Monday, July 17, 2017

Sermon July 15-16, 2017

Title: Bearing fruit is the work of the Spirit!
Text: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23


23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundred fold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

A man, after 25 years with one company, was still doing the same old job and drawing the same salary. Finally he went to his boss and told him he felt he had been neglected. "After all," he said, "I've had a quarter of a century of experience." "My dear fellow," sighed the boss, "you haven't had a quarter of a century of experience you've had one experience for a quarter of a century."

Unknown.

Ill.

When I worked in sales in the piano business and began waiting on customers there’s a principal we all learned: It is called the “KISS Principle,” as in, K-I-S-S: And it means, Keep It Simple, Stupid! In other words, if you want people to understand what you’re saying, and in my case showing them the benefits of owning a piano, I was reminded by the KISS Principal … to keep it simple. Don’t talk to technical or in ways that people can’t understand what you are really trying to say.

It seems a bit strange then that Jesus would use parables or stories that were something like a riddle at times to teach the crowd. How will they learn from these parables? Wouldn’t this complicate understanding? The disciples even asked about this: “Why do you speak to them in parables?” (v 10).

Actually, hearing God’s Word with understanding isn’t just a matter of “getting” the parables. Understanding God’s Word is hard anytime, and there are good reasons for this, but particularly when Jesus speaks in parables.

Jesus knows his audience well. There are things He knows that are keeping them from hearing and understanding what He is saying. Jesus teaches his disciples that even though 12 the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, Heb 4:12, the hearer – which is you and me - in our sinful state has the ability to resist and misunderstand God’s word.

As Luther says in the explanation of the Third Article of The apostles Creed:

I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.

We understand that faith is a gift of our loving God. So what is it that keeps us from hearing … understanding and bearing fruit?

First, Jesus says, it’s the devil. He is like the birds that come and snatch the seed off the path. Certainly, we all can attest that the devil exists … because we notice the sinfulness of our thoughts even, at times as we wonder off while listening to a sermon. No that would never happen.

What are you thinking about right now? Are you thinking about what you did last night or what you might do after church? Whatever it is … you can be sure that the devil will shorten your attention span and even introduce thoughts into your mind … that have no business being there at this time!

[Edited: Story of attending a funeral for a classmate and how though the funeral had many good points and opened the ears of those who needed to hear there was one speaker who closed the ears of all by talking too long, being unfocused, and turning the funeral into a Bible Study so that the loved ones having ears closed had to lead him back to his seat. We need to know when to speak and when to hold back and just love those who are hurting before they close their ears to the message.]

The second thing Jesus says is that it’s your flesh. The sinful flesh, yours and mine, looks for the next spiritual high. As long as everything is going well, we’re all for the Word. But when problems arise, or when tribulation and persecution come, we’re quick to abandon the word and leave it far behind. This is like the seed that falls on the rocky soil. We avoid suffering and substitute something more palatable and to our liking.

[Edited: Contrasting a funeral I officiated at on the previous Tuesday evening that had many ears opened and the evangelizing work of Robert Fisher who was a member of Peace and had passed away and how he brought Jesus to many through his mentoring in AA. One man said Bob was his sponsor and mentor for 17 years ... "He literally saved my life!" The value of word and dead to keep the ears open and the message received.]

Third, Jesus says it’s the world. We have many cares, some that even steal away the joy of listening to the Word. Yes, at times the word of God is joyful but we have work to do, whether from our employer or a teacher at school or even well intention friends. We may be concerned about our income, our children, the rising expenses of health care, and other essentials to our life – as our costs go up … sometime our income goes down. What to do?

When you deprive yourself of preaching and the word you steal the Good News God wants you to hear.

The devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh make up the unholy trinity that keeps us from hearing and bearing fruit – they block the word if you will. The meaning of the Third Commandment, thou shall keep Holy the Sabbath day, calls on hearers not to despise preaching and God’s Word. It needs to be “set apart” which is what holy means, yet when you are listening problems and a lack of understanding happen and then this is precisely what occurs. The Preaching … and God’s Word are both despised.

But God’s Word is heard, and when it is - understood - what blessings! 

Jesus said to the Twelve,

“But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (vv 16–17).

How does that happen? Jesus answered the disciples’ question this way:

“To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given” (vv 11–13).

Did you hear that? Hearing and understanding God’s Word is given; it’s a gift.

You have just been gifted … Just now. Again … you have been given the Spirit of God in Christ. For many of you, that first happened at your Baptism. Your eyes have been opened to see that Jesus truly is the Son of God who came to take away the sins of the world by dying for you on the cross. And you continue to hear God’s Word that kills the sinner inside and raises the new man to life … just like the seed that dies in the ground and then sprouts and grows and eventually bears fruit. It is the listening to God’s Word and his preaching that does this.

With his death on the cross, Jesus has conquered the devil, the world, and our flesh. This gives us the authority and the comfort to pray, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” This evil is not just some impotent, inanimate, impersonal substance. It is the evil one, who steals the Word from our hearts, who tempts us with suffering, and coaxes the world to follow him.

But our Lord has overcome the evil one, and in faith in his victory we may pray confidently and resist the snares and traps he sets. Our Lord has chosen you – dear friend - to receive this gift of faith so that you may hear and understand. This is grace and grace alone. No merit on your part has caused this, but our Lord and his love for you give it freely.

Jesus teaches the disciples to sow the Word of God liberally. There are no places, regardless of their potential to grow, where the Word of God may not or should not be preached. The Sower, in the parable is spreading seed everywhere … over the path, the rocks, and the weedy areas. That’s because God’s grace is for everyone. Everybody who hears the words you have heard today may be certain that Jesus really has died and has risen for them, has forgiven them, has given them eternal salvation.

Bearing fruit is the work of the Spirit!

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

Amen


Monday, July 10, 2017

Sermon July 8-9, 2017

Martin: The man! Video series for next 5 months on 2nd Weekend
Title: Monastic life, God, and Love in the Spirit!
Text: Romans 8:35-39

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the daylong;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Peace in the monastery for Luther was doing things. The schedule was certainly difficult. Prayer, fasting and daily work was the life Luther entered. His focus was on God and how to make peace with an angry God who was ready to condemn … him.

Monastic life was hard, regimented and scheduled. Some of you may have experienced this type of life in your families growing up or it may sound familiar to those of you who have served in the military - When to wake, when to sleep, when to work and when to eat were daily scheduled. The attitude of the time for Luther, the people, and the church was that God was watching you … every moment of your life … and what must I do to be acceptable to him.

It’s also how we feel as kids, don’t we? Under the watchful eyes of our parents we feel less than free. It is only after we are out of the house and school that we really know how truly free we were … in our parents house … no bills, didn’t pay for food, and everything we needed was provided for us.

Throughout scriptures God is present among his people:

16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” Gen 28:16

1God is our refuge and strength, very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
[Jesus said] “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matt. 28:20b


God is always with us.

In Luther’s day vs. our own people believed God existed. They worried about his attitude towards them and were convinced that he was angry with them.

Today … people have crafted God in their own image … and are only angry with people and policies that go against their lifestyle, feelings and belief … going so far as to want to change God and his word to fit their own desires.

Some of the attitude in Luther’s day was brought about but a misunderstanding of repentance. Turning from sin or being sorry for sin is much different from “Doing Penance.” Do you ever feel that way as well?

When my own father told me to “Go to your room and think about what you had done.” It wasn’t the time in my room that my father was looking for and wished me to have … but he was looking for a change of attitude in me.

The misunderstand of repentance still has many trying to appease God by what they do rather than turning from sin to the one who restored peace between God and man – our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Luther, as a priest, even forgiveness found in the Lord’s Supper brought terror.

“How can a sinful man hold the body and blood of Christ in his hands without being damned?” he thought.

1 Cor. 10:16 would eventually bring him peace:

16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

The body and blood of Christ are present along with the bread and wine. In the supper the bread and wine remain and we truly eat bread and drink wine but also in a sacramental union we also receive the real body and blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and the strengthening of our faith.

Some still today see the Lord’s Supper … as a burden rather than gift. It makes the service longer they might say. It takes too much time. Why do we need it so often … even three times a month?

But God’s word tells us:

26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 1 Cor. 11:26

The supper is gift not burden! It brings peace and forgiveness! Luther would come to find this out. It is not for all though … but only for those who believe Christ’s words “This is my body” … “This is my blood” … “for the forgiveness of sins.”

Even those with the tiniest of mustard seed like faith receive all that Christ has promised … forgiveness and peace in and through this blessed gift.

Even if it is mocked by the one presiding … “Bread thou art and bread thou shall remain and wine thou art and wine thou shall remain as Luther found in his pilgrimage to Holy Rome does not change what Christ said it is … his very body and blood … for you.

Ultimately we all, like Luther, take time to come to a full knowledge of the truth. We struggle with things of God because we are still in the tent of sin and in a corrupted world.

But like the Apostle Paul and Martin Luther we can rejoice.

38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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

Monday, July 3, 2017

Sermon July 1-2, 2017

Title: Being lost in Christ is life eternal!
Text: Matt 10:34-42

38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Yam Sing came from China to California and was brought to know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [through the proclaimed word of truth]. When asked before baptism concerning his own faith, how he found Jesus. "I no find Jesus at all; He find me," was the answer from the converted man, an answer which showed the work of God’s Holy Spirit in him, and which showed that he had learned something of the love of Him who came to "seek and to save that which was lost."

S. S. Advocate.

Being lost in Christ is life eternal!

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

We as a people certainly know the difference between peace and war. The sword of war was brought to our shores after the Declaration of Independence was ratified on July 4, 1776.

It read in part:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

To achieve these self-evident truths peace fell into war for a time. Thankfully those who fought for our freedom and the life, liberty and happiness we all pursue were victorious. The war continues to rage in our life and work, on college campuses, and in the politically charged debate and talk that stretches across this great but troubled nation.

But peace … true peace came to the Earth at the promised birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He came to restore the peace that was lost through the fall into sin and the separation between God and man. Peace was earned, not by we who broke the peace but at the cross by Jesus Christ, where the price of sin was paid in full and satisfaction was finished.

God and man are now at peace but war still rages.

There is also another effect of God’s peace and the Gospel being proclaimed.

Maybe you’ve experienced it? Jesus tells his disciples:

36 And a person's enemies will be those of his own household.
Man against father and daughter against mother, daughter-n-law and mother-n-law will be at odds. Even during the Revolutionary War the colonists were divided between British Loyalists and American Patriots dividing families and loyalties within homes and families.

Christ says also that there is only one truth and one way, only one way for true peace. This sounds very similar to last week’s reading and Jesus’ warning as well.

37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life in this life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Where Jesus says that he came not to bring peace but a sword we need to understand this a bit more. What is the sword that Jesus Christ brings that his disciples should be aware of?

Paul gives us a glimpse in Ephesians chapter six when he uses the metaphor of putting on the whole armor of God and he here also gives us a better picture of who the fight is truly against

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood … but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

The fight is real but many times the true foe is hidden. It may appear that the fight is against father and son or mother and daughter and these fights will have real battle scars of a true fight, but the truth is first that those who are opposed to the word of truth proclaimed and received by the work of the Holy Spirit are lead by a different spirit … the spirit of darkness whose fight is against the sword that Christ has – the word of God. Paul gives us the armor:

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

The armor that is put on has different functions:

14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

All of the armor that is given for the use of the disciples and us is defensive.

All that we put on gives protection from the darts of the evil one though one … is given for our use as a weapon. The sword of the Spirit which is the word of God!

Being received into Christ is your great reward!

Ill.

I had a conversation a number of years ago with a friend who I had been witnessing to. I had invited him to church and he said, “Sunday mornings are the time that my wife and I do things and go places.”

His wife was not a believer or interested in hearing about Christ at all.

I asked, “Do you get up early Sunday and do things?” He said, “No, we don’t really get up until about 10:00 am.” So, I said, “Why don’t you go to an 8:00 am service and you can be back home before your wife gets up and 10:00, then you have the whole day to spend together? I’ll even help you find one.” “No, that won’t work.” “Why not, I asked? Because she’ll be mad that I went to church … she thinks it’s stupid.”

Ultimately, they got a divorce. Both were at fault in the relationship. Unfortunately, their marriage was not built on the hope and comfort that Christ gives.

38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life in this life will lose it, even if it appears that the love of wife, brother, sister, father, son-n-law, daughter-n-law or whomever, is a reason to forsake Christ and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Being lost in Christ is life eternal!

Jesus comforts us all:

40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward.

Your reward is in Christ. He has given you the most blessed reward of eternal life which is the prophet’s reward and the reward of a righteous person … Jesus Christ! It is yours because you are His!

This gift is not only for you but for all who have been brought to faith by the work of the Holy Spirit.

42 Whoever gives one of these little ones a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” Your reward is held fast in Christ by God Himself and you are His now and for eternity!

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sermon June 24-25, 2017

Title: Fear not for God knows you, loves you and is with you!
Text: Matthew 10:5, 21-33

32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

The Bohemian reformer John Hus, who lived about a 100 years before Martin Luther, was a man who believed the Scriptures to be the infallible and supreme authority in all matters of faith. He died, burned at the stake, for that belief in Constance, Germany, on his forty-second birthday. As he refused a final plea to renounce his faith, Hus's last words were, "What I taught with my lips, I seal with my blood."

Source Unknown.


Fear not for God knows you, loves you and is with you!

10 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

These are the twelve that Jesus sent out, instructing them. But the bulk of our text today points to what await those who profess faith in Christ.

21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

The work of those who were sent would not be fun or easy. Persecution would be part of the lot of those sent. Not only would the world hate them but so too their family, brother, father children and so on. Christ says,

Have no fear of them … proclaim the truth! 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

This past week was to be my vacation … and it was … to an extent.

The Monday before my vacation began I got a call at church. It was from Carol Cutcher daughter of Glenn Blackerby one of my shut-ins.

Pastor: “Hi Carol, How are you and how is your dad?”
Carol: “Hi Pastor, I’m doing well and my dad has never been better. He went to be with Jesus today.”

Well, I was sad to hear of Glenn’s passing and Carol was going to meet with the people at Coats Funeral Home so I said, “I want to do your dad’s service so let me know when it is and I’ll be available.”

Glenn Blackerby was a dear man. Married to Dorothy for 63 years he was changed after her passing about 8 months ago. Not that he lost faith … but that he lost patience. He wanted to go and be with Jesus and with Dorothy whom he missed greatly.

I was blessed to do Dorothy’s service about 8 months ago and knew Glenn would get there soon enough. As we visited at his home he would say, pastor I want to go be with Jesus and Dorothy … I’m ready. I would say, “I know you are Glenn and Jesus will call you to be with him in his time and way but not just yet. It may be because I just need someone to visit.

Glenn and Dorothy … were a lovely couple and demonstrated a faith lived out in love and service to others. I remember so fondly Dorothy exiting the service and shaking hands with a pleasant thought and Glenn, grabbing my hand and saying:

A mother goes into her son’s room to wake him for church Sunday morning. When she told him it was time to get up he said, “I’m not going!” Why not his mother asked? “I’ll give you two good reasons,” he said. “One they don’t like me and two I don’t like them” “Well,” … his mother replied. “I’ll give you two good reasons why you’re going.” One, you’re 47 years old and two, you’re the pastor!”

Life and faith and … jokes we’re the lifeblood of Glenn Blackerby and his life’s joy left him when Dorothy passed on to heaven.

That is part of our lot as well. To endure sin, death and the devil and we wait for that call that will come for each one of us to go and be with the Lord. At times in this life evil invades our life as that police officer at Flint Bishop international airport found when he was attacked with a knife. Other times death comes and wakes us all to that reality that death is real.

I’ve done 8 funerals this year and only Glenn’s was for a regular attending member. All others were either for those who requested a Lutheran Pastor because there had been a Lutheran background or lapsed attendance. I always am willing to serve as it is an opportunity to bring the word’s of Christ to those who need to hear … and at a time that they will listen.

I spoke with pastor Merrell as there was a call to do a funeral in Ortonville this coming Monday and though I really could use a break I called and offered to do the service for a lady who had a Lutheran background. Thankfully another pastor called earlier so I don’t have one this Monday but I remarked to Pastor Merrell, “I know how we can grow the church! Get people to need a Lutheran pastor … before they die.”

As Glenn Blackerby was known to say:

Life is like a roll of toilet paper …
… you never know when the end will come.

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Christ has promised that he has a room prepared and where He is you too will be also. And He gives you and me the work to do with this promise:

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, John 14:12a

The work of God is this, to believe on him whom he has sent.

God calls some to proclaim that truth publicly but he calls us all to speak these truths to those who need to hear, in good time and bad and at time of joy and at time of sorrow.

As our epistle reading for this day reminds us:

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

“To them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1: 12).

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

Funeral Sermon for Glenn C. Blackerby June 20, 2017

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

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.

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

I’m Pastor Russ Tkac of Peace Lutheran Church of Waterford and I have had the blessing of being Glenn’s pastor for the last 4-1/2 years though I’ve know him for many more years.

Glenn and Dorothy … were a lovely couple and demonstrated a faith lived out in love and service to others. I remember so fondly Dorothy exiting the service and shaking hands with a pleasant thought and Glenn, grabbing my hand and saying:

A mother goes into her son’s room to wake him for church Sunday morning. When she told him it was time to get up he said, “I’m not going!” Why not his mother asked? “I’ll give you two good reasons,” he said. “One they don’t like me and two I don’t like them” “Well,” … his mother replied. “I’ll give you two good reasons why you’re going.” One, you’re 47 years old and two, you’re the pastor!”

That was Glenn Blackerby! A man who loved life, Jesus, his wife Dorothy and jokes.

As the reading from Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us:

3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;

For Glenn that time to be born was January 14, 1930 and his time to depart this life for his eternal home was 87 years later on Monday June 12th.

Though we all hope to hold our dear loved ones close and save them from this fate … it is appointed for each one of us … and it is a goal we all will achieve.

But in the Gospel text for today 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 Glenn’s passing we can also have comfort as well. Jesus tells us that He has a place for us, and that included Glenn Blackerby, and it has been prepared for him and he has now taken possession of it.



Glenn knew Jesus and trusted Christ, and seeing Glenn and Dorothy in church over the years I got to know him and his faith in Christ. Of course I also got to hear his jokes – some tame, and some a bit rough, and some a bit long – especially when members of the church were trying to exit and he was holding up the line - but always jokes that if nothing else … made Glenn laugh.

I had a joyful time visiting with Glenn his home and over the last few years and in the hospital and bringing communion to him as it was difficult for Carol to get him to church on a regular basis. Carol would always tell me how they would stay up too late watching the old westerns on TV and sleep through the service time in the morning. I half expected one of his songs today to be the theme from Bonanza or Gun Smoke! But Glenn always really enjoyed receiving the Lord’s Supper at his home to strengthen his faith even though attending church was hard.

I visited Glenn and Carol monthly and we always had a nice visit. He would be sitting in his chair but was able to talk and communicate as he always did though a bit quieter and slower … Glenn confided to me that he missed Dorothy terribly, as we all do. He told me that he told the Lord that he was ready to go and be with him and Dorothy again. He so looked forward to going home and being with Dorothy and a heaven prepared for him.

We can all see the effects of time on our faces as we look into the mirror each morning and in my case an old man looks back where a young man once stood. It is the effect of sin and a broken world and as much as we might all hope to have the blessings of a long life like Glenn’s, the reality of death is real and sooner or later we will all answer the door when death knocks. But too, like Glenn, we can have comfort and peace because:

Death’s sting has been swallowed up in victory by Jesus Christ and we can all have comfort in His blessed work, and this blessed Good News.

As we together grieve the loss of our beloved Glenn and think about this frail existence we all inhabit here in this world, we can still have peace.

I rest beneath the Almighty's shade,
My griefs expire, my troubles cease;
Thou, Lord, on whom my soul is stayed,
Will keep me still in perfect peace.

Charles Wesley.

The Psalms can bring comfort at times like these.

Psalm 4:8 (ESV)
8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 27:1 (ESV)
27 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 31:5 (ESV)
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

Psalm 73:26 (ESV)
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Comfort and peace, is what Glenn knew. That Christ had come to rescue him and you can know that as well. Comfort and peace, knows the joy of Christ Jesus in your life by God grace and mercy.

Comfort and peace, is being called to follow Christ by God’s Holy Spirit who indwells all believers and is called the comforter even by Jesus himself.

For Jesus Himself says that:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Dear friends, you too have access to the father as Glenn did through Christ Jesus our Lord who came to live, suffer, die and rise again for you and who will give to all true peace found only in His saving arms that were outstretched upon the cross as He gave up His life for you.

Because of Christ’s purifying death he allows you too, like Glenn, to depart in peace where all who trust in Christ will be with him forever!

So when the trials of life burden you and the storms of life rage and when even death is near, rest in the peace of Christ no matter the storms of life, but rests in the loving hands of Jesus the savior who reminds us in John’s gospel the wonderful comfort that Glenn knew:

7 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)

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

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.

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

Amen

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sermon June 10-11, 2017

Martin: The man! Video series for next 5 months on 2nd Weekend
Title: Luther’s world, God’s wrath and Peace Eternal!
Text: Phil 3:7-9

7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and 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—

Those words of Paul to the Philippians could have been written from the pen of Martin Luther – but not yet – as we will see and learn in the video series Martin the Man.

Martin’s upbringing was hard, the time that he lived was hard, his parents were hard, and school – being caned 15 times for not preparing his Latin lesson correctly… was hard. This is not the world we live in today or that many of us grew up in.

My own discipline at home and school, like many of yours, was harder then today but for me the blood did not flow for stealing a nut. The threat of punishment for me was real. My own dad would come home from work and ask my mom to “Line them up and tell me which one I need to hit!” Though interestingly, I don’t remember ever getting hit.
Luther was not so lucky. While my own dad could whip his belt off and have it ready to use like a gunslinger from the old west … the punishment was:

“Go to your room, bend over, and wait for me.”

Luther’s view of God the Father was somewhat molded by his own view of his own dad and those who had authority over him. If his own father brought blood flowing punishment for stealing a nut … what possibly could he expect to receive from a Holy God whom he had sinned against in thought, word and dead daily?

Contrast Luther to my own experience:

I was sent to my room for something. It might have been for teasing my sister or brothers who all were younger and smaller than me. I waited a pretty good amount of time, as my dad would say, “Go think about what you had done!” Then the time arrived, my dad came into my room, as I bent over the bed and heard the belt snap to the ready position. But instead of pain and punishment … I felt a gently breeze. As I looked around my dad had a rubber band plane in his hand and the propeller was spinning blowing a breeze in my hair. My dad sat down and explained what I had done and why it was wrong but also … I was forgiven and received grace.

My view of God from my own dad and Luther’s were quite different.

Luther’s dad wanted Martin to be a Lawyer. His dream was more money, security and power.

My dad told me “Russ, whatever you do for a living you’re going to do it a long time so do something you like … and … if possible it would be nice to have heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.”

As a Roman Catholic Luther knew what penance was. Doing something to make up for what you had done wrong. You go to the Priest and confess you sins and have some satisfaction and prayers … so many Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s for Luther to say and as a young Roman Catholic for me as well.

“Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been six months since my last confession. These are my sins.” I teased my sister. I didn’t listen to my parents. I ran in the hall at school. I smoked a cigarette at the neighbor’s house.”

My penance: 5 Our Father’s and 5 Hail Mary’s.

As a young boy you learn to say them really fast: Our Father …. Hail Mary …. Done! I’m good to go for the next six months. No though of sin no thought of death. I just did 5 Our Father’s and 5 Hail Mary’s God and me are good.

While Luther feared God’s punishment I was blissfully naive to think that I was good with God because of what I had done … my own penance.

Luther thought:

Does, God condemn sin? Am I a sinner? Does God condemn me? And he had to answer yes to all of these questions.

At home Luther received punishment and when he did penance he wondered … “Have I done enough?”

In the movie, Martin Luther Heretic that I show the confirmation students there is s scene with Martin and his father superior Johann Staupitz talking.

Staupitz: “Martin, I’m told that you were in the confessional yesterday evening for six hours?”

Luther: “Yes Father Staupitz. If I commit a sin father I must confess it.”

Staupitz: “Six hours … so Martin are you now free from sin?”

Luther: “No father Staupitz. Father if I’m wrong, I’m ready to be corrected. Father can any man ever be free from sin? Then, how am I to escape?

Staupitz: “Escape! Martin you’re not in prison.”

Luther: “Not in prison. You don’t think so. There are walls all around me father. Can I be free from sin? No. Is there a day of judgment? Yes. Is God indifferent to sin? No. Must I be damned? Yes. …You see there are four walls father and there is no way out.

Staupitz: “Let Israel hope in the Lord with God there is mercy.”

Luther: Father is God merciful? If God’s merciful … let there be no judgment. Let there be no damnation and no hell. Let’s all go to Heaven and live with the angels.

Staupitz: “Martin you feel abandoned; you feel powerless; you’re filled with anger; you hate God. You think you’re the first man who ever doubted the goodness of God?

Luther: “Tell me what to do father!”

Staupitz brings some practical wisdom to Luther’s life.

Staupitz: “Eat more food, get more sleep … learn more about God.

Martin Luther Heretic: DVD quoted

By God’s Spirit Luther was brought to the proper understanding of God’s mercy and forgiveness … but it would take some time.

Many people and burdens would come in his life as we will see throughout this series. But through the word of truth and by the Spirit’s work God would open Luther’s eyes to hear and see the goodness of God.

For you and me … we have received that same Spirit of God to know his mercy, his love and his forgiveness … and even like a gentle blowing breeze, through the propeller of a small toy plane from a loving father, brought forgiveness, we can all know that God’s mercy and grace is real and God’s forgiveness through Christ work is truly ours.

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

Amen

Sermon June 3-4, 2017 Pentecost

Title: The Spirit of truth has been poured into your hearts!
Text: Acts 2:1-21

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;

The Day of Pentecost begins the work of the church. In a dramatic way the Spirit comes.

2 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The work of the church begins with the Spirit; the rushing wind, the fire, speaking in foreign tongues, hearing in one’s own language, quite a dramatic scene. The Festival of Weeks – grain harvest – those Jews gathered together in Jerusalem – and the Spirit comes just as Jesus had said 50 days after Easter and 10 days after he ascended.
There were quite a variety of people too:

9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

The church has a language too. For some it’s German, others English or Spanish, for some Hebrew or Arabic, Japanese or Indonesian. But also the language of the church has one important element and that is it … begins with and is understood through the Spirit.

28 “And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions. Joel 2:28

The Spirit has now been revealed as the one sent to glorify Christ. We have a greater measure of His manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s work in our day than the believers of the Old Testament had.

"At the time when Jesus preached, He promised the Holy Spirit, and therefore the Holy Spirit was not yet there - not that He was not in existence in His person, but that He was not fully manifested – or made known - in His revelation and in His work.

For that is the special work of the Holy Spirit - that He reveal and glorify Christ, that He preach and give testimony concerning Him. That this office of the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ the Lord in the preaching of the forgiveness of sins, and how one may be delivered from the power of sin, death, and the devil, and have comfort and joy in Christ.

All this was at the time of Christ, unheard of and not mentioned; that deliverance, salvation, righteousness, joy, and life should be given us through that man, Christ, whom people did not yet know."

Popular Commentary of the Bible P.E. Kretzmann NT Vol. 1 Pg 452

I made a home visit after Memorial Day on Tuesday and the lady had a page from her Portals of Prayer marked with a fold. For some reason she didn’t like it or understand it and wanted my help.

The text was John 21:17

17[Jesus] said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” … “Feed my sheep.
The basic devotion began by asking the question, why do we love our church? It then went on to list some reason. Maybe we belong to a small group, or have strong friendships; maybe its youth activities or things for the kids; It might be a friendly church or a nice pastor or maybe we’ve been there for years and can’t imagine going anywhere else.

It continues that often there are social reasons that we come – personal relationships, friends, social activities or things we do … that in our mind no one else could do or at least do as well as we can.

But it continued that why we come is for the reasons that Jesus sent the Spirit. So that we might be taught, and fed on God’s word, which brings to our ears forgiveness when we repent and points out our sin when we are blissfully ignorant and happy to just keep on sinning.

The pastor, whether we like him and his personality, or think the church would be better served with someone else - is whom God has placed through the call of the church to be the under shepherd here, to proclaim God words through the working of God’s Holy Spirit. – to bind up we who are brokenhearted.

Portals of Prayer May 7, 2017 Dcs. Rachael D. Thompson (summarized)

Ill.

My old neighbor Don had an interesting story. I must have been talking to him about changing churches from Heart of the Hills in Rochester to St. John Lutheran.

So Don said, “I’ve changed churches too … but I’m in the same building!”

I didn’t quite understand what he was saying so he explained that his church which was Baptist had grown too big for the building and moved. When the building was sold to another church a Methodist one Don stayed there and started worshiping with them. Later the Methodist church grew too big for the building and moved and it was a Pentecostal that moved in … and Don stayed. But for Pentecostal’s they don’t see the manifestation of the Spirit and his work in the same way as we do. They see the Spirit’s activity as the important work and rather than pointing to the work of Christ on our behalf, desire to see the Spirit work in a miraculous way like on the Day of Pentecost. The speaking in tongues for the Pentecostal is a normal working of God through the Spirit and unless you demonstrate that gift and speak in tongues – which to them are heavenly and indiscernible languages … at times, interpreted by others … who might also speak in indiscernible languages. So - after awhile … as Don said – “of the mumbo jumbo” – he left.

