November 21, 2021: Christ The King

Let us pray: Dear Savior, You alone are our King!  You alone have shouldered all  the responsibility of guarding, keeping,  and saving us.  You alone have died for our sins to set us eternally free so that we can live forever with You in paradise.  Today accept our praise.  Amen


TEXT:  John 18: 33: “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Dearly Beloved By The King of All Creation: 

          “Uneasy lies the head  that wears the crown.”  That’s a famous line from Shakespeare’s play:  “Henry IV.”  And it’s true of all leaders.  From little child on, I’ve felt and still feel that the best form of government would be a benevolent dictator or king.  Things would actually get done.  It would be very efficient.  But the key word in this equation is “benevolent.”  That means kind and totally just.  However, since all people are sinners that is an impossibility.  So, any such leader will be and should be uneasy if they have any sense of responsibility.  For the “buck stops with them.”

          Over the past year O how things have changed!  Gas prices have almost doubled.  The vaccinations touted as wiping out covid have proven ineffective—even Dr. Fauci has admitted they “lose effectiveness” after about 6 months, hence the “booster.”  Economically things have gone from boom just two years ago to stuttering and staggering baby steps.  Masks are still with us.  And basically all we get is a lot  of finger pointing on the news.  The question is: who is responsible?  Better yet, who is willing to take responsibility?  Do our political leaders sleep well? 


          In all history there is only one leader who deserves to wear the crown.   It is God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  He alone is King of all creation.  And He alone has assumed ultimate responsibility  for any and all sin.  That’s why He was born—to save us.  That’s why He suffered in Gethsemane and sweat out those “great drops of blood.”  He wrestled with the responsibility of saving human souls all the way to Golgotha and then completed His work of redeeming our eternal souls on the cross when He finally exclaimed: “It is finished.” And breathed His last breath.  You and I know how weighty it is to be responsible for family, friends, church members, and those God puts in our path.  So we sleep uneasily and live with decisions we often regret.  That’s because we cannot see the future and quite frankly are scared by it.  But not Christ, our King!  He was singular in purpose.   He never flinched or backed away from the cross—even here before Pontius Pilate.  God is love.  Christ is all about forgiveness, or love in action. 


          The simplistic response to all this is: “Well, Jesus was Divine and Perfect.  He knew the future, so He knew how it would all turn out.” That’s true, except He was also fully human. And while in the flesh on this earth He didn’t always use His divine powers.  So, like us, He felt pain—both physically and emotionally.  Like us, He grieved as at Lazarus’ tomb.  Like us He wrestled with “people problems” and tried to help folks such as Judas from  losing his soul to the dark side.  We can never fully understand what our Responsible Savior went through in saving us.  Those words: “He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” should always give us pause….

          His responsible nature cost Him His life.  But it also won us eternal life!  From death came victory!   Easter is our proof. Easter also shows us that our living Lord continues to exercise compassion in our lives making sure that  “all things now work for good to those who love God.”  This is the King I want ruling over me every day!  This is the Leader I long for!  And by faith, you and I have Him!   That’s why today on the final Sunday of the Church year we celebrate and praise Christ The King!  Amen

THE peace of God…..

Pastor Thomas H. Fox

November 14, 2021: Saint’s Triumphant Sunday

Let us pray: Dear Savior, on this glorious day we thank You for giving us Your blessed gift of grace and thereby conferring upon us future sainthood.  Thank You for creating a place we know as heaven.  Thank You for giving us the comfort of knowing that heaven awaits us when we leave this world.  Thank You for securing for us a glorious future where evil cannot touch us any longer.  Today, keep us strong in the faith until we arrive and are welcomed through those pearly gates!  Amen


TEXT: Revelation 21: 3-4: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”

Dearly Beloved Future Saints: 

          Hardly a week goes by when I don’t either verbalize or silently murmer: “Lord, heaven sounds really good right now!”  You see the wildfires decimating people’s lives; you see rampant corruption among the “power elite”; you see the ravages of disease such as covid variants; you see beautiful human bodies blown apart by bombs and shredded by bullets; you see the nastiness of pride and greed grinding simple folks into the dirt; O to be freed from such oppression!  O to escape this sin-darkened world for heaven!

