Pastor's Blog

Waiting Out the Storm

To this day I can almost taste the most memorable slice of carrot cake I’ve ever had. It was delicious - the frosting was everything you’d want to be. The cake was moist yet firm, with just the right amount of sweetness.

Delish!

But I’d be lying to you if I now claimed that what made this piece of carrot cake so memorable was how it tasted. It actually had nothing to do with taste. It had to do with where I was eating it and what was going on. You see this memorable piece of cake had not been served to me at a birthday party, it was not handed to me on our fine Christmas china. I was not eating it at a church potluck surrounded by friends and cheerful grown-ups. This particular piece of carrot cake (which I can still almost taste) was served to me in our basement, while my entire family, plus my Aunt and Uncle, sat on the cold pavement. No one was particularly happy - in fact, no one payed much attention to the cake at all. Everyone was listening to the radio and wind.

Now you see dear friends, what made this piece of carrot cake so memorable to me - it was not the taste, it was the fact that I ate it on the night the Tornado came. 

A tornado had touched down in our area, and we were downstairs waiting it out, praying it wouldn’t come near the house (it didn’t). So we sat. Waiting and listening. Listening to the wind and the rain and the radio. As we listened the storm seemed to ebb and flow in its intensity - sometimes it seemed to be over, hissing out it’s last breath, only to roar up anew with greater energy. So I sat there munching my carrot cake, waiting for the storm to end. 

Which all of us have been doing lately. We’ve all been waiting for the storm to end - hunched up in our houses hoping the storm won’t touch down by our front door. But the Covid 19 pandemic is no normal storm. You can’t see it, although we like to think we can hear it’s approach. So we strain our ears. Listening to TV, radio, websites, news reports.

The wind and the rain.

We can’t quite make out what we hear about this new storm. Is it growing in intensity or is it ebbing away? Is it leveling off? Flattening the curve? Yada, yada, yada? So and so forth? 

That’s how it goes when you’re waiting out the storm. You strain your ears, trying to hear what it’s doing. When it will end.

But brothers and sisters, all I had to occupy my time that night of the Tornado was a piece of carrot cake. However, God in his love has given us something much better to chew on during our current storm. He’s given us his precious Word and unstoppable promises. He has reminded us time and again that though this storm of a pandemic seems to be strong, it is not even close to being as strong as Him. And more than anything, in His Word He has assured us again and again that nothing - no physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, national, or international danger can take us out His hands. He is stronger than all and he loves us dearly.

So we wait out the storm.

As I write this it looks like the storm might be breaking. It looks like we may be able to return to worship at Good Shepherd’s soon. I am excited, but I am also wary. Is the storming petering out or is this only a temporary break before it returns with more intensity? I don’t know. And quite frankly, I don’t much care. Because my God is with me. He is with you. And He will protect us.

So here we are waiting out the storm, knowing that our God will get us through. 

That’s not such a bad place to be after all.

Yours in Christ

Pastor Joshua Zarling



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Don't Give Up

In the Parable of the Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1-7) Jesus compared himself to a rotten judge. Jesus described the judge in the parable as someone who did not fear God or care for other people. Hardly the type of guy you would want to rely on for justice or the kind of person that you would expect Jesus to use as a comparison to himself.

A widow kept going to this rotten, uncaring judge for help. Eventually he gave in and helped her. He did not want to help, but her persistence wore him down.

Jesus concluded with the point of the parable: If this rotten judge would listen and help, what do you think God will do? God loves and cares for his people. His love led him to send Jesus, who would give his own life to save us! God’s love is so great that he wants to have us with him for all eternity in heaven!

The verse that introduces this parable is significant. Luke wrote, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

Unfortunately, it is easy to stop praying. If we do not see the immediate result that want, we may wrongly surmise that our prayer was not heard. Or perhaps we have prayed for a long time, but have not received the answer we want, so we are tempted to stop praying. Or sometimes we might just forget to pray.

It is also easy to give up, isn’t it? The word Jesus used for “give up” is translated in other contexts to mean “to give in to evil,” “to lose heart,” or “to become a coward.” After years of struggling against a sin – and failing to achieve perfection – it might seem easier to “give up” and stop fighting the urge. We might normalize the sin so we can continue it. Or perhaps we are tempted to “give in to evil.” Rather than continue to be patient and forgiving when someone does not change to act the way we want them to act, the evil of anger comes much easier.

