Monday, March 25, 2019

Sermon March 23-24, 2019 - Third Sunday in Lent

Title: Jesus Christ reconciles the word unto himself!
Text: Luke 13:6-9

6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

As I was standing in my dad’s hospital room waiting for him to be picked up for surgery, I noticed and thought how much he now looked like his dad. I said, “Dad, do you know who you look like?” He replied: “An old man!”

The question or the degree of value that we put on human life differs depending on age and perspective. It seems that for many those who are least able to take care of themselves are the ones most marginalized.

The child in the womb or the elderly in the bed of a nursing home both rely on the care of someone else for their earthly existence. But what really is the difference?

In our gospel lesson in Luke we read:

13 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?

Neither, the child waiting to be born or the elderly person, waiting to be called to the slumbers of death, can do much about the situation they are both in at this point. Both are at the mercy of God as they wait for either birth or death.

The truth of these two examples though is that both are under the curse of sin. Should the child be born to life and rise to great stature or die from a miscarriage or be aborted does not enhance or diminish their value in the eyes of the Lord.

In the same way the elderly who remains healthy and productive for their entire life or spend many years in the care of others has no greater or lesser significance in the eyes of the Lord.

You and I who are alive too have value to our loving God … but not because of whom we are or what we do.

The Gospel reading continues:

4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?

Both of these examples that are given by Luke, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, conclude with the same words.

5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

These words are meant to be frightening to the person, of any age, who remains comfortable in their sin. The reality of death, from womb to grave and all of life in between, is real and so is the reality of an eternity separated from God and His love for those who resist God’s call to repentance and continue on their own path covered in their own righteousness.

Jesus then tells a parable about a fig tree and a man who had planted it. The idea here is that this man had planted it to … bear fruit. He wanted figs and he had found none.


I had a Silver Maple shade tree in my backyard which had provided great shade to my house in the summer. It stopped producing leaves and the shade that had kept us cool in the summer was gone. The tree had died and was of no value.

Prior to the trees death, we had had a few signs. One fall the leaves became a beautiful deep red. We thought it was a good sign but later learned that this was a sign of distress. I took special food and tried to do what I could to help the tree survive. An arborist, who I had come and look at the tree, said that these trees - in a very common way - suffer from a girdled root syndrome which spins a root around itself, eventually choking itself and its food supply, leading to death. There isn’t much you can do about it.

But, I said: “Let’s leave it alone this year and I’ll feed and water around it and put fertilizer on it and if it doesn’t produce leaves and shade next year … I’ll cut it down.”

Trees that do not bear fruit are of little value to the owner of the property where they are planted.


[The two trees at church]

The truth of this parable though is using only trees and fruit as an example to bring to mind the greater problem and the need of producing fruit in the lives of believers.

Jesus Christ has reconciled the word unto himself and has called you to faith. But faith that is not fed, nourished, and strengthened eventually dies and like the fig tree in the parable, without figs, the fig tree is of little value.

You though are of great value.

He calls you to repentance by his word of Law that shows you your sin. Have you sin which you live in daily? Is it great or small? The truth is as we read from our Lord’s lips:

“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?

Do you at times marginalize your sin? Do you at times, like me too, see the sin of homosexuality as grievous to the Lord but the sin of gossip or cohabitation as tolerable?

Christ will not give up on you. He will dig around you and metaphorically put the fertilizer of spiritual food around you so that you can feed and be filled and produce the fruit that leads to repentance and eternal life.


There is a story of uncertain origin that is a perfect focus for us during Lent and in our spiritual life in this world:

A certain medieval monk announced he would be preaching next Sunday evening on "The Love of God." As the shadows fell and the light ceased to come in through the cathedral windows, the congregation gathered. In the darkness of the altar, the monk lighted a candle and carried it to the crucifix. First of all, he illumined the crown of thorns, next, the two wounded hands, then the marks of the spear wound. In the hush that fell, he blew out the candle and left the chancel. There was nothing else to say.

Source Unknown.