In a sense Don had it right and wrong. Wrong, because the building is not the church. It may be the place for a time where the church gathers and meets, and even other members of the body of Christ might meet and gather in that same place. But the true church is where the word of God, both Law and Gospel, is rightly preached and the sacraments are rightly administered and by the working of the Holy Spirit Christ is made known.

Even those Christians who wrongly understand the work of the Holy Spirit and expect the miraculous working of God as on the Day of Pentecost as a normative sign of the Spirit’s work and faith in our day still have the word of God and God can and does work and teach through that word too.

Maybe that is why Don finally left.

Pentecost has come … and before the Lord returns to judge the world he tells us through the words of Peter’s sermon:

19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

But we are all left with this great comfort because the Spirit of truth has been poured into your hearts!

21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

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

Amen

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sermon May 27-28, 2017 Memorial Day

Title: Christ’s desire is that you remain in him!
Text: John 17:1-11

11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me that they may be one, even as we are one.

On the church sign out front I put these words last week: “Christ is our cornerstone – Blessed Memorial Day.” For we the church the freedoms we enjoy in this country have come at great expense for so many that have given their lives to protect our freedoms. It is right to remember and to honor those this Memorial Day at these National holidays.

As the church though, we stand on the Rock, who is the cornerstone of our faith Jesus Christ and his work; on him alone do we trust. It is my hope and prayer that all who today and in the future serve to defend the freedoms we enjoy know and receive the comfort that is Christ Jesus as savior and Lord.

Our freedom required cost and sacrifice. As we learned in our voter’s meeting last Sunday our own Skip Bushart’s, Fallen Heroes Memorial Foundation builds memorials around the state to honor those, like his son Damien who gave their life in service to our country - as their motto states: “Lest they be forgotten.”

In his High Priestly Prayer to the Father our Lord Jesus says:

17… “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.

The gift of eternal life is given, not earned, and while heroes in this life deserve to be remembered … you don’t have to be a hero to receive the gift.

We receive all sorts of things in this life that we don’t deserve. My parents and many of your parents sacrificed much to make sure that we had the very best they could give. We were fed and clothed, taught what was right and wrong and how to treat others. My parents made sure that I received an education, even though I might have wanted to skip school and play they knew this was important for me and would help me in the future.

At 48 when I went back to school to prepare for seminary I said to my dad when he asked me how my schooling was going, “It’s going well but all the other kids tell me their parents are paying for their schooling.”

My dad said, “Well that’s nice Russ … if you were still a kid I’d be paying too.

As Christians my parents knew something else that was good for me too and Jesus makes it clear in his prayer.

3 that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

It was important for my parents that I knew Christ and that he knew me. Why? Well Jesus says … this is eternal life … that we know the Father and Jesus who the Father has sent. So they brought me to the means that God gave and I was baptized and given new birth in baptism one month after being born. My parents knew this was good for me just as they knew that I needed their physical care around the clock too.

I didn’t know what I needed. But seeing children today that are newborns I understand now that when they’re hungry - they cry, when they need changed - they cry, when they need anything - they cry.

Maybe it is a sign of the death we are born into. If children were born and left to make their own way … without their parents care … they would die, so God in his mercy has given his means to his church and we as loving parents bring God’s mercy and forgiveness to those in need … from the youngest to the oldest.

3 And this is eternal life that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
As Jesus said last week in our Gospel, he would not leave us as orphans to care for ourselves but that the Holy Spirit, the comforter who he was sending from the Father would bring true comfort. This gift is given to you and me and all through word and sacrament and it brings real peace.

Peace though in our world is fleeting. The bombing at a pop concert this past week in England once again shows the decay and brokenness of this world. Death too comes to those young and old in this life and we know not the day or hour. We remember this weekend those who have given their lives defending our freedom and we remember the hope that is found only in the one who is the way the truth and the life – Jesus Christ – the only way to the Father.

It is comforting to know that in our text Jesus is praying for you and for me and for all far away born in and struggling with sin, death and devil.

Jesus says:

9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.

The reality of life and death in war came to me in a real way at the start of the first Gulf War. My brother Tom, an Annapolis Naval Academy Grad had finished flight school, was on the US Ranger in the Persian Gulf, and was in the first flight wave sent in during Desert Storm. I remember praying at work for him and for all who served. Thankfully he survived and following a 30 year career retired as a Captain with distinction. He works today for Northrop Grumman on Long Island. In an interesting twist his EA6B Prowler that he flew for his entire military service is placed on permanent static display at the world headquarters. His company had no idea that the plane coming in was his but on the pilot cockpit it says Captain Tom Tack.

I am thankful for my brother’s service and for all who serve. I also in prayer lift up all who continue to serve that they remain safe but most importantly that they know Christ and receive the gift of eternal life in his name.

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


                              Song - Pray For the Boys - The Earls of Leicester


Sermon May 20-21, 2017

Title: The comforter points to our true comfort, Jesus!
Text: John 14:15-21

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

The soldier's first article of faith is summed up nowhere more eloquently than in an 1865 letter from William Tecumseh Sherman to U.S. Grant: "I knew wherever I was that you thought of me, and if I got in a tight place you would come … if alive."

Source Unknown.

In the life of the Christian, the good news is that you will not be left alone. The Holy Spirit is with you and will comfort you whenever you are in a tight place … you do not have to hope that He will come to you … for He dwells with you and will be in you!

The comforter points to our true comfort, Jesus!

Jesus, in John 14 is sending the comforter, the Holy Spirit, to be our comfort and our hope. He had told the disciples about that hope and not to be troubled, to believe in God and also to believe in Him and that He would be going to prepare a place for them, that where He is they too may be also. To Thomas’ question of how they could know the way Jesus replied that He is the way the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him … and to Philip’s question to show us the Father, Jesus said, whoever has seen me, has seen the Father!

There is a very close connection between Jesus and the Father. To see Christ is to see God and to know Christ is to know the Father; one God in essence, uniqueness of persons. The Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father but the mystery of the Godhead in there for the first disciples and for us as well.

Today’s reading begins:

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

Well that’s comforting. We poor sinners confess unto you that we are by nature sinful and unclean! God’s Law we can’t keep and his law shows us our sin and that we fall short daily needing the comfort and forgiveness only given us by God himself through His comforting absolution pronounced by His called and ordained servants, in the stead and by the command of Christ.

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17even the Spirit of truth.

The Disciples are being comforted that when Jesus leaves them and ascends back to the Father, the helper, the Spirit of truth, will be with them [and us] forever.

The Holy Spirit's role is to shine the light on our Lord Jesus Christ.

Seeing the building of our church here at Peace with the new lights lit out front as I turned in the drive, I realized that this was a great illustration for the message today.

When lighting is well done, the lights make visible the building when otherwise it would not be seen for the darkness. This illustrates the Spirit's role and work. He is, the hidden light shining on the Savior.

It is as if the Spirit stands behind us, throwing light over our shoulder on to Jesus who stands facing us. The Spirit's message to us is never, "Look at me; listen to me; come to me; get to know me", but always, "Look at him, and see his glory; listen to him and hear his word; go to him and have life; get to know him and taste his gift of joy and peace." The Spirit, we might say, is the matchmaker, the celestial marriage broker, whose role it is to bring you and Christ together and ensure that you and Christ Jesus stay together.

James Packer, Your Father Loves You, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986.

But you don’t … and I don’t. We don’t love God or our neighbors as ourselves. We fall short, we miss the mark. It’s like having directions to our destination and always getting lost … always making the wrong turn!

Some years ago I had a good example of this as Bob Poe and I drove to the Doxology conference in DeWitt, MI. I’m driving, knowing that I need exit 87. Bob says, “Pastor, isn’t this our exit?” Oh yes it is Bob, thanks for letting me know as I quickly move right to exit the freeway!

