Midweek Lent - Matthew 21:18-21 Sermon “I Tell You the Truth” series Lent 2015
Dear Friends in Christ,
At Jesus’ Transfiguration we see our Savior in glory, but he is not alone. Elijah is standing with him. Things were not always so glorious for Elijah.
In 1 Kings 19 he is cowering in a dark cave, hiding from wicked Queen Jezebel of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. We are told that the word of the Lord came to Elijah, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9) The mighty prophet of the Lord had lost his nerve in the face of adversity and he seemed to have lost his ability to pray. The only prayer he could muster was, “I have had enough, Lord...Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” (19:4) If this great prophet of the Old Testament struggled to pray during a time of persecution, how do we do?
Do we pray, in these days, for all the things the Lord would want us to pray about? Do we pray regularly for the family member who is ill? Do we pray for the friend who has struggles, but doesn’t see that the Lord is the answer? Do we pray for people persecuted around the world? Do we ask God daily for a stronger faith?...for resistance against temptations? We don’t pray as we should. We need to repent of this sin. However, there is hope.
Jesus, our Savior, shows us the power of God to answer prayer. He gives us a promise that should move us to pray confidently. I Tell You the Truth...Faith Can Move Mountains. Lets take a closer look at this truth.
1. The power of God is demonstrated in an unusual miracle. Vs. 18-20
We are confronted with what I believe is one of the strangest of all Jesus’ miracles during his ministry. In our Bibles it is usually called, “The curse of the fig tree.” The power of God is demonstrated in this unusual miracle.
A. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The next morning he gets up early and heads back into the city. He must have not have had time for breakfast, because on the road approaches a solitary fig tree that has green leaves. Usually if a fig tree has leaves that would mean it has figs. However, Jesus finds none. He promptly curses the fig tree, “May you never bear fruit again!”
St. Matthew tells us that the tree withered immediately. St. Mark lets us know that it withered overnight. The disciples see it the next morning and are astounded at the miracle. They ask, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” Jesus does not answer directly, but teaches them a lesson. We will get to the lesson in a minute, but first I will answer their question.
B. Jesus has given a demonstration of God’s unlimited power.
1. Let’s entertain ourselves with the thought of destroying the tree. We could dig up and throw into a ravine in Jerusalem. An energetic young man could take a hatchet to it a chop it to bits. A crafty person might take a rag soaked with a flammable substance and set the tree on fire, but then you might still have to dig it up. Do you see all the work it takes to get rid of that tree?
2. Jesus says six words. The tree dries up and is soon completely gone. This is a POWERFUL word! It is a word from the mouth of the living God. This same mouth uttered the words, “Let there be...” in the book of Genesis. In planned stages, the visible world that we live in, came into being out of nothing. This is the same divine word that brought a dead Lazarus out of his tomb, living and breathing. This is the same divine word that forgives sins and sends Satan and his demon fleeing into Hell.
Jesus wanted his disciples to remember this. He wants us to remember this.
C. That divine word goes out and work powerfully in our world. When I wrote this sermon, Boston, MA was 2 inches away from having the biggest snowfall record in its history. That would be over 107 inches of snow. God will decide wether it is a record year. With a word he controls the weather as the disciples learned in the storm on the Sea of Galilee in Matthew 8:26.
Greater evidence of God’s powerful word at work is you and I being in church tonight. Unless you’re here as a curious visitor, you are here because our powerful, holy God has convicted you of your sins. You have failed to love him perfectly. You have failed to love your family, your neighbors as he demands, with a perfect love. God has spoken a word that has changed everything. “Your sins are forgiven. Be at peace.” That word is powerful because Jesus, God’s Son, was in Jerusalem to suffer and die for your sins. His word works powerfully in your heart giving you hope, because he became un-dead, that is he rose to live forever. His powerful word on the last day will raise you up to live forever.
2. The believer can pray to his powerful God for miracles. Vs. 21-22
When the disciples question Jesus about the miracle, he uses the moment to share a wonderful promise. “Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.’”
A. As the disciples carried out the Gospel ministry, they were going to have needs. Jesus invites them to ask, that is to pray to God for answers, miracles. 1. Prayer is talking to God with our heart and voice or simply with our heart, which is silent prayer. The Holy Spirit directs us in Psalm 50, “Call on me in the day of trouble...” So we pray for our needs and the needs of others. St. Paul in his letter to his Ephesian friends prays, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance...and his incomparably great power.” (1:18-19a) We are to pray for spiritual blessings such as understanding and a stronger faith in the Lord.
2. How can we expect that such prayers will be heard and answered? Our Lord promises, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” This was not the only time he made such a promise. In his Sermon on the Mount he tells his disciples, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (NIV 1984)
Important is that we have Jesus’ blood. In this season of Lent, we hear of the sufferings of Jesus and of the shedding of his blood. Jesus bleeds for us from Gethsemane to Calvary. That blood shed in death at the cross won forgiveness. The blood that brought peace with God opened heaven for our prayers. In the letter to the Hebrews suffering Christians are encouraged, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (NIV1984 Heb 4:16).
B. Again and again in the Gospels we hear the call to believe. “Whoever believes will be saved.” (Mark 16) Again we hear a call to faith in connection with praying. The call to believe. “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
1. Faith is a key component in praying. James, the brother of our Lord writes, “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord.” (1:6–7 NIV 1984). Faith in God’s answer is important because it is based on our faith in Jesus. We believe that he is God’s Son and our Savior. We believe that all our blessings come through him. To doubt that God answers prayer is to doubt Jesus and all he did for us.
2. What if I doubt that the answer will be the one I want? We don’t know God’s will. Sometimes what I want and ask for is not what God want’s for me or his church. So Jesus taught me to pray, “your will be done.” We believe God will answer, we know he will give the best answer.
Let’s go back to the fig tree.
3. The Truth of Parable brought home.
Jesus cursed the fig tree not because he was hungry and didn’t get his breakfast, but he wanted to teach his disciples an important lesson.
A. R.C. Trench in his book “The Miracles of Our Lord” explains that the fig tree was a picture of the Jewish people. The tree was green with great promise of fruit. So the people of Jesus’ day were outwardly pious and they seemed to promise fruits of faith. But the tree had no fruit and the majority of the Jewish people were not bearing fruits of faith.
In Mark chapter 1 Jesus threw out the merchants from Courtyard of the Gentiles in the Temple, because they were making difficult, if not impossible, for the people to worship there. In this same chapter Jesus heals the sick and the little children sing God’s praises. The chief priests and the teacher’s of the law object. They don’t want people praising God because of Jesus.
Just as Jesus cursed the fig tree so God would curse those who did not believe and give true worship, and were preventing others from doing the same.
B. When the disciples continued the work of proclaiming the Gospel and saving souls, some people would not believe, and some would do everything to stop others from hearing and believing. When this happened, Jesus wanted his disciple to pray. They were to pray believing that God would help them and even provide powerful miracles in their time of need. The cursing of the fig tree reminded them of what God could do.
C. All this is true for us today. The more we stand up and proclaim the Savior who loves and died for all people, the more the devil and the world are going to oppose such preaching. WE PRAY. Sometimes the Lord will use normal and natural means to help. We also should believe that the Lord God can and will use miraculous power to do whatever he wants to save and build his kingdom. However, we can’t dictate when and how. We must trust him. Jesus was faithful and true then and he is today.
Conclusion: Many years ago a man went to his doctor. After the examinations and test results were in, the doctor said, “I tell you the truth, this is going to hurt, but when its all over, you will be glad that you trusted me.” We often go to our doctors who are mere humans and we ask and we trust. Very often the Lord blesses that doctor-patient trust with good results although he does not promise it in every instance. How much more should we go and ask our heavenly Father for help? We may have troubles for a while, but God’s power and love guarantee that it will all work out in the end. When we doubt, Jesus would have us look at his cross. Then he would say to us, “I tell you the truth.” Amen.
Sermon February 1, 2015
Epiphany 4 - Hebrews 3:1-6 (NIV2011) Sermon
ILCW - B February 1, 2015
Dear Friends in Christ,
It is Super Bowl Sunday. The Valley is playing host to one of the biggest sporting events of the year. Even if you are not a football fan, you may realize that the game of NFL football is all about some of the biggest men on earth trying to push each other around. The goal is to score points with a football, like this one. The winners reward is more money and fame than I believe most of us can understand.
It is no surprise that many young men want to play at the highest level. So I will ask us a question whose answer will help us during the message today. The question is, “What makes a football player great? At the highest level, the NFL, all the players are talented. So it is more than talent. What I have often heard from players and coaches is the word “focus.” One of the things that makes a player and team great is focus. There are some talented teams and players sitting at home today. One of those in the Green Bay, Packers. They would be here today, except at the end of the game when they had the lead, a player fumbled the ball and the Seattle Seahawks recovered it. The rest is history.
I have an even better example of focusing, Super Bowl 43 in 2009. The Arizona Cardinals came from behind in the 4th Quarter. The Pittsburgh Steelers drove down the field with little time left in the game. Then there was a pass from the quarterback to the receiver in the end zone. I have a picture. It was an amazing catch from a player who was totally focused. And the Steelers won.
Focus is what often separates champions from the rest of the crowd.
How good are you at focusing? If you are like most people you probably focus well at times and at others times are distracted from fatigue, from things going on around you, etc. Distracted eating may not carry consequences other than a hard to remove stain. Distracted driving...we know the consequences can be terrible.
The author of the letter to the Hebrews would like us to be professionals when it comes to focusing on Jesus. Being distracted spiritually, taking your eyes off of Jesus, is the worse thing you could ever do. So the author says, “Fix your eyes on Jesus.” What does he want us to see? In Hebrews chapter 3 we are to see that Jesus is greater than Moses because he is the builder of God’s house. So today I give this encouragement, Hold Firmly to Christ the Builder of God’s House.
1. Two faithful servants
The 1st Century Jewish Christians had been persecuted in the past, but not to the point of death. A new persecution was beginning, possibly under the Emperor Nero, and they were in danger. The Jewish faith was still accepted by the government. So there was a temptation for the people to go back to the Jewish synagogue, where Moses was important and Jesus was rejected.
The writer of this letter skillfully handles the situation by pointing out that in Moses and Jesus we have two faithful servants of God.
A. Moses and Jesus are compared in a positive way.
1. In regards to Moses we have a quote from the book of Numbers, "Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house." (12:7) Moses is remembered for being faithful to the Lord and his people. You could argue that he is the greatest Old Testament prophet. He is mentioned 80 times in the New Testament. Respect for Moses among the Jews was at a high level.
2. Like Moses, Jesus was a faithful servant. Jesus says in John 17:4, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” He did everything asked of him. He was the perfect servant.
Jesus is also greater because he served also as a “High Priest.” Moses never served in that role, his brother Aaron did.
B. The author points out that Moses and Jesus were messengers who spoke for God.
1. Moses is remembered for speaking face to face with God when he received the 10 Commandments and other regulations. He faithfully share this word of God with the people. However, the writer reminds us that he bore, “witness to what would be spoken by God in the future.” We heard in the Old Testament lesson that Moses had promised that a great person like him would come and the people should listen to him. (Deut 18:15,18) The Israelites knew Moses was prophesying about the coming Savior.
2. Jesus is called an “Apostle.” A servant slave in ancient times could only repeat a message exactly. Someone who was an apostle had authority to do more. He could speak and do whatever was required in the carrying out of his mission. We see Jesus by his own authority casting out the demon of the man in the synagogue in the Gospel reading. In this way Jesus was greater.
The point of comparison was not what Moses and Jesus have in common, that is just the beginning of the author’s thought. The important point is how they were different.
2. One great difference.
The author of the letter to the Hebrews speaks of home building. When you see a magnificent house, you give credit not to the house, but to the one who built it. The one big difference between Jesus and Moses is that Jesus is the one who built God’s house.
A. The author explains in verses 5 and 6, “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house...But Christ is faithful as the Son over God's house.”
1. Many years ago the son of a professional brick layer was helping my dad add to a wall at our house. I was a wide eyed youngster watching the two men. The man explained to us how his dad had taught him to make sure that he laid the bricks perfectly level and in a straight line. If a person did not do this the wall would be crooked and could collapse and fall.
In the synagogue where Moses was taught, people used the Law of Moses to try to make God happy. However, the Apostle Paul, a Jew and former follower of Moses, taught that sin has made us crooked. So Moses cannot save us and we cannot save ourselves.
If we are to be in God’s house, a part of the living stones that make up the walls, we need Jesus as Savior. St. John tells us in his gospel, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17) God’s saving grace was that Jesus should become the cornerstone of salvation. So the author of the letter to the Hebrews writes, “In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.” (2:10) At the cross Jesus was our High Priest. He offered himself as the sacrifice for our sins. Now we are built on him. St. Paul wrote in Ephesians, “[You are] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” (2:20,21)
2. So the author of Hebrews says, “And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.” God has given us faith to believe in Jesus. We are a part of God’s household. We are his holy people and we share in Jesus glory. (2:10) We will see this someday.
So the author would ask, “Why would you ever leave Jesus?” Of course it doesn’t make sense, but in times of embarrassment, trouble and suffering, we humans naturally want to take the “easy road.” This godly inspired writer would say, “Its not worth it! Hang in there! You have a great salvation.” Instead he says, “Fix your eyes on Jesus. He will help you.”
B. The writer reminds us in verse 6 that Jesus is “over” God’s house. Jesus himself said, “All that belongs to the Father is mine.” (John 16:15)
1. As he watches over those who belong to him, he cares for us. In Ephesians Paul promises that Jesus is ruling all things in heaven and earth for the sake of his people. (1:22) In that same letter he tells us that as he rules over everything he provides pastors and teachers to train us for works of service. (4:11)When we are trained in God’s word then we know not only how to serve, but survive. The Word of God always keeps our eyes fixed on Jesus.
2. Turn to Jesus in time of need. The author encourages us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (4:15,16)
Conclusion: A very big event is happening in the valley. Some of you are interested. Some of you are amused. And some of you could care less.
We could all benefit from something that the Super Bowl reminds us of. The players playing in it, the successful business people who profit from it generally have one thing in common: They are very focused. That is how people succeed in life, if God allows.
We have something greater than a Super Bowl trophy. We have been given salvation in Jesus, our Apostle and High Priest. Since this is more important than anything in the world, lets keep our eyes on him, by staying in his word. We can be confident because Jesus, the Builder of God’s House, has his eyes fixed on us. Amen.
Sermon January 18, 2015
Epiphany 2 - 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 Sermon
ILCW - B January 18, 2015
Dear Friends in Jesus,
Why did the Lord God appear to Samuel in the middle of the night and speak to him? The short and simple answer is that the Lord God wanted to moved forward his plans to save the world. In order to do this there had to be a reformation with the Word of God. Therefore, the longer more complex answer is that the people of Israel had drifted away from the Lord and his word during the period of the Judges. If they were going to stand in the faith and wait for the coming Messiah they needed to get back to the Word. The Lord God used Samuel for this purpose.
This brings us to St. Paul. In his letter to the Thessalonians he calls on them to remember how their lives had been changed by the good news about Jesus. They had been extremely blessed. He urges them to “stand firm,” that is to continue to hear about Jesus and to continue to see him revealed as their Savior. He does this even though these were Christians who had done well in their life of faith!
Many years ago I heard the question asked by a long time Christian, “Why do we always have to hear about Jesus and his cross?” The implication was, “We know Jesus. Why don’t we talk about something else?” The history of the Israelites of Samuel’s early years teaches us that if we stop hearing and thinking about the Savior, we will quickly forget him. This is why St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians to stand firm in the Gospel of Jesus.
As we consider the situation of the Thessalonians we will also hear of a dangerous teaching that will cause us to not want to hear about Jesus and to stand firm in our faith. Today we are reminded that it is necessary that we, Stand Firm in the Gospel of Jesus.
1. You were chosen through the Gospel of Jesus. Vs. 13-14
St. Paul had reason to be concerned about the Thessalonians. Within days of their coming to faith a persecution broke out against Paul and against them. When they stood firm in their faith, then the Satan tried to confuse them with false teachers. The idea was put forward that Jesus Second Coming had already taken place. This wasn’t the end.
In chapter two of his letter St. Paul writes about the “Man of Lawlessness,” the Anti-Christ, would arise with his false teachings. We know the number one religious teaching that opposes Jesus is the idea that you can do good works and earn your way into heaven. Jesus in Matthew 16(11) warns us about the “yeast” of the Pharisees which was this work righteousness.
I believe that Satan tries to knock us off our firm stance in Jesus by using pressures from outside and from within. From outside the church he uses persecution. From inside the church one of the greatest temptations remains is the thought that I am secure in my salvation because I am a good person who does good things, ie: go to church regularly.
St. Paul writes in is Galatians 4:5 that those who try to win salvation by good works are “alienated from Christ.” The truth is that when we were born into the world, we were powerless to work our way into God’s good graces. St. Paul reminds us that we can be thankful that God chose us. He writes here in 2 Thessalonians “from the beginning God chose you to be saved.”
A. In the Gospel reading we see that even Nathaniel, an Old Testament believer, had to be called and introduced to Jesus. Before that he didn’t know Jesus.
There is a shut-in who tells the story, that when she was a little girl in California, there was a neighbor boy who would play with her, but while he and his family would go to church, they never invited her. She still expresses frustration at the thought of it.
Someone invited you. Maybe it was to VBS, Sunday School or a special worship service. Maybe they just told you about Jesus.
What you heard God wanted to share his glory and his home with you through. For that reason he planned and sent his Son, Jesus. How did you feel when you heard that Jesus loved you and died for your sins because you were separated from God? Our response is that we love him. When our love is new and fresh, we are excited to hear more about his love.
B. Things had changed. The Thessalonians love and faith were being tested by persecution and false teachers. They might have wondered about the love of God. Paul offers the comfort that from the beginning of time, from eternity, God had chosen them to be saved. He had given them faith and he would protect their faith.
We live in a time and place where more and more Christians are walking away from the Bible. Others are suffering severe persecutions. We may be frightened that we will lose our salvation.
We have this wonderful comfort that God has chosen us for salvation. He will not let go us. He will see this through to the end. We are “sanctified.” We have the status of holy children of God. God will not “un-chose” us. Because of Jesus we are dear to him.
C. Please note that St. Paul states that he always gives thanks to God for the Thessalonians. He gives thanks because he knows that they are loved by the Lord and the Lord will take care of them.
We can always give thanks. This is includes when we hear of Christians being persecuted around the world. This is includes when we who are moral are called “weird” and those who do immoral things are called “normal.”
We give thanks because “He loves us.” He has chosen on us in Jesus. He will never let us go. How can we thank the Lord? Paul has some thoughts.
2. Stand firm in God’s encouragement. Vs. 15-17
Have you ever wondered how it is that the disciples like Philip and Nathanael struggled in faith, deserted Jesus Good Friday, but later were willing to die for him? We too may have struggled early on with Christianity and in later years, we are much more stable. The answer is God’s encouraging word. We stand firm in God’s encouragement.
A. St. Paul tells them to stand firm and hold onto the teachings that had been passed on.
1. The word of God that St. Paul received from the Holy Spirit, he had shared with them. St. Peter who was writing to a group of persecuted, struggling Christians in his first letter, calls God’s word, “the living and enduring word of God.” It is living because the Holy Spirit is in it. That word not only gives life, but sustains it and makes faith stronger. So the answer is that the Jesus’ disciples reacted differently to the stresses of life as they matured and became more firm in the faith.
2. Paul says it doesn’t matter if it was spoken or written. I would say today, it doesn’t matter whether you receive the word on paper, in an email or in a text on your phone or its spoken to you. If it is the word and it is being proclaimed, it is strengthening your faith.
3. I don’t know if you keep up on the news with churches, but hanging on to God’s word is not popular. There is an over emphasis on living your faith and not much push to grow it. Since there are many calls in Scripture to hear the word, I would guess things weren’t much different in Bible times.
In the face of pressure to be like everyone else, we need to say, “But God also wants me to hear the word and to study it.” You can’t make a better resolution this year or any year to be in the word in the Bible.
B. St. Paul wants the Thessalonians to know that we have what we need.
1. Through the word God has given us good hope. The good hope in this case is everlasting joy. This will reach its peak when we go to heaven. So often it looks like the people of the world have so much more joy and happiness. What we may not see is that the joy comes and goes. It doesn’t last. God loves us and will take care of us so we always have hope. That gives joy even now.
2. Because we are strengthened with this hope then Paul concludes we can not only stand firm, but continue in every good deed and word. It is very easy to look back and remember big moments and particularly the things that didn’t go well. St. Paul invites us to look back at the good. We do this not to brag, but to see how God has been faithful in keeping us strong and in doing good deeds. Our life becomes a testimony to the truth of God’s grace.
Conclusion: Samuel, as an old man could look back and see God’s grace. It wasn’t always pretty. But God accomplished many things and Samuel was his instrument. We also see the Apostle Paul despite his weaknesses and the devil’s attacks on the church, his ministry was a blessed success. God had strengthened him and made it happen.
As we look at our lives and our world in 2015. Satan is just as active. Our faith is challenged more than ever. Never-the-less, we stand firmly in the Gospel of Jesus. He has chosen us to be his holy people. The Lord continues to strengthen us and give us hope through the Good News. When we look back at 2015, I believer we will see that we have blessed to serve as we follow our Savior. He is the one who makes it happen. Amen.
Sermon January 4, 2015
Epiphany - Isaiah 60:1-6 Sermon
ILCW - B January 4, 2015
Dear Friends in Christ,
I was trying to imagine the scene in Isaiah 60 and this made me also think of the piano ballad by John Lennon, “Imagine.” Lennon in his song imagines that if there were no religions, governments or countries, there would be a world of peace. One critic stated that Lennon gives us nothing more than his imagination, because he fails to offer concrete solutions.
The Holy Spirit would like us to imagine the beautiful scenario in Isaiah 60. People from all over world are rejoicing and they are filled with peace. The peace and joy are real, because it comes from the Glory of the Lord. These blessings are real and concrete in the person Jesus, the Christ.
As we step into the New Year we are not trapped in a dark and gloomy life that causes us to write wishful songs. Rather with joy in our hearts we hear the call of the Lord, “Arise, Shine, for Your Light Has Come!”
1. Great light for this world’s darkness. (Vs.1-3)
Doctors can do amazing things with light. They can take a laser light and work on a person’s eye so they can see better. We could call that a “transforming light.” In Isaiah 60 we hear of the transforming light of God shining into our lives. What is described is a great light for this world’s darkness.
A. “The glory of the Lord rises upon you.” (Vs. 1)
1. The Lord is about to go into action in supernatural way. He will do something special in connection with his plan of salvation. It is mentioned three times in the 2nd half of Isaiah. The first time, in Isaiah 40, the Glory of the Lord is in the message being proclaimed by the voice in the desert. He tells people the Glory of the Lord is coming. The second time, in Isaiah 58, the Glory of the Lord is a rear military guard protecting his people. Here, in Isaiah 60, the Glory of the Lord is pictured as a light dawning on people sitting in darkness. In this verse is the announcement, “Salvation has come!”
2. In the Christmas season we saw the Glory of the Lord shine when an angel messenger announced the birth of the Savior in Bethlehem. In the Epiphany season, we see the Glory of the Lord revealed in the Savior, Jesus, the Christ. Jesus is the Glory of the Lord because he is the Son of God in the flesh. He is the Glory of the Lord because he brings the light of salvation to a dark and dying world.
B. God says to his people, “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.”
1. What darkness is being spoken of? We note two things: it covers the earth and it is thick. We have all experienced days darkened with thick, black rain clouds and we have experienced moonless nights. Those conditions eventually end. The darkness described in Isaiah is unending and impenetrable...until God acts. This is perfect description for the sin that blankets our lives and causes irritating gloom and sadness. You heard me right, I said “Irritating.” The gloom and sadness for an unbeliever is oppressive and inescapable. For you and I, Christians, the gloom and sadness is a “guest” in our life when we forget about the Lord, when we try to manage our life on our own. Then we come back to church on Sunday, there is this ray of Light, that Light relieves us of the gloom and sadness. This is but an irritation in our present lives. Some day when he appears in glory the gloom and sadness will be completely gone from our lives.
2. It is extremely important to us, what is says in verse 2, “The Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.” What you and I know and hold dear, is that Jesus is the Light. (John 8) St. John tells us that “in him there is no darkness at all.” (John 1) Jesus was without sin. He had no personal guilt and sadness, but he carried ours. The prophet Isaiah tells us he was a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. There is an irony in that a man who had no darkness in him, died on a very dark day, Good Friday. As God’s Son, Jesus’ innocent death had the power to cover all sin.
The Light shines into our sinful hearts and lives through the Good News of the Gospel. We see that our sins have been forgiven in Jesus and we are standing and walking in the light of salvation. We no longer have a thick cloud of gloom and sadness hanging over us. Now Jesus shines over us!
Trans: Jesus is more than just our Light, he is, “The Light of the World.”
C. The Lord tells us, “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
1. It was always a part of God’s thinking that the people’s of the world would be covered by his plan of salvation. He told Abraham, “All peoples will be blessed through you.” (Gen 15) A number of times in Isaiah the Lord specifically mentions that people of the nations would be brought to salvation. In the book of Revelation we hear of people from every, “Nation, tribe, language and people” worshiping before the throne in heaven. (Rev 14)
2. There is a great comfort in the fact that salvation is for all people. That means that the salvation that God worked through Jesus is for you and me.
“Salvation is for all” means something to the Christian who has spent some time in jail or for someone who should have gone to jail, but for some reason did not. That salvation is for all means something to the Christian woman who got an abortion years ago or who was involved in wild living for a time. If you have a troubling sin in your past, you are grateful that salvation in Jesus is for all. Even if there isn’t some sin that the public would tar and feather us for, we still can be hugely relieved and grateful that salvation is for all. Our sins of hate, our jealousy’s, our petty grudges, means we need saving too. You have peace in Jesus, because salvation is for all.
2. Great joy for this world's gloom. (Vs. 4-6)
Were you able to gather with family and friends over the holidays? Some years probably work better as people are busy and spread out. When you can actually gather with those who are dearest to you, it really makes for a joy filled holiday. The Lord pictures great joy in the gloomy world because his family is being gathered to him. Isaiah sees people streaming to Zion, the church.
A. First there is joy for the Jewish people. In the book of Isaiah there is a lot of sadness when God’s people reject him and turn on and devour each other. The Lord sends them off to death and captivity. It was a hard time to be a believer. Would the Lord continue to keep his promises?
1. In verse 4 the Jewish believers are told to look up. What they see is that God has been faithful. The church has been established in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Many Jews are coming to the church. Peter preached at Pentecost and many souls were saved. St. Paul went and preached to the Jews first on his missionary journey’s and some believed and were saved.
2. This is comforting for us as we wait for the return of our Lord Jesus and the fulfillment of the last promises. The early church went through hard times, but the Lord was faithful in all he had promised. So we can count on him keeping all of his promises to his church until the end of time.
B. Zion, the church, rejoices as the many Gentiles come in large numbers.
1. People talk about a let down after Christmas. There is no spiritual let down as we go from wondering at the Christ child to wondering about the strange and magnificent Magi who came from the east to worship the Savior. A flood of Gentile would follow as the Apostles, especially St. Paul carried the gospel out of Palestine to Europe and beyond. Today the Gospel is in our country and it has reached the farthest corners of the world.
We might be a little disappointed that we don’t see people beating down the front door of the church trying to get in. Very often in the first century believers came in a few at a time. Not every day was Pentecost Sunday.
I remember being a witness to a worship service in another country where the group met in a room the size of SoV’s large classroom. It was standing room only. People were standing out in the hallway trying to listen to the Gospel message. We have had a few services where our users have had to sit in folding chairs. So people are still streaming to the Gospel today.
2. The mention of gold and incense in verse 6 reminds us of the wise men’s gifts. They were costly and precious. They also gave of their time and talents to journey to worship the infant Savior. They were only the first of the Gentiles.
The many camels picture goods being transported from all over the world. Precious and costly gifts from believers are brought the Lord and his church. We bring our gifts from what we have today as a part of our worship of Jesus who is the Glory of the Lord.
Conclusion: John Lennon had his gifts as a musician. He was able to share a human idea through a song that was popular. But that is as far as it went.
You and I have been given something that is more than an idea from human imagination. The mind of God dreamed up our salvation. And he did not leave it in the “idea” stage. From the beginning of time God set to work out salvation for all humans because we are living under a dark and gloomy cloud of sin. The Glory of the Lord shined in a promise and then in a child and then in the Son of Man crucified for the sins of the world. Jesus rose and he is the Light of Salvation. John Lennon wasn’t afraid to share his imagination with the world. Should we be afraid to share the Mind of God and his Gift with a world who needs him? Amen.
Context: A vision of the Glory of the Lord coming and the peoples arise in joy and come to the Savior with their gifts.
Malady: Gloom and darkness cover the world.
Propositional Statement: The Glory of the Lord has come causing people to arise and shine.
THE FIRST LESSON- Isaiah 60:1-6 (NIV 2011)
1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
4 “Lift up your eyes and look about you:
All assemble and come to you;
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters are carried on the hip.
5 Then you will look and be radiant,
your heart will throb and swell with joy;
the wealth on the seas will be brought to you,
to you the riches of the nations will come.
6 Herds of camels will cover your land,
young camels of Midian and Ephah.
And all from Sheba will come,
bearing gold and incense
and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.
Supplemental - 1 Kings 10:1-9 (NIV 2011)
When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relationship to the Lord, she came to test Solomon with hard questions. 2 Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind. 3 Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her. 4 When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, 5 the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at[a] the temple of the Lord, she was overwhelmed.
6 She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. 7 But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. 8 How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! 9 Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.”
THE SECOND LESSON - Eph 3:2-12 (NIV 2011)
Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
THE VERSE OF THE DAY
M: Alleluia. We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him. Alleluia.
THE GOSPEL - Matthew 2:1-12 (NIV 2011)
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Sermon December 21, 2014
Advent 4 - Luke 1:26-38 Sermon
ILCW - B December 21, 2014
Dear Friends in Jesus,
Children might think that being King or Queen you don’t have any problems, since you are in charge. As we grow up we realize if anything, rulers have more to worry about than the average person.
Take King David for example. After years of conquering his territories, he finally had some peace. Then he had something that concerned him deeply. He lived in a beautiful palace lined with cedar wood. God’s presence and his Ark of the Covenant was dwelling in a tent. It didn’t seem right. David told his personal prophet, Nathan, that he wanted to build an appropriate house for the Lord. The Lord came back to Nathan that night and told Nathan to tell David that he would not be the one to build a house for him. David might have felt disappointed.
However, the Lord makes a wonderful promise. He will build a house for David. This “house” would be a kingdom of people and it would be extraordinary. This would all happen through David’s son. This prophecy was partially fulfilled by David’s son, Solomon, but the complete fulfillment would come through David’s greater Son, who is the promised Savior.
What is David’s reaction to this promise? He receives it in faith. For the sake of our faith we study this thought, David Receives the Promise: His Kingdom Will Be Established Forever.
1. The Lord had built a kingdom for David which he promises will be blessed.
When we meet King David in 2 Samuel 7, he is already King of Israel. The question is would the young nation stay together? There had been unrest because of the previous king, Saul. Would Israel’s enemy the Philistines rise up to cause more trouble? The Lord promises that David’s kingdom will be securely established and he and the people will be blessed. This is important for us because David’s kingdom is a foreshadow of the spiritual kingdom that the Lord is building.
A. The Lord wants David to realize that he can do what he promises, so he reviews a little history with David. Vs.8-9
1. “This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel.” Over the years there are many people who run for political office. Many of those, once they have given it a shot, don’t run again. It is too hard, too expensive, etc. There were many people in the history of Israel later on who would try to make themselves king and failed. This hadn’t happened yet, but David probably knew from the surround countries which had kings, that it is difficult to become king and it is even harder to stay king.
The Lord reminds David, “I’m Almighty and I made you king despite Saul, despite the Philistines. You will be king as long as I want you to be.” We know from the Bible that David was king over all of Israel for 33 years.
2. The Lord also notes that he has cut off all of David’s enemies. King Saul, David’s worst enemy, was dead. The Philistines, a real thorn in Israel’s side, were subdued.
The Lord promises that things will go well in the future, because he is going to made David’s name great. He will not only be a famous king in the region, but in world history. 2500 years later during the Renaissance, Michaelangelo, Davinci and others celebrated the life and accomplishments of David in statutes and art that are famous today. The Lord kept his word.
B. A good ruler cares about his people and David was a good ruler. The Lord promises that David’s blessings will overflow to God’s people.
The Israelites had entered and taken possession of the promised land more than 200 years earlier. There stay in the land had not been easy, because the Canaanite residents and neighbors were hanging around and being a thorn in the flesh to God’s people. Only recently had Jerusalem become part of Israel thanks to David’s efforts and the Lord’s blessing. Now the Lord announces that he is planting the people in the land and they do not have to be afraid of being kicked out by their enemies. In David’s time their enemies would be completely defeated and the people would not be disturbed anymore.
2. The Lord closes with a wonderful promise of peace, “I will also give you rest from all your enemies.” For those of us who did not live through the World Wars we can only imagine what it was like for people when they heard there would be peace. I have seen film clips of people celebrating. People had joyous relief after the long ordeal. I believe that David would have felt like those people. Israel had been at war for years. People they knew, loved ones had died. Now, finally, there was a rest that they could enjoy.
C. We are not King David, but the Lord wants us to receive his promises in faith. He is still the Lord Almighty, who accomplishes great things. St. Paul tells us in Acts 17 that the Lord determines when and where we live. He provides homes for us and feeds us with the abundance of our land. When we are afraid and pray for protection, he promises to hear our prayer and he sends his angels to watch over us. This does not mean that bad things won’t happen. Sometimes the Lord calls on us to endure hardship and suffering. He is still good and he keeps his promises.
Our big enemy who won’t leave us in peace is the devil. The Lord has told us we can stand against the devil and he will flee from us. (James 4:7) When we sin and our conscience torments us, the Lord comes to us with his healing word of forgiveness. As Jesus said, “My peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. Don’t let your hearts be troubled.” (John 14:27)
This leads us to our main thought. David and his blessings foreshadow, the Savior King and his blessings.
2. The Lord promises to build and eternal Kingdom through David’s descendant.
David’s earthly kingdom in Israel would not last. All earthly kingdoms eventually falter and fall. The Lord gives an amazing promise. He would use David’s house to make a better, lasting kingdom.
A. The Lord takes an oath and declares that he will build a house for David. The oath indicates this is a serious matter.
1. The reason that the Lord is so serious is that even before David was dead there were several attempts by people to take over the throne. The Lord wanted David to know that when he died, the son that God had chosen would succeed him and carry on his work. We know that Solomon was the Lord’s and David’s choice. Solomon would build the temple for the Lord. The temple of Solomon, even though it no longer exists, is still regarded one of the wonders in history.
2. Unfortunately, as brilliant as Solomon turned out to be, he was also human. The Lord knew this. When Solomon or any of David’s other sons turned to sin, the Lord would chastise them with trouble and suffering. This is something that God’s people have always struggled with. We don’t like to suffer, even when we caused it. Sometimes Christians may expect some kind of immunity since we are God’s people. The Lord allows his people to suffer, because it causes us to realize the seriousness of sin, the shortness of life and the need for us to stay close to the Lord in a faith relationship. That means regularly hearing God’s word of law and gospel.
Never-the-less, death would claim Solomon and all of David’s descendants. B. David understood when the Lord says, that his house and throne would last forever, that the Lord was talking about the promised Savior.
1. The Lord kept his promise to David 1000 year’s later when the angel Gabriel showed up at the Virgin Mary’s home. We heard it in the gospel reading. Her son, who is the Son of God, would sit on David’s throne forever. When Jesus rose from the dead, he demonstrated that he and his Kingdom would endure forever.
2. Remember that the people were blessed through King David and his reign. We are even more blessed through the reign of King Jesus. We were born into this world with no future, except to die and suffer for our sins. Jesus brought us into his Kingdom by giving us faith in the forgiveness sins he won with his death. St. Paul writes in Colossions, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (1:13-14) Now we and all believers will live forever in Jesus’ Kingdom. We are not perfect in this life, but the Lord will never take his love away from us as we live by faith in Jesus.
C. The earthly blessings the Lord gave to David were good, but the spiritual blessings were better. Remember that as you celebrate Christmas. You may feel materially blessed, or you might be wishing for more. The Lord has given you the greatest spiritual blessings in Jesus. You have life and you have a future beyond this life. Praise God as David did.
Conclusion: David praised the Lord throughout his life, even though he faced some extreme hardships. His son Absalom would later make him leave home and run for his life. David never stopped praising the Lord, because he could see how he kept his promises, concerning his reign.
We are blessed because we see that the Lord kept all his word to David. We look back and see the Son of David lying in a manger. We understand how that Son rescued us and brought us into God’s kingdom. Trust God’s promises no matter what happens. Rejoice this Christmas that you have a God who keeps them. Amen.
David wanted something good for the Lord. The Lord turned it around and blessed David. We want Jesus to be honored and glorified this Christmas season. He will be. Jesus also turns around and showers his blessings on us. He established and eternal kingdom. He has made us citizens. Like David we are awed. Like him we receive his wonderful gifts in faith.
General theme- We receive the word of God’s promise and fulfillment with believing hearts and with Mary we rejoice.
Context: David wants to build a house for the Lord whose Ark is in a tent. The Lord says that instead he will build a house for David that lasts forever. His offspring will sit on his throne forever. This is fulfilled in Jesus, David’s greater son.
Malady: How will the Lord establish an eternal kingdom among sinful people?
Proposition: The establishment of David’s earthly kingdom foreshadows the establishment of God’s eternal Kingdom.
General theme- We receive the word of God’s promise and fulfillment with believing hearts and with Mary we rejoice.
Context: The angel Gabriel visits the Virgin Mary and announces that the Holy heir to King David’s throne will be born of her.
Malady: We should not doubt but receive Jesus for who he is.
Proposition: Mary’s Son is the Eternal Ruler long promised who would bring salvation.
A Heavenly Messenger Prepares our Hearts for Christmas
Background: “6 month” ties in with previous section and announcement of John the Baptist’s coming. Now angel Gabriel on the move again. Another message to deliver.
1. “God’s Son is coming.”
A. An child from King David’s line.
1. A heavenly messenger with good news for David’s descendant.
Note: Mary is highly favored, but no indication that she dispenses favor as RCC teaches. Do do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
Mary had “favor” or grace with God. Eph 2:8,9
2. A child Born of Mary – seed of the woman.
The womb of a virgin. Isaiah 7:14
His name is Jesus. “The Lord is salvation.” Common name, uncommon child.
Trans: Significance of the birth of the child follows.
B. The Child is an heir to rule from David’s throne.
1. He is “great”. Son of the Most High. Mt 3:11, Matt 12:42, Php 2:9-11; Psalm 2; Gal 4:4
He is Immanuel Isa. 2:9
2. The throne of his father David. 2 Sam 7:12, 13,16; Jer 23:5 The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” Jer 23:5
He will rule over “Jacob. ” No earthly boundaries. He will rule over hearts of true Israel, the believers. Forever - 2 Tim 4:18
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary.
The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
2. “God’s power accomplishes the impossible.”
“How will this be?” Not disbelief, but perplexity concerning her estate as a virgin. An immediate answer. God’s power will make this all happen.
A. God, the Holy Spirit, will the source of this miracle.
1. God the Holy Spirit will come upon and the power of the Most High will overshadow her. Same words used for outpouring of the Spirit on the disciples at Pentecost. “Overshadow” Shekinah, Glory of the Lord descending on the Tabernacle. - Exodus 40:35
A sign: Elizabeth is confirmation of what God can do and is doing.
2. The Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. Job 14:4, Psalm 51:5 we are conceived in sin. Also Eph 2:3; Jesus shared our humanity, but not our sinfulness. Such a perfect Savior was necessary. He kept the law perfectly. He offered a perfect atoning sacrifice for us.
He is the one and only “Son of God.” 1 John 4:9
3. “Nothing is impossible with God.” “Word of the Lord will not fail.” Not here, not about our salvation. Not about anything.
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."
B. Mary responds
1. God’s grace has worked faith and so also a faithful response. Note David’s response in 2 Sam 7:25-29. She clings to promises in the word. She will be called “blessed” despite challenges ahead.
2. She is the Lord’s “doula.” Willingly embracing her role. (Despite future issues, Joseph, villagers, travel, danger, huge responsibility.)
She responds with humble faith.
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.
Conclusion: Message received in Advent services, Christmas cards, even seen on T.V. or heard on the radio, perhaps religious music. Prepares our hearts for Christmas. The message that we are to receive that God’s Son if coming in to the world to be our brother and Savior. God’s amazing power will make this happen. Hallelujah! Amen.
FIRST LESSON - 2 Samuel 7:8-16 (NIV 2011)
“Now then, tell my servant David, “This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
“‘The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’”
SECOND LESSON - Romans 16:25-27 (NIV 2011)
25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith–27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
THE VERSE OF THE DAY “Alleluia. The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel. Alleluia. (Matthew 1:23 NIV 1984)
Luke 1:26-38 (NIV 2011)
Sermon - December 10, 2014
December 10, 2014 “And His Name Shall Be Called Wonderful” (Miracle) Isaiah 9:6
(This Advent series looks at why Jesus can be called “Miracle”.)
Dear Friends in Christ,
Astronaut Neil Armstrong uttered the famous words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” That was just after he stepped out onto the surface of the moon.
When you read Acts chapter 10, you might say, “One small step for Peter, one big step for the Jewish Christian church. Peter, at the Lord’s command, entered the home of a Gentile centurion named Cornelius. For about 1500 years God had said that this was a thing a believing Jew should not do, because he would become unclean. The Lord appeared to Peter in a vision and told him that he was no longer to regard food or people unclean. The time of Moses had past. This was the time of Christ.
When Peter entered Cornelius’s house, he went there to proclaim the Gospel news of the forgiveness of sins in Jesus. Cornelius were aware of the true God of Israel. He knew about the laws of Moses and the promise of a Savior. Cornelius did not know the significance of Jesus. He only knew of Jesus in news reports, that he had been crucified. Peter is sent by God to tell that yes, Jesus had died, but as the Lamb of God for all sins. That through him all people had forgiveness and salvation with God.
It was a powerful moment in church history. People were baptized. God poured out his Holy Spirit. What happened at Cornelius’ home was powerful set of miracles.
Today we there are still powerful Miracles in the Proclamation of His Coming. Are you interested in miracles? Of course you are! What kind of miracles does the Lord work in the proclamation of his coming?
1. Angels, stars, and clay jars.
The miracles happen in connection with angels, stars, and clay jars.
A. The proclamation of the Gospel is so important that at big moments in history, the Lord God sent angel messengers from heaven.
1. When the conception and birth of Jesus were announced, Gabriel and other angels were sent to make the announcements to Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. Again at the resurrection of Jesus, we hear the Gospel books report that angels were sent to share the joyful news. “He is not here. He has risen!”
2. The word “angel” means “messenger.” It is not surprising that in the book of Revelation, a book of symbols and pictures, that human proclaimers-pastors-are pictured as angels. Revelation 2:1: “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write:...”. This does not mean that your pastor is an actual angel in disguise, but that he does what angels are often pictured doing: delivering messages from God.
B. In the proclamation of the Gospel “stars” also played a role. The most prominent star is the one that guided the magi from the east to the promised land and eventually marked the place where the Christ child was to be found. We don’t how the wise men knew or what kind of star this was. The Scriptures simply tells us that it marked or proclaimed that the new born Messiah King had arrived and it helped guide the magi to him.
Again we turn to the book of Revelation. Chapter 1:16 we hear that the glorified Jesus is holding seven stars in his hand. These stars are the pastors or gospel proclaimers. Each one of the stars belongs to one of the seven churches spoken of in the book of Revelation. Just as star light guided the wise men to the Savior, so the light of God’s word, coming from the proclaiming that pastors do, guides people to the Savior.
Do you have trouble picturing your pastor as a “star” or “angel”? I think your pastor does too and the apostles also saw themselves differently.
C. When Peter first enters the house of Cornelius the Centurion, Cornelius bows down to Peter. Peter says, “Stand up, I am only a man myself.” Peter knew how flawed he was. He had denied Jesus during his trial. Paul comments in 2 Corinthians 4 that he and other Gospel proclaimers are “clay jars.” He says, “7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay...” I was taught a seminary that while pastors should be humble, they shouldn’t cut themselves down. Why does Paul say this rather uncomplimentary picture? He has a purpose. I will read verse 7 thru 9. “7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. Gospel preachers have a treasure, but we are fragile. Like a piece of pottery that easily breaks, the prophets, apostles and pastors can easily break under the pressure of trouble and persecution. The Lord God has put his precious treasure in a jar of clay. Why does he do this? He does it because when people get to see and know the preacher, they say to themselves, “Well this isn’t about him. He isn’t the treasure.” Yet they hear this amazing and powerful good news. Then people understand that it is the message that is important. That it is the treasure.
There is another “why” to this strange situation. In the ancient days people put jewels and other treasure in a jar of clay for one purpose. They did this to hide it in the ground for safe keeping. The clay jar looked ordinary. People might overlook it not suspecting something valuable is hiding inside.
I would say that the Lord puts his treasure in jars of clay for the opposite reason. Paul continues in 2 Corinthians 4. “10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (2 Cor 4:10-12) When people see the “clay jars” pressed, perplexed and struck down, as Paul puts it, people notice. As the old Timex commercial goes, “They take a licken and keep on ticken.” That draws people. The message is even stranger, “God’s Son was beaten and crucified. In him you have forgiveness and life.” As people see peace and life in the proclaimers, they see the power of God and they come to receive it too.
Don’t be surprised when you hear sin and the Savior mentioned at a wedding service. What greater treasure could a human couple have then the crucified and risen Christ? It is not an awkward moment on Christmas Eve or Day when pastor brings up the cross and grave of Christ. Our treasure is that the babe of Bethlehem came to suffer and win peace with God. This is the Gospel we proclaim.
2. The Spirit working in people’s hearts.
In Acts 11 we hear that the Holy Spirit is poured out on Cornelius and family. He is the miracle worker. Martin Luther in the 3rd Article of the Apostles Creed, “The Holy Spirit calls me by the gospel, enlightens and sanctifies me with his gifts.” The Spirit works in people’s hearts.
A. In bringing people to faith and salvation, the Holy Spirit has a difficult job. The Bible makes many references to Gentiles like Cornelius being ignorant of God and sitting in darkness. (Isaiah 9) The work is even more difficult when we realize that God had to do this with his own people.
Let me take you to the days of the prophet Ezekiel. God’s own people had been so immoral and unbelieving that he had to destroy some and send others into captivity. The Lord still wanted to work his salvation. So he says through the prophet. 24 “‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. (36:24-27)
The Holy Spirit broke the illusion that they were okay in their sin. Death, destruction, loss usually smash our illusions that sin is “okay.” He told them not just in actions, but in the word of his law. Then he laid on them, through his word, the gospel promise of forgiveness and restoration in the coming Savior. He brought life and hope to their hearts. So hearts of stone were to turned to hearts of flesh, that is hearts of faith.
C. Dear friends, as you come to see the manger and as you invite friends to see the manger, bear in mind that while the manger and the baby are cute, at the same time there is a hard preaching of law. Why is the child here? Why was he born in lowliness? He came because we are guilty and dying. We needed to be saved.
The manger is also a proclamation of gospel. God’s Son took on flesh. He came to suffer and die under God’s just wrath, so we would never have to. In the manger we see and we show to others the love of God. We do this because the Holy Spirit has worked the miracle of faith and our eyes are open. We bring others because we want their eyes to be open also. The Holy Spirit still works miracles through proclamation today.
Conclusion: On a Sunday afternoon this month, I am blessed with the opportunity to Baptize three babies. It would be easy for the human side of me to say, “Well, are they even going to come to church in the future?” Or I could think, “I’d rather be watching football.” I am excited to come to church because the Lord wants to perform miracles. He wants to make people like you and me his very own! Peter was excited and I hope you are too. There are Miracles at the Proclamation of his Coming. Amen
Sermon November 16, 2014
Saints Triumphant - Revelation 19:1-19 Sermon
ILCW - A November 16, 2014
Dear People who are holding an invitation to the Wedding Banquet in Heaven,
Emily Rose went to see her grand-mother who was terminally ill. Emily thought that grandma did not look bad for someone who was dying. Grand-ma asked Emily as she put down her coat and purse, “What are you thinking about?” Emily didn’t want to share her thoughts, so she smiled and said, “You know, I am usually thinking about all the things I have to do. My car is acting up and soon I will have to take it in.”
Grand-ma responded as Emily sat next to her, “I have been thinking about heaven. Do you think about heaven?” Emily was caught off guard and responded nervously, “Well you know, I’ve been kind of busy, but I understand why you are thinking about Heaven.”
Dear People who hold an invitation to the heavenly Wedding Banquet, do you think about Heaven? I won’t ask if your too busy, because I think I know the answer, much of the time we are very busy.
Let’s take a moment away from other priorities and thoughts. I want to take you to Heaven today. I am going to be your tour guide and show you amazing scenes as painted in the book of Revelation. As we gaze we see: The Church’s Victory. God’s people, his church suffers on earth. In these two scenes we are presented with an unalterable truth. The Church is victorious because of her Savior.
1. We hear it at Wedding Supper of the Lamb
The first scene is a vision of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. I want to invite to use your ears as much as your eyes.
A. St. John hears the roar of a great multitude of people. Coming from them is a series of Hallelujah’s. They are celebrating the salvation and glory and power of God. (Vs.1-5)
1. What they now know is that his judgements are just and true.
a. In Revelation 6 the souls of the martyrs ask, “How long will you delay punishment?” On earth Babylon along with her allies shed the blood of the saints. In chapter 18 it says that the streets of Babylon are running with blood. (18:24)
Who is Babylon? “The great prostitute” that is the apostate, unbelieving church. It represents any church or religion that teaches salvation by works. Martin Luther and the reformers identified the leader as the Roman Catholic church and its papacy as Babylon.
2. The roar goes up from the saints because the see, “The smoke goes up from her forever and ever.” This isn’t just a temporary setback, Babylon and her allies are finished. They have gone up in smoke. God’s people will no longer suffer at the hands of our enemies.
C. In verses 1-5 we hear the three “Hallelujahs.” What we see is the 24 elders and the 4 living creatures, all of creation, praising God for the destruction of the enemies of God’s people. They aren’t necessarily celebrating that souls have perished, but they are glad that those who murdered God’s people are gone forever.
In verse 5, they call on all God’s servants great and small to praise him. We need to praise the Lord regardless of how difficult it becomes to be a Christian who witnesses that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Things are getting worse for us in the world, but we see the end. We are victorious because of our God.
Trans: The noise we hear grows to the sound of the roar of rushing waters and loud peals of thunder.
B. What we hear is a rousing “Hallelujah”, because the Wedding Supper of the Lamb has begun. (Vs. 6-10)
1. The saints confess, “the Lord our God Almighty reigns.” They see him sitting on his throne. His watchful eyes are on them as they are settling into heaven, their new home. As the Lord has been with them and cared for them in their days of suffering on earth, now the Lord is with them in their days of new life in heaven. They shout because they have always wanted to be in heaven, in paradise and now they are. So the Wedding Supper of the Lamb doesn’t so much point to one happy meal as it assures of an eternity of celebrating and living.
2. In this picture Christ is the Lamb. This is his feast. It is a great joy, because his bride, his people are ready to live with him. It says that the bride has been given fine linen to wear. That linen is “bright and clean.”
Our NIV Bibles, old and new, explain this clothing as the “righteous works” of the saints. While this could be understood properly, it is weak. Both Professors Becker and Mueller of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, write that a better translation of the Greek here is “righteous verdict” or “a not guilty verdict.” So the fine linen is the righteous robes that the saints wear because they have been declared not guilty. St. Paul reminds us in Ephesians we have been made stainless in God’s sight through Jesus’ sacrifice, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (5:25-27)
C. The angel tells John to write down, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” In Heaven the saints know how blessed they are. That is why they are shouting. Since we still live a time of suffering, we can be forgetful. We need to open this up (Bible) and look and see what is coming, so we wait patiently. The angel adds, “These are the true words of God.” Eventually this will all come true.
In the meantime, we along with the Holy Spirit give testimony to these things. We witness about the Lamb and the celebration that is coming.
Trans: Comic book characters are popular. Heros come alive on the movie screen. People hunger for heros! We have something more amazing, we have a divine and majestic Savior presented in Revelation 19, verses 10-19.
2. We see it in the Rider on the White Horse (Vs. 11-19)
We have a vision of the Rider on the White Horse. This is Jesus, the Son of God and Savior.
A. He is described in verses 11-16
1. He is called “Faithful and True.” (11b) The best of earthly rulers make mistakes, but not Jesus. As John looks at the scene, he sees that Jesus “with justice he judges and wages war.” When Jesus destroys the enemies who murdered and hurt his people, he will be right in doing so and completely fair. People might say, “How can a good God punish people?” His sense of justice makes him angry over evil and it moves him to punish evil doers.
2. The Rider is described as having burning eyes and many crowns on his head. (12a) This shows that Jesus is Omniscient and Omnipotent. He is all knowing and has divine power. So he rules over all things.
3. At the same time Jesus is a mystery. “He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.” (12b) In the Bible, a person’s name tells you about that person. Jesus who was the Son of Mary and also the Son of God is mystery.
4. In verses 13-16 Jesus is called and portrayed as the “Word of God.” He is God’s final word. He is pictured as having come from defeating God’s enemies alone. He has defeated them with powerful words from his mouth. He simply has to say something and it comes true. He does this alone, because his angel armies are spotless while he has the blood of his enemies on the hem of his garment from the battlefield. He has shown himself to be in the end the King of kings and Lord of lords.
The main point of showing us a glorious and powerful Jesus is so that we don’t lose hope in the last days of the world. No matter what happens, Jesus is in charge and he can and will fulfill every word that comes from the mouth of God. That is good.
B. The End will come quickly. (17-19)
1. In verses 17-18 an angel calls birds to assemble and fly over the battlefield. Normally birds will gather after a big battle and see what they can feast on. The birds are called before this battle because it will be over in seconds. Ten groups of people are mentioned from kings to small. 10 is the number of completeness. All God’s enemies will gather and will be defeated in the blink of an eye.
2. Even though God has foretold what will happen, the enemies foolishly gather in formation. The beast mentioned is the one from the sea in Revelation. He represents the secular powers which are anti-Christian. Will we see a more significant, perhaps unified movement by governments to get rid of Bible believing Christians? It happened in ancient Rome and it could happen again. God’s message is the same. In the end, they lose. Jesus is in control no matter what happens.
Conclusion: I would apologize if I can’t spend more time on some of the details of chapter 19. That perhaps can be done in a Bible class. I would recommend, The People’s Bible: Revelation, as an excellent commentary for lay people.
We don’t have to wait to start thinking about Heaven until we are like Roses’ terminally ill grand-mother. In the times that we live it is essential that we see Jesus, the Rider on the White Horse. He has prepared his wedding feast for us. All we have to do is wait and watch until he call us. Amen.
Context: The apostate church has been defeated. The response of the saints who had prayed that the persecution of God’s people come to an end, is a glorious, “Hallelujah!”
Malady: As we wait the enemy seems powerful and triumph too distant.
Proposition: See the Victory of the church, as God’s saints rejoice as the forces arraigned against the church are destroyed by the rider on the white horse with his army.
Matthew 25:1-13 (NI V 2011)
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Isaiah 52:1-6 (NIV 2011)
Awake, awake, Zion,
clothe yourself with strength!
Put on your garments of splendor,
Jerusalem, the holy city.
The uncircumcised and defiled
will not enter you again.
2 Shake off your dust;
rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem.
Free yourself from the chains on your neck,
Daughter Zion, now a captive.
3 For this is what the Lord says:
“You were sold for nothing,
and without money you will be redeemed.”
4 For this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“At first my people went down to Egypt to live;
lately, Assyria has oppressed them.
5 “And now what do I have here?” declares the Lord.
“For my people have been taken away for nothing,
and those who rule them mock,[a]”
declares the Lord.
“And all day long
my name is constantly blasphemed.
6 Therefore my people will know my name;
therefore in that day they will know
that it is I who foretold it.
Yes, it is I.”
Ezekiel 37:15-28 (NIV 2011)
15 The word of the Lord came to me: 16 “Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, ‘Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.’ Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, ‘Belonging to Joseph (that is, to Ephraim) and all the Israelites associated with him.’ 17 Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand.
18 “When your people ask you, ‘Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’ 19 say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick. I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’ 20 Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on 21 and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. 22 I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. 23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding,[a] and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
24 “‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. 25 They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’”
[a] 23 Hebrew manuscripts (see also Septuagint); most Hebrew manuscripts “all their dwelling places where they sinned”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NIV 2011)
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 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. 16 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. 17 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. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Revelation 19:1-19 (NIV 2011)
After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
2 for true and just are his judgments.
He has condemned the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.
He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”
3 And again they shouted:
The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”
4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried:
5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying:
“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
you who fear him,
both great and small!”
6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
10 At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.”
11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”[a] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”
19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army.
[a] 15 Psalm 2:9
Sermon November 2, 2014
Sermon for November 2, 2014
Reformation - 2 Timothy 4:9-18
ILCW - A
Dear Friends in Christ,
What do the Prophet Daniel, the Apostle Paul and a medieval German monk, named Martin Luther, all have in common? They were threatened with death by powerful world forces. They also all escaped. St. Paul tells us he escaped the lion’s mouth at his most recent trial. It was only when his life’s work was over that the Lord allowed him to be martyred.
Will confessing Christians who believe in “one Faith, one Grace, one Scripture” end up being persecuted? History says, “yes.” Jesus says, “yes” in the gospel reading from Matthew 10.
St. Paul who was awaiting his execution in a prison cell is upbeat and he has good news so that we can stand firm and remain upbeat. He wants his pastor friend Timothy and all of us to know that In Time of Persecution the Lord Provides. Let’s see how the Lord provides.
1. Dear friends to help and support.
First St. Paul was alone because most of his friends, his circle of support, were gone. The Lord has a way to remedy the situation.
A. Paul explains how the Lord is helping and will help.
1. The Lord had caused Dr. Luke, who was a regular companion, to stay near him. Demas, who apparently wasn’t suppose to leave, had deserted him. Today we would say that Paul was “toxic” because he had a target on his back. The Roman government under Nero was jailing Christians and it had begun to put them to death. Demus “loved this world.” He wasn’t going to hang around Paul and lose the life he loved. Apparently Luke was not able to go to be with Paul at his trial, but Luke was nearby and that comforted Paul.
2. St. Paul is writing to Timothy so that he can return and be a Paul’s side. Timothy had been helping the church in Ephesus which today is Turkey. Paul wanted Timothy to return to Rome so that he could spend some time with a young man he called his “son in the ministry.” He wanted a chance to say, “good-bye” to someone who was family. Mark who had not been helpful to Paul in the past, now was helpful. In his dying days Paul asks that Mark come back to him and aid him. We can imagine, that if it was the Lord’s will, these men came to give Paul help and support in his last days.
It is interesting how as our land becomes more immoral and ungodly, it seems that we Christians also have more and more to do. That may in part be due to the fact that the Lord wants to keep us busy and out of trouble. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that as we face difficult times, persecution, we need to gather around God’s word and to support each other spiritually, mentally, emotionally, etc. Remember Jesus’ command in his hour of persecution was “love one another.” Jesus knew it would be important that the disciples help each other in his absence and it is still true today.
B. Paul had another familiar voice of support in his corner. The voice of God in Scripture was a blessing.
1. After his arrest his personal copies of Scripture were not with him. He had to rely on what he had memorized in word and song to sustain his faith. He also directs Timothy to bring his scrolls and parchments. This would have been his Old and New Testament Scriptures. The New Testament wasn’t complete, but he may have had materials relating to the Gospels and the life of Jesus.
2. Our greatest source of comfort in our time of suffering, and especially persecution, is the voice of God in Scripture. He calms us with “Peace be with you.” (John 20) He reminds us that “God is our refuge and strength.” (Psalm 46) He assures us that nothing can destroy our faith or “snatch us from his hand.” (Romans 8) He promises that “his goodness and mercy will follow us all the days our life and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23)
We gain confidence that even if we sin in time of persecution, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has our God removed our transgressions from us” in Jesus, our Savior. (Palm 103)
We can only wonder and marvel at how Jesus’ words, “I am the resurrection and the life” must have sustained Paul as he was being led to his execution. (John 11)
2. Warnings about our enemies.
St. Paul spent a good portion of his ministry warning congregations about false teachers and their poison. In his last days the Lord uses Paul to provide a warning for Timothy about a vicious enemy.
A. In verse 14 ye says, “Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm.” Who was this man & had Paul run into him before? We don’t know. 1. What we do know is that Alexander had hurt Paul and his ministry, possibly by testifying against him at the trial. Whatever Alexander had done it hurt the church also and so Timothy and the others needed to be careful when they arrived in Rome.
2. The devil has found many way to hurt Christ’s church today. We could talk about threatening danger from government, media, secular universities, etc. However, I believe the greatest danger is from within the church. In Paul’s day it was the Judaizers who claimed that a person had to keep certain Jewish ceremonial laws like circumcision. In Martin Luther’s day the religious leaders required penance performed to earn heaven. Several years ago in I heard Joel Osteen, the televangelist say that a Christian could earn favor not only for themselves, but for other people. Protestant churches today deny the penance system of the Roman Catholic church, but still require the good work of making a decision for Christ so a person can be saved.
At the end of the day such religious people get angry with Christians like you and me who echo St. Paul, “It is by grace you have been saved and not by works so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9) This stand cost Paul his life and it almost cost Martin Luther his life.
B. The Lord was providing Timothy with this knowledge so that he would be prepared. Paul tells him, “You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.”
1. We don’t have record of a visit by Timothy to Rome. But we can be sure that he would have been careful. If he fell into the hands of the authorities, we know that Timothy would have made the good confession. The way Timothy could to do that was by knowing his Bible.
2. The Lord warns us today about dangers to our faith so that we won’t be lazy or unconcerned. He uses trouble and danger to push us to study our Bibles and memorize God’s word. Remember what St. Paul told Timothy in this same letter, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17 NIV ‘84)
Take time in some of our Bible classes to learn more. Take time at home to read the Catechism and the Lutheran Confessions. Then we will be ready when we face dangers to our faith in Jesus as our one and only Savior.
3. What is needed.
As Paul continued faithfully in the Lord and his word, the Lord provided what was needed. Paul testifies to this.
A. He tells us that the Lord stood with him and gave him strength. (17)
Perhaps Paul remembered how young David stood alone against the giant Goliath, but the Lord delivered the giant into his hands. Perhaps he remembered how Daniel had stayed all night in the lions den and was protected. Best of all Paul knew that Jesus had spent six hours on a wooden cross for his sins and three days in a grave. Jesus had triumphed and won forgiveness and life for him. Paul knew that he did not have to be afraid. He could be strong because Jesus, his Savior, was taking care of him.
B. Paul also needed something else. He needed an opportunity to finish his ministry. He had come to Rome to spread the gospel. The Lord provided.
1. Remember Christianity was a novelty. Paul was one of the known leaders. We can imagine how the court room was packed and perhaps the emperor himself present. When the time came for Paul to make a defense, he would not so much defend himself as make a complete presentation of the gospel story, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We can be sure that all of Rome was buzzing about “the Way” is it was known at that time.
2. Because Paul still had some ministry to do, the Lord spared him from the lion’s mouth. He was not sentenced to die at his first hearing.
C. Paul was so strengthened by the Lord that he happily confesses, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.” (18a) He knows that the Lord will continue to provide until he brings him safely home to heaven.
Conclusion: This is what the Lord will do for us as we stand in faith in Jesus. He will provide for us in times of persecution. So we can join Paul in his hymn of praise, “To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Sermon March 30, 2014
Lent 4 - Genesis 37:1-11 Sermon
ILCW - A March 30, 2014
Dear Fellow Children of God’s family,
In Genesis 37 we find that Jacob had returned to the promised land from his stay in Haran. There he had married, had children and become wealthy. Now he is back in the land of Canaan.
Verse one describes it this way, “Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed.” Esau, Jacob’s unbelieving brother was nearby in the land of Edom which was not in the promised land. The God, the Holy Spirit, wants us to know that Jacob’s return and residence in the promised land was an act of faith.
This is important as we hear of the “Account of Jacob” or the story of his family. We see a family being torn apart by selfishness. What we see here we can all relate to on some level. None of us gets along with everyone perfectly in our family tree and extended relation, even if they are mostly Christian. Even in a church family like SoV this is sometimes true.
Today word of God gives us hope and comfort as we deal with our own selfishness and that of others. We are again pointed to our Lord, Jesus Christ. In our selfless Savior we find peace and the motivation to serve others selflessly, even when they aren’t nice to us. So today we find hope in this thought: We Give Selfless Service Through a Selfless Savior
1. Consider the selfishness in Jacob’s family.
A family counselor once told his patient, “Working through your issues with your family is not pleasant nor is it painless. But once you understand the issues, we can work at the solutions which the Lord presents us with.”
What we hear about Jacob’s family is almost painful to listen to, let alone going through it. We must understand the selfishness in Jacob’s family in order to understand the Lord’s solution.
A. What were the issues that was splitting Jacob’s family?
1. Like his father Isaac, Jacob was playing favorites with his sons, actually one son in particular. We are told, “Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him.” Joseph was the apple of Jacob’s eye for two reasons. One was born in his old age. Two he was more spiritual than his brothers. This filled Jacob with joy and he loved Joseph more. Jacob should not have done this and he made matters worse by presenting him with gifts. The original word is vague, but many Bible scholars agree that the gift mentioned was a long sleeved ornamental robe. The average person wore a sleeveless robe garment that went to the knees. The priests and leaders wore long robes. Jacob may have believed the Joseph would be the leader of the family some day.
2. Joseph did not help the situation. He openly and freely spoke of dreams that he was having about his brothers and his parents bowing down to him. He believed that he would be a leader over them someday. Joseph appears to be displaying arrogance. He knew that his brothers were barely speaking to him. Telling them of the dream was not wise and made the split in the family worse.
B. It is not a surprise that the brothers hate Joseph.
1. It says in verse in verse 4, “When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.” And again in verse 8, “They hated him all the more because of his dream and what he said.”
2. Hate is a sin. St. John tells us in his first letter, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.” (1 John 2:9) Anyone who continues to hate is lost in sin. That means that they cannot escape their problem and they have a bigger problem, they stand condemned before God the Eternal Judge. We think of St. Paul’s words, “the wages of sin is death.” (Rom 6:23)
C. In the verses that immediately follow we see the results of the brothers’ hatred.
1. The brothers were alone with Joseph away from home and they plot to kill him, but a few didn’t want to do this, so they sold him into slavery in Egypt. Then they went home and lied to their father that a wild animal had killed Joseph. As a result, Jacob mourned, and refused to stop mourning even after the traditional mourning time was up. The stench of grief and death hung over the family.
2. I hope that his account brings into sharp focus for you what hate does. The hatred of the brothers didn’t fix anything. It made things worse. It hurt the family to the point that things were never the same.
You and I need to repent of our hate and jealousy and envy. We need to as much as possible live in peace with others. The Lord tells us in the letter to the Hebrews (12:14), “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” It is better that we are wronged and we find help in the Lord, than start an endless cycle of hate and destruction. The Lord in love and all seriousness calls on us to give up our hatred. In Isaiah (55:7) the Lord calls, “Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”
Trans: So how would the Lord handle the mess in Jacob’s family?
2. Remember the selflessness of the Lord.
As we look at life in our country and in the Middle East and other places we know that hate does not bring peace. A different way of thinking is required to escape the cycle of hate. The Lord says in Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” The Lord is different. We need to remember our Lord and his selflessness. That is the key to escaping hate and having peace and life.
A. The most unusual part of this account is Joseph’s dreams, which the Lord uses for good.
1. This is a good time to ask the question, “How should we view dreams?” The Lord definitely sends and uses dreams in Bible times. We know that even the unbelieving Pharaoh in Egypt had dreams which Joseph interpreted for him. (Gen 41) But not every dream is from God. Our sinful mind produces dreams and the devil can use those to deceive us. (Ecclesiastes 5:7) Martin Luther in his commentary on Genesis points out that the Holy Spirit always explains and fulfills dreams that are from God. If they aren’t explained or fulfilled they are not from God. Besides this we have the thought in Psalm 119:105 that God’s word is the lamp that lights our way, not dreams. And in the letter to the Hebrews 1:2 it says clearly, “But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom is the appointed heir of all things.” We get our revelations from Jesus and the Bible.
2. The Lord’s purpose in Genesis 37 is clear. The Holy Spirit was giving Joseph and the family a glimpse of the future so that when things unfolded and turned out well, then they would see the hand of the Lord. The Lord would work everything out. This also brought comfort to Jacob when he lost Joseph and for Joseph as he was a slave in Egypt. They could remember the dreams and know that the Lord was working on a plan of salvation. We have this comfort today from Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Trans: What was God’s plan? The Lord had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that the Savior of the world would be born from their family. (Gen 12:3)
B. Joseph reminds us of Jesus who was hated by his Jewish brothers and others and suffered at their hands. (Matthew 27:18, Mark 15:10)
1. Isaiah foresaw this when he wrote, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (53:3) In our Lenten readings on Wednesdays and on Good Friday, we are reminded that they mocked him, spit on him and hurled insults. (Matt 26,27)
2. What is amazing, in what happened to Jesus, is that his Father did not stop the abuse. If Jacob had seen the brothers abusing Joseph, he undoubtably would have stepped in and stopped them. God, the Father, let men drag his Son away in Gethsemane, he let them abuse him in the court room and in the streets of Jerusalem. He let them nail him to a piece of wood and suspend him off the ground. Why this Father does this has to do with love, not hate. God, our Father, chose in eternity, to love us. He chose to let go of his Son for awhile so he could hang on to us forever. St. John puts it this way, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
C. What stands out with Jesus and his Father is selflessness.
1. Jesus gave himself up in his whole life to save us. His selflessness is not only our salvation, but our motivation. Joseph could have done some pay back later on when he was a ruler, but he doesn’t, he forgives and loves his brothers. The brothers also have changed as they treat Joseph’s brother, Benjamin, well and act very selflessly on his behalf.
2. Jesus has loved and saved you. He wants you to live selflessly. Like, Joseph and his brothers, you can do it. When we catch ourselves being selfish we can go back to Jesus for forgiveness and love. Our life will not be perfect, but we can live for others. We can live the Christian life.
Conclusion: Family conflict can be sad, painful and sometimes comes at a cost. Pray routinely for your marriage, your family, your church. Remember how the Lord can bring good even in the worst situations. God showed us this is with his own Son at the cross. The empty tomb reminds us of what he achieved. Through one incredible act of selflessness we were saved. It has made it so you and I can live loving instead of hating, living selflessly. Amen.
2 Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. 5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” 8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. 9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
Jesus calls us from sinful selfishness to selfless service. We can view the world from the perspective of selfishness or selflessness. Selfishness puts self before all and leads to favoritism, pride and envy. Repentance, however, means despairing of self, trusting in Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice and leading lives of selfless service modeled after our Savior who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for us.
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. (John 3:16)
Context: Jacob’s family is full of favoritism and jealousy. This led to poisonous words and actions. We don’t live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Malady: Human desires and dreams lead to destruction.
Propositional Statement: In the Lord and his word are evil desires conquered and loving service is rendered.
