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Light of the Valley Lutheran Church
Shining the Light of Jesus in the Layton area and beyond!
Shining the Light of Jesus in the Layton area and beyond!


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Is Your Name Written in the Book?
Sermon from Sunday, November 18, 2018

Daniel 12:1-3 (NIV)
1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
When you read a book, do you ever flip to the last page or read the last chapter before you actually get to the end? Maybe you do this because the suspense is agonizing and you really just want to know the end to be relieved. Maybe you do this because you have put time into reading this book, but you’re not sure if you want to continue; so you check the end to see if it will be a worthwhile read, that your time invested in this book will pay off. Today, we get a peek at the end, so to speak, from the book of Daniel.

The book of Daniel was written during the 6th century B.C. Daniel, the author, was one of the first Jews exiled by the Babylonians. He did not witness the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple personally, but he heard the reports and knew what had happened. He also knew from the prophet Jeremiah - a contemporary of his - that in 70 years God would bring a remnant of the Jewish people back and restore Jerusalem and the temple. Happy times were ahead, chapters of restoration and joy, but later Daniel received another vision of a man who explained what would happen to his people beyond the chapters of restoration. Our verses today are part of that vision.

The vision the man gave to Daniel was a vision of the end of the world. There would be a great distress, greater than the distress he and his people went through with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, greater than any distress he had ever known. The great prince or general of the angels, the archangel Michael, would come. He would protect God’s people, Daniel’s people, and he and all God’s angels would gather the elect - the believers chosen before they ever came to believe - from the ends of the earth and the end of the heavens, as Jesus said. All the dead would rise. “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” (verse 2)

This is the last page of the story of earth as we know it. We call it the Last Day or Judgment Day. That prophesied time of distress – we could argue that that time is now. There is always a war going on and rumors circulating of another. Christians are persecuted, hated, suppressed, killed – even if this is not your personal experience. The love of many has grown cold. Jesus told us all of this would happen leading up to the end, the Last Day. Can it get worse? Oh yes. Sadly, it can. The wars, persecutions, the hate – all of these can intensify. It makes you wonder, “Can we make it through such a story?”

Where does your story fit with all of this? There is a book with you written in it. King David wrote in Psalm 139, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16) That’s not just for David, but for all people. What’s in that book? How does it end? Can I edit it?

We live in a day and age where so much of what we say or write is recorded, archived, and preserved. One slip-up, one crude joke, one lie, one bad deed from any time in our past is enough to destroy our present and our future. Hollywood is a microcosm of this reality. James Gunn, who directed both Guardians of the Galaxy movies was fired this year (2018) from directing any more Marvel movies because of distasteful and offensive jokes that he had tweeted back in 2008 – 10 years ago! Marvel & Disney were done with him now because of things done at another point in his life. Apologies didn’t matter. Character testimonials didn’t matter. Time didn’t matter. He was done. Kevin Spacey’s acting career came to a screeching halt and was destroyed when someone came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct that happened 30 years go. He lost his Netflix show and was even digitally removed from a movie and was replaced by another actor before it hit theaters.

This are prominent people in entertainment, but what about little ol’ you. Think of the book where God has everything written that you have ever done, said, or thought. Are there tweets, Facebook posts, e-mails, or letters you wish that every record would be destroyed? Transcripts of phone conversations and internet search histories you wish to have expunged? Actions that you wish you could erase from memories, from ever having transpired? If only we could edit the book of our life because the Lord says, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.” (Exodus 32:33) He says that anyone who does not have their name in his book will be thrown into a lake of fire, into hell, for all eternity. These are the ones who on the Last Day at the resurrection of the dead will wake “to shame and everlasting contempt.” (verse 2c) We all know enough of our story to know that this should be us.

Try as we might, we do not get to edit our book of life. God is the author. He should rightly blot our name out, tear it out of his book. That should be the end of our story. However, God wrote us a new story with a new ending. He writes our names in because our Great High Priest, Jesus, gave his own life to take away our sins. As we heard in our second Bible reading, “By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14) God has dressed us in the brightness of heaven as he has made us perfect forever by the blood of the Lamb, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

It is with the blood of Christ that God writes a new story for our lives with a new ending, that he writes our name in his book. The book from the vision given to Daniel contained the names of those who will be delivered when the Last Day, the end of the world, comes. This is God’s book of life. God writes our names in, and then he writes our story to make sure that we are delivered on the Last Day, that after we have slept in the dust of the earth, we will awake to everlasting life at the resurrection of the dead to be with God forever.

We know the ending of our story. Because of Jesus’ blood, God will never blot our names from his book. As we are clothed with his righteousness, having been made perfect by his sacrifice once for all, God will read off our name on the Last Day when all the dead are raised back to life. The last page of our story is one of victory and a happily ever after because our names have been written by God in his book of life.

Today we have read the last chapter, the final pages, of our book of life. We don’t know the time or place of the end of our days on earth, but we do know how it ends. God has written our name in his book with the blood of the Lamb because Jesus by his one sacrifice has made us perfect forever. We are God’s people. Until we hear the last page of our lives read to us, we know that God sends his angels, angels like Michael, if not Michael himself, to guard and protect us, no matter how great the distress in this world gets. We will be delivered. We will rise on the Last Day with the multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth, awakened for everlasting life and to shine like the brightness of the heavens, like the stars forever and ever.

We know the last page of our story in God’s book, but there are others who don’t. We can share that ending of their story with them. We can impart on them this knowledge so that they too will be wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. We can lead them to the righteousness that God has won for us through Christ’s sacrifice. When the time comes and you find yourself at another funeral, you can comfort your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ with the knowledge that they have their name written in God’s book of life, written in by the blood of the Lamb. That person now shines like the brightness of the heavens clothed with Christ’s perfection. You can share this ending with those who do not share your faith. You can tell them that God has already written your story, that your name is written in his book of life because of what Christ, the hero of our story, did. You can tell them of your certainty of your end, your last chapter, because the book was written by God, not you.

Today, God has shared with us the end of our story. Our names are written in his book. On the Last Day, he will raise our bodies so that we shine like the brightness of the stars forever and ever. God will deliver us in the end because he has written our story, saving us by the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ by which he has made us perfect forever. Amen.
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Our entire Veterans Day worship from November 11, 2018. Thank you to all veterans for your service and sacrifice. God bless you and keep you. We rejoice in the faith that we share in the greatest Soldier, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
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A Series of Devotions for Veterans Day as read by veterans from Light of the Valley

Meditation #1 Basic
Read by Rory Hoffman, Technical Sergeant of the United States Air Force, serving since 1999 to present.

Basic training transforms a person from a civilian into military personnel. They teach you how to follow orders, teamwork, marksmanship, and more. They prepare you physically and mentally for your life in the military.

There is another kind of basic training that every single person needs – military or civilian. Every person needs the basic instruction of who God is and what he has done for you. God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Jesus, the Son of God and God himself, is the one who came to be lifted up on a cross to spare you from eternal death in hell and instead give you eternal life with him in heaven.

If you know only one thing about God, may it be this simple yet profound fact that he loved you so much that he sacrificed himself to save you. You have eternal life in him. Believe it. It’s the most important basic training you will ever receive.

A reading from John 3:14-17: Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Meditation #2 The Do-er
Read by Charles Kidd, Sergeant of the United States Army, having served from 1988 to 1996.

Uncle Sam wants you! He wanted you to enlist when war was going on. He wants you now still to serve in the US Armed Forces to continually defend our nation. And if you can’t do that, he wants you do something: buy war bonds, volunteer for the Red Cross, work in factories, plant a victory garden, ration, collect scrap copper and brass. Be a do-er!

So much of life is about what you do, what you accomplish: your recognition of distinguished service, your promotions, your commendations, your medals. This is what you did. You get the glory.

But when it comes to your relationship with God, how it is that you are made right in the eyes of the Almighty, how you are saved, you are told that you are dead in your transgressions. Not that you will be dead but that you are dead, that you can’t do anything to make yourself right before God. You can’t earn it. You can’t rise up through the ranks. In fact, if you do anything, it will be something hostile to God, something to gratify your sinful nature, something in collaboration with Satan. You have a life built on accomplishments, and God says none of it helped your relationship with him.

Can you admit defeat when it comes to being right with God by your own life, your own works, your own merits, your life as a do-er? This is a tough truth to swallow. I’ve done so much, but none of it served to make me right before the Almighty.

But that is what you were. Past tense. God came along and made you alive. He brought you from spiritual death to spiritual life. Why? Not because of things you did, not your efforts, but by his grace. It was his undeserved love for you that motivated him to live for you, to sacrifice himself for you, to die for you. This is his gift to you. We can’t claim any credit for the effort, but we get the full benefits from the service of our Great Soldier, Jesus Christ.

A reading from Ephesians 2:1-5, 8-10: As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Meditation #3 Line of Sight
Read by Eric Meinzen, Master Sergeant of the United States Air Force, having served from 1984 to 2004.

To accomplish a task, a mission, you need to have a clear line of sight. You need to be able to see the target or know exactly where it is if you are ever going to hit it. You need to know the objective if you are going to accomplish it. Once these things are clear, then we get to work so that the mission gets accomplished.

When it comes to serving our God, the end goal is clear. Spread his Word. Spread the fact that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Spread his Word because it is through his Word that God brings people from being spiritually dead to being spiritually alive. That’s the mission. Shine God’s Light into this world so that the Holy Spirit may enlighten others by bringing them to believe these awesome truths of what God has done for all people.

So many times in life, though, we lose sight of the target, the objective. Someone angers us when they speak against God’s Word. We see red; we don’t see the person in front of us who needs this message so desperately. Difficulties and complications cause us to struggle in life. We wonder how things can go so well for that other person but not for me. We lose sight of the riches that God has given us as he has made us alive and saved us so that we have eternal life with him in heaven.

Other times we are so focused on our own personal missions, on what we hope to accomplish, on our target goals of life, that we begrudge God when the mission doesn’t go as planned - when there’s another deployment, another TDY, a base assignment that was not what you put in for. And, of course, this is not just for military life; this is for everyone. You get it into your mind that you are going to reach certain goals in a certain way and in certain places, but then everything changes. Maybe it’s a job change or a job loss. Maybe it’s unexpected health issues. Maybe it’s a death.

For these moments, God has given us his Word to get us through, to see the end goal clearly again. He has a clear line of sight for our lives, even when we don’t. He tells us to trust even when we can’t figure out how he is getting us there. We live by faith, not by sight.

Readings from Hebrews 11:1 and Proverbs 3:5: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

Meditation #4 Your Mighty Fortress of Refuge
Read by Gary Turck, First Lieutenant of the United States Army, having served from 1968 to 1982.

A wet-behind-the-ears new recruit may think of life in the military as a glorious struggle that will prove his bravery and courage under fire while also seeing the world. Then he grows up. The grizzled veteran who has seen war may never talk about it, but you can see in their eyes a more somber, gritty realization that the price for freedom and safety can be disturbing and it haunts them. General William Sherman of the American Civil War wrote in his memoirs, “War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it.” You probably know one of his other quotes better, which is simply: “War is hell.”

You don’t need to be in war to think to yourself, “Is this hell? Can it get much worse?” The suffering and fear is too great. The danger is all too real. No matter if you have served in the military or have always been a civilian, you have had glimpses of hell. You have seen terrorist attacks and wars – if not personally, you have seen them through media and historical records. Personally, you have seen the cruelty of humans. You have lived through times when you feel forsaken by others when there is no one to help you, forsaken by God when you see evil people prospering and yet you, the Christian, is falling on harder and harder times. Life is often in chaos with too many glimpses of hell.

However, through all those glimpses of hell, there is a place to be protected from it. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Glimpses of hell come and threaten to overtake us, but God is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress that nothing can penetrate. In the end, he makes wars cease to the end of the earth – he breaks the bow, shatters the spear. With the LORD Almighty, hell is not just kept at bay; hell is conquered.

So, in those glimpses of hell, remember who is with you. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Therefore we can be still knowing that our Mighty Fortress protects us from hell and has conquered it for us.

A reading from Psalm 46:1-11: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Meditation #5 God Watches Over Your Comings and Goings Now and Forever
Read by Joe Davis, Petty Officer Third Class of the United States Navy, having served from 2000 to 2004.

The LORD Almighty is our fortress, but he is also more than just a bunker used to weather the glimpses of hell in our lives. He is our leader, our general – if you will. He does not take a hands-off approach with us. No, he is leading every charge of you life, every conflict you encounter.

He does not order you to walk through the valley of the shadow of death on your own, but he walks in front of you with his rod and staff at the ready, weapons to protect you. He even goes so far as to prepare a table for you in the presence of your enemies. With him leading us, our enemies can be right next to us but no harm will befall us. Yes, our enemies will surround us, but our God is greater. His protection is greater than their attacks. We fear no evil because our God is with us.

Jesus, our Good Shepherd, protects us every step of the way throughout life. He watches over our comings and goings both now and forevermore. He will and does lead us to green pastures of peace to refresh and restore our souls. He leads us on to the ultimate peace of dwelling in the house of the LORD forever.

A reading from Psalm 23:1-6: The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
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Our Joint Reformation Celebration from Sunday, November 4, 2018 where we had the opportunity to worship with our brothers and sisters from Good News in Lehi, Hope in West Jordan, and Prince of Peace in Taylorsville.
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"God Kept the Word Safe for Us"
Sermon from Sunday, November 4, 2018 at our Joint Reformation Service. Pastor Tyler Peil from Prince of Peace in Taylorsville, Utah preached on Romans 3:19-28.
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"How Far are You from the Kingdom of God?"
Sermon video from Sunday, November 4, 2018 based on Mark 12:28-34.
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