Friday, March 28, 2014

Is Prayer About Getting What We Want?

“No, I’m not a Christian. Not anymore,” said the twenty something man. “What’s the point? I asked God for help so many times and I never got what I asked for. Not once! So why should I believe in him?”

The outrage of the young man is not uncommon today. Somehow quite a few people have been led to believe that if they declare their allegiance to Jesus, he will answer all their prayers the way they want. When that does not happen (primarily because Jesus never said it would), they become disillusioned and walk out on Christ.

This weekend we’re going to journey with Christ to the darkness of the Garden of Gethsemane. There we will hear him pray – pray with an intensity the world has never seen nor will ever witness again. And yet, the One who of all people, deserved to receive what he asked for, humbly ends his request to his Father with the words, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

For Jesus Christ, prayer was about doing what he came to do. Yes, he was afraid. He had doubts about his impending encounter with sin, death and Satan. But when all was said and done, Jesus was about accomplishing his mission.

Is prayer different for us? Did Jesus save us to spoil us or for us to serve him? The Bible is pretty clear about that. Maybe it’s our attitude about prayer we need to change. And that change can only come at the foot of the cross where we appreciate our absolute necessity of Christ fulfilling his mission.

If your prayer life has become stale because you really aren’t sure it works, maybe some time with Jesus in Gethsemane will bring about a prayer revolution that might change your life beyond anything you imagined.

At least consider the words of this prayer written many years ago.

I asked for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I had asked for,
but eveything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered;
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

Join us for one of our weekend worship services:
Saturday: 6:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am

Friday, March 21, 2014

By Design

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “[It was intended] that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.” (John 12:7)

Our life is a puzzle. We can see the pieces that have already been put into place, but we can only guess at what the entire picture will look like when it is finished.

When we are quite young it is easy for us to think that we can see the way the pieces of our life will come together. We picture ourselves living the life we expect to have, living where we think we want to be, and expecting that we will live happily ever after.

One’s life almost never turns out the way we had imagined. Unexpected pieces suddenly fall into place. Sometimes that brings us delight. Sometimes we are dismayed.

As we grow older we begin to suspect that we have, at least, caught on to the pattern that our life will follow. We find ourselves thinking: “Well, I guess I will never be rich!”Or, “It looks like I’ll spend my life in this or that career!”But, the reality is we will never see the complete picture of our life until it is completed. Many surprises may lie down the road. That thought can be unnerving.

If our life’s picture were formed by random pieces happening to fit here and there, how helpless and often hopeless we would feel.

But, if our picture has been designed by someone who loves us, and knows exactly which pieces should become part of our life, and exactly how they should fit in, then we can relax.

The woman Jesus was referring to in John 12 was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. She had just given Jesus an expensive gift—it cost an entire year’s wages of an average person. Yet, the gift wasn’t something that Jesus could keep for long. It was a pint of pure nard, a perfume that Mary had poured onto his feet, and then wiped off with her hair. The whole house was filled with the wonderful aroma, but soon it would be gone.

“What a waste!” was the impression of Judas Iscariot. “Many hungry people could have been fed if the perfume had been sold.” Maybe others would have agreed with him.

Jesus did not. Jesus knew how this piece fit into the larger picture of his life and the salvation of the world. He said, “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.”

He was only a few days away from his death. No one else in the room knew that a piece of his puzzle was going to be called Golgotha. No one expected that women would gather in closing darkness to wrap his corpse with the customary burial ointments. No one could see that this would be followed with the bright light of Easter.

We don’t know how Mary bought the perfume. We don’t know how long she had been saving it. But, even though she did not realize it, this was all by God’s great design.

So it is with us. That same One is shaping our life’s picture—and the design is just as wonderful.

Join us this weekend to worship Him!

Saturday: 6:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am

This devotion was written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain. If you would like to receive his weekly devotions, please click here.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Why Did Judas Do It?

Why, after being in the presence of perfect love, compassion and holiness for three years could Judas turn his back on Jesus? He had seen the miracles and heard the sermons. He had been privy to the fireside chats and the question and answer sessions which took place on the road. He had seen Lazarus come back from the dead! What in the world got into Judas that he betrayed Jesus? The answer is a name: Satan.

The Gospel writer Luke describes what happened tersely, “Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.”

Jesus called Satan the “father of lies”. The devil lied to Adam and Eve, he lied to Judas and he continues to tell lies every day to you and me. Those lies are so dangerous because they are masterfully told. He plays with our emotions. He tickles our egos. Satan makes his lies sound so very reasonable and good. Adam and Eve thought so. So did Judas. At least at first they did. But once the truth was revealed, how crushing the guilt was! How overwhelming the consequences of their deception!

We live in a culture which looks on the existence of Satan with a condescending smile. “Spirits, evil beings,” people object, “that was for long ago. We’re way past that kind of thinking today.” What easy targets we humans make. This supernatural force for evil whose only purpose is to destroy us eternally, and we choose to believe he doesn’t even exist.

This coming weekend at our worship services we’re going to be studying Satan’s strategy with Judas. We’ve got a lot to learn from this sad story. The advice, “to be forewarned is to be forearmed” finds its ultimate application when applied to Satan’s tempting tactics of Judas.

Saturday: 6:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am

Friday, March 7, 2014

How Do You Define the “Good Life”?

Whatever you may think of what makes up the “good life”, if you are like most people, you’re probably not thinking about Jesus. We’ve been brought up in a culture in which the “good life” means having everything we want and more. It’s about getting things our way and having the material possessions we desire. It’s kicking back on the beach of an exclusive resort without a care in the world.

There is a verse tucked away in the middle of the Gospel of John which challenges us to think about the “good life” on different terms. In that particular passage Jesus says,

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

It sure sounds like Jesus is talking about the “good life” there. But if you know anything about what Jesus said and did, you know he wasn’t much into kicking back at exclusive resorts. He was more about doing the kind of things nobody else could or would do. The kind of things that need to be done. So how does Jesus and the “good life” fit together? Maybe it’s all in the definition of that little word “good”. Maybe what we think is “good” really isn’t all that good for us after all. Maybe what Jesus calls “good” is better for us in the long run.

Join us for one of our weekend services. We’re going to be looking at some of Jesus’ most challenging and controversial statements. Who knows, you might find what he has to say is just what you have been needing to hear.

Saturday: 6:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am

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.