Gifted Servants of God.

“For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:28-30)
This parable about the talents is another in a series of teachings Jesus gave as warnings to His listeners. Soon He would be crucified ushering in the Kingdom of God. The people of God had to be about the business of building that Kingdom, not complacent or idle resting on their status as God’s chosen. They had to be using their talents and resources to expand His Kingdom and not be afraid to do so. Servants who truly know their Master will have faith as they go about Kingdom business because they will know that the Lord will work in and through them to accomplish His goals.
The Lord has given to each of His chosen certain gifts and talents. In fact He has given every human being various talents and gifts. Some, like the wicked servant in the parable have chosen to misuse, squander or dismiss them altogether in the pursuit of worldly pleasures. Others have opted to use their God-given talents and resources to build their own personal kingdoms, to enhance their wealth, power, prestige and self-image, which, in terms of the Kingdom of God, is the same thing as wasting them. We, the servants of Jesus Christ however, his servants are called to use all That is given us to build His Kingdom not our own so that no one may suffer the eternal punishments so graphically depicted for us by the Lord.
Trinity Lutheran Hicksville

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When is the Lord Returning?

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11)
It appears that one of the problems at Thessalonica was that there was a great deal of speculation about the date of the Lord’s return. Some had even quit their jobs and sold their possessions and so had become burdens on their brethren such was their concern with being ready for the imminent return of Jesus. Paul reassured them that certain signs would take place before that happened. We can interpret these signs as heralding His return but in fact no one knows when this will actually occur. He will return unexpectedly like a thief in the night to set in place a series of events which no one can change or forestall. We who are in Christ do not have to worry for we will be spared the wrath of God which has already been poured out on Christ for us.

We believers are not to be overly concerned about the end times because that leads to speculation and idleness. Unfortunately many Christians do love to speculate about the end times. They often dwell so much on the details of the Lord’s return they forget to do God’s work and so millions go to hell because the Church neglects her task. The best thing we can do to be ready for Christ’s return is live our lives in righteousness and charity, always doing the work of the Lord. This would include spreading the good news of forgiveness in Christ, so that when the master returns He will find us doing His work.
Trinity Lutheran Hicksville

What to do while we wait for the Lord’s return.

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
Paul wrote to encourage the Christians at Thessalonica. Apparently many were filled with doubts resulting from persecution, temptations, and the delayed return of the Lord. A few of the brethren had died something which the rest did not expect. They grieved for them and were sad. They wondered what had happened to them. Paul sets out to comfort them in their grief by relating some theological truths concerning the Lord’s return. He uses images and prophetic language that should not be pressed as literal details but figures of the truth. All those who have died and all those still alive when Jesus returns will be reunited at His coming. All will have resurrected bodies. This is great comfort and encouragement because we know that despite what happens in our lives, those in Christ have the assurance of the glorious hope of our resurrection.

Paul’s words give us comfort when faced with our own mortality or when a loved one dies. We need such encouragement especially in the midst of such troubling and violent times. We pray earnestly for the Lord’s return and soon! But what about those who do not know the Lord? Can they extract any such comfort? The return of Christ, an event we look forward to with joy, is not going to be pleasant for billions of people including many of those we love and admire. If we are to judge by the pain and anguish we feel now amidst our current tribulation and anarchy, we can see with horror that the Lord’s judgment will be extremely distressing for those without faith. They have no hope. Therefore we must continue to preach the gospel to all nonbelievers that they will come to faith before it is too late.
Trinity Lutheran Hicksville

Let Justice Roll.

“I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:21-24)
Yahweh and Amos uttered a funeral elegy to mark the death of Israel. The elegy described the tragedy that would soon befall the people as contrasted with their present life of ease. One of their specific covenant violations was their misuse of the legal system that had sprung up around the Mosaic law which exploited and defrauded the poor and needy. The leaders of the people took bribes and showed favoritism that deprived many of justice. They engaged in lying, cheating and theft of property. Amos let them know quite openly that they did not know God or appreciate His power. He called on them to seek justice and mercy for the poor or face the consequences.

These words of Amos serve to remind all Christians that the Lord desires we promote social justice for those who are oppressed and cannot defend themselves. This includes advocating for the rights of the unborn. It also means that we seek racial and ethnic harmony. It means extending hospitality and grace toward the aliens among us (legal or undocumented) most of whom came to America seeking the benefits and advantages that many of us take for granted as basic rights.
We are to treat all human beings with fairness and equity. After all, the Lord works through His church to grant equality, acceptance and respect for all human beings regardless of race, gender or ethnic origin. This is accomplished through faith and faith comes by hearing the word of the gospel. That word is communicated by the acts and words of the people of God.
Trinity Lutheran Hicksville

Waiting for Jesus’ Return?

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:13)
In our communion liturgy we affirm the Lord’s return with the prayer: “Amen! Come Lord Jesus!” Yet do we know what we are saying in this prayer? Are we really ready for the Lord’s imminent return? Are we ready to instantly give up everything for the eternal Kingdom? Or have the things of the world we hold so dearly made us complacent? Do we think it cannot happen yet, or worse, do we not want it to happen now because we are not ready?
Jesus’ parable about the 10 virgins serves as a warning against such complacency. The rulers of the Jews had given up looking for the Messiah and had forgotten that He was to come. Hence they could recognize Him when even though He was standing in their midst. Jesus likened the complacent ones to the 5 foolish virgins who were unprepared and not ready for the appearing of the bridegroom. They were not looking expectantly for the Messiah or else they assumed they were well-prepared. The 5 wise virgins, however, had faith which is represented by the light of the torches fueled by that extra oil. That faith made the difference which allowed them entry to the wedding feast. If we have such faith in Christ we will realize that we are prepared for the return of Christ even now.
While we wait for Jesus’ return, we are to use those resources, gifts and talents He has given us to expand the Kingdom of God, to preach the gospel to the lost and to destroy the works of the devil. Our gifts and talents are not given to make us complacent and live a life of ease. They are not to be used for outward displays of religion and piety. They are, as it were, to be used in the trenches on the front lines where we get personally involved. We are called to give to the poor, assist the sick and needy and to exercise hospitality on a wide scale, especially to strangers and outcasts.

Trinity Lutheran Hicksville

Poverty of Spirit.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)
Lately it seems that we all feel troubled, frustrated and powerless due to all that is going on in the world. These things in the world frustrate us because we really can do little or nothing to resolve them. We feel powerless and victimized. The wicked ways and values of the world permeate society and government on every level. Laws and customs have been changed to allow sin and selfishness to grow and prosper. This whole situation emphasizes the fact that we believers do not belong in this world. We are not first and foremost citizens of our nation. We are primarily citizens of the Kingdom of God. And there is a great gap between the culture and values of the world and the Kingdom.

The Sermon on the Mount helps us put our lives in perspective for the underlying basis for the tenets and principles of the Kingdom lies within the beatitudes. These beatitudes are 8 blessings given for 8 qualities that Christians manifest. These 8 qualities are not a smorgasbord from which we can pick and choose. They are an interconnected group that describes every believer. Each one is to be poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungry, merciful, pure in heart, a peacemaker and persecuted.
The first beatitude may trouble us, but it is vital to Kingdom living. Christians are to be poor in spirit. To be poor in spirit is to acknowledge our spiritual poverty, that we have nothing to offer God. We are sinners who are spiritually bankrupt deserving only God’s wrath and judgment. Only those who repent, who recognize and admit their spiritual poverty receive the blessing of faith and citizenship in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is not a blessing for the wealthy, the winners, the successful, the movers and shakers, the self-sufficient, the powerful or the popular. Such rarely admit they are sinners or that they need help from God. The kingdom is a blessing given to the feeble, the weak, the humble, the losers, the inept and the rejects of society all who know they have nothing to offer God, who know they can achieve nothing of value or worth. All they can do is cry to God for help and the blessing of God’s mercy. And they receive it and are comforted.
Trinity Lutheran Hicksville

Children of God.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3)
John exalts the Lord concerning the wonderful gift of union with Him, both now and in eternity. We are children of God, equal in righteousness to Jesus Himself, as deserving as He of the Father’s love and blessings. It is this acceptance that makes us desire to live lives of purity and holiness, though we are ever aware of our weakness and frailty. We struggle in this life with our sinfulness and the sinful allure of the world. Yet we rejoice to know that one day that struggle will be over.

God’s love is what saves us. Love is demonstrated by God toward us and love is what He desires we extend to others. Love, as He manifests it, is so different from the the world’s major misconception of romance or physical attraction or sex. Love is a positive regard for other people, not just those who love us, not just our relatives and friends, but our enemies as well. Love is shown by self-sacrifice and caring for the needs of others without demanding or expecting anything in return. Jesus manifested such love by dying on the cross. He expects us to do the same. This seems an impossible task without faith for God knows our weakness. He equips and enables His children to obey.
Not all human beings are children of God for not all have faith in Jesus. Want to be a child of God? Do you long for those   comforting blessings that come from that relationship? Call out to the Lord and repent of your sins and you will find He is ready to accept you.

Trinity Lutheran Hicksville