Bible Study Archive

Pastoral Devotion for March

Posted March 1, 2019 By admin

The Father’s Will

Read 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, 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 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.

From the Pastor’s Heart

Posted March 1, 2019 By admin

Before you read this page, first go pick up your Bible. Then go to the kitchen and pour yourself a glass of water. Now set the glass filled with water beside your Bible on the table nearest you and begin reading.

A book I enjoy reading is written by Max Lucado titled Come Thirsty. Within its pages, one can hear God calling us, inviting us to come to him as a father calls his dear children. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about God’s love for his people. As we begin our annual Lenten pilgrimage toward Easter, it is appropriate that we ponder how we approach our Father in heaven. It is a time to earnestly study God’s Word and to pray for heightened awareness of God’s presence each day. It is a time to look deep inside our lives in order that we may see ourselves for who we are as sinners, yet also to see ourselves for whose we are, God’s beloved children redeemed by the blood of Christ. Lent is a time when Christians around the world take time to reflect upon God’s mercy and grace. It’s also a time when we are to consider our lives as disciples, loving God with all our heart and loving our neighbor as God loves us. Such is the journey of Lent.

As God’s people, during Lent we are metaphorically traveling the Jerusalem road toward the cross of Good Friday. The cross is where the powers of sin and evil meet the powers of God’s righteousness and mercy. The events of the cross are the focal point of Lent. They bring the powerful message of God’s salvation through the sacrifice of his Son. Yet, weighed down by the burdens of earthly life, we tend to focus more on worldly things and fail to realize the full impact of what Jesus has done to redeem God’s people. Pulled in several directions at a time, life becomes a blur and before we
know it, we have lost touch with our Lord and Savior. In order that you may fully realize God’s awesome power and love in your life, I invite you to “come thirsty.” Come thirsty to worship and join the hearts and voices of your church family, singing praises to God for all he has done and continues to do. Come thirsty to hear the message of God’s deliverance from death to life for all who believe. I invite you to come thirsty for God’s love, to hear his gospel proclaimed and to realize the love he has especially for you. Come thirsty also to our mid-week Lenten services. Enjoy the fellowship we share and hear the message of Jesus’ victory upon the cross. Come thirsty to learn how you too are
called as a disciple of Jesus Christ, empowered and equipped for ministry and sent into the world for the sake of those who are neediest among us.

Finally, I invite you to ponder the Bible and the glass of water set before you. As you open the pages of Holy Scripture, you will be reminded that, in Baptism, God made water to be a sign of his unfailing love and his promise to save his people. Through water and the Word, God washes us clean from the stain of sin and makes us his own.

Commit to worshiping with us during Lent and come thirsty for God’s love. Be refreshed through the water and the Word as we journey toward the cross of Good Friday. It’s there where sin and brokenness meet the powers of God’s love and righteousness, and his goodness and mercy endure forever.

Grace and peace,
Pastor David Nuottila

First Communion

Posted February 28, 2019 By admin

Pastor David will be offering First Communion instruction for children whose parents believe their child is ready to begin receiving the Sacrament. One parent or guardian shall attend classes with their child. Classes will be held during the Sunday school period from Sunday, March 24th through Sunday, April 7th. Those participating will celebrate their first Holy Communion on Palm Sunday, April 14th. If you have questions concerning the readiness of your child, or other questions regarding Holy Communion, please contact Pastor David.

Morning Bible Study

Posted February 28, 2019 By admin

Morning Bible Study will resume on Tuesday, March 5th at 9:30 a.m. in the fellowship Hall. Our topic will be the Mission and Ministry of Paul. Bring along your Bible and a willingness to learn more about the most prolific writer of the New Testament. Bible study will meet weekly each Tuesday morning through the Tuesday of Holy Week, April 16th.

From the Pastor’s Heart

Posted February 4, 2019 By admin

“To those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:2-3

If you want to know what a person is really passionate about, just listen to them as they speak. It doesn’t take very long to figure out what makes them tick; it’s that one thing they continue to bring up repeatedly. If there is any doubt as to what makes the apostle Paul tick, all we need to do is read the introduction and opening salutations of his first letter to the Church at Corinth. In particular, notice whose name continues to be lifted up.

Paul was zealous for his faith in Christ and eager to share the good news of God’s salvation throughout his known world. Being among God’s people and rejoicing in the promise of life in God’s kingdom is most certainly what fueled Paul’s fire. Throughout his missionary journeys, Paul endured hardship, imprisonment and even shipwrecks, yet nothing seemed to dampen his excitement for telling others about the power of God’s love made manifest in Christ’s victory over sin and death.

The gospel is a message of God’s perfect and unconditional love for his people. The news that sin no longer has the power to condemn those who have faith in Christ Jesus is too good to keep to ourselves. As people
redeemed by Christ, we too are possessors of this good news. We have a wonderful gift to share with a world in need of God’s saving grace. Being among God’s people, in fellowship with the faithful and gathering for worship adds fuel for our fire just as it did for Paul. But once the fire is lit,
we cannot sustain it by ourselves.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul teaches the Church that we need to remain steadfast in the hearing of the gospel. We need to share in the supper that is Christ’s body and blood and we need to live in faithful fellowship with all who share the gift of God’s grace and peace. As a family of faith gathered at St. Jacob’s Lutheran church, we must pay attention to the time we spend together as a church family.

Yes, we are busy people with busy lives, but the burden of such a life is one we place upon ourselves. In the lives of Christian people, all too often, time with the church is sacrificed in order to engage in worldly activities. For instance, when is the last time you heard someone say, “I have to leave the football game early so I can make it to our church’s fellowship event”? No, it is usually the church that sees people leaving worship early, or skipping
it entirely, in order to keep their habits or participate in worldly functions. Before we know it, personal habits and worldly agendas take precedent and time spent in worship and fellowship begin to fade. As Paul points out, when we live for ourselves, the fire burning within will certainly diminish. Some will fall away.

Even faithful Christians (especially) need to be on guard. Those who would be seen as examples must be diligent in their faith and practice. If one is faithful 90% of their time, it is the 10% others will see. Christians need to
know and understand that no matter what may happen in this world, God’s grace and peace given through Christ Jesus cannot be overcome. In those times when we fall short of God’s expectation for us, we need to be reminded that our sins are forgiven and as such, God calls us all to be saints together in every time and place, living together in the unity of Christ.

And so, we too gather as did the Church in Paul’s time, in the name of Jesus in order to hear the message of the gospel. We too come to confess our sins, receive God’s grace, partake in the supper and at the close of the meal, hear the words of God’s blessing as they are pronounced over the entire assembly. It cannot be emphasized enough; there is no better place to be than in the presence of God and among his people. With that, I greet you as Paul greets those whom he writes to throughout the ages: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen!

Grace and peace,
Pastor David Nuottila

Pastoral Devoation for February

Posted February 4, 2019 By admin

Bearing Witness to God’s Love

John 10:19-42
There is an old saying that suggests actions speak louder than words. When people say “I love you,” the evidence is not in their spoken words, but their acts of kindness. Absent of any display of affection or selfless deeds saying “I love you” is simply an empty exchange of words.

As Jesus lived among God’s people, he proclaimed the fullness of God’s love. However, it is through his many signs and wonders that our Lord makes the Father’s love known in real and visible ways. Foretold by the prophets of long ago, Jesus’ teaching and his miraculous works point to him as God’s Messiah. Still, the Pharisees and scribes would have none of this.

“How long will you keep us in suspense?” “Why do you not tell us plainly?” Jesus had already given the answer, but they refused to believe, even as they’ve seen the evidence with their own eyes. Such hardened hearts are not capable of belief because they do not understand love.

Our works contribute nothing towards our salvation. Yet, as believers in Christ Jesus, our works do bear witness to the love God has for his people. Jesus calls us to a life of love for God and neighbor. When one says “I love God” or “I love my neighbor” he can only be believed when his actions match his words. Without such works, saying “I love God and neighbor” is yet one more empty exchange.

Lord Jesus, make our actions toward others match our words of love, that all may come to see your goodness and mercy. Amen.

The Power of Prayer

Posted January 9, 2019 By admin

by Pastor David

The author of the book of James, Jesus’ very own brother, writes an epistle to the Church in which he exhorts believers in Christ to encourage one another in their faith. James teaches us to pray for those for whom there is genuine concern. James writes, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” James 5:16.

Here at St. Jacob’s, we have so many who believe in the power of prayer. I have been with folks praying for healing, for peace of mind and for calming of fear. I have also been with others to offer thanks to God in a variety of situations. I enjoy those times when I am able to pray with members of our church family and hear the petitions they bring to our Lord.

We also have a congregation that cares very much for the people whom they love, folks who are known to them, but perhaps not to the congregation as a whole. Each week, as we say the Prayers of the Church, I offer the congregation time to pray for those, who are on their hearts and minds either out loud or in the silence of their hearts. There were very few, at first, who would actually speak a name of a loved one aloud. I have noticed, lately, that more have become comfortable doing so. I also am convinced that many more people are praying in the silence of their hearts. Truly, at this point in our worship, we are a community in prayer.

Each month, the narthex prayer board becomes filled with names. I understand it has been the practice in recent years to recite each of these names during the Prayers of the Church. Given the length of this list, and our growth as a community in prayer, it is time that we offer the opportunity for others to speak the names of those loved ones on our prayer board in prayer, either out loud, or in silence. As James teaches us, it is not the voice of the one who recites the prayer, it is the faith through which the prayer is offered.

As pastor, I will continue to speak out loud the names of our church members appearing on our prayer list. I will also continue to allot time for the congregation to offer to God the prayers for those whom they love. I would also suggest that we continue to list on the prayer board, the names of those for whom there is genuine concern. Be sure that you have the person’s permission before hand, so that we may continue to list them in our worship bulletin while ensuring personal privacy. Be certain, the prayers offered by the community at worship are powerful as they are working. God knows the needs of those for whom we pray, just as he knows the faith in which you offer your prayers in love toward your neighbor. May the Lord bless you as you pray for those whom you love.

From the Pastor’s Heart

Posted January 9, 2019 By admin

“Arise and shine, your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1

For centuries, astronomers have plotted the courses of the stars in order to keep track of time and the passing of the seasons. Navigators of ships used the stars to help guide them to their destination. And long ago, ancient cultures shared stories of mythical characters whose constellations may be seen as people gazed at the night time sky. Much has been learned by tracking the many points of light that pierce the darkness of night.

Following the birth of our Lord Jesus, there were others who also looked to the stars, one star in particular. The Magi from the East followed this star which led them to Bethlehem. By marking the exact time when they first saw the star and following its light westward, the wise men were led on a journey upon which they encountered Christ. Once they reached their destination, God revealed to the them the one born as his own redeeming light. It is in this epiphany that Jesus is revealed to the world as God’s ultimate outpouring of love.

The celebration of the Epiphany of our Lord is the proclamation that long before we could have ever stumbled our way out of darkness, God’s light has come to us. Through our Baptism, God makes us children of the light. In our thankful response to God’s grace, we carry the light of Christ into the world so that others can experience the fulfillment and wonder of God’s promise of a Savior. It is through loving God above all else and serving our neighbor in the name of Christ, that we let our light shine. Our Lord calls each and every one of us to serve as a beacon leading others to the truth of the gospel, just as that single star led the Magi so many years ago.

As we begin a new year in ministry, I would invite all of our church family members to consider the ways in which you proclaim the gospel and share God’s love. We have the opportunity to engage is so many missions of the NALC and within our mission district. Here in Chapin, we can feed the hungry, give aid to the poor, provide shelter and welcome those who have no place for worship. St. Jacob’s is uniquely positioned to serve our neighbors in town, and the many who live in developing communities all around us.

We also have the opportunity to serve Christ through our service to others around our country and world. I am so pleased that many of our church family members have embraced the mission work of Pastor Stephane Kalonji and I in the Congo. Several other congregation have also joined St. Jacob’s in supporting this important mission. Through your efforts and generosity, pastors have Bibles from which to teach and preach, many hungry children are fed, and a community of God’s people have a relationship of faith and love with a congregation who will pray for them and minister to them in times of trial. Jesus calls us all to follow his example of love and service for the sake of the least among us. I would also invite those who have not considered attending Sunday school and one of our weekly Bible studies to give it a try. As Christians and disciples of Jesus Christ, daily reading of Holy Scripture is essential and weekly gathering for worship and learning is most beneficial for those growing in faith and hope. There is no better time to begin such practice than during Epiphany, the season of light.

Since the birth of Christ, the time of our lives is no longer marked by plotting stars and our destination is no longer found by tracking celestial bodies. Our time and our destination are caught up in Jesus Christ. To use a metaphor, the books of Holy Scripture serve as the stars of our celestial journey and Christ our compass. Led by God’s Holy Spirit, we travel through life’s journey always remembering to let our light shine before others, so that all may see that in Christ the light of the world has come.

Grace and peace,
Pastor David Nuottila

Pastoral Devotion for January

Posted January 9, 2019 By admin

Light for the World

Isaiah 60:1-9, Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12

It wasn’t through loud trumpet blasts, nor were messengers dispatched from far off lands. The magi received the good news through simple means; by the light of a star. They followed the light in order to worship the newborn King of kings.
Each year we hear this story and quickly focus on the wise men and their gifts, perhaps missing the central part of the story. Jesus was born that man no longer should die. Through Christ, salvation has come into the world. As the angel told the shepherds, this is good news for all people.
The Magi were foreigners, Gentiles, yet God got their attention in a simple way, by the light of a star, and led them to the savior of the world. Who are the outsiders today? What signs will God use in order to speak to them? It’s probably fair to say that wise men bearing gifts of gold won’t be passing through their town, and it’s not likely that a star will lead people to any particular church building.
The truth is, God calls his people to be light for the world revealing that which was made known so long ago. Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem, is the Messiah, the Lord. Through him, God has brought salvation to our fallen world. People of God, arise, share the good news. Light has scattered our darkness forever.
Prayer: Shine your light upon me, O Lord, that I may share the good news of your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

Pastoral Devotion for December

Posted December 1, 2018 By admin

Read John 1:1-14

Since the beginning, light has been a sign of life and hope. As God spoke, light burst forth and shattered the darkness. Throughout John’s account of the gospel of Christ, a theme of darkness and light winds its way through each chapter.

Imagine the first Christmas morning, the first hint of sunlight breaking through the dawn of a new day. Its warm rays illumine the form of the new family; the father and mother huddled close, gazing upon their child born during the night. Those first beams of light shine upon the child who is wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Yet even brilliant rays of sunlight cannot compare to the splendor of his radiance. For this child is light for the world.

In these days of uncertainty, in the midst of doubt and fear, darkness often falls upon the human family. Yet, through the babe born unto Mary and Joseph, light shines. In Christ there is hope; in him there is peace, through him only is light, and the light is life for all people.

In the beginning, God said, “Let there be light.” Today, this same light shines in the hearts of God’s people, a light that no darkness can overcome. Ours is to testify to the light of Christ. Through him only, is there hope for life without end.

Prayer: We thank you, O God, for the light that shatters the darkness, the light of your Christ. Amen.