A Sermon in the Form of a Hymn

The Sermon, My Song of Love Unknown

While I grew up attending a Baptist church and there are several hymns that I love; yet, what I, particularly, love about a Lutheran hymn is the fact that it is often a sermon put to music.

As I begin to read and meditate on different Lenten hymns during this season. I have come across one of my most favorites, “My Song of Love Unknown.” I, particularly, like this hymn because it sings of so much about Jesus and His suffering. The song is a sung in a melody as opposed to four part harmony. The music is so moving to my heart and soul. It often brings tears to my eyes when we sing it in church.

In the hymn, “My Song of Love Unknown,” there is a sermon and so much more. It sings of why Jesus came, what He did and how He was rejected and crucified. I usually begin to cry in verses 5 and 6. These verses tell of Jesus going to the cross to set even His foes free; He did not have a place to call His own and He died a death that was meant for me. Therefore, I will gladly sing His praise as in verse 7.

  1. They rise and needs will have
    My dear Lord made away;
    A murderer they saved,
    The Prince of life they slay,
    Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
    That He His foes from thence might free
    .
  2. In life, no house, no home
    My Lord on earth might have;
    In death no friendly tomb
    But what a stranger gave.
    What may I say? Heav’n was His home;
    But mine the tomb wherein He lay
    .

For Your Benefit

I have added 2 links to this beautiful and inspiring hymn. One is a You-tube video and the other is where you can find all the verses to this sweet hymn (see above). This song is a great one to meditate on and help you to focus on what Christ did for you and me. I do hope that you will take the time to listen and meditate on it. I am sure that you will come to love this one as much as I do.

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Lent: Give Up or Take Up?

For This Season of Lent

I was reading my church newsletter for March and I came upon Pastor Crowe’s article, “What are you doing for Lent?” In which, he discusses whether or not Lutherans give up something for Lent. During this season, other churches may give up things like meat or even chocolate, however, the LCMS position on this is quite different. Pastor Crowe goes on to encourage us to take up something for Lent to help us remember and personalize the great sacrifice that Christ made on the cross for us.

This in turn lead me to consider taking up the focus on Lenten hymns during this season. Therefore, it is my aim to focus on one Lenten hymn each week during these 40 days and what better hymn than the one we sang for Ash Wednesday service, titled O Lord, Throughout These Forty Days. The lyrics are as follows:

  1. O Lord, throughout theses forty days

You prayed and kept fast;

Inspire repentance for our sins,

And free form our past.

 2. You Strove with Satan, and you won;

Your faithfulness endured:

Lend us Your nerve, Your skill and trust

In God’s eternal Word.

  1. Though parched and hungry, yet You prayed

And fixed Your mind above;

So teach us to deny ourselves,

Since we have known God’s Love.

  1. Be with us through this season, Lord

And all our earthly days,

That when the final Easter dawns,

We join in heaven’s praise.

In conclusion, there is a link to a You tube video of this beautiful hymn. I found it quite appropriate as the season of Lent begins. In it, I see the reason one might give something up in order to deny one’s self. Yet, I still like the idea of taking something up. What will you take up this season?

The Lutheran Perspective

QUESTION: Do Lutherans have to give up something for Lent as some other denominations require?

ANSWER: From the perspective of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, “giving something up for Lent” is entirely a matter of Christian freedom. It would be wrong, from our perspective, for the church to make some sort of “law” requiring its members to “give something up for Lent,” since the Scriptures themselves do not require this.

If, on the other hand, a Christian wants to give something up for Lent as a way of remembering and personalizing the great sacrifice that Christ made on the cross for our sins, then that Christian is certainly free to do so — as long as he or she does not “judge” or “look down on” other Christians who do not choose to do this. (This is taken from the lcms.org web page.)

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Forgiveness in light of what in Christ I have been forgiven.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness Is Not Always Easy

Sometimes forgiveness does not come easy for me. I am prone to think that I have a right to be angry and hold on to my anger. I may also expect someone to ask for my forgiveness, which may not happen, before I am willing to forgive. Yet, Christ instructs me to forgive.

When I take a moment to fully contemplate and comprehend the forgiveness that I have been given, it helps me to be able to forgive. I would be lost if it were not for the forgiveness of my sins. I have missed the mark because I am not able to love God with all my heart, soul, and strength nor am I able to love my neighbor as myself. Christ came to earth to do just that and to ultimately pay the price for my sin. This makes all the difference in the world for I am a poor and miserable sinner in need of a savior. Jesus paid it all.

