Wednesday, March 29, 2000

Mid-week Lent 4

Midweek Lenten Service 4 
March 29, 2000
Numbers 21:4-9

The Attitude of Believing 
Saved By Sight

INTRODUCTION:  Our lesson for today gives the ingredients of a people’s fall and their restoration.  It all happened by the grace of God.  Our lesson is not merely the pattern for a nation; but it also serves as a model for an individual.

True, we may be tempted to look down our nose at the children of Israel and think to ourselves that we would never fall for such a pitiful attitude as Israel. But if we would be honest with ourselves we might find a lot in common with these restless folk.  If the truth were known the children of Israel haven't quit cornered the market on complaining against God…it keeps happening all the time!  Thanks be to God that He always restores us as His people.  In contrast to man’s impatience, we have the amazing patience of God with sinful humanity. That's what we see in this amazing story of God's people.

 Today, let's consider the pattern of man’s fall and his restoration.

1.      Sin – impatience and rebellion v. 5 "And the people spoke against God and against Moses. 'Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in this wilderness? There is no bread, neither is there any water and our souls loathe this light bread'."

Under Moses the children of Israel left the comforts and the conveniences and the luxury of Egypt.  Although they were slaves, conditions were not half bad compared with the hardships of wilderness living, or so they thought.  They soon forgot about their sufferings, the hard service, and the oppression that they felt under the yoke of oppression. Yet, that was all soon forgotten once they encountered life in the open wilderness.

They complained about the food, they got tired of eating the same food month after month and cried to Moses "if only we had died in Egypt!" Their sin was their complaining, which not necessarily pointed at Moses, it was directed at God. Their complaining insinuated that they deserved something better, in effect they questioned the sovereignty and the providence of God. This showed a lack of faith and confidence in God, which is at the heart of sin. They could no longer trust the promise of life in a Promised Land.  When we complain, or show lack of respect for God we are doing one in the same thing. We are showing a lack of faith and confidence in God our provider. We are demonstrating a lack of confidence in Him who has given us a much better promise and a much better Promised Land. In this season of Lent we are called to return back to the Savior who has promised to direct and sustain us. His providence will surly lead us.

2.      Suffering – snakes of punishment v. 6 "And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people; and many died."

It was a serpent that beguiled the human race way back in the Garden of Eden. Likewise, it is a serpent, which inflicts the children of Israel as punishment for their sin of rebellion. This should not surprise us.  The Scriptures clearly remind us that "the wages of sin is death".  But the passage goes on to say "but the free gift of God is eternal life".  By a serpent death came to the children of Israel. But by a serpent risen up on a pole came life.

As strange as the command must have appeared all those who looked in faith to the raised brazen serpent were spared. Likewise, at the cross, the Son of God, Jesus Christ was raised up, and all who looked to Him in faith are spared of a far more serious and most lethal  and fatal sickness…that is the sickness of sin. And as we know with this sickness the condition is always terminal! As by one-man sin entered the world, so likewise, by one man came life everlasting. Jesus came to bring life and immortality to light through the gospel.  "Today Thy mercy calls us to wash away our sin" the old, old, hymn reminds us. In faith turn to Him to live!

3.      Salvation – confession, prayer, deliverance. vv. 7-9 "The people came to Moses and said; 'we have sinned for we have spoken against the LORD and against you. Pray to the LORD, that He take away the serpents from us…The Lord said unto Moses, 'Make a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall be that every one that is  bitten, when he looks upon it, shall live'. Moses made a serpent of brass and put it upon a pole; and it came to pass that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived."

The healing of forgiveness comes simply in a look at the upraised serpent and at the cross. True, preceding the look was a confession of sin and a request for prayer to be relieved of the punishment - the two go hand in hand - you can't have one without the other! You can't have absolution without first having confession and without one you can't have the other!

The people were saved when they looked at the snake on the standard. People today are redeemed from sin when they look in faith to the cross. Just a look is all it takes - that is, if it is the look of faith.  This is what this week's emphasis of Lent is all about. Lent is an attitude of  believing. We are made right with God; we are healed of our brokenness with God; we are forgiven our sin by simply look to God for mercy. By grace, and grace alone we are save through Jesus Christ our Savior.

