October 16, 2022: 22nd Sunday after Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we need to have You lead us into the light of Your grace and mercy.  Do so by embracing us in, with, under and through Your blessed Word of truth.  For then inner contentment will flood our hearts and continually sustain us as we do our duty of loving You above all else and of loving our neighbor.  Amen


TEXT:  2 Tim. 3: 14-4:5

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          Vacation time is precious.  It is delicious.  We covet it, plan for it, and drink it in from the first day to the last.  So, if you had your choice, which would you prefer: warm, sunny, perfect weather or cold, damp, rainy weather?  The fact is: we love the light.  We love its warm embrace.  We love how it makes us feel.  Science tells us some of the reasons why this is true.  1. Sunlight triggers hormonal glands in the body which then secrete chemicals that enhance brain happiness.  2. Sunlight also causes the body to make vitamin D which builds our immune system, thus fighting off illness.  And 3. Sunlight warms arthritic joints and alleviates pain in them.—My old dogs know all about that as they laze in the sunbeam.

          Of course, there are even deeper reasons behind our love affair with sunlight.  We know that: “God is light and in Him dwells no darkness at all.”  We know that Jesus is identified in the Bible as: “The Light of the world.”  We know the ancient prophecy of His coming: “The people that dwell in darkness have seen a great light.”  And we know that Scripture tells us to “walk as children of light.”  In short, God made us for the light.  He made us to live in its warm glow—especially the glow that comes from Christ’s forgiveness for all those “deeds of darkness.” 

          I know we’re told to avoid a lot of direct sunlight because of skin cancer fears.  But also recall that sunlight is a very powerful disinfectant.  It kills germs through its radiation.  That is a reflection of the greater spiritual truth of how the Light of the world destroys the virus and bacteria of sin that clings to us from the moment of birth.   And so, EMBRACE THE LIGHT!  Embrace the health and happiness that it brings.  Yes, embrace its Source: Jesus Christ in faith and undying appreciation for His goodness to you.


          The greatest truths of life are all identified with Jesus Christ.  We’re told: He is the Way the Truth and the Life.  He is the resurrection and the life.  He is love incarnate, or divine love made human flesh and blood.  He is also the eternal Word, or the creative, powerful, life-changing truth of what’s real and what is fake.  So, if you really want to know truth from falsehood; if you really want to remain in the light and not be dragged down into darkness, you also need to: EMBRACE THE WORD! 

          St. Paul reminds Pastor Timothy of that fact.  He reminds him that we should embrace the Word because the Word always seeks to embrace us in its safety.  Yes, from infancy on humans can embrace the Living Word through faith.  We can grasp hold of the eternal Son of God because through His word of truth He grasps hold of us, puts faith into our hearts and works at keeping it strong and alive throughout all our days on this earth.

          “But as for you, 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….I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”

          Since Jesus Christ is the eternal Word of God; since everything we know about Him comes from the Bible; and since by embracing its truths we’re really embracing Christ Himself “Who is the Way the Truth and the Life”—exposure to and use of the Bible is paramount for a fulfilling life.  God’s Word equips us for every good work in this life.  It shows us the muck and mire of sin and how to avoid it.  It bleaches us pure white via Christ’s blood when we wander into the dark swamp of human evil.  It moves us to warn others to stay away from temptations and also to show them the correct pathway toward the warm, sunlit uplands of God’s grace.  All this and more is accomplished by proclaiming Jesus as the Savior of lost mankind.  And in the process of embracing the Word in faithfulness, true contentment with life steals over us.  Because suddenly we realize that what we’re doing actually does make a difference—to others, to God, and even to us.


          True contentment in life can best be described as an inner glow of satisfaction.  It doesn’t mean you’ll always have a smiley face.  It doesn’t mean you’ll always experience euphoric happiness.  It doesn’t mean everyone will be your friend and like you.  No, true contentment is knowing deep within your soul that you’ve tried to do your best and even when you’ve failed, the righteousness of Christ’s blood has covered your mistakes and thus you know you’re at peace with God.

