10/27/2019 1:43:19 PM
First Things - October 23, 2019
1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy. 2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:1-3).
Child trafficking is not a new phenomenon. Our text reveals how raiders from the country of Aram entered the land of Israel and stolen a young girl. Taken away from her parents and people, the girl became a slave in the home of Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Aram.
God’s Word also tells us about Naaman. He was a great general of Aram, but he had what was then an incurable disease, leprosy. Surprisingly we hear that through him [Naaman] the Lord had given victory to Aram.
Notice that God’s Word doesn’t say that God had given him victory, but that the Lord gave him victory. That name the Lord is a special name for our God. When you see it, it always means that God is doing something to save someone.
And it is no different here. For we hear that the Lord led the little slave girl to make lemonade out of lemons. Instead of focusing on everything that was wrong in her life – and there was a lot wrong in her life – she saw an opportunity to tell someone about the Lord, her Savior God and his prophet (Elisha) who lived in Israel. She wanted her master to learn about her Savior God, the God we 21st century children of God know as Jesus Christ the crucified.
If you read the rest of 2 Kings chapter 5, you will hear that Naaman travelled to Israel. There the Lord took away his leprosy. And there the Lord took away Naaman’s sin when he created faith in Naaman’s heart.
One man was saved because the Lord led a little slave girl to be concerned about her master and tell him about her wonderful Savior GodThis Coming Sunday, October 27
This coming Sunday we will have our annual Mission Festival. The sermon text will be the story of the Old Testament prophet Jonah. The theme of the sermon will be God Shows The Big Picture To His Small-Minded Prophet.
My wife and I will give a presentation on our work in India after the worship service.
The World Watch List – Persecution Of Christians
Each year, the organization known as Open Doors, ranks the top fifty nations oppressing Christianity. This year’s Top 10 are:
1. North Korea
Open Doors also reports:
· In many countries Christian women face a double persecution: first for being a Christian and second for being a woman.
· Eight of the Top 10 countries are Islamic.
· The two most populous countries – India and China – continue to move up on Open Door’s Top 50 list.
· Islam is spreading rapidly in sub-Saharan Africa.
· More countries are using technology to impose stricter control of religious rights.
Three of these trends really hit home for me: 1) Malawi, where we lived for 13 years is one of the sub-Saharan countries where Islam is growing rapidly, 2) India, where I lived for 7 years is now in the Top 10 countries that persecute Christians, and 3) my time in India was cut short because Indian technology closely monitored all my comings and goings.
Time to pray for our fellow Christians around the world!
Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Professor Richard Gurgel accepted the call to become the new president of Martin Luther College in New Ulm.
Pastor Leon Ehlert from Green Bay continues to consider his call to serve in Vietnam.
Pastor Jonathan Schultz declined a call to serve as a part-time retirement pastor at St. Matthew’s in Winona.
Beginning last week, congregations were able to call teachers for the 2020-2021 school year. To show how great the shortage of teachers is in the WELS right now, 83 calls were extended last week!
Mr. Paul Wickmann, the longtime principal of Luther High School has announced that he will be retiring after the completion of this school year. At least one other Luther teacher has announced her retirement at that time as well. So, Luther will likely be calling in the near future.
Three Upcoming Events
1. Mike Westendorf Concert – contemporary Christian musician Mike Westendorf (see https://www.mikewestendorf.
2. Quarterly Voters Meeting – Sunday, November 3 after Sunday worship
3. Area Reformation Rally featuring the contemporary Christian musical group Koine (see https://koinemusic.com/) – Sunday, November 3 at 2:00 PM at St. Paul’s in Onalaska
Prayer Changes Things
The Apostle James tells us, The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16). In the future, I would like include prayer requests in First Things each week. If there is something that you would like the Family at First to know and pray about, please tell me.
I’ll start it out: Our daughter Sara teaches in Shanghai, China and our daughter Laura teaches in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. They don’t have a congregation where they can attend regular worship services. So, please pray that the Lord will lead them to hold on tightly to Holy Scripture by reading their Bibles, hearing devotions, and watching worship services online.
Yours in Christ,