FAMILY THANKSGIVING AT HOME

A Family Thanksgiving

Devotion for Thanksgiving at Home

With everything so disrupted by the COVID restrictions, many churches are not having a Thanksgiving service, and many people are staying at home.

Download the devotion at the link below, print off a few copies and “Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is Good, and His mercy endures forever.”

Download Thanksgiving at Home

A Family Thanksgiving

The purpose of a Christian thanksgiving is not just to identify what we are thankful FOR, but TO WHOM we give thanks. This Thanksgiving Devotion is provided so that we may offer up thanks to the One who has made us, blessed us with life, called us to faith in Christ, and promised us the treasures of eternal life.

You may begin with a hymn if you wish, and as you wish. You may sing it, or perhaps the host will read the verses, and everyone chime in on the last line.

Americans aren’t the first to think up the idea of a thanksgiving celebration, of course. Giving thanks has always been a big part of worship. In fact, we can go back almost 3000 years to the prophet David and this well-known Psalm, #145.  After reading the psalm you may close with a prayer.

Psalm 145
PRAISING GOD’S GREATNESS
A hymn of David.

 
I exalt you, my God the King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
I will bless you every day;
I will praise your name forever and ever.
The Lord is great and is highly praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation will declare your works to the next
and will proclaim your mighty acts.
I will speak of your splendor and glorious majesty
and your wondrous works.
They will proclaim the power of your awe-inspiring acts,
and I will declare your greatness.,
They will give a testimony of your great goodness
and will joyfully sing of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and great in faithful love.
The Lord is good to everyone;
his compassion rests on all he has made.
10 All you have made will thank you, Lord;
the faithful will bless you.
11 They will speak of the glory of your kingdom
and will declare your might,
12 informing all people of your mighty acts
and of the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom;
your rule is for all generations.
The Lord is faithful in all his words
and gracious in all his actions.,
14 The Lord helps all who fall;
he raises up all who are oppressed.,
15 All eyes look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all his acts.
18 The Lord is near all who call out to him,
all who call out to him with integrity.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry for help and saves them.
20 The Lord guards all those who love him,
but he destroys all the wicked.
21 My mouth will declare the Lord’s praise;
let every living thing
bless his holy name forever and ever.

PRAYER:

Gracious Father in heaven, we give thanks to you for all the mercies you have given to us, for life and health and strength and for the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus, our Savior. We praise you for your goodness and generosity to us. We remember the good things in life that come from you, such as family, friends, love, joy, peace, and also the good things to each. Fill our hearts by your holy word with the constant assurance of your goodness, so that ours will be grateful hearts, grateful to you, the true and living God, now and forever.  AMEN.

By |2020-11-21T12:34:21-07:00November 21st, 2020|Good News|0 Comments

More Certainty in Uncertain Times

More Certainty in Uncertain Times

In the eighth chapter of The Gospel of Mark, Jesus talks about the challenge of living as a Christian in a society that is hostile to the faith. He makes three main points.

Firstly, anybody who thinks that their faith as a Christian will go unchallenged or untested, or that that will be no cost to living as a Christian is terribly naïve. …Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.(Mark 8:34, NKJV)  We should expect that we will face opposition socially, financially, and from those in positions of power. In China, for example, Christians are being forced to renounce their faith or face possible starvation.1 In our own country, Christians face the loss of their job if they don’t publicly advocate for ideas contrary to the word of Christ. For most of us, it is simply a matter of making time for Christ and His word.

Secondly it is worth it even to lose everything if we hold on to Christ by faith. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?(Mark 8:35–36, NKJV)  Or, as Paul put it, “More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ(Philippians 3:8, CSB) It should be obvious that eternal life is more important than anything we could value in this life.

But thirdly, Jesus, in the feeding of the 4000, shows his compassion toward those who follow Him. He said, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they’ve already stayed with me three days and have nothing to eat.” (Mark 8:2, CSB)  The many who followed Him weren’t persecuted, but they had undergone privation and hunger to hear His word. We also should realize that our Lord knows what we go through as His followers, and He continues to watch over and provide for us, even when we bear a cross.

These are uncertain times, but we have certainty in Christ. The culture is as hostile to the Christian faith as we could imagine, and much is uncertain about the way Christians are treated in our day, but we can be certain that we are under the watchful care of our Savior.    – – – Pastor Bryant

1China Reference

By |2020-07-24T13:29:29-07:00July 24th, 2020|Good News|0 Comments

Services Resume Sunday

Services Resume Sunday, May 17

Our Savior – 9:00 a.m.

