Reflections

Hope for Today

 Articles to help encourage and edify the people of God 

August 2021

by Julia Sinclair, Lay Deaconess
All Saints Lutheran Church

 

“Sola Scriptura” - Scripture alone 

Where would you find wisdom today? 

Three pieces of timeless advice from the Proverbs can be categorized under the headings “Seek Wisdom, Respect the Lord and Always be Kind.” 

The first piece of advice would be to “Seek Wisdom” We should strive to seek after wisdom like it is buried treasure. We need to dig for it (read our Bibles) and bring it to the attention of others (witness). 

As with any treasure we don’t just dig it up, look at it, and then bury it again. (see the parable of the talents, Matthew 25:14-30) His Word has been given to us and we are  caretakers to use it wisely. Proverbs 31:10 says “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her worth is far above rubies.” We see that riches come from virtue and where do we find virtue? In scripture and when we follow the wisdom literature it makes our relationships richer for it. 

As caretakers of God's Word, we are careful with the treasure and want to put it in the best light. See Proverbs 29:18, it says “Where there is no vision the people perish” that is to say where there is no understanding of the treasure of God’s word the people are made poorer for it. Proverbs 11:14 echoes this and Proverbs 11:4 speaks of the riches of righteousness, that comes from faith in the Lord. This faith is a gift that is not earned by obedience to the Law. People need to hear the Gospel and how will they hear unless there is someone to preach to them? "How then can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching ot them? and How can anyone preach unless they are sent?"  (Romans. 10:14-15a) This is a serious thing, people judge the master by the messengers that are sent. We are God's Ambassadors.

The second piece of advice would be “Respect the Lord” We should strive to respect and fear the Lord as the creator of all things. 

He is our loving father who has given us his wisdom and we should take time to listen. Proverbs 22:4 says, “The reward for humility and fear of the Lord, is riches and honor and life.” That's not to say we believe you will get rich quick by folowing the Law.  By no means! It is speaking of the life and peace that comes from having a relationship with God. In that, there is wisdom and honor and life.  As parents we want the best for our children, so we teach them to respect and fear the Lord and to heed the warnings we give them. Proverbs 30:5 says “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him” this should be a comfort to all of us. Yet like any father he also sends us a warning in Proverbs 30: 17 that there can be dire consequences if you fail to listen to and heed instruction meant to keep you safe. As it says in psalm 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go even when he is old he will not depart from it” We see what happens when we do this; “the righteous walks in his integrity- blessed are his children after him!” Proverbs 20:7. Part of fearing the Lord is to honor his ways and understand that “the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) We do not want ourselves or our children to repeat their folly (see Proverbs 26:11). We should all listen to instruction and heed it.

The third piece of advice is to “Always be kind”  We should follow the 8th commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” We can show kindness to our neighbor in our speech and in our actions. 

We read in Proverbs 10:12 that “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all wrongs.” Then in Proverbs 15:1 it says, “A mild answer calms wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Therefore, in our speech, we are to consider the consequences of our response. Jesus remained silent to his accusers. Sometimes that is the best thing we can do. As my Mom used to say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” 

If you think about it, our words have impact. To lie to someone is to in essence, show disrespect. It says that you do not honor or hold that person's dignity as deserving of the truth. In the save vein, gossip is a type of verbal violence against our neighbor's reputation. Gossip is poison, especially when used in the church. Proverbs 12:19 says “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment” and proverbs 12:20 says “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.

 Another part of "Always be Kind" is our actions. Don’t oppress the poor, but be generous to the needy (Proverbs 14:31) don’t be greedy “If you find honey, eat just enough- too much and you will be sick” (Proverbs 25:16) When we are kind we can retain our good name which is more desirable then great wealth. We earn a good name with our actions and we protect it by living a life of honesty, generosity, and integrity. 

The Proverbs are full of statements of common sense from a father to a son about speech and relationships. I encourage you to take time to read and meditate and use what wisdom literature tells us. Much of what is wrong in relationships today, is because God’s Word and His wisdom, is not valued for the treasure that it is. 

God has blessed us with his Word to give us wisdom and truth. What does He want us to do with this treasure? Proclaim His wisdom and truth to all nations, in a kind, respectfull and wise manner. 

True wisdom comes from the Lord: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” (Proverbs.16:33).

 May God bless you as you study the Proverbs this month. 

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Hope for Today

 Articles to help encourage and edify the people of God 

May 2021

by Julia Sinclair, Lay Deaconess

All Saints Lutheran Church

 

The five Solas

In this column you have seen that each month I examine one of the five Solas. Each highlights an important aspect to our faith as christians. As we focus on each one we strive to understand what each one means and how to apply it to our lives. Sola is a latin word and means “only”. What began with the reforms of Martin Luther eventually led the 16th century reformers to boil down the distinctions into three “solas” or “only’s” that declare salvation is free by grace alone, by faith alone and believed from “Scripture alone.” Not until the 20th century do we see Solus Christus and Soli Deo gloria added to the list on a regular basis, to bring all five Solas together. I chalenge you to find as many scripture verses as you can, that apply to each of the Solas. May this understanding provide a deeper faith walk for you.

The five Solas are:

Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”): 

The Bible alone is our highest authority.

Sola fide (“faith alone”): 

We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.

Sola gratia (“grace alone”): 

We are saved by the grace of God alone.

Solus Christus (“Christ alone”): 

Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.

Soli Deo gloria (“to the glory of God alone”): 

We live for the glory of God alone.


Hope for Today

 Articles to help encourage and edify the people of God 

 

April 2021
by Julia Sinclair, Lay Deaconess
All Saints Lutheran Church

 

"We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”  Romans 5:3-5

Sola Fide (“Faith Alone”)

By His suffering and death as the substitute for all people of all time, Jesus purchased and won forgiveness and eternal life for us. Those who hear this Good News and believe it have the eternal life that it offers. We are drawn by the Holy Spirit into faith in Jesus and the hope He brings. We are held by the Spirit in our hope so that we will not be ashamed of either our sufferings or our hope in His  promises. This is a hope of  eternal life and a knowledge that we have  a Savior that has suffered also. This truth gives us strength to bear our daily cross.

Grief: The source of blessing

It is in our grief and suffering that we turn to God. In Him we find the peace that comes from complete forgiveness and the comfort that comes from his eternal love for us.  Suffering and loss comes to us   because that is part of being human. It is in those emotions that God does a mighty work in us. He builds empathy in us so we can    comfort those around us who are in the valley and experiencing the dark night of the soul. Have you ever suffered a loss? Be it a family member, pet or close friendship? Have you ever met someone who has suffered a loss and not been changed by it? 

God works mightily in that place where tears and despair meet God’s love and peace. So my dear brothers and sisters, grieve over your sins, grieve over the loss of a loved one, or a pet, or a close friendship. Each has its own kind of transformative, exquisite, sharp, piercing pain and sadness, and hope and blessings are found within them.

For there is a right time and procedure to every purpose, though a man's misery weighs heavily upon him.” Ecclesiastes 8:6

This should give us comfort. Everything that happens goes through God’s hand first.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1.

Yes, my dear brothers and sisters, there is a season for everything. Nothing lasts forever here on earth, there will continue to be sin accompanied by its bitter fruit, suffering and death. The fall of Adam and Eve made sure of that.

“To the woman he said, "I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat from it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:16-19

But you will not grieve in darkness and despair alone, Jesus will meet you there. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4. He counts every tear, every frustration and gives us love and hope. Your grief and sadness is not for nothing, it will change you profoundly.

But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.” 1 Corinthians 15:35-36.

Jesus is with us in the journey. “For a little while you may have had to suffer grief and all kinds of trials” 1 Peter 1:6. He will restore us enough to get through this life and when He gives us our cross He will also give us strength and hope that we will be fully restored at the resurrection. “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven.”  Matthew 5:12.

“Suffering kills the sinful nature, strengthens faith, and allows the gifts of the Holy Spirit to multiply.”  -Martin Luther

May God bless you richly this month as you study His holy and precious Word.

For further study this month, read and meditate on these verses in this order:

1 Peter 1:3-9

1 Peter 4:12-16

Colossians 1:24

Psalm 17:6-9,15

Psalm 66:12,19-20

Psalm 118: 14,17-21

Isaiah 48:10

Isaiah 40-28-31




 Hope for Today

 Articles to help encourage and edify the people of God 

March 2021
by Julia Sinclair, Lay Deaconess
All Saints Lutheran Church

 


Special follow up article to last month's leadership seminar “Planning for Hope”

 

Spirit-led Leadership 

 

When we are tapped by God to be a leader in the church, we prayerfully act when God leads, we mobilize and make use of the spiritual gifts given to those in our church body and we say with unity and assurance, we are “Planning for Hope.” Let God shape our hope, our future. Let us as leaders of All Saints Lutheran Church, go forward with confidence; knowing that Jesus is the lamp to our feet and the light to our path. 

May this three part decision pathway help you lead your team with a unity of spirit, to be one body, alive and rising and ready for the challenges to come.


Decision Pathway

 

Part One: Contemplate: 

To see. Look at the issue not only through your eyes but through the eyes of whoever you are trying to reach. Be silent and listen to the spirit of God and to others.* 

Part Two: Discern:

 To choose. What are the forces at work around this issue? Would going forward build up the church? Does it fill a need? Choose what builds up -vs- what divides the unity of the church.* 

Part Three: Propose: 

To act. Put into place actionable steps. These come from the results of contemplation and discernment. We can choose to act with purpose. We can choose what is of God and for the building up of His body (The church). Unity comes from sharing ideas, making plans and doing projects together


This decision pathway will also work for those who are leaders in their household. 

May God bless each one of you in your service as leaders for All Saints Lutheran Church. May the Holy Spirit guide your plans as you go forth into the mission field, to serve His bride, the Church

*Based on the book “Let us Dream” by Pope Francis. (Simon and Schuster,2020) pgs. 142-143.



Hope for Today

 Articles to help encourage and edify the people of God 

 

February 2021

by Julia Sinclair, Lay Deaconess
All Saints Lutheran Church

 

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7
Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”)
The Bible alone is our highest authority. It is inerrant and infallible. In it He reveals His Law and His Gospel of  Salvation in Jesus.
 I am sure you have seen in the stores all the displays of candy and flowers and balloons and giant Teddy bears for celebrating  Valentines Day on February 14th. At the store where I do most of my shopping, I began to see signs of  Valentines day right next to the Christmas clearance items all throughout January. The Jewelry counter is advertising specials on diamonds and gold, so we can “show our love” on Valentines day in 12 easy payments. The floral dept. has ads up saying “Roses say it best.” Do you notice something about the way we celebrate “Love” It is all based on stuff and things and how we can boast about what we got or what we gave.  
I am sure many of us can remember our first love, but do you remember what you got when you celebrated your first Valentines day with that person? Probably not. What do you remember instead? The nervous laughter as you walked to the movie theater, the concern that your date was going to order the most expensive item on the menu, the walk home in the moonlight. Notice what these things are? These are not things, they are memories, cherished, remembered and if you are lucky, you have photos of that first love to remind you.  What is it that makes us cherish memories more than a giant Teddy bear or a bouquet of roses?
We cherish memories more because they are written on our hearts. How do the         memories of those we love get into our hearts? We take the time to listen, to comfort, to laugh, to cry. We take time to experience life with them. If that is how we learn to love a person, then how do we get to know and love God?
Well, ask yourself how did you get to know and fall in love with that special someone? Love of God and knowledge of His love for us, goes hand in hand. Matthew 22:37 says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your Mind.” This is the greatest commandment. If you can say you love God then you have some knowledge of His love for you. If you didn't, then loving Him would be impossible. 
Since you know something of Him and His word and it has inspired you to grow, wouldn't you want to build upon that and strive to know more and more about Him? Isn’t that what happens to us when we fall in love with someone? We talk to them and based on that, we strike up another conversation and another. Then, based on what you have found out, you become intrigued, attracted and can’t wait to meet up with them again so you can find out even more! We want to know every detail, their childhood, their likes and dislikes. Their hopes for the future. As we talk to them and read their texts and emails, our knowledge grows. As our knowledge grows so does our love. In a sense, we are falling in love with God the same way. As we read His word every day, He talks, we listen. We hear the Word being read to us on Sundays. We read our daily devotionals, we open our Bibles for family devotion time. He gives us answers to issues that are timeless and part of the human experience. Read in the pages of Scripture how much God loves us. How His Son Jesus knows all about what we are experiencing here on earth. 
Ask questions of God so you can grow in your knowledge of Him and then your love will grow too. Just like with that special someone, we can ask God for help. We do that by praying and talking to God. “No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” (Matthew 11:27). Let’s think about that for a moment. No one knows the Father except the Son. How do you get to know someone? How do you fall in love with that special someone? Again, you took time to build a relationship, to learn a bit more each time and then before you know it, you are in love and want to know everything about that person. Why? So you can love them completely, with all your soul, heart and mind. Just as we got to know that first love, we took time to get to know them and then bam! We get hooked like a fish and become hopelessly, madly in love. Unable to wait another moment until you could tell everyone around you, that you were in love with the most amazing person. We can have that kind of love and enthusiasm, but in a deeper more profound and eternal level when we get to know God. 
As you see, there is a connection between the love of God and the knowledge of God. Just like with human relationships, it takes time to get to know someone. As you take time to get to know God, He woos you with the Holy Spirit giving you discernment to gain knowledge as you read about Him. 
You can start on your journey to know and love God, with materials from he 40 day Red Letter Challenge. Why Red letter? The Words of  Jesus are in red letters in your Bible. Imagine how much better you will know God after spending 40 days with Him! For more information contact Pastor Dolby, your Elder or visit:                                          
allsaints-lcms.com/small-groups

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