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I Believe | Article 1: Creation

“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth…”

“I believe that God has made me and all creatures…” This is how Luther begins his explanation of the first article of the creed with this statement. Is it just me or do you forget about this sometimes, too? I mean, we flip to Genesis 1 and read about God being the Creator. But do we ever make the next logical step? That is to say that if God is the Creator, then we are...creatures.

Sure we spend much time throughout the day creating. We cook meals, we build things, we do work, we take care of things and people. We spend time creating and because we spend so much time creating and caring for and providing for, I have a tendency to start to think that I am The creator.

But when we recite the creed together we are brought down to earth...we are put in our proper place. I believe that God created. Everything with which I work is just a product of God’s ultimate creation.

Confessing that God is God and I am not, it’s in one sense humbling. It knocks me down a rung to two (or ten), it reminds me that I’m not the ultimate authority in my life or anyone else’s.

But the confession of God as Creator of Heaven and earth is also such good news. For it is God who has given me all that I have. It is God who provides for me. It is God who protects me from the Enemy. It is God who continues to sustain me in this life. When I start to believe that I am the Creator, that I am the one who provides and sustains, well that creates all kinds of anxiety. “Am I doing it good enough?” “Will I continue to sustain this?” “Will things in my life continue to work out as they have in the past?”

Into this anxiety and doubt and fear, Jesus speaks some rather mind-boggling words. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, not about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them…”.

Do not be anxious? How do I do that when there are so many things that must be done? How do I do that when so many people are counting on me?

The Catechism:

  • Read pages 133-163 (2017 Edition) in the Explanation section of Luther’s Small Catechism.

Questions for Reflection:

  • What does it mean to be human?

  • What does it mean to be made in God’s image?

  • Where is your favorite place in God’s creation?

  • What makes you most anxious? How is God addressing that area of anxiety in your life?

  • What is one question you have about this article? (Email Pastor Nick!)

Known: Light & Dark

Ephesians 5:6-21
 
Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.
- Ephesians 5:14
 
In this section of the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul continues the light/dark metaphor that he began in 4:18. The use of light and dark imagery is quite frequent in scripture and is used in a variety of ways. In his book Just Words author and pastor Jacob Preus writes,
 
Light is one of the most “illuminating” metaphors, common to both the Old and New testaments. The light metaphor does double - even triple - duty. First, light indicates wisdom or knowledge of the truth as opposed to ignorance or falsehood or error. Second, light evokes goodness as opposed to evil, which always seems to lurk in the darkness. Finally, light stance for life as opposed to the darkness where no one can survive for long. 1
 
In Ephesians 4:8 Paul writes, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” It is easy to see how Paul employs all three aspects of the light/dark metaphor when dealing with his Ephesian readers. Prior to their faith in Jesus, they were ignorant to the truth that is Christ (Eph. 4:16), they were evil, worshipping false gods (Eph. 4:17), and, in their sin, they were spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1).
 
As sinful people ourselves, we too often walk in darkness. Often times we live as though we don’t know the ways of God or the truth of the Gospel. Sometimes we work for evil rather than good. Too often we chase after things that only bring death. As human beings, even as Christians, we have a tendency to walk in the dark.
 
However, the truth of the Gospel is that we have been rescued from that darkness. Or perhaps a bit more accurately, in Jesus, God has entered into our darkness. Despite our sin, our lack of understanding, and our disobedience, Jesus shone His light into our world. This is how John puts it in the prologue to his Gospel:
 
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood [or overcome or mastered] it. 2
 
This is the reality that we live in as Christians. The darkness has been overcome and there is no chance it can fight back. Evil, sin, and death have all been mastered because of Jesus. So what do we do? How do we respond? Well, Paul urges us, as he has been doing in Ephesians 4:1, to live into that reality.
 
Christ has shone his light on you. That is the gift of the Gospel. He has come down from heaven in order to bring life to this dead and dark world. Following Paul’s admonitions and by the power of the Holy Spirit, may our lives continue to reflect Christ’s light into this world. Amen.
 
In Christ,
Pastor Nick
 
Don’t forget to join us at 8:45am for Bible this Sunday as we continue our series KNOWN. If you didn’t get the Bible reading guide on Sunday, you can download the PDF version HERE.
 
