“Now the Bereans were more noble-minded than the Thessalonians. They received the word very eagerly and examined the Scriptures every day to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11 – EHV)
How long have you been a Lutheran? For many of us, that is easy. We have been a Lutheran as long as we have been alive. We were born, baptized, confirmed, married and will be buried Lutheran. That is great! Others of you have been Lutheran for only part of your life. Maybe you married someone who was Lutheran and took the Bible Instruction Class (BIC) to become a member of the Lutheran Church. Others of you were raised in some other religion, but something in your life led you to leave your religion and become Lutheran. That is also great! But those answers don’t really answer my question.
So if you don’t mind, I am going to ask you this very personal but very important question. Why are you a Lutheran? Again many of you will answer very quickly that you are Lutheran because your parents and grandparents were and it was only natural for you to follow them. But is that a good answer to the question of why you are a Lutheran? Probably not! I pray that you aren’t Lutheran only because that is what your parents or grandparents were. That is a pretty weak answer, isn’t it?
In Acts 17, Luke tells the story of a group of people who heard the apostle Paul preach. Paul was at this point becoming pretty famous. He had just snuck out of the city of Thessalonica because the people there accused him of causing trouble because he preached this very different message about Jesus. He went from Thessalonica to the city of Berea, and while he was there, he preached. The people who heard him had some options.
- They could simply reject his message, treating him like a troublemaker.
- They could simply accept his message, treating him like a visionary.
- OR (and this is what they did) they could take what he said, compare it with the Scriptures, and if it agreed with the authority of God, they could trust what he said.
It would have been ignorant for them to ignore Paul, and it would have been foolish to just accept him at face value. They chose, instead, to know better what he was teaching by comparing it to Scripture.
With the Berean Christians who compared the teachings of Paul and Jesus with Scripture as our example, I will ask you again, Why are you a Lutheran? Sadly all too often, we haven’t taken the time or have forgotten why we are Lutheran. I pray that we would say that we are Lutheran, because the teachings of the Lutheran Church are based on the inspired Word of God and the Lutheran Church teaches that we are saved by grace alone through faith and that we aren’t saved by our good works. I would pray that whether we are “lifetime” Lutherans or “new” Lutherans, we would do what the Bereans did and regularly compare the teachings of the Lutheran Church with Scripture. And if you believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and if that Word can clarify for you the truths of the God as they are taught in the Lutheran Church, then you could say that is why you are a Lutheran.
It’s not simple. I don’t mean to make it sound like it is. You’ll spend your whole life being like a Berean, learning what God says and making it a part of your lives. Let the encouragement of this devotion be that you don’t need to be afraid to ask questions like, “Why am I a Lutheran?” and “What do I believe?” and “What is the truth?”
In fact, God calls it noble to ask these types of questions and to run after the answers to them as they are found in God’s Word. Be noble-minded. Learn these important things, and once God has showed you these things, don’t run after the false teachings of this world.
Pastor Mark Gartner
Important Update -
We rejoice that we have been able to return to the Lord’s house to worship together, but at the same time we want to do so in a safe manner. As many of you are aware, the last few weeks, the 8:00am service has been full, which perhaps made some of our members uncomfortable. First off, we encourage you to attend a different service. Both the 10:30 am and the Monday evening service have plenty of room in order for you to socially distance. In addition, our council has decided to remove the ropes in the front portion of the lectern side of the sanctuary. This section will not require social distancing. We hope that, with enough worshipers sitting in this section, it will leave enough space in the rest of the sanctuary for everyone else to socially distance. If you have any questions, please speak to one of the Pastors or Council members.
The resurfacing of the parking lot is going to take place Wednesday, September 22nd. You will not be able to drive on the parking lot all day. Please plan accordingly! The parking lot should be open by Thursday.
Pastor Frey has started a Bible study on the Christian and the Government—looking at what God says concerning the government and the Christians relation to his other Kingdom. We may be sick of hearing about politics already; but with so much information being thrown at us on a daily basis, it is important to step back and look at what God has to say to us. Join us Sundays at 9:15am.
Pastor Gartner also started a Bible study on "The Life Moses -- A Study of the Book of Exodus". Please join us either Mondays at 8:00am or Tuesdays at 5:30pm.
All these Bible Classes that will be starting will be held at church. If you are not comfortable attending them in person or can't make these times and you would like to receive a recording of these Bible Classes, please contact one of the Pastors and we will send you the link for these recordings.
If you are not comfortable sending your child to in person Sunday School, we have weekly recorded videos of each weeks Bible Lesson and the Lesson sheets that we can send to you so that your child can still learn the valuable truths of God's Word. Please contact us if you would be interested in these materials.
Special Mission Offering:
Each year we designate a certain amount of money to a home mission, a world mission, and one other specially designated ministry. If you have any ideas, particularly concerning a world mission or ministry, please speak to one of the pastors.
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 8:00 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 8:00 am service which means you can watch anytime after 8:00 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.