Monday, October 31, 2016

Sermon October 29-30, 2016 Reformation

Title: The Jury says, Guilty but the Judge sets you Free!
Text: John 8:31-36

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

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

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

Peter Marshall, Before the U.S. Senate.

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

Today we remember and celebrate the Reformation of the Church, begin a yearlong celebration leading up to the 500th anniversary of the posting of the 95 theses by the former Roman Catholic Priest and Augustinian Monk, Martin Luther. We also celebrate the joy that we who today benefit from this blessed freedom found in the Gospel message, will continue together with the whole church to reach the lost with this same gospel message.

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

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

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

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


“In holy and divine matters one must first hear rather than see, first believe rather than understand, first be grasped rather than grasp, first be captured rather than capture, first learn rather than teach, first be a disciple rather than a teacher and master of his own.

We have an ear so that we may submit to others, and eyes that we may take care of others. Therefore, whoever in the church wants to become an eye and a leader and master of others, let him become an ear and a disciple first.”

–Martin Luther, Lectures on the Psalms II, in Luther’s Works, Volume 11 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1976), 245-46.
And as a disciple Jesus tells the Jews and you as well:

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

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

He said:

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

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

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

Though the Jury says, Guilty … the Judge has set you Free!

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

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

Once again from Luther:

“Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend--it must transcend all comprehension.”

He continues: Thus Abraham went forth from his father and not knowing (where he was going). He trusted himself to (God’s) knowledge, and cared not for his own, and thus he took the right road and came to his journey's end.

Behold, that end is the way of the cross. You cannot find it yourself, so you must let (God) lead you as though you were a blind man. (So), it is not you, no man, (and) no living creature, but (Christ) Himself, who instructs you by word and Spirit in the way you should go.

Not the work which you choose, not the suffering you devise, but the road which is clean contrary to all that you choose or contrive or desire--that is the road you must take. To that, (Christ) calls you and in that (says) you must be my disciple.”

― Martin Luther

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.

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

But Jesus reminds His hearers and you as well that:

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

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

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

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

The Jury says, Guilty but the Judge sets you Free!

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

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

May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you now and forever.

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sermon October 22-23, 2016

Title: With childlike faith there is salvation!
Text: Luke 18:9-17

17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”


It has been said that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those, who in time of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.

Source Unknown.

Robert Fulghum wrote in the Kansas City Times, "Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.

"These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody . . . When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together … Unless you become like little children, you won't enter the kingdom of heaven."

Hugh Duncan.

So what is child like faith?

Well, Webster says of a child: It is an unborn or recently born person; a young person especially between infancy and youth; a childlike or childish person; a person not yet of age; a son or daughter of human parents; one strongly influenced by another or by a place, or state of affairs.

And about faith Webster says: It’s a strong belief or trust in someone or something; belief in the existence of God; strong religious feelings or beliefs; a system of religious beliefs; fidelity to one's promises; sincerity of intentions; belief and trust in and loyalty to God; belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion; firm belief in something for which there is no proof; complete trust.


So, picture if you will a young child standing on the side of a pool; not yet of age to swim and having not been taught how, but being strongly influenced by dad’s call to jump and that he will catch them.

The child too has strong feelings and beliefs, that if dad misses or drops me, “I will hit the water and I’m going to sink as fast as the stones I’ve dropped in the pool at the deep end!”

But dad has promised to catch them and so they place their trust his intentions … complete trust and loyalty in dad … though there is no proof. As the child jumps, dad catches … confirming their faith in the object of their safety - the one who will not let them fall.

It is true as well with our heavenly father. As St. Paul writes in our epistle lesson for today: 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. 2 Timothy 4:18

It is his promise.

So, where do we today place our trust? What is the object of faith for the Christian? Is it in our self? Is it in our parents? Is it in the church or religion as a whole? Is it society and political power? Is it strong or weak like a child?

15 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.

Infants or babies can’t come to Jesus so “they” probable their parents or responsible adult were bringing them to him. Much like we continue to do with those gifts of God, those little boys and girls, who are brought as infants to the waters of Holy Baptism … where God himself marks them as his child.

As we compare this part of our reading with the earlier part dealing with the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. We see the strength of the Pharisee, who standing in his own strength, might, and faith brags:

12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’

Are you not God so pleased with me and all that I do and have done? He stands by himself, covered in his own righteousness and he calls out so that all can see and hear:

“… thank you … that I am not like other men ... extortioners, [those who get things through any way or any means that they can – sounds a bit like those running for office doesn’t it?] unjust, [the opposite of the truthful and fair are those who are unjust. Those who give you what you don’t deserve rather than what you do deserve, adulterers, [those who defile their marriage or live contrary to what God has commanded] or, even like this tax collector. [this poor tool of the government sent to extract all that is rightfully mine, we might suppose.]

