Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sermon December 31, 2011 - January 1, 2012

Title: Jesus; the blessed name of our blessed Lord!

Text: Luke 2:21 (ESV)

21And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

The naming of a child is an important time and wonderful joy in the life of a family. The name can have a great significance and family heritage. It can be connected to the past and to the future, as with those names that have a Jr. or III (the third) connected to them.

My youngest brother Tom when he was very little asked my mom, “Why didn’t you name me after Grandpa?” My mom said, “Oh, did you want to be called Stephen?” “No,” he said, “I wanted to be called Grandpa.”

The naming of a child carries with it much significance, as does …

Jesus; the blessed name of our blessed Lord!

After the birth of John the Baptist in the previous chapter in the Gospel of Luke we read:

Luke 1:59-66 (ESV)

59And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60but his mother answered, "No; he shall be called John." 61And they said to her, "None of your relatives is called by this name." 62And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, "His name is John." And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, "What then will this child be?" For the hand of the Lord was with him.

The naming of the child had then, as it does in many cases now, a connection to family. John was not a name that had significance in the lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth until the visit of the angel Gabriel. Mary too was also given the name of Jesus by divine intervention.

This name which means the Lord who saves is in fact His mission. He who was “in the beginning with God” is now and for all time God with us. The children of Israel in the time of the Exodus had God and the promise of freedom from the slavery in Egypt. But still they grumbled.

In the book of Numbers we read:

4Why have you brought the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? 5And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink." Num. 20:4-5

11And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.

They drank from the Rock in the desert.

St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians:

1For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3and all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 1 Cor.1:1-4

Jesus; the blessed name of our blessed Lord!

5Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

We too fail to see the blessing in the name of God. You and I misuse the name of the Lord so how are we better than those who doubted God’s word through Moses? We aren’t.

God, whose love for you is so profound that He would join Himself to human flesh is in today’s Gospel receiving the mark of circumcision, the mark of the covenant between God and man; the mark placed upon the very God/man Jesus Christ who is also receiving His name today.

Jesus; the blessed name of our blessed Lord!

Every moment after the incarnation, Jesus draws one step closer to completing our redemption. Every act, in the life of Jesus, is God’s action in the fulfillment of His promise for you. His circumcision and naming today are the beginning of the end for the power of sin, the corruption of the flesh and the tempting of the Devil. Jesus, by His perfect obedience to the Law will by this obedience complete the requirements of the Law for you. By the name of Jesus He will save His people from their sin. God has a name!

Jesus; the blessed name of our blessed Lord!

God too, by the power of His spirit, gives you faith to believe this blessed good news.
The Epistle lesson today is worth repeating:

23Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.29And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

As Luther once said:

“All we who believe on Christ are kings and priests in Christ.”
― Martin Luther, Concerning Christian Liberty - Martin Luther

Today, as you look forward to all that is new upon us as we begin another New Year remember that Jesus came to earth for you. Jesus became man for you. Jesus was marked at his circumcision for you. Jesus fulfilled the Law for you and has suffered and died on the cross for you and was raised for your justification so that you will rise too …
and He lives to intercede by the power of the Holy Spirit for you.

Jesus; the blessed name of our blessed Lord!

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

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sermon December 25, 2011 Christmas Day!



Title: Christ; God’s eternal word made flesh! 

Text: John 1:14 (ESV) 
14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 
 
Many of you like me, I’m sure, remember the day your children were born. For me there was the time of Monica’s pregnancy, the doctor’s visits, anticipation, worry, anxiety, excitement and many other feelings associated with the coming of a child. 

This was especially true with our first born. What would it be, a boy or a girl? At that time, we could have been told to a relatively high degree of certainty but we chose to wait happy to accept what the Lord would bless us with. 

On the day of Monica’s last doctor’s visit she was already dilated and we hurried over to the Hospital. As the time of the birth neared and the head of the baby began to emerge; Dr. Dorfman looked up and said, “Top half’s a boy … and as the baby was born … bottom half’s a girl!” The excitement and joy of this birth blessed our family as only God’s gift of children can and we can all celebrate today:
 
Christ; God’s eternal word made flesh! 

The Apostle John in today’s Gospel reading chooses to begin his Gospel with words very familiar to the people of his day. ̓Εν ἀρχη “In the beginning” These were the same words that were used to begin the Greek version of the Old Testament scriptures. It would not be a stretch for the people to pick up on what John is saying here. 

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

The word of God was in the beginning and in fact, preceded that very beginning and was with God and … was God. 

2He was in the beginning with God. 

He, the word of God is a person from the very beginning of the creation story. Inseparable with God, He is though distinct in person but of the same essence as God. 

3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 

Distinct, divine and as our creed says: “Very God of Very God.” This word would now be entering human history at the birth of this child, in a manger, in Bethlehem. 

This birth though was normal and ordinary on many levels. This baby, a boy, who at His birth would be given the name of Jesus, was like any other birth that might have occurred at this time. 

But on many levels this was a profoundly different child and a profoundly different birth. Visited by the angel Gabriel who appeared to Mary during the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy this child was born of a virgin, was incarnate by the power of the Holy Spirit and was made man. God in nature and man in nature together joined in this baby born to Mary in a stable. 

Christ; God’s eternal word made flesh! 

God’s, messenger, John the Baptist, was sent from God to prepare the way. He was sent to bear witness about the light, that this child, entering the world, would reconcile God and man and overcome for them sin death and the power of the devil. 

This child who is the light of the world, the world did not know. He came to his own but they did not receive Him. 

12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 

Christ; God’s eternal word made flesh! 
 
How is he received today? For many, Jesus was just a man who did good things, showed people how they should live with one another and unfortunately was in the wrong place at the wrong time and died a horrible death.
 
No God … no miracles … no savior … no difference from any other path or way we choose to believe or live our lives. 

Christ is not God in the ways of the world. Some believe He never existed and for others He was just a Jew who was crucified because He didn’t know when to bend His will to be more tolerant of other’s beliefs and ways. 

What about you? Is your faith built on the Rock that is Christ do you see yourself as a pretty good person … who does some good things … and comes to church pretty regularly … maybe even monthly but I’ve been meaning to get here more often. Our God knows how hard life can be and the trials you face as you deal with the world, the flesh and the Devil.
 
But there is hope and good news this Christmas day! 

From the Gospel of Luke we read: 

10And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11esv 

Ill. Martin Luther had this to say of this blessed birth. 

“No matter where you’re reading in the Bible, faith is the first mystery you should recognize. Faith is not believing that the story you’re reading is true as written. That does nothing for anyone. Even unbelievers can believe this Bible story about Jesus’ birth is true. Faith is not a natural work apart from God’s grace, as the Scripture clearly teaches. Rather the right kind of faith, the kind that flows from grace and that God’s Word demands, is firmly believing that Christ was born for you. His birth is yours and occurred for your benefit. 

For the gospel teaches that Christ was born for our benefit and that everything he did and suffered was for us. As the angel says here, “I have good news for you, a message that will fill everyone with joy. Today your Savior, Christ the Lord, was born in David’s city.” With these words, you can clearly see that he was born for all of us. 

He doesn’t say, “a Savior was born,” but rather, “your Savior, Christ the Lord, was born.” In the same way, he doesn’t say, “I have good news,” rather “I have good news for you.” For you! “I have good news for you, a message that will fill everyone with joy.” This joy is for everyone who has this kind of faith.” 

Christ; God’s eternal word made flesh … for you! 
 
Today we celebrate God’s incarnation. God with us Emmanuel! 

14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 

Jesus has been joined to flesh. God and man forever united at this glorious birth we celebrate today. He humbled Himself to become flesh and He kept the law perfectly … for you. He gave Himself over to be tried and convicted; to be put to death for your sins and He gives you His Royal robes of righteousness in exchange for your sinfulness. 

Christ; God’s eternal word made flesh! 
 
You and I and our children are born in sin. We all need to hear that Good News that we, who have been given faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit through the word are free of our sin on account of Christ. God, at this baby’s birth, became man and through His sinless life, death at the cross and glorious resurrection gives you by the power of the Holy Spirit faith to believe in Him.
 
Christ; God’s eternal word made flesh … for you! 

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

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sermon December 17 - 18, 2011

Title: God’s Kingdom, found in Christ, for you! 

Text: Luke 1:31-33
ESV 

31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." 

The violinist Fritz Kreisler’s extraordinary talent manifested itself when he was only 4, and it was carefully fostered by his father. Born in 1875, he entered the Vienna Conservatory at 7, gave his first performance at 9 and was awarded its gold medal at 10. 

He went on to have an illustrious career, making his U.S. debut in 1888 and playing concerts throughout the world until his retirement from active performance in 1950 living the remainder of his life in New York City, until his death at 87 in 1962. 

Countless violin recitals occur in this country each year by students of all ages. Some great, some good, some not so good; we at times are blessed to attend and hear the very best of this God given talent and at other times must endure that which leaves much to be desired - the ordinary and the extraordinary. 

Our God uses both in His activity throughout human history. The simple act of a woman and a pregnancy, but in this case, this common activity of daily life will occur without the involvement of an earthly father. The significance of this birth will, from its humble beginnings, be recognized as the single most important action of God since He created the heavens and the earth. 

God’s Kingdom, found in Christ, for you! 

26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 

Just prior to this section of scripture we are told the story of Zechariah and
Elizabeth and how the angel Gabriel visited Zechariah with the promise that Elizabeth would conceive and bear a son in her old age. It concludes with: 

24After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, 

So, Gabriel, is here in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, sent by God to proclaim the Good News to Mary that she has been chosen by God to bring forth the culmination of all human history spoken of by the prophets, that God would send a Messiah to redeem His people. And here, in the presence of this young virgin an angel appears: 

28And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" 

A joyful salutation to be sure, The Lord is with you! Mary however is greatly troubled at the saying and wonders what kind of greeting this might be? Gabriel, sensing her concern responds: 

"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." 

Well, that clears that up. You’ll have a son, name him Jesus. Oh, and he’ll be God’s son too and sit on David’s throne and reign forever and His Kingdom with have … no … end! 

God’s Kingdom, found in Christ, for you! 

God, in his word through the angel Gabriel brings Good News to Mary. He brings comfort too. She will be the mother of God. All, the angels in heaven are rejoicing at this blessed good news as the seed of woman, Jesus Christ, who is “very God of very God” becomes “incarnate by the Holy Spirit” and will be “born of the Virgin Mary” and forever be God and man joined together in the God/man Jesus Christ who came to live, suffer, die and rise again for the forgiveness of the sins of the whole world, for you. 

Mary’s question is profound having a depth of meaning of great and broad significance: 34And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" Not, questioning what the angel said or asking why but knowing that God’s profound action is required for this to come to pass and simply asking how? 

35And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy— the Son of God. 

This Virgin, by the power of the Holy Spirit will bring God’s mystery … that He will join human flesh to Himself to save us and bring about… 

God’s Kingdom, found in Christ, for you! 

But, do you believe it? Do you live it? Are you so consumed with the worries of this world that you fail to be freed to rest in Christ’s saving work? 

The truth is we all fail to rest in Christ’s work because we fail to be in His word. The word of God which brings both - despair over our sin and the comfort that in Christ we have been washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. 

Paul in our epistle lesson today tells us: 
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages26but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith. 

Faith … brought about by the power of the Holy Spirit through the prophetic writings and being made known by the preaching of Jesus Christ. This preaching and teaching will cause you to look at your sin, to be brought to the realization that you fail to meet God’s requirements and to see that Jesus Christ has met the requirements - for you … and that on account of His obedience to the Law, you have been given: 
God’s Kingdom, found in Christ, for you! 

Our Gospel lesson concludes with: 

37For nothing will be impossible with God." 38And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. 
God according to His word “was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man!” God in His omnipotence, having all power and being all powerful, humbled Himself to the place of a servant and came as the babe of
Bethlehem, for you. 

He suffered the scorn and rejection of this world to be born in a manger and to go to the cross, for you and for me. This is the Good News of the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary that God world enter the world to set His people free from their sin and to proclaim peace. 

God’s Kingdom, found in Christ, for you! 

ILL. 
Fritz Kreisler the world-famous violinist, earned a fortune with his concerts and compositions, but he generously gave most of it away. So, when he discovered an exquisite violin on one of his trips, he wasn't able to buy it. Later, having raised enough money to meet the asking price, he returned to the seller, hoping to purchase the beautiful instrument. But to his great dismay it had been sold to a collector. 

Kreisler made his way to the new owner's home and offered to buy the violin. The collector said it had become his prized possession and he would not sell it. Keenly disappointed, Kreisler was about to leave when he had an idea. "Could I play the instrument once more before it is consigned to silence?" he asked. 

Permission was granted, and the great virtuoso filled the room with such heart-moving music that the collector's emotions were deeply stirred. "I have no right to keep that to myself," he exclaimed. "It's yours, Mr. Kreisler. Take it into the world, and let people hear it." 
Our Daily Bread February 4, 1994 

May we also, by the power of the Holy Spirit take the message of the baby King who came to live , suffer, die and rise again for you into all the world so that: 

God’s Kingdom, found in Christ, will by the Holy Spirit, be the blessed good news that every one hears! 

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


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sermon November 26 – 27, 2011

Title: Rejoice! Your God has come and will come again!

Text: Mark 11:9-10

The Triumphal Entry
9And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!"

For one last time, on July 21st of this year, the Space Shuttle Atlantis made a long, steep turn, lined up with the runway and landed in the half-light before dawn at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"After serving the world for 30 years, the space shuttle has found its place in history," said Christopher Ferguson, the astronaut who commanded Atlantis' final mission, by radio to mission control. "Wheels stop." The ship came to rest at 5:58 a.m. EDT, after a flight of 12 days, 18 hours, 28 minutes and 55 seconds.
And that was that.  By NED POTTER ABC July 21, 2011

No parade, no big national celebration, plenty to look back at, many successes and a few tragedies …

But, back on March 1, 1962, to celebrate astronaut John Glenn’s return from his first space launch, 3,474 tons of ticker tape we’re dumped onto Broadway. Compare that to the 36.5 tons of confetti that was dropped after the New Your Giants won the Super Bowl in 2008 … They just don’t throw paper like they used to!

Now, I’m sure New York Giants fans probably don’t see it this way, but by one measure, the team’s Super Bowl victory in 2008 was almost one-hundredth of the significance of John Glenn’s space flight. KEN BELSON February 7, 2008

Today, we celebrate the first Sunday in Advent as we look forward to an event so monumental in world history that no amount of Ticker Tape could do it justice. The incarnation of the Son of God, who was born of the Virgin Mary and became man, God with us, Emmanuel. And, while we don’t celebrate Christ’s coming as the Babe of Bethlehem today with a parade, we can all:

Rejoice! Your God has come and will come again!

The Gospel reading from our text today is of a different celebration and a different time in the life of Jesus. But, it is all the same mission; Jesus, who came to Earth, to be born of the Virgin, to live a sinless life, to suffer and die for the sins of the whole world and to rise from the dead. His simple birth was not one of great notice. It was in a manger because there was no room in the Inn. It was in a little town, Bethlehem, prophesied of old.

"But you, Bethlehem, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." Mic 5:2

This babe would grow to manhood and begin his ministry that would ultimately lead to the cross and death but on this day we read of a celebratory parade.

Jesus called two of His disciples to Him and commissioned them for a peculiar service. They were to go to the hamlet of Bethphage, which was just before them, which Christ's entire company was about to enter. Without delay, without trouble or difficulty, they would there find a colt tied in a certain place, upon which no person had ever sat.

It was a solemn, important mission, foretold even by the prophets. In the Old Testament we read: For sacred purposes only unused animals could be employed, (Num. 19, 2; 1 Sam. 6, 7.)

This colt they should untie from the post and then lead it to Jesus. The directions are very exact and circumstantial, that no mistake is possible. It may, of course, happen that the owner of the animal would object to this proceeding. In that event they were to tell the owner: The Lord has need of him.

When He, the great Creator and Master of heaven and earth, is in need of anything, it must be forthcoming; anyone and every creature can be pressed into His service. But, he also promised, by His messengers, that the foal would be returned without delay, after He had had His use of it. Kretzmann Pg. 225-26

4And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5And some of those standing there said to them, "What
are you doing, untying the colt?" 6And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!"

