In our Word of the Week, Pastor Mark Tiefel takes us through a study of marriage. Marriage is under attack from many angles in our society today. As Christians, we can get caught up in talking about all of the sins against marriage that we sometimes forget about all of the blessings. As a result, there is a growing trend of people who no longer want to pursue marriage. Our study will remind us of all of the blessings that God intends for us to enjoy in marriage. We pray that this study will help you to see how the Lord intends to bless us through marriage.
On today’s CPR episode, Mike Schierenbeck and Pastor Neal Radichel join us again to discuss part 2 in their series on Christian Stewardship. Part 1 dealt with the motivation for giving, and that really is the first step of the topic for this podcast – developing a plan for Christian Stewardship. The point of developing a plan is so that our giving will be purposeful and intentional. This begins with the understanding that we give not out of obligation or in order to earn heaven, but rather in thankfulness for all that the Lord has given to us. In this study, we will be encouraged to give as the Lord prospers us (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:2). We will also explore some of the personal challenges we face in giving as well as some ways we can talk about this important, but not always easy to talk about, subject. We pray that this study will encourage you to consider your own stewardship as you seek to express your thankfulness to the Lord for all He has done for you.
In today’s CPR, Retired Pastor Mike Schierenbeck joins Pastor Neal Radichel to discuss the topic of Christian Stewardship and specifically, what our motivation should be as we bring our tithes and offerings before the Lord. This can be a difficult topic to discuss because of the fear of giving the wrong impression that the church is all about money. However, we should discuss this topic as it shows us the privilege we have to give thanks to our God by giving back to Him from what He has so graciously given to us. In our study, we will discuss what it means to be a steward, what some of the wrong motivations are in giving, and finally, what the proper motivation should be for Christian Stewardship. We pray that this study will be a blessing to you!
Question: How can you be sure that God even exists if He can’t be seen?
Answer: This is a valid question, but there is a problem with it. The question assumes that God doesn’t exist because He can’t be seen. In reality, there are many things that we know exist, even if we can’t see them.
The Bible never sets out to prove the existence of God. It doesn’t have to. The existence of God is evident in the world around us. In fact, God’s existence is so evident that the Bible states: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (Psalm 14:1).
You might say, “Hold on there! What evidence are you talking about?”
Well, look at the world around you. Consider at the intricacy of the human body. Gaze upon the amazing beauty of the trees and flowers. Ponder the vastness of space in the galaxies beyond. Every automobile, tractor, chair, house, toy, and phone has a maker. You have probably never seen the people who designed and built your car, but no sensible person would say that those people don’t exist, just because they haven’t seen them. The car you drive shows evidence of design and of being built by someone. You can even tell certain things about a designer/creator from their work.
Every creation has a CREATOR. The Bible says: “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4). God is unseen, but His fingerprints can be found all around us in His creation.
While the creation reveals the fingerprints of God, it does not clearly show WHO God is. Our knowledge of God from creation is very limited because we don’t see Him directly, we only see evidence of His existence. But the God of creation wants us to know Him personally and so He has also revealed Himself to us in His Word. In the pages of the Bible God paints a detailed picture of Himself in the person and atoning work of Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us that in Jesus Christ we see God.
- “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-4,14). [The Word is Jesus. Compare John 1:15 with Matthew 3:11.]
- “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
- “For in Him [Christ Jesus – see v.6] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).
Jesus was unlike any other human being. He was perfect. Jesus shows God’s love for sinners by taking our place under the Law of God and dying the death that we deserve because of our sin.
How can we know that God exists?
- Creation reveals that there is a God who is powerful and wise.
- Our conscience tells us that we have disobeyed God’s laws and that we will be punished.
- The Bible shows us that God has sent sinners a Savior in Jesus Christ.
It is obvious that God exists. Thanks be to God for his mercy and love in creation, but more importantly in Jesus!
In this week’s Word of the Week, Pastor Mark Tiefel takes us through a study of the word “resolution.” This is a word that is commonly used as we begin a new year. The word itself has two main meanings: to make a decision about something or to bring something to completion. We see both of these concepts at the beginning of a new year as we look at the things we want to accomplish or change. As we think about the resolutions we want to make in 2018, we will be encouraged through this study not to lose sight of the resolutions that God has made for us through our Savior Jesus. We pray that knowing what Jesus has done for you will give you a joyful outlook as you look ahead to the new year.
On today’s podcast, Pastors Rob Sauers and Nathanael Mayhew take us through a study of the Advent/Christmas hymn “Savior of the Nations, Come.” This is one of the oldest hymns in the hymnal, written in the fourth century by St. Ambrose. As we review this hymn, we will look at how this hymn is firmly based on the teachings of God’s Word in its brief description of the entire earthly ministry of our Savior. We will see how this hymn beautifully points to the person and work of Jesus for us, and we will see the benefits of continuing to sing this ancient hymn still today.
In our Word of the Week this week, Pastor Mark Tiefel takes us through a study of the date of Christmas. We are so used to celebrating Christmas on December 25th that we may not even think twice about whether or not this was the actual date of the Savior’s birth. And since our calendar is based on the birth of Jesus, we may assume that Jesus was born exactly 2017 years ago. However, there are many who believe that Jesus was born neither on December 25th nor in the year 0. So when was the Savior born? This study will take us through some of the different theories concerning the year and date of Jesus’ birth. We will also consider whether or not one has to know the exact date and year of Jesus’ birth in order to properly celebrate Christmas. May the Lord bless our study.
This week, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew offers a review of two devotion books which you may want to consider as we prepare to enter a new year. Both come with high recommendations for family or individual devotions. The first is “To Live is Christ” by Bo Giertz. This is published by Concordia Publishing House. Bishop Giertz was a pastor in the Lutheran Church is Sweeden in the 20th century and brings a very down to earth but eye opening style to the devotions and prayers included in this book. His devotion book follows the church year not the calendar year, so save this one for next year! The second is “Beside Quiet Waters” by Richard Lauersdorf, and is published by Northwestern Publishing House. This devotion book follows the calendar year and has a brief Bible passage, followed by a devotion and finally a short prayer. Pastor Lauersdorf usally begins with an illustration which develops the main point of the Bible passage and applies it to our daily lives. Very well written and insightful as well. Both devotion books would be an excellent choice for you or those on your Christmas lists, and either can be purchased through the CLC bookhouse. May the LORD bless your study and hearing of His Word!
Pastor Sam Rodebaugh takes us into the Christmas word “Nativity” and explains some details and misconceptions of the birth of our Savior. In spite of the pictures that we see or the songs that are sung about the first Christmas, many of those images are not factual. What do you think of when you hear the word nativity? What images do you associate with it? The nativity or birth of Jesus is all about the birth of a Savior for all people. We celebrate the truth proclaimed by the Old Testament prophets which describe how the King of Creation was born in very humble circumstances, and He willingly did this out of His great love for you!
Question: Who was the real Jesus? Couldn’t he have just been a prophet, and not the Son of God?
Answer: This is a very important question, and one that deserves to be discussed. First of all, it is important to understand at the very beginning that we can be confident there was a real Jesus who grew up in the city of Nazareth. In addition to the historical records of the New Testament which tell about Jesus, there are other ancient historians like Josephus, Tacitus and Eusebius who also refer to Jesus as a real person. These secular historical records verify what the New Testament tells us about Jesus: that He was a Jewish leader who gathered a large following, was considered by many to be the Christ, was crucified, and was said to rise from the dead.
Based on actual historical records, both secular and sacred, we can be confident that this Jesus was a real person. But who was this Jesus, really? Was he a prophet? Was he a Jewish rabbi and religious leader? Or was he more than that? If we take an honest look at the evidence, it is clear that Jesus is more than just a man, that He was Son of God.
First, many people proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ, and the Son of God. His followers made this claim.
When asked who Jesus was, Peter replied: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15-17).
Other followers made the same confession, and in many cases even allowed themselves to be put to death rather than retract their confession about Jesus.
- Consider the confession of Philip concerning Jesus: “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41).
- Or that of Thomas: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
- The Ethiopian confessed: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37).
- Referring to Jesus Paul declared: “God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).
- And John proclaims: “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:15).
- But there were also others who made the same confession, who were not followers of Jesus. The soldiers who crucified Jesus came to the same conclusion, proclaiming: “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39).
Secondly, Jesus Himself stated clearly that He was more than just a man.
- On trial before the Jewish leaders, Jesus was asked: “Are You then the Son of God?” His response? “You rightly say that I am” (Luke 22:70).
- When Jesus was on the cross, people accused Him of claiming to be the Son of God: “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” (Matthew 27:43).
- It was because of who Jesus claimed to be that the Jews wanted to kill him (see Luke 4:16-30; John 8).
Third, Jesus fulfills hundreds of Old Testament prophecies which speak of the coming Messiah. These prophecies which were written hundreds and even thousands of years before Jesus was born foretell specific details about the life and work which only Jesus would fulfill. They describe:
- Where He would be born: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting” (Micah 5:2).
- How He would suffer and die: “they pierce my hands and feet” (Psalm 22:16 – see the whole Psalm); “He was numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12 – see the entire chapter).
- That He would rise again: “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10 – see also Job 19:25).
These prophecies include specific details that could not have been known hundreds of years earlier when they were written.
All of this points to the truth that Jesus was more than just a man. It shows that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God!
So what does that mean for us? If Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ who He claimed to be, if He died for us as He said He did, and rose again as the Scriptures foretold, then He is also the one and ONLY Savior from sin and death for sinners.
And that deserves your thoughtful attention.