Do we at times think the same? Are we at times not also, the Pharisee who looks at ourselves against the other Christian believers that we see, thinking how pleased God is with us and our good prayers, good works, and duty that we give to God? I know I have, and maybe you have too?

Oh … I hear a song coming on …

Oh Lord it's hard to be humble

When you're perfect in every way.

I can't wait to look in the mirror.

Cause I get better looking each day.

To know me is to love me.

I must be a hell of a man.

Oh Lord It's hard to be humble,

But I'm doing the best that I can.

Davis Mac - Oh Lord It's Hard To Be Humble Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Maybe you older folk remember Mac Davis and this little gem from 1980. I especially like and identify with the “to know me is to love me” part.

Well the truth is, that’s the Pharisee song with big faith in – me, myself and I. It’s humorous because we know there are people that do at times see themselves in that way … even when those people may be you and me.

Oh Lord I am a Pharisee

religious in every way.

I worship my God on the Sabbath,

and out in the public I pray.

I’m not like other sinners,

extortioners and the unjust.

Oh Lord I am a Pharisee,

and in myself I will trust.

The song that more clearly shows the child like faith that Jesus is talking about was written in the mid 1700’s by Henrietta L. von Hays.

I am Jesus little lamb, Ever glad at heart I am;

For my Shepherd gently guides me,

Knows my needs and well provides me,

Loves me every day the same,

Even calls me by my name.

Childlike faith clings to the savior as a child to his mother; Knowing that every need is provided for them by God daily, and that he lovingly calls each one of us by name.

Day by day, at home, away, Jesus is my staff and stay.

When I hunger, Jesus feeds me,

Into pleasant pastures feeds me;

When I thirst, he bids me go

where the quiet waters flow.

Every day our childlike faith is place in him. Whether hunger or thirst, we can find the pleasant pastures of rest in him as we daily remember the quiet waters of our own baptism of forgiveness where our sins have been washed away.

Who so happy as I am, Even now the shepherd’s lamb?

And when my short life is ended,

By his angel host attended,

He shall fold me to his breast,

There within his arms to rest.

Our joy with childlike faith is in the good shepherd Jesus who will, even as our life comes to a close and we look to him through the eyes of old age, comfort us all in his loving arms where we will rest with him in eternity.

Jesus says:

“Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Luke 18:16b-17

It is by God’s Grace, Mercy and Spirit that we too can receive his Kingdom with that blessed childlike faith. May we, by that same Spirit, pray to always remain in the one true faith as a child who is Jesus’ little lamb.

Let us close by singing together, I am Jesus little lamb hymn # 740 in the Lutheran Service book.

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


Monday, October 17, 2016

Sermon October 15-16, 2016

Title: Truth is Truth!
Text: 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Two men had an argument. To settle the matter, they went to a judge for arbitration. The plaintiff made his case. He was very eloquent and persuasive in his reasoning. When he finished, the judge nodded in approval and said, "That's right, that's right."

On hearing this, the defendant jumped up and said, "Wait a second, judge, you haven't even heard my side of the case yet." So the judge told the defendant to state his case. And he, too, was very persuasive and eloquent. When he finished, the judge said, "That's right, that's right."

When the clerk of court heard this, he jumped up and said, "Judge, they both can't be right." The judge looked at the clerk of court and said, "That's right, that's right."

Roger von Oech, Ph.D., A Whack on the Side of the Head, Warner Books, 1983, p. 23.

Truth is Truth! "That's right, that's right."

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

It is interesting here how the apostle Paul writes Timothy – his son in the faith - to urge him to continue to believe the scriptures (the OT teaching) that he learned from his youth through his mother (Eunice) and grandmother (Lois) and from St. Paul himself.

How familiar that sounds especially for you mothers and grandmothers that I hear often urging their own children and grandchildren to continue in the truth of the faith and how you also share your sadness and grief when they seemingly fall away from that faith, turn a deaf ear to it, or act contrary to it.

There are many people in fact that believe and maintain that they are Christians - though they rarely if ever come to church or read the Bible - or even know much of what is believed, taught and confessed by Christians. We also see many children of Christians living together out of wedlock, not seeing or even understanding the sin they are committing. They assume that Love is Love or Sex is Love as it is presented by our civil society, not recognizing that there are desires and ways of life that are in conflict and opposed to the truth of God’s word.

As was presented in our Catechism Connection today and as God’s word tells us in the 6th Commandment about committing adultery – or leading a sexually pure and decent life – covering God’s definition of marriage with husband and wife … loving and honoring each other.


In a recent poll, light is shed on the paradox of religiosity vs. decreased morality, or God’s truth vs. our actions and how we live. 

According to sociologist Robert Bellah, 81% of the American people say they agree that "an individual should arrive at his or her own religious belief independent of any church or synagogue." (That truth is determined apart from God’s word and teaching in our case.) 

