jesus for needed spiritual rest, knowing He has done it all. There, at the cross of Jesus we can find rest for our souls. On this Labor Day we thank God for the blessing of work in this life, but even more, we celebrate the work of Christ for us!
Today on Burden and Blessing, Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Rob Sauers answer the question, “Why go to church?” As our society has become more secularized and as more and more events are scheduled for Sunday mornings, many people struggle to make regular church attendance a priority. Sadly, when we miss church, we miss out on the blessings the Lord wants to give us that we cannot find anywhere else – those blessings we receive through Word and Sacrament, through Confession and Absolution, and through fellowship with fellow Christians. Our study will focus on the special blessings our Lord gives us through the community of believer in church. We will also consider what church attendance says about how much of a priority we make God and His Word in our lives. We pray that this study will encourage you to see the blessings our Lord wants to give us through the church.
In our Word of the Week this week, Pastor Rob Sauers takes us through the word “confirmation.” The focus of this study is on the purpose of confirmation instruction.
The word itself means, “to establish the truth, accuracy, validity, or genuineness of something. To acknowledge with definite assurance. To make firm or more firm; add strength to; settle or establish firmly.” The King James Version uses the word to describe what Paul did at the conclusion of his first missionary journey in Acts 14:22, “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Most other English translations translate the word “confirming” as “strengthening” and that really gives us a good definition of the most basic purpose of confirmation – to confirm or strengthen faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior.
To that end, it only makes sense that this would involve a period of instruction in God’s Word. If we are going to be confirmed or strengthened in the faith, that is only going to happen through God’s Word. We know that from such familiar passages as Romans 1:16 where Paul tells us that the gospel “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” And Romans 10:17, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Confirmation, then, is really the work of the Holy Spirit, working through the Word.
Though not commanded in Scripture, we can see the benefits of having this time of formalized instruction in God’s Word for our youth. In the Lutheran Church, Luther’s Small Catechism is used as the basis for this instruction. Among the goals of this instruction is to help young Christians distinguish between the Law and the Gospel and to prepare them to receive communion for the first time. 1 Corinthians 11:28 says, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Through confirmation instruction, our youth are prepared to examine themselves and properly receive this sacrament.
We should not think of confirmation as a graduation from learning God’s Word. Christian education is a lifelong endeavor.
We pray that the Lord will bless those beginning their confirmation classes so that they will indeed become more confirmed and strengthened in their faith.
In our Bible Study this week, Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Rob Sauers take us through a study of the Book of Ruth. This book is unique in that it is named after a woman who was not Jewish. Ruth was a from the nation of Moab. She married into a Jewish family and developed a very close relationship with her mother-in-law, Naomi. When Naomi set out to return to the Land of Israel, she encouraged both Ruth and her other daughter-in-law, Orpah, to return to their homes in Moab. Orpah decided to remain in Moab, but Ruth chose to remain with Naomi saying in Ruth 1:16-17, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” In this, we see Ruth’s love for her mother-in-law, but, more importantly, we see her love for the LORD. Throughout her life, Ruth was continually confirmed in her faith in the true God of Israel.
The events in this book take place at the end of the time of the Judges. While Judges describes a dark time in the history of Israel, the book of Ruth is a very encouraging book, showing God’s providential care for those who wait upon Him, even in dark times.
Throughout the book, we see ordinary heroes of faith – sincere Christians living their faith. They are an example of the godly living in ungodly times and a description of Christian love in action.
We see Christ in this book through the role of the kinsman-redeemer. Christ is also a descendant of Ruth as she was the great-grandmother of King David.
May the Lord bless our study!
The beginning of the school year is upon us once again, and so in our Word of the Week this week, Pastor Sam Rodebaugh leads us through a discussion of the word “education.”
The word itself is not actually found in the Bible, but this certainly does not mean that education is not spoken of – far from it. We see the emphasis the Bible puts on educating children from a young age in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
A wonderful example of Christian Education is seen in the person of Timothy, who was raised in the faith from his youth by his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).
Christian Education does not end in early childhood. We see the example of Jesus learning in the temple in Luke 2 at the age of twelve. Even the prophets themselves committed themselves to lifelong Christian Education. 1 Peter 1:10-11 says, “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.” Through these examples, we too are encouraged to dedicate ourselves to lifelong instruction in the Christian faith as we allow God to guide our ways and direct our paths.
In our review segment this week, Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Rob Sauers dig into the hymn “Lord Jesus Christ, with Us Abide” by Nikolaus Selnecker. This hymn is found in the Law and Gospel section of the Lutheran Hymnal, but could very well have been placed in the Reformation section. Selnecker (1530-1592) was a second-generation Lutheran who studied at Wittenberg and helped to write and promote the Formula of Concord. He was also very musically inclined writing over 150 hymns, four of which are found in the Lutheran Hymnal. There is a strong emphasis throughout the hymn on the Word of God. Selnecker emphasizes the importance of keeping pure the Means of Grace, trusting in Jesus to uphold the Church through His Word, and understanding that Word is the ultimate source of truth. He emphasizes the importance of clinging to that Word in the face of the very real danger of false teaching and trusting in the Lord to give us the strength to stand for His Word. May God bless our study!
In our Word of the Week, Pastor Rob Sauers leads us through a study of the word Baptism. Baptism in a Means of Grace. Along with the Lord’s Supper, it is one of the two sacraments that we celebrate. There is a lot that can be said about baptism; entire books have been written on this topic. We will limit our study to a few of key points – 1) What is baptism? 2) Who is baptism for? 3) What does baptism mean for our daily lives? May the Lord bless our study!