Or after weeks of staying at home, we might be tempted “to lose heart.” Pessimism and frustration control our thinking and our view of the future, turning us bitter and unhappy.

I think we forget to pray, or we give up, because we forget who we are dealing with. The Lord, who made the heavens and the earth, is the God who watches over us! He is far greater than the rotten judge in Luke 18. God’s plans for us are always based on love. So great is his love for us that Jesus died and rose from the dead to save us. He promises – countless times! – to save his people from troubles. Just one example: In Psalm 107, the Psalmist writes about “the redeemed” (v. 2). He says about the redeemed, “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress” (v. 6). We cannot give up; the Lord will deliver us! That deliverance will be guided by his perfect wisdom and his perfect love. He will do what is best for us – that is the only option for the Lord.

You can leave your problems with God and be confident that he will sustain you. His forgiveness for your failures not only assures you of his love, it also makes you more eager to forgive others. His Word will strengthen you to continue to struggle against sin and to seek to act according to his will. There is no reason to surrender to our troubles; our God will deliver us!

By giving us the right to pray to him God did not give us the right to be God. Our prayers are not orders to God, telling him what he must do. Our prayers are an expression of a faith that sees that God is good. He is always good! He is good in everything he does!

So “always pray and [do] not give up.” Our loving God will preserve and protect his people, which, of course, includes you, both in the past, the uncertain present, and the future.

In Christ,

Pastor Tim Wempner



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Celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus

We pray that you continue to celebrate in your heart the resurrection of Jesus! His life is the foundation of our hope for the future. His resurrection also inspires us to live new lives as his people.

The Apostle Paul was inspired to write in Romans 6:1-4: "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."

In your Baptism you were united to Jesus' death and resurrection. Forgiveness and new life are really yours! Easter remains a joyful time for us. Nothing can rob us of the peace of knowing what our Lord has graciously done for us.

God's blessings to you from our Risen Savior!

Pastor Tim Wempner

Pastor Joshua Zarling



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Promises of God

The grim scene of Good Friday only seemed to get worse. Imagine the emptiness in the pit of the disciples’ stomach knowing that there master was lying in a tomb – sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers. Based on their disbelief and fear on Easter Sunday, we know these men were terribly shaken. Death is, well, death. It is final. There are no known cures – even in our day. The Savior who had washed their feet, who stated that he was “the way, the truth, and the life,” and who promised numerous other things was gone.

But why were they afraid? Everything had unfolded just as Jesus had told them it would. A number of times he had told them the end of the story – he would rise from the dead. He had proven his power over death quite recently by raising Lazarus from the dead. But yet they couldn’t see any hope.

You know how they felt, don’t you? Your problems grow bigger and bigger and for some reason you cannot see any solution and cannot imagine how God could help. It is as if we don’t remember that he will “work all things for our good” or “be with us always to the very end of the age.” For some reason the devil’s trick of making our problems look big and our God look small works too easily. 

Sadly, Scripture never records that the disciples held out any hope on Saturday. It would be nice if there was a passage that recorded Peter saying something like, “Jesus said he’d rise on the third day. Let’s wait and see what happens tomorrow before we get too bent out of shape.” Jesus had told them the end of the story, but they just didn’t want to believe it.

Jesus has told you the end of your story too. Maybe not in all the detail you’d like; but his promises are clear. All those troubles will turn out for your good! He is with you to help you. Finally, he’s promised that your life’s story ends . . . never. You will live with him in heaven because Jesus has removed all your sins.

When all looks hopeless, hold to the promises of God. He doesn’t play games or lie. He just does exactly what he’s promises to do. Every time. Don’t believe it? Listen carefully to the Easter service tomorrow -- yes, it is a video, but the message is there. That tomb is empty. He came back to life. Just like he said he would. The promises of God come true!

God’s blessings and a happy Easter to all of you,

Pastor Timothy Wempner

Pastor Joshua Zarling



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Discomfort

And so we find ourselves in a lot of discomfort.

