A BATTLE YOU CAN'T WIN. Ever been in one of those? Not like some ancient tale where warriors, soldiers choose death over surrender. In that case it's usually for the glory, and there has to be some kind of satisfaction in that.
I mean a battle where every day is filled with BITTER COMBAT, and you see no end in sight. I mean where even as you struggle with all your might to stand your ground, you feel yourself getting pushed back. Inch by inch, foot by foot. Yard by yard. And all the while, you know-you just know-that though you dearly want to win, you will lose.
Sin had taken our measure, had taken control of us. Death had us in its sights. WE COULD NOT WIN. No one could, no matter how hard he/she might struggle. Sin made each day a misery, and death swallowed up every human hope, every human joy, every human life.
UNTIL OUR JESUS CAME. Ravenous death was swallowed up forever by his death. And what makes his triumph on Easter so unique is that, when he won that convincing battle, he didn't hoard the glory for himself. He gave his victory away. Listen to Paul: "Thanks be to God! HE GIVES US the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 15:57). His triumph, my triumph. His life, my life. In an instant our life's struggle is transformed from a hard life's work of hopeless despair into a glorious battle, bright with living hope.
We draw our life from Jesus our once crucified, but now resurrected Savior. He gives his life to us. God gives. We give. We give our lives away in service to this Lord. We like nothing better than to spread the news of his triumph far and wide. "DEATH IS DONE. Sin's power is broken"
WILL YOU HELP FREE OTHERS FROM THEIR HOPELSS BATTLES? Will you help give away what we have freely received? Not for the sake of an institution like St. Paul's congregation or for the sake of our church body, the WELS, but because Jesus lives. BECAUSE HE WON!
Contentment. That's not a word that our world is familiar with. Bigger, better, faster. It doesn't even have to come with a big price tag: if it's better than what I have, I want it. Did you hear about the three winners from the most recent big Powerball drawing? Of course, they are forced to split a $564 million prize (or $101 million each if they take a one time payment)....almost not even worth playing. All sarcasm aside, the three winners were from Texas, North Carolina, and Puerto Rico. It wasn't a very long time before those who didn't win began to post threats and abusive comments on the internet.
There is definitely something to be said about the dangers of gambling and making sure that an occasional game doesn't become an addiction, but what really is sad is that those who lost really thought they missed out on a chance to be content. I won't even reprint some of the things said about the winners. It's so foolish to think that you can only be truly happy if you make it rich. But people don't just look for contentment in wealth: the perfect house, girl-friend/boyfriend, job title, power, etc. You can run after all of these things and even achieve "great" things; but unless you know The Secret then you'll never find true contentment.
That's what Paul talks about in his letter to the Philippians: "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Philippians 4:12) Come on Paul, what's the secret? Some great investment tip? A ten step process to a happier, more successful you? Of course not! It has nothing to do with the things of this world. If you want true contentment then you don't have to look any farther than Christ: "I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)
Are you struggling with finding contentment in your life? Is nothing going the way you had hoped? Or maybe you have succeeded at everything; and yet you still feel that hollowness and emptiness. Want the real secret to contentment? Let the joy of forgiveness and the peace with God fill your heart and mind. After all, earthly treasures and successes last only for a little bit, but God's promises last forever. Amen.
J.A.M. stands for Jesus in the Afternoon for Me. J.A.M. is a Wednesday after-school program for children in grades 1-5. All are welcome to attend especially those who do not have a church home or Sunday school.
Children gather in St. Paul's fellowship hall after arriving from their school (they can get shuttled by bus from their school to St. Paul’s--Ask your child’s bus driver for details). The sessions begin with a snack, free time (games), a Bible lesson (beginning around 3:50), singing and craft. Children are to be picked up at 5:00 p.m. You can register your child when you bring them or by clicking the link below to our online registration form.
J.A.M. is FREE and a fun way for your child to learn valuable lessons for life and bring them closer to God.
For more information click on the link below to the J.A.M. handbook or call St. Paul's church and school office 783-2552 extension 0.