 
 
 
1 Preus, Jacob A.O, Just Words
2 John 1:1, 4-5
 

Known: The New Self

Ephesians 4:17-5:2

 

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” -Ephesians 5:1-2

 

In his Large Catechism, Martin Luther writes regarding the Lord’s Supper:

 

Therefore, it is appropriately called food of the soul, for it nourishes and strengthens the new creature. For in the first instance, we are born anew through baptism. However, our human flesh and blood, as I have said, have not lost their old skin. There are so many hindrances and attacks of the devil and the world that we often grow weary and faint and at times even stumble.

 

Therefore the Lord’s Supper is given as a daily food and sustenance so that our faith may be refreshed and strengthened and that it may not succumb in the struggle but become stronger and stronger.

 

For the new life should be one that continually develops and progresses.

 

But it has to suffer a great deal of opposition. The devil is a furious enemy; when he sees that we resist him and attack the old creature, and when he cannot rout us by force, he sneaks and skulks about at every turn, trying all kinds of tricks, and does not stop until he has finally worn us out so that we either renounce our faith or lose heart and become indifferent or impatient.

 

For times like these, when our heart feels too sorely pressed, this comfort of the Lord’s Supper is given to bring us new strength and refreshment.

 

I was reminded of this passage in the Large Catechism as I read our text for this coming Sunday in Ephesians 4:17-5:2. Paul’s instructions for us are daunting, aren’t they? “Put off the old self”, we writes, and, “put on the new self”. “Be imitators of God…”

 

Well, that all sounds nice but I’ve got to say, it’s easier said than done! The life to which we have been called is clearly more than any one of us can take on. But Luther reminds us once again that God has not left us alone in this task.

 

God has given us His Word and Sacraments, of which the Lord’s Supper is “food for the soul”. Each week we are reminded that, despite the difficulties of this life and our own personal failures to “live a life worthy of the calling…”, Jesus comes to us in His body and blood to comfort, strengthen, and refresh us. In times of great joy or in times when your heart is “sorely pressed” may the presence of Jesus and the forgiveness and life he offers give you strength to put on the new self, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness”.

 

In Him,

Pastor Nick

 

Don’t forget to join us at 8:45am for Bible this Sunday as we continue our series KNOWN. If you didn’t get the Bible reading guide on Sunday, you can download the PDF version HERE.


 

Known: Unity & Love

Ephesians 4:1-16

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” - Ephesians 4:16

 

Generally speaking, Paul’s letters to the early Christian churches scattered throughout the ancient world can be divided up into two parts. The first part is the teaching or proclamation of the Gospel. This is where Paul dives deep into theological truths about what Jesus has done for us through his life, death, and resurrection. In the book of Ephesians, Paul gives us some of the best expressions of this as he proclaims,

 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast, (Eph. 2:8-9).

 

But, as is typically the case, the second part of Paul’s letters has to do with applying these theological truths to our everyday lives. Chapter 4 begins this second section. Paul begins this section with these words,

 

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received, (Eph. 4:1)

 

What calling? The calling to be a member of God’s household, one chosen before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in God’s sight. One altogether loved by God in Christ with an unfathomable, incalculable love. That calling.

 

And what does that look like?

 

Paul says that it manifests itself with how we interface with others. Humility, gentleness, patience, love, unity, peace. We were called into one body - the Body of Christ - and here we seek to live into that theological reality that we really, truly, have been made one. Granted, this is not always (or ever) easy, of course. People do things we don’t like and others have ideas we disagree with. How do we find unity even in the midst of conflict or disagreement?

 

The key, it seems, comes in what Paul says next. Though the Church is one in Christ, Jesus has also seen fit to include a little diversity in His Church. We are one body but, just as the human body is made up of many parts, so too is the church. Many different people have many different gifts. Recognition of such giftedness helps us to see others not as competition or opposition, but part of the Body that brings something different to the table. In humility, we can recognize that the rise and fall of the Church doesn’t rest on our shoulders but on Christ alone. And it is Jesus who has gifted his church with a diversity of people to do the work of ministry.

 

In Christ,

Pastor Nick

Don’t forget to join us at 8:45am for Bible this Sunday as we continue our series KNOWN. If you didn’t get the Bible reading guide on Sunday, you can download the PDF version HERE.

 

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