Blog Archives

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!

Walking in the Light of His Glory: Part 1 – Bring the Father Glory!

Walking in the Light of His Glory:  Part 1
       Bringing the Father Great Glory!

Mark 1:4-11

I.H.S.

May the grace and mercy of God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ help you to see how you please the Father, as you dwell in Jesus!

  1. Why?

That simple chorus and prayer has a lot to do with the baptism of Jesus that was described in the gospel reading this morning.

In my life, in this church, in our homes, Lord, be glorified. Simple prayer… one desperately needed this morning.

If we start with those places, if we begin to see God’s glory revealed in our lives, in our churches, and in our homes, we will soon be seeing God’s glory revealed in our community, spreading out from there, much as the glory of God spread out from Jerusalem and Judea into Samaria and to the end of the Earth.

As this prayer is answered, as we see God’s glory revealed in us, we will realize we walk in the light of the Lord, in the light of His glory, and the result, that we will hear,

You are my dearly loved child, and you bring me great joy.”

  • I get why we are baptized!

Why does He get baptized?

That is a big question.

I know why we are baptized.

It’s not because we decided to, or someone else put pressure on us or decided that we should be baptized. I mean, that may cause us to be baptized, whether we are 2 or 3 weeks old or 94 years old.

The reason we are baptized was to show repentance in our life.

Because our hearts, souls, and minds are polluted with sin, we needed a change; we needed repentance to become a reality in our lives.

But repentance isn’t being sorry for our sin.

It means to have the change of how we process things, consciously, and subconsciously. That does mean we grieve when we consider our sins, but also that we turn and cry out to God.

That kind of repentance, that transformation of heart, soul, and mind, is found throughout scripture.

25  “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. 26  And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.  Ezekiel 36:25-26 (NLT2)

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 3:4-5 (NLT2)

this is always God’s work… as Paul tells Timothy,

25  Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. 2 Timothy 2:25 (NLT2)

This is because, as the reading from Romans talked about this morning – that baptism unites us with Christ’s death and His resurrection.

We are sinners, we need to be transformed, we need to come to repentance. God promises to do that to give us this new heart and mind and attaches that promise to our baptism.


But what does that mean for Jesus….

He didn’t need a new heart and soul and mind. He didn’t sin, so why did He get baptized?

  • So Why did He?

We know in our baptism, we are identified with Christ’s death, so that we can be identified with His resurrection.

Working from that, we can see that Christ is baptized into our lives, to take on the sin of the world.

Consider these words,

Barth says, poignantly, that the situation “went right into [Jesus’] heart … so that their whole plight was now His own, and as such, He saw and suffered it far more keenly than they did.” Jesus “took their misery upon Himself, taking it away from them and making it His own.” 8[1]

This is what God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit had planned from before creation.

That Jesus would take on our suffering, our iniquity. “Our” as in the whole bleeding world. All that have been damaged by sin, all that have sinned. The baptism of Jesus pours on Him every sin, that every sin would be taken from Him, and paid for with the blood of Jesus.

He was baptized into our death, that when we were joined to His, we would be joined to His resurrection. He would take our dead hearts and replace them with His. It is seen in what Paul tells the church in Corinth, “But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.”

That is what this is all about – whether it is the epistle that tries to help us see the incredible blessing that being united with Christ in His death provides or the gospel that sees Jesus willingly embrace our sin and our death when He was baptized.

To see that occur, as the doors to eternity are opened to people who believe and are baptized… and united with Christ’s death and resurrection, we will hear the words of the Father…the same words that were said to Jesus…

You are my dearly loved child, and you bring me great joy.”

Because He came into our world, took on our sin, and gave us His life.

in that life, He will be glorified…. Just as we prayed as we sang.

Let’s pray!


8 Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, III/2: The Doctrine of Creation: The Creature, trans. H. Knight, G. W. Bromiley, J. K. S. Reid, R. H. Fuller (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1960), 211.

[1] Ronald J. Allen, Thinking Theologically: The Preacher as Theologian (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2008), 52.

I Will Trust in My God! A sermon for the second week of Epiphany!

church at communion 2Epiphany!
I will Trust My God!

Isaiah 49:1-17

 In Jesus’ Name!

As the light of Christ’s glory shines in your hearts, may you know how great His mercy, how complete His peace, and how deep His love for you is!

Is it him, or me?

When we look at a prophecy in the Old Testament, there are some things we have to consider. 

How was it in originally fulfilled.

Is it primarily about Jesus during the time from His incarnation to his

But there is a third application of the prophecy – whether it is just a lesson for us, revealing Jesus, or whether it is directly applicable to us.  For example, in the 23rd Psalm, or in Psalm 51 or 139, the words are as applicable to you and me as they are to David.

But what about today’s selection?  Is it like those Psalms that are more about Jesus, or the ones that tell us more about ourselves?

Are we the ones who were named by God before our birth, while in our mother’s womb known by God?  Or is it Jesus?

Are we the ones hidden in the shadow of His hand, who serve God the Father and will bring Him glory, or is it only Jesus who is so aimed, whose words will cause people to know God’s decision that declares them righteous?

Who is this passage about?  Jesus, our Lord, the one who brings the light of His glory into our darkness, or are these words of Isaiah about you and me?

Al – don’t say it!

Could He know the despair?

If I were to make the case that it is about us, what would seem to make that point is found in verse 4.

4  I replied, “But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose.

That sounds like something you or I would say, far more than it sounds like something the only begotten Son of God would say.

Think about those words for a moment.  Do these words of despair sound like they would come from the mouth of the Lord Jesus?  From the same lips that blessed bread and fish and fed thousands upon thousands?  From the same lips that calmed storms, and called the little girl and the widow’s son and Lazarus back to life?  Could Jesus, who forgave the adulteress, and healed the blind and paralyzed, could he have uttered such words of hopelessness?

Doesn’t this lead us to think these words, therefore, must be just about you and me?

Or is this what the writer of Hebrews means when he says,

15  We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. 16  So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.
Hebrews 4:15-16 (MSG)

If so, then this passage could still be about Him.  If it is, then we have a God who doesn’t just look down on us, but can be there for us, knowing the challenges.  He just doesn’t sympathize with us, this God who lights up our darkness with His light, it is His empathy that drives Him to do so!

If this passage is about Jesus, then it brings a whole different understanding to our faith.  It isn’t n vain, and it isn’t a leap.  Our hope is an expectation, just like Jesus’ faith is expressed back in verse 4,

“But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose. Yet I leave it all in the LORD’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.

Somehow, Jesus was able to trust the Father, He was able to leave it all in the Father’s hands.  Dealing with Peter and James and John and the wishy-washy disciples, dealing with Herod and the religious leaders who wanted to kill him.  Dealing with the rich young ruler who walked away.

Did Jesus know those days when it seems like nothing works, that nothing makes a difference, and simply trusted in the Father’s will?

yes.

It is both, because we find life, in Christ!

So is this passage only about Jesus?  Or can we utter those words as well?  Can we leave it all in the hands of God, trusting in God to see us through?

Is He the only one who God formed to be his servant?  Is he the only One who God uses to bring back those who’ve wandered off, to bring salvation to all who are far off, even to the ends of the earth?  Who will see the powers and authorities of this world bowing before?

While it is about Jesus, it is about us as well, for we find our lives, the lives the Holy Spirit calls into existence, cleansing us from sin, in Christ Jesus.  It is true of us because it is true of Him.  For in the book of Acts Paul tells some gentiles in Athens that their poets had it correct when they said, “In Him we live and move and have our being”.

That is what it means to be in the season of Epiphany, to share in the glory of Christ Jesus.  This is what it means for Him to be here, shattering our darkness.  As we realize His presence anew every time we commune at the altar, every we time we hear His voice speak to us, as the Holy Spirit uses the gospel to create life within us!

We see this the last verse, where Isaiah says to those in Christ, it is the LORD, the faithful One, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen you…

This is not about the one who is spoken too, it is not about their faith, but the faithfulness of the LORD who speaks.  It is about His faithfulness in saving us, in lighting our way, in ensuring we endure, ensuring we hear His call of us, by name.  The name for the church throughout scripture is this very term – the chosen or called ones.  Called by name, kept in the hand of God, given a message to deliver to the nations.

This is our life, spent in Christ, our journey in the light of His glory, the glory that came when He came to dwell with man, and in our baptism as the Spirit comes to give us this wondrous life.

This is our focus during Epiphany, this is why we sing, as we recognize His glory has appeared here, where the Lord is with you!  AMEN!

I can see! A sermon to start Epiphany (based on Isaiah 60)

church at communion 2I Can See!  The Darkness is Gone!
Isaiah 60:1-6

In Jesus Name

May God’s glory, His mercy and Love revealed in Jesus, may that glory shine so brightly in your life, that even the darkest shadows are forgotten!

 Sunrise @ Concordia

One of the blessings I never expected when I came to Concordia was the incredible sunrises I would see on Sunday mornings.  Sometimes it is the sun breaking through the crowds, other times the entire sky looks like it is on fire.

There are times Dane will come out of the MPR and find me with my camera or my phone, trying to capture the incredibly beautiful blessing that so few see.

Though I hate getting up that early, there is a blessing that is so incredible, when a pitch black dark night is shattered by the sunrise

And that is what we celebrate during the weeks of Epiphany.

This feast which celebrates Christ entering the world and the glorious love of God being visible, being seen, drawing people to Him…

From the wise men whose arrival starts Epiphany, to the apostles who will witness the transfiguration, which we will celebrate 8 weeks from now, we are talking about the glory of God, shining in our lives, because Jesus is here!

and so Isaiah’s words are so meaningful and relavent to us,

“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you!

Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you!

Or maybe we should read it this way!

“Arise, Concordia! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you!

Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you!

Time for the homecoming

Growing up, we would love electricity because of snowstorms.  Tree branches would get heavy with snow and ice, crashing down on power lines which would have to be replaced.  During the darkness you couldn’t do anything, but when the sun rose, life would return to normal.

It would be back to splitting wood for the woodstove and fireplace.  It would be cooking food to feed those who were out shoveling the snow, it would be having friends stop by, driving their trucks or skimobiles.

So too, when we realize that God has shined on us, that Jesus has come, and we have beheld His glory, that it is time to get ready.

For God tells us what is going to happen next,

All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance!

“Look and see, for everyone is coming home! Your sons are coming from distant lands; your little daughters will be carried home!

They are all coming – as they see God’s light – God’s glory shining here in this place.  As we realize what God has done, and is doing here, as we realize the glorious love He has for us, everything changes, and it is noticeable!

Others see it, and they will be drawn to His glory, like a moth to a flame, or like certain guy’s attention can be gotten by announcing a football score, or a child to a stuffed animal.

God’s glory will gather attention, and it will draw people to the place where it is seen, where it is made manifest, where it brings light and warmth and peace and love.

I love how Isaiah describes the homecoming, as sons and daughters are returned home.  What he is talking about is those of us like the prodigal son, who went our own way, and did what we thought was right.  Who either rebelled against God our father or simply ignored Him.

But as God’s glory is revealed, as the grace and mercy of God are revealed and remembered, the prodigals come home.  His love draws us back, hoping that we will be welcomed, unaware that God’s love for them has not dimmed.

The picture of the daughters being carried home is the same, as the Holy Spirit brings them home, those who strayed and wandered, those who were lost and without hope.

For those of us who have come home, to find God’s people waiting for us with open arms, it is something we never forget, this love of God shown through His people.  For we see them as Isaiah describes,

Your eyes will shine, and your heart will thrill with joy,

When someone “comes home”, when their darkness is shattered by God’s glory, by the light of the world which is Jesus, that should be our reaction!  Our brother or sister has been brought home, and we begin to rejoice like the angels in heaven, indeed all of heaven does.

It’s time to worship the Lord

As we see that happen, we begin to rejoice, we begin to praise God. For the darkness is no more, even the shadows of darkness fade in the light that has revealed to us Christ, this glorious light that guides us to him.

Sometimes the words in Greek and Hebrew have a meaning that is deeper than we remember – and so it is with the word for praising God – it is to cry Alleluia or Hallelujah!

Hallel means to recognize the incredible thing that someone has done, the deeds that deserve to be shouted from the rooftops.

and Yah – well that is short for YHWH – God’s name.

To praise Him, for shattering our darkness with His light, with His glory….

The glory of the incredible thing that happens as Jesus dies to bear our sins, as he takes on himself our unrighteousness,  and is risen from the dead to give us life, to restore us from our brokenness.  His glorious work as the Holy Spirit cleanses us from sin, gives us life and lives within us,

This is Epiphany! When we realize the glory of God is His love for us, seen in the work He does in us, a work that shines through us to the world.

So,

“Arise, Concordia! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you!

Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you!

AMEN!

Do You Have the “Need to Know”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADevotional Thoughts of the Day:
4The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to humanity. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out….. 9This was the real light—the light that comes into the world and shines on everyone……14 The Word became a human being and, full of grace and truth, lived among us. We saw his glory, the glory which he received as the Father’s only Son.  John 1:4,9,14  TEV

786    May no attachment bind you to earth except the most divine desire of giving glory to Christ and, through him and with him and in him, to the Father and to the Holy Spirit.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”
6 What does this mean?
Answer: I believe that by my own reason or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth and preserves it in union with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.

Man has searched for enlightenment for centuries, we see it in the writings of the Ancient Greeks, the Ancient Chinese, the Incas and others.   We see it in the gnostic cults that sprang up in early Christianity, and in their Jewish predecessors that looked for enlightenment deeper than the actual words in the Old Testament. Of course, there is what we call the Age of Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason. This latter period is one I tend to credit for screwing up the world that I know.

We’ve fallen for the same line that Satan gave Adam and Eve, that knowledge leads us to be like gods. And so, while we are blinded to our brokenness, to the gaps in our reasoning, to the limited knowledge we have, Satan convinces us that we are the judges of what is reasonable, that we know what is best, that if it doesn’t make sense to us, it can’t be right.  (Which is a claim for being all-knowing)

Pastors and Theologians fall into this all the time, as we try to explain mysteries like how God is Three, and yet One.  Or how the Body and Blood of Jesus are physically present or not in the Celebration of the Eucharist, or how we have the free will to reject Jesus, but not choose to be saved.  We want the knowledge of life and death, of good and evil, and if we can’t have it if we are blind to the brilliance of God, we (or Satan) baffle ourselves with our own bullshit.

Which is where our readings and the liturgical season that begins tomorrow comes into play. It corrects our thirst to know the unknowable, by focusing us on what we need to know.

Epiphany is the celebration of God’s glory coming and dwelling with us.  It is the realization of the light that shined, that the Wise Man saw and searched for diligently.  (even that search was because of the promises God revealed through the prophet Daniel and others)  Even as a babe – the glory was revealed.  Throughout His ministry, including the Transfiguration, but also the teaching, the miracles, the peace that people knew, His glory was revealed.  On the cross, where our sin, the guilt, the shame, the wrath that it deserved, he freed su from all of that, there is where His glory is revealed the clearest.  For what we praise God for, is the love He has for us, and the way that love causes Him to act toward us.

It is the work of the Holy Spirit, revealing to us the love of God, the glorious love of God that is found in Jesus.  True God, True man, and complete in truth.  It is the Spirit that helps us to see Jesus, that draws us to Him, and to the cross, the most glorious moment – because at the cross His love for us, His mercy, His care was fully revealed.

We saw His glory, John says in his gospel, and that is enough.  Being drawn into that glory, into the love of God, is what we really need to know, it is what we have to know, no matter the size of our bank account, our IQ, how much talent we have, or knowledge.  Everything else we thirst for as far as knowledge is but a shadow,

It is our need to know, and the Holy Spirit has revealed to us Jesus, and we know Him.

Praise God!

 

 

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 1813-1814). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print.

%d bloggers like this: