Dear Fellow Children of God,
The Labor Day Holiday is celebrated this weekend. That means school has started. The approaching holiday also means the State Fair is almost finished. But, we all know that with the end of the summer activities the full work schedule begins in earnest. Schools, businesses, even churches get in to the swing of their full schedule at this time of year.
So, what is the work that God’s people face? In worship the last few Wednesdays we have been focusing on the assigned epistle lessons from Hebrews. God has expectations for His people and in these lessons God speaks plainly about the discipleship He expects from those who follow Him. This week’s lesson is from Hebrews 13, which is also read this Sunday. In Hebrew 13 we heard about God’s expectations for his people in regard to loving those around us, even those we don’t know. We heard about God’s expectations in regard to sex and marriage. We also heard about God’s expectations in regard to money, and faith, and the church. Sometimes when God’s people hear of His sacrificial love we can forget God’s continuing call to serve and obey Him. Unfortunately, none of us are perfect when it comes to God’s call to faith and love and righteousness. Life as a child of God is a struggle, but that doesn’t free us from God’s call that being His children brings. The call to obedience is real.
This week I took Friday off and played golf with Ryan Strehlow, the Director of Christian Education from Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Chugiak. My golf game is a struggle. My shots seem to travel shorter distances these days and my scores seem to go higher. But, there are some things that could help my game. Lessons would help. Good equipment helps. Practice helps. My struggle is not without some hope.
God has real help for our struggles to live as his children. That is part of what happens in the full schedule of activities in the church. In addition to worship opportunities where we hear God’s word and bring Him praise, Sunday School and various Bible Studies are offered. Worship and Bible study help God’s people with the struggle of discipleship.
But, there is one more powerful help for God’s children as we seek to fulfill God’s expectations. That help is God’s love and forgiveness. It can be discouraging as a golfer to try to hit a good shot and fail time after time. It can cause a person to consider giving up the game. But, one little tip that leads to one good shot makes me, at least, want to keep playing. It can be discouraging to know God’s expectations for our lives, and to know our failure. But, God forgives us and continues to offer His love without fail. So, even in our failure, God is there. God’s presence and love and forgiveness strengthen us for discipleship when we might want to give up in discouragement.
In Hebrews 13, after calling God’s people to love, faithful marriages, and a proper attitude toward possessions, we are assured, “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ 6 So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’" (Hebrews 13:5-6)
I pray that you see the coming activities of the church as opportunities for strengthening your faith and your life as God’s child. I pray that when you struggle with God’s expectations, His forgiveness gives you reason to keep seeking to serve Him.
A Child of God, Needing Help, and Finding it in God’s Church,
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am always adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message. . . Or, if you know someone who would like to receive one of these e-mails, please send me their e-mail address.