Category Archives: semons

Glorious!!! (not in dark despair): A sermon on Isaiah 9:1-4 from Concordia Lutheran Church

Glorious! (not dark despair)
Isaiah 9:1-4

In Jesus’ Name

May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, which eliminates all darkness in your life, reveal to you the freedom and victory won for you… and those around you!

  • Titus 3:3—So once were you

Someone once said that those who do not study history are condemned to repeat it. When it comes to politics or military strategy, education or sociological phenomena, it seems pretty accurate.

It is different when it comes to our faith.

We are not condemned to relive our past—We just condemn others to repeat our lives without God.

Paul discussed this with Titus in Chapter 3 this way:

3  Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. 4  But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5  he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:3-5 (NLT2)

This is the view that complements the view of Isaiah. Isaiah says—you have hope, this is going to happen…. Paul says—this has happened don’t forget it.

Not because you will have to repeat it, but because there are people you need to help rescue from the darkness you once knew.

  • The pressure of dark despair

I don’t know how few of us remember the darkness before we realized the love of Jesus. Most of us plod through our spiritual lives, knowing God is there, but not walking closely with Jesus. We know hard times, depressing and oppressive times, but the light is always at the end of the tunnel.

Can you remember life without that? Where the darkness and despair doesn’t just threaten to overwhelm us, it completely has taken over life.

That’s what people deal with, every day of their lives. No hope in this life, just the illusion that success or money or sex or fame brings with it joy… and peace.

That empty, that lost, that not even aware that there is a God out there, who knows their name—and loves and cares for them.

Hear the promise to them again:

Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. 2  The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.

We may not remember this transformation… from absolute oppressive darkness to light, but God has definitely removed the shadows, or comforted us in the midst of them.

C.S. Lewis talked of people caught up in the darkness and despair and being so used to it that they cannot cope with the light and joy and peace, so they desire to return to despair.

But remember—Paul reminds us we were once there…

  • But now… in Christ—the Victory….of all victories- shattering everything

How did you feel after nearly 2 weeks of rain, when the sun came out this week? I was walking from the sanctuary back to the office, and I just stood along the sidewalk and just wanted to soak in the sun’s warmth, even though the breeze was cold..

It was just incredible to stay for a moment in the warmth and light of the sun.

Even more awesome was it for the apostles and all Israel to revel in the presence of God, the son, Jesus the Messiah. Even though they didn’t understand what it meant that Jesus was the Messiah—the world went ballistic following Him as we heard in the gospel.

Think about it, people would leave their family and home, their farms, their animals, to wander out to find this man that everyone was talking about.

Even more we know it, for we clearly understand what it means for Christ to come and be born of Mary, live, teach, suffer, die, and rise from dead.

We know what God has done as well, for as Christ died and rose, we have died to our sin, and the darkness and despair, and risen with Him into a new life.

The Promise

Hear the rest of the promise of Jesus’s actions,

3  You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and, like warriors, dividing the plunder. 4  For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.

This is describing a victory beyond victories.

IN a couple of weeks, there will be a football game, and in a couple of months the Stanley Cup playoffs. When those teams play, there will be a winner, and a parade, and some tears of joy. A big deal will be made out of it, and everyone who is a fan of the winning teams will go crazy!

But that is nothing compared to the celebration of Angels when one person is baptized, and they go from the darkness to the light of God’s glory

All of heaven celebrates that victory as much as they did the birth of Jesus.

A similar joy in heaven occurs when God’s people realize they are freed from the darkness and despair as their sin is forgiven, or a communion feast is given, which is a tiny sample of our homecoming feast—the wedding supper of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit dwells with us, right now, right here. We dwell in the presence of the living God, as much as Moses at the burning bush, or Solomon in His temple, we dwell in the glorious presence of God

These moments, when we experience the love and peace of God, are what awaits us, every moment of eternity.

And are available, not only to those who believe, but are available to everyone…

Paul described that this way…

He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone. Titus 3:6-8 (NLT2)

I continually explain this for this reason, that we teach those around us about this loving God, who draws us into His glory. Paul insisted that we do this as a church—and we shall.

For we dwell in God’s glorious love and peace—even though we can’t understand or describe it.. but we know we are kept there. By Jesus. AMEN!

Visions of Peace: An Advent Chidlren’s Sermon and regular sermon based on Romans 15:4-13

Children’s Sermon
Romans 15:4-13

† In Jesus Name †

So every Sunday, part of what I do is play my guitar in the service.  Not all pastors do this, but I do. And before I do, I have to tune my guitar.

I have 6 strings here, and each is supposed to be a different note. Each has its own place, and its own sound.

But if they aren’t in tune, there is a problem.

For instance – this string is supposed to be an “A” string. But what if it decides to be something else? And this string, the “B” string, wants to be higher than it is supposed to be? It may sound nice on its own…. But what happens when I play all the strings together?

Does that sound good????

No!!!

That’s why each string has its own specific note. And the gut who plays guitar has the responsibility for making sure they sound like they are supposed to.

So I use my tuner – and I tune my guitar…..

So we are like the strings on my guitar. Each one of us has a special place in life, and a special role. But sometimes we want to be something different, we want to do things our own way. But what does that do to the entire group we are part of?

It messes everything up!

So who is responsible for getting us back in tune?

Jesus!

Except we don’t have pegs we are tied to, we are just always connected to Jesus, who fixes things and makes it right.

And then when we play, or sing, or just live with other people – it works out so much better.

Let’s pray!

 

 

Concordia Lutheran Church
December 4.2022

Visions of Peace II
Harmony-Concordia
Romans 15:4-15

† Jesus, Son and Savior †

May the grace f God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ convince you that you dwell securely in the peace of God, which is beyond anything we can understand!

A Vision of Concordia

I’ve been thinking about the changes I’ve seen in my lifetime recently. I mean, growing up, we had one phone in the house, and to call us you only dialed 4 numbers. We had a black and white television that was 13 inches in diagonal, later to be replaced by a massive 20 inch, color television which weighed about 80 pounds!

I wouldn’t say life was simpler or better back then, but it was certainly different.

But one thing is certain, parents then, and parents now want life to be better, more peaceful for their children, and for their grandchildren.

Let’s be honest, we haven’t been a peaceful world, a peaceful country, or even peaceful communities in the last 57 years. Heck, even the internet and social media isn’t all that peaceful!

It’s not a surprise to me then, that the readings for December, as we prepare for Christmas, all deal with peace, giving us a vision for peace, that like the harmony I talked to the children about—all comes down to Jesus.

What Peace Looks like

Paul explains what peace looks like in the church,

5  May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. 6  Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now we are back to the lesson on the children’s message – the idea that we should function in complete harmony with each other. We see what happens in the world when it doesn’t happen, when everyone determines what they are in tune with, and what note they want to play.

Paul gives the idea of being in harmony, each in tune, and played together.

When we aren’t tuned to and by God, we really can’t be in harmony with each other. We can “de-tune” our lives from God, rejecting His role in our life. That is the basis of what we call sin, when we think we know better than God

But when we de-tune ourselves, that also breaks the harmony we had with other people.

We need help… and Jesus is there to help us.

The Help to establish Peace

Paul gives one example of how Christ brings together people divided, addressing one of the most critical divides, still today. Hear again what Paul wrote,

Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors. 9  He also came so that the Gentiles might give glory to God for his mercies to them.

This divide – racial, cultural, ethnic, was huge in the day. It was violent, it still is, as it is the center of most of the middle east conflicts.

And Jesus, broke down the wall, by dying for all of them,

Paul wrote to another church, this one in Ephesus,

14  For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. Ephesians 2:14 (NLT2)

The cross is the answer to all sin, to all the times where we are out of tune with God, and therefore not capable to be in harmony with each other.

This works with any disharmony, with any dysfunction, where people are able to allow God to come and minister to them, to forgive their sin, to reconcile to God, tuning them, and then creating the harmony that exists, as we live with God together.

This is why we are here, why we have a school, to help people living broken lives to know God is working in those lives, brining healing and bringing peace.

A peace that unites us all, as we are united to Christ in our baptism, and at the communion rail. A peace that goes beyond understanding, and in which God keeps us, for this He has promised.

AMEN!

 

Only One Guy Understood-How Ironic Who it Was! A Sermon for Chirst the King Sunday

Only One Guy Understood—How Ironic
Luke 23:27-43

In the name of Jesus, Son, Savior, King

May the grace of God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ draw you closer and closer to them! As close as a criminal executed for his bad (crappy) life!

  1. I Love Good Irony

Pastor Parker knows I like irony, for a few reasons….

But theological Irony? Well, I might need more teaching…to understand that!

Take this cartoon that someone put on the internet (ask Doug to advance slide or use the clicker)

Now, most of us will get the joke—having seen the beloved Peanuts gang’s Thanksgiving special for years…

But what most of you don’t know is that Charles Schultz was a devout Christian and used the Peanuts cartoon as a way to tell people about Jesus!

Linus will go from waiting for the Great Pumpkin in that movie to reciting the story of Jesus’ birth in the Christmas special.  Hmmm That’s cool! From waiting for Someone to Come and bring ultimate blessings–to seeing that Someone to come at Christmas! Sound familiar?

Anyone make that connection?

Here is where irony comes in… Lucy kills Jes… err the Great Pumpkin and serves Him up for everyone to eat.

HMMMMMMMM… someone mocked the Peanuts characters and unknowingly revealed one of the most blessed mysteries in scripture. That Jesus would provide His body and blood to us, to help us know He loves us and would die for us!  And we would share in that Body and Blood as gather here today!

Pastor thinks Schultz would love this cartoon… He certainly does. I think I do too!

So back to the gospel reading, and more irony!

 

  1. The Crowds and Experts (and sometimes us)

So, let’s talk about some serious mocking—or, as they say today—trash talking.

This is even more intense than pastor and I comparing Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers!

Hear the gospel again,

The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

That’s pretty nasty to say to a guy tortured and nailed to a cross to pay for your sins, don’t you think?

Other’s picked up on it, saying,

The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. 37 They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”

Even Pilate, the governor, got into the act. This is what he had done…

A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”

Man, these people are cruel!

I mean—I can’t see myself being that cruel to a guy was guilty and about to be executed!

Never mind doing that to Jesus, we would never ever do that, would we?

Here is the hard part of the law—we have…

Every time we have tried to kick Jesus off of the throne, by choosing our way, rather than His. Every time we have broken the commandments, or failed to love our neighbor, we deny the fact that He died to save us!

This is harsh—and I wish Pastor was preaching this… o wait- then I would sit there and pay attention…. And hear the law. It would sting and rip my sinful heart to pieces… hmmm… maybe it’s better I am up here…

We need to see our sin as…well sin. We need to see it as just as much a betrayal of Jesus as those people who mocked him, and those who laughed. We have to struggle with it, so that we become as desperate as the man on the cross… whose only hope…hanging there next to Jesus… was Jesus.

  1. Irony Man

Now we get to the criminal on the cross. Not the dude that mocked Jesus, but the one the Holy Spirit worked on, the one whose heart was opened, who saw Jesus as the Messiah, as the savior

The word for criminal is interesting. Kaka-poi-a-oh. It’s actually two words merged into one. The Poi-a-o one is to craft something—to bring artistic level skill to your work. So this guy is an artist when it comes to what he does…

What he does is the Kaka part. Now, that isn’t what it sounds like! It means the worst of the worse, the scummiest kind of bad actions against others. He was convicted of a capital crime—murder, treason; you know the other options.

And while everyone was mocking Jesus, telling him to save himself—this guy was the one to see that Jesus had to die… that Jesus must die, if there was any hope..

It is ironic—that the baddest, scummiest, crappiest sinner in the crowd was the one to see the need for Christ’s sacrifice… and to say… “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

I think it’s only when we put ourselves in his shoes… when we realize how broken and bad we’ve been, that we can see how wonderful Jesus is! How he is our hope—whether we are facing dealing with the consequences of our sin, or the ultimate consequence of sin as death approaches!

He is our King, the one who came to save us.

No matter how bad our kaka-poi-a-o has been…

We can cry out—Jesus, remember us, dear King!

And at Communion, what is called the Great Feast, I almost said pumpkin—as we celebrate, we recall what He said—do this; remembering me… proclaiming my death for you… until He comes again.

Jesus is here, and He could not save Himself, because He was saving you.

But in doing so, He entered His kingdom, and there will be a day when that Kingdom will be as clearly seen.

Until then, you still dwell in His Kingdom, as surely as the sinner on the cross next to Him, and therefore in His peace that passes all understanding, which He will keep you in…. AMEN!

 

A Glorious Land! A Lenten Mid-week Sermon from Psalm 85:9

A Glorious Land!
Psalm 85:9

† In Jesus Name †

May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ help you look forward to the glorious day of Christ’s return!

  • What No Eye has seen… but is revealed!

I can read our theme verse for lent a thousand times more, and it will still leave me in awe of what God has promised us.

Hopefully, you will always rejoice when the expectation is laid out before you. You think about what God has waiting for you – because you love Him – because He loves you.

More incredible than the most awe-inspiring, beautiful thing you have ever seen. More amazing than anything you’ve ever heard, more mindblowing than anything you’ve ever imagined…

That’s what is waiting for us… when God brings all His people together on the day of Jesus Christ.

That is what Lent and repentance prepare us for as well. We realize what we need to leave behind… because of what is waiting.

  • The picture of that day

Listen again to the description

Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, so our land will be filled with his glory. 10  Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed! 11  Truth springs up from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from heaven. 12  Yes, the LORD pours down his blessings. Our land will yield its bountiful harvest. Psalm 85:9-12 (NLT2)

Once or twice I have mentioned that what God saves us for is more important than what he saves us from. The psalmist starts to help us picture it…

God’s love and truth meet…. This means hatred and falsehood no longer exist…

Righteousness and peace kiss – meaning injustice and every kind of fighting – from family disputes to workplace arguments to gang battles and war – will be long forgotten…

Oh! How I long for that day!!!

These interactions are incredible, as we see God pouring down His blessings – and a harvest is huge – not of plants but of souls!

What an incredible picture of God creating something for those He calls His people!

It will be a glorious day when God’s love overwhelms everything – and we see reality the way God does!

  • It isn’t heaven on earth

The challenge here, of course, is that while this promise is ours, the cross of Christ making it guaranteed for those who trust and depend on God, we really don’t see it yet. We see the brokenness that leads the psalmist to cry out,

4  Now restore us again, O God of our salvation. Put aside your anger against us once more. 5  Will you be angry with us always? Will you prolong your wrath to all generations? 6  Won’t you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in you? 7  Show us your unfailing love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation. Psalm 85:4-7 (NLT2)

Can you hear the despair in that cry? Can you hear a heart – much like our own – that is tired of the world, that is tired of the brokenness caused by sin… that needs healing, that needs to be revived?

That needs the hope that is only found in the cross of Christ – where injustice and conflict are dealt with, as God pours out His wrath on Jesus… so that we can live for eternity with Him.

I’ve said before that repentance is a change of mind – that God works in us. We know about where we are – and where we’ve been… tonight I Hope you see where we are heading… to a glorious land where God has prepared a place for you and me…

AMEN!!

God is Making Your Body Change!

God is Making Your Body Change!
Phil. 3:17-4:1

† In Jesus Name †

May the grace and mercy of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen you as God transforms you!

Change –

We started last week looking at this theme of “God is making you….”  A look at the work that Paul wrote to the Philippian church, saying, “And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the day of Christ.

Last week we saw that God is making us righteous. That His masterpiece is recreating us in a way that there we are holy, that there is no sin we can be accused of, that we are innocent. So we are not just allowed to be in the presence of almighty God; we are expected there and welcomed.

This week the work is described as Jesus taking our weak and mortal bodies and changing them into glorious bodies like His own!

Imagine that – our bodies will be perfect and glorious. No more aches and pains, no more need for physical therapy, no more medicines, no more diets… no more sin affecting us, not only spiritually, but physically.

Sounds like a much better change than, say… moving your clocks ahead one hour!

We need to understand the change… and compare it to our feeble, broken down, sin-damaged bodies…. Lives that are so ugly and pathetic that even discussing them causes Paul to cry.

The Enemies of the Church – conduct

Paul describes those who aren’t changed this way, “18 For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction….”

No wonder Paul is crying! These people he is crying over are people he cares for, people he was raised with, and they are, in context, his people. He wrote about them to the church in Rome,

1  With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it. 2  My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief 3  for my people, my Jewish brothers, and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them. Romans 9:1-3 (NLT2)

Each of us has similar people in our lives, or at least we know of them. People who walk about, not knowing the love and peace of God. They reject Him because they do not know Him. But here what makes them different…

Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.

Remember how we define a god. A god is what you turn to in time of trouble for help. It is who or what you depend upon to get you through life.

Which leads them to brag about whatever helps them in their time of weakness. Another way of phrasing it – they glorify that which exposes their weakness and shame. They end up defending the very things that hurt them, the same things that cause their brokenness – because they do not realize that God can save them from the brokenness… they accept it as reality and then defend it.

We aren’t just talking about sinners like Putin. We are talking about anyone who doesn’t count on Jesus and turns to other things in place of God…and these are people we know- and people we pray for…

The reason Paul would cry is simple, he was once like them, as we were. He describes us that concept this way, 3  Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. Titus 3:3 (NLT2)

But notice – he said once… for our transformation – God making us into glorious bodies – is already underway!

A Different Schematic – Syn-mimic

Ezekiel describes the change as getting rid of our heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh. In other places – our mind is replaced with the mind of Christ, or we are dressed with Christ.

Here, Paul describes the change with two ideas.

The first is to follow the pattern of their lives on Paul’s life. The picture words there are we get to be born and mimic from! Our new life in Christ should be that we move like Paul as he mimics Christ! Where Jesus moves, we move in reflection of His love and mercy….

The second is the word for change –the idea of changing the schema -the word and concept from which we get the idea of schematic. Or, as we would say these days, God makes a DNA level change in us. For the computer geeks – a complete reboot with a new operating system.  

That is the work God is doing in us – a complete change!

What is fantastic is both these things are God determined – and God-driven. He changes us in a way that allows us to live, mimicking Christ, for Christ lives in us. He changes the schematics in us, miraculously recreating us…

The challenge is being patient with the change in our lives and those around us! But know God is at work… and here is the amazing thing…. He makes this change with the same power by which everything is cared for by Him.

The same power that entered into the world, and healed people, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, is at work in every believer. God is drawing into a relationship every one – as He works through us….

Like the family who Marvel contacted – because they needed a minister for a memorial service. Or the people Manny and Gloria invite to the Tagalog Bible Study, or Violet inviting people to Family fun night…

Or any of you are praying for 8 people… to simply see Jesus revealed in their lives.

You see, those tears of Paul that we have for others, know that it is part of this change in us. We see their emptiness and brokenness and realize that as we find healing in Jesus… so can they… so we want to help them find it!.

This is the change He makes in us… a change that will be complete when we see Jesus face to face…

And until then – the very idea that God is at work in you – and will complete that work… should help you know His peace – which you dwell in… for the Lord is with you!

(hear a slightly different version of this sermon – at our church YouTube Page… bit.ly/concordiacerritos )

God is Making Us Righteous: A Sermon on Romans 8:10-13

God is making us… Righteous
Romans 8:10-13

† I.H.S. †

May the Grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus be evident in your life that you may know God will fulfill His promises to you.

The Lenten Journey

Time for another Pastor Parker Poignant Parable – that comes from experience this week!

Our Lenten Journey in the Kingdom of God is like the 405 freeway. You know that there is major construction you will encounter, though you don’t know where it will be today! It will be a mess, but you will eventually get to your destination!

Some things in our lives need to be demolished. Some things need to be widened (though they seem too wide already). Things generally need to be rebuilt, and things need to be smoothed out and repaved. The hardest part is that we have to deal with someone else making all the decisions that affect our journey!

But eventually, we will get to our destination.

Each week of Lent, we will see what God has promised to do and is doing in our lives…

Some of it will be unexpected, some may seem like it is going too slow, or the detour doesn’t make sense…

And on occasion – there will be some major demolition needed…

But getting us to the final destination – and getting the work done, is the promise. 

The promise is on the cover of the bulletin. It is a promise that Paul taught the church in Ephesus about when he wrote,

“And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the day of Christ Jesus.” Amen? AMEN!

As we realize God is in charge of the work and in charge of getting us to our destination, perfect and mature… and on time – His time; we find His peace

The Problem with Journeys

If you ask anyone living between Long Beach and Irvine, the 405 has been a mess, is a mess, and will be a mess until Jesus returns.

Sort of like life. I’ve had to drive it 4-5 times in the last two weeks, and probably a dozen since December – and you never know where the construction will happen or what ramps will be closed or open.

It’s a mess – as is life.

Sometimes we think everything will be perfect, and then something is screwed-up. Sin enters the picture and demolishes a bridge or closes the on-ramp we thought we would use. Or someone sins, accidentally, of course, and everything in life slows down to a crawl.

You know – something like the sins happening between the Ukraine and Russia….. and the related sins – like the spreading of gossip and fear.

And sooner or later, we will get frustrated by the work, the need for it, frustrated by delays, and our reactions! Like how we react when someone cuts us off on the freeway while traffic is going 20 mph.

Our lack of understanding – which leads to frustration – leads us into sin…

God’s work – done… and yet not done.

 This is where we need to remember God is at work! And the job is going to get done in His time!

After all, God is far more in control than CalTrans!

We just need to trust in Him – to believe in our heart that He’s doing what He promised to do…. Hear again from Romans,

10  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11  As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” 12  Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13  For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”

God has a destination for every single one of us in mind. That destination is His side, with Him forever. He is in charge of the journey, including the detours and the slowdowns. Remember his promise that all things work for good for those who love God..?  That includes all the stops, detours, and frustrations of the journey. For God uses them to teach us to trust in Him, depend on Him, to believe in our heart that He is making us right with the Father.

That is what the cross is all about – the point in this journey where God made us righteous.

This is a done deal!

We are made right with God – we are being drawn to His side…

Believing, trusting, depending on Him means we let Him be in charge of the journey – even if it reminds us of the 405 freeway or the 5 into LA.

That’s why Paul reminds us that “Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13  For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” Romans 10:8-13 (NLT2)

Saying that God gives generously to us is simply saying that if He does not spare Jesus but offers Him on the cross. He did not spare His body but allowed His blood to be spilled; how much more will He make certain what He started at the cross comes to completion.

He has made you righteous – He has made you right with Him. And though you don’t know how long the journey will be, we are confident in His finishing the work – on the day we arrive and see Him face to face.

And until then – no matter how bad the 405 is, no matter how high the price of gas, no matter how many closures – we can live in His peace and in the presence of the Holy Spirit – until we get home… AMEN!

The Early Morning of the Cross: A sermon on Mathew 26:36-47

Concordia Lutheran Church – Cerritos, Ca , at dawn on Easter Sunday

We could not.. so He did!
So Go Ahead and Rest?
Matthew 26:36-47

Jesus! Son! Savior!

May you find in the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ God’s grace and experience true peaceful rest!

  • What was Jesus’ Body Language

I wish I was there in the garden.

I wish I could see and hear Jesus as he came back for the third time, and found the disciples asleep, and said,

“Go ahead and sleep! Have your rest! But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”

Was Jesus angry, resigned, disappointed?

Did his voice betray His emotions? Was He so tired and anxious he couldn’t control his feelings?

As importantly, how did the apostles hear this?

How much did they realize that a few days later, they would be guaranteed a rest…

  • They Could Not, Neither Can We!

If there ever was a night for Jesus to be frustrated with the apostles, it was this night.

It starts off with two apostles fighting like 4-year-olds about who gets the best seat, the one next to Jesus. DaVinci thought John won the argument – for he is pictured next to Jesus in his painting of the Last Supper. They argue, and Jesus teaches them a lesson by bending down and washing their feet.

The evening gets worse as Peter once again says that his will and intellect are better than Jesus’. Nope, I am not going to let you care for me, Jesus. Nope, no way in…what was that?  Err… Uhm.. let me re-think that….will you, please, and wash not my feet but everything while you are at!

Then that thing with Jesus, but if you heard the first gospel tonight, which apostle thought he was capable of betraying Jesus? That hit me this week in preparing; each of the disciples thought they could possibly be the one who would betray Jesus…

Sounds like guilty consciousness!

Hmm… I wonder how many of us would have asked?  If you think you would not have, a straightforward question.

Have you betrayed him today? Have you chosen to sin or simply overlooked that what you are doing is sin?

Then you should have said, “is it me, Lord?”

As if that wasn’t enough, they kept falling asleep when the Lord Jesus needed their encouragement.

Finally, after He tells them it is okay to rest… they will run away, deny him and stay their distance.

I am not trying to make you feel guilty, but I want you to understand this… you are not any better than James or John, Peter or Matthew.

We could not avoid sin… and knowing that means we need to rely on the message that has been shared all Lent long.

We could not…so He did…

  • Go Ahead and Rest

With all that, hear Jesus’s words again,

“Go ahead and sleep! Have your rest! But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”

I choose to hear this given the theme. Jesus looks on us weary, broken, crushed by sin, and unable to save ourselves and says that we can rest because He was treated as a sinner by sinners.

What we cannot do, He did, staying awake through the anxiety, through the pain, enduring the wrath of God, and enabling us to dwell in peace.

How stunning it is to hear Him tell us to rest in that case! How grateful we can be for what He has done!  How grateful for what He was doing this night and into the darkness of the morning!

This is the love that makes a difference in our lives! The love that would intentionally do what we cannot because of our sin.

But because He did, we can experience peace, the purest peace, and the love that goes past all understanding.

We need to know this… especially when we are weak, when we are so weary, we can barely focus.

He has not abandoned you or me.

He chose to love us… and do what we could not.

….

SO let’s find that rest, as we let Him once again cleanse us from sin and all unrighteousness, and celebrate as He gives His Body and Blood to sustain us.

We Could not… so He did! Let this pass!

We Could Not..So He did:
Let this pass… but
Matthew 26:36-47, 1 Peter 1:6-9

† In Jesus Name †

May the grace of God our Father help you to look to Jesus when you can’t endure.

  1. The Chalice…

The prayer of Jesus in the Garden has always been fascinating to me. Let me set the scene again,

37  He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38  He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this Cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

He knelt there, in the Garden, and thought of the suffering her was going to endure… that He was going to embrace.

The Cup of suffering,  the Cup that the Passover foreshadowed, was His to drink.

How he got to this point, through the Last Supper, amazes me… and here in the Garden…he would do what I could never do…

He drank deeply of the suffering…

2. The Cup That Needs to Pass

There are two types of suffering.

Suffering because we deserve it, and suffering when we don’t deserve it.

To be honest, I do not like either!

It is one thing to suffer because I screwed up. You know, the consequences that happen because you overate and felt sick.  Or perhaps, someone, now one here, drank too much as has a hangover. Or maybe you didn’t walk away from that fight…

It is another thing to suffer because you don’t deserve it. The illness, the accident, the economy, or COVID…or perhaps you

In the midst of either, we struggle. We gripe and complain. We may get depressed and ask why me…, and we don’t ask God to let this pass.., we demand it, claiming that good people like us shouldn’t suffer so much.

I hate to say it, but we often sin in the way we deal with discomfort and suffering, not trusting the God who has saved our very souls…

He Took the Cup!


There is a third kind of suffering.

The kind of suffering where you take on the suffering someone else deserves.

The parent who tries to save their child from the consequences they deserve might be an example. Or the friend or co-worker who covers for another person.

But Jesus took on so much more, the agony and pain of every sin, the wrath of God.  Not just to cover it up or to enable someone. But to really deal with it. To embrace the agony that only He could deal with.

He knew that when He took the bread and the Cup and taught once again what He would do for us…

But now in the Garden, the threat takes on a new dimension, and  He embraces it all….

Knowing the pain, knowing the agony, the betrayal…

He does so… because He loves us.

We can’t deal with the Cup of suffering. We can’t deal with what we deserve, the consequences of our sin and error. So he did.

And He wants to make sure we are with the Father, forever.

This is what Lent focuses us on, the incredible love of God that embraced the suffering in the Garden and the cross…

So that we could be whole, and the damage of sin eradicated… but more importantly, that we would spend our eternity with Him.
This is amazing.. and leaves us in awe… for He loves us.

For the will of God was to take the Cup of suffering, to offer to us the Cup of salvation.

Think of that, as you come and drink, as you receive the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of your sin.

Think of that, as we come… and lay down all that we suffer, and place it in His hands.

Walking in the Light of His Glory: Part 2 – We Hear His Call!

Walking in the Light of His Glory: Part 2
We Hear His Call!
1 Samuel 3:1-10

Jesus, Son, Savior

May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be a call in your life that you always answer with great joy!

  • A poor night’s sleep….

As I read the reading about the young Samuel learning to interact with God, I felt terrible for Eli, the prophet-priest.

The poor guy has gone blind, his kids have turned their back on God and on him, and this little kid keeps leaving the tabernacle to come to wake him up.

Eli, Eli, did you call me?

imagine you have had a long, long day, you just get to sleep, and you hear this voice…

Eli, Eli, wake up, did you call me?

and then, just as he went back to sleep,

Eli, Eli, wake up, did you call me?

He might have been thinking, “Go back to bed, you little brat!”

If only they had recognized where the young man was resting…

if you and I only recognized where we find our rest….

If you and I only could recognize the Voice calling out to the world.

  • In the Presence but not knowing it…

If you were all Old Testament Scholars, you might pick up where little Samuel was sleeping. He is sleeping in the sanctuary to ensure the oil lamps on the Lamp of God do not go out. That puts him over in the corner of the Holy Place. He was probably not far from the thick curtain which separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holiest places.

That is the place where God’s glory sat, over the Ark of the Covenant and its seat of mercy. This is where God promised Israel that He would be…. For them.

Even so, Samuel didn’t recognize the Voice of the Lord. He is sleeping just a few feet from the glory of God, hidden behind the curtain…

He didn’t recognize the Voice… and the Bible explains why…

Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before.

Someone forgot something!  Eli had never taught the young child to listen to God.

Eli was getting that repetitive message because he sinned. He didn’t teach the young man how to listen to God. Here was the man of God, whose own sight was failing, wasn’t preparing the future generation to see God.

That is the priest’s job to make sure young believers, whether 4, 54, or 94. And we are all part of God’s priesthood! We need to be the people that God uses to draw others into the presence of God and help them learn to hear His Voice.

not Bob’s, or Chuck’s, or mine

We need to help them hear God’s Voice.

Samuel would learn to do this, as he would help all of Israel hear God, and then he would try to help King Saul and the then King-elect David hear the Voice of God.

But first, Eli needed to realize that God was calling Samuel. He had to wake up and notice this. He needed to look past his own blindness and see what was going on in Samuel’s life.

That means we must get by what blinds us, what causes us to go to sleep…

We must know we dwell in God’s presence as well. For then, we realize that their annoying cries are simply a misguided attempt to answer the call of the Voice of God.

They hear His Voice, but how will they recognize it unless we help them come to the point where Eli guided Samuel.

“Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’ “

We can help them be still, to know that God is God…. Help them find the rest that replaces the stress and anxiety in this maddening world.

But we have to be there, in the place where we are listening to God, where we hear His Voice cry out to us…even as we respond, “Speak Lord, your servants are listening.”

  • How is calling you to do? How will you serve?

I can see parallels for everyone here.

We are like young Samuel, trying to understand Who is calling us.

We are like tired old Samuel, with eyes tired that no longer want to see 2020…yet God has called us to guide others to dwell in His presence and to hear His Voice.

The thing that they had in common, that you and I share with them, was the call of the Voice of God.

The call that draws us nearer to Him, that draws our attention to the altar, to the places where He has told us He will meet us, places where He reminds us of the cross, and the resurrection. Places where He pours out His mercy, and His forgiveness

Come and listen… and then help others hear Jesus call….

And hearing the Voice of God…telling you He loves you…and inviting you to partner with Him in your life and ministry, you will dwell in His peace.

For Jesus keeps you there.. your heart and mind. AMEN!

The Vision of Joy! A sermon on Isaiah

The Vision of Joy
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11


Jesus, Son, and Savior

May you enjoy the grace and glory of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

What was Going Through His Mind?

The Old Testament Reading this morning was the basis for a sermon before. In fact, the sermon was one of the shortest sermons in history.

It is recording in Luke’s gospel, chapter 4.  And after reading the first two verses from Isaiah, the preacher said this,

“The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
Luke 4:17-21 (NLT2)

I would have thought this would have caused great joy… but it did not that day.  They decided to kill the person who read the passage from Isaiah….who dared to give them a Vision of Joy…

I wonder what was going through Jesus’ mind as He looked forward to that sermon, knowing the joy that He set before Him. Was there a massive smile on His face, knowing He came to do was now, finally going to happen?

Imagine if a scientist had to break the news that he had discovered a simple, easy cure for COVID.  Imagine the smile he would have on his face as he approached the microphone that all the challenges it has caused were over!

Yeah, what Jesus had come to do… was a billion times better.

And I get to show you that today!

What He Had Observed

Consider what God looked down upon, that Isiah describes,

There were the poor,
There were those whose hearts were shattered
There were people who could not leave the horrid situation they found themselves in…
There were people who lived, prisoners of their own choices, of their own sin, which was crushing them.
There were people mourning,
There were people in despair,
There were people living in lives lived in ruins

Sounds like 2020, doesn’t it?

One of the points we have to understand is that when we are crushed like in this time, by what is going on around us and what is going on inside us, God knows…

That is why the Apostle Paul says,

8  We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9  In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (NLT2)

Been there, done that.

And then I forget it and start the process all over.

I need to hear Jesus calling; I need to hear Him describe what He will do again.

The Vision of what was coming

Usually, I focus on the bringing good news, the comforting the brokenhearted, the release of those locked in and the freeing for those imprisoned, and the other ways our salvation is shown.

But today, I want to look at a specific one of the changes that happen because Jesus said that this prophecy is full.

Everyone will realize that they are a people the LORD has blessed.” 10  I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me in the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.


This is the greatest thing ever.

To realize that we are the people the Lord has blessed! What an incredible realization –  we are the people the Lord God, the Creator of the universe, has blessed! 

Even more than that – look at the excitement of Jesus’s words,


He’s overwhelmed with joy because of what God the Father has caused to happen.


Jesus is as happy as the groom; he awaits the wedding and life that is to come with his bride.

Kevin – you are the most recent groom around here… how did you feel in the moments before the doors opened, and you saw Susan there? 

That is how Jesus felt as He preached that day… as the relationship that He had been waiting for since the worlds were created through Him finally was here.

No wonder Jesus was looking forward to the crucifixion for the joy set before him

As he was handed the scroll..the anticipation began to build, as He red the words, oh my the joy that began to spread, and continued to, until that point, when nailed to the cross, Jesus would say…

It is done… it is finished …..

the same thing that he said that day in Galilee….will be said at the cross. 

And He says that to us today… today hear the good news, you are free from whatever crushes you, for you can see God, and you are free and blessed, for He is your God. It is done this day – to you.

Rejoice! He is your God, the God who blesses you… Today, He has done this… AMEN!

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