Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sermon Feb. 25, 2015 Mid-Week Lent

Title: God desires you to be holy, In Christ!
The Lord’s Prayer: First petition.
Hallowed be thy name.
Text: Psalm 25:1-10

8 Good and upright is the LORD;
    therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
    and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
    for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

In the First petition we learn Hallowed be Thy name.

And to this Luther asks the question: What does this mean?

He answers that God's name is indeed holy in itself; but we pray in this petition that it may become holy among us also.

And then tell us how is this done?

When the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity and [when] we as the children of God also lead holy lives in accordance with God’s word, we keep his name holy among us. To this end [we call upon God to] help us, dear Father in heaven. But he that teaches and lives otherwise than [within] God's Word teaches and profanes the name of God among us. From this preserve us, Heavenly Father.

It is during this Lenten season that we focus on who we are as sinners, born sinful and unclean who God is as the Holy One of Israel and the joy and hope in Christ that:

God desires you to be holy, In Christ!

25 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust;

Here the Psalmist looks to the one and only true God, the maker of heaven and earth, and this is the one in whom his trust is placed. It is in this God whose name is holy, where the psalmist’s hope is placed, and where he places his trust, alone.

His cry is for protection from the shame of the world and the mockery of his enemies. And his hope is that God, who is holy, will deliver him, and all who trust in his name, away from the treacherous whiles of those destined for death and destruction.

In the Pursuit of Holiness Scottish Theologian John Brown comments,

"Holiness does not consist in mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervors, or uncommanded austerities; it consists in thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills."

John Brown, Nineteenth-century Scottish theologian, quoted in J. Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness, p. 51.

In other words, it is not our speculations about God which has not been revealed in his word; not how much we might show our enthusiasm for God by our prayers or worship joy that we exhibit, or even the things we do to withhold or fast from certain foods or things and blessings of this world that make us holy. No, holiness is outside us and it requires you and me to be perfect.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matt 5:43-48

To be perfect is to be as God and to be as God is to be holy.

Therefore, God desires you to be holy, and he himself, makes you holy, In Christ!

D.L. Moody once said:

“A holy life will make the deepest impression. Lighthouses blow no horns, they just shine.”

D.L. Moody.

4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
    teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all the day long.

God, in his law shows us what he demands. We have his commandments and we know the perfection he requires. The call of the Psalmist is to know God’s ways, to be taught his truths and to trust in the God who brings salvation to his children lost in trespass and sin.


Tim Hansel in his book Holy Sweat tells of a story with his young son Zac.

“One day,” he says, “while my son Zac and I were out in the country, climbing around in some cliffs, I heard a voice from above me yell, "Hey Dad! Catch me!" I turned around to see Zac joyfully jumping off a rock straight at me. He had jumped and then yelled "Hey Dad!" it became an instant circus act, catching him. We both fell to the ground. For a moment after I caught him I could hardly talk.”

When I found my voice again I gasped in exasperation: "Zac! Can you give me one good reason why you did that???"

He responded with remarkable calmness: "Sure...because you're my Dad." His whole assurance was based in the fact that his father was trustworthy. He could live life to the hilt because I could be trusted. Isn't this even more so true for you and me and our Heavenly Father?

Tim Hansel, Holy Sweat, 1987, Word Books Publisher, pp. 46-47.

We though don’t see God as Holy because instead of keeping our thoughts on him and his desires we fall away daily into the ways of our own sinful desires, being led into the breaking of the commandments, as opposed to the righteous desires that God has for you and me.

It is during this time of Lent where we remember our place as sinners in need of repentance and like the psalmist call out to our heavenly Father.

6 Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love,
    for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
    according to your steadfast love remember me,
    for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!

May you name be holy among us also as we pray in the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer.

But even though we fall short … God never does.

It is his desire to make you what you could never be, in your own righteousness, as we look to Christ and his work we too know that the name of Jesus is the name of God for as Christ said to Philip in John 14:9:

8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father John 14:8-9a

In Christ Jesus the Father is seen, in his person and work. He, Jesus, is of the same substance and his name is holy, set apart for you, yet without sin. As we walk through these 40 days towards the cross together with Christ may we come to the blessed repentance and glorious hope of a savior who makes satisfaction for sin so that we are covered by a foreign righteousness that is not of us but of Christ so that we are holy even as our heavenly Father is holy.

8 Good and upright is the LORD;
    therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
    and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
    for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

Through Christ’s righteousness we are holy and made acceptable to God, righteous and set apart, covered with the name that is hollowed or holy in Christ … for you.

God desires you to be holy and makes you so in Christ!

The mountain of sins has been removed and you are now in the loving arms of your savior, Jesus Christ. He is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through him. He is the rock of your salvation.

He is holy and you dear friends are holy in Christ!

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


Monday, February 23, 2015

Sermon Feb. 21-22, 2015

Title: In Christ, the wilderness of death is made a garden of joy!
Text: Mark 1:9-15

12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

As a man of the third-century was anticipating death, he penned these last words to a friend:
"It's a bad world, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not about this life. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people are the Christians--and I am one of them."

Today In The Word, June, 1988, p. 18.

We also see in this world the bad that so dominates the news, especially brother and sister Christians in the middle east who are suffering persecution at the hands of Muslim extremists, that in the midst of suffering we can have comfort as Christians because:

In Christ, the wilderness of death is made a garden of joy!

10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Following Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan we see the work of the Holy Spirit immediately driving Jesus out into the wilderness. The wilderness is a desolate place, a place of danger, a place we’re told of wild beasts and certainly a parallel of the wanderings of Moses and the Israelites, in the wilderness, for 40 years. Here too we see the parallel of 40 days and the tempting that Jesus endured. The number 40 shows up many times in the Bible having significance as a time of trial, tempting and persecution.

Here, Jesus is tempted by Satan. Satan literally means “the tempter” in Hebrew and also in Aramaic – adversary - or literally, “One lying in ambush for.”

R.C.H. Lenski commentary, St. Marks Gospel, Pg. 57

This was no demon in training that Satan sent to temp the Son of Man, no this was important business and Satan was up to the task himself. The tempting of the devil, the starkness of the wilderness and the ferocious beasts were all that Christ had in his company for 40 days. In St. Matthew and St. Luke’s gospel we read of three tempting and Jesus’ answer by the word of God to Satan, that man does not live on bread alone Luke 4:4, worship the Lord your God and serve him only Luke 4:8 and finally not putting the Lord your God to the test Luke 4:12. But what is also clear is that Jesus was tempted for 40 days – an ongoing tempting of the devil.

Unlike the Father and the Spirit, who as God cannot be tempted, but Christ Jesus true God and true man was tempted as we were, yet without sin. All of the temptations of the devil attacked the true humanity of the God/man himself, Jesus Christ. Only man hungers and thirsts and only man is led to worship falsely one who isn't God, and only man puts God - and his love for him to the test.

You like me know hunger. You like me have trusted in the things of this word, and you like me have tested God beyond measure.


Louis Albert Banks tells of an elderly Christian man, a fine singer, who learned that he had cancer of the tongue and that surgery was required. In the hospital after everything was ready for the operation, the man said to the doctor, "Are you sure I will never sing again?" The surgeon found it difficult to answer his question. He simply shook his head no. The patient then asked if he could sit up for a moment. "I've had many good times singing the praises of God," he said. "And now you tell me I can never sing again. I have one song that will be my last. It will be of gratitude and praise to God."
There in the doctor's presence the man sang softly the words of Isaac Watts' hymn,

I'll praise my Maker while I've breath;
and when my voice is lost in death,
praise shall employ my nobler powers.
My days of praise shall ne'er be past,
while life, and thought, and being last,
or immortality endures.

Our Daily Bread.

In Christ, the wilderness of death is made a garden of joy!

It is fitting as we begin this Lenten season that we look to our Lord’s baptism and to our own baptism.

9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son;[a] with you I am well pleased.”

Here Christ Jesus is marked for you as the one to be the once and for all sacrifice for sin. Here he begins the journey to Jerusalem and the cross of redemption for you and here too we see in Christ and in his humiliation the descent as he goes down to Jerusalem and the cross … where …

“It is finished”

… where the full wrath of God is poured out … on Christ … for you, and following his death … he lays in the tomb for three days leading to his glorious resurrection on Easter morning.

We too can have comfort and confidence in Christ’s work.

3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Rom. 6:3-4

Newness od life can bring with it a confidence to boldly proclaim Christ and his saving work in spite of danger and death.


The Prussian king Frederick the Great was widely known as an agnostic. By contrast, General Von Zealand, one of his most trusted officers, was a devout Christian. Thus it was that during a festive gathering the king began making crude jokes about Christ until everyone was rocking with laughter--all but Von Zealand, that is. Finally, he arose and addressed the king: "Sire, you know I have not feared death. I have fought and won 38 battles for you. I am an old man; I shall soon have to go into the presence of One greater than you, the mighty God who saved me from my sin, the Lord Jesus Christ whom you are blaspheming. I salute you, sire, [simply] as an old man who loves his Savior, [standing]on the edge of eternity." The place went silent, and with a trembling voice the king replied, "General Von Zealand--I beg your pardon! I beg your pardon!" And with that the party quietly ended.

Today In The Word, August, 1989, p. 7.

In Christ, the wilderness of death is made a garden of joy!

Dear friends,

“It’s a bad world, an incredibly bad world. But in Christ you can have joy and peace as his holy people who have learned a great secret.

Though despised, rejected and persecuted, as Jesus was we can care not about this life. Because of Christ who is the master of our souls we have overcome the world. We are the baptized children of God, yes Christians … and in Christ we will live forever.”

Today In The Word, June, 1988, p. 18.

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

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


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sermon Feb. 18, 2015 Ash Wednesday

Title: Jesus teaches you to pray!
Text: Matt. 6:1-6
The Lord’s Prayer, Introduction.
Our Father who art in Heaven.

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Deeply immersed in meditation during a church service, Italian poet Dante Alighieri failed to kneel at the appropriate moment. His enemies hurried to the bishop and demanded that Dante be punished for his sacrilege. Dante defended himself by saying, "If those who accuse me had had their eyes and minds on God, as I had, they too would have failed to notice events around them, and they most certainly would not have noticed what I was doing."

Today in the Word, March 10, 1993.

Jesus teaches you to pray!

The Lord's Prayer begins with the introduction and as the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household.

Our Father who art in heaven.

Luther then asks the question: What does this mean?

And answers:

God would thereby [with this little introduction] tenderly urge us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children, so that we may ask Him confidently with all assurance, as dear children ask their dear father.

God, our heavenly Father asks us to call on him and today our text begins:

6 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

We are creatures who crave praise. Those who came before us too craved praise. So much so that in our lesson today Jesus taught his first followers about true humility. There has always been the need to receive reward and here Jesus points out that the true reward is known by the Father in secret.

3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

The tendency for some, and especially for the Pharisees to want their good works seen by others, and to receive just praise for their charitable work is quite a contrast to doing good works in secret.


Almost 20 years ago I had an interesting situation with regards to this. The church I attended did some outreach musically. The pastor was a gifted musician on keyboard and singing and also played guitar. When we went out the guitar he took with him was very poor and of low quality. Working in the music store as I did I went and talked with my wife and we decided to buy him a good guitar. I received a sizable discount as an employee and picked a good quality Gibson acoustic guitar with a nice case.

On the night I was to give him the guitar I was very aware of the scripture about not letting the good you do to be seen by men and seeking a reward. I wrote a note in an envelope and addressed it to the pastor attempting to be anonymous. After our mid-week music practice and when the pastor was out of the room I placed the guitar in the case where he would see it and proceeded to head for the door and home. As soon as he opened the case, he was overjoyed and began calling all of the people around him and before I could get out of the building he caught me and thanked me for the gift. He then proceeded to call everybody else and show what I gave him.

I felt a bit awkward to be sure. I had not looked for praise … but just to give back as I had been blessed. And that is what Jesus was getting at. Not seeking the reward. The Father knows what I did in secret. However we at time are recognized for what we do and there is nothing wrong with that.
Our dear Father in Heaven joys with us as we serve the needs of others giving to our neighbor out of the blessed abundance that we have been given. And one of the greatest blessing we have been given is fellowship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and in that he teaches us to pray.

Our Father who art in heaven; our loving God in Christ is there to hear our prayers. At times the prayers are for our own needs and at times our prayers are for the needs of others.

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

Prayers do not require that they be seen by man. Quite prayer - to God by you silently - is heard by the Father and mediated by Christ is just as relevant and beneficial and those in church said allowed by all in attendance.

It is the dialog that God desires from his beloved children to their dear Father.

Jesus teaches you to pray!

Why is it so hard to pray? Why is it so hard to hear the voice of God through his word? Is it just that we only need our Father when we've really messed up or something really bad has happened? Or is it simple that when we mess up we expect God to be like our earthly fathers who too mess up and at time continue to bring the weight of the Law down on us.

“I knew that I shouldn't have expected you to get it right.”

“Well, now that you've mess this up I’ll have to see how I can fix it.”

Blessed is the man that trusts in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. 

Jer. 17:7 KJV


When I was at St. John the school principle Dr. James Bolt told a story during Bible Study of coming home and turning into his driveway to be met by his wife and son. The younger boy had been practicing moving the car in and out of the garage, as he had a drivers permit. On this day as he practiced in pulling into the garage unfortunately hit the gas instead of the brake and pushed Dr. Bolt’s table saw through the garage wall and into the family room.  He asked the class, “Do you think my son needed to hear from me about what he did wrong?” He said, “I could have gone on and on about why he shouldn't have been doing this or that but when I saw his face and how … he knew all that he did wrong I just went up to him put my arm around him and said, Son, you’re lucky your mom and I love you.”

The Father loves you and that is not due to luck.

Jesus calls us all by the working of the Holy Spirit to believe and by faith in Christ we have peace with God. He gives us by faith confidence to ask our dear Father as dear children for anything according to his purpose and he has already given us everything that we need, in Christ … faith, salvation, and an eternity in heaven with him.

Jesus has taught you to pray to your Father!

In Christ, the Father is well pleased with you!

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


Monday, February 16, 2015

Sermon Feb. 14-15, 2015 Transfiguration

Title: Jesus only!
Text: Mark 9:2-9

7 And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” 8 And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.

Dear friends in Christ,

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

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

St. Francis de Sales.  

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

You know the crowds; the ones who had followed Jesus; the ones who had sought healing and to have demons cast out. There were also the thousands, who had been fed by the loaves and a few fish.

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

29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, (Luke 9:29a)

And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.

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

It is Jesus only … who brings this peace to you!

Moses, the Law giver who carried the tablets of stone, etched by the finger of God and the requirements that God has set … all of which we are unable to keep fully… is now in the presence of the disciples Jesus has brought with Him, standing with Elijah the prophet, who pointed towards the coming Messiah - Jesus Christ himself - now transfigured on the mountain … and we read:

5 And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here.

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

Jesus Christ, on the other hand, has to remove the cover of His humanity to reveal the true glory that is His and his alone … but has now been veiled for a time from the eyes of the world. Though Jesus is fully God and fully man he reveals this truth to these disciples as he is transfigured before them.

Peter continues …

Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified.

To be there in the presence of a glorified Jesus; a preview of the resurrected Christ … drawing both the Old and New Testament focus together upon Himself … both the Law and the Prophets, here fulfilled, in Jesus only.

We all fail to recognize the true glory of Jesus, at times seeing only a good man who can be an example for us to follow. But what did Peter say, just a few short paragraphs earlier in Mark’s gospel in chapter 8 when Jesus asked the disciples:

“Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”

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

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

7 And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” 8 And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.

As they were standing in the presence of our Holy Lord, covered in their sin, they were terrified … and who wouldn't be, for anyone who relies upon themselves and their own righteousness would be a fool.

But many play the fool, trusting in themselves, or listening to the ways of the world that lead away from the glory of Jesus and his gift of faith and life in him which is promised for you.
9 And as they were coming down the mountain, [Jesus] charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

… until the proper time …

Many times we all fall silent.  We miss the mark and opportunity to share the Good News with others and to joyfully compel, Friend, neighbor, relative, Co-worker, and all who are in need of the same forgiveness that you and I have received from Jesus only, crucified for you with the blessed assurance of eternity in Heaven with Him forever.

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

His crucifixion and death satisfied God’s justice for the sins of the world and his death brought freedom for you and all who by faith trust in his saving work. His death released you from the guilt of your sin, even though you may at times still carry those burdens failing to cast all your cares upon Him.

His death on Calvary accomplishes all of this because on the third day … He rose … in the glory of His resurrected body, transfigured, and incorruptible for you.  And so will you - and so will all who name the name of Jesus Christ having been brought to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit, knowing that in your Baptism you were washed clean in the blood of the Lamb given and shed for you!

“It is good that we are here.” It is truly good, that through Jesus only and his suffering and death at the Cross and glorious resurrection on the third day that we can be made sons and daughters of our heavenly Father by faith … in him.

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

At the beginning of his compositions he wrote:

"Jesus help me."

He ended them "S.D.G."

"To God alone the praise."

Kingdom Conflict, J. Stowell, Victor, 1985, p. 77ff.

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

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


Monday, February 9, 2015

Sermon Feb. 7- 8, 2015

Title: Healed in an instant … forgiven for eternity!
Text: Mark 1:29-39

30 Now Simon's mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons.
37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”

There is a story is told of an Eastern king. The king was seated in a garden, and one of his counselors was speaking of the wonderful works of God.

"Show me a sign," said the king, "and I will believe."

"Here are four acorns," said the counselor, "will you, Majesty, plant them in the ground, and then stoop down for a moment and look into this clear pool of water?"

The king did so, "Now," said the other, "look up."

The king looked up and saw four oak-trees where he had planted the acorns. "Wonderful!" he exclaimed, "This is indeed the work of God!"

"How long were you looking into the water?" asked the counselor.

"Only a second," said the king. "Eighty years have passed as a second," said the other. The king looked at his garments; they were threadbare. He looked at his reflection in the water; he had become an old man. "There is no miracle here, then," he said angrily.

"Yes," said the other, "it is God's work, whether he did it in one second or in eighty years."

Sunday School Times.

It is the reality of what we see in this life. Looking forward, it seems to take an eternity to get where we are going. When we get there it seems to have passed in an instant.
Healed in an instant … forgiven for eternity!

29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

The same disciples who had followed Jesus and were to become fishers of men were with him in Capernaum, as evidently Simon had a house there with his wife and mother-n-law and Andrew evidently lived there also. James and John arrive at the home with Jesus and may have also witnessed the exorcism of the demon possessed man in the synagogue and now upon entering immediately, right away, they tell Jesus about Simon’s mother-in-law who lay ill with a fever.  Which Mark says that she literally, lay prostrate burning with fever and in St. Matthew account he says she was completely stretched out with her illness.

Whether the call of rebuke from Jesus to the demon and the casting out of that evil spirit of the man possessed in the synagogue, or the healing of a fever, which could also have been a very serious illness as well, especially in a day of limited medical remedies, Jesus has power over both the spiritual as well as the physical maladies of life. He heals both body and soul.

31 And [Jesus] came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. St. Luke even says that Jesus stood over her as a physician and held her by her hand. Either way the healing touch of Jesus had an immediate effect.

Healed in an instant … forgiven for eternity!

32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door.

Our sickness is real whether the condition of our bodies or our souls and they both need the healing touch of Jesus. Those with physical maladies will do almost anything or go anywhere for a cure. Those with Spiritual blindness are blind to their condition and need for healing.


[Take for example]British comedian, actor and author Stephen Fry — a hard-line atheist — [who] appeared on a spiritually minded TV show and was asked by the host what he’d say after death, discovering that God really does exist.

“Suppose it’s all true, and you walk up to the pearly gates, and are confronted by God,” the host asked. “What will Stephen Fry say to him, her, or it?”

Fry, 57, didn't exactly say he’d fall to his knees.

“I’d say, ‘Bone cancer in children? What’s that about?’” he began. “How dare you? How dare you create a world to which there is such misery that is not our fault,” Fry continued. “It’s not right [and] it’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?’ That’s what I would say.”

[He continued,]

“… because, the God that created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac…utter maniac, totally selfish. We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him? What kind of God would do that?”

Fry went on to question why the God of the universe would allow pain and suffering and argued that doing away with belief in God makes life [in his words] “simpler, purer, cleaner, [and] more worth living.”

First of all he is blind he’s not able to see that what God had created perfect, being broken and corrupted by sin.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Cor. 2:14

Then he falls victim to the lies of the evil one who Jesus calls the Father of lies - the devil - who convinces him that God is the evil one because our world, broken by sin has so much injustice and pain?

14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 2 Cor. 11:14

Atheist logic: He doesn't believe that God exists but if he does exist he must be evil because we see suffering and the effects of sin in our world. It is the way of our flesh, the world and the devil to call God the liar so we in our sin wish to live – whatever the choice - “simpler, purer, cleaner, [and have a life] more worth living.”

Simpler – no God to complicate the choices we make. Bone cancer in children? I’d say contrast that with abortion on demand which is definitely not God’s will or fault.

Purer and cleaner – which is to just get rid of the stuff that complicates the things I want to do and the way I want to live. Society sees the suicide of Robin Williams as a tragedy but the physician assisted suicide of Brittney Maynard as a death with dignity because she face a terminal illness.

This they say leads to a Life worth living – but there is still one thing to consider, and that is that life eventually will end. No if, ands or buts, death will knock and we will all, one day, answer that door. For some sooner and for some later; God could have left us in our sin because it is our fault, it’s our sin and it’s our disobedience … but he didn't.

Healed in an instant … forgiven for eternity!

God, in Christ first became what we are. He took on flesh, yet without sin, for you, so that he could be that perfect sacrifice and payment for sin that we could never be.

He could have left you and me to the fires of hell and been just and right in his decision. But God would not leave you in your sin. He came to heal you with a healing that gives you himself – that blessed exchange – he takes your sin and gives you his righteousness.

What a maniac, quite clearly a maniac … utterly selfless, not thinking of himself … but only you.
Luther speaks of the blessed exchange in this way:

“But now, if God’s wrath is to be taken away from me and I am to obtain grace and forgiveness, someone must merit this; for God cannot be a friend of sin nor gracious to it, nor can he remit the punishment and wrath, unless payment and satisfaction be made.

Now, no one, not even an angel of heaven, could make restitution for the infinite and irreparable injury and appease the eternal wrath of God which we had merited by our sins; except that eternal person, the Son of God himself, and he could do it only by taking our place, assuming our sins, and answering for them as though he himself were guilty of them.

This our dear Lord and only Saviour and Mediator before God, Jesus Christ, did for us by his blood and death, in which he became a sacrifice for us; and with his purity, innocence, and righteousness, which was divine and eternal, he outweighed all sin and wrath he was compelled to bear on our account; yea, he entirely engulfed and swallowed it up, and his merit is so great that God is now satisfied and says, “If he wills thereby to save, then there will be a salvation.”

Sermons of Martin Luther, vol. 2, p. 344

Healed in an instant … forgiven for eternity!

God in Christ has done all things for you. Your birth is a miracle and so is your rebirth. You have been given life and newness of life by faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.

May this peace from God comfort you now and forever.

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


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sermon Jan. 31, Feb 1 2015

Title: The gospel of Christ makes disciples throughout the world!
Text: Mark 1:21-28

22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.
27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”

For centuries people believed that Aristotle was right when he said that the heavier an object, the faster it would fall to earth. Aristotle was regarded as the greatest thinker of all time, and surely he would not be wrong. Anyone, of course, could have taken two objects, one heavy and one light, and dropped them from a great height to see whether or not the heavier object landed first. But no one did until nearly 2,000 years after Aristotle's death.

In 1589 Galileo summoned learned professors to the base of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Then he went to the top and pushed off a ten- pound and a one-pound weight. Both landed at the same instant. The power of belief was so strong, however, that the professors denied their eyesight.

They continued to say Aristotle was right.

Bits & Pieces, January 9, 1992, pp. 22-23.

Jesus called his disciples Andrew, Peter, James and John to “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” They immediately followed him and now in Capernaum Jesus immediately begins to teach in the synagogue.

22 And they were astonished [which literally means blown away] at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.

Authority means in the basic sense: The power to enforce laws, to exact obedience, to command, determine and to judge.

Jesus and his teaching did that, and in such a way as to make him recognizable to his hearers over the scribes and those teachers of the law that the people were familiar with. Jesus, for them, was really different.

Those scribes, Pharisees and teachers of the law had the place of authority in Jewish religious life but Jesus brings with him a teaching, and he teaches so that he is seen - as the true authority - and with his teaching the people are amazed or astonished.

Writer, William A. Ward in speaking about teachers and teaching has said, "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

Progress Magazine, December 23, 1992.

Jesus is the good teacher, the superior teacher and the great teacher who by his word, his parables and his sacrificial life, death and ressurection brings those in darkness into his marvelous light and by this light - convicts and releases and condemns and forgives.

The gospel of Christ makes disciples throughout the world because Jesus’ words have authority!

23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.”

The words of the unclean spirit also recognize the authority of Jesus and speak through the man possessed. The demon’s words also speak the truth that the light of life – the Holy One of God - will destroy all darkness.

“It was the evil spirit that cried out at the sight of Jesus, affirming that he and Jesus of Nazareth had nothing in common, that he and all the demons belonged to a company which are and always will [be in opposition] with the Son of God. His cry is a cry of fear, lest Christ should see [it fit] to condemn them, to destroy them by chaining them forever in hell.”

Popular commentary of the Bible Paul Kretzmann NT Vol.1 p.168

The demon knows who Jesus is. But do we? Do we, through our own sinfulness and uncleanness, see this Holy One of God – this God in the flesh, as God, holy and set apart? Do we listen to his word? Or, do we listen to the world?

We all fall victim to our own sinful desires and the temptation that the world, the devil and our flesh lead us. We hear the word of God on Sunday, but just as easily hear the devils call and tempting. At times we give in, whether it’s a little white lie, sinful lust, or blatant disobedience.

To be Holy is in opposition to sin and though you and I try we always fall short.


It is true with you and with me. It is true in church or out of church. The great preacher Charles Spurgeon once said:

. . . when Satan cannot catch us with a big sin, he will try a little one. It does not matter to him as long as he catches his fish, what bait he uses. Beware of the beginning of evil, for many, who [looked] to go right, have turned aside and perished amongst the dark mountains in the wide field of sin.

C.H. Spurgeon.

So how can you be protected? Be in the word. Hear the word proclaimed in service. Read the word in devotions, and study the word as taught rightly in Bible Study.

I must admit to being a bit disappointed with the low attendance in Bible Study. Four on Sunday, we have coffee; five during Thursday mid-week study, we have coffee and a snack; and 10-15 for the men’s breakfast Bible study, we have coffee and a really great meal! But while the meal is important, I had one man, a Peace member who doesn’t attend regularly anymore tell me:

“Pastor, I feel bad that I don’t come to Peace for worship and that I attend a different church. They tell me that I need to be re-baptized but I don’t believe it … because I've been baptized.”

After talking to him for a few minutes I concluded and told him,

“If you don’t believe that what they are teaching you is the truth as taught in God’s word then you need to stop going there.”

Don’t ignore it. Open the Bible, study the word, and talk to the pastor. There are different ways that Christian churches understand God’s word and teach it and you need to know what you believe … and why you believe it. Is Baptism God’s work or mans? In our church we understand it is God’s work. Because it is:

The gospel of Christ that makes disciples throughout the world!

In baptism we die to the sinful uncleanness that we are born into and are raised with Christ to newness of life, washed and marked by Christ as redeemed. And just as Jesus, the word of God made flesh, cast out that demon saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him.

So too the word of God, connected with the water, in the Name of the Father and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit also conquers sin, death and the power of the devil and marks you and me as God’s child.

It is this Jesus – the word of God made flesh come down from heaven – who is teaching in the synagogue and who has and teaches with authority.

It is this Jesus - who by his word - cast out the unclean spirit and freed the possessed man from the power of the devil.

It is this Jesus – who is the holy one of God – who came in the flesh to be the once and for all sacrifice for sin - in your place.

And it is this Jesus who they, saw and heard and were blown away with his teaching in amazement and then went and spread his fame and his name everywhere.

It is this Jesus that during the season of Epiphany we recognize as the savior of the world who came down from heaven to set you and me and all captives of sin free.

It is this Jesus, who is the living word of God, that by the Holy Spirit and his work brings to faith all born dead to sin and are unclean and by his word, connected with the water in Holy Baptism raises those – you and me – from death to life in him, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The gospel of Christ makes disciples throughout the world!

For Galileo, who summoned the learned professors to the base of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the power of belief was so strong, that the professors denied their eyesight and did not believe the truth.
God, by his Spirit, will bring you and all to the light of his truth and will keep you in this truth by his word and sacraments unto life eternal.

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