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Dear friends in Christ, what is your household like? Do you fear the Lord and serve Him or do you serve the false gods and idols of our age? Do you daily receive God's Word in your household, or is it restricted to weekend worship? Does your household pray together on a regular basis, or do you simply talk about human plans and solutions? When you engage in conversations with family, friends, or whoever may enter your home, do you ever talk about matters of faith or is the conversation restricted to the weather? Is your home a place to witness to others about Jesus or is it only a place to discuss the merits of the Minnesota Vikings? Do you trust in the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might, or do you let your faith rest in yourselves or others? Are you a household of faith?

This October we will be engaging a special series in our weekend worship and Bible study. It is entitled, Households of Faith. If this past year and half has taught us anything it has taught us the importance of this topic.

In Joshua 24:15 Joshua was moved by God's Spirit and His Word to boldly confess before all of Israel, "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." It is interesting Joshua was led by God to make this confession just after he had asked the Israelites whom they would serve. However, being a household of faith is not merely a decision of our will or based upon the strength of our will power. In fact, Joshua even tells the Israelites that they are unable to serve the Lord (Joshua 24:19). They can only choose between different idols of this world (Joshua 24:15). That is how it is with our broken sinful nature. We are unable to choose good on our own. We need God to intervene. Just consider how Jesus said it in John 6:65 "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." We cannot choose to follow God on our own (John 15:16) any more than Joshua or the Israelites could.

The good news for us is that God calls us to follow Him. It was only by the Word (Joshua 1:8) and the Spirit of God (Numbers 27:18) that Joshua was able to follow the Lord. lt is the same for us. In our Baptism God has called us and given to us His Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39). Through the Word of God, the Lord is at work in our life and calls us to fear Him and serve Him (John 20:30-31 ). lt is by the grace of God that with Joshua we too can say, "As for me and my household we will serve the Lord."

Therefore, it is with excitement I invite you to join us throughout the month of October as we will be considering the theme, Households of Faith. If you are single or live alone, take heart, this applies to you as well. We will talk specifically about that. Households of faith is something we can all experience by the grace of God whether we have family living with us or we are alone. Plan on attending worship each week in October as we will focus upon this theme. In addition to our worship time I invite you to join us for our Bible study as we will be looking at a video and engaging in discussion as we consider further what it looks like for us to be a Household of Faith. I hope that you will be there and invite others to attend with you. "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."

Pastor Schoenfeld


 

On May 23 the Christian Church celebrates Pentecost Sunday which begins the season of Pentecost. This important celebration remembers the events of Acts 2 where shortly after the resurrection and ascension of our Lord, Jesus sent His Holy Spirit upon the disciples. The Holy Spirit enabled them to proclaim the message of Jesus crucified and risen to people in many different tongues, languages. God in His grace was working though His Spirit to bring the message of salvation to the people living throughout the world at that time.

Pentecost, however, is not just a remembrance of a past event. Pentecost is a present reality. Our risen Lord Jesus still sends His Holy Spirit into our lives. When we are baptized God sends His Holy Spirit and creates and strengthens faith where there was once only unbelief and darkness.Furthermore, the Holy Spirit continues to work in our lives as He sustains that faith in Jesus and enables us to lead godly lives. In order to do so the Holy Spirit uses various tools. He uses the Word of God reminding us of all that Jesus has taught us (John 14:26). He works through the sacraments to bring God's grace and mercy into our lives. God the Holy Spirit works
through these means and any other means He may choose. It is only right that as Christians who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit that we would celebrate and rejoice in this gift.

Sadly, however, as sinners we may be tempted to resist the Holy Spirit. This danger of resisting the Holy Spirit is one that Stephen spoke about in Acts 7:51 when he said: "You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you." The Sanhedrin were resisting the work of God the Holy Spirit as they were rejecting the words God brought to them through the prophets, and as they even rejected Jesus, The Word made flesh.

We too may let our sinful nature lead us to resist the Holy Spirit. Any time we reject hearing the word of God, whether it be in worship, in Bible Study, or at home, we are resisting the Holy Spirit. Any time we avoid receiving the sacraments of Baptism or Communion into our life or the lives of our children we are resisting the work of God the Holy Spirit. This is dangerous because if we continue to do so at some point we can lose our faith. This then become the "unforgivable sin," the sin against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12 :30-32).

God, however, is gracious and merciful. He desires to pour His Spirit upon you, your family, your friends, and your neighbors. Instead of resisting this precious gift receive it and be blessed. Receive God the Holy Spirit as He works in your life both giving and strengthening your faith in Jesus who died for your sins so that you may be forgiven and was raised from the dead so that you too may live for eternity. Receive God the Holy Spirit as He works in your life enabling you to grow in the ways you live out your Christian faith in a troubled and confused world. Receive the gift of God the Holy Spirit as He enables you to bear such good fruit as "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)." Receive the gift of God the Holy Spirit as He works in your life through the Word and Sacraments and enables you to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

God in His grace has not only given His Holy spirit once many years ago, God continues to grant you the gift of His spirit. It has been good to see many of you returning to church. Continue to do so. Do not resist the work of the Holy Spirit by resting the tools He uses, like the Word of God and His Sacraments. Rather receive the gifts and you will receive a stronger faith and an even more fruitful faith. May God bless each one of us in this season of Pentecost.

Pastor Schoenfeld


 

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23

Ever since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3) every human being has come into this world as a sinful being.  Our sin separates us from God.  Left to ourselves we would perish for eternity in hell (John 3:36 & Hebrews 10:26-27).

For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

God loves you so much that He came into this world as a human being (Luke 2:1-20).   Jesus, the Son of God, lived a perfect life for you (Hebrews 4:14-16), suffered and died upon a cross for you (John 19), and rose from the dead for you (Luke 24).   Now our risen Lord will forgive your sin (1 John 1:8-9) and grant eternal salvation to you if you believe in Him.  

“Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved…”  Acts 16:31

When God blesses you with a living faith in Jesus you will have a place in heaven.  Such salvation comes not by our works but by grace through faith in Jesus (Romans 3:28; Ephesians 2:8-10).  

And He died for all, that those who live, should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.”  2 Corinthians 5:15

Now as those who have been given the gift of heaven we live no longer just for ourselves but to serve God and our fellow human beings.  (Ephesians 2:10)