Let us proclaim this good news together:
"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Say it with me …
"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

…again,
"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

No ticker Tape parade, but a glorious entry and a fitting procession. The God of Heaven and Earth has come as the God/man and humble servant Jesus Christ. What had not been celebrated by the people at His birth was being celebrated by His entry – here - in Jerusalem. The King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s was entering the city, of King David, to fulfill His mission; to free the people from their sin and to restore the relationship between God and man.

Rejoice! Your God has come and will come again!

We too at our baptism are marked as “one redeemed by Christ the crucified.” We are buried with Christ in baptism and raised to newness of life, washed clean from our sin and wearing Christ’s righteousness in exchange for our sinfulness.

We confirm this blessed exchange in our Confirmation when we stand before the congregation and say what we were unable to say as baptized infants. We were marked with Christ at baptism and live to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit in us, until Christ returns or we are called to our heavenly rest in Him. But, the sad truth is that many once baptized, don’t cling to this good and blessed Good News that on account of Christ merits we are forgiven. The numbers are staggering.

As I watched a presentation on the state of our church by Matthew Harrison, President of our Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, he related that of all the children who are baptized in Christ, in our churches, only about half complete their confirmation and of those that get confirmed, less than half become regular attending members …

I was listening to a radio program the other day and they were discussing church membership and the question was asked of the pastor: “Does your church have more members, or more that attend?” “Oh, he said, we have many more members than those that attend.”

The truth is that we who serve Christ’s church and all of us who have been blessed to be brought to faith by our loving and merciful God need to look in the mirror and say, “Thank the Lord for this free gift and for calling me to faith!” and then go and serve and love our neighbor as Christ has loved us.

Martin Luther said this of the Christian life:
Therefore the life of a Christian, from baptism to the grave, is nothing else than the beginning of a blessed death. For at the Last Day God will make him altogether new.

Rejoice! Your God has come and will come again!

"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!"

This is the praise that those in Jerusalem celebrated. God with us, Emanuel! The God who is and was and will be coming again was here for them to see, and to celebrate as he rode triumphantly into Jerusalem. But, in a short while He would be arrested, tried, condemned, mocked, crucified in the most brutal of ways and buried to complete His mission for you. His mission to free the world over sin, death and the devil would soon be completed; but, the grave could not hold Him and on the third day … He rose.

Rejoice! Your God has come and will come again!

God has come as the babe of Bethlehem, for you. He has stood in your place, in the river Jordan, and was marked with all sinners when he was baptized by John. He went to the cross willingly, and suffered the scorn and shame of a most brutal death, as the full measure of God’s wrath was poured out upon Him … for you.

He gives us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, faith in Him to believe and as St. Paul says:

9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. (Phil: 3-9)

This Advent season is a time to look back … and to look forward. To contemplate Christ’s coming to us at Christmas as the babe in the manger, who was born with no great human accolades and celebratory parades, but also to remember the cost for our freedom, paid by the sinless life, suffering death and glorious resurrection of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

Christ came to reconcile God and man and to pay the price, for sin, once and for all. We celebrate this loving act and our freedom in Him as we also continue to wait for His glorious return when we and all believers will be gathered to our heavenly home.

Rejoice! Your God has come and will come again!

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!
Amen



Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sermon November 19 – 20, 2011


Title: Blessed by the Father He calls us, come.

Text: Matt. 25:31-34

The Final Judgment
 31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 

The descendants of Wellington R. Burt, who became fabulously wealthy in the age of the robber barons, will finally inherit his fortune -- 92 years after his death.

Burt, who died in 1919 at age 87 in Saginaw, Mich., made his wealth in the lumber and iron industries, and for reasons not described in his will, he stipulated that the majority of his fortune would be distributed 21 years after his last surviving grandchild's death.

That granddaughter died in 1989. Now 12 descendants will split the fortune, estimated at $100 million to $110 million.  ABC News 10, 2011

I’m not sure that anyone will ever know what caused Mr. Burt to deal with his inheritance, children and grandchildren like that but it is good to know that:

Blessed by our heavenly Father He calls us, come. 

On this last Sunday in the church year we focus on the gospel reading for today. The sheep and the goats, eternal life and eternal punishment, either one or the other awaits us all. 

The Final Judgment
 31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 

Jesus here is speaking triumphantly about His glorious return, when He with all the angles return for the final judgment of the world. He was still a few days away from His trial, crucifixion and brutal death but was already speaking of His victorious resurrection over sin, death and the Devil. 

34Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'

Those in His company and within hearing listened to this lowly Nazarene who now speaks of His return as the King of Kings and Lord of Glory and who will call those on His right, His sheep, into the heavenly Kingdom and wedding feast of the lamb, while those on His left, the goats, are dispatched into eternal punishment. 

No distinction, no rank, no class just sheep and goats, believers and unbelievers. Sheep that hear the word and receive it by faith and goats that reject this same word and of their own volition, willingly choosing and resolving to enter an eternity separated from God, prepared not for them but for the Devil and his angles, for God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Tim. 2:4)

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' 45Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Blessed by the Father He calls us, come. 

On the Sunday of Oktoberfest, we had a call to the church in the morning that one of our founding members, Lou Burmeister, was in the hospital. I went to make a visit that afternoon and was pleased to find Lou in good spirits as he waited to have some tests done the next day. We had a nice visit and I learned quite a bit about Peace and the beginning of our church.

