Monday, October 16, 2017

Sermon October 14-15, 2017

Title: Bearing fruit is the work of the Spirit!
Text: Matthew 22:1-14

8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

Yes, the Lord gives us daily opportunities to be his witnesses in the world.

This is LWML weekend. We celebrate the work of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League in witnessing the love of Christ to a broken world and all that they do to bring this witness of Jesus Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins to those who need to hear.

Many in our congregation have been or continue to be Christ’s servants through this faithful ministry. But at times others in our midst and in the world see the call to witness about Jesus and what he has done for us fall on deft ears.

The work of the flesh, the world, and the devil can bring to nothing what God intended for good.

Many opportunities are missed. Have you missed an opportunity? I have. The question always is, “Why did I forget to tell them about Jesus?”

22 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.

So Jesus moves right from the master and the vineyard parable from last week to the parable of the wedding feast. The chief priests and the Pharisees had just realized that Jesus was talking about them as the ones who would be removed from the vineyard and it would be given to other tenants.

Now, with the wedding feast parable He once again paints the picture of those who will be welcomed at the feast.

4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’

Jesus calls all to come. He welcomes all who believe and trust in Him

5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.

The chief priests and Pharisees are once again singled out as those who having abused the vineyard and the servants sent to get the master’s good grapes and now in this parable, they are the ones called to the feast but pay no attention or continue to abuse the servants.

So like the master in the previous parable who will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants:

7 The king [too] was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.

So He tells them to:

9 Go … to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

Both … bad and good … those who, to human eyes appear to be worthy, and those who we might assume would never be invited, too are called.

It is very good news that:

Bearing fruit is the work of the Spirit!

The LWML – The Lutheran Woman’s Missionary League is and has been at the forefront of bearing witness for 75 years this year. What a great accomplishment. There Bi-annual budget to serve the needs in our area and around the world for this Biennium 2017-2019 is 2,075,000. Included in that mission outreach are:

Mercy house for woman and children in Flint
Christ for Veterans and Families in the CMS
LCMS International Missions
Lutheran Children’s Books for Families by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation
Lutheran Hour ministries
Labor of Love Lutheran Brail Outreach to name a few totaling $2,075,000 for mission and ministry outreach for these next two years. Thank you ladies!

Those little mite boxes when gathered together grow and it was a blessing for me a few years ago to serve as the pastoral representative for our local LWML.


A story is told:

A man was headed home late from a wedding reception and had about a two hour drive when a friend said to me, "Remember that for every mile you drive there are two miles of ditch".

He said, “I was in the car before that really sunk in, and then it hit me, for every path we walk, there are two miles of ditch along the journey inviting us to veer off the road. There are twice as many chances to stray away from God [into the ways of the world.]

Few of us ever intend to go into the ditch. No one just drives down the road and says "Hey I'm going to drive into the ditch" For most of us, it is simply hugging the shoulder of the road and little by little we move ourselves from the patch of following Jesus and somehow we end up off the road and in the ditch.

The gift of grace and faith becomes rejected and little by little the wedding garment is removed as you once again put on the filthy rags of your own self righteousness. Those rags unfortunately are so comfortable at times that you might not even notice the change. But the reality is there - reject God’s word, reject God’s gifts, return to the ways of the world and if not you or me … maybe it is someone we love.

11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’

The wedding garment is the righteousness of Christ. It is give to you by faith through the working of the Holy Spirit. You are clothed with it in baptism and made Christ’s disciple and follower. The garment of Christ identifies you as one invited to attend the feast and your place is secure at the table.

You are seated there now … in Christ … you have on the wedding garment and by the work of the Holy Spirit he will bear fruit tin and through you.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Sermon October 7-8, 2017

Martin: The Man! Video series 5th Installment
Title: The Word, the Church, the Truth, and the World!
Text: Acts 4:19-21a; 5:27-29 (Readings below)

19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

As we conclude this video series we see God’s word coming out of hiding. As Luther is hidden away – in the Wartburg Castle - he works hard to make the word of God clear and available to the German people by translating the New Testament into the common language of the people.

The church had the power to keep the people subservient to what the church directed and wanted them to know … and we all know that control means power … for a few. Luther and the reformation returned the truth and the gospel to the people. The freedom of the gospel meant real forgiveness apart from the works of the Law. As the Lutheran church emerged it needed to see what this new freedom meant. Luther’s German mass was the beginning of what we understand as the Divine service along with the singing of hymns - another Luther gift and blessing - where we together sing together the one true faith into our hearts and live that faith out daily in love for God and our neighbor.

The Lord’s Supper is and has always been pure gift for us Lutherans who received the true body and blood of Christ in and with the bread and wine for the forgiveness of our sins … nothing more and nothing less. The confessions of the Lutheran church contained in the Book of Concord makes our confession known. The Augsburg Confession in its unaltered state is what we as Missouri Synod Lutherans hold too.

Today the turmoil continues in our lives. It is not the same battle but it is the same fight. The world has become once more the arbiter of truth no matter the side you’re on as there is plenty of blame to go around. Marriage has been redefined and God’s word belittled. Respect is demanded … not earned. Traditional values are replaced with new ones and the family has been redefined. Children are aborted; lives are stilled in a shooting of mass proportions in Las Vegas and race relations are at an all time low. There is no place for that in the lives of Christians who see not the color of the skin but fellow sinners redeemed by grace.