Wednesday, March 22, 2000

Mid-week Lent 3

Midweek Lenten Service 3 Noon
March 22, 2000
Exodus 20:1-17

The Attitude of Cleansing

INTRO. The Ten Commandments, “The Big Ten” have received a lot of notoriety in recent years. Congress is considering whether these laws ought to be posted inside the school house door and within the halls of our governmental buildings.  Some contend that these laws our outdated and too restrictive. Still others maintain that they are given for our every day living.  A recent billboard simply read “What part of Thou Shalt Not can’t you understand?” signed –God.

What is the purpose for such laws in our society today?  They all boil down to three.

1.      What to do – These commandments were given for our practical living.

As a result, God has told us plainly in His Word what we are to do. Have no other gods, remember the Sabbath day, honor your father and your mother. By following these laws we are given a better way of living.

God calls us to live a life that is higher and nobler then we would dare to go.  Like an athletic trainer or a demanding teacher God calls us to become what we, of ourselves, could never obtain.  The gracious pupil gives the greatest compliment saying “I could have never done it without you” Likewise, we benefit by following the particulars of God’s directives that we might live better and more productive lives.  These commandments are given to us that we might live a better life.

2.      What not to do – Left up to our own devices we would each perish. 

Therefore, God has given us restrictions. They are not meant to fence us in. To the contrary, by following these restrictions we avoid the trappings and the temptations of this sinful age.  Man is his own worst enemy therefore God has given us these 7 commandments to avoid the pain and the misery of sin’s consequences. Do not take God’s name in vain, do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, and do not covet.

In actuality, these restrictions do not limit us. To the contrary, they free us so that we do avoid the pain associated with sin. It would do us well to heed these commands of God as a means of avoiding the demons of our own fallen nature that would rob us of a life that is pleasing to God.

3.      How to live – “That man a godly life might live God did these commandments give.”  {TLH #287 stanza 1}

These commandments were never intended to help us gain salvation. Our fallen nature prevents us from obtaining moral perfection. Yet, God has given us a standard by which we can measure our conduct as well as obtain a clear perspective by which we see the need of a Savior who followed the will of the Father and was obedient, obedient unto death.  Jesus Christ followed the Father’s will perfectly for us. He exchanges our sinful way of life for His own perfection and goodness. Follow Him and the standard that He gives you, to be His dear children as He is our loving and gracious Father who loves us enough to discipline us and direct us.  

Mid-week Lent 3

Midweek Lenten Service 3 
March 22, 2000 
1 Corinthians 1:22-25 

The Cleansing Power of the Cross

INTRODUCTION:  Paul’s preaching centered not on Christ the great teacher, the perfect man, the inspiring example, or the noble martyr but in Christ the one crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)  The cross is the center of all that the Christian and the Christian message stand for. Who should our preaching and our living focus on the crucified Christ? That is the question that our lesson for this evening addressed. As we consider Lent as an attitude of cleansing we find that we are made clean through Christ who suffered on the cross.  Consider this night Christ and Him crucified.

I.                  The cross reveals God’s wisdom.

A.    To non-Christians the Christ crucified is anything but wisdom,

1.     The Jews were offended because they expected a warrior Messiah, who would flash signs from the skies as proof of his conquering power.

2.     The Greeks thought it absurd to call a man branded by His crucifixion as the lowest of criminals to be both Savior and Lord.

3.     Many today think it crude and barbarous that God would require the blood of His son as atonement for human sin.

B.      Yet the crucified Christ displays a wisdom far higher than any  human wisdom.

1.   At the cross God dealt with human sin in a way that did not abrogate the demands of His holiness.

a.     Jesus bore the punishment of sin in our place.

b.     He appeased the wrath of God, which our sin had aroused.

II.                  At the cross God achieved salvation for the whole world ( 2  Corinthians 5:19)

TRANSITION: Human wisdom cannot conceive how the world’s salvation could be accomplished through a cross, an instrument of death and degradation. That it was accomplished is contrary to all human logic. But “the foolishness of God is wiser than men”.  The foolishness of preaching is not the preaching of foolishness it is a preaching of cleansing which comes from God.

III.                 The cross reveals God’s power.

A.    The preaching of the cross has power to work faith (v.24, “who are called”)

1.     Faith is not produced by threats, arguments, or human striving.

2.     Only by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the message of the Crucified do we now believe that we are no longer under God’s condemnation (Romans 8:1)

B.      As our faith is nurtured by the preaching of Christ crucified, we are able to live as people who are no longer under sin’s control.

1.      Since we died and rose with Christ, we can crucify our sins each day and rise to a new life.

     2. Since Christ has reconciled us to God, we can be reconcilers in our relationships with others. 

CONCLUSION:  Christ’s crucifixion seemed to demonstrate utter weakness. But it was God’s weakness, and “the weakness of God is stronger than men” (v.25). the message of the Crucified has power to free us from sin’s condemnation and control. Paul’s words are thus a model for us. We don’t work miracles to satisfy sign-seekers, we don’t propound philosophy to entertain intellectuals, we don’t dispute, and we don’t argue. We preach Christ crucified. Through this message, the message of the cross God demonstrates His saving wisdom and works with His mighty power.

Wednesday, March 15, 2000

Mid-week Lent 2

Midweek Lenten Service 2 Noon
March 15, 2000  
Genesis 28:10-17 

Surprised by God

INTRODUCTION:  Jacob was surprised that God was present. He thought he was alone and far from God because God, he thought, was restricted to his geographical area. Are we surprised to find God in places other than in a church?  Would you be surprised to find God in a cocktail lounge, in a jail, in nature, in a hospital?  God comes to people wherever they are in need, regardless of the place.

When God comes to you…

1.                 Be aware of His presence v. 16  “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it."

A.    God is truly with us always! I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.  I am with you always.

            B.      Especially at those times when we did not expect it or recognize

God’s presence in our lives.  He comes in Word & Sacrament to sustain and forgive.

2.                 Be reverent v. 17 “And he was afraid and said, How awesome is this place!”

A.    Are we respectful of the holy?  What is our reaction once we have encountered God? Are we changed? Are we different?

B.      This was a life changing moment for Jacob.  What are those life-changing moments in our lives? They ought to be awesome for us as they were for him.

3.                 Be cognizant of its significance v. 17 “ This is the house of God… the gate of heaven”

A.    Jacob grasped what God was doing in his life. He would never be the same.

B.      Likewise, in those encounters with God may we walk away changed and different people.

Conclusion:  “Let us ever walk with Jesus, Follow His example pure

Flee the world which would deceive us, And to sin our souls allure.

Ever in His footsteps treading, Body here, yet soul above.

Full of faith and hope and love, Let us do the Father’s bidding,

Faithful Lord, abide with me; Savior, lead, I follow Thee. {TLH #409 stanza 1}

Mid-week Lent 2

Midweek Lenten Service 2 Evening
March 15, 2000 
Romans 5:1-11 

Confident even in the midst of suffering

INTRODUCTION: In this season of Lent we place our focus on the cross and the sufferings of the Savior.  We realize that in the midst of His earthly life the Savior suffered for our sin and us too.  As we walk with the Savior, we too will encounter various and sundry pains and sorrows. The Bible refers to them as afflictions and sufferings. And, although they may appear outwardly to be physical in nature, there is a spiritual connection attached to them. Lurking behind ever trial, every suffering, every affliction is the Devil tempting us to give up or to give in.  Yet through it all we can say with St. Paul that we are able to overcome and win the victory. We find strength and courage as we suffer with the suffering Savior.

Because of Christ who suffered for us

1.                 We will share in God’s glory vs.1- 2 “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.”

This little verse sums up our entire Christian faith.  Everything we are as Christians hangs on this little verse.  Just consider what Paul reminds us here:

A.    You and I share in the glory of God because we have been justified by faith. We stand before God perfect and whole because of faith. We trust God. We believe God.  Therefore we are counted as righteous before God because we trust God at His Word.

B.      And what is the result of such faith and trust? We have peace with God.  We know where we stand. We know where we are headed. Our salvation is all wrapped up in the works and merits of Jesus Christ our Savior. We don’t have to worry about working our way up to God. We don’t have to worry about doing more or sinning less. Our peace is not based on anything that we do. It all depends on Him. If Jesus Christ has declares us not guilty of sin. We have a peace that this world simply can not give. A Savior who suffered for us that we might live wins our peace. 

C.    What’s more we also exalt in the hope of the glory of God. There are some in this world who live as if there is no tomorrow. They do so, because that is what they actually believe. They live for the moment or they live for the day because they have become convinced that what they have in this short period of life is all that there is.  They are convinced that there is nothing more so they live as if they until there is nothing left you and I, on the other hand. live with an eternal perspective. We live in the hope of a new tomorrow. We live in the hope that we will see the glory of God. We live as if there is a tomorrow for there really is. Our life is not tied only to what I do today. True, what I do today is very important. But the future is what I really live for.

 As Christians you and I live for an eternal tomorrow. We live in hope of the glory of God. In short, we live with the hope and promise of living with Jesus forever in paradise. That is what shapes our present. That is what gives meaning to all that we do.

O they tell me of a home far beyond the skies,

O they tell me of a home far away;

O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise,

O they tell me of an unclouded day.

O the land of cloudless day,

O the land of an unclouded day,

O they tell me of a home where not storm clouds rise,

O they tell me of an unclouded day.

O they tell me of a home where my friends have gone,

O they tell me of that land far away,

Where the tree of life in eternal bloom

Sheds its fragrance through the unclouded day. 

O they tell me of a King in His beauty there,

And they tell me that mine eyes shall behold

Where He sits on the throne that is whiter than snow,

In the city that is made of gold

O they tell me that He smiles on His children there,

And His smile drives their sorrows all away;

And they tell me that no tears ever come again

In that lovely land of unclouded day.

O the land of cloudless day,

O the land of an unclouded day,

O they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise,

O they tell me of an unclouded day.

The Unclouded Day 
By Rev. Josiah Kelly Alwood 
Spring Hill (now Tedro), Ohio 1879

Transition: Because heaven is our home and since we live in the expectation of this eternal hope we endure whatever might come our way - we know that even the sufferings that we might be forced to endure are only temporary. They will not last forever!

2.                 We suffer in hope vs. 3- 4  “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;”

We live in a fallen world. Because of a fallen world, because of our fallen nature we must endure present sufferings. Each person must suffer, and some sufferings may appear to be unmanageable. But then, in the midst of our suffering we turn to the only One who can help us, our suffering Savior Jesus and He brings a transformation in us. Listen, again to how Paul describes this change.  Sufferings bring about perseverance, which leads to a proven character, which finally leads to hope. Our hope is nothing more and nothing less then what we expect to happen. We expect Christ to bring us to completion. He will carry us safely to be with Him in glory. This is our hope. ” My hope is built on nothing less then Jesus’ blood and righteous, I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid Rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.” {TLH #370 stanza 1}

3.                 We are reconciled with God vs. 11 “And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

We stand reconciled to God. Once we were at odds now we are at peace. Once we were enemies, now we are friends. Once we were opposed to one another, now we are one.  This was all made possible through our Lord Jesus. Thanks be to God. We are now in His camp, apart of His family, restored, refreshed, redeemed.

CONCLUSION: You and I can be content…even in the midst of suffering. We belong to a Savior who suffered for us, who helps us endure the sufferings that we share in the life.  We belong to Him and in His hands we are safe and we are secure.  Fare thee well, for all is well in Jesus our suffering Savior!

+ Soli Deo Gloria+

NB: The song Unclouded Day was sung by Willie Nelson on his family album in 1979 and performed for the Farm Aid benefit in the 1980’s.

Wednesday, March 8, 2000

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday Noon
Genesis 22:1-14 
March 8, 2000

The Attitude of Testing

God tests Abraham’s faith by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac.

“Here I Am”

INTRODUCTION:  There was once a commercial, which said: “Delta is ready when you are!”  In our lesson for today Abraham is always ready when he is called and needed. In each case, he replies, “Here I am”. Abraham is always ready and willing to respond. He is always there when you need Him.  What an example for us! When a job needs to be done, who will say, “Here I am”? When you need someone desperately to help in time of need, does the Christian say, “Here am I”?

A Christian is ready when called…

1.    A Christian is ready when God calls. Vs. 1  tells us  “Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."  - The call of Abraham was  a call to obey.  True, it was an awesome task, to sacrifice his only Son. But clearly Abraham knew that the Lord would provide.  Do we trust God at His Word? When summoned to obey God do we trust Him at His Word? Abraham trusted God at His Word.  We can do nothing else. During this 40-day pilgrimage may we trust God at His Word. Following Him as we listen to His Word. When He speaks - we listen. When He commands - we follow. As He leads may we follow willingly, trusting in Him to will and to do what He has promised.

TRANSITION: The Christian is ready when God calls and  listens to God. But we are also ready when we listen to the call of our neighbor. We are ready to say “here I am”…

2.    When man calls. Vs. 7 tells us  “And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." And he said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" – Abraham was given a question to answer.  Isaac had a legitimate question. Where is the lamb?  Abraham could only tell his son what he knew to be true, that the Lord would provide.  We live in a world in which many are searching for meaning in life and answers to their problems.  Where are people to be directed?  When seeking direction where do we lead people? Do we give them our own words, do we given them advice and words that we think they will want to hear?  We must point people in only one direction and that is to the person of Jesus Christ.  He is the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Jesus.  “Jesus is the answer for the world today” so goes the words of the old spiritual.  May we point people to Jesus the joy of man’s desiring – Jesus our only hope in desperate times. During this 40-day period of Lent may we point people to Jesus our strength and our redeemer.

TRANSITION:  We follow Christ and His word. We point people to Christ. We also say “here I am” when angels call.

3.    When angels call. Vs. 11-12 says      “But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." And he said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."  –  This angel of the Lord - The angel of the Lord is Jesus Himself who gives us a call to receive grace.

On that day Abraham’s son Isaac was spared and a lamb was provided.  God would not spare His only Son.  Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, was sent into this world to take away the sins of the world.  The hymn tells us “A lamb goes uncomplaining forth, the guilt of all men bearing”  That lamb was Jesus. He went to the cross to suffer and die. He went to the cross to take away our sin.  He went to the cross to win for us salvation and life.

Conclusion:  And that’s what Lent is all about!  It’s about Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Lent is a time when we think about what Jesus did for you and for me.  During this 40-day journey may we walk with Jesus as He makes His way to the cross on Good Friday. When He speaks to us in His word we will say with Abraham of old “Here I am” when others ask “who is this Jesus? We will say “here I am” to witness of what we know and what we have seen. When Jesus speaks we will say “Here I am” and He will simply say “I am with you always, even unto the end of the age!”  In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday Evening
Romans 8:31-39 
March 8, 2000

No one can separate us from Christ’s love.

The bumper sticker, which reads “Smile, God loves you”, may seem trite, but it does express a profound Scriptural truth. A deep need of human  beings is to know that not only people  love them but that God loves them. St. Paul assures us that God indeed loves us so fervently and faithfully that NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD!

I.                   No condemnation by anyone.

A.  We frequently experience condemnation.

1.    People sometimes remind us that we have not met their

expectations, and so we cannot expect their love either. We get so used to thinking that love is dependent on our good behavior that we think God’s love works the same way.

2.    Even if we do not experience outright or subtle condemnation by others , an honest look at our imperfections and failings can lead us to condemn ourselves.  We then draw the conclusion that God must be condemning us because He could not possibly love such sinful people as we.

B.    God justifies us.

1.      God condemned our sin in Christ and punished Him instead of us. For Jesus’ sake, God has accepted us; He willingly gave His own Son into death for us.

2.      God responds continually to the resurrected Christ’s intercession for us.

3.      God has elected us by His grace to be His own. Since He has called us by to faith, He will keep us in faith.

Transition:  Since neither God nor Christ condemns us, we can be sure that no condemnation by anyone can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ. Not only these judicial assaults but also direct assaults seek to separate us from the love of God. But then cannot do it either!

II.                 No affliction of any kind.

A.  Afflictions can cause us to think that God no longer loves us.

1.    We may be influenced to think this way by people who are quick to judge us, intimating that we must have done something to merit an affliction.  

2.    Being conscious of our sins, we can begin to think that God is punishing us.

B.    Afflictions are not proof of God’s wrath but of His love for us.

1.    Afflictions are a way of entering into the fellowship of Christ’s suffering, which is a privilege (Philippians 3:10).

2.    Tribulation of all kinds has always been the lot of believers  since Old Testament times.

3.    Afflictions, no matter where they originate or what their intensity, can never make God stop loving us. We do not have to be afraid of the affliction of death or of life or of anything in all creation; for God is with us. He will never leave us. He will never forsake us!    

Conclusion:  No matter how unloving or unloved we sometimes feel because of condemnation and affliction, nothing – absolutely nothing – can be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Savior. In spite of everything, we keep achieving the most brilliant victory through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, March 5, 2000


Series B
Mark 9:2-9 
March 5, 2000
“Worship At Its Best”

Introduction:   The Transfiguration was a worship experience.  Jesus took His inner circle with Him to a mountain to get away from the busyness and the concerns of the world to be with the Father. It became a worship experience in which Jesus’ three disciples witnessed the very glory of God found in Jesus’ Transfigured body.

Each and every Sunday therefore, needs to be a Transfiguration Sunday, for worship at its best is an experience with God.  It is obvious that many in our churches are not having a religious experience. How do we witness Jesus first hand?  This morning, let’s consider the essentials of a worship experience which should bring a divine brilliance to our lives.

With the Transfiguration as a backdrop for us this morning let’s consider what worship can truly mean. Let’s consider worship at its best. 

{1}            Fellowship with the saints – “Moses and Elijah”  (vs.4) As Peter, James and John were on the mountain with Jesus suddenly there appeared to them the two great prophets of the past; Moses and Elijah.  Of all the great men of old it was Moses and Elijah who are remembered as God’s chosen prophets.  As two great men, to whom the prophecies were announced, Jesus would simply tell us clearly “Moses and the prophets they testify to Me” (Luke 24:44) Beginning with the Law and Moses and the Psalms Jesus opened His disciples eyes to see that all of the prophecies of old were fulfilled in Him.  When we worship Jesus we worship Him who has fulfilled all things. In Him all of God’s promises are “Yes” and “Amen” Worship at its best is realized when we find fellowship with those who have gone before us in the prophecies fulfilled in Jesus Christ. 

{2}       Real worship happens when we give praise and adoration to Jesus  Christ –  Upon seeing these three figures, Christ, Moses, and Elijah, our text tells us that the disciples were “exceedingly afraid” (vv. 2, 6)  They were filled with awe and wonder.  Is there a sense of awe and wonder in our worship experience?  Do we have a sense of entering into the presence of the divine?

This is what we are to experience when we encounter the divine.  Is our worship experience filled with a sense of the divine with a sense of awe or is it merely an experience that we have grown accustomed to, or, even worse, something that leaves us ambivalent? Worship at its best calls for a sense of awe as we approach the divine.

{3}       Hear the Word of God – The Father speaking from the cloud that encircled them said,  “This is My beloved Son” (vs.7) We come to worship to hear the very word of God.  As we hear the Words of Scripture, especially the Gospel we hear the very Words of Jesus. We come to encounter Christ. We come to hear Jesus’ Words.  Jesus tells us “My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me and I give them eternal life and no one shall snatch me out of My hand” (John 10:27) Whose words do we come to hear? We come to hear and to follow Jesus. Worship at its best calls for us to come and to listen to Jesus and His Word.

{4}            Challenge to obey – We come not just to a worship service but in service we worship Him.  Worship, at its best calls for us to follow and obey the Savior.  The Father, speaking to the disciples and to you and me this day says this; “Listen to Him” (vs.7) We listen and we obey. Christ calls us to discipleship. He calls us to obedience. Worship at its very best calls us to be new people, new people in Jesus Christ. He calls us to follow Him as He guides and as He leads. 

Conclusion:  We began this season of Epiphany this year with John reminding us “He must increase, I must decrease” We conclude this season with the same thought. We follow Him as He guides and directs us. Worship at its best is a challenge for each of us. 

When we return to this holy house in three days we will begin a pilgrimage of following Jesus to the cross and open tomb. This will be worship at its very best. As we follow Him down from the mountain of Transfiguration to the Mount of Olives, to a hill called Galgatha, to the open tomb may we experience Jesus in His glory hidden at that time but now fully revealed to us. As we do this, not only will we find worship at its best we will truly worship Him in spirit and in truth.  In Jesus’ Name. Amen.