We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Please amuse me for just a minute and look at the picture above. What do you see? What is it a picture of? If you look at it for a long time, you still might not guess what it is. I’ll give you a little hint. It is a close-up of some kind of animal. I’ll give you another clue. It can live in water and on land. Have you figured it out yet? The answer is that it is a close-up of a frog’s eyeball. I can already hear you saying. Pastor, why did you want me to look at the close-up of a frog’s eye?
That close-up of the frog’s eye can be a good reminder for all of us. It is little more difficult to figure things out when you only see a small part of the total picture, isn’t it? If I would have given you a picture of more of the whole frog’s body, then you would have known right away.
Our life on this earth can be like looking only at the close up of the frog's eye. It can be difficult for us because at times it seems like we are looking at only a small part of God's eternal picture for us. We only see a small portion of what is happening right around us, but God sees and knows the full picture. He alone knows what things have happened to us in the past and what will happen to us in the future. All of these different events in our lives make up the “big picture” of our lives.
The problem is that we sometimes become overly concerned about some of the small parts of our lives and it seems worse when we have no control over the things going on around us. For example it could be very easy to dwell on the horrible weather we had last weekend and the loss of power that most of us experienced, but that could mean that we are only looking at a small portion of God's plan and are forgetting to look at the big picture which is that God is still in control of all things. It is much easier to complain and grumble about the bad events taking place all around us. It is at times like this that we are quick to criticize God and the world we live in, rather than see a God who, “works together for the good of those who love God.”
It is much easier to worry and to let worry become a part of our life, especially when we look too much at the problems that seem to pop up daily in our lives. All too often we can only think about how bad things are at the moment. When worry, fear and frustrations begin to consume our lives, we need to realize that we are probably failing to look at the big picture.
And what exactly is the "big picture?" The big picture is that God wants all people to be with him and heaven and that God is at work in our lives all the time to make sure that this happens. He knew what things would happen to us in the past and he knows what will happen to us in the future. The big picture is that God is making sure that all these little things in our lives are all working for our good – our eternal and spiritual good. He is seeking to make our faith and trust in him stronger and our trust in ourselves and the things of this world less so that we may remain firm in our faith until the day he takes us home to heaven.
The big picture is that someday we will live forever with Jesus in heaven. The big picture is that Jesus loved us so much that he died on the cross to make sure that this would happen. May God strengthen our faith so that we can clearly see the “big picture” of the gift of eternal life that God has given us even as we live our lives in this temporary and sinful world.
Pastor Mark Gartner
Summer Sunday Bible Study
We have started our new Summer family type Bible Study which is being held on all non-Communion Sundays this Summer. The study is entitled, “The ABC’s of Worship — Lutheran Customs and Practices.” Our next classes will be August 11th and 18th starting around 9:00 am. The classes have been well attended and many good questions have been asked and answered. Even if you have missed the first lessons, you can still join us. If you would like one of the study booklets, please talk to one of the Pastors
Vacation Bible School (VBS) will be held this coming week, July29-August 2 from 9:00-11:30 am. VBS is for all children from 3K-6th grade. Please bring your children (3K-6th grades) to hear the Word of God and use this as another opportunity to invite others to hear the Good News of the forgiveness of sins through Jesus. Register online from our website www.stjohn-appleton.org.
Save the date! The church picnic will be on Sunday, August 18 at Plamann Park. Plan to join us for food, fun and fellowship. There will be games for the kids and adults. Please sign up on the sheet in the back of church and plan on joining us for an afternoon of fun and fellowship.
The EHV Bibles are here; they are on a table in the entryway. The cost of each Bible is $18. If you ordered a Bible, you may pick it up and pay for it before or after each worship service. A member will be available to assist you and receive your payment.