My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:27-28 –EHV)
Like many of you, I grew up watching Looney Tunes (or any other reiteration of the classic cartoons). One of the lesser known, yet still memorable, series involved two main characters: Sam the Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf (who looks exactly like Wile E. Coyote but with a red nose). After the two clock in, Sam the Sheepdog takes his spot on top of a hill or cliff watching over the sheep in the valley below. Ralph Wolf tries everything in his arsenal just to get a sheep, who are defenseless against him. Like Wile E. Coyote, he tries a variety of Acme products to no avail. He often reverts to disguises—other sheep dogs, a bush, or even dressing up like sheep. Sometimes it seems as if he is actually going to get a sheep—but he never does. Sam the Sheepdog always catches him in time and saves his sheep. And you know that no matter how grave the situation may seem, there really is no chance that Ralph the Wolf is ever going to get a sheep when he is up against Sam the Sheepdog.
Ralph Wolf and Sam the Sheepdog remind me of Satan and Christ. Satan is the enemy of God’s sheep, us. And what makes the devil so dangerous is that he often disguises himself. He masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), or he works through false prophets, who are wolves in sheep’s’ clothing (Mathew 7:15). When Satan openly attacks us, we are easily able to spot it, put up our guard, and flee from temptation. But it is when Satan hides himself that we are in the most danger. We think we are safe, let our guard down, and we don’t even know that we are under attack until it’s too late. Yes, we do often fall to blatant and open attacks from the devil; but we can and often do withstand such attacks and flee from them because we can see them coming.
It’s when Satan disguises himself and attacks us secretly that we are in the most danger—that Christian radio station with its vague and generic lyrics at best, or flat-out wrong and deceitful words at worst; the popular book which talks about heaven/Jesus/God, so it can’t be bad, you think, but it is filled with man-made opinions and nothing else; the T.V. program/online podcast/facebook videos, etc. that your friends are so into, which say a lot of good things about Jesus and God’s Word, has some dynamic speakers, and it makes you feel good about yourself. But it’s really nothing more than self-help work righteousness, with a “Christian” package. Do you see what happens? We think we are safe and secure, we let our guard down, and Satan—a wolf in the form of a sheep, attacks us, and we don’t even realize it. False doctrine, like yeast taking over the entire batch of dough, creeps in. We believe, teach, and promote false and misleading doctrines and we are completely unaware, affecting others we know.
Pretty scary, is it not? We are weak defenseless sheep who cannot stand up to the devil’s attacks no matter how he goes about it. But here is the good news—Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and no one can take us from him. Like Sam the Sheepdog guarding the flock, so our Good Shepherd stands watch over his sheep! As true God (Jesus makes this point in verse 29), he is able to do all things and has power over all things. No one can snatch us away from the hand of the Lord, not even Satan himself can pry us out of the loving and protecting arms of our Good Shepherd. As helpless as we are against Satan, he is even more helpless against God. God is far more powerful than the devil, than he is compared to us. And so we are safe and secure in him.
And how do we remain in him? By listening to his Word! God knows us by name—he called us to be his own dear children. Even before the world began he chose us to be his own and he brought us, sinful and dead creatures, to faith through the gospel. And it is through the gospel, in both word and sacraments, that he keeps us in the one true faith—safe and secure from the attacks of the devil. And it is through faith in Christ that we receive the eternal life that he won for us on Easter!
And so, what do we do? We listen and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd; we turn to his Word on a regular basis, read and listen to trusted sources—not letting our guard down but examining carefully what is said (Acts 17:11), and being careful about spiritually consuming anything that might contain the yeast of false doctrine, which is like poison for our souls.
And we flee into the arms of our Good Shepherd, by listening to his Word—for by his gospel he leads us to eternal life. Try as he might, the devil can’t get to us with the Lord standing watch. He will guard and protect us until he calls us to his heavenly home where we will dwell forever.
Pastor Andrew Frey
Are you looking for an excuse to get out of the house and get some fresh air and exercise? Join us for our Adopt-A-Highway this Saturday at 8:00am. We should be able to accomplish this while still “socially distancing.” If we have many people show up, or if you want to help but do not want to walk the highway, we do have a few things that need to be done outside on the Church grounds, that you can help with.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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: email@example.com 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 can 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.