Bible Study Archive

From the Pastor’s Heart

Posted September 1, 2019 By admin

The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life.  5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.  6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:4-6  

 Within the Rite of Holy Baptism, parents of small children, sponsors and congregations promise that we will lead the child into a healthy life of faith in Christ Jesus.  We promise that we will bring the child to God’s house for worship, teach them the Lord’s Prayer, Ten Commandments and the Creed.  We promise to place the Holy Scriptures in their hands and help them learn from them by reading the Bible together.  We promise to provide for their instruction in the Christian faith so that they would live in the covenant of their baptism and in communion with God’s people.  Parents of the newly baptized children especially bear responsibility for these promises; promises their parents first made on their behalf years ago.

 The Proverb above speaks to the importance of such promise keeping.  Usually, when the Proverb is spoken of, it is verse six that stands alone; “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  But when we read this verse in its fuller context, we soon realize the importance of a young life being provided a strong foundation of faith.  The world is filled with powers that defy God, temptations that are overwhelming and so many of the devil’s false promises. We all want our children to have a good life, a full life, one that brings pleasure to their selves and to others.  But as we read in Scripture, and know through our experience, the devil and his minions set thorns and snares along the pathways of God’s people.  On our own, we are no match for them.  Left to fend for ourselves, we will fall deeper into sin without even realizing it.

 For several decades now, there has been a worsening condition permeating the Christian Church, one by which we have seen ever increasing numbers of our younger members fall away from faith.  I believe it is so important to address this condition that I have devoted my doctoral studies to develop resources for pastors, congregations and families to bring about faith formation for our children and children’s children.

 I think we can all agree that we would love to see more of our young people in worship and Sunday school.  The trouble is that so often we don’t know how to encourage them.  Instead, we sometimes inadvertently enable them in their staying away.  Truth being told, children, especially teens, earnestly desire to have a healthy relationship with church families, one centered upon Jesus Christ and one that shares a desire to grow in relationship with God and his people.

 Over the years, I have ministered to parents whose children have fallen away from the church.  I have ministered to grandparents who faithfully bring their grandchildren to worship often (and that’s a good thing).  I have also heard questions from such children that ask, “If mommy and daddy don’t have to go to church, why do I have to go?”  This is a heartbreaking question because at the root of it lies a deeper and more central question, “Why don’t mommy and daddy WANT to go?”

 Jesus says, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16).  The riches, honor and life the Proverb speaks of is a life lived eternally in the presence of God.  When we fail to keep our baptismal promises, we hinder our children; we keep them from growing in a life of faith in Christ.  And not only that, first and foremost, we break the promise we initially made before God and one another.

People of God, I know this is a sensitive issue.  I myself have had to face this truth in my own life.  I know first-hand the difficulties of keeping such promises, especially when children grow older and become more independent.  That is precisely the time when parents should strive to keep the promise they made to their child.  Train them up in the way they should go.  Encourage them when they are older, and faithfully come to God’s house together and enjoy a life lived among God and his people. Doing so will bring us to the reward God has in mind for all his people; life in his kingdom forever.

 Grace to you and peace, Pastor David Nuottila

Pastoral Devotion For September

Posted September 1, 2019 By admin

The Will of the Father

 Matthew 21:23-32

In the parable, Jesus said “A man had two sons.” Both of these sons were given direction to work in their father’s vineyard.  One said no, but later went.  The other said yes, but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father? According to the Pharisees, it was the son who said no, but changed his mind.

 Have you ever noticed in this parable, Jesus doesn’t tell them that they are correct? Did the Pharisees get it right?  The truth is that both sons at one point fell short of the father’s expectations. Both sons needed a change of heart.

 How often have you heard God’s Word and said “No, I will not go” but later went?  How many other times have you said, “Yes, I will go” but failed to do so? In each case we fall short of God’s glory and need a change of heart.  Thankfully, through Christ we are afforded God’s mercy and grace. All we need to do is ask, and God will provide the will and means necessary to do that which he calls us to do.  For the will of the Father is that we believe in his Son.  Today, as in all days, God calls you to faith through Christ and to work in his vineyard. How will you respond?

 Prayer: Lord Jesus, strengthen me in faith, that when you call, I may do your will. Amen.

Upcoming Youth Event

Posted August 28, 2019 By admin

Prayer Breakfast—We will have a prayer breakfast for students (7th —12th Grades) every Wednesday morning for the rest of the year at 8:30 AM in the fellowship hall.  See you on Wednesdays. 

Youth Lock-In — All 7th—12th graders, please make plans to enjoy a lock-in with Rachel.  Bring a pillow, toothbrush, toothpaste, sleeping bag, a change of clothes and your Bible.  You are welcome to invite your friends.  

Youth Group Meeting—We will be meeting on Sunday, September 15th at 5 PM in the Sanctuary

Youth Director & Family Ministries

Posted August 28, 2019 By admin

16 So say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 

As a continuation of my last newsletter   article; the importance of implementing daily time in  prayer and in scripture study during the slow season that will carry us into the next with joyful hearts. It’s no secret that there is a lot going on in our world today and sometimes it seems that our only option is for our face to meet the ground time and time again and pray. This is where we are to press in, instead of letting the flesh lead us, we must rediscover the preeminence of the Word of God and value truth over feeling and emotion; let us hold on even  tighter to the anchor of the living Word of God and to our church family also.  

We need to pray in boldness, faith, and declaration in order to raise up our youth amongst the craziness of the world around us. This is done by impressing the importance of discipleship, church attendance, and Godly living as no optional- but commandments we are to obey as Christians. It is essential that as we continue to grow our youth program at St. Jacob’s, we do so as a team. One body, made of different parts, with different gifts; all committed to seeing the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth be a reality for our young people. I look forward to growing in these spiritual disciplines alongside each of you for in the months to come. 

All for His glory,  Rachel

From the Pastor’s Heart

Posted August 1, 2019 By admin

Congo Mission 2019

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:13-15

Through my mission work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I have learned first-hand the meaning of the above text. The apostle Paul explains to Christians that God extends his grace throughout the world. Everyone who comes to faith in Christ Jesus is saved from their sin and gains the promise of eternal life. But how will people come to faith unless God’s people share the gospel?

For five years, Pastor Stéphane Kalonji and I have traveled to the Congo in obedience to Jesus’ Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20. Christ calls all Christians to go into the world making disciples and teaching the Word of God. This is precisely our mission as we go; to preach and teach God’s Word, and to provide training for others that they may be messengers of God’s grace. Upon this, my third trip to Congo, I have again seen how God continues to build up his Church and bring people to faith through the hearing of the gospel.

Pastor Kalonji and I visited three Lutheran parishes while we were in Congo. We first went to the city of Boma where two years ago I was commissioned by Bishop Keya (Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Congo) to be his missionary to the Lutheran Church in America. I have made friends in Boma, friends that I pray for each day. Upon our arrival, we received a welcome much like that of a family member coming home after an extended period. One by one, people would come to the church and visit with us, telling us of how they have been getting along since our last trip.

In Boma, Pastor Kalonji and I led two seminars for pastors and lay people; we sang with the choirs of men and women; and we preached together, me in English with Pastor Stéphane translating into Lingala. During the hymn following the sermon, a young man ran up to me and dusted off my shoes. This is a common reaction to the preached Word of God in Boma. “How beautiful the feet of those who preach the good news.”

That Monday, we traveled to the city of Tshela, a place neither of us had been before. In Tshela, we were greeted by an excited congregation of God’s people who lined the street leading to their place of worship. The welcome we received was extraordinary to say the least. This was an unexpected addition to our trip, but the joy we found and the response to God’s Word as we taught women and men, and then preached can only be described as unbridled enthusiasm. Children sat in the doorways and windows of the building, not to mention those who occupied the front four benches directly in front of me.

As Pastor Kalonji preached to the crowded church in their native language, I connected with the many children using a common language we all understood. We exchanged funny faces, smiles and even a bit of laughter. It didn’t matter that we couldn’t understand one another as we spoke. We understood one another as we shared a relationship established by God through his Son Jesus Christ. Once more, at the completion of our presentation and my telling the  congregation of the joy I have witnessed through their faith, a young man came up to me and dusted off my shoes in a gesture of thankfulness to God for sending his missionaries to preach the good news.

From the Pastor’s Heart

by Pastor David Nuottila

Pastoral Devotion For August

Posted August 1, 2019 By admin

What Must I Do?  

Read Mark 10:17-31

What must I do to inherit eternal life? This is a question much like that asked by so many people today. “What must I do to make it into heaven?” The rich man in the text told Jesus he had kept the commandments, yet Jesus finds him still lacking. The Lord tells him to sell all he has, give the       proceeds to the poor and then follow him. There will be no need for personal wealth as he will have treasure in heaven. Sadly for this fellow, he can’t bear to part with his worldly possessions. The       reality, it seems, is that his material goods possessed him.  

So is that how we inherit eternal life? Does the act of passing on our wealth to the poor, filling our days doing good works, and keeping the commandments provide the final punch for our ticket to heaven? In a word, no! If we believe this we also will find ourselves lacking.

To inherit, one must be an heir, someone to whom the inheritance is passed down. Through Holy   Baptism, God makes us his children; we are made inheritors through water and the Word. Joined to Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are made heirs. God no longer finds us lacking, and so to us, the kingdom of God is passed down. What must we do? Simply believe, for Christ has done it for you.

Gracious God, thank you for making us your children, and thus, heirs to your everlasting kingdom, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Creating A Vision For Ministry

Posted July 30, 2019 By admin

What is St. Jacob’s vision for ministry within our community and world? To be honest, we can’t say we have a clear vision. As a congregation of God’s people, we are all called to be disciples of Jesus Christ, follow him in faith and participate in the mission of God by doing the work of the gospel. In order to follow Christ, we must first understand God’s mission. We then must pray and discern which ministries to which God is calling us. And finally, we must create a vision, a clear understanding and strategy as to how we will engage in such ministries. For as Scripture teaches us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs, 29:18 KJV

 On June 30th, a small group of church family members met to begin this conversation. We introduced the process by which our church might discern those ministries God would have us do and then created a vision as to how we will do them. Yet this task is not simply for a small group. If we are to be serious about our faith and ministry, we will all need to take part.

Creating a vision for ministry does not happen quickly. In the coming months, there will be several seminars scheduled for St. Jacob’s church family members to come listen, learn and discuss the work God has set before us. Plan to attend these seminars as they are scheduled and be a part of St. Jacob’s participation in God’s mission.

Youth Director & Family Ministries

Posted July 30, 2019 By admin

With summer in full swing, most of us have gone on vacation (or plan to), spent extra time with our families, and hopefully got caught up on our sleep. Summer can be a very busy time of the year, but it can also be a time where we can prioritize rest. What exactly does this word rest mean? How do we do it?  What does the verse in Genesis mean when it says, “On the seventh day, God rested?” 

We don’t know exactly what God did when he rested, but we do know that He took the time to look all around at His great creation and felt joyful about the things that were in it. Have you ever heard the saying “stop and smell the roses?”   

That’s exactly what our rest should look like. In the midst of our busy lives, whether we are looking at a sunset over the ocean, animals on a farm on the side of the road, or our family members across the dinner table; we should sit back, take a moment to breathe, and pray to thank God for all that He has blessed us with. We can pause, reflect, and focus our mind’s on Jesus with all the evidence around us of His goodness. Summer break is the perfect time to begin a routine of spending time daily in prayer and in God’s word that will carry us into the next season with gratitude, peace, and joy.            

In Christ,

Rachel Shelton

Pastoral devotion for July

Posted July 1, 2019 By admin

Beautiful Feet

Read Romans 10:1-15

It goes without saying, our feet are not our most attractive attribute. Yet, the human foot is wonderfully designed by our creator. Our feet carry us places; hold us up on sure footing. Feet can be graceful and athletic; they can be sturdy and agile. But the most wonderful thing about our feet is that, because of Christ, they can stand in the presence of God as we worship him in his temple, and then carry us in mission for the sake of God’s people.

Consider the feet of Christ, those once wounded by the nail. They are the same feet once anointed with Mary’s tears and dried in a devotional act of love with her hair. Even as the nail pierced his feet and affixed them to the cross, Jesus continued to speak words of love and forgiveness. Even as his feet could no longer take him to places where people were in need of healing, Jesus provided ultimate healing for a broken humanity. And even though life giving blood ceased to flow through the wounded feet of our Lord Jesus, death could not hold them in the grave; our Savior would walk again in the glory of the resurrection.

Consider your own feet, once wounded by the nail of sin, yet forgiven and washed clean by the blood of Christ Jesus. Consider your feet, made strong and sure by the power of the Holy Spirit and empowered to take you to those places God would have you go. Redeemed by the blood of Christ, God calls us to take to our feet and proclaim his gospel to a fallen broken world. God calls us to bear witness to his grace, proclaiming the lifesaving power of Jesus’ victory at the cross.

Prayer: Guide me, O Christ, as I walk in your ways to share your gospel. Amen.

In the Wild, Vacation Bible School

Posted June 26, 2019 By admin

Our 2019 VBS, “In the Wild”, was held Monday, June 17th through Thursday, June 20th. We started each night with a delicious meal and then off to our encounters in the wild and with Jesus. We studied animal habitat, sounds, camouflage and learned some animal facts. Most importantly….we experienced Amazing Encounters with Jesus.

Our class rotations included lessons, music, crafts and games. Games included dodge ball, kick ball, golf, baseball, anything with a ball and running. Everyone played including the teachers.

On Monday night, we encountered Jesus in the Temple. We made traveling tic-tac-toe boards and in music, we started learning the song – “Why He Came”. Our younger children started to learn “Jesus Knows My Name” and “I Hear Stories of Jesus”.

On Tuesday night, we continued to travel with Jesus. This time we met him at the Jordan River where John baptized Jesus. In music, we started a new song, “What God Has Done” as we continued to work on “Why He Came” and the younger children continued learning their two songs. During crafts, we tie dyed our animal shirts – tiger, zebra and giraffe.

On Wednesday night, we met Jesus on the water again. But this time during a storm he walked on the water to his disciples in the boat. We made balancing butterflies in crafts and continued to learn our songs in music.

On Thursday night, we encountered Jesus at the empty tomb as he spoke to Mary and she ran to tell the disciples – “I have seen Jesus! He is alive!” In crafts, we made happy, trumpeting elephants as we celebrated and rejoiced that Jesus is Risen!

We celebrated our 2019 VBS on Thursday night, with family and friends as we presented our songs, stories, and crafts and closed with ice cream and cookies.

A very special thank you to our teachers and cooks. Without them, VBS would not have been possible for our 71 attendees who were ready and willing to experience some amazing encounters. Thank you to our parents and grandparents for sharing your children with us. We had some amazing adventures on the Wild Side! See you at VBS 2020!