Congratulations to our chili cook-off winners: Mahendra Jaglall, Kalynne Morris and the Luetzow brothers, respectively. Sue Golisch won the “Zahn’s choice” award. There was a lot of good chili and everyone had a nice time. Thank you to all of our participants.
This Sunday, after our service, we have our Quarterly Voters meeting. We are midway through our fiscal year. We will hear updates from all areas of ministry and will look ahead to schedule events in 2018.
In less than two week, we will begin our annual Lenten journey. In the letter to the Hebrews, Jesus is called our Great High Priest. This year, we will explore that truth more fully. Our Lenten season kicks off on Ash Wednesday, February 14th (Valentine’s Day). We will have two services, 2:00 pm, which will be attended by our school kids, and our usually 7:00 pm service. As a special addition to our worship, WELS singer-song writer Steven Bautista will be here to lead us in song. There will also be a special spaghetti dinner that night, 6:00 pm.
Besides that Lenten supper, our next fellowship event is February 17, Dinner Around Town at Chiantis Pizza and Pasta in Longwood (434 & I-4). Dinner Around Town is a nice way to try out new (or favorite) restaurants around town with fellow members and friends. Our reservation is for 6:30 pm. Please sign up so we have an accurate count for our reservation.
Those are the highlights. Now here’s today’s devotion:
Condemnation or No?
There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
In Rawlins, Wyoming, something unusual is waiting for you. What awaits is a guided tour of an old prison that closed in 1981. The entire tour is riveting. Anyone who has taken the tour, however, will tell you that your heart begins to beat a little faster when you climb the steps of a specific, small building. This is the death house.
As you enter the second floor, you see a short row of small cells. Beyond the row of small cells is a door. The tour guide opens the door. You walk through. And there it stands, right in front of you. There stands the gas chamber.
Then the tour guide tells a story. She explains that, before each execution, it was standard procedure to test the gas chamber with a live pig. The technicians would bring the animal into the death house, up the stairs to the second floor and into the gas chamber. They would close the chamber door. Then they would drop cyanide pellets into an acid bath to fill the chamber with lethal gas. And the animal would die.
During the tour guide’s talk, it doesn’t take much imagination to picture the prisoner in one of the small cells behind you. There he is, listening. He hears the staff struggling to bring their test subject inside. He hears the pig’s angry grunts. Then he hears its frightened squeals. He hears the large metal door close. Finally, the prisoner hears silence.
To take such a tour and to stand in such a place can at least give you a small taste of what the word, “condemned,” really means.
You and I once sat condemned. There we were, waiting for the inevitable. There we were, waiting to die. What we awaited, however, was not some quick physical death in a gas chamber. Because of our sin, you and I were facing the pit of Outer Darkness, the abyss of eternal death.
But Jesus changed all that. He became one of us. On our behalf he lived the holy life we could not live. Then he put himself on Death Row in our place. He died as our Substitute. He paid our penalty in full.
Our verse tells us, “There is now no condemnation for thosewho are in Christ Jesus.” All who put their faith in Jesus as God’s Son, our Savior, are forgiven. All is forgiven. Eternal death no longer awaits. What lies ahead now is eternal life. But those who reject Jesus and His Word, remain condemned. They forfeit was Christ has done and earned in their place.
God’s Word calls us to believe, to have life. Heed that call and come!
Dear Savior, because of you, only the joys of heaven await we who believe in you. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Thank you! Amen.