          It is with such a mindset that we embrace and use the Word—“with great patience and careful instruction.”  We do this because human hearts are fickle.  Human hearts always seek something new.  Human hearts like to walk away from the light and poke around and dabble in the dark corners of life seeking a new thrill or a new adventure.  Meanwhile, we also know how destructive that can be.  We know the underbelly of humanity comes out at night.  We know that most domestic violence occurs at night.  We know that the suicide rate goes up at night.  Any night shift emergency room nurse knows this to be so.  Well, in spiritual terms, people lust after darkness, too.  “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.  But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

          In short, Timothy is told to also: EMBRACE CONTENTMENT.  Keep focused on the powerful love with which Jesus has enveloped you!  Focus on the eternal good you are doing by pointing people to the Word of eternal Life.  And because He never, ever gives up on you, don’t give up fighting for the faith, either.  EMBRACE THE LIGHT, EMBRACE THE WORD, EMBRACE CONTENTMENT!  For in that trinity you’ll find everlasting unity with God!  Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox 

October 9, 2022: 21st Sunday after Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior, remind us today to always look to You for strength, help, comfort, and life.  Remind us that this life is but a series of trials that are all about making us stronger believers.  And because of all that, our faith in Your faithfulness to us will never let us down.  Amen


TEXT:  2 Tim. 2: 8-13

Fellow Redeemed Sinners: 

          Some people have premonitions of death.  I’ve read stories of soldiers who knew they would die the next day in battle.  I’ve ministered to a few people in the hospital who knew they would never leave alive.  I’ll always recall the last time I saw my sick father, and although neither of us said it out loud, both he and I knew it would be our final good-bye.  Such times are sobering.  They are unforgettable.  And our gracious God provides them in order to give us the opportunity to prepare our souls for the afterlife. 

          I’ll never forget the sermon text I found and used which says: “The day of death is better than the day of birth.”  Only a believer could ever utter such words.  We all think that our birth is the most important day of our lives.  But, in reality, our death far outweighs it.  For when it comes to a believing Christian, death is our entrance into the glorious joys of heaven and eternal life.  And so, for this reason, I’ve seen various faithful believers who have been given death premonitions actually embrace them with fearlessness. 

          Today, St. Paul does the same in our lesson.  He’s under arrest in Rome and awaiting death.  And yet, instead  of moaning or complaining about his plight, instead of wallowing in self-pity, Paul takes the time to pen this amazing letter to young Pastor Timothy.  And in it he lays out:



          When you face certain death, and all of us do—sooner or later—we naturally think back upon our lives and focus on what’s really important.  So, what’s on Paul’s mind?  “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.” 

          Note well that the resurrection of Jesus is all-important.  It is the truth that separates us from unbelievers.  For if Christ rose from the dead, and He did, our faith is living and not even death can destroy it!  It could not destroy Christ.  It cannot destroy us, who reside in His grace.  Sad to say, this life-changing truth is the hardest thing there is for humans to embrace.  Think back to Paul upon Mars Hill in Athens where he spoke to the Athenians about the Triune God.  They listened carefully and thought it was all quite wonderful until he talked about the resurrection of Christ from the grave.  Then they shook their heads and walked away!  For most the resurrection is simply too good to be true.—But not for Paul and not for you!  It is the ultimate comfort when death comes calling.

          The second glorious facet of the gospel is spelled out in those words: “descended from David.”  That takes us back to all those OT passages and prophecies concerning God’s coming Messiah.  It takes us back to God’s promises to save His people through His one and only Son, a direct descendent of King David.  Now that Jesus has fulfilled those many prophecies, we know that He was and is the real deal!  So, God always keeps His promises to us!—Including the promise of heaven.


          “This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal.  But God’s word is not chained.  Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.”

