Roger's Postings

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Luke 13:14-15.                   Why is Sunday so important???                                 21/8/16



14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?

Hebrews 12:28-29.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Isaiah 58:13-14.

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honourable,
and if you honour it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.



This morning in our readings we are confronted with what our Sunday worship is all about. Here in particular it is addressing why it is that we have so many problems with, not only our worship, but life itself.



These days we hear all too often that worship is boring or not fitting to our societal thinking today: or that it doesn’t do anything for me; or even that it is not done right. Along with that we think that we can worship when and where it suits us; or that I don’t need to go because I still have my faith. Then there are also those who think that we can change almost anything and everything about worship to suit what I and the people around me think would be good and nice.



But already just in that I think we can already begin to see a major problem with our attitude today about Sunday worship. It is all about me and what I think and feel. Our Christianity has thereby become a religion, rather than a faith. It is more about what I and we do, than about Christ and what he has done. Therein we have a major problem. Also we find that we have lost the joy and strength that God desires for our lives.

In the first of these three readings we have God very clearly addressing this issue. He says:  “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honourable,
and if you honour it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”



Here God is talking about consequences that flow from the decisions we make with regard to what is important in life; and particularly here with our attitude toward God and our worship of him. If you – then you will…. If you take God seriously and follow what he says and wants, then we will find joy and blessings.



Conversely then, if Sunday is all about me and what I want, then the opposite is also true. If we make no attempt to keep the Sabbath holy and just do as we please: and if we fail to see Sundays as God’s special day for us and honour it as such: and if we go our own way and do our thing; then it should not surprise us if we find no joy in the Lord, and no real blessings in our daily lives.



Sunday is about taking God and what he has to say seriously. It is about following what he has to say is right, good and beneficial for us, rather than we doing what we think we would like. He is Lord. In other words, he is all important and what he says goes. This is vital that we get our heads around this. Our sinful human nature always wants to turn the focus to ourselves, and we get into real trouble as a result.



God tells us in the Ten Commandments that we are to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. And Luther’s explanation of this in the Catechism goes like this: We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and his Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.



Yet we all too readily worship only when we feel like it and have little regard for God’s Word. This is readily seen today as more and more we change and ignore what God has to say in his Word to suit what we and our society would like it to be. Then we wonder why everything goes wrong for us. We wonder why there is a huge drop off in church attendance.



Then when we look at the Gospel reading this morning we see another aspect to this that is equally a big problem. Again however, the same underlying problem is there. The synagogue leader was so focussed on doing the right according to the rules that they had made up as an extension to what God hold told them. In the process they had forgotten that God and his love for sinners was to be ever present.



14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?



He points out that they look after their own animals on the Sabbath but do not have the same compassion for a cripple. They are more concerned about everything going the way they want, so that everything looks and feels good for them and their own worship. Again it is ‘all about me’, rather than who God is and what he would have for us.



Here it is that Jesus reminded the Pharisees of his day, as well as us today, that there is a far more central issue involved here, than what we do and how we do it. This day has to do with us being freed from that which binds us and grinds us into the ground. He speaks of being freed from Satan. It has to do with forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. It has to do with our Lord and who he is and what he does.



It has to do with, as Paul says to the Hebrews:

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.



Yes, that is what God has in mind for you and me here this morning and every time we gather here in his presence. He wants to meet with you here, together with all the saints, and he wants to reassure you that you are part of a new covenant where we can have that guarantee that we are forgiven for all our selfishness and sin, and that he has many blessings surrounding that for you and me. God and what he has to offer is what is essential for this life and the next. He is here to do just that and along with that he gives us the directives that we need for our worship and for life.



So also as Paul said to the Hebrews:  See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. [That is Jesus and his word of forgiveness] If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken--that is, created things--so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire."



We certainly do have a great God who has done something truly remarkable for us who in no way deserve it. We who have turned our backs on him and even the worship that he has in mind for us. We have made ourselves the centre of life and worship and brought nothing but misery and hardship on ourselves. By doing what we want and changing to be all about ourselves we have lost the joy and blessings that God has in mind for us.