          Over my years in the ministry I’ve learned a lot about heaven which is true.  I’ve also been exposed to a lot of misconceptions by well-intentioned, but misinformed people.  So, today as our thoughts go heavenward, it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff.


          On the most basic level, heaven is a place believers go when they die.   It is a definitive place, created by God, and in it there is no evil but only never-ending bliss.  We see that in our lesson from Revelation.  Heaven is the absence of: crying, mourning, death, pain, and destruction.  These negative emotions and circumstances will never impact the saints in heaven.  They have risen above it all.  It  is theirs by God’s grace, His undeserved love, shown and won for us on the cross by Jesus Christ.

                Heaven is described in many word pictures throughout the Bible.  All are majestic and serene.  You have the 23rd Psalm in which it is described in park-like terms, green, verdant, temperate, and relaxing.  You have it described in Revelation 21 as a great city that glows and shimmers with God’s eternally creative light.  Night is unknown in heaven, weariness is outlawed, night-time fears cease to exist.  It is a great walled city with 12 gates and built on 12 layers of precious foundation stones.  God’s throne is the centerpiece of it all and our blessed Savior, the Lamb, sits on that throne.  His Light extends everywhere and fills each moment with joy that cannot be diminished.

          In short, heaven is the best of the best.  How could it be otherwise?  It is God’s dwelling place.  In it the “old order of things” has passed away.


          Saints are believers in Christ who have fought the good fight of faith, clung to Christ in the midst of adversity, and now have received this reward of God’s blessings.  They will be reunited with their bodies in the final resurrection and those bodies will be glorified.  But just what does that mean?  What is a glorified body?  Obviously, it is one in which sin no longer dwells or affects us in any way. So, pick your affliction and imagine being without it, forever!  This gives rise to much speculation on our part.  What will I really look like?  What age will I be?  Will grandma be that old, bent-over women with deep wrinkles?  Will babies still be babies with adult characteristics?  When baby Isaac died a few years ago, I preached at his funeral that in heaven he will be strong, grown, and like Adam and Eve in the prime of life.  He will hug his mother in his strong arms just as she hugged him as he breathed his last breath.  That was Luther’s opinion, but I believe it is correct.  Luther felt heavenly people would all be in the prime of life since that’s how God originally created us.  Aging is not a natural product of creation, but a result of the fall into sin.  So, perhaps I’ll have my hair back?!

          We don’t turn into angels in heaven.  They are created by God to serve Him and us.  So, we’re actually more important to God than angels since He didn’t shed His blood to save them, but to redeem us.  Likewise, some ask: “Can saints see their loved ones here on earth right now, or will they be able to gaze into hell from afar and see people suffering there?”  Again, we’re not told.  But I ask you: If mom saw your struggles right now, wouldn’t that subtract from her heavenly joy?  No, saints don’t watch over us, Christ and His angels do! In any event, heaven is a totally different reality than we’re experiencing right now, so human language and concepts don’t always work to describe it.  We know that from 2nd Corinthians where St. Paul was caught up into heaven via a vision and heard language spoken which is unlawful for humans to repeat on this earth. It all comes down to this: heaven is contained in God’s limitless presence and is beyond the confines of our brains in terms of truth, knowledge, love, and even life.  But because we know about God in Christ and we know that He’s kind, loving, gentle, and compassionate beyond all telling, well, it sounds pretty good to me!

          One of the best definitions of heaven was given to me by my sainted Greek Professor, Juul Madsen.  His father was Dean Madsen of our Seminary back in the 1950’s.  Once in class we got Juul on a discussion of heaven.  As a little Norwegian boy, Juul loved a Norwegian game which was much like American baseball.  He couldn’t imagine being in heaven and not having this game going on.  His father told him: “In heaven you will have whatever it takes to make you truly happy.”  I agree wholeheartedly!  Of course, the caveat being: Only God knows what it will take to make you truly happy.   But since our God is loving, I don’t worry about such things.  And neither should you. 

          Therefore, on this Saint’s Triumphant Sunday, the holy ones here on earth, the saints, us, join with those in glory praising our God from whom all blessings really do flow!  Amen


November 7, 2021: Last Judgment Sunday

Lord, since ancient times judgment day has been a sobering, but welcome reality to Your people.  It is a time of perfect justice for all ending in perfect peace for your people. Lord, considering the state of our modern world we all join in saying: Come quickly, Lord Jesus!  Amen


TEXT:  John 5: 19-24

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          The peak of the church is about 35 ft off the ground.  The great walls surrounding Babylon were between 40 and 100 ft. tall.  Their foundation extended 25 ft underground.  They were made of mud brick which gets rock hard when subjected to fire.  The smallest circumference of those walls was ten miles, other accounts have them doubled in size.   At the top you could race 2 chariots around the entire top of the city walls!  It was a wonder of the ancient world.  It was impregnable. 

          The Euphrates river ran right through the city under the walls.  They basically built the wall over the flowing river and had metal fretwork extending down into the river to prevent attack by boat.  The inhabitants felt totally safe behind these walls.  So safe that when Belshazzar was king in 539 BC and the huge army of Darius, king of Persia, besieged them, they had a huge drunken feast one night.   These words, written by God, appeared on the palace wall: “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin” which basically meant: “Your kingdom will fall.”  It did, too, that very night.  Darius stopped up the river with dam diversions upstream, the river dried up, and his soldiers walked under that fretwork and took the city.  Their judgment day had come.

          Today the world scoffs at judgment day.  Our “walls” of protection are medical technology which will prolong life and technology which will solve all our problems and even interface our brains with computers through nanotechnology so  that we’ll live forever digitally!  That’s the rationale of many.   But judgment day is inescapable.  Nothing lasts forever except God.


          Scripture speaks about the end times a lot.  There will be wars and rumors of wars.  Famine, pestilence, moral depravity, and spiritual tyranny will run rampant.  It will come as “a thief in the night” when no one expects it.  People will be pushed to the brink by other people and God’s children will suffer.   God will be forgotten, abused, and mocked.  Nature will rebel as well.  And then Christ the perfect Judge will appear in the sky to weigh each soul. 

          When I was little I feared judgment day.  It was scary and unknown.  I don’t fear it any more.  Why?  First, because it is a time, the only time, of perfect justice.  God knows all things.  He reads all hearts.  Justice in America is about the courts, the legal system, and judges who are sinners too.  We all know of people who are guilty as sin of crimes who buy off judges and escape justice.  The innocent suffer and the guilty live the high life.  The newspapers report on it literally every week.   And we shake our heads and silently cry.

          But on judgment day no one will escape.  No deed will go unpunished.  With God there is no grey area. Everything is black and white.  Even one unrepented sin consigns the sinner to eternal hell fires.  Since we’re all sinners, too, that’s sobering.  Our perfect Judge, Christ, doesn’t make mistakes.  But, but, never forget that Jesus is also our Savior, through grace alone, isn’t He?


          “Moreover, the Father judges no one.  But he has entrusted our judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.  He who does not honor the Son does not honor the  Father who sent Him.”

          Only Christians plead repentance for sin.  Only Christians are covered by His holiness and judged against the perfection that Christ earned for us and now gives to us through faith.  Jesus is our Best Friend.  So, this same Jesus will look at you and say: “Not guilty!”  “For to judge you guilty would be to repudiate My life’s work of saving you!” 

          I long for such a day.  Justice will prevail and I will enter heaven by grace alone.   As Ps. 23 says: “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  The ancient believers had a slogan for this triumphant longing.  It was the  Greek word: “Maranatha.”  It means: “Come, Lord Jesus.”  And this is why you don’t have to fear judgment day.  Amen

THE peace of God which….

