Welcome to Mt. Olive's Online Newsletter! This site serves to herald the activities and day-to-day happenings at Mt. Olive, as well as provide resources for continued learning and community awareness. Links on the right point to various groups that operate at Mt. Olive as well as points of interest and additional resources. The space below contains articles and information from the newsletter. A up-to-date church calendar is always at the bottom of the page. Thanks for visiting and please let us know what you think!

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Leaning on the Word of God in Challenging Times- Part 7

It feels good to be back on schedule! In this post we will look at Psalm 32. This is referred to as a penitential psalm.  This will guide us into the topic of confession, and trust in God's words of forgiveness.  

Read Psalm 32 

1) Look at verses 1-5  Have you ever suffered like David? 

David is wrestling with guilt, and even though he is silent towards God; he suffers because he knows that his sin has to be dealt with. His refusal to confess his sin is causing him to suffer. 

What happens in verse 5? 

Have you ever had this experience? When we confess our sins to God, God shows us his mercy. He ends our suffering.  You do not have to fear God, Jesus has suffered every pain in our place. Now that we have been relieved by the cross, we can turn towards God and speak the rest of this psalm to God in joy. 

2) Look at verses 6-10 

Notice the difference? How does God make us secure and confident like David? 

When we recieve God's grace we can have happiness and peace. Under God's grace we do not have to suffer under guilt, and fear of judgement. Being placed by God into a new and right relationship with him is the key to this kind of confidence. 

3) Does forgiveness of sins depend upon our confession? 

No, God has forgiven us, and you were saved by him at your baptism. You are not saved by how much you cry over your sins, or how articulate you are. The victory for sin has already been won for you. However, this does not mean that our sins are meaningless or trite.  Sin is a grave offense to God, and his Son gave his life to save us. So, when we give God our heartbroken confession, God will heal us and restore us. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Trusting in the Word of God in Challenging Times- Part 6

Sorry that this post is late! Things were pretty busy last week, but I will have the next post up on Thursday at the normal time. 

We are continuing our study of the Psalms. We will stay in the Psalms through next week, then we will move on to another topic of our study. 

1) Read Psalm 46 again. 

Look at verses 4 and 5.  The first part of the psalm is chaos. Then we read about a peaceful river that feeds the City of God. This city is Zion- the holy city. Where is this Holy City? 

The Holy City is the church! God dwells with believers, wherever they are, and makes them into a Holy City. While there is no guarantee that we will not suffer loss and trials; we know that the church on earth will never see total destruction. 

Where else is the City of God? 

Another way to to understand the City of God is to see it as the new heavens and the new earth that will restore creation after Christ's return. 

We understand that through faith, and the means of grace we can live in Zion- the City of God now, but we will dwell there in its full form in eternity. 

2) Look at verses 9-11 

God will bring an end to war. What do you think it will be like to live in a peaceful world? 

Through Christ, we can at least have peace with God. Conflict between our family and friends might continue. Wars will still be fought between nations, for now. Yet we have peace with God, and we can rest securely in his hands until Christ returns to bring an end to violence and strife. 

Spiritual exercise- pray Psalm 16 at least once over the next few days, and think of ways that God gives us all good things. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Trusting in the Word of God in Challenging Times- Part 5

Romans 15 is a good example of how a Christian can always have joy, despite his or her struggles. Afterall, God is a god of hope! 

We will turn next to the Psalms. Where we find that we can cry out to God through his word.  Psalms are the inspired Word of God like any other book of the Bible, but these inspired words contain some very "human expressions"- anger, fear, grief, security,  and trust. The Psalms are a way of speaking to God when you you have problems that are so deep that you cannot find the words on your own. 

Psalm 46 

1) Read Psalm 46:1-3  

The word "trouble" from verse 1 can also mean distress or calamity. What does it mean to hear that God is ever-present in every problem? 

Why is it difficult to see God in our struggles? 

The sinful nature and Satan wish to rob us of the truth that God is "ever-present". Our problems often distract us, and pull us away from trusting in God. However, whether we can see, feel, or sense God's presence doesn't change a thing! God is always working for the good of those who love him.  

2) Look again at verses 2 and 3. 

The psalmist is describing the earth giving away, and mountains falling into the sea! It sounds like the end of the world. Why do we have nothing to fear, even if the world were to end? 

3) Read Psalm 46:4-7 

In contrast to all of the chaos, there is one place where there is peace. The City of God is presented as one place that is indestructible. Where is this city? 

This city is where the Word of God has called together the church. Wherever believers are gathered in Christ's name there will be the City of God. Believers will be defended by his might, and protected from destruction.  

This City is also where we will dwell forever, free from sin and death, after Christ's return. (Revelations 21) 

He really is a God of hope! (Romans 15:13) 

** Earlier I stated that i would post a spiritual exercise every week, if you are following this blog you might have noticed that I have not been doing that.

 I repent! Here is the spiritual exercise to help you build your devotional life for this week: 

Psalm 46 Inspired Luther's famous hymn "A Mighty Fortress is Our God". (LSB 656, 657 LW 297, 298) Look up the words to this hymn and thank God for the shelter and protection he provides for us.  

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Leaning on The Word of God in Challenging Times- Part 4

We have studied how the Word of God and the Spirit work together to create faith, strengthen, cleanse, and save us. For the most part, we have been learning doctrine, but in the weeks to come we will see why this doctrine matters. The Word of God is a lifeline that pulls us in to Christ. (The Holy Spirit ties that lifeline around us, so that we do not wander off!) That lifeline cannot be severed no matter how difficult life gets. 

We begin the next phase of our study with a look at Romans 15. 

1) Read Romans 15:4-5

Paul uses two "e" words in verse 4 and they are repeated in verse 5 what are they? (Pless, 2006) 

The Word of God has endured since the beginning of time, and we have a record of his unbroken promises.  We can see that the Word of God endures through every kind of trial. If God has not broken a promise to his people in the past; than what does that mean for his promises to us? 

2) Read Romans 15:6. 

Paul speaks about unity in verses 5 and 6. How can the Word of God unite us? 

It is not just a group of people with shared beliefs, but it is the Holy Spirit calling the church together through the Word. 

3) Read Romans 15:14-16. 

Paul seems pretty confident that the church is growing and making progress against the sinful nature. Why is he so confident? 

He had written them letters and preached the Gospel. He had given them the Word, and so he knew the Word and the Spirit were working.  

(Once again, much of this Bible Study was developed from John T. Pless, Word God Speaks to Us, Lutheran Spirituality Series, Concordia Publishing House: St. Louis (2006).)

Please post any questions or comments below.