Yet he still loves us and still wants to remind us again that he is Lord of the Sabbath. He still calls us back to himself and seeks to impart to us the joy and blessing that is so much needed in our worship and in our lives. He calls for us to look beyond ourselves and our wants and desires, so that he can give us those things that are truly needed in our lives. He wants to serve us so that we receive what we need in order to get through this life and into eternity with himself.



So we have a great, awesome, and loving God who calls us week by week into his day of rest and receiving of all the good things that he has in mind for us. Through Word and Sacrament he seeks to richly bless us.  Who then are we to deny him this opportunity. Or do we think that we are greater, stronger and wiser than God himself. No let us be challenged and encouraged to see the Sabbath as God’s gift to us for our welfare and good. And through it all may all glory and honour go to our great God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


Saturday, August 06, 2016


Luke 12:32-40.                   Do not be afraid!!                                                            7/8/16



32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”



Here in this reading God is saying to all of us here; Do not be afraid little flock: do not be afraid as we go forward in our Christian life. Do not be afraid to stand up and be a Christian, even though it goes against the grain of our society. Even though we are more and more being ostracised for being ‘a Christian’. Take seriously what we have heard about what God has done for us in and through Jesus, and be ready and prepared for all that God has in mind for us.



Now of course, it would seem as though we are not afraid of very much at all these days. We all too often have all the confidence in the world. We have an enthusiasm and freedom of spirit; and yes even an element of rebellion, which suggests that there is hardly a care in the world. There appears to be very much that Aussie spirit of ‘she’ll be right mate. I’ve got it all under control.’



There is also a growing promotion of ‘positive thinking’, rather than being negative or realistic. And when life gets a little tough we no longer want to ask, what is wrong or why it is the way it is; just take a pill to make it better, or sue someone, or change the channel, so that the problem, hopefully, will instantly go away.



Even when it comes to the Christian faith, these same attributes often seem to apply, and in some ways that is good to see; but in other ways it is also a bit scary. Are we today not afraid of anything? I am sure, below the surface, we all are to greater or lesser degree. And if we aren’t, we should be to some extent. But so often it would seem that we are not as concerned as we perhaps we should be about some of the really important issues of life.



In this area, we either, seem to have a false sense of security and are unaware of the dangers that in reality are there, or we are hiding our fear by simply believing that we can live as we please and that somehow it will all work out in the end. After all, if God is for real then he’ll take care of it all and if not then it is his fault: and after all what does this passage say here, I hear you say? ‘Do not be afraid – God is pleased to give you heaven.’ I have my faith, so she’ll be right.



Now if that is our attitude I would suggest that we need to be afraid: because again that is simply trying to twist what Jesus is saying here to suit ourselves. And from Scripture we know that the consequence of doing that is not good at all. Luther in his Small Catechism continually says that ‘we should fear and love God so that we trust in God above all things: misuse God’s name; hurt, harm, steal, lie, and all the rest’.



However, we hear so often today that this is wrong; God made us and loves us, so we do not need to be afraid. This is true; but at the same time the Scriptures are very clear that if we think that we can ignore God and what he has to say to us we had better be afraid. The consequences of not taking God seriously is deadly.



Here, Jesus tells us to be ready for serviceto be prepared to live the good life that God would have us live. We are servants of the Master who has duties for us to perform in his kingdom. We are to live for our Lord and not for ourselves.



As well here, he tells us to be ready at all times for the Lord’s presence in our midst. Prepared also for the fact that a thief is out there who seeks to take our Christian life away from us.



Here he is telling us not to put our trust in money and possessions, as if they are able to give us everything we need. In fact, he says, get rid of it rather than allow it to get in the way of our Christian life. So don’t fall into the trap that the rest of our generation has by making our possessions and money our treasure: our god; because as it says here, they will disappear –and quickly. They can be stolen, eaten up or wear out: as we can see as we look around us. Earthly treasures do not give us that which has lasting value.



So here Jesus is encouraging us to make sure that nothing distracts us from him and the Christian life: To make sure that we recognise that our greatest treasure is Jesus Christ and all that he has to offer us; and that we are not distracted to place our focus and hope on ourselves or anything else. At the same time, we are to be ready and prepared for his coming at any time; because we do not know when our time is up: when he will come to take us to himself in heaven.



And it is in this regard that he says, do not be afraid. As we seek to live and be his people, he knows that we will face all kinds of difficulties and pressures and that we will struggle to live the Christian life: And when we do, he knows we will be given a hard time – persecuted to a greater or lesser degree. And it is in this context that he says, do not be afraid little flock.



So these words are very fitting for us today, as we seek to be faithful to our promise to trust God for our salvation, and life, and to live for him. This encouragement and challenge is important to us who say that we believe that Jesus has died on the cross to save us from our sin, but also to take him seriously and to live as is fitting for one who truly believes that he is our Lord and saviour. In turn he says to you; Do not be afraid little flock for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.



So as we go on in life from here with that aim; there will be many times when we will feel like little people, or be made to feel like a little person: we will be ridiculed – we will fall – and we will do stupid things; Or, more likely still, we will be tempted to not take our Christian life all that seriously. We will be tempted to take the easy way, and to simply attend worship when and where it suites us, and when we feel like it. We will be enticed to look to ourselves and what we do, think and feel and place that as what is so important for our Christian lives: or we will be led by the thief to simply say, I have my faith, therefore it doesn’t really matter how I live my life, as long as I am reasonably good.



As a result of this kind of thinking, we will feel as though we are little people: that we are weak and helpless – unable to stand up against the pressures and stresses of life. We will become afraid, as life l becomes more and more scary, stressful and full of worries and concerns. We will rush and tear – run hither and thither, and do all kinds of things to cover and hide from those fears. We will chase after all sorts of earthly treasures in the vain hope that they might make up for what is missing. We will pretend to be a big shot, to hide the fact that we in reality are a little scared person. We will be encouraged to look to all kinds of things to give us the peace, hope and security that we long for, but we will not be able to find it in any of them. 



That is why our Lord seeks to reassure us – not only here – but throughout the Bible and throughout life, to not be afraid –That he is there with us and for us: That he does have something far better in mind for us: That his kingdom – his rule - is there for us. So just turn back to him and be reassured again of all that he has done for us and has in mind for us.



As we again look to him, we will not only receive the assurance of forgiveness for our failures and sin, but also of life and salvation. We will find again the right way to live so that we can live at peace with God and each other; and so have happiness, contentment, security and all the rest that we need for this life and the next. And on top of that we can have that sure hope that beyond this life we will be a part of something even better: We will be with our Lord and saviour; the truly great One who will ensure our unending happiness and joy.



So do not be afraid little flock. Do not be afraid. God is pleased to give the kingdom. So go live as his children – always ready and prepared: constantly looking to him for assurance of forgiveness, and also for strength and courage to live as he would have us. And always remember that our Lord is there with us and for us. He wants us to be sure that he wants what is best for us. So yes do not be afraid little flock for the Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. And that assurance and hope, I pray, will go with us throughout our lives.

So again to him be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.

                                 

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


Saturday, July 30, 2016


Ecclesiastes 2:18-23.                        Chasing the wind - without God                 31/7/16



(Eccl 1:1)  The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: {2} "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless."

{12} I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. {13} I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! {14} I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

(Eccl 2:18-23)  I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. {19} And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. {20} So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labour under the sun. {21} For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. {22} What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labours under the sun? {23} All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.



Here in this reading we have a great spot of wisdom for us to ponder over this morning. In fact, I would suggest that you go home and read the whole book of Ecclesiastes. It is wisdom that is very relevant to life in our world today; even though it was written way back in Old Testament times.



It is interesting to note that the wisdom spoken of here flies in the face of a good deal of thinking that is promoted today. Yet history has proved it right time and time again. But still many refuse to listen and learn: They would prefer to think that they know better; they are cleverer than that, because we are now living in a new and modern age.



Yet on the other hand this philosophy that we are encouraged to follow in our world today, is no different than that which has also been tried hundreds and thousands of years ago, and has continually been found wanting. Here it is referred to as it really is, useless - it is chasing the wind.



Chasing the wind - an interesting concept isn't it. Have you ever chased and caught the wind? Do you really know what it is that you are chasing, if you are chasing the wind, and do you really think that you can catch hold of it?



Yet like the writer here, how often don't we get caught up in this thinking, and feel like this in life. Chasing after something that we are told is so good and important; but can't quite get a handle on it. We are assured that it is what will really ‘make’ life for us; and that when you have ‘made it’ then everything will be well. These would be things like, wealth, happiness, security or even a truly upright and alive Christian life.



No matter how good and how hard we might try; no matter how much we have; even if we get to the top of the ladder, will still will feel and know that we really haven’t still achieved anything much at all. There is still left that thinking that there is still something more. And as this reading says; in the end you die and have to leave everything you have worked for to someone else, and who knows what they will do with it. It all still seems a bit useless in the end - a chasing the wind.



When the focus and centre is on any of these things, in the end they will leave us wanting and empty. The great dream the we are chasing will in the end be a nightmare if it becomes the be all and end all of our desires. No matter what we put our mind to do with regard to what we think is important in worldly terms we will always come up short and we will be let down badly.



Now I would venture to say that there are many, many people today who feel this way about life: struggling to find any real point to it - wondering what it is all about; and coming to the conclusion that it is all a bit futile. The high suicide rate and the alcohol and drug abuse in our country is a very good indication that things are not right; but there are many other indicators as well. Yet we don’t want to face the real issue. We don’t want to get to the heart of the matter.



But to help us understand a little better what is happening here, let us narrow our thinking down a little, to just one aspect of life. The book of Ecclesiastes looks at all the main areas where humanity looks to find life and fulfilment. But in this reading we have the focus put on working for, earning and accumulating wealth.



This is a good aspect to centre our attention on because for many people today this is what life is all about – this seems to be their ultimate philosophy for life. So they spend all their time working, thinking, worrying and hassling over earning a dollar and accumulating assets and wealth. This is what they are told to and encouraged to do over and over and over again; and so this aspect then is just about all there is to life for so many people today.

So what do we find? We go to school and send our children to school so that they can get a good education, so that they can get a good job; so that they can earn lots of money; so that they can have a luxurious home, a couple of cars, a boat and many other assets. All the while, so that they can build up their security and have a nice large retirement nest-egg, so that they can live to their hearts pleasure. And they are doing this because they are told that this is what life is all about.

Now here this morning we are told that all this is a chasing after the wind. If that is all there is to life, it is useless – it is a complete waste of time. That is the wisdom of the writer of Ecclesiastes. It is the wisdom of the Scriptures. It is the wisdom of God Almighty himself. And it is the understanding of any truly wise person today.



Why? Well listen to what we are told here in this reading. We work and worry to earn and accumulate; and for most of us, that is what we do throughout most of our life. And for many that involves heartache, and even sleepless nights; it involves struggle and loss of a job, or being taken down by a fraudster. And so at the end of it all we still have very little, and in the end we die broken people. Even if we manage to get through unscathed; and having built our bigger barns and are finally in a position where we are comfortable - we die, and leave all that we have worked for, to someone else. And the successor to it all may be wise in their use of it, but most will not: they have not worked for it and so quickly squander it. So what do we find? We have worked all our life – worried, hassled and struggled, only to leave it all to someone else. It is useless – it is a chasing the wind.



The book of Ecclesiastes also looks at just about every other situation in life, and draws the same conclusion – it is all chasing the wind. When we only look at our efforts, aspirations and achievements in every aspect of life; even the religious; it is useless – it is a chasing the wind. Even our achievements –great as they might be - are really nothing in the big scheme of things. And what do we have left - on our own, nothing.



Now having come to that conclusion, we are left with only one other option. That is, that it is God and God alone who makes anything and everything worthwhile. It is he who changes the whole perspective on life; and it is he who gives true wisdom, knowledge and happiness.



And when we look to the Lord we find the wisdom that truly helps make sense of life and put everything in its right perspective. Living in his wisdom then our work, leisure, religion and everything else has its place and its meaning and purpose. With that, suddenly, there is a peace, security and understanding to life that is beyond comprehension; because God is in control, not me - not others, not the merry-go-round of life, out of control.



Also with God in the centre of everything we find knowledge that is truly worthwhile and helpful. Knowledge that puts all human education in its proper perspective and helps us to use it in a way that is good, useful and helpful. Because it is God's knowledge, it is to be used in the way he wants, and that in turn brings real happiness - lasting happiness. And again it is only to be had when we look to the Lord and trust in him and what he has done for us.



Then we will have the joy of knowing that it is all under control, and that it all will work out for best in the midst of and despite our human weakness, failures and tragedies. Our Lord alone turns life around and gives it meaning and purpose. It is in him, and him alone, that everything else finds its place and is worthwhile and good. Everything else is useless - it is a chasing the wind.



We can be sure of this because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. This God who gives us this wisdom came amongst us and then died so that we might be forgiven and accepted into God’s family for all time. He rose again from the dead so that we can be sure that in connection with him we to can have life in heaven for all eternity. So we can look to him and trust him. He not only is the all- important one in life, but he can be for each one of us as we go through life every day. In him we can find all the meaning, purpose, hope and fulfillment that we need and that truly lasts. He is where it is at.



That is the wisdom that we need to hear and heed today. And that more than anything else is what our country needs at this time also. So instead of looking to ourselves and our human philosophy and thinking, and what we can achieve, are doing and might be able to do, here again we are encouraged to look to our Lord: to look to him as the centre of life; and there only will we find meaning, fulfilment and security. So trust him - trust God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.                  AMEN.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


Saturday, July 23, 2016


Colossians 2:6-15.                             Living as Christians in the face a false world!           24/7/16



6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. 

9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 

10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 

11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 

12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. 

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 

14 having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 

15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.



‘We are living in interesting times’, is an understatement indeed. As we look around us these days there are so many things happening and being said that are quite disturbing indeed. We firstly think of the increasing incidence of terrorism: Political debate where lies are openly said and accepted; Where media and the Law promote a politically correct view, and openly and viciously condemn people who put a different view; Where the Muslim faith is shielded, while Christianity is roundly condemned: Where my wants are expected to be fulfilled even when I am not prepared to contribute: and the list could go on.



But what is even more interesting is the response that so many take in the face of this. So many seem to tolerate things that are quite clearly wrong and viciously defend them. While others seem to go along with whatever, because it is the current popular view. It seems that most people are modifying what that are saying and doing in order to fit in with the current world view.



Even in the church and our own lives this is far more prevalent than we would care to admit. Our views on many things have changed in recent times. Even where Scripture is quite clear we have changed our thinking so that we are not so out of sync with the culture around us.



In many ways it seems that more and more we are being taken captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. More and more it seems we are prepared to listen to hollow thinking, simply because it sounds pleasing to the ear and is sprouted regularly in the media.



It was interesting to read a rare article in the media that was being critical of the popularist thinking; that we must not speak out against the Muslims and their faith, but at the same time condemn the Catholic and the Christian faith because of the few priests who have brought disrepute on Christianity. They use one rule for one situation and do the opposite in another. They speak at great lengths about tolerance, but are absolutely intolerant toward anyone who does not go along with their views. They do not argue the issue but ridicule and condemn the person.



The humanist, views are many and varied, but are all in the end hollow and deceptive philosophy. They are human views of what we would like to think is good, but we fail to acknowledge that we have a major flaw in our thinking. No matter how good the idea, our sinful, selfish thinking always mucks it up. When the idea comes from humanity and is focussed on ourselves, it will in the end fail.



This we can see as life goes on week after week, month after month, our worldly thinking is unravelling disastrously. Things are going from bad to worse rapidly. So we need to think carefully as to what we are listening to and taking on board in our lives.



Here in this reading we are warned again to see to it that we are not led away from the truth of God’s Word. We surely can see now that as we give way a little here and there, before we know it we have lost the plot altogether. The lie that we can change and ignore God’s Word a little here and there leads to disaster.  We need to heed Paul’s words here in this reading.



 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. 

Again the reminder is to be completely centred in Jesus Christ and what he has told us in his Word. He is to continue to be our LORD – our Master – our Boss – the One who is all important in our lives. Our roots need to be firmly set deep in him and his Word. Our lives are to be built around him, not the world around us: Not ourselves and our thoughts wants and desires.



In these darkening days we need to be very much strengthened in the faith as you were taught. We must go back to the basics and strengthen our understanding of them. Regular worship and study of God’s Word is paramount for us as we increasing come under all kinds of pressures from within and without. Gone are the days that we can sit back and go to church only when we feel like it; and to simply think that we went to confirmation lessons, so we know it all.



On top of this, we are encouraged to be overflowing with thankfulness. But how can we be thankful in the midst of very unsettling times, that are seemingly getting worse all the time? We surely need to have lots of good things around us if we are to be safe? But then, in light of what is happen, all that might so easily be taken away from us as well? The things that we have relied on, can today be so easily taken away from us?



That is why we again need to go back to the basics, and then we are able to be overflowing with thankfulness, no matter what lies before us. Because of a strong focus and centre is in Jesus Christ we know that all things will work out for good. Not necessarily in worldly terms. But because Jesus is Lord and God he knows what is best, and he know what will ensure that we do not lose out on eternal life with him in heaven.



This reading tells us quite clearly: For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. So despite what we see when we look around us in worldly terms, we now can be sure that God is in control. Sure he is allowing us human beings to bring untold hardships on ourselves. But he does so, so that we can again be reminded that we cannot do life by ourselves without reference to God and what he has to say to us in his Word.



Sinful, selfish humanity will continually get it wrong, as we are seeing around us today. However, God has stepped into our world to give us a way out. He sends his Son, Jesus to do what was necessary for us to be joined back into God’s family.

We read: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 



Jesus gives his life into death on the cross so that we might be forgiven and enabled once more to live with God, both here on earth and in eternity. What we have continually strived for, he has been made possible. In connection with him we can live forever. And beyond this life we can have health, wealth and happiness, with a complete absence of anything bad and evil happening to us. It is there for us, guaranteed.



Also: In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self, ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. 



God has done everything necessary, through Jesus Christ to ensure that it is all there for us. Even now in the midst of, and as things get even worse, in our world, he will ensure that we will gain everything that he has promised for us. He has joined us to himself in our baptism, and as we now stay close to him, trusting him alone, we can be sure that all things will work for good.



Here also remember that final verse of our reading. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. So again the reassurance is that just as the terrible death on the cross appeared to be a win for evil, it was in fact its defeat. So also for us, evil is not able to win out over us. In fact, it is defeated, and is instead now used for the good of those who love him.



So let us now See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. 

Instead let us look to and hold firmly to our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us allow him to lead and guide us through these difficult days ahead, so that we can give all glory and honour to our great God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For after all to him alone does it all belong, now and forever.  AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Galatians 5:1,13-25.         Freedom in Christ to live by the Spirit      26/6/16

1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 
14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 
16 So I 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.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 
21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 
23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 

As we continue our series in Galatians we along with the people that Paul was addressing are encouraged to live in light of the Gospel, rather than in ways that bind and destroy us. We are reminded here that the Christian Faith makes a huge difference to life for those who take it seriously. There is a whole different focus, motivation and lifestyle for those who are in a real relationship with Jesus Christ.

This morning as we baptize another young person into the Christian Faith, we are reminded that this connects us to that which is radically different to the world around us. Here we become part of a life that frees us up to be able to truly live in a way that is good and positive. This Christian Faith truly makes a difference.

For Oliver, as for the rest of us, as God’s Spirit reigns in us we have a freedom that transforms our lives and gives us a whole new hope and way of living. So Baptism is not just a matter of having our sins washed clean, joining us into God’s family and assuring us of eternal life in heaven; but it also changes life for us in this world, here and now. We are freed from sin and its consequences; not to now live as we please, but to live by the Spirit of God.

This message is important for us all to hear and take on board as we are being encouraged to more and more soften our approach to many lifestyle choices which are clearly against what God tells us in his Word is good for us. It is important because we have so many saying that they are baptized and believe, but who make no effort to live in accord with what God would have for us.