When I fail to remember this, then I have trouble forgiving and I am prone to resentment and self righteousness.

This is exactly what Jesus addresses in Matthew 18: 21-35 in the parable of the unforgiving servant. The master had forgiven the servant of a rather large debt. Yet, when someone who owed him a lesser amount came to him, he was unwilling to forgive the debt owed. The unforgiving servant was not grateful for nor did he fully comprehend what he had been forgiven. Therefore, the master sent the unforgiving servant to jail till he could pay his debt.

Gratitude is Crucial

Stopping first to think of what I have been forgiven and being grateful will make forgiving easier. I am often forgetful that I have been forgiven a great debt. With the Lord’s help, I aim to do better. I shall be forever grateful for my forgiveness.

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Experience is Key to Knowing God’s Goodness

Experience is Vital

Experience is Vital in Telling.

We often throw the word “good” around to just about anything we like. For instance, “That was a good movie!” or “That was really good food.” Advertising uses it well, i.e. “Milk, it does the body good.” Therefore, when we as Christians use it in the phrase, “God is good,” what are we really saying? Do we have the experience to back it up?

Jesus did not like being called “good,” hence He rebuked those who said he was good by saying that God alone is good (Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19). The Greek word for good used here is agathos. This word describes that which, being “good” in its character or constitution, is beneficial in its effect; it is used in a moral sense here. God is essentially and consummately “good” Thus God alone is the ultimate good.

Therefore, to really be able to say, truthfully and meaningfully, that “God is good,” I truly believe that one has to have experienced God’s goodness by coming through some truly tough times. Experience is the key. I have heard in many a testimony to this fact. God is the ultimate good and is capable of great things. Anyone who has experienced near death experiences or a miraculous recovery can tell you.

In conclusion, I know from my own life experiences I can truly say that God is indeed good. I do hope that the next time you want to say that God is good that you can say it from experience. If not, don’t feel bad if you are not able to say. Ask the next person you here say it how God has showed His goodness to them. Don’t hesitate to ask God to reveal to you His ultimate goodness apart from the death and resurrection of Jesus.

 

Share Your Experience

Please feel free to leave me a comment about your own experience of God’s goodness.

 

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Tell of The Goodness of the Lord!

Tell, Remember, Declare, Ascribe

Tell, Remember, Declare, and Ascribe!

I started reading 1 Chronicles 16:8-36 today. King David sang a song of thanks in which he gives many directions to give God glory. First instruction, I read is to tell of all His wondrous works! Second, remember the wondrous works that He has done. Third and fourth, I am reminded to tell of His salvation from day to day and declare His glory among the nations. The fifth is to ascribe to the Lord glory due His name. Last but not least is to give Him thanks.

So here, I will tell of the wondrous works of the Lord. And why not? For the Lord is good and worthy to be praised. God has restored broken relationships in my life. He gives me strength when I am weak and grace when I need it. He gives me wisdom when I ask. I will declare His glory to the world.

In remembering, I find hope when times are rough. When I remember the times that God has carried me through many hardships, I know that He is faithful to see me through another one. When I am in need I remember the times that God supplied all my needs and He will do so again. Take time to remember what God has done in your life.

I am instructed to tell of His salvation from day to day! Oops, I have dropped the ball on this one. I had better get back to telling of His salvation. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

Furthermore, I am to ascribe. Ascribe? What does this mean? To ascribe means to credit or assign, as to a cause or source; attribute; impute. Therefore, I am to credit or assign glory to God. I cannot ascribe it to myself.

Finally, I give thanks to God for He is good and His steadfast love endure forever!

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Culturally Disobedient In Today’s World

Culturally Disobedient

A Call to Be Culturally Disobedient

The time is now for all Christians to stand and to take a stand. If we say that we are Christians then our lives out to show it. Yet, in today’s world society wants Christians to shut up and sit down. Take action and be culturally disobedient.

What is Cultural Disobedience? It is to resist the culture when it tries to soften the Christian faith. Therefore, one should not be afraid to act as a Christian is called to act in all areas of one’s life. For example, to pray in public, speaking up when Christianity is belittled, and not letting the society dictate how you are to live out your faith.

