January 2019
 
    This year I am going to provide the Pastor’s Messenger message oriented on the reality that we now enjoy “Heaven On Earth.” If we look only with our physical eyes and reason it seems more like “Hades On Earth.” It is by the power of the Holy Spirit we look anew with the eyes of faith and see both the spiritual and the physical reality. It surrounds and envelops us as we live, breath and move through the Valley of the Shadow of Death as God leads us on His Path of Righteousness. Each month we will consider and meditate on a specific theme.
 
February:                       In the Garden. Every good thing from the hand of God.
March:                            The Call. God’s fellowship with you and me.
April:                               Unintended Consequences. God’s will be done.
May:                               God’s Faithfulness. Promises kept and promises broken.
June:                              Immanuel. God with us and Man with God.
July:                               The Family. Our heavenly Father, Jesus and our brothers and sisters.
August/September:        Adoption. Choice and conception.
                                       The Storm.  Sin, death and the power of the devil.
October:                         The Eye Of The Storm. Salvation, sanctuary and strength.
November:                     The Father’s Mansion. From temporal tent to the eternal Temple.
December:                     The Wedding Feast. The Victory Celebration.
 
The theme for Lent Mid Week Divine Services is: In the world but not of the world (Romans 12: 2).
 
God’s peace be upon you, your family and the work of your hands.  Amen and Amen.
February 2019
     This month let us meditate on God’s good work done in various gardens from which His glory shines and through which He extends us every good thing for our body and spirit.
 
     The Garden of Eden (Genesis 2: 7 – 25). It is where “the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.” (Genesis 2: 8) It was good and God tells us that He “made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2: 9) It was in this good garden God tested Adam and Eve’s faith in and love for Him through the devil’s deadly and unholy temptation. Adam had walked with God, had received God’s command and single prohibition, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2: 16 – 17) Adam and Eve failed the test of their faith by: providing for themselves; testing God; and worshipping Satan (Matthew 4: 1 – 11). The first Adam plunged all mankind into sin, death and the power of the devil. Yet, God promised Adam, Eve and all mankind a second Adam that would defeat these enemies and reconcile God to man. God graciously covered their shame with innocent life and removed them from that garden so that they would look with eyes of faith for the promised Messiah.
 
     The Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26: 36 – 46, Mark 14: 32 – 42, Luke 22: 39 – 46, John 18: 1). The God/Man came into this garden with His disciples on the night when God tested Him to the extreme and the devil sought a more advantageous time to tempt Christ (Luke 4: 12). Jesus prayed His Father’s will be done for He had come into the world not to judge it (the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil – John 3: 18 – 21) but to save it (the Tree of Life – John 3: 17). Christ is the fruit of the Tree of Life that hung on the cursed tree. He is the fruit that is pleasing in God’s sight and desirable for the salvation of mankind: “…he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53: 2b – 3). Unbelief, fear, darkness and chaos blinded men that night to the salvation with which God is reconciled with man and we are raised up as children of God.
 
     The garden in which our risen Lord arose again on the third day (Matthew 28: 1 – 10 , Mark 16: 1 – 10, Luke 24: 1 – 12, John 20: 1 – 18). In this garden God tested Mary, Peter and John’s faith while Satan tempted them with an empty tomb. The Prince of Peace would not allow Mary to be overcome by the temptation to grieve but spoke to her, calling her by name (John 20: 16). While the first Adam kept silent the second Adam spoke clearly and personally to her. He proclaimed the reconciliation of God with man, commanding her to “go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20: 17). From this garden our Lord and God points us to our future and final home.
 
     As we live, move and breath in this veil of tears God will test us, proving Himself trustworthy and true as He sustains, strengthens and safeguards our faith, comforting us as He conforms us more and more into the image of His Son by the power of His Holy Spirit. These three gardens are historical and on which we should marvel and meditate upon God’s good and gracious provision. Yet, God gives us eyes of faith that look – not for a return to a garden of testing and temptation but to the entrance into our heavenly Father’s home where He will have us recline us at His eternal wedding feast that will never end.
 
God’s peace be upon you, your family and your work. Pastor Bob
March 2019
 
     This month let us meditate on God’s call. His call to Adam, Moses, you and me. He knows His own and His own know Him, recognizing His voice and listening to Him (John 10: 27). In His intimate call His glory shines and through which He extends us every good thing for our body and spirit, now and forever. It is a call that is dismissed, discounted, and despised at great and eternal risk.
 