There are many who think freedom means to be able to do as we please. As long as I think something is okay that is all that matters. As long as we are loving according to our own understanding of what love is, we are doing a good thing. But is it really loving to encourage people to do that which is harmful to them – in fact deadly – in hell deadly.

There are many serious questions and issues that we are challenged with here this morning through this reading. Paul is at great pains, encouraging us to understand the gravity of what this is all about and why it is so important. There are only two choices – either we take Christ seriously and we live under the guidance of his Spirit, or we indulge the sinful nature and destroy ourselves in the process.

Here he describes the fruits of these two ways of thinking and living and in so doing helps us to see the significance and relevance of what he is saying.  The first is the natural fruits that come from our lives. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

Now we don’t need to look around very far and think very hard, to see that these fruits are very much present in our world around us today. In fact, they are there in our own lives as well. As we today seek to indulge our every whim, with total disregard for God and what he has to say, we are biting and devouring each other – we are again burdened by a yoke of slavery. We are further and further from finding the peace and fulfilment that we long for.

These fruits all are clear indications of a life that is turned in on itself. Even though we are living in denial of the fact that this is destroying us, this is the reality. The more self-centred we become the more we find the opposite to what we are longing for. It is readily seen there in the world around us, and in our own lives. But particularly, God’s Word over and over again reminds us of how destructive this really is – for this life and especially the next.

However here again Paul reminds us that it doesn’t have to be this way. Because of Jesus Christ there is now a whole new and truly better life here for us. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Through his death on the cross we have forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. He has freed us from this slavery of sin that burdens us. We are free to be new and better people.

His challenge now is for us to seek to live this new life. Since God has done such a great thing for us through Jesus Christ and his death on the cross, we can turn away from being so inward looking. We are freed now so that we do not use our freedom to indulge the flesh. We don’t need to or surely want to continually have the ‘I wants’, because in connection with Christ we have everything we need for this life and the next.

So, being guaranteed God’s goodness and blessing, we can now turn toward responding positively to God. We can and will want to now seek his help to live and be the people he would have us be. Now we will seek to serve one another humbly in love. 

How do we do this? What is it that is truly the loving thing to do? Here surely we will look to God and his Spirit to guide us, instead of looking to our world around us and our whole selfish approach to life. God’s Spirit will lead us to take seriously what the Bible says with regard to how we should live and act. God’s Law, beginning with the Ten Commandments, but extended throughout the Bible has much to say on all kinds of subjects, such has homosexuality and marriage, our roles in the church, and much more.

Here Paul sums it all up by saying: For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” And how do we know what is the loving thing to do? We go back then to all these other laws. Not now as ‘must do’s’ but now as a grateful and loving response to what God has done for us. These laws will be used now as our guide as to what is the best way to act toward those around about us.

Here please remember that the word love that is used here is different from our worldly use of that word today. This love is one that is totally focussed on the welfare of the other person. We do what is best for them according to what God tells us is good. Now our whole aim is to serve one another humbly in love. 

So instead of all of the negative attributes that were mentioned before, now the Spirit works a whole new set of fruits that are good and up-building for all. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

These are attributes that build people and relationships up, rather than use and abuse them for our own ends. These fruits are commendable rather than that which brings destruction and condemnation. They are that which God Spirit longs to work in our lives if only we would allow him.

Let us remember Pauls final words here: Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Because of all that Jesus Christ has done for us now we will aim to rid ourselves of those negative attributes and then seek the Spirits help us live these new fruits in our lives daily.

So, since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Since we have been baptised into God’s family and been given a new and hope-filled life, let us keep in step with what we are and claim to be. We have been extended freedom in Christ to live by the Spirit. And as we live by the Spirit we are enabled to live in a way that is good and positive for all.

Sure we will never fully achieve this in our lives here on this earth, because here we still have a sinful human nature that clings to our lives, as long as we live on this earth. However, as we look to Christ and what he has done for us on the cross, we are freed to allow his Spirit to lead us more and more into this new and better life.

So let us ever seek to live by the Spirit, so that we turn our backs on the fruits of the flesh. Then also may he guide us, so that his fruits may predominate more and more in our lives. Then may all glory go to where it truly belongs; to our great God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. After all, he alone is the one to whom it belongs. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish