Grace By Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, Norfolk
Being led by God’s Spirit
Even the most faithful Christians struggle with temptation. The Bible says, “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” This does not mean our situation is hopeless. These words are not intended to discourage us, but to provide comfort, strength, and understanding. The fact that we continue to struggle with temptation is a sign that God’s Spirit continues to live within us.
No matter how great our mistakes have been, “If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” If we believe the Gospel of Christ and trust in him for salvation, we are not under the condemnation of the law. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” Even though we do not measure up to the Law, which requires absolute perfection, Christ lived the perfect life for us, and fulfilled all righteousness for us. Even though the Law threatens punishment to all who transgress it, yet, Christ already took that punishment upon himself. He suffered and died on the cross for us. Therefore, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”
God’s Spirit has created and sustained this saving faith within us through his word. He promises to continue to help us in our struggles against sin and temptation. He promises to keep us in the true saving faith. He continues to produce these Christ-like fruits of the Spirit within our hearts: “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
— The Rev. Wyatt Rosebrock
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Norfolk
In today’s second reading Paul questions why we judge one another, since we all stand before the judgment of God. Yet we do sin against one another, and Jesus’ challenge that we forgive 77 times reveals God’s boundless mercy. When we hear the words of forgiveness in worship and sign ourselves with the cross, we are renewed in baptism to be signs of reconciliation in the world.
— Randy Rasmussen, pastor
Norfolk Church of Christ, Norfolk
A tall order?
As a child I read lots of comic books. Always on the back page, there would be an advertisement for the Charles Atlas body building system. There would be a before and after picture. The “before” picture would be of a scrawny guy at the beach, that painfully looked a lot like me. The “after” picture was of this incredibly muscled man with huge biceps and six-pack abs. If you purchased the Charles Atlas program, you could look like him. I knew it was impossible for me to look like that, so I never bothered.
I think many have the same approach when it comes to statements found in the Bible that say something like “Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” or “Walk in a manner worthy of the gospel”. Really? Why bother? Who can possibly achieve that standard? Still others, drive themselves mercilessly to live up to the sacrifice of Jesus, trying to achieve more and more to earn the Lord’s acknowledgment. Sunday, we would love to have you with us to learn what the Lord desires from us when He commands us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. “For you have been called to this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.” 1 Peter 2:21.
— Jeff Schipper, minister
First Presbyterian Church, Norfolk
Please forgive me
Our passage this week is from the Gospel of Matthew, and it is a teaching passage that follows up on last week’s lesson. In that passage, Jesus gives instruction on what the Church should do when a member does not want to follow the rules and obey. The big conclusion to all of this, though, comes into today’s lesson. Basically, anyone can come back to the Church if he or she repents, which means that forgiveness is offered.
Today’s passage, then, starts off with a question to Jesus from the apostle Peter — how many times should we offer forgiveness? As many as 7 times? Peter thinks he is being generous in offering up that number. But Jesus surprises him by saying, “No, not 7, but 77.” Jesus then goes on to tell a parable about two men, one quick to forgive and another who refuses to forgive. What do we learn from this parable?
We will again worship in the church building this Sunday, with safety measures including masks.The recorded version of this sermon will be on our Facebook page (FirstPres-Norfolk, NE), with the worship bulletin and anthems on our webpage (firstpresnorfolk.com). Come and worship with us however you are able.
— The Rev. Brian Johnson