Monday, August 19, 2019

Sermon August 17-18, 2018

Title: By faith you are covered in Christ’s love and forgiveness!
Text: Heb.11:17-31; 12:1-3 Luke 12:49-53


17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac,
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents,
29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land,
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
3 Consider him [Jesus] who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

In our gospel reading Jesus says:

51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.

A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable, [broken and retched] world -- and might even be more difficult to save.

C.S. Lewis, quoted in Against the Night, Charles Colson, p. 139.

It’s like the story of the school teacher who lost her life savings in a business scheme … by a swindler. When her investment disappeared and her [dreams were] shattered, she went to the Better Business Bureau. "Why on earth didn't you come to us first?" the official asked. [“Well], she said … I didn't come because I was afraid you'd tell me not to do it."
Jerry Lambert. (modified)

You see … the truth is … we want to believe the lies.

In a way it explains the cross. Not as peace and comfort but as agony and death.

Not as accomplishing anything good … but only something bad that shouldn’t have happened, we think.

What truly lies beyond the cross … the resurrection of Jesus and salvation that he gives is unable to be seen through the eyes of self and can only be received as a gift through the eyes of faith.

By faith Abraham believed that God was able, even to raise Issac from the dead, from which figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. Heb. 11:19

Jesus says:

49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!

What fire is Jesus talking about? Why is he anxious and distressed? And what does baptism have to do with it?

Well, the fire is the wrath of God cast down from heaven on the earth as punishment for sin; and yes Jesus wants it done with and finished. He also has a baptism to be baptized with – not of washing away sin - but of receiving the sins of the whole world upon him so that God’s wrath might be focused in one place, on Jesus, once and for all. That brings Jesus great distress because his baptism is a bloody baptism.

As Christ was baptized by John he was marked for you and me and all as our substitute. As the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the word, Jesus saw the Spirit descend like a dove 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

The father was pleased because Jesus was an acceptable sacrifice. Without spot or blemish, he could stand and receive God full wrath and make payment for sin with his sinless life and death in your place. And with that – his death on the cross - God’s wrath would be appeased and paid for.

51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth?

Well yes, we want to believe that.

Jesus said to bring the little children to him and not prohibit them.

He hoped to gather Jerusalem to himself like a hen gathers her chick under her wings.

He told the woman found in adultery to go and sin no more after her accusers left and Jesus said neither do I accuse you.

So yes, we want Jesus to bring peace. But he says:

No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three.

The devil delights in division. He delights in apathy. He delights is discord. He delights in death. He delights in whispering in your ear. He delights in us having faith in ourselves.

“You’re a pretty good person. You’ve helped many people in need and done good things. You know right from wrong and there are certainly many others who do much less than you. God will be pleased with you!”

Families are divided. The church is too. The world is broken in sin.

51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth?

Jesus says: No, I tell you, but rather division.

Dear friends, the brokenness of this world will not get better.

I saw this quote online this week:

“This society in which we live is radically changing. What previous generations saw as evil is now embraced as being good. It is a dangerous and slippery slope upon which we stand when we reject what Solomon called the beginning of wisdom – the fear of God.”

— Ray Comfort

But Christ has secured your rescue- by faith – not in a world that will be destroyed but in Jesus who died for you and rose again from the dead.

“Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” Heb 11:18

In the first chapter of Matthew we receive this genealogy: 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Matt 1:2

Our Epistle continues:

22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones. Heb 11:22

29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. Heb:11:29

The Gospel in Matthew reveals:

5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king. Matt 1:5

31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. Heb 11:31

King David’s great grandmother was Rahab whom God had used so that:

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.

The genealogy concludes: 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. Matt 1:16

By faith we too have rescue. In Christ who is our hope and our deliverer!

The genealogy continues for you and me as well as we think of our grandparents and our parents on down to ourselves and our children.

As my own would read and you can write your own as well.

And Michael was the father of Albert, and Albert the father of Russell, and Russell the father of Amy and Jonathan, and by faith in this same Christ and his baptism into death a death on a cross we too have the promise that just as he was raised from the dead we too will rise.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen

Monday, August 5, 2019

Sermon August 3-4, 2018

Title: Christ Be My leader!
Text: Col.3:1-11

3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Jesus says in our gospel reading for today:

“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

In a sense Jesus is asking, “What is your focus, hope or trust?”

Paul in our epistle reading for today is asking his Colossian hearers their focus, hope, or trust and to put on the new self, to live in the new hope which is their life in Christ - to set their minds on things above and not on things that are on the earth.

Perspective is a wonderful thing. The further you get away from something the smaller the object appears. The view from above can make the enticements vanish and problems seem not as consuming. But, perspective can also be viewed from below, in the midst of turmoil and through the coveting of the flesh where the joy of Christ can be so far away and hidden from view that you can't see Jesus. The Colossians, were losing their focus on Christ. They were being pulled in different directions.

Some wanted to pull them back to the Law and its requirements. Col 2:4

Some wanted them captive to philosophy, empty deceit, and human tradition, according to the world. Col 2:8

Some wanted to pass judgment with questions of food and drink, a festival, new moon or a Sabbath. Col. 2:16

And some were feeling disqualified for not measuring up by those who were puffed up and self righteous. Col 2:18

You might know how this might feel.

Death though is the universal equalizer.

Satan stamps us at birth as his children, Dead to God, as we discussed last weekend. He is our father and we are his offspring as Jesus reminded the unbelieving Pharisees in John Chapter 8 saying:

44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

But for the Colossian believers and you and me we are now marked, Alive in Christ in baptism, by the working of the Holy Spirit for all who believe, as we have died to self and have now been buried in baptism and raised to newness of life by faith in Jesus.

Where is your focus and perspective?

Are you looking at self and the things of this life or are you looking to our hope in Christ? We like the Colossians can all fall victim to our sinful flesh and the working of the devil and have our perspective turned inward.

In this life - that which looks bad [loss of loved ones, jobs and the like] God can use for good and that which looks good [earthly pleasures] the devil can use for bad.

Paul says:

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:

That maybe easier said than done in this world where we live daily.

I’ve shared in the past some of my own failing in sermons – guitars and banjos, bikes – both the pedaled and motorized verities. Even riding mowers once captivated my focus. When you have to cut the grass a riding mower can become an idol too.

For some maybe it’s the cottage, the 401K, the good
life in retirement, sports, reunions, favorite restaurants, music and clubs, life on your terms and your way each and every day. 

For others it’s the phrase: “I’m spiritual not religious.”

“I believe,” they say, “I just don’t go to church.” Or, maybe it’s we who say for them, “They believe, they just don’t come to church.”

Let me put it another way by analogy.

If I said, “I love baseball.”

But, I don’t like watching it. I don’t like going to a game. I don’t like playing it. I don’t like participating in it. I don’t like reading about it. But I say, “I love baseball.” You might question my love for the game.

Can God bring you to faith on your road to Damascus? Absolutely!

Can God open the eyes of the blind like he did with Paul by the sending of an Ananias to restore sight? Certainly!

Can God promise that thief on the cross – being close to death - that today you will be with me in paradise! We know he can!

But God also desires to work through the means he has provided, of word and sacrament, and he has promised to be where they are rightly preached and rightly administered. Where Jesus is, his gifts are delivered to those in attendance and his gifts bring hope, forgiveness and life. That is his church gathered in worship.

Paul calls everything - apart from Christ - idolatry.

Name your poison he says, immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire or coveting. We are victims of it all, you and me, our children and grandchildren, friends and foes alike.

We all look to remove the spec from our brother’s eye while not seeing the log in our own eye. All earthly passions can point us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

6 On account of these Paul says, the wrath of God is coming.

If Christ is not your leader certainly another god / idol will fill his place and the wrath of God awaits all not covered in his righteousness.

7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.

In the world, but not of the world we might say.

I myself feel like Paul - Chief of sinners though I be - I have been given so much in Christ and yet I stumble and fall daily. Sin covers even my good works so that my own pride can negate the work of God.

Forgive me and all Lord, who in anger speak evil of a fellow believer.

Forgive me and all Lord, and help me pray that your wrath be lifted off those who think wrongfully of your church, so that they may also receive the full blessing of your care.

Forgive me and all Lord, so that the malice of thought and the slander of speech may be buried from our lives, and may you by your Spirit turn our coarse and obscene talk into voices of praise.

Let this life of faith become a new life in Christ daily, as we die to self and live to Christ remembering his work, restored in the image of the creator who desires all to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Remember this, God has many children but no grandchildren. All who come to faith become his child. We therefore must pray, witness, and encourage those in our life to desire and cherish what God has done for them and in them by his Spirit.

11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, [or] free; but Christ is all, and in all.

And I might add for all.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen

Monday, July 29, 2019

Sermon July 27-28, 2019

Title: Taught by our Lord … we pray!
Text: Luke 11:1-13

11 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

Our Gospel lesson today begins with our Lord in prayer … a practice that we know from the scriptures, that He did very often. Most of us know that prayer is – conversation with God – we talk to God about our needs and wants but find it hard at times to know how or for what to pray. This leads to the disciples in our lesson asking Jesus to teach them to pray and His giving of the Lord’s Prayer.

Martin Luther the great reformer was also asked by his barber, Master Peter Beskensdorf, how he prays? Luther, not one for quick or short answers in spite of all that consumed his time gave his barber a reply … a letter of 40 printed pages! Titled “A Simple Way to Pray”, Luther delved into his deep understanding of prayer and all that the world, the flesh and the devil work at to keep you away from prayer and your conversation with God.

Jesus teaches his disciples:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread,
4 and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”

Martin Luther begins his letter to Master Peter by focusing on what he needs to do to be skilled at his vocation as a barber.

Luther says:

“A good clever barber must have his thoughts, mind and eyes concentrated upon the razor and the beard and not forget where he is in his stroke and shave.

If he keeps talking or looking around or thinking of something else, he is likely to cut a man’s mouth or nose – or even his throat.

So anything that is to be done well … ought to occupy the whole man with all his faculties and members. As the saying goes, He who thinks of many things thinks of nothing and accomplishes no good; How much more must prayer possess the heart exclusively and completely if it is to be a good prayer!”

Jesus says:

9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Prayer is a beautiful thing but one that has many obstacles.
The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.

C.S. Lewis

You know you miss the mark when you pray.

Ill.

So do I … and so did our Synod President Matt Harrison. In one of his talks at a convention he told a story of when he first was elected president and of a visit with an old pastor, a bishop, of a partner church in Germany.

He said, “In his room was a kneeler that the old man obviously used very often. There were knee marks in the worn pad where he had spent many hours and the arm rest was indented as well. Also the pages of the Bible were thin with the oil of the hands making them almost transparent.” President Harrison said, “Seeing that I thought to myself – I need to learn how to pray!”

It is one of the things that I resolved to do and to be better at as well. Prayer is something that must be done by you and by me as Jesus tells us to:

… ask … than to seek … and finally to knock.

Luther continues his letter to his barber with this:

It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business in the morning and the last in the evening.

Guard yourself against such false and deceitful thoughts that keep whispering: Wait a while. In an hour or so I will pray. I must first finish this or that. Thinking such thoughts we get away from prayer into other things that will hold us and involve us till the prayer of the day comes to naught. (Or becomes nothing)

You can’t know your heavenly father without communing with Him.

This is done by prayer as you ask, seek and knock and by hearing his word of reply as you partake of weekly worship, hearing the Lord’s word of Law and Gospel but truly being comforted by his holy absolution given by God through his means of word and sacrament.

I have been involved in ordinations and installations services over the years and many new pastors called from the seminary have been ordained into the office of the Holy Ministry with a beautiful service, wonderful music, the laying on of hand from the local pastor’s in attendance, and with much singing and prayer.

When God calls a pastor to His church He is calling a pastor to be His representative, called through the congregation to bring Christ and His gifts to His people. It was joyful to be involved and to celebrate what God has done and continues to do for his people.

As we think about our Lord’s words again in the Gospel for today regarding prayer:
11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

The Holy Spirit is given in abundance at these ordinations and installations because God wishes to richly bless His people with His gifts and the most blessed gift you can have is the gift of the Holy Spirit given to you … who works in you, faith in Christ’s finished work and keeps you pointed to Him so that on the last day you may stand firm in that faith unto life everlasting.

And by the Holy Spirit’s work in you from our epistle reading today bring the joyful gift of prayer to the Lord’s logical conclusion when it says:

10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

When you were born in sin the devil would have placed a sign upon your forehead that read "Dead to God," which means that you are dead in sin and dead you will stay. But, God in Christ has ripped that sign from your forehead and replaced it with a new sign that reads “Alive in Christ!”

Your sin has been paid through the cross that Christ endured for you, so that in Him you might have an eternity 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Eph. 1:21

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen

Monday, July 22, 2019

Sermon July 20-21, 2019

Title: Work, serve, listen and live!
Text: Luke 10:38-42

41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Well VBS is over!

It was a great week with all the children. It was a lot of work for Monica and Elise to put everything together. Adult and teen helpers, children who are brought to our care, and a fun time for all and it is all over way too soon until next year!

Work is part of all our lives even when it is fun. We serve the needs of others is important and can be fun also. We listen to instruction for how things are to be done and the children listen to us as we teach and lead. And to live - according to the great cartoon strip Ziggy many years ago in speaking about the true meaning of life - is doing stuff!

Last week we worked, served, listened and lived as followers of Christ … doing stuff at VBS. We taught, sang songs, listened to God’s word, had snacks that were provided, made crafts and played games that were fun and beneficial for the children in our care.

Thanks to all for your help and support!

Now, in our lesson for today, the wonderful Martha and Mary story that we’ve all heard many times before, it seems that Martha gets a bad rap at times. Poor Martha, doing the work, and all that she could to take care and serve the Lord’s needs, having welcomed him - and those who were traveling with him - into her house while her sister Mary only sits at the Lord’s feet and listens to His teaching.

Jesus and his disciples had been traveling as the sending of the 72 prepared the way. The Lord’s peace obviously rested on this house as Jesus was welcomed in by Martha and Mary.

Now, you know how things can go when you have guests, expected or unexpected. The visit may have been expected but the time of Christ’s arrival may not have been, and even if it was, I have yet to see a hostess who didn’t still fret over the preparation, making sure that all things were in order.

Martha was determined to see that the needs of Jesus and those with Him were met, I’m sure, with exceeding abundance and that Jesus was distinguished as a beloved guest in her house.

Mary on the other hand knew who was now visiting in her home and she was not to be taken away from her Lord - no matter what earthly things needed to be done.

“We have here two forms of service, each done for the Lord, and each with the best of intentions, the one with the work of the hands, the other in listening to the words of eternal wisdom. They need not clash, but have their worth.”

P.E. Kretzmann Popular commentary on the Bible NT Vol. 1 Pg 326
At some point and as I’m sure you can relate - Martha gets frustrated with her sister. Martha is doing all the work by herself so that Jesus can be properly served in her home and she has lost all patience with her sister Mary – who, I’m sure, remains oblivious to Martha’s dilemma.

She finally has had enough of it and in a tone that speaks of her frustration says:

“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” Luke 10:40b

We’ll in years past I know my wife has been there … and maybe you can relate. When the kids were at home and guests were coming over, Monica would have a list of things that needed to be done … and Amy’s would be reading a book, Jon in his room or outside and dare I say … me, sitting in my chair … reading … playing guitar … maybe banjo … whatever it was … it was important stuff here! Though there was a less than enthusiastic response by us all to cleaning up for family … friends … whatever.

“Would somebody please clean the upstairs bathroom!” might be a common command. “Russ, will you take out the garbage … and when you’re done with that, please set the table?” Monica, might be heard calling.

I might think to myself … “But, I’m reading or playing here … in a comfortable … reclined … position.”

Monica’s focus is on our guests, whom ever that may be, and that they get served in the best way possible. The kids and I were a bit less joyful in service … even though we too want our guests served in the best possible way … we just don’t want to DO the work. 

Now, I’m sure that if Jesus was coming to your house, you would all want to sit at His feet and listen to the wisdom that he has to say just like Mary … right?

It can be inconvenient to find time for God as there is always something else in life to do. But, the word of God that we have in our Scriptures today, is the same word of God that sat talking to Mary – the word made flesh - and the same comfort Mary received from Jesus, so that she forgot the cares Martha wrestled with, is the same comfort you too can receive by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Martha and Mary were both focused on Jesus but in different ways and the Good News that we’ve learned in our gospel lessons reminds us all that as followers of Christ, God uses us all as his messengers in the world.

But you can’t lose sight of Jesus. You need to know him - to be able to reflect him to a dying world. And while the cares of the world like those we’ve seen this past week can consume you and me.

During VBS last week we saw Martha and Mary in action. Some were Martha’s at VBS that make ready the space, food, games, set up the church and prepared the lessons. Mary’s only focus was on Jesus and the message of hope and peace to those precious little ones given into their care. Together the setting and message of hope will come together like the arms of a loving parent that these children can be wrapped in today, tomorrow and always because God’s word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. (Heb. 4:12)

As you think of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ remember He was the one who was willing to give His life for you and me. Not, that Martha’s preparations for Jesus’ visit were not good, but Mary couldn't see what needed to be done - because her eyes were only fixed on her Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Work, serve, listen and live!

Jesus Christ, the word made flesh, came down from heaven for you so that:

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2Cor. 5:21)

Christ is the one thing necessary and He has come for you so that you might live in Him.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen

Monday, July 15, 2019

Sermon July 13-14, 2019

Title: By Christ’s Spirit we serve in mercy and love!
Text: Luke 10:25-37

37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

In our text for today we read of a lawyer who stood up to put Jesus to the test. Now, this is not to be a sermon which lifts up or puts down the noble profession of attorneys. But it is the word of the Lord and we can all learn an important lesson.

The question that is asked - “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” - is a bit odd. How do you inherit anything? It might have been more direct if he had asked, “What must I do to earn eternal life?” because that is the question so many what to know.

In my business background we we’re always taught to answer a question with a question so that you could better get to the real objection. So Jesus, being the best at fleshing out the true meaning to the question that is asked of Him replies with a question.

26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”

Having the ball back in his court the lawyer recites the word giving a summary of the Moral Law correctly, according to Deut. 6: 5; Lev. 19: 18.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

And I might add that he probably said it with a bit of boastful pride too!

Well, finally getting to the real objection, Jesus turns the prideful attorney’s answer back on himself when He says:

“You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

The truth is, as Jesus quite rightly points out, no one, not even one who rightly knows the scripture can keep the Law of God perfectly. To know the Law and to keep the Law is two very different things. And, this command to love your neighbor as yourself really pushes us well beyond what we can do. Shoot, for many of us we can’t even love ourselves so how are we going to love others?

But, despite falling short God uses you and me, His children, and:

By Christ’s Spirit we serve in mercy and love!

You too, as we all do, tend to put Christ to the test. It’s the same word of God today as it was for the Lawyer and the same requirements that God demands and at times many believe they actually love God and their neighbor enough.

239 baptized and 205 confirmed members here at Peace but we worship less than 75 on a weekend. Now granted some have moved away and some attend elsewhere and have not yet asked to be removed from the roles. But, many just don’t come, maybe thinking that they’ve loved God enough and like the lawyer ask: “And who is my neighbor?”

God works through means and for better or worse that’s you and me. We are God’s hands in the world, bringing the love of Christ to a dying world and also to real people. As we learned last week with the sending of the 72 they went proclaiming peace and healing with the good news that the Kingdom of God was at hand.

Sometimes your neighbor needs a helping hand, when the ways of the world brings grief.

At times it is a prayer of comfort to let them know that you understand and will stand with them.

At times it might require a word of rebuke when they are going the wrong way in this life.

And as the church it might require a word of warning from us that to be away from God’s word and sacrament and the gift of worship and fellowship that He calls to participate in may lead to no communion and fellowship with him at all.

