Tag Archives: joy

God isn’t going to push, He will encourage

Rev Ken Klaus – Lutheran Hour Ministries: “Years ago I called on a man, a member of my church, who was a good man, at least in the eyes of the community. By that I mean the fellow was honest in his dealings with others; he took good care of his family, didn’t drink, gamble, or swear. He was always faithful and conscientious in paying his bills and taking care of his other debts. During our visit I asked, ‘Tell me, you pay all your other debts, but I never see you in church; I never see you at Communion, and the church offering plate never sees a dollar from your account. Why are you faithful in paying your debts to others, but not to the Lord?” He thought for a minute and then, without being flip, he replied, “Well, pastor, I don’t pay so much attention to God, because He doesn’t push as hard as everybody else.”

Listeners, that guy had it right. The Lord is not going to push; He is not going to beg; He is not going to twist your arm. What He is going to do is say, “Look at My Son who gave His life to save your soul. With faith in Him You will be in heaven; without faith, you are headed for hell. Jesus is the best thing which has ever happened to you and for you. Don’t turn your back on Jesus. Be ready for the day when He will say to this world, ‘enough is enough.’ When that day arrives, I want everyone to be glad to see Me.”

Pastor Klaus is one of my favorites, you have to check out  wwwlhm.org to hear the audio versions of these sermons from Pastor Klaus and also Pastor Greg Seltz.

Have to consider his point. No God’s not going to get up in your face, not normally. To those who don’t know Jesus, yes the Holy Spirit is going to keep tugging at you, getting in your head sometime, continuously pointing to God. But, wow, we really give the world carte blanche, “entre” into our head, never thinking an hour ahead of time. Then we have the arrogance to decide, when we really have to, “well God’s just going to have to take me as I am, I’m good enough.” No you’re not, I’m not, no one is, God accepts us under very simple conditions. We follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, we are baptized in the Name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We receive the true Body and Blood of Jesus, what was sacrificed as payment for our sins and we hear His Word preached. No heavy lifting, all for your benefit, yet too often, because God doesn’t push, we think the nonsense around us is more important.

True life is in God the Father, His Son Jesus, guided by the Holy Spirit. It is a life of meaning, “life, life more abundant”, of joy, promise and hope. Do you get that in the world? Ya, no, just more grind, more gimmee, gimmee, and in the end, we all know death, hopelessness, complete loss and eternal condemnation. I have yet to have anyone give me any other possible outcome. True life in Jesus and then we die, we go to be in His presence, but then true, eternal, perfect, abundant challenging life in Jesus in the resurrection. Gotta tell you, seems logical, it is God who leads you into salvation, but you can resist and refuse, and for what?

Fruits of the Spirit? Not unless it gets me something

The “Fruits of the Spirit” Galatians 5: 22-23 love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. As a Christian these are supposed to be our attributes, our goals, how we should emulate the character of Jesus as we grow as His disciples. Really? No.
These are the way we see those attributes in this day and age. Our attitude is to the effect , “hey I do some good things, throw a few crumbs to help others, but come on, I have to watch out for me, it’s all about me.
I can’t (read won’t ) strive for the Fruits of the Spirit”, but sure as heck, everyone else needs to treat me according to the Fruits.
After all how can I be joyful? I don’t have everything I’m entitled to? I only know joy through what I have. Peace? No! Because people won’t give me what they should, so I resent everyone. I deserve to be treated patiently, everyone should know all my trials, I’m just suffering, so everyone has to treat me patiently.
So long as I don’t do anything mean to someone else, that should be sufficient, I deserve kindness, I shouldn’t have to be kind to others.
I can’t be good that’s weak! I have to be bad and do whatever I have to, to grab everything I can for me, yes just for me. Why be faithful? If it’s not convenient for me, then why do I have to bother? Spouse, child, parents, anyone who becomes a burden, I should just be able to just get rid of it so I’m not inconvenienced.
Resist temptation!? Are you joking? I’m entitled. There’s nothing I need to resist, and if it makes me unhealthy, too much food, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sex, then someone else needs to fix it and someone else needs to pay for it.
I’m entitled to have other people lay down their life for me. If I was careless and start a fire, someone needs to rush in and find me. If I get in trouble someone has to step in and get me out, even if I’m some place I don’t belong and with people I shouldn’t be associating with. I don’t give anything up for anyone, they give up for me. And if they don’t do it as quickly or as much, or upset my delicate sensibilities, then I’m going to complain, March in the streets, destroy things, steal (for myself of course) and then when those who were serving have then been removed, I will start complaining again because there won’t be anyone handing me things.
It’s all about me and the fact is, until I understand living the Fruits of the Spirit (which will only happen when I stop rejecting the Holy Spirit), I’m going to be miserable, bitter, resentful and selfish and have no idea why I don’t experience joy in the Spirit.

Celebration, Feasting, Drinking, because we are His and that’s something to celebrate Isaiah 25: 6-9, Matthew 22: 1-14 First St Johns October 12, 2014

For the audio of this sermon please click on the play button

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and God’s children celebrated and said AMEN
Feasting, that is really about? … Celebrating! Absolutely! Many churches have banquets to celebrate the year, and the ministry God leads them to perform, to recognize those who serve their church and in a festive way God’s love and delight in us. I’m told that the men here at First St Johns used to bring a keg of beer into the meeting room in the school building. I’m not encouraging the idea, but hey we’re not Baptists! Martin Luther certainly did nothing to discourage drinking of beer. In our reading in Isaiah, the Hebrew word that is used for banquet is hT,v.mi ((mishtah) which means “feast, drink, banquet”. I’m not saying “hey, let’s go get a keg”, I’m not saying no, just no stupid. The ancient Israelites would have readily understood that part of what Isaiah is describing as a banquet would be drinking, probably wine. We live in a world where fear is so prevailing. Yea, we celebrate, but it’s always with sort of detachment, at arm’s length with each other. We get to celebrate once a week! Too many people see it as a chore, an obligation to be fulfilled. We get to be in His presence every Sunday morning and that is a celebration. I hope it comes across to you, that when I lead worship I’m doing it in a way that is enthusiastic, excited, I get to be here, I get to lead worship in this magnificent place, I get to tell everyone how great God our Father is and what His Son Jesus Christ has done for us. If that’s not worthy of celebration, well what is? We can get into a discussion about how we worship. Many people would claim that liturgical worship isn’t “celebration”, that it’s just a rote way of doing the same thing. We’ve let the world tell us how to “celebrate”, we forget what celebration is in the worship of Jesus.
A “Satanic Black Mass” was held recently in Oklahoma City. Fox News noted that “dozens” participated in the mass, while those who stood opposed to the “mass” far outnumbered the participants. Kudos to the Roman Catholic Archbishop who held Holy Mass at a local church, that was attended by over 1200 people, almost a hundred times those who attended the Satanic Mass. The Archbishop’s message was something to truly celebrate in the face of the world’s depraved observance: “as Christians “we know that Christ conquered Satan. The war has been won, Christ has conquered, though skirmishes will continue until Christ comes to reign forever.”1
Notice how the world mocks Christianity? They mock the mass, the liturgy, worship like we Lutherans conduct. You never see them mock worship like those of, let’s just say those who are all happy-clappy, telling you that it’s all about you and being “happy” and being entertainment versus what we do, which is worship. I truly think of our worship as a time of joy, there should be exuberance and celebration, I feel joyful and enthusiastic when I lead worship and I hope you will tell me if I’m not being joyful or it’s not coming across. I don’t see worship as a chore, I see it as a couple who are members here told me, “I get to come to church and worship”. The rest of the world holds back in fear and worry, they are afraid that they will be criticized or that their dignity will be affected. We get to celebrate every week and as I greet people as they leave worship I see joy, I see enthusiasm. But then they go back into the world, they let the world’s agenda dampen their joy and enthusiasm. They let the world’s message beat them down, “that wasn’t ‘fun’, that was boring, rote ritual”. No it’s not! We get to remember all that has been done for us, all that we have to be joyful and thankful for. Why do we let the world impose on us with its cynical and depressing attitude?
It’s often because we really believe the world’s message, that it’s a scary, fearful, ratrace, and now that you’re back in that world, you have to put aside that church stuff and realize how scary it really is.
It’s not! Unless you let it be. We have the promises, grace and love of Christ in our lives. There’s nothing to be afraid of! Jesus tells His disciples in John 16: 33, just before He is to be crucified, that yes, difficult times are ahead; “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” The world can’t harm you, the world’s opinion doesn’t matter, I have overcome the world and since I am in you and you are in me and I have overcome the world, you have what I have given you, what I have promised you, joy, confidence, the knowledge that this world is not the real thing, it is not genuine. What the world says and does is phoney, only what I say, the Lord and Savior of your life is genuine, what you receive here in worship is genuine and you should celebrate that and take that attitude back into the world. We need to push back against the world. We are all so afraid of rejection, “oh here comes that crazy Bible thumper”. Heavens, that takes away our dignity. At last week’s conference someone made the comment that there is always push back against our message in Jesus. D’uh! Of course there is, how could it be otherwise? Jesus told us there would be. The conference was centered on our ministry to younger generations, that these people have left the church. Why? I submit because there is a serious lack of genuineness in the church. Why believe something that no one really stands up for and asserts that this is what is really important. No one is going to buy something that they feel is not genuine in its claims.
We don’t celebrate our faith and our worship, we don’t show what it means to be genuine in our discipleship and then we wonder why no one is buying. Those in the world know how phoney and irrelevant the world’s institutions are. They are looking for the genuine and we have it right here and we get to celebrate it in worship every week. I submit to you that instead of this sanctuary and building being so empty the rest of the week, that we come for other worship, Matins, confession, prayer, other small groups. What else can we do to make our worship more genuine, every day, not just on Sunday? Let’s spend more time in prayer, studying Scripture, sharing our faith with brothers and sisters and those in the world. That’s what the younger generations wants and they know, that when it’s done right, not the phoney stuff the world tries to convince us is “church”, that it does produce joy, peace, comfort and assurance that God is with us, that He loves us 24/7, that He wants what is best for us. That’s why Satanists mock what we have and not the phoney worship. But we take it for granted, we let the world drive us down, instead of us going out and showing the world what true joy and love is.
Isaiah is telling the Israelites, this is what’s going to happen. It’s not some vague metaphor, it is genuine, true, giving hope and assurance. When you really let it become part of you, realize what God is promising, you should be at least this high off the ground (holding your fingers at least two inches apart). God is going to provide us a feast of rich food of well aged wine. He’s telling this to a people who often live hand to mouth, we get plenty of food, they never had enough, God is telling them ‘you will have a gift far beyond your imagination, you will have joy and all you could want.’ Jesus is telling us that we are not worthy of His great wedding feast, but you know what? He wants us to have it, He wants us to have a time of joy and plenty beyond anything we’ve ever seen. Even now we are so blessed, provided with so much, and yet we have no joy. Please remember what we’ve been given, share it with others, the joy grows only when you share it with others and then you see the effect of their joy and how it builds yours in Christ our Savior. Spend some time journaling on all that you have to be joyful for.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.

Mrs Joel Osteen or Paul and Isaiah??? Hmm Philippians 1:12-30 First St Johns September 21, 2014 6

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all who know joy in Christ said AMEN
“In the short, 37-second clip that has gone viral and led to intense criticism in recent days, Victoria Osteen, who co-pastors Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, along with her husband, Joel, is seen telling congregants that, when people obey the Lord and go to church, they’re not necessarily “doing it for God.”
“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God we’re not doing it for God — I mean that’s one way to look at it,” she said from the pulpit. “We’re doing it for yourself, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives him the greatest joy this morning … just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy.”
She added, “When you come to church when you worship him, you’re not doing it for God, really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy.” (1)
Steve Camp, pastor of the Cross Church in Palm City, Florida, who said that Osteen ”honestly believes that God exists to make us happy rather than holy.” 1
OK, in a sense, are we necessarily going to worship to make God happy? No, God is entirely complete, within Himself. Nothing we are going to do, nothing we could do is going to change God’s mood, as it were. God is going to act according to His holiness, to His plan, to what He would do according to His sovereignty and not according to some kind of sentimentality or fuzzy emotional out burst. Frankly that is just a straight out pagan idea that Mrs Osteen is propounding. Human emotions constantly change, it is never a good idea to make decisions based on your emotional state, many people have. Thinking they are in love, when they’re really in lust. Thinking they’re being smart, when they’re just angry and want to strike back out of revenge. Thinking they’re being shrewd, when they’re just being greedy.
There are days when I would not describe myself as happy, but there is a joy I feel. If I just went back and forth with every emotion, every up and down, as most people do today, after awhile I would be a wreck and that’s what you find with most people today. “Well I’m not happy today, why aren’t I happy, what will it take for me to be happy.” That’s a prescription to drive you even further into unhappiness, even depression. Yet that’s where our society is, take a pill and you will be happy. Sorry, but neither Victoria or Joel Osteen have any real understanding of what “joy” is. Paul is writing from a Roman prison, on the face of it, by the standards of today’s society, Paul has no reason to be “happy”. Being in a Roman jail is not a pleasant experience, it is downright unpleasant. But Paul knows who he lives for, not for his “happiness” but as he says “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Our “happiness” is not in this life. Sure we will have happy times, studies show that devoted Christian believers have a much higher quality of life. Dr Harold Koenig, a medical doctor, Director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at the Duke University Medical Center writes: “…what does the research say about Jesus’ statement that His coming would give us a fuller, more abundant life? … YES! Indeed, those who are more actively involved in a Christian life experience greater life satisfaction, more happiness and greater well-being than those who are less actively involved. This is also true for other constructs such as optimism, hope, meaning and purpose, gratefulness and numerous positive emotions and virtuous traits. That fullness of life also goes beyond mental health to include relational health and possibly even physical heath…”2 Dr Koenig goes on to point out that he bases his statement on 326 separate studies, mostly involving Christians that over and over show the same results.
Our meaning in life is not about us, it is how we are sons and daughters of the Lord. It is about how we are part of the Body of Christ. God has given us the faith to trust in Him, in His plan, not in our expectations, not in what we see in the world around us, but in what God is doing in us.
Paul is in a Roman prison. For the regular old person in the world, what would they be doing in a Roman prison? For that matter, what would a Joel Osteen type be doing in prison? “Hey this isn’t the deal, this isn’t what it’s about. I’m supposed to have the big house on the shore in Caeserea, bunch of servants waiting on me hand and foot, the newest shiniest chariot with the biggest fastest horses.” What is Paul camped on? “…so that it has become known through the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.” Soldiers may not like this odd-ball Paul, but for those who deal with life and death, who aren’t getting big money, they do respect integrity and honesty. Soldiers lives depend on what those around them do or don’t do. If you have to fight for your life next to a guy who is kind of flakey, has nothing going for him except that he is or isn’t happy-clappy, a soldier will be concerned. In Paul they see someone who has integrity and bravery. Paul is faithfully and with joy, under difficult circumstances, has thoughtful and genuine concern for those around him, witnessing to the soldiers in the Imperial Guard about Jesus. Imperial Guard soldiers would be comparable to U.S. Secret Service today. Imperial Guard were responsible for the safety of the Emperor, his family and the elite of Roman government. These were intelligent, highly trained people who were to be taken seriously. These were men who knew who should be taken seriously and those who were playing. Frankly the Osteens are players, not to be taken seriously. For those who take the Osteens seriously because of the numbers, Chuck Swindoll has something to say: “Large numbers don’t necessarily reveal God’s blessing. They could, in fact, reveal error. They could reflect an ear-tickling ministry that panders to people and tells the crowds what they want to hear. A growing number of churches and denominations today have found the four essentials [teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer] unnecessary, burdensome … Archaic traditions of a bygone era … they have hired … ‘teachers in accordance to their own desires … to affirm them in their selfish and carnal lifestyles. No wonder the crowds expand … it’s as if God has officially approved their sin!”3
Hey those words are from the man, Chuck Swindoll, he goes on to observe something that I’ve said, that these “churches” set people up for failure. When something goes wrong with their lives, it becomes God’s fault, they reject God. For what? They don’t know, but as far as they’re concerned, this God thing doesn’t work either. Swindoll’s observation: “The tragedy is that these empty individuals think they have already tried God … and He has left them just as unfulfilled as the world has. It’s downright tragic.” 4
If I said the things Dr Swindoll has said you might write my comments off as sour grapes, discontent because I don’t have a congregation of thousands. But Chuck Swindoll has started a couple of churches that have gone into the thousands and he knows that numbers don’t always tell the story. That just because there’s a big crowd doesn’t mean what the speaker says is right, in any sense of being right.
There is not a cross, a crucifix, the symbol of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, anywhere in sight in the Osteen’s auditorium. That would deny the worldly happiness they preach, that tickles the ears of the world and gives them big audiences and big bucks.
God wants us to be “happy”? No! We want us to be “happy”, we are our “god” and idol and we want our “god”, us, to be happy. What God wants is maturity, integrity, strength, joy. Happy is la, la, la, skipping along through life. It’s really not living, not life and life more abundant, but is waste, lost chances, missed opportunities for an abundant life. “Joy”, especially as we see Paul living it is “Wow! There’s a whole big world out there, a lot of living to do.” The world tends to watch, let life pass it by. They can’t figure out why they’re always mired in an emotional, spiritual, physical rut. Paul has joy, he certainly hasn’t been sitting around. You don’t hear Paul saying: “Hey, entertain me, make me happy, waw, I worked a whole forty hours last week.” Paul’s been doing on a massive scale, his joy is to see people saved, from physical and spiritual death, to life and life more abundant. Not sitting around in Texas listening to someone who has no clue telling you how great you are and how happy you should be. Yea, PT Barnum was right. Imprisonment made Paul stronger, as he said more bold to speak the word without fear. How can you live that abundant life, how can you put away what the world tells you about ‘happiness’ and find true joy and life in Jesus Christ?
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.