Thursday, May 31, 2012

This Week at Mt. Olive

Good afternoon, fellow redeemed!

It was a blessing for me to walk in this morning and see the new red paraments in use. If you haven't seen these yet, they are every bit as impressive as the white.

This coming Sunday is Confirmation at the 10:30 a.m. service. Please keep these young people in your prayers as they make confession of the faith handed down to the apostles and confessed by the Church for centuries. Confirmed this year are: Wayde Adler, John Mark Camp, Cassi Hamer, Stephanie Hanelt, Michael Jennings.

This week, Kathryn Guerra and Jason Rhode will be graduating from high school and beginning yet another new chapter in the journey of their lives.

Here are this week's events:

Monday, May 28 - Memorial Day
Church Office will be closed
Lutheran Night at Whataburger Field

Tuesday, May 29

Confirmation Interviews

Wednesday, May 30

9:30 a.m.
Bible Study - Revelation 21

Thursday, May 31

Confirmation Interviews

Sunday, June 3

Confirmation Sunday

Prayer Concerns:

Our confirmands - that they be kept steadfast in the one true faith
Our graduates - that they continue in the true faith and be blessed with fruitful endeavors in the future
Ruby Rieder, Ann Cleveland, Burt and Doris Nelson, Walter and Pearly Theiss
Those who serve in our armed forces and their families: Rob Vadney, John Sorensen
Students and teachers and those who travel this summer

God bless!


The Gift of the Spirit for the Harvest of Souls

Acts 2:1-21

When we think about the day of Pentecost, we think about the gift of the Spirit upon the church-- and of course that it true. But it was a Jewish harvest festival long before it was a Christian holy day. In fact, that is why the disciples and Jews from all over the world were there in Jerusalem in the first place—to celebrate the harvest festival of Pentecost and give thanks to God for the fruits of the earth.

And the really miraculous and wonderful thing about God’s timing is that this harvest festival was transformed by the sending of the Holy Spirit into a harvest of souls that has been celebrated and lived out in the church for the last two thousand years.

On this Pentecost festival, we will see that: 1. the gift of the Holy Spirit is given for the proclamation of Jesus Christ as Savior of the world—2. that the gift of the Holy Spirit is given to all believers so that we can have a part in Jesus’ mission—3. and that the gift of the Holy Spirit is given in preparation for our Lord’s return so that many can call on the name of the Lord in faith and be saved. St. Luke writes that:

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were…filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance…And at this sound the multitude came together…And they were amazed and astonished, saying…how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?

In our Old Testament lesson for today we hear the story of the Tower of Babel and how the Lord confused the languages of the world. What may not be readily apparent is that this judgment of God was as an act of his mercy.

Humanity was headed in a direction that would lead them farther and farther away from God. Their technological achievements led to a pride in themselves that lifted them up (in their own minds) almost to the place of God. But before they could fall farther into sinful pride, God stopped them by confusing their language.

What happened on Pentecost thousands of years later was the lifting of that curse on account of what Jesus did in his death and resurrection.

The curse of Babel-- and the judgment of God on man’s sin-- was laid upon Jesus-- who really did bridge heaven and earth by joining God and man together-- not by human hands reaching up into heaven—but by Jesus Christ coming down into this broken world and being nailed to a cross—atoning for our sins.

What God divided at Babel on account of man’s sin-- he united on Pentecost on account of Christ’s sacrifice for sins-- and at just the right moment, thousands of people from all over the world heard the message of salvation in Jesus miraculously being preached in their own language by the power of the Holy Spirit.

It was no accident that the gift of God’s Sprit came upon the church on the Jewish harvest feast of Pentecost so that something much more valuable than crops could be harvested—human souls.

It was no accident that Jerusalem was filled with pilgrims so that at just the right time the Gospel of forgiveness could be proclaimed to as many people as possible.

It was no accident that people from all over the world were there so that the message of Christ’s peace could be taken to every place as they returned home.

The God of creation doesn’t do accidents—then or now. We exist at this place and time and with the gifts and abilities that we have been given so that by the power of that same Holy Spirit WE can join in this Pentecost harvest miracle of sharing Christ with the world for the salvation of souls.

Much too often, we have a tendency to look at what we don’t have when it comes to the mission of Christ-- instead of believing that the same Spirit is still present among us--equipping us perfectly for our part in his mission.

We are where we are- and we know what we know- and we have what we have- so that we too can proclaim Jesus to our part of the world as Savior and Lord—a message that is for all people.

St. Luke writes that, assembled there in Jerusalem that Pentecost festival there were people from all over the world who hear about Jesus in their own language: And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"

What does this mean? That is a question that people are still asking about Christians—maybe not the meaning of rushing winds and tongues of fire—but the meaning of our Christian lives and faith and message.

What does it mean that Christians teach there is only one way to God when the world believes that there are many? What does it mean that Christians will lay down their lives in martyrdom rather than deny Christ? What does it mean that Christians think very differently about moral issues than the rest of the world when the world believes that we should live and let live? What does it mean that Christians care for and love not just their friends and family but also their enemies when there is so much hatred in the world?

These questions that the world around us has about the meaning of our lives and faith and our message are our God-given opportunities—our Pentecost moments-- to share Jesus Christ with those around us.

The apostles had an opportunity to proclaim him to the people of the surrounding nations—but not to folks from South Texas—that’s our job for this time—and the gift of God’s Spirit was given for that very purpose—to proclaim Jesus Christ with clarity and courage where we are-- because still today, there are people who will ridicule our faith and call into question our proclamation of Jesus just like that day. St. Luke writes:

Others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine." But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea…these men are not drunk…But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

“This isn’t from God—they’re just drunk”. Scorn and ridicule. It is always going to be that way to one degree or the other when we call people to turn form their sins and trust in Jesus.

The Bible tells us that the message of Christ is ridiculous to the unbelieving world and it’s the height of foolishness to those who are perishing in their sins to believe that their salvation is found in a humble man who lived two thousands years ago.

Only God can change hearts like that! That is why God’s gift of the Spirit is so important—both to those who speak and to those who hear!

God the Holy Spirit empowers those who speak the Gospel and fills their proclamation with the power of God himself so that hearts that are dead in sin and trespasses are made alive by the power of the Holy Spirit-- and what they once regarded as the height of foolishness—Jesus--becomes instead their life—and those believers who once shrunk back in fear-- step forward to bear witness to Christ.

That is what we see so clearly in the life of Peter from Pentecost on. Just a few short weeks before Pentecost, Peter denied Jesus because he was too afraid to answer a little girl’s questions but now, with the gift of the Holy Spirit, he was transformed into a powerful witness for Christ.

The Good News for us is that the power and presence of the Holy Spirit was not just for the twelve disciples-- but is promised to all of God’s people. God promised through the prophet Joel:

In the last days…I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

From the moment that we are baptized and come to faith in Christ, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. That is how we believe in Jesus in the first place! That gift is strengthened and sustained in us again and again as we hear God’s Word and receive his sacraments. And it is a gift for all people.

The gift of the Spirit is for young and old. It is for men and women. It is for people in every station in life no matter how humble-a promise that the power and presence of God himself dwells in our lives regardless of age, or gender, or status.

That promise was fulfilled on Pentecost and the privilege to speak about Jesus on behalf of God—to prophesy--was given to all Christians.

All Christians need to be about the Lord’s work because the events of our Lord’s death and resurrection—his ascension and the sending of the Holy Spirit-- ushered in the Last Days—this time of grace in which the church has lived for the last two thousand years, calling the world to come to Christ and be saved while there is still time.

The saving mission of Jesus Christ is why we exist as individuals and as a congregation at this moment—it is why all of God’s people are gifted with the Holy Spirit—so that we might be the Noah’s of our day, warning people of the wrath of God’s judgment to come, but also, and especially, inviting them to trust in Jesus and be saved before it is too late. St. Luke writes of that day when the time of grace will come to an end—a time when there will be:

wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below…before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'

God wants everyone be saved-- but for that to happen people must call upon Jesus in faith. That is why God has given the church the gift of the Holy Spirit—so that the saving Name of Jesus would be proclaimed to the ends of the earth-- so that people can know him and believe in him and call upon him and be saved.

For thousands of years, it was sufficient for salvation to believe in the Messiah to come. But when the second person of the Trinity entered into history and took on flesh and blood in the person of Jesus of Nazareth-- it was necessary for salvation to believe in a particular person who was born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth and preached in Galilee and died and rose again in Jerusalem.

To be saved it is necessary for people to call upon the name of Jesus in faith-- and the Holy Spirit was given on Pentecost so that Jesus could be proclaimed for the salvation of the world. The same is still true today--salvation comes only by faith in Jesus.

As the day of our Lord’s return in glory grows ever closer and the day of grace draws to an end--we thank God for his gift of the Holy Spirit—a gift that is given to all believers so that Jesus can be proclaimed for the salvation of the world and a rich, abundant harvest of souls be gathered in. God grant that we would all do our part in his mission. Amen.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rev. Franke's Theme Thoughts

The Day of Pentecost, Series B May 27, 2012

Lessons for The Day of Pentecost

Ezekiel 37:1-14 ~ In Ezekiels vision, the Spirit of the Lord breathed new life into the dead hopes of Israel.

Psalm 139:112 (1316) (Antiphon: Psalm 139:17)

Acts 2:121 ~ The Holy Spirit enabled the apostles to speak the Gospel to people of many languages.

John 15:2627; 16:4b15 ~ The Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus and empowers our witness to the truth.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: Celebrate the Power of God's Life in Jesus.

The Jewish exiles in Babylon had given up hope of returning to Jerusalem, but Ezekiel proclaimed that God's renewing, life-restoring Spirit would give life to their dead hopes. Jesus promised to send the Spirit to bear witness to the truth in convicting the world of sin and restoring the sinner to righteousness through Christ. On the first Christian Pentecost the apostles joyfully proclaimed the new life God had accomplished through Jesus, speaking in languages the Holy Spirit gave them. We rejoice in God's renewing power in our lives even today

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: Thanks and praise to you, O Lord, for the new life of the Spirit you have given to me and all believers in Christ Jesus. Give me power to share the joy of your gift of salvation with everyone I meet. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: The Holy Spirit breathes new life even into our gifts as we use the goods of this world in ways that bring glory to God and sinners into His kingdom.

OFFERING PRAYER: Lord, when our offerings become like dried bones, parched by our grudging giving, breathe Lessons for The Day of Pentecost upon them with Your Spirit that they may come to life and be used to build You kingdom through powerful words and deeds. Amen.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: Left on our own we are overwhelmed by the task of telling people about Gods redemptive action in Christ Jesus; we are like dry bones in the valleys of Israel. But Gods new life in us, stirred by the power of the Spirit, leads us into the truth of his promises and empowers us to give faithful witness to Gods all-abiding love in overcoming the power of death in us through Jesus our Savior.

This Week at Mt. Olive

Good afternoon, fellow redeemed!

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go with our young people to watch The Avengers. The movie was entertaining and everyone had their favorite parts. There's something uniquely American about a small band of heroes thwarting the efforts of superior forces and, of course, the good guys winning.

The story from Marvel pales in comparison to the story of the Avenger. Over the past few months, we have heard once again how the eternal Son of God became flesh, how, for us and for our salvation, He came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man. We have heard of Jesus' suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension. We have heard how Jesus filfilled the promise from the beginning, the promise to crush the head of evil. He is THE one who avenges His people, vindicating the faith of His people, carrying out His vengeance against His enemies.
This coming Sunday is Pentecost, the day we celebrate as the manifestation of the Holy Spirit among the disciples. On that day, we'll hear once again Peter's sermon, and we'll see the Holy Spirit working in and through the message about Jesus. The message of our Lord Jesus is now proclaimed by the ones He sent.

This Week at Mt. Olive:
Lutheran Night at Whataburger Field: I have the tickets for the game, and I will breaking those out either this afternoon or tomorrow. I'll have them available in the office by Friday, most definitely on Sunday.

Sunday morning we'll complete our discussion about the Eastern religions in comparison to Christianity. We'll be starting at the question of reincarnation.

Monday, May 21
6 p.m.
Zumba Aerobics

Board of Elders Meeting postponed

Wednesday, May 23
8:30 a.m.
School Chapel

9:30 a.m.
Bible Study (Revelation)

Thursday, May 24
7:15 p.m.
School Graduation and Closing

Friday, May 25
Last Day of School!

Prayer Concerns:
Therressa Follett, wife of Pastor Mark Follett (Jasper, Texas)
Ruby Rieder, Ann Cleveland, Burt and Doris Nelson, Walter and Pearly Theiss (Houston)
Those who serve in our armed forces and their families: Rob Vadney, John Sorensen
The schools and colleges of the Church as the complete their academic years
The students of our church and our nation, that they would be kept safe and secure during the summer
Teachers and instructors, that they may be refreshed in much needed time off

God bless!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

We Are Stewards of God's Grace

So that we can understand what God is saying to us this morning—so that we can learn the things that we are to believe and do as Christian people—I want to begin with a couple of definitions.

If you have your bibles open you will see that the editors of the ESV bible have called this section of the Bible “Stewards of Grace”—a nice little summary of what we have before us and the title of my sermon this morning. But what do these words mean?

A steward is someone who manages what belongs to another. The thing itself does not belong to the steward-- but they are free to use it and manage it according to the values and guidelines of the owner.

That is what we are when it comes to the gifts that God has entrusted into our hands: money, health, time, life itself—all of those things that we call “mine”—really belong to God who has given them to us to use and manage according to his will.

Today God tells us of a special kind of stewardship that we have—that we are stewards of his grace. Grace is the attitude that God has towards us on account of Jesus—his undeserved favor and love on account of his Son’s redeeming work.

And so then, that we stewards of God’s grace means that God has entrusted to our hands the love that he has for the world so that we can use that grace for the sake of others. Now we are ready to hear how that stewardship of God’s grace takes shape in our lives in our attitudes and actions. The Bible says that: The end of all things is at hand;

When Peter was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write these words, he knew that Jesus could return in glory at any moment—but he also knew that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousands year like a day—and so when he wrote that the end of all things was at hand, he wasn’t setting a date-- but he was saying that there was nothing left in the redemption story except the Lord’s return. In other words…

Everything has been accomplished for our salvation: Jesus has died upon the cross, risen from the dead, and ascended to the Father and has promised to return. That is what we are waiting for and looking forward to-- and as we wait and watch for our Lord’s return, the Bible talks about what kind of attitude we are to have as stewards of grace--that we are to be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of our prayers.

This last week we learned that JP Morgan/Chase bank lost 2 billion dollars that depositors had entrusted to their stewardship. The money wasn’t theirs—it belonged to the depositors—but they just couldn’t resist making risky investments. That is just the opposite of self-controlled and sober-minded.

The Lord has entrusted gifts much greater than money into our hands—gracious gifts of mercy and love and forgiveness. And the proper use of those gifts requires us to be self-controlled and sober-minded.

In other words, we must learn to tell ourselves “no” when it comes to doing those things that are wrong and we must learn to “make” ourselves do what is right. And secondly, we must learn to think clearly and carefully about life, guided by God’s Word.

Just think about the scandals that we see all around us—public and private—and how many of those could have been avoided if the people involved had learned how to tell themselves “no” –thought clearly and carefully about the consequences of their actions BEFORE they did them—and made themselves do the right thing.

As stewards of God’s grace, our will ought to be self-controlled—our thinking sober-minded—and our hearts filled with love for others. The Bible says: Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

God’s grace towards us—his attitude towards us--his undeserved favor and mercy on account of Jesus Christ-- flows from his love for us shown at the cross. And as his stewards, that same love of Christ is to flow from us to others.

The Bible says that since God first loved us—we ought to love others. Jesus told his disciples: as I have loved you, so you are to love one another. That is why our text today says ABOVE ALL keep on loving one another.

We live in a world that needs the love of God. There are so many hurting people—so many broken families—so many sad situations that we may not even know about—where the love that has been given to us in Jesus would make all the difference in the world if we would only share it with others.

The Bible says that love covers a multitude of sins and we see how true that is first of all in Jesus’ love for us. It is his sacrifice, given on the cross that has covered all our sins with his blood.

That same kind of loving sacrifice on our part is what causes us to overlook the frailty, faults and failings in others-- that are a part of our common life together.

Our faith in Jesus conforms our will to his in that we live lives that are self-controlled. Our faith informs our intellect in that we are sober-thinkers. And our faith transforms our emotions so that our hearts are filled with love for others. It is this Christ-like attitude that shapes our actions as stewards of God’s grace. The Bible says:

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies…

This list of ways that we can serve as stewards of God’s grace is not exhaustive but it is representative of grace-filled living: hospitality—serving—and speaking. And so, we are going to look at those three in detail—both from the perspective of God acting in these ways towards us-- and then us sharing these same graces with others.

And so what does it mean to be hospitable? It means that our hearts and homes are open to others—that we are willing to make a place for others in our lives. But the root of the word in Greek means to especially welcome a stranger—to make a place for someone who is not naturally a part of our circle.

That of course is what God did for us. We are not naturally his children but his enemies. And yet God’s heart was open and loving and he made a place for us in his family through Jesus’ reconciling work.

When we are hospitable to others we share this grace of welcome. In our homes and congregations and our circle of friends we are not closed off to others but make a place for them in our lives so that they can know there is a place for them in God’s life.

And then there’s serving. Jesus once told his disciples that he had not come into the world TO BE served—but TO serve and to give his life as a ransom for others. The Bible says that we are to look out for the interests of other and count others better than ourselves. Jesus service cost him his life and there is a cost to us in serving others—a cost to our pride—a costs to our wallets—a cost to our time.

But it is especially in serving that the world can see Christ in us. All over this world today there are Christians who are feeding others and teaching others and healing others and caring for others in the name of Jesus Christ.

These works of mercy help the world around us to know the Savior we follow. And the same is true much closer to home. When mom feeds the family and dad works overtime to support the family and the kids help out around the house—in other words when they serve one another-- they show something very real about the faith they have in their hearts and they allow God’s grace to bless others around them.

And finally the Bible talk about our speech as a vehicle of God’s grace—certainly in telling others about Jesus in our homes and community—but also in how we talk to one another in day-to-day life. The Bible has plenty to say about our speech.

It instructs to ask three questions about what comes out of our mouth: is it true? We are forbidden by God to tell lies about our neighbor and gossip about our neighbor and ruin his reputation. And then, is what we’re saying loving? Even if something is true, is it loving for us to mention it or bring it up. Would we be embarrassed to have friends hear how we talk to our family members? And finally, do my words edify—that is, do they build up that other person or tear them down? Is our speech true and loving and edifying like God’s Words to us?

The Bible says in Proverbs that the power of the tongue is life and death. James says that the tongue has the power to defile the whole body and drag us to hell. All of us have known people who talk badly about others and it is an ugly, sinful thing. But we have also had the experience of kind words, and encouragement, and praise and the difference that makes in our lives.

Our speech is a powerful means of bestowing the grace of God on the lives of others when we speak in loving, honest ways that mirrors the loving words that God has spoke about us in his Word.

When we welcome others into our home and congregation and circle of friends—when we serve those around us to meet their needs—when we say kind things about others that build them up rather than tear them down—we are exercising our stewardship of the grace of God and witnessing to Jesus Christ and bringing glory to God. The Bible says that we are to do this so that:

In everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

In the upper room, the night before Jesus went to the cross, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and prayed: Father, I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work you gave me to do. So it is to be with our lives as stewards of God’s grace—that our lives are dedicated to bringing glory to God by sharing his gracious love with others just like Jesus did.

We ought to make it our life’s goal to able to say those same words at the end of our life: Father, I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work you gave me to do.

The Bible says that we who believe in Jesus Christ are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus FOR good works. This is why the grace of God has been poured out upon us so richly in Jesus Christ—so that our own lives would be like his, bestowing his gracious love upon others—so that they could come to know and love him as we do. May God bless and empower our lives as stewards of his grace. Amen.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Ascension of Our Lord

When we think of our Lord’s ascension into heaven we tend to think of it as a well-deserved rest at the end of a long day of work. Jesus did what he needed to do for our salvation and so he went back to heaven to take it easy until it is time to judge the world. But that really is a misunderstanding of the event we remember and celebrate today.

From everlasting to everlasting our Lord has been working for our salvation. From before the creation of the world he knew us and loved us and chose us to be his own. He worked out his plan of salvation throughout history. He entered into human history himself and died and rose again.

And EVEN NOW that he has ascended into heaven and resumed his place at the Father’s right hand, he continues to work for us so that we would live with him in heaven.

As we reflect on God’s Word tonight we are going to see that our Lord is busy and active in accomplishing his saving will in our lives and in the church and the world. The bible says:

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

If the ascension WAS about the Lord taking a much-needed break—who could blame him? His entire life was dedicated to our salvation—7 days a week, 24 hours a day throughout his entire life—every thought, word, and deed done for us so that we can have a life with God.

His words and deeds are written down in the bible so that we can believe in him and have life in his name. John said at the end of his Gospel that these things are written so that we might believe in Jesus. And of course that is true of the whole Bible—including the two books that Luke wrote.

The story of our Lord’s work of salvation is not like the story of the Greek and Roman gods or the pagan myths of the ancient world. It is a story that is grounded in history—real places and times and people. There were multitudes of people who saw Jesus’ miracles and heard his teachings. His death and resurrection are facts of history that people just like you and me witnessed.

Luke interviewed these eyewitnesses and gathered reports and traveled to the places of our Lord’s life so that he could write an accurate history of our Lord’s saving work.

And not only did he write a human history—he wrote the very words of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit and empowered by the Holy Spirit so that those who read his words could come to faith in Jesus.

Theophilus was one who did. Luke’s Gospel was the means by which God brought him to faith and with the Book of Acts Luke tells him the rest of the story—the story of the church and the mission of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, all of which Jesus accomplished AFTER his ascension into heaven.

Our Lord continued to work for the salvation of the world even after his return to the Father. He had a specific plan for the EVENTS of salvation-- but also for how that salvation would go forth into the world, empowered by the Holy Spirit whom he would send. The Bible says:

While staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

One of the questions that I will be asking our catechumens during the public examination is: For what three-fold office was Christ anointed? And they will answer: prophet, priest, and king. And then I will ask them: what did Christ do in each of these roles? And they will answer: as a prophet he preached and taught the people—as priest he sacrificed himself on the cross—and as king he rules the church and the world for the sake of our salvation.

These questions and answers are not just something that little Lutheran children have to learn to be confirmed—they are the teaching of the Bible!

In the first verses of our text we hear that Jesus taught his disciples about the kingdom of God and that he suffered and died and rose from the dead. His work as prophet and priest are recorded in the Bible.

But it is here in these verses that begin to see more clearly his work as king and his wise and gracious rule over the church and the world so that his mission could go forth.

Even though he would ascend into heaven, Jesus was by no means abandoning the church or leaving his disciples to their own devices. He commissioned them to tell the world about all that he had said and done and he had a plan -and the provisions for that plan- to see it accomplished.

His plan to save the world would begin were they were right then—in Jerusalem—close to home. And he would provide them what they needed—the gift of the Holy Spirit that he would pour out on them in just a few short days.

As we read the story of the church in Acts -and as we study history to see how the church moved forward—going from an oppressed, persecuted group of a few hundred to thousands and today to billions—the wisdom and work of our ascended King is on full display.

Jesus has not been napping over these two thousand years since his ascension, he has graciously and wisely been ordering the affairs of the church- and providing for us spiritually- and ruling the world -so that his people can come to faith and be saved.

In every place and time where the Good News about Jesus is preached and given in the Sacraments, there the Holy Spirit is given to his people so that we can come to faith and then take our place and do our part in his mission.

Before his ascension, Jesus told his disciples that it was for their own good that he was ascending to his Father—and we see in what follows how true that is. The Bible says that:

When they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.

We know how difficult it was for the disciples to really understand what Jesus had come to do. Even when they confessed him as the Christ and the Son of God they were still so painfully mistaken about what that meant that Jesus told Peter: get behind me Satan.

Jesus came to die—to give his life as a ransom to set us free from sin. He came to destroy death by rising from the dead. He came to make us a part of God’s kingdom and restore us to God’s family.

He did not come to heal every sick person. He did not come to raise every person form the dead only to see them die again. And he certainly did not come to re-establish an earthly Israel filled with material blessings for a select few.

So long as Jesus was right there beside them, the disciples would always be tempted to long for these kinds of things and it is only after his ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that we really begin to see them grasp the greatness of our Lord’s mission—that it wasn’t really about an obscure little country or one particular group of people—but that it encompassed the universe and all people-- and his saving purpose was nothing less than a new heaven and anew earth where mankind would live with God just as they had in the beginning.

This is what he had come to do and the disciples needed to turn their eyes away from their own narrow interests and take their place in his mission to make known the greatness of our Savior’s love for all people.

The same is true for us. We too are tempted to see our relationship with Jesus as having a “genie in a bottle” who will give us what we want and serve our narrow vision of what’s important.

But Jesus’ concern is for the world and for all people and he calls us to look beyond ourselves to the interests of others and their salvation. And so Jesus blesses his people with the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower our witness to the world. Jesus told them:

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

Jesus kept his promise. Ten days after these words were spoken, he poured out the Holy Spirit on his disciples and immediately they began to tell those around them the mighty things that Jesus had accomplished in their life.

Jesus has also given us the Holy Spirit for the same purpose. That we believe in him and trust in him is a sure sign that we have the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that: no one can say: Jesus is Lord EXCEPT by the Holy Spirit.

But that we know and believe in Jesus (as wonderful as that is!) is not the end of his saving purpose in our lives. Just like with the disciples then, so with the disciples here tonight, Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit because he intends that we would take our place and fulfill our purpose in his mission to save all people before the day of judgment when it will be too late. The Bible says that:

While they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Jesus ascended into heaven with power and glory and in Revelation we read that he was welcomed as a mighty, conquering king who is to be worshiped and adored and glorified forever.

He will return in exactly the same way—in power and glory for the final deliverance of his people-- but also for the final destruction of his enemies. Between his ascension day and his judgment day he has called us and equipped us by the Holy Spirit to do all within our power to make sure the number of his enemies is as small as possible-- for the Lord does not desire the death of the wicked but that they would turn from their sins and receive him as Lord and Savior. He wants us to have a part in that!

And so our eyes are not directed to the clouds --but to our fellow man and to the mission that our Lord has entrusted to our hands, confident that our ascended King will accomplish his saving purpose through us. May God grant it for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Rev. Franke's Theme Thoughts

Easter 7, Series B May 20, 2011

Lessons for The Seventh Sunday of Easter

Acts 1:1226 ~ After Jesus ascension, the believers chose Matthias to take Judas place as a witness.

Psalm 1 (Antiphon: Psalm 1:6)

1 John 5:913 ~ God has testified that He has given us eternal life in His Son Jesus the Christ.

John 17:11b-19 ~ Before Jesus died, He prayed the Father to protect His followers from the evil one.


We are claimed by God, bought by Jesus' blood. God has given His word as testimony that we belong to Him for eternity. Jesus prayed that His followers would be protected by the power of God's almighty name. There is another power, an evil one, working in this world to lay its claim on us as it did on Judas. God's love shown in His Son, Jesus, our Savior, will keep us safe in the day of judgment.

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: Lord Jesus, because You are throned in power and glory with the Father, I know You are able to protect me and those I love. Help me show Your love to others so that we may give faithful witness to Your mercy until the day You take us out of this world to Yourself in heaven. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: The evil one often attacks Gods people through our dependence on money and material goods. Jesus prayer that the Father protect us from the evil one promises His Holy Spirit to keep us in the faith. We show our trust in God as we use the material blessings He has given us to carry His word to others and work in His service.

OFFERING PRAYER: Lord, You have given Your word in Jesus, the Christ:

You will not forsake us in life or in death.

We have witnessed Your promise, just like Matthias;

Use our offerings to share our trust in Your truth. Amen.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: God will always have witnesses to his marvelous redemptive act in Jesus the Messiah, but we may not be among them, if we, like Judas turn aside. Jesus assured the disciples and us of his constant prayers on our behalf, that we not fall as prey under the temptation of the powers of this world, but being protected by the Fathers love, may always know and give testimony to the truth of his love in Christ.

This Week at Mt. Olive

Good evening, fellow redeemed!

A Happy Mother's Day!

Special Reminder:
The Ascension of Our Lord, Worship with Holy Communion, Wednesday, May 17, 7:15 p.m. at Mt. Olive.

This Week at Mt. Olive:
Monday, May 14
6 p.m.
Board of Education

6:15 p.m.
Zumba Aerobics

7 p.m.
Church Council

Wednesday, May 16
8:30 a.m.
School Chapel

9:30 a.m.
Bible Study - Revelation 20

Thursday, May 17 (Happy Birthday, Dad!)
7:15 p.m.
Ascension Service at Mt. Olive

Sunday, May 20
Youth outing to see The Avengers

Prayer Concerns:
Mothers around the world and in our homes
Those who serve in our armed forces and their families: Rob Vadney, John Sorensen
All Christians, both those who rest in their Lord and those who remain on earth, as they look for the resurrection of all flesh

God bless!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rev. Franke's Theme Thoughts

Ascension, May 17, 2012

Lessons for Ascension

Acts 1:111 ~ When Jesus was taken into heaven, angels explained that He would return in the same way.

Psalm 47 (Antiphon: Psalm 47:5)

Ephesians 1:1523 ~ Through the lordship of Jesus, God gives us His Spirit to enlighten us with His hope.

Luke 24:4453 ~ Jesus explained the Scriptures to the disciples, blessed them, and was taken up into heaven.


Christs ascension is all about power Gods power! As Jesus prepared to leave His followers, He told them to wait in Jerusalem for the power of the Holy Spirit to make them effective witnesses. This is the same power of God that raised Jesus from the dead. It would embolden the disciples to tell the message of Gods redeeming action in Jesus all the way from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. That same power is present with all believers today as we carry the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus name to all nations.

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: Lord Jesus, as You rule now in the courts of heaven, so rule also in my heart, that I may always trust You to lead me in the right paths, pray for me in trouble, and protect me in danger. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: By His ascension, Jesus has become head over all things. He has blessed us with the riches of a glorious inheritance with Him in heaven, and has brought even the material goods in our lives under His authority to be used to spread the good news of His redeeming work to all people.

OFFERING PRAYER: Lord, we bring our gifts to You this day;

Pray send them winging on their way

To witness to Your saving Word

To us and those who have not heard.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: When we think the spread of Gods Kingdom depends on our power and authority, we either despair, for the task overwhelms us, or we oppress other believers as we build our own kingdoms. Jesus ascension means that we can trust the Holy Spirit to lead and empower the church. Just as we rejoice in the forgiveness for our sin of failure to depend on Christ our Lord in the mission of the Gospel, so we celebrate the power of God and wisdom of God to strengthen and lead us until our Lord returns