• Daily Devotion. Day 7, Joyful in Hope

    Image may contain: nature and outdoor, text that says 'Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer ROMANS 12:12'

    Romans is the book of the Bible I probably spend the most time in. It’s filled with memorable gospel proclamations. It speaks eloquently to the wonders of baptism. It encourages us to use our spiritual gifts for the up-building of the church.

    One verse that stands out in this time is Romans 12:12. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” This sums up the Christian life in general, but in our current context it hits home with a bit more force. There is too much in this one verse for one devotion, so why don’t we spread this out over the next few days.

    Be joyful in hope. If you look for it, you will find there is a lot of hope out there. There are moments of grace that I see every day, even while sheltering in place. People are sacrificing for the benefit of the community by donating masks to hospital personnel, donating blood. I’ve even heard of people foregoing their salaries to ensure those with less financial stability can keep getting paid.

    Yesterday I got to help some of our friends baptize their first child from thousands of miles away. Though there are challenges out there, God’s glory is still being revealed every day all over the world.

    There is a lot of hope out there. Be joyful in that.

    God’s blessings on your day. Keep the faith.

    Pastor Andy

  • Hope and Thankfulness in the midst of Sadness

    Once a month, the LCMS pastors from the surrounding area gather for a time of worship, fellowship, and to discuss any issues that are coming up that we can help each other through. We typically meet on the second Tuesday of the month at one of the churches. This past week we met at Christ Lutheran in Martinez. I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with their story, but Christ Martinez is about to dissolve their congregation and close their doors for good. They have fewer than 10 members remaining. Their buildings are in need of some maintenance. They simply can’t keep the doors open.

    I was struck by several things while I was there. First, was a sense of sadness that the members of this church were going to lose their church home. Certainly, there are many other churches in the area, but there must be a distinct sadness that goes with closing the doors of a church.

    Second, was a sense of thankfulness. It’s easy to consider things a failure when it’s time for them to come to an end, but that isn’t always the case. Every congregation, ministry, business, nation, empire, and person has a life cycle. We don’t consider people failures when they die. We know death is inevitable in this sinful world. Likewise, when a congregation comes to its end, that doesn’t always happen because of failure. Sometimes circumstances lead God’s people to an understanding that the most faithful thing to do, the shrewdest way to act as God’s stewards, is to close a church. Yes, it is sad, but we can be thankful for all of the people who heard the Gospel at Christ Martinez. We can be thankful for all those who were baptized there, who received the Lord’s Supper there.

    Third and finally, I had a sense of hope. I don’t know what’s in store for the community of Martinez, but God knows. I’m not sure if First Lutheran can have any impact on that community in the next few years. I’m not sure what the religious landscape of California will look like in 50 or 100 or 500 years, but God knows. And God’s plans are better and higher and more wonderful than our own.

    Every week in the Lord’s Prayer, we pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” As we move forward in faith, let us continually look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter, the author and editor of our faith. Let us follow where He is leading, always eager to serve our Lord with joy.

    God’s blessings on your week.

    Pastor Andy

  • The Steadfastness of Job

    James mentions the Old Testament character of Job as an example to us of steadfastness in the face of suffering. This sermon reviews Job's story and compares it with Jesus' story.
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LCMS logoFirst Evangelical Lutheran Church is a member of the California-Nevada-Hawaii District of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, a family of congregations focused on bringing Christ to the nations and sharing His unconditional saving Love within our community.

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