This coming week we get to celebrate National Lutheran Schools Week (NLSW), here at Grace. This is always a fun time of the school year, but one thing it isn’t, is consistent! WE don’t do many things the same during this week.
Consistency, is an important part of life. How consistent are you? Do you adhere to the rule you make? Do you expect others to adhere but you don’t? This is a tough concept to teach at the 1st through 4th grade level. I had to have this conversation with one of my students this week. I had to explain, that if I made an exception to the rule for her, I would be breaking the rule; not easy to understand the chain of events.
This year's theme for Lutheran Schools Week is “JOY:FULLY LUTHERAN” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24.
It is a joy to be able to express the love of Christ, but it is also a challenge at times to follow His example. The Bible verse chosen for this year’s theme tells us to rejoice always. This too is often difficult to do sometimes. If we remember that love casts out hate and fear, it makes it easier to rejoice in all things. If we keep in the front of our minds that we are forgiven children of God it is easier to rejoice always.
It doesn’t matter what we do, Jesus loves us and forgives us. Jesus gives us a consistency that is missing in the world; a consistency that has been missing in the world; a consistency that will always be missing in the world, but Jesus will never turn away from us.
Jesus led by example. One example that often comes to mind is when Peter denied Jesus at a time most crucial in Jesus’ life. Peter was questioned three times if he knew the LORD. Three times Peter said NO! Each time he was more emphatic that he did not know the LORD, yet when they were together our LORD took Peter back into the discipleship. He even reinstated Peter and showed Peter how to minister to the sheep (John 21:15-25).
Our LORD knows what He expects from us and when we can’t, and never will measure up, He has made a way for us. He himself has taken our place. This won’t change. The promise was first made to Adam and Eve and it never changed. The promise was fulfilled through Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. The promise is fulfilled as we live out our life in HIM. The promise will be fulfilled when we each enter the kingdom when we take our last breath on earth.
So yes, rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in everything!
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
I first wrote a variation on this message a year ago in remembrance of Dr. King Day.
In today’s world these two words often seem at odds. How can one serve and still be a leader? Next week in reading the children in first through eighth grades will learn about just such a man. This man was someone who served the needs of others. He did this when times were good, he did this when times were tough.
Dr. King was a servant-leader. He was taught how to serve others by his parents. He was taught by his father, a pastor. He was taught by example. The examples were taught at home. The examples were based on what his parents taught him from the Bible.
He was taught by the examples of the greatest servant-leader, our LORD. Jesus came into the world to save us. He came into the world to show us the Good News of Salvation. He showed us how to live. John 3:17 says For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Matthew 20:27-28 tells us that Jesus came not be served but to serve and to give His life up for many.
We know how Dr. King fought for equality for all. We know how Dr. King fought for the rights of all through civil disobedience. We know about Dr. King’s marches. We know a lot about his public person. There is a lot written about this great man. Just one search this morning on Google for “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” turned up over 117 million hits. A year ago, the total was over 108 million hits. That says something about the man!
We consider Dr. King a hero!
Dr. King had heroes as well. Three of his heroes were: Martin Luther (1483-546) Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) and Gandhi (1869-1948). From these three men he learned many things. He learned more about his faith and how to handle events in his life a peaceful manner. Dr. King was no stranger to having to “turn the other cheek”. Dr. King was a man of principles. He held his views high and expected that of those around him. Dr. King inspired a whole generation of people to look at their neighbor differently. He inspired a whole generation in history of people to move out of what we now call a “comfort zone” and do something different. I know he influenced my husband, as a college student to travel to Birmingham, AL during a turbulent time and register voters.
Although Dr. King held these three men in high regard, he didn’t get his beliefs from them or those around him. Ultimately what he believed came from what he was taught by his parents as a child and what they taught him from the Bible.
When Dr. King was questioned about who he was, or what he considered most important in his life his first answers didn’t have to do with what he had accomplished or the changes he made. His first response was that he was a Baptist minister. He was first and foremost a child of the LORD. What he saw in people was that all were equal in the sight of the LORD. We are all equal in our sin and we are all equal in our forgiveness through Christ. Dr. King knew this, believed this, and practiced this.
When Dr. King faced the hard times in his life it was to the Word that he went, it was to other ministers of different denominations that he went – to whom he reached out.
As we celebrate or remember Dr. King this Monday, January 20, 2020, in whatever way(s) take the time to thank the LORD for placing Dr. King in a time in history when he could speak out. Christ said,” There is no greater love, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13). Dr. King did this. He laid down his life for what he believed.
Take a moment and read his “I Have A Dream” speech. Take a moment and look closely to see how much Dr. King referred to words from the Bible. Dr. King’s words are as important and needed today as they were in 1963.
Jesus’ words and forgiveness are just as needed today as they were over 2000 years.
I really enjoy going into Ms. Laurie’s classroom and observing her children at play. I really enjoy listening to them play. This year is a little extra special for me as the son of a special “niece” has enrolled. I love watching him play and seeing how much of his family is in him.
As I watch the children play and interact with each other I am reminded of the words from a children’s song “Be careful little eyes what you see…” This song was recently made into a popular Christian song by Casting Crowns. This is based upon Luke 11:33-35.
We as parents, teachers, and watchers of these young ones are given a great task of watching them. We are the guardians of their precious “eyes”. We need to be careful what they see. We are the guardians of their precious “ears”. We must guard what they are hearing.
When I was younger there was a saying my grandmother used frequently, “Little pitchers have big ears”, meaning a child is always listening.
Are we careful what we are saying, doing or watching around our children? They are quick to pick up on our saying one thing and doing something different.
C. S. Lewis, the writer of the Chronicles of Narnia once said of his conversion (he had been an Atheist), “A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading” (Surprised by Joy). This is true in reverse; a person who wishes to remain a sound Christian cannot be too careful of his reading. This also can apply to one’s environment.
In today’s world, we must be the ones on guard as to what is out there. In recent years, there has been more and more in the media that can easily water down our children’s faith.
The children need to know what to believe. They need to know there is the belief that the LORD, being in control, is often downplayed, completely ignored, or written about in such as way as to say He is not real.
Research has shown how children can be easily convinced to follow what others are doing, saying, and seeing.
We are warned in Romans to watch what we do – Romans 12.2 says, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will, or the book.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, Paul tell us that we are to test everything and to hold on to what is good and to reject every kind of evil. This is not an easy task! Evil is sneaky and often comes in many disguises.
When we do reject evil, we must be ready to give an answer to defend our faith. Paul writes in 1 Peter 3:15 that we should be ready to answer to everyone who asks with an honest answer for the hope we have. He also says we should do so with gentleness and respect.
It is hard, but we must at all times be on guard. But our fight is not alone. We have the Holy Spirit to give us the strength that we need. We have been outfitted with the Armor of God, Ephesians 6:10-18
We must be on watch at all times. Let our eyes be the lamp of our body and shine the Light of Christ so our children may see Him through us.
Vicki Helmling is a teacher at Grace English Lutheran School