What Does It Look Like?

One of my favorite sayings is if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it must be a duck. Therefore, if I say that I am a Christian then my life should reflect it regardless of what society would have me do. How I treat others ought to reflect Jesus in my life by my compassion and generosity. When I say a prayer of thanks for my meal out it is because I am grateful. It is wrong of me to refrain from doing so because of what others might think. Yet, my attitude should be in check also. I desire to be humble in my attitude not to think of myself as better than others.

Another way that I can be culturally disobedient is speaking up when someone speaks against Christianity. I am to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in me according to 1 Peter 3:15. If I acknowledge Jesus before men, He will acknowledge me before His Father in Heaven. I can trust that God will give me the words to say. He can also help me to be able to do so in truth and in love.

Then again, we as Christians have allowed the world to dictate to us as to how we can or cannot live out our faith. Yet, we are called to be influencers and not to be influenced by the world. Let our actions speak louder than our words. Be Jesus with skin on to a hurting world. Thus, we can begin to truly influence the world for Jesus.

Summary

All things considered, I hope to live out my faith in a manner that is pleasing to God and draws others to Jesus. I pray that you will also be encouraged to do likewise.

Hope is Found in Jesus!

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Simple Statements Are Often Best

Keep it Simple!

Sometimes, it is best to keep things simple. For example, my husband’s anniversary card stated his thoughts and feelings in five uncomplicated words. Yet, it was quite touching. It read, “God Knew I needed you.”

The message of the cross is that simple, too. All one needs to do to receive eternal life is to look to the cross of Christ. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life,” John 3:14-15. I learned in Bible Study Fellowship that eternal life means a changed life now and spend eternity with Jesus in the next. It is just that simple as to look to the cross. However, people make things more complicated by putting in their rules and expectations.

The straightforward act of believing in Jesus does many things. Believing in Him,

  • You have eternal life, will not come into judgment but have passed from death to life. John 5:24
  • Though you were dead, yet you shall live. John 11:25
  • You may not remain in darkness. John 12:46
  • You may have life through His name. John 20:31
  • You receive forgiveness through His name. Acts 10:43
  • You are freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Acts 13:39
  • You will not be put to shame. Romans 9:33
  • Will make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:15
  • You are born of God. 1 John 5:1

Therefore, something so simple has great rewards. How amazing is that? This is what is confusing to the world because the world believes that the simple is stupid. God uses the simple to shame the wise. Won’t you make the effortless action of looking to Jesus?

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The Good Life is Found in Jesus!

Good life

The Good Life!

In church on Sunday, July 31,2016, the title of the sermon was “The Good Life.” The scripture for the message came from Ecclesiastes 2: 2; 12-14; 2:18-20. Yet, the message was not only in the sermon but also in the hymns that we sang.

Our opening hymn was “Speak, O Lord,” which we learned sometime last year. I, especially like, the first verse of this hymn. The melody is rich and beautiful. Here is the first verse.

Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of your holy word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes, for Your glory
.

In this verse, I find, in order, to experience the good life, I need God’s truth planted deep inside me.  If I allow God to use His word to shape and fashion me into the likeness of Christ, my acts of love and my deeds of faith will be for His glory. Certainly, God alone has the power to fulfill His purpose in me.

The second hymn that spoke to the message was “What Is the World to Me.” This hymn tells of the importance Jesus is to me. From verse 1, I read that Jesus alone is my treasure and my soul’s delight. Jesus is what I truly prize above all things in the second verse. Though the world seeks after wealth and is never satisfied, I am content because my Jesus is my wealth in the third. Therefore, Jesus is my all in all; what is the world to me.

The Message

Furthermore, the sermon spoke of chasing after wealth and things apart from God is vanity. It is unjust to toil and labor and then to leave it behind to those who did not toil for it. Yet, Jesus gave it all away for us. One cannot find the good life apart from Him.

Overall, The service left me wanting more of Jesus and my worship was richly blessed. Hence, I shall seek Him first.

Related Link Hope is Found in Jesus

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Conversation Between Jesus & Samaritan Woman

Conversation

Let’s Explore One Conversation Jesus Had.

Let’s explore the conversation Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter 4. But first let’s take a look at history between Samaria and Judea at the time of Christ. It is important to understand the conflict between the two groups of people.

Samaritans were a blend of Israelites left behind when Israel was exiled by the King of Assyria circa 722 B.C. and Assyrians that the King sent into the area. (2 kings 17). They believed in the God of Israel, acknowledged Moses as His prophet, and accepted the Pentateuch as scripture. They, however, did not accept the any Old Testament writings beyond the Pentateuch as canonical. The Samaritans considered the Judeans to be apostates following the sanctuary leaving Shechem. They worshiped God on Mount Gerizim and not in Jerusalem. They, too, were looking for a Messiah to come.

Similarly, the Judeans considered the Samaritans to be apostates. They opposed the Samaritans because of the intermarriage with the Assyrians. The Judeans considered them to be idolaters because intermarriage merged idol worship with the worship of Yahweh. The Samaritans had also caused trouble when the Jews were seeking to reestablish themselves and their temple (Ezra 4).  Therefore, there was a great deal of tension between Judea and Samaria even in the time of Jesus’ ministry.

The Samaritan Woman at the Well

Being that Samaria was to the south of Galilee and north of Judea, Jesus had to go through Samaria to get to Jerusalem. Typically, Jews avoided going through Samaria when traveling between Galilee and Judea. Yet, Jesus did not. He purposefully traveled to Samaria. He stopped at a well about the noon hour and waited.

As a woman came to the well to draw water, Jesus intentionally drew her into a conversation with Him by asking her for a drink. He was well aware of the fact that Jews did not associate with Samaritans yet alone a woman. This is where Jesus first got my attention. He set aside social norms to reach out to her and those living in Samaria. For the custom was that a Jew was considered unclean if he used a drinking vessel handled by a Samaritan. Still Jesus asked her for a drink.

In addition, Jesus continues His conversation with her in spite of all the social customs. He tells her of living water yet one can tell that she is focused on the physical whereas Jesus is speaking spiritually. She questions his ability to draw water and if He is greater than Jacob. The woman is obviously without a clue as to whom she is conversing with.

Therefore, Jesus takes it one step further by revealing to her sin. He does not do it blatantly. He asks her to call her husband and thus she points it out that she does not have a husband. Then Jesus gently makes her see that He knows everything about her. This is what broke through to her heart. It was being known by Him. Therefore, she went to draw others to Him.

What I Have Learned from this Conversation

Jesus was not held sway by social norms. He reached across them to bring His message of salvation. I need to think like Jesus and not be held to the customs of this world. Jesus wants me to think outside the box. Like the woman at the well, I, too, can get focused on the wrong thing and not see with the eyes of Jesus. I want to draw others to Jesus who knows me better than I know myself.

I pray: Dear Lord Jesus, help me to see the world as You do. Cause me to brave the social barriers and reach out to bring the good news to others that need You. Amen.

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Hope is Found in Jesus

My Hope is the Lord

Due to the recent events here and abroad, the news has caused my heart great sadness.  The loss of life in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, only added to that sadness. I hurt for the family who lost both father and son here in Texas. Though, I cannot fully fathom their loss, I do know what it is like to lose a loved one in an untimely manner. I have received the comfort that only God can provide. While the comfort did not happen right away, it did come over time. However, hope can be found in Jesus.

At church on Sunday, July 17, 2016, I was reminded that my hope is in Jesus.  As we sang the hymn, My Hope is Built on Nothing Less, before the sermon, I was reminded also that there is nothing else on earth that can put my hope in.

The aforementioned hymn is comforting because ‘I rest in His unchanging grace; in every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil. Christ is my solid rock and all other ground is sinking sand.’ There is comfort in putting one’s hope in Jesus.

In addition, Psalm 27 was the text for the sermon. Though Vicar read only the first couple of verses. I find comfort in the rest of this Psalm. King David knew to whom he could go to for comfort and shelter. He knew to wait on the Lord.

Therefore, I pray that the families of the fallen officers and those lives senselessly taken in Nice, France, will take comfort in God. I do hope that they will find their rest and stay in Him and that they can sing.

“On Christ, the solid Rock I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.”

Prayer for Comfort and Hope

Dear Lord, as You know there are many hurting hearts today. Please God, comfort them as You alone know how. Ease their pain and let them not forget their loved ones. I ask for Your mercy and grace to the families and to put a stop to the senseless violence. Help them to be strong and  to wait on You. Give them your peace that passes all understanding.  Amen.

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