Monday, September 30, 2019

Sermon Sept 28-29, 2019

Title: By childlike faith eternity is ours!
Text: Matt. 18:1-11

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

We celebrate this weekend the feast of St. Michael and all Angels. Michael is called the great prince in our Old Testament reading and in Revelation Michael and his Angels fight against the dragon and his angels also know as that ancient serpent, the devil, and Satan saying:

“Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.

Is it human nature to want to know who is the greatest?

Or, maybe you want to know your standing compared to your fellow man? At least you and I can be sure that it is a true sign of the motivation of the sinful nature. If you like me grew up or were around in the 1960's and 70's you remember Muhammad Ali or Cassius Clay as was his given name and his statement:

“I am the greatest!”

He said this and then went about proving it on the word boxing stage. In his later years he became an old man that struggled with Parkinson’s disease passing away at 74 years of age a non factor in boxing or any other sport for that matter.

But the disciples come to Jesus with this question of “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

And our Lord answers in reply in a very visual way as He brings a small child and places this child in their midst.

2 … “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

It brings to mind our Children here at Peace and the looks, wonder, answers and faith that these children exhibit by God’s working in them in Sunday school or the corporate praying of the Lord’s Prayer as they did with us last week in church. The weight of the world has not quite torn them down and replaced this childlike faith with the cynicism of the world and the reason that drives our lives and our motives at times.

Jesus continues:

4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus goes on to reveal the blessing and curse in his object lesson for the disciples and also your benefit.

5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me.”

In other words, to receive theses precious gifts of God requires the same humility and childlike faith that is given to you by the Holy Spirit. With this faith you are given access to the blessings of Christ and are connected to all that He has merited for you.

6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,

Wow! This takes on a whole different character doesn’t it? How do you cause one of these little one to sin? Are children ever drawn into an illicit activity? Are they ever used for illegal gain?

Ill.

In one incident in Philadelphia show this to be the case. Police are looking for a woman who used a young child to steal someone’s wallet inside a nail salon after the entire theft was caught on tape.

The suspect tells the child to slide the purse over to where she was sitting, and then she reaches into the pocketbook.

The video shows the child taking out a small wallet and handing it to the suspect. The child then slides the purse back over near the victim before the suspect and the child walk out of the store.

Police hope that the video will help to bring the woman to justice.

https://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2013/06/18/video-woman-uses-child-to-steal-wallet-inside-kensington-nail-salon/

Jesus tells of the consequence of sin involving a child when He says:

It would be better for him or in this case her to have a great millstone fastened around his/her neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

What about your child and mine? Having been given faith by the Holy Spirit in their baptisms, have they been nourished or have they been spiritually starved, left without the word of God to strengthen and build their faith?

The truth is that sin can be committed; the sin of commission or it can be a result of things not done, the sin of omission. Teaching your child the ways of Christ and bringing them up, as Paul writes to the Ephesian Church in his letter when he says:

4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph 6:4)

I take a special note that he writes to fathers because you and I as dads have a special responsibility and are also specially called and gifted by God to do what he calls us to do.
Jesus calls out, “Woe to the world for temptation to sin!” and we who are of the world to understand the consequence of sin and the temptation that leads up to it. Jesus knows that in the brokenness of this life you will have tribulation ... surgery and cancer diagnosis come to light, so I can attest to the struggles of this life. But Jesus says that:

… it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!

And He talks about some severe medicine:

8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

Jesus in talking to the disciple brings them comfort in the storms of life as He tells them to not despise one of these little ones, but welcome them and the faith that they posses by God’s Spirit in them.

Christ is speaking His truth, from His mouth, to the disciple’s ears. You too hear the word of Christ Jesus our Lord preached to you from this pulpit but it is still God’s word and it is still His comfort just the same.

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (Rom 10:14)

Christ Jesus is the gift of life and the savior of the world. His virgin birth, sinless life, death in your place at the cross, burial and glorious resurrection and ascension to heaven above was accomplished just for you. This childlike faith is given by his glorious gospel bringing you to this childlike faith by God’s word and sacraments. Baptism is called the liquid gospel because it bring with God’s word of promised connected to this water life from death, connecting you as a precious child to His life, death, burial and resurrection.

In Him the power of Satan is destroyed and you triumph over the devil with this same childlike faith given to you as a gift of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the love of God 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

Monday, September 23, 2019

Sermon Sept. 21-22, 2019

Title: The Lord is our true master!
Text: Luke 16:1-15

13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” 14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

In our lesson today, Jesus brings to the ears of the disciples, and all his followers, a parable or story which illustrates serving God and money.

The previous parables, from the weeks leading up to this, had been directed to the Pharisees, the teachers of the law and the scribes, and now the disciples too would benefit from the lord’s words.

How do you deal with a bad manager? Especially one, who has not been looking out for the owner’s best interest?

2 And [the owner] called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’

It is not an uncommon situation for many who serve in positions of responsibility. As Pastor’s we are called stewards of the mysteries of God. We are called to faithfully divide the word of truth, to preach both the Law and the Gospel, and to administer God’s sacraments rightly.

As managers, in companies, you are given the responsibility of managing someone else’s money and possessions and you have to deal in a favorable way with it … or as the parable says … be replaced.

Or, as my brother-n-law Mark once said in speaking of a co-worker:

“He would make a great manager, if under constant supervision.”

So in the Gospel lesson much conniving and cooking of the books ensue.

Managers at time try to figure out a solution.

4 I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may [still think well of me] receive me into their houses.’

For managers and for us all, self preservation is a strong motivator. What can we do in this life to better our situation or to preserve ourselves against bad business decisions or circumstances?

5 …, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 … ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ … sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 … ‘And how much do you owe?’ …, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’

The object for the manager was to do damage control. With this scheme the shortage would disappear, or the income would look to be much smaller than the owner thought. And if he is found out, the customers would still think well of him.

It has even been suggested that the manager had falsified the amounts in the original billings and pocketed the surplus.

Certainly this is not out of the realm of possibilities.

Popular Commentary on the Bible P.E. Kretzmann Pg. 354


Ill.

At a meeting I attended many years ago it was made known that a co-worker had defrauded the company. He had sold instruments for the company but kept the trade-ins for himself and sold them for his own profit. The company was unaware of the trade-ins, as the manager’s paperwork showed only a cash transaction with no trade in information listed.

The manager personally picked the trade in instruments, the customers thought they got value for their trades, and then he sold them out of his garage – to other customers - so the company lost the profit on the trades and future company business. He made some money being very shrewd.

Faced with a financial crisis many are clever though dishonest in solving problems.

Even the master in our lesson, when he received information concerning this latest trick of the manager, could not withhold a certain amount of praise. He praised him, not on account of his unfaithfulness and his fraud, but on account of the cleverness in handling the situation and getting himself out of a very unpleasant predicament in this life.


Popular Commentary on the Bible P.E. Kretzmann Pg. 354

There was a saying that my boss told me many years ago. It was said about those who had paper wealth by speculating in internet stocks. He would say:

“Money easily gotten is money easily lost.”

10 “One who is faithful in little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in little is also dishonest in much.

Now, the world makes provision for the future, that is, they look to put themselves and their families beyond care, as soon as possible, it is the focus of their life and they make use of every possible advantage through: retirement investments, pensions, savings accounts , homes, and 401K and IRA investments to name a few. Maybe we’ve all thought to call on Ric Edelman – "that’s rice delman" - to look over our investments to make sure we are cared for in retirement to get the most out of our investments and social security.

God’s children, on the other hand, often are anything but energetic and diligent in the things that pertain to God and His kingdom.

They forget that death is real and the end is coming - Sometimes much sooner than we’ve planned still we’ll all give an account to the Lord in regard to our work with the gospel for Him – in this life.

Jesus here admonishes them that they should so conduct their lives, and the money entrusted to them and as Christians should use their money and time in the interest of the kingdom of God, in establishing and extending the Church of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

Kretzmann


I’ve said it before but it bears repeating when God calls us to give of our Time, Talent and Treasure he doesn’t mean to pick one and forget about the others but to use all of our means to his glory and we get to decide how much of each we’ll give.

12 [But] if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Ill. continued

Interestingly, my boss’ son who mediated the affair of our dishonest manager at a meeting with all the managers of the company had compassion on the worker and showing him mercy allowed him to remain with the company, though under supervision of another as he had a wife and two small children.

And the true blessing and gift that God gives you and me is faith in His son.
He has given us life through the death of His son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who came to live suffer and die and rise again for you and for me. This bears fruit in service to our neighbor, not by works of righteousness that we do, but by true joy in Jesus Christ our Lord.

We can joy in the faith we are given as a gift as children of God knowing that all mercy falls under His control and that he uses you and me as his hands and feet in the world to reach the lost with the comfort of the Gospel message.

You are rich and truly bless because God has given you riches in Him and they will surpass and far exceed those promised by the world.

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

Amen

Monday, September 16, 2019

Sermon Sept. 14-15, 2019

Title: Rejoice for you are the Lords!
Text: Luke 15:1-10

6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Jesus came for sinners and we can joy in the good news that He has found you and me!

15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear [Jesus]. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

The charge against Jesus has always been harsh. “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” How might that reflect on you and me? Are you accused of being like those with whom you associate?

Interesting, is it not? Jesus came for sinners and that very fact has the Pharisees and scribes grumbling.

Ill.

Years ago in the distant eons of the 1970's I was playing at a club in Wyandotte and a young Priest came with a friend of mine to hear us play. As we talked during a break he remarked: “I wonder what my parish would think of me hanging out in a bar and listening to a rock band?”

And then he said: “It is probably the place I should be and the place I could do the most good.”

When you think about it … where did Jesus spend most of his time? And who did he spend that time with? For sure He was among the people, but here and in many other places in scripture He was with the Pharisees, rulers, scribes and the Jewish leaders teaching … and rebuking … and calling.

What does that say about sinners? They’re everywhere; in the church and out of the church. Those who are piously leading religious lives … or so the impression seems and those who are far away from God … at a bar … hanging out … or so the impression seems.

For Jesus and in His day the perceptions were the same. Some who seemed religious were not and those who were seen as sinners, as in the stories of tax collectors and adulterers, were those God called to faith and used as witnesses to the working of God - through the word - in their lives by His Spirit.

3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?

Ill.

As a manager in a music business I had the owner’s trust. Having keys for three stores I would leave my home in Waterford, stop at his store on Dixie Hwy. and pick up the bank deposit and then go to the Bloomfield Hills store dropping off the money and paperwork for Waterford, and the Plymouth Store that I managed. Each day I handled the business and cash for at least two stores.

One day, I helped my co-worker Alan sell a guitar. At times the drivers delivering and picking up pianos picked up the paper work and cash as well returning it to the office. When it came time for commissions to be paid, Alan didn’t have the guitar sale I helped him with on his paperwork. I looked everywhere and called all the stores and my boss. It was nowhere to be found. The guitar was listed in inventory and there was no sale. It was like it vanished.

I felt terrible. I for one had responsibility for my worker at Plymouth – to see that he got paid for what he sold and to my owner to see that he received the money he had coming. It was nowhere to be found.

After much searching though and talks we all decided to move on my boss told me “Russ it is not that I don’t value the guitar sale but we have to get back to doing business.” It was baffling … but we had business to do.

Over a year later, I had some dead time at the store and decided to clean my desk. Also my briefcase was full of old and outdated paperwork and contracts. As I got rid of that I noticed what looked to be a dollar at the bottom back of the briefcase. As I reached for it I was surprised to pull out six one hundred dollar bills and the contract for one guitar sale for Alan.

I called my boss, “Ben, do you remember that deal on the lost guitar over a year ago?” “Yes”, he said. Well, it was in my briefcase and it will be in the bank today! He said thanks and hung up. He didn’t sound real happy while I was ecstatic.

I talked to his son Jim later that day. “Did you hear about the lost guitar?” I asked. “Yes I did great news!” he said, “Your dad didn’t seem too excited.” “Well, he was mad … said you need to be more careful in dealing with these things and not so careless with the companies money.” I told him, “Dad … be thankful, you have an honest employee. That is worth so much more than $600.”

In our lives losing money can be important. For the Lord it is people, you and me, who have great value to him.

Jesus came for you dear friends - the one lost sheep - just as each one of us are lost at birth. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save those that were lost.” (Luke 19:10)

Sinners need Jesus and His Word and Spirit in their lives; or everything is hopeless.

5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

The place of strength … the high Priest’s shoulders is where the sheep is carried.

Jesus carries the lost sheep that have been found upon his shoulders as the parable continues.
6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The joy of the Good Shepherd is you!

The joy for sinners is that you are not so lost that Jesus can’t find you. As He says in the parable of the lost coin:

8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it?

Jesus Christ by the working of His Holt Spirit will continue to seek you.

9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’

Objects are lost because people look where they are not - instead of where they are.

Or, as might be said: People are lost because we preach the gospel where they are not - instead of where they are.

10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Maybe Father Mike was right and being where people need to hear the good news is important.

15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Jesus will find the lost because He will never stop seeking you and those who need to hear this blessed joy that:

Christ came for sinners. Rejoice dear friends … he came for you and you are the Lords!

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

Amen

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Sermon August 31, 2019 - with sermon video


Christ exalts the humble!



Aug. 31 Sept.1, 2019 LSB Setting I with Holy Communion
Title: Christ exalts the humble!
Text: Luke 14:1-14

10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Humility or prideful arrogance can drive the decisions that we make and can cause us all at times to strive to reach for places of honor for ourselves in this life.

7 Now [Jesus] told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him,

Ill.

You’ve been to weddings I’m sure as I have. A few years ago Monica and I attended a wedding for our niece Nora and her husband Justin. There was beautiful weather and the wedding was outside at the Casino on Belle Isle with the reception afterward in the hall, decorated with linen and the finest food that you might expect. It was a beautiful wedding!

As we entered the hall with tables throughout … we noticed all the tables had names for seating. We walked through the hall and found our table, off to the left of the head table in a corner - a table with our names and the names of my brother, sister and their spouses.

And as you might expect, it wasn't the table of honor. That was reserved for the wedding party and the tables closest were reserved for the parents of the bride and groom. Monica and I, though relatives, were not elevated to the level of Nora and Justin’s family.

Had the table seating designations not been clearly visible, you can imagine just how confusing the seating might have been. Possibly even causing someone to come to us to ask us if we could move to the back corner so that the bride’s parents and soon to be in-laws could take the seats of honor closer to the head table.

In our lesson today, Jesus was in the house of a Pharisee.

And as a guest Jesus had noticed just how those who had been invited, Pharisees and lawyers, were looking to have the seats of honor at this dinner. Ordinary, feasts of the Jews were usually attended to in a more casual and informal manner, but with this diner and in the wedding feast of Christ’s illustration, rank and status among the guests was important.

… do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, Jesus says. Luke 14:8

I always found the irony in Jesus’ statement here. He is an invited guest to this diner, and he is the only begotten Son the God … who could be more distinguished?

Yet here, God in the flesh is among them, but as was read earlier in the Gospel, the ruler of the Pharisees and the lawyers who were in attendance had another agenda.

There just so happened to be a man with dropsy in attendance at this diner.

Now, I looked up this medical condition reference and dropsy could be understood as the equivalent of excessive fluid of the soft tissue or similar to congestive heart failure today.

We've all seen this condition in our friends, neighbors and relatives and fellow members here at Peace. Jesus, knowing the Law better than the Pharisees and lawyers, knows that it is quite alright to show acts of mercy on the Sabbath, so He heals the man, saying to those whose intent was to trap Him as a violator of the Law:

“Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” Luke 14:5

6 [And to this question], they could not reply to these things.

So the intent of their deceit at the feast is crushed by Christ’s healing of the man, but Jesus doesn't stop there. He now points out the true arrogant nature of their sitting in the place of honor when one truly more distinguished than they … has been invited … and is now sitting among them.

The arrogant sinner will stand before the throne of grace covered in their own righteousness but: Christ exalts the humble!

You and I also exalt ourselves at times; taking too much credit for things we’ve done in the world or in the church. You do … and I do. The sinner always minimizes sin and exaggerates virtue. It’s what sinners do. We all see the sin of others clearly … in view … with no distractions. But, our own sin remains masked in a veil of acceptance, false piety - which is nothing more than the quality of being overly religious, reverent - or indifferent.

Ill.

Last weekend in Bible Study we were talking about God’s chastening and discipline. The Lord disciplines those he loves. I don’t know about the Lord who is slow to anger, but I do know I have wearied people in my life. My boss of many years had a hard job.

When I began working with him he was 23 and I was 25. We worked side by side for his dad. We were coworkers, piers and friends. This relationship lasted for over 20 years. Eventually he bought the company from his dad and became the boss. At one point he even asked me to be a signer on the company checking account placing his trust in me. But, he was the boss and I the worker. We still had a great relationship and respect for each other.

But … he was the boss.

Each year we had job performance reviews and at one review, my boss was pointing out something I said or did that offended the customer. My perspective and memory of the incident was different than his because it was some time ago and he only had heard the customer’s side of the story.

It was minor and a misunderstanding and wanting to defend myself, I brought up a similar incident that had occurred where he was the offending party and the customer had come to me as the manager of the store to complain.

Here’s the point.

My boss said, “Russ, this is hard enough for me and you need to let me just be the boss and listen.” I did, and I apologized. The Lord humbled me to be mindful of his position as owner of the store and how he needed to run his business.

11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:11

The truth of sin taking a place of honor in your life is nothing new. Luther called it the Bondage of the Will. That our will is bound to sin and that is all it can do, but thanks be to God that because you have been raised to newness of life by God’s Holy Spirit, there is truly Good News that:

Christ exalts the humble!

So, Jesus goes up to the host, the ruler of the Pharisees, who had invited him and He says:

12 “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Those who Christ came to redeem are the poor sinners like us, crippled from birth and lame, blind to God’s saving work in Christ if not drawn to believe through the invitation and working of the Holy Spirit by faith.

You too, dear friends, have received this blessed invitation to His banquet feast and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb by faith. And you receive a foretaste of this feast when you receive Christ’s true body and blood in the blessed table of the Lord, the Sacrament of the Altar – given and shed for you!

It matters not which seat at the table you occupy because the host of this feast comes to where you are – bodily – in, with and under the bread and wine so that you truly receive Him, who is and was and is to come, in a real and tangible way – for the forgiveness of all your sins.

Even though these sins, sill at times wreak havoc in our lives, they are forgiven as far as east is from the west … not to be remembered by the Father ever again.

Christ humiliated himself so that you might be redeemed. At times we too are humbled so that another can be served, who is our neighbor.

You have a defense and a protection that will never fail because it is God Himself, not you, who will protect you because He came to live, suffer, die and rise for each one of you and as a result you are his, the table is set, and you are invited, in fact you have already received all that is promised … in him … rejoice!

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

Amen