Tuesday, December 31, 2002

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve
December 31, 2002
Hebrews 13:8
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forevermore"

INTRODUCTION:  Well here we are at the end of another year.  365 days have come and gone. On a night such as this we come with many mixed emotions. We might look back at the past year and wish that the year would not end. On the other hand some might wish that 2002 would be past history that we might get the year over with and move on to something more positive.  In any life there are years that we savor and other years we would much rather forget.

Tonight we look back on a year gone by. We look bat at this past year and realize triumphs as well as failures. We see both disappointments and blessings; we find pains as well as pleasures. And yet, as we look at time that seems to fly by so quickly we see that our Lord Jesus remains timeless. In fact, what's more He never changes. Jesus remains consistent beyond time.

I.                    Jesus Christ has been right by our side in the past.

There was never a time in the past year when He didn't know of your situation or circumstance.
1.      He's all knowing

2.      He's all seeing

3.      He's ever present

He has never left you down
1.      There have been times when we have left Him down.

2.      There have been times when we would not listen to His Word

Transition:  But He remains changeless and that is why in the beginning even before time began before this world existed He established an eternal plan to save and redeem you.

II.                 He is with us right now.

A.                To forgive us our sin

1.      Establishing us as His own

2.      Drawing us to Himself

3.      Ever guiding and leading us

B.                 Where there is the forgiveness of sins there is also life and salvation.

1.      Jesus said: "I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly…"

2.      Salvation, having peace with God is a byproduct of this forgiveness.

III.               As He has never left us down in the past and is actively involved in our lives at the present we can be assured that He will go with us in this New Year.

A.                Changes might come our way in the New Year of 2003

1.      Our Lord has some things to teach us.

2.      All this is to draw us closer to Himself.

B.                 No matter what comes our way He's mighty enough to handle any problem we might have.

1.      This is the only way we'll survive in this often-unpredictable world.

2.      We can depend on Jesus our Savior.

CONCLUSION: We live in an ever in an ever increasing world of change. But in the midst of change Jesus remains changeless. He will be with us as He has in the past and will continue to be so even in the New Year. In His hands we will rest safe and secure.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Christmas Day

Christmas Day
December 25, 2002
Luke 2:1-20
"The Reality of Christmas"

INTRODUCTION:  A common opinion among "enlightened" people in our post-modern world holds that Christmas is only a story, a myth, a legend - something akin to the story of the sugar plum fairy and Santa. Such folk believe that Jesus is no more real than Rudolph the red nosed reign deer.

The reality happens to be that Jesus came to this earth as He broke into time and space. Consider, from the original Christmas story, how real Christmas happens to become reality. The Christmas story is based on concrete, specific details.

1.      First consider the political realities. - There were specific political realities and circumstances happening at the time Christ was born in Bethlehem.  Luke puts it this way: "And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed".

The Lord Jesus was born at a time in which the Romans controlled the world.  Jesus came to this world when a tyrant ruled the world from the safety and security of Rome. Nothing but Caesars' rule and Caesars' reign mattered.

Yet look closer.  Jesus the Lord of life is being born into this world. He is the mighty God who spoke the world into existence - yet He comes into this world like all of us. He is born as an infant, a baby; born to take on our nature. The apostle John puts it this way: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us - full of grace and truth" (John 1)

Jesus was also born at a specific time. Luke tells us: "And this taxing took place when Cyrenius was governor of Syria".  Jesus' timing couldn't have been better. He came at a specific point in time - He came into this world when the world was held in sin and darkness.  In the midst of this world's sin and darkness Jesus Christ - the Very light of the world - burst forth His divine light to dispel the darkness of sin and death. Isaiah the prophet simply tells us: "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.  The people dwelling in a land of deep darkness, upon them the light has shined".  When He created this world the Lord spoke and said: "Let there be light".  At Christmas He became that light which brightens the souls of men and draws men to Himself. 

Transition:  There were political realities, there are also principle characters - Mary and Joseph.

2.      This couple will make the trip up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth into Judea unto the city of David called Bethlehem because Joseph was of the house and lineage of King David.  Mary and Joseph engaged to be married found themselves in a troubled relationship before the marriage even began!  Matthew will tell us that before they came together Mary was found to be with child by the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph knew only two realities. First, his fiancĂ©e' was pregnant.  The second reality - he was not the father!  That's why we find Joseph in Matthew's gospel contemplating how to put Mary away quietly.  He's at a crossroads and appears to be a man in crisis. He has deep emotional feelings for the girl - he cares for her immensely. But at the same time He fells betrayed and broken. Frightened and confused, feeling slighted and betrayed Joseph ponders what he should do.  What should he do? 

A divine intervention is needed.  An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him: "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit".  There you have it!  Joseph and Mary will marry - they will become a family and as far as the rest of the world is concerned folk will assume that Joseph is the father of his son Jesus. But you and I know better. We're reminded of this divine intervention every single time we confess the creed together!

3.      Then there's the place where Jesus is born. The delivery room is an out building connected to the house where the animals were kept. A barn would be too elaborate a description.  It's more like a pen or a lean-to. Jesus is born there for there is no other place for Him to be born. The street is the only other place available.

What does this mean? You can never be too low for Jesus! No matter where you have been and no matter what your circumstances - you can never sink too low for Jesus. His birth is a predictor of His death. His birth among those of humble means will not diminish the fact that He alone is a priceless treasure!

4.      Then there are those, whose lives were forever changed due to the circumstances of these events.  They all saw it - they witnessed the greatest miracle of Christmas - they welcomed the Lord Jesus into their lives - never again would their lives be miserable again.  Sure there would be sad and lonely times but in an instant they were granted audience with the Lord of life. They had witnessed a miracle - God coming to man in the presence of His Son Immanuel - God who is with us.

CONCLUSION:  That's what makes Christmas so special - it's not the gifts, the noise the lights - it's the story just as it happened - God coming to man in time and space. We have seen it too and beheld the wonder of it all!  A blessed Christmas to one and to all! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Mid-week Advent 3

Mid-week Advent 3
December 18, 2002
Psalm 146
"When you care to send the best…"

INTRODUCTION:  "When you care to send the best choose FTD!" So says the American floral group.  We are just one week before Christmas. In our mad dash to make everything perfect we want to make sure that we choose someone who will send our cards, gifts and goodies the best. As we place our confidence in Him who broke into time and space we see Him in all of His glory as He delivers the goods in triumph, trust and truth.

1.      Triumph in the form of praise (Psalm 146:1-2)

A.     Praise Deliberately Provoked V.1 
1 Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul.

B.     Praise Distinctly Promised V.2
2 I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

2.      Trust

Misplaced Trust Vv. 3-4
1.      Subtle enticement -V.3 
3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.

2.      Simple error - V.4 
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.

Meaningful Trust Vv. 5-7
1.      Our song -V.5
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God,

2.      His strength - Vv.6-7

a.      strength to create a universe – 6
6 the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them- the Lord, who remains faithful forever.

b.      strength to control a universe – 7
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free,

3.  Truth

God's infinite mercy - V. 8a
8a the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, 

God's inflexible morality - V.8b-9
8b the Lord loves the righteous. 9 The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. 

God's invincible majesty - V.10 
10 The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord.
God of glory and power, happy indeed are those who have put their trust in You. Shine the brightness of Your light upon us, that we may love You always with a pure heart and praise You forever through Jesus Christ our Lord.

For All the Saints A Prayer book for and by the Church, Year 2: Advent - Pentecost American Lutheran Publicity Bureau - Delhi, NY © 1995

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Advent mid-week 2

Mid-week Advent 2
December 11, 2002
Psalm 19
Glories in the Heavens

INTRODUCTION:  The company of the angels who sang to the shepherds concerning the Savior's birth said: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace good will toward men."  Our Psalm for this evening, Psalm 19 sings the same new song.  As we count down the days before Christmas we consider the Lord of heaven and earth who has come to visit His people. He has made His revelation known in the heavens and in the Scriptures, which give light to the life of men. Consider the glory of God made known to men.

1.      God's revelation concerning Himself in the heavens

A.     An Unmistakable witness V. 1
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

B.     An untiring witness V. 2 
2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

C.     An understandable witness Vv. 3-6
3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, 5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.

Transition:  God is made known in the world. But we know Him best through the testimony of the Scriptures.

2.      God's revelation of Himself in the Scriptures

A.     God's Word is precious  Vv. 7-10

1.      It challenges us V. 7 
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

2.      It cheers us V. 8 
8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

3.      It changes us Vv. 9-10 
9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure 
and altogether righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.

B.     God's Word is powerful Vv. 11-14

1.      It convicts us V. 11
11 By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

2.      It cleanses us V. 12 
12 Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults.

3.      It corrects us  Vv. 13-14

a.      It will keep me from folly V. 13 
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

b.      It will keep me in fellowship V. 14 
14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Heavenly father, You have filled the world with beauty. Open our eyes to see Your gracious hand in all Your works, that rejoicing in Your whole creation, we may learn to serve You with gladness, for the sake of Him through whom all things were made, Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

For All the Saints A Prayer book for and by the Church, Year 2: Advent - Pentecost - American Lutheran Publicity Bureau Delhi, NY © 1995

Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Advent mid-week 1

Advent mid-week 1
December 4, 2002
Psalm 98 
The Magnificat of the Old Testament

INTRODUCTION: As we turn our sights toward Bethlehem's manger we prepare ourselves to celebrate once again the coming of the Christ child into our heats at Christmas. Mary upon hearing that she was chosen to bear the Son of God responded in a song of praise call the Magnificat. This was not the first time such a hymn was sung.  In fact, our Psalm for this evening, Psalm 98 is such a hymn of praise. As we remember all of the tender mercies, which the Lord has showered down on us let us too join with the Psalmist offering to the Lord our praise and thanksgiving.

1.      The Lord's might (Psalm 98:1-2)

A.    The Song of the Lord -V. 1a 
1a O SING to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things

B.     The Strength of the Lord -v. 1b 
1b  His right hand and His holy arm have wrought salvation for Him.

C.  The Song of the Lord - V. 2 
2The Lord has made known His salvation; His righteousness has He openly shown in the sight of the nations. (Luke 2:30-31)

2.      The Lord's mercy (Psalm 98:3-6)

A.    The remembrance of that mercy - V. 3 
3He has [earnestly] remembered His mercy and loving-kindness, His truth and His faithfulness toward the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have witnessed the salvation of our God.  (Acts 13:47; 28:28.)

B.     The result of that mercy - Vv. 4-6 
4Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy, yes, sing praises! 5Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the voice of melody.6With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

3.      The Lord's majesty (Psalm 98:7-9)

A.    The jubilation of the earth - Vv. 7-9a
7Let the sea roar, and all that fills it, the world, and those who dwell in it! 8Let the rivers clap their hands; together let the hills sing for joy 9a Before the Lord, for He is coming to judge [and rule] the earth;

B.     The judgment of the earth - V. 9b
9b  with righteousness will He judge [and rule] the world, and the peoples with equity.

1.      The Lord will rule faithfully

2.      The Lord will rule fairly

Lord, we sing to You a new song, for Your victory is ever new. In the empty tomb You have given us a glimpse of Your future and in Your victory over death You have shown us how we shall overcome the last enemy.  As the seas roar and the hills sing together, we too will praise You for Your great triumph; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen

For All the Saints A Prayer book for and by the Church, Year 2: Advent - Pentecost American Lutheran Publicity Bureau Delhi, NY © 1995

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day
November 28, 2002
Psalm 116
"For what are you thankful?"

INTRODUCTION:  Once again we have been permitted to gather together for yet another national thanksgiving.  For what are you thankful?  How has the Lord blessed you?  How do we review the past year with respect to all that has happened to us?  Our Psalm for today, Psalm 116 helps us sort through all that we have experienced this past year in for significant areas of life; in our gratitude, in our grief, in our goals, and in our gladness. Let's review shall we?

