Category Archives: semons
† I.H.S. †
May the grace and mercy of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ convince you that God is always concerned about you, tending to your needs!
Intro: Listen to the Crowned one…
The picture of the coronation of Jesus is mind-blowing, as it is pieced together from Isaiah, Jeremiah, Philippians 2, and the Book of the Revelation of Jesus, among others! It is something to look forward to, even though the greatest imagination of the greatest song and hymn writers cannot describe the scene, nor can the greatest artists capture all its glory.
Yet it is His voice we hear recorded by the prophet Ezekiel. He is the Sovereign Lord, or the LORD I AM… the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Alpha and Omega, the Author and Perfector of our Faith, our Master, our Savior, and so much more….
He is the one who commits Himself to those who have truly messed up their lives!
Thirteen times in this passage He promise that care, stating, “I myself will,””I will,” or “I, the the LORD (YHWH), will”
It will be beneficial for you to keep this bulletin – and look at the promises on a regular basis! That way you will know what God promises to those you care about who… well, have messed up their lives.
- A Flock in Trouble
How Do I know that there are people that have messed up their lives?
Look at how these sheep are described:
- They’re lost – and need to have someone search to find them! The word for find includes the idea of discerning how healthy they are, and what needs to be done to bring them to full health
- They are scattered – all the relationships they have, have been damaged – so much so they are alone…
- They are hungry – both physically and spiritually. They need peace and rest.
- They need care, they need someone to tend to their needs
- They need to come home. They need to know they will be welcome at home.
Sounds pretty broken to me!
These are the kind of people that Jesus based the story of the prodigal son on. While we know he’s talking about all of Israel, back in the days where they were taken captive and dragged away from their homes. It wasn’t just an individual – it was all of them – all dispersed—all over the world.
This happened because they sinned, and they loved their sin. Everything you can imagine- worshipping gods they sacrificed their children to, shattering every other commandment from murder to coveting and scheming to try and take other people’s stuff. The sins were horrid and disgusting—much like today.
- But HE came!
Remember the promise God made to them.
11 “For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. 12 I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day. 13 I will bring them back home!
God’s going after them – this is the entire reason Jesus came – to use His words – to seek and save the lost. To come for those who needed spiritual care and healing. For healthy people don’t need a doctor—the sick do.
HE came to find and restore broken, battered, lost sinner.
All of the old Israel that so broken by sin, they would purse the brokenness far from home. All those who dwelled in the place God had given them, and turned their back on it, for stuff they chased they thought would give them riches, or fame, or simply more pleasure.
Or those today that are so lost in sin… so devastated by it – that they know despair, that they keep trying to find the next thing…
I love the way Luther wrote about this passage,
“As the prophet Ezekiel says in his thirty-fourth chapter (Ezek. 34:16), He seeks the lost, brings back the strayed, binds up the crippled, strengthens the sick. And the young lambs that have just been born, says Isaiah (40:11), He will gather in His arms and carry them so that they may not grow tired, and will gently lead those that are with young. All of this, Christ, our dear Shepherd, effects through the office of preaching and the holy Sacraments”
Kind of simple really – the same lost people are saved today as God searches them out – through us, shares His promises and then pours out grace through Baptism, through the forgiveness of sins.
- The Promises weren’t just theirs
I would be in error, if I didn’t point out that you once needed Jesus. Not my idea, I am stealing it from the Apostle Paul,
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)
You and I were the ones that to have God commit to save us, as Christ would come, and die to remove the stain of sin, to heal the brokenness. That is how we know that everyone, from every people group are who Christ is coming to seek, find, rescue and bring home.
For He does that for us, daily… and reminds weekly, as we come to the altar, and He welcomes to His feast… and cares and heals us here.
Where He promised, He just didn’t say “I will”… He ended it with, “I HAVE SPOKEN”, guaranteeing we can all know His love… all of us, even those who don,t, yet.
 Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 12: Selected Psalms I, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 12 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 155.
† I.H.S. †
May the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, as it is shown to you, affect more people than you can imagine!
- Intro – The Harvest Focus today
Usually, when the story of Joseph and his brothers come up, the pastor will try to get you to see yourself walking in the shoes of Joseph, trying to encourage you to deal with those who’ve hurt you. (Oddly enough Joseph never says he forgives them, only that he doesn’t have the right to judge them.)
Today, I want us to think through what the brothers had to process. I want us to walk in their shoes, to feel their pain, their relief, the comfort they were given and the most incredible thing of all, the awe at what the Lord truly made of their sin….
- The Sin
So let’s deal with their sin, originally how they reacted to Joseph’s dreams.
5 One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever. 6 “Listen to this dream,” he said. 7 “We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!” 8 His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them. Genesis 37:5-8 (NLT2)
That is where it all started, and now that the brothers realized the vision had come true, that it was prophetic, the brothers are scared for their very life, and so the same self-centered nature that would not believe the dream. This time, instead of getting rid of a pain in the neck little brother, in fear they lied, about what their father had said.
The sent this message – they didn’t even have the guts to say it to his face, ““Before your father died, he instructed us 17 to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.”
Like Dad would have needed to say that! He either assumed Joseph would do this, or that the 10 deserved whatever they deserved. They had already apologized, but now with dad dead, they thought revenge would be total and swift.
They would eventually get to the place were they would throw themselves at his feet, and indicated they were his slaves.
Their sin finally broke them, their guilt and shame caused the fear that they would get what they deserve.
If all the world could ever get to the point where they felt the need to do something like this, to feel the pressure of the sin, then being to drawn to God like the brothers went to Joseph would change the world.
- The Redemption
As we, and by me I mean the entire world, go to God finally broken by our sin, we can realize what Joseph told them…
“Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.”
Joseph couldn’t forgive his brothers, he realized this was all in the hands of God Almighty, it was all in the hands of God who would come and visit his great grandfather, with whom his dad wrestled. Who would come and live among His descendants, and die on the cross.
Who could punish us for every sin that would damn us to hell, but instead chose to use even what we meant for evil not just for good – but for the greatest good, for something that would bring pure contentment and joy.
I watched the movie about the first successful heart surgery on a baby the other night. A remarkable story I’ve watched a number of times, as it was the story which eventually led to my own heart procedures. When the baby’s skin turns from blue to pink, because of the success, the operating theater explodes in awe.
Even more awe must have been known by the brothers.
To realize their sin God was able to use for good, what a profound miracle!
God does that, even with ours today…
- Who was saved!
If we only see the awe in God forgiving us, we are still self-centered and missing the point. When god heals our brokenness it does something far more,
Hear the scriptures again, “20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”
This is what leaves them in awe… that the salvation wasn’t limited to the 10 brothers. It wasn’t even limited to their dad and their children.
God was able to use their sin ot bring Joseph to a place where millions would be physically saved.
So who knows what happens, what could happen, when we are forgiven, and realize God can us even that to bless others. We see that already in the lives of people here, like Vanessa – whose co-workers ask her to pray – and have us pray for them, or like the Chinese congregation, which has four new believers going through a new membership class, or the children in school age care who asked me questions for 30 minutes about this place – hungry to hear about the windows that teach the catechism and the banners and candles and how they teach about Jesus.
All of that God has done, because a bunch of sinners were forgiven. And the impact of that in 10 years, or 20 or 50…
God will use everything – including the sins we’ve committed, to bring people to a place where others are saved..
And while it happens, you dwell in the peace of God which goes beyond all understanding, guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN!
That’s Not Necessary!
(but compassion is!)
† In Jesus’ Name †
May the grace of God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ become how you live and breathe, resulting in compassion that is miraculous!
What is necessary….
There are times i our lives where the Lord’s lessons are subtle, where He sets the example of what living in a relationship with God and with God’s people should look like, and we completely miss it.
That’s what happened in the gospel reading this morning, as Jesus sets and example of servant leadership, and the apostles are given and opportunity to imitate that example, and fail to learn the lesson—and so Jesus has to point it out a little more clearly…
Most of the time, we fail to see the lesson as well, because of the miracle of seeing 5 hamburger bun sized pieces of bread and a couple of tilapia, That is an amazing miracle but the lesson in compassion that Jesus lived out before their very eyes.
A Little Background…
Just before Jesus and the apostles try to escape and find some time to relax and pray, two things happened – two devastating things. The thing right before their trip was to hear the news that John the Baptist was executed by Herod – his head chopped off to make his wife and daughter happy.
Still not sure why flowers, or chocolates or a nice dinner at Carl’s Jr. wouldn’t have worked, but Herod messed up – and had to make up for it with John’s head.
The other more devastating thing that happens in chapter 13 is that Jesus was rejected in His hometown by all his family and friends.
Between the grief of his cousin being killed and his own people rejecting him, trashing him, dismissing the very things they were praising God for – until they realized it was him… that was brutal, it would drain all the energy from him, and so he wants to escape, and tries…. But cannot.
And he sees people, and they are looking for hope. One of the other gospels has Jesus describe them as sheep without a shepherd.
And He sees us, and He can’t go on without us…so he sits on the hillside and has compassion and taught and heals us. That is what scripture says,
“14 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
As physically, emotionally and spiritually tired as he must have been, as filled with grief. He took time to meet people where they were.. were we are.. and give them more than a quick word, he gave them himself.
We Fall Short – but why?
Compare that to the apostles, After a day where Jesus met their needs, and the needs of these people and then scripture tells us,
15 That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” Matthew 14:15 (NLT2)
Now while they see the needs of the people, they don’t have the compassion that Jesus demonstrated—and they definitely weren’t will to give away their filet-ed fish sandwiches!
Whether it was a lack of belief that they could do anything, or simply that they didn’t want to, they wanted Jesus to close up shop, and tell them all to go home.
That is where they missed the mark, that is where they failed to care for their neighbor. It was where sin entered and they became more self-centered. “Tell them to get – lost – to go care for themselves—it doesn’t even matter that it’s already late and even the 7-11 and Denny’s will be closed by the time they get there!
We do the same thing at times – when we see people in need – and we decide not to help…or even to help them find help.
Can we help everyone? Probably not – but to ensure they find the help – we can.
That’s why Jesus says…”16 But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.” Matthew 14:16 (NLT2)
That brings them back to Jesus, for they have no where near the food they need!
That’s the point—with us—there isn’t enough to feed anyone—spiritually or physically – Jesus must supply it all – and He always pulls it together!
If we have compassion for people—if we see their needs and brokenness, our job isn’t to meet every need on our own but to bring them to where Jesus provides for them.
“Bring them here,” he said. 19 Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. 20 They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. 21 About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
We should know this – for His compassion is why we are here!
We can take that comfort and compassion and shown to us and pour it out on others, bringing them to Jesus, getting them to sit and take their rest, while God multiples whatever we have to help them.
Even it it’s a can of tuna fish and a bagel,
Or a piece of round bread, and a 10th of a sip of wine—that is, by His declaration – His body and blood!
That is necessary – getting them to realize they are in God’s presence, as it is necessary to help us know we are. That is what is required – and even was in the Old Testament, where Micah wrote,
8 No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 (NLT2)
And if we are walking humbly with Him, that means this – that the Lord is with you! AMEN!
† In Jesus Name †
May you know the presence of the Holy Spirit which fills your hearts kindles in you the fire of God’s love, as you learn to love others by showing them God’s love!
- Do you like waiting?
You are sitting in the drive-thru, and you realize there is a mini-van in front of you, full of kids in uniform…
Or maybe you are at Ralph’s or Trader Joes, or Costco – and the lines stretch down the aisles…
Or maybe you are waiting for that package from Amazon, and they text you at 9 o’clock on Friday that they are delayed and won’t deliver that package you needed until Monday, maybe!
How many of us like waiting?
Frustrating, isn’t it?
I mean, at least we are not like Moses, who was waiting 40 years to see the promise land, and then wasn’t able to, because of his sin. Or David, who had to wait for years to become King, waiting patiently for Saul to be removed, as God promised!
Or the apostles, who had to wait for Christ’s Kingdom to be established, and then had to wait with no hope for three days… and then an undetermined time after the Ascension, for Jesus’ promise for the Spirit to come…
As John’s said, ‘But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.’
And they had to wait…
I don’t think that they were any better that we are, and they were waiting for something far more important!
- Do We Live Like the Spirit is Here
So here is the harder question of the day.
Are you living like you are waiting for the Holy Spirit to show up?
Are we living like we know God is present in every moment of our lives?
Are we living in the age prior to Pentecost?
It’s a hard question…one I don’t want to answer…
Because I live more like I am waiting for God to show up, then living like I know He is here. It’s not just acts of sin that show this, but it is the loving others, sacrificing for them, that is challenging.
I mean, is there anything more important in life than seeing people come to know God loves them? And the only way they will know, is if we depend on the Holy Spirit to guide us to them, and empower us to share with them that love.
So often sin is described as doing this which God said not to do.
But sin is also not loving our neighbor, which includes no loving them enough to want them to live in the presence of Jesus, both now and for eternity. Sin includes not sharing with them the gospel and the freedom from guilt and shame which comes with sin.
I don’t want to give us an excuse, but the reason we don’t share Jesus’ love with others is because we are living as if the Holy Spirit hasn’t come…yet. We are waiting around for God to make a move…
Forgetting He has…
- No – Jesus is in His glory therefore
Hear John’s comment again,
39 When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.
During Easter we proclaim that because He has risen, We have risen. That means this has now happened as well,
That Jesus has entered His glory, and He has given us the Holy Spirit.
What does that mean?
First, “25 “I have told you this while I am still with you. 26 The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you. John 14:25-26 (TEV)
This is everything from the day Jesus told Peter that Jesus would cause him to be fishers of men to the very words at the Ascension. Where He said,
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NLT2)
If we are looking to grow the church, the preschool—the other ministries we may start on this campus—it depends on us doing what Jesus taught us to do, to love each other, to care for those around us—physically for sure, but also spiritually. To make sure their burdens are lifted, that they are free from oppression, to continue to the work Jesus gave to all of us..
To lift Jesus up, that He may draw all men to Him.
Not to argue with them – that’s worthless, not to debate with them, that will only result in winners and losers.
As we realize the Spirit is with us, we come to rely on God’s lead more and more. As we encounter people in our lives that need to know His love and His mercy.
Evangelism and Discipleship aren’t programs of the church, they are the side effects of walking with Jesus, of the Spirit comforting us, freeing us from sin,
This is how Paul told a young church leader
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. 6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” 8 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 3:4-8 (NLT2)
This is what started at Pentecost… it will keep going on in our lives, for Jesus not only is risen, He has been glorified, and given us the Holy Spirit to comfort, sustain, guide and empower us, as we share with people why we have hope.
Because Jesus loves us all.
† I.H.S. †
May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ create in you an eager repentant Spirit that rejoices in the God’s presence!
- We should be envied!
There is an old Italian “blessing”, which mommas used on their children when they are misbehaving! That “blessing” is this:
“I hope your children grow up to be …. JUST LIKE YOU!”
Oddly enough, the Psalmist would agree, but without the sarcasm.
You, according to the Psalmist, you are to be envied greatly! People should want to be just like you! Well, at least in one way!
Let me explain. Our translation reads:
“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! 2 Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!”
In looking up the word “joy”, I discovered it means “to be envied with great desire” So we could translate this
“Greatly envied (with a desire to be like them) are those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is forgiven. Yes, how we should envy (and wanna be like) those whose record the LORD has cleared from guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty”
So you are to be greatly envied, and people should want to be just like you!
- Our stupidity!
Well, except there is a problem—at least the writer of this Psalm had one, and I think some of us might as well. He describes the problem spiritually in verse 3:
3 When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. 4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.
That sounds like a bit of a problem!
I need to be clear here, not all physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering is caused by refusing to confess your sin. But there is a definite correlation between suffering from the guilt and shame sin causes and one’s well-being.
Sin can and does rip us apart.
We need relationships, and it destroys them. It can cause a type of paranoia—as we are afraid someone is going to find out. It creates all sorts of stresses, as it disconnects us from God and from those who love us and would have us live in peace. Even if we convince ourselves that our particular sin isn’t that bad, living a life based on that lie hollows it out until it collapses.
Sin drains us,
It wipes us out..
And makes our life hollow.
There is only one way to deal with this—though it is a joyful one.
- Our Joy!
Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone!
I know how much courage this takes to stop trying to hide all the guilt. But as much courage as it takes, the reward of knowing those sins are completely lifted and tossed away…
All of it – forgiven!
All the guilt—gone!
Think about that for a moment…
Not one thing should haunt you.
Not one thing should you even regret!
As much as we contemplate our sin and brokenness during Lent, it is for this purpose–to know the relief of Psalmist–the absolute joy of the weight being lifted off of us!
We really need to take the time and think through what God has done to us… what He continues to do in our lives. …
Therefore, the psalmist says people should envy us, as we live forgiven lives, empowered by the Holy Spirit! For the burdens we no longer carry, or at least that we aren’t to carry,.. so many do! This is what Jesus came to do, to free us from the sin which stops us from being with God!
So many walk around, living with guilt and shame….so many people walk around without knowing God really loves them, without experiencing that love.
- What happens next
The change is so incredible for the psalmist – that feeling the relief inwards; he turns to those around him
Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. 7 For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory!
This is an evangelistic spirit.
Wow, God, you did this for me! All of us need to know this – we all need to pray—we all need to experience this relief, especially before the waters rise, and judgment occurs.
The more you know God has done for you, the more you need to share it with others, to share with them how God heals and protects and hides us from trouble, the more we need to invite people into the safe place we have found.
This is Christianity at its simplest… to realize the incredible way God has called you to His side, cleaning you up along the way, as you invite others into a peace that is beyond explanation….as Jesus saves them, as the Holy Spirit takes us residence with them, as sin and satan the fear of death are tossed out like yesterday’s trash…
This is our hope, and it is the very reason people should be envious of us, why we want them to be just like us.
Glorious! (not dark despair)
† 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.
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!
† 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????
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?
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.
Concordia Lutheran Church
Visions of Peace II
† 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.
Only One Guy Understood—How Ironic
† 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!
- 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)
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!
- 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.
- 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!
† 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…
God is Making Your Body Change!
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace and mercy of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen you as God transforms you!
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 )