Faith – 11:15 a.m.

GOOD NEWS!

THIS SUNDAY, MAY 17, WE WILL RESUME SERVICES. They will be at the regular times, 9:00 a.m. at Our Savior and 11:15 at Faith. No Bible Class at this time.

We will use the brief Office of Prime for the Easter Season, followed by Holy Communion.

There will be no “socializing.” Plan to arrive just before the service and plan on leaving immediately after. We will designate seats to maintain “social distancing” during the service. I will continue to record the services for those who cannot come or should not be out due to underlying medical conditions.

We are leaning it up to you to decide whether it is appropriate for you to be out and about. I must say that every day of our lives we trust in the Lord to provide for us. We take reasonable precautions in everything from the way we drive to how we care for our health and well-being. Whether it is from COVID-19 or some other illness, we will eventually reach the end of this life and exchange this mortal for immortality, so while we are prudent, we do not live in fear. So use sanctified good sense to decide whether you will attend or not.

If you are not able to attend, or consider it unwise, work with me to be sure that you continue to receive the Word and sacrament.  I will continue to shepherd you!

I have been in regular receipt of information from the State of Oregon, and have received confirmation that we are officially in “Phase 1” of reopening. You can find information here: https://govstatus.egov.com/reopening-oregon#countyStatuses

Here is the official description:

  • Phase 1
  • First reopening stage, allowed in specific counties that qualify. Includes limited reopening of restaurants and bars, personal services, gyms, and malls. Gatherings of up to 25 people allowed for recreational, social, cultural, civic or faith events – with physical distancing requirements.

Our regular attendance in Medford does not exceed 25. In Grants Pass we are usually about 30, but I do not expect that everyone will attend. If there are more than 25, we can put chairs up in the narthex, which qualifies as a different room.

Masks are not addressed in the state guidelines, but I will wear one when I am close to someone, as in serving Holy Communion.

Cordially and prayerfully, in Christ,

Pastor Bryant

By |2020-05-14T19:22:13-07:00May 14th, 2020|Good News, Words That Matter|0 Comments

The Cleansing Power of the Blood of Christ

Good Friday Sermonette –  Download PDF

Download Service .pdf

Video of The Good Friday Service of the Cross of Christ

The Cleansing Power of the Blood of Christ

1 John 1:5–10 (CSB)

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Dear fellow redeemed: In our age that is big on feelings, moods, and thoughts in general, we aren’t so good at being specific. On Thanksgiving we are supposed to list what we are thankful for, but unless we include to Whom we are thankful, we just have a list of things we like. We carelessly say things like, “My thoughts and prayers go out to our heroic healthcare workers,” but, really, we don’t pray to them. Our prayers go to our true Lord, who can watch over them – and us.

Likewise, on Good Friday we can cavalierly say that we know that Christ died for our sins, but who really wants to get specific? In our general confession of sins, we say, “I confess unto You all my sins and iniquities, with which I have ever offended You and justly deserved Your punishment in both time and in eternity.” That’s general enough, except now we are facing a social, economic, and medical calamity, and it is because of my sin, and because of your sin. In the face of the very worst of these calamities, Jesus says, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well. (Luke 13:5, CSB)

To repent means to turn around, to turn away from our sins. It means more than just saying “I’m sorry.” Once again it makes a difference to be precise. It means I confess of my particular sins. It means I confess to God, whom I have truly offended. You too.

What difference does it make to say, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin, if I don’t stop to consider MY sin?

It is comfortable to think of other people’s sins. I’m good at admitting those. You too. Surely this nation, this whole world deserves judgment for the millions of lives snuffed out in infancy. Only one elective procedure is permitted in Oregon – the killing of children. Our society deserves judgment as the natural expression of love between a man and a woman is bent and twisted by pornography. So many bend their minds through intoxication – whether drugs or alcohol. People swear in God’s name to be true for life, and they aren’t. People swear to the living God to raise their children in the Christian faith, and then they don’t.

Gossip and lies are the currency online, destroying reputations and alienating people from one another. Love grows cold. Covetousness burns in people’s hearts as they envy and resent what others possess. Those who seek power stoke the fires of envy incessantly.

And people repent, not to the true and living God, but they set up idols of nature or government to whom they look for rescue. Prayers are offered up to imaginary “gods” like Allah and the Mormon gods, and whatever god inhabits the common imagination.

People grow careless of the name of Christ, and preach (or believe) falsehoods taught as Christian truth. So many are indifferent toward the word of Christ that they don’t for 15 minutes miss gathering together around word and sacrament to receive the gifts of God.

But by now we recognize those “sins of other people” are our own sins. I am selfish. You have misused God’s name. I have not loved Him above all things. You have not been faithful to his word. You have been hurtful to people He loves, negligent of pastors and others whom He has called to lead you. I have been unfaithful, stingy, and covetous.

And if you don’t think so, then you convict yourself of self-righteousness and the cloud of disapproval you cast over others brands you as a hypocrite. John anticipates our denials, If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

The more we understand the depths of our sinfulness, the more we grasp the immensity of the gospel promise, the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

To walk in the light is to live in faith, to live in the knowledge of God’s perfect holiness, and to acknowledge that we are not holy, but deserve to be cast of by God. To live in the light is to live in faith, in the knowledge that Jesus, the Messiah, lived out that righteousness having washed our sin off of us and onto Himself, He has atoned for our sins and so now declares you innocent.

The shedding of the blood of God’s son, His rejection under God’s wrath, was a terrible price to pay, but it was the price of our sin, so that … If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

“Come, let us settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are crimson red, they will be like wool. (Isaiah 1:18, CSB)

AMEN.

By |2020-04-10T15:41:13-07:00April 10th, 2020|Good News, Sermons|0 Comments

Like Lazarus

LIKE LAZARUS

RESCUED IN TIME AND IN ETERNITY

John 11:1-57

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Hello viewers, this is Pastor Bryant from Our Savior Lutheran Church in Grants Pass, Oregon and Faith Lutheran Church in Medford. This is our Midweek Lenten Devotion.

You know, it’s interesting; even without much communication, still several people have remarked to me what a coincidence it is that the most severe week of this pandemic should come when the Christian church celebrates Holy Week. And in fact, there is an intersection between today’s reading and our situation here in the midst of this Pandemic.

For our midweek devotion today, I have chosen a fairly lengthy reading – Chapter 11 of the Gospel of John.

11 Now a man was sick, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair, and it was her brother Lazarus who was sick. So the sisters sent a message to him: “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
When Jesus heard it, he said, “This sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was sick, he stayed two more days in the place where he was. Then after that, he said to the disciples, “Let’s go to Judea again.”
“Rabbi,” the disciples told him, “just now the Jews tried to stone you, and you’re going there again?”
“Aren’t there twelve hours in a day?” Jesus answered. “If anyone walks during the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks during the night, he does stumble, because the light is not in him.”
11 He said this, and then he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I’m on my way to wake him up.”
12 Then the disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will get well.”
13 Jesus, however, was speaking about his death, but they thought he was speaking about natural sleep. 14 So Jesus then told them plainly, “Lazarus has died. 15 I’m glad for you that I wasn’t there so that you may believe. But let’s go to him.”
16 Then Thomas (called “Twin”) said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go too so that we may die with him.”
17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem (less than two miles away). 19 Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. 20 As soon as Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, but Mary remained seated in the house.
21 Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. 22 Yet even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
23 “Your brother will rise again,” Jesus told her.
24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. 26 Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world.”
28 Having said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.”
29 As soon as Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Jesus had not yet come into the village but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 The Jews who were with her in the house consoling her saw that Mary got up quickly and went out. They followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to cry there.

32 As soon as Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and told him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!”

33 When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you put him?” he asked.
“Lord,” they told him, “come and see.”
35 Jesus wept.
36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Couldn’t he who opened the blind man’s eyes also have kept this man from dying?”
38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 “Remove the stone,” Jesus said.
Martha, the dead man’s sister, told him, “Lord, there is already a stench because he has been dead four days.”
40 Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”
41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you heard me. 42 I know that you always hear me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so that they may believe you sent me.” 43 After he said this, he shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unwrap him and let him go.”
45 Therefore, many of the Jews who came to Mary and saw what he did believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.
47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and were saying, “What are we going to do since this man is doing many signs? 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”
49 One of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! 50 You’re not considering that it is to your advantage that one man should die for the people rather than the whole nation perish.” 51 He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to unite the scattered children of God. 53 So from that day on they plotted to kill him. 54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews but departed from there to the countryside near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and he stayed there with the disciples.
55 Now the Jewish Passover was near, and many went up to Jerusalem from the country to purify themselves before the Passover. 56 They were looking for Jesus and asking one another as they stood in the temple: “What do you think? He won’t come to the festival, will he?” 57 The chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should report it so that they could arrest him. (John 11:1-57 CSB)

Let me remind you of the dynamics, of what was going on here. Many who had been following Jesus had left them because He didn’t say what they wanted to hear, nor be the earthly king they wanted Him to be. Others, especially those who had followed John the Baptist and his preaching of repentance and faith remained faithful. Also added were those who had come to repentance and faith and believed the signs of Jesus’ divinity.

At the same time the Jewish leaders’ determination to kill Jesus had hardened; and raising Lazarus from the dead was the last straw. People streamed out of Jerusalem to Bethany to see Jesus and to see Lazarus. The Jewish leaders were plotting to kill Lazarus too, in order to blunt the impact of what Jesus had done. On the first day of the next week, these people who had come out to see Jesus and Lazarus followed Jesus to Bethphage, where Jesus mounted the donkey. They were met by crowds out of Jerusalem who had anticipated His arrival.

Hosanna! Lord Save. Hosanna to the Son of David. Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Jesus entered Jerusalem as the heir of David, the One bearing treasures of the Lord in heaven, the one who brings the light of the gospel, and- undeniably in the face of Lazarus’ resurrection -the true Lord of life.

How He was to defeat death, atone for sin, and rescue the world was soon to be accomplished and revealed.

So, you see, in one way of looking at this, everything was crashing: Jesus had come to Jerusalem where His enemies had power. They were more than every determined to kill Him. Lazarus was in danger. His own disciple, Judas, was going to give away His secret location. He had been identified as the enemy of the whole nation by the High Priest himself. An arrest order had gone out to the general public. Jesus was doomed. Mary had even anointed Him for burial.

But through the eyes of faith and the light of Scripture, we see a different picture altogether. Lazarus’ death was the occasion to  reveal Christ as the Lord of life, the “Seventh Sign” of John’s argument for Jesus as the Divine Messiah. He was heralded as such by the whole nation on Palm Sunday, and on the day commemorating the spilling of the blood of the lambs so that the Lord would pass over Israel, the blood of the Lamb of God would shield humanity from the wrath of God.

Christ, the LORD, was in charge of it all. And because of that, I can assure you of an everlasting hope. “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7, CSB) Forgiveness, life, and salvation are yours.

This is important for you every day of your life, of course, but it is especially important at this time in our lives. I don’t know your state of mind right now, upbeat or depressed, fearful or confident, frustrated or eager, in good health or feverish and ill. But whatever it is, consider Lazarus as the image of God’s watchful care for you. Look through the eyes of faith as God’s makes sense of this affliction and gives us the reason for hope.

Over all, the comfort of Psalm 23 applies. It applied in Lazarus’ life and it applies in ours: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

To begin with, we don’t deserve it. We deserve what is happening to this world. In Luke 13 Jesus tells me that when I look at such trouble in the world, I am to repent. You are too. “God have mercy on me, a sinner.” But God is gracious. He is gracious to all. “For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45, CSB)

But to those who believe in Him, He invites us to come to him in prayer, “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:13–14, CSB) And hasn’t he taught us to pray, in the face of problems like this pandemic, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”?

And hasn’t he delivered us in the past? Paul points to God’s past mercies as reason to hope for the future. “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character [experience], and proven character [experience] produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:1–5, CSB)

So, if you are afraid of getting ill, or getting worse, or having an economic calamity, or losing someone you love, (a half hour listening to the news will give you no end of calamity to worry about) then see how Jesus answers Martha’s prayer. He even went so far as to raise Lazarus from the dead to restore Him to Martha and Mary, to the glory of God. Surely, goodness and mercy followed Lazarus and his sisters.

But notice this also. Lazarus would eventually die again. So, as Christians we have every expectation of the Lord working His gracious will during this time, and He will most certainly hear our prayers. But beyond and behind all that is greater mercy. For while He will bestow goodness and mercy upon you all the days of your life, the pinnacle of salvation is that He has destroyed death, so that you will “dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

AMEN.

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, our comfort in life and in death, strengthen our faith through your Holy Word, and especially as we see how you moved all things, even the machinations of your enemies, to accomplish our redemption. As you have lived a perfect life for us, and atoned for the sins of the world, so give us your righteousness, reconcile us perfectly to you, as indeed you have promised and fulfilled your promises.

Hear our prayers this day for our loved ones and for your believers throughout the world. We acknowledge our sin before you and deserved your wrath in time and in eternity, but now, for your mercy’s sake hear our prayer for ourselves and our loved ones. Deliver us from all evil. But also turn the hearts of the unbelieving to You. To that end, help us to speak of our perfect hope as we have opportunity.

In the name of Jesus.  AMEN

Join us again on Good Friday for the Service of the Holy Cross.

By |2020-04-08T15:01:00-07:00April 8th, 2020|Good News, Sermons|0 Comments

Midweek Update 4/2/20

Midweek Update 3/2/20

Here is your (probably regular) midweek update.

Let me point out that in these uncertain times we find our refuge, not in up-beat emojis, not in positive thoughts, not in wishful thinking, and not even in the expert information from the CDC. They may all be useful in some way, but true certainty comes from God’s word. Good theology, that is, a good understanding of God’s clear word and promises is of utmost importance because it is rooted in the absolute truth of the word of God.

Whatever happens in terms of health or the economy, forgiveness, life, and salvation are yours, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
We may not be able to get together to hear the word and receive the sacrament, but our assurance lies not in our devotion, but in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

To stand firm in God’s word and promises, cultivate a good devotional life. Here are some suggestions. Don’t let the devil accuse you for not doing everything here, rather find what works for you to receive God’s comfort regularly.

  • Read from the Bible. Start with the Gospels and read a chapter or more at a time. I find it very helpful to read a whole book at a sitting. They aren’t really that long, and it gives me a good perspective.
  • Read your Meditations that we hand out at church.
  • Read Good News for You, a devotion book from the ELS in .pdf format.
  • Subscribe to an email or video devotion here. It will be sent to you daily.: ELS Devotions Sign-up
  • Keep up on the devotions and sermons I put out for you. Because there are so many good devotions available, I am not trying to get a devotion out every day, but I plan to have a Wednesday evening devotion and a Sunday morning service and sermon. The devotion and sermon will apply more to us than the more general devotions can.

PRAY!
We all know that we face the troubles of this life because we are sinners, and that we will one day leave this veil of tears for eternal life and the resurrection, but Jesus Himself teaches us to pray, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” And Paul reminds us that even when we are suffering tribulation His mercies in the past give us hope for deliverance from our present troubles. In your prayers…
– Acknowledge your sins and unworthiness
– Praise God for His mercy
– Because He is merciful, boldly ask Him…
– Ask that our nation be led to repentance.
– Ask that the dire predictions of death and morbidity will not come to pass.
– Ask that you will be given life, health, and strength, and be spared severe illness.
– Ask that your loved ones and fellow church members will be spares.
– Ask that your pastor will be given the right words to comfort people.
Here is the closing part of the prayer that I happen to use, “Lord, help me to see Your Fatherly hand, even in my troubles, so that I may bear my cross in cheerful submission to your holy will, sins You alone know best.”

So commit your future to Him and trust that by His mercy “goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life, and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23)

HERE ARE THE LATEST PLANS:

  1. We will not have services at church until further notice.
  2. We will not offer individual communion during Holy Week as we had hoped.
  3. Some of you have called me for counsel.  Keep it up. I am happy to meet with you by phone for counsel, comfort, confession & absolution, etc.
  4. If you want to meet with me in person, call me and I will set it up.
  5. I am generally reserving my in-person contact for those in the hospital, who are very sick or dying, or who are otherwise in distress, but if you are in that situation I assure you I will be there.
  6. Here is how I will keep in touch:
  • Midweek update (like this one) –sent out in email –posted on the web site, www.osflc.org, –posted on the Our Savior Facebook page, –posted on the Faith Facebook page, –Printed and mailed out with the Sunday sermon in time for Saturday.
  • Midweek Devotion midweek (usually Wednesdays) Recorded on YouTube. Links will be distributed in these ways: –sent out in email –posted on the web site, www.osflc.org, –posted on the Our Savior Facebook page, –posted on the Faith Facebook page.
  • Sunday Sermon Recorded on YouTube Saturday Night. Links will be distributed in these ways: –sent out in email –posted on the web site, www.osflc.org, –posted on the Our Savior Facebook page, –posted on the Faith Facebook page. I will also print it out and mail it out in time to arrive by Saturday.

Cordial Regards, in Christ

Pastor Bryant

By |2020-04-02T12:07:51-07:00April 2nd, 2020|Good News|0 Comments

The Faith-Challenge of “OK”

“OK” Is a Challenge to Faith

How is it with you?

Sick?
Lonely?
Frustrated?
Anxious?
Uncertain?
Afraid?
Running out of work – and funds?
Retirement Income in jeopardy?

Or maybe just slightly inconvenienced by an apocalypse that hasn’t hit you yet – and may never hit you?

Most of the time people are at least OK. So why are pastors talking to everyone as though they are suffering terribly? Are pastors adding to the angst people are feeling?

My answer is to point out two lies of the devil. The first is that things are OK with us, so we don’t need a Savior. The second is that things are so terrible with us that there is no Savior. The first is indifference and the second is despair. The first lie is to keep us away from savoring the grace and mercy of God when we are being blessed, and the second is to deny the grace and mercy of God when we are afflicted.

I have been a pastor to three generations of some families, and in each generation I have seen mainly good times. In each generation I have also seen heartache, crisis, sin, tragedy, alienation, and death. During the good times some were faithful hearers of God’s word; they sat through sermons dealing with troubles that had never touched them. But then came the troubles, and their faith held firm in our Savior. Others were not faithful hearers, and they blew off all appeals to abide in God’s word. They were OK, after all. But then came the troubles and their faith was swept away.

Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. It collapsed with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24–27, CSB)

I have no idea how things will turn out for any of us in this health (or is it economic?) “emergency.” But you need to know how the mercy of God holds true through it all, by clinging to the words of your Savior.

Pastor Bryant

By |2020-03-25T12:36:40-07:00March 25th, 2020|Good News|0 Comments

Certainty in Uncertain Times – 2

Three Certainties

In these uncertain times, there are three certainties in the affairs of humanity: The need for repentance, the Lordship of Christ, and the hope that He gives.

1. The Need for Repentance 

Now You’ve Done It! Repent!

I expect that you have heard that before. Perhaps it was from a friend or a sibling when you were young and broke something while fooling around. Maybe it was when you let your attention wander and ended up in a fender-bender. Maybe it was something so serious that you regretted it for the rest of your life. “Look what you’ve done!”

I would also not be surprised to hear the response. Something like “It wasn’t my fault!” or “She made me do it!” or “If it hadn’t been for what ____ did, this never would have happened.”

But sometimes people accept their responsibility. “Look what I have done!” they say. “Now I’ve done it.” “Lord have mercy on me.” This is a repentant spirit and it leads back to the Lord and to His mercy. Repentance has two parts. It is sorrow that we have sinned and turning back in faith to the Lord’s mercy.

In His word, God tells us that all people are in constant need of repentance, because all people often trespass against His word and will. Repentance is “turning back” to Him, to receive His mercy and forgiveness. It is a blessed thing. Repentance is not just for Christians, for God is the Lord of all, and all people need His salvation.

Did you know that the trouble in this world is to lead the people of today to repentance? In 2 Chronicles, the Lord told Solomon that the new Temple he built was a place where people may return in repentance,  “If I … send pestilence on my people, and my people, who bear my name, humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. My eyes will now be open and my ears attentive to prayer from this place.” (2 Chronicles 7:13–15, CSB)

This principle remains. Jesus tells us that when we look on natural calamity or tragedy, we aren’t to ask if “they” are to blame. “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well.”” (Luke 13:5, CSB) Our world has been wicked in its indifference to God’s word, its worship of “nature,” its murder of the unborn, its destruction of the family and so on. Rest assured this scourge of the Covid-19 is a call to repentance.

In Revelation 9 there is the prophecy that in the last days of this world terrible calamities will fall upon humanity, but there will be no repentance. What can we do to lead people to repentance? Speak of the hope that we have so that people will know that if we repent, we can return to the mercy of God.

By |2020-03-24T13:35:27-07:00March 24th, 2020|Good News|0 Comments