But God shows his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8 -- EHV)
Are you a sinner? I think most of us find it much easier to run around and point out other people’s sins and faults, but I’m guessing that we find it much more difficult to look deep within our own hearts. Yet, that is what God wants and demands of us on a regular basis. So let’s see how well we stand up before God’s command to be perfect.
“But do not let sexual immorality, any kind of impurity, or greed even be mentioned among you, as is proper for saints. Obscenity, foolish talk, and coarse joking are also out of place. Instead, give thanks. Certainly you are aware of this: No immoral, impure, or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ, who is God.” (Ephesians 5:3-5) How did you feel when you read the list of “sins” that were outlined in Ephesians 5:3-5? Did you sweat a little as you saw your "sin" listed there? Or maybe you breathed a sigh of relief when you didn't see your particular “sin” listed?
Well, hold on for just a minute, because unfortunately the apostle Paul continues his list of “sins” in Colossians 3:5-9. “So put to death whatever is worldly in you: sexual immorality, uncleanness, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. It is because of these things that the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience. You too once walked in these things, when you were living in them. But now, you too are to rid yourselves of all of these: wrath, anger, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. Do not lie to each other since you have put off the old self with its practices.” (Colossians 3:5-9) OK, I think you are starting to see the point. When you lump this passage with the other passage and the many others listed in God’s Word it becomes very, very clear that every single one of us has sin(s) in our lives. That’s the painful truth!
Then, to make matters worse - Paul points out to us the reality of all this sin as he tells us that those who are sinners will not have “an inheritance in the kingdom of God.” This is the ultimate punishment! But he's right, because we know that's what we deserve. Punishment! Eternal Punishment! Separation from God in Hell!
But don't despair, there is hope! The hope that God offered to the world in the form of his one and only Son 2000 years ago is still our hope for today. We are washed in Jesus' blood! Jesus’ blood has completely removed the stain of our sin! We are washed clean by Jesus’ work on the cross and all of this is ours through the gift of faith that the Holy Spirit has worked in us. We are living in a restored and personal relationship with our Almighty God!
Wow! There is no greater joy than to know and believe that we have been forgiven. This may be difficult to comprehend at times, but God tells us this in Romans 5:8, “But God shows his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There is nothing better than knowing who we are and what we deserve together with the fact that our loving Father sent His Son to save us. Isn't that awesome?! Humbling?! Exciting?! This is the GOOD NEWS of the Gospel that God has given to us as a free gift! This is the great news which we celebrate every day because we daily live in God’s grace. Now, I encourage you to live in the joy of knowing that your sins have been washed away, and with this joy firmly rooted in your hearts, let us also take this great news of God's forgiveness and share it with someone this week. Give hope to the hopeless!
Pastor Mark Gartner
We have begun our Summer online Bible study of the book of Ecclesiastes. We are pre-recording these online studies and sending them out via a youtube link along with a study guide. Please contact one of the pastors if you want to be included on the email list.
Vacation Bible School:
Join us for a one-day Vacation Bible School on Wednesday August 12, 2020 from 9:00am-noon. Parents/teens are invited to stay with their children. Weather permitting, most of our VBS will be taking place outside together as families so that we can "socially distance" as much as possible. Everyone is invited to join us for a meal afterward.
Please bring one blanket per family and a plain white t-shirt for each participant for tie-dying.
REGISTER NOW you may sign-up in the entryway at church OR you can fill out this form: https://forms.gle/igRtCUHMiFwxUedg8
Our second quarterly Voters’ meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 11th at 7:00 pm. We encourage all members to attend. At this meeting, you’ll be able to review and discuss our fall worship plan.
Returning to Public Worship:
How great and wonderful it is to see people in-person as we worshiped our Lord together again! You should have received a copy of our plan for returning to public worship. Please look over the document carefully. Please note that for the time being, since only one or two ushers will be needed per service, we will not be in need of Usher Teams. If you have any comments or concerns, please contact one of the Pastors or any of the council members. The document can also be accessed by clicking the link below. https://stjohncenter-my.sharepoint.com/:b:/g/personal/pastor_frey_stjohn-appleton_org/EaBy-IahwepIjjaHxkS5IbMBC7X1SDx1pug80s5jAzCihQ?e=fJjd64
In order to encourage and practice social distancing, we are trying to limit each Worship service to 75 people. To help with this, we added an extra service on Sunday morning. We are offering 7:30, 9:00 and 10:30 services on Sunday as well as 6:30 pm on Monday. We are also asking everyone to sign up each week for whatever Worship Service you plan on attending. Please note, that we are in need of volunteers to help sanitize the sanctuary between services. When you sign-up you’ll have an opportunity to mark whether or not you are willing to help out—it only takes about 10 minutes, so we pray that you will!
You can find the link to sign-up on the front page of our website at: www.stjohn-appleton.org.
You can also signup by going directly to this link (it will be a different link each week): https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040a4aa9a62ea6fa7-stjohn2
As we go forward, we will continue to live-stream our services and posting our worship folders online. We will be recording our Sunday 7:30 am service which means you can watch anytime after 7:30 am on Sunday morning. If you need any help accessing these resources, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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.
Free Digital Resources from NPH
Our Synods Publishing House, NPH, is offering many great digital resources for free for the time being—including June’s Forward in Christ and the latest edition of Meditations. Please click on the link below for more info.