As the gospel for today tells us in the words of Jesus:

38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
This son who was killed is the word of God made flesh Jesus Christ himself.

When the word is rejected, the Son is rejected. That which was not available to the people in Luther’s day – the word of God – has been available to you your whole life. For many in our day, in our life and even in our church it means little. “Take it away, they think, I live just fine without it.” But then we live according to the word of man and man at his core remains evil – as the Apostle Paul calls all born in sin to account in Romans 3.

10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Sounds like today.
Sounds like the protests.
Sounds like our country.
Sounds like our world.

We need a return to the word of God. A reformation if you will again to the truths that God has revealed in and through his word and to the cure that he alone can bring to a dying world

“We are only beggars (before God), it’s true.”

Each day we work as if it all depends on us. We pray, we help, we care, we provide, we love, we forgive and we hope, knowing also that … everything depends on God alone.

Let us pray that just as Martin Luther was used by God to bring Reformation to the church that God also will reform each one of our lives so that we can be a voice of reform and restoration in our lives and in our world.

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


Video A Man named Martin part 5

Monday, October 2, 2017

Sermon September 30 October 1, 2017

Title: By Jesus, who has authority, you are washed clean!
Text: Matt 21:23-27

24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?”

Following the Civil War, a dejected confederate soldier was sitting outside the grounds of the White House. A young boy approached him and inquired why he was so sad. The solider related how he had repeatedly tried to see President Lincoln to tell him how he was unjustly deprived of certain lands in the South following the war. On each occasion as he attempted to enter the White House, the guards crossed their bayoneted guns in front of the door and turned him away. The boy motioned to the old soldier to follow him. When they approached the entrance, the guards came to attention, stepped back and opened the door for the boy. He proceeded to the library where the President was resting and introduced the soldier to his father. The boy was Tad Lincoln. The soldier had gained an audience with the President through the President’s son who had authority to gain access.

Just like the confederate soldier, we are wounded by sin and live in misery. No matter how hard we try we are not able to gain access to God on our own merit. But through the merit of the Son, we are ushered into fellowship with the Father.
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).

Published: Abraham Lincoln as cited by Donald G. Barnhouse; "God's River" Grand Rapids; Erdmans 1958. p 39

23 And when [Jesus] entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”

Who gave you this authority? This is the questioned asked of Jesus. By what authority are you doing these things? Authority has to come from some place.


In 1981 and 69 days into his presidency Ronald Reagan was shot. In the aftermath and confusion there was a famous miscalculation by Alexander Haig, Reagan’s Secretary of State. He claimed, wrongly that – he was in charge of the government. Maybe it was just the inclination of a former general who had once been in charge, or as has been suggested, there was much jockeying for power between those in the cabinet. To this Defense Secretary, Casper Weinberger said: “He’s wrong! He doesn’t have such authority,” Reagan eventually signed over authority to George Bush his vice President, because he had the authority to do so.

Jesus replies to the question of his authority with a question of his own because He knows from where His authority comes.

24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?”

This gets to the chief priests and elders as they know …

“If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”

A least Secretary Alexander Haig was man enough to take a stand in time of crisis even if he was wrong and misguided while the chief priests and elders both show their fear of Jesus and the crowds.

By Jesus, who has authority, you are washed clean!

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee … 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The authority of Jesus was given to the disciples who would build the church through Christ’s means of word and sacrament.

Article VII: Of the Augsburg Confession, concerning the Church says:
1] Also they teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.

2] And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and 3] the administration of the Sacraments. It is not necessary that human traditions, such as, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. 4] As Paul says: One faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, etc. Eph. 4:5-6.

But where is the church? Is it in a boat on a lake communing with nature and thinking about God and his majesty? No. Is it in the better home and living provided for the family? No. Is it where the children want to go because they have fun and feel welcome? No. It is where Christ is and where his gifts are and where forgiveness of sins is found in His name. It is here … at Peace Lutheran Church and countless churches around the world where the gospel is preached and the sacraments are rightly administered according to Christ’s institution.

As both saint and sinner the devil is quick to point our reason and understanding to other things. Yes, the sporting events the band camps the threat that is even imposed that should you miss a practice you don’t play the day of the game. The coach has that authority.

Here is a little cartoon that was posted on facebook by a fellow Lutheran pastor. It has the young boy who after practice tells his coach:

“Coach, I’m really sorry but I can’t play in the game Sunday morning. I’m signed up to serve as an acolyte.”

We all chuckle a bit but the reality of life impacting the church is real. It is real for families and real for kids too and we shouldn’t have to worry that Sunday mornings have to become and either or in life.

Truthfully I’ve heard it said from one parent that confirmation is more important than the sports related activity on Monday night so they worked their schedule around to be here. That is wonderful and a testament to the faith and working of God’s Spirit in the lives of this family.

God works through his means of grace to bring about his will. It is he who has the authority to forgive and retain sins and it is given to His church on earth for your benefit.

2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy [Paul says] by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Phil 2:1-2

You have received your forgiveness from the one who has authority to forgive, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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