By the wounds that Jesus took upon Himself at the cross and because of His sinless life and death in your place you are forgiven. Though you die yet you will live. Whether productive or incapacitated, God has called you to faith and will sustain you through the trials of this world.

His love for you will continue to draw you by His Holy Spirit to look to his finished work producing faith that bears fruit in your life as God’s love in Christ produces fruit in you leading to your continued spiritual growth. Christ will feed you through his word and sacraments to life eternal in Him.

Though our bones, like the bones of all born in sin remain the same we have been given eternal life and the true and blessed hope of resurrection one day. We who believe will rise just as Jesus did on Easter Sunday and as Job has said, in chapter 19 vs 26:

And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God,

He is risen and so you too will rise in Him because:

Jesus Christ has reconciles the word unto himself!

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


Sermon March 20, 2019 Lent Midweek 3

Title: Though you die, yet in Christ you live!
Text: Luke 13:31-35

34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

It is possible to live under a delusion. You think you are kind, considerate and gracious when you are really not. You think you are building positive stuff into your children when in reality, if you could check with them twenty years later, you really didn't. What if you could read your own obituary? Would it say the things you hoped it would say about you and your life?

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”

Death is a reality of life and a reality of sin. Here the Pharisees of all people tell Jesus about the intentions of Herod.

Herod, you may remember, beheaded John the Baptist from prison in response to a dance that pleased him and his guests by the daughter of his wife, Herodias. Herod had bound John in prison because he had told him that it was not lawful for him to have his brother’s wife and now Herod, by the nagging of his conscience for the death of John, believes that Jesus is the voice of John, come back from the dead.

The conscience that tears at Herod concerning John’s death, Herod believes will not bother him if Jesus is killed. But, we all know too well that the conscience is not controlled by the human will but is the Law of God written on the heart of man.

So Jesus tells them:

“Go and tell that fox, (meaning one being crafty and sly) ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.

Jesus isn’t taking any of it from Herod. He has His work to do and has His sights set on Jerusalem or as He calls, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!

So it is for you and me and in our day as well. Death is the end of this worldly existence. We are battered in this life with sin and its results. At times there are successes but all too often the failures of our lives and the trials we all face seem to be overcome by the stories in the news.


Death in Christ Church New Zealand, Death in the Philippians, death at home dear fellow members …

Or, maybe it’s the many faceless people that are fighting cancer and the prospect of good or bad reports they all face wondering will we live or will we die.

The reality of death comes to both young and old alike. It is not a respecter of persons and no amount of money or status can hold it at bay or have it release its steel like grip. Death will come by and to whom it will. We will all get there. But where is hope and salvation?

Paul Kretzmann in his commentary poses this warning:

“On the last day those that were Christians in name only will try to frame similar excuses as those from the biblical text, reminding the Lord of the fact that they heard the Word of God in a church where the pure doctrine was proclaimed, that they were baptized, that they were instructed in the Christian doctrine.

‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ (Luke 13:26-27)

And even those that merely lived in a Christian Community, and occasionally permitted Christian influence to graze them, will come and try to state this fact as an argument. But all arguing will be too late. The fact remains that all such people did not [receive] Jesus and His Word, but stubbornly remained [bound] in their sins, and therefore will die and be condemned in their sins.”

Popular commentary on the Bible NT Vol 1 Paul Kretzmann pg. 342

Yet … though you die, in Christ you are made alive and live!

34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!

This place, like many places we know, choose to cover their ears at the proclamation of the Gospel and desire to remain in bondage to sin, death and the Devil. However, it is not Christ’s intentions to leave you there!

He laments:

How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

The unwilling, those who cling to their unbelief and refuse the gift of the Holy Spirit and the faith He creates, will push off the saving gift of faith in Christ looking to the pleasures of this world and the joys they bring for a time.

35 Behold, your house is forsaken. (He continues) And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

So where is hope?
Where is life?
Where is peace?

In Jesus, in his word and in his gifts!

Jesus is our hope!
Jesus is our life!
Jesus is our peace!

He has called you and me by the Gospel having written your name in the lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world! Through baptism he makes us alive in Christ and gives us by his Spirit newness of life! We saw / or will see the working of God again through the gift of Holy Baptism in the life of a little child marked and redeemed by Christ and given faith in him so that he is truly Christ’s child.

In Him, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we all who believe will be forever in His presence. The wings of our blessed Lord have gathered you under the pavilion of His rest and you can truly rest from all your labors and grief trusting in His all sufficient sacrifice for sin so that we who name the name of Jesus will be with Him for eternity

You too can be known, not for your value of who you are and what you do in this life but in the value that the Son of God has placed upon you by His death in your place.

His love is shown by His sacrifice in your place so that you can be forever loved by him, redeemed, forgiven, forever that:

Though you die, yet in Christ you live!

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


Sermon March 16-17, 2019 - Second Sunday in Lent

Title: Be Imitators, by keeping your eyes upon Jesus!
Text: Phil. 3:17-4:1

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

4:1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

When I was beginning the process of becoming a salesman in the piano business my boss taught me some of the things I needed to know to be successful as a salesman. His 30 years of experience helped me see a way forward. His son Jim, who was successful, showed me the ropes and the day to day activities that were needed to be successful. One day they brought in a sales trainer to do a seminar. He taught us many of the same things that I had already learned to have a good foundation in sales. He said though that there was one very important thing you needed to do to be successful:

“You need to find someone who is successful and do what they do!”
The Apostle Paul writes:

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.

This call of imitation from the Apostle Paul is a good word for the church in Philippi and for you and me as well. Look to those, he tells them, who have a life lived in the Spirit of Christ and keep your eyes on them. They are a good example for you and me and one that will make your walk with Christ better and more joyful.

Now you may think, who should I model myself after? Who would be a good example? Should I look to someone in the church who has the appearance of a faith life and model them? Well, I’m sure that there are a number of people here in church who would be good examples.

But Paul brings up a few things for the Philippians to consider:

18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.

Boy, that’s hard to hear. Many people in the Philippian church have become, because of their walk, enemies of Christ. Not walking in the ways of the Lord.

We see and know this as well.

19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

The question Paul, wants to know is why? Why place your trust in things of this world and in things that will not endure when there is a gift in Christ that brings the joy of heaven and that reality to those who only deserve death and condemnation?

Matthew records in his gospel:

17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” Matt 20:17-19

Paul now reminds the Philippians and us:

20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

Their citizenship is in heaven. Why? - Because of Christ and His sacrifice, and the gift of faith in His all sufficient death, for you. But, Paul here is calling those in the church to walk as imitators of him who is called by the Lord Himself to be Christ’s representative.

Now, Paul is speaking as he wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit so, his words are God’s words. In the same way, preaching today speaks forth God’s words to you in our day, so that you can hear from God and live out your faith according to God’s desires.

Now, what are those desires that God wishes for you and me? What is the work of God in the life of the believer? What is it that God wants for you and me and all whom the Lord our God will call to do?

29 “… that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:29)

To Love God and our neighbor as ourselves or to return the love our God gives us back towards him and in service to those around us.

Belief, faith and trust … are gifts to you and me from our heavenly Father.

His confession, and the confession of all who trust in Christ, is made possible, not because of our will, but because of his will in us by the working of the Spirit of Christ in the life of the believer.


… our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body (after death) to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Christ will glorify those (all in Christ) … just as He was glorified. So, Paul is making the appeal to them and to us, to stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.

Those who stand firm do so because: We are Imitators of Christ by keeping our eyes upon Jesus!

Christ Jesus by His Spirit working in us makes us imitators of Him, though so imperfectly. We fail and fall short, but by the Spirit of God working through the word we are being made into his image, being sanctified and being made Holy.

Christ, by His all sufficient sacrifice, has made peace with God for you and now will form you into His image by the Holy Spirit in you who points you to Christ and leads you through the word into Holy living.

Each day and each week as the ups and downs of life roll in upon you, God empowers you through word and sacrament to grow and act a bit more Christ like as we go through our daily lives, as godly people and imitators of Christ where we can have the fullness of his Spirit working in us.

As Psalm 84:12 reminds us:

12 O LORD of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you!

By the power of the Holy Spirit we who are his children trust in Him. God be praised for his glorious gifts to His children now and forever!

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


Sermon March 13, 2019 Lent Midweek 2

Title: Christ was tempted and tested and you are forgiven!
Text: Luke 4:1-13

13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

John Piper says that sin [name your poison] “gets its power by persuading me to believe that I will be more happy if I follow it. The power of all temptation is the prospect that it will make me happier.”

Quoted in Putting Your Past Behind You, E. Lutzer, Here’s Life, 1990 p. 54

Temptation lulls you and me and sin results and we all fall victim and give in at times to it. But thankfully Christ Jesus didn’t give in and as a result we have that blessed Amazing Grace of life eternal in his name.

4 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.

Sin and temptation we all know it too well. Jesus knew temptation yet was without sin. You might think well He’s God, so He had His divine God-ness on his side. He’s all-powerful, all-knowing, and omnipresent. But, it wasn’t the God nature of the God/man that was being tempted. It was the human nature of the God/man that was put to the test.

The truth is that at the incarnation God and man became one in Jesus Christ. He is fully God and fully man. Not part God and part man or God and man mixed together into this Jesus.

4 … And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. (Luke 4:1-2)

When we speak of Jesus we need to speak of His humanity in real terms. We need to speak of things that are part of His human nature. Things like time, temptation, and hunger for example … all things we can all relate to.

Over these past 40 days I've been tempted many times as have you with, unfortunately, sin being the result. I've done and said things that I shouldn't and not done things that I should. Like you, I fall short daily. Thank God, I eat … and I eat well, because I've never experienced true hunger, like the type of hunger that Jesus must have felt after 40 days being tempted in the wilderness. This was no little stomach growl, this was hunger that you and I can’t even imagine. Think of not eating since Epiphany.

3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” (Luke 4:3-4)

The truth is though, that sin is not just thought, word and deed. It is not overcome by just trying harder not to sin. It is in fact who we are. Sin is what we are born in. Now, this is not to excuse it, but to understand our human nature. You will fail and you will sin. At times it is blatant and at times you are unaware. Sin permeates our very being and that is why Satan so hounds you and me.

He knows that when presented with a little sin it will lead to a bigger sin and the bigger the sin the guiltier you and I will feel. You will feel shame, and at times guilt for your actions, even an unkind word or a word misplaced can cause hurt.

3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

Satan here uses the most subtle of temptations; “Command this stone to become bread.” He simply desires Christ, to abuse the power which He possessed as God’s Son for the gratification of the desires of the body.

Jesus answers Satan’s temptation with the word of God:

4 … “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.”

Or, as God’s word reads in Deut 8:3:

3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deut 8:3)

God’s provision of Mana humbled the Israelites who quickly found that they could not provide for themselves. Instead, they had to trust in God for their daily bread.

Lutheran study Bible Pg 291 Study Note

“Give us this day our daily bread.” We ask of the Lord in the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, which includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body; because Christ wants us to realize that our entire life … and that of everyone else depends of God.

Question/ Answer 219 Luther’s Small Catechism

But again, the temptation of the Devil continues:

“To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”

And Jesus answers:

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”

This time Jesus brings God’s word to bear in Deut. 6:13

13 It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. (Deut 6:13)

What does this mean - The Catechism asks?

We should fear, love and trust God above all things. Luther gives answer to the First Commandment. You shall have no other gods.

Finally, Satan:

9 … took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,

to guard you,’

11 and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Jesus here quotes Deut 6:16

16 “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. Deut 6:16

In the close of the commandments God says: “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Ex. 20:5–6

13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Christ was tempted and tested and you are forgiven!

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Cor 10:13

Christ is the one who conquered sin, death and Devil for you. He took all the Devil could give and though tempted was without sin. Christ gives this peace to you and me through the working of the Holy Spirit so that his righteousness is yours and your sin has been laid on him at the cross.