In response to the threat of the coronavirus, Governor Evers has mandated that groups cannot assemble of more than 10 people. It makes sense why he did this. He wants to keep the people of Wisconsin safe - and we want to be safe. We want to be secure. We want to be free of the anxiety that now grips us. 

And as children of God we at Good Shepherd’s will comply with that mandate. God has commanded us to respect the governing authorities and that is exactly what we intend to do. But, as God’s people, that also leads to some discomfort for us. There is discomfort because we want to be together. We want to gather at our Lord’s house. We want to see each other and hear again of our God’s marvelous love to save. 

And so we find ourselves in a lot of discomfort. 

We’re Christians, and it is against our nature to be separated from each other. It flies in the face of every grace driven instinct we have to stay away from the house of our God. 

But we are not alone in this. 

David knew this kind of discomfort. There was a time in his life when he was separated from the tabernacle of God. He was separated from his brothers and sisters. In fact, he was even cut off from the land of Israel. He was among the Philistines, and every day he had to pretend to be insane just so the Philistine king wouldn’t kill him. How David longed to be with his people again! How he longed to be in the Lord’s house! 

Yet in all of this - in all the discomfort, the ache, the anxiety - David knew well the promises that God had given him. Of all the things that had been taken from him, he knew what he still had: God’s unending love and protection. And it is of these that David sings in Psalm 34 - the psalm he wrote will he was with the Philistines, separated from his people. Let us also rejoice in these words - for our God will be us and protect us always. 

 "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;

    he delivers them from all their troubles.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The righteous man may have many troubles,

    but the Lord delivers him from them all;

he protects all his bones,

   not one of them will be broken.

The Lord will rescue his servants;

    no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned." Psalm 34:17-22 (NIV1984)

We thank Pastor Joshua Zarling for this month's blog.



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I Need Lent

I need Lent. I suspect that I am not alone in that.

Lent brings a clarity to my life that I need. As days, weeks, and months pass by, I unintentionally fall into ruts. Some of these habits are helpful; but not all of them. I get very accustomed to me – to the way that I do things. In the process, I develop blind spots.

And then comes Ash Wednesday. The service begins with a confession of sins that I need. It addresses the open sins that occur as well as the subtle sins that happen in my life. It speaks of the bad things I did, but also of the good things that I did not do. These moments of reflection and confession help me to see the dangerous ruts that I too often accept. I need to hear, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (That is where Ash Wednesday gets its name – because of sin, each of us in a collision course with death.)

The announcement of forgiveness for our sins could not be sweeter to hear than after a detailed confession of sins. As the Ash Wednesday service circles back again and again to Jesus’ death as payment for our sins I grow in peace and joy. Because of Christ, each of us is restored to be God’s child! The Lord’s Supper on Ash Wednesday is what I need. Jesus gives me himself for the forgiveness of my sins. (Giving the Sacrament on a Wednesday afternoon or evening may make the service a bit longer, but the time is well worth it. Jesus is giving sinners exactly what they need. I am thrilled for the time it takes as each of us communes with our Lord!)

After Ash Wednesday, the midweek services turn their focus to the suffering and death of Jesus. The familiar Passion story is the greatest story ever told. It is the story of God saving us by dying for us. The sermons direct us to that victory and offer further assurance of our status as God’s people. 

As I focus on Jesus’ suffering and death, God brings clarity to my life. I see my purpose as his servant. You have that same purpose. You might have a different role than I do, but you are also a servant of Jesus. Knowing that he has set you free from sin will make you more eager to use your time and your gifts for the good of God’s kingdom.

But the best part of Lent is how it ends. The message of Holy Week, every moment of it, is what my faith needs. By the end of Holy Week, we will gather for the greatest celebration we have every year. Jesus rose from the dead! The significance of that cannot be overstated. Jesus’ resurrection assures us of life – now and forever!

As a recall my sins and hear of Jesus’ forgiveness and as I walk toward the cross of Jesus and celebrate his resurrection, I find renewed clarity and purpose. I need that. And although it hurts to see and confess my sins, I need that too.

I understand that life is busy, and you have many things to do with your time. I also know that sometimes you have too many things to do and cannot get it all done. But the extra time for worship in Lent is worth it! If something must go undone, do not let it be time with your Savior. Time in God’s Word will benefit the rest of your days. Growing into Christ will give you renewed strength for service and renewed faith to endure. 

“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.” (Psalm 86:11-13 NIV 1984)

We thank Pastor Timothy Wempner of Good Shepherd's for sharing this week's blog.



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Time Not Wasted

Time Not Wasted: Do you ever feel like you’re wasting time? Like your life is going by without you accomplishing what you need to accomplish? Like you’re getting older, and time is running out for you to achieve your purpose? I do. Then a Christian friend reminded me of a hard truth: When I feel like I’m wasting time and not accomplishing what I want to, it’s because I’m focused on my own selfish ambitions. My sinful nature wants to be great and praised and applauded. Yours too? Is that why it feels like we’re wasting time?

God has a different purpose for our lives: “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The purpose of every human life is to give glory to our God for his grace to us in Jesus. Giving glory to God has nothing to do with my accomplishments or my position in life. No matter what situation God has placed you in right now, you’re not wasting time. Your life isn’t based on all the great things you could be doing. It’s based on God’s love for us in Jesus. So here’s your purpose for today: “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

We thank Pastor Nathan Nass and https://www.breadforbeggars.com/ for this week's blog. 

 



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God Values Truth

God Values Truth: Truth seems irrelevant in our society today. With so many different spins and stories and “versions” of the truth, is it even worth it to try to find the real truth?

God thinks so. God values truth, and God values the person who seeks and speaks the truth from his Word. Here’s how David put it in Psalm 15:

“1 Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? 2 He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart 3 and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, 4 who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, 5 who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.” (Psalm 15 NIV)

In a world where truth seems irrelevant, may God lead us to speak his truth, even when it hurts. With Jesus’ strength, you will never be shaken.

We thank Pastor Nathan Nass and https://www.breadforbeggars.com/ for this week's blog. 

 



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Predictions

Predictions: Around this time last year in my January newsletter I made the rather idiotic prediction that there would be no snow. The stations had been threatening, the six o’clock news was sounding the alarm -  but I confidently looked out at our rainy, dark January and declared that snow was nowhere in our near future. Indeed, I was certain of it. 

I must have been out of my mind.

That very weekend God answered with about seven inches of the white stuff, a wintry dowsing of snow that covered the whole of Southeastern Wisconsin like so much whipped cream. It was beautiful, white, and crisp - a monochromatic wonderland. And I had been wrong about the whole thing.

The lesson I drew from all this is that I probably shouldn’t be making predictions about the weather, as a general thing (and I certainly shouldn’t be making them public). As many of us know, predicting the weather in a place like Southern Wisconsin is neither art nor science - it’s a roll of the dice, plain and simple. 

So, in conclusion, I no longer predict things. Lots of things. I don’t predict the weather, I don’t predict the stock market, I don’t predict the race tracks. Movie lines, hairstyles, football scores - I keep my hands off of all of it. No more predictions from Pastor Zarling.

Well, except in one area. 

There is one part of life where I’m still bold enough to make predictions, but that’s because I don’t have to fulfill them. My God does. For when it comes to God’s promises, then I’ll make predictions. Then I will stand on what He says and scream it from the rooftops. So, here’s a few predictions for you, predictions that rest on your Savior.

First, during the year 2020 I predict that the grace of God will surround you like a strong tower and enfold you like an unbreakable suit of armor. Your enemies will flee before it.

Second, I predict that every single one of your sins has been and still is forgiven through the atoning blood of Christ, which is purer than all things, and far outmatches all things.

Third, I predict that during this year all of us will journey ever closer to our heavenly goal - step by step, inch by inch; held firm in the mighty arms or our God. 

I could keep going, but you get the point. God’s promises are ironclad. So ironclad, in fact, that the only prediction I can make with total certainty this 2020 is that God will fulfill His Word over and over again for each and every one of us. 

And that is a good way to start the year!

We thank Good Shepherd's pastor, Reverend Joshua Zarling, for this week's blog post.



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Savior of the Nations

Savior of the Nations: It’s no fun to be on the outside. I’m not talking about being outside in the cold, although that’s not very fun either. It’s no fun to be on the outside. You’re at a Christmas party. Everybody seems to be having a great time. But it’s like you don’t exist. It wouldn’t matter if you weren’t there. You know what I mean? You saw your family for Christmas, but not a single person actually asked how you’re doing. People all around, but you’re still on the outside. You scroll through your Facebook feed, and everyone seems to be doing so many fun things. But nobody invites you. It’s no fun to be on the outside. Instead, there’s a lot of pain and frustration and hurt.

If you’ve been there, then you know what happens next. When you feel like you’re stuck on the outside with the people around you, pretty soon you feel like you’re stuck on the outside with God too. When no one else seems to care, it seems pretty clear that God doesn’t care either, right? When no one else lets you into their circle, it seems impossible that God would let you into his circle. When no one else is willing to forgive, it seems pretty unlikely that God would ever forgive either. Isn’t that the worst kind of “outside”? It’s no fun being on the outside.

It sure seemed like that’s where God’s people were in Isaiah’s day—on the outside of everything. Israel was this neglected little country. It’s like the size of New Jersey. Who cares about New Jersey? When other nations came to Israel, they only came to take. They took gold and treasures. They took people as captives and slaves. And God just let it happen, because Israel absolutely deserved it for their sins. They were on the outside looking in, for every possible reason. Forgotten. Punished. Beaten down. Everybody taking. Nobody giving. Nobody caring. As Isaiah writes his book, it’s like he sees Israel cast off in a heap on the ground, forgotten.

So to that sad heap on the ground, God had Isaiah write this: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” Did you know that the phrase “rise and shine” actually comes from the Bible? Here it is! Rise and shine! Like an alarm clock—a good alarm clock—for God’s people who were weighed down by trouble and sorrow. The time to lie on the ground is over. The time to feel sorry for yourself is over. The time to feel like you’re an outsider is over. “Arise, shine, for your light has come.” Like waking up to the light of a new day.

Who do you think that “light” is? It’s Jesus! The “light” Isaiah saw was Jesus! Earlier he wrote: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2). “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given” (Isaiah 9:6). This is a perfect lesson for after Christmas: “Arise, shine, for your light has come.” Jesus has come. Not to take, but to give. He was born for us and lived for us and died for us and rose for us. There is light in your life. If you get nothing else out of this sermon, remember this: You’re in. No matter how you feel, you’re not an outsider. You are “in” with God through Jesus.

So rise and shine. Jesus our Light has come! But that’s just the first verse. Look at the next word: “See…” The moment you’re “in,” God wants you to start looking around. “See, darkness covers the earth and think darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” The moment you know Jesus’ salvation, God wants you to see all the people still dying in darkness. There are so many people who don’t know Jesus. Who are still scared of death. Who don’t know their sins are forgiven. “See, darkness covers the earth.” Jesus came for them too!

During Advent, we sang one song over and over at the start of our services. Remember the song? “Savior of the Nations Come.” Notice that the title isn’t “Savior of Me Come.” No, it’s “Savior of the Nations Come.” God from way back has wanted his people to know that God’s grace in Jesus isn’t just for them. Who’s it for? The nations. You and I are proof. In Isaiah’s day, no one even knew North America existed. Yet, by God’s grace, the Word has reached to us. Here we are worshiping Jesus and bringing gifts to Jesus. The Savior of the Nations has come! What grace for us! We who were on the outside have been brought into the family of God.

It’s just that once you get on the inside, an interesting thing happens. When you’re on the outside of something, you want it to be easy to get in. But once you’re on the inside, suddenly you want to protect what you have. You want it to be for you. Have you seen this in your life? When you’re not a member of an organization—like the YMCA or the zoo—you hope there will be lots of free days for everyone to get in. But when you buy a membership, suddenly your attitude changes. Now you don’t like free days. They are too crowded. It doesn’t seem fair. You paid. Everyone else should have to pay too! Once you are on the inside, your attitude changes.

Over the past few years, a movement has been sweeping the world. In country after country, voices are calling out: “We need to put ourselves first. We need to close ourselves off from others. We need to do what’s good for us. Us. Us. Us!” Hear that? It’s up for debate whether that’s healthy for a country. What’s sad is how easily that attitudes seeps into Christian churches: “We need to put ourselves first. We need to close ourselves off from others. We need to do what’s good for us. Us. Us. Us!” Can you see the temptation? Many Jews became convinced that God was just for them. That they were better than everyone else because they were in the club.

Here’s the irony: Remember where we started? Being on the outside. What’s the only reason the Jews were God’s people? By God’s grace! God chose them. God saved them. God forgave them. All by his grace. The Israelites were the last people on earth who should have been proud. Who should have been focused on themselves. It had been all God’s grace all the time! Are you and I any different? God chose you. God rescued you. God saved you. God forgave you. It’s all God. It’s all grace. Aren’t we the last people in the world who should be proud or self-centered?

But we are. Would you agree? We too often focus our lives and our church on us. What we like. What we want. Everybody out there? Rise and shine God’s light to others? Not on our radar. At a pastors conference this fall, a Seminary professors put it like this: “We are so turned in to ourselves. We’re blind to everybody else.” Is he right? That really hit home for me. My eyes are so turned in to myself that I refuse to see or care about the nations of people who live in darkness without God’s light. Somehow “Savior of the Nations Come” became “Savior of Us Come.”

Know why it’s so important to know that Jesus came to save the nations? That’s how I know that Jesus came to save me. If Jesus came just for the Jews—not me! If Jesus came just for those who deserve it—not me! But if he came as the Savior of the Nations? That includes me! “Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip. Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.”

Christianity is truly world-wide in a way that no other religion in the world is. Islam and Buddhism and Hinduism are confined to certain places and cultures. Where is Christianity? Everywhere. Not everyone. But everywhere! From the Amazon to Iraq, Christianity isn’t defined by culture or language or race. We better not set up those boundaries! Jesus is the Savior of the Nations! Do you know how many languages the Bible has been translated into? 698 languages. Do you know how many languages the Quran of Islam has been translated into? 47 languages. “Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” It’s true!

God is bringing people from all over the world to his church. Just last year, a group of over 100,000 Christians in Vietnam reached out to our Wisconsin Synod and asked us to train all their pastors in the Bible. Wow! “Lift up your eyes and look around you.” In refugee camps in Africa, people don’t have homes or jobs or a future on earth, but they have Bible studies and worship services with WELS materials right in their camps. “Lift up your eyes and look around you.” In Latin America, over 1,000,000 people follow our WELS Facebook page, and groups are forming churches in their own houses to gather around God’s Word. People all over are coming to Jesus!

“Arise, shine, for your light has come.” You know whom else God is talking to? Us! Shine Jesus’ light. That’s why we’re on earth! You shine like the moon—not with your own light. With Jesus’ light. I heard some cool math lately. Let’s say that on January 1st, one Christian shared Jesus with two other people. Then the next day, those 3 people shared the gospel with just two people each. Then the next day, those nine people shared the gospel with two people each… If that continued every day, telling just two people each, do you know how long it would be before all 8 billion people hear the Gospel? Just 21 days. January 21st. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to let us shine!

“Nations will come to your light.” Is that really going to happen? It sounds unlikely, does it? Except with our God. One day, out of the blue, some kings in strange robes knocked on the door of a humble little house in Bethlehem. When a surprised young lady answered the door, they asked if they could come in. She must have been scared, but they didn’t come to take. They came to give. The wise men bowed before a little toddler, “bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.” The Bible says something different than what we hear in this country. Who you are isn’t a result of citizenship or race or achievement. Being “in” has nothing to do with your heritage or job or skill. It’s all by God’s grace. Who’s God’s grace for? All nations.

Doesn’t that sound good? The greatest joy in life is seeing people come to faith and salvation in Jesus. “Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy…” Like how your heart throbs and swells on Christmas Eve when you sing Silent Night in a packed, candlelit church. That’s the joy of heaven. Here is how the Bible describes it: “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb… And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” (Revelation 7:9-10 NIV). Because of Jesus, you’re “in”! The Savior of the Nations has come. So let’s rise and shine!

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. 2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. 3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. 4 “Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip. 5 Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. 6 Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.” (Isaiah 60:1-6 NIV)

We thank Pastor Nathan Nass and https://www.breadforbeggars.com/ for this week's blog. 



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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. ~ JOHN 3:16