Monday, October 28, 2013

Sermon Oct. 26-27, 2013 Reformation Day

Title: Because of Christ and His merits, you are free indeed!
Text: John 8:31-36

36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Rev. Dr. Peter Marshall the 57th Chaplain of the United States Senate prayed this prayer before the U.S. Senate:

Lord Jesus, thou who art the way, the truth, and the life; hear us as we pray for the truth that shall make all free. Teach us that liberty is not only to be loved but also to be lived. Liberty is too precious a thing to be buried in books. It costs too much to be hoarded. Help us see that our liberty is not the right to do as we please, but the opportunity to please and do what is right.

Peter Marshall, Before the U.S. Senate.

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Today we remember and celebrate the Reformation of the Church, began by the former Roman Catholic Priest and Augustinian Monk, Martin Luther. We also celebrate the joy that we who today benefit from this blessed freedom found in the Gospel message, will continue together with the whole church to reach the lost with this same gospel message.

Jesus tells the believing Jews in our Gospel today who had been following Him that:

 “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.

To be a disciple is to be a follower of Christ. One who is connected to God’s very words and who abides in them – is one who accepts and acts in accordance with those words.

Martin Luther had this to say about discipleship in his lectures on the Psalms:


“In holy and divine matters one must first hear rather than see, first believe rather than understand, first be grasped rather than grasp, first be captured rather than capture, first learn rather than teach, first be a disciple rather than a teacher and master of his own. We have an ear so that we may submit to others, and eyes that we may take care of others. Therefore, whoever in the church wants to become an eye and a leader and master of others, let him become an ear and a disciple first.”

–Martin Luther, Lectures on the Psalms II, in Luther’s Works, Volume 11 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1976), 245-46.

And as a disciple Jesus tells the Jews and you as well:

32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

This freedom and liberty of the gospel is what we celebrate today. It is what Luther searched for and why he became a monk – thinking that being locked inside the walls, devoting himself to fasting, long hours in prayer, pilgrimages, and frequent confession would keep him away from sin and the power of the devil.

He said:

"If anyone could have gained heaven as a monk, then I would certainly have done so." He described this period of his life as one of deep spiritual despair. "I lost touch with Christ the Savior and Comforter, and made of him the jailer and hangman of my poor soul."

But later he found peace in the words of Romans 5:1 which reads:

5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Because of Christ and His merits, you are free indeed!

Have you felt closed in by the walls of sin? Have you or have your loved ones fled the blessings and Peace found only in Christ and his gifts given in word and sacrament? Are you burdened by the Law and a slave to sin?

33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

Once again from Luther:

“Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend--it must transcend all comprehension.
He continues: Thus Abraham went forth from his father and not knowing (where he was going). He trusted himself to (God’s) knowledge, and cared not for his own, and thus he took the right road and came to his journey's end.

Behold, that end is the way of the cross. You cannot find it yourself, so you must let (God) lead you as though you were a blind man. (So), it is not you, no man, (and) no living creature, but (Christ) Himself, who instructs you by word and Spirit in the way you should go. Not the work which you choose, not the suffering you devise, but the road which is clean contrary to all that you choose or contrive or desire--that is the road you must take. To that, (Christ) calls you and in that (says) you must be my disciple.”

― Martin Luther

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
C.S. Lewis had this to say about slavery:


Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellow man. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him, Lewis says … but I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.

C.S. Lewis in "Equality" from Present Concerns, quoted in Christianity Today, February 3, 1989, p. 31.

The truth is you are all bound to sin and its cravings. You desire to do the will of your sinful nature which is in opposition to God’s will and as a result you fall short daily. The world says, “Deep down he is really a good person” - when the truth is deep down we all are worse and worse. The more you get to the core of who we are in our fallen human condition the more you see the sinfulness of man, corrupted to the core from the beginning by our first parents Adam and Eve.

But Jesus reminds His hearers and you as well that:

35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

The freedom for the sinner is found only in Jesus. That was the joy that Luther found and what we celebrate in the Reformation. In Christ, true freedom from sin is possible and true liberty for we who are bound with the chains of guilt and despair is broken.

Christ has set free those who could not free themselves by his own binding. The binding of His flesh to the cross in your place, the shedding of His blood for the forgiveness of your sin, the death worthy of a criminal for you and I who are guilty and the burial in a tomb meant for another …

In Jesus’ case … Joseph of Arimathea, for it was his tomb where Jesus was laid. But, the tomb and death was meant for you. Jesus took your place, He took your cross, He took your death and He took your tomb and He made them what you couldn't … life, freedom, liberty, salvation and forgiveness because …

… if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!

Salvation is all of God and not of man. That is the message of the Reformation. Luther restored the gospel truths about Christ and His merits that had been lost, covered by sin in the church and the focus on earthly rulers, once again by shinning the light of the gospel on Christ’s work, for you.

Because Jesus came to live, suffer, die and rise again for you … because of Christ and His merits … because the Son has set you free … you are free indeed!

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.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sermon Oct. 19-20, 2013

Title: The righteous judge, our Lord Jesus Christ, has breathed life in to you!
Text: Luke 18:1-18

6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Supreme Court Justice Horace Gray once informed a man who had appeared before him in a lower court and had escaped conviction on a technicality, "I know that you are guilty and you know it, and I wish you to remember that one day you will stand before a better and wiser Judge, and that there you will be dealt with according to justice and not according to law."

The thief who later on was surprised while burgling a house fled out the back door, climbed over a nine-foot wall, dropped down the other side, and found that he was in the city prison.

Oops: The Book of Blunders, 1980.

Justice has a funny way of working out at times. This parable of the unrighteous judge comes after the Pharisees ask Jesus when the Kingdom of God will come so Jesus tells the Pharisees that:

“The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

He then tells of the final judgment that will come upon the earth and the parable of the unrighteous judge soon follows. Jesus tells a parable of a judge who neither feared God or respected man

Proverbs 9:10 reminds us:

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

The Kingdom of God is in the midst of you and this Jesus is the kingdom and in fact is the Holy One which you do not fear and in whom you do not trust.

So, this unrighteous judge is hounded by a woman who is looking for justice. She has been wronged and though this judge does not fear God or respect man and would just as soon have her go away. She continues to come … with the same persistent plea:

“Give me justice against my adversary.”

Now, the unrighteous judge is not interested in justice. He doesn’t care whether she is in the right or whether she is in the wrong but so that she will finally shut up and stop bothering him he says:

“I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.”

How many of you remember the persistent cries of your children for whatever they desire and at some point you say to yourself, “Though I really don’t want them to have this now, I will give in … so they stop coming to me about this and I am beat down by it.” No justice … just peace and quiet.

But Jesus tells them to listen to this unrighteous judge. If he, in apathy, which is nothing more than a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern for this woman’s cries will give her what she wants, how much more will God, who cares about his dear children’s concerns – His elect – hearing their cries for justice delay in giving them justice. Not out of a lack of patience but out of righteous justice and as Jesus says it will be brought to his children speedily.

Now, justice as we understand it can be good and bad. For those who have been wronged it is made right and for those who have been unjust to others they get what they deserve. But Jesus turns justice on its head saying:

“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

The justice that is deserved is death. Whether you believe like the Pharisee that you are righteous and can love God enough or believe that persistent whining will bring about a just and good result. Because Jesus has breathed life into the dead by His Spirit, and for those trusting Him not standing in their own righteousness, but trusting in Him by faith He gives freedom to the bound and pardon to the guilty.

The righteous judge, our Lord Jesus Christ, has breathed life in to you!

The divine "scheme of things," as Christianity understands it, is at once extremely elastic and extremely rigid. It is elastic, in that it includes a large measure of liberty for the creature in this life to do as one pleases; it is rigid in that it includes the provision that, however created beings choose to behave, they must accept responsibility of their own actions in this life and must endure the consequences.

Dorothy L. Sayer in Dorothy L. Sayer: A Rage for Life.

The truly Good News comes when we look to the Judge. Who on the last day you will stand before with all your flaws and with all your warts and who will pronounce judgment on you. The judgment you deserve is death and though your sins are great, and though you are guilty as all sinners are, the judge will pronounce sentence and you will hear:

‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matt 25:21)

The joy is that the Judge, Jesus Christ, will find you in Him by faith and covered by a righteousness not of your own but a foreign righteousness … one given you by faith.

Christ Jesus will find faith for all who are brought to the Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit and as we saw today are washed clean of their sins by the blood of the Lamb having been buried with Jesus in baptism and being raised to newness of life - covered in Christ righteousness for the forgiveness of sins; both as a sinner born from your mother’s womb and also washed of all actual sins done in the flesh in thought, word and deed.

You are witnesses of this blessed gift in this baptism of these beautiful children of God and have the joy and responsibility as parents and sponsors and even as the whole church of God here at Peace to raise these little ones to come to a greater knowledge and understanding of who Christ is and what He has done, not only for them, but for all the world. Jesus has breathed new life in them and He has breathed new life in you too at your baptism by His glorious word of promise that what He delivered at the cross He brings to you in His sacraments, His gifts.

Being brought to faith in Baptism makes you part of Christ and part of His church and the Lord’s Supper that Christ himself will serve you continues to sustain that gift of faith, feeding you on the very body and blood of Christ that was given for you at the cross and is now given to you for the forgiveness of sins, the strengthening of faith and will sustain you through this life and all the injustice that comes your way until the glorious promise of eternal life is fully realized.

The righteous judge, our Lord Jesus Christ, has breathed life in to you … Rejoice!

As supreme Court Justice Horace Gray said to our friend that escaped conviction on a technicality, "I know that you are guilty and you know it, - that is you and me dear friends- and I wish you to remember that one day you will stand before a better and wiser Judge, and that there you will be dealt with. But is your case and in mine, not according to justice and not according to law, but according to mercy of our loving and forgiving God because you are free and you are forgiven, in Christ!

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.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sermon Oct 12-13, 2013

Title: Your faith has made you well!
Text: Luke 17:11-19

15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Senator, Mark Hatfield tells of touring Calcutta with Mother Teresa and visiting the so-called "House of Dying," where sick children are cared for in their last days, and the dispensary, where the poor line up by the hundreds to receive medical attention. Watching Mother Teresa minister to these people, feeding and nursing those left by others to die, Hatfield was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the suffering she and her co-workers face daily. "How can you bear the load without being crushed by it?" he asked. Mother Teresa replied, "My dear Senator, I am not called to be successful, I am called to be faithful."

Beyond Hunger, Beals

Last weekend’s sermon concluded with what was called the saddest text of the Bible. This where Jesus says, “Where are the nine?” in Luke 17:17, and today we get to examine that very text as it turns out.

The story is told of Jesus traveling through the country side between Samaria and Galilee. And as we’ve discussed over the last number of weeks, Jesus, was on His way to Jerusalem and he was not taking a very direct rout. He was traveling between Galilee on the north and Samaria on the south heading south toward Jerusalem. The text tells us that as he entered a village he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance.

Leprosy is a disease that in Jesus’ time had no cure. Today the disease, which is also known as Hansen’s disease and is caused by a bacterial infection of the nervous system and upper respiratory tract, has over the last 20 years, through God’s blessing of modern medicine, seen over 15,000,000 people cured of this dreaded disease.

But for the 10 lepers in our story today there was little to no hope. They were to spend the rest of their lives in a colony with other Lepers, unable to share the joys of life with their families, confined to a living hell as it were until the time of their death. We all can only imagine how this might have been.

Now Jesus’ travel might have preceded him. The word of his coming having reached these in this dreadful condition, bringing them to faith by the Holy Spirit’s working and though they keep a distance as was mandated by the law, they all called out with a loud voice together. “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” In some way this concerted call to Jesus, the Lord of life, to please have mercy on our dismal condition was an act of faith that this Jesus could in fact do something to cure this leprous condition they all faced together.
Either way, you see a call to Christ by faith from those who had no hope. This hopeless condition of the ten is a call of hope by faith in Him, Jesus our Lord, who is the only hope of life to a dying world.

During the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century, German pastor Paul Gerhardt and his family were forced to flee from their home. One night as they stayed in a small village inn, homeless and afraid, his wife broke down and cried openly in despair. To comfort her, Gerhardt reminded her of Scripture promises about God's provision and keeping. Then, going out to the garden to be alone, he too broke down and wept. He felt he had come to his darkest hour.

Soon afterward, Gerhardt felt the burden lifted and sensed anew the Lord's presence. Taking his pen, he wrote a hymn that has brought comfort to many. "Give to the winds thy fears; hope, and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears; God shall lift up thy head. Through waves and clouds and storms He gently clears the way. Wait thou His time, so shall the night soon end in joyous day."

It is often in our darkest times that God makes His presence known most clearly. He uses our sufferings and troubles to show us that He is our only source of strength. And when we see this truth, like Pastor Gerhardt, we receive new hope. Are you facing a great trial? Take heart. Put yourself in God's hands. Wait for His timing:

Our Daily Bread, May 7, 1992.

Your faith has made you well!

What about your trials? What about your faith? Do you feel beat down at times in this life? I think we all could answer yes to that question. Is it a sickness or a death in your family, a broken marriage or a loss of a job? I think we can all attest to things in this life that have burdened both you and me.

Last Sunday evening I had the pleasure of preaching and conducting a service for the residents at Lakeland Place which is a senior independent and assisted living apartment complex in Waterford on Elizabeth Lake road.  Their concerns as I had them fill out a prayer sheet sound very similar to those that you and I have:

“Pray for my two sons and my daughter, was one mother’s prayer, another is looking for more people to attend their Sunday night worship which is usually around 15 people. One lady is praying for the health of her three children who have all suffered from Kidney stones recently and another is mourning the loss of three dear friends who recently had passed away. However, the biggest request for these senior residents was for their children to come back to the faith and to the church once again.”

The gift of faith and being connected to the faith and life everlasting is the hope for these parents and for our church as well. Many in our church have fallen away from the faith. At times their our broken relationships in your family as well and you may experience bitterness towards others – even someone that you once loved and held dear – they may have wronged you or your loved ones and are now living in sin and outside the faith.

Martin Luther had this to say about our text today:

“Christ heals ten lepers, and he knew that only one would be grateful (Luke 17:1 1-19). This will also be our lot, and we should not on this account give up our eagerness to confer benefits on others.”

LW Vol. 3 Pg.183 CPH

Loving others is the call that every Christian is given in this life, to love thy neighbor as thyself, even though at times it’s really hard to love those who have wronged you.  It’s hard to love those who have not been thankful for what you’ve done for them. But you can all be truly thankful that God is a God of mercy and that He gave up His life for the sins of the whole world … even though many in our world refuse that gift or remain unthankful for all that He has done. Jesus still went to the cross for the sins of those who will never repent or have fallen back into sin. Their sins have been paid for but the benefit and Good News of salvation in Christ they continue to reject, so they stay condemned in their sin and covered in their own righteousness. It is our hope and blessing to continue to share the Gospel and the love of Christ with those who reject Jesus, so that by God’s Holy Spirit working through his word of pardon and in His time, they may repent of their sin and turn to Christ in faith, receiving the forgiveness of sins won for them at the cross.

Remember dear friends that faith is a gift and that:

Your faith in Christ has made you well!

14 When Jesus saw the lepers and heard their cries he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”  No on the spot healing … but by faith they went as was required by the law. It is suggested that had the priests known that Jesus was behind the healing that they might have refused to recognize the healing and release the lepers as cleansed so Jesus sent them on their way and as they went they were cleansed. Also note that this act of going was also an act of faith - in Christ - and his healing words trusting that as they showed themselves to the priests they would be healed.

15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks.

Christ has washed these lepers clean by His word and He has washed you clean as well through the washing of regeneration by His word in baptism.

5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-7)

Christ Jesus has heard your cries too. He hears and His desire is to heal the biggest problem that you have and that is eternal separation from Him.

17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? The one who returned to offer thanks was a Samaritan, a foreigner just as you and I are foreigners graphed in to the vine so that we might bear good fruit. This good fruit is possible only because you have been given mercy.

A mother once approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice and justice demanded death.

"But I don't ask for justice," the mother explained. "I plead for mercy."
"But your son does not deserve mercy," Napoleon replied.
"Sir," the woman cried, "it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for."
"Well, then," the emperor said, "I will have mercy." And he spared the woman's son.

Luis Palau, Experiencing God's Forgiveness, Multnomah Press, 1984.

You have been given mercy and this is nothing you deserve. Whether you return thanks or not Christ’s mercy is still yours because you can never thank Him enough. Your sins have been taken away and you, like the ten, have been cleansed. Your cleansing does not depend on your thanks but on God’s mercy and thankfulness is a fruit of your cleansing and the joy that lives in you by God’s Holy Spirit.

Your faith has made you well!

By faith, you can be faithful. All you do for the benefit of others is gifted you by our loving God who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 2:2)

Your faith in Him has made you well!

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.


Sermon Oct. 5-6, 2013 LWML Weekend

Title: You are my witnesses!
Text: Luke 24:44-53

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.

There’s a story of a man who prayed this prayer every morning: "Lord, if you want me to witness to someone today, please give me a sign to show me who it is." One day he found himself on a bus when a big, burly man sat next to him. The bus was nearly empty but this guy sat down right next to our praying friend. The timid Christian anxiously waited for his stop so he could exit the bus. But before the bus stopped and the man could get off, the big guy bursts into tears and began to weep. He cried out with a loud voice, "I need to be saved. I’m a lost sinner and I need the Lord. Won’t somebody tell me how to be saved?" He turned to the Christian and pleaded, "Can you show me how to be saved?" The believer immediately bowed his head and prayed, "Lord, is this a sign?"

- Richard Crow

The truth is that in this life Christ reminds us all that:

You … are my witnesses!

Our Old Testament lesson begins:

62 For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
    and for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet,
until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
    and her salvation as a burning torch.

Through the Prophet Isaiah, God promises to bring his righteousness and salvation as a burning torch. God’s salvation will not be limited but will bring brightness to this darkened world, illuminating the corruption of sin with the light of Christ.

From our epistle lesson we read:

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.”

Salvation is a gift for all and the Lord is the one bestowing his riches so that His name can be called on by those brought to faith by God’s Holy Spirit.

And then Jesus tells us in our Gospel:

“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, with no distinction beginning from Jerusalem. And He concludes:  48 you are witnesses of these things.

Being a witness is not always a comfortable thing. If you are the one who happens to see and accident, it may be important to tell what you observed to help determine who was at fault and how damages are to be paid.

It may be a more serious matter that would cause a witness to come forward to either see that the guilty party receives the punishment deserved or that they be found not guilty and released as one who had been saved by the witness of another.

I had to sit in at a hearing at the courthouse where one of our members gave an account, as a witness, in the trial of a man who had been accused of fraud. To be a witness is never easy but it is always important.

Jesus says to his disciples:

48 You are witnesses of these things. The disciples were eye witnesses of all the Jesus came to do. They saw and ate with him, they remember the accusations, the trial, His crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection … and they have been called by Christ Jesus to preach that … “everything written about  Jesus  in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Calling to repentance and proclaim forgiveness to all nations. And then Jesus tells them, 49 and behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you.

When the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ sent his only son into the world to redeem the world, the Father went with Him. As Jesus reminds Philip in the book of John Chapter 14: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” And when Jesus stood before His disciples in the locked upper room after his resurrection, “he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  And where ever the Holy Spirit goes, so goes also the Father and the Son - one God in trinity and trinity in unity. The Spirit of our God will accomplish all that is the Father’s will to do, even through the weakness of His broken creation – to redeem the world.

Today we celebrate the work of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League or LWML and their efforts in witnessing the love of Christ to a broken world and all 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 them 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?”

John Newton, the former slave-ship captain, was so grateful for God’s gracious dealings with him that when the vicarage at Olney was refurbished he had two sentences from Isaiah 43:4 and Deuteronomy 15:15 painted over the fireplace of his study: 4 Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life: 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.

We must not live in the past but dare not forget God providential provision in life’s experiences and allow our sense of thankfulness to fade. One of the saddest moments in the Gospels is pictured in the words of Jesus when he said, ’Where are the nine?’ (Luke 17:17). He was asking as to what had happened to the nine men who had known such wonderful release from the misery of leprosy and had forgotten to come back and say, ’Thank you, Lord.’

Owen Bourgaize

Thank you Lord for the gift of being your witnesses!

49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Jesus will never leave you but He has cloth you with the power from on high and that gift is the gift of the Holy Spirit. As He comes to you and abides with you so do the Father and the Son. The Spirit intercedes for you in your prayers and Jesus mediates those prayers to the Father.

The Spirit points to what Christ Jesus has done for you and then gives you the words to say:
23 “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)

That same Spirit that empowered the disciples will also empower you to witness to the truth of the saving work of Christ.

Because you are my witnesses, Jesus says!

You have been give peace and reconciliation through the blood of Jesus Christ shed for the forgiveness of sins. This gift, won at the cross and given to you in baptism is God’s work and by the power of the Holy Spirit you believe. This same Spirit work in you as you remain connected to Christ through God’s word proclaimed, read and received in the sacrament of the altar which distributes the very body and blood of Christ given and shed - for you.

Ask God for a sign and He will point you to His table where he give you the gift of what He gave at the cross. Jesus died at that cross for you and now He distributes that very body and blood that He gave so that you receive forgiveness and strengthening of faith so that you can be his witness to a dying world.
You are Christ witnesses! Because He died for you.

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.