Thursday, February 25, 2021

Sermon February 24, 2021 midweek - Lent 2

Title: Repent and believe the Gospel!
Text: Mark 1:9-15

Facebook live: Repent and believe the gospel!

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

As our theme of Return to the Lord continues with this second midweek in Lent, we are called to repent and believe the gospel. The gift of God in Christ for you and me as the father in love sends his Son to redeem us and by the Spirit’s work we are made new and made God’s children.

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

Following Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan we see the work of the Holy Spirit immediately driving Jesus out into the wilderness. The wilderness is a desolate place, a place of danger, a place we’re told of wild beasts and certainly a parallel for the wanderings of Moses and the Israelites, in the wilderness, for 40 years. Here too we see the 40 years paralleled with the 40 days in the wilderness and the tempting that Jesus endured.

The number 40 shows up many times in the Bible having significance as a time of trial, tempting and persecution.

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

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

This was no demon in training that Satan sent to temp the Son of Man, no this was important business and Satan was up to the task himself. The tempting of the devil, the starkness of the wilderness and the ferocious beasts were all that Christ had in his company for 40 days.

In St. Matthew and St. Luke’s gospel we read of three tempting and Jesus’ answer by the word of God to Satan,

that man does not live on bread alone - Luke 4:4,

worship the Lord your God and serve him only - Luke 4:8

and finally, not putting the Lord your God to the test - Luke 4:12

But what is also clear is that Jesus was tempted for 40 days – an ongoing tempting of the devil.

Unlike the Father and the Spirit, who as God cannot be tempted, but Christ Jesus true God and true man was tempted as we were, yet without sin.

All of the temptations of the devil attacked the true humanity of the God/man himself, Jesus Christ.

Only man hungers and thirsts

and only man is led to worship falsely one who isn't God,

and only man puts God - and his love for him to the test.

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

We were marked in birth as a sinner and God’s enemy, in life we carry marks as well.


I have a scar on my knee. I don’t remember what I did to get it but I remember it was the first time I needed stitches to close the wound. I can still see the needle, thread and the Dr. working. I must have been around 8 when it happened and all these years later it remains a mark and memory in my life.

The scar on my hand came from climbing through a broken window at my neighbor’s garage where I took a chunk out of my palm with a shard or glass.

There is a scar on my right foot that came in childhood foolishness when I jumped off the roof of my grandfather’s shed on to a board with a nail sticking up that went into my foot and required a tetanus shot.

The scar on my head came as I bent over in my garage as an adult to pick something up and hit my head on the metal bracket of a hose reel saved for what purpose I don’t know but not in use.

Jesus too caries the scars and marks in his hands and feet and on his head of his scourging and death of the cross. He may like you and me have also carried the scars of life’s accidents and memories not recorded in scripture but lived and remembered in a very real human life and existence.

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

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

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

“It is finished”

We also carry another mark that isn’t a scar, and that is of the mark of Christ given at our Baptism when we were marked redeemed by Christ and raised to new ness of life.

The old bodily scars remain - as they do for Jesus - but the mark of life eternal replaces the mark of sin, death and the devil for you and me all who are washed in the blood of the Lamb.

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

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

It’s a bad world, we know that.

But in Christ you can have joy and peace as his holy people who have learned a great secret.

Though despised, rejected and persecuted, as Jesus was, we can care not about this life – or the scars we bear - because in Christ, who is the master of our souls, we have been redeemed and have overcome the world.

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

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


Monday, February 22, 2021

Sermon February 20-21, 2021

Title: You are made new in Christ!
Text: James 1:12-18

Facebook live: You are made new in Christ!

18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

Historian Shelby Foote tells of a soldier who was wounded at the battle of Shiloh during the American Civil War and was ordered to go to the rear. The fighting was fierce and within minutes he returned to his commanding officer. "Captain, give me a gun!" he shouted,
"This fight ain't got any rear!"

Daily Walk, July 10, 1993.

That is what it is like with trial and temptation. It feels like there is no end. Day in and day out we daily are confronted with trials. How is your health; or finances and how about heat in these winter months? Does your car or home need repair? Are your children having issues and are you faced with prospect of how to help, can you help - or will they let you help?

Is life one trial after another?

We are so blessed.

James begins his epistle with these words.

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, James 1:2 NIV 1984

You might say, Joy? Really? Trials are not fun. We all know the struggle and all that it can entail. Up, down, joy, sorrow, struggle, anger - sin most often is the result - but hopefully so is repentance and sorrow for our sin.

But here, in our epistle for today, James speaks of being blessed.

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. ESV

Blessed and steadfast - the riches of God come by standing firm and through these trials God promises the crown of life.

James here is echoing the words of Psalm 1

1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

We talked last week about the light of Christ in each one of us. The good deposit of faith that began at our baptism as God himself washed away our sins and marked us as his child.

That child, you and me, needs to be fed.

We need Spiritual food so that we can remain healthy, vibrant and grow in our lives so that we can stand firm and not sway during the tempting and testing that comes and will come.

God is not the source of temptation.

Though God temps no one he does allow temptation. Why? What possible good can come from temptation?

In October of 2015 trial and temptation came for Monica and me. I had just finished the LWML rally at Holy Cross in Oxford and was getting ready for service that evening at Peace when I got a call that Monica had to go into the emergence room for a procedure. My son Jon took her to the hospital. Ultimately that turned out to be cancer and that turned into two surgeries, a long healings process, doubts, concerns, worries, and you name it. Thankfully, she recently received another good report that her CT scan came back good – no cancer - so we’re good for another year!

And there are so many others, health, finances, marriage issues, job loss and the tempting and trials that never seem to end.

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

It is easy to look and ask - why me? But that is not what I heard from Monica or Sue Vogt and her Leukemia that came one month after Monica’s cancer and with so many others who deal with similar issues. They are resigned to fight these illnesses and setbacks and though I’m sure concern and uncertainty came into play; the temptation is mediated by faith in Christ and this faith produces a steadfast resolve pointing outward to the hope that doesn’t fade and will not leave you nor forsake you.

We take our eyes off of Christ.

In life we lose sight of Jesus. It happens when things get bad or when things get good or too good. At times we run from those we love most and want to help us to those who lead us away from Jesus and destroy lives. The devil is the source and tempter who points to joys and blessings that are temporal, and because of sin we can all fall victim to his enticing.

14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

As my friend Dan a musician in Nashville once told me when I asked him about the faith of another musician, “Well, he’s not interested in God right now things are going too well for him.”

If it is not trial and illness that point you to the brokenness of this world and the need for Christ, then it is in the sinful desires of a heart, content in the ways of the world that goes it alone or in a direction opposed to Christ.

How far off course can we go before we are truly lost we might ask?

How much sin is too much?

What does true repentance consist of?

Can we squander and lose the gift of salvation?

Unrepentance brings death.

Some years back I was talking to a young man who was wrestling with the word of God as it is revealed as Law and Gospel in scripture. He said to me:

“Pastor, I don’t know if I buy this Law and Gospel stuff. I mean when we sin, we can just go to God and say I’m sorry? I know that we’re forgiven but it sounds so cheap. Oh yeah – I’m sorry God forgive me - and then we go right back to doing the same sin!”

My response to his concern was do you think that God is fooled? I mean, do you really think God is fooled by false repentance? Maybe at times we think that? We’ve all probably said we were sorry for something we weren’t really sorry for but being sorry is only part of repentance.

Repentance requires being sorry for sin and then it requires a turning away from sin and a turning back to God.

Repentance requires faith.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

When thoughts words or deeds lead to sin, God by his Spirit comforts us with forgiveness. Through his gift of faith, he turns you and me in repentance and comforts us with his forgiveness.

18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

All things work together for good.

By God’s work he keeps us connected to him by faith.

By his work he turns us to see our failings and also to see our savior.

By his work we keep our eyes upon Jesus so that no matter the trial and temptation we can turn in faith to repent of our sins and receive the gift of God’s love and forgiveness in Jesus Christ our Lord!

And by his work we are forgiven and made new in Christ!

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


Thursday, February 18, 2021

Sermon February 17, 2021- Ash Wednesday

Title: Return to the Lord!
Text: Joel 2:12-19

Facebook live: Return to the Lord!

12 “Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.

I remember vividly the day the World Trade Center was attacked. The buildings crumbling, the dust cloud rising, the tears and screaming seen in the faces of those on the News stories brought into our homes, along with the fear and uncertainty that followed.

Churches were flooded and Pastor Merrell opened Peace for a time of prayer and reflection. I came, as many did, looking for answers and lamenting to God all that had happened, asking “Why Lord?” and looking for comfort.

The people of Israel at times felt God’s wrath and loss. The prophet Joel in chapter 1 after successive swarms of locust’s devoured field, fruit, plants and trees leaving a barren land, scorched by the heat of the Sun, left a land destroyed, as if a vast army had laid it waste.

17 The seed shrivels under the clods;
the storehouses are desolate;
the granaries are torn down
because the grain has dried up.
18 How the beasts groan!
The herds of cattle are perplexed
because there is no pasture for them;
even the flocks of sheep suffer.
Joel 1:17-18

The Prophet calls the Priests to penitential supplication day and night to the Lord because the affliction to the land is not removed simply by mourning and lamenting what had happened.

We mourn and lament too what has happened to our land. The brokenness of people, the divisions in families, and the body of Christ is not immune. The locusts of society and the culture of hate has devoured the unity of peace and prosperity we’ve enjoyed in our land and we cry in grief at what has become of our hope.

Twenty years ago after 911 many people turned to the Lord. Today, many turn to the kings and the rulers, the politicians and representatives, the chosen and elite for hope and answers. While mourning and lamenting grew, churches closed or were greatly diminished in numbers and fear came upon many.

12 “Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.”

The Lord say’s, “return to me!”

Not with a change of fortunes, representation or leadership, but with a change of heart.

The children of Israel dealt with both public and private calamity, both national distress and private trials. We too have dealt with Civil War as well as World Wars. We’ve dealt with international terrorism and domestic conflict and attack.

And today we deal with cancer and Covid 19, knee replacements and dementia, glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration. The wages of sin are clearly seen in our lives today - but so often - not in our hearts.

13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.

Today is Ash Wednesday and we are reminded of the Lord’s call through the Prophet Joel that God’s children needed a new heart, a heart of repentance.

Not just sorrow that calamity had come upon them but:

Sorrow for the calamity that had separated God and man.

Sorrow that they had strayed and turned away from the Lord.

Sorrow that they had put their hope in Kings and princes.

Sorrow that they had trusted in themselves and not in the one who had created them and sustained them.

We too, as we come to repentance, must turn to the one we had abandoned.

Asking Christ to forgive our inequities

Asking Jesus to return to us

Asking Jesus Christ to be our Lord

Asking him to sustain and preserve us in body and spirit as we live and follow his word and by his Spirit to conform, comfort and lead us through this difficult time.

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion;
consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16 gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation;
assemble the elders;
gather the children,
even nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her chamber.

All will see and know when the Lord returns, from the nursing infants, the bride and bridegroom, the congregation and the people at the last trumpet sound of God. The Lord’s return in judgment is assured.

We begin our Lenten journey tonight as we again turn from self and turn to God.

As we together repent and receive the Lord’s absolution.

As we place our trust in his work in us and in our world, and as we joyfully walk once again into a future in his control.

18 Then the Lord became jealous for his land
and had pity on [you] his people.
19 The Lord answered and said to his people,
“Behold, I am sending to you
grain, wine, and oil,
and you will be satisfied;
and I will no more make you
a reproach among the nations.

Dear friends, Joy not in your repentance but in God’s mercy.

For the work of his Son our Lord Jesus begins in earnest as we together walk with Jesus to Jerusalem and the cross.

From the blessed exchange of his death for your death in sin and his life for your life in eternity, we look outside ourselves to the one who has returned to rescue you, and me and by his Spirit calls us all to Return to the Lord!

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




Saturday, February 13, 2021

Sermon February 13-14, 2021

Title: In Christ you are changed!
Text: 2 Cor. 3:12-13; 4:1-6

Facebook live:  In Christ you are changed!

6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Maybe you remember the old joke:
How many Lutheran’s does it take to change a light bulb?

CHANGE! We don’t like change!

The truth is Lutheran’s love change but it has to be the right change.

Change for change sake is not good.

Change for the wrong reasons is not.

Change in compromising the truth is not good.

Change just to be different or new is not good.

Change because of the world, opposed to the word, is not good.

Change in a good way came November 29, 2020 when Adam Steven VanDeWater II went from being God’s enemy to God’s child in Holy Baptism.

He went from darkness to light.

He went from death to life.

He went from … separation from God to an eternity with God.

Adam Steven VanDeWater II was changed, he was transfigured.

Paul too as he writes to the Corinthian church:

3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.

12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 2 Cor. 3:12-13

Paul comes to the Corinthians in this letter with the Good News that change has come.

Grace has fulfilled the Law in Christ. Moses veiling of the glory of God reflected in his face, is now shining forth in the faces and lives of the children of God, and that was made known in Jesus, the word made flesh for you.

3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 2 Cor. 3:3

What an image of God working through word and Spirit!

You are a testimony of God’s work through his bringing you to life by the Gospel. You are his work just as by the finger of God he wrote on the tablets of stone he has written the word of life upon you.

In Christ you are changed!

Paul contrasts the ministry of death to the ministry of life.

The Law kills but the Spirit gives life.

In his previous letter Paul had to deal with the false Apostles that had infiltrated the church at Corinth, causing division and puffing up some within the church, calling those at Corinth Rich, and Kings while contrasting himself and the other Apostles as poor and fools for Christ sake. But Paul here points to the change that has come as a result of the gospel of God in Christ Jesus.

This ministry is through the mercy of God and because of that – he and the other apostles don’t lose heart.


Last weekend was a joyful time for me as I had a visit from my friend Pastor Jeff Keuning. Jeff and I met when we were both members of St John in Rochester. He serves two congregations in Iowa but was in Michigan to see his dad who has health issues and to visit his daughter Hannah, a school teacher at St. Trinity in Utica. It is a blessing and joy for me get to visit with him a few times a year to discuss the Lord’s work and compare notes so to speak.

The ministry of the Lord is hard work and fully his ministry.

3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

The god of this world that Paul is speaking of is not Jesus but Satan. He is also called the prince of the air and the devil, in his deceitful and devilish ways will do everything in his power to point you away from Christ.

The word of God and work of the Holy Spirit are the only means to come to faith and to remain in the faith. It is all of God and for some reason we in our sinfulness can and do reject the work of the Holy Spirit.

It is you and it is me that need to be that encouragement to stir up one another. To gather together physically and publicly if at all possible. To not forsake the Lord’s Supper which delivers life and salvation in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins. If you need physical nourishment to live, you also need spiritual nourishment to live forever.

5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.

For 58 years Peace has had six pastors. Under shepherds and servants of the word, but many who serve in so many ways.

Some serve the body of Christ here at Peace in clear view in defined roles.

Some serve in the corners and out of view.

Some serve as the body of Christ in the world.

Darkness will cover or make every attempt to cover the light of the gospel. So, it is up to you and it is up to me as Christians to make every attempt to shine that light of Christ in a very dark world.

6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Dear friends,

In the Transfiguration the light of Christ Jesus shines out of darkness.

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

The Law and the Prophets all point to Jesus and are fulfilled in him.

Jesus Christ, has to remove the cover of His humanity to reveal the true glory that is His and his alone … and has now been veiled for a time from the eyes of the world. Though Jesus is fully God and fully man he reveals this truth through means to you and me his disciples.

We all fail to recognize the true glory of Jesus, at times seeing only a good man who can be an example for us to follow.

But many play the fool, trusting in themselves, or listening to the ways of the world that lead away from the glory of Jesus and his gift of faith and life in him which is promised for all by faith.

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

“It is good that we are here.”

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

The light of Christ shines in you and me as we shine that light of Christ in a dark world. Share and shine that light of forgiveness and peace and the eternal hope in the Son who takes away the sin of the world.

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


Monday, February 8, 2021

Sermon February 6-7, 2021

Title: The healing touch of God is brought to you in Christ!
Text: Mark1:29-39

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32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

The great writer Mark Twain became morose, sad and even weary of life.

Shortly before his death, he wrote, "A myriad of men are born; they labor and sweat and struggle...they squabble and scold and fight; they scramble for little mean advantages over each other; age creeps upon them; infirmities follow; ...those they love are taken from them, and the joy of life is turned to aching grief. When (the release to death) comes at last … the only un-poisoned gift earth ever had for them … and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence ... the world will lament them a day and forget them forever." Mark Twain.

This is a very sad lament for one who is of the world.

But for we who name the name of Christ and in Him place our trust, the world is not our eternity!

We read today about Jesus in our Gospel lesson. Here Jesus is leaving the synagogue with His disciples Simon, Andrew, James and John.

As it was in their life as it is in ours, they were concerned for a loved one. Simon’s mother-n-law lay ill with a fever. Simon who would be given the name Peter by our Lord and who would rise to be a pillar of the faith, and who by some in the Roman Catholic tradition would be considered to be the first Pope, his mother-n-law - makes you wonder about that priests cannot me married stuff, huh?

Well as we get back on topic …

…and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he (Jesus) came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. (Mark 1:30b-31)

The sickness that caused her condition, by the touch of Jesus left her. The touch of our Lord healed her and she was able to immediately serve them.

We too get sick. After this past year we know this all too well!

It is a condition of sin that we are bound to in this life. As a result of sin we too will eventually die. Sin will have its way with us. We will get sick and we take medication and at times we recover and get better. It is the reality of life and death we see every day in our lives and in the lives of those we love.

Some are blessed with a long productive life while others are taken in their youth. Many of us can look in the mirror and see the lines of life etched on our faces and for those too young to notice … just wait … you too will have this experience.

I met Jack and Carolyn Herford at a Lake Orion outreach music program I was leading and Evola Music was providing for active retirees. Jack was 65 years old when he began the program and a more active senior you couldn’t find. He had had a long career as a manufactures rep. retired to play golf, learn some new things and enjoy a long healthy retirement. He was a wonderful and happy guy.

Jack came to the Bloomfield Hills store to continue his lessons and one day he began complaining of headaches and dizziness and an spoke of an upcoming visit to a specialist. As it turned out he had a brain tumor. He had surgery and made a wonderful recovery … for a time. Jack lived about two and a half years after the first detection of the tumor. Eventually he died a slow, deteriorating death. He was 70 years old.

Jack had told me when the prognosis he received gave him little hope for a recovery.

“Well, this isn’t how I planned my retirement thankfully my Lord has a better retirement plan for me in eternity!”

32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons.33 and the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons.

Christ has conquered sin, death and the devil. His atoning work at the cross saves us, not only from earthly death, but it promises life eternal in Him.

Isaiah 53 says this about Jesus:

3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

The healing touch of God is brought to you in Christ!

Christ has healed you from the sickness that leads to death. He has promised life eternal in His name for all brought to faith in him. By His sinless life, death in your place at the cross and glorious resurrection you too are secure in Him for your resurrection and life in eternity with him.

The Gospel today concludes with:

36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.”

The people in Christ’s day knew that His touch brought healing and for that they all were looking for Him. We too know that His healing is more than just healing for our worldly sickness, Covid, brain tumors, cancer and the like but that in Him we have the cure for eternal life.

38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Christ came for you. His healing brings comfort that even with the prospect of physical death you are saved and will live for eternity in Him. My friend Jack knew that comfort and I look to the day when I will see him in heaven and rejoice together in the presence of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

May the preaching of Christ bring all who need to hear the blessed comfort that in Jesus Christ death has no power over them and eternity is theirs by faith in His saving work.

Christ heals the sick, so that you will live forever in Him and by the power of the Holy Spirit in us God will see us to eternity now and forever.

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


Saturday, January 30, 2021

Sermon Jan. 30-31, 2021

Title: God’s authority and salvation is known by his word!
Text: Mark 1:21-28

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22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.

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

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

They continued to say Aristotle was right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writer, William A. Ward in speaking about teachers and teaching has said,

The mediocre teacher tells.

The good teacher explains.

The superior teacher demonstrates.

The great teacher inspires.

Progress Magazine, December 23, 1992.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is true with you and with me. It is true in church or out of church.

The great preacher Charles Spurgeon once said:

. . . when Satan cannot catch us with a big sin, he will try a little one. It does not matter to him what bait he uses, just so long as he catches his fish.

C.H. Spurgeon.

So how can you be protected? Be in the word. Hear the word proclaimed in service. Read the word in devotions, and study the word as taught rightly in Bible Study. Trust the word-not our own reason or understanding.

Our Thursday mid-week Bible study is beginning the book of Daniel. It will be Thursdays at 2:00 pm. Let me know if you are interested. It is a fun time and beneficial to our spiritual wellbeing. Young or old, you’re still not too old to learn something new!

Do not ignore it. Open the Bible, study the word, and talk to those who are in the word. There are different ways that Christian churches understand God’s word and teach it and you need to know what you believe, why you believe it and what the difference means.

Is Baptism God’s work or mans? Our Lutheran understanding teaches that it is God’s work.

In baptism we die to the sinful uncleanness that we are born into and are raised with Christ to newness of life - washed and marked by Christ as his redeemed.

Just as Jesus, the word of God made flesh, cast out that demon saying,

“Be silent and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. So too the word of God, connected with the water, in the Name of the Father and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit also conquers or casts out sin, death and the power of the devil and marks you and me as God’s child.

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Galileo, who summoned the learned professors to the base of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the power of belief was so strong, that they denied their eyesight and did not believe the truth.

God, by his Spirit, will bring you and all to the light of his truth and will keep you in this truth by his word and sacraments unto life eternal.

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




Monday, January 25, 2021

Sermon Jan. 23-24, 2021

Title: Arise and go! Where is your Nineveh?
Text: Jonah 3:1-5, 10 

Facebook live: Arise and go! Where is your Nineveh?

3 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days' journey in breadth. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them

Last weekend we heard the call of Jesus to “follow me.” In today’s gospel reading the call is to “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” As we learned last week as well, God calls us to faith in Christ by the gospel and the working of the Holy Spirit through word and sacrament, the means of grace, and then we are called to action.

The call to action is not always where and when we expect. It is not always how we imagine God might use us and at times it can be uncomfortable. Also, at times the will of those called is not in accord with the will of the Lord.

Take Jonah for example.

Jonah is one of the minor prophets of the Old Testament and a few years ago our midweek study group did an extensive study on the book of Jonah.

You might be familiar with the story and of the great fish that swallowed Jonah. As the reading in Jonah chapter three begins, 3 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time. We need to take a step back to Jonah chapter 1 to where the Lord first called Jonah. The call of God and Jonah’s reaction were a bit different.

1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah …, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”

The work of a prophet was to speak forth the word of God to those that the Lord directed the prophet to, to bring the word God to them as he has directed. The Apostles also spoke as they were directed by the Holy Spirit and the entire word of God is given for our benefit.

The Apostle Paul in Romans 10:17 tells us: 17 consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. NIV

So even God’s word proclaimed here, during the sermon is speaking prophetically, speaking forth the word of the Lord … and the will of the Lord.

3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.

By this we can see that God’s word is not always heeded and listened to.

At times the word of God is listened too, as we read in the gospel with Simon and Andrew.

18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.

For others it may take longer and require a bit of coaxing. Even the gathering together regularly for worship, as the writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us can be hard for some:

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,

We may hear the call but may not always heed the call.

Jonah went the other way, down in the belly of the ship to sleep and headed in the opposite direction of where the Lord wanted him to go. You and I might have felt this way too.

What was your Nineveh?

What is your Nineveh?

Where had God directed you that you didn't want to go?

What did God desire you to do that you didn't want to do?

This weekend we celebrate the sanctity of human life. Whether it is the preborn and abortion or the aged and assisted suicide all life has value.

Can we sit silently by while the little ones in the womb are aborted in the Nineveh of our own world?

Do we speak to a world so anti-life and anti-God or do we climb into the “boat” of our own lives and comfort zones to hide from the reality of what has taken on a “life” of its own.

I’d like tom relate a story I heard while watching a nun speaking at the walk for life in Washington a few years ago.

She told a story of a Christian woman who was at a hospital to have a pregnancy checkup and while there met another woman there as she contemplated an abortion. The one lady spoke of the joys of her pregnancy and upcoming birth while the other said it wasn’t a convenient time to have a baby. As they talked the mother took the other ladies hand and placed it on her belly just as the baby kicked. As they departed for their separate appointments the lady joyfully expecting her child said … you’re not having an abortion your having a little girl!

A few years passed and on another trip to the hospital with her daughter in toe she saw the other lady again who was this time pushing a stroller … with twin girls! Speak the truth of life where and when you can and don’t hide from it as God can use us all in whatever way he has gifted us.

Jonah ran away from proclaiming God’s truth to those who needed to hear but God pursued him.

God sent a tempest, a storm of great proportions upon the sea, so that the way of escape was hindered.

You too have the way of peace with God broken by sin. Just as Adam and Eve hid from the Lord after the fall we too hide in darkness of sin and flee the light of forgiveness for fear of condemnation that our sins would be made known. Jonah too hid from our all knowing God.

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

And God sent a great fish to rescue Jonah.

And God has sent Jesus to rescue you.

The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here.

Arise and Go! How will you respond?

The second call of the Lord upon Jonah was much different.

3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD.

He didn't want to … but he knew he couldn’t hide from God. He hated the people of Nineveh … for they were wicked and despicable- much like so many in our country right now feel about each other who have different views than them.

Jonah also knew that when he called out for their repentance … that they would repent and God would forgive and Jonah couldn't stomach that; that these worthless sinners would be forgiven. He knew it. He hated it. He complained about it and … he was right.

4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

The city is big, three days to just go through it. It is probable the worst Godless place Jonah could think about and the people … the worst sinners imaginable. And Jonah does what God commands he calls them to repentance. “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

And what happens?

5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

They repented.

10 [And] when God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

He forgave them. He forgives you, even when at times you can’t forgive yourself [abortion is forgivable and those who’ve supported it redeemable.]

When you forget God and hide from him, God pursues you, because he loves you, he has redeemed you, so that you to might be forgiven
“Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

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