St. Paul's Weekly Update
Strength and Mercy
There's a funny quote in a show where the boss asks, "Would I rather have people fear me or love me?"
What do you think? If you were in charge, would you rather have people fear you or love you?
In Exodus 15, the Israelites are praising God for rescuing them from Egypt and leading them through the Red Sea on dry ground. Verse 13 says, "In your mercy you will lead the people that you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy pastureland."
Would God rather lead his people with fear or love? How about.... both!
In your mercy... God leads his people with his love. In his grace, he buys us back from slavery to sin through Jesus and leads us to our heavenly home.
In your strength... God leads his people with his awe-some power. In his might, he terrifies his enemies (verse 16: "Terror and dread will fall upon them!"), and guides his people home while protecting them from all danger.
So would you rather have people fear you or love you? The boss in the show answers: "I want people to be afraid of how much they love me."
God will lead his people in loving mercy and awe-full strength. How should we respond? Maybe we could put it this way: We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things!
Midweek Bible Studies, Wednesdays at 10am (Proverbs) and 7pm (Luke)
Sunday Worship @ 8 (Livestream) & 10:30am
Monday Night @ 6:30pm
Bible Class and Sunday School @ 9:15 at the School
This Sunday: 2 Corinthians Continues
Thursday Bible Information Class @ 6pm
Holy Week Thank You
Thank you so much to everyone who helped make Holy Week a special time to reflect on what our Savior has done for us and to celebrate! Thanks to the burrito boys, the easter egg hunt helpers and bag fillers, those who passed out invites, those who lifted up their voices in praise to God, and to everyone! We praise our God that he allows lowly people like us to receive his blessings and praise him in return!
WELS International Youth Rally
This summer's International Youth Rally is in Knoxville, TN, under the theme: "Here and Now."
For information about the rally, go to https://wels.net/serving-you/christian-life/discipleship/youth-rally/. To sign up, please contact or email Allen or Ginny Ash (alginash at yahoo.com), who are planning on going and willing to chaperone. Our deadline to sign up will be THIS SUNDAY (!) April 24th so we can get the early bird discount.
For the almost-confirmands (Examination April 29th, Confirmation May 1st)
Bring prayers of thanksgiving and intercession to God!
Easter 2: The Risen One Sends Us
Imagine someone discovering the cure for cancer yet keeping it private. Impossible! The need is too great; the news is too good. So it is with our Lord’s resurrection from the dead. “We cannot help speaking of what we have seen and heard.”
First Reading: Acts 5:12,17-32
What did the angel who brought the apostles out of the public jail tell them to do?
The angel told the apostles, “Go, stand in the temple courts, and tell the people the full message of this new life.”
Why will we never stop testifying to others that Jesus has been raised from the dead, even if we face strong opposition?
We will never give up telling others that God’s crucified Son has been raised from the dead because a) it is such good news, b) it creates the faith that alone saves us from hell, and c) Jesus himself has told us to spread the good news of who he is and what he has done. Jesus is God! “We must obey God, rather than men.”
What two main things does God the Father want to give all people by raising his Son from the dead?
The two main things God the Father wants to give us is forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
Second Reading: Revelation 1:4-18
What does the last apostle left on earth call himself as he begins writing the Bible’s last book?
The last apostle on earth simply calls himself, John. This shows a) that he was well-known, and b) that he wouldn’t dream of using any titles that would exalt himself.
How does John describe Jesus before he sees him?
Despite appearances, John calls Jesus a) “the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth”; b) the One who “loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood”; c) “the Alpha and the Omega, who was and is and is to come, the Almighty.”
Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31
Each of the four Gospels has a commission near its end to share the good news. What is that commission in John’s Gospel?
“Peace be with you,” Jesus said. “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” With that he breathed on the disciples and gave them and us amazing authority: “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
If with your own eyes you have not seen your Lord, now raised from the dead, is that a problem?
With Job and believers through the ages, we long to see our Lord—yet Jesus told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
What is the ultimate purpose of all that John wrote down about Jesus?
The Spirit did not inspire John to write down every miraculous sign Jesus performed. Whatever John shares with us in print has one main purpose: that we may believe that Jesus is God’s Anointed One, his only Son, and that by believing we may have life in his name.
Hymns: 438, 456, (462/466), 461
Setting: Setting 1, This is the Feast (938) will replace the Gloria in the Sundays after Easter
Some notes from: https://wels.net/worship-help/
Why are the 40 days before Jesus' ascension important?
Q&A from Forward in Christ: Why are the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension important for the disciples and for us?
Jesus finished his work of paying for the sins of the whole world by dying on the cross. But how can we be sure our sins are paid for? On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection assures us that the Father had accepted the sacrifice and that we really are at peace with God.
But how can we be sure he rose? This is what makes the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension so important. Often after I accomplish a goal in life, I take some time to relax and bask in the relief. Not Jesus. He was still “working” during those 40 days to accomplish at least three vital tasks for his disciples and for us.
Jesus’ resurrection proves that all of his promises are true. Acts 1:3 tells us, “After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.” He didn’t appear just once, nor did he just appear to the disciples. This Forward in Christ issue is filled with his appearances. Jesus appeared numerous times to hundreds of people over the course of that 40 days. The apostle Paul wrote the book of 1 Corinthians about AD 55 and in it stresses that many of the witnesses were still alive and could verify the resurrection (chapter 15).
The Bible even records the doubts of Thomas. Thomas was not there that first Easter evening. But when Jesus appeared the next Sunday, he let Thomas touch his wounds that had now become marks of victory. We not only have eyewitness proof, but hand-witness proof!
That gives us assurance still today! As the hymn writer so beautifully puts it: “He lives to silence all my fears; he lives to wipe away my tears; he lives to calm my troubled heart; he lives all blessings to impart” (Christian Worship 441:5). Christ is risen; he is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Acts 1:3 continues, “He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” Jesus needed to teach them what the kingdom meant. Just after this verse, we read about the disciples’ misunderstanding. “Then they . . . asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.’ ” The disciples likely thought that Jesus was going to make heaven on earth now that he had risen. They were mistaken. Jesus’ kingdom is his rule in the hearts of people. That’s an important lesson for us as well. We should expect ministry on this side of eternity to be a battle. When people reject Jesus, it should not surprise us. When we need to bear a cross for living for Jesus, it should not surprise us. That is why we say we are part of the church militant now, knowing that on the day appointed, we will be ushered into the church triumphant in heaven.
Jesus needed to instruct his disciples that he even can use imperfect people. Peter had denied Jesus three times on the night before his crucifixion. Peter cried genuine tears of repentance that night when the rooster crowed and the look of Jesus reminded him what he had done. Did his denials disqualify him for ministry? When Jesus appeared to his disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus answered that question. He emphatically said to Peter, “Feed my lambs. . . . Take care of my sheep. . . . Feed my sheep. . . . Follow me!” (John 21:15,16,17,19). If he can use a forgiven denier like Peter, he can use us, who have tasted that same sweet forgiveness.
Jesus’ appearances and instruction for ministry over that 40 days gave the disciples confidence for ministry, confidence you can have too!
Finally, Jesus needed to instruct the disciples about their work in his kingdom. Acts 1:8 says, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The church’s mission has remained unchanged for the past two thousand years. In fact, you are proof of it. Would you like to meet those in your spiritual family tree? It goes all the way back to the apostles. They told someone, who then told another, who told someone else—all the way to you.
Some of them endured much to share the story of Jesus and his resurrection. The Christian life is hard, but it’s worth it because Jesus promises to acknowledge in heaven all those who acknowledge him here. That’s all the popularity you’ll ever need. Someone once told you about how valuable you are to God, that you are worth the blood of his only Son. You have no reason to worry about any physical need in this life. Now you have confidence. Jesus’ appearances and instruction for ministry over that 40 days gave the disciples confidence for ministry, confidence you can have too!
“I’m glad to see you go.” This would be a strange thing to say to someone you love. No spouse likes to see his or her significant other go off to war. No young child likes to see Mom and Dad leave. No parent likes to be away from their children for a long period of time. That’s just the way we are geared. We don’t want to see those we hold near and dear go. We have come to depend on them!
Wouldn’t you have expected the disciples to feel the same way? Their teacher had inspired them with his words and deeds, producing confidence, hope, and joy. And he wasn’t just their teacher. He was their friend. There was no one they would rather be around. Now he was leaving. He was going home. Wouldn’t you have expected them to beg him to stay like the Emmaus disciples did on Easter evening or Peter did on the Mount of Transfiguration? Instead, listen to the final verses of Luke’s gospel: “Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God” (24:52,53).
What had changed? Jesus had accomplished what he had set out to do during those 40 days between his resurrection and ascension. The disciples had seen the risen Jesus with their own eyes. Jesus had instructed them and given them promises about what they would accomplish. He was finished with his work. He had to ascend into heaven. As Paul says, “[God] raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church” (Ephesians 1:20-22). That means Jesus rules all things for you!