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


Monday, March 11, 2019

Sermon March 9-10, 2019 - First Sunday in Lent

Title: Confession and belief are God’s gifts to you!
Text: Romans 10:8b-13

9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

In Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer attempts to reconcile the seemingly contradictory beliefs of God's sovereignty and man's free will:

"An ocean liner leaves New York bound for Liverpool. Its destination has been determined by proper authorities. Nothing can change it. This is at least a faint picture of sovereignty.

"On board the liner are scores of passengers. These are not in chains, neither are their activities determined for them by decree. They are completely free to move about as they will. They eat, sleep, play, lounge about on the deck, read, talk, altogether as they please; but all the while the great liner is carrying them steadily onward toward a predetermined port.

"Both freedom and sovereignty are present here, and they do not contradict. So it is, I believe, with man's freedom and the sovereignty of God. The mighty liner of God's sovereign design keeps its steady course over the sea of history."

As we think about freedom most of you know what it is. Some of you here and quite a few in our church fought for the freedom that we in the United States today enjoy. Most, I believe, would say that freedom isn’t free but came at a great cost. Yet, many in regards to salvation and our coming to faith believe that the cost of Christ’s death didn’t procure it but that our decision does.

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim;

Paul Asks this question to those who will read his letter and it is also applied to you and me as well.

“Faith and confession are here mentioned as the two requisites for salvation. So near is the redemption of Jesus to every person in the world, in the Word of the Gospel-message, that it is necessary only to believe with the heart and to confess with the mouth in order to become a partaker of all its blessings. If any person believes in his heart and confesses with his mouth that Jesus is the Lord and that God has raised Him from the dead, then he has the faith which will give him salvation.”

Kretzmann NT Vol. II Pg 55

For you and me we must ask ourselves this question: Is Jesus the savior of the word or did he just make a path that we must choose?

Is Christ’s work sufficient?

Martin Luther in his book, The Bondage of the will, speaks of man’s free will and his ability to choose where he says:

—"It would be ridiculous to say to a man standing in a place where two ways met, [You see] two roads, go by which [ever road you choose], when one only way was open."— (99 of 283) [12/12/2002 11:41:13 PM

The path to faith is closed except through the working of the Holy Spirit.

As the Spirit works through the Gospel faith emerges in those apart from Christ … and they believe. To paraphrase Luther, the road that had been close has now been open by God’s Spirit and by the gift of faith in Christ’s work you now believe and are directed down the way to everlasting life that God has ordained from the foundation of the world.


St. Augustine had this to say:

God's mercy ... goes before the unwilling to make him willing; it follows the willing to make his will effectual.

Augustine of Hippo, Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love.

Why some and not others? We may ask.

It is through our own sinful eyes that we at times determine who is saved and who is lost … not knowing for sure.


Some time ago, I was asked to do a funeral for a man I didn’t know. I talked with his wife and she was looking for a Lutheran pastor because he had been baptized and raised in a Missouri Synod church until he went into the service. He served in WWII and Korea and for the remainder of his life looked to those who knew him to be not a religious man.

He was Baptized and raised in the faith and to you and me he may have looked to have departed from it.

But, the promise of the Lord is that:

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28

It is certainly within the realm of possibility that the Lord by his Spirit, as this man looked at the certainty of his death repented, asked for forgiveness and was saved.

It is the blessed hope and sufficient working of our loving God by his Spirit that I proclaimed at his funeral the means of grace … word and sacrament, that at his baptism he was marked as one redeemed by Christ the crucified.

Earlier in Romans 9 Paul made this gift clear:

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

God who in mercy has called you will now bring about the means for your belief.

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Eph. 2:8-9

God’s gift of grace in Christ is brought about by His gift of faith in this same Jesus so that you may believe.

God is both the cause and the means by which belief is secured.

So when you confess with the mouth and believe in the heart …

God has brought about your conversion and has secured your salvation by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Confession and belief are God’s gifts to you!

Christ is the one who conquered sin, death and Devil for you. He took all the Devil could give and though tempted was without sin. This brings peace to you and me as we think about his sinless life and atoning death, given for the forgiveness of sins for the whole world as we walk his way during Lent.

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


Thursday, March 7, 2019

Sermon March 6, 2019 - Ash Wednesday

Title: Christ reconciles the word unto himself!
Text: 2 Cor. 5:20b-6:10

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

When we look at a new born baby we might have a difficult time recognizing the corruption of sin upon this beautiful creation of God. How - we might think - can this be a sin bearer and God’s enemy? The truth is that sin like life happens at conception.

We inherit many things from our parents. Some things determine our looks, demeanor, walk, hair and eye color, intellect, intelligence, height and health concerns. One thing we also inherit is sin.

Paul writes:

We implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

As a pastor to the congregation in Corinth, Paul’s words are passionate and direct. He implores those that are either apathetic, which means: (showing or feeling no interest, enthusiasm, or concern) but living a mere outward type of holiness to be reconciled [or returned to right relationship] to God.

In his first Epistle to the Corinthians Paul had been strong in his rebuke of them in how they were dealing with sin in their midst. Paul had written them:
11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, (someone inside the church) who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.

Paul’s rebuke is strong, as it should be. But after the Corinthian’s come to repentance, the sweet comfort of the gospel must be applied. For there is no joy for Paul in leaving a repentant sinner terrified of their sin, that Christ Jesus has carried upon Himself to the cross forever burying it in the grave by his all sufficient sacrifice.

Paul now pleads to the repentant sinner as workers together with Him … not to receive the grace of God in vain.

2 For [God] says:

“In an acceptable time I have heard you,

And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”

The help for the sinner is our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus who became sin for us that we might be reconciled to God receiving again the original righteousness that had been lost and broken in the fall in to sin.

The sin of the world, your sin and mine … God wept over. But do you? Do you feel the anguish of falling short daily? Are you in prayerful repentance sorry for your sin and asking for forgiveness? Or, is sin your master?

It could be indifference, greed, jealousy, cohabitation, adultery - which Paul speaks of as being sexually immoral; gossip, or simple unkindness … does it cause you to break down in guilt and repent of your sin which really is simply to ask for forgiveness and turn away from sin.

In the epistle reading Paul brings Good News to those who are broken and repentant.

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Cor. 6:2b)

Friends, now is the time to receive forgiveness.

Ash Wednesday is the name given to the first day of the season of Lent, in which ashes are applied to the foreheads of Christian’s signifying an inner repentance. This repentance continues throughout Lent as we remember the suffering that our Lord endured at the cross for the sins of the whole world – yours and mine - as we wait in anticipation of Christ’s glorious Easter resurrection.

The work of the ministry is to call sinners to repentance so that the work of God’s Law can bring about a true repentance for sin and the Gospel of salvation a glorious comfort that on account of Christ you are forgiven!

Paul tells the Corinthians and us what the true work of the ministry is commending ourselves as ministers of God:

... in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses,

8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

Christ through his ministers today as then absolves the repentant. This gift He gives through his church, so that comfort is given to those broken by sin so that they might be renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit working in them to a newness of life over sin, death and the power of the Devil.


Visitation to those who are unable to come brings Christ and his forgiveness to those unable to come. Whether Deb Trosin, Carol Chapman, Duane and Eleanor Brown, Dick Rutz or Carolyn Wilson all get the same forgiveness you receive in word and sacrament.

As I continue to visit those who are unable to be at church or those who are confused at times by dementia, I am constantly lifted up as together we pray and remember God’s, loving forgiveness in Christ. And though they at times may not remember me, they always remember Jesus who is the one who has freed them from sin and this broken world giving them the assurance that in Christ they have true forgiveness, peace and comfort and a place in the house of the Lord forever.

Christ reconciles the word unto himself!

We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Please join me in prayer:

We can all be comforted to know that in Christ we are forgiven and that by His stripes we are truly healed!

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


Monday, March 4, 2019

Sermon March 2-3, 2019 - Transfiguration

Title: Jesus Christ is the chosen one, for you!
Text: Luke 9:35-36

35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

C.S. Lewis says:

When the author walks onto the stage, the play is over. And what he means is that God is going to invade [our world]; but what is the good of saying you are on God’s side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else comes crashing in?

This time it will be God without disguise; [no covering - no veil] something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. [It will be too late then. The time to believe will be over.]

It will be the time when we discover [whether eternal life or eternal damnation awaits]. [The sheep and goats, the wheat and tares] Now, today, this [very] moment, [is the time for faith and belief].

C.S. Lewis.

Last weekend as we concluded our Stewardship Series we heard from St. Peter in his second epistle about the destruction of the heavens and the earth by fire saying:

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

But he also promises:

13 … a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

And councils:

14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him,

Our gospel reading begins:

28 Now about eight days after these sayings [Jesus] took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray.

The transfiguration account in Luke today brings about a change in how Christ is seen. Prior to our text today Jesus had made clear his mission to his disciples when he asked them “But who do you say that I am?” To which Peter answer’s “The Christ of God.” And then Jesus explains his mission and work, that the son of man must suffer, be rejected by the people, the elders and chief priests and be killed and on the third day be raised from the dead. Jesus speaks about denying self, following him and that anyone who loses his life for his will … save it.

And he concludes:

27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

Martin Luther once wrote:

And if [you are] not in the kingdom of Christ, it is certain that [you] belonged to the kingdom of Satan, which is this evil world.

Martin Luther - in Who Said That? by George Sweeting, p. 288

Demons, sickness, and death Jesus had been casting out. [in our Act’s Bible Study we see his disciples doing this very same thing in the name of Jesus.] He is now ascending the mountain with his disciples to pray. The questions had been, “What is this word?” and “Where did he get this authority?” and “Isn’t this the carpenters son?” Now … the veil of his divinity is clearly seen in a transfigured Jesus – brilliant white - shown with Moses and Elijah the Law and the Prophets breaking forth on the top of the mountain and fulfilled in Jesus.

Life is real and death is real. We see the two realities separately. As one ends the other begins. There is either life or there is death but the truth of our existence is that life continues. We live fallen or redeemed and the moment of death is the transition, the point of revealing, and the point of understanding, what truth is our eternity?

In the incarnation, Christ was veiled – transfigured if you will – to hide the truth of his identity so that he might be revealed at the proper time. Even the demons exclaimed, “I know who you are Jesus of Nazareth – the Holy one of God!” To this Christ shuts their mouths. But here, on the mount of transfiguration, Jesus is seen by Peter, James and John, for who he is; the Christ, the son of the living God.

This Jesus Christ is the chosen one, for you and for me as well!

The glimpse of heaven, the glorified Jesus with Moses and Elijah, shows for you and me the reality of bodily communion with the living God. Moses died and Elijah was taken to heaven in a whirlwind but here they both are with Jesus and are known by those who, in their sinful flesh and with their own eyes see them together.

It is hard to understand this. Peter is confuse but senses that, “it is good that we are here.” He too wants to keep this glorified Jesus with Moses and Elijah in tents for themselves, much like the people in Capernaum wanted to keep this healing from Jesus for themselves, so that the reality of death might be removed.

But death is real.

It is the means of transfiguration for you and for me and through it we are changed.

52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The reality is that,

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is your victory!

The glorified Christ is your Christ but so is the Christ who took on human flesh.

He is the one who in humility became man and stood in your place and mine and served the needs of we who in sin were dead and had no hope. But he is also the one who sits exalted awaiting your own transfiguration from this life to the life eternal and an eternity with him

The voice of God testifies,

35 “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.

But you dear friends are never alone, though the glimpse of heaven and Jesus transfigured was once again veiled by his humanity, your transfiguration is secured.

Because Jesus came to finish his course for you

He came go where you couldn’t go and to do what you couldn’t do

So that, in him – in Jesus - the Father is well pleased … with you

The glorified Christ is yours by grace through faith, and though we wait for a time, God has given you the means of word and sacrament to bring the reality of your transfiguration from death to life to you.

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