Roger's Postings

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Ezekiel 33:7-11.                 You have a responsibility!                             10/9/17

Also Romans 13:8-14, & Matthew 18:15-20.

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.

10 “Son of man, say to the Israelites, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”’ 11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’

I am sure that most of us have heard the saying that: 'the only problem with the church is the people in it." Now in one sense, it is so true. It often seems as though we are continually facing the situation where someone or other has done something wrong: whether that be within the congregation, in the family, or out in the community or business world. Somebody or other has fouled up somewhere. Irrespective of where, it almost always reflects badly on the church somewhere or somehow.

Now none of this should really surprise us. We live in a sinful world where even we ourselves are constantly failing to be the people that we know we should be and are constantly falling. All of us are far from perfect. So there will always be problems and failings. But it is how we deal with it all that is important. It is here that our readings this morning have some very important advice for us.

The first point that comes out, is that each one of us have a responsibility in this matter; each one of us needs to listen to what God is telling us here. No matter where we stand in regard to the issue at hand – whether victim, perpetrator, or spectator. So often when it comes to a problem in the church as well as outside in the community we merely want to sit back and criticize from a distance.

Even when we ourselves are involved it all too often is seen as the problem is out there. It is the other person’s fault; he wronged me; he calls himself a Christian and yet he does this or that; or look what so and so has done, and so what I did is not so bad; he or she is not as good as they should be or claims to be; and we could go on and on.

Yes, we are always quick to see and criticize the faults and failings out there – in the other person. But how often aren't we doing this for very selfish reasons. By highlighting their failures, it doesn't make me look so bad. Deep down, probably, thinking it takes the focus off of our own failures and blame.

But each of our readings remind us that when we think about failures and the things that can and do go wrong, then we must first of all look here, to ourselves. We are to see what our responsibility is in the situation. We are to think about what and how God wants us to behave and act, whether it is our fault or not.

In the second reading, we were reminded of what should underlie our whole approach to life and to the failures and problems that we face. "You shall love your neighbour as yourself. “Love does no wrong to a neighbour;" even when they have wronged us. Love always thinks of the other person first - not self. It thinks of how and what is needed in order to help that person in the situation whatever it is. It thinks about what Jesus would have done. And instead of trying to destroy that person before others and God, our concern is to be, to build them up. In particular to bring them into a right understanding before God.

That is why we are told in the first reading to warn those who do evil of the consequences of their actions - they will die because of their sin. We are to warn them of the need to change their ways. And if we don't and we fail to give that warning then we are told that we will held responsible for their death. Out of love for that person and seeking their welfare before God we are to show them their fault.

At the same time out of love for God and that person we are to seek to live life in accord with God's will - so others will not be tempted. Here remember also our second reading mentions being subject to governing authorities. They have an essential role to play in governing for the welfare and good of our society. They need our prayers, support and challenges so that they do what is best, and not just what is popular.

So continually these readings this morning are speaking of our responsibility; of what we are to do in the face of the difficulties and challenges of life. Instead of pointing the finger, we are urged to get alongside one another and build relationships. Especially our relationship with God Almighty himself.

Now secondly here, we need to remember that life is not simply about how good our lives are. As much as that is important. It is not our goodness or failings that determines our rightness with God. Yet so often that is the impression that Christians so often seem to give.

We praise people for the good they have done, and so often give the idea that this is what will get them to heaven. Or on the other hand we condemn a person who has done something wrong and evil. Not even giving them a chance to know of the forgiveness of sins that there for them through Jesus Christ and his death on the cross.

This is where all of us need to focus our attention - on the Lord Jesus and what he has done for us. There alone in him we find what is needed in order for us to be able to face life in our troubled world. There in him we find the where with all to be able to get on and work in the midst of the failures of us all.

God had and has given us a way to live that is good and right, and which would ensure that we have none of the troubles and disasters that we are constantly facing. All of which off course, are of our own making as human beings. We have ignored what God has to say and give us, and have instead chosen to do our own thing.

So constantly we all bring on ourselves and one another all these terrible things that we face in this life. No matter how hard we try it is always there; and there is no way out of this awful mess that we face. It is a hopeless situation with only one conclusion death and destruction and finally, all hell.

Except for the fact that God in his love for us sent is only begotten Son into our world to give us a way out. He takes the punishment that we deserve on himself, and therefore, for God’s forgiveness to be extended to each and every one of us. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross God now accepts all those who believe in him to be fully forgiven and accepted as his very own perfect people.

 Then in response to what he has done for all our sin and failures and all the rubbish that comes our way, there we find also our responsibility as we now go on living in this sinful world. We give thanks to him for all the good that has been extended to us and that is there in our lives. We respond to his love and forgiveness by obeying our authorities and keeping his commandments.

When another sins against us, as people who have been saved by Jesus Christ, we seek to show them their fault and lead them to confession and forgiveness Because of Jesus we now think of our actions and reactions toward good and evil all in terms what it does mean for our relationship with God.

When we think of the wrong that we or others have done we think of rejection he must feel; and then seek and encourage forgiveness. As our Lord has forgiven us we now seek to extend that same love to others. Thinking always of our need for the help and forgiveness that only comes from God.

In all of this we need to remember that our Lord is present with us, each and every moment of our lives. He is alongside of us all the time. In particular, 'where two or three come together in His name.' As we gather together as fellow Christians, he is there to help us to get over our petty differences. He is there to help us beyond simply pointing fingers and looking down on others for their failings. He is there to also help us forgive even the most serious hurts.

When there is major conflict and differences of opinion he is there with his Word to lead us to the truths that he would have us uphold and live by. Even there he gives us the strength on those occasions when we need to reject a person who does not listen to our warning and the need to be guided by what God has clearly told us. He is always there with us and for us; helping us to live, love and forgive as he would have us. He is also there ready to forgive us when we fail and fall.

So let us be determined to go from here today remembering all our Lord has and continues to do for us. Let us not merely concentrate on others faults and condemn them; but help them to overcome them and to build their relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Instead of merely focussing on the goodness of people or more particularly theirs and our lack of it, let us keep in mind the greatness of our God and what he has done for us through our Lord Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. This is now the responsibility that is ours. So may God go with you in this regard and bless all you do in Jesus name. To him be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Friday, September 01, 2017

Matthew 16:21-28.          Standing at the crossroads!!                          3/9/17

(21)  From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. {22} Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" {23} Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." {24} Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. {25} For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. {26} What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? {27} For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. {28} I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."

This reading here today places us all at the crossroads of life. Do we here also want to take the easy and glorious road through life; just as Peter is suggesting to Jesus? Or will we listen to our Lord when he tells us that we are to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him? Are we going to listen to our Lord or are we going to allow Satan to direct our lives for us?

Might I suggest; by what I see around about, Satan has by enlarge, enticed much of the church today to follow the easy road. We don’t want to face the road and the theology of the cross and suffering: we want the easy and comfortable road that allows us to enjoy health, wealth and happiness: we don’t want to be challenged: and we don’t want to live a life of suffering, ridicule and rejection. In other words, we would much rather travel on the wide and easy road that leads to Hell, along with the bulk of the people around us.

Sadly, there are so many that seem to be wanting to gain the whole world no matter the cost. ‘We have to have all that the world is telling us that we need, or else we will not be truly fulfilled and happy.’ We don’t stop and think that a sinful, selfish world will only give us more and more heartache and disaster, no matter how hard it tries. At the end of the day we also need to consider what Jesus says here is the end result of this pursuit: this person forfeits his soul.

But I guess the challenging question then in this regard is: do we really care? It would seem that for most people, they have this idea that they can ‘have their cake and eat it as well.’ They seem to think that they can live as they please; allow Satan full reign; and yet at the end God will still allow them all into heaven. It doesn’t matter what God himself says about these things, as long as we think we are OK, then we are. Sadly, this kind of thinking has come right into the heart of the church and all too often into our own lives.

For so many, they are no longer at the crossroad, that have gone down the road that is broad and easy; the freeway of life; and there is little chance of them being able to get off. Jesus and the cross is not central; denial and suffering are not a part of the equation. They want life, but they want it their way; and are heading down the road of forfeiting their soul.

This being the case we need to carefully consider what our Lord is saying to us here. The first thing that he says is that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Here again then he makes the point that it is absolutely essential for us and for our salvation that he dies on the cross. This is no incidental issue. He must die so that forgiveness of sins and eternal life can be ours.

God’s Word is quite clear, that because we have chosen to do as we please, instead of heeding what God has told us, we have brought all kinds of difficulties and disasters on ourselves. Because we have sinned we will surely die. However, God in his love for has done through Jesus Christ what is necessary for us to have a way out. All who trust in him alone then has the certain hope of salvation and eternal life.

Then at our baptisms we were joined to Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection and so can be sure that we have been placed on the road to eternal life. If we stay on the road that he has laid down for us, we can be sure that we will find life, even though we will suffer and have to carry our cross through this life.

It is here then that we need to take careful note, for Jesus says that if we now as Christians, want to save our life: in other words, to have a comfortable, easy road where we do as we please, we will lose it. We will be turning our life off of the road that he has set for us and turning to the broad free way to Hell. Jesus here speaks in the strongest possible terms: we cannot have the way of the world without losing our life.

Instead he says whoever loses his life for me will find it. Whoever is prepared to give up getting their own way and doing their own thing, and then allow Christ’s life and what he says is good and important for us, to be what is all important for us; then we will find life. We will have that sure and certain hope that nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

So we can deny ourself and take up our cross and follow him. Now in many ways this is a positive statement: it is something that we can do. It is so, because first of all, our Lord Jesus is suggesting that we follow where he himself has been before. We know that we would dearly like to be where he is now; in heaven with his Father. But at the same time we know that as we stick with him in the things he has told us are important, we are on the road to get there. As we follow the path he went down and that he tells us we are to go, we know that it will not always be easy. In fact, he promises that ours will also be one of denial and cross-bearing.

However, as we do follow we have his sure promise that he will never leave us or forsake us and that lo he with us always. In fact, he promises that he will help us carry our burdens, as well as help us in our living as his people. Also as we follow him we know that we live under the joy of the Gospel: The Good News of Jesus Christ and what he has done for us in his life, death and resurrection. We know that there is forgiveness of sins there for all the mistakes that we make along the way.

So we can go forward in the midst of the difficulties and struggles of life. We can live boldly and confidently in the midst of what at times looks like failure. We can put aside our selfish fears and live for the benefit of others. We can take all the mud that is thrown at us and know that he will use it for good. We can follow the road ahead and know that because of Jesus Christ the destination is sure.

