Philippians 3:12-14 – Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers and sisters, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
In yesterday’s sermon, I quoted one of my favorite authors, Philip Yancey. In his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace?, he defines one of the big words of the Christian faith: grace. Grace is often described as “undeserved love.” Some have said grace is “God’s Righteousness At Christ’s Expense.” I like how Yancey defined it when he said, “Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more, and grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less.”
In other words, your works don’t matter when it comes to God’s grace for you. Your resume, your list of accomplishments and, thankfully, your sins as well — they don’t matter because God loves you by grace in Jesus Christ. His unconditional love is a complete gift, repentantly received by faith alone. A selfie, even the best one you can muster, it won’t cut. But thank God it doesn’t have to.
One of the blessings and, unfortunately, one of the curses of the technological age has been this thing called Facebook. Have you heard about it? I’m sure you have. At its best, it is the ability to catch up with friends that you haven’t seen or heard from in years. It’s a way to share experiences and keep up with what’s going on with those you love. Unfortunately, it’s also a way to gather the worst of our impulses, the flash mobs of violence and crime, the cyber bullying, and the documentation of our foolishness for all to see. I read the other day that Facebook actually is causing depression in many young people. Why? Because they see what they think is going on in other people’s lives; they compare that to the reality of their own, and they find themselves wanting, pining, for things they don’t think they can ever have. The problem: most of those other people’s posts share only the good things, but none of the bad. Most of these Facebook posts don’t paint the whole picture.
We live in a world of Facebook posts of half of the reality of the moment. We live in a world of selfies where we hope that no one sees the whole picture of what is really going on in our lives.
St. Paul rescues us from that reality with God’s Word today. He is telling you that Christ’s people can be honest with themselves. He even gives us a glimpse of his life — sins and all. He is willing to get real with you and me so that we can see the real blessing of life and salvation in Jesus alone. No caricatures of life in Facebook form. No selfies needed. Why? Because selfies don’t paint the whole picture of our sin, our need before God. And selfies miss the ultimate reality of life: that we have a Savior who is Christ the Lord.
That’s not a Facebook reality; that’s a faith-book offer of grace. That’s not a selfie, that’s a (here it comes) selflessie life that trusts in Christ for all things and serves others in His Name. To that end, may God keep you in that grace!
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, Your grace is so wonderful when I really see what it overcomes in my life and what it offers to me because of Jesus. May that guide me in all things. Amen
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Speaker of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
Does living out your life in Christ ever seem like Mission Impossible?
If so, our Sunday morning Bible class might have some solutions. We are studying a DVD-based series titled Life on Mission. It will coordinate with our sermon series Aug. 27-Sept. 24 and cover these themes:
Connect, Serve, Share, Grow and Pray.
Those all sound like great topics, so join us in worship at 9:00 am and in bible study at 10:30 am!
April 21, 2017
“A Doctor in the House? “
Isaiah 41:13 – For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the One who helps you.”
I love to watch old movies.
One of the standard scenes in many of those time-worn flickers occurs when someone has an emergency and an individual close by yells out the call for help: “Is there a doctor in the house?” Then, because the continuation of the plot demands, a wise physician steps forward and saves the day.
I’ve seen those corny films so often, I want to yell at the screen, “Nope, there’s nobody there who can help. This movie is going to end in five minutes.”
Of course, there are times when life imitates the movies.
Recently, on a Southwest Airlines flight between Atlanta and Houston, retired Air Force Colonel Tom McCay felt clammy and dizzy before he passed out. His concerned wife started yelling for help. Help came when a doctor offered his assistance. The first physician was joined by another, and another. All told there were 20 doctors, with all kinds of specialties, ready to help the Colonel.
Depending on your perspective, the Colonel was either a very blessed or a very lucky man.
Now you may be thinking such good fortune may come to him, but not all of us are lucky enough to be surrounded by a herd of physicians returning home from a medical conference.
That may be true; but it is certainly true that for the emergencies of life we have Someone we can turn to for help. Because of the work done by the Savior, we have been forgiven and adopted into the family of faith. As part of the Lord’s household, we can be sure He is ready to hear us, and more importantly, He is ready, willing, and able to help us.
How do I know? In numerous passages of Scripture, the Lord tells of His care and compassion:
• Psalm 50:15 – “And call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”
• Isaiah 65:24 – “Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”
• Philippians 4:19 – “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
• Psalm 32:7 – “You are a hiding place for me; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with shouts of deliverance.”
Because of the Savior’s sacrifice, we can be turned to the One Person who can help us bear, or conquer, or endure any trouble that comes our way. And that, my friends, means that while there may not be a “doctor in the house,” there is a Savior in our hearts.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, in this sin-filled world, troubles, trials, and terrors are sure to come. May I always remember that You are just as surely there, ready to give me assistance, guidance, and help. For that, accept my gratitude and prayers offered with faith in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
(NOTE: Colonel McCay is doing all right. He was checked out when they landed and either he was dehydrated or some alcohol reacted negatively with some medication.)
Trinity Cristo Rey has been attending and supporting the Love Santa Ana Initiative from the start. Let continue to show our support and volunteer on this great day of service to show love for our neighbors and neighborhood just as God has loved us! Love your neighbor as yourself! Register online today!
LSA serve days are so fun and rewarding. It’s not often you get the opportunity to work along side happy, joyful people, while beautifying family neighborhoods! Come on out and join us – you will be glad you did!
We will be painting fences, murals, gardening, planting trees, removing graffitti, and doing some trash removal in the neighborhood.
There will be music, games and fun festivities at our resource fair.
Light refreshments will be provided at volunteer check-in from 7:00 – 7:30 AM – and then lunch is provided at noon.
REMEMBER to wear your signature yellow Love Santa Ana T-shirt! If you do not have a T-shirt yet, please consider a $5.00 donation to help out. We appreciate it! See you there!
Join us as we come together to do some good for our City!
Make sure you come prepared to work; bring comfortable shoes, sun hat, and some sun screen.
Skip the line and save yourself some time by registering online:https://lovesantaana.org/
Volunteer are expected to arrive by 7:30am to pick up your shirt and select a project. Check-in location for the April 8th serve day is: 1851 W. Willits St. Santa Ana. CA 92703 (between Daisy Ave. & Townsend St. – the entire block will be closed off).
Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries
“See the Savior”
January 24, 2017
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 – And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Looking back to some of my earliest memories, I can recall a one-day outing with my father.
What I remember is not like a movie with one scene following after another. No, these memories are in the form of a few, old snapshots, which have been dulled and faded by the passing of decades. The theme of the outing was a trip to see the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Searching my memory I can barely see some trick riders standing on the back of their horses; I can make out a lineup of clowns who have just exited a mini-car, and one where I find myself wondering why the lion tamer uses a chair for protection. Still, the most vivid memory of that day is not from the death-defying performances. No, those memories come from what I had seen earlier, much earlier, in the day.
It is when dad and I watched the intricate choreography of roustabouts and elephants putting up the great tents that transformed a giant, empty lot into a canvas-covered, flag-flying, mini- city.
I suppose those old memories are part of the reason, when the time came, Pam and I took our three children to the circus. Although I have to confess, laziness kept me from getting the family up before dawn to see the work that was done behind the scenes.
In recent years there was always a desire to take the grandchildren to see The Greatest Show on Earth. Sadly, that is a desire that will remain unfulfilled. After 146 years, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is shutting down. Declining attendance, high operating costs, changing public tastes, and ongoing squabbles with animal-rights folk have rung the show’s death knell.
The elephants are being retired to Florida, and the other animals are being distributed to various suitable locations around the country.
And I’ll never take the grandkids to see The Greatest Show on Earth. In the scheme of things I suppose not seeing a circus is not a very big deal.
On the other hand, not taking your children and grandchildren to see the Savior is an incredibly big deal. Think about it: Jesus is the only One who loves them more than you, who has done more for them than you. He is the One who will be with them long after you are gone, and He is the only One who can take care of them when the day comes that the doctors say, “We can do nothing more.”
Please note, in the above paragraph I said, we should take, not send, but take our children to see their Savior. In doing so, you show your little ones that the Redeemer is important to you. You are telling them that Jesus is not just for children, but He is for adults, too. Paraphrasing Ringling Brothers, Jesus remains the greatest (and the only) Savior on earth.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we don’t know how long we have before us, nor do we know how many opportunities will be presented to us. Help us use the days and the chances wisely, well, and in a way that glorifies the Savior. In His Name. Amen
Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries
“More than a Piece of Peace! “
January 23, 2017
Matthew 1:21, 23b – She will bear a Son, and you shall call His Name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins … “and they shall call His Name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
In the new year, we tend to talk about hope, don’t we? But today in the world in which we live it’s good to remind ourselves of the Christmas-Easter message of peace: peace that lasts. And, when we talk about peace, we tend to mean peaceful circumstances, right? We want the peace that comes with bills paid, relationships intact, body/health doing fine, and purposeful work to do. That’s the kind of peace that folks are striving for with all that they do — day in and day out. So, when something interrupts those peaceful circumstances, we suddenly find ourselves in the midst of anxiety, anxiousness, fear and discord. And, as you get older, you begin to realize that those circumstances seem to arise out of nowhere, more and more often, with a clear awareness that we don’t have the capability to handle all things, at all times.
People often tell me if you have enough money, you can buy all the peace you need. But I remember a very wealthy man who had everything, but still lived in fear. He had to stash his money in several hidden places so that people wouldn’t steal it, so that he would have money when his health started to fade. And even before all those fears eventually happened, he was living in the daily fear of potentially losing it all everyday anyway. If you are satisfied with just having a piece of this world’s peace, if you are satisfied with this world’s best offers, its limited promises — the only news the Bible has for you is that peace won’t last.
That’s why Christmas and Easter are so important to you, to me, to all of us. It’s the promise of peace we really need. It’s an offer of peace that is beyond our control and greater than our circumstances. And that’s what our Bible verse is talking about today. It tells us about the peace of God that He brings when He comes into our life and He promises to be with us in all circumstances in this world — ultimately promising that in Him we will live forever in heaven. It’s the peace that comes when you know One that is able, One that is capable, and that One is with you in all things to bring you blessing. That’s peace that lasts. That peace comes when you realize that Jesus is “Immanuel,” God with us — God with you.
When you realize in Him, you have enough, then the way you face the issues of the day changes. I tell you too that when you realize that in Him you have everything — even more than enough — then life becomes a journey that ends in His abundant joy, eternal life, and a peace that lasts: circumstances included.
THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, give me courage and wisdom not to settle for the pieces of peace that this world offers because I know they don’t last. Let me rather put my faith in You and follow You in all things, with the knowledge that having You in my life — that’s the peace I need! Amen!