          Paul was imprisoned and ultimately killed because he taught, preached, and believed in Christ.  He suffered because human evil cannot bear to hear of God’s goodness, love and salvation in Jesus.  You see, the Gospel is the ultimate affront to human pride.  It takes away our mirage of control.  It preaches total reliance on God and not on ourselves.  And then it also says that God’s perfect love under-girds our lives.  Human pride and self-reliance crash upon this Rock of infinite love and it shreds them.  Human pride hates this and tries to silence, to chain this profound truth.  It sings its siren’s song to God’s elect still on this earth and tries to lure them away.  But, in the end the glorious gospel has a greater hold because God in Christ bought our hearts, souls, and minds with His life-changing Gospel.  Yes, the unbelieving world hears words like: “The day of death is better than the day of birth” and it cringes, gets angry, and views people like us as lunatics.  That’s because it fears what it cannot control, whereas we fear nothing because we know that God is in total control.


          Now Paul quotes a common saying that apparently was well-known and well-used among 1st century Christians.  This saying sums up the glorious, sparkling facets of the glittering Gospel.  “Here is a trustworthy saying: ‘If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.  If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

          All those little “ifs” are used to counter any internal objection, doubt, or fear that anyone may have.  Yes, Christ died on the cross for all sins, for all souls, and thus paid the death penalty for all people—you and me included.  Yes, when you were baptized, it’s as if you were placed into His grave with Him and since He came out of the grave, when the water clears—after baptism eternal life now is your most prized possession.  Yes, life is hard, temptations come and they try to coax us away from His embrace.  But if we focus on what’s truly vital—“the day of death is better than the day of birth”—just as He reigns in glory, so will we! 

          Then, since Paul knows just how weak we can be and how easy it is to walk away from our faith, he adds a word of warning: Yes, we can disown God’s goodness.  We can renounce our faith and throw it all away.  As human beings stuck on this earth we still have the power to say “No” to God.  And if we do so, eventually God will simply say: “ok” and disown us.  But then, to this sad truth that Paul had seen played out in the lives of many of his listeners over the years, comes the clincher.  Even if we adopt faithlessness and fall into gross sin and evil—much like Peter when he actively denied Christ the night before His crucifixion—God still cares for lost souls, and faithfully tries to bring us back into His fold.  God is always faithful to His love for us Christ.  And since such grace is part of His core Being, (remember: “God is love”) God will never quit trying to work repentance within us and the change our hearts with His forgiving love. 

          Let all these glittering facets of Gospel truth shine brightly in your life right now.  Don’t try to hide them or dim any of them down.  And then, no matter whether you have premonitions of death, fear of human evil, or apprehension over coming human history—nothing will be able to hurt you where it counts—in your soul…..Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox  

October 2, 2022: 20th Sunday after Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we ask that You give each of us some good old Christian backbone!  Enable us to honestly look at our own lives and hearts, to see our own failings, and to root them out.  Enable us also to openly and lovingly be willing to speak to others about their sins, too.  For that is true love in action.  Amen


TEXT:  Luke 17: 1-5

Dearly Beloved By Christ 

          Love is the greatest of motivators.  Fear is the second greatest.  And since the fall into sin, fear has stalked every single human being throughout their lives.  Most fears are obvious.  People fear death and pain—both the physical kind and the emotional type.  We fear anything that upsets or upends our comfort zone, such as the loss of income, accidents which cause suffering, even recalcitrant children who bring heartache.  

          Satan is the father of all fear.  He’s the one who brought it into this world.  Satan is also cunning.  To keep fear alive and to keep its paralyzing hold on us, he has disguised it in seemingly innocent clothing.  One of those innocent looking robes has taken the form of the modern politically correct thinking that has become omnipresent today.  You see, for all its hype about being: open, caring, and non-judgmental,  political correctness often is nothing more than fear motivation.  We fear saying the wrong thing or acting in a way that people might take offense at.  We fear the social ostracism and condemnation that will result.  We fear being labeled as: insensitive to others.  The result of all this is that people have become very passive and uninvolved in each other’s lives.  We’ve been conditioned to never say: “That’s wrong,” or “I disagree with you” because then we’ll be guilty of the greatest sin in America today:  being judgmental. 