Pastor Thomas H. Fox

October 31, 2021: Reformation Sunday

Let us pray: Dear Savior, thank You for setting us free through Your gift of grace alone.  Thank You for making this precious possession ours via the gift of faith alone.  Thank You for giving us the knowledge of God through Scripture alone.  So armed, may we be unafraid to speak out and confess You as the way, the truth, and the life.  Amen


TEXT:  Mark 13: 5-11

Dearly Beloved By Our Grace-filled Lord:

          The 1st Amendment to the U.S. constitution guarantees our right to free speech, freedom of religion and the right of assembly.  The only caveats to free speech include obscenity and the right of yell “Fire” in a crowded assembly when there is no fire, thus provoking panic.  This also means we  can speak our minds and openly preach God’s Word like we’re doing today.

          It wasn’t always so.  At Luther’s time during the early 1500’s the only person who could freely express his opinion was the King.  Likewise during the centuries before.  So, people were careful who they talked to and what they talked about.  For example, if you criticized the Roman emperor at Christ’s time, you could be jailed, or worse.  St. Paul eventually suffered death for his open speech before the Roman emperor.  Hence, Christ’s words to the disciples describing the end times: “You must be on your guard.  You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues.  On account of me you stand before governors and kings as a witness to them. And  the gospel must first be preached to all nations.  Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to  say.  Just say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”


          Dr. Luther didn’t have a 1st amendment shielding him in 1517 when on this day he nailed his 95 theses of abuse in the Roman Church, thus starting the Reformation.  But he did have a political prince who was on his side.  Good thing.  Otherwise he would have been killed. 13 years later, Dr. Luther stood before Emperor Charles V at the council in Worms.  A painting of that famous event is on the back wall of the church.  But now Luther wasn’t alone.  He had a whole host of Lutheran princes backing him!  And when asked to  renounce his many writings, Luther utter those famous words: “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise.  God help me.  Amen!”  Is it any wonder the old Lutherans equated Christ’s words in Mark with Luther before kings? 

          It all revolved around the age-old question: “How am I saved?”  Rome said and still says: “It is based on human faith and good works.”  And probing further they say that your seeming noble deeds are what give you certainty of this and placate God.  Lutherans, however, say it is only God’s undeserved love for us in Christ is what makes us right with God.  He was perfect.  We are not.  And faith grasps His perfect love because He gives us faith as a gift via the Holy Spirit.  Likewise, only the Bible spells out the truths of God, not any additional opinions of mere humans.   Dr. Luther’s writings  all speak from the Bible about grace alone, faith alone, and Scripture alone.  It’s the truth that sets us free from the guilt of sin and its wages: death. 


          If Luther had begun his Reformation in 2021 instead of 1517, I wonder what would be occurring? Would the head of Twitter block his tweets?  Would Facebook ban him for being beyond the scope of political correctness?  Would the major news networks ignore him and the foment of freedom that God used him to cause?  

          Luther, like all believers, did not plead any 1st amendment protections.  He trusted in God and the Spirit’s power.  And slowly but surely, God used that power to liberate His Church, His people, from guilty consciences and the fear that comes with them.  Indeed, no political, social, economic or  media princeling can stand against God’s eternal truth and win.  “If you hold to my teaching, than you really are  my disciples. And then you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” as Jesus says.

          For us today, the characters  have changed, the countries have changed, the times have changed; but God hasn’t changed and neither has His truth.  Christ alone did it all when it comes to saving our souls.  Christ died and rose again.  Salvation is His free gift to us via faith.   The Reformation lives on inside our hearts.  Peace between God and  all humans has been achieved because God did it all in Jesus Christ.  You and I are the “mini Luthers” of 2021!  So use your God-given rights as His children and “speak His truth in love.”  His chosen are out there ready to listen and learn and become strong in the Lord.    Amen

THE peace of God….

Pastor Thomas H. Fox