1.                  The Psalmist's gratitude (Psalm 116:1-9)

A.     The dangers he experienced - Vv. 1-4

1.      his present assurance - Vv. 1-2 
1 I love the Lord , for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. 2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

2.      his previous anguish - Vv. 3 
3 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.

3.   his prayerful appeal - V. 4  
4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: "O Lord, save me!"

B.     The deliverance he experienced - Vv. 5-9

1.      a word about his Savior - Vv. 5-6
5 The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. 6 The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.

2.      a word about his soul - Vv. 7-9
7 Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. 8 For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, 9 that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.  

2.         The psalmist's grief (Psalm 116:10-11)

A.     What he had suffered - V. 10
10 I believed; therefore I said, "I am greatly afflicted."

B.     What he had said - V. 11
11 And in my dismay I said, "All men are liars."

3.         The Psalmist's goals (Psalm 116:12-15)

A.     His assessment of his duty - Vv. 12-14
12 How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. 14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.

B.     His assurance about his death - Vv. 15
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

4.         The Psalmist's gladness (Psalm 116:16-19)

A.     His position - V. 16
16 O Lord, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains.

B.     His promise - Vv. 17-19

1.      to live a sacrificial life - V.17
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord .

2.      to live a sanctified live - Vv. 18-19
18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, 19 in the courts of the house of the Lord - in your midst, O Jerusalem.

God of power and mercy, through the Passion and resurrection of Your Son You have freed us from the bonds of death and the anguish of separation from You. Be with us on our pilgrimage and help us offer You a sacrifice of praise, fulfill our vows, and glorify You in the presence of all Your people; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

For All the Saints A Prayer book for and by the Church, Year 2: Advent - Pentecost American Lutheran Publicity Bureau Delhi, NY © 1995

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Thanksgiving Eve

Thanksgiving Eve
November 27, 2002
Psalm 65
"Sing Hallelujah at the Harvest"

Introduction:  The harvest is complete - the crops are now in. It is now time to evaluate the past planting, growing, and harvest season - and what a season it has been. When measuring yields from previous years, factoring in weather conditions, stress on crops, what the market will bear it's easy to loose track that God is involved in all that we do.  Our Psalm for this evening Psalm 65 gets us back on track as He urges us to sing Hallelujahs at the Harvest.

1.                  We sing our Hallelujahs as we approach God.

A.     We approach God a silent people 1)  "Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled."

B.     We approach God a seeking people 2) "O you who hear prayer, 
to you all men will come."

C.     We approach God a sinful people 3) "When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions."

D.     We approach God a satisfied people 4)  "Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple."

Transition: Not only do we approach our God this night we come seeking to know Him.

2.                  Apprehending God

A.     We apprehend God's power to convert

1.      First the Hebrew people 5a  "You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior

2.      But also the Heathen peoples  , 5b  the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas,"

B.     We apprehend God's power to create 6 "who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength,"

C.     We apprehend God's power to control

1.      The restless waves - 7 "who stilled the roaring of the seas,"

2.      The restless world - 7b-8  " the roaring of their waves, 
and the turmoil of the nations. Those living far away fear your wonders; where morning dawns and evening fades you call forth songs of joy."

Transition:  Having approached and apprehended God we appreciate all He has done for us. This is the secret to true thanksgiving.

3.          Appreciating God

A.     Appreciating the wealth of the heavens - 9 - 10   "You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops."

B.     Appreciating the wealth of the harvest - 11-13  "You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the desert overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.

Lord God, joy marks Your presence, beauty, abundance, and peace are the tokens of Your work in creation. Work also in our lives, that by these signs we may see the splendor of Your love and may praise You through Jesus Christ our Lord.

For All the Saints A Prayer book for and by the Church, Year 2: Advent - Pentecost American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY © 1995

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Reformation

Reformation
October 27, 2002
Romans 3:19-28
True Freedom

INTRODUCTION:  We are all familiar with the quest of Martin Luther. His was a single question. How do I find a merciful God? Plagued by his sin and terrified by the Law, Luther sought after a gracious God. He found a gracious God when he finally learned that we gain access to God not in our own doing but in the righteousness, which comes to us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Of course Luther found this message in the clear passages of the Word of God; the Bible.

What about man today?  From the 1963 Helsinki gathering of the World Lutheran Federation we read: “man today no longer asks: how do I come to a gracious God?  The person asks more radically and fundamentally.. where are you God?” This has caused Pastor Robert Rosin to write:  “it only seems to be a more radical question if the sense of sin and guilt is lost and there is no fear and trembling at the prospect of standing before the Almighty.  One ought to be careful about what one seeks. He may find it and then what? Luther and we as well know full well what we’ll find if we go hunting God on our own. The specter of success in finding Him on our terms should (as it did Luther) terrify us to death."

The wonder of our faith is realized when we consider that God in His love and mercy operates not because but in spite of who we are for Christ's sake! That endless grace and love that gives us the righteousness we need is something we’ll never really understand, but something that again, by God’s grace, through His Spirit, we will believe. In describing this grace of God Luther said it was “As if the gates of paradise were flung open" This morning let us consider the liberating power of God’s almighty Word.

I.        There is some liberating that has gone sour.

A.     God our Father from the very moment He created time and brought this universe into existence had a divine plan. That plan was to dwell with man; to be one with Him, to be in harmony with him. We find in the book of Genesis that it was a habit of the Lord to converse with man.

All that changed when in the cool of the day the Lord sought after Adam and his wife Eve only to find that they had fallen headlong into sin.  "Have you eaten of the fruit from the tree which I had forbidden you not to eat?" the Lord had to ask.

Man's fall into sin is what set into motion a direction that went sour. True, that forbidden fruit gave the appearance to be something liberating. The Scriptures describe how the cunning and lies of the devil seduced Adam and Eve. "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and also desirable to make one wise, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was (there) with her, and he ate it" (Genesis 3:6)

The sad reality is that man's fall has created a rift between the Lord and man as well as man against his neighbor. Separated by God and alienated from each other the Lord gave fallen man His Law. That Law was quite clear. That Law tells man what to do what not to do and how to live. What the Lord expected and demanded of our first parents Adam and Eve He still expects of us today.  Despite what modern man desires to think; namely, that he is a law unto himself; diluting himself into thinking that there are no moral absolutes or that moral decisions are all relative the demands of God through His Law are quite clear. We are to live righteously before God. The question which each must have presented is simply this: "how well do we fare?"

B.     On the surface most people would claim that they stand quite well before God and His Law. Consider the prayer of the Pharisee. As he stood before God he rattled off the supposed good qualities that he could offer to God. " I thank Thee that I am not created as other men…I fast twice a week, I tithe of all I possess, not like that poor tax collector over there…" On the surface it would appear that this man had his act together however his motives were all self directed. This is the problem that includes every man and every woman, every boy and every girl that we are all under the curse of sin. Try as we might we can not measure up to the scrutiny of the Law.

Transition: What then is man to do?  He can not live up to the demands of the Law by himself. He can not make it null and void by choosing not to follow it. Nor can he choose to follow only those aspects of his own choosing. The Law, plainly stated, can never bring liberty. The Law only produces punishment, banishment and death. If we are ever to be free we need something outside of us that will bring a true and lasting peace.  

II.     Consider then Liberation that's been achieved.

A.     Christ’s righteousness frees us from self-justification which only leads to failure. We need not look to ourselves anymore. Our own works couldn't cut it before God. As the hymn writer reminds us so well: "Not the labors of my hands could fulfill Thy Law's demands". That is why we turn our entire focus on Christ. He fulfilled the requirements of the Law Himself. He lived the perfect life we could not live.

B.     Christ’s righteousness frees us for new life with God and with others. In His suffering, crucifixion, death, and resurrection the requirements of the Law are fulfilled once and forever. The righteousness, which Jesus Christ won for us by His perfect obedience to the will of the Father has won for the world salvation and life which, is now passed on to us as a gift. We have not earned this gift nor have we deserved it. But thanks be to God for His mercy and grace. He now expressed to us His love and mercy by giving us a new life. Jesus said: "I came that they might have life and have it abundantly"  (John).  That is His free gift to us.

C.     Christ’s righteousness frees us from fear of death and points to paradise open. The Law only produces fright and fear. We need not fear when death draws near. We need not be frightened about the consequences of sin. Death has lost its sting. Death is swallowed up in victory. Thus Paul can tell us in 1 Corinthians 15: "Where O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (Vv. 55-56)

CONCLUSION: What is this thing we call Reformation? It's simply the realization that God in His Word has given us a clear and certain message, which leads to life and salvation every single time. Man by his sinfulness will be inclined to misunderstand, distort, and pollute this simple message. But God will not allow that to happen. He simply draws us back to His Word; that Word where the truth will always make one free.  Rely neither on yourselves nor in the precepts of men. Back to the Word - it is there, in the Word - where that the clarion call of liberty, and life are truly found. 

Sunday, May 26, 2002

Trinity

Trinity Sunday
May 26, 2002
Matthew 28:19-20
The Abiding presence of the Lord


INTRODUCTION: Today is Trinity Sunday - the day in which we affirm that we worship one God in three distinct persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The word "Trinity" does not appear in the Scriptures - yet, the teaching of the Trinity appears on virtually every page.

On Trinity Sunday we recite the Athanasian Creed- the longest of the three ecumenical creeds - which is a clear explanation of what it means to believe in One God and three persons. The temptation for the preacher on Trinity Sunday is to draw out a long theological dissertation on this important doctrine. While it is true that we need to have a clear and correct understanding of what the Trinity is - we also need to have an answer to the question that might read as the following: "What does the Trinity have to do with my every day life?" "What does the Trinity have to do with me?" "What's the point of believing in three distinct persons and one divine Godhead?"

There is plenty that the Trinity has to do with your life. This morning, let's look at our Gospel lesson appointed for this day. This text is commonly referred to as the "great commission". By these words we hear of the church's mission - the rational of why we maintain a parochial school and involve ourselves in parish education. And finally, there's a promise that the Lord will sustain us no matter what the circumstance may be.

The church's mission is clear directive. We are to turn peoples into disciples. How do we do that?
We baptize.

What is baptism? It is not simple water only but it is the water comprehended in God's command and connected with God's word.

What does baptism give or profit? It works the forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this as the words and promises of God declare.
What word is this? Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark: "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved. He that believeth not shall be damned.

How can the water do such great things? It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. Without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost.

What does my baptism signify? It signifies that the Old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise, who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written? St. Paul writes, Romans, chapter six: "We were buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

But we also teach!
What are we to do with these souls once they've been baptized? We teach! Disciples are made as we continue to teach, instruct and immerse Christians in the Word of God.

This is one of main reasons why we here at Zion support a Lutheran parochial school. Wyneken School is a direct arm of our total parish ministry. From our ver inception our congregation has supported a Lutheran school - we teach more then the three "R's" as other schools. We also place before our children at Wyneken a 4th R - a relationship with the Savior Jesus Christ.

Consequently our Sunday School and our Adult Bible classes are conducted here - so that we may grow in faith, knowledge, and in the fear of the Lord.

TRANSITION: Making disciples is the Church's mission but notice that it's all the Lord's doing. We baptized, we teach, but it is the Lord who works to will and to do His work in us. Through this process He has promised to sustain us. 


The Lord promises to accompany us in this most noble task.

I am with you always - These are the last five words Jesus spoke to His disciples before He ascended into heaven. These are the Savior's last audible and distinguishable to man. This is not an idle wish or a hope - it is a living reality. Notice that in Matthew's gospel the Ascension account is not mentioned. There's a reason for this omission - it is understood that Jesus is with us always. He has not left us - He is constantly with us to bless and sustain us. In every circumstance He is with us. In all situations He remains in control especially when it appears that this around us are out of control. By these words we have Jesus' faithful promise. We are never, ever alone!

Jesus promises to remain with us throughout all time. He is with us even to the end of the age! There is never a moment in our life when we are left alone to fend for ourselves. God can never abandon us. The Lord will remain by our side before time runs out. When our time comes to an end Christ will be there. When time comes to an end of this earth Christ will be there. When the Lord appears in glory we will see Him face to face - as He really is- our eyes will be opened and we will behold His Glory.

CONCLUSION: How blessed we are to have the Lord by our side. He sustains us in our mission and blesses us with His presence. In our life and work the Lord in this most noble task accompanies us. He establishes us to be salt and light in this world. In all things begun, continued and ended in His name the Savior walks with and directs our path. How glorious it is to have the Trinity alive and active in your life!

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Pentecost

Pentecost Sunday
May 19, 2002
John 16:5-11
When the Counselor comes
“Now I am going to Him who sent me”


Introduction:  Today is Pentecost.  It is the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit promised by the Savior. In our text for today Jesus refers to the Spirit as the Comforter. Other words that could be inserted here is an advocate, a helper, a counselor a supporter and a sponsor.   What does Jesus mean when He says that He will send the comforter?   The comforter is often called an advocate. An advocate is a defense attorney; one who speaks for a defendant before the judge in a court of law. As Jesus promises us that the comforter will come this can only be good news for us; for it is the Spirit Himself which will plead our case before the mercy seat of God.

Jesus speaking these words reminds us: “it is a good thing that I go (back to the Father) for unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”   Jesus has ascended back to the Father and the Spirit has come. So what will the Spirit do now that He has come? Jesus answers this question in the words of our text for this morning.

When the good counselor comes…He will convict the world of guilt.

In regards to sin

Because men in and of themselves do not believe in Jesus. There is a line drawn in the sand as far as the Christian and the world is concerned. That line is the line marked by Christ. Two weeks ago the members of our confirmation class confirmed their faithfulness to the Savior. In the same service we re-affirmed our loyalty to Christ. They renounced the devil and all of his works and all of his ways. They declared that they would remain faithful to Christ and even suffer death rather then fall away from the true of the Christian gospel. Such is the line drawn in the sand by the Christian.  

He’ll talk about sin and the fact that natural men do not believe in Christ.  In and of himself natural man cannot come to Christ by Himself. His sin blinds him to God. This is what Paul explains to us in 1 Corinthians 2:14 when he says: “But the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”  It will take the Holy Spirit to bring man to the knowledge of salvation. Natural man can know naturally that there is a God, namely that God exists through creation and the conscience. 

Creation tells us that there is a God who has established this world. The conscience tells us that there is a system of justice and natural law common to all men.  It is only by the Holy Spirit working through His Word that man comes to the knowledge of God. This is what we call Spirit directed supernatural or revealed knowledge of God.        

Transition:   When the Spirit comes He will convict the world concerning sin and concerning righteousness.

The Spirit will convict the world in regards to righteousness

Jesus said: “Because I am going back to the Father, where you can not see me no longer.” For a period of 40 days Jesus walked and talked and conversed with His disciples to convince them that He was truly alive and risen from the dead. On the 40th day He Ascended into heaven. That was His coronation day. He now lives and reigns with the Father forever and ever. We cannot see the Savior any more. The Spirit has appeared to convict and convince us that Jesus continues to rule and reign throughout all eternity. Because of the Holy Spirit’s activity we are convinced that our sins truly are forgiven.  The Holy Spirit assures us that though our sins rise up to condemn us that in Jesus Christ all sin is forgiven - period!  It is the Holy Spirit that converts and persuades us that we truly are forgiven.

He speaks to this world about what is right in God’s sight.  In this natural world, which is shrouded by sin, it is often hard to discern what exactly is the will of God our Father. It is the Holy Spirit, the helper that enables us to see the will of God for our lives. How can we discern the will of God for our lives? We find God’s will being perfected in us as He turns us back to His Word. It is there, in the Word, that we see clearly what God would want us to know. It is only in and through the Word that we know God’s perfect will. Peter reminds us in his second epistle: “no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”  2 Peter 1:21 or as David reminds us in Psalm 119:105 “Thy Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” 

Transition:   When the Spirit comes He will convict the world concerning sin, concerning righteousness and concerning judgment.

In regards to judgment

Because the prince of this world now stands condemned. Jesus entered time and space to defeat the works of the world, the devil and the flesh. On the cross sin, and Satan fell; their power was swallowed up in defeat. The Holy Spirit convinces us that this is in fact a reality. Because of the empty tomb this thing we commonly call death has also been defeated.  Our common enemies have all been defeated.

The old evil foe – the devil - he is already sentenced to death. The devil stands convicted. He is already defeated. He cannot harm you: “for greater is he that is in you then he that is in this world.” Our advocate the Spirit reminds us of this reality – in Christ we stand victorious for all of our enemies have been trampled under the Savior’s feet.

Conclusion: The Spirit has been sent to convict the world and convince the Christian that Jesus is in charge of our life and our future. The Savior rules upon His throne and the Spirit stands as our advocate to defend and sustain us. The Advocate, the Spirit of truth, convicts the world with respect to sin, righteousness and judgment. He stands for you to intercede and plead your case before the Father. All is well as the Spirit has come as promised by the Savior.

Sunday, May 5, 2002

Confirmation 2002

Confirmation Sunday
May 5, 2002
John 6:47
"I tell you the truth, he who believes in Me has everlasting life"
+++ 

INTRODUCTION: Every confirmation class leaves their mark in one way or the other in the hearts and minds of parents and family; pastor and teachers, as well as congregation. To be sure, you have left your mark - thank you for allowing me to be a part of your spiritual development!

Your class is a bellwether group. Half the class I have been privileged to have baptized. The others have transferred into our congregation. But each of you has made Friedheim your home; a house and haven of peace. You were all born the year of our Lord 1987 or in the early months of 1988 when we were making plans to celebrate our congregation's 150th anniversary. Some of us can remember the way the church was decorated before 1988 - you cannot! Look at the pictures taken when you were baptized - the church interior looks far different then it does today.  

It's been over 30 years since we had a confirmation class larger then yours. The class of 1971 had eighteen members - yours has 15 - another milestone. Your class will participate in presenting a time capsule for the church cornerstone - something we haven't done in 100 years

The Lord has brought you to this point in time - What about your future? Let's consider the verse you have selected. Jesus says in John chapter six:   "I tell you the truth, he who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 6:47)

I.         Jesus tells us “I tell you the truth…”

A.      By these words we are given a sure and certain truth – Jesus cannot lie.

1.       The words and promises of Jesus are all true – these truths remain timeless.  They are not regulated by society, the world’s thinking or the current thinking (conventional thinking) of our day. Jesus’ eternal truths are sure to you each and every day.

2.       Each of these promises, which the Lord has given to you are personally yours. All the Lord asks of you is to rely upon them each and every day of your life.

B.       We can depend upon Jesus and His Word for He has bound Himself to His Word.

1.      In the world in which we live – a world that has mitigated and watered down the truth to whatever is relative for the moment – you have been given Jesus’ final word, which cannot disappoint us. Jesus will never, ever, leave you frustrated. His Words are just and true.

2.       Use that word daily; spend time with the Savior each and every day. Since Jesus gives you His word use it daily. Spend time with the Savior on a daily basis. Mark the words of the Psalmist well:  "May the words of my lips and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to Your o Lord, my strength and my redeemer." Make these words your words. (Psalm19:14)

TRANSITION:  Not only does Jesus give you His Word and promises which are true - He gives you an eternal plan of salvation.

II.       Jesus continues "…he who believes in Me…"

A.     Jesus' message is a personal invitation given to you. Notice how Jesus says the same thing in the third chapter of John's gospel "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life." (v. 16) Consider the words of this phrase.

1.        "he" - whoever - you may write your name here! Jesus' invitation is personal

2.        "who believes" - take God at His word.  To believe simply means to take God at His Word. It means to place our entire life into the hands of God.  You and I pray this every morning and every evening whenever we pray the morning and evening prayer when we say: "…into Thy hands I commit my self; my body and soul and all things…" 

3.       "in Me" - Jesus Christ is His name - He is not one among many - He is our one and only true God, He is my Lord and my God.

B.       What Jesus has promised He means for all people.

1.        I bragged you up as a class in early December then on the day of the service someone stepped on someone's feet and you couldn't get the passage out! But you know the verse so well!  "All those who heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds" You are a witness to these things - may the Lord Jesus use you to tell the good news and to share Jesus and His love.

2.        But Mary kept all these things pondering them in her heart."  Meditate on God's blessings as He continues to work the same miracle in your life as He did in the lives of Mary and Joseph the shepherds and all who have met and found in Jesus to be the way the truth and the life. 

TRANSITION: The promises are not for you only today - they reach into time -even beyond time - they reach into eternity.

III.     "…He who believes in Me has eternal life"

A.      Life - This is another promise the Savior has given to you

1.        The life Jesus gives you is more then mere existing. Jesus has said in John chapter twenty "I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly (John 21:25)

2.        The life Jesus promised for you is a daily new experience with God. He desires to walk next to you each and every day. Each day fill your moments with Him. "Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you."  (Psalm 55: 22)

B.       The life Jesus promises for you is eternal

1.        It is a life, which will not end.  In this life everything has a beginning. In this life everything has an end. Your life with God is different. The life He has planned for you is a life, which will not end.

2.        The eternal life Jesus has planned for you is in reality your destiny. Mark the words of the hymn writer well. "I'm but a stranger here, heaven is my home - heaven is my fatherland, heaven is my home" (TLH #660 stanza 1) 

CONCLUSION: Class of 2002 this is your day - what a day it has become. Your future is secure as long as Jesus remains in the center. Fare thee well O child of God - Fare thee well O chosen one - Remember the things which were taught you - cling to that which is good. Remember the Savior walks with you - "I tell you the truth - he who believes in me has eternal life."

Sunday, March 31, 2002

Easter Dawn

Easter Sunrise
March 31, 2002
John 14:19
“Life Has Meaning Today”

Before long, the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live. 

There is an emphasis on life on life now and life at Easter. Because He lives life has new meaning for each of us. Because Jesus lives we have the hope and promise of life here and now. Because He lives life is worth living.

I.  Life has meaning

A.   Jesus’ death and resurrection confirm His message.  Jesus said “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly. His death and resurrection confirm this reality. Jesus proved that He ment business by going to the cross to suffer and die for all of your sins. But He proved that your sins are truly forgiven by coming back to life again on the third day.  It’s one thing to say that you have the keys to forgiveness and life. Jesus proved Himself trustworthy in the bloody cross and at the empty tomb.

B.   His message gives life meaning for us now and into the future. Jesus said: “Before long, the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live.” We will see Jesus in the future. We will see Him in glory. He gives us life now for this world. He gives us the promise of eternal life in the future where we will live and reign with Him in glory.

C.  Because Jesus is alive we have a future; now and forever.  Nothing can ever separate us from the love of Christ. He will always remain with us. Never are we alone. Our destiny is secured. We have this glorious hope which can not disappoint us.

II.  Life now makes sense.

A.  Jesus’ resurrection ties us into another world.  The last hymn of our hymnal reads “I’m but a stranger here heaven is my home” How true that statement is. We are connected to a world, which we can not see, a world that we have not yet experienced, a world that is waiting for us to experience.

B.    It is necessary for life to make sense. That is the problem with living in this world now. Sometimes life does not make sense. Bad things happen to good people. Innocent folk suffer. Terror can strike at any moment. We live in an age in which men’s hearts fail them because of fear. Our fears are relieved because Jesus, the author of life is in control of our life. He is the only one who makes sense out of this chaotic world. Life now makes sense because He has promised that we will see Him again in another glorious world, a world that can not end.

III. Life now has ultimate worth.

A.   If in this life only then we are to be pitied…” is how Paul put it. If we are living only for this world we are to be pitied. If we were only to live for this life, why look to the future? Why give up on so much now if this is the only life that we live?  But we have this guarantee that life will not stop when we leave this world. Death for us is not the end. We do not eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. Death for us is not the end…it is only the beginning; the beginning of a more glorious life, and life which will not end.

B.   Life has eternal value.  We cherish each day. We live life to the fullest for we make an impact on this life only to live life again in glory with Jesus. Life is limitless. Life is eternal. Life is endless. Life is permanent.

This is our purpose for living; life, real life, abundant life; eternal life. Life with Jesus forever. Now that’s a future we can all look forward to living! A blessed Easter! Amen!



Easter

Easter
March 31, 2002 
The Conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer


Introduction:  The kingdom remains forever with Jesus!  We come now to the conclusion of this much loved prayer: “For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power and the glory forever and ever Amen”

Yes! The kingdom remains forever with Jesus! It is a powerful kingdom.  It is a glorious kingdom. It is an eternal kingdom.  Why do we pray? Jesus has given us plenty of reasons why we should pray. In the conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer we find three good reasons for asking all these things from Jesus.
Jesus alone is King, from whom we seek help. On this Easter let us remember that there is no such thing as a dead Christ. The German philosopher Nietzsche declared that God is dead. Unfortunately for Nietzsche he died and met a living Christ! Because of Easter you and I can come to Christ with our faults and our fears, with our cares and our concerns with our triumphs and our trials, with our disasters and our dreams and know that He will hear every single one of them.

This not so with the false gods of this present age. They are only the cheap imitation of man’s own imagination. They are utterly worthless. David reminds us in Psalm 115: “Why do the nations say, where is their God? But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of man's hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak; they have eyes, but they cannot see; They have ears, but they cannot hear; they have noses, but they cannot smell; They have hands, but they cannot feel; they have feet, but they cannot walk; they cannot make a sound with their throat Those who make them will become like them, everyone who trusts in them. O Israel, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield.” (vv.2-9) Man left to his own devices is powerless and ineffectual.

But because of Easter God is alive and hears every prayer. That’s why we can say with David in Psalm 110: “You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; You encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may be terrified no more” (vv.17-18).


Because of Easter Jesus alone has the power to grant us our petitions.

Jeremiah the prophet of old reminds us “Like a scarecrow in a melon patch their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good” (v.15)

Dumb idols remain silent. They can not help. They can not hurt. A prayer offered to a false god is like speaking to the wind. Not so with Jesus.  He has the power to grant our petitions because He is alive. As the child once put it “He can’t be dead…I spoke to Him this morning!” Every petition, every request is answered by Him because he is alive forevermore.  


Because of Easter Jesus alone shall have all glory and praise for all that he has done for us. 

He is the eternal God deserving of our prayers and our praise. The writer to the Hebrews put it this way: “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will. And may He work in us what is pleasing to Him through Jesus Christ to whom be glory forever and ever Amen (13:20-21)

Conclusion:  So what else is there to say other then the Amen! What is meant by the word Amen? ‘That I should be certain that these petitions are acceptable to our Father in heaven, and are heard by Him; for He Himself has commanded us so to pray, and has promised to hear us. Amen, Amen, that is, yea, yea it shall be so. A blessed Easter! Amen.

Friday, March 29, 2002

Good Friday

Good Friday
March 29, 2002
The 7th Petition
“But Deliver Us From Evil”

Introduction:  Quite possibly Luther has saved the best for last. In the 7th petition we pray: “But deliver us from evil” Luther writes: “We pray in this petition, as the sum of all, that our Father in heaven would deliver us from every evil of body and soul, property and honor, and finally, when our last hour has come, grant us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this vale of tears to Himself in heaven”.

In this petition we ask God –

I.        To keep every evil from us.

The Lord promises us in Psalm 91 that He will keep us safe so that no harm or evil will overcome us. “If you make the Most High your dwelling –even the Lord, who is my refuge then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent” (vv.9-10) “God is our refuge and strength an even present help in all kinds of trouble” says David. (Psalm 46:1)  Thus we are called to have a triumphant confidence, a fearless trust in God.

The devil and sin would threaten our very existence - yet God in Christ has done something about our sin and the devil’s might. He dealt with our sins on a hill called Calvary when He suffered and died for our sins and the sins of the entire world. That’s why we have been taught to pray: “but deliver us from evil,” or as some put it, “but deliver us from the evil one”.

II.    In this prayer we ask God to take from us or to help us bear and turn to our benefit the cross with which He afflicts us.

Returning from Antioch Paul “Strengthened the disciples and encouraged them to remain true to the faith” (Acts 14:22) Those early Christians were tempted within and without. There were many crosses and temptations, challenges and persecutions placed “in their road”.  Yet, the Lord by His Word and Spirit kept them as they remained true to the faith.  To this day the Lord does this in your life and in my life as we pray with the hymn writer:

“Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies
Hea’vn’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!

                    [TLH #552 stanza 8]

No matter what might befall us Christ remains with us.  In the book of Job, chapter 5, verse 19 we are told: “From six calamities He will rescue you; in seven no harm will befall you” Though many trials may come to us Christ will see us through.  We can trust that these promises will be kept because Christ kept the greatest promise ever made when He went to the cross on a day called Good Friday. He suffered in our place so that we could receive forgiveness, life and salvation.

III. We pray in this petition that our dear redeemer would deliver us from all evil and finally lead us to a blessed end.

Paul writes in 2 Timothy: “The Lord will rescue me from every attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom” (v.18) When we know the Savior and are assured of His protection you and I can pray with Simian of old: “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace as you have promised. For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all people. A light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory of Your people Israel” (vv.29-32)

We toil here on this earth where we are bombarded by the forces of the devil, the world and our own flesh. Our ultimate goal is to be with Jesus in glory.  That’s what St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians. Chapter 1 “I’m torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (v.23)

And that’s why today is called Good Friday. Christ has conquered and gained for us the victory. Hidden under the shadow of the cross we wait for a new day when we will be with the Lord. Until that day comes we can be assured that He will continue to deliver us from every form of evil. Yes you are covered and protected by the Savior.

Pilgrims here on earth and strangers
Dwelling in the midst of foes.
Us and ours preserve from dangers;
In Thine arms may we repose
And, when life’s sad day is past,
Rest with Thee in heav’n at last.

                    [TLH #553 stanza 2]     

Thursday, March 28, 2002

M Thursday

Maundy Thursday
March 28, 2002
The 6th Petition
“Lead Us Not Into Temptation”

Introduction: on this holy night, when we remember that the Savior endured temptation for us we are brought into remembrance that He Himself allowed Himself to suffer. He prayed in the garden “Father, not My will, but Thine be done” and then allowed Himself and permitted Himself to be crucified.

Tonight, we look at the sixth petition: “and lead us not into temptation” Luther in his small Catechism reminds us: “God indeed tempts no one…” Well, if that is the case, what then do we ask in the sixth petition?

              I.      We ask that the Father would guard and keep us, so that the temptation to evil may not come upon us.

Paul writing in 2 Thessalonians 3 reminds us: “But the Lord is faithful, and will strengthen and protect you from the evil one” (v.3) Here Paul places the faithfulness of God in sharp contrast with the lack of faith in people.  “No temptation has sized you except what is common to man” Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10. “ And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear but when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand under it” (v.13) 

Temptation in itself is not sin. Jesus Himself was tempt4ed. Yielding to temptation is sin. Through God’s battling for us we are able to resist temptation to sin and stand up under it.

           II.      God also promises to strengthen and preserve us when He permits temptation to come.

            Why, pray tell, would the Father allow His children to be tempted? You might ask.  The Father allows temptation so that in the end we may overcome and obtain the victory.  Paul reminds us to be clothed with Christ’s protection.  In Ephesians 6:13 he writes: “Therefore put on the full armor of god, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand”. (v.13) 

           Withstanding temptation is the end result.  God by these words assures us that he will give us the means by which we can withstand temptation. Those means are His Word and the Sacraments, which are connected to God’s Word and promises.

            To help guard and keep us the Savior has given us His Supper. This meal is an everlasting testament in which the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation is given to us.

            Jesus, knowing all that was about to happen to Him took the time to offer for us His Supper. This meal is offered to you and to me that we may withstand temptation, that we may overcome, that we may gain the victory.

Lord, I believe what Thou hast said,
Help me when doubt assails me;
Remember that I am but dust
And let my faith not fail me.
Thy Supper in this vale of tears
Refreshes me and stills my fears
And is my priceless treasure.
[ TLH #306 stanza 6]

Sunday, March 24, 2002

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday
March 24, 2002
Matthew 21:1-11

A King Comes Riding


Introduction:  Palm Sunday is an easy scene to recreate. We’ve all heard the story over and over again. It is so very familiar to us but what really is going on here as we see a king comes riding on a colt.

I.        There were issues at hand to be sure.

A.     The Land was occupied

1.      Romans despised Jews and made life for them extremely difficult.

2.   The Jews, on the other hand, hated the Romans; harboring a grudge and they were subject under them.

B.     There were messianic expectations among the people.

1. This was promised throughout the Old Testament that in due time a Messiah would come to deliver the people from their oppressive leaders.

2. Thus the people were wondering if in fact a true deliverer would at last come. What better time then this for a true savior to come?

C. Finally, Lazarus had just been raised to life.

1.      His being raised to life had just recently taken place, within a few weeks.  Everyone was talking about these events.

2.      This news was well known by all. People were starting to question; could this be the promised Savior? Could the messiah be at hand? Could this Jesus be the one?

3.      This simply brought things to a head. The leaders felt threatened. It was determined by a consensus of the leaders that this Jesus must die. “It is expedient that one man should die for the sake of the nation”

II.     The Intention – why did these things happen?

A.     It was not just to fulfill prophecy.

1.      Things didn’t happen just for that. We can not simply say that it was fate that the events of Psalm Sunday escalated as they did.

2.      The events prophesied were being fulfilled in the people’s hearing. God was beginning to act. Events in the world were beginning to unfold and God was at the center.

B.     Christ takes control of His own destiny.

1.      He deliberately precipitates a crisis.
a.      Fate or luck has nothing to do with it. 
b.      Jesus takes matters into His own hands.
c.      He forces the issue. People will now have to take a stand. What will we do with this man Jesus?

2.      Brought events to God’s timing.
a.      The whole matter is in the hands of God
b.      This becomes the crucial event for the people of Jerusalem but especially for you and me today what do you do with Jesus?

III.   The Identifications

A.     Actions of Christ

1.      Sets self forth as the true Messiah

2.      The colt shows what sort of Messiah He will really be.

B.     The responses to Him

1.      The leaders completely missed the point. They ask him to quiet the crowd.

2.      But the people, they too, no less miss the point also.
a.      They linked Jesus to the Psalms
b.      They should have linked Him to the rest of the Old Testament.

C.     Explanation of the crowd.

1.      They were fickle. Today the flock to Him. By Friday they will ask for His blood.

2.      They expected a political Messiah, a bread king.
a.      He showed He was not such “My kingdom is not of this world”.
b.      They became disillusioned.

IV.  Implications

A.     God is in control of every timetable.

B.     Beware of “protestations of praise”

C.     People want a kingdom on their own terms.

1.      Health, wealth, prosperity: view wants that king of kingdom (a kingdom of glory)

2.      Those who want him as Savior but not as Lord

3.      Those who want salvation some other way.

If Christ should come riding into your town today how would people respond?