Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ascension

May 29, 2014
The Ascension of Our Lord
Luke 24:44-53
"Power for Ending & Beginning"




Introduction: The Ascension of our Lord marks the ending as well as a beginning. The earthly ministry of Jesus has been accomplished. Now, as recorded in the closing words of Luke's gospel, Jesus gave final instructions to His disciples. Then He ascended on high to the position of eternal glory that He, the Son of God, had left in order to be our Redeemer. But this ending was truly a beginning. For now, He would bestow power on His faithful people. This night let us consider the power for ending as well as beginning.

1. We end and begin with the powerful Word of our Savior.
A. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Word.
1. The sweep of salvation history covers "everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms" (Luke 24:44). In Christ, all things are completed.

2. Luke's gospel is a record of that fulfillment. It started with the prediction that at just the right time Christ would come into the world. Luke outlines for us how Christ finds His way all the way back to the people of promise in the genealogy of Jesus. Luke records for us Jesus' birth, His trip to the temple to be circumcised and then at the age of twelve.

We have recorded for us his life and ministry, which culminated in Jesus' death and resurrection. During these past forty days we too have been witnesses of His resurrection...Luke has lead us to the conclusion that this Jesus is none other than the very Son of God, the chosen One of the Father.

B. Jesus reveals Himself as the Center of the Word.
1. In our text, we are reminded that Jesus "opened their minds to understand the Scriptures" (v. 45). What this simply means is that without Jesus Christ the Word becomes a mere record of ancient history. But with His revelation which comes through the Word we know Jesus to be the way the truth and the life.

2. Jesus' death and resurrection is the key that opens up the Word. In the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have come to know that He holds for us the key, which opens the gate, which leads to eternal life.

C. This fulfilled, Christ-centered Word must be proclaimed in the world.
1. The proclamation is repentance and forgiveness in Jesus' Holy Name.
2. It is proclaimed to all people and all nations for God desires all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Transition: Scripture's purpose is not a dead end. It is a new beginning, for it has power through this proclamation of Jesus' suffering, death, resurrection and ascension to bring repentance, forgiveness and life to all who believe. This is the new beginnings, which Christ brings to us this day.

2. We end and begin with the power of the Holy Spirit.
A. We are called to be His witnesses.
1. We witness to what the disciples had seen in Christ. In spirit we were there as Jesus suffered, was crucified, died and was buried. We too have seen His resurrected from the dead.
2. He too have witnessed to what we by faith have seen ourselves. The resurrection of Jesus Christ has the power to change lives. Every person who passed by the open tomb of the resurrected Christ had their lives changed. Before the resurrection, they were fearful and doubting. But after the resurrection, their lives were changed as the witnessed Jesus alive from the dead.

B. But wait! The Power will come!
1. On the day of Pentecost the Savior would "clothe" the disciples with the power of the Holy Spirit. Having received power from on high they began in Jerusalem and were His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the rest of the world.
2. We too, begin by the power of the Spirit to witness to Jesus Christ. As we have received the power of the spirit in baptism, we go out into the world witnessing of what Christ has done for us in our lives as well.

Transition: A witness is one who cannot but speak and live the endings and beginnings that God, by grace, has bestowed upon His people. As we begin, we receive the living Christ.

3. We end and begin under Christ's powerful blessing.
A. The ending point of Jesus' earthly ministry was His glorious Ascension.
1. Jesus ascended to heaven to receive all glory and honor from God the Father.
2. He ascended to bless His Christ as its living, present Head as He comes to us, His children through Word and Sacrament.

B. We are blessed with joy.
1. The disciples did not mourn Jesus' leaving; the rejoiced for they knew that He was returning to the Father.
2. This is far different from Memorial Day sadness and helplessness when we remember those who are no more. Christ continues to be alive and with us. We might not see Him but He remains with us. As He has promised, "Lo, I am with you always, even 'till the end of the age" (Matthew 28:28)
3. He who rose is with us this night. He will return at His Second Advent to take us to be where He now lives and rules at the right hand of the Father.

Conclusion: So, filled with joy, the disciples waited and "were continually in the temple" (v. 53). We too await the Lord's return not with sadness but with joy, not in weakness but in His power and strength. The ascension is the ending that brought new beginnings. It is power like that of our baptism. Our earthly lives will end one day but will also begin again with joy our entrance into life eternal.

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Time in the Word - Easter 7

 Time in the Word

Christians in a non-Believing World
Easter 7
May 26-31, 2014
This coming week will be the last Sunday in Easter. Easter 7 serves as a bridge between Ascension and Pentecost. We look back to the Ascension or forward to Pentecost. Because Easter was so late this year, we will be celebrating Ascension the last week of May.  .

A Daytime Collect for Eastertide Almighty God the Father, through Your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ You have overcome death and opened the gate of everlasting life to us. Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of our Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by Your life-giving Spirit.


Collect for Easter 7 - O King of glory, Lord of hosts, uplifted in triumph far above all heavens, leave us not without consolation but send us the Spirit of truth whom You promised from the Father; for You live and reign with Him and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

A Prayer for Ascension Almighty God, as Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, ascended into the heavens, so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

For Agriculture - Almighty God, You blessed the earth to make it fruitful, bringing forth in abundance whatever is needed for the support of our lives. Prosper; we implore You, the work of farmers, especially in this planting season. Grant them seasonable weather that they may gather in the fruits of the earth and thus proclaim Your goodness. May we see by this noble vocation that by Your aid we are helping to feed the world and cause all who give thanks over their food to treat those who produce it with honor and respect.

An Evening Collect for Eastertide – Abide with us, Lord, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. Abide with us and with Your whole Church. Abide with us in the end of the day, in the end of our life, in the end of the world. Abide with us with Your grace and goodness, with Your Holy Word and sacrament, with Your strength and blessing. Abide with us when the night of affliction and temptation comes upon us, the night of fear and despair when death shall come. Abide with us and with all the faithful through time and eternity.
Monday, May 26, 2014 – Psalm 68:1-10 - This is the Psalm suggested for the last Sunday in Easter.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 – Acts 1:12—26 – Christians in the world pray for the Spirit.  At His ascension, Jesus promised to send the Spirit to the disciples. The risen Lord meets with His eleven disciples a short distance from Jerusalem where before ascending to His Father, He promises them the Spirit who will give them power to witness throughout the world. Then they returned to an upper room in Jerusalem to pray. With the disciples are Jesus’ brothers and mother. This is her last appearance in the New Testament — she is seen among the first Christians praying and waiting for the Spirit. This deals with both the Ascension and next Sunday’s Pentecost. The First Lesson is similar to today’s Acts 1:1-11. Otherwise, the Lesson can be used to prepare for the upcoming Pentecost celebration.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 – 1 Peter 4:12-19; 5:6-11 – Christians in the world share Christ’s sufferings. Christians are to rejoice over the privilege of sharing Christ’s suffering, and, after suffering, God will restore and strengthen them. The exhortations to the newly baptized are continued in this passage. They are warned of impending persecution for being Christians, for at this time it was a crime to be a Christian. They are not to be surprised when suffering comes, but to rejoice that they suffer as Jesus did. When suffering comes, the new Christians are to be humble, trust in God’s care, be on guard against temptation, and to remember that suffering is over and God will strengthen them. They are to take comfort in the fact that suffering is experienced by the whole church.

Thursday, May 29, 2014 John 17:1-11 – Christians in the world are prayed for. Before His departure, Jesus prays for His disciples. This lesson is a part of Christ’s high priestly prayer, the end of His farewell discourse at the Last Supper begun in chapter 13. The hour of His departure has come. He reports to the Father that He has accomplished the work He was sent to do. 
Friday, May 30, 2014 – Psalm 47 – This Psalm is suggested for Ascension. 
Saturday, May 31, 2014 – Acts 2:21 – This verse is the inspiration for the hymn, “Christ is the World’s Redeemer“{LSB 539}. The suggested hymn for this week reminds us that Jesus is the Savior of the world. Having examined the realities of Easter, we now go out into the world as witnesses of the Savior. This is what living the faith means. Expressing what those 1st Century disciples proclaimed, “We are witnesses to these things” 
Sources:
THE LUTHERAN HYMNAL © 1940 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN WORSHIP © 1982 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK LECTIONARY © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO

LECTIONARY PREACHING WORKBOOK SERIES A John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing House, Lima, OH


Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Easter 6

Easter 6
John 14:15-21
I will not leave you desolate


“O God, from whom all good things do come. Lead us by the inspiration of Your Spirit to think those things that are right, and by Your goodness help us to do them.”

Jesus Christ  your Lord and Savior reaches out to His fearful, lonely and hurting followers of all ages when He says to us, "I will not leave you desolate." These words of comfort and hope mirror the last five words that He spoke to humans before He ascended into heaven. When He said in Matthew 28, "I am with you always..." Jesus your Savior gives you His guarantee that He will not walk out on you. Consider His words and promises this day.

We too can experience the same feelings of abandonment.

We experience trials, sickness and death. And what do we feel? We can feel as if Christ has left us too.

When these things happen, all of our options all seem to be bad ones. We feel as if we are thrown to the wind. With no one to help us. We lose our sense of direction and our sense of perspective because these fears of loneliness can overwhelm us.

These feelings of hopelessness have become a product of our times. We live with such rapid changes all around us. There are family problems, jobs that are threatened, economic situations and issues that appear to be out of our control. Social and societal shifts we cannot understand.  And because so much is beyond our control, we can feel the sense that we too, are losing control.

It is then that we conclude that our life is full of troubles and challenges and how weak we really are. As the old quip reminds us, "any fool can handle a crisis...it's the day to day living that wears me down!"

In this midst of this trouble and strife, this chaos and confusion that the Savior comes to us with His Word of comfort and promise. Jesus understands our station in life and He promises to do something about our sorry lot.

He promises us the Counselor. For your aid and comfort.

Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will come and appears on our behalf to be a mediator, an intercessor, and a genuine helper for us.

Who is this counselor? He is the Spirit of truth, the One who can be known and revealed  only by faith. He is the One who dwells and lives within you. While so many live with the mistaken notion that perception is reality, the Savior confirms to you that He is the reality and the solution to any feelings of abandonment.

Jesus promised His disciples that He was leaving. They reasoned, they concluded, that they must solider it alone. This perception became their reality. Yet Jesus' promises trump any and all false conclusions. You are not alone. He sends you the Counselor, the Spirit of truth.

You are not alone.  "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come."  John 16:13.  "The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." John 14:17

He will guide you - as a father leads his child by the hand, so will the Holy Spirit lead and guide you.  You are not alone. Christ has conquered. Christ has risen. The Spirit has come. He leads you still. Into all truth. Wherever you might go.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

IN MEMORIAM

Joyce Heckman
Born in to this world - October 12, 1929
Baptized into Christ - October 20, 1929
Confirmed in the faith - April 18, 1943
With Christ in Peace - May 19, 2014





Sunday, May 18, 2014

Time in the Word - Easter 6

 Time in the Word

The Spirit in the Christian’s Life

Easter 6

May 19-24, 2014

This week lead us to the Sunday before the Festival of the Ascension, which falls forty days after Easter. Since Jesus is about to leave the earth, our attention is called to the Spirit who is to come in his place. The Lessons begin to prepare us for Pentecost. In the Gospel, Jesus promises to send the Spirit as Counselor, the spirit of truth. In Lesson 1, Paul in his sermon at Athens tries to explain the nature of God who, to the Athenians, is an “unknown God.” For many today, including Christians, the Spirit is an unknown God. The Spirit is mentioned in the Epistle Lesson — Jesus was made alive in the Spirit. The Prayer refers to “the inspiration of the Spirit” to enable us to think those things that are right. Since Pentecost is a major festival of the church and hopefully a renewed outpouring of the Spirit, it is appropriate that through the lections we begin to prepare for Pentecost.

Collect for Easter 6 - O God, the Giver of all that is good, by Your holy inspiration grant that we may think those things that are right and by Your merciful guiding accomplish them; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

A Prayer for Home & FamilyVisit, we implore You, O Lord, the homes in which Your people dwell, keep far from them all harm and danger. Grant us to dwell together in peace under the protection of Your holy angels and may Your blessing be with us forever.

For PeaceO God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works proceed, give to Your servants that peace which the world cannot give that our hearts may be set to obey Your commandments and also that  w3e, being defended by You, may pass our time in rest and quietness.   

A Daytime Collect for Eastertide Almighty God the Father, through Your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ You have overcome death and opened the gate of everlasting life to us. Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of our Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by Your life-giving Spirit.

Monday, May 19, 2014 – Psalm 66:1-7 -The Antiphon for next Sunday’s Introit is taken from Vs.1, “I cry to God with joy.” The man who is blessed (Vv.1-4) is also humbled (Vv. 5ff) Notice the illustration in Vs. 6 and the implication found in Vs. 7.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 – Acts 17:16-31 –The Spirit as an “unknown God” Paul preaches at Athens. Paul’s sermon at Athens was different. It was addressed not to Jews nor to Christian Gentiles, but to educated and cultured pagans, for Athens was the capitol of Greek-Roman civilization. It is interesting to see how Paul adapted to his audience to get a hearing. He begins by complementing them — “You are very religious.” He refers to a local situation — an altar erected to an unknown god. This gives him an entree into his subject. Who is this “unknown God?” To bolster his argument he does not quote scripture but Greek philosophers and poets. He brings his message to a head by calling for repentance as preparation for the judgment to be conducted by the One God raised from the dead.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 –1 Peter 3:13-22 – Christians are alive in the Spirit. The newly baptized, warned they may suffer for being Christians are reminded if the suffer for “well-doing rather than evil-doing,” they will be blessed. In a non-Christian world, Christians are to imitate Jesus who suffered, died for our sins, rose and ascended to the Father. They are to revere Christ and to be prepared to give an account of their faith. As Noah was saved through water, really from water, baptismal water saves us not by a physical, but a spiritual cleansing.

Thursday, May 22, 2014 – John 14:15-21God’s people come to God only through Jesus. This is a continuation of Jesus’ “farewell discourses”. Jesus promises not to leave the disciples desolate, for he will send the Spirit. Jesus’ final discourse continues from last Sunday. It deals with the fate of the disciples after his departure. Jesus reminds his followers that love is obeying his commands, particularly the command to love one another. He assures them that he will not leave them desolate, for he will send the Spirit. By the Spirit he will be with them. John considers the coming of the Spirit as the end of all time.

Friday, May 23, 2014 – Psalm 66:8-20 – This Psalm is a continuation from the Psalm appointed for Monday. Now we look at the holy man who is humbled by the marvelous ways of God (Vv.8-12). The person of faith is declared holy by the trustworthiness of God (Vv. 13-15) as well as his testimony. (Vv. 16-20)

Sources:
THE LUTHERAN HYMNAL © 1940 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN WORSHIP © 1982 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK LECTIONARY © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO

LECTIONARY PREACHING WORKBOOK SERIES A John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing House, Lima, OH


Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Easter 5

Easter 5
John 14: 6

“Jesus said, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”

O God, You make the minds of Your faithful to be of one will. Grant that we may love what You have commanded and desire what You promise, that among the many changes of this world our hearts may be fixed where true joys are found; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

We are now in the fifth Sunday of Easter. We never want to loose sight of Easter. Because every Sunday is a celebration of The Resurrection. Because Christ lives, He is the way, truth and life.



Your life in Christ is always in the present.  In light of Easter Jesus is our only way to God. After all, what other man has ever from the dead?

Only when we do the Jesus truth in the Jesus way do we get the Jesus life.

For without the way. There is no going. Without the truth. There is no knowing. Without the life. There is no living.

1. Without the way. There is no going.  


Hold onto this promise. "I am the way." He won't let you down now. 'I am the Way.' In Him you see God. In Him you meet and will meet God. His teachings will guide your feet. His presence will sustain your spirit. In all the twists and turns your future path may take,  hold fast to Jesus, He is the Way.

"In my Father's house are many dwelling places" (14:2).  I am the Way.

"I go to prepare a place for you" (14:3).  I am the Way.

"I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also" (14:3).   I am the Way.

"If you know me, you will know my Father also" (14:7).   I am the Way.

"From now on you do know him and have seen him" (14:7).   I am the Way.

"Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (14:9).   I am the Way.

Jesus is the Way. He is the truth.

2. Without the truth. There is no knowing.


Jesus is the way for those who dwell in an abyss of misery, futility and pain.  Jesus is the way for disciples going through the motions. Jesus is the way for those who fear their questions are too basic. So bring your questions. Even your hardest questions to the God Jesus makes known. 

For this God can handle them. Indeed, this God wants them. And when you are next to your wits end. When your hearts are troubled. And your blood pressure is racing with anxiety -- look to Jesus, the one who preached God's mercy and taught God's love.   Who healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, and made the lame to walk. And then conquered death so that even the grave can no longer claim you. Because what you see in Jesus...this is what God looks like. This is who and what God is. Love, perfect love, for you, for all of us, and the whole world.

Jesus is the Way. He is the truth. He is the life.

3. Without the life. There is no living. 


The life you live is not your own. The life you live is rooted in Christ. "You are, for the sake of Christ, loved and treasured and of value in this world.  Apart from your perception. Another's evaluation. Or your own feelings or failures. It’s a reality that comes from outside of you, hanging there on the cross." *

This does not mean that we are free from suffering, failure or loss. We often fail and fail miserably. The stuff of self identity is the difference between the words "do" and "done".  In the words of John the Baptizer, "I must decrease. He must increase." The life you live is not your own. The life you live finds it's identity in Jesus Christ.

St. Paul reminds us, "And since Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you." - Romans 8:10-11.

The life you live is not your own. The life you live finds it's identity in Jesus Christ

* Rev. James Wetzstein Chapel of the Resurrection, Valparaiso, IN  29 March 2014


799 Words
92% Reading ease
2.7 Reading level.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Time in the Word - Easter 5


Time in the Word
The People of God
Easter 5
May 12-17, 2014

Easter 5 begins to look forward to and prepare us for the ascension and Pentecost. In the Gospel, Jesus prepares the disciples for His departure. In Lesson 1 we see the ascended Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Because of the resurrection and ascension, we are God’s people offering spiritual sacrifices. The focus of the Lesson is on God’s people. Psalm 31 relates to Stephen’s martyrdom. The Prayer concerns God’s people who love God’s commands and desire God’s promises. The Hymn deals with the Gospel, Jesus as the way.

Collect for Easter 5 - O God, You make the minds of Your faithful to be of one will. Grant that we may love what You have commanded and desire what You promise, that among the many changes of this world our hearts may be fixed where true joys are found; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. 

A Daytime Collect for Eastertide Almighty God the Father, through Your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ You have overcome death and opened the gate of everlasting life to us. Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of our Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by Your life-giving Spirit.


A Prayer for an Answer to PrayerAlmighty God, since You have granted us the favor to call on You with one accord and have promised that where two or three are gathered together in Your name You are in the midst of them, fulfill now the prayers of Your people granting us in this world knowledge of Your truth and in the world to come life everlasting.  

For IndustryLord Jesus Christ, as once You shared in human toil and thus hallowed the work of our hands, prosper those who maintain the industries of this land, give them a right regard for their labors, granting them a just reward for their toil and joy in serving You and supplying our needs.  

An Evening Collect for Eastertide Abide with us, Lord, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. Abide with us and with Your whole Church. Abide with us in the end of the day, in the end of our life, in the end of the world. Abide with us with Your grace and goodness, with Your Holy Word and sacrament, with Your strength and blessing. Abide with us when the night of affliction and temptation comes upon us, the night of fear and despair when death shall come. Abide with us and with all the faithful through time and eternity.

Monday, May 12, 2014 – Psalm 146 - The Antiphon for next Sunday’s Introit is taken from Vs.2, “I will praise the Lord all my life, I will sing praise to My God as long as I live.” This Psalm is an encouragement to trust in the Lord. The is the first of five Hallelujah Psalms which closes out the book of Psalms. Having walked with the Savior observing His Passion during Lent we now rejoice in the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation which is our through the cross and empty tomb.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 – Acts 6:1-9, 7:2a, 51-60 – God’s people believe the gospel. The apostolic church has problems of growth. The ministry is too busy and the spiritual functions are being neglected. Members are complaining about their being neglected. What church would not like to have a problem like that, such as lack of parking space on a Sunday morning, insufficient seating space for Sunday morning service, or crowded Sunday school rooms? Why was this church growing? What will make any church grow? “The word of God increased and the number of disciples multiplied” (v. 7).


Wednesday, May 14, 2014 –1 Peter 2:2-10God’s people are a chosen, holy people. As living stones in a spiritual house, Christians are God’s people. Peter’s letter is considered a sermon to newly-baptized people. As newborn children, they now need spiritual milk until they grow into maturity. The new Christians are likened to living stones in a spiritual house with Jesus as the cornerstone holding them together. Again, they are likened to a spiritual priesthood (priesthood of believers) which offer spiritual sacrifices. These Christians are the new Israel; God’s chosen people, a holy nation, and a royal priesthood. Because they received God’s mercy in Christ, they have changed from a nobody to a somebody.


Thursday, May 15, 2014 – John 14:1-14God’s people come to God only through Jesus. This is the beginning of Jesus’ “farewell discourses” that continue through chapter 17. The disciples are not to be troubled because he is going to prepare a place which is large enough for all. Moreover, he is the only way to the Father. To know and see Jesus is to know and see the Father. It is essential that the disciples know and believe in him and the Father. If they do, they will do greater things than Jesus did and their prayers, offered in His name, will be answered.

Friday, May 16, 2014 – Psalm 31 – This Psalm is a prayer when confronted by a conspiracy so powerful and open that all David’s friends abandoned him. According to Luke 23:46, Jesus applied verse 5 to His own circumstance. Those who share in His sufferings at the hands of anti-Christian forces are encouraged to hear and use this psalm in light of what Jesus has endured for us. 
 
Saturday, May 17, 2014 – John 6:32-35 – is the inspiration for the hymn “At the Lambs High Feast we Sing“{LSB 633}.  The manna, which came from heaven was from God. The Father still “gives” the true bread from heaven, which is life through His Son Jesus Christ. Who is this bread of heaven? Jesus answers for us in Vs. 35 “I am” the bread of heaven. 

Sources:
THE LUTHERAN HYMNAL © 1940 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN WORSHIP © 1982 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

LECTIONARY PREACHING WORKBOOK A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing, Lima OH


Easter 4

Easter 4
11 May 2014
John 10:1-14


Almighty God the Father, through Your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, You have overcome death and opened the gate of everlasting life to us. Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of our Lord’s resurrection, may be raise from the death of sin by Your life given Spirit.

We are in the Easter season. And who are you? You are Easter people. Holy and blessed sheep, who listen to the voice of their Shepherd. Jesus calls Himself the “good” and “noble” shepherd. You are a sheep of His fold. A lamb of His flock. A sinner of His own redeeming. He has made you His own by giving His life for you.

He continues to protect you from all who would do you harm. So long, as you remain in Him. Nothing, not even the devil can harm you. Remain always in Him.

1.       Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd.” (v.11a)

All who come before Him were thieves and robbers. As thieves, as robbers, they only come to steal. Kill, and destroy. They are hired hands. Not shepherds.  Hirelings don’t own the sheep. He sees the wolf coming and flees.

Thieves and robbers flee when trouble comes. They flee. Because they care nothing for the sheep. Because they are hired hands, they do not care for the sheep. They see the wolf coming. They leave and sheep and flee. The wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them.

Snatched and scattered sheep are doomed to be lost. Thieve and robbers flee when trouble comes. Hirelings care nothing for the sheep. Lost and frightened sheep need a good shepherd. One who cares and tends them.

2.       The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. (v.11b)

Jesus is the door. Because He is the door. The sheep listen to the Shepherd’s voice. Because He is the door. If anyone enters through Him, he will be saved. Because He is the door, holy and blessed sheep will go in and out. They will find pasture. And be satisfied.

Your good shepherd came to this world that you might have life and have it abundantly. As your good shepherd, He knows his own.  Your burdens, your sorrows, your troubles, your cares. He knows His own. Your joys, your triumphs, your accomplishments, your future is His care. He knows His own.

And He’s known by His own. When you come confessing your sin in repentance and faith He absolves, pardons, and forgives. When you call upon Him in prayer, He hears you. When you read His Word He speaks to you. When you come to His table, He feeds you.


Mary had a little lamb
His fleece was white as snow
And everywhere that Mary went
The Lamb of God would go.
He made His way to Calvary
To pay for all your sin.
And three days later, conquered death.
And rose to life again!

Almighty God, merciful Father, since You have wakened from death the Shepherd of Your sheep, grant us Your Holy Spirit that, when we hear the voice of our Shepherd, we may know Him who calls us each by name and follow where He heads; through Jesus Christ, our Good shepherd. Amen.

545  -Words
92.8-Reading ease
2.3-Grade level

Friday, May 9, 2014

Easter 4

Easter 4
Good Shepherd Sunday
John 10:3
Shepherd and Sheep

Collect for Easter 4: Almighty God, merciful Father, since You have wakened from death the Shepherd of Your sheep, grant us Your Holy Spirit that, when we hear the voice of our Shepherd, we may know Him who calls us each by name and follow where He leads; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

We have reviewed the relationship between Shepherd and sheep this past Lent. Lest we forget.  Your Good Shepherd reminds you. Once again. Of who you are. And whose you are. The encouragement for today is simple. Listen to the voice of your shepherd -who alone calls you by name.

Jesus your a Good Shepherd loves you. He proves this great love by providing for you. In every circumstance. In every situation. In every case. His compassion, care, concern is there. How so? Your Shepherd speaks.


1. He calls His sheep by name.
    A.  This happened to you individually. When He called you by name. He gave you a new name. The name Christian. When and where He claimed you to be a child of God. He did this  on the day of your baptism.
    B.  On that day, He gave you His Holy Spirit. With a promise. Those who believe on His name, He gives power to become the children of God. And promises them His Holy Spirit.  "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved."( Mark 16)
    C.   Since He calls you by name He knows everything about you. He has given you talents, abilities, gifts. To flourish in this world. Yes! He knows. Of your worries and concerns. He knows. What gives you nightmares. And causes you to stay awake at night. He knows. Of your past failures and short comings. That's why He dealt with your sin individually, personally. At the cross and empty tomb. And he's fascinated with you as an individual. So much so that He took the time to number the very hair on your head. He knows your past. He's dealt with it. He understands your current condition. Speak to Him in prayer. Your future? It is His concern.

2. The sheep hear His voice.
    A.  No one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit. No one can say, "Jesus be cursed" if they have the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3) Now you know Him. The Holy Spirit has brought you to that truth! "If you listen to My voice then you are truly My disciples indeed. You shall now the truth. And the truth shall set you free." (John 8:32)
    B.  There are plenty of voices in our world. Each screaming to be heard. Tune into any news cast and you will hear competing voices. Each with their own agenda and plan.   Each promises to be genuine. With motives as pure as the wind driven snow. And you must heed them! So they say. After all, you're merely sheep! They are, In fact, all liars. Each duplicitous. Every. Single. One!
    C.   Listen and continue to listen to "that still small voice" which calms and gives comfort and peace. It is the voice of your Good Shepherd. Where do you hear His voice today? Not in the granger of creation. Not in signs and wonders. Not in myths and legends. Yet in the truths which continue to transform. In the words and promises of your Shepherd. Listen carefully to His clear voice.  They are truth. They are life.

3. He leads them out.
    A.   There has not been a single day when your Shepherd were not there. He remains with you. Through every circumstance. In every condition. Every situation.
    B.     His goal - to lead you home.  We are Easter people. Since the Father has wakened from death the Shepherd of the sheep we always keep our gaze upward and forward. Upward toward heaven. We shall see Him on the last great day. When the last pagan  is converted. Then all things will be ready. And every eye shall see Him. When he breaks into time and space again for His final encore. And He will lead you home!
    C.    So keep your gaze forward. Always forward.  Forward for today, tomorrow, this week, this month, this year. Forever forward. One day He will call you by name. And you will take a walk. From one end of the Kingdom to the other. From grace to glory. You will close your eyes to this world. Only to open them to see Jesus. Face to face.  Then, in mansions glorious you shall reign with Him.

Listen to The Shepherd's Voice. Follow in His wake. Know of His direction, care. For He shall lead you home!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Time in the Word Easter 4

What does Easter 4’s theme of sheep and shepherd have to do with the Easter season’s message of the resurrection? On the surface, there seems to be no connection. Why couldn’t this theme of Jesus as shepherd serve to assure us of the nature of the risen Lord? Though he has risen in glory and is soon to ascend to the Father, Christ continues with us as a shepherd on earth, a shepherd who knows, cares, leads, and protects his sheep. Though risen in glory and absent in the body, Jesus continues as an abiding presence to care for his people. He is the good shepherd who died for his sheep to rescue them from the wolves. His resurrection confirms his victory and he continues to live as the shepherd of our souls.

Collect for Easter 4: Almighty God, merciful Father, since You have wakened from death the Shepherd of Your sheep, grant us Your Holy Spirit that, when we hear the voice of our Shepherd, we may know Him who calls us each by name and follow where He leads; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

A Prayer for Agriculture: Almighty God, You blessed the earth to make it fruitful, bringing forth in abundance whatever is needed for the support of our lives. Prosper; we implore You, the work of farmers, especially in this planting season. Grant them seasonable weather that they may gather in the fruits of the earth and thus proclaim Your goodness. May we see by this noble vocation that by Your aid we are helping to feed the world and cause all who give thanks over their food to treat those who produce it with honor and respect.

For the Hope of Eternal Life: Almighty and everlasting God, whose Son as assured forgiveness of sins and deliverance from eternal death, strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that our faith in Christ increase daily as we hold fast the hope that we shall not die but fall asleep and on the last day be raised to eternal life.
An Evening Collect for Eastertide: Abide with us, Lord, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. Abide with us and with Your whole Church. Abide with us in the end of the day, in the end of our life, in the end of the world. Abide with us with Your grace and goodness, with Your Holy Word and sacrament, with Your strength and blessing. Abide with us when the night of affliction and temptation comes upon us, the night of fear and despair when death shall come. Abide with us and with all the faithful through time and eternity.

Monday, May 5, 2014Psalm 23:1-3 The Antiphon for next Sunday’s Introit is taken from Vs.1, “The Lord’s my shepherd I shall not want.” Shepherd is a widely used metaphor used for Kings. David as King acknowledges that the Lord is his Shepherd-King. Jesus as the shepherd of His people is expressed most plainly in our Gospel lesson for this coming week.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 Acts 2:42-74 –The sheep witness to the Shepherd. In our first lesson, we have the issue of leadership in the 1st Century Church. What are the qualifications for church leadership? The early church faced the problem of choosing seven leaders. The apostles gave the people three criteria for their selection: good reputation, good common sense, and spirituality. Can these requirements be improved — character, judgment, and faith?

Wednesday, May 7, 20141Peter 2:19-25 – The sheep suffer like the Shepherd. In the second reading, Peter calls people straying sheep. Sheep are associated with straying and wandering off from the shepherd and the flock until they get lost and in danger of their lives. It is our nature to wander into sin, to carelessly leave the leadership of God, and to go our own way. Modern people are known for their mobility, insecurity, restlessness, a lack of roots, and loneliness.

Thursday, May 8, 2014 John 10:1-10 –The sheep follow the Shepherd to life eternal. In next week’s Gospel lesson Verses 7 and 9 teach that Jesus is the door to life and salvation. He is not one of a series of doors to God. In today’s world, the emphasis is upon pluralism — one religion being as valid as the next one. Christianity is considered one of many ways to God. This passage contradicts pluralism. The door to life, to God, to salvation, is Jesus. Is this not the basis for evangelism and missions to non- Christian people? It is not done in the interests of building up a monolithic religious organization in the hope of getting a monopoly, but of sharing good news of salvation through Christ. Jesus says in verse 10 that he came to bring abundant life to all people. What is life? Our existence only makes sense when Jesus is at the center.

Friday, May 9, 2014Psalm 23:4-6 The Psalm portion for this coming week is the much-loved Shepherd Psalm. The benefits of have Jesus as our Shepherd-King is that both goodness and love will literally pursue us. We are given the hope and promise of life with God eternally. We will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Our future has been guaranteed. Because the Shepherd-King Jesus lives forever, we have the hope and guarantee of dwelling with Christ throughout the years of our life.
Saturday, May 10, 2014John 21:15 -This verse is the inspiration for the hymn “I am Jesus’ Little Lamb“{LSB 740} Three times Peter denied his Lord. Three times Jesus asks the question “Peter…do you love me more then these? Thus, the Savior asks us today, “Do you love Me?” “Do we love Jesus more than people, more than your occupation, more than things? (In the case of Peter, these things were the tools of his trade – fishing gear.) The Savior calls us to discipleship, to take up His cross and follow Him. In this Easter season, we are directed by the Savior to affirm the new life He gives us and to share with others the hope that we have in Him. Scripture reminds us “in a twinkling of an eye” we will all be gone – What shall be said of us then? May it be said of us that we remain a sheep of His fold, a lamb of His flock, a sinner of His own redeeming.

Sources:
THE LUTHERAN HYMNAL © 1940 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN WORSHIP © 1982 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.


LECTIONARY PREACHING WORKBOOK A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing, Lima OH

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Easter 3

The Lord is a protecting Shepherd.
3 May 2014
Confirmation
Zion Friedheim Lutheran Church
Easter 3



"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil” (Psalm 23:4).

Everyone goes through valleys, or low points, in life. We may face sorrow, heartache, doubt, or other kinds of adversity. But Christians need not be afraid.

The King James Version of Psalm 23:4 says, “I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.” No matter what happens, we don't have to be afraid. The constant presence of our Shepherd provides the assurance we need to always feel safe.

The author of the book of Hebrews reminds us, "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5). If you walk obediently before Him, He will bring good out of the hardships you endure.  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."(Romans 8:28).

Fear...what is it? False evidence appearing real. We've all had to deal with fears. Real or imagined. Although we walk through the valley we can take courage. For Courage is fear that has said its prayers!

The life we live is like going through a dark valley. We can’t see what lies ahead. Because we cannot see what is in store for us, we are afraid. We are afraid to go on by ourselves. But we are not by ourselves. Someone is by our side. He is there to guide us through the dark valley of life

That someone is your Good Shepherd, your Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus says of himself, "I am the good shepherd." [John 10:14] Jesus is your Shepherd. And you are his sheep. You are members of his fold.

Sheep are vary helpless animals. They need a shepherd to guide and protect them. We are helpless by ourselves. We don’t always know which way to go. We don’t always know which is the safest way. We need a shepherd to guide and protect us.

It takes a special kind of person to be a shepherd. A shepherd has to love his work. Above all, a shepherd has to love his sheep. He has to love his sheep enough to want to be with them all the time. Sheep need constant watching. A shepherd has to love his sheep enough to be willing to lay down his own life for the sheep. They are easy prey for wild animals. They need a shepherd to protect them. Always follow Jesus your Good Shepherd.

I. He Offers Us His Presence In The Valley

We all must go through valleys. How do we describe them?  They can be dreadful. They may be deep. They can be departing. They are decaying and they are deceiving.

A. Valleys Are Dreadful - David reminds us. "Even though"...This reveals David’s dreading it. There will be difficult days. There will be trying times. There will be decisions that will be difficult. But you are not helpless. Your Good Shepherd will walk with you. Through every circumstance.

B. Valleys Are Deep - even though... "I Walk" reveals valleys are deep and might take take time to endure. It will take time.  Yet Jesus, will sustain you throughout your journey. "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:15-16)

C. Valleys Are Departing - You walk "Through" the valley. Which means every valley has an exit.  "weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Psalm 30:5  Hold on!  JOY comes in the morning. The darkest hour means dawn is just in sight.

D. Valleys Are Decaying - "Valleys" are formed by erosion.  God begins to break us  down in valleys only to built us back up! "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.…   James 1:3

E. Valleys Are Deceiving - "Shadows" cannot harm you. They can only scare you. When you were little, that monster in the corner disappeared the second you parents turned on the night light.  When difficult  and challenging times come your way trust Christ. Remember His promises. Rely upon Him. He will comfort and sustain you.

II. He Offers Us His Protection In The Valley

A.  By Being Our Deliverer.  God is with you in the valley. He'll never give up on you. He proved all this in sending us His Son. Jesus was sent into our world to live the perfect life. Jesus came into this world to be your substitute. Jesus came into this world to bear your sin. To die your death. To rise again. To give you His new life.

B.  By Being Our Defender.  His rod and staff comfort you. His Rod - Used to beat off the enemy that attacks. His Staff - Used to draw us back in when we stray. That's why you should come to the Lord's Supper - often! There, you receive the gifts you need the most. Forgiveness. Strength of faith. Peace with God. The promise of everlasting life.

Remember the things that were taught you. Cling to that which is good.  Your Good Shepherd goes with you. He leads. You follow. In every circumstance. "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18