A Word from Pastor John
Be Silent When Your Back Is Against the Wall
Exodus 14:14: "The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent."
Imagine the scene. The Passover has happened. God's people have left Egypt after the ten plagues. They are free, or so they think. On the horizon, they see clouds of dust. Chariots from Egypt are in hot pursuit. They are trapped, cornered with the chariots in front and the Red Sea behind them. I would think that my first reaction would be to scream in terror!
That's not what Moses suggests. God is going to part the Red Sea. Moses' final instruction to the people is to "be still" and watch for deliverance. God's going to fight the battle.
Author David Zahl says that the extent to which we believe that the LORD will fight our battles determines our ability to be still. "Who among us, however, is inclined to be still when we are under attack? Whether under an emotional or physical assault, our natural response is either fight or flight. Our minds begin to race, and our bodies go taut."
Israel really did not have a choice. They were boxed in and God had made them still by their circumstances. Zahl writes, "Thankfully, God also makes us still. When we are boxed in, important realities are revealed. We see the magnitude of our battles and the limits of our ability to overcome them. We see that things are actually out of control-our control. Because we are so terribly human, it usually takes exhausting all our options to make us still and inactive."
Martin Luther in one of his famous lectures said this, "It is certain that man must utterly despair of his own ability before he is prepared to receive the grace of Christ." When we are still we recognize that we cannot by our own reason and strength do things. God's grace enters in to us. In stillness we stand at the foot of the cross, where we admit our impotence and anticipate the revelation of God's power, love, forgiveness, and strength in the shed blood of Jesus.
If the New Year is beginning to overwhelm, be silent when if your back is against the wall. There is one who fights your battles for you. Jesus has fought the big battles against sin, death, and the devil. The skirmishes of life may bring fear but Jesus says, "Fear not, I have overcome the world!"
Surely God is Our Salvation
We all want salvation (deliverance) from something: from our way of life that produces anxieties or situations that seem too impossible for us to handle or from what we consider the mundane way of life. Either way we all want a deliverer of some kind to rescue us. According to the dictionary, salvation means preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss. The Greek word for salvation is soteria, Strong's #4991, which means deliverance, preservation, salvation. "God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that we . . . should live together with Him." I Thessalonians 1:9-10
"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1-2 (Almighty: in Hebrew is Shadday, Strong's #7706 which means all powerful, all sufficient God, eternally capable of being all that His people need. With El in front of Shadday it means God Almighty.) What an awesome God we have to provide for us.
Habakkuk. Habakkuk is an excellent example of a prayer warrior who was amazingly tenacious in praying his concerns of what was going on in his country. Since this is a small book in the Old Testament with only 3 chapters, the writer doesn't specify how often Habakkuk ran up the rampart to the watchtower to pray his complaints. Habakkuk is a watchman on the wall (Isaiah 61:6-7) who would keep up his watch until he got an answer from the LORD. Habakkuk felt comfortable enough to ask questions and to expect to hear answers because of his personal relationship with the LORD: He knew the LORD would answer his questions, but he didn't know when. I can imagine Habakkuk running up the rampart (wall) to talk with the LORD every day, anxiously waiting for those answers. From the rampart Habakkuk could see the advancing army marching through the land, destroying it as they came.
When he hasn't gotten his answer yet, he says, "I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He (the LORD) will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected." Habakkuk 2:1 Finally, the LORD answered him but it wasn't an answer that Habakkuk was expecting. He wanted the LORD to come to their rescue as He had done so many times in the past. The LORD answered the questions in the rest of chapter 2. It was a vision of destruction to come. This answer that he heard from the LORD caused his body to tremble, and his lips to quiver at the voice. Habakkuk wanted a different answer so badly, the one with no destruction. Can you imagine how Habakkuk felt when he heard those answers? He replied, "O LORD, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O LORD revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known, in wrath remember mercy." Habakkuk even asked God a silly question in his trembling. "O LORD, were you displeased at the rivers. Was Your anger against rivers, too." Habakkuk 3:2,8 NKJV Habakkuk had a good personal relationship with the LORD in order to ask the question about the rivers.
Only time spent with our Heavenly Father daily, can our faith withstand insurmountable situations, but with God's help we can withstand the situation we are in. "Call to Me and I will answer you." Jeremiah 33:3 "For I, the LORD God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, 'Fear not, I will help you.'" Isaiah 41:13
Let our faith in the faithfulness of the LORD to answer us in time of need to sustain us, even if we have to petition Him many days until He answers as Habakkuk had to run up the rampart everyday seeking answers to his questions.
In the end Habakkuk remembers the LORD's promises with this song of faith:
Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls - Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation
The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills. Habakkuk 3:17 - 19 NKJV
Habakkuk's joy was the Hebrew words: giryl and alaz, Strong's #1523/5937, which means to be filled with joy so much that Habakkuk was dancing and singing with joy in the presence of the LORD.
Although Habakkuk's world is turning upside down from destruction and chaos, he can still rejoice and has joy in knowing that the LORD is his salvation.
