Friday, June 29, 2012

The Complaining Complex

The Israelites, having been led by Moses out of Egypt according to God’s careful instructions and miraculous actions, still were stuck in a limited human way of thinking. The provisions they had brought from Egypt were running out, and they wondered how they would survive in the vast, barren desert which stretched before them. It’s not like there was a 7-11 every so many miles where they could buy food and ice for their coolers. What were they to do? Many began to grumble and complain to Moses about God. Despite their attitude, God miraculously provided quail each night and manna each morning.

We pray in the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.” But as Martin Luther says in his explanation to that petition: Doesn’t God give daily bread to us without our asking, and even to unbelievers? We even see in our text this week that he miraculously provided for the Israelites despite their bad attitude. It goes to show that life doesn’t depend on us, but on God -- and that is definitely a good thing. As Luther says, we pray that we would realize we receive from God all that we need in this life with appreciation and thanksgiving.

We can’t survive without daily bread from God. We thank him every day. Even more important is “Living Bread” that he also provides. Without Jesus fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies and providing for our eternal salvation, there wouldn’t be much point to daily bread, except delaying the inevitable--death. Join us this week as we continue to look at the life of Moses and how God graciously provided for his chosen people then, and continues to do so for us today.

Friday, June 22, 2012


The first words Smitty spoke when I met him were, “Boy, you aren’t 15 years old!” Smitty owned a resort and I had called him up to see if he needed someone to cut grass during the summer months. Unfortunately I stretched my age by about 2 years over the phone and it was pretty evident when he saw me in person that I was a young looking 13 year old. He didn’t send me away though. He stuck his hands in his mechanic gray work pants and asked, “Can you work?” I wondered why he would believe my answer when I hadn’t told him the truth about my age, but at that point I wasn’t going to ask about that. I just said, “Yes,” and he hired me. That was the first of many summers I would work for Smitty.

He was a small man with a severe limp which came from a motorcycle accident years before. He had been hotrodding on his Indian when he hit some sand and lost control. He laid down the bike well enough, the only problem was it landed on his leg. The result of that accident was a life of constant pain.

What made Smitty stand out was not his appearance or presence—it was his incredible ability to fix things. It didn’t matter if it was a car, furniture or a TV, Smitty could make it run like new. And for this, I was very grateful. Being only 13 I was tough on machines—not on purpose, I just didn’t know any better. It seemed every week I would break a lawn mower or garden tractor. So I would trudge up to Smitty and explain, with a bowed head, what had happened. His reaction was usually to shout a string of words which cannot be printed here, take a deep sigh and then look at me and say, “Oh yeah, I’m not supposed to say those words around you. Oh well, let’s go get the machine.”

Smitty would then disappear in his shop for a few hours or a few days, depending on how bad the problem was, but inevitably he would appear with it running like it was brand new. That was Smitty. He could take things ready for the junkyard and give them new life.

You could say that our God does with people what Smitty did with broken machines—no matter how badly we are broken, he can make us like new, in fact far better than new.

This Saturday night (6:00 pm) and Sunday morning (10:00 am) we are going to be studying the account of the Passover, that dramatic moment when God freed the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt. It’s a story of God’s power and judgment, but above all it is a story of redemption. It’s a story of what God wants to do for you and for me.

Friday, June 15, 2012

When You Hit The Brick Wall

It is extremely difficult to do the right thing when everyone around you has given in to temptation. It is almost impossible to bear when we stand up for what God wants us to do and then suffer unfairly. And yet, isn’t that what happens all too often? In the movies the good guys win all the time, but that’s not the way it is in real life.

As we follow Moses back to Egypt on his God-given mission to free the Israelite people from years of slavery and then lead them to the land they were promised hundreds of years earlier, we find he runs into a brick wall by the name of Pharaoh. When Moses presents God’s plan to the ruler of Egypt the reaction is brutal. Not only is Moses kicked out of the palace, the Israelite work load is doubled. To add insult to injury, the Jewish people want nothing more to do with Moses.

Alone and depressed, Moses reminds God that he didn’t want the job in the first place and wonders if this is not some cruel joke the Almighty is playing on him.

What does a Christian do when we obey God and suffer for it? The easiest thing is to just give up and conform to the way everybody else is living, or, if that touches our conscience, we might quietly separate ourselves so that we don’t join in with the sinful behavior, but we don’t do anything to change it. That is the easy way. But is it the right way?

God will accomplish his plan for the world with or without us. But he chooses to give us the great privilege of working with him to carry out his will. If we shrink back from working with him or live like those who reject him, we are making a powerful statement about who and what is most important in our lives. God let Moses hit a brick wall to help his servant learn that the success of leading the Israelites out of Egypt wouldn’t depend on him, but the Lord. It may well be the same for us. If you have hit a brick wall in the form of people or circumstances which are resisting your efforts to be obedient to God, don’t be disillusioned. The God you serve is as powerful today as in the time of Moses. He will act according to his good timing.

Join us either Saturday (6:00 pm) or Sunday (10:00 am) and build yourself up to meet the brick walls in your life.

Friday, June 8, 2012


Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

The path we are hiking on brings us to a deep gorge filled with sharp rocks and raging water. A rickety wooden bridge, with missing boards, is strung across. We look at the bridge and decide it is too risky. Then we notice a newly built concrete bridge a little ways away. That's the one we want! That's the safe one.

Full of confidence, we walk to the middle of the solid bridge and lean over the side to look at the swirling water below. The temporary railing gives way—and we fall to the depths. Standing on a sure foundation, we ended up leaning against a frail support. Bad idea!

King Solomon writes to warn his readers to be careful about what they choose to lean against. Standing on something solid is not enough. What you lean upon while you are standing can get you into trouble. But, of course, he is not talking about bridges and railings. He is talking about life. He is talking about trusting God. He is warning against counting too much on the human understanding of things. It's a warning we need.

We have learned from books, from leaders, and from our own experiences. As a result, we have gained an understanding of some things. Should we not lean against, rely upon, that understanding? The answer is: "It all depends!"

Solomon is not telling us to distrust everything we understand. The contrast is with trust in the Redeemer God. It comes down to those times when we look at God's words and God's ways, and find that our thinking is different. The Bible is teaching us, "If you have to choose between what God says and what makes sense to you, go with God every time!" God's path is on solid rock. The railing we construct in our mind is flimsy and flawed.

The phrase, "…with all your heart" is the key. We might trust in God for many things, even for the forgiveness of sins he won for us. But, to the extent that we hold back that trust in him from any phase of our life, we are in danger. We may find ourselves asking: Aren’t the 10 Commandments outdated? With billions of people on this planet, how can God guard and keep me? Shouldn’t a person just follow his feelings? The questions can pile up. So can the doubts. Doubts can lead to the conclusion that we know better than God. We decide to ignore what God says, and go with what seems right to us. Bad idea!

The 1st Commandment makes it quite plain: "You shall have no other gods!" We are to fear, love, and trust in him above all things. "Above all things!" That includes our limited understanding. The hymn writer put it this way:

"If you but trust in God to guide you
And place your confidence in him,
He'll give you strength and stand beside you
When days are dreary, dark and dim.
For those who trust his changeless love
Build on the rock that does not move." CW Hymn 444:1)

Thank you to WELS Military Chaplain Paul Ziemer for this week’s devotion.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Are Your Circumstances Controlling Your Life?

How do you react when something happens that throws your schedule for the day totally out the window? If something breaks unexpectedly and the amount of the repair is more money than you have available at the moment, are you in a bad mood for the rest of the week? When the actions of other people cause you to change your plans, are you flexible enough to make the necessary changes without becoming upset?

Most of us would probably respond to the above questions by saying, “I go crazy when things don’t go the way I planned!” We know we should be in control of our lives, but the sad truth is, our circumstances far too often control us. We’re happy if everything goes our way. We are outraged when someone has the audacity to mess up what we have planned to do.

There is a song called “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from the musical Oklahoma! in which the refrain has the words,

Oh, what a beautiful Mornin’
Oh, what a beautiful day.
I’ve got a beautiful feelin’
Everything’s goin’ my way.

Those lyrics accurately reflect the way we human beings live. When we get what we want, we’re happy. The only problem is, very often we don’t get what we want and that causes us to be angry, hostile and bitter. If we let the circumstances of our life dictate how we feel and act, we are going to be in for a whole lot of very down times.

This Sunday we will be starting a sermon series on the life of the Old Testament prophet Moses. His life could not be described as easy, comfortable or predictable in any sense. Things were always changing for him and many of those changes were unpleasant. And yet, as we look back on his life, we see how God incredibly used each situation, no matter how difficult it was, to accomplish his will through Moses.

What the Lord did with Moses was not in any way unique. He was the God of circumstances in the days of Moses and he continues to be the same today. Certainly no one asks for tough times in life, but the Christian can know that even when it seems everything is going wrong, the God who made the heavens and the earth, who broke the bands of death through Christ’s resurrection, is working in our lives to bring good out of even the worst of situations.

Join us this Sunday at 10:00 am. Let your God give you back control over your circumstances!

Hawaii Lutheran Church (WELS)

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Honolulu, HI
Community Lutheran Church holds protestant chapel services in Honolulu, Hawaii near Pearl Harbor, HI. We are next to the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hickam Air Force Base, and Fort Shafter Hawaii. Look for us directly behind the Salt Lake, Hawaii, Target.