Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sermon July 18-19, 2015

Title: Followed, fed and forgiven!
Text: Mark 6:30-44

 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied.

Dear friends in Christ,

The passengers were sitting quietly in the subway car, when a man entered with children who were extremely noisy and active. To the passenger’s surprise, the man (who was obviously the father) sat down and closed his eyes, ignoring the loud and rambunctious children. He sat as though he were oblivious to them! The subway car was ringing with chaotic noise. The children's behavior was way out of line, and everyone was getting agitated - except the father.

Finally, a passenger leaned over and spoke to the man about his children. The father opened his eyes and seemed to finally grasp the situation.

"Oh, you're right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don't know what to think, and I guess they don't know how to handle it either."

Many times we too become agitated before we show compassion.

Thankfully:

JESUS HAS COMPASSION, SO THAT SINNERS ARE SATISFIED!

31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. Mark 6:31

The news that His disciples brought to Jesus in the verses preceding this text was the news that John the Baptist had been beheaded by Herod. Hard news for anyone to hear especially if the news involves someone we know or are close to that has lost their life.

Jesus needed to get away and be away from the people. So He gets into a boat with his disciples and goes across the lake to a place that is quite – to a place that is desolate.

32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Mark 6:32

When you think of desolate you might think of a place devoid of inhabitants and deserted. A place that is joyless and sorrowful - as if separated from a loved one. A place showing signs of abandonment, dilapidated, devoid of warmth, comfort or hope. But what does Jesus find?

33 Now many saw them going and recognized them and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, Mark 6:33-34a

He went to get away; to be by Himself; to collect His thoughts; to pray and here he finds not a desolate place at all, but one filled with a very large crowd of followers. I believe that even this crowd would have given Jesus a pass had he became agitated and told them to go away. But what does Jesus do?

… and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.  Mark 6:34b

JESUS HAS COMPASSION, SO THAT SINNERS ARE SATISFIED!

We too fail to see and reflect God’s compassion in our daily lives. Many times agitation - seen through the eyes of sin - become the first reaction we have before – by the power of the Holy Spirit – we see through the compassionate eyes of faith given to us by our loving savior Jesus.

Compassion would show for a Christian the wonderful evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. To think of someone else and their needs first and foremost is a Christ-like virtue.

Ill.

There is a story of great compassion in the face of tragedy from a news story a few years ago:
What started as a family camping trip turned into a tragic tale of loss and heroism for one [doctor and his family.]

Dr. Alex Constantinides (Con-stan-tin-ides) has been a ringside physician and active in the mixed martial arts community, primarily in Colorado, for several years.

He, his wife, and their three adopted daughters were on a camping trip recently in Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming. They were evacuated from their campsite when heavy rains poured down in the area.

As they drove away, their van plunged into a nine-foot-deep chasm in the road and into a rising creek. Alex’s wife, Laurel, and their daughters, Hannah, 8, Zoey, 5, and Lucia, 2, did not survive.
Somehow, Dr. Alex Constantinides escaped the raging waters.

Making his way back up the creek, he came across Saratoga, Wyo., Mayor John Zeiger, whose truck fell into the same chasm in the road, landing in the creek.

Constantinides, just shortly after losing his own family, pulled Zeiger out of the truck to safety, likely saving his life.

“I am surrounded by family and friends, Constantinides said. I am safe. Your prayers are felt and appreciated. Please continue to pray for my four angles that they find peace in God’s presence.”

http://www.mmaweekly.com/fighters-mma-community-rally-around-colorado-ringside-doctor-who-lost-his-family

In spite of the tragedy of losing his family in this sad and unexpected accident, Dr. Alex Constantinides was able to show compassion and help save another from a similar fate. He thought of another, in a time of need, just as Jesus did in our text today.

As I drove to the church on Saturday, I arrived at 4:00 PM to prepare for the two baptisms for Mayla and Lanna Graves. As I prepared to pull into the drive I had to wait for a lady who was in the drive to pass. As I pulled into the parking lot and got out of my truck she was coming up the driveway. “Sir, she said are you the pastor?” I answered yes and she proceeded to tell me she was out for a walk and just didn’t think she could make it to her car and asked if I could drive her over because it was so hot.
I had compassion on her and drove her to her car. As we rode she said, “I not as young as I think I am saying she was celebrating her 50th High School class reunion this year. I told her I understand as I was just at my friends 60th birthday party on Friday.

My friend Jeff’s son called me last Sunday and asked if I would be willing to play some music with his dad at a surprise birthday party they planned for Friday the 17th, his birthday. While I’m rusty at guitar and find little joy playing songs I remember half of I agreed to do this.

We played from 7:00 PM to 9:00 Pm and I said, “Guys, I’m done so we finished and went to get a bit of food. As we sat talking my friends wife Laura came up and said that her friend was coming and couldn’t get here earlier and really wanted to hear the band and would we play a few more songs? We said sure and began playing again at 9:30. Into our third song, Peaceful Easy Feeling, we got the cut sign from Jeff’s son Gordy as the police had arrived! They were chuckling a bit when they saw the ages of the “kids” that were disturbing the peace! They had compassion of us as well.

JESUS HAS COMPASSION, SO THAT SINNERS ARE SATISFIED!

Jesus’ showed compassion to the crowd of people gathered at this place and His compassion extended to their physical need as well. These five thousand men, women and children hungered and were fed in a miraculous way by Jesus, but the miracle was probably not even something they were aware of. God’s great blessing filled their hunger, showed the disciples the compassion and power with which Jesus was sending them out. Each had a basketful of leftovers [12] to testify to what Jesus has done and will continue to do through them.

God would be with them as they went forth. His miraculous work would be worked through them. Jesus would speak as they spoke.

All that Jesus is and does would be with them as they walked in His place with His word, bringing freedom to those in need of the saving knowledge of Christ in a fallen world.  The compassion that Jesus has would be the compassion they share with sinners so that they are healed of their sin, fed by our precious Lord’s word and satisfied of all their wants and needs.

Jesus has compassion. 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Rom 3:23)

Jesus has compassion. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:23)

Jesus has compassion. 8 God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)

Jesus has compassion. 9Because, by the power of the Holy Spirit in you, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Rom. 10:9-10)

Jesus has compassion. 13 For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Rom. 10:13)

Jesus has compassion … on you! Because, He heals your sin and covers you with His righteousness so that you are by faith, free of your bondage to sin, fed by his holy word as well as His very Body and Blood in the Lord’s Supper that is given and shed for you! And all who are satisfied and found in Him … Christ gives you simply out of His compassionate grace, mercy and love for you.

JESUS HAS COMPASSION, SO THAT SINNERS ARE SATISFIED!

Finally, I leave you with a few of the wonderful words from our Sermon Hymn today.

God Loved the World So That He Gave

God loved the world so that He gave
His only Son the lost to save
That all who would in Him believe
Should everlasting life receive.

God would not have the sinner die,
His Son with saving grace is nigh,
His Spirit in the Word declares
How we in Christ are heaven’s heirs.

Glory to God the Father, Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three in One!
To Thee, O bless├Ęd Trinity,
Be praise now and eternally!

We are Followed by God as he by his Spirit draws us to Christ. We are fed by his word and sacrament that call us to faith and sustain us unto his call home and we are forgiven – in Christ, being rescued from sin, death and the power of the devil!

May the Love of God the Father who made us,
the Compassion of Christ our Lord who redeemed us,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit who sustains us,
be and abide with us now and forever more.

Amen


Monday, July 13, 2015

Sermon July 11-12, 2015


Title: All blessings in Christ are yours!
Text: Eph 1:3-14

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

At age 16 Andor Foldes was already a skilled pianist, but he was experiencing a troubled year. In the midst of the young Hungarian's personal struggles, one of the most renowned pianists of the day came to Budapest. Emil von Sauer was famous not only for his abilities; he was also the last surviving pupil of the great Franz Liszt. Von Sauer requested that Foldes play for him. Foldes obliged with some of the most difficult works of Bach, Beethoven, and Schumann.

