Monday, February 25, 2013

Sermon Feb 23-24, 2013

Title: Though you die, yet in Christ you live!

Text: Luke 13:34-35

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

It is possible to live under a delusion. You think you are kind, considerate and gracious when you are really not. You think you are building positive stuff into your children when in reality, if you could check with them twenty years later, you really didn't. What if you could read your own obituary? How do people really see you? Here is the story of a man who did.

One morning in 1888 Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, awoke to read his own obituary. The obituary was printed as a result of a simple journalistic error. You see, it was Alfred's brother that had died and the reporter carelessly reported the death of the wrong brother. Any man would be disturbed under the circumstances, but to Alfred the shock was overwhelming because he saw himself as the world saw him. The "Dynamite King," the great industrialist who had made an immense fortune from explosives. This, as far as the general public was concerned, was the entire purpose of Alfred's life. None of his true intentions to break down the barriers that separated men and ideas for peace were recognized or given serious consideration. He was simply a merchant of death. And for that alone he would be remembered. As he read the obituary with horror, he resolved to make clear to the world the true meaning and purpose of his life. This could be done through the final disposition of his fortune. His last will and testament--an endowment of five annual prizes for outstanding contributions in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace (the sixth category of economics was added later)--would be the expression of his life's ideals and ultimately would be why we would remember him. The result was the most valuable of prizes given to those who had done the most for the cause of world peace. It is called today, the "Nobel Peace Prize."

We too have a prize but of significantly more value:

Though you die, yet in Christ you live!

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”

Death is a reality of life and a reality of sin. Here the Pharisees of all people tell Jesus about the intentions of Herod.

Herod, you may remember, beheaded John the Baptist from prison in response to a dance that pleased him and his guests by the daughter of his wife, Herodias. Herod had bound John in prison because he had told him that it was not lawful for him to have his brother’s wife and now Herod, by the nagging of his conscience for the death of John, believes that Jesus is the voice of John, come back from the dead.

The conscience that tears at Herod concerning John’s death for some reason Herod believes will not bother him if Jesus is killed. But, we all know too well that the conscience is not controlled by the human will but is the Law of God written on the heart of man.

So Jesus tells them:

 “Go and tell that fox, (meaning one being crafty and sly) ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.

Jesus Isn't taking any of it from Herod. He has His work to do and has His sights set on Jerusalem or as He calls, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!

So it is for you and me and in our day as well. Death is the end of this worldly existence. We are battered in this life with sin and its results. At times there are successes but all too often the failures of our lives and the trials we all face seem to be overcome the stories in the news.

This week, we read about the Blade Runner, Oscar Pistorius (26), who made history only a short time ago as the first double-amputee to compete in the Olympic Games being charged in the death of his girlfriend with premeditated murder.

Or we could read of the tragic death of the two 24 year old UK cyclists, Peter Root and Mary Thompson, who were killed in Thailand last Wednesday, having been hit by a truck on their cycling odyssey around the world.

Or, the death of Jerry Buss, the owner of the Los Angeles Lakers at 80 from cancer who made a career as a PHD Chemist, land developer and successful sports franchise owner.

The reality of death comes to both young and old. It is not a respecter of persons and no amount of money can hold it at bay or have it release its steel like grip. Death will come but to whom will you cling for you salvation?

Paul Kretzmann in his commentary poses this warning:

“On the last day those that were Christians in name only will try to frame similar excuses as those from the biblical text, reminding the Lord of the fact that they heard the Word of God in a church where the pure doctrine was proclaimed, that they were baptized, that they were instructed in the Christian doctrine.
‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ (Luke 13:26-27)

And even those that merely lived in a Christian Community, and occasionally permitted Christian influence to graze them, will come and try to state this fact as an argument. But all arguing will be too late. The fact remains that all such people did not accept Jesus and His Word, but stubbornly remained in their sins, and therefore will die and be condemned in their sins.”

Paul Kretzmann pg. 342

Yet … though you die, in Christ you are made alive and live!

34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!
This place, like many places we know, choose to cover their ears at the proclamation of the Gospel and desire to remain in bondage to sin, death and the Devil. However, it is not Christ’s intentions to leave you there!

He laments:

How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

The unwilling, those who cling to their unbelief and refuse the gift of the Holy Spirit and the faith He creates, will push off the saving gift of faith in Christ looking to the pleasures of this world and the joys they bring for a time.

35 Behold, your house is forsaken. ( He continues) And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

And so they brought their punishment upon themselves: their dwelling, the city of Jerusalem, their city, was destroyed and left desolate barely four decades later. They will not see Christ again until the day when He returns in His glory, and when even His enemies, who will then be completely confounded, will have to confess that Jesus is Lord. Then their lips, for the chattering of their teeth, will hardly be able to form the words, and their heart will utter curses in reply; but they will have to acknowledge Christ whom they killed as the Lord of all.

Paul Kretzmann pg. 343

So where is hope? Where is life? Where is peace?

Jesus is our hope! Jesus is our life! Jesus is our peace! He has called you and me by the Gospel having written your name in the lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world!

In Him, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, you will be forever in His presence. The wings of our blessed Lord have gathered you under the pavilion of His rest and you can truly rest from all your labors and grief trusting in His all sufficient sacrifice for sin so that we who name the name of Jesus will be with Him for eternity

Though you die, yet in Christ you live!

Though the Nobel Prize is now known for the expression of Albert Nobel’s life's ideals and ultimately is why and how we remember him. You too can be known, not for your value of who you are and what you do in this life but in the value that the Son of God has placed upon you by His death in your place.

His love is shown by His sacrifice in your place so that you can be forever loved by him, redeemed, forgiven, forever that:

Though you die, yet in Christ you live!

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


Sermon Feb. 20, 2013 Lent

Title: Confession and belief are God’s gifts to you!

Text: Romans 10:9-11

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

In Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer attempts to reconcile the seemingly contradictory beliefs of God's sovereignty and man's free will:

"An ocean liner leaves New York bound for Liverpool. Its destination has been determined by proper authorities. Nothing can change it. This is at least a faint picture of sovereignty.

"On board the liner are scores of passengers. These are not in chains, neither are their activities determined for them by decree. They are completely free to move about as they will. They eat, sleep, play, lounge about on the deck, read, talk, altogether as they please; but all the while the great liner is carrying them steadily onward toward a predetermined port.

"Both freedom and sovereignty are present here, and they do not contradict. So it is, I believe, with man's freedom and the sovereignty of God. The mighty liner of God's sovereign design keeps its steady course over the sea of history."
Confession and belief are God’s gifts to you!

As we think about freedom most of you know what it is. Many of you here tonight and quite a few in our church fought for the freedom that we in the United States today enjoy. Most, I believe, would say that freedom isn’t free but came at a great cost. Yet, for many, in regards to salvation and our coming to faith, believe that the cost of Christ’s death didn’t procure it but that our decision does.

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);

Paul Asks this question to those who will read his letter and it is also applied to us.

“Faith and confession are here mentioned as the two requisites for salvation. So near is the redemption of Jesus to every person in the world, in the Word of the Gospel-message, that it is necessary only to believe with the heart and to confess with the mouth in order to become a partaker of all its blessings. If any person believes in his heart and confesses with his mouth that Jesus is the Lord and that God has raised Him from the dead, then he has the faith which will give him salvation.”

Kretzmann NT Vol. II Pg 55

Confession and belief are God’s gifts to you!

For you and me we must ask ourselves this question: Is Jesus the savior of the word or did he just make a path that we must choose?

Martin Luther in his book, The Bondage of the will, speaks of man’s free will and his ability to choose:

—"It would be ridiculous to say to a man standing in a place where two ways met, Thou seest two roads, go by which thou wilt, when one only was open."—1

1. (99 of 283) [12/12/2002 11:41:13 PM

The path to faith is closed except through the working of the Holy Spirit. As the Spirit works through the Gospel faith emerges in those apart from Christ and they believe. To paraphrase Luther, the road that had been close has now been open by God’s Spirit and by the gift of faith in Christ’s work you now believe and are directed down the way to everlasting life that God has ordained from the foundation of the world.


St. Augustine had this to say:

God's mercy ... goes before the unwilling to make him willing; it follows the willing to make his will effectual.

Augustine of Hippo, Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love.

Earlier in Romans 9 Paul made this gift clear:

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

Confession and belief are God’s gifts to you!

God who in mercy has called you will now bring about the means to your belief.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

God’s gift of grace in Christ is brought about by His gift of faith in this same Jesus so that you may believe. God is both the cause and the means by which belief is secured. So when you confess with the mouth and believe in the heart God has brought about your conversion and has secured your salvation by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Confession and belief are God’s gifts to you!

Christ is the one who conquered sin, death and Devil for you. He took all the Devil could give and though tempted was without sin. This brings peace to you and me as we think about his sinless life and atoning death, given for the forgiveness of sins for the whole world.

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


Sermon Feb. 16-17, 2013

Title: Christ was tempted and tested so that you are forgiven!

Text: Luke 4:12

13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

The men who trap animals in Africa for zoos in America say that one of the hardest animals to catch is the ring-tailed monkey. 

For the Zulus of that continent, however, it's simple. They've been catching this agile little animal with ease for years. The method the Zulus use is based on knowledge of the animal. Their trap is nothing more than a melon growing on a vine. The seeds of this melon are a favorite of the monkey. Knowing this, the Zulus simply cut a hole in the melon, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand to reach the seeds inside. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as many seeds as he can, then start to withdraw it. This he cannot do. His fist is now larger than the hole. The monkey will pull and tug, screech and fight the melon for hours. But he can't get free of the trap unless he gives up the seeds, which he refuses to do. Meanwhile, the Zulus sneak up and nab him.

Source Unknown.

Christ was tempted and tested so that you are forgiven!

Sin and temptation we all know it too well. Jesus knew temptation yet was without sin. You might think well He’s God, so He had His divine God-ness on his side. He’s all-powerful, all-knowing, and omnipresent. But, it wasn’t the God nature of the God/man that was being tempted. It was the human nature of the God/man that was put to the test.

The truth is that at the incarnation God and man became one in Jesus Christ. He is fully God and fully man. Not part God and part man or God and man mixed together into this Jesus.
4 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. (Luke 4:1-2)

When we speak of Jesus we need to speak of His humanity in real terms. We need to speak of things that are part of His human nature. Things like time, temptation and hunger for example … are things we can all relate to.

About 40 days ago I was ordained into the ministry. Over those 40 days I've been tempted many times with, unfortunately, sin being the result. I've done and said things and not done things that I should’ve done. I fall short daily. Thank God, I eat … and I eat well, because I've never experienced true hunger, like the type of hunger that Jesus must have felt. This was no little stomach growl, this was hunger that you and I can’t even imagine. 

3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” (Luke 4:3-4)
Christ was tempted and tested so that you are forgiven!

It was Pastor F.B. Meyer, I believe, who once said that when we see a brother or sister in sin, there are two things we do not know: First, we do not know how hard he or she tried not to sin. And second, we do not know the power of the forces that assailed him or her. We also do not know what we would have done in the same circumstances. 

Stephen Brown, Christianity Today, April 5, 1993, p. 17.

The truth is that sin is not just thought, word and deed. It is not just trying hard not to sin. It is who we are. Sin is what we are born in. Now, this is not to excuse it but to understand our human nature. You will fail and you will sin. At times it is blatant and at times you are unaware. Sin permeates our very being and that is why Satan so hounds you and me. 

He knows that when presented with a little sin it will lead to a bigger sin and the bigger the sin the guiltier you will feel. You will feel shame, and at times guilt for your actions, even an unkind word or a word misplaced can cause hurt. Even truth can at times bring condemnation. Martin Luther knew that as he was confronted with the Pope’s rejection of 41 articles of his 95 theses.
He writes in response:

“This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished, but it is going on, this is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.” 

Martin Luther, *Defense of All the Articles*, Lazareth transl., as found in Grace Brame, *Receptive Prayer* (Chalice Press, 1985) p.119

Though you are forgiven you must die and rise daily.  When you fall you must remember that Jesus stood the test of the Devil’s temptation and though tempted in every way He was without sin. Perfection is not who we are but it is who He is … and we can all have joy because:
Christ was tempted and tested so that you are forgiven!

There is a story that as the Union Pacific Railroad was being constructed, an elaborate trestle bridge was built across a large canyon in the West.  Wanting to test the bridge, the builder loaded a train with enough extra cars and equipment to double its normal payload. The train was then driven to the middle of the bridge, where it stayed an entire day. One worker asked, "Are you trying to break this bridge?" "No," the builder replied, "I'm trying to prove that the bridge won't break." In the same way, Jesus when faced, with temptations would withstand all that the Devil could give and more for you. 

Today in the Word, March 14, 1991.

3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 
Satan here uses the most subtle of temptations; “Command this stone to become bread.”  He simply desires Christ, to abuse the power which He possessed as God’s Son for the gratification of the desires of the body.  Jesus answers Satan’s temptation with the word of God: 

4 … “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.” 
Or as God’s word reads in Deut 8:3:

3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deut 8:3)
Our Lutheran study Bible tells us:

That God’s provision of mana humbled the Israelites and that they quickly found that they could not provide for themselves. Instead, they had to trust in God for their daily bread.

Pg 291 Study Note 

“Give us this day our daily bread.” We ask of the Lord in the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, which includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body; because Christ wants us to realize that our entire life and that of everyone else depends of God.

Question/ Answer 219 Luther’s Small Catechism

But again, the temptation of the Devil continues:

“To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”

And Jesus answers:

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
    and him only shall you serve.’”

This time Jesus brings God’s word to bear in Deut. 6:13
13 It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. (Deut 6:13)

What does this mean - The Catechism asks? We should fear, love and trust God above all things is the answer that Luther gives in the Ten Commandments in answer to the First Commandment. You shall have no other gods.

Finally, Satan:

9 … took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    to guard you,’
11 and
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 
Jesus here quotes Deut 6:16 

16 “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. Deut 6:16
In the close of the commandments God says: “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Ex. 20:5–6

13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Christ was tempted and tested so that you are forgiven!

So, when temptation sneaks up and grabs you as is the case with the ringtail monkeys. Don’t get caught with your hand full of seeds stuck in the melon with no room to get out.

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Christ was tempted and tested so that you are forgiven!

Christ is the one who conquered sin, death and Devil for you. He took all the Devil could give and though tempted was without sin. This brings peace to you and me as we think about his sinless life and atoning death, given for the forgiveness of sins for the whole world.  

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


Sermon Feb. 13, 2013 Ash Wednesday

Title: Jesus Christ reconciles the word unto himself!

Text: 2 Cor. 5:20b-21

20b we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Dear Friends,

When we look at a new born baby we might have a difficult time recognizing the corruption of sin upon this beautiful creation of God. How, we might think, can this be a sin bearer and God’s enemy? The truth is that sin like life happens at conception.

You might also ask, “How does a worm get inside an apple?” Perhaps you think the worm burrows in from the outside. No, scientists have discovered that the worm comes from inside. But how does he get in there? Well it’s simple! An insect lays an egg in the apple blossom. Sometime later, the worm hatches in the heart of the apple, then eats his way out. Sin, like the worm, begins in the heart and works out through a person's thoughts, words, and actions.

Heaven and Home Hour Radio Bulletin. 

Jesus Christ reconciles the word unto himself!

We implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

As a pastor to the congregation in Corinth, Paul’s words are passionate and direct. He implores those that are either apathetic, which means: (showing or feeling no interest, enthusiasm, or concern) but living a mere outward type of holiness to be reconciled to God.

In his first Epistle to the Corinthians Paul had been strong in his rebuke of them in how they were dealing with sin in their midst. Paul had written them:

11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, (someone inside the church) who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.

Paul’s rebuke is strong, as it should be. But after the Corinthian’s come to repentance, the sweet balm of the gospel must be applied. For there is no joy for Paul in leaving a repentant sinner terrified of their sin that Christ Jesus has carried upon Himself to the cross forever burying it in the grave by his all sufficient sacrifice.

Paul now pleads to the repentant sinner as workers together with Him … not to receive the grace of God in vain.2 For He (the God of all glory) says:

“In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”

The help for the sinner is our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus who became sin for us that we might be reconciled to God receiving again our original righteousness that had been lost and corrupted in the fall in to sin.

Jesus Christ reconciles the word unto himself!


Will Rogers was known for his laughter, but he also knew how to weep. One day he was entertaining at the Milton H. Berry Institute in Los Angeles, a hospital that specialized in rehabilitating polio victims and people with broken backs and other extreme physical handicaps. Of course, Rogers had everybody laughing, even patients in really bad condition; but then he suddenly left the platform and went to the rest room. Milton Berry followed him to give him a towel; and when he opened the door, he saw Will Rogers leaning against the wall, sobbing like a child. He closed the door, and in a few minutes, Rogers appeared back on the platform, as jovial as before.

If you want to learn what a person is really like, ask three questions: What makes him laugh? What makes him angry? What makes him weep? These are fairly good tests of character that are especially appropriate for Christian leaders and those who serve the church.

At times people throughout the church cry: "We need angry leaders!" or "The time has come to practice militant Christianity!" Perhaps, but the epistle of James tells us: "The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:20).

What is needed today is not anger but anguish, the kind of anguish that Moses displayed when he broke the two tablets of the law and then climbed the mountain to intercede for his people, or that Jesus displayed when He cleansed the temple and then wept over the city. The difference between anger and anguish is a broken heart. It's easy to get angry, especially at somebody else's sins; but it's not easy to look at sin, your own included, and weep over it.

Warren W. Wiersbe, The Integrity Crisis, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991, pp. 75-76.

The sin of the world, your sin and mine … God wept over. But do you? Do you feel the anguish of falling short daily? Are you in prayerful repentance sorry for your sin and asking for forgiveness?  Or has sin your master? It could be indifference, greed, jealousy, cohabitating, adultery - which Paul speaks of as being sexually immoral; gossip, or simple unkindness … does it cause you to break down in guilt and repent of your sin which really is simply to ask for forgiveness and make amends to change this sin that controls you and that you now live in and embrace?

Jesus Christ reconciles the word unto himself!

In the epistle today Paul brings Good News to those who are broken and repentant.

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Cor. 6:2b)

Friends, now is the time to receive forgiveness.

Ash Wednesday is the name given to the first day of the season of Lent, in which ashes are applied to the foreheads of Christian’s signifying an inner repentance. This repentance continues throughout Lent as we remember the suffering that our Lord endured at the cross for the sins of the whole world – yours and mine - as we wait in anticipation of Christ’s glorious Easter resurrection.

The work of the ministry is to call sinners to repentance so that the work of God’s Law can bring about a true repentance for sin and the Gospel of salvation a glorious comfort that on account of Christ you are forgiven!

Paul tells the Corinthians and us what the true work of the ministry is commending ourselves as ministers of God:

in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; 6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, 7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

Christ through his ministers today as then absolves the repentant. This gift He gives through his church, so that comfort is given to those broken by sin so that they might be renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit working in them to a newness of life over sin, death and the power of the Devil.

I saw Betty Buchanan at the hospital last Saturday afternoon. She took a fall out of bed and broke her hip and shoulder. I stopped by on Thursday but she was resting and the nurse didn’t want to wake her because she had had a restless night. Our visit was comforting for us both as Betty doesn’t see well and the noises of the night staff walking in and out of the room caused her anxiety and distress. I was able to hold her hand and pray with her and even though I’ve only been her pastor for a short while there was comfort for her and for me.

As I continue to visit those like Betty who are unable to be at church or are confused at times by dementia, I am constantly lifted up as together we pray and remember God’s, loving forgiveness in Christ. And though they at times may not remember me or even their family, they always remember Him who is the one who has freed them from sin and this broken world giving them the assurance that in Christ they have true forgiveness, peace and comfort and a place in the house of the Lord forever.

Jesus Christ reconciles the word unto himself!

It is interesting that the worm corrupts the apple from the inside out and that our first parents eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil separated us from our loving God who had to restore the broken relationship between God and man.

We can all be comforted to know that in Christ we are forgiven and that by His stripes we are truly healed!

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


Sermon Feb 9, 2013

Title: Jesus Christ is the glorious chosen one, for you!

Text: Luke 9:35-36

35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

Dear friends in Christ,

St Francis had this to say about the pride of man:

“Some men become proud and insolent because they ride a fine horse, wear a feather in their hat or are dressed in a fine suit of clothes. Who does not see the folly of this? If there be any glory in such things, the glory belongs to the horse, the bird and the tailor.”

St. Francis de Sales.

Jesus took Peter, John and James and went up on a mountain to pray. Not an unusual thing for our Lord to do. However, on this trip up the mountain the crowds that would have usually been following Him would be nowhere to be found.

You know the crowds; the ones who had followed Jesus; the ones who had just been filled. The five thousand, who had just been fed by the five loaves and a two fish?

16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. (Luke 9:16-17)

These crowds were nowhere to be found. It was just Jesus and three of His closest disciples, Peter, John and James who went up on the mountain … but as it had been many times before it was Jesus who was praying. The others it appears were asleep. How do we know this? Well, Luke in his transfiguration account tells us this:

29And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.  (Luke 9:28-30)

His departure which in the Greek is translated Exodus (ἔξοδος), for the Jew this meant freedom from slavery in Egypt. The Jews had been released from bondage in Egypt; being led by Moses for forty years, in the desert, before entering the Promised Land. This same Moses is now speaking with a glorified Jesus who will soon take His Exodus (ἔξοδος) heading towards Jerusalem, the Cross and death - a death that will ultimately lead to freedom from sin, death and the power of the Devil for all who are brought to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit’s work and believe. This reconciliation between God and man is made possible only by the once and for all atoning sacrifice of the God/man himself Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the glorious chosen one, for you!

Moses, the Law giver who carried the tablets of stone, etched by the finger of God, measuring the requirements that God has set and our inability to measure up - as it were - to the standards that God has set … is now in the presence of the disciples Jesus has brought with Him, standing with Elijah the prophet, who pointed towards the coming Messiah - Jesus Christ - now transfigured on the mountain … and we read:

32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here.

St. Francis pointed out that men become prideful of themselves because of the things that they have, the closes they wear or the horse they ride that are not of themselves but are added to themselves to give an appearance of  glory.

Jesus Christ, on the other hand has to remove the cover of His humanity to reveal the true glory that is His but has been veiled for a time from the eyes of the world.

Peter continues …

 … Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said.

Peter may have been half asleep or he may not have really understood what had just happened or he just may have been confused. To be there in the presence of a glorified Jesus; a preview of the resurrected Christ drawing both the Old and New Testament focus together upon Himself … had to be revealing and may be even transforming because:

Jesus Christ is the glorious chosen one!

We too fail to recognize the true glory of Jesus at times, seeing only a good man that can be an example for us to follow. But what did Peter say just a short while earlier in our reading for today when Jesus asked the disciples:

“Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

Peter’s confession that Jesus is “the Christ of God” didn’t help him to understand fully what our Lord had to do in turning his face toward Jerusalem; knowing full well that what awaited Him was the Chief Priests and Scribes, rejection by the people, a trial, guilty verdict and death on a Cross – all this for you.

As Jesus is transfigured, Peter is thinking about building tents - building tents? It could be that Peter was just very confused by what was happening or in some way wanted to preserve what was happening and contain the glory of God as the children of Israel desired to do in the wilderness. Tents or no tents, Peter concludes, “It is good that we are here.”

Martin Luther put it this way:

Although out of pure grace God does not impute our sins to us, He nonetheless did not want to do this until complete and ample satisfaction of His law and His righteousness had been made. Since this was impossible for us, God ordained for us, in our place, One who took upon Himself all the punishment we deserve. He fulfilled the law for us. He averted the judgment of God from us and appeased God's wrath. Grace, therefore, costs us nothing, but is cost another much to get it for us. Grace was purchased with an incalculable, infinite treasure, the Son of God Himself."

Martin Luther, Daily Walk, May 5, 1992.

Jesus Christ is the glorious chosen one, for you!

34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”

As they were standing in the presence of our Holy Lord, Jesus Christ, covered in their own righteousness, they were afraid, as it should for anyone who relies upon themselves for their own righteousness.
What about you? Sitting here today in the pew? Do you ever miss the mark? Do you ever fall short? Do you see your sin constantly in front of you? Do you carry the guilt that comes with your sin? Are you burdened and weighed down? Have you fallen short of the mark!

36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

… until the proper time …

Many times we are silent.  We miss the mark and opportunity to share the Good News with those we come in contact with. Friend, neighbor, relative, Co-worker all are in need of the same forgiveness that you have received from your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, crucified for you and have the blessed assurance of an eternity in Heaven with Him.

Thank and praise God daily that Jesus didn’t miss His mark! Thank and praise Him that you can listen to Him in His word proclaimed and His word preserved in the writings of Holy Scripture. Thank God you can partake of His body and Blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Thank and praise God that the Cross was His mark and His destination. Thank Him that he fulfilled his goal as He resolutely headed towards Jerusalem, the Cross and death where He received the full wrath of God poured out upon Him as He suffered and died on this Cross and on this Mount of Calvary, for you!

His crucifixion and death satisfied God’s justice for the sins of the world for you. His death brought freedom for you and I as we receive the blessed exchange of His righteousness for our sins nailed once and for all to the Cross with Him. His death released you from the guilt you may at times still carry when you fail to cast all your burdens upon Him. His death accomplishes all of this because on the third day …

He rose … in the glory of His resurrected body, transfigured, incorruptible for you.  And you will too - and so will all who name the name of Jesus Christ having been brought to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Knowing that in your Baptism you were washed clean in the blood of the Lamb given and shed for you!
“It is good that we are here.” It is truly good, right and salutary that through our Lord’s suffering and death at the Cross and His glorious resurrection on the third day that we can be made sons and daughters of our heavenly Father by faith. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with us all.

J.S. Bach said, "All music should have no other end and aim than the glory of God and the soul's refreshment; where this is not remembered there is no real music but only a devilish hub-bub."

He headed his compositions:

"J.J." "Jesus Juva" which means "Jesus help me."

He ended them "S.D.G."

"Soli Dei gratia" which means "To God alone the praise."

May our Lord and savior Jesus Christ who has redeemed you, through the power of the Holy Spirit who has called you, comfort you with this blessed Good News now and forever!

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


Monday, February 4, 2013

Sermon Feb 2-3, 2013

Title: Jesus is the Good News … and for you!

Text: Luke 4:42-44

42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, 43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

The great Hungarian concert pianist Andor Földes tells the remarkable story of the watershed moment in his rise to world renown. He was 16 years old and already a veteran of years of intense practice and performance. The pianist Emil von Sauer, Franz Liszt's last surviving pupil, came to Budapest and asked young Andor to play for him. Having listened intently to him playing Bach's Toccata in C Major, von Sauer requested another piece. Andor put all his heart and skill into playing Beethoven's "Pathetique" sonata.
Finally, after a long pause, von Sauer slowly rose, took the young man's head into his hands, and kissed him on the forehead. "My son," he said tenderly, "when I was your age I became a student of Liszt. He kissed me on the forehead after my first lesson, saying, 'Take good care of this kiss—it comes from Beethoven, who gave it to me after hearing me play.' I have waited for years to pass on this sacred heritage, and now I feel you deserve it."

From: Andor Földes, "Beethoven's Kiss," Reader's Digest, November 1986, 145

As Christians we have the sacred heritage of having the same message passed on to us that was the message of truth being passed on in our Gospel lesson in Luke today.

This Gospel, from the one who is “the way the truth and the life,” was earlier rejected in his home town of Nazareth when He got up in the synagogue and proclaimed:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them,

“Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

This is the same Jesus who cast out the unclean spirit’s who cried out:

34 “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”

And this same Jesus, who then went in to see the mother-n-law of Simon who was ill and, rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them. And as word spread, all who were sick, diseased or possessed of demons came to Him … and He healed them.

This brings us to the place in the Gospel for today where Jesus … departed to a desolate place. It reminds me of the look on the face of a surgeon who has just completed a delicate operation. Everything went well … he is well satisfied in the results and can now make an encouraging prognosis and give a good report. But he also looks tired, drained from his work and in need of a little time on his own to rest, regroup and to give thanks for his skill, training and God given talents.

But in this desolate place, those who were following Jesus and saw the healings continued to seek him out. Because as the text says, and would have kept him from leaving them. These who saw the healings wanted this man of extraordinary means to stay with them. They would have kept Him from leaving.

“No, you can’t go away from us!” It is as if you can hear them call to this Jesus … this Christ … this one who brings power over sin, death and the working of the Devil … this destroyer of Demons.

But, we are told by Jesus himself:

“I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

Jesus is the Good News … and for you!

Just a few weeks ago, I was sitting at church and it was a Wednesday. Heinz Hoffman was having surgery and I went over to St. Joseph Mercy Care in Pontiac, hoping to see Heinz and offer a prayer before he went in for the operation. I walked in to the surgery wing after being told that Heinz was in pre-op, I was met by Erica who was coming out and she said that they had just wheeled him back for surgery.

Well, as a new pastor I was a bit disappointed to miss the opportunity to offer a prayer with Heinz but I sat with Erica and talked while the surgery was going on. When it was completed we were escorted into a consultation room to meet with the surgeon. He gave us a very good report of a successful operation. And, looking every bit the part of a man that God has blessed with skill, training and God given talents he in a diligent and detailed way talked of the recovery time and the good news of renewed life with less back pain for Heinz.

But then Erica asked him about his trip and vacation. “Oh, it’s not a vacation, he said. I’ll be going on a medical mission trip to the poorest part of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico where we donate our services for these people who could never afford the care that we have here. I love to use my skills to help others in need, he continued … but I really go so I can tell them the Gospel and to share the Good News about Jesus with them.”

And while we talked I could almost hear: And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, 43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

Jesus was sent for this purpose. But we too have opportunities to speak of God and his gracious working in our lives, his sacrifice and gift of faith. Whether it is from the pulpit or in conversation with friend and family members or in sitting in a consultation room we can all tell the Good News to those who in spiritual poverty need to hear.

Jesus is the Good News … for them … and for you!

Christ Jesus … 31 … went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority.

This word that possessed authority to drive out demons, to heal the sick and to free the sinner from their sin is this same Christ Jesus who would, according to God’s plan, take away the sins of the world.

The demons knew, “I know who you are—the Holy One of God,” they cried but Jesus commanded them to “Be silent and come out of him!” This word of God made flesh is God over all. He commands freedom from sin, death and the power of the Devil for the world but the world asked then:

“What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!”
Earlier in the Gospel lesson of Luke those from His hometown too asked:

“Is not this Joseph's son?” How could this same son of Joseph they wondered, speak and teach with such authority? But the demons that were demanded to “come out” cried all the more: “You are the Son of God!”

Jesus is truly Good News!

What these demons proclaimed and what you also can know for certain is that this Jesus that called you to believe when you were conceived and born in sin, is this same Carpenter’s son who healed the sick and those with diseases brought to him, when they were healed simply by His touch and the laying on of his hands.

He, Jesus, was sent for this purpose for you too, so that His touch through the water and the word in your Baptism might wash you clean of sin as He Himself covers you with His spotless righteousness.

He, Jesus, was sent for this purpose for you too, so that by His touch through his true body and blood received in and with the bread and wine might be given for you for the forgiveness of sins.

He, Jesus, was sent for this purpose for those in poor communities that have so little, that they might receive the greatest gift of all … the Good News brought to them, in the wilderness of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, by the witness of a doctor sent to heal a temporal illness but bringing also an eternal cure.

He, Jesus, is the Good News … for all who hunger for righteousness!

Emil von Sauer, Franz Liszt's last surviving pupil said:

"My son," 'Take good care of this kiss—it comes from Beethoven, who gave it to me after hearing me play.' I have waited for years to pass on this sacred heritage, and now I feel you deserve it."

But Christ says:

“I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

You have heard the Good News preached! You are forgiven! You are Christ’s child! In Him you do not receive what you deserve but you receive that sacred heritage that you don't deserve!

May this blessed Good News by the power of the Holy Spirit in you comfort you now and forever!

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