Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sermon May 24-25, 2014 Memorial Day

Title: The Spirit of truth points you to Jesus!
Text: John 14:15-21

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

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

Source Unknown.

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

The Spirit of truth points you to Jesus!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Holy Spirit's distinctive role is to fulfill what we may call a floodlight ministry in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ. So far as this role was concerned, the Spirit "was not yet" (John 7:29, literal Greek) while Jesus was on earth; only when the Father had glorified him (John 17:1, 5) could the Spirit's work of making men aware of Jesus' glory begin.


The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him,
Seeing the building of our church here at Peace with the floodlights lit as I turned in the drive, I realized that this was a great illustration for the message today.

When floodlighting is well done, the floodlights are placed so that you do not see them; in fact, you are not supposed to see where the light is coming from; what you are meant to see is just the building on which the floodlights are trained. The intended effect is to make it visible when otherwise it would not be seen for the darkness, and to maximize its dignity by throwing all its details into relief so that you can see it properly. This perfectly illustrates the Spirit's role and work. He is, so to speak, the hidden floodlight shining on the Savior.
Or think of it this way. It is as if the Spirit stands behind us, throwing light over our shoulder on to Jesus who stands facing us. The Spirit's message to us is never, "Look at me; listen to me; come to me; get to know me", but always, "Look at him, and see his glory; listen to him and hear his word; go to him and have life; get to know him and taste his gift of joy and peace." The Spirit, we might say, is the matchmaker, the celestial marriage broker, whose role it is to bring you and Christ together and ensure that you and Christ Jesus stay together.

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

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


It was kind of funny as bob and I drove to the Doxology Encore weekend in DeWitt last weekend. I’m driving, knowing that I need exit 87. Bob says, “Pastor, isn’t this our exit?” Oh yes it is Bob, thanks for letting me know as I quickly move right to exit the freeway!

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

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

The Spirit of truth points you to Jesus!

Jesus said:

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


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

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

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

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

Kyle Meador

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

Christ says:

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

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


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

The Spirit of truth points you to Jesus!

May the Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you all now and forever!


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sermon May 10-11, 2014

Title: God gives life through communion and the Apostle’s teaching!
Text: Acts 2:42-47

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Life is a matter of building. Each of us has the opportunity to build something -- a secure family, a good reputation, a career, a relationship to God. But some of those things can disappear almost overnight due to financial losses, natural disasters and other unforeseen difficulties.

What are we to do? Daniel Webster offered excellent advice, saying, “If we work upon marble, it will perish; if we work on brass, time will efface it. If we rear temples, they will crumble to dust. But if we work on men’s immortal minds, if we impress on them high principles, the just fear of God, and love for their fellow-men, we engrave on those tablets something which no time can efface, and which will brighten and brighten to all eternity.”

DANIEL WEBSTER, secretary of state, speech to the City Council, Boston, Massachusetts, May 22, 1852.—The Writings and Speeches of Daniel Webster, vol. 13, pp. 518–19 (1903).

Morning Glory, July 3, 1993.

That is the joy and that is the goal with which we are brought to faith by our loving God that through His gifts and by communion and fellowship with Him we have a life, in Christ, by Christ and through Christ.

God gives life through communion and the Apostle’s teaching!

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

St. Luke in his book of the Acts of the Apostles gives an account of the early church. Last week we heard of Peter’s sermon in Acts chapter 2 that cut to the heart of those who heard the Law of God’s condemnation bringing them to the point of asking, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Acts 2:37b

To which Peter replies:

“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

Now coming to faith through the Gospel brought some 3000 souls into the church through Peter’s sermon but now we hear what the church did with and for those who repented and were baptized.

They heard the word of God proclaimed which is the Apostles teaching. They had fellowship one with another both in community and in communion with that same doctrine of the word. The breaking of bread in fellowship meals as well as with the Lord’s Supper that, as we heard last week, opened the eyes of their understanding so that they could see who Christ Jesus truly is and what he had done and finally, prayer, which is conversation and communion with that one and same word of God – Jesus Christ.

Our Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has a mission statement called Witness, Mercy and Life together that fits this focus of the early church and our life together here at Peace as well.

God gives life through communion and the Apostle’s teaching!

The Apostle’s teaching, which is the word of God and what that word means, is the witness of who God is and what we have become in Christ.

As His children we are called by Christ to be in worship, to hear His word to know that, as sinners, we all fall short of God’s requirements, but we also know that God has made a way in the person and work of Jesus Christ to bring us back into fellowship with him. This fellowship we now have with each other as His children, celebrating our life together in communion around the table of the Lord, as we together confess that the body and blood of Christ that was given and shed for you is now truly received with the bread and wine bringing forgiveness of sins to those who receive this merciful gift by faith.

Apart from faith it is impossible to please God or to come to him because we all are judged as sinful and unclean and separated from the love of God found only in Christ Jesus our Lord.


At times we find ourselves in tough situations. I was talking to my friend Paul on the phone and his daughter Michelle is serving in Afghanistan as a pilot in the United States Air Force.

Michelle’s Easter was a bit different than yours and mine. For her - worship started on the roof of the hospital at her base … at sunrise … overlooking the mountains and the dawning of the day as the F-16s began taking off on their missions in the distance.

The second service was at 8:00 am and for this service she played guitar and sang hymns of praise. Just before the Lord’s Supper in the service, the sirens went off as mortar and rocket fire came upon the base. Everyone hit the floor. One soldier chuckled in the midst of the attack as he saw Michelle put her guitar over her head. “What kind of rocket you plan of stopping with that.” He asked? Michelle kind of chuckled too knowing that it wouldn’t do much good but was a natural reaction.

Soon the all clear was given and the service continued, the words of institution were said, the Lord’s body and blood given and received, then appropriately they sang, “How Great Thou Art!”

Not much different from our Easter service … without the rockets!

the apostles' teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers.

God gives life through communion and the Apostle’s teaching and that is our Witness, Mercy and Life Together!

Prayers … we pray them every week in our services and daily for many of us in the church. This conversation with God brings our prayers and petitions to the one who holds our life in His hands through the mediation of his son.

Prayer can be a powerful blessing and we all need to avail ourselves of it daily.  As we celebrate this Mother’s Day we can’t forget prayer, especially the faithful prayers of our mothers, who keep and have kept us in constant prayer.


As I talked to my friend Paul and about his daughter Michelle in Afghanistan we also remembered how far we’ve come since the day of playing 6 nights a week in our band at Captain Ahab’s bar in Wyandotte, Michigan.

Paul said about his mother Marian, “She was in constant prayer for us all.” You see she had two boys Paul and David. She also had surrogate sons Russell and John who played in places that I’m sure she didn’t think we should be. But like all good mothers, she couldn’t stop us from playing and gigging, but she could pray to the Lord that He would protect us and get us to where He wanted us to be.

None of us really liked the bars and the fights that might go on as well and we sure didn’t want to be there but Marian’s prayers, my mom Eleanor’s prayers and the prayers of Connie Ganos too kept us before the throne of grace and out of trouble. David has been a high School teacher now for 36 years, Paul is an Environmental Chemist and leads worship at St. Augustine Lutheran Church in Troy, John is a Lawyer and me … well, God uses the weak to confound the strong. God knew that if He could turn Russ Tkac into a pastor … well He was also truly able to use all things for the good according to His purpose, connecting himself to human flesh, turning water into wine, raising Himself on the third day and bringing people who are dead in sin to life and faith in Jesus Christ through the washing of regeneration with the word.

God bless our mothers on this day and always for the faithful prayers offered on our behalf and may we all continue to be connected to the the apostles' teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Forgive me for paraphrasing Daniel Webster but:

“If we work upon marble, it will perish; if we work on brass, time will efface it. If we build temples, they will crumble to dust. But if GOD works on men’s immortal hearts and minds, through the apostles' teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers the just fear of God, and love for their fellow-men, will be engraved on their hearts and minds as tablets of stone which no time can efface, brightening their lives and the lives of all who are called by faith to believe in Jesus Christ unto all eternity.”

God gives life through communion and the Apostle’s teaching!

May the Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you all now and forever!


Sermon May 3 -4, 2014 Confirmation!

Title: God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ!
Text: Luke 24:16, 27, 29a, 30a

16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him,

Today / tomorrow we celebrate the confirmation of 5 sons and daughters of Peace. And what a blessed joy it is / will be … as their Pastor, to hear their voices say, for some what they were unable to say as infants, but also for those children who were baptized as teens … to be able to confess what they have been taught and what they now believe and hold true by faith.

Faith is certainly not something that is in them or us by nature. For by nature we can neither see who God is nor come to him. But, as the third article of the Apostle’s Creed says in Luther’s explanation:

What does this mean?

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

In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers.

On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.

This is most certainly true.

God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ!

Last weekend we talked of unbelief and the story of Thomas. But in reality, and for all of us, we come into this life conceived in sin and as enemies of God. We are all brought forth in inequity and separated from the one who made us and desires to have fellowship with us. We are dead to God and can’t know him as a loving father … unless He … first comes to us.

For these confirmands God first came in His word connected to the water of Holy Baptism. This washing of water with the word washed away the original sin that we are all born with, replacing it with the righteousness of Christ that is foreign to us all, given as a gift, to precious children who are marked now as ones redeemed by Christ the crucified.

For most of them, over the last 13 years, they have been instructed and taught about our Lord and savior Jesus Christ from parents, Sunday school teachers, Vacation Bible School classes, pastors and yes … even through church attendance and … sermons!

God’s word has been proclaimed to them and this word is brought to them by the working of the Holy Spirit.

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

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

Remember this:

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

They were kept from recognizing the resurrected Lord.

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

John’s gospel tells us so.

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

This Gospel truth gives faith to those who hear by the work of the Holy Spirit. This faith points back to Jesus, who He is as both God and man and what He came to do – for you. So that their eyes are opened and that they see … recognizing Christ!

As the desciples continued walking:

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

Much like Jesus, those who bring God’s word to those who need to be taught do the very same thing. They explain in the scriptures the work of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ and how through the entire word of God, both Old and New testaments that Jesus is the one present.

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

God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ!

Our confirmands will confess their faith and trust in whom they have been taught shortly. They have been examined and have and have been found prepared and ready and for that we thank those who made sure they got here and could take and pass their exams.

Looking at the bulletin cover, that poor fellow on the left of Jesus must be just getting ready to take his own confirmation exam! He seems concerned.

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

Now pay close attention to this:

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

Soon too, these newly confirmed members of Peace Lutheran Church will be fed on that very body and blood of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ when they receive the bread and wine for the forgiveness of their sins.

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

God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ!

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

It is my hope and prayer that God by His means of grace, through word and sacrament, will keep these new confirmands connected to Jesus and recognizing Him. May they continue to grow in faith and in service to neighbor as they remain an important part of Christ’s body, the church.

For all of you veteran church members … look at these new members … as fellow saints … not Junior members, but fully an important part of this body of believers here at Peace and give them your prayers and love as they grow into those who will lead the church of Christ for many years to come.

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

Students, may you always see and recognize the church as a place where Jesus Christ comes to gives out his gifts – for you. And, may you find joy, peace and comfort here in the presence of God and all who come to Him by faith.

May the Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you all now and forever!


Sermon April 26-27, 2014

Title: In Christ’s wounds, peace is revealed!
Text: John 20:19-31

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

People refuse to believe that which they don't want to believe, in spite of evidence. When explorers first went to Australia they found a mammal which laid eggs; spent some time in water, some on land; had a broad, flat tail, webbed feet, and a bill similar to a duck. Upon their return to England, they told the populace of this, and all felt it was a hoax. They returned to Australia and found a pelt from this animal and took it back to England, but the people still felt it was a hoax. In spite of the evidence, they disbelieved because they didn't want to believe.

cf. J. McDowell, Answers to tough questions, under "miracles"

In Christ’s wounds, peace is revealed!

In my class at Seminary we’re dealing to some extent with the work of Apologetics. This is the work of a Christian to defend what seems to some – especially those who don’t believe as silly and not something one can prove in a reasonable way … that the evidence of a God who took on human form, died for the sins of the world by crucifixion and then rose from the dead three days later is just not believable.

The work of Apologetics cannot prove that Jesus rose from the dead but it can help to show that what we as Christians believe as truth is reasonable and trustworthy and that a God who created a wonderful world and  a humanity in his image … can also in love redeem those who have fallen into sin and have broken what God created perfect.

Richard Dawkins, an atheist, in a letter to his 10 year old daughter writes:

"And, how do we know that Earth is a small ball whirling round one of those stars, the sun?

The answer to these questions is "evidence." Sometimes evidence means actually seeing (or hearing, feeling, smelling ....) that something is true. Astronauts have traveled far enough from earth to see with their own eyes that it is round."

What I find interesting with this is that scripture knew and had made known what Dawkins needed astronauts to tell him.

In Isaiah 40:22 the prophet writes speaking of God:

22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
    and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
    and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

The word here proclaims what astronauts later confirmed by seeing. What I think Dawkins misses is that science has made wrong observations over the years that have had to be changed as new evidence became available.

Thomas in the Gospel reading too needed proof. He demanded evidence.

In Christ’s wounds, peace is revealed!


G. Campbell Morgan had already enjoyed some success as a preacher by the time he was 19 years old. But then he was attacked by doubts about the Bible. The writings of various scientists and agnostics disturbed him (e.g., Charles Darwin, John Tyndall, Thomas Huxley, and Herbert Spencer). As he read their books and listened to debates, Morgan became more and more perplexed.

What did he do? He cancelled all preaching engagements, put all the books in a cupboard and locked the door, and went to the bookstore and bought a new Bible. He said to himself, "I am no longer sure that this is what my father claims it to be--the Word of God. But of this I am sure. If it be the Word of God, and if I come to it with an unprejudiced and open mind, it will bring assurance to my soul of itself."

The result? God found Morgan through His word! The new assurance in 1883 gave him the motivation for his preaching and teaching ministry. He devoted himself to the study and preaching of God's Word.

Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, Moody, 1984, p. 211.

Many times doubt conflicts us all. We hear the word but find our own reason at war with God’s word.  We hear about Easter and the resurrection and unbelief clouds our own understanding. How can a dead man rise? How does God take on flesh and become man … and why? Some believe the flesh is bad and is the cause of all our problems? Even Luther thought that if he beat into submission his own sinful flesh … hiding as it were in a monastery, that his sinful thoughts and actions could be controlled but he quickly found that his own sin went in to the monastery with him.

Many of those who come to church occasionally or only on the High Holy Days of Christmas and Easter … wrestle with unbelief. They may say that their lack of attendance is not unbelief really, but only other pressing things in life that get in the way. Some never come at all and are absent altogether … choosing to do something else or nothing rather than to get up and be fed on God’s word which is to give full acknowledgment that they really don’t believe or feel a need to hear God’s word. How about you? Have you doubted God and His word? That question needs to be answered by us all … me included.

Our Gospel today gives one account:

24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.

The Bible is silent on why Thomas wasn’t with them and if you remember the words of the angel that rolled the stone away from the tomb Easster morning when he said:

7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, (I’m assuming that this included Thomas too?) that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”

So, it might have been just old fashioned unbelief and distress in this Jesus who Thomas had placed his trust and hope … who was given over to Pilate, crucified and killed … dead and buried that now when the other:

25 … disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” Full unbelief there; No wavering on his part; this disciple of Jesus’ now cries out:


That is what Thomas wants, nothing more nothing less. So many in our day too just want the evidence, unless Jesus comes down to me and I can see, feel and taste … I won’t believe.

We all at times want to see the evidence. Those we love want to see it too. We want to touch the holes in His hands and put our hand in his side or we won’t believe. Some unfortunately die in their sin never coming to faith in the one who died in their place and then rose from the dead so that they too would rise.

But in spite and because of our sins:

In Christ’s wounds, peace is revealed!

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”

Now, the irony here is amazing. Thomas, the one with unbelief, is now with those who have seen the risen Lord. They are all together and the doors are still locked! The other disciples have seen Jesus resurrected yet they also remember, very vividly the crucifixion, and all that may still come upon them. But in spite of the fear and unbelief, Jesus comes to them … in to this locked room of unbelief … and brings … peace.

Our Lord, through His word and sacraments, also comes to those who still live locked in unbelief. By His Holy Spirit the lock of unbelief is opened and faith is given.


Christian author Eric Metaxas once said about his own coming to faith from unbelief as he struggled in college with a dead faith having been raised in a Greek Orthodox Christian home. His friend at work said:

“Pray and ask the Lord to reveal himself to you.” Eric, thought this was a bit stupid as he began praying to a God he didn’t think existed, and asking that same God to reveal Himself, to show himself or in other words – “show me the nail holes in your hands and the spear hole in your side.”

27 Then Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

The evidence is there and:

28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Just like Thomas, Eric Metaxas’ prayers were answered too. He came to faith in a God who he didn’t think existed, who heard his prayer and came to Him through His word proclaimed and he comes to you and me as well through that very same word spoken today as it was spoken to Thomas in that upper room, “Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

Our Lord will not leave you in unbelief but by His Spirit He will bring about your transformation. He will cause His word not to return void for you or for your children. He promises that His word will achieve all that He intends was also proclaimed by Peter in the book of Acts in chapter 2 verse 39:

39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

Remember -In Christ’s wounds, peace is revealed!

And, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

May the Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you all now and forever!


Sermon April 19-20, 2014 Easter!

Title: Christ is risen … so you too will rise!
Text: Matt. 28:1-10

5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen

28 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

Every year in Alaska, a 1000-mile dogsled race, a run for prize money and prestige, commemorates an original "race" run to save lives. Back in January of 1926, six-year-old Richard Stanley showed symptoms of diphtheria, signaling the possibility of an outbreak in the small town of Nome. When the boy passed away a day later, Dr. Curtis Welch began immunizing children and adults with an experimental but effective anti-dipheheria serum. But it wasn't long before Dr. Welch's supply ran out, and the nearest serum was in Nenana, Alaska--1000 miles of frozen wilderness away. Amazingly, a group of trappers and prospectors volunteered to cover the distance with their dog teams! Operating in relays from trading post to trapping station and beyond, one sled started out from Nome while another, carrying the serum, started from Nenana. Oblivious to frostbite, fatigue, and exhaustion, the teamsters mushed relentlessly until, after 144 hours in minus 50-degree winds, the serum was delivered to Nome. As a result, only one other life was lost to the potential epidemic. Their sacrifice had given an entire town the gift of life. Source Unknown.

Today we celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ and His one life laid down for the many and raised up to the glory of the Father so that just as:

Christ is risen … you too will rise!

2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.

God’s word here gives a very wonderful description of what happened very early on that first day of the week, Sunday morning, as an angel of the Lord rolls away the stone … not as an aid to the resurrection but as a sign to the empty tomb and that Jesus had risen. This angel rolled the stone away and used it for his own seat and such was his appearance that he appeared like lightening and as white as snow.

You can imagine the look on the guard’s faces that were placed there to make sure that the disciples didn’t come to steal the body of the Lord. At the sight of this angel they trembled and became as dead men out of fear. The evidence of who had been crucified, dead and buried and now raised from the dead was no longer in doubt and no more concern for those who were place on guard.

As for the women … those faithful who came to contend with the Lord’s body the angle says:

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.

For this is now a place where He, Jesus, had been laid in death and He is not there; No longer in the tomb … no longer dead … but alive!

Christ is risen … so you too will rise!

Death … a part of life that we all have had some experience with … connects us too with the death of Christ. Even as little children we know death as a sign of fallen humanity. Whether it is the seasonal change and death in nature or family pets the reality is there even if not realized with the loss of beloved relatives, siblings or parents and that reality becomes clearer as we get older.

Our own families become the evidence of this as we see those who sustained us through life, leave us, showing the reality of sin in their life and ours as they fall victim to the wages of sin. And these wages bring death, a death that is assured just as our crucified Lord who breathed His last was dead as He gave up the Spirit, commending his Spirit into the Father’s hands.

I have seen this reality with fellow believers and members of Christ’s body the church this Lenten season as well as they too breathed their last and gave up their spirit in this life. Four beloved souls, all called away from the joys of this life and the ones that they loved.

How quickly it is that even one day can change our whole lives.

Those first disciples, those first followers of Jesus too felt loss. The one in whom they had placed their hope as the Messiah had been taken from them … and this loss brought confusion. Was he too just a man? Did he deceive all those who had placed their trust in him? Did their hope too … die with him? And what about our own hope?

As I got to preach at a few funerals it is always a joy to remind those who are grieving and suffering loss that in Christ, death is not the end for we who cling to the blessed hope of Christ’s resurrection. But, it is only a time of parting … for a while.

St Paul gives us the joyful hope in his epistle to the Romans in chapter 8 where he says:

38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:38-39)

Christ is risen … so you too will rise!

7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.


Last Sunday evening I had the pleasure or preaching at Lakeland place senior housing for their weekly church service. I’m now on the regular rotation of every other month. Monica and I had a wonderful time celebrating Palm Sunday with these residents, many of whom can’t get out or attend church on their own, so I brought some Portals of prayer, bulletin from of service and palms. The joy that these people had seeing the palms and holding a palm of their own connected them to the joy of Christ’s triumphal entry but also to what Jesus faced as he faced his trial, crucifixion, death and burial. Like many elderly they too face sickness, health issues, guidance and one lady I prayed for is going into rehab for the addictions she wrestles with.
Last Sunday night I had the great blessing of bringing God’s comfort and peace to those that hurt just I too am blessed to serve here with that same Gospel comfort.

Earlier I said, “How quickly it is that even one day can change our whole lives.”

St Luke tells us in a parallel account:

24 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. (Luke 24: 1-3)

… one day can change our whole lives …

“Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen!” (Luke 24:5b)

Those blessed loved ones who just a few short weeks ago were here and struggling with their illnesses and consequences of sin are now celebrating Easter with their blessed savior Jesus and all the Saints.

Heaven is now their home and Jesus has prepared a place for them.

You too, who trust in Christ, have this home waiting for you. The blessed Good News that Jesus died for your sins - is the wonderful Gospel message you can trust. He has forgiven your sin and has called you to faith by the Gospel and through the power of the Holy Spirit, and has given you faith to believe in Christ’s saving work.

9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”



May our Lord comfort you at this time of loss with this precious Good News that in Christ we are …loved by God, forgiven in Christ and together will live with Him forever!

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


Sermon April 12-13, 2014 Palm Sunday

Title: At the name of Jesus … death is overcome!
Text: Phil. 2:5-11

9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

It was John Riskin who said, "I believe the first test of a truly great man is his humility. I do not mean by humility, doubt of his own power, or hesitation in speaking his opinion. But really great men have a ... feeling that the greatness is not in them but through them; that they could not do or be anything else than God made them." Andrew Murray said, "The humble man feels no jealousy or envy. He can bear to hear others praised while he is forgotten because ... he has received the spirit of Jesus, who pleased not Himself, and who sought not His own honor. Therefore, in putting on the Lord Jesus Christ he has put on the heart of compassion, kindness, meekness, longsuffering, and humility."

Today in the Word, August 5, 1993.

Paul begins his epistle to the Philippians:

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

This Palm Sunday we look at a different aspect of the triumphant entry of Jesus. That being His humility and emptying of Himself … becoming a servant … a suffering servant that our Old Testament Reading points to.
The Old Testament reading for today is one of the Servant Songs in Isaiah. It is the third Servant song and a testament to what awaits the Lord just a few days after His triumphant entry.

6I gave my back to those who strike,
    and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard;
I hid not my face
    from disgrace and spitting.

The Lord of all creation suffers, in humility, as a man cursed to bear the sins of the world. One who is despised and rejected and on whom the wrath of God is poured out.

It is here that the picture of the scourging, the striking of the Lord Jesus by those who would ultimately lead to His crucifixion. The pulling out of the beard which is a symbol of great disrespect and an insult (2 Sam 10:4-5) as also the slapping of the redeemers face (Mark 14:65).

The servant is faithful and listens to the voice of this loving God.

7He who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
    Let us stand up together.
Who is my adversary?
    Let him come near to me.

In contrast to the rebellious people the servant listens to and does the will of His heavenly Father. The servant is abused but also sustained by the Sovereign Lord’s help just as Jesus would also be sustained in his passion at the cross. Even this death will not bring disgrace to the servant who gives over his will, in humility to that of the sovereign Lord. The fear of the Lord and obedience to the word of the servant also connect the Father with the Son and salvation to those who fall away into a righteousness of their own making.

At the name of Jesus … even death is overcome!


M.R. De Haan used to say, "Humility is something we should constantly pray for, yet never thank God that we have."

The story of a truly humble man is hard to find, yet God delights to honor such selfless people. Booker T. Washington, the renowned black educator, was an outstanding example of this truth. Shortly after he took over the presidency of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he was walking in an exclusive section of town when he was stopped by a wealthy white woman. Not knowing the famous Mr. Washington by sight, she asked if he would like to earn a few dollars by chopping wood for her. Because he had no pressing business at the moment, Professor Washington smiled, rolled up his sleeves, and proceeded to do the humble chore she had requested. When he was finished, he carried the logs into the house and stacked them by the fireplace. A little girl recognized him and later revealed his identity to the lady.

The next morning the embarrassed woman went to see Mr. Washington in his office at the Institute and apologized profusely. "It's perfectly all right, Madam," he replied. "Occasionally I enjoy a little manual labor. Besides, it's always a delight to do something for a friend." She shook his hand warmly and assured him that his meek and gracious attitude had endeared him and his work to her heart. Not long afterward she showed her admiration by persuading some wealthy acquaintances to join her in donating thousands of dollars to the Tuskegee Institute.

Our Daily Bread.

The truth of this story is to never see oneself through the eyes of pride but to see others through the eyes of Jesus … as precious Lambs of God worthy of redeeming.

But sin clouds our eyes at times. We turn away from the one in need. Feel bothered when someone needs help. Avoid a friend, because we know the problem and really have enough problems of our own. Don’t know what to say or how we can help.

Thankfully our Lord by His Spirit points to this Suffering Servant the God /man himself, Jesus Christ.
8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

This death he suffered … for you …

At the name of Jesus … death is overcome!

9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


Fellow Peace member Ryan Squanda a student at MSU wrote a wonderful article for isportsweb that is distributed by the Detroit Free press online. It was a story about former MSU quarterback Andrew Maxwell, whose carrier at MSU ended a less than stellar carrier in collegiate football. But what was most interesting in this story of Football, frustration and faith was Maxwell’s humble outlook on life, sports and his faith in his Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

“What the next chapter of my life looks like, it might be football. It might not,” Maxwell said. “But I guess something that I’ve been learning about Jesus lately is that He transcends vocations. He transcends jobs. He transcends circumstances.”

“Whether I’m an NFL quarterback, whether I’m a janitor at a church, whether I’m managing a team of business professionals - I can be just as Christian doing those things as I can on the mission field because He transcends all those," Maxwell said.

Nearly everyone that followed Maxwell's career at MSU would agree that it ended awkwardly - and certainly did not come with any sort of a positive storybook ending. But Maxwell would tell those people, like he told a hundred students in Kedzie Hall last week, that the story that really matters - his future and his faith - is just now beginning.

That should be how we all look at faith and what God has called us to do in and through our vocations. To live out our lives as followers of Jesus Christ as humble servants, in this world, and to reach those that we come in contact with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And we know that even through our weak efforts God will use all things for the good, for those who are called according to His purpose, by His Spirit, to reach the lost and strengthen the saved.

11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. That is the mission.
Because: Jesus Christ has given us the heart of compassion, kindness, meekness, longsuffering, and humility."

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


Sermon April 5-6, 2014

Title: Set Free by Christ unto eternal life!
Text: Romans 8:1-11

8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb in 1879. Twenty-two years later, in 1901, one of the newfangled gadgets was hung and turned on in the Livermore, Calif., Fire Department. It’s still there, and still on. The old bulb has almost never been turned off in 113 years.

By today’s standards it should have burned out 916 times by now. The bulb, hand-blown, with a thick carbon filament was made, it is said, by the Shelby Electric Company, which did not become one of the giants of the nation, for an obvious reason. The Shelby Company made light bulbs to last, and nobody ever reordered.

The bulb is accorded an awesome respect by Fire Captain Kirby Slate and his men. In a time of planted and planned obsolescence, when gadgets are forever falling apart or burning out or breaking up, it’s reassuring to watch a dusty 113-year-old light bulb shine on and on and on.

His promises are never failing. So you have been:

(From a sermon by Ralph Andrus, How to Dwell Securely, 8/26/2010)

Set Free by Christ unto eternal life!

Anytime you begin a text with “therefore” it is good to go back and read the verses that just preceded it.
Paul writes:

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

So Paul here is dealing with the struggle of sin in his life. Have you ever struggled with sin? I know I have. Recognizing the struggles that we face in the flesh is not new but it is also certainly what Paul and the believers in Rome that he is writing to also faced.

But he concludes chapter 7 with this truth:

25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Sin never goes away … in this life.

Our epistle reading builds on this teaching.

5a For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh. You do at times give in to temptation and that is what we all do as we struggle with our own sinful flesh.

6a For to set the mind on the flesh is death. Not only temptation that leads to sin but to be consumed with the flesh can only bring more temptation and a falling away from the faith for some. Lack of being in the word and hearing the word too can draw you away and ultimately this leads to death … a spiritual death that means separation from God for eternity.

Because: 7 the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.

The Roman church was dealing with a falling back to its sinful, flesh driven habits. You may remember that Rome saw things from a polytheistic understanding which simple means that they worshiped many gods where these new Christians now only worshiped the one true God made manifest in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Jupiter, Apollo, Diana, Mercury and many others, some even borrowed from the Greeks were part of Roman culture. Many things in Rome and these cults and worship had to do with sins of the flesh and just a few chapters later Paul says:

3 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.

The sinful flesh can lead away these believers in Rome and you and I can find ourselves struggling with the sinful desires of the flesh, having no confidence in the truth and falling away to the seductive truths of sin.


About halfway through a PBS program on the Library of Congress, Dr. Daniel Boorstin, of the Librarian of Congress, brought out a little blue box from a small closet that once held the library's rarities. The label on the box read: Contents of the president's pockets on the night of April 14, 1865. Since that was the fateful night Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, every viewer's attention was seized. Boorstin then proceeded to remove the items in the small container and display them on camera. There were five things in the box:

A handkerchief, embroidered "A. Lincoln"

A country boy's pen knife

A spectacles case repaired with string

A purse containing a $5 bill—Confederate of  money!

Some old and worn newspaper clippings

"The clippings," said Boorstin, "were concerned with the great deeds of Abraham Lincoln. And one of them actually reports a speech by John Bright which says that Abraham Lincoln is "one of the greatest men of all times." Today that's common knowledge. The world now knows that British statesman John Bright was right in his assessment of Lincoln, but in 1865 millions shared quite a contrary opinion. The President's critics were fierce and many. His was a lonely agony that reflected the suffering and turmoil of his country ripped to shreds by hatred and a cruel, costly war. There is something touchingly pathetic in the mental picture of this great leader seeking solace and self-assurance from a few old newspaper clippings … as he reads them under the flickering flame of a candle all alone in the Oval Office.

Swindoll, The Quest For Character, Multnomah, p. 62-3.

In spite of our failings and giving in to temptation and sin, you can have full confidence and complete assurance that you are:

Set Free by Christ unto eternal life!

So what does it mean to be set free? For one confined in a prison cell … it means freedom. For Lazarus in the Gospel reading it means being raised to life again and “coming forth” after lying dead in the tomb for four days. In the Old Testament reading, it is the breath of life from God, that comes into those that had formerly been just a Valley of Dry Bones but are now … an exceedingly great army!

As Paul compares the Law, which shows us our sin, the flesh which is set upon that sin and death which is the consequence of our sin God comforts us with from Paul’s letter when he writes:

6b but to set the mind on the Spirit … is life and peace.

He tells us that:

9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.
He reminds us:

10 But if Christ is in you … the Spirit is as well and this Holy Spirit is life because of the foreign righteousness – Christ’s righteousness that you have been given.

And finally you know ...

11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Set Free by Christ unto eternal life – you have been!

The light bulb – still burning after 113 years on continuous use is quite a marvel but what is that compared to eternity. Joyfully we believe in the truth of Christ’s words himself!

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

And along with Martha when Jesus asks ”Do you believe this?”

We too answer:

“Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

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


Sermon March 29-30, 2014

Title: Christ brings sight to the blind!
Text: John 9:1-7, 13-17, 34-39

5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

In his book, An Anthropologist on Mars, neurologist Oliver Sacks tells about Virgil, a man who had been blind from early childhood. When he was 50, Virgil underwent surgery and was given the gift of sight. But as he and Dr. Sacks found out, having the physical capacity for sight is not the same as seeing.

Virgil's first experiences with sight were confusing. He was able to make out colors and movements, but arranging them into a coherent picture was more difficult. Over time he learned to identify various objects, but his habits--his behaviors--were still those of a blind man.

Dr. Sacks asserts, "One must die as a blind person to be born again as a seeing person. It is the interim, the limbo . . . that is so terrible."

To truly see Jesus and his truth means more than observing what he did or said, it means a change of identity.

Terry Seufferlein Norman, Oklahoma.

Christ brings sight to the blind!

As we look at the story today of the man born blind, the question was asked of Jesus as He and His disciples passed by:

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

The idea is that the physical blindness that this man was born with was some sort of punishment from God, either brought upon by the man’s sinfulness or that of his parents. To this …

3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

The thought of the day and in our day as well is that our illnesses, afflictions and even blindness are punishments from God brought on by some act of sin as though God is watching and looking to punish sin with physical ailments.

The truth though is that 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Rom 3:23) and that 23 … the wages of sin is death, (Rom 6:23a) and we all know all too well the reality of that in our life.


Fellow member Frieda Flener is 91 and has been dealing with the reality of her long life for … well 91 years now. She is a long time member of Peace and enjoys working outside. Pastor Merrell and I visited her in the hospital on the 17th of this month and she got home later that day, she can’t see and her hearing is not good so you have to talk loud for her to understand what you are saying. But her mind is strong and she remembers things so well.

After Saturday service my wife was talking to Judy Harroun on the phone when she the ambulance arrived at Frieda’s house. They rushed her to the hospital again. When Monica and I got there we found Frieda and her daughter’s in the emergency room. Frieda had a stroke but was making good progress … so good that the doctors were so impressed with her memory. When they asked why she could remember things so well she said, “When you can’t see you can’t write thing down so I remember them.” Then she looked at me and said Don Pilot’s birthday is April 10th. I hope she’s right because Don is probably getting a card on the 10th.

Frieda’s hope is not in her sight but in her Lord and while in this life she continues to lift up family and friends in prayer and serve them as best she can she knows that it is not what she does … but what Christ has done for her and for all born in this life that matters.

Christ brings spiritual sight to the blind!

Many in this life are blind to Christ. There are some who have never heard about Him and some who have heard but have continued to closed their ears to the truth … looking to their own sinful flesh or the alternate truth that society presents. In the postmodern worldview truth is seen not as absolute but as what is true for you. Many get lured away to what works for them mixing the norms of the culture, other religions, and the social gospel, much like the Samaritan’s from last weekend who mingled with the pagan culture of Mesopotamia and were not brought back into the Israelite community after the exile.

Our children who don’t attend church, don’t hear God’s word proclaims and only hear what society preaches – understandably are in agreement when issues of the Christian faith are pitted against the social diversity that society desires.

Truth is relative we are told. What you believe is true for you because my truth is different. “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?”

The truth of our lesson today is not one of a God who punishes His children for the sins that they commit with blindness, sickness or affliction but one “who takes away the sin of the world!”

Christ brings sight to the blind!

Jesus then spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

Truth is stranger than fiction. Luther might ask in the Small Catechism:

“How can mud and saliva do such great things?”

It is not the mud and saliva, but the word of God in and with the mud and saliva that do such great things. “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” … So, he went and washed and came back seeing.

This is most certainly true!

The brokenness of this corrupted world creates the blindness to the truth of Jesus and what He has done to take away the sins of the world. The Pharisees saw the man’s sight restored because he trusted Christ and washed. They asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.”

Jesus again last week told us that the true worship is in Spirit and in truth and Pharisees are not interested in truth, change or Jesus for that matter. “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” These are questions reason can’t answer because they must and can only be understood by faith.

17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” You could almost hear the words of Thomas in the upper room, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)

Now the Pharisees throw him out. They don’t want to hear the truth about Jesus they have their own truth and that truth is close to the light of the world. But for the man born blind … when Jesus asked:

“Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

Spiritual blindness has a cure and it is made clear to the man born blind in He, who is speaking to him. This Jesus that the religious leaders reject is the cure not only for his physical blindness but also for his spiritual blindness as well.

The world, whether secular or religious has a number of truths that lead away us from the one who is “the way the truth and the life.” And this truth is that, “No one comes to the Father except through Him.” (John 14:6)

Because, Christ brings sight to the blind!

39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, by faith you have been brought from blindness to sight, and those who see, through the self righteous reason of their own understanding, may become blind.”

Christ is the truth and sight to the blind of this world and by faith and our own washing in Baptism we receive faith and we too see him for who he is.

"One must die as a blind person to be born again as a seeing person.”  Our dying and rising in Him is our change of identity. You have been brought from death to life.

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


Sermon March 22-23, 2014

Title: The water of life is found in Christ!
Text: John 4:5-26

23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

The Civil War was carnage beyond belief. Jefferson Davis, who was the President of the Confederacy died and eventually the commanding United States General, Ulysses S. Grant of the Union also died. Their widows, Varina Davis and Julia Grant, settled near each other in New York.  Both were writers with Varina writing her husband’s autobiography, Jefferson Davis, a Memoir in 1890. Julia Grant too was a writer, though she was unable to find a publisher for her own personal memoir for many years. Though they had been on different sides of the conflict during the Civil War they became the closest of friends.

Source Unknown.

Even in the worst of human endeavors reconciliation is possible. At times even at church separation can occur. Sometimes it is between friends and at times it is within families but through Jesus Christ and the living water he gives, you and I are restored to a right relationship with our loving God because:

The water of life is found in Christ!

On His journey north with His disciples, Jesus came to the little city of Sychar, which was located almost in the center of Samaria. Near this town there was a piece of land which the patriarch Jacob had given to his son Joseph in addition to his share of the country, Gen. 48, 22. It was on this piece of land that Joseph was buried. And here was also a well or cistern which Jacob had dug after his return from Mesopotamia. The well, which is now known as “Jacob's well,” is about a hundred feet deep and is protected by a wall. Jesus, being a true man, had become very tired literally, tired out — by the long journey of the morning; for it was now high noon. So He sat down at the well.

P.E. Kretzmann NT vol. 1 pg 427

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

Those of you who have ever worked outside or had been on long walks during the summer might have an idea of just how thirsty you can get.

At our circuit meeting this month, Pastor Terry Klaus often talks about growing up on a farm and how different that was for him. I’m sure that his illustrations of farm life, work, and growing up there might show many wonderful and helpful examples of the type of thirst Jesus experienced.

As we all get older and with the advent of air conditioning in every room and space we live, we can tend to get a little spoiled … especially me, who spent my entire work life in a cool office during the summer and a warm office during the winter. But, I’m sure that many of you who have grown up before the prevalence of air conditioning or worked the fields yourself can and do understand thirst. If you don’t … the rest of you can sign up to work VBS during July in our hot church sanctuary … and then you’ll know.

There were a few things going on here. First Jesus was tired and thirsty but the one who approached the well was a Samaritan and it was of her that Jesus had asked for a drink. Israel had been carried into exile by the Assyrians in 722 BC and a small group of Israelites had remained behind who mingled with the pagan culture of Mesopotamia. These are the people who became the Samaritans so there was a long and wide divide between the Jews and the Samaritans.

This explains her reaction to Jesus’ question:

9 …, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?”

There had not been much love between these two peoples and if you’ve had tension in your family or witnessed it you might know how this might play out … when two people that have not spoken to each other for years suddenly find themselves face to face.

But as we continue on we will see that:

The water of life is found in Christ!

Tension, can cause families to break and peace can be at times, only for a little while.
The divisions can divide a people, evident in the current tensions between Ukraine and Russia, but reconciliation must be truly on an individual basis.

The median used is water which can quench our thirst for a little while. It is something everyone can relate to. Jesus knows both the Samaritan woman’s thirst and that He is the cure.

11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with and He replies, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”


There is a story of the British liberation of Palestine:

Driving up from Beersheba, a combined force of British, Australians and New Zealanders were pressing on the rear of the Turkish retreat over arid desert. The attack outdistanced its water carrying camel train. Water bottles were empty. The sun blazed pitilessly out of a sky where the vultures wheeled expectantly.  "Our heads ached," writes Gilbert, "and our eyes became bloodshot and dim in the blinding glare...Our tongues began to swell...Our lips turned a purplish black and burst."  Those who dropped out of the column were never seen again, but the desperate force battled on to Sheria. There were wells at Sheria, and had they been unable to take the place by nightfall, thousands were doomed to die of thirst.

"We fought that day," writes Gilbert, "as men fight for their lives... We entered Sheria on the heels of the retreating Turks. The first objects which met our view were the great stone cisterns full of cold, clear, drinking water. In the still night air the sound of water running into the tanks could be distinctly heard, maddening in its nearness; yet not a man murmured when orders were given for the battalions to fall in, two deep, facing the cisterns" He then describes the stern priorities: the wounded, those on guard duty, then company by company. It took four hours before the last man had his drink of water, and in all that time they had been standing twenty feet from a low stone wall on the other side of which was thousands of gallons of water.

From an account of the British liberation of Palestine by Major V. Gilbert in The Last Crusade, quoted in Christ's Call To Discipleship, J.M. Boice, Moody, 1986, p. 143.

Even thousands of gallons of water will only quench our earthly thirst for a time before you and I get thirsty again. But Jesus gives us living water through Baptism that takes away our sins and brings us to faith in him and His finished work.

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

Jesus tells her to “Go, call your husband, and come here.” Knowing full well that when she says “I have no husband,” he answers he that she has had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. To this He adds: What you have said is true.”

She now understands that this man, the Jesus is something special even calling him a “prophet” saying that 20 our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”

Jesus tells her that not on the mountain and not in Jerusalem but true worship will be in spirit and truth, and that this Messiah that she is expecting and is waiting for is right here with her!

The living water himself who quenches our eternal thirst is the one, who by the Holy Spirit’s working in us, we believe and trust. Our spiritual thirst is never to return because in Christ we have been brought into his family by faith.

Thought we continue to fall short as we are conformed into the image of Christ the security of His water and word washing you and me clean of sin continues to give comfort that the gift of faith by water and the word has once and for all freed us from the power of sin, death and the devil in us because:

The water of life is found in Christ!

The enemies of Jefferson Davis and Ulysses Grant found their wives after the Civil War to be close friends. The Samaritan woman’s faith was found in the Jew Jesus Christ at the well and we have found separation of God and man restored in this same Jesus through His give of word connected to the water in Baptism for the forgiveness of sins by faith in His finished work.

The water of life is found in Christ!

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


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sermon March 15-16, 2014

Title: Whoever believes in Him … has eternal life!
Text: John 3:1-17

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Martin Luther died on February 18, 1546 at around 3:00 AM in the morning. His last words and actions were recorded by his dear friend Justus Jonas. Luther was asked, “Reverend father, will you die steadfast in Christ and the doctrines you have preached?” To this Luther responded affirmatively … “Yes!” Luther also quoted John 3:16 and Psalm 31:5 which reads:

5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
    you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

In his last prayer he said to God, “Yet I know as a certainty that I shall live with you eternally and that no one shall be able to pluck me out of your hands.”

Just as with Luther when 19th century evangelist, D. L. Moody was dying, his last words were, "Earth is receding, heaven is approaching; this is my crowning day."

Because of the resurrection of Christ we are reminded that we need have no fear about death.

Bishop Lalachan Abraham 

As the Epistle to the Romans tell us I chapter 4:

7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
    and whose sins are covered;
8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
Whoever believes in Him … has eternal life!

The Nicodemus narrative is a foundational and interesting one, in which we hear from the Lord Himself as to what the working from God is, and how He redeems His fallen creation from the sin of Adam and Eve … restoring the relationship between God and man.

Jesus begins in Chapter 2 of John’s Gospel with a description on man’s fallen condition, saying in chapter 2:25: “For He (Jesus) knew what was in man.”

In his article, “Original Sin in the New Testament”, Lutheran professor, Dr. Charles Gieschen, speaks of Original sin as being treated in full only by St. Paul, in Romans 5, as we remember from last week, “Therefore as one trespass" led to condemnation for all men, (Adam and Eve falling into sin) so one act of righteousness (Christ’s sinless life and death on the cross) leads to justification and life for all men.” (Rom. 5:18) But, then he cautions that we need to see the wider testimony of the New Testament which points namely to the disobedience of Adam and Eve.

The sin of our first parents caused separation between God and man. This loss of the Original Righteousness that man was originally created to be has been lost, brought on by the fall into sin, and this fall brought the corruption of sin to all born in the natural way – “flesh gives birth to flesh.”(John 3:6) The psalmist sings in Psalm 51:5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me,” while a few chapters later in John chapter 8 Jesus himself speaks of us “as being slaves” to this condition and Martin Luther calls our condition “bondage,” as being bound in sin and in bondage to our sinful will. This bondage is a real condition that binds you and me and all born in the natural way and binds our every action.

As Jesus begins His talk with Nicodemus … “a man of the Pharisees,” who is called man, ᾰνθρωπος in the Greek, which is probably an intentional use to emphasize, mans fallen state and being bound in sin. In John 3:3:

3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

The ESV translates ὰνωθεν as born again, which can also mean born anew or born from above, which conveys maybe a better understanding of this fallen state that you and I are born into and God’s work through the reconciling work of the Holy Spirit, pointing to the finished work of Jesus Christ to restore the relationship between God and man.

Being born in sin as stated earlier … man must now be reborn. The flesh, Jesus speaks of in John 3:6:

 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Is speaking of our human condition which gives birth only to our broken sinful self through the natural means of birth we can only be conceived in sin, but through our rebirth, from above, through the work of the Holy Spirit, we are born anew to a newness of life given by God and called to be His own children, As Saint Peter says, “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” (1Peter1:23) This born again alludes to the Spirit’s work, in you and in me, working through the word.

Jesus explains to Nicodemus that, this rebirth from above comes from being born of water and the Spirit (Vs 5)and comes to us through the waters of Holy Baptism. God through the word connected to the water and by Christ’s command and promise, brings this rebirth to fruition. Through this water and word the Spirit works. Just as our Redeemer, Jesus “comes from above,” so to the redeemed, His children, must be born “from above.”

Whoever believes in Him … has eternal life!

Pastor, Harry Ironside stated that salvation was like Noah inviting a non-believer in his day to place his trust in God's Word and come in to the ark. Some view salvation like Noah offering to put a peg on the outside of the ark. "If you just hang on through the storm, you'll be saved." Salvation is not dependent on our holding on to God … but on our being securely held by and in Christ.

Source Unknown.


The news this past week from North Korea is sobering:

Thirty-three North Koreans face execution after being charged with attempting to overthrow the repressive regime of Kim Jong-un.

The Koreans have landed themselves in hot water after it emerged they had worked with a South Korean Baptist missionary to set up 500 underground churches. It is understood they will be put to death in a cell at the State Security Department.

The Roman emperors dealt with Christianity by trying to send a message that it was dangerous to follow the teachings of Christ. Particularly brutal public executions were designed to make anyone think twice about joining the sect.


Since the time of Jesus those who followed Christ’s teaching were persecuted, and many were martyred for their faith. We lift up all those who faithfully are steadfast in their faith clinging to the finished work of Christ.

From above the Son came down and dwelt among His people. Though He was united to flesh in His incarnation, it was the sinless flesh of the God/man Jesus Christ who came down from heaven, the revelation of God and the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form. (Col 2:9) This one who came down from heaven would be lifted up as well on the Cross … for you. Just as the serpent was lifted up in the desert by Moses as a type of the Christ and in the same way that some of the Israelites looked to the bronze serpent on the pole in the desert and lived, so too those who look to the Son – even in the midst of persecution - lifted high on His cross and trusting in His finished work for the forgiveness of sins, by the working of the Holy Spirit, will live.

Just as God saved His people Israel in the desert by the lifting of the serpent on the pole by Moses, so to God has delivered His people from their sin, death and the power of the Devil by the atoning work of Jesus Christ at the cross.

God in John 3:16 bring the fullness of His desire and mission to Nicodemus. That because of God’s great love, he has sent His Son to be united to human flesh … yet without sin … and to stand in the place of all humanity receiving the bloody baptism of God’s wrath at the cross, for the forgiveness of sins, so that all humanity might hear, receive and trust the Good News of the Gospel, and be saved. The “Him” to whom Jesus speaks of in the discourse with Nicodemus and the person to whom we must believe and trust, is the very Son of God Himself, Jesus Christ who became man for our sake so that we might be redeemed by Him and trust in His name.

Whoever believes in Him … has eternal life!

Martin Luther’s last words and actions when asked, “Will you die steadfast in Christ and the doctrines you have preached?” is the same question you and I will be asked or must ask ourselves and must also answer  affirmatively … “Yes!” Because as the Psalmist writes in Psalm 31:5:

5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
    you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
And you can know for certain that you shall live with Christ eternally and that no one will be able to pluck you out of His hands.”

In Christ … you have eternal life!

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


Sermon March 8-9, 2014

Title: The Son of God Jesus was made righteous for you!
Text: Romans 5:12-19

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.

John Kenneth Galbraith, in his autobiography, A Life in Our Times, illustrates the devotion and obedience of Emily Gloria Wilson, his family's housekeeper:

It had been a wearying day, and I asked Emily to hold all telephone calls while I had a nap. Shortly thereafter the phone rang. The President of the United States, Lyndon Johnson was calling from the White House.

"Get me Ken Galbraith. This is Lyndon Johnson."

"He is sleeping, Mr. President. He said not to disturb him."

"Well, wake him up. I want to talk to him."

"No, Mr. President. I work for him, not you. Ken said, when I called the President back, he could scarcely control his pleasure. "Tell that woman I want her here in the White House."

John Kenneth Galbraith, A Life in Our Times, Houghton Mifflin, Reader's Digest, December, 1981.
Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience. Whoever strives to withdraw from obedience, withdraws from Grace.

Thomas a Kampis.

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. (Rom. 5:12-13)

Since Adam and Eve and the fall, sin has been active in the world. God made a covering for sin:

21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. (Gen. 3:21)

There was a sacrifice … the skins came as a result of sin, a sacrifice was made and Adam and Eve were covered. So much for this transgression and the eating of the fruit … but so much has been changed.

23 therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (Gen. 3:23-24)

What looks unloving – to drive man out of the garden and away from the Tree of Life – is, in fact very loving, because God here does not allow man to eat of the tree of life and live forever in his fallen state.

14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. (Roman 5:14)

The Son of God Jesus was made righteous for you!

Imagine, if you will, that you work for a company whose president found it necessary to travel out of the country and spend an extended period of time abroad. So he says to you and the other trusted employees, "Look, I'm going to leave. And while I'm gone, I want you to pay close attention to the business. You manage things while I'm away. I will write you regularly. When I do, I will instruct you in what you should do from now until I return from this trip." Everyone agrees.

He leaves and stays gone for a couple of years. During that time he writes often, communicating his desires and concerns. Finally he returns. He walks up to the front door of the company and immediately discovers everything is in a mess--weeds flourishing in the flower beds, windows broken across the front of the building, the gal at the front desk dozing, loud music roaring from several offices, two or three people engaged in horseplay in the back room. Instead of making a profit, the business has suffered a great loss. Without hesitation he calls everyone together and with a frown asks, "What happened? Didn't you get my letters?"

You say, "Oh, yeah, sure. We got all your letters. We've even bound them in a book. And some of us have memorized them. In fact, we have 'letter study' every Sunday. You know, those were really great letters." I think the president would then ask, "But what did you do about my instructions?" And, no doubt the employees would respond, "Do? Well, nothing. But we read every one!"

Charles Swindoll, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, p. 242.

So while doing what God has instructed is very good … you can’t do it … not perfectly, at least, as God requires. Though we have His instructions we can’t follow them; because of sin death reigns.

Sin, death and the power of the devil have so corrupted this world once created perfect that God had to make a way out. The second Adam, Christ, is the solution to the problem of sin and death because:

15 … the free gift is not like the trespass.

16b For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, and the world fell into sin but the free gift following many trespasses, by Christ’s sacrifice, brought justification.

Because He became your substitute, and because He was without sin,

… the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ … because:

The Son of God Jesus was made righteous for you!

The Lord God, Jesus Christ, the one who was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil is the one who followed all of God’s instructions perfectly. He had a command of the word because He is the Word of God made flesh … for you. He is the word, the bread of life on which you can trust and live forever. His guardian angels protect you and will bear you up and he himself, Jesus Christ passed the test in the wilderness … for you, so that, you can be made perfect by Him and in Him.

As our epistle reminds us:

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.

Christ Jesus was obedient unto death and at the cross He brought you peace … peace again between God and man. The price had been paid and by His death on the cross for you - you are free … free to eat once again from that Tree of Life and live forever covered in Christ’s righteousness.

The Son of God Jesus was made righteous for you and by Him you are righteous!

The obedience of John Kenneth Galbraith’s secretary was commendable, when she refused to wake him even to receive a call from the President of the United States. But, Christ was obedient to the point of death, death on a cross for you. He listened to the call of the Father to be the all sufficient sacrifice for sin so that you and I and all who receive this Good News by faith can have communion with God again.

He was obedient so that you can be obedient in Him!

By His obedience you are made righteous!

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