Also we can and will seek to live as we are encouraged to in the second reading from Romans 12.

(9)  Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. {10} Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves. {11} Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. {12} Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. {13} Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. {14} Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. {15} Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. {16} Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. {17} Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. {18} If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. {19} Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. {20} On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." {21} Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Yes, we recognise that this is not the way our world or our sinful selves want to live; but we deny ourselves and take up his cross and follow the Lord Jesus, because that is what he has called for from us. We know that it is good for us and for our society for us to do so, even though we so often struggle to do so. Because of the love and salvation that he has extended to us, this is what we now seek to do, despite our inability to always do so.

Let us remember that it is there in and with him, as we go down that sometimes difficult and dark road, that we find that there it is, what life is all about. There it is that we find real meaning and purpose and there in the Lord Jesus we find life eternal. Yes, with all this in mind we find that we have gone over the crossroads and are down that road that our Lord leads us on. Let’s not turn back! Let’s not listen to Satan’s lies! But instead deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. To whom belongs all glory and honour, now and always.  AMEN

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Friday, August 25, 2017

Matthew 16:13-20.          The true Church revealed!                           27/8/17

{13) When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" {14} They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." {15} "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" {16} Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." {17} Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. {18} And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. {19} I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." {20} Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

Here today through this reading God confronts us with the heart of what it is that constitutes the true Christian Church; and thereby that which is central to each of our lives as Christians. This message clearly ‘flies in the face’ of much of the contemporary thinking around about us, through which the gates of Hades is seeking to overcome us. In this regard there is no doubt that the gates of Hades are making serious in-rounds into the churches around about us and perhaps even into our own lives.

Here the challenge is clearly laid before us as to where we stand and upon which we need to be built. It all is based around the question that Jesus asked his disciples: "Who do you say I am?"

Now before you start thinking that this doesn’t apply to you, for we know that it is Jesus that is what it is all about. Most ‘christian’ churches would say that Jesus is the centre of their beliefs. We all ‘believe’ in Jesus, so what is the big deal?

However, just as in Jesus day, so also today what is it that we believe about him? There are all kinds of false and misleading views being ‘peddled’ around today about this Jesus. Much of what is focussed on, is only one part of who he really is, and not that which is central, and which God himself has revealed as that which is the basis of the Church which he is building; and which opens up heaven for people.

It is not good enough to say that he was simply a great prophet or teacher or example. It is not adequate to look at him simply as a great miracle worker or leader of the church. He does not die on the cross to simply show us how we are to live sacrificial lives for others. He is not one who just shows us that God is a loving God who is accepting of all, irrespective of whether we take him seriously or not.

 Peter and the disciples state that this Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. It is on this statement that Jesus says his Church is built and which enables people to be truly blest. It is on this reality that the Church and people’s lives stand or fall: heaven is opened or closed. Here remember, this is what God himself has revealed. This is not something made up by Luther or someone else trying to be pedantic or difficult. This clear and precise statement of what is the basis of God’s Church is revealed by God for us to know and have clear in our minds.

So any other view that goes outside of this, comes from the views of human beings, not God. In fact, as Jesus says, it comes from Satan, instead of God. They might sound good and pious. They might very well appeal to the egos of itching ears and be able to draw the crowds.  But they are not that which is revealed by God Almighty himself. It is devilish and evil.

Now since that is the case, let us look a little closer at what is actually revealed to us, as that which is central to the Church. The clear statement given is that Jesus is: the Christ, the Son of the living God. That is, he is the Messiah: the one that God had continually promised throughout the Old Testament times as the Anointed One that God would send to save his people from their sins.

 So this is not just a prophet, teacher, miracle worker, example or any of those other things that are so often focussed on. Here is the promised Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world: whose death on the cross for us and for our salvation is absolutely central to what the Church is about. The statement of the keys of the kingdom of heaven fit right into that understanding.

Here we have that which humanity finds very difficult to come to terms with. We like the idea of Jesus as king and all of that, but as to his suffering and death, this surely cannot be. Even Peter could not come to terms with this, and Jesus has to say to him Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

You see, we don’t like hear about our sin and the need for repentance; that is a turning our focus away from our desire to do what we want to do, instead of taking God and his Word seriously. We don’t want hear that this rebellion results in death and eternal separation from God. We don’t want to think about the fact that this is the source of all the troubles and heartaches that we have in our world today.

But it is only through the Christ; the Messiah, and his death on the cross that we have any hope at all. Apart from him there is no forgiveness, life and salvation. There alone then we have that which is central to our lives as Christians and as a Church. There is no other way.

But here let us not forget the second half of that statement either. This Christ is; the Son of the living God. Here we have the very clear statement that this Jesus is The Almighty God’s very own Son come into our world to do that which was necessary for our salvation. Here in Jesus Christ is the Lord Almighty himself: the Lord over all heaven and earth: the Judge eternal; and much more.

Here then in not someone that we can ignore or take for granted. He is not one we can twist and manipulate to please ourselves. Nor can we presume upon him to allow him to let us do as we please, thinking that it doesn’t matter, because he is after all a loving and all accepting God. That certainly is not what he has to say.

But why would we want to anyway? This Jesus Christ; God’s very own Son came and died in our place; so that God’s wrath wouldn’t fall on us. He overcame sin, death and the devil, for us and for our salvation. Surely then he is and will be our Lord. He will be the One we ever look up to and trust each and every day of our life. He will be the one we seek to help and guide us in each and every aspect of our lives. He and his death on the cross will be that which forms the centre and basis of our church and our lives.

So this revelation that was given to Peter and the disciples that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, is now that which forms the basis of our church and our lives. In that we will find that Rock that we need in order give our lives, and the life of our world, the solidity and safety that we sinful human beings need. This rock is not some big stone, but a huge, immovable rock mountain that stand sure and strong, in the midst of the battles of life that pound at us each and every day of our lives.

Here in connection with this Christ, the Son of the living God we find that we are blest with every spiritual blessing that we could ever want. There we have the sure hope of eternal life with our God and Saviour. As we live in the shelter of that rock we now have the protection that will ensure that the gates of Hades will not overcome us.

So that being the case we can now go forward boldly and confidently, knowing that we stand built on the rock; this central teaching that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. We do not need to fear that we are on the wrong track as a church or individuals. This Christ, the Son of the living God does not change, yesterday, today or forever.

Any church or message that does not focus on and stand secure in this reality is nothing but a fraud and a deception. Any church or individual that focuses on Peter and their own faith or works is a deception. Any church that wants the miracle-working Jesus and not the Jesus on the cross is a misleading and dangerous church. Anything that points to a Jesus other than the promised Messiah; the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world; the Son of the living God come into our world is to be avoided. These are all the tricks of Satan to leads us away from that which is all-important.

This is what God says is for real for his Church. This is what God would have as the confession of each one of us and as a church as a whole. For there alone do we find the blessings that God would have us receive. To him be all glory and honour now and always.

So now I conclude with Jesus’ question to each one of you: "Who do you say I am?" "Who do you say that Jesus is?”

Surely he is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

That being the case, go then and live in light of him, and may he be that rock that holds us safe and secure. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Friday, August 18, 2017

Romans 11:1-2a; 29-32.                 Mercy alone: for all are disobedient        20/8/17


(Rom 11:1-2)  I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. {2} God did not reject his people,

(Rom 11:29-32)  for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable. {30} Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, {31} so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you. {32} For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

Today in this reading God addresses an issue that is often on our minds: who is out of God’s kingdom and who is in, and what is the criteria for this. Where does that person or that church stand in their relationship to God and his acceptance of them? Are we all going to be in heaven? These are fair questions and ones that needs to be on our minds from time to time. The interesting thing, here, is the answer that is given in response to this question. The last verse sums up the answer that he has built up over the last couple of chapters in the book of Romans: For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

Did you hear that? For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. God has bound all of us; shut all of us up together in our common disobedience toward God. All of us stand under the same judgement. Not one of us can stand up and say, ‘We’re OK Jack. This doesn’t apply to me.’ Hear this loud and clear: all of us are disobedient and deserve nothing but the wrath of God.

That being the case let us not fall into the trap of many of the Jews, and of many people today. You see, many of the Jews had become so ‘high minded’ in their thinking that they were God’s people simply because they were Jews; and after all, they were doing very well in living according to the rules of the church of the day as well. They didn’t need Jesus. They had no need of God’s mercy. They were in; and everybody who was not with them was out.

So we find that God gives them over to their disobedience; and troubles and heartache abound. He then extends his mercy and the Good News of Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection, to the Gentiles; many of whom became Christians because they believed in Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for the forgiveness of their disobedience. They believed that it was through Jesus alone that life and salvation had been won for them.

So God through Paul has these words to say to them and us: Did God reject his people? By no means! God did not reject his people,

…. for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you.

Of course, we don’t go far down the track before we find that many of these Gentile people, like the Jews, soon fell back into trusting that they were God’s people because they could speak in tongues; or were pretty good at living the Christian life; or had some good experience; or some such thing. But their trust was no longer in God’s mercy but in themselves and what they were doing or experiencing.

Now is it any different today? Where, even do we stand, in this regard? Have we too come to the point where we trust in ourselves; our faith or knowledge; our experiences; our having our life under control; or in something other than Jesus Christ and the mercy that God has extended to us through him? Have we become so ‘high-minded’ that we are in control? We can change what God has said to suit ourselves and what we want.

Certainly our world and many parts of the ‘church’ have all kinds of ‘self help’ programs; promotion of positive thinking and meditation practices that can help us overcome all kinds of difficulties. They have entertainment and fun ways of ensuring that we can hide from the disciplines of life; and many other things that seek to help us to get and have our life under our own control. If and as we live by these things we will be OK, is the thinking.

Yet the reality is far from this. The more we think we have our life under control, the more our disobedience becomes evident and the more our world crumbles around us. The more we allow ourselves to be distracted from our focus on Christ and what he has done for us; and place it on what we do, the more we find that either our pride or our failures come to the fore and destroy our lives. Our disobedience thereby ensures that we find no hope in ourselves and what we do.

We can see this coming to the fore in this gay marriage debate. Having chosen to go against what God has to say in his Word, many then become so arrogant and bloody minded that they cannot even see that they are seeking to foist their view on everyone else, no matter what the cost or the damage that is done to society. We don’t want to believe in God, but instead trust that we can do life far better by ourselves, and are reaping the consequences.

As a result, we can come to no other conclusion than, not one of us is any better than any other: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Not one of us can be ‘high minded.’ Not one of us can condemn another or look down on another. Not one of us can make life for ourselves. We are all disobedient.

No matter how hard me might try to be good and loving and all the rest, the more it all unravels and the more that troubles and disobedience abounds in our lives. We just cannot make life for ourselves without reference to Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. It is only when he is taken seriously that we can find true hope and certainty.

At the same time, we are then called on to remember that God's gifts and his call are irrevocable. God does not reject his people and turn his back on them. His desire is for all to be saved. His call is still there for us all to repent and believe the Good News. The gift of his Holy Spirit is still there for all: it is irrevocable. That includes all today who are seeking to promote so much that is clearly contrary to God and his Word.

That means that he does not go back on his word and his promise. He does not change his mind in any way in this regard. His promise is sure. Even though we so often turn away from him and go back to disobedience, he remains unchanged in his thoughts with regard to us. He still holds his mercy out before us and to us. He wants us; and seeks to help us in every way, to turn back to him and his grace.

But at the same time he leaves us in no doubt that if we continue to be disobedient and no longer seek to avail ourselves of his mercy, then we can expect nothing but his wrath. If we continue to want to achieve life by and for ourselves then he will leave us to stand before him in our disobedience and therefore face an eternity in Hell.

However, we can be sure that as we avail ourselves of his mercy: God's gifts and his call; then we have every reason to go forward with confidence. Yes, daily recognising that we have been sinful and fallen back into disobedience, but then turning to our baptism and recognising that we there died with Christ and were raised to life with him. We have been forgiven, so can once again look to him, learn from him and seek his help and his gifts to continue to live in light of his mercy: Regularly spending time in his Word and weekly worship so that he can train us to look away from ourselves to him and his mercy.

As we in this way look to him and trust in all that he has done for us and has to say to us, then we not only can go forward confident in his grace; but we have the assurance that others will notice this goodness and mercy and want it for themselves as well. There we have the main mission strategy for our congregation; to live in God’s mercy to such a degree that it shows and that our families and others around us can see this great wonder of God and want to avail of it for themselves.

So does God reject some and favour others? No; all have sinned and live in disobedience. It is those who reject and no longer avail themselves of his mercy that are in trouble. However, these he gives over to even greater disobedience so that they might perhaps recognise their dire situation and once again avail themselves of God's gifts and his call which he has irrevocably made available to them.

For our part let us ever thank God for the mercy he has extended to us; and may our one great desire in life be to ever look to the source of this mercy and trust in his goodness toward us; and then to point others to him to whom all glory belongs; our great God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. To him be all praise and honour forever and ever. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, August 12, 2017

1 Kings 19:9-18                                  The Whisper of God                        13/8/17

{9} There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?" {10} He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." {11} The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. {12} After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. {13} When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" {14} He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." {15} The LORD said to him, "Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. {16} Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. {17} Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. {18} Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel--all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him."

For many people today, everyday life is a real struggle: there seems to be so many pressures and difficulties that they have to face.  The suggestion continually promoted by our society, is that we can have and be so much and so great; and yet the reality is far from what it promises. So often then these people feel as though they have to cope on their own, and that they are the only ones going through the hassles that they are going through, and that no-one else knows, understands or cares.

In fact, it often seems to these people that everyone is out to get them, with eyes watching for their every mistake, and looking for a chance to get them, and in doing so, they often imagine things to be so much worse than they actually are. So they run and hide in their own little shells; even though they may be living and working in the rush tear of life. They withdraw their 'real me' away from all who they feel are out to get them.

Meanwhile they cover their real selves with a false bravado and outward ‘she’ll be right mate’, but within feel scared, discouraged and disheartened; all alone in the busy, hostile world. Life is so tough for many people.

Even in relation to church (our own church too) and the spiritual side of life, there appears to be the same concerns. If we look around us we see many faces missing from our midst, and this surely is a real concern for all of us. To see week after week many people who claim to be Christians not here. Where are they?  Why aren't they here? Are these people too hiding themselves away in their own little shells, feeling weak and all alone? Are many of them discouraged and disheartened; running scared and trying to hide from God: thinking that he doesn't miss their attendance?

Or again because in the whole church scene we are confronted with all kinds of different thinking and practice, which is tugging us this way and that, and the focus has shifted from our God and what he has done and made available for us; to ourselves and what we are to do, we are left wondering what is it all about. Are we the only ones left who are faithful, and are we in danger of being overcome? Sometimes it seems as if we too are on the verge of dying; no longer is Christianity what it was meant to be, and so are left hassled and frustrated - lonely or fearful?

Well yes, life is a struggle in a sinful broken world - even for a Christian – even within the church. So my heart goes out to those who are not here for this reason. But let us all get some comfort and strength from out text here today. Elijah too knew what it was to feel weak and all alone: Elijah who not long before this, experienced God's spectacular power at work at Mt Carmel. He'd seen God burn up his sacrifice which he'd doused with water, in front of all the idol worshippers and false prophets, who couldn’t do the same with their sacrifice.

And now, a short time later he is running scared. He had known and seen God's power and yet now he was running for fear of his own life. Now he felt as though he was the only one of God's people left, and that nothing was going his way: so he runs and hides in some distant cave: hiding from the threat and danger that he perceived was there. Where was God's power now when he needed it most of all? It seemed as though God had deserted him and left him all alone: forgotten him - left him to be torn apart and destroyed.

Hide as he might try though, he can't hide from God. God speaks to him and asks what he is doing there hiding away. To which he replies: why God? Why have you allowed all of this to happen? Evil has taken control! To this God says - 'Go out to the mouth of the cave and I will show you how I mostly operate and how I make my presence known to the people.’

So Elijah goes near the entrance and mighty wind comes along and tears the mountain apart: shattering rocks and all of that. Surely this is God at work, again showing me his power. This is the way I like to see and know God; as long as he is for me and not against me. But NO - God was not in wind! The same thing happened with the earthquake and the fire - but no God. Poor Elijah - by now he would have been quite perturbed.

But then instinctively he knew the presence of God was at hand. He heard it - the whisper of God - the still small voice of God. No earth shattering revelation; no spectacular miracle: but the sound of gentle quietness, and it is there that God made his presence and will, known to Elijah: there God let him know that He was in control, and it was there that Elijah knew that he was not all alone.

 It was there then that the whisper of God said, ‘go back and do the work I am giving you to do.’ The still small voice said, ‘go back - even though life will not be easy. Go back, and through you I will do what needs doing in righting this nation. Go back and you will find that you are not the only one of my people left; there many others as well: Seven thousand in fact.’

Now this must surely make us today stop and think also, because we too, often, look for God to make his presence known in a spectacular way. We often feel alone and discouraged - not trusting God and his word and the sacraments, and we'd like to see him come through and tear the town apart; performing some mighty act or miracle, not only to make us sure of his presence but also to give us a sense of importance; of being a part of the action.

And when we are attacked or feel let down by the Church or God; when we are unsure whether the whole church bit really has any value; or when we see our membership declining and we are wondering what is going on or feel that we have failed God. At those times, we too often want to run and hide – to give it all away: particularly when we don't see God stepping into the situation in some spectacular and powerful way.

So we too need to remember that by and large God reveals himself in a very down to earth, quiet and gentle way, not in the mighty and spectacular. Most often it is the still small voice of God that breaks into our lives and makes God and his will known in our lives. Often it is the whisper of God that lets us know that God is still in control.

In the Bible - his Word – he tells us of his love and forgiveness, and what is good for us. In Baptism and Holy Communion, he further, in a quiet and simple way reminds us of the forgiveness, life and salvation that is ours through Christ's life, death and resurrection. And it is through these means of grace that he assures us that we are not on our own; but that we are joined to Christ and Christians of all times and places. Most of the time it is in quiet ways that God comes to us and speaks to us and reassures us.

So rather than running off and hiding in our busyness and involvement in all kinds of things, we often need to get quiet and listen; allowing God's still small voice to be heard: quietly reading his Word, meditating and praying, taking time to be with him in worship and at the Lord’s Table. Because it is there that he will come and make himself known to us, and remind us that we are not on our own.

There also he quietly tells us, to go back out into our everyday world and be the people he wants us to be: sharing his love and Good News to those around us; encouraging one another, and thereby allowing God to have an impact in our community. There he whispers, ‘go out and be my people, for I am with you always.’

And with his gentle voice comes power: The power to step out and do what God has in mind: power to do what we can't do on our own. Remember Peter in the Gospel reading, at Jesus’ command he steps out of the boat and walks on water; no problems, until once again he focuses on his own frailties and weaknesses, and it is then that he starts to sink. But even then, God's hand is there to lift him up once again. However, it was Jesus’ quiet command that enabled him to walk on water and to go on and do the Lord's bidding.

This morning again the gentle voice of Jesus says to us and to our community; ‘Come. Come, one and all - for I am here with you. I love you and forgive you, and I have the best of everything to offer you. Come - no more need you feel discouraged and all alone. Come and be my people - I will bless you and keep you, now and always.   AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Romans 8:26-39.                              Prayer - when can't pray!!!          30/7/17

{26)  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. {27} And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. {28} And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. {29} For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. {30} And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. {31} What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? {32} He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? {33} Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. {34} Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. {35} Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? {36} As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." {37} No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. {38} For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, {39} neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What a great encouragement we find here in these verses before us this morning. Particularly for those of us who are weak and who struggle with life, especially in the area of prayer. So often today we are given the impression that if we are a good Christian, then we won't struggle and hassle in this area; and all by in large will be well for us.

The thinking often goes: when it comes to prayer, it is something that should come naturally to all of us. We should have no real trouble in praying and in what needs to be prayed for. The better the Christian, the easier and better will be the prayers, and greater things will happen around us as a result.

Sadly, so often it seems, that this is what it we are told it should be like for a Christian who has it all together. Along with that we are made to feel guilty or within ourselves feel bad and inadequate, because that is not the way that it is for us personally.

I wonder how many of us here today have troubles in this area. When we have to pray it often seems to make no real sense at all – we mumble and jumble words, with lots of pauses. We have trouble in thinking what we should even be praying for. So we think the prayer is so weak and ineffectual. When we don't automatically see the results that we had hoped for, we are left feeling that it is all a waste of time.

Now how many us here when we need God most all find that perhaps all we do is yell and scream at him. We can't seem to say anything worthwhile and helpful. Then we worry like heck that we have fouled it all up. Perhaps we are not so good after all; and so are left feeling weak and hopeless.

Yet it is right here that we reminded that when we are at our weakest;

When we are lost for words and don't know how to pray; it is then that the greatest prayers ascend to God. Yes, that is what God's Word here says. Wow - that is something - that is a real encouragement to us all.

Now there are a lot of people in ‘Christian’ circles who have trouble with what I am saying here. The charismatics and ‘super- Christians’ may find this hard to swallow. To the ‘me’ focussed person it sounds ridiculous. But that is what this text is saying to us here today. To me that message is most encouraging indeed.

For all of us who struggle and feel weak and ineffectual this really does give us a lift and hope; it helps us to keep going. Above all it re-emphasises the greatness and love of our Lord, who cares for us, simply because he does. As a result, the things that need to happen in our lives happen, because he has made us a part of his family. He does what is best for us, even when we don’t know what that is or how it can happen. As a result, life has a peace and serenity about it that is beyond belief.

Let me use an illustration to help us understand all of this. A tiny little new-born baby. How does it survive? How does it get what it needs? It can't say in well-articulated words what it wants. Mum can you please change my nappy because I have made a mess in mine. Or mum can I please have a feed, for I am hungry. No it merely cries.

How does it get fed and changed? How does the message get through? Mum knows, doesn't she? She might only hear a little squeak - a half cry – and she is there - baby's every need is taken care of. Even though the baby cannot communicate well, its needs are met.

But then what happens when we get older and think that we are much smarter. We think that we are pretty good with communicating our needs and wants. We have learnt how to use and manipulate the system. But what happens? Mum can have I have some lollies or biscuits, even though it is almost dinner time. Often with no please or thank you associated with it. Then we wonder why we are not enjoying our dinner, or our teeth are rotting away, or why we don't get what we want.

A little further on; Dad can we sit up and watch this program on TV, but we don't say that it is an Adults Only program. Then we wonder later in life why our morality all screwed up. We become very good at asking for and manipulating things so we get our way, to hang with the cost.

When we get older still, we just take what we want and do what we want without consultation at all and we think we are very clever; we have got it all together and we can do as we please. Life becomes all about me and what I think and what I want.

Now in all of this, who is best off? Who is the most cared for? Who gets what they really need and are most at peace? Our brain and pride says the older and smarter we get the better it all is. The more we can say what want and the bravado that we have, the more we will get what we want and the happier we will be.

But if we think it through seriously, we are playing a fool’s game. More often than not, we are mucking it all up for ourselves and for others. We       seek the wrong things, because we don't know, or want to know all the facts.  The baby however, more than any, gets the best attention and is the most at peace, perhaps for the very reason that it can't communicate well.

Now I know this illustration has its limits and shortfalls, but we can see something of a crossover into the area of our prayers and our life before God.

As Heavenly Father, he takes good care of us as his children. Through baptism we have been made his children, and he promises to take care of us. So we can be sure that He is there taking care of everything for us. Seeking to do what is best for us. Whether it is troubles or hardships even, he is there using it all for good. Even when we act like a spoilt teenager and do things which are completely wrong, he is ever there seeking to use the troubles we bring on ourselves for our good. He may allow these troubles to harm us so that we turn back to him and seek again what is good for us.

So when it comes to prayer, even when not a word of prayer comes or it is a jumbled up mess of words, we have the assurance that God's Spirit is there bringing our concerns to the one who can do something about it. We know that as a result of Jesus’ coming to earth and living, dying and rising again, all for our benefit, that he is now concerned about us and what is going on in our lives.

He wants us to have the best, and his Spirit is taking our every need to God whether we speak it or not. Above all, because it is his Spirit who is doing the asking on our behalf, we know that he is asking for only what is good and beneficial for us. He knows God's will far better than we do, and he knows what will truly help us.

So always, we can be sure that our needs are being brought to our Lord, whether we are in the mood for it or not: whether we pray or not; whether we think it is good enough or not. The Spirit is pleading for us, and that has to be the best of prayers. So when we can't pray, rest assured that your every need is reaching the one who needs to hear it and who wants to help.

Now with that assurance and encouragement we can go on confidently; and we can also pray. Just as a parent loves to have their children talk to them and ask for things, even more so does the Lord ache to have us speak to him. He dearly loves us to share our thoughts and concerns with him.

He also longs for us to look to him and be guided by him as to what is good and right for us. Wanting us to really feel that closeness that comes through communication. But now to do it knowing that the Spirit is there making sense of what we are saying and bringing it to the Lord in a way that is truly right and good.

Our Great and gracious God cares about each of us always. Especially when we are at our weakest and most vulnerable. How comforting and reassuring that us for us as we go through life. To him then be all glory and honour, now and always. Amen.

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Isaiah 44:6-8.                      No other God???                                                             23/7/17

{6) "This is what the LORD says-- Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. {7} Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come-- yes, let him foretell what will come. {8} Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."

Sit back and take careful note. God in these three verses has a great deal to say to our present day world. This generation that is so smug in its thinking that it can be accepting and tolerant of many different gods, religions and denominations, believing that they all have the truth and the spirit, even if more or less. Or which thinks it can say there is some sort of god out there, but we don’t need to take him all that seriously. ‘Surely if he is god, and a loving one at that; then he will accept us all no matter what; after all we are good-living folk.’

At the same time there is also an important message in this for those who are struggling and searching for hope and genuine answers. In the face of hopelessness and a bleak future, we have here a turning point; a bright light which gives a real hope and a certainty to everything that lies before us. In the face of a myriad of points of view and appeals for openness and tolerance and all kinds of liberalism, we have a clear word that silences them all to meaningless chatter.

This is what the LORD says-- Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty. Here we have the Lord Almighty himself speaking: not some pompous, self-righteous person full of his own self-importance. Not some philosophy that has been pandered about by those wanting to erase any thinking of God from the face of the earth. No here we have the one and only God who is Lord over all things: both, ruler and King of all, as well as Saviour and Redeemer:  The Almighty one who is over all and through all and in all: The one and only true God.

Here is the One who truly is the one that we need to take seriously. The One who in the end we will all be answerable to; no matter who we are or what we think and believe. To those who take him and what he says seriously there is great hope and a great future. However, to those who do not believe or take him seriously there is nothing but eternal damnation.

That being the case; listen carefully! This Almighty Lord says:

I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come-- yes, let him foretell what will come. Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."

Here remember that these words were spoken to an Israelite nation that had become so slack as God’s people that he allowed them to be taken over by a foreign nation and taken into exile as slaves. He is the same God who created the world in the very beginning; The same God who miraculously brought his people out of Egypt and into the Promised Land; The same God who wo promised that he would send the Lamb of God to save his people and establish his kingdom forever.

In many ways these Israelites had become the same in their thinking as we in this nation have become. Though God had richly blessed them over the years, they became complacent in their attitude toward him; and justice and mercy was no longer a part of their thinking. Yes, they still acknowledged the Lord, but they tolerated and even took part in the other religions that they had allowed to creep into their nation. Their worship had become far removed from that which the Lord had set before them and they refused to listen and change their ways when it was called for.

From the very beginning God had set down before them the way that they should live and act in their relationship to him and the people around about them. He also told them very clearly over and over again, that if they failed to heed these commands, then he would bring them down. They however became so arrogant and apathetic in this regard; even when God sent his prophets to warn them, they ignore them and persecuted them. They believed that they had it all under control and that they would be OK.

So the Lord, true to his word, sent in the Babylonians to destroy them as a people. Now here at the time of this original message, the remnant of them that survived, sit as slaves in a foreign land. Again God comes to them and tells them that he is the Lord Almighty, and all that has happened to them, happened because of their disobedience. But he also reminds them that as the Lord Almighty, he has promised that if they once again return to him and take him seriously, then he will again restore them as his people and as a nation.

The Lord said to them:  I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come-- yes, let him foretell what will come. Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."

Now to us here, let us hear these words as his words to us also. And don’t be as arrogant as the people of Israel and think that God will act any different toward us. If you do then I would suggest that you tremble and be afraid, for his foretelling of what is before us is just as clearly written for us to know that we cannot play games with God and think that we will come out OK.

His proclamation is quite clear that there will be a falling away in the last times, by many; and we can see that happening all around us; as well, we are told that there will be many who will follow after that which their itching ears long to hear. In other words, they will follow after what makes them feel good, rather than on the clear word of God.

Here, let us be quite clear that there are no other God beside our Lord. All others are nothing but thieves and robbers. They are not, as many proclaim today, as different roads leading to the same end. Any other proclamation that does not centre on Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, is not of the Lord Almighty. There on the cross we find our King and our Redeemer. The Lord Almighty himself says: Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

If that is the case, how can we dare to think that we can dabble here and dabble there, with all kinds of ideologies and odd worships that focus us on things other than Jesus Christ and him alone. How dare we think that we do not need to heed what he has to say with regard to all kinds of things: but instead to twist and change it all to suit our own way of thinking. God has very clearly stated what is going to happen to those people. So beware. He is the Lord Almighty and he is true to his word.

That of course also means that he promises grace and blessing to all who do turn to him and look to him as their Lord and Redeemer. Because he has always been true to his word throughout history, we can therefore trust that as we look to him and what he has done for us through Jesus Christ, we can take him seriously and know that salvation and eternal life is there in him for us.

Here remember again that Jesus came into this world for the very purpose of extending forgiveness, salvation and hope to us. We know that he died on the cross, taking our punishment on himself, thereby ensuring this forgiveness and eternal life to us. He did rise from the dead so that we can be absolutely sure that this is all for real; and that all who are connected to him will also rise from the dead to be with him in heaven.

All this then means, that we can continue to trust his word alone, even as the world around us; changes and ignores it all to suit themselves. We can hold firmly to what he says in the Bible, knowing full well that this is the Word of the Lord Almighty himself, in its entirety. We don’t have to scratch our heads wondering what we must listen to and what we can discard: it is all God’s Word to us all, even today.

That also means that we can hold him up as our Lord and boss as we live out our lives every day. In the midst of a world that ignores and mostly has discarded him, we can know that he is for real, and he is important for our daily lives as well. That of course means that we will regularly come into his house here, in order that he can strengthen and encourage us through Word and Sacrament so that we can remain strong in the midst of the wayward pressures of the world around us.

It also means that as long as we are connected to him and trust in what he says to us, we can have the certainty that our future is good. No matter what our situation may look at the moment the Lord Almighty has already ensured that nothing in all creation can separate us from his love.

So let us always remember these words from the LORD: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come-- yes, let him foretell what will come. Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."

To him then, be glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish