Friday, September 27, 2013

The Reason We Need Jesus

How often haven’t you heard a statement like the following?

“Hey, it’s cool if you need Jesus. I guess I just don’t feel the same way.
If he works for you, that’s fine. I’m good the way I am.”

More and more people give the impression that while they aren’t violently against Jesus Christ, they just don’t see the need for him. Their life is comfortable. They don’t have any real pressing problems. And they’re convinced that if there is a heaven, good people go there (and of course they put themselves in the “good” category). These folks don’t see Jesus making their already good life any better.

The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans is one of the “must read” books of the Bible. If it were the only portion of the Scripture that existed, we would still have a complete understanding of Christianity. The first chapter which we’ll be studying this Sunday, however, is controversial. It talks a great deal about God’s anger over human evil. Many take offense at Paul’s strong words, saying it paints God out to be a sick despot. In reality, Paul is explaining why every human being needs a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Regardless of what people want to think, things aren’t good between us and God – at least from His point of view. The whole reason for Jesus dying on the cross is that the problem of human evil is so great, so overwhelming that only the death of the Son of God in the place of humanity could rescue us.

While the message of the early chapters of Romans makes us feel uncomfortable, it acts like an X-ray, painting a vivid picture of human life from the divine perspective. It is very much a picture we need to see if we are going to get life right - both now and in eternity.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Last Words

If you had the opportunity to gather together all the important people in your life for one final conversation, what would you say to them?

After spending forty years leading the nation of Israel through its most dramatic period, Moses says, “Good-bye” to the nation. In his speech Moses recalled stories from the past. He complained a little. He reviewed the laws God had given the Israelite nation. But above all he confronted the people.

“Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live...” (Deuteronomy 30:15-16)

Each day you and I wake up we are confronted with the same choice. Who will we serve? Who will be the Lord of our lives?

Busy schedules make it easy to push aside those piercing questions but our decisions, our behavior, our words all reveal who is #1 in our lives. And we must ask ourselves, “What do they all reveal?”

The challenge Moses laid before the Israelites 3500 years ago is as relevant today as it was then. Join us for one of our weekend services as we consider how ancient words of the past speak to our 21st century hearts.

Friday, September 13, 2013

God Has a Plan When Things Go Bad. Do You?

Most of us would probably have to admit that our Plan B for life is, “If things don’t work out the way I hoped, I guess I’ll just do the best I can.” Those words sound courageous but how much substance do they contain? Isn’t that statement really saying, “I don’t have a clue what I will do”? But having a Plan B is important because life has a not so funny way of taking our meticulously prepared plans and turning them upside down. And ironically, we can even destroy what we hoped for by making bad decisions. How often aren’t people the architects of their own demise? When this happens we say, “He brought it on himself.”

Life isn’t fair. We make some big mistakes. Things don’t turn out the way we want. Then what? Is there anything to work for, to live for? Or are we condemned to kill time until we die? Is there an alternative to despair?

The book of Numbers describes a time in the history of the nation of Israel which seems for the most part futile. After a making a very unwise decision, an entire generation of people is condemned to wander around the Sinai Peninsula until every last person from that generation has died. What good could come from a 40 year camping trip ending in death? From a human point of view – nothing. But God always has a plan for every situation. And what he did 3500 years ago, he continues to do in the lives of his followers today.

Maybe life is turning out just the way you want at this moment, but someday it won’t. Then you will need Plan B – God’s Plan B.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Blood Red—Snow White

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,they shall be like wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

“He said ‘the snow is no longer white. It’s red with blood!’” A neighbor lady reported this to us after receiving a letter from her son in Korea in the early ‘50s.

I had seen bloodied snow before. Its striking color had appeared next to a fallen whitetail deer, or a cottontail rabbit. Smiles and high spirits had attended those events. Red on the snow was the sign of a successful hunt—and it meant meat in the freezer.

But that’s not what our neighbor was describing, and his words contained no joy. For a farm boy who grew up in northern Wisconsin, a snowfall had been always exciting and pleasant. When he returned from Korea, we saw that he had changed. He no longer enjoyed the snow. He said it reminded him of pain and death—and red blood.

Through the Prophet Isaiah the holy God, who is judge of all, breaks into our daily lives to announce a decision by the divine court. The problem between mankind and our Creator is the matter of sin. It has always been that way since our first parents were driven out of the Garden of Eden. In case we are wondering how serious this is, we hear the warning of the Almighty One to Israel: “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my face from you...I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood!” (Isaiah 1:15) Could anything be worse?

What a surprise then, to hear that same Judge declare: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Could anything be better?

This should cause the human race around the world to jump for joy and shout out songs of thanksgiving. But, it doesn’t. Satan has blinded much of the world in unbelief. That free gift of salvation from God usually lies still wrapped and waiting—as if it were worthless. Meanwhile, we humans dive into the garbage piles of life to grab for what we have decided is treasure.

To help us see clearly, the Lord uses this striking picture of blood and snow, of red and white. It grabs our attention. It forces us to stare, and to listen. This is not a scene of death, but of life. The red stain of sin has been covered by white, as if by snow. Even the deep red of crimson becomes as white as wool.

There is a solution for sin. There is an escape from death. There is a way out from eternal damnation. The blazing white holiness of God covers up the deadly stain of the sin that seeps from our soul. In the heavenly court of God the righteousness of the Son of God wipes out all charges against us.

Jesus died for us! We are declared as pure as freshly fallen snow. The matter is settled.

We pray:
Heavenly Father, we admit that usually we do not take sin seriously enough. We often do not believe it is deadly. At other times, we tend to go to the other extreme, and become convinced that we cannot be forgiven because our sin is too serious. Draw us back to your decrees. Enable us to see sin in all of its deadly ugliness. Then allow us to see that, because of Jesus, our sin, which is as clear as blood on snow, is completely covered by your perfect holiness. And then, lift up our hearts in joy and peace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida

Hawaii Lutheran Church (WELS)

My photo
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.