Original OT for the day: Hosea 5:15-6:3
Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me." "Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth."
Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. 2 This is the account of Jacob. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. 5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
Matthew 20:17-28 (NIV)
Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!"
Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. "What is it you want?" he asked. She said, "Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom." "You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said to them. "Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" "We can," they answered. Jesus said to them, "You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father." When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave– just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Romans 8:1-10 (NIV)
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.
Sermon March 23, 2014
Printed sermon not available...
Sermon March 16, 2014
Lent 2 - John 4:5-26 Sermon
ILCW - A March 12, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the early years people of Shepherd of the Valley were blessed to have the opportunity to knock on some doors and introduce our new church family to the community. One day a young lady answered the door and the first words out of her mouth were, “My Mom and I need to go to church.”
Why would this be one of the first things that someone who is unchurched would say? I would believe that she had a spiritual thirst. She may not have even understood it, but she wanted that spiritual thirst satisfied.
Do you understand spiritual thirst? Do you know what satisfies spiritual thirst? Today in John 4 we meet a woman who has a spiritual thirst. Jesus gives her the gift of Living Water which satisfies her soul. This is something that you and I want to have and when we have it we want to share it with others. So we hear that Living Water Quenches Our Thirsty Soul.
1. A gift of Living Water is offered. Vs. 5-14
Jesus and his disciples were traveling north towards Galilee when they go through a Samaritan village. The disciples go into town for food. Jesus tired from the journey sits at Jacob’s well. A woman comes out by herself to draw water. Jesus, though tired, takes advantage of the opportunity to offer the gift of Living Water.
A. A good question with this scenario is, “Whose really thirsty?” Jesus may have had dry throat, but the woman had a parched soul.
1. Her life was a disaster. We could possibly point to the fact that woman was coming out to the well alone, where as it was more common for women to go in groups and enjoy each others company. She may have been lonely, but the bigger issue was the “loneliness” or emptiness in her soul, due to sin against God.
Her problem was that she tried to find happiness chasing after five different men. In each case we can imagine a painful divorce. Then she gave up the idea of a stable marriage and just moved in with a man. All of this violated God’s Sixth Commandment, “You shall not commit adultery.” The Commandment was given to protect God’s gift of sacred marriage. The Lord God has definite ideas and thoughts on how to get into a marriage and how we conduct ourselves in a marriage. The woman went by her own rules and instead finding the true happiness that comes with God’s blessing, she suffered pain, loneliness and a guilty conscience.
The woman needed help, but who will help?
2. Jesus has come to be a true friend and to help this woman. God is a true friend to you and I, he wants to help us in our lives. Sometimes the Lord will use us to befriend people through our Christian behavior and witness.
B. As we look at this scene we can ask, “Who has the better water?” The woman may have given Jesus some water to drink, but he has a better “water.”
1. "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." He is offering a gift of “Living Water.” This is water for the soul. This water brings spiritual life. It is the answer to the parched soul.
2. Jesus also says of this water, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” So Jesus is offering a gift that satisfies. More than that, it brings eternal life and happiness. The woman is now interested in what Jesus is offering.
C. Someone told me some years ago that as much as 60% or more of the northwest valley is unchurched. I don’t know what the exact number is, but I do know that many people are unchurched or at least don’t go to a Bible teaching church regularly. What you have is a lot of parched souls. We have a gift to share in Jesus’ name. We have Living Water. Pray that the Lord may help us, wether we are rested or tired, to share the gift as Jesus did.
Trans: Lets take a closer look at what this living water does.
2. It satisfies the deep thirst for the forgiveness of sins. Vs. 15-24
What this woman needed was to have her sins forgiven. Living Water satisfies deep thirst through the forgiveness of sins.
A. The woman was thinking that Jesus had special physical water. She is not thinking spiritually. So Jesus opens her eyes by using God’s Law. Vs.15-18
1. He told her, “Go, call your husband.” As I mentioned her previous marriages had fallen apart. Maybe not all of the fault was hers, but she had her share and she was guilty of currently living with a man outside of marriage. Breaking the Sixth Commandment is a sin. She had broken her Creator’s holy will. She had rebelled against God. Instead of everlasting happiness that she craved, she was facing God’s everlasting condemnation.
2. When we hear God’s law we are reminded what our spiritual thirst is all about. You and I still sin in our life in regard to the Sixth Commandment. Too often lust, jealousy and other sins find a resting spot in our hearts. We need the Lord’s forgiveness, we need Living Water.
Also as we witness to those who don’t know God’s gift, we will also use the law to show them what their thirst is truly all about. Only when they see their sins and a need for a Savior, will they be ready to receive Living Water. The woman asks Jesus where she should worship. Perhaps she is thinking of where she can get Living Water. Jesus doesn’t so much direct to a place of worship as he speaks of the way to worship.
B. He says, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” Vs. 19-24 Jesus does say that Jerusalem is the place where God’s people worship. However, Jerusalem and the temple were only a shadow of what was coming.
1. They were preparing people for the coming of the Savior. What God wanted was people worshiping him from repentant hearts, ready to receive his grace. Temple worship had often turned into people going through the motions. Their hearts weren’t always in it. Through the preaching of John the Baptist, Jesus and others, the people hearts were turned back to God. People repented and put their faith in the coming Savior.
2. Today we may say, “I am going to church.” What are we really doing? Yes, here, we go to a church building, but that is not the main thing. If just making it to the building is important, then maybe we are going through the motions. We are people who are gathering around Word and Sacrament for a drink of Living Water. We worship in “spirit” by confessing our sins and receiving God’s forgiving grace. The fact that we gather around the Word of God and the Sacraments of Christ means we are worshiping in “truth.” Then we are doing what the Father wants.
3. It comes through the promised Messiah. Vs. 25
In Solomon’s Proverbs it says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (22:6) The Samaritans believed in the first five books of the Bible. Apparently the woman had received some training, because she knew about the promise of the Messiah. Jesus reveals to her that he is the long awaited Messiah. He wants her to understand that the Savior is the source of Living Water.
A. Lets look at the credentials that Jesus had shown the woman.
1. He showed he was God who knows everything because told her about her failed marriages and live-in situation before she admitted to them. He also had told her he was thirsty showing that he was a true human being, not just God in disguise. So what does this add up to?
2. In Deuteronomy 18:15 Moses had told the people to watch for a prophet who would be like him. This woman if she knew about Messiah, and she did, she would have known about this prophesy. A man like Moses was coming and yet more than a man, one who is God and the Savior of all. Jesus says to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
B. Jesus had come to be the source of Living Water.
1. In John 3, Jesus had spoken to a man named Nicodemus about the gift of God. At that time he phrased it this way. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that who ever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God’s Son didn’t just proclaim forgiveness, he earned it with his own blood. Jesus provided living water through his sufferings and death on the cross.
2. Jesus invites in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” When we believe in Jesus we are drinking living water. We are receiving the forgiveness of sins. We receive real and lasting life.
C. We are told by John that after this conversation the woman ran off and told the people of her village about the happiness she had found in Jesus. The whole town came out to hear him. We may not have an entire neighborhood turn out after we speak of true life and happiness in Jesus, but as we plant seeds the Lord will bless our efforts. As we heard people are hurting and lonely. They need Jesus, who saves and refreshes. We can be the messenger.
Conclusion: The hot weather season will soon be on us. We will remind each other to drink plenty of water. We don’t want to get sick or faint.
Likewise every season is a season to be taking in Living Water. We gather around Word and Sacrament for refreshment. As we keep our eye on Jesus we remember that he wants us to share his Living Water with others. So they can be satisfied and truly happy like this woman. Amen.
Sermon March 9, 2014
Lent 1 - Romans 5:12,17-19 Sermon
ILCW - A March 9, 2014
Dear Friends in Christ,
Jeffery was counting his blessings as he celebrated his 40th birthday. When he was 20 he had wrecked one of his family’s cars while he was partying with friends. His parents had been upset, but they were Christians and had told him that the Lord had forgiven him and that they had forgiven him. They also promised the Lord would help him work things out. They demonstrated this when dad helped him manage the various fines and legal matters and mom helped him find the right bus routes to work. They also helped him set up payment plan related to the loss of the vehicle. Now on his 40th birthday he was profoundly thankful not only that he had come through a bad moment in his life, but for the forgiving love that his parents had demonstrated. Their love was greater than his sin.
I hope that this story helps you focus in on the message of St. Paul in Romans 5. The apostle write’s about the great salvation that Jesus won for us in chapters 1-4. In chapter 5:1-11 he talks about the resulting blessings of peace and joy with God. Then to assure us that this is all real he gives us a comparison in verses 12-19. He compares Adam and Christ. Through one man we are cursed with sin and in the other we are blessed with righteousness. So our theme for today, Sinful in Adam–Righteous in Christ. One of the key points is that God’s love and forgiveness is greater than our sins. This is comforting!
1. All men are guilty because of Adam’s one sin.
St. Paul’s words in verse 12 are not comforting. They are just the opposite. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned...”
A. The “one man” who sinned was Adam.
1. “Sin” here is the word which means “missing the mark.” The “mark” or “target” was perfect, holy obedience to God. Adam was to be perfect and he was to lead his family in perfect obedience to God. He missed the mark in both regards. He did wrong and he stood by and let his wife do wrong. We heard all about it in the Old Testament reading.
2. The word for “sin” here also means to have “guilt” from wrong doing. It is interesting that in most movies and books today, there is still the idea that if someone is guilty of evil, eventually they will have to pay for it. While the entertainment industry at times wants to promote the idea that we can sin and there aren’t consequences, they often go back to the thought that there are consequences when you are guilty. They can’t escape from their conscience. You and I have a conscience sharpened by God’s law. It should be crystal clear that there is always guilt with sin and there are consequences.
What Paul tells us next is truly horrifying.
B. He says, that all men, all people, have sinned.
1. Maybe you have been told something like, “You have inherited your dad’s eyes.” Something else we inherited from dad and his dad going back all the way to “dad,” Adam, is sin. As the hymn writer says in hymn 378 in our hymnal, “One common sin infects us all.” Is it fair? It may not seem that way, but it is the truth. When we inherited our flesh from our parents it was infected with sin. It is the way it is.
2. Which then means that we are all guilty before God. It isn’t only immoral people “out there” in the entertainment industry who deserve to be condemned for corse, public sins. The sad, sad truth is that you and I deserve to be condemned for our public and private sins, even those locked away in our head that nobody, but God knows about.
C. So Paul concludes, “death came to all men, because all have sinned.”
1. The apostle is echoing the thought that the Lord had communicated to Adam in Genesis 2. “If you eat from the tree which I have forbidden, you will die.” Today from moment we are born, we are aging and dying. It isn’t as obvious when we are young, but it is as we advance in age.
2. Physical death is awful, but...it is the lesser of our problems. When “death” is mentioned, it isn’t just physical death, leaving this world. A change of scenery isn’t by itself bad. But where God sends the condemned is bad. “Eternal death” the Bible calls it. It is a living death of suffering in hell. Jesus artfully reminds us of the intense suffering in the parable of “The Rich Man and Poor Lazarus.”
Trans: Thankfully St. Paul does not just talk about Adam.
2. All men are declared righteous because of Christ’s obedience.
He goes on to tell us that all men, all people, are declared righteous because of Christ’s obedience.
A. St. Paul in verses 13 and following, speaks of another Man. The other Man is Christ, and he brings life.
1. In verse 18 the apostle points to “one act of righteousness.” With these word he covers the entire life of Jesus Christ. Jesus did and also suffered many things, but it all amounted to one big thing– perfect righteousness before God. Towering over this perfect life and many, many good deeds, is one work. St. Paul uses the word “gift” five times in verses 15-17. He is pointing to the fact that Jesus gifted his life for all people. The one towering work in his life that stands out is that he gifted his holy life at the cross as a payment for all sin.
2. So St. Paul announces through that one act of righteousness we are “justified.” God has set aside his anger, because we are no longer guilty before him. Our debt to him as been entirely taken away. Before Death was King in our lives, now Life is King through Jesus. We are living life with his blessing and we will live forever with him after this life.
B. As further comfort St. Paul adds the thought that God’s grace is “abundant.” What he is saying is that the grace is bigger than our sins.
1. In verse 12 Paul talked about our inherited sin. Now, he doesn’t want his readers to think that God’s grace only covers inherited sin. Inherited sin also causes us to commit all kinds of actual sins throughout our life. The time you took the money that you thought no one would miss. The time you were suppose to help your grandpa or grandma do something and you either forgot or you just didn’t want to do it. There’s so many sins!
2. I am not saying this to drag you down, but to make Paul’s point that God’s grace is huge! IT COVERS ALL SIN! We may struggle to get our minds around this, it is not surprising that 35-40 years after this, St. John writes the same thing, “The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) Supporting this thought, that we struggle with our guilt, is the fact that private confession is found in the Old and New Testament. Martin Luther did not throw it out of the church during the Reformation. We need to hear publicly AND privately that God’s grace completely covers all our sins.
There is one point that still needs to be addressed. St. Paul seems to almost say that all people will be saved. It is it true?
C. He definitely says that all people are sinners and that all people have justification in Jesus. But that is not the same things as everyone being saved. Let me explain.
1. In verse 18 Paul definitely says that one act of righteousness brings justification for all men. When Jesus died on the cross, he paid for the sins of every human being who will ever live. God declared that all people are forgiven in Jesus. (Verse 19 says the same thing about perfect obedience. In Jesus everyone has perfect obedience before God.) Then how is it that not all are saved?
2. Look at St. Paul’s words in verse 17. He says, “...those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace.” The problem is that while Jesus provides salvation for all, not all want to RECEIVE it in faith. The justification has to be received personally through God’s gift of faith. Some people stubbornly refuse to believe and do not receive the gift that has been won for them. This is why Jesus says, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16
Conclusion: Let me ask a Bible trivia question. Who is the “worst of sinners?” Is it Adam and Eve? Jonah? Judas? Peter who denied the Lord? St. Paul tells Timothy, in his opinion, he is the worst of sinners. It is not surprising that here in Romans 5, Paul is marveling at God’s grace. We too may feel like the worst of sinners at times.
The answer to the question is given by the Bible. The truth is that Jesus Christ was the “worst of sinners” as he literally carried the sins of the world on his shoulders. The good news is that all people are justified through Christ. God’s grace is bigger than sin. Like St. Paul, we are living proof. We were just like Adam and now we are just like Christ– by grace through faith. Amen.
Sermon March 2, 2014
Printed sermon not available...
Sermon February 23, 2014
Epiphany 7 - 1 Samuel 26:7-25 Sermon
ILCW - A February 23, 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters loved by God,
The story is told that a Tuscan Captain by the name of Venustianus had both hands of Bishop Sabinus cut off. Not long after this Venustianus’ eyes became sore, and many thought he would become blind. When Sabinus heard of it he prayed: “O Lord, behold, I forgive my debtor all his debts: O heavenly Father, forgive me also all my debts and sins; hear my prayer and help my enemy Venustianus that he may not become blind.” God heard the prayer of Bishop Sabinus. When Venustianus got well and heard of it, he became a Christian. (No source cited.)
Jesus commanded you and I, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (5:44) Some Christian may feel outright that they can’t do it. Others may say, “I want to do it, but I don’t see how I can do it.”
Yet we hear of Bishop Sabinus forgiving a terrible sin. In the Old Testament Lesson we find out that David was being hunted down by King Saul to take his life. This was not the first time, yet he forgives Saul and spares his life. We see remarkable love for an enemy. When we take a close look at David we are reminded of the perfect love of Jesus. It was in fact the promise of Jesus, the Messiah, that enabled David to love even his enemies. We too have power to love. You have been Graced to Love Your Enemies just like David.
1. Showing great restraint. Vs. 7-12
We see David showing great restraint in regard to his enemy Saul. This is a part of loving.
A. How was David able to show restraint?
1. After they stole in the enemy camp, Abishai, the young soldier with David, sees Saul sleeping nearby. He wants to kill Saul with a spear thrust, but David commands him to hold back.
2. David is thinking with his head and his heart. He points out that the Lord will take care of matters at the right time. He explains, “...either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish.” (10) David loves the Lord first and foremost and this moves him to see things through God’s eyes.
B. What he sees is that Saul is the Lord’s anointed. David’s love moved him to respect what the Lord had made.
1. Some years earlier the prophet Samuel had poured oil on Saul’s head. Oil was for cleansing in every day use. When God’s prophet poured the oil it meant Saul was consecrated for special work. It meant that he would be king of God’s people Israel. Today you could compare this position to the chairman of a congregation or the president of a church body. David was thinking, “How can I strike down the Lord’s chosen servant?”
2. Besides this, the king of Israel reminded the people that God had promised to send a Savior King to his people someday. If David struck down God’s king, some people might question if God was capable of keeping his promises since he allowed such a terrible thing. Questioning God would have been wrong, but sometimes those who are weak in their faith will stumble. So David wanted no part in putting the Lord’s anointed to death.
C. It is hard sometimes for you and me to hold back. In fact sometimes we add our own sins to someone else’s by striking back at our enemy with harsh words and actions. Thankfully, our Savior, Jesus showed restraint. The Prophet Isaiah said of Jesus, “as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (53:7) They said terrible things. They did terrible things. Be he kept perfectly quiet for you and me. Our Savior helps us to show restraint with our enemies.
2. Pleading for what is right. Vs. 13-20
David also shows he is loving with his use of words.
A. David with well chosen words speaks of a problem.
Abner was the head of Saul’s armies. He would also have the final responsibility for the King’s security. On this night two armed men, who were considered enemies, got close to the king. David’s shows his love for the Lord’s anointed by criticizing. David’s purpose was that the stinging criticism would serve to keep Abner more focused on protecting the king. There were other people, not as nice as David, who might want to get rid of Saul.
B. With carefully chosen words, David addresses a wrong. Saul shouldn’t be coming after him. “Why is my lord pursuing his servant? What have I done, and what wrong am I guilty of?” David hadn’t done anything wrong that Saul is pursuing him in the desert with 3000 armed soldiers. 1) David tactfully suggests that if Saul is pursuing him because he has sinned against God, then David will make the appropriate sacrifice and ask for forgiveness. 2)If bad men have whispered in Saul’s ear that David is a bad guy then the Lord himself will take revenge on those evil men. 3)He points out that this animosity of Saul’s is keeping David away from church and worshiping the Lord. Saul is tempting him to go and worship other gods. 4)In the end David wisely counsels that the king has better things to do than chasing after one little man who is not a threat to him. These are wise and loving words by David!
C. When someone wrongs you or me, it may be the time when we need to use carefully chosen words to heal a situation. St. Paul, although, he had done nothing wrong, uses loving words to help Philemon accept back his run away slave Onesimus. In the little New Testament letter of Philemon, St. Paul labors over his words so he gets it right and defuses a potentially bad situation.
Pray for the right words when you have to counsel someone. Sometimes we might be asking for forgiveness, other times we may be trying to give forgiveness. Paul’s words, David’s words, deserve our study, because they will help us to speak in love.
3. Forgiving in actions. Vs. 21-25
Finally we see David loving his enemy in actions.
A. He forgives him by returning his belongings and leaving in peace.
1. David makes arrangement to return the evidence of his visit. There was Saul’s personal water jug or canteen and his own spear. Then David and his assistant quietly melt away into the night. He doesn’t make any trouble. This shows David is willing to forgive Saul.
2. You may have noticed that David doesn’t go down into camp and hug Saul. The reason is that Saul is not to be trusted. He had
come after David when David had already spared his life once before. There was no assurance of safe passge. We learn forgiving someone does not mean that we let go of common sense. David was prudent in how he dealt with Saul.
B. All of this loving activity comes from a heart of faith.
1. David knew his promises and trusted the Lord God. We see that trust in his words, “May the LORD value my life and deliver me from all trouble.” (24) David wrote in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd...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.” (4) David had experienced the Lord’s deliverance in his youth when he faced and defeated the giant Goliath.
2. Most important was the Lord’s promise of eternal deliverance. David speaks of being deprived of his “inheritance.” Among all the blessings of the Lord was the promise of heaven. The Lord had promised to forgive David his sins and give him eternal life.
David knew he was forgiven. In Psalm 32:1,2,5 he wrote, “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. 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.”
David knew he had forgiveness in the promised of a Savior who would take away the sins of the world. So we travel 1000 years into the future. On a hill three more crosses were raised on a Friday afternoon.
C. From the middle cross we hear the words of Jesus, of Nazareth, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Jesus forgave his enemies for what they were doing to him. Then he died on the cross so that through his blood they would have forgiveness with the heavenly Father. Heaven was open even to the men who crucified him.
It was the Lord’s forgiveness that empowered David to forgive Saul. So St. Paul reminds us, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossions 3:13)
Conclusion: So we know how Bishop Sabinus and David loved and forgave their enemies. They knew the Lord Jesus! In the same way you can love and forgive those who have hurt and wronged you. Look to Jesus and his love! Amen.
Context: We are to love our enemy and pray for those who persecute us. David a is fine example of this in the Old Testament Lesson. Not only did he spare King Saul’s life, but he pleaded with him to act as God’s anointed ruler. David love deeply from the heart, especially the Lord.
Malady: We are not love our friends and hate our enemies as was popular in Jesus’ day and still is today.
Propositional Statement: The merciful love of Christ moves us to love even our enemies and to go the “extra mile.”
1 Samuel 26:(1-6) 7-25
So David and Abishai went to the army by night, and there was Saul, lying asleep inside the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying around him.
8 Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of my spear; I won’t strike him twice.” 9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless? 10 As surely as the LORD lives,” he said, “the LORD himself will strike him; either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11 But the LORD forbid that I should lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.”
So David took the spear and water jug near Saul’s head, and they
left. No one saw or knew about it, nor did anyone wake up. They were all sleeping, because the LORD had put them into a deep sleep.
13 Then David crossed over to the other side and stood on top of the hill some distance away; there was a wide space between them. 14 He called out to the army and to Abner son of Ner, “Aren’t you going to answer me, Abner?”
Abner replied, “Who are you who calls to the king?”
15 David said, “You’re a man, aren’t you? And who is like you in Israel? Why didn’t you guard your lord the king? Someone came to destroy your lord the king. 16 What you have done is not good. As surely as the LORD lives, you and your men deserve to die, because you did not guard your master, the LORD’s anointed. Look around you. Where are the king’s spear and water jug that were near his head?”
17 Saul recognized David’s voice and said, “Is that your voice, David my son?”
David replied, “Yes it is, my lord the king.” 18 And he added, “Why is my lord pursuing his servant? What have I done, and what wrong am I guilty of? 19 Now let my lord the king listen to his servant’s words. If the LORD has incited you against me, then may he accept an offering. If, however, men have done it, may they be cursed before the LORD! They have now driven me from my share in the LORD’s inheritance and have said, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ 20 Now do not let my blood fall to the ground far from the presence of the LORD. The king of Israel has come out to look for a flea—as one hunts a partridge in the mountains.”
21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Come back, David my son. Because you considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have erred greatly.”
22 “Here is the king’s spear,” David answered. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. 23 The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness. The LORD delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed. 24 As surely as I valued your life today, so may the LORD value my life and deliver me from all trouble.”
25 Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, my son David; you will do great things and surely triumph.”
So David went on his way, and Saul returned home.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Sermon February 16, 2014
Epiphany 6 - 2 Samuel 11:1-17, 26,27 Sermon
ILCW - A February 16, 2014
Dear Friends in Christ,
We call many people in the Bible “saints.” St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Peter, St. Paul. One person that we don’t call “saint” usually is King David. Have you ever heard “St. David?”
The Old Testament Lesson for today would reinforce that idea that we shouldn’t call him a “saint.” Never-the-less, Scripture is clear that David is among God’s saints or people he counts as holy. “Saint” means “holy person.” So today we meditate on this thought: David Was One of God’s Holy People!
When we meet David, he had done a lot of good things. He had conquered most of the Canaanites in land of Israel just as the Lord had commanded. He provided for homeland security and he did much to enhance the worship of Israel. David did many things that were pleasing to God.
1. David did evil in the eyes of the Lord.
As we turn to 2 Samuel 11 we hear an account of a very dark time in King David’s life. At the end it says in our Bible that what David did “displeased the Lord.” In the original Hebrew it says literally that David did, “evil in the eyes of the Lord.”
A. This evil, which was a very course sin, probably only needs a little explaining.
1. David saw a beautiful woman who was another man’s wife and he wanted her that is he lusted after her. The servant who provides her name does mention that she is married. David uses his power to set up an adulterous encounter. When she becomes pregnant, he makes matters worse by trying to cover up and commits murder. The warning in Jame’s New Testament letter is one that we should all take to heart, “After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin.”(1:15) Watch out for lust in your heart.
B. The Lord God of heaven and earth considers what happened to be evil.
1. First we have the statement that the Lord was not pleased this was evil in his eyes. We heard last week that our God is a holy God who is perfect. He commands us through Moses, “Be holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2)
2. We also see that David agrees with the Lord’s assessment in chapter 12 when the prophet Nathan confronts him with his sin. He says, “I have sinned against the Lord.” David knew that he had done wrong. David gives a heart felt confession in Psalm 51. “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.” (3,4) He wrote this after this event.
C. A couple things are helpful for you and I even as we live as God’s holy people. We must always remember that God is always serious about every sin. He does not brush some things off and we shouldn’t either. Since he is always watching we can’t hide our sins.
What the Lord wants us to do is to come to him and confess. He invites us in Scriptures in places like Psalm 51. We do what David did, we talk to God about our sins. We do this in our daily prayers, we do this in church. He invites us so that he can help us. One of our favorite hymns in the hymnal is “Jesus Sinners Does Receive.” 2. In Jesus David had forgiveness.
So as we study this word of God, we must talk about the forgiveness that David had. He had forgiveness of his sins in Jesus.
A. We turn to chapter 12 for this part. We hear that the word of the Lord came to David through the prophet Nathan.
1. David needed help. He was reluctant to confess his sin. So Nathan told him a story about a rich many stealing a poor man’s only sheep and feeding it to a visiting guest. David is the rich man. He had so much that the Lord had given him. But he had gone and stolen another man’s wife. Upon hearing this David confessed his sin to Nathan.
In the very same verse Nathan tells him simply and directly, “Your sin has been taken away.” (12:13) The idea is that his transgression, taking another man’s wife and murdering her husband, and all the guilt that went with it, is removed from before the Lord. The Lord no longer counts what happened against David.
2. David accepted this announcement with great joy. He writes in Psalm 32, “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” And also in Psalm 51, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.” (7,8) When God forgives our sins, we have great joy. The Lord God is the source of all our blessings in this life and the next. The announcement of forgiveness means that we who have fallen are no longer cut off from God, our Savior.
A question that people struggle with, once they recognize evil they have done is, “How can I be forgiven?” How is it that God to do this for David?
B. For David it began with God’s promises and it ended with a promise fulfilled.
1. God’s Old Testament people, including David, had been told that a descendant of Abraham would be a blessing to the world. This descendant would come from the Israelite tribe of Judah and from David’s own family. (2 Samuel 7)
The promise was important because it involved the defeat of the one who tempted David when he fell into sin. God had promised Adam and Eve, the first parents, that the Seed of the Woman would crush the Tempter’s head. The child would bring forgiveness of sins and peace with God.
2. This descendant of David’s is Jesus, the Christ. David wrote about Jesus’ efforts to save us by divine inspiration in Psalm 22. It was as if David was standing and gazing at the cross. “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. (16-18) It was through the crucifixion of Jesus, through his payment for our sins, that we are forgiven.
C. When we sin in our lives, especially in a course way like David, there is a temptation to think that the words of forgiveness in the Bible are like sugary words on a greeting card. It’s nice, but how real is it? The forgiveness that we have is free, but it is real and it wasn’t cheap. It is paid for in real blood by the Son of God. Remember that God’s word of forgiveness to you is real and valid. It frees you from sin and guilt now and forever.
3. In Jesus David lived a holy life.
David writes in Psalm 51:4, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” David wanted to continue his walk as a believer. In Jesus David lived a holy life.
A. The Lord uses tools to help David stay on the right path.
1. He allowed various chastisements. A chastisement, is like punishment, but it is meant to help and teach. One chastisement was that the child of David and Bathsheba died. The loss of that child would forever be a reminder to David of what had happened. Also the sword never departed from his house. There would always be fighting, intrigue and bloodshed in David’s house. How did this help David?
2. Those troubles would drive David back to the Lord and his word. There he would find comfort and strength. We see that this worked as David expresses his faith in many psalms which he wrote after this event.
B. As you read through the life of David we also see that he did live a life for the Lord.
1. In the following years he finished the conquest of the Promised Land as God had ordered. He also drew up plans for a magnificent temple for the Lord. By God’s grace he accomplished much.
