Pastor Riedel's blog

Isaiah's Christmas

Christians can hardly celebrate Christmas without at least one mention of the prophet Isaiah. The "Gospel Prophet" included many passages in his scrolls which point the reader to the promised Messiah. Reference after reference direct our attention not only to the announcement of the Savior's birth, but also to His characteristics and especially to His work of redeeming sinful souls with His bloody sacrifice.

This Advent season we prepare our hearts to celebrate again the fact of God's love for sinners, in sending His Son to rescue us from a much-deserved eternity in hell. Each Sunday and Thursday worship opportunity in December, we will remember the events leading up to Jesus' birth through the binoculars of the prophet Isaiah.

He was looking forward to the coming redemption. He awaited eagerly the fulfillment of the Lord's salvation. Isaiah was celebrating Christmas 700 years before the precious Christ-child was born in Bethlehem's manger.

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Have you read any good books lately?

Thanks to our faithful young librarians, we have some great suggested reading displayed on the shelves in our church library. There is a biography of Luther and one of the books from C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series. You will even find a couple of different study Bibles on display, one for adults and another for children. It’s almost as though our librarians are asking, “Have you read any good books lately? Check these out!”

Well, have you read any good books lately?

That seems to be the question that Jesus poses in the opening verses of His revelation to saint John. Listen to our Savior’s reading suggestion: Revelation 1:1-3 (NIV1984) The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending His angel to His servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

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Continuing education

It seems at nearly every pastor’s conference I attend, someone is talking about continuing education. Quite a number of men in our area are pursuing a specialized degree or just looking to learn about topics they did not previously have the time to study. Still others return to the seminary or take online courses in Hebrew or Greek, or a whole host of other topics designed to assist the parish pastor.

In our congregation, students of all ages are heading off to school, some for the first time and others who are expanding their knowledge or looking for a career change. Still others regularly find themselves studying God’s Word in the various classes our church offers year-round. We never stop learning.

Continuing education in the Bible is the topic of the following section of the apostle Paul’s letter to young pastor Timothy: 2 Timothy 3:14-17 (NIV ’84) Continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

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The Final Exam

It’s that time of year again, isn’t it? Grade school, high school, college, trade school or technical college, university – wherever students are studying, the day of final examinations must arrive. It always does. That is our opportunity to show our teacher, instructor, or professor how much we have learned over the past months of study.

We had an interesting ‘final exam’ in our church on April 21st. It was the culmination of several years of study, quizzes, and testing. In a public question and answer forum, students presented themselves for confirmation in Christian faith and doctrine. These young disciples of the living Lord demonstrated a faith that is built on the very words of God and a knowledge of the truths of holy Scripture.

The confirmands spoke about the comforting fact that the Bible is God’s own unshakable Word, powerful and true in every way. The two main teachings of God’s Book are the Law - which condemns us to hell because of our sins; and the Gospel - which comforts us with the forgiveness of sins we receive through faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ. (Romans 3:23-24)

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The Aftershock

You don’t have to live near the San Andreas Fault in California in order to have experienced an earthquake. In the last 30 days (March and the end of February), over 8,000 earthquakes of varying magnitude have shaken a number of places around the world, 5 of which were registered as significant.

It is not always the earthquake itself that presents the greatest threat, however. Often it is the aftershock, or vibrations in the ground after the initial tremors, that inflicts even more of an impact on people and communities.

Let me tell you about one historic earthquake. To say that this quake “rocked the world” is a bit of an understatement. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that the earthquake which took place in Jerusalem around 30 AD shook the history of this world, and its aftershocks continue to be felt to this day.

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