When he finished, von Sauer walked over to him and kissed him on the forehead. "My son," he said, "when I was your age I became a student of Liszt. He kissed me on the forehead after my first lesson, saying, 'Take good care of this kiss--it comes from Beethoven, who gave it to me after hearing me play.' I have waited for years to pass on this sacred heritage, but now I feel you deserve it."

Source Unknown.

Dear friends the sacred heritage that has been passed on to you is not something you deserve but something you are given even though you don’t deserve it. You are given what Christ deserves … God’s favor. This has been given to you as a blessing before the foundation of the world!

All blessings in Christ are yours!

You have it all! Paul tells the Ephesian church. Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places – is yours in Christ! Certainly this is good news; certainly this is something to be celebrated; certainly this is a joy?

Paul continues, He chose us … you and me … and this happened even before the foundations of the world. You are known, you are blessed … you are his. And being his - you are holy, you are set apart – to be the Father’s child just as Christ, who is his only begotten son, and you as his child, are blameless in his sight.

But how did this happen? Well, because of his great love for you, he determined that you would be his. “Yes dear Ephesian,” Paul says, you were adopted because it was his will to make you his - not your will to make him yours.

Because by your will you would only reject him … you could only reject him. You are bound to disobedience brought forth in sin and iniquity. It is this will that you are bound to, the will of sin, and this will only brings death, it only destroys, it only kills, and it is what you deserve … you Ephesian church … it is what … we both deserve.

Ill.

A man purchased a white mouse to use as food for his pet snake. He dropped the unsuspecting mouse into the snake's glass cage, where the snake was sleeping in a bed of sawdust. The tiny mouse had a serious problem on his hands. At any moment he could be swallowed alive. Obviously, the mouse needed to come up with a brilliant plan.

What did the terrified creature do? He quickly set up work covering the snake with sawdust chips until it was completely buried. With that, the mouse apparently thought he had solved his problem.

The solution, however, came from outside. The man took pity on the silly little mouse and removed him from the cage. No matter how hard we try to cover or deny our sinful nature, it's fool's work. Sin will eventually awake from sleep and shake off its cover. Were it not for the saving grace of the Master's hand, sin would eat us alive.

Unknown.

But God’s will - to the praise of his glorious grace is to bless us, and to call us to be his beloved – to redeem us. This too comes from the outside! By Christ’s death, by his blood – your sins are forgiven. I know this is hard to believe but it is true. It is the richness of his grace that he has given you and not just a gift but a continual giving. His gifts are lavished upon you just like a doting father that gets continual joy in giving, and giving, and giving … gifts to his child.

But, why you might ask? Why me, what is special about me? Why was I called and why do others resist and fight against this loving father? It is a mystery to be sure but his purpose, God’s purpose, is to bring all things together, in heaven and on earth, together in his son our Lord Jesus Christ.

That unity and peace would be found in Christ Jesus.

Ill.

A.W. Tozer in his book “The Pursuit of God” writes:

Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ['unity' conscious] and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.

A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God.

Many fight against it; both outside and inside the church. There are many fools who look to themselves for peace and comfort. They look inward … and so do you. But trusting anything outside of Jesus only brings the weight of the law. It only brings what it means to try to measure up to God’s standards on your own merit. And one little failure … fails it all. And the wrath of God is the price that you then must pay for trusting yourself.

All blessings in Christ are yours!

In Christ you have it all! Because God wills your adoption into his family he sees to it that your adoption is secure. He predestines that you would believe and he give the means for that to occur. The proclamation of the Good News … the Gospel … goes out and then the Holy Spirit works to create faith and you believe! And though the Ephesians, were the first to hope in Christ and have this joy of knowing Jesus, and that salvation in his name was a gift … that same gift is at work today in you and in your life to believe.

And just like them … those first believers … who heard the word of truth, when you heard that same word of truth … the gospel. You believed and were sealed with the Holy Spirit in you who will continue to point to the blessed reality of Christ’s merits on your behalf. And because of the Holy Spirit you need not fear but trust that God in Christ has made you his and will see it through until the Lord’s return of until he calls you to your heavenly home.

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

Amen

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Funeral Sermon LeRoy Mausling Tuesday, July 2, 2015

Title: At home with Jesus forever!
Text: John 14:3 (English Standard Version)

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Dear friends, family and loved ones of our beloved LeRoy.

I’m Pastor Russ Tkac, Pastor of Peace and I've been blessed to know LeRoy for going on 14 years and to celebrate his life with family and friends.

LeRoy unfortunately, over these last 4-5 years was confined to his bed and wheelchair for much of his time and though he was still mentally sound, or as mentally sound as any of us can be … he was gradually ebbing away. Especially the last few months, as he was in hospice care and as I visited with Doris and him, I could see a change in his health. I made a number of stops and talked with LeRoy on many occasions, but those of you who knew him would understand that though he was immobile … that did not keep him from going anywhere he wanted to go.  LeRoy’s motorized wheelchair was his means of transportation. It was his road and his off-road vehicle. Rain or shine it went where he wanted to go … to the grief of family, friends and yes we at church.

In the Gospel text for today we read: (Jesus says)

1 "Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3)

So though we grieve and are sad at LeRoy’s passing we can have comfort as well. Jesus tells us that He has a place for us, and that included LeRoy, it has been prepared for him and because of LeRoy’s faith and trust in Jesus … he has now taken possession of it.

If you knew LeRoy … that was one of his gifts; to introduce everyone who he met to Jesus. He trusted Christ and supported the work of the church and as the church we brought Christ to Leroy when he could no longer get to Peace for regular worship. He told me also that his greatest hope was that all of you, his children and grandchildren, would know and trust Jesus too.

LeRoy loved his wife Doris, his family and cookies and sweets, but not necessarily in that order! I had the joy of visiting Leroy June 16 and he was in good spirits. “LeRoy, how you doing,” I asked? “Great, just great,” was his reply. Now, the previous visit he was not doing so well, so it was good to hear that he was sounding like his old self. Though he told me he was getting tired of fighting the illness and was looking forward to his heavenly home. And now he has gone to that heavenly home to be with Jesus.

Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" 6Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:5-6)

LeRoy knew the way. I visited with him at the hospital on a number of occasions at Canterbury during rehab and at the house as well … and home is where he wanted to be. It is hard to fight against the will of a determined man and LeRoy was that … and even though it caused us all concern, we all will probably fight that same fight when we get close to our time of departure for heaven too.

LeRoy’s hope was in the blessed hope of his Lord and savior Jesus Christ and the reunion he knew was waiting him in heaven. He was looking to be with Christ and today heaven is his home and his rolling chair is here because in heaven Leroy won’t need it. He has been redeemed at baptism … and Christ promises to make all things new.

He knew his sins were forgiven too on account of Jesus’ death on the cross. He knew that because Jesus rose from the dead, he would too. He knew Heaven was his home and that Jesus had prepared a place for him, so that even with the veil of death lurking at the door and waiting to cover him, He had the blessed hope of reunion forever with Jesus and with all dearly departed who have gone to their eternal rest in the Lord before him.

You too have this home waiting for you. The blessed Good News that Jesus died for your sins is the wonderful Gospel message you can trust. Jesus has forgiven your sin and by the power of the Holy Spirit, in you, has given you the faith to believe in His saving work and a place prepared for you, forgiven in Christ and forever with our Lord and savior Jesus, and that’s a Heaven and an eternity you can trust.

As we grieve today we remember …

LeRoy always came home. When he went to the hospital, rehab or ambulance rides … he always came home. But this time he didn’t. Christ called him to his heavenly home.

Sin, the corruption of this world and the work of the Devil were going to do everything possible to make sure that we who remain saw that death was not peaceful, restful or kind. It is the consequence of the fall of Adam and Eve into sin … the fall and sin we share.

But, you too can know that the path and rescue that our Lord and savior Jesus followed, to the cross for you, was not peaceful, restful or kind either. It was a death that shook the very foundation of this world as Satan fought in every way to keep Christ Jesus from standing in Leroy’s place and your place too.

It was LeRoy, you and me that the Devil wanted to see on that cross because it would have accomplished nothing … but your death … in a most horrible way. Sin would not have been paid for and you would have been destined to spend an eternity separated from God … a true meaning of Hell … forever.

But as Martin Luther reminds us:

“The Christian life does not consist of being but becoming, not of victory but of fight, not of righteousness but of justification, not of comprehending but of stretching forward, not of purity but of [being purified] purification.” – Luther WA 57

The death of sin - brings perfection in Christ.

In First Corinthians St. Paul writes:

54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

 "Death is swallowed up in victory."

55 "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?"
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Cor. 15:54-58)

LeRoy received that victory in baptism marked as one redeemed by Christ the crucified and now has the fullness of that reality.

He was prepared, he was forgiven, and he will be … at home with Jesus forever because Christ has promised:

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Praise be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has prepared a place not only for Leroy … but for you and me as well. Your sins have been forgiven on account of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and you who trust in Christ, will be forever in the presence of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ forever as well.

May the Lord comfort you with this blessed good news now and forever!

Amen

Monday, July 6, 2015

Sermon July 4-5, 2015

Title: Jesus was rejected so that you might be restored!
Text: Mark 6: 1-13

6 [Jesus] went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands?
6 And he marveled because of their unbelief.
And he went about among the villages teaching.

G. Campbell Morgan was one of 150 young men who sought entrance to the Wesleyan ministry in 1888. He passed the doctrinal examinations, but then faced the trial sermon. In a cavernous auditorium that could seat more than 1,000 sat three ministers and 75 others who came to listen. When Morgan stepped into the pulpit, the vast room and the searching, critical eyes caught him up short. Two weeks later Morgan's name appeared among the l05 REJECTED for the ministry that year.

Jill Morgan, his daughter-in-law, wrote in her book, A Man of the Word, "He wired to his father the one word, 'Rejected,' and sat down to write in his diary: 'Very dark everything seems. Still, He knows best.' Quickly came the reply: 'Rejected on earth; Accepted in heaven - Dad.'"

In later years, Morgan said: "God said to me, in the weeks of loneliness and darkness that followed, 'I want you to cease making plans for yourself, and let Me plan your life.'" Rejection is rarely permanent, as Morgan went on to prove … [Serving for 25 years as pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, writing extensively, and receiving his Doctor of Divinity.]

Even in this life, circumstances change, and ultimately, there is no rejection of those accepted by Christ.

Rick Thompson.

Jesus was rejected so that you might be restored

6 [Jesus] went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands?

As Jesus continues to go about his business of teaching the word, healing the sick and casting out demons … questions arise. Last week Jesus raised the little daughter of the synagogue ruler. Now, he finished the Gospel lesson from last week with these words:

43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Those who had been kept outside the little girl’s room knew she was dead and after Jesus went in to the room with her parents and his disciples the people, who had remained outside too saw the little girl going about. Nothing needed to be said. The miracle of her being raised from a death they were sure of … to life … spoke for itself.

“Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

The neighbors in Jesus hometown of Nazareth rejected him, who had grown up among them. He, who was known to them as the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Judas and Simon and his sisters? They knew his family and while the debate continues that Jesus was the only son of his mother Mary the term (brothers) can be connected with cousins and near relatives. These people knew Jesus and his family … And they took offense [not at them but] at him.

Jesus was rejected so that you might be restored!

Offense can come from those who know us, or can be directed at those we know. Being connected to Jesus and being Christian – in our day – is, for many, offensive. What we proclaim in Jesus, and the truth of God’s word that we hold to, are not in step with the culture. In years past when we spoke the truth of the faith it might have brought a giggle from those who oppose Christ or have no Biblical understand, but now the consequences for our faith are real.

Ill.

Linda Barnette has issued marriage licenses in Grenada County, Mississippi for 24 years. On Tuesday, she resigned.
“I choose to obey God rather than man,” Mrs. Barnette wrote in her one paragraph resignation letter to the Grenada County Board of Supervisors.
“I am a follower of Christ and I believe strongly that the Bible is my final authority,” she wrote. ‘The Bible teaches that a marriage is to be between a man and a woman. Therefore, because of the recent ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court, I can no longer fulfill my duties as Circuit Clerk and issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.”

http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/exclusive-county-clerk-resigns-instead-of-issuing-gay-marriage-licenses.html

Congregational Vice President, Bob Poe and I attended the Michigan District Convention in Ann Arbor this past Sunday – Tuesday and we heard concern for the issue of marriage redefinition as well as religious freedom issues we face now and will continue to face in the future.

Is our freedom as Christians to be pushed behind the walls of the church or kept within the confines of our own homes? When we enter the world is our faith and beliefs to be left home or at church and are we to only parrot the views of the culture and submit to them. These are hard questions that we each must look at and answer. The signs at many churches read as you leave the parking lot … “You are now entering the mission field.” Will it be changed to reflect … “You have now entered the civil realm?”

President Matt Harrison of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod concluded in his letter after the Supreme Court Ruling:

[However, even as we struggle as a church to come to a unified response to this blatant rejection of the entire history of humankind and its practice of marriage, “We shall obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). Christians will now begin to learn what it means to be in a state of solemn conscientious objection against the state. We will resist its imposition of falsehood upon us, even as we continue to reach out to those who continue to be harmed by the ethic of radical sexual freedom, detached from God’s blessing of marriage. And we will stand shoulder to shoulder with Christians, churches and people of good will who are resolute on this issue.]

Pastor Matthew C. Harrison

This is nothing new. Our Old Testament lesson for today reminds us.

3 And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. 4 The descendants also are impudent [not showing due respect for another person; impertinent] and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ 5 And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them.

Friends, it is not just the culture that rebels against God, but we as the Christian church – you and me - who have rebelled. We trust not the word of God but the dictates of man. We see church attendance become an afterthought and not the gift God intends it to be, and we endorse living together before marriage as an accepted and normative lifestyle. If the word of God is used to call sinners to repentance it is largely unheeded and unheard. Those who listen but refuse to hear at times change churches rather than repenting and continue on as if it’s no big deal, or they ask the church to play along and get with the program … and we wonder why the culture doesn’t take us seriously.

6 And [Jesus] marveled because of their unbelief.

If the church won’t listen why would the culture?

And [Jesus] went about among the villages teaching.

7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.

Jesus sends the word out and he uses foolish things like pastors preaching and teaching. He uses water, bread and wine connected to his word and by his Spirit … Christ dwells … which really means to take up residence … to make your home, his home.

Dr. Reed Lessing pointed out in his bible study the difference between close friends and living room friends. He said that living room friends are those that you let into your home, but confine them to the living room, so that they won’t see the mess in your closets ,or the bathroom that isn’t clean, or the mess that needs to be cleaned up from the corners of the rooms and he puts this in contrast to friends that are welcomed into our homes – warts and all – having the privilege to go anywhere in the home, to eat what they want and to see the mess and to still be welcomed in.

Jesus wants to be that friend.

He wants to be part of your life. He wants to hear your repentance because he already knows your sin. He also knows that he has paid the price for your sin and he desires for you … in repentance … to see this too. By coming to him and confessing that sin he can comfort you with his blessed forgiveness telling you through the words of holy absolution that you, dear child, are forgiven.
As you celebrate today and tomorrow the freedom which is so important for we as Americans and as you remember those that came before us and paid a heavy price for the freedoms we enjoy.

I saw a wonderful sign online today that read:

The United States did not create Religious Freedom,
Religious Freedom created the United States.

Pause and also think about the one who brings true freedom for you and me who called you out of slavery to sin, death and the devil and gave you son ship in his name. Jesus has brought you peace with the Father by his very body and blood for you. He has given this for you to eat and drink and he keeps you, by his Spirit, pointed to Jesus.

Jesus was rejected so that you might be restored!

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

Amen