2. He did not live a perfect life, but he was forgiven in Jesus. When his life came to an end it says he rested with his fathers, he went to heaven. (1 Kings 2:10). David wrote in Psalm 16:10 “You will not abandon me to the grave...You will not let your Holy One see decay.” The last part refers to Jesus rising from the dead. David also thinking of himself. He would not stay in the grave, but rise again to life just like God’s Holy One.
Conclusion: St. David is good! St. John, St. Janet, St. Jim...in Jesus yes! Now we live like God’s holy people. We take St. Paul’s words seriously, “We ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.” In Jesus this is not only possible, it is what we do! Amen.
Sermon February 9, 2014
Epiphany 5 - Isaiah 6:1-8 Sermon
ILCW - A (Sermon text from ILCW C) February 9, 2014
Dear Friends in Christ,
Justin Nelson was a young man from one of our WELS congregations in Colorado. He was also a rookie for the Kansas City Royals. He spent at least three years in the organization and two those years was here in Surprise, AZ. He was signed as pitcher out of highschool. The last year he was here at Shepherd of the Valley, he mentioned that the signing bonus money was running out, it wasn’t a lot by baseball standards. He was thinking about moving on to life outside of professional baseball. I saw a statistic years ago that only one in fourteen young men makes it to the major leagues.
I like baseball and like many young people had dreams of being a professional ball player. Even before I was in highschool I knew that I had a problem. There was no blazing fastball and worst of all, I couldn’t run the base pads fast enough. So I had to dream of other occupations. One was being a pastor. I liked what my dad did.
As I studied for the ministry I was reminded of something. I was not really ministry material spiritually speaking. I will explain. But I want you also to know is that you do not have what it takes to just walk into church and serve the Lord, at least not before he makes a change. Isaiah learned this in chapter six. The Lord graciously makes it possible for us to serve. When the Lord does change things he wants us to serve. So this morning, The Holy Lord Says Go!
1. See the Holy One
Isaiah was called into the ministry in an unusual way. He was granted a vision where he could see the Lord God. What he sees is amazing.
A. He sees God as the One who is King of kings.
1. The Lord God is on a high throne. The throne seems to be over the Ark of the Covenant, that golden box, which is in the Holy of Holies in the temple at Jerusalem. He is sitting where the Lord was present in God’s house. This is the God of Israel.
2. What we see is enhanced when we are told that the king has train for his robe and it is so big that it fills the temple. That is amazing! A long expensive train would not normally fill a room.
There are also the Seraphs. These are special angels. Each one has a three pairs of wings. They aren’t mentioned elsewhere in Scripture. The fact that they are hovering about the throne seems to indicate that they are very special creatures. All of this serves to exalt the One on the throne.
B. The most remarkable thing of all is that God is holy.
After this vision Isaiah uses the phrase for God, “The Holy One of Israel” twenty nine times. This vision made an impression and should make the same on us. What does this mean?
1. The word “holy” means to be “separate.” God is so perfect, powerful and loving that the angels we might say, “blush” in his presence. This is indicated by the fact that they cover their face and their feet. They won’t even look at him.
2. The Seraphs also praise God. “...they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Evidence of God’s holiness is everywhere on earth. Creation seems to echo this thought when the doorposts and thresholds of the temple shake at the sound of the angels praise.
There is one other thing that brings God’s holiness into full view.
3. “Holy, holy, holy”, three times we hear the word and it points to the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When we think of the “Holy Threesome”, we remember that back in the beginning that holy God was the one who said, “Let us make man in our image.” A perfect God’s crowing achievement in creation was to make human beings.
C. Today we are suppose to be impressed when we see a president with his jet, his armored SUV, expensive suits, just as the finery of kings of old was meant to impress people. This vision, plus other descriptions of God, are meant to impress us. No king, president, prime minister has ever had a throne in heaven and six winged angels as servants. The God we worship is an awesome God because he is holy. He is and always will be perfect. Think of this as you worship, pray and speak of him.
2. Know his grace
Have you ever had someone stop by the house and you were embarrassed because you were dressed down, maybe to do some cleaning? Imagine if it was someone really famous!
Isaiah ends up in one of the awkward moments of all time. He seeing the greatest person in history and he realizes he is not properly clothed. This is good as we get to see that the Holy God is a God of grace.
A. Isaiah cries out, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
1. Being unclean means to be dirty in a spiritual sense. If Isaiah had said a bad word with his mouth, he may have insulted another human being. But since God had made those lips to proclaim his praise, now Isaiah was a sinner because he had insulted God. His lips were created for good, not evil.
Can you imagine going to a wedding and you have big, ugly stain on your shirt or blouse. You tell everyone, I didn’t try to get it out because it is no big deal. Now everyone during the wedding is looking at you and thinking of you. The bride and groom would be upset because attention is being draw away from them. The families of the bride and groom would also be angry since they have put a lot of time and effort into the special day.
If sinful humans have this sense of right and wrong, how much more will a holy God object to the stain of sin?
2. So with reason, Isaiah says, “I am ruined.” A family might just kick you out of the wedding. Kings who are insulted tend to look for more permanent solutions, they put the offender to death. So the Lord tells Moses in Exodus 33, “You cannot see my face, for no one (that is a sinner) may see me and live.” (20)
Trans: So what happened to Isaiah?
B. The Lord acted graciously to save Isaiah.
1. We are told that a Seraph took a coal from the altar and he put it on Isaiah’s lips. What is the significance? Fire cleanses. Think of a forest that burns down, new life rises from under the ashes. So Isaiah and every sinner needs to be cleansed or purified. Isaiah prophesied that this would happen through God’s holy Son, Jesus. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (53:5) At Calvary’s cross the Son of God was pierced for us so that we could be cleanse of our sins.
2. The Seraph speaks to Isaiah. He tells him what has happened. “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Jesus has commanded the proclamation of the gospel so that we hear and receive what has been done for us. Think about that as the bread and wine touch your lips in Communion. The body and blood is present for the forgiveness of sins. You are cleansed!
3. Answer his call
There is another amazing part to the vision. The Lord calls Isaiah to serve in the ministry.
A. The Lord says, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
1. What is amazing is that the Lord calls for messengers from among sinful humans beings. He could have sent angels. But he sends people like you and me. Remarkable.
2. The voice of the Lord still calls people today into the preaching and teaching ministry. Only twenty-five men are graduating from the seminary this fall. We need more candidates for ministry! Pray for this. The Lord also calls people to support the public ministry with their service in the church. No one pastor can do it all. Many hands and voices are needed. Do you hear the voice of your loving Savior?
B. What is also remarkable is Isaiah’s response.
1. One minute he is cowering in terror, the next he is courageously volunteering. This is all due to the power of God’s grace. His love excite’s and energizes people to respond and serve.
2. I mentioned Justin Nelson the rookie for the Kansas City Royals. What I didn’t mention is that his wife, Amanda, traveled with him to Arizona. While she was here she volunteered and helped out with our Vacation Bible School at church. I was glad she was using her talents to serve the Lord. Wherever we are, whatever age we are, there are ways for us to participate and support the gospel ministry. Our winter friends join us here at SoV for Bible study and other activities. Its wonderful.
Conclusion: I can’t be a pro ball player, but I like to watching baseball, maybe some of you do too. When it comes to serving in God’s kingdom, don’t watch from the sidelines. God has convicted you of your sins. He has also empowered through his grace in Jesus. You can be a “pro” for the Lord wether it is full time or part time. Amen.
Sermon February 2, 2014
Epiphany 4 - Daniel 3:13-27 Sermon
ILCW-A February 2, 2014
Dear Friends in Christ,
When we open the Bible to the book ofDaniel we find that King
Nebudchadnezzar of Babylon had besieged Jerusalem and brought men
and woman from the royal household to live and work in Babylon in his
administration. Four of these, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego,
excelled and rose to prominence.
In Chapter 3, the King ofBabylon erected a 90 foot statue of gold,
probably, of his main deity, Evil-Merodoch. He called in all his officials
from his vast empire to bow down before the deity. This is a political
exercise. He wants a unified kingdom under "one god and one king."
While loyal, his Jewish executives, could not bow down to an idol, or a man
made god, as the 1st Commandment, given through Moses, states clearly, "You shall have no other gods." So, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
draw the raging anger of the king . This sets the scenario for verses 13-27.
What we learn from this Biblical event is that we are to Trust in God Most High Who Saves.
1. Learn who he is.
Did you ever think you could trust someone and then were let down?
It happens in families, at work, school and places where we buy things.
The Lord God invites you and me to learn who he is and to know him.
A. We learn in this account from the Bible that the Lord is loyal and constant.
1. King Nebuchadnezzar had amassed a big empire by working hard and
being careful. He did not want someone taking it all away, so he worked at
keeping the loyalty of his subjects.
What the king does is create a 90 foot statue of gold . He also assembles a
massive orchestra with every instrument that was known. Then he calls all of
his officials from the greatest to the least. The large statue and orchestra was
to impress and intimidate. They could see that the king was a man of incredible
power. In fact he was likely the most powerful human on earth. The people were
to show their loyalty by bowing down to the statue of his god.
2. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were loyal subjects and valuable. lf the
king had bothered to examine their faith and lives, he would have found that
they would not have cheated him or stabbed him in the back, because this
was God's holy will. And had he asked the men, they would have told him
that they follow their God because he is loyal and constant. They could have
told the king of the Lord's promise to bring the Hebrews out of Egypt to the land
Canaan and how he fulfilled that promise. They would have told him how their
God had promised a Savior for the world through the man called Abraham. Then
in his old age, God performed a miracle and gave Abraham a long desired son.
They would have said in the end, "Oking, the Lord has given us peace, so we
can serve you as peaceful men. You don 't have to worry about our loyalty."
B. When the men had the chance they told the king that God is independent.
This is important.
King Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw the men into the fiery furnace he
had prepared for all who would not bow down to his god. The men respond, "the
God we serve is able to save us from it...But even if he does not…we will
not serve your gods or worship the image of gold." They understand that
the Lord might not save them from the fire, because it might not be his will. We
remember that many Christians were martyred in the early church.
What the men understood is that the Lord God of the Bible is an
independent God. Listen to what the Lord says to Job in the Book of Job, "The Lord answered Job out of the storm...Where were you when I laid the
earth's foundation?" (38:1,4) In his suffering Job had questioned the Lord, the
Lord reminds him that he is eternal and independent. He answers to no one.
C. Knowing this leads to certain words and actions. The three men refuse to bow
down to idol. They know that God is in charge and no matter what
happens, even if they have to die for him, he knows what is best.
We struggle and like Job who was good for awhile under suffering, but cracked,
we stumble. Vie need to repent of the times that we have trusted in the powers
of the world and bowed down to their influence. The world wants us to put the
relationships of this life and the things of this life first and to leave God in the
background. This is a breaking of the first commandment.
Although we are not perfectly faithful, our God is. He forgives our sins in Jesus.
As we hear of his grace and forgiveness, he strengthens us to do what the three
men did. There are moments when we don't bow down to the world. We say "no"
to sin. We put God's first. This only happens because he is loyal and constant.
Trans: Our God is more than loyal. He is powerful.
2. Learn how he saves.
As we look at this Bible event we learn how he is powerful to save. His love
and loyalty leads to our salvation.
A. King Nebuchadnezzar was powerful. He could put people to death for
whatever reason he wanted . He ordered the three Inen thrown into the fiery
furnace. In fact he ordered the furnace to be made seven times hotter than
usual. This serves no earthly purpose, but it did serve to show the magnitude
of the miracle that followed.
1. We are told that once inside the furnace the fire burned off the ropes, but it
did not harm the men at all. They were safe! It is significant that even their hair
was not singed and their clothes did not smell of smoke. God's
protection of the men was complete. The fact that this is God's work is
shown by the fourth person who shows up, an angel to protect and comfort
the men during their experience. We remember the words of Psalm 91:11, "He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways."
What we see here is the miraculous almighty power of God on display. The king
had his idol, but the three men worshiped the living God who had the power to
stop hungry flames and later with Daniel he would shut the mouths of hungry
lions. There is nothing our God cannot do to help us.
2. This leads me to the thought that our God has the power to rescue you and
me from death. Not only physical death, but from eternal death in the flames of
Hell. We needed that rescue because we do not always trust our God and keep
the First Commandment perfectly.”
Jesus did. Remember when Satan showed Jesus all the treasures of the world.
He answered, "Worship the Lord your God and serve him only." Furthermore,
Jesus was willing to break the power of sin by shedding his blood on the cross.
Through Jesus you and I have been rescued from the flames of hell. Through
Jesus you and I will be rescued from the grave just as Jesus walked away from
his grave. The Almighty God has this power and we can trust that he will use it
to save us.
There is another thing in which we need to trust Lord.
B. Think of why the Almighty Lord allowed the three men to go through this
episode. We will learn that God not only has power, but he has a plan.
1. Can you imagine what happened after this incident? People were talking
about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and how they escaped the fire .
These people would also have heard about how the men stood up to the king
and would only worship the God of Israel. Some people would have asked for
more information about the God of Israel. God's promises, especially the
promise of the Savior, would have been shared. It was not an accident that wise
men of the east came looking for the new born King of the Jews. Seeds of Good
News had been planted all over the far east by Jewish believers.
2. God's plan is that his powerful word of salvation is also planted in our
hearts. The Lord has caused it to grow through regular watering with the
Gospel. That is only part of the plan. The Lord wants the Good News of
Jesus to be planted and watered in more hearts. It is why you and I are here on
this earth, God has brought you where you are for a few days and weeks or for
many months. Prayerfully ask the Lord how you can share the
powerful word. Realize that he has a plan for you. His plans do not fail.
C. In early fall I received a call on the phone. A person needed help with
paying their expensive electric bill. It was hundreds of dollars. I told the
person that I was sorry, but I talked with them for awhile. I told them about
God's power to help and of Jesus' love. I assured her, I would pray that she
and her family would get help. I met this person by accident in November.
God had performed a miracle, he had made some money available to pay the bill.
I was able to share a Bible with this person and some other
encouragements. The Lord answers prayers. He helped. I am praying now
that he continues to work in this person's heart and they study the Bible or
come to church.
Conclusion: In the gospel Jesus says, "The meek will inherit the earth."
We see in Daniel that the king was proud of his power, but in the end he
didn't win. The three men were meek. That is they trusted in the God most
high to save them. They won, someday when they died, they won eternally
as they went to heaven because of Jesus, the Savior. Trust in God! Remember
his words and promises when things get difficult. He may not necessarily save
us in every situation, but he will help. In the end he will save us for Jesus sake.