This church began as a mission church to serve the Waterford area and Lou, who was 31 at the time, was contacted by the mission pastor to be part of this new mission congregation. Next year, here at Peace, we will celebrate our 50th anniversary of serving Christ’s church and reaching out to a lost world with the gospel of peace and forgiveness in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Now, 50 years is a long time in earthly years 8But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.(2 Peter 3:8) the mission congregation that began on February 3rd 1963 needs to continue to be a mission minded congregation.

If you haven’t noticed, we as a church are getting older. Just ask for someone to climb the ladder to change the spots that shine on the cross and you’ll see how many young men volunteer. Even veteran young guy, Vicar Tkac, is getting a bit leery of the high spots!

But, in all seriousness the face of our congregation is changing and needs to change. The Lord has work to do and needs workers in the mission field whether it is a mission church that’s just beginning or a missional outlook for an older congregation like our own. The word still needs to be proclaimed to a dying world. The gospel message needs to be proclaimed from this pulpit and from every believer’s mouth. For as Paul writes in Romans 1:16:

 16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

You who have heard this good news and have been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit are:

Blessed by the Father  ... and He has called you as His own to inherit eternal life. 

The call of our Lord to those first believers was efficacious, which is to say: it had the power to produce a desired effect our Lord intended. Those that had their names written in the lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world heard the gospel call and believed. When St. Peter preached that first sermon at Pentecost in the book of Acts he concluded with:

36Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."
37Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself."

The Gospel still has that power unto salvation for everyone who believes. It calls sinners to believe that this Jesus, who came to live, suffer, die and rise again - that He Lives!, and by the power of the Holy Spirit continues to call all who will come to a knowledge of the truth to Himself by this wonderful miraculous saving word.

Blessed by the Father He calls us, come. 

Ill. A remarkable rescue!

A remarkable rescue! 
Oct 13 2010 By Cesar Illiano and Terry Wade (Luke 15 parables)

Chile's trapped miners were shuttled up a narrow escape shaft to freedom and joyous reunions on Wednesday in a meticulously planned rescue operation that ended their two-month ordeal deep underground.

One by one, the miners climbed into a specially designed steel capsule barely wider than a man's shoulders and took a 15-minute journey through 2,050 feet of rock to the surface.

4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Luke 15:4-6a

Scenes of jubilation erupted each time a miner arrived to a hero's welcome above the San Jose gold and copper mine in Chile's northern desert.

Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:6b-7

Church bells rang out in Chile when the first miner was extricated and Chileans were glued to their televisions through the night, proud of their nation's ability to save the men.

8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins[a] and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:8-10

63-year-old Mario Gomez, who suffers from the lung disease silicosis was brought to the surface breathing from an oxygen mask. Gomez, was helped out of the escape capsule, and immediately dropped to his knees to pray. 

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. Luke 15:21-23

Once believed dead, euphoric rescuers, relatives and friends broke into cheers -- and tears. "This is a miracle from God!" Rescuers had found the men miraculously alive with a bore hole the width of a grapefruit. Engineers deployed the escape capsule, dubbed "Phoenix" after the mythical bird that rose from the ashes, after boring the shaft down to the miners.

24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. Luke 15:24

The Chilean miners were rescued after 69 days underground. We are rescued by our loving savior Jesus Christ who came to live suffer and die and rise again just for you. 

Christ has called you. Christ has blessed you. Christ has given you salvation in His name. Christ’s righteousness has been exchange for your sin and you have eternal life! This is the good news that needs to be proclaimed.

When Paul speaks of the power of God in Romans he is speaking about the word of God. The word translated power in Romans is δύναμις, which is the root word for our English word dynamite. The word of God is like dynamite and will not leave things as they are. It will make a profound change in everything it touches. It has changed you from death to life eternal. Praise be to Him who was and is and will come again you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  

I recently completed reading a wonderful book my daughter Amy gave me called the “Big Burn” which recounts the story of the beginnings of the National Forest Service, the robber barons just like Wellington R. Burt and the railroad tycoons of the early 20th century.

The Great Fire of 1910 (also commonly referred to as the Big Burn) was a wildfire which burned about three million acres (approximately the size of Connecticut) in northeast Washington, northern Idaho and western  Montana. The area burned included parts of 10 national forests. 

The firestorm burned over two days in August 1910, killing 87 people, including 78 firefighters, some of whom sought refuge in abandoned mines, cabins and streams to escape the flames and intense heat. Many of the firefighters who died were burned beyond recognition and it is believed to be the largest fire in recorded U.S. history. 

The fire of God’s wrath was poured out, once and for all, upon the only begotten Son of God, who took the punishment for your sin and the sin of the whole world in exchange for the righteous reward and salvation He gives us freely in the beloved Son our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. 

This is the good news that you and I can hold on to and share, that we who have been buried with Christ in baptism will also rise with Him into eternal life.
Blessed by the Father He calls us, come. Enter into eternal life.

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

Amen

And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in and through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior now and forever.

Amen

Monday, November 14, 2011

Great Lakes Banjo

I saw my first Great Lakes in 1975 when I took a lesson from Jim "Willard" Spencer in Ann Arbor. I saw and played one in 1976 when I visited my friend Brian's house and tried his "Special." I wanted one but by the time I started looking they were out of business so I bought a 1980 Liberty and have been happy for 31 years.

I was talking to Mark Zimmerman and we'll be getting together to add a tone hoop and upgrade this very nice banjo. Mark told me that all the banjos were of the same quality materials but the less expensive models didn't have a tone ring, neck binding and nicer inlay. After 35 years, I finally found one! :)

The Great Lakes Banjo Company was in business from 1974-1979 with a few completed after that date. They built a great instrument that has stood the test of time ..



     

...and are played by some great players, like Jim Willard Spencer!





Sunday, October 23, 2011

God’s love fulfills the law, so that we are loved and love others !

Sermon October 22, 23 2011 Russ Tkac

Text: Matthew 22:37-40
37And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."

There’s a story of young man of 15. He would be getting his driver’s license in a year or so and decided to do a little practicing.

He backed the car out of the garage and then would drive it back in. He did this a number of times and every time he got a little better at it. As happens many times with something we’re new at, we have a tendency to get just a bit over confident and lose a little concentration.

As it happened in this case, this young man’s concentration slipped, just a bit and on entering the garage he missed hitting the brake and hit the gas pedal instead. He eventually found the brake but not before he put dad’s table saw through the wall and into the family room.

Dad eventually got home and upon pulling into the driveway saw his son and wife waiting for him. The son was covered in fear and guilt while his wife felt her son’s pain as most mothers do. Dad looked at his son and at the damage to the wall and seeing the remorse and sorrow in the boy’s face said, “Boy, it’s a good thing your mom and I love you.”

God’s love fulfills the law, so that we are loved!

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?"

Now, the question was not asked because he didn’t know the answer. The Pharisees were the ones who made a living out of keeping the law. The question was asked so as to once again find fault with the answer Jesus gives. This would then give them a reason to accuse Him of false teaching and to look for a way to bring Him down.

37And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."

Martin Luther had this to say about it:

"Take, then, before you this commandment: You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and think upon that, seek after it, and try to understand it, what kind of a law it is, how far you still are from fulfilling this commandment; yes, that you have not really begun to fulfill it rightly, namely, to suffer and to do from your heart what God wants of you.

It is pure hypocrisy if one will crawl into a corner and think: Yes, I want to love God! Oh, how dearly I love God: He is my Father! Oh, how well-intentioned I feel toward Him! …and similar things. Indeed, when He does according to our pleasure, we can say many such words, but when once He sends us misfortune and adversity, we no longer consider Him to be a God or a Father. A true love toward God does not act thus, but feels it in the heart and says it with the mouth: Lord God, I am your creature, do with me as you will, it is all the same to me; for I am yours, that I know; and if it should be your will that I should die this hour or suffer some great misfortune, I should suffer it with all my heart; I shall never consider my life, honor, and goods, and whatever I have, higher and greater than your will, which shall be well-pleasing to me all my life." (Luther.) Kretzmann NT vol. 1 pg. 125

The Pharisees knew not love. Their love was in how much better they kept the law in their own eyes than the sinners and tax collectors who were in there midst to which Jesus relates this parable in Luke 18:

11The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' 13But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."

God’s love fulfills the law, so that we are loved!

But ... we too fail to show love. We too measure ourselves against our neighbor. We too have a bit of a Pharisee in us. Don’t we?

We see it at home. “Look at all that I do around here and nobody else does anything!” Or at work, “I’m always the one on time. So and so is always late and never prepared as well as me!” And we see it even at church too. Our sinful flesh is always trying to self justify us …to make us right for ourselves, in the eyes of the world and before God.

But, Christ says: Love - God first and then you can and will love your neighbor. Jesus covers both tables of the Law. The first three commandments deal with how we should relate to God and then the next seven tell us how we can and should relate to one another.

The truth of it all reflects our utter failure to do what God requires. We can’t keep the law. We can’t love God or our neighbor as ourselves. In our flesh we stand condemned. “Boy, it’s a good thing God loves you.”

God’s love fulfills the law, so that we are loved!

41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42saying,"What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "The son of David." 43He said to them, "How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,
44 "'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet'?
45If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?" 46 And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Whose Son Is He? Our bulletin cover today tells us.

The only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made;

Our corporate confession of the Nicene Creed confirms what the Pharisees were unable to do. Confess Jesus as God’s son and David’s son, both God and man.

God in Christ became man to show God’s love for His creation and to fulfill the law as only He could. No amount of righteous deeds from the Pharisees could pay for even one sin because that one sin in the garden cast us all away from God’s presence only to be restored by God Himself, in Christ, who takes away the sin of the world and then by the power of the Holy Spirit creates faith in you and me by this blessed Good News!

God’s love fulfills the law, so that we are loved and now love others as Christ has loved us!

13 Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 (ESV)

Jesus has laid down His life for you. He came to do what you and I were unable to do, to make satisfaction for our sin; to satisfy God’s justice and to appease His wrath. Our Lord Jesus Christ has been seated at God’s right hand and the enemies of sin, death and the Devil have been placed under His feet.

The Law and all its requirements have been fulfilled in Him for you by His coming in the flesh, His sinless life, sacrificial death and glorious resurrection - for you. By this act of love you too are given faith by the power of the Holy Spirit to believe and receive His righteousness in exchange for your sin and in gratitude you love your neighbor as yourself.

If Jesus, went to the cross only as God’s son we would be sill in our sin without hope but as both God’s son and David’s son both God and man he came and has stood in your place and mine accomplishing our freedom from sin and giving us the blessed hope of eternity with Him.

Christ has died, risen and will come again - for you!

When dad looked at his son he didn’t see a boy who just busted a table saw, smashed through a wall or dented a car. No, he saw a boy who had the weight of the law place on him by his deeds and actions and the law did its work. His sin was evident and his remorse genuine.

Dad didn’t need to show him his sin …it was all over his face. Dad needed to do what God has already done for him. Forgive one another as I have forgiven you. As the Apostle John tells us:

9In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:9-11

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

Amen

And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in and through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior now and forever.