On the way home I’m heading north on I-69 towards I-75 when I hear, “Pastor, isn’t this our exit?” Oh, thanks again Bob for pointing that out to me, as I once again move right quickly so as not to miss the, I-75 exit and our way home.

In a similar way the Spirit shows you when you miss the mark, when you are going the wrong way and He, as the Helper who will be in you and with you forever, points you back to Jesus … so that you once again see the error of your sin and where you fall short, but also see the way the truth and the Life … Jesus, who kept the commandments – the Law - perfectly for you and who the Spirit will continue to point you to, Christ Jesus our Lord – the light of the world and the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world and His gracious forgiveness and love for you and for all who love God and are called according to His purpose!

The comforter points to our true comfort, Jesus!

Jesus said:

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

Ill.

There was a young boy living in Paris at the end of the World War II. He had been orphaned by the atrocities committed within his city by the occupying German forces. He scrounged around the ruined city as best as he could to find food, clothes and shelter. But everyone was living in desperate times and he found that people either ignored him and or could find nothing to give him. Even the soldiers who had freed Paris from the German army seemed to not care about his situation.

He had heard the Priest in the church, long before war had broken out, talk about God and Jesus and living the Christian life. But with the hell on earth that the war had brought he had since lost hope of any sense of Heaven.

One cold morning, he was wandering down the street, staring into the windows of shops and cafés. He stopped outside the window of a small bakery. The smell of the fresh bread made his stomach ache with pain. He was so held by the smell and sights of the bakery, he didn’t notice the American soldier who had stopped in the street and had begun watching him with interest. The boy hardly noticed the G.I. as walked past him and into the store. He did however notice the large bag the baker was filling for the G.I. with rolls, breads, pastries and other foods. And the boy could hardly breathe when the soldier exited the shop, knelt down and handed him the bag.

The boy looked at the G.I. with astonishment and gratefulness. Finally, he looked at the soldier and asked him the question that was running through his mind: “Mister, are you Jesus?”

Kyle Meador

It is Jesus who gives us every good and perfect gift. It is Jesus who will not leave you as orphans. It is Jesus who took your sin upon himself at the cross burying it in the tomb and it is Jesus, who asks the Father to send the Helper, the Spirit of truth, to you, so that you can continue to see Christ, the author and finisher of your faith Jesus.

Christ says:

Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

By the Spirit, Christ will make Himself known to you! Because death could not end Christ it will not be your end. Because of the work of the Spirit in the life of God’s children … you will know Him and His ways and you will be found acceptable because you will be clothed in the robes of the God/man Himself Jesus Christ the Righteous one.

Remember:

In the life of the Christian, the good news is that we will not be left alone. The Holy Spirit is in you and with you and will comfort you in all trials … because you do not have to wonder if He will come to you … for He dwells with you and will be in you!

The comforter points to our true comfort, Jesus!

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

Amen

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sermon May 13-14, 2017

Title: The way of Jesus leads to life eternal!
Text: John 14:1-14

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

It is a joy to celebrate the blessings that come to us through our mothers and a blessed mother’s day to all. Many of you joy in the mother’s you still have and some, I’m sure long for the mother’s they once had. Some were blessed with godly step mothers and others had mothers that missed the mark of what good mothering should be.

As a pastor for the short time of only 4 ½ years I’ve done a number of funerals; some for mothers, and some fathers and uncles and dear friends. Funerals are a place of grief. Death is not something any of us wants to think about or deal with but as was shared in my message from last weekend … it comes unexpectedly, as it did with my own mother.

For us death is who we are. We are born dead in trespass and sin. The wages of sin is death. On Ash Wednesday as the ashes are placed upon our forehead in the sign of the cross we hear these words: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Death at times pretends to be comforting. You may hear at a funeral, “He’s in a better place.” Or, “Well, she’s not suffering anymore.” I assume it is how we who remain deal with the loss of a loved one. But the reality is that death is not a good thing. It is the consequence for we who are born in sin.

It is what awaits you are me. It is with that in mind that I remember some of our dear Peace loving mother's who have gone to be with the Lord: Hilda Klein, Joan Kitzman, Lucille Schreiner, Betty Gedeon, Betty Buchannan, Carlene Constable, Marge Goit, Dorothy Blackerby, Eleanor Young, Maude Lewis, Frieda Fleaner, and Sandy Krueger.

In our gospel today Jesus said to his disciples:

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In 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? 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.

This text is often used at funerals. It is for comfort and hope. Death is real but so is Christ’s rescue.

What also is interesting is the context of the hope that Jesus gives here in the beginning of chapter 14 with the last line of verse that he says in Chapter 13 where he turns to St. Peter and says,

“I tell you the truth, [truly, truly] before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!”

Not only then but now as well. We disown the savior daily and not just three times. It is daily. It is willful, and it is often, day in and day out until we die.

It is in that context that Christ’s  - Let not your hearts be troubled - is truly good news and why it is so important that it be shared at times of great grief and suffering. Peter was standing tall … thinking he knew all:

When Jesus washed the disciples feet Peter asked:

“Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”

Then Peter said:

“You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have [no part of] me.”

[He tells them] 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. He tells them to love one another, to serve one another, to care for one another … because where he is going they cannot come.

Not in their own strength at least.

And Peter in his own strength says: Lord, why can’t I follow you? I’ll lay down my life for you. But in reality that’s you and that’s me. We think we can stand. In the midst of trial, in the midst of temptation, in the midst of sin … we fall … denying the Lord and the rooster crows that reality in our own lives.

I thought about this with confirmation last Sunday … right in the middle of the Rite of confirmation as I am going through the Rite with the confirmands I say:

“Do you in tend to hear the Word of God and receive the Lord’s Supper faithfully?

Do you intend to live according to the word of God, and in faith, word, and deed to remain true to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, even to death?

And finally:

Do you intend to continue steadfast in this confession and church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?

To all of this they answer, “I do.”

In a sense saying like St. Peter: I’ll lay down my life for you!

But, the confirmands add to their “I do.” These words: “By the grace of God.”
That is what Peter missed. His strength and our strength, as it is connected to faith, life, and eternal life … is in God’s hands and by his grace.

As I wrestle with so many who are confirmed and no longer come to church regularly … I remind myself of the old pastor’s proverb:

Jesus is God and I am not!

In chapter 13 Peter is confused and asks Jesus, “Lord where are you going?”

Thomas in chapter 14 asks:

5 … “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

To this Jesus answers:

6 … “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

It is really good news to hear that God has washed you and he has washed our confirmation students as well. They like we have been made partakers of eternal life. It is God who through the means he has provided of Word and Sacrament will keep them and us in the one true faith.

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In 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? 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.

That is good news for pastors ... for you dear members and for ... mothers!

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

Amen

Monday, May 8, 2017

Sermon May 6-7, 2017 Confirmation

Title: In Christ the good Shepherd is made known to the sheep!
Text: John 10:1-10

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

On a wall near the main entrance to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, is a portrait with the following inscription: 

"James Butler Bonham--no picture of him exists. This portrait is of his nephew, Major James Bonham, deceased, who greatly resembled his uncle. It is placed here by the family that people may know the appearance of the man who died for freedom." 

No literal portrait of Jesus exists either. But the likeness of the Son who makes us free can be seen in the lives of His true followers. 

Bill Morgan.

That is the joy that we celebrate today as we receive new members – Olivia Fisher and Brianna Squanda through First Communion, and Loren Robar and Logan Thompson through Confirmation. They have entered the sheepfold through the door which is Christ and know the voice of the Good Shepherd.

