Pastor's Message

The Forty Days of Lent

Posted by nancy on February 21, 2017

The Forty Days of Lent

 

Lent is a forty day period of repentance and renewal that prepares us for Easter. It provides us with a special time to recall the suffering, death and finally the resurrection of our Lord. Lent prepares us for a more meaningful observance of Holy Week and Easter.

Christians have observed Lent ever since the early days of the church. Originally it was a time for emphasizing repentance and baptism. Baptisms were performed in the early church on Easter Eve after a long period of instruction.

The forty day observance of Lent is still an important part of our corporate life as members of God’s family of believers, not just Ash Wednesday, but all forty days. We don’t arrange for baptisms any more on Easter Eve, but we still emphasize repentance as an important part of our preparation to celebrate our victory in Christ over sin, death and the grave. And we remember that in our baptism we began a new way of life.

On Ash Wednesday, March 1st, we begin another pilgrimage with our Savior to Jerusalem. We are going again to a mockery of a trial, to a scene of horrible violence on Calvary, to a funeral, and to recall an unbelievable ending to the greatest story ever told — the resurrection.

We are going on this pilgrimage again to remember and to give thanks for all that God has done for us in Christ. We are going again to renew the relationship with our Lord, begun in our baptism, renewed as we celebrate his victory over our worst enemy.

A little girl asked a question when her baby brother was baptized — a neat question that is at the heart of our Lenten pilgrimage. She heard the pastor say, “Receive the sign of the cross on your head and on your heart to mark you as a redeemed child of God.” When the ceremony ended she ran to her grandmother, brushed aside her bangs, raised her head and asked, “Is it still there?” That just may be the question we all need to ask ourselves again during Lent. Are you ready and eager to join us on our pilgrimage?  Come Ash Wednesday and the following Wednesdays right up to Holy Week at 7:30 PM.

 

Pastor Larry Zahn

 

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Don't Expect from Government What Only God Can Give Us

Posted by nancy on January 18, 2017

Don’t Expect from Government What Only God Can Give Us

Someone once said, “The impersonal hand of the government cannot help as much as the helping hand of a neighbor.”  I agree.  When the good Lord gave us the commandments, he said that they could be summarized in one word – love.  Love the Lord and love your neighbor.  In fact, government would not be necessary if we could love the Lord and our neighbor perfectly.   Since we sin and hate and covet and steal and slander, God created government to guard and protect us from each other. 

We should never expect government to bring perfect peace in this world.  Government does not and cannot change hearts.  Jesus does that.  He changes our status before God. He became the guilty one for us and supplies us with the forgiveness we need.  He changes us from the inside.  The apostle Paul said it like this, Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12: 1) God’s mercy, not government, is what changes things – how he views us and how we view each other.

 

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Don't Expect from Government What Only God Can Give Us

Posted by nancy on January 18, 2017

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I JUST GOTTA TELL YOU

Posted by nancy on December 14, 2016

 

I JUST GOTTA TELL YOU 

 

 

When Grandma's and Grandpa's get to see their grandchildren, they are a bundle of information.   They catch the grandparents up on all the news that has taken place in their lives.  "I just gotta to tell you."  Adults aren't any different when the news is great.  A promotion. A new house.  Best of all, "We are expecting a child!"  We just gotta tell you!  

 

The Christian Church is like that too.  "We just gotta tell you!"  We aren't trying to be rude and obnoxious.  We are not trying force something down your throats like we are accused sometimes of doing.  We just gotta tell you about the best and greatest gift anyone can have.   That gift is intended for you too.  This is the time of the year when "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son" really hits home.  Through God the Son, Jesus, we have life...of the eternal kind.  Not just me, but you too!  Believe it.  "Whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."  We just gotta tell you!  

 

We want you to have the gift too.  That's the way God intended it to be!  That's why we invite you to come to our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services.  That's why we invite you to any of our services and Bible classes.  We just gotta tell you! 

 

I hope you come so I can tell you!

 

Pastor Larry A. Zahn        

 

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I JUST GOTTA TELL YOU

Posted by nancy on December 14, 2016

 

 

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What is a Lutheran?

Posted by nancy on September 14, 2016

What is a Lutheran?

In the South the two major denominations are Baptist and Methodist.  Lutherans fall down the list after the Presbyterians and Catholics and others.  There are places in this country where the Lutherans and the Catholics are the two major denominations.  A man once visited the church where I was a pastor.  He said he was looking.  The only two denominations he had not tried were Lutherans and Jehovah Witnesses.  To cross out Lutherans from his bucket list he worshipped with us.  He stopped by; he then studied; he stayed. 

Why?  For the reasons Martin Luther tried to reform the church of the 16th century!  The doctrines of grace alone, faith alone and Scripture alone had been lost.  That’s what the Reformation was about when Lutheran nailed the 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. 

Lutherans are all about 1) grace alone – God’s undeserved love given freely in Jesus Christ whose substitutionary life and death forgave our sins; 2) Faith alone – by simply believing what Jesus did is true and certain we receive the benefits of being not guilty because of our Substitute; 3) Scripture alone – where God recorded and promised all of these blessings to be true.  That’s the Christian message.  It’s the Lutheran message.  We invite you to hear it!  Come see us!

 

Pastor Larry Zahn 

 

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The Good News

Posted by nancy on July 12, 2016

The Good News

 

Messiah Lutheran Church exists to share Good News with the people of Alpharetta/Johns Creek.  Someone for whom I was her pastor once said something that stuck with me.  She just started to take some medication for some joint pain she had.  She said that she appreciated feeling good again, because she had felt so bad.  She experienced the contrast; the greater the contrast, the greater the ability to appreciate feeling good.

That is true in a spiritual way.  God gave us his commandments.  An honest, self-effacing comparison of what they say will cause us to hurt.  David had a way of saying this so many ways in the psalms.  In Psalm 32 he writes, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.   For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”  His sins made him physically ill.  He was depressed. 

But the psalm doesn’t quit there.  “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”  The cover-up ended.  Acknowledgement of the reality of his sin was out in the open; he was honest.  He was also honest about God’s holiness.  God is holy.  He is just and punishes sin.  But then comes the good news.  The Savior, David’s Son, would come.  He took David’s place.  He took the place of all the world.  He offered to the Father in heaven a perfect life.  Yes, God demanded perfection but also supplied it in Jesus.  That same Jesus took our sins upon himself so we could be healed.  That’s the good news!  The best news! 

I try to make very sure every sermon I preach or a Bible class I teach that basic message of Good News is there loud and clear.  We call it the Law and Gospel.   I invite you to come and hear it.

Pastor Larry Zahn     

 

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Easter Means Everything

Posted by nancy on March 15, 2016

Easter Means Everything

I have moved three times to three different churches.  The first was after graduating from the Seminary.  I was called to start a church from ground level.  Those were great years.  I can’t tell you how much that first church means to me.  My second church was an established church with a school.  I learned a lot there too.  There was a lot going on in that church.  Sometimes it was overwhelming but it sure was interesting work.  My third church, Messiah Lutheran Church in Johns Creek, Georgia, is a church that was formed from the first church which I began under the Lord.  I have known some of the people here since I began the ministry in 1977.   One thing I have learned is this:  There is a tremendous bond that God creates through his word with people.  As a pastor preaching the love of Jesus makes for special fellowship.   The Bible uses the word fellowship – you me and God who brings us together.  The bond among Christians is special.  We are brought together because of the Lord, and we stay together because of the Lord.  Eventually we all go the way of all flesh.  As a pastor I know this: The person I saw the day they were born and born again in Holy Baptism, the person whom I taught the truth of God’s love to, the person who shared a meal or a personal problem with one day dies.  It is not easy to officiate at the funeral of such a person whom I got to love and appreciate over the years.  At a time like that, Easter means everything.  Because I live, you will live also, says Jesus. For the Christian family there is never a final good bye.  Jesus died; Jesus rose; Jesus lives again and so do we.  That’s the guarantee of Easter.  That’s why Easter means everything.  Come see us if you aren’t sure! 

Pastor Larry Zahn 

 

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What Ails This Nation

Posted by nancy on September 10, 2015

What Ails This Nation

 

We are living in troubling times.  As I get older the more I think about what I am leaving behind to my kids and grandkids.  Yes, my wife and I hope to leave some money to help our kids and grandkids in some meaningful ways.  I am not sure that we will be able to do all that we are planning. Health costs are rising astronomically.  A national debt that is staggering needs to be paid down.  I am sure that taxes will need to rise.   I wonder, if the world continues for any amount of time, what will be left. 

 

Politicians promise all kinds of things.  They say they will fix it all.  With all the presidential candidates it appears that there are plenty who think they can do it.

 

The problem is that our nation is turning its back on the solution and thinking that by doing so we have the solution.  We are like the person who refuses to take the medicine that will make the patient feel better.  We turn our backs to God who is our solution.  

 

This is not the first time by any means that backs turned on the Lord led to problems. Study the Old Testament.  My own personal Bible devotions have been for the last while from Jeremiah. Through Jeremiah God said of Judah, “My people are fools; they do not know me.  They are senseless children; they have no understanding.  They are skilled in doing evil.”      

 

The problems begin deep within the soul of humanity.   Collectively the state of our nation and the world only proves that the soul is wicked.  Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?”  That is tough to hear and accept but it is truth.  Jeremiah says, “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns.”  Don’t be satisfied with a hard heart; it is time to change.  Don’t think you can produce good things when hard ground will only produce hard ground. 

 

Let God speak to you and do the stirring and changing.  Let him speak the truth about our sin and cold and hard hearts.  Let his Word prepare your heart.  Listen to the truth about sin and listen to the truth about forgiveness in Jesus too.  The truth is that changed hearts love Jesus and all the virtues he upholds.  That changes countries one soul at a time

 

In Him,

 

Pastor Larry Zahn

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WHAT AILS THIS NATION

Posted by nancy on September 10, 2015

We are living in troubling times.  As I get older the more I think about what I am leaving behind to my kids and grandkids.  Yes, my wife and I hope to leave some money to help our kids and grandkids in some meaningful ways.  I am not sure that we will be able to do all that we are planning. Health costs are rising astronomically.  A national debt that is staggering needs to be paid down.  I am sure that taxes will need to rise.   I wonder, if the world continues for any amount of time, what will be left. 

 

Politicians promise all kinds of things.  They say they will fix it all.  With all the presidential candidates it appears that there are plenty who think they can do it.

 

The problem is that our nation is turning its back on the solution and thinking that by doing so we have the solution.  We are like the person who refuses to take the medicine that will make the patient feel better.  We turn our backs to God who is our solution.  

 

This is not the first time by any means that backs turned on the Lord led to problems. Study the Old Testament.  My own personal Bible devotions have been for the last while from Jeremiah. Through Jeremiah God said of Judah, “My people are fools; they do not know me.  They are senseless children; they have no understanding.  They are skilled in doing evil.”      

 

The problems begin deep within the soul of humanity.   Collectively the state of our nation and the world only proves that the soul is wicked.  Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?”  That is tough to hear and accept but it is truth.  Jeremiah says, “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns.”  Don’t be satisfied with a hard heart; it is time to change.  Don’t think you can produce good things when hard ground will only produce hard ground. 

 

Let God speak to you and do the stirring and changing.  Let him speak the truth about our sin and cold and hard hearts.  Let his Word prepare your heart.  Listen to the truth about sin and listen to the truth about forgiveness in Jesus too.  The truth is that changed hearts love Jesus and all the virtues he upholds.  That changes countries one soul at a time

 

In Him,

 

Pastor Larry Zahn

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