This saying is trustworthy and worthy of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” of whom I am the worst. (1 Timothy 1:15 – EHV)
The other day I was driving south on Interstate 41, going about 75 mph, when the electronic sign above College Ave. caught my eye—maybe you’ve noticed it too. It read, “He Knows when you are Speeding.” Did this sign convince me to slow down to the posted speed limit of 70 mph? Absolutely not! And why would it? Why would a play on a line from a silly song about a (spoiler alert!) made up person convince me to do anything?
Switch the “He” of Santa Claus to God, and change speeding to sinning: “God knows when you are sinning.” God does know all things—and he is well aware of each and every time that you sin. Does God’s omniscience lead you to do what is right? The second use of God’s law (law as a curb) does keep our wicked actions in check at least somewhat. If we are afraid of God’s wrath and punishment, we might hesitate to commit a particular sin (Psalm 119:120). And yet, the law doesn’t give us the proper motivation to actually do what is right. Only the gospel can do that.
The gospel like the passage above. The Lord knows our sin—he knows each and every one of our sins; and that is why, in love, he came into the world. He set aside full use of his divine knowledge and glory, took on human flesh, and became one of us. As God and man, he is able to serve as our substitute and save us from our sins. He lived a perfect life for us, suffered and died an innocent death in our place, and rose from the dead to give us eternal life. He accomplished our salvation for us because we could not—and in fact, because of our sins, we were on our way to eternal damnation. And so, Jesus came into the world to save sinners—sinners like Paul and Timothy, like you and me!
Does God’s omniscience send shivers down your spine, or does it comfort you? You might say both! Yes, we shudder to think about God knowing whenever we sin. But we derive comfort from the fact that God knows whenever we struggle, whenever we go through hardships and difficulties, and he knows the faith in our hearts and the love that we have for him! But the most comforting aspect of God’s omniscience is the fact that his omniscience leads him to show love for us. He knows that we are sinners and on our way to eternal damnation; and that is why, in love he came into the world!
Only the gospel can work faith into our hearts and it is only through faith that we are able to do what is pleasing before the Lord (John 15:5). The gospel of free and full forgiveness in Christ, then, leads us to do what is right. We strive to obey his commands (including obeying speed limits) not out of fear that Santa knows, or even in fear of God’s wrath, but out of love and thanks to Christ. He gave up everything to save us; and we in turn show him our love and thanks by obeying his commands. Will we fail to do this properly? Yes—we do so all the time. But Jesus knows our sins, and that’s why he took on human flesh and was born of a virgin—to save us sinners!
Pastor Andrew Frey
Christmas Eve Worship—NEW SERVICE TIME ADDED
The sign-up slots for two of the three Christmas Eve services are already full. We certainly want everyone to worship with us while feeling comfortable and being able to socially distance (and we won’t turn anyone away). Because of this, our Council made the decision to add another worship service for this Christmas Eve—at 1:00pm. We’ll still hold our other Christmas Eve services at 3:00, 5:00, and 7:00. If have already signed up for a particular service but want to switch to the 1:00 service (or a different one), you are certainly encouraged to do so! If you need any help, please contact Church. Although we have added another service, we are still strongly urging everyone to sign-up ahead of time, either online or by calling the office. The sign-up is live. Please click on the link below to see more information and for a link to the sign-up.
Midweek Advent Services
Our Advent mid-week services will be on December 2, 9, and 16 at 10:30 am and 6:30 pm. Plan to attend these mid-week services as we prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of our Savior. This year’s theme will be “The Songs of Advent.” Each week we will be looking at one of the three songs from Luke.
December 2 — The Song of Mary.
December 9 — The Song of Zechariah.
December 16 — The Song of Simeon.
Children’s Christmas Service
Due to the ongoing pandemic it has been decided to alter our format for our Children’s Christmas Service this year. After surveying parents and discussing it among our Sunday School Teachers and Council members, it has been decided to have our children sing parts of two Christmas hymns and recite a few Bible Passages together as one large group at the beginning of the service before sitting back in the pews with their parents. The date will be the same as it always is—the Sunday before Christmas—December 20th. The children will sing and recite during both services.
Because of the uncertainty of how many will attend these services (and we still want to be able to socially distance), we are strongly urging everyone to sign up ahead of time. The first service is already full, but there is plenty of room in the second service. The sign-up is now live. Please click on the link below to see more information and for a link to the sign-up.
New Bible Classes:
Pastor Gartner started a new Bible Study on Sunday November 29 at 9:15 am entitled: “Catholicism Today — A Study of What the Catholic Church Teaches and How It Measures Up to God’s Word.” Join us as we look at some of the key teachings of the Catholic Church in light of God’s Word, and we will also look at ways on how we can share the truths of God’s Word with those in the Catholic Church who may struggling in their faith.
Pastor Frey is leading a Bible Study on Mondays and Tuesdays called, "Counterfeit Christianity." The devil is called the Father of Lies (John 8:44); he uses his web of lies to lead Christians away from God Word and thus away from the one true faith. This study, based on the book, Broken: 7 “Christian” Rules that Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible by Jonathan Fisk, will examine these lies of the devil and their antidotes from Holy Scripture.
If 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.
In order to encourage and practice social distancing, we are trying to limit each Worship service to 75 people. 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.
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. The 8:00 am service is the most attended service, which perhaps will make some of you feel uncomfortable. First off, if you feel uncomfortable in this more attended service. we encourage you to attend either the 10:30 am or the Monday evening service which offer plenty of room in order for you to socially distance. In addition, our Council has decided to remove the ropes for the first few pews of the lectern side of the sanctuary. People deciding to sit in these “unrestricted” pews should use their own good judgment on 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 a Council members.
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.