Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul. 2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will make music to my God as long as I exist. 3 Do not trust in human helpers, in a mortal man who cannot save you. 4 His spirit departs. He returns to the ground he came from. On that day, his plans have perished. 5 Blessed is everyone who has the God of Jacob as his help. His hope is in the Lord his God, 6 the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything which is in them. He is the one who stays faithful forever. Psalm 146:1-6
Does the future worry you or frustrate you or is it a combination of both? I sense that some people in America, maybe even some who are reading this, are frustrated and worried about your future. In America, over 80,000 people have died from Covid-19, and over 20 million people have lost their jobs. In Wisconsin, Governor Evers has ordered us to remain in some form of “lockdown” for 56 days now which has meant that we haven’t been able to worship together as a Church family since March 15. And to make things worse, in the middle of this whole mess there is a very contentious election that is unfolding because we will be electing a President of our country in November. Depending on whom you talk to, President Trump being re-elected or Joe Biden being elected means either the end of America as we know it or the saving of America’s future! I’m sensing that people – even some here at St. John - are getting to the end of their ropes and are afraid and/or frustrated. But enough about what we think! Take a deep breath! What does God have to say to us?
I encourage you to reread the verses above. I don’t sense any of that fear or frustration from the writer of Psalm 146. That doesn’t mean he didn’t face some of the same issues in ancient Israel that we face today, and I certainly don’t hear in the psalm writer’s words any unrealistic expectations of his government leaders. As he faced an uncertain future, he knew exactly where to put his trust and where not to put his trust. He writes, “Do not trust in human helpers, in a mortal man who cannot save you. 4 His spirit departs. He returns to the ground he came from. On that day, his plans have perished. Blessed is everyone who has the God of Jacob as his help. His hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything which is in them. He is the one who stays faithful forever.”
As Pastor Frey correctly wrote about a while back, our government officials, as flawed as they are, are a blessing from God. But we need to always remember that at the end of the day, they aren’t able to solve our biggest problem that each of us deserves the eternal wrath of God in hell for our sinfulness. Neither President Trump, Joe Biden or Governor Evers can save us from our biggest problem of sin, but God can and did through Jesus Christ. The same God who created the universe is the same God who kept his promise to Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and to you and me that he would send Jesus to suffer hell in the place of every sinner and win for sinners peace with a perfect God and a secure future in heaven that will never end.
With that confidence the psalm writer approached the present and the future with confidence. May we approach the present and the future with that same confidence, and like him: “ Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul. I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will make music to my God as long as I exist.” On the outside, our life may seem at times to be spiraling out of control, but we can take heart that our “God is the one who stays faithful forever” and we can praise and thank him for all of his gracious blessings. We are in God’s family by his grace alone through faith and he promises to help us and give us an eternal hope that far outweighs all the problems and troubles in this world. Rather than being filled with fears and frustrations, let us take to heart the words of the Psalm writer, ”Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul. I will praise the Lord as long as I live.”
Pastor Mark Gartner
Pastor Frey is meeting by video on Monday nights at 6:30 to study the books of Nehemiah and Esther. If you are interested in joining this Bible study, please email Pastor Frey at: email@example.com He also records this class and is sending it out to those who are interested in this format.
Pastor Gartner is meeting on Thursday nights at 6:30 to study “The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel.” This will be in a video format like Pastor Frey’s class. If you are interested in joining this Bible study, please email Pastor Gartner at: firstname.lastname@example.org He will also record this class and will send it out to those who are interested in this format.
Bible Information Class:
We are looking to restart our Bible Information Class. Since we are still unable to meet in person, we are gong to do this online, like we have been doing our Bible studies. If you are interested, please speak to Pastor Frey. A day of the week and time of day hasn’t been decided yet, but we will start shortly.
Quarterly Voters Meeting:
Our regularly scheduled Voters meeting for April 28 has been postponed indefinitely. Hopefully we’ll be able to meet together in June for worship and other things like our voters’ meeting!
Similar to our Voters’ meeting the examination of our confirmands (scheduled for April 26) and their confirmation (May 3) has been indefinitely postponed. We plan to have our examination/confirmation whenever we are able to join together.
By now most of you have been able to find our worship services online, but we will include the notes below for those who might still need some assistance.
Audio Issues: for those of you who were having issues with the audio when watching our live services: we have identified and fixed the problem. You should no longer have any issues—if you haven’t been trying lately because of the issues, we encourage you to pull up a video of our worship services and try it out! If you are still having issues, please contact one of the pastors.
You can find our worship services at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCsQs-LDzlHE1NTjOaVaQ2A.
You can find a bulletin for each Worship Service so you can follow along here: https://stjohncenter-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/g/personal/pastor_frey_stjohn-appleton_org/EqetvOMWflhLsfsLRcDkxSgBL2cnYkpiuk8Klh7d-r_XQg?e=07dSma.
Another easy way to access our worship services is to go to our homepage on our website: www.stjohn-appleton.org There you can do one of several things to find our services:
1. Scroll down to find the youtube link labeled “Now Live Streaming” this will take you directly to our youtube page where you can find and watch all our services.
2. On the top of our page under, “Grow in God’s Word” click on “Sermons” this sill take you to a page that has the video for each service, an audio only version of the sermon, and a written version of the sermon.
3. Also under “Grow in God’s Word” click on “Weekly Bulletin” and this will take you to a page where you can access and/or print a PDF copy of each bulletin. This link can also be found in the description under each of our videos on youtube.
LWMS has decided to not hold an in-person convention this year; instead everything will be streamed on-line. Look for more information next month. However, elections need to be made on a congregational and circuit level. If you are involved with LWMS, Kathy Schabo will be contacting you. If you are interested at all in this, please contact her at 920-427-2768 or email@example.com. Try to do this by May 17th.
Spiritual Resources For You To Use.
Forward in Christ
Free digital editions for May: https://online.nph.net/fic-free-issue-form
There are many articles and Bible Studies to help us through these difficult times.
Digital Christ Light
Free digital Sunday School Material to help you teach your children God’s Word: https://online.nph.net/cl-ss-downloads?fbclid=IwAR1CWt-TNo8aQ04tthaqY_4OCWzk2B75-6YWMTGSM-RxGCWF0shE4UN7VaU
We Are Here To Help
We want you to know that we are here to help you through any troubles you might be facing. Please don't be afraid to call any of the Pastors or the Church Office with any of your questions. We will do our best to be of assistance. We ask for your prayers and patience as we go through these uncertain times.
Please also keep an eye on each other. Stay in contact with those who are elderly or living by themselves or those who may be going through medical issues. If you happen to run into some financial hardships or know someone who may need some financial help, please don't hesitate to call one of the Pastors and we will seek to provide some sort of financial assistance.