Monday, January 21, 2013

Sermon Jan 12-13, 2013

Title: Christ, in baptism, frees you from sin and makes you His child!

Text: Luke 3:21-22

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Writer Charles Swindoll once found himself with too many commitments in too few days. He got nervous and tense about it.  "I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions throughout the day," he recalled in his book Stress Fractures. "Before long, things around our home started reflecting the patter of my hurry-up style. It was becoming unbearable.

"I distinctly remember after supper one evening, the words of our younger daughter, Colleen, he said. She wanted to tell me something important that had happened to her at school that day. She began hurriedly, 'Daddy, I wanna tell you somethin' and I'll tell you really fast.'  "Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, 'Honey, you can tell me -- and you don't have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly."   "I'll never forget her answer: 'Then listen slowly.'"

Bits & Pieces, June 24, 1993, pp. 13-14.

After ordination and installation last Sunday here at Peace - which was a glorious and blessed day in my life - I was talking to my friend Paul, who did the song for me the and special music with my daughter Amy for the ordination service and we both just marveled at how quickly the years of our life had gone by … since that crazy picture of me playing banjo with that towel on my head!

I’m sure many of you would agree that your lives too seem to go by in an instant … so it is with that in mind that I wish to focus today on a marvelous truth that you can be reminded of daily … and that is that:

Christ, in baptism, frees you from sin and makes you His child!

You can almost hear the hope in the people in our Gospel reading for today as they wonder and reason about John the Baptist:

15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ,

John, being the unique character that he is … was causing quite a stir as the people questioned about who this man could be. Is he the Christ, they wanted to know? And while the excitement of this man, out of the wilderness, may have made quite an impression on the people, when it came to his attention, as to who the people thought he was … he quickly put all speculation to rest:

16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

From our bible study on the Book of Ruth last year we learned that:

[A common method of threshing in ancient Israel employed an implement called a threshing sledge which is a heavy wooden slab with teeth made of stone, metal, or potsherds fastened to the underside and Oxen or mules dragged the sledge back and forth over the sheaves to allow the teeth to break down the stalks into husks, straw, and grain kernels.

A wooden pitch fork was used to lift away the straw.  The kernels were then separated from the husks by winnowing, tossing the pile of threshed grain into the air with a winnowing fork and wind, whether caused by a natural breeze or artificially generated by winnowing fans, blew away the lighter chaff while the heavier heads of grain fell down to the threshing floor.

The kernels were then sifted and collected for storage.  The chaff was burned as fuel and the straw became animal fodder. ]

Copyright © 2009 Mark A. Myers

This Christ that John preached would be a refining fire to those people who were looking for Him, this Messiah, this:

Jesus who is the Good Shepherd and the light of the world!

This Jesus came to John to be marked with you through baptism as one who heard repentance call. He also was marked with a Baptism of fire, marked to carry the sins of the world, your sins, upon Himself to Jerusalem and finally to the cross.

When Christ returns He will separate the wheat from the chaff; the believers from the unbelievers. Those who have been baptized and are covered by Christ’s righteousness will be gathered to Heaven and to an eternal life of joy and peace and those who stand covered in the filthy rags of their own righteousness will be cast into the fires of hell made for the Devil and his minions, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. (Matt. 6:19)

Your life and mine is one of continually falling short. We daily miss the mark in what we say and do. But as one who has been Baptized we are called to daily die and rise as we remember what Jesus did in being marked, not only with sinners, but with you so that we too can be renewed in our faith daily and grow in our Christian walk as we are by the power of the Holy Spirit made holy or as the tern sanctification is used to say that we are being made holy daily and set apart for the good works that God has prepared for us to do.

Now, as Lutherans we tend to get a little up in arms when we think about Good Works! This is not to undermine the work of Christ who came to take the sins of the whole world upon himself so that you would be declared righteous on account of His sacrifice. But by the grace of God and through the gift of faith you are made holy by the working of the Holy Spirit in you.

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)

The boasting is God’s because we know that:

Jesus is the Good Shepherd and the light of the world!

The Old Testament reading today points to the one who is active in the life of the world in God’s work of redemption when we read:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

And while God is speaking to the children of Israel in these verses He too is speaking of His redeeming love for all of his children – domestic and imported:

13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:13)
And our Lord will accomplish all that He has set out to do because He declares:

5 Fear not, for I am with you;
    I will bring your offspring from the east,
    and from the west I will gather you.
6 I will say to the north, Give up,
    and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
    and my daughters from the end of the earth,
7 everyone who is called by my name,

God has called you by name in your baptisms. He has washed you and gathered you to the foot of the cross of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He continues through the working of the Holy Spirit in the your daily lives and in the lives of all His children to make you holy and to keep you by the power of His Spirit connected to Him so that we grow in Him through this same Spirit.

A story is told of:

Charles Spurgeon and Joseph Parker were pastors who both had churches in London in the 19th century. On one occasion, Parker commented on the poor condition of children admitted to Spurgeon's orphanage. It was reported to Spurgeon however, that Parker had criticized the orphanage itself.

Spurgeon blasted Parker the next week from the pulpit. The attack was printed in the newspapers and became the talk of the town. People flocked to Parker's church the next Sunday to hear his rebuttal. He said, "I understand that Dr. Spurgeon is not in his pulpit today, and this is the Sunday they use to take an offering for the orphanage. I suggest we take a love offering here instead." The congregation was delighted. The ushers had to empty the collection plates 3 times. Later that week there was a knock at Parker's study. It was Spurgeon. "You know Parker, you have practiced grace on me. You have given me not what I deserved, you have given me what I needed.”

Moody Monthly, December, 1983, p. 81.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd and the light of the world!

God in Christ has given you and me not what we deserved but what we needed. He continues to give to us the blessings of His Son through the good times and bad. He blesses us through word and sacrament and daily sustains his you with His loving kindness and does not remember your sin but sees you through the veil of Christ which you are covered with. In Christ you receive His full attention when you pray so you can ask anything in Jesus name according to his will and He will hear, and is not hurried or bothered when you cry out to Him and will listen patently, intently and slowly because He loves you and cares for you as a father cares for a dear child.

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


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