"By Your mighty power I can walk through any devastation and you will keep me alive, reviving me. Your power set me free from the hatred of my enemies. You keep every promise you've ever made to me! Since Your love for me is constant and endless, I ask you, Lord, to finish every good thing that you've begun in me! Psalm 138:7-8 Passion Translation
Miriam Circle will meet at 10:00am in the church library on Tuesday morning, February 12th (always the second Tuesday of the month).
We will be studying the second Bible study in the Winter Quarterly entitled "Shh! Peace. Be Still." on page 18. Just bring your Bible. We will have copies of it there ... and coffee.
We're a small group, but we'd love for you to come and make it a little bigger! We're always done by noon.
"Money" is a common topic either for a new project, or the annual budget or a special "consecrated" effort with a lot of planning and paperwork. The Bible tells us in II Corinthians 9:7 that "God loves a cheerful giver."
Why not feel good all year long. It's called "cheerful LCEF investing" which means you are loaning your money as both a "giver" and a "receiver." Part of your investment goes to building the "big church" while the other part goes to you as interest. You control the length of this kind of commitment. Visit "lcef.org" to learn about your best options.
This month Open Arms will be learning about Dental Health, Presidents, Dr. Seuss, Jesus and the little children, A bride for Isaac, Daniel and the lions, Ten Lepers and celebrating Valentine's Day. We will also have a special visitor from a dentist office come and teach us all about dental health.
Open Enrollment opens up for the public this month.
Open Arms and FLC are hosting family game night Friday March 1st@ 5:30pm please join us for a fun filled night.
Open Arms children are practicing getting ready for the Lent program on Wednesday March 13 @ 6pm. Please come watch the little children from Open Arms sing.
Please keep Open Arms lifted in prayer to stay and remain healthy during this year's flu season.
God Wink is a new outreach committee to address mission work in our community. We will continue our projects that are already in place, such as the food box collection and our Christmas tree stars. The name came about after discussing this new outreach when we felt that is was a coincidence how this came about and we realized that God's hand was definitely was involved and wasn't by chance. One of the needs in our community is our children, specifically lake Forest Elementary School where we can help. So a calendar has been set up to address a need each month, along with our regular projects.
February- Lake Forest Elementary school supplies
- Dry erase markers
- Glue sticks
- Plain paper
- 3 ring binders
- Hand sanitizer
March- School snacks for testing week
April- Teacher Appreciation Goodies
May- Books for the children to take home for the summer
June- Peaceful Paths diapers, baby items, formula, cloths
July- Food boxes and water bottles, insect repellant, and sunscreen for the homeless
August- School supplies
September- School clothes and underwear
November-Guardian Ad Litem Angel Tree
December-Socks, hats, gloves & scarfs for homeless
Spiritual Discipline Study
Tuesdays at 7:30pm
New year. New goals. New you. Maybe you've set the goal of being more fit, being more spontaneous...but what about disciplining your spiritual life this year? Join us every Tuesday in January and February for an exploration of Spiritual Disciplines like fasting, prayer, and meditation.
Contact Pastor Ken for more details.
First Lutheran Youth and their parents are invited to a morning of paintball at First Strike in Newberry! We will be meeting at First Strike at 9:40 am. Please wear layers! Cost is $17. If you have questions or would like to attend, please contact Stephanie Karolus.
First Lutheran Youth and parents are invited for a day at Blue Springs! On March 16th we will be spending the day at Blue Springs. Final details are still being decided. If you are interested, please contact Stephanie Karolus.
All 7th-12th Grade students are invited to attend NightLife, our weekly Youth Group. At NightLife we eat food, have fellowship, play games, and spend time in the Bible. We meet Wednesdays, 6:00 - 8:00 pm. During the month of February we will be taking a look at the book of Ecclesiastes. We can't wait for you to join us!
National Youth Gathering Meetings
The next National Youth Gathering Meeting will be on February 24, 2019, following College Lunch. We will be doing a Bible Study, some Group Building, and take a look at our t-shirts that are being designed by Elisabeth and Madison.
You are invited to a Bridge Building Event with Open Arms! A game night will be occurring on March 1. Games will be provided to play or you can bring your favorites to share! Come enjoy this fun fellowship event for all ages!
Mark your calendars for the Open Arms Lenten Program! On Wednesday, March 13, 2019, at 6:00 pm Open Arms students will be singing songs. Please come on out and listen to what they have to share! Following the Lenten Program you are invited to join us for a light meal, fellowship, and activities for the kids!
Easter Egg Hunt
Our Annual Easter egg Hunt is changing dates! We are moving our Easter egg Hunt that is normally between our two Easter Morning Services to April 18th at 5:30pm. Children who are in 5th Grade and younger are invited to come for this fun activity before our Maundy Thursday Worship Service. Following the Easter egg Hunt, light snacks will be provided and worship will begin at 7:00pm. If you have candy or Easter themed items to donate, please drop it off at the church office with Stephanie.
Open Arms Graduation
Open Arms VPK Students will be graduating on May 31st at 10:00am and you are invited! Please come and support these amazing students who are moving on to the wonderful grade of Kindergarten!