To be in the sheepfold of Christ is to be in his care. This happens by Christ’s work. Through word and sacrament God makes us his. Though dead in sin he makes us alive in Christ and calls us to rise from the death of sin to eternal life. All of these children have been brought from death to life through the water’s of Holy Baptism.

There are many thieves and robbers. They point us away from the door of the sheepfold and direct us in other ways to enter. “Come over here or climb over here!” They call. But sheep know the voice of the shepherd and it is him only that they hear and listen too.

Do sheep ever stumble and get led away?

Ill.

Dr. Andrew Bonar tells ho

In the Highlands of Scotland, a sheep would often wander off into the rocks and get into places that they couldn't get out of. The grass on these mountains is very sweet and the sheep like it, and they will jump down ten or twelve feet, and then they can't jump back again, and the shepherd hears them bleating in distress. They may be there for days, until they have eaten all the grass. The shepherd will wait until they are so faint they cannot stand, and then they will put a rope around him, and he will go over and pull that sheep up out of the jaws of death. 

"Why don't they go down there when the sheep first gets there?" I asked. "Ah!" He said, "they are so very foolish they would dash right over the precipice and be killed if they did!" And that is the way with men; they won't go back to God till they have [reached bottom], have no friends, and have lost everything. 

If you are a wanderer - the Good Shepherd will bring you back [by the power of the Holy Spirit. But more importantly God will never leave you nor forsake you but will be with you and by his Spirit point you to Jesus and his cross and salvation in his name.]

Moody's Anecdotes, pp. 70-71.

We all get enticed to go our own way. I’m finished with Confirmation! That may be the start. Then we stop attending worship or come only occasionally. We think that other things are more important. We focus on the sweetness of the tall grass so to speak. 

For me it was guitars. I loved the way they looked. I loved the way they sounded. Life focused on attaining a good one … then another … and another. Rock bands and music became my god. I worshiped at the altar of self. Christ fell into obscurity. Why wouldn’t he … I skipped church to go to breakfast. I fed my belly and not my spirit.

Then death came … unexpectedly. 

My world was broken. My mother got cancer … and she died.

Life didn’t seem as joyful. The wages of sin came crashing down on me too.

My future was changed. A grandmother for my children was taken from me and from them. Where was hope?

As I sat in the quiet of my own ledge – sitting in my chair in the basement - and having fed on all the tall grass of life of music, of guitars and the hope of things being good, successful, and going my way, I was left with the reality of what awaits us all … death, and at some point we all die.

What awaits me, I thought? What awaits you?

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.

I’d been listening to thieves and robbers. I’ve been worshiping wood, fashioned into the shape of a guitar that was my hope instead of the wood of the cross where Jesus died for my sin and the sin of the whole world. It is not in the wood but in the one who came to be my hope and to give me hope that I find true peace. My mother died and I lost much but what I found was that Jesus found me. In fact he never left me but was with me when I when away calling me back. By the Holy Spirit he continued to point me to the cross, even when I fought against it thinking I didn’t need church. I can do this myself. But Jesus says:

9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
The door of Holy Baptism has brought you to this place. You cave been buried with Christ and raised to newness of life and now you confirm that

YES, Jesus has rescued me! The door that is Jesus Christ himself has promised me eternal life and I now confirm this, in the presence of these witnesses, that I am … Jesus Little Lamb!

A child’s song; Yes! But it is through child like faith that we believe, receive and have all that God has promised.

Jesus says:

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. [But] I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Let us joyfully together sing the Hymn; I am Jesus’ Little Lamb. It is in a bulletin insert with a fourth confirmation verse for us all.

You are all his little lamb, Christ is the door and the sheepfold is his church where he forgives our sins, feeds us his true body and blood and strengthens our faith now and for eternity!

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

Amen

Monday, May 1, 2017

Sermon April 29-30, 2017

Title: With burning hearts we tell others the Lord has risen!
Text: Luke 24:13-35

32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem.

It is interesting to me how life has changed. Years ago, when I was young spending time with cousins and aunts that lived in other states was limited to a week or two vacation with the family and a trip to visit. There was then the longing and wishing that we could see each other more often. I tried writing letters and being a pen pal with a few cousins but it didn’t work for very long.

Today though, I’ve reconnected with cousins, aunts and other relatives that live out of state. We do it through email but more and more frequently through Facebook and messenger. That can be a very wonderful medium. It is nice to have instant connectivity with friends and loved ones. Much of what we do is to share memories, pictures and events in our lives and remember good times and celebrate special events like, graduations, weddings and retirements. Facebook provides a place to connect, reconnect and stay in touch. Important news – like my Suzuki motorcycle and passing my riding test - needs to be celebrated and shared!

In the Gospel today we read of two followers of Jesus on the Emmaus Road.

15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself … came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

Remember this:

Now what they were discussing was the very hope they had … that this Jesus … was the promised Messiah. But, He had just been tried, and was crucified, dead and buried, and they heard something about being raised from the dead? They were distraught as they walked away from Jerusalem towards village of Emmaus, all hope seemed lost. If they had facebook you can imaging the their post of a sad death.

But they were kept from recognizing the resurrected Lord.

We all are kept from recognizing our Lord and savior too. It is only by a gift of God’s grace, through faith that we can see … who Jesus is and what he has done. It doesn’t come from our own reason and understanding, so that is why our children are taught from little children to hear God’s word and learn about Jesus and to be in worship … so they, like we, can recognize HIM! 

It is also why the responsibility for their continued involvement in church is so important and is the responsibility of their … parents and grandparents, guardians and friends. So, they too can know Jesus.

John’s gospel tells us so.

3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3

This Gospel truth gives faith to those who hear by the working of the Holy Spirit. This faith points back to Jesus, and tells us who he is as both God and man and what He came to do – for you and me. So that our eyes are opened and that we see and recognize Christ!

As the disciples continued walking:

25 Jesus said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Much like Jesus, those who bring God’s word to those who need to be taught, do the very same thing. They explain in the scriptures the work of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ and how through the entire word of God, both Old and New testaments, all that Jesus came to do. Social media too is a way for the message to be shared both individually as Christians and by our church as we share our faith and proclaim God’s blessings in Christ. It is a way for the cloud of unbelief to be lifted by God’s word and working.

10 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. (1 Cor. 10:1-4)

The reality of Jesus as both God and man is not one way of many ways to the Father, but he is THE only way. He is the way the trust and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Jesus scripture teaches.

Social media is one place to shine the light of Christ in your life. When I worked in the piano business I had my Confirmation cross on my wall behind me as a silent witness to who I am and what I believe for all to see and our confirmands, Lauren Robar and Logan Thompson will confess their faith and trust in Jesus … in whom they have been taught next Sunday. They have been found prepared and are ready to confess their faith and for that we thank those who made sure they got to class each week.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

Now pay close attention to this:

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.

Next week too, we will have Olivia Fisher and Breanna Squanda make their first communion at Peace Lutheran Church and they will be fed in a miraculous way the same body and blood of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ when they receive the bread and wine for the forgiveness of their sins.

It is comforting to know that by faith their eyes will be opened to Christ and His forgiveness through this same blessed gift. This very same gift that is here for you and me today and always … is for all who have been instructed and who receive, not only the bread and wine but the very body and blood of Jesus, and believing and trusting God’s word … also receive forgiveness, comfort, peace and the strengthening of their faith.

With burning hearts we tell others the Lord has risen!

32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

It is my hope and prayer that God by his means of grace, through word and sacrament, will keep all who receive the Lord’s gifts connected to Jesus and recognizing Him. May we all continue to grow in faith and in service to neighbor as we remain an important part of Christ’s body his church.

We look forward to these new members … as fellow saints … not Junior members, but fully an important part of this body of believers here at Peace and we keep them in prayer and love as they grow into those who will one day lead the church of Christ for many years to come.

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

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

Amen

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sermon April 22-23, 2017

Title: Praise, proclaim, and rejoice in the Lord!
Text: Acts 5:29-42

41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

At the Council of Nicea, which was an important church meeting in the 4th century and also the place where the Nicene Creed is named after there were 318 delegates that attended. Of that number fewer than 12 had not lost an eye or lost a hand or did not limp on a leg lamed by torture for their Christian faith.

Vance Havner

Martin Luther writes:

If we consider the greatness and the glory of the life we shall have when we have risen from the dead, it would not be difficult at all for us to bear the concerns of this world. If I believe the Word, I shall on the Last Day, after the sentence has been pronounced, not only gladly have suffered ordinary temptations, insults, and imprisonment, but I shall also say: "O, that I did not throw myself under the feet of all the godless for the sake of the great glory which I now see revealed and which has come to me through the merit of Christ!"

Martin Luther

In our first reading for today in the Book of Acts things are not going well for the apostles. This is a bit further in our timeline than where we are in our gospel reading for today where the disciples are locked in the upper room for fear of the Jews … but as you see not much is different.

Jesus has been killed and raised from the dead but fear and uncertainty abounds. Thomas won’t believe unless he has proof and for this is better be tangible … fingers in the nail holes and hand in the side kind of stuff. 

But in our reading from Acts chapter 5 it is the Apostles who are receiving the wrath of the Jews from the Sanhedrin – the council of the Pharisees and Sadducees – for preaching the name of Jesus and performing miraculous signs wonders and healings in his name. It fills the high Priest and those with him with jealousy so much so that they had the apostles arrested and put in jail … unfortunately a fairly common place for those proclaiming Christ than and even now.

But during the night the angle of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out of the jail, told them to stand in the Temple courts and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and his life, death and glorious resurrection for the sins of the world! 

So they went and did all that the lord commanded them.

Giving Praise, proclaiming the good news, and rejoicing in the Lord!

What a surprise as they send for the apostles and they are not there – even though the doors are still locked and the guards posted. They report their finding and look they are back preaching about Jesus. So they go and get them again and bring them to the High Priest and the whole Council saying in a sense

“We told you to stop teaching in this name … this name of Jesus.”

But Peter says:

“We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Ill.

“This past Palm Sunday was a dark day in Egypt. Suicide bombings at two Coptic Christian churches, one in Alexandria and the other in Tanta left 45 people dead and many more wounded. Although there has been an uptick in violence against Christians in the region, Egypt is hardly alone in a long list of countries -- many in the Middle East -- that are violently hostile towards Christians.

Persecution averaged at 90,000 a year over a 10 year period from 2005-2015.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/04/14/christian-persecution-how-many-are-being-killed-where-are-being-killed.html

Not a good sign … but why so much hatred against Christians?

Gamaliel may be a good source for our understanding. Being a teacher of the Law and held in honor by the people … even being the Apostle Paul’s teacher. He stood up saying:

“Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”

The truth that we are sinners in need of a savior causes many to rise up in opposition just as it did in the time of Jesus as the Pharisees met.

33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.

People rise up in our day too and want to do away with this Good News that is the gospel. God’s word brings one of two responses repentance or anger. Repentance hears the word and turns away from sin and back to God while anger hears the repentance call and says,

“How dare you judge me! Who are you to judge me? What an unloving thing to do!”

But in reality it is the thought of:

“What if it’s true? What if eternity apart from Christ is damnation? What if it is just the lies of the devil that I’m hearing?”

“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” NIV

If Christ is God in the flesh than apart from him we are dead in trespass and sin or buy god’s Holy Spirit’s work we repent, turn back to him and our saved. This turning also though turns us away from the sin we are broken by and we desire the things of God; his word, his gifts his forgiveness.

Do you desire to be in his house? Do you know God’s desire for you?

St. Peter in his first epistle reminds us.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

God will guard his children through the work of the devil which at times seems overwhelming. And this is my hope as I felt down following Easter services so hoping to see those who come at Easter … to see them desire to be in God’s house each week to receive his gifts.

8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

It is God who wills and works in you and in me. May he continue to work to bring joy, peace, and salvation to all of those he gives faith to in his time and in his way.

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

Amen

Sermon April 16, 2017 Easter!

Title: Created, Redeemed and Called!
Text: Colossians 3:1-4

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

A gathering of friends at an English estate nearly turned to tragedy when one of the children strayed into deep water. The gardener heard the cries for help, plunged in, and rescued the drowning child. That youngster's name was Winston Churchill. His grateful parents asked the gardener what they could do to reward him. He hesitated, then said, "I wish my son could go to college someday and become a doctor." "We'll see to it," Churchill's parents promised. 

Years later, while Sir Winston was prime minister of England, he was stricken with pneumonia. The country's best physician was summoned. His name was Dr. Alexander Fleming, the man who discovered and developed penicillin. He was also the son of that gardener who had saved young Winston from drowning. Later Churchill remarked, "Rarely has one man owed his life twice to the same person."

Ron Hutchcraft, Wake Up Calls, Moody, 1990, p. 22.

Today we celebrate the blessed resurrection of our Lord. For in time past the world languished in sin and death reigned supreme. The hope of the Messiah and his coming had been prophesied.

Jesus Christ the incarnate Son of God came down for this very purpose. To humiliate Himself, to put on human flesh and become man; to cover or veil his divinity for the purpose of keeping the Law, which we could not keep, and then to stand in your place as the, Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

For the 30 or so years of Jesus’ life and earthly ministry, the power of His divine nature was there with him all the time, perfectly united with His humanity so that He might accomplish the work that He was appointed to do by putting His power to work in His resurrection from the dead, for you.

This body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which took the scourging, the nails and the spear in his side and who truly died and breathed His last on the cross, was buried in a tomb, given for this purpose by Joseph of Aramathea, and then had the large stone rolled in place to cover and seal the tomb as a testament to the finality of death. Sealed, closed and finished. Jesus, himself used those last words of finality as He exclaimed on the cross, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Death was not a maybe, but was a certainty, (on Good Friday), just three short days ago.

The certainty of the grave and death has now been change forever. As Paul tells the Colossians in our Epistle reading for today.

3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Col 3:1-4)

Created, Redeemed and Called!

What joy! This week, Holy Week has been changed forever for you and me. 

By Jesus and his death and resurrection we too can know that we will rise. Psalm 100 has become one of my favorite Psalms. Last year it was read at Joan Kitzman’s funeral during Holy Week. What joy in the life of a believer!

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

Know the joy now that was recorded long ago in Psalm 118.

17 I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the LORD.
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.
20 This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous shall enter through it.

Jesus lives and for we, who believe, the Victory is Won!

Created, Redeemed and Called to be his child!

5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”

We live, because Jesus lives! By faith we have eternal life and this eternity begins at the moment we believe. The reality of heaven is a present reality for you and me, trusting by faith in Christ’s finished work. We have all the joys promised now, though we only get a foretaste or the future reality when we too will be given our glorious resurrected bodies.

Christos Aneste Χριστός Ανέστη

Alithos Anesti Αληθώς Ανέστη

Christ is risen, He is truly risen!

May the Love of God, the blessings of Christ and his resurrection this Easter, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you now and forever.

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