     God’s call to Adam.  God was perfectly content and at peace within the Godhead before creation. Yet He chose to create the heavens and earth, calling man into a fellowship that was personal, intimate and eternal (Genesis 1: 26 – 28). His call was not extended to any other creature: angel; bird of the air, creature that moved on the land; or fish that swam in the waters (Genesis 2: 15 – 17). It was to man that He formed with His hands and breathed His breath into. God gathered them to Himself for fellowship with Him: enjoy and acknowledge His love and provision with thanks and praise; account for the day spent in His work of caring for the Garden of Eden; and grow in His wisdom and favor. Tragically, Adam and Eve heard to voice of a stranger – a liar, a murderer, a rebel – who tempted them with the one thing God reserved for Himself. They heeded the call of this wretch and plunged all of us into suffering and anguish (Genesis 3:6, 16 – 18). Yet, in the cool of that day, God again called them (Genesis 3: 8 – 9). The King came to those He loves and revealed they had abandoned the perfect fellowship and entered into an adulterous relationship, a bondage relationship, a dead relationship with a murderous spirit (Genesis 3: 11 – 13). However, His love provided for their sustainment (Genesis 3: 16 – 19a) and protection (Genesis 3:22 – 25) while promising deliverance from that tyrant and reconciliation with Himself (Genesis 3: 14 – 15).
 
Heavenly Father, by the power of Your Spirit keep our ears open to the voice of our Savior that the Word of Life may enter in and continually abide with us. Close them to the voice of the stranger – a sin-filled world and the devils – that they would find no place in our thoughts, words and deeds. We ask for these and all necessary things in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son, our LORD. Amen.
 
     God’s call to Moses.  God called Moses, a son of Abraham (who had been a prince, then a murderer, then a fugitive, and then a shepherd), to shepherd His chosen people who suffered under the tyranny of Egyptian slavery. The Angel of the LORD appeared to him veiled in the flame that did not consume the bush. The pre-incarnate Christ called Him by name, repeating his name, to indicate the affection and importance His call had for Moses and His people. Moses recognized the voice of the Lord yet requested to know the name by which He was to be called (Exodus 3: 13 – 15). Moses heeded and obeyed the LORD’s call, picked up his cross, and walked the path of righteousness with God Who led him in opposition and conflict with both Pharaoh and the Israelites. God sustained, strengthened, protected, and comforted Moses and His chosen people during: the plagues; the Passover; the passage through the Red Sea; their unbelief at Mount Sinai; wandering in the wilderness; and movement to enter the land promised to Abraham. God then called Moses, informing him his lawless behavior at Meribah (Numbers 20: 10) resulted in his only seeing but not entering the promise land with the Israelites (Deuteronomy 34: 1 – 4). God buried Moses in the valley in the land of Moab (Deuteronomy 34: 6). Yet, God lovingly and faithfully brought Moses to His heavenly mansion and, at the appointed time, had him appear and converse with Jesus when He was transfigured before Peter, James and John (Matthew 17: 1 – 3; Mark 9: 1 – 4; Luke 9: 28 – 31).
 
     Heavenly Father, thank You for opening our ears to hear Your call to us. By the power of Your Spirit give us faith, strength, and patience this day to again pick up our cross, bear it in the face of all opposition, and follow our LORD as He leads us on Your path of righteousness through this veil of tears to Your heavenly mansion. We thank and praise you that You have called us by name, placed Your holy name on us in Holy Baptism, fed us with the most holy body and blood of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and given us work to do in Your kingdom. Fill us with the Holy Spirit that we would faithfully, humbly, obediently, and joyfully proclaim the Gospel with our thoughts, words and deeds in the vocations You have given us. We ask You draw all those to Yourself whom You have given us to love and care for that they would not perish in unbelief and rebellion but would believe in and follow Your Son, our LORD, for their salvation. We ask for these and all necessary things in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son, our LORD. Amen.
 
God’s peace be upon you, your family and your work. Pastor Bob
April 2019
This month let us meditate on unintended consequences as we journey to Jerusalem and, ultimately, to our heavenly Father’s house. God calls us to consider the unintended consequences that have brought us here, we are now engaging in, and those that will confront us until the Last Day. Adam and Eve lived in freedom in the Garden of Eden. They were free to:
 work without pain or injury.
 live and move without the searing heat of summer or the frigid cold of winter.
 live and move among the animals, insects, and plants without fear of attack or pestilence.
 rest and sleep without fear of injury or death.
 come into the presence of the Lord without terror or shame.
 commune with God without deceit and slander.
Unfortunately, when they entertained the tempter, gave thought to his deceptive and deadly challenge, and acted upon the temptation they went from freedom in God to bondage in sin, death and the power of the devil.
 
     They did not intend:
 that an innocent animal that Adam named and they cared for would forfeit its life to cover their sin.
 to forsake God’s fellowship and favor for that with a liar and murderer.
 that all creation would groan under the weight of their rebellion and lawlessness, resulting in painful childbirth and exhausting work.
 to suffer the consequences of aging and infirmity that would weaken them physically and psychologically.
 to enter into a situation that would demand their deliverance through the suffering and death of God who would take on flesh and blood and be born of a woman.
Satan did not intent that their rebellion would be graciously and lovingly dealt with by the holy and righteous God.
 
     Unfortunately, today we live with Adam and Eve’s unintended consequences: suffering and anguish, disease and death, betrayal and heartbreak. Even more, we go through our days, weeks, months and years not intending to:
 provoke and grieve our God with our lawless and rebellious thoughts, words and deeds towards Him and our neighbor.
 neglect God’s mercies or the good work given us this day.
 allow the old Adam to grow stronger and the new creation in Christ weaker by the delay of our spiritual growth through: reading and meditating on God’s Word; individual, family and corporate worship; Christian Education classes; stewardship – fellowship – evangelism opportunities; and prayer.
 forsake God and become separated from His bride through ritualism and absenteeism.
Satan does not intent all that distracts, ensnares, and binds mankind to give way to God’s salvation in this Time of Grace.
 
     Rejoice, God willingly and willfully calls us by name, reminds us that He has put His name upon us in Holy Baptism, and feeds us with His Holy Word and the holy and precious body and blood of His only begotten Son as He leads us upon His path of righteousness to our heavenly home. He does not intend that any would be lost but that all – you and me, our loved ones and neighbors – would repent and receive salvation in Christ. Therefore, He calls those still lost in the darkness of unbelief and rebellion through His children, you and me, to Himself through His means of grace that He freely and abundantly gives us. He intends that all the time, gifts and talents He generously provides us for the advance of His kingdom for His glory and our good. He intends on the Last Day to destroy all the unintended consequences of sin, death and the power of the devil. He intends to recline us at His table where we and all His saints will celebrate the Wedding Feast of the Lamb forever.
May 2019
 
Alleluia, He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
 
     This month let us meditate on God’s faithfulness as we journey to our heavenly Father’s house according to His chosen will, means and path. God calls us to consider His promises that have all been fulfilled in Israelite’s exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land, Christ Jesus during His exodus, and our broken promises on our exodus from this veil of sorrows to His home. Rejoice, God’s faithfulness is unchanging and His promises remain steadfast and true forever regardless of our faltering faith and ability to keep our promises to Him and others.
 
     God blessed Egypt with Joseph’s faithful and wise stewardship of food during both the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine. Yet, Pharaoh, a self-proclaimed god, later came to power who neither acknowledged God’s providence nor provision through His chosen people. Therefore, Pharaoh abused God’s children with tyranny and slavery. However, God watched over and heard the cries of His people, selecting Moses to lead them out from under Pharaoh’s slavery and oppression and into the freedom and worship of the one true God. This false god would relinquish neither his hold nor claim on God’s people even after His first born was struck down by God. God remained committed even when His people were unfaithful to Him and slandered His chosen leader, leading them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, through forty years of wandering in the wilderness, and giving them the land He promised Abraham.
 
     God blesses mankind with Jesus’ faithful and true redemptive work during both His ministry of preaching, teaching and healing and then His passion, death and resurrection. Yet, the prince of this world, who had illegitimately seized authority and power in the Garden of Eden, consistently and cunningly tempted Jesus to seek glory apart from that of the Father’s and what the Father had promised Him. God watched over His only begotten Son and heard His cries from the wilderness, the Garden of Gethsemane and the cross as our LORD struggled under the weight of your, my, and all mankind’s sin. Jesus brought all mankind out from under the slavery and tyranny of sin, death and the devil with His innocent suffering, death, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God the Father Almighty so that we would be free and worship the one true God in spirit and truth. God remained faithful to His chosen One, raising Jesus from death and seating His Son at His right hand in power and glory. Christ continues to faithfully lead all God’s people to our heavenly Father’s mansion until the Last Day when He will come to judge the living and the dead.
 
     Our exodus through suffering, affliction and temptation in this veil of sorrow is a present reality. It will become a historic fact when we breath our last, commend our spirits into God’s hands, and are welcomed into our promised eternal peace and rest. Until then, God promises to sustain, strengthen, safeguard, and comfort us with His means of grace He provides within His one holy, Christian, and apostolic Church while the spiritual battle rages for our souls. His promises remain steadfast and trustworthy even as we struggle with the doubts and fears as the Holy Spirit conforms us more and more into the Christ’s image. His promises remain unchanging and immoveable even when we fail to remember or keep our promises to Him in the heat of our struggle against our flesh, the fallen world and the attacks of the evil one
 
     My brothers and sisters, the Israelite exodus from slavery and bondage in Egypt to the Promised Land is history, proving God fulfilled His promises even when His chosen people broke their promises under the strain of God’s trial and afflictions and Satan’s temptations. Jesus’ exodus through suffering, affliction, temptation, and death to His resurrection and ascension is history, proving God fulfills all His redemptive promises in Christ. Our exodus is a present reality played out upon His path of righteousness that leads us through this veil of tears, through trials and afflictions, through the evil one’s plots and schemes, proving God’s promises are immutable and personal for His children.
 
     Rejoice, Jesus is the solid rock upon which all God’s promises to you and me rest. Rejoice, your, my, and the salvation of mankind rests upon neither the shifting sands of human reason or strength nor our faulty and failing human promises.
 
Alleluia, He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

June 2019

July 2019

August 2019

September 2019

October 2019

November 2019

December 2019