          Political correctness likes to hide behind the façade of: loving your neighbor.  Then it goes on to define what such loving is: never take a hard stand on anything, live and let live, don’t get too involved, and never, ever, bring religion into any discussion.  Or, or, you’ll find yourself labeled a bigot, a hate-monger, a religious nut, or judgmental!  As a result of this, loving your neighbor has devolved in the squishy nothingness of either laziness, complacency, or superficiality.

          I thought of all this when I read today’s text.  I wondered just what Christ would have been branded as because of His words?  I thought about St. Paul writing from prison in Rome to Pastor Timothy, knowing that death awaited him because he had spoken up for Christ.  I thought of Paul’s penning this sentence: “”For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”  And then I thought about the fact that in modern America:



          The modern world has always hated the word: sin.  It conjures up images of God, of ultimate truth, and of inner guilt that a person cannot pass off or weasel out of.  Here Jesus begins by telling his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come.  It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck that for him to cause on of these little ones to sin.  So watch yourself.” 

          Right here Christ takes aim at any of our words and actions which lead others, especially children, to walk away from Godly truth.  Here He uses the word: skandalon for sin.  In English it comes to us as: scandal.  That is, something that causes another to stumble and fall in their faith.  So, He begins by forcing each of us to look inside our heart and examine whether our words and our actions coincide when it comes to speaking, leading, guiding, and mentoring young minds about the way of salvation.  If you preach to your children about the importance of church and then stay away for months at a time, they will see your hypocrisy.  If you tell them not to steal and then take “sick days” from work when you’re not sick, they will make the connection.  Well, you get the point.

          God is a perfect Judge.  He sees all, hears all, knows all.  So, the need to sweep your heart clean and get your own house in order is paramount if we’re to escape His just judgment. 


          But, of course, the only real way to escape God’s judgment for our scandal-filled life is: forgiveness.  It is to plead for and receive the mercy of Jesus Christ.  It is to grasp with our whole heart that God’s Son willingly died on a cross to pay our eternal death sentence for us.  It is to embrace with your whole heart that God loved us so much that He was willing to rip His own heart out—send His beloved Son to death—in order to save you and me.  And now, armed with such thankful love we earnestly seek to share it and to apply it because it’s so freeing from guilt!

          And so, Jesus now continues as to how we are to do this.  “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.  If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

          Here Jesus uses another synonym for: sin.  The word is “amartia” which literally means: shooting an arrow at a target and missing it!  The target which all humans shoot at daily, or are supposed to, is God’s holy law, the 10 commandments.  They are not our notions about right and wrong, they are God’s eternal truths.  So, when another person obviously breaks a commandment, what should your response be as a loving human being?  It is to tell them where they are wrong.  It is to rebuke them on the basis of Godly truth.  Talk about politically incorrect!  Isn’t that the height of being judgmental?  Won’t they respond: “Doesn’t God say: “Judge not lest ye be judged?”  Yes, God says that.  But it doesn’t apply in this situation because ultimately you’re not doing the judging, God is, His word is.  Think of it this way, isn’t it loving to tell a child not to touch a hot burner on a stove?  Isn’t it loving to warn another about getting drunk, taking drugs, or hanging out with known criminals?  Likewise, warning about sin and confronting it in another is the ultimate form of love, isn’t it?  You cared enough, you loved them enough to risk their disfavor and their insults because you wanted to save them from lasting heartache.

          Since we’re all impatient people, and since people are prone to learn life-lessons slowly, He adds that phrase about rebuking and forgiving “seven times” in a day.  The point is: we should always be patient with others because God is so very patient with us.  As long as they say they are sorry and try to bring forth some sort of fruits of faith, we keep applying God’s forgiving love—again, and again, and again. 

          This whole lesson is about acting on Godly love and saving lives eternally.  It all sounds good to modern man, until you realize just how involved in others you need to be.  And then political correctness is thrown into the mix and since we fear judgmentalism, often we become timid, silent, and passive.  The disciples response to Jesus’ words were an enthusiastic: “Lord, Increase our faith!”  To that I’ll add: Now more than ever!  Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox