Dear Members and Friends of St. John,
Throughout America we are hearing about an “opioid epidemic.” But, for at least two generations the lure of illegal drugs has affected our culture so that many willingly place health and life in danger for the hope of the ultimate high. Others are willing to break the law to gain large sums of money by selling these drugs illegally, placing their freedom, their identity, and their very souls in danger. Unfortunately, this battle does not just play out in far away New York City, or Los Angeles. This “epidemic” hits our own back yard, our own community, and often hurts people we know personally and love dearly.
How does a culture fight against such strong desires in those who use drugs? How do we fight against the lure of such large profits for those who pedal this slavery and death? Our country has at times imposed stiff prison sentences. We have heard campaigns that tell us, “Say ‘No’ to Drugs.” We have even seen some substances legalized. But, still loved ones end up with lives enslaved, and they even end up dead. When the reality of this battle hits us personally, when we lose a loved one, our hopes and plans can face devastation, and we can experience despair.
This war on drugs may seem like a powerful enemy that we cannot defeat, at least not for the last 50 years. But, the reality is that each one of us faces a much greater enemy. Our bodies, our souls, and our minds are infected by a rebellion against our Lord and Creator. In pride we don’t want anyone to tell us what to do, not even the one who made us. In selfishness we want to indulge ourselves and accumulate to our own harm. In a lack of love for others, we look away from those in need. The battle against this sinful nature found within each one of us is not imagined, it is the sad reality. As Paul writes, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. . . Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:19, 24). Much larger than the war on drugs is the battle of our sinful nature against our relationship with God and against our relationships with one another. Sin is a verifiable spiritual truth. As Paul laments, “Who WILL deliver us?”
This Sunday God gives His loving and powerful answer to this question. HE will deliver us! God sent His only Son to deliver us. Jesus, the perfect Son of God took on the battle against sin and won that battle with a life of love and perfect obedience. Jesus, the eternal Lord of the universe, died on a cross, sacrificing His life in love to save our lives. If Jesus had stayed dead in the tomb then sin and death and Satan are stronger. But, this Sunday we remember that Jesus, the Savior of the world, has defeated the enemies of sin and death which we cannot defeat. With His rising from the dead Jesus has won the battle we cannot win. He has paid for our sin. Jesus defeated death. Listen to the inspired words of God spoken through Paul in 1 Corinthians 15.
54 . . . “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”h 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”i 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:54 b – 57)
Sometimes when we face the trials of life and know we are powerless, we can wonder why we should try any more, why we should care. If life is so brutal, why try to live like there is hope. But, this Sunday we are reminded again that Jesus won the battle we cannot win. Now we can face the losses, the betrayals, and the tragedies of life and go forward with faith and courage to live in hope and love. As Paul wrote, 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15: 58)
The ancient church shouted Jesus’ victory, and we proclaim that victory to one another today, rejoicing in the truth of Jesus’ rising from the dead which gives us freedom and life. “He is risen! He is risen, indeed!! Alleluia!!
A Child of God, Rejoicing that Jesus won the battle I could not win!
P.S. Remember to celebrate Jesus’ Easter victory by worshiping this week. Services at St. John are held at 7:00, 9:00, and 11:00 a.m.
P.P.S. Here are just a couple of other Easter verses to consider,
· John 11:25-26 25 Jesus said to her [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
· John 14:19 b Because I live, you also will live.
· Romans 8:38-39 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,k neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
P.P.P.S. Last week was another BUSY Lenten week at St. John. Here are some pictures from last week.
Here are pictures from our final Wednesday Lenten Meal, served by the Lawtons and some of our Stephen Ministers. https://photos.app.goo.gl/qe1eiRWuAKVmiTCq2
· Here are some pictures from the 2018 Shane Woods Ice Fishing outing on Sunday, March 25. https://photos.app.goo.gl/UY30yQoUIDiQbS1T2
· Here are a couple of pictures from Monday’s fishing trip to Point McKenzie. https://photos.app.goo.gl/LtLBHqYPU4vhJtDh2
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 regularly adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you do not want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message.