Many of the members of Peace need a call from their neighbor.

If you care about a member that you know that doesn’t attend give them a loving call. If they have needs look for ways to help. Remind them that God will never leave them of forsake them even if they’ve forsaken the assembly here at Peace and have self-excluded themselves from the church and the gifts God so longs to give them.

By Christ’s Spirit we serve in mercy and love!

Ill.

I went home Monday and was taking Tuesday off to make up for a few days I worked for funerals recently. I looked forward to a day off to finish up a few things I needed to do. At 6:44 in the morning a text came in. It was from my friend Jeff.

I'm sending this to several people this morning.
I unfortunately lost a set of keys up north this weekend.
My wife and son are both out of town and I'm looking for someone willing to drive me (in my vehicle) to Kalkaska to get my stranded car.
I have today off and wouldn't have to miss work.
(It's 3:15 minutes each way).
Please pardon the interruption.

J Bowdell

Now Jeff is an old friend. We met in 1965 and he lived across the street. We played in bands together. He has and would do anything for me if I asked. How could I pass by on the other side … though I really wanted a day off.

I sent this reply:

I have a committal at Crescent Hills Cemetery at 11 am. If you need me after that, I can take you up in my truck. Russ

Then I went about some of the things I needed to do, take bottles back to the store, put a few things away, got gas for my truck so I was ready for the trip and loaded up Monica’s VBS waterfall display and brought it over to the church. When I got here at 9:30 Jeff called …

“Hey thanks for the offer but I’m all set for the ride but I really appreciate your offer to drive me up!”

Sometimes you neighbor is your best friend and other times it may be someone you don’t even know. Would we react the same towards the one we don’t even know bringing care and help? I don’t know … we all would find it easier to help the friend but I’d home we might be willing to help the one in need whether friend or not.

As Jesus said in gospel reading of the Good Samaritan:

36 Which of these three, - the Priest, the Levite or the Samaritan - do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen

Monday, July 8, 2019

Sermon July 6-7, 2019

Title: Through the word the harvest is gathered!
Text: Luke 10:1-20

2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

A French writer, after visiting America in 1831, said:

"I [looked] for the greatness of the United States in her [spacious] harbors, her ample rivers, her fertile fields, and boundless forests--and it was not there. I sought for it in her rich mines, her vast world commerce, her public school system, and in her institutions of higher learning--and it was not there. I looked for it in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution--and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great!"

Alexis de Tocqueville.

The truths of these words are self evident to we who have spent many years enjoying the fruits of a free country and a freedom of religion protected in the constitution. Let us pray that as we’ve celebrated our freedoms this Independence Day we pray that God opens the eyes of those who have fallen away and that they too will repent and turn in faith back to the Lord of life who has given what we could never earn - as a free gift - through those who are sent to proclaim this Gospel!

In the Gospel lesson today our Lord appoints a large number … 72 as our text reads to go in pairs, telling them:

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

As we learned last week in the Gospel lesson, Jesus was resolute as He set His face towards Jerusalem. His time on earth was moving towards the cross and his atoning and vicarious death for you. This sending of workers into the mission field would be no easy task as Jesus Himself says when He says, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. This calling and sending, for those 72, would bring the same anger and rebuke that was leveled at Jesus. Many who serve the proclamation of the Gospel today see and feel this as well.

Jesus says:

16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

These messengers were sent to bring peace and healing to a dying world. They were sent with the good news that the Kingdom of God was at hand. The Kingdom of God was embodied in the incarnate God/man Jesus Christ and some would reject this good news … sending the dust of their town off the sandals of those sent in condemnation for their rejection.
Though at times the comfort and peace of Christ is rejected … service to the Lord remains joyful.

Peace and healing. Two wonderful and good things; but in our day to day not always appreciated or received. At times when we have peace we push others to the brink of anger, instead of taming our own tongue and keeping things peaceable. At times we break friendships and even sever families requiring God, through repentance, to bring forgiveness and healing to, those in need.

Christ’s rebuke though, to those who rejected His messengers in Chorizin and Bethsaida which were, almost side by side, on the shores of Lake, Gennesaret – the sea of Galilee - though great miracles had been done in their midst, the words of eternal life and love out of the mouth of Jesus had made no impression upon them.

Even Capernaum, the Lord’s headquarters during His Galilean ministry, would receive the full measure of His wrath on the last day and be forcefully thrust down to hell.

It’s pretty sobering - and a word of warning here for us all.

Though Christ has called us to faith by word and sacrament and has been in our midst for years, decades, and even generations, in both the written and spoken Word of the Gospel; how often, is He (Jesus) neglected and overlooked in the homes of his children? No Scripture, or family devotion; and no regular church attendance for some; -- how might Christ’s rebuke to these cities reach into your home and mine as the dust of His judgment is kicked off His feet and settles at the feet of those who have turned from His loving call?

Kretzmann Commentary NT Vol. 1 Pg322


If you reject His love you receive his wrath. But even in the Lord’s rebuke there is hope.

Tyre and Sidon, heathen cities whom the Jews despised for their idolatrous practices and beliefs, Jesus said, would long since have repented, covered with sack-cloth, and ashes.

Ill.

Spending time in the hospital, with home visits, and with recent funerals, the truth of God’s abiding peace and comfort becomes evident. Families at these difficult times are brought back to the reality of life and death issues.

Even in dire situations the Lord works on the hearts of those He loves.

I was able to sing the good news at Peace member Steve Collom’s funeral last weekend singing I am but a stranger here heaven is my home to a family that is hurting at his death, so that the peace of our Lord and savior Jesus rests upon them and His healing touch is there to comfort and bind up the brokenhearted.

Steve’s son said to me – as we talked after the committal at the cemetery, that his mom’s funeral was just this past April and her service brought him no comfort at all but he added, “This service brought me great comfort.” He said, “It was nice to hear that dad had made amends.” I told him, “That is how Lutheran’s are, we let God be God. We cast our burdens on him and he comfort’s us with his forgiveness and peace!”

1 John 1:9 says it best:

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Friends, the good news is really good news as the 72 returned rejoicing!

“Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”

But Jesus though he reminds them of the great power that they have in His name also cautions them …

20 … do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Christ’s joy is to bring peace to your house in Him. In Christ you receive the comfort of eternal life because His promise is to never leave you nor forsake you. (Heb 13:5)

Christ’s call is to:

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, as you 7 cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. And we are told to 8 be watchful, because the devil, your adversary, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:6-8

Though the devil prowls … in Christ you have eternal security and Lord’s promise that your name is written in heaven.

Through the word the harvest is gathered!

While it is not important for us to know the names of the 72 or those whom the Lord uses to bring His Gospel message to the lost. It is important to know that Jesus knows you … and that your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen


Monday, June 17, 2019

Sermon June 15-16, 2019 - Holy Trinity

Title: His steadfast love endures forever!
Text: Psalm 100

A Psalm for giving thanks.

1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
3 Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5 For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

On this Trinity Sunday (Weekend) we look to the hope that is our one true God who has revealed himself as one divine essence, but also as three unique and coequal persons … Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness!


We all love a joyful noise and a joyful noise is proclaimed to our God through singing, as was just proclaimed in the singing of the sermon hymn, The King of Love My Shepherd Is.

We sing of God’s goodness that never fails and our lacking nothing that we need, because he provides for all of body and soul in this life and in the life to come. The Father’s love is made known to us in his Son who hold’s us in the palm of his hands promising never to lose a single one – I am his and he is mine – forever!

This joy is yours and mine by the work of God’s Spirit. He points, directs and comforts so that we serve those in need joyfully and with glad hearts. A friend’s dad, Bill Wilstermann, once told me after church many years ago:

“When I’m feeling down and things seem to be going wrong I go and do something nice for someone and I feel a whole lot better!”

Come into his presence with singing!


We have a Call to Worship at 10:30. Maybe you know that and maybe you don’t. We sing it together with joyful hearts. Some unfortunately, have got in the habit of coming late - maybe getting here by greeting time or the opening hymn – You may miss a beautiful prelude before service and it’s not uncommon to have 15 people in the pews at the call to worship and 45 or more standing for the Closing hymn. Come for the call to worship, sing joyfully … you’ll be glad you did!

3 Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;


To know the Lord is to know our Triune God as he has revealed himself to us through his word. God speaks to us through his word. His word read, sung and meditated upon reveals who he is and his love for us. The Spirit shines the light on Christ, the word made flesh, for you and me. We know him by his word and through the word he continues to be made known.

Matthew 11:28 King James Version (KJV)
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

John 3:16 King James Version (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Romans 6:23 King James Version (KJV)
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

At times I need to read the old King James for the majesty to conveys. As Judy Harroun has said of the late seminary Professor John Saleska who, having memorized much of the KJV bible, it is what will be spoken in heaven! The beginning and end of Reverend Saleska’s obituary speaks of his hope.

Rev. John Saleska, 87, whom God adopted as his own beloved child at his Baptism, now rests with Jesus, where he is waiting with all of us for the Resurrection that God promised him in Christ.

Revelation 21:4 King James Version (KJV)

4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Dear friends, this is our Triune Gods hope for you and me as well!

No tears, no death, no sorrow, no crying, no pain … all gone.

We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
The Psalmist reminds us.

The Lord’s sheep know the shepherd and by the Holy Spirit we are his and know him. But like sheep we wonder from the truth.

Ill.

Dr. Andrew Bonar told how, in the Highlands of Scotland, a sheep would often wander off into the rocks and get into places that they couldn't get out of. The grass on these mountains is very sweet and the sheep like it, and they will jump down ten or twelve feet, and then they can't jump back again, and the shepherd hears them bleating in distress. They may be there for days, until they have eaten all the grass. The shepherd will wait until they are so faint they cannot stand, and then they will put a rope around him, and he will go over and pull that sheep up out of the jaws of death. "Why don't they go down there when the sheep first gets there?" I asked. "Ah!" He said, "they are so very foolish they would dash right over the precipice and be killed if they did!" And that is the way with men; they won't [come] back to God till they have lost everything. 

If you are a wanderer I tell you that the Good Shepherd will pursue you and bring you back when you have given up trying [go it your own way and let the Spirit turn you back to Christ.]

Moody's Anecdotes, pp. 70-71.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!


John 1:11-13 English Standard Version (ESV)

11 He [Jesus] came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood [not who we are] nor of the will of the flesh [not the things we do] nor of the will of man, [or what others tell us we can do of ourselves] - but of God.

Born from above, born again, born of God!

You and I enter God’s presence with thanksgiving and praise by God’s work revealed in his son and the promise never fails. Hold on to it for dear life and proclaim it to your children and your grandchildren! Give them an example to model. Show your friends your faith and invite them to church. My friend Rob showed me the truth of God’s love in word and example. I in turn shared it with my friend Mark. Mark told me he went to the gas station for a coffee and the lady behind the counter who was African American had a cross around her neck. Mark who is Jewish said to her with his big Mark smile, “Are you my sister in the Lord?” She gave him a big smile and a hug.

Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the LORD is good;

We who are broken in sin are made good in Christ. 

From verse 4 of The King of Love My Shepherd Is:

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill with thee, dear Lord beside me.
Thy rod and staff my comfort sill, thy cross before to guide me. Vs 4

Christ’s cross and work for you and me - guide and lead - in times of sorrow and joy. Father, Son and Holy Spirit united in our life now and for eternity.

The prophet Jeremiah heard this comfort from the Lord directly.

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

We hear it in the word proclaimed.

Our God knows you and he knows me and he has numbered our days and appointed us here for this time and for this work. We proclaim Christ because it is his desire for us to do so. His love for us will never fade and we are his forever.

his steadfast love endures forever, - his love is never ending!
and his faithfulness to all generations. – it is his promise for all!

God is faithful. He will continue dear friends to pursue you all the days of your life. Do not flee like Jonah, do not despair as Judas did taking his own life, but turn back as Peter did and give ear as the apostle Paul did so that the Lord might make himself known in your life to those who need to hear!

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen