Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sermon July 26-27, 2014

Title: Christ Jesus, the pearl of great value given for you!
Text: Matt 13:45-46

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

This past week was celebrated by our annual VBS program this year titled, “Wilderness Escape.” It was a wonderful time of sharing God’s word of promise, even in the midst of our own sin and suffering, in the wilderness that we all experience in this life, separated from our loving God, which is exactly what sin does. At times we chose to rely on our own reason and strength to get through the trials that life can throw our way, and many unfortunately will choose to reject the word of the Gospel and the God of the Bible, replacing Him with the lies of the evil one and a worldly wisdom of a hopeless death that is inevitable, unchangeable and final. To this our children heard:

That God is always with us, even in the sometime scary trials of life and suffering and that we can still, Trust God to deliver us from sin death and the power of the devil!

As we begin today, we again look again at the parables of Jesus in the Gospel of St. Matthew. If we remember the last two weekends we recall that the sower, who sowed seed everywhere, found that the seed that fell on the good soil took root and produced a crop that yielded 30, 60 and even 100 fold.

Last week we learned that the wheat that grew from the good seed, was planted by the Son of man, in the field of the world, and that the devil also planted weeds among the wheat where both would grow until the harvest, separating both wheat and weeds or believers and unbelievers by God’s angles at the end of the age.

Today we have three short parables and they all bring to mind the topic of the kingdom of heaven. We’ll look at these and see the truth that, through the Gospel:

Christ Jesus, the pearl of great value is given for you!

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

In last week’s parable Jesus explained that the field was the world and the good seed is the children of the kingdom. In today’s parable the children of the kingdom is the treasure hidden in the world brought to faith by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel’s proclamation. Christ then is the man who found you, His treasure, but this treasure of being his child is hidden apart from faith, in the field of this world and its own treasures, by the work of the devil and our own sinful flesh.

So to purchase the world back, Christ empties himself, sells all He has, as it were and gives Himself as a ransom to buy and redeem this world lost in sin, death and the power of the devil.

Jesus then says:

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Knowing that a perfect pearl, of large size, of regular spherical shape, of even luster, would far surpass in value hundreds of small, imperfect pearls, this merchant, an expert in his line, set out to seek, and, if possible, to find, such a rare valuable pearl. Having found one which seemed to him exceedingly precious, he risked his all, stripping himself of all his possessions in the one great venture of his life. The glory and beauty of God's mercy in the Gospel - so great and precious a gift that all else sinks into insignificance beside it. The pearl of the Christians is the greatest treasure in the kingdom of God … salvation in Christ! He who has learned to know this priceless gift will gladly renounce all goods, joys, and delights of this world, and consider all human wisdom and righteousness as loss, in order to gain Christ.


Driving home the other night, I caught a storie on the Moth Radio Hour. This show has people speaking in front of a live studio audience and relating a story that was of some significance to them.

The speaker was Christof Koch an American neuroscientist who had been raised Roman Catholic and struggled with his own belief in God alongside his work as a scientist. The topic was: God, Death and Francis Crick. Francis Crick was also a scientist, who made his mark in DNA research and was an atheist. The two, though from different generations, spent many years in collaboration and study even authoring a book together called The Quest for Consciousness.

One day as they worked together, Francis Cricks received a call and confirmation that his terminal colon cancer had returned. Christof said he was immensely impressed with the Stoic faith of his atheist elder friend. “No doom and gloom, no gnashing of teeth and no tears just, “Accept what you can’t change.” And then he went on with what Francis Crick had to say, “Everything that has a beginning must have an end … those are the facts, I don’t like them, but I’ve accepted them.” This also caused Christof to reflect on his own mortality. Ultimately, he saw Francis Crick as his hero, with how he dealt with his own demise.

The show concluded with Christof speaking of being saddened by the loss of his belief and religion like, fond childhood memories, concluding that we all have to grow up, which is difficult for many and unbearable for the few, concluding that we have to see the world as it really is and stop thinking in terms of magic.

Or, he says, as Francis would have put it, “This is a story for grown men not a consoling tale for children.”

To that Jesus says:

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The net of the Word of God and its Gospel proclamation is cast into the sea of the world and at the end of the age it will be gathered to the shore. Here the angles will separate those, the righteous, who by the power of the Holy Spirit, are brought to faith in Christ and believe, while others, called evil, will be thrown into the fiery furnace of Hell and there, no matter how stoic they may be there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
We can’t know who will be gathered but we can trust that God knows. He will gather his children unto himself and all that believe in Christ will be saved. Those who have once shared this faith but have fallen away, God, by his Holy Spirit will continue to call and we pray once again give them life by the Spirit in Christ.

Christ Jesus, the pearl of great value given for you!

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


Sermon July 19-20, 2014

Title: It is better to be left behind to be gathered later!
Text: Matthew 13:40-43

40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Sin can often have a gradual and cumulative effect on our lives. In Saint Louis there was a story, an unemployed cleaning woman who noticed a few bees buzzing around the attic of her home. Since there were only a few, she made no effort to deal with them. Over the summer the bees continued to fly in and out the attic vent while the woman remained unconcerned and unaware of the growing city of bees. The whole attic became a hive, and the ceiling of the second- floor bedroom finally caved in under the weight of hundreds of pounds of honey and thousands of angry bees. While the woman escaped serious injury, she was unable to repair the damage of her accumulated neglect.

Robert T. Wenz.

It is better to be left behind to be gathered later!

Last week we discussed the parable of the Sower who sowed seed, throwing it everywhere, on the path, the rocky ground and even in good soil.  The parable was explained by Jesus that the seed was the word of God and the Gospel proclamation that went forth transforming hearts of stone to good soil where the word takes root and brings to faith those called by God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Today’s parable builds on that by saying:

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.

So in explanation to this parable, Jesus says that He is the one who sows the good seed and that the world is the field and the wheat that grows, which sprouts from the good seed, are those who are the children of the Kingdom by faith. The weeds, we are told, are those who are sons of the evil one which is the devil himself who sows the lies that Jesus is not who he claims to be, the way the truth and the life.

So as is made clear in our text, the world will consist of both those who believe and those who don’t and being that the church is also in the world, we will have our own share of weed among believers.

So as the church shouldn’t we look to pull out those weed among us? Who’ll be first? What should we use to judge each other? Today we had a good example. You all saw the beautiful children who were adopted into God’s family … marked as one’s redeemed by Christ the crucified. Made good soil by God’s Holy Spirit … certainly they are wheat … they have been washed and are clean. What if you haven’t been baptized? Well Paul says in Roman 10:

9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

And then he continues:

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.

So belief in the heart is what justifies or makes righteous and those who believe will not be put to shame but will be saved. So, as Jesus says to the question of, 28”do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 He says, ‘No, because in gathering the weeds you may pull up the wheat as well. 30 Let both grow together … until the harvest, and then I will tell the reapers to Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” In other words … the wheat is left behind after the weeds are gathered to be burned and then gathered into the Lord’s barn.


Growing up in and around the Midwest, I’m sure we’ve all had plenty of experience pulling weeds. As a young boy I was sent out to do weeding around the house and also went with my dad to a farm that he leased a few acres to have a vegetable garden where we went to … you guessed it … pull weeds! Now, sometimes when I pulled the weed, I also pulled out the plant I was weeding around. Dad was none too pleased with that. That can be very frustrating and at times you might think that you are doing more harm than good.

It also seems that these weeds seemingly grow up overnight. I would go out and pull weeds with him one day, but the next day, out of nowhere, new weeds had appeared. Maybe you can appreciate like me the truly demonic nature of weeds and why Jesus used them in the parable?

With wheat and weeds at the time of harvest, the weeds, which look like wheat when they were green, turned out to be foxtail. But by then it was too late to pull them so the harvester, that big machine that is called a combine, would have to sort them for the wheat farmers, gathering the wheat safely in the tank and shredding the foxtail and other weeds behind in its wake.

You might imagine what a terrible thing it is to be shredded to pieces in the bowels of a combine! Most farmers have great and fearful respect for that massive mechanical harvester. How much greater and more fearful will it will be when Jesus sends his angels as reapers at the end of the age? But for you, the righteous, who trust in Christ just as for the wheat, there is no reason to fear, only joy and relief at being gathered safely home (Mt 13:24–30).

Jeffrey D. Springer, Fort Wayne, IN

When sin becomes visible in the church we are told to call those who are sinning to repentance … with gentleness and respect. We are first remove the beam from our own eye before seeking to remove the speck from the eye of our brother.

This past Sunday Pastor Merrell and I participated in ordination /installation services of new pastors, he at Good shepherd, Lake Orion and me at St. Mark West Bloomfield. One of the many verses that are read at these services is 2 Timothy 4:2 which says:

2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

The pastor is as well to call to repentance through the preaching of the Law those who are going the wrong way and are in disobedience to God’s word but also to do this with individuals as well. This, only deals with the visible sin and it can never show the intention of the heart or the motive and even more importantly, who are wheat and who are weeds. That will be determined by God himself at the final judgment.
It is better to be left behind to be gathered later!

So what do we know?

Well it is Christ’s desire that all would be saved and come to knowledge of the truth, 1 Tim 2:4 even those whom we believe far from the Lord and his reach. This is accomplished by the proclamation of the Gospel in word and sacrament which will bring to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit those who will believe, and by God’s grace, those children baptized today were also adopted by God into His family through that same promised forgiveness by faith in Christ’s finished work.

We also know from the parable today, that some, those who are called the weeds in the parable are those who are the sons of the evil one, the devil, and that they will reject the saviors blessed call through the gospel message and through this unbelief be destined for destruction – thrown into the fiery furnace … and in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. This will be of their own choosing as they reject the work of the Holy Spirit choosing to remain dead in trespass and sin.

43 But you who believe, the righteous … will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear!

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


Sermon July 5-6, 2014

Title: Resting in the loving arms of Jesus!
Text: Matthew 11:25-30

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

According to a Greek legend, in ancient Athens a man noticed the great storyteller Aesop playing childish games with some little boys. He laughed and jeered at Aesop, asking him why he wasted his time in such frivolous activity.

Aesop responded by picking up a bow, loosening its string, and placing it on the ground. Then he said to the critical Athenian, "Now, answer the riddle, if you can. Tell us what the unstrung bows implies."
The man looked at it for several moments but had no idea what point Aesop was trying to make. Aesop explained, "If you keep a bow always bent, it will break eventually; but if you let it go slack, it will be more fit for use when you want it."

People are also like that. That's why we all need to take time to rest. In today's Scripture, Jesus calls all who labor and are heavy laden, to Himself for rest.  And in the Old Testament, God also set a pattern for us when He "rested from all His work" (Gen.2:3).

In the Lord we find spiritual rest and also God tells us that physical rest is needed.  By setting aside a special time to relax physically and renew yourself emotionally and spiritually, you will be at your best for the Lord … if you have taken time to loosen the bow.

Our Daily Bread, June 6, 1994.

Resting in the loving arms of Jesus!

Jesus has been telling the disciples these last few weeks in our gospel lessons about the hardships they will encounter as they go forth as his messengers. Jesus tells them that the world we hate them and families will be divided by this word of the Gospel. We too know this at times in our own families where faith is fully realized with some members brought to faith and trust in our Lord and savior Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit while others seem distant and led by a different spirit, not trusting Christ or seeming to care much about Him.

Hope may be in the world and what it offers, in themselves and the wisdom of reason and understanding or just in peace where at times there is no peace. The burdens of life can be heavy. The scribes and Pharisees of Israel deemed themselves the custodians of the wisdom and understanding of the Law in all its applications. To them the Gospel is hidden, because they deliberately close their hearts and minds against its beauties. But to babes, those that are as ignorant of this world's wisdom as little children, God has revealed the glory of the Gospel.

The gospel promises that all by faith through God’s call will be brought to the loving arms of Jesus and there they will find rest. Just as rest is needed in life after physical activity also spiritual rest provides comfort and strength for the soul.

Resting in the loving arms of Jesus!


A story is told of one man’s challenge of another to an all-day wood chopping contest. The challenger worked very hard, stopping only for a brief lunch break. The other man had a leisurely lunch and took several breaks during the day. At the end of the day, the challenger was surprised and annoyed to find that the other fellow had chopped substantially more wood than he had.

"I don't get it," he said. "Every time I checked, you were taking a rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did."

"But you didn't notice," said the winning woodsman, "that I was sharpening my ax when I sat down to rest."

Source Unknown.

Rest can be productive. It can be a physical rest that allows our bodies to take the tension of the bow off if you will. But also it can be a time of rest when the lord feed us and gives us His peace as we give our cares that laden our lives and the burdens that we carry every day to the Lord.


Sometimes we can just be too busy. As has been said:

Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.

Chuck Swindoll once said:

Business can ruin relationships. It substitutes shallow frenzy for deep friendship. It feeds the ego but starves the inner man. It fills a calendar but fractures a family. It cultivates a program that plows under priorities. Many a church boasts about its active programs: "Something for every night of the week for everybody." What a shame, he says! With good intentions the local church can create the very atmosphere it was designed to curb.

Dr. Charles Swindoll.

Having worked for years in retail I know how much this cost me with regards to my family. Working Saturday and Sundays, evenings until 8 but many of us have to make our schedule work and unfortunately we can’t opt out. The one that bothered me the most was Amy’s first communion. It was on a Sunday, we had service and her first communion and then family at the house for a party. I was able to stay for a few minutes but we had the last day of our sale at Madonna University and I had to be there by 1:00 PM. I want to be at home with my family but also had an obligation to my boss and company. As we all know it has got harder for families. For many, two incomes are required or through the brokenness of the family the one parent has to do twice as much. The burden can be great.


Visiting fellow member Dexter Jarrett in the hospital, who is battling cancer, getting blood, and dealing with surgery recovery. I asked, “Dexter, I brought communion would you like to receive it?” He said, “Sure.” And then turned to the nurse and said, “Were going to add a little life giving blood of our own!”

It was comforting to talk with Dexter. He said, “I never worry about my life and this stuff, I just give it all to the Lord!”

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Resting in the loving arms of Jesus!

Jesus began the Gospel reading today with these words:

“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;

"There are two things over which Jesus here is glad. The first, that God has hidden such mystery from the wise and understanding. The other, that He has revealed it to the little ones, the simple, the babes. Those are the children and babes that do not talk against the Word of God, that do not murmur against God's will, but, as He deals with them, they are well pleased with it. This includes all those that are not wise and understanding in their own conceit, nor fall into God's work and Word with their reason."

Kretzmann vol. 1 pg. 65

This is what Luther had to say:

Therefore, know that Christ Himself was made our righteousness, virtue and wisdom by God (1 Cor. 1:30). In him God the Father gives all his wisdom, virtues, and righteousness in order that they might become ours. This is what it means to know the Son. Moreover, you should know that the Father in his mercy gives (reckons) to us His Son’s righteousness, which is His own righteousness; for the righteousness of the Father and the Son are one; it is one life and one virtue which is given to us. This is what it means to know the Father of Christ.

LW American Ed. Vol. 51 pg. 28-29

And Jesus adds:

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus’ burden is light, namely, for you that believe His words; and His yoke is easy, namely, if you look upon Christ … who has promised to give you rest, as He Himself says there: And you will find rest for your souls. For these words: “you will find”, indicate that who are in Christ are without rest for a time. But that the difficult time will be short and the rest of the soul, however, which the believers will find in Christ, will be important and eternal."  That is the final comfort of God’s Gospel-promise: There remains a rest to the people of God:

9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Heb. 4, 9.

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


Sermon June 28-29, 2014

Title: Being received into Christ is your great reward!
Text: Matt 10:34-42

40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward.42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

One time many years ago, the king of Hungary found himself depressed and unhappy. He sent for his brother, a good-natured but rather indifferent prince. The king said to him, "I am a great sinner; I fear to meet God." But the prince only laughed at him. This didn't help the king's disposition any. Though he was a believer, the king had gotten a glimpse of his guilt for the way he'd been living lately, and he seriously wanted help. In those days it was customary if the executioner sounded a trumpet before a man's door at any hour, it was a signal that he was to be led to his execution. The king sent the executioner in the dead of night to sound the fateful blast at his brother's door. The prince realized with horror what was happening. Quickly dressing, he stepped to the door and was seized by the executioner, and dragged pale and trembling into the king's presence. In an agony of terror he fell on his knees before his brother and begged to know how he had offended him. "My brother," answered the king, "if the sight of a human executioner is so terrible to you, shall not I, having grievously offended God, fear to be brought before the judgment seat of Christ?"

Walk Through Rewards.

Being received into Christ is your great reward!

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Peace came to the Earth at the promised birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He came to restore the peace that was lost through the fall into sin between God and man. Peace was earned at the cross by Jesus Christ where the price of sin was paid in full and satisfaction made. God and man are now at peace.

But, there also is another effect as a result of the Gospel being proclaimed. Maybe you’ve experienced it? Jesus tells his disciples:

36 And a person's enemies will be those of his own household.

Man against father and daughter against mother, daughter-n-law and mother-n-law will be at odds. This sounds very similar to last week’s reading and Jesus gives us a warning as well.

37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life in this life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Where Jesus says that he came not to bring peace but a sword we need to understand this a bit more. What is the sword that He brings that his disciples should be aware of? Paul gives us a glimpse in Ephesians chapter six when he uses the metaphor of putting on the whole armor of God and he here also gives us a better picture of who the fight is truly against

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood … but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

The fight may appear to be against father and son or mother and daughter and this fight will have the battle scars of a true fight, but the truth is first that those who are opposed to the word of truth proclaimed and received by the work of the Holy Spirit are lead by a different spirit … the spirit of darkness who fight against the sword that Christ has. Paul gives us the armor:

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

The armor that is put on has different functions:

14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

All of the armor that is given for the use of the disciples and us is defensive. All that we put on gives protection from the darts of the evil one though one … is given for our use as a weapon. The sword of the Spirit which is the word of God!

Being received into Christ is your great reward!


In The Chronicles of Narnia, an allegory by C.S. Lewis, the author has two girls, Susan and Lucy, getting ready to meet Aslan the lion, who represents Christ. Two talking animals, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, prepare the children for the encounter. "Ooh," said Susan, "I though he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion." "That you will, dearie." said Mrs. Beaver. "And make no mistake, if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knee's knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly."

"Then isn't he safe?" said Lucy. "Safe?" said Mr. Beaver. "Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the king, I tell you!"

Our Daily Bread, February 17, 1994.


I had a conversation a number of years ago with a friend who I had been witnessing to. I had invited him to church and he said, “Sunday mornings are the time that my wife and I do things and go places.” His wife was not a believer or interested in hearing about Christ at all. I asked, “Do you get up early Sunday and do things?” He said, “No, we don’t really get up until about 10:00 am.” So, I said, “Why don’t you go to an 8:00 am service and you can be back home before your wife gets up and 10:00, then you have the whole day to spend together? “No, that won’t work … because she’ll be mad that I went to church … she thinks it’s stupid.”

Ultimately, they got a divorce. Both were at fault.  Unfortunately, their marriage was not built on the hope that Christ gives.

38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life in this life will lose it, even if it appears that the love of wife, brother, sister, father, son-n-law, daughter-n-law or whomever, is a reason to forsake Christ and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Last weekend I told you about Miriam Ibrahim and her death sentence for being Christian in the Sudan. I am happy to report that she has been released, though she was detained at the airport while trying to leave the country.


A Sudanese woman freed from death row on Monday has been released again after being briefly detained with her family at Khartoum airport.

Miriam Ibrahim was sentenced in May to hang for renouncing Islam, sparking widespread outrage at home and abroad.

“They were temporarily detained for several hours over questions related to their documents,” Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the US state department, told journalists. The BBC reported Ibrahim, 27, was convicted in May by a Sudanese court on charges of apostasy, or the renunciation of faith, and adultery — charges that led to international controversy. Ibrahim was eight months pregnant when she was sentenced to suffer 100 lashes and then be hanged.


She remains in the U.S. Embassy and we continue to pray that she may be released to return home.
Being received into Christ is your great reward!

Jesus comforts us all:

40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward.

Your reward is in Christ. He has given you the most blessed reward of eternal life which is the prophet’s reward and the reward of a righteous person … Jesus Christ! It is yours because you are His! This gift is not only for you but for all who have been brought to faith by the work of the Holy Spirit.

42 … even the little ones given a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” Your reward is held fast in Christ by God Himself and you are His now and for eternity!

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


Sermon June 21-22, 2014

Title: Sent to point the world to Christ!
Text: Matt 10:5a, 21-33

32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

The Bohemian reformer John Hus, who lived about a 100 years before Martin Luther, was a man who believed the Scriptures to be the infallible and supreme authority in all matters of faith. He died, burned at the stake, for that belief in Constance, Germany, on his forty-second birthday. As he refused a final plea to renounce his faith, Hus's last words were, "What I taught with my lips, I seal with my blood."

Source Unknown.

A number of years ago Norman Cousins wrote an editorial in Saturday Review in which he reported a conversation he had on a trip in India. He was talking with a Hindu priest named Satis Prasad. The man said he wanted to come to our country to work as a missionary among the Americans. Cousins assumed that he meant that he wanted to convert Americans to the Hindu religion, but when asked, Satis said, "Oh no, I would like to convert them to the Christian religion. Christianity cannot survive in the abstract. It needs not membership, but believers. The people of your country may claim they believe in Christianity, but from what I read at this distance; Christianity is more a custom than anything else. I would ask that either you accept the teachings of Jesus in your everyday life and in your affairs as a nation, or stop invoking His name as sanction for everything you do. I want to help save Christianity for the Christian."

Clayton Bell, in Preaching, May-June, 1986.

Sent to point the world to Christ!

10 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

These are the twelve that Jesus sent out, instructing them. But the bulk of our text today points to what await those who profess faith in Christ.

21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

The work of those who were sent would not be fun or easy. Persecution would be part of the lot of those sent. Not only would the world hate them but so too their family, brother, father children and so on. Christ says,

Have no fear of them … proclaim the truth! 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Dot not … if you will, reject the working of the Holy Spirit. It is the only unpardonable sin. To deny the gift of faith and to whom that faith points … to Jesus Christ our Lord, is the sin to which there is no repentance; for to repent one must recognize our sin and the working of the Holy Spirit in us.

Sent to point the world to Christ!

The persecution of those who name the name of Christ is growing. It is and has been dangerous to those around the world and if not yet at our shores, it is now on its way to our shores and to our lives as well.


Mariam Ibrahim may not be a name to which you are familiar. She has been in the news for a while. A woman doctor in the Sudan, charged with apostasy, for violating Sharia Law by becoming a Christian and who also has been charged with adultery for marring a Christian - which is not recognized by the Sudanese government. She has been condemned to death and though there has been great efforts on the part of our government and others around the world as yet she has not been released from these trumped up charges.
Russell D. Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Convention writes:

“Mariam's husband tells the press that she refused, despite all she has been through, to renounce the name of Jesus. For her, her freedom, even her life, isn’t worth tossing aside her allegiance to the Lord Christ. In this, Mariam is a true daughter of Sarah.

Mariam is a living picture of Jesus keeping his promise, made to us at Caesarea Philippi. Jesus said that he would build his church, and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. And sure enough; Nero Caesar couldn't kill the church. Josef Stalin couldn't kill the church. Even now, Sudanese tyrants and Chinese despots can't eradicate this church.

When we see a heroine such as Mariam standing up for Jesus, even in chains, we are not simply seeing her. We are seeing the Spirit who blows where he wills, giving the kind of faith that fears not the one who can kill the body, the kind of faith that seeks first the kingdom of God.”


So what do we who are Christians do in light of this evil in the world? Well certainly we pray but we also need to be in the world though not of the world.


Dietrich Bonhoeffer said in a very poignant way as he was confronted with all that Hitler and the Third Reich were doing leading up to and including World War II.

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

He continues on in his book, The Cost of Discipleship:

“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: 'Ye were bought at a price’ and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Sent to point the world to Christ!

It is the mission of the church as we learned to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” It is a mission of the Church at large, our own LC-MS and of we here at Peace as well. To make disciples, to proclaim Christ, to baptize and teach; It is a rough road, and a dangerous road. Many die along the way in doing the work of proclaiming the gospel. But Christ says, Fear not!

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Christ has promised that where he is you too will be also. He has a room prepared and where He is you too will be also. And He gives you and me the work to do with this promise:

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, John 14:12a

I’d like to close with these words of comfort from Luther:

Now, since these promises of God are words of holiness, truth, righteousness, liberty, and peace, and are full of universal goodness, the soul, which cleaves to them with a firm faith, is so united to them, nay, thoroughly absorbed by them, that it not only partakes in, but is penetrated and saturated by, all their virtues. For if the touch of Christ was healing, how much more,does that most tender spiritual touch, nay, absorption of the word, communicate to the soul all that belongs to the word! In this way therefore the soul, through faith alone, without works, is from the word of God justified, sanctified, endued with truth, peace, and liberty, and filled full with every good thing, and is truly made the child of God, as it is said, “To them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1: 12).

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And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in and through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior now and forever.