Roger's Postings

Saturday, February 18, 2017


1 Corinthians 3:10,11,16-23.                         Built on Christ alone!!                    19/2/17



{10}  By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. {11} For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

 {16} Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? {17} If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple. {18} Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. {19} For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness"; {20} and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile." {21} So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, {22} whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future--all are yours, {23} and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.



This morning we are reminded of the importance of having a good foundation for our lives. Now this was brought home to me again this last week, as the manse has had a cracked wall repaired. As the soil under the manse is unstable and the foundation were not built strong enough, the cracks appear from time to time.



At times there are buildings with very poor foundations that have even collapsed as a result. The sad thing is, that we know this very well when it comes to building a home. But when it comes to our personal lives we seem to think that it doesn’t matter all that much. Then when it comes to our spiritual lives we are even less concerned. Jesus Christ and him crucified is very quickly neglected in favour of what I think and do.



Even as Christians, we all too often fall into this same temptation. We look to ourselves and the world around us to be the source of what is good and right. We determine what truth and life will be for us, often by how things look and are perceived, rather than on Jesus Christ and him crucified. And it gets us into all sorts of trouble.



God through Paul, here in this reading, seeks to remind us, just as he had to remind the people of Corinth, of what is important and necessary. He has to point us to Jesus Christ and the unity and truth that we have in him rather than ourselves and our thinking.



In this reading Paul begins by saying: By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. He established the church in Corinth through his preaching of the centrality of Jesus’ death and resurrection for their salvation and life. He understood very clearly that this knowledge came from God himself and was in full agreement with God’s Word in the Old Testament, the Gospels, and by Jesus’ revelation to him.



So God and his Word alone was the source and substance of his preaching, teaching and the foundation for the new church in Corinth. So Jesus Christ and him crucified was the centre and focus of this congregation at the beginning. But then as Paul moved on to establish other churches, other leaders came in to continue building this new church up.



Apollos and Cephas were two of these leaders, probably at different times. They too had an impact on the people and the growth of the young church. We know Apollos was a gifted speaker and Cephas was most likely the apostle Peter. They built on the foundation that Paul had laid, as he goes on to say: For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. But others also came with other ideas and focus’ and turned the people from this centre of Jesus Christ to focus on self, and gifts, and feelings, and the like.



With that he then explains what he means. Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.



So the people had been taught that God’s Spirit had enabled his presence to dwell in each of them. This was only possible through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. In connection with him alone was the assurance of eternal life in heaven.



So if the focus of life is shifted from Jesus Christ and him crucified, then there is the attempt to build one’s spiritual life on another foundation and the spiritual person is no longer a temple of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is there to focus us on Jesus Christ and the cross. Whereas a focus on self, and gifts, and what I think is good, is disastrous. Here it is made quite clear that they in the end will be destroyed.



So here God is spelling it out quite clearly, that those who do not keep Jesus Christ and him crucified as that which is all important, are not a part of God’s Church. In fact, they are destroying God’s Church and in the end they will be destroyed. So it is again important that we take God and his Word seriously.



Here, take note, of what he then goes on to say in this reading.

Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. Here then he is pointing to each one of us personally and all of us as a collective. Be careful that you do not deceive yourselves. Do not let yourselves be caught out; and do not lose what is important and in the end be destroyed.



This is vital for us at this point in time as we are surrounded by, and are encouraged to, look to ourselves and make up our own minds. We are an educated, smart society, that has a much better understanding of life and what is important. We can through education and a lot of ‘spin’ greatly improve life for ourselves. If we leave God out of the picture, or at least keep him out on the periphery of our lives, then we will be able to go ahead.



So the view is; and all too often in the church also, is that we need to be wise by the standards of this age. We must be accepting of every other view going, even if it is ridiculous. Except of course if it is Christian or right wing thinking. We can see this wisdom coming through in issues such as abortion, homosexuality and women pastors.



 But in many other areas as well we can see this wisdom of the present age coming through. Where feelings and health, wealth a happiness theology is promoted. Or, where Christianity is touted as simply about being good moral people. Or that God loves us and so we are free to do as we please. And more.



Yet God here tells us to be a ‘fool’ so as to be truly wise. We are to take God seriously even though our world around us tells us we are fools for doings so. The same goes when we accept God’s Word as the divinely inspired, written and inerrant Word, that he tells us it is. We are wise when we take Jesus Christ and him crucified as of utmost importance, even though it seems to be foolish, and we are told by the world around us that it is foolish.



Paul goes on and says: For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness"; and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile." So instead of true Christianity being foolish it is the so called worldly- wise that are the fools. Without much of a look around us we can readily see this as being the case if we are honest. The cracks in our society are growing deep and wide.

In our western world we are seeing a great deal of thinking that wass seen as so important as now being futile and even stupid. Their clever ideas and inventions create more problems than they solve. Their craftiness has caught them out time and time again, but it is very quickly hushed up. Just as we are hearing of ‘fake news’ and half-truths being put forward by big news services. And more.



So then, no more boasting about men! Be careful about the boasting of human achievements and human possibilities. Especially for us as Christians, we surely can see that we all have a sinful human nature, that gets us into trouble over and over again. The cracks in our own lives, as well as our societies, surely indicates that our foundations are very poor indeed.



We surely have something far more stable, strong and life-giving than the foolish attempts of our world around us. Because of Jesus Christ and his death on the cross we have been given everything that is truly important. We have the absolutely certainty of forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. In him we have the truth that enables us to live happily with God and each other. In him we are united with our Lord; we are loved, we have a sure and certain future.



This same Jesus Christ who was crucified for our salvation, also was raised again three days later so that we can be absolutely sure that everything that he has said and done for us is for real. So there is no need for us to have any doubts what so ever. We can look to Jesus Christ and know that as we stay close to him it will all work out for good. He alone is our sure and solid foundation.



Together with Jesus Christ we are told that:

All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future--all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. So we are a part of and have every certainty that all will work out for the good of those who are in Christ Jesus.



So even though we live in a foolish world, and all too often, we ourselves are foolish, and so all kinds of trouble and hardship are there in life for us, we can get on with life with confidence and hope. We can ever look to Jesus Christ and him crucified and know that there alone is our hope and our future. So let us ever seek to keep close to him who has come close to us, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him alone then be all glory and honour, now and always. Amen.



Pastor Roger

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, February 11, 2017


Matthew 5:21-37.                                            But I tell you!!!!                                                12/2/17



21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfil to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.



Don’t tell me what I have to do! I’ll do it my way! So what if I bend the rules or ignore them altogether? Yes, we don’t like being told what to do. We don’t like following orders. At the very least we don’t want those rules to be too stringent. Keep it all very ‘low key’ please.



So here today Jesus is addressing an issue that we don’t want to hear. As he continues his Sermon on the Mount he lays it on the line for us all. There is no ‘beating around the bush’ here. There is no going soft so as not to offend anyone; especially the self-righteous religious people. Strong stuff; that we must listen to and heed, or we are in big trouble.



Here again remember this is not me saying this. This is Jesus Christ himself speaking. So if it is God speaking, then we had best sit up and listen. Here he gives us no room to sit back, like the people of Jesus day, and say; I have not murdered anyone so I am okay. Or I have not slept with another person; or any of these other commandments. So all is well.



Jesus says: But I tell you ….. and he pushes each of those commands to the extreme. With him there is no ‘wriggle room’ so we can bend these rules to suit ourselves; so that we can lessen our guilt; so that we cannot take Jesus very seriously. He is making it very clear as to what God has in mind for you and me.



So at a time when so much of what we do as Christians has been watered down, ignored and changed to suit our current whims, we have a message that must not be ignored. It is time for us to take God and what he says seriously once more. His continual, But I tell you.. surely means that if we are not careful we facing God’s disapproval and rejection.



Sure God loves us, deeply, and has done everything necessary for us to be made acceptable to God once more. But that love does not mean that we are free to turn our backs on him and what he has to say, so that we can live and do as we please.



Instead he has given us these commands because he loves us. He knows what is best for us, and because he has our welfare and good in mind, he gives us these commands. He tells us, all these things, quite strongly, because he wants all to be well for us. He doesn’t want us to hurt or harm ourselves and others.



We might think that abortion, or anger, or calling someone a fool, or sex outside of marriage, or divorce, or homosexuality, or women pastors, and more, are okay, or even a good thing. God however tells us what he knows is good and right. Here he calls for total obedience to his Word.



You would have noted and perhaps even been shocked at the fact that Jesus calls anger towards our fellow human being equal to murder; and looking lustfully at another person equal to adultery. To call someone a fool is to be in danger of going to hell.

Now if you haven’t got the picture yet; left to our own devices we are in serious trouble. Every one of us has fallen way short of what God expects of us. Every one of us. We all deserve God’s anger and judgement of hell.



Interestingly this judgement is not just there in the future, but also here and now. Just think of the serious troubles and hardship we have brought on ourselves here in this life by ignoring these commands of God. Adultery, divorce, and abortion alone has brought untold misery on our society. In every other area where God’s commands are ignored we can see the same results over and over again. And the further we go down the track of doing as we please, we can see it getting worse and worse.



This brings us to Jesus’ whole point in this Sermon on the Mount. There is no hope and no future for us if we try to do life on our own apart from God. We will continually struggle and be frustrated if we think that we can ignore what he has to say, or to twist it to make life easier for ourselves. Or if we self-righteously think we can do a pretty good at keeping them and thereby be acceptable to God. When we look to ourselves and what we think we are in big trouble.



So we need to take Jesus Christ and both his Law and Gospel seriously if we are to receive and be a part of the kingdom of God. He and what he says is to be of first importance in our lives. Interestingly, the other day, I heard the statistic from America, that only 15% of the population believed that the Christian faith was their highest priority. Only 15%! Now in Australia I would think they we would not even be close to that. Is it then any wonder that life is fast falling apart for us in the western world.



Surely we here would want Jesus and what he says to be of first importance for us. After all he is Lord God Almighty himself. He alone is our, Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. He alone is where we can find true life, instead of the rubbish that we are trying to convince ourselves is life.



In this regard, remember that inbuilt into every one of us, there is this knowledge that God is for real and that we are ultimately answerable to him. We all know, even if so many are trying their damnest to deny and reject this realty. He is for real and he is to be taken seriously; very seriously. To do otherwise is to put our salvation and eternal life in jeopardy.



At the same time remember that this God loves us dearly, despite our waywardness. He wants what is best for us and that which will enable us to live at peace with himself and one another for all eternity. In fact, he has done everything necessary for us to be forgiven and accepted back into God’s family.



But at the same time he is a holy and just God; and if we choose to reject him and what he says to us, then he also tells us that he will have to reject us. So judgement and hell are also realities when it comes to God dealing with his wayward creation.



Since we can’t live up to God’s expectations, and the reality of judgement is there, we surely will now take him and his love and forgiveness seriously. Because he has freely and fully forgiven us we will turn to him and seek everything that he has made possible for us. Since we are unable to do what is necessary for us to be acceptable, and even to believe as we should, we will turn to him in repentance; seeking his forgiveness and help.



Knowing he loves us and has salvation for us, we surely now will want him to do what is necessary for us to be his people once more. We will look to him alone and hold him up as that which is all important for us. We will want to be where he wants us to be and do what he wants us to do.



We will hold his Word up as the divinely inspired, written and inerrant Word that it is. His commands we will want to take seriously and not want to change, ignore or reject what he sees as important. We will take him seriously when he says: But I tell you …..



We surely then will not reject his Spirits attempts to lead us and guide us in all matters. We will recognize our weakness and failures, and so let him and the Word, the Bible, which he works with, to be our source for all things good and worthwhile.



To conclude, let us then in light of what Jesus says here when he says: But I tell you …..; seek to go from here seeking with his help to take him seriously. As we are living in a godless, self-centred, society, and a church culture that has moved away from taking God seriously, let us be ever careful.



Remember always, that he is all important and what he says needs to be taken seriously. To him then be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, February 04, 2017


Matthew 5:13-20.                              Salty Christians??                                              5/2/17



(13)  "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. {14} "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. {15} Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. {16} In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. {17} "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. {18} I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. {19} Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. {20} For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Here in this reading today Jesus continues his hard-hitting sermon to the people of his day and us as well. Here again there is another vital element to the Christian life that we need to take seriously. When we do we find the most glorious, freeing, and uplifting message that we could possibly receive.



Suddenly the Christian life comes much easier and simpler. We find Good News, instead of the dread of trying harder in order achieve the impossible. We find certainty, instead of the constant seeking to change and simplify God’s Word in order to fit the culture of the day and our own whims and wishes.



He begins this section with a very good analogy of God’s people. He is saying to his disciples and all these people who are chasing after him to receive his miracles and hear if this is the possibly great Prophet that was promised. He says, if you consider yourselves to be my people then remember that: You are the salt of the earth.



Now the question needs to be asked what does he mean when he says: You are the salt of the earth. Well, what do we use salt for? The two main reason salt is used is to give taste and flavour to one’s food, or it is used to help preserve food so that it does not go bad and can be kept for longer periods of time.



Now both of these aspects could be what is being referred to here. As God’s people we are helped to see and know how good God and his Word really is, and also to stop the Christian faith from being corrupted and going bad. Both of these aspects are important for all of God’s people.



Here also take note of the fact that he says you are salt. Not ought to be, or to work at it or whatever. You are the salt of the earth. Either you are or you aren’t salt. In fact, the next sentences are very telling here. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. Serious stuff!



The same applies when he says that: "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. You are light. A light is not hidden, and it is no good if the batteries have gone flat.



So with this in mind we then need to ponder as to what Jesus point is here, and what it is that makes us salt and light.



Interestingly and importantly in today’s context he goes straight on and says the following.

 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

So to be salty salt, we need to hold fast to God’s Word as it is given to us in the Scriptures. In a Christian culture that is playing fast and loose with God’s Word this is vitally important. Where the idea is that God loves us and nothing much else matters this text is quite telling.



I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.



Twisting and changing God’s Word to suit the culture of the day is thereby taking the saltiness out of the salt. Saying the Bible can be ignored when it speaks of homosexuality and women pastor’s, or sex outside of marriage and much more, is to take the effectiveness out of God’s Word. To say that the Law is no longer relevant to God’s people is to also say that the Gospel is irrelevant. So life then, simply becomes living as I see best, and everything will be alright.



Yet that is not what Jesus is saying here quite clearly. Not one word of God’s commands are to be done away with. In fact, he goes on and says: that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.



Now that is a huge call for us. Here remember the Pharisees were very good living people. They prided themselves in keeping God’s Law. So already they are way beyond us in terms of being good enough for God. Yet Jesus says that that is not good enough. In fact, perfection alone is all that is acceptable.



Jesus’ whole point in this Sermon on the Mount is just that. God’s expectation is way beyond what we can do. There is to be no lessening this point, or a ‘watering of it down’. God’s Law is to be taken seriously in its entirety. Our aim is to live as he is outlining for us. As difficult and impossible as that is us for us to do, that has to be what we earnestly seek to do.



Then since we can’t do that, we have to have help from outside of ourselves. Our only hope is to look to God, first and foremost for forgiveness for our failure to do so. Then to seek his help to then live as his Law commands. It is absolutely critical for us to receive and have this forgiveness and help.



Instead of trying to justify our position or to lessen the severity of it, we are to acknowledge our failure to be the people that he would have us be. Instead of having the simple view that God loves us and accepts as we are, so none of this matters, is to not take Jesus and what he says seriously.



However, we can be honest and ‘fair dinkum’ about our failure to be the people. We can accept what Jesus is calling for here, from us. We can aim to fully keep these commandments and teach others to do the same. Even though we know that we will fail by our own efforts, we can now set out to do what he is calling for.



We can do so when we look to God and the help that he has provided for us. As we trust him we know that with the help of his Holy Spirit it can be done. As we rely totally on him it is possible. Unfortunately, however, we still have a sinful human nature that continues to get in the way.



But even here as we look to God and trust in him, we find that he has made possible the forgiveness of sins for us. So when we fail to live this perfect life we can look to him and the help that he has provided in this regard.



Here remember that Jesus went on from here to eventually go to Jerusalem for the very purpose of being put to death on the cross. He willingly took the punishment on himself, that we deserve for our failure to have our righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. He died so that forgiveness could be extended to each and every one of us.



So now we can get on with life with boldness and confidence. Not in ourselves and our abilities, but in Jesus Christ and what he has done for us. Not with a false sense of security, thinking that it doesn’t matter how I live and act; Or that by changing or ignoring what his law commands, that it is not all that bad.



But as we face life as God expects of us, and our failure to live up to it. We can now trust that Jesus Christ has done what is necessary for us to go forward positively. Forgiveness is there for us, so we can trust him implicitly, and thereby to seek to live and be the people that he would have us be. We also find the most glorious, freeing, and uplifting message that we could ever possibly receive.



So as we take seriously, both his Law in all of its severity, and the sweetness of his Good News of forgiveness, we are the salt that he is speaking of here. In this way people can see and taste both the rich flavour of his Word and that which enables us to be preserved and kept from going bad and rotten.



So let us all remember and take seriously his message here.

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.  "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.



To him alone the be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Friday, January 27, 2017


Matthew 5:1-12.                Jesus says: Blessed are you …….!!!                               29/1/17



Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.



Here today Jesus again reveals to us just how extraordinary he and what he says really are. Here again he turns upside down the thinking that is at the heart of our human existence. These words of Jesus are just down-right crazy to our human way of thinking. Is it any wonder that we say how nice these beatitudes are, but very quickly ignore them, or play games with how we can live by them?



However, we need to remember these are the words of Jesus Christ himself. This is the Messiah that God himself has sent into our world to help us out of the mess we have made for ourselves. This is the God who not only created this world, but who has the knowledge as what is best for us. Here also remember this very same Jesus Christ went on to die on the cross for our sins and was raised to life again so that we can be sure that those who are connected to him have eternal life.



So are we going to sit back and say how nice these beatitudes are and how we should live by them, without really taking them seriously at all. Surely we here will want to ponder over what he is saying here and why this is so important; even if it is ridiculous to our way of thinking.



According to him, if we are to find happiness, peace and hope we are looking in the completely wrong direction. If we want to be blessed, then we need to look at life quite differently to the way the world does. Also we need to look with quite a different attitude than what many in the churches do as well.



For humanity all too often would write these beatitudes in a completely different kind of way. Blessed are those whose spirits are high, for they sit on the top of the world. Blessed are those who are always happy and entertained, for they need no comfort. Blessed are the aggressive, for they shall dominate the world. Blessed are those who are satisfied with their righteousness, for there are more important things to hunger for. Blessed are those with rights, for they shall obtain justice. Blessed are the clever, the sharp in mind, for they cannot, or will not see. Blessed are those who dictate peace, for they shall play the role of God. Blessed are you when men like you, accept you, want you for their leader and consider themselves fortunate to know you. Rejoice and be flattered, for great is your prestige on earth; for so men have accepted the conformist before you.



Is it then any wonder that our world is in misery as it desperately tries to make a life for itself, but continually come up with the opposite. Our sinful human nature wants to desperately see and do that which is grand and popular in our own eyes. We want do life our own way without regard for what God says. Even when we consider what God says we twist it so that it conforms to our own thinking. Then even worse we want to pretend that it is all good, even though we can readily see all the problems that result.



This is seen also in our attitude toward these beatitudes that Jesus speaks. We all too often are like the Pharisees of Jesus day. We fail to see the true intent of these beatitudes and then set about seeking to live them out as best that we possibly can. All so that in the end we might be accepted by God because we have made a reasonable attempt at doing what God has told us to do here.



The attitude and teaching is that if we do these things then we are being truly Christian. We are following Jesus example and so we are being the kind of people that God would have us be. So it becomes all about me, myself and I and what I do.

Yet that is far from the intention of what Jesus is trying to impart through these Beatitudes. Again in many ways it is just the opposite. Let us look at them a little close and see what Jesus has in mind here.



Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. As I said earlier our worldly and self-centred attitude is: Blessed are those whose spirits are high, for they sit on the top of the world. But of course the realities of life are such that our spirits are often not high and our ability to reach the top of the world is nigh on impossible. So our spirits are crushed.



Then to add to the dilemma our world and all too often the church also tells us to try harder; be more positive in your approach; and the like. So we desperately try to do so; and we may see some improvement for a while. But in the end it all comes crashing down around our ears.



Now it is right here that Jesus tells us there is hope for us to be blessed. It is when we get to the point that everything is hopeless for us from a worldly perspective that God is able to reach out to us and tell us of the sure hope that he has for us. He tells us that God has that which enables us to be a part of the kingdom of God; eternal life in heaven. All as a free gift through Jesus’ death and resurrection.



 Jesus is our only hope when all our worldly hopes crumble. In him alone do we find the way, and the truth, and the life that we need. Nowhere else. We can’t do a thing to make ourselves truly blessed.



Let us move on to: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Again the world has quite a different view. Blessed are those who are satisfied with their righteousness, for there are more important things to hunger for. Near enough is good enough. As long as I am a reasonably good bloke, then I’ll be okay. As long as I think I am doing the right thing or doing what everyone else is doing we’ll be alright. Or look, I have got more important thing to do at the moment, rather than going to church and reading my bible. And the list could go on.



But again at the end of the day these views will let us down badly. In fact, our world is full of people who thought this was the way to go, only to find within themselves nothing to hold them up and sustain them. All around us people are empty inside and have got nowhere to go. Longing for something more, something better.



Only then again will they be open to what God has for them. Only then will the righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ be accepted and taken seriously. Only then will they be truly blessed.



Again: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The world however says: Blessed are you when men like you, accept you, want you for their leader and consider themselves fortunate to know you. Rejoice and be flattered, for great is your prestige on earth; for so men have accepted the conformist before you.



However, for many of us this again is beyond our reach. Even though we have tried to conform and compromise, not only do we not achieve what our world says should be there for us; but deep down we are not comfortable with ourselves for doing so. Yet when we don’t follow this path we are ridiculed, insulted and persecuted. Along with that all kinds of falsehood are spoken against us.



This however, again, is the point at which we are prepared to hear all that God has done for us and the certainty that even though we have gained no rewards here on earth, eternal life for us in heaven is guaranteed. So again we find that we are blessed when we have given up on the world and all the lies it peddles.



So without going into the rest of the Beatitudes, we can see that the intent is to show us what happens when we follow our worldly and selfish views. How when they fail us, as they inevitably will, we fall into these beatitudes: we become poor in spirit, mourn, meek, etcetera. We then become more merciful toward others, peacemakers and the like. We no longer trust the world and its lies, and are then open to God and the help that he offers us.



Then as we look to and trust him we find one blessing after another. It is only when we give up on trying to achieve blessing through our own effort and turn to God, that we find then that we are blessed. Jesus Christ and his presence and blessings are already there for us. His forgiveness of sins, life and salvation are there for us. As these beatitudes become a part of our lives we find, in God, that we are truly blessed.  



Then Jesus Christ becomes so important in our lives, for in him alone we find that we are truly blessed. We find in and with him that we have that which is truly good and right. He becomes truly our Lord and Saviour, and we seek to subject ourselves totally to him and all that he says to us. So blessings are heaped on blessing for us as we take heed to what he says in these beatitudes.



So to him again then be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


Saturday, January 21, 2017


Deuteronomy 8:7-18.                     Harvest Thanksgiving???                                               22/1/17

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.



It is funny isn’t it? Well not really. God is so perceptive of our sinful human nature. He knows what we are like; so he gives us clear instructions so that we can be ever wary as we go through life. He knows the dangers that are there for us, so does all he can to helps us not to fall. But we still do!



Here as we celebrate Harvest Thanksgiving there is a very good and important example of both his concern for us and the dangers that we succumb to. God knows what we are like when we have surrounded ourselves with good things. So he lays it on the line for us; very clearly. Now sadly the very next verses, which are not included in this set reading, spell out what God will do to us if we do.



19 If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.



So his message to us this morning is a very important one as we celebrate Harvest Thanksgiving. Remember who you are thanking and why. Do we really believe it; or do we really care. Also take note of what is happening all around us, and be prepared for what lies ahead. God is true to his word.



That does not mean that he is not a loving and forgiving God, and all of that. But in his love for us, as he did for his people all the way down through history, he will bring troubles, hardships, and even disaster if necessary, to wake his people up and get them back on track.



Now there is no doubt as to the fact that God has given us a good land: a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.



We have much to be thankful for. This is a great and prosperous nation, that has lifted its standard of living dramatically in just my lifetime. The produce of the land, mineral resources, and the manufacturing industry have enabled us to have much in this country of ours. We have been enabled to have so much. So we have every reason to be ever so thankful.



But are we? I think as a nation we used to be. But in recent times the attitude has changed dramatically. We were an industrious nation that has worked together for the good of others. We were a nation that was built on Christian values. And we prospered. But things have changed.



We now appear to have become far more selfish and self-centred. We have become a people who believe we are entitled to have all that we want, without doing anything to earn it. We work so that we can have ease and pleasure, rather than working for the good of the nation and others. And much more. The attitudes have changed dramatically, and the struggles and heartaches are increasing.



Here let us recall again what God said to his people through Moses all those years ago; and thereby to us today as well. 10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”



Is this not what we see today? Just as God had said; as a nation we have not only forgotten God, but in many cases we have also rejected him completely. In fact, more and more we are trying to eradicate him from our thinking. In our affluence we think that we have no need for God. We also want to get rid of him altogether so that we can disregard his Laws and so live as we please. And we think is going to make us happy and fulfilled.



We can see today how we are seeking to produce all kinds of things, without regard for what God’s Word says, so that we can replace him from our lives. Have you noticed these days how there is this desperate attempt through science to enable us to live forever? Not to mention changing our laws to cater for homosexuality, abortion and much more.



Yes, we definitely have forgotten the Lord our God, and failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees. In our affluence we have replaced him and what he says, with ourselves and our wants. Many have made themselves and their desires their idols which they look to and worship.



Here again we need to listen again to those verses that follow on from our text. 19 If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.



What a sobering reminder our Lord thereby has given us today as we celebrate Harvest Thanksgiving. What do we do about it? Surely the call is for us here today, to return to the Lord with all of our heart, with all of our soul, with all of our mind and with all of strength; giving him thanks and praise for all that he is and has done for us.



Surely we here will want to be renewed in our desire to know and recognise that he is the giver of all the good things that we have all around us. We will ever want to come near to our God so that he can remind us that the good things that we have are all only made possible by him who is our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier.



We need ever reminding that it is our Lord who has given us the ability to produce all that we have. Not just to produce our crops and stock, and to dig our minerals out of the ground. But it is he who gives us the knowledge and where with all to do all the scientific and technological things that we do. He is the giver of all that we have and do.



That being the case we then also need to look to him for his guidance on how we should use or not use all of the things that we have. What we have and do, needs to be guided by him and his Word, rather than the popular opinion of the day or our feelings and ideas. He after all knows what is good and right; and we by our own devices, always have a tendency to do what in the end becomes harmful rather than good. 



Here again we always need to look to Jesus Christ and his life, death and resurrection as our assurance that God and his will for us is always good and right. He not only has ensured that we have forgiveness, life and salvation, but also that God’s will and Word is that which is good and right for us. His word is reliable and trustworthy. This enables us to hold fast to him and know that everything works out for the good of those who are in Christ Jesus.



So this day may we again give praise, honour and glory to our great God who has brought us into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills, a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.



Let us also remember the Lord our God, for it is he who gives us the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to our ancestors. To him the be all glory and honour now and always. AMEN



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish

Saturday, January 14, 2017


John 1:29-42.                      Look to and follow Jesus???                                        15/1/17



29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).



Here in Epiphany we are encouraged to think about how we see Jesus, and our reaction to him when we see him as he would have us. Here again it ties in with the message of last week, where we all too often want to look at Jesus in terms of how we want to see him; rather than as he has revealed himself to us.



When we do this we are committing a grievous sin and are placing our salvation in serious jeopardy. Today we have many so called ‘christians’ who merely look to Jesus as one who has great teaching for us to follow; or is a great example as to how we are to live our lives; or he is a loving god who simply accepts us all as we are, so that we can live as we would like; or he is a distant God to whom I need to please if I am to be acceptable; Or yes, he died for our sins, but we have to do our bit too; and more.



In all of this we are determining who this Jesus is and what we would like of him. As I said last week this is a sin against the First Commandment. It is making ourselves the decider of what we believe and follow. We are making idols of ourselves and of God himself, also. For we are not looking to him, who is God Almighty himself, as that which is all important. And we are not heeding him and what he says, as of first importance.



In this reading, right at the beginning of Jesus ministry we have John telling us who this Jesus really is and why he is so important. “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! Here is the heart of who this Jesus is, and why so many want to change who this Jesus is for themselves.



This Jesus is the Lamb of God. He is the one who was to be sacrificed for the sins of the world. This is the one whom God had promised that he would send to do that which was necessary for humanity to be restored back into God’s presence. The very reason why this terrible situation is there for us, is that right from the Fall in the Garden of Eden, humanity has refused to listen to and heed God and what he has said to us.



The results of this Fall is that we have not only brought death on ourselves, but all manner of troubles, hardships and disasters. They are our doing! We all too often want to blame God for all that is wrong. But we had perfection and the very best of everything placed before us to enjoy. Nothing bad or evil was there. But we chose and choose to want to be like God and have control over our lives. Our selfish pride does not want to be subject to God and his Word. And we have reaped the sad rewards.



However, God in his love for us sets about rectifying the situation. In Old Testament times he told the people that when they sinned they were to sacrifice a lamb so that that God could forgive them. The power for that sacrifice was the one whom God would send as the true Lamb of God who would be the real sacrifice for the sin of humanity: once for all. Their sacrifices were to help them to look to, trust and receive their true saviour.  



Later the promise also was associated with the promised Messiah, whom God would send to save and rule over his people. Here again was clear direction that God was going to come to take care of humanities sin. Here John the Baptist points to Jesus and says: ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’  I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

So here in Jesus we have this one who is absolutely critical to the salvation of us all. He alone is the one who enables forgiveness of sins, life and salvation to be ours. He has done everything necessary for us to again be able to live in God’s presence. All as a free gift extended to all who are prepared to believe it and live in light of it. Without what he did for us on the cross we would be destined to an eternity in hell. So surely we will hold him up as being all important in our lives.



Yet what do we find? Our sinful human pride does not want to acknowledge that our sin is so bad. We are basically good people who just do a few bad things. If we ignore and change God’s laws and commands, then we will not be accountable. Anyway God is a loving God so I can get on with living my life as I please and he will still let me into heaven in the end. Yes, we still want control over our own lives and be able to do what we think is right and good.



However, the Bible, which is God’s revealed Word to us tell us quite clearly that these are not acceptable responses. At the very heart of this thinking it is still me, myself and I, seeking to have control over our own lives. Yet God tells us quite clearly that it is through Jesus Christ alone that we are saved. He still calls of us to acknowledge that he truly is Lord of all.



Here remember also that John tells us that this Jesus is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. In our baptism God has connected us to himself and to all that Jesus has done for us through his death and resurrection. As well we are told here that there he gives us his Holy Spirit, to help us to see, know, believe and follow this one who is all important; Jesus Christ.



On our own we are incapable of doing all of this because of our sinful nature. So he gives us his Spirit to enable us to do all that we need in order to look, believe and follow our Lord. So even there we are promised all the help necessary. He has and wants to do everything for us so that it all can be ours. Unfortunately, many are too stubborn and arrogant to allow themselves to believe.



Here though we need to remember that the Holy Spirit is here with us to point us to Jesus and what he has done for us through his death and resurrection. Everything he informs us of is in accord with what we have in the Bible. With him there is nothing more or extra, as many today are saying. That is not the work of the Holy Spirit, but the devil, the world and our sinful selves. No The Holy Spirit seeks to help us to know and believe what God has given to us in his Word; the Bible.



Here also remember that he is here to help us to believe that God is all important in our lives. His whole aim is to help us have him first in our lives: to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, with all of soul, with all of our mind, and with all of our strength. Not just a little bit. Not just now and again when it suits us; and the like.



He is also with us to enable us to follow him. Again this surely has the idea that this Jesus is that important that we will want to be with him and do what he wants us to do. Rather than we doing what we want and Jesus is just there to fill the gaps. That means that we will want to be with him week after week in his house so that he can strengthen and encourage us for our daily walk with him. We will want to hear what he has to say to us, so that he can guide us in all that we do.



We will regularly come to him and confess our sins and receive his absolution. We will take him at his word and come to his Altar Rail and receive his Body and Blood so that we can be further reassured of the forgiveness, life and salvation that he has for us. It also means that we are reassured that he is with us as we go about our daily lives. So we will then be seeking to live, act and speak, knowing that he is with us always. What he sees as important so will we. What he is doing so also will we want do the same.



From this reading we can readily see that those who were following him were keen to tell others who the Jesus really is and why he is important. They also had the aim of bringing these other people into Jesus presence. For without Jesus they are doomed to hell. So this was vital for them and their love for family, friends and others.



So we a reminded that this Jesus has been revealed to us as that which is all important. He is not someone who is to be treated lightly. And he is not just one way among many others that we can find salvation and life. He is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! He is God’s promised Messiah who has come as the King of kings and Lord of lords.



So may he now be all important in all that we think, say and do. May his Holy Spirit help us look to, believe, follow and point others to him, for he alone is our true hope and salvation. To him be all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN



Pastor Roger Atze

Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish