Find Comfort.

“And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.” (Ezekiel 17:24)
Ezekiel presents us a prophecy of the Messiah. This prophecy follows a condemnation of the people of Judah for their unfaithfulness and wickedness. When the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar led the leading people of Jerusalem off into exile, he left Zedekiah as his puppet ruler. Although Zedekiah was in a place where he had opportunity to look to the Lord and lead the nation in repentance, he sought help from other nations for support and aid, but received nothing.

So it is with the unbeliever and all who fail to look to the Lord for help and comfort. They receive nothing, at least nothing of substance that will provide lasting comfort or strength. The plain fact is, man always thinks he knows better than God even though the lessons of history prove that we really have no clue. The Lord, however, promises to provide help and security to His people, if only they look to Him and enter into covenant and keep faith with Him. He will provide help, strength, guidance and mercy to those who come seeking Him even in the midst of difficult circumstances. Those who look to human ways and ideas and strength for answers to life’s problems will always be disillusioned, but those who trust in God will not be disappointed.
Trinity Lutheran Hicksville

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The Hope of Glory.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

As I write this I have just heard of the suicide of yet another celebrity. When we hear such things we tend to wonder why such successful, wealthy, popular, and famous people kill themselves. Didn’t they have all they could want? Didn’t they have everything to live for?
While they and God alone know the reasons for such self destructive behavior, one answer may lie in our cultural attitudes toward life and death, that is if you leave God and faith out of consideration. Without God, life is filled with despair. Death seems often to be a pointless waste that calls into question everything we have done in our lives, all that we have ever hoped for as well as all the physical suffering we have endured. If death is the end, then what was the value and purpose of all we did and experienced? People make up their own meaning and purpose for life based on cultural values or philosphical and religious systems which, in the end, tend to fall apart in the face of suffering and death.

Saint Paul, however, gives us real hope. He tells us that our faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sin gives purpose to our lives. And that same faith tells us that all the pain and afflictions, sorrow and loss we endure seem, in the light of eternity, as nothing. What we hold on to so dearly is vulnerable, weak and susceptible to dangers of all sorts. Eternal life is like a building that is strong, beautiful and permanent. When we die, we lose the tent but we are left homeless. The tent, our body we call home now, will be destroyed only to be replaced by our heavenly home, our glorified body, infinitely superior to what we cherish so strongly now. Therefore we can persevere by God’s grace knowing that we will live forever in glory.

Trinity Lutheran Hicksville

Jars of Clay.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” (2 Corinthian 4:7)
With the phase “jars of clay” Paul gives us a great image of the Christian life. This image proclaims the glory of weakness, a metaphor foreign to modern living. Our world treasures power, wealth and fame. All must stand up and be strong and control their own destiny. Weakness and self-doubt are vilified except when the powerful use the weak as tools to achieve their own agendas. But Paul’s metaphor tells us that the Lord demonstrates His glory and power through those who are weak. The self-sufficient autonomous person is not the one the Lord can use. These often reject God’s grace to seek inner harmony by means of human methods. They accept a glory that comes from human achievement, human physical strength, and human intellect. Such glory though popular today and praised throughout out culture cannot compare with the glory of God.

The great light of God’s glory is contained in jars of clay, our unattractive and frail humanity. This is great news for it tells us how we are to live. As jars of clay we have no reason to boast in our abilities, our attractiveness or any other reason. Any glory that we receive in carrying out the work of God belongs to the Lord. We are his servants. Like these clay jars, we are useful to contain the precious items of the gospel and the Holy Spirit. The contents are important, the vessel is not. Thus the most appropriate attitude for us humble gratitude for the privilege of serving a function in God’s kingdom. Such words so troubling to a world that seeks glory and celebrity are extremely comforting to the believer for they strengthen us in times of suffering and deprivation.

Trinity Lutheran Hicksville

Our Need for God.

“Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)
Isaiah was overwhelmed with terror when he beheld the Lord God Almighty in all His glorious splendor. He feared to stand in the presence of our Holy God because he knew he was an unclean sinner unworthy to be in the presence of Divine holiness.

I have felt that terror myself. Many years ago, I came to a point where I was totally overwhelmed by my sinfulness. I knew I was a sinner filled with all sorts of evil habits and desires. I knew that I could not go before God the way I was because He was so Holy and I was not. I knew that there was a huge unbridgeable gap between me and Him. I despaired because I could not understand how to bridge that gap. I saw it as an abyss, a bottomless pit, the entry to hell. I felt like I was about to fall in and be lost for eternity. Even though I knew the truth from reading the Scripture and hearing the gospel proclaimed, I could not figure out how to earn God’s grace and mercy.
The Lord used that terror to impart faith in me. By faith He revealed that grace and mercy are given freely, not earned, for, in fact, they can’t be earned!
Did you ever feel that kind of terror? Did you ever feel that sense of your own disgusting sinfulness? I hope you have. Because without a sense of our own sinfulness we will never know how serious sin is or how hopeless our condition without a proper atoning sacrifice is. We will never see how much we need God. We will never see that gap between us. We will then not see that there is a bridge over it. That bridge is Jesus. This is good news!
Trinity Lutheran Hicksville

God’s “foolish” way to overcome death.

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15 ESV)

In John 3, Jesus cited the example of the serpent in the wilderness to signify that He would bear the sins of mankind in Himself. This incident is found in Numbers 21, an account of the Israelites’ murmuring against God. Here they voiced their dissatisfaction with the food the Lord had provided. After years of wandering, the people were still looking back to the good food they had in Egypt. They forgot that they had been slaves there. After all those years, you would think that their experiences would have taught them the consequences of complaining against the Lord’s provision. 

The Lord punished Israel with a plague of fiery serpents. These snakes fell on them with devastating consequences. The people cried out in repentance and the Lord provided salvation. The odd thing is that the salvation was in the form of a bronze serpent. All the people who had been bitten had to do was look at it and they would be saved from death. Those who thought that doing such a simple thing was stupid, pointless or foolish, died. 
In this incident we see that the very thing that caused death was a symbol of life. This of course is a type for Christ. He became sin on the cross. What was deadly brought life. All who look to His cross in faith are saved from death. Those who refuse to look to the cross because they insist they know better or think that looking to a man crucified in despicable shame is foolish or unscientific and cannot possibly make a difference to them will die. 
 I often think things would be better if I went back. But then I recall that I was always in bondage to shame and fear. And I had no relief because the one who i perceived shamed me most was the one I feared the most: the Lord. Now I know Him and am sure of His mercy and unconditional love. Why would I want to go back?
Trinity Lutheran Hicksville

Spiritual Life in Jesus!

“And he said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ And I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’  Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’” (Ezekiel 37:3-4)

The Valley of Dry Bones is an image which represents spiritual deadness. As the prophet Ezekiel first saw the image he interpreted it as the spiritual death of Judah, of all Israel. Israel and her people had become as useless, dead, defiled and unclean as these dry human bones. Their deadness merited God’s punishment which they were then enduring as exiles and slaves in Babylon. Nevertheless, the bones are restored to life by the word of God spoken by the Holy Spirit through the prophet. 
The dead bones also represent the spiritual deadness of every human being, the deadness and decay brought about by sin. Each person is dead in his or her sins and yet the Lord comes and breathes new life into us by His Holy Spirit. Only the Lord God has the power to create spiritual life out of what is spiritually dead. This is accomplished by the good news of Jesus spoken through the prophets, apostles and the church by the power of the Holy Spirit of God. 
The Lord commanded Ezekiel to speak His words that accomplished the resurrection of those dead bones. And He commands us to do the same. We speak the truth of God’s word in Christ Jesus to those in our world who are spiritually dead, so that the Lord may raise them into His eternal life.
Trinity Lutheran Hicksville

Absolutely True.“And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. ” (1 John 5:11-12)

John assures his audience of the authenticity of their faith. He reminds them that they know God on an intimate and personal level. This relationship is not reserved for a few spiritual elite. It is their right by virtue of their standing in Christ. Consequently, believers have the right to pray with audacious boldness. They can approach God in prayer with a confidence that allows an openness in which they can freely speak their mind without fear. Such boldness is improper for nonbelievers and also false ones: it is the privilege of the believer. 

In addition we believers can be bold about stating that our faith is the absolute truth in this world where truth is relative and subjective, where people compose their spirituality and religion based on emotions, desires and philosophy. We who have faith can be bold in sharing our faith as well, though this will lead to anger, disharmony, and persecution. We can and should be bold because those who reject faith in Jesus are doomed to eternal separation from God.
Our relationship with Jesus is not a product of human striving or effort. It is made possible only by means of the blood which Christ shed on the cross. His blood is the means whereby God has reconciled man to Himself. Man approaches Him not on his own merits but through Christ Himself, who alone acts as our intercessor and High Priest. Salvation and unity with God Almighty is found only in and through Jesus. 
Trinity Lutheran Hicksville