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Psalm 139 Known by God
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. – Psalm 139:1
Observation: The entire Psalm 139 is one of devotion. It calls the human heart to recognize that God is over all, and in all things. Everything within the extent of the universe: up to the heavens or down into the depths, is within the realm of the Lord. Our bodies have been made by Him. Even light and dark are subject to him. And perhaps the most mind-boggling of all is that even our thoughts are known to the Lord. Everything about us is known and apparent to God.
Application: Does the magnitude of God’s presence –  His glory, His righteousness , and His full awareness of me cause me great fear or great joy? Certainly when I realize that nothing I do escapes the Lord’s knowledge I could be filled with fear. But rather, when we read this Psalm, we can see the omnipresence of God as a comfort. The Lord of the universe is with us when we lie down when we wake up. He hems us in and protects us. He’s there in the good times and in the dark depths. In the good times, He’s filling us with hope and joy and love. And in the dark times, He is bringing His light. Even when he created us in our mother’s womb, He does so with the loving and gentle knitting of his hands. God is so involved in His creation and He’s intimately involved in my life and yours.   This is such a comforting reminder to me … that I can trust that even though God knows my every thought and my anxious ways, He is there right with me, leading me, guiding me, protecting me and drawing me closer to Him
Prayer: Lord God you know me. Forgive my worry, fear, anxiety and all my sin. Be with me in all things, and lead me in your ways, for the glory of your Holy Name, Amen!
Joy in Jesus,

Pastor Augie

note: This post follows a devotional method I encourage, and is from the Life Journal  reading plan for April 29th

Listening to the Shepherd’s Voice

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Jesus Good Shepherd

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” – John 10:27

In this well-loved chapter of Scripture, Jesus reminds us that He is the Good Shepherd.  What comfort!  What beautiful imagery that dovetails so nicely with the 23rd Psalm … “The Lord is my Shepherd…” How wonderful it is to consider this gentle aspect of our sovereign and almighty God. Not only is He the creator of the universe, but He is its loving caretaker!

Jesus also reminds us that there is an enemy (thief) that lurks around desiring to steal, kill and destroy the sheep.  Indeed the Good Shepherd protects His sheep from that enemy – even to the point of laying down His own life.  But He tells us something else – that the sheep do not “listen” to those strangers and thieves… Why? … Because they do not recognize the stranger’s voice! (John 10:5 & 10:8).

Oh, may you and I, and all people, desire to know only the Savior’s voice!  May we spend so much time listening to His voice in His Word, and speaking it to each other in the fellowship of His Body (the Church), that we easily can detect the voice of a stranger – deceiver – enemy and thief!

Green pastures and smooth waters to you …

with the Good Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ,

Pastor Augie

Understanding the Law, Sin and Death

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Question: Please help me understand this verse from 1st Corinthians …

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” – ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:56‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Answer: This verse has challenged a number of people, and you can find a variety of explanations for it. I think the most important thing to note is that the verse preceding it reads, “Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55).  So the passage in reference is in the context of Christ’s Resurrection victory over death… perfect for this Easter season! So whatever we say about death we need to understand that it is a defeated enemy.

So in that light, I believe that the point being made is that death would not necessarily be a fearful thing for people if it weren’t for sin. In fact death, we know from Jesus, is a doorway to New Life for the believer (John 11:11-13, 1 Thessalonians 4:13). But if a person dies in sin, rejecting the salvation of Jesus Christ, then death will have quite a “sting” – not just a sleep, but eternal death … what is sometimes called the “second death” (Revelation 2, 20, 21).  However, we know that the sting of sin itself, along with death – the ultimate sting of sin – has been defeated in Christ’s crucifixion.

Now when Paul refers to the “power of sin” in this verse, it is in the context of the law – God’s Law.  We must keep in mind that the Law’s primary power is not to make us holy (it’s cannot) … but to drive us to the Lord. In fact, when we sin, if it were not for the law, we would be ignorant of that sin. However, the Law shows us our sin and therefore has the “power” to move us toward God for salvation. The law is a terrible taskmaster by itself; it will never be satisfied. One good thing about the the Law however, it is that when we sin, it will send us crying for mercy to the Lord. … that is one “power” that we could ascribe to sin – when we break God’s Law, it shows us our need for a Savior.

I like what one commentator has said “without the law sin is not perceived; under the law sin has dominion.” … You and I would be bound to sin, and therefore the law of death, if it were not for Christ who has made us victorious over both the Law and death! Sin is merely the “grease” of both: the law and death. It’s almost like a math equation (engineer-types might appreciate this approach!) the law leads to sin, then sin leads to death. If a implies b, and b implies c, then a implies c… therefore the law leads to death. But take heart, we know even more so, the gospel of Jesus Christ leads to life!

Oh thank the Lord that we are free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2)!

In Christ our Risen and Victorious Lord!

Pastor Augie

God is Closer Than You Think

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That’s right … He is even next door!

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ – Matthew 25:40

This is an exciting time for Redeemer!  And this month it seems that two themes are coming together in an interesting way.  The first is our church’s vision for Redeemer to be “a church family joining Christ in our community.” The second, appears unrelated, but as I will point out, is actually much related: this month’s message series called “God Is Closer Than You Think.” It’s based on a book by John Ortberg, and the premise of the book is that God has “broken” into our world in the person of Jesus Christ, and He promises to remain with us in this world even though bodily He has risen and ascended into heaven.  It is through His Holy Spirit, that He remains with us in presence even though our eyes cannot see Him.

Who among us is not thrilled that Jesus has given us God’s Holy Spirit to dwell within us through our baptism?  The question I am posing for us to consider is, can we see God’s Holy Spirit present and at work outside of us? … even in our community? I believe Jesus has told us that He is. In fact you’ve probably heard me say at one time or another that “God is always at work.” This is something that we are counting on as we set out to accomplish our vision and goals this year – to discover God at work in our community.  That means then that we need not dream up our own activities that attempt to do God’s work, but rather we simply observe what He has begun and is already doing in our midst and join Him there!  If we are going to be about looking for where God is present and at work, perhaps the best place for us to look is in the lives of our neighbors.

Jesus told Parables to His disciples often having to do with neighbors. Perhaps the most memorable is that of the Good Samaritan where the question was asked of Jesus, “who is my neighbor?” Jesus pointed out that our neighbor is the one to whom we show love.  He confirms this in another setting: Matthew 25 – only this time He does not speak in a parable, but uses plain language.   Jesus tells His disciples that when Judgment Day comes, He will be concerned about how we have showed love to “the least of these.” Why does this matter to Jesus?  Because, He says, when you loved them, you were loving Him.

I think it is no accident that our vision emphasis for the year is to join Jesus as He works in our community, and now our first message series following Easter has to do with looking for the presence of God in our lives. I believe Jesus wants us to discover that He is present and at work in the very people around us that we are seeking to reach and serve with the Gospel!  Whom might Jesus be directing you to reach and serve with the message and love of Christ?  You might be surprised … you may also discover that God is at work in your life through them too!

I recently read a book where the author pointed out that an important part of spiritual growth and even conversion to faith, comes through what he calls “providential relationships.” The idea being that when people tell their faith stories, they invariably include the work of Jesus that they saw in another person. It may be a couple who just “showed up” in their lives, or a person that talked to them about Jesus, or a teacher that really opened the Scriptures to them.  Whatever the case, there was a relationship where they felt the love of Jesus coming through.  And the thing is, you and I cannot manufacture these relationships … but we can work to create “margin” in our lives for these relationships to form.

It’s my goal and prayer that we continually ask these complementary questions:

  • How can I join Jesus where He is already working in my neighbors’ lives? And
  • How is Jesus revealing himself to me in His Word and the people and circumstances around me?

I’m increasingly viewing our world as not just a “waiting room” to get into heaven, but rather a place where Heaven has broken through, and a place that Jesus is already transforming by his grace. You do not need to wait until you die to be in the presence of God. He is closer than you think.

I hope that you’ll join us for the rest of this message series, and that together we will be used by God to bring His love and salvation to the people we meet along life’s way!

Joining Jesus on His mission with you,

Pastor Augie.