Monday, August 27, 2018

Sermon August 25-26, 2018

Title: Love, Submission and Jesus!
Text: Eph. 5:22-33

28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.

Stephen Beck writes:

Driving down a country road, I came to a very narrow bridge. In front of the bridge, a sign was posted: "YIELD." Seeing no oncoming cars, I continued across the bridge and to my destination. On my way back, I came to the same one-lane bridge, now from the other direction. To my surprise, I saw another YIELD sign posted. Curious, I thought, "I'm sure there was one posted on the other side." When I reached the other side of the bridge I looked back. Sure enough, yield signs had been placed at both ends of the bridge. Drivers from both directions were requested to give right of way. It was a reasonable and gracious way of preventing a head-on collision. When the Bible commands Christians to "be subject to one another" (Ephesians 5:21) it is simply a reasonable and gracious command to let the other have the right of way and avoid interpersonal head-on collisions.
Stephen P. Beck.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands
… as to the Lord.

25 Husbands, love your wives
… as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

Which one is harder? To submit to ones husband as you would to the Lord … or to love ones wife as Christ loved the church? 

I would submit that they both are pretty difficult or darn near impossible for we who wrestle with sin in our daily lives to do. Sin taints all of who we are, and everything we do so that even the good we do is covered and infected with sin.

Paul continues:

23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

That sounds reasonable to me as a husband. It’s nice to know that my wife needs to hear, and listen, and submit to me as the church does to Christ.

But … there is more:

28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 

Now … that, is a bit harder

Husbands are to love their wives as he loves himself, and cherish he, just as Christ does the church.
Well … what if the husband doesn’t know Christ? 

Or, what if he is not a follower of Jesus? How does this impact married life?

Quite a bit I would maintain.

… as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her [make her holy or set apart], having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, [just as you were washed and marked as Christ’s child] 27 so that [Christ] might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Husbands are to present themselves to Christ in submission … and their wives should be sanctified or set apart unto Christ as the husband is the head of the wife … and … the head of the family in all things.

This, dear friends is not power … but servant hood.


I remember the first time I came to realize that it was my duty to be the spiritual head of the family. I didn’t want to do it.

What! I thought. Wait a minute. Monica would be way better at being the spiritual head of the family. She could do the table prayers, and she could teach the children the bible stories … and she could ... and she could …

But, everywhere I went in the Bible (by this time the Lord had, by his Spirit, drawn me into the word) - as I kept reading and trying to find a way where I could pass off this responsibility - the word kept telling me:

“Russ! It’s your job! You are to be the head! You need to do it!”

So what does this say to the Christian who has fallen in love with an unbeliever?

Be careful! Marriage is hard enough when you have the uniting focus of faith in Christ as your guide.

But without Christ … it can be a devastating proposition.

31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.


My friend Aaron Neilson on Facebook just had his 4th child a little boy they named Boaz Michael Neilson.

Boaz is an Old Testament name from the Book of Ruth. In the story, Naomi’s daughter-n-law Ruth will not leave her mother-n-law but follows her back to Bethlehem, Judah. While there she gleans in the field of a near relative named Boaz. The story concludes with Boaz redeeming his relative Elimelech, Naomi deceased husband’s field and property and also Ruth as his wife. Ultimately, Ruth has a child Obed, who is the father of Jesse who is the father of David, a King after God’s own heart.

Ruth from the country of Moab is redeemed by Boaz and we see her again mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew Chapter 1.

Boaz is a Kinsmen Redeemer a type of Christ we see as the two become one flesh the linage lead to King David and ultimately to Jesus Christ himself. In marriage the husband is a type of Kinsmen redeemer, the two have become one. It is no longer we who live separate but we live as one in Christ. Can you see the dilemma of those who are unequally yoked to an unbeliever and the difficulty that may result?

United as one and united in Christ brings not always peace as we all struggle with sin in life and marriage but it also brings a greater union outside oneself in Christ. In submission and in love towards him we live as one husband and wife, united as one flesh, one couple, one purpose and one hope.

As Paul concludes:

33 … let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Love, Submission and Jesus!

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


Monday, August 20, 2018

Sermon August 18-19, 2018

Title: Let the light of Christ shine in you as one alive!
Text: Eph. 5:6-21

8b Walk as children of light
11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Empty words, we’ve all heard them … are words meant to deceive, to put off, or to fill one’s own agenda. The sons of disobedience hear and follow. Those opposed to Christ and his gospel continue to go the way of destruction, but we too who have been brought to faith by God’s gifts give way to the call of darkness and fall in sin.

7 Therefore do not become partners with them;

Don’t get sucked in, Paul tells the Ephesians. But what were the Ephesians getting sucked into … and does it apply to you and me?

Paul says in verse three and four that preceded our text:

3 [That] sexual immorality and all impurity or [coveting] must not even be named among you, and he concludes: 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking … but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who [covets], [which is to desire that which is not yours] … has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Harsh words indeed and the Ephesians were falling short then, and Christians today fall short too. When desires, feelings and societal norms go against God’s word and truth … the result is that darkness [the realm of Satan] reigns.

You and I feel it too. Sin is a powerful force that in thought, word, and deed we can all give in to … and its desires can lead us away from the truth that God intends.

When Paul speaks of sexual immorality and all impurity he is not just speaking of same sex attraction, (though homosexuality would be included in his rebuke) but of all sexual sins outside of God’s design of marriage or in the context of marriage that defiles that union.

Whether perpetrator or victim there are no winners when sexual sin rears its ugly head.

There has been so much in the news over the last year or so. Powerful men who took advantage or their positions in the Hollywood entertainment machine to prey on young women; TV celebrities; people of prominence, and the church is not immune either.

(Reuters) - A Roman Catholic bishop in Pennsylvania released the names on Wednesday of 71 clergy members and seminarians accused of sexually abusing children since the 1940s, acting in advance of a release of grand jury findings on clergy abuse in the state.

“I express our profound sorrow and apologize to the survivors of child sex abuse, the Catholic faithful and the general public for the abuses that took place and for those church officials who failed to protect children,” Bishop Ronald Gainer of the Diocese of Harrisburg said in the statement.

Paul cautions the Ephesians:

11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

And here’s the key …

13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,

The light that exposes darkness is Jesus Christ and his word of truth. And it is not to use God as a means – claiming “I believe” - while denying him and living in sin using Christ as a cover. But through repentance it is God’s desire that you be restored freely by faith in Christ through his saving Gospel and working of the Holy Spirit. And also by the light of the gospel that your light shines in the midst of those in darkness so that they too might come to faith and believe.

Paul speaks of coveting as well, or desiring that which you don’t have … and this can also be things we desire or people.

As Luther says in his explanation for the 9th and 10th commandments:

We should fear and love God that we may not [find] seek to get our neighbor's inheritance or house, and obtain it by a show of [justice and] right, etc., but help and be of service to him in keeping it … (9th commandment)

… [nor covet], force, or entice away our neighbor's wife, servants, or cattle, but urge them to stay and [diligently] do their duty. (10th commandment)

Darkness and light … lies and truth … you can’t ride the fence.

The primary election in behind us but the general election looms large for November and I’m sure that the ads will reflect this in word and deed.

Everything you do untimely says something about who you are. So:

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, Paul says, don’t let the world, your sinful flesh or the devil be your guide. And all too often we can fall silent in the face of evil.

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Joel Fritsche a career missionary suggests that this might be a stanza from an early Christian hymn. It certainly could be with this image of dying and rising and awaking from death that you and I who have been brought to faith understand.

[Aretha Franklin is another high profile person that just passed away ... In my previous life in the retail music world the company I worked for rented pianos for concerts, repaired her piano from smoke damage from a fire at her home and sold her a Bosendorfer grand piano for her new residence ... relate some personal stories.]

Death is the great equalizer for us all. Whether you are the Queen of Soul or just one of us we all need to have Christ and be brought to faith to have a eternity with him. That changes who we are and how we live.

19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Here in the Divine Service God calls us to come. To be fed on word and sacrament. To receive God’s favor on account of Christ, and to go fourth, in a world of darkness, with the light of the gospel of peace – the very word of God – and it is this word that brings those who are dead in sin and darkness to God’s marvelous light of forgiveness.

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


Monday, August 6, 2018

Sermon August 4-5, 2018

Title: Walking with Jesus in gentleness and humility!
Text: Eph 4:1-16

4 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Humility, gentleness, and patience or - bearing with one another in love - sure don’t sound like the world I live in. At least if you watch the news, spend time on your computer, or check the timeline feeds on your phone or social media account.

You members who are not online or active with facebook or twitter accounts are not immune either. You’ve either heard about it on the radio, read about it in the paper, or have firsthand experience with it while you drive, shop, or go about you daily lives.

Rude and aggressive people who also happen to be impatient are all around us. The world is full of them. Guess what … so is the church.

As the body of believers we live in the world too. At times the world breaks into our lives with rude, violent, and unkind people and attitudes that can shake the foundation of who we are, causing in us a response that is no more humble, gentle, or patient than what we’ve experienced.

It is easy to take our eyes off Jesus; and Paul here is calling the church in Ephesus to refocus. Not only to see Jesus and all he has done for them but to reflect him in words, actions, and attitudes living as his followers wherever God has placed them in home, work, or church.

3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. NIV 1984

From Confirmation class we learn how the Law works as curb, mirror, and guide. It stops bad behavior, reflects our sinfulness to us, and directs us in a better way to go. Feeble attempts to keep the Law miss the mark as we actually at times think we measure up. It can cause a condescending spirit in us to see ourselves as better than others – especially as brothers and sisters in Christ - as pride grows and replaces humility.


This past Sunday Alan Trammel and Jack Morris were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. I remembered briefly seeing both men at my previous work as they came in to look at pianos. I didn’t wait on either of them as it was another salesman that got the opportunity. Both of them were polite and nice, though neither bought a piano from my place of business. As I remember, both bought a competitive brand and I believe it was Jack who commented to his wife, “We’ll always have a house big enough for the concert grand,” or something along those lines. It may have been a true statement, but confidently cocky is a phrase my boss use to describe successful people at times.

Moving ahead 30 + years or so, their Hall of Fame speeches showed men humble and gentile with their words and patient in their delivery looking to soak up the moment while they considered their accomplishments and the important people in their lives.

While thanking his mother Alan Trammel said,

“She would tell me, If you ever make it to the Major Leagues, I want you to be humble like my favorite player, Stan Musial.”

But Jack Morris – the harder edged, confidently cocky, we’ll always have the big house for a concert grand guy, began his speech with these words of thanks:

“I am humbled and honored to be with all of you today. Above all, I give thanks to God for His many blessings.”

And he ended with:

“God blessed me with a gift and it was meant to be shared with others. My life in baseball has been an incredible journey, and I am grateful for everything.

I want to thank you again for sharing this wonderful day with me. Praise be to God. Thank you.

Confident … yes, but not so much cocky.

Paul in his letter wants the church then and now to know that there is one church, one body of believers, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all … and you, like the church in Ephesus, have been bought with a price.

The death of Jesus is the gift and the price. Because he has risen from the dead and has ascended on high, we too who trust in him will rise and ascend. But only because he died in our place and descended, proclaiming victory over sin, death and the power of the devil can we ever understand the height that he has ascended too.

Humility is hard … success builds pride. Pride can see not the gift or the giver but only the reflection in the mirror. The mirror of the Law - shows us our sin – SOS. But it requires an act of God through his Holy Spirit to SOS – see our savior.

Hall of Fame honors, World Series wins, money, success and fame can cause a cloud of selfish pride to obscure the mirror that reflects who we truly are apart from Christ – lost and condemned creatures that we are.

But thanks be to God, he has made a way for the mirror to clearly reflect our true condition and to provide the means of comfort for a burdened soul … the word of God.

11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, NIV 1984

God’s gift comes to us through humble means.

Apostles – called by God in Christ to proclaim the way the truth and the life in Jesus and to write by inspiration of the Holy Spirit all that God had given them to do.

Prophets - Those who in many and various ways God spoke through in the past pointing forward to the coming hope that is Jesus.

Evangelists – Those sent to take the good news to the far reaches of the world to bring the lost into the fold.

Pastor’s and teachers – Shepherds that care for God’s flock, called to proclaim the full council of God, feeding God’s sheep, giving his gifts and teaching his children the truth of the word and their standing as his redeemed children. I am blessed to be here and called to serve you.

12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

God’s word is truth.

Paul’s desire is that the church knows the word of God …

knows the gift of faith …

knows the reliance on one Lord, one Faith, one baptism and one God and Father of all.

Only then is it possible to reflect humility, gentleness, and patient as we live as Christ’s body of believers in this broken world. No longer, children tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

Not being deceived by the ways of the world and the cunning of the devil or being drawn away through men who twist the word of God, deceive the flock, and build their kingdom on the backs of the faithful.

15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

Reactions to the truth can cause differing responses. It can cause rebellion, anger, pride and arrogance by those in opposition to the word and the truth it proclaims or by the working of the Holy Spirit it can cause humility, gentleness, and patience in your life and mine as we live out or vocations as Christians.

Jack Morris sounds like a man changed by the word of God.

You too have been changed. May the joy of that change be a reflection in all you say and do waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13 ESV

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