He does not treat us as our sins deserve. He does not repay us according to our guilty deeds. (Psalm 103:10 - EHV)
treat us as our sins deserve. He does not repay us according to our guilty deeds. (Psalm 103:10 - EHV)
A couple of weeks ago, our second Lesson was the account of a married couple named Ananias and Sapphira. Do you remember that text? It is the one where Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold a portion of their property and pretended to donate the whole amount they received from the selling of the property to the Church. But actually they kept a portion back for themselves. So when they brought the offering to the Church, and they were asked by the apostles if this was all the money that they received for the land, they lied and said, yes. Do you remember how things ended for Ananias and Sapphira? God harshly and quickly took their lives on the spot with no questions asked. I remember as I was reading this in Church, it seems like the whole Church got really quiet. I’m guessing it had to do with the severity with which God treated these two sinful people.
First of all , why did God include this account in his inspired Bible and secondly why did he treat them so harshly? For many people this sounds too judgmental, harsh and cruel. Isn’t the Lord supposed to love everyone? Doesn’t his grace come upon all people? But those questions miss the point that God is trying to make and maybe you are asking, what is God’s point?
God included this account of Ananias and Sapphira to point out that sin is serious. We are no better than Ananias and Sapphira and maybe we are worse! We daily sin much and every one of our sins deserves an immediate and harsh act of condemnation from our God– just like God did with Ananias and Saphira. The truth is that everyone of us could be treated just like they were. If we actually stood before God, we would have to admit that we have lied, cheated and broke God’s commands just as blatantly as Ananias and Sapphira. We easily could have been the ones standing at the door and God would have had a very valid reason to strike us dead on the spot. Think about that for a minute and shudder!
But the second reason that God included this seemingly harsh account is to point us to something greater than our sins – which is God’s grace. Thankfully God doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve. David wants us to recognize that none of us deserves heaven and certainly none of us deserves God’s love. We have failed miserably, but David says it so well, “He (God) does not treat us as our sins deserve. He does not repay us according to our guilty deeds.” Our sins and guilt have been paid in full by the blood of Jesus. God’s grace and mercy are greater and deeper than all of my sins and the sin of the whole wide world.
So this Lenten season we once again want to see God’s Law with all of its severity and harshness which exposes all our sins and condemns us to the fires of eternal death in hell, but we also marvel at how great God’s love is for us who are now adopted children of God by faith in Jesus and his death on the cross.
Pastor Mark Gartner
Midweek Lent Services:
Wednesday February 17 is Ash Wednesday where we will begin our midweek Lent Services. There will be services each Wednesday at 10:30 am and 6:30 pm. The theme for this year will be "The Hands of the Passion". There will be a meal served each Wednesday from 5:30-6:15pm. Please signup each week in the back of Church if you plan on attending the meal, so those who are preparing the meal for us can plan ahead.
NOTE: The Confirmation class times will be changing for Lent. We will meet from 5:00 - 6:00pm each week. We encourage the Confirmation Students and their families to stay for the meals and to attend these special services.
Hymnals and Bibles:
Soon we will be looking to return the Hymnals and Bibles to the pews to be used by those who desire. We will still be printing everything in the bulletin, but we know that there are still some people who would like to use the Hymnal and the Bible. NOTE: We will not be cleaning the Hymnals and Bibles after each service. You may use them at your own discretion.
After last weekend, we are no longer asking members to signup for worship services. You may come to whatever worship service works best for you. We may be bringing back the signup for our Easter Services because of the anticipated higher number of people attending those services. Thank you to those who have taken the time to signup each week.
A few years ago St. John set up a fund to support our members who are attending Martin Luther College (MLC). This coming school year, we will have one of our members attending MLC to study to be a teacher in our WELS Schools . If you would like to contribute to this fund, please mark your special offering to the "MLC Fund" by May 1st.
Do you find yourself waiting on Sundays for the video of our worship service to upload after it is live-streamed? It does take a long time—sometimes half a day for our video to upload in HD, after which you’ll be able to find it on our Youtube page. However, you can always find the link on our Facebook page, which is public. Otherwise, we can email you the link to the service Sunday morning and you’ll be able to watch the video before it is able to be found on our Youtube page. If this interests you, please contact us and we can put you on the email list.
Bible Information Class (BIC):
Pastor Frey is beginning a new BIC class on both Tuesday mornings at 10:00 am and Thursday evenings at 6:00 pm. If you are interested in joining St. John or if you are already members of St. John but would like to grow in your knowledge of God's Word, please contact Pastor Frey to join in this class.
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.
Worship During Covid-19:
Worship Sign-up and Cleaning After Each Service
In order to encourage and practice social distancing, we are trying to limit each Worship service to around 75 people and because of the Governor's mandate we are strongly encouraging everyone to wear a mask (but we are not making it a requirement to attend). We are offering 8:00 and 10:30 services on Sunday as well as 6:30 pm on Monday. Please note, that we are in need of volunteers to help sanitize the sanctuary between services. It only takes about 10 minutes, so we pray that you will!
To find a more detailed look at our Worship procedures during this Covid virus, you may click on this link which takes you to the information that is found on our Website's front page.
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. If you have already had Covid or you are not wanting to wear a mask, we would ask that you consider sitting in these front pews in order to free up space for others. 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.