Amen

Friday, October 14, 2011

YOU ARE GOD’S CHILD AND MADE IN HIS IMAGE! October 16, 2011

Sermon October 15, 16 2011

Title: YOU ARE GOD’S CHILD AND MADE IN HIS IMAGE!

Text: Matthew 22:20-22
20And Jesus said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" 21They said, "Caesar’s." Then he said to them, "Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s." 22When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

Many of us at times growing up have heard it said. “You look just like your dad!” or “Boy, you have your mother’s eyes.” I remember years ago when Billy Joel was married to the model Christy Brinkley they had a little girl. When she was just a toddler a picture appeared in the magazine with her and her parents. Here it was right in the pages of the magazine. She is the child of a beautiful famous mother, who today even in her late fifties still is blessed with a youthful appearance and she looked like her dad. Now, if you’ve seen Billy Joel lately … not a great way start for a little girl who may turn into her grandfather in her later years.

But there is good news:

YOU ARE GOD’S CHILD AND MADE IN HIS IMAGE!

Matthew 22:15-22 (ESV)
Paying Taxes to Caesar
15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. 16And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians,

The Pharisees here are going after Jesus to bring about his ruin. They were still very incensed by the biting rebuke that was leveled against them by Jesus in the previous parable of the Wedding Feast:

Matthew 22
The Parable of the Wedding Feast
11"But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12And he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. 13Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14For many are called, but few are chosen."

Their plan was to catch Him in His own words so that He might be turned over to the Roman authorities and put to death. They also bring the Herodians, a Jewish sect who was hoping for a more national Kingdom ruled by the Herodian dynasty.

In spite of their plans to catch Jesus and bring about His ruin they proclaim some great truths about Him:

saying, "Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.

It brings to mind Jesus’ own words from John 14:6.

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

But then the real reason for their question comes out.

17Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" 18But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19Show me the coin for the tax." And they brought him a denarius.

So, sounds harmless enough, right? We just want to know should we pay taxes. Their innocent ploy was not to ask a question of a noble teacher but to find reason to turn Him over to the authorities. Jesus would have none of it and calls them out.

20And Jesus said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" 21They said, "Caesar’s." Then he said to them, "Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s." 22When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

Jesus knew that if He sided with those who hated this unfair tax that it would put Him in conflict with the Roman government. He also knew He might be seen as one of the government’s agents if he supported it. On way or the other, He would be the target of the Roman government or the people. He simply sets out to give a clear answer and pose a question that they and we must answer. Whose image are you reflecting? As for those called by God and brought to faith by the Gospel:

YOU ARE GOD’S CHILD AND MADE IN HIS IMAGE!

Do you always reflect that? Or, at times do you reflect an image of the world? Here is a little illustration about wealth from the book “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” by Dr. Paul Brand.

Dear Lord,
I have been re-reading the record of the Rich Young Ruler and his obviously wrong choice...

Luke 18:18-23 (NIV)

18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.”
21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.

...But it has set me thinking. No matter how much wealth he had, he could not -- ride in a car, have any surgery, turn on a light, buy penicillin, hear a pipe organ, watch TV, wash dishes in running water, type a letter, mow a lawn, fly in an airplane, sleep on an innerspring mattress, or talk on the phone.

If he was rich, then what am I?

P. Brand, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, p. 61.

The world through the blessings of God gives us so much. We tend to desire more and more though and we then start mirroring the image of the world and not that of the one who has bought us with His own precious life … given unto death for you.

YOU ARE GOD’S CHILD AND MADE IN HIS IMAGE!

Christ’s call to those Pharisees and Herodians was to render to God what is His. His call was by the gift of faith from the word of God to have them believe in their own proclamation -- saying, "Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, God’s call and gift of faith saves but still some reject. Why? Sin is all consuming. Christ calls … render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s." But, 22When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

Dead in their sin, dead in the things of the world …dead to God … dead … but:

YOU ARE GOD’S CHILD AND MADE IN HIS IMAGE!

The Holy Spirit has made you alive in Christ! The image you bear is that of the Son! The Father sees you and He sees Jesus! Your ways are now directed by the working of the Holy Spirit in you and when you fall and we all will we can come to our Heavenly Father in repentance because we bear the image of Christ and all are sins were laid upon Him at the cross.

Ill.
There's a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.

Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, pp. 13.

God calls all to forgiveness in His Son our Lord Jesus Christ. All 800 Pacos, the world, you and me to, by faith, believe. In Christ we are all one and we have been given His likeness so when the Father sees you … He sees Christ His beloved Son.

The question was asked of Jesus in John 6

John 6:28-29 (ESV)
28Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" (Or, as I might add: To bear His image?) 29Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."

I this life we inherit some things from our earthly fathers. Some good and some bad I’m sure just as that little girl born to Billy Joel and Christy Brinkley did. Ultimately she grew to be a pretty girl in spite of her father and for that we and she can that the Lord that he mother’s genes prevailed! But, to bear the image of Christ we must all come to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit to believe this Good News that Jesus came to live, suffer, die and rise again for you and for me.

YOU ARE GOD’S CHILD AND MADE IN HIS IMAGE!

Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again … for you! May you by the power of the Holy Spirit rejoice in this Good News now and forever!

Amen

And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in and through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior now and forever.
Amen

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sermon August 14, 2011

Title: GOD ACCEPTS YOU, IN CHRIST!

Theme: GOD GATHERS THE OUTCASTS, SO THAT SALVATION IS OURS!

Text: Isaiah 56:1, 6-8 English Standard Version (ESV)

Salvation for Foreigners

1Thus says the LORD:"Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.

Isaiah 56:6-8

6"And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant—7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples." 8The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, "I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered."

Dear friends in Christ,

Moving, garage sales, time to clean up, we’ve all been there one time or another. My daughter Amy just moved to an apartment closer to the school she teaches at. She’s found it necessary to go through all of her things and to discard some of her stuff. But, much of what she needed for her new home she got from friends, the Salvation Army and second hand shops in the area. Things that had been discarded like her beautiful 1970’s vintage floral couch and chair – you know, like the ones you might see in a little cottage up north - are once again being used and loved.

May be you’ve taken some time to clean out the garage or just go through some of your things as well. You might even put it out by the road for the garbage man. Many times it doesn’t make it to the garbage truck. Before long, someone stops by, looks it over and places it in their car and off it goes. What had been cast out from your home is now used and loved by another. Much like our Old Testament reading today:

GOD GATHERS THE OUTCASTS, SO THAT SALVATION IS OURS!

Just as Amy has gathered many unrelated things from various places and formed them into her home today, God gathers the outcasts from the corners of the world into His loving family.

1Thus says the LORD:"Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed. (Isaiah 56:1)

God accomplishes what He wills and the truth is that no one will be saved apart from being both just and righteous. Salvation will come to those who meet both God’s justice and His righteousness. Isaiah’s call was unsettling for those Israelites who thought that as part of God’s chosen people they were to be saved and redeemed by the keeping of the law. The call of John the Baptist had much the same effect:

Matthew 3:1-3

English Standard Version (ESV)

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 3For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

"The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.” (Matt 3:1-3)

Repentance and faith are required of God’s chosen people. Many rely on their own righteousness or feel that living in conformity to the demands of God’s covenant is unnecessary. The salvation and deliverance to be revealed would come in the Messianic promise and revelation in the God/man Jesus Christ.

GOD GATHERS THE OUTCASTS, SO THAT SALVATION IS OURS!

We too tend to soften God’s requirements of righteousness to fit our sin into His plan of salvation. For many, white lies as they’re called, cheating, stealing - or name any sin you can think of – they all become permissible in the eyes of many church going Christians. Today, living together and pre-marital sex or sex outside of marriage at any age is considered by many no big deal.

Parents wrestle with the fact that their children are living together outside of marriage while some just look past the sin as if it’s really nothing. Even some elderly who are widowed or are widowers engage in sexual activity outside of marriage. The truth remains that this is sin and not in line with God’s will.

Even we who serve the church of God at times fail to deal with this situation, preferring not to upset families by thinking that we’re being loving in turning away from sin for fear that members might get upset and leave the church.

God requires true repentance. Are you repentant or do you think that God condones sinful behavior because you come to church?

I have to answer these questions too. Looking to be ordained in God’s church in a short while requires me to be faithful to his justice and His righteousness. It is something all of us need to reflect on. Do we see continued sin as no big deal or does it bring us to our knees in prayerful repentance?

Paul warns the Galatians about the deception that sin can cause us. He tells them in chapter 6:

Galatians 6:7-8 New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)

7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Gal. 6:7-8)

ILL.

In his book I Surrender, Patrick Morley writes that the church's integrity problem is in the misconception "that we can add Christ to our lives, but not subtract sin. It is a change in belief without a change in behavior." He goes on to say, "It is revival without reformation and without repentance."

Quoted by C. Swindoll, John The Baptizer, Bible Study Guide, p. 16.

It is not repentance that saves you though. It is Christ and His sacrifice for sin and in this salvation we have much to be thankful for because:

GOD GATHERS THE OUTCASTS, SO THAT SALVATION IS OURS!

How do we know this?

8but God shows his love for us in that while we were STILL sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)

Now back to our text today in Isaiah we read:

6"And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant—7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; (Isaiah 56:6-7)

God has called the outcasts and foreigners to join themselves to the Lord. His gracious call is to those who were not part of God’s chosen people - the Gentiles and foreigners the outcasts are brought into covenant relationship with Him.

8The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, "I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered."

Many times those gathered are those that society and even God’s people look down upon but thankfully God sees all his children and calls them to Himself through the Gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit.

GOD GATHERS THE OUTCASTS, SO THAT SALVATION IS OURS!

We too are gathered to the Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit. God has given you His Spirit to believe that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh for you. He has fulfilled the law and lived a sinless life for you. He has taken that sin that you find comfort in and nailed it to the cross with all the sins of the whole world for you. He has defeated sin, death, Hell and the Devil for you.

He has also washed you clean of all your sins in the waters of Holy Baptism so that you are free of sin. Then by His Holy Spirit He calls you to newness of life in the blessed Good News that your sin has been taken away forever by Christ’s atoning sacrifice and He has replaced your filthy rags of self-righteousness with the sinless righteousness of Christ.

Our heavenly Father has gathered the outcasts – you and me - He has forgiven our sin in Christ and he calls us to the glorious Kingdom of his Son who came in the flesh to live, suffer, die and rise again just for you.

On moving day, as we cast out those old, worn out and no longer wanted things of ours remember that our loving God has redeemed you and me - the outcasts from this world. He forgives our sin and calls us to newness of life in His beloved son. His call will have the effect that He desires and His will is that all will be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.(1 Tim. 2:4)

Looking at Amy’s apartment you and I might see many disconnected pieces woven into this apartment that she calls home. God’s house will also have many who we might think - don’t fit - but thanks be to God, we who name the name of Christ do fit because God has a place for the outcasts who have been called by the Gospel, brought to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit and believe – you and me.

May you be comforted in this Good News now and forever.

Amen

And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in and through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior now and forever.

Amen