MINISTRY MESSAGES

by Pastor Craig Michaelson

At Faith Community Lutheran Church, we know that church isn’t just a weekend experience, but the way in which we live out that experience in our every day lives. These devotionals are here to help motivate and encourage us through out the week.

"Dad's DaY"

JUNE 16, 2021

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
 
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
 
Fatherhood is one of the greatest privileges and responsibilities that God gives to men.  To think that we get to be used by God, our Heavenly Father, to guide, guard, provide and protect our children is an awesome thing!
 
But anyone who is a Father knows its not an easy thing.  There are so many forces in our culture pulling at us and our children.  And without prayerful intentionality, we can lose sight of the most important part of our calling as Fathers.
 
It’s not to teach our children how to star in sports.
It’s not to teach our children how to hunt or camp or fish.
It’s not to teach our children how to become financially successful.
 
It’s to bring our children up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).
 
When all is said and done, eternity is all that will ultimately matter. 
 
Does that mean we don’t focus on earthly matters?  Of course we do.  We want our children to be positive contributors to our society.  But eternity matters even more.
 
I’m thankful that God, our Heavenly Father, kept His focus on what would matter most for us—spending an eternity in the bliss of heaven with Him.  And I’m thankful that His Son, our Brother Jesus, kept His focus on securing our salvation so that, through faith in Him, we can be part of God’s family forever.
 
And I’m thankful for my Father and Father-in-Law, and other Fathers, who strive to bring their children and grandchildren up in the training and instruction of the Lord!
 
Is there a Father or Father Figure in your life that has helped bring you up in the training and instruction of the Lord!  If so, thank them, and your Heavenly Father.   
 
In Jesus’ name.
 
Pastor Craig Michaelson

“Seasons”

MAY 26, 2021

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . .

He has made everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11a)

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

 

It’s almost June, the month when the season of Summer begins!

 

Each year, God’s creation goes through different seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter). Here in Las Vegas, it seems we have gone through all those seasons in the last month!

 

Just as God’s creation goes through different seasons, we His human creatures go through different seasons in our lives—and possibly at the same time.

 

Courtnaye Richard describes six of those seasons: 1) The Dry Season, 2) The Waiting Season, 3) The Grinding Season, 4) The Tests and Trials Season, 5) The Spiritual Warfare Season, and 6) The Happy Season.

 

Which season(s) are you currently experiencing in your life?

 

The Dry Season – Does it feel like God is distant and silent?

The Waiting Season – Does it feel like God is testing your patience and trust?

The Grinding Season – Does it feel like the busyness of life is overwhelming you?

The Tests and Trials Season – Does it feel like life is wearing you down?

The Spiritual Warfare Season – Does it feel like you are being spiritually attacked?

The Happy Season – Does it feel like life is what you hoped it would be?

 

Whatever season(s) you find yourself in at this time, remember that they are just seasons, and they can change in an instant. Remember that God is with you to guide you and provide what you need to grow closer to Him and others during the season. Remember that, no matter how difficult the season is, God will use it to make everything beautiful in its time. And finally, remember that at the end of the seasons of this earthly life, for followers of Jesus there is a season that lasts forever—a season that will be filled with eternal joy, pleasure, fulfillment, peace and wholeness.

In Jesus’ name.

Pastor Craig Michaelson

“A Joyful Noise”

MAY 19, 2021

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. (Psalm 95:1-7)

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

For what seems like an eternity, our voices have been muzzled by facemasks. But last weekend, in response to the new CDC announcement regarding facemasks, those who had been fully vaccinated were free to worship without restraint. And the result was a lot of joyful noise in church this past weekend!

We had much more reason to make a joyful noise last weekend in worship than simply the removal of our facemasks. We celebrated two baptisms! We welcomed lots of new members! We recognized staff members who had achieved milestone anniversaries!

And most importantly, we sang for joy to the Lord. And at a much higher volume I might add!

We sang for joy to the Lord because He is the Rock of our salvation. He has been our rock-solid foundation in this season of cultural shifting sands.

We sang for joy to the Lord because He is our Creator and Sustainer. The heights and depths and lands and seas are all under His creating and sustaining care.

And most of all, we sang for joy to the Lord because He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under his care. God doesn’t just have the whole world in His hands. He has you and me in His hands. Our Good Shepherd continues to protect and provide for us in this life as He leads us toward our eternal home.

And there, we will celebrate and share in the most joyful noise of all—the sound of a great multitude proclaiming our praises to our God and Savior:

“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!” (Revelation 19:6b-7a)

What a joyful noise it will be!

 

In Jesus’ name.

Pastor Craig Michaelson

“Reunited”

MAY 12, 2021

According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

(1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

 

It’s been a joyful experience this Spring to welcome back worshipers who haven’t been with us for some time because of COVID. And the comment we often hear from them is that as much as they appreciate the online services the church has been providing, they are so glad to be back at church and reunited with their brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s like a Faith family reunion!


And this reunion gives us just a glimpse of the heavenly reunion that awaits us! St. Paul is one who speaks of that reunion in the words above. Just imagine being reunited with members of the Faith family who have gone before us and who are still with us.

Besides Jesus, what people in the Bible do you look forward to meeting at the eternal faith family reunion in heaven? Adam and Eve? Moses? Elijah? Esther? Job? Ruth? Jonah? Nehemiah? Isaiah? King David? Mary and Joseph? Paul? Peter? Mary Magdalene? Nicodemus?


What family members and friends do you look forward to meeting at the eternal faith family reunion in heaven? Parents? Grandparents? Spouses? Children? Siblings? Friends? Authors or speakers or faith leaders who encouraged you in your faith?


In this sin-broken world, reunions may or may not be heavenly. But when the Lord returns in glory to take us home, He will resurrect us, reunite us, and transform us so we will be suited for eternal life in the sinless, glorious presence of God and in the presence of those who have gone before us trusting in Jesus!


I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to be reunited!
 

In Jesus’ name.

Pastor Craig Michaelson

“Let Us Pray”

May 5, 2021

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:


Tomorrow, we once again observe the National Day of Prayer. President Harry S. Truman first proclaimed a National Day of Prayer on July 4, 1952. President Ronald Reagan moved the date of the National Day of Prayer to the 1st Thursday of May, and since then it has been observed each year on that day.


I’m sure you would agree with me that our nation needs prayer. And I don’t need to run a long list of reasons by you to convince you that our nation needs prayer. You know them as well as I do.

So I’m thankful for the National Day of Prayer because it is a good encouragement for us to pause for pray for, among other things, this nation.


I’m sure you would also agree with me that prayer needs to be more than a day of the year, it needs to be a way of life.

Jesus modeled that for us so beautifully. He often got up early in the morning to get away and pray. Sometimes He prayed all night. He also prayed before major decisions or tests that were before Him. Even as He died on the cross, prayers were on His lips.


His example for us while He was still on this earth is a powerful motivation for prayer. An even greater motivation for prayer is the promise that as our risen and ascended Savior, He is seated at the Father’s right hand, interceding and advocating for us (Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1-2).


As we observe another National Day of Prayer, let’s thank God for the privilege of prayer, and let’s thank God for graciously hearing our prayers and answering them according to His will, for our good, and for His glory.


In Jesus’ name.

Pastor Craig Michaelson

“WHERE DO YOU FIND HOPE?”

APRIL 28, 2021

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:


At least in our part of the world, people are beginning to speak and act as if there is light at the end of the tunnel with regards to the COVID pandemic. The number of COVID cases and deaths has dropped significantly, vaccines are being administered, and things are “getting back to normal”—although it is not the old normal, but a new normal.


But even if that is the case, that there is light at the end of the tunnel, many are still walking through the darkest valley. Many are still struggling with grief. And that grief is the result of a variety of losses they have experienced over this past year. Perhaps you have experienced some of these losses too.


The loss of a loved one, to COVID or some other cause of death.

The loss of a relationship with a friend or family member.

The loss of a job or a business, and the financial challenges it brought.

The loss of a full school experience, including social and extracurricular experiences.

The loss of a sense of freedom and purpose and hope for the future.

The loss of an in-person connection with others.


With these and many other losses comes grief, a walk through the darkest valley.

I’m sure you have noticed that some people have been able to walk through the darkest valley of this past year faster and easier than others. Others still have a long way to go.


Perhaps you are still in the valley, and you see the darkness around you more than the light before you.

If that is the case, the words from Psalm 23:4 can give you reasons for hope to help you cope.


The first reason for hope is the word, “through.” “Though I walk ‘through’ the darkest valley. Notice, the Psalm doesn’t say, “Though I walk ‘into’ the darkest valley, but “Though I walk ‘through’ the darkest valley.” In other words, the darkest valley is not your final destination. It’s not a dead end. You are just passing through it.


And you don’t pass through the darkest valley alone. The Psalmist says, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” No matter how dark the valley you are walking through, the Lord is with you to leading you through it.


And the One who walks with you through your darkest valleys is the One who walked through THE darkest valley of all when He was tried, tortured, crucified and killed. On Jesus and this earth experienced a deep darkness.


But Jesus walked through the darkest valley! Three days after He died, He rose from the dead! The light at the end of the tunnel was the light shining brightly from the empty tomb.


And that light will continue to shine brightly for you as you walk through the darkest valleys of life with Him at your side.


In Jesus’ name.

Pastor Craig Michaelson

“Metamorphosis”

APRIL 21, 2021

Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2a)

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:


Now that Spring is here, butterflies are starting to appear! There are many things I find amazing about butterflies. Their beauty and their ability to fly long distances with what seem like such frail and fragile wings are just a couple of things that amaze me.

But what amazes me most about butterflies is their life cycle or metamorphosis.


To see them go from an egg to a larva (caterpillar) to a pupa (Chrysalis) to an adult butterfly is to witness something amazing. To see what they were, and what they have become, is a wonder of God’s creation.


In this Easter season, we can especially marvel at how the glorious transformation or metamorphosis a butterfly experiences gives us a picture of the glorious transformation or metamorphosis we will experience on the Last Day. On that glorious day, our bodies will be transformed to be like Christ’s glorious body!


Did you know there is another metamorphosis that we go through in this life? In his letter to the Christians in Rom, St. Paul wrote:


Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2a)


The word “transformed” comes from the Greek word for metamorphosis. Instead of being conformed to the sin-broken pattern of this world that doesn’t work for this life or the life to come, we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds. And like forgiveness and salvation, that transformation, that metamorphosis of the mind, is a gift of God!


St. Paul not only encourages us to be transformed by God for the renewing of our minds, he also encourages us to keep our minds focused on eternity.


Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 2:2-4)


And when you do, you will experience a glorious metamorphosis!


In Jesus’ name.

 

Pastor Craig Michaelson

“Running on Empty”

APRIL 14, 2021

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said.” (Matthew 28:5)


Dear brothers & sisters in Christ:

Do you remember your very first chocolate Easter bunny?

It seemed so big! It seemed so fancy! It seemed like it would take forever to eat it.

But then you took your first bite. And when you did, you couldn't believe it! Your chocolate Easter bunny was hollow! It was empty inside! And it left you with an empty feeling inside.

Life is like a hollow chocolate Easter bunny at times. Instead of giving you lasting joy and fulfillment in life, it ends up leaving you with an empty feeling inside.

That’s been the case for many people over this past year because of COVID and all its ripple effects. And maybe that’s been the case for you. Maybe, like Jackson Browne’s 1977 song and album, you have felt like you are “Running on Empty.”

On that first Easter morning, the women sure had an empty feeling inside as they made their way to Jesus’ tomb. They were still in shock over the events that had transpired. They couldn’t believe that Jesus was dead. They had heard Him teach. They had seen His miracles. They believed that He was the One who would save them. He had filled their lives with hope and peace and joy.

But in an instant, all that was gone. Jesus was dead--killed tragically on a cross like a criminal and buried in the tomb of one of His followers. There was nothing that could make them feel emptier inside.

Still, out of devotion, they were going to the tomb to anoint His body. They wanted to pay their last respects to Jesus and give Him a decent burial. And after that, who knows what they would do? All they knew was that they were running on empty and nothing could take away the emptiness they felt inside.

Nothing but an empty tomb and a risen Savior! Suddenly, the women were running on empty again! But this time, they were running on the power and the promise of the empty tomb! Jesus was alive! He had risen from the dead! And their lives were filled with hope and peace and joy that nothing could take away!

The next time the pandemics and problems and pains of this life leave you feeling empty inside like a hollow chocolate Easter bunny, remember the one thing that can fill you with a hope and a peace and a joy that lasts.

Remember the empty tomb of your Savior Jesus.

The empty tomb means your sin has been forgiven.

The empty tomb means your death has been defeated.

The empty tomb means your relationship with God has been restored.

The empty tomb means your home in heaven has been reserved.

That’s the power and promise of your Savior’s empty tomb!

And that's the power and the promise that can keep you "running on empty" through this life and trusting in your risen Savior for the life to come!

In Jesus’ name.

Pastor Craig Michaelson

“What a Difference!”

April 7, 2021

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:25)

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:


What a difference a year makes! Last year, the Church Sanctuary was empty as we celebrated the empty tomb. Everything was online instead of in person. But this year, the Church Sanctuary was full for several of our Easter celebrations! And many joined our resurrection celebrations online too!

What a great feeling it was to welcome new people for worship! And a great feeling it was to welcome back members of our Faith Community family, some for the first time since the pandemic began! The empty tomb of Jesus filled our hearts with joy and hope as we gathered to celebrate Christ’s resurrection and the promise of ours!

But none of this celebration would have been possible if it hadn’t been for that first Good Friday and Easter. Christ’s death and resurrection make all the difference, an eternal difference, for you and for me!

Consider these words from St. Paul’s first letter to the Christians in Corinth:

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. (1 Corinthians 15:13-18)

Did you follow the “If . . . then . . .” statements? They don’t paint a pretty picture, do they? If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then we and all who have lived and died believing He did are in trouble.

Thankfully, those “If . . . then . . .” statements are trumped with “But . . .”

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20)

That 3-letter word tells us that because of Christ’s resurrection, none of those “If . . . then . . .” statements apply!

Christ has indeed been raised from the dead!

Our preaching and our faith are eternally beneficial!

Our witness about God is true!

The dead in Christ will be raised!

Our faith is essential!

We have been freed from sin’s punishment!

Those who have fallen asleep in Christ are found in heaven praising our risen Savior!

What a difference our risen Savior has made, for time and eternity!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen!
 

In Jesus’ name.

 

Pastor Craig Michaelson

“It's Too Quiet”

March 31, 2021

Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. (Matthew 26:14-16)


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

If you are a parent, you know that the time you should be the most concerned about your child(ren) is when it is quiet. Usually that means they are trying to be sneaky so they don’t get into trouble!

Things were quiet on Wednesday of that first Holy Week. The other days were filled with activities and events. But Wednesday was quiet. And sure enough, someone was trying to be sneaky that day.

That someone was Judas Iscariot. He went secretly to the chief priests and asked them how much they would pay him to betray Jesus and deliver Him over to them.


Their offer? Thirty pieces of silver. The going price for a common slave in ancient times.

Let that sink in. Judas sold Jesus to the Jewish religious leaders just as he would have sold a slave to someone else. In Judas’ mind, that’s all Jesus was worth. Which shows that Judas was a slave to sin and death.

Judas is not alone. You and I and the whole world were at one time slaves to sin and death. But on Good Friday, Jesus redeemed us from our slavery to sin and death, not with silver or gold, but with His precious blood.

And now, through Spirit-given faith in Jesus, we see what He is truly worth! Who Jesus is and what Jesus has done for us is priceless!


In Jesus’ name.

Pastor Craig Michaelson

“Good Death”

MARCH 24, 2021

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:43-44)


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:


Sometimes people try to make death sound like a good thing. The word “euthanasia” literally means, “good death.” People say it is natural, part of the circle of life, our friend, etc.

But scripture calls death anything but good.

Death is unnatural. God designed His creation for life. Only after the Fall, did death become a reality. Deep down we know that death is not natural.

Death is also not our friend. It is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23). It is also our enemy, the last enemy to be defeated (1 Corinthians 15:26).

When Lazarus died, Jesus cried.

But Jesus did more than that. He cried out in a loud voice and called the dead Lazarus to come out of his tomb. And His words had the power to make Lazarus come back to life once again! It was like a mini-resurrection celebration!

As we prepare for another Holy Week journey with our Savior, we are reminded that there was only one good death, and it took place on Good Friday. And the only reason it was good is because Jesus was willing to die to pay the penalty for our sin and to rise again so we could live forever with Him!

Death, that unnatural enemy of us all, has been defeated by Jesus. And on the Last Day, when Jesus calls us to our heavenly home, we will celebrate together how death has been swallowed up by Christ’s resurrection victory!


In Jesus’ name.

Pastor Craig Michaelson

“Where Do You Find Hope?”

MARCH 17, 2021


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I would share a story of something amazing that happened in Northern Ireland last year on St. Patrick’s Day.


Keith and Kristyn Getty and their children decided to do a family hymn sing. Their family hymn sing received more than one million views over 100 countries after going live on Facebook!


The Getty’s idea was conceived last year during the first week of the COVID-19 lockdown while they were in Nashville. The Gettys then returned to Northern Ireland so they could be at home during the lockdown.


The timing of their social media hit also coincided with the 20th anniversary of the writing of their most celebrated hymn, “In Christ Alone.” The lyrics of that song have helped hundreds of millions of people to find where true hope is found.


I hope the lyrics of the song will help you find your hope in Christ alone.


In Christ alone my hope is found He is my light, my strength, my song This cornerstone, this solid ground Firm through the fiercest drought and storm What heights of love, what depths of peace When fears are stilled, when strivings cease My comforter, my all in all Here in the love of Christ I stand


In Christ alone who took on flesh Fullness of God in helpless babe This gift of love and righteousness Scorned by the ones He came to save Till on that cross as Jesus died The wrath of God was satisfied For every sin on Him was laid Here in the death of Christ I live


There in the ground His body lay Light of the world by darkness slain Then bursting forth in glorious day

Up from the grave He rose again And as He stands in victory Sin's curse has lost its grip on me For I am His and He is mine Bought with the precious blood of Christ


No guilt in life, no fear in death This is the power of Christ in me From life's first cry to final breath Jesus commands my destiny No power of hell, no scheme of man Can ever pluck me from His hand Till He returns or calls me home Here in the power of Christ I'll stand


Our world tries to get us to find our hope in all kinds of things. But none of those things can give us the lasting hope Jesus gives us.


St. Patrick found his only hope was in Christ alone. And he shared that hope with many in Ireland!


May we find our hope in Christ alone and share that hope with others too!


In Jesus’ name.


Pastor Craig Michaelson