I was recently asked by someone in our church family if there are any podcasts that I recommend for folks at Living Word Fellowship who want to grow deeper in their faith and understanding of God’s Word.
Around Jesus the church gathers as sheep around their shepherd, as the dying and wounded around this great physician of soul and body, as earth-bound believers who join the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven in the song that never ends.
As I’ve reflected on my sermon this morning, I thought it might be helpful to "open the hood" and give some insight into the historical teaching regarding the church that fueled and influenced my perspective.
I can experience almost every aspect of church from the comfort of my own bed. I can prop up my pillow, open my laptop, and enter my very own cyber sanctuary. The music of beautiful hymns can reverberate through my computer. I can read the Bible myself or listen to an audio recording of a trained professional narrate the Scriptures for me. Preachers from across the spectrum of Christianity can squeeze their pulpits within my computer screen. I can sing, pray, read the Bible, hear sermons, all without the hassle of getting dressed, driving across town, and sitting in a pew for an hour. So why leave home for church on Sunday morning when I can receive the word of God just fine under my own roof?
The recently widowed woman who sits in front of me and listens as I sing a resurrection hymn that her tear-drenched eyes and the lump in her throat won’t let her sing herself. The teenager who’s never said a word to me but secretly looks to me as an example. The grumpy old man whom God has placed in my path so as to give me an occasion for practicing charity and patience. My son and daughter who’ll be watching and emulating what I teach them about their place in the body of Christ. I’d be missing these fellow believers who are Christ’s gifts to me, and I to them.
In my cyber sanctuary, staring at my laptop, I’d only be missing face-to-face, ear-to-mouth contact with the man whom the Lord Himself chose to shepherd me as a lamb in God’s flock. As useful as electronic communication is, there’s a reason we call it virtual reality.
(Excerpt from Chad Bird’s article “Church in Bed”.
Find the rest of the article at www.christholdfast.org)
So far in our DNA Sermon Series, we have been identifying those things that make us who we are as a congregation. I thought it might be helpful for me to summarize the building blocks that fit together into Living Word Fellowship as we have identified them in each sermon.
This week, as we continue in our DNA Sermon Series, we are exploring our understanding of the relationship between Law and Gospel. This distinction has a huge impact on how we read and understand the scriptures. Consider the following lyrics from a hymn written by Paul Speratus:
What God did in His Law demand and none to Him could render
caused wrath and woe on every hand for man, the vile offender.
Our flesh has not those pure desires the spirit of the Law requires,
and lost is our condition.
It was a false, misleading dream that God His Law had given
that sinners could themselves redeem and by their works gain heaven.
The Law is but a mirror bright to bring the inbred sin to light
that lurks within our nature.
“When the devil attacks and torments us, we must completely set aside the whole Decalogue. When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares that we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak this: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means. For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where he is, there I shall be also.’” - Martin Luther
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. - Acts 1:8-9
These final words of Jesus spoken just seconds before his ascension into Heaven remind us of our call to look outside of ourselves. While there is a need to focus on God’s work here in Southwest North Dakota, it is also healthy and critical that we are connected to, and a part of, God’s Kingdom coming elsewhere. This was echoed in Philippians 4 as the Apostle Paul writes to thank the Philippian church for their material and financial support as he planted the church and encouraged the believers in Thessalonica. The Philippian Christians had little to gain from their investment in a church being planted in Thessalonica, but they knew that their call was larger than just their community.
Today we have the opportunity to meet and hear from the couple that God is calling to plant a Lutheran Brethren congregation in Parker, CO. How is God calling you (individually) and us (as a congregation) to be the modern-day Philippian church and support His work through New Hope?
I need a consistent, rhythmic voice in my life calling out my sin and hypocrisy, and pointing me to repentance, faith, and the hope and freedom of the Gospel.