“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Solomon, the author of these two short verses, commands us to do three things. I would like you to evaluate how well you have been doing at following these specific commands. We will use letter grades like the ones we used in school with: A - superior; B – very good; C – average; D – below average; or F – failing:
______ Trust in the Lord with all your hearts.
______ Do not rely on your own understanding.
______ In all your ways acknowledge him.
How did you do? How well have you done at trusting in the Lord during this Coronavirus pandemic and not trusting in yourself and your own understanding? How well have you done at making sure all the things you do are following God’s ways as you try and make sense of all the things that are happening in our sinful world right now. How well have you been putting God first in your lives? If we are honest with ourselves we have to admit that our grades are not as high as they should be and in some cases they might actually be closer to an “F” than an “A”, as fear and panic have filled our hearts and lives during this time of uncertainty.
Do you remember bringing home a quiz from school for your parents to look at and it had a big red “F” at the top? How did you feel? Didn’t you feel afraid and didn’t really want your parents to see it? Some of you maybe even went to great lengths to hide that paper in the bottom of your backpack or conveniently kept leaving it in your desk at school – hoping that your parents would never find out? Maybe that is the way we feel when we bring our failing grades about trust before our God, but in this case we can’t hide our failures from God. And what is even worse is that God doesn’t just say – “You did your best and that’s OK.” No! Jesus told us that we are to “be perfect” as he is perfect which means that God expects perfection. And God has told us what the consequences of us failing to get an “A” in all we think, say or do is – “The wages of sin is death.” We deserve eternal punishment, and God has every right to punish us.
But God knew that on our own we would not be able to get an “A” in everything. That’s why he sent his one and only Son, Jesus. Jesus lived a perfect life for us. He received a perfect “A” in everything, because he was perfect in all that he did and perfect because he was God. Jesus willingly went to the cross to suffer and die for all of the times we have failed to trust and follow God. Jesus took the punishment that we deserve for getting all those “F’s” so that in return we would receive his perfect “A”. When Jesus shouted the words, “It is finished” from the cross, God only saw in us a perfect “A”. What love our Savior showed to us!
Jesus’ love also motivates and strengthens us so that we can trust him, not rely on our own understanding, and acknowledge him in all our ways. As we think about this passage written by Solomon, we realize that God continues to work in us through his forgiving love so that we can and do trust in him.
Let’s think for just a minute how we can show this complete trust in God and not our own understanding in our personal lives and as we join together in our spiritual family here at St. John. Trust that God is with us during the Coronavirus even if it turns our life upside down? Trust that God's plan is perfect for us even when earthly wisdom says that our money is too tight and we don't know how are we going to make it through this mess?
God promises to give us strength to trust him. All we need to do is look around and see that God’s love and forgiveness is everywhere in our lives. The virus has not taken away God’s forgiveness and we are still able to gather around his powerful Word as we open our Bibles and as we gather to watch our Worship services online. May we always remember that God is still our God.
I would like to encourage all of us to review each of the commands in this proverb. Our review prayer could go something like this:
- Jesus please enable me by your gospel love to trust in you with all my heart and thank you for forgiving me when I have failed.
- Jesus please enable me by your gospel love to not rely on my own understanding, and thank you for forgiving me when I have failed.
- Jesus please enable me by your gospel love that in all my ways I acknowledge you, and thank you for forgiving me when I have failed.
- Jesus please enable me by your gospel love to trust that you can and will make my paths straight, and thank you for forgiving me when I have failed.
And in all we do, we can be assured 100% that when we fail to be perfect, the blood of Jesus has provided us with a perfect “A”. Go in peace – your sins are all forgiven.
Pastor Mark Gartner
Our plan is to still Livestream our Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Worship Services this week. I know that this is not quite the same as gathering together as a large group at Church, but we can be very thankful that we are still able to gather around God's Word through this technology.
- 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.
Our Sunday Teachers have mailed out the Sunday School lessons for Kindergarten - 5th Grade students. They should be arriving later this week. The lessons through the end of April are included in this mailing. You are encouraged to work through them with your children. If you have any questions, please call church.
Spiritual Resources For You To Use.
- Forward in Christ -- Free digital editions forApril: https://online.nph.net/fic-free-issue-form There are many articles and Bible Stiudies to help us through these difficult times.
- Electroic Music for 80 Hymns. Download at: https://online.nph.net/cw-hymns?utm_source=general-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=hymnal-access-gen-0320 Music is a wonderful tool to hear, learn and sing God's grace and mercy
- MLC released their Holy Week devotions --- Great devotions for your Holy Week meditations. https://mlc-wels.edu/publications/seasonal-devotions/
- The Synod is streaming two Holy Week Messages—On Palm Sunday (6:00 pm) a short devotion from President Schroeder; and then on Easter evening (6:00 pm), Live from the Seminary with Q and A, “Together at the Empty Tomb.” https://wels.net/synodwide-holy-week-messages/
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 any 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 hesititate to call one of the Pastors and we will seek to provide some sort of financial assistance.