This interesting thought is key to the paradox that that those who claim to be Christians are arriving at faith on their own terms -- terms that make no demands … on behavior … or Christian values.
A woman named Sheila, interviewed for Bellah's poll, embodies this attitude. She says, "I believe in God. I can't remember the last time I went to church though, but my faith has carried me a long way. It's 'Sheila-ism.' Just my own little voice." 

Charles Colson, Against the Night, p. 98.

The apostle Paul tells Timothy and us:

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Truth - when it is God’s word - is Truth!

At times life and society tell us what truth is to be believed – whether marriage is between a man and a woman or whether we can celebrate this gift from God in any way we choose. Whether even,

27… God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply Gen. 1:27-28a

Today even gender is no longer a physical determination of male and female but a psychological determination as many see fit - and society in its many forms - in many ways has bought into that truth. How someone sees themselves, or feels about themselves, becomes the determining truth or reality.


An interesting video that I saw on line has a white man of about 30 years of age and around 5’-8” in height on a college campus asking students what they would say if he told them that he is 6’-4” tall.
Most smile a bit and say: “Well who am I to disagree with your truth. If you see yourself as 6’-4” than I guess you are 6’-4”."

When he pushed it further and asked how they might react to him being 6’-4” and Chinese they smiled and said: “If that is your reality then who am I to argue against you?”

Finally, when he claimed to be a 6”-4” Chine woman, one student said: “Oh come on!” 

You see, if you don’t believe and trust God’s word: Then truth is determined by the reality of the individual. If we believe that the child in the womb is just a bunch of cells then removing it is no different than removing a tumor that is benign or cancerous. 

If you don’t believe and trust God’s word: Then there are many paths to the Father as some claim, and Jesus is not the savior and only way that he claimed to be.

If you don’t believe and trust God’s word: Then you might be a pretty good person from your perspective and not dead in trespass and sin as Paul writes the truth of our condition in Ephesians 2.
If you don’t believe and trust God’s word: Then everlasting life is given to all apart from faith in Christ and the death of Jesus Christ was unnecessary and accomplished nothing.

If you don’t believe and trust God’s word: Then the rich man from our lesson a few weeks ago was not in torment in hell and he could have easily gone from death to life just by changing his reality.
If you don’t believe and trust God’s word: Then Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead and you are dead in trespass and sin.

But truth is truth … when it is God’s word …

That is what Paul keeps telling young Pastor Timothy: Preach the Word.

4 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

As Christians we have the truth and we know this by God’s gift of faith alone.

Jesus prays for his disciples in his high priestly prayer of John 17 when he prays to the Father:

14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, [dear friends we’re here for the duration] but that you keep them from the evil one [from sin, death and the power of the devil]. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them [or keep them holy and separate from the world] in the truth; your word is truth.

We are kept in the truth, as we gather together to hear the truth of God’s word, as we receive the gift of forgiveness of sins in our Lord’s word and sacraments and then we go forth joyfully with that same word of comfort and peace to seek those who remain dead in trespass and sin.

For St. Timothy and for you and me all the road remains the same as Paul reminds him:

3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths [or lies of the evil one as the time now shows]. 5 As for you, as it was for Timothy, always be sober-minded, [clear headed and knowing that the truth is truth] endure suffering, [that is the reality for all who believe] do the work of an evangelist, [preach the word and comfort those in need the truth you have been comforted with] fulfill your ministry.
We have been blessed by faith with God truth may you all by that same faith be steadfast in receiving God word as truth for and always.

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


Sermon October 8-9, 2016

Title: Healed and thankful, in Christ!
Text: Luke 17:11-19 (Readings for Praise Band and Kim below)

17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

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

Beyond Hunger, Beals

In our gospel for today there is what is called the saddest text of the Bible. This is where Jesus says, “Where are the nine?” in Luke 17:17 and today we will examine that very text.

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

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

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

Now Jesus’ travel might have preceded him. The word of his coming having reached these in this dreadful condition, bringing them to faith by the Holy Spirit’s working and though they keep a distance as was mandated by the law, they all called out with a loud voice together. “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” In some way this concerted call to Jesus, the Lord of life, to please have mercy on our dismal condition was an act of faith that this Jesus could in fact do something to cure this leprous condition they all faced together.

Either way, you see a call to Christ by faith from those who had no hope. This hopeless condition of the ten is a call of hope by faith in Him, Jesus our Lord, who is the only hope of life to a dying world.


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

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

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

Our Daily Bread, May 7, 1992.

Healed and thankful, in Christ!

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

The gift of faith and being connected to the faith and life everlasting is the hope for parents and for our church. Many in our church have fallen away from the faith. At times there are broken relationships in families as well, and you may experience bitterness towards others – even someone that you love and hold dear – they may have wronged you and are now living in sin and outside the faith.

Martin Luther had this to say about our text today:

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

LW Vol. 3 Pg.183 CPH

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

Remember dear friends that faith is a gift and that you are:

Healed and thankful, in Christ!

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

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

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

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

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

17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? The one who returned to offer thanks was a Samaritan, a foreigner just as you and I are foreigners graphed in to the vine so that we might bear good fruit. This good fruit is possible only because you have been given mercy.
You have been given mercy and this is nothing you deserve. Whether you return thanks or not Christ’s mercy is still yours because you can never thank Him enough. Your sins have been taken away and you, like the ten, have been cleansed. Your cleansing does not depend on your thanks but on God’s mercy and thankfulness is a fruit of your cleansing and the joy that lives in you by God’s Holy Spirit.

Healed and thankful, in Christ!

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

Your faith in Him has made you well!

May the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be and abide with you now and forever.

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

Sermon October 1-2, 2016

Title: Repentance and forgiveness are yours in Christ!
Text: Luke 17:1-20 LWML Weekend

3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

One of the most tragic events during the Reagan Presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept. Many of us can still recall the terrible scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig out their trapped brothers from beneath the rubble.

A few days after the tragedy, [there was an] an extraordinary story. Marine Corps Commandant Paul Kelly, visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany, hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man; yet he survived.

As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper was but two words -- “Semper Fi” the Latin motto of the Marines meaning "forever faithful." With those two simple words Nashton spoke for the millions of Americans who have sacrificed body and limb and their lives for their country -- those who have remained faithful.

J. Dobson & Gary Bauer, Children at Risk, Word, 1990, pp. 187-188.

Being faithful as followers of Christ and his Gospel also has obstacles and enemies. As Jesus says:

“Temptations to sin are sure to come,”

We all fall short in thought, word and deed - even at times allowing the things, and those that we love, to become a stumbling block – separation us from the love of God and getting in the way of the gift that is Christ Jesus our Lord.

Even the little ones, those who are new to the faith, child, teen, and adult alike can have those who lead them away through their own apathy for Christ and love for the world. Jesus gives a word picture of a millstone and sea as to what awaits those who lead away from him, becoming a stumbling block where unbelief results.

We too find temptations to sin and fall away all around. The needs of the body and the loves of life can draw us to inactivity. I just don’t have the time to get to worship. The kids have a game or are so busy. They’ve been confirmed … I’ve done my job.

I had the same problem. Work demanded much of my time … even working nights and weekends. As God drew me closer to him and as I read more of his word I saw that I needed to be the spiritual head of my family. 

“No way!” that’s hard. I have enough to do. I work long hours, care for the house and yard and besides Monica would be better at it than me!” She’s nicer.

But Jesus calls … through the word. “Russ … you need to do it.” Not, that Monica can’t teach and lead and support, but YOU are the one who needs to be the spiritual head of the family and mom’s need to encourage their husbands to that duty. “Semper Fi, Forever faithful to Jesus and his words!”

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

Even the apostle’s faith was struggling. They’re confused and until after the resurrection won’t really understand what Jesus is saying.

6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

Duty can be summed up with these letters: LWML

This weekend we celebrate the work of the ladies of the LWML, better known as the Lutheran Woman’s Missionary League. You might think of them as the group with the little boxes or mites that are collected where pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters are put into mission work in our area and around the world.

You might think as well, “That little bit of money I give won’t even be noticed.” But the giving of mites and the small donations grow by the blessing of the Lord. So, your paper money is appreciated too!

Some of you may or may not know that I have been serving as the LWML pastor for the zone we are part of. I was involved also at the fall rally October 1st at St. Stephens yesterday. It is an honor to serve in a small way those who serve the Lord and his flock in so many and varied ways.

For instance the LWML is involved in a clean water and evangelism ministry, disaster response, cancer care packages, healthy families initiative, training teachers and leaders for service, helping hands initiative, Deaconess training, Lutheran Youth Corps, Hope for Detroit and so much more to the tune of over $1,400,000. Even St. Paul Pontiac, our own missions outreach, received a sizeable grant for continued mission work.

Duty is their middle name as these members of the body of Christ work for the benefit of our Lord’s kingdom.

Your heavenly Father knows your needs and also the needs throughout the world. These needs are met by God through means and one of those means that we contribute to is the LWML mites program and that money multiplied by God brings relief and service to a hurting world … not only for the needs of the body to be fulfilled but also for the needs of a world hopeless without Jesus.

Our local LWML and their mite collections are just a small snapshot of God’s greater work throughout the world. He lets us help much like a child with a plastic saw and hammer sees himself helping dad build the deck or finish the basement. We go through the motions and God does the real work.

10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”

Our duty is to believe on Jesus whom he has sent. Through faith as a gift we believe and serve our neighbors as his servants. May that be your comfort now and always.

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