Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Mid-week Advent 3

Advent Mid-week 3
December 19, 2001
Isaiah 35:3-4

“Farewell to Fear”

INTRODUCTION:  Fear, FDR reminded a terrified nation “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” In the past three months as a nation, a society, and as a people we have dealt with the topic of fear. How is it that we address our doubts and our fears? 

We live in a unique time.  What will the future bring?  How do we face the future?  Is it possible to eliminate fear?  In the prophecy of Isaiah the Lord directs us to a point in time when our fears will all disappear.  That time has come as God has come to visit His people. These are certainly words of comfort and hope as Isaiah bids us to say farewell to our fears. Listen again to Isaiah’s comforting and encouraging words: “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear…” How can we be so bold? Isaiah assures us

I.                    Your God will come.

A.                 Jesus came into this world the first time as a mere baby. That was His first Advent.  He came for a specific purpose, which was to save people from their sins. He came wrapped in flesh to be our substitute; to take our place under the Law, to redeem us who are under the curse of the Law. As Jesus lived the perfect life as He went to the bloody cross and broke from the sealed and silent tomb He gives to us salvation and life.

B.         But that was only His first Advent. King Jesus has promised that He will come for a second time as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Lo! He comes with clouds descending
Once for ev’ry sinner slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending
Swell the triumph of His train
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Christ the Lord returns to reign.
[ Lo! He comes with clouds descending Hymnal Supplement ’98 #802 stanza 1]

II.                 When He comes it will be with vengeance. 

A.                 Isaiah reminds us that He will come with divine retribution.  There is still one score to settle.  Those who have denied the Savior, those who refuse to depend upon Him; those who seed to destroy His children because they bear His name and bear up under His cross will be visited.  Jesus reminds us “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12) The matter that will be settled.  All will be made right when Jesus comes in sight.  When He opens His mouth death meets its death.

Every eye shall now behold Him
Robed in glorious majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold Him.
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
Shall their true Messiah see.
[Lo! He comes with clouds descending Hymnal Supplement ’98 #802 stanza 2]

B.                 We need not take matters into our own hands. We need not try to force the Savior’s hand. We need not try to settle the matter. Christ will settle things in His own way and in His own time. We as His children are to content ourselves and, to the best of our ability, should live in peace. God is at peace – with you and with the world – for He has sent Christ, the prince of peace into this world, to win for us his true and abiding peace.

III.               The prophet tells us clearly “He will come to save”

A.                 Already He has save the world once – at the cross when Jesus suffered and died for your sins and for mine. Because of the cross and empty tomb we can say without any hesitation that there really is peace on earth good will toward men!  In Jesus Christ all sin is forgiven period!

Those dear tokens of His Passion
Still His dazzling body bears,
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshipers.
With what rapture, with what rapture,
Gaze we on those glorious scars!
[Lo! He comes with clouds descending Hymnal Supplement '98 #802 stanza 3]

B.                 The Lord’s peace will again be realized and perfected in us by either one of two realities.  Either you and I will be transferred from this vale of tears into the kingdom of glory or our eyes shall behold Him face to face when we see Him in the clouds of heaven.  Whatever it may be we can say now without any hesitation: “it is well, it is well with my soul.

Yea, Amen, let all adore Thee,
High on Thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the pow’r and glory,
Claim the kingdom as Thine own.
Alleluia, alleluia,
Thou shalt reign, and Thou alone!
[Lo! He comes with clouds descending Hymnal Supplement ’98 #802 stanza 4]

CONCLUSION:  "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”  Luke 12:32

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Mid-week Advent 2

Advent Mid-week 2
Isaiah 11:1-10
December 12, 2001

"A Profile in Greatness"

INTRODUCTION:  In this Advent season we look forward. As we look forward we anticipate one of two great events happening. Either we will celebrate with family and friends yet another Christmas or we will see Jesus face to face as He returns in glory.  If it is to be yet another Christmas celebration we will welcome Him into our hearts and homes.  If it is to be His Second Advent – we will be ushered out of this world only to spend our time in glory. Certainly we need to be prepared for these coming events.

But who is this expected one and what is He like?  Is He worth the effort?  Is He worth all of the preparation?  Is He worth the wait?

Admissions officers of colleges and universities often prepare profiles of new students to acquaint the faculty with the lives of incoming students. In business, the personnel director might do something similar with a new hire profiling a city of a community; highlighting schools, churches, and community attractions. Profiling can be a positive thing.

In our Old Testament lesson for this evening Isaiah draws a profile of the Messiah about 800 years before He came into the world. This evening, lets consider the portrait that Isaiah would paint for us as we consider the One who is coming. This evening, consider the profile of greatness.

I.                    Who is He?

A.                 He is a prince – v. 1 “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a branch will bear fruit” As Isaiah wrote this prophecy the Assyrians had all but destroyed Judah.  Things got even worse! The Babylonians which took Judah into exile brought the kingdom of Judah to an end in the year 586 BC.  How could a prince emerge from such great odds stacked up against them?

With God all things are possible – In these word we have the Lord’s promise that the Messiah will grow as a shoot from the stump of David’s dynasty. As Jesse, the father of David has the promise of an even greater son emerging on the scene.

B.                 This coming one not only is He a prince – He is also a man of spirit. “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him – the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord” (v. 2) The Holy Spirit will endow Him with the wisdom to undertake wise purposes and with the power to carry them out in the fear of the Lord.

C.                 This coming one will also be a God-fearing man. “and He will delight in the fear of the Lord” Jesus, speaking to the people, speaks of the validity of His testimony.  In the gospel of John He says: “ The one who sent Me is with Me; He has no left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him” (v. 29)  Then John replies with this observation: “Even as He spoke, many put their faith in Him”

Transition: We see who this coming one is but what will He do?  Many a skeptic may question “but what have you done for me lately?”  Isaiah replies to this question:

II.                 What will this chosen one do?

A.                 He will judge righteously, not on outward appearance or on hearsay – “He will not judge by what He sees with His eyes, or decide by what He hears with His ears” (v. 3b) This is good news for you and me.  Despite the holy and pious things people might say, often time people act from selfish, self-centered and self-serving motives. They ask “what’s in it for me?”  Jesus establishes a new standard. He will judge by the standard He sets for the world - a standard that is centered in the cross and empty tomb. “With righteousness He will judge the needy with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth” (4b)

B.                 He comes to destroy the evil in the world through the power of His Word.  “He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth; with the breath of His lips he will slay the wicked” (4b)

As in Isaiah’s day world rulers many times lacked those qualities needed for leadership. Jesus, on the other hand, rules with righteousness and equity. You will always receive a fair hearing with Jesus on the throne.

III.               What will this coming Messiah accomplish?

A.                 He will establish peace on earth. “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a young child will lead them” (v. 6) We see this verse depicted in Christmas cards which we receive in the mail at Christmas time. On the cover we see a lion and a lamb lying down together.  As the world works, you would expect to open the card and find a picture of the lion licking his chops having just devoured the lamb!  The world knows nothing of peace! The world knows only strife, contention and war. It is only Jesus who can bring about real and everlasting peace.  That is why the prophet says “And a young child shall lead them”.  It was only at the coming of the Savior that the angels could sing “peace on earth, good will toward men”.

B.                 With the coming of this child to earth the sons of men will come to know God – They will neither harm nor destroy on all My holy mountain for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (v. 9) As the Word of God is taught people come to the knowledge of the truth. As Christ came into this earth so He reveals Himself to the whole earth that people now can come to know God.

C.        Wise men still seek Him. As the coming one enters time and space so now the nations seeks after God.  Isaiah writes: “In that day the root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to Him and His place of rest will be glorious” (v.10)

CONCLUSION: This is the profile of the coming one Jesus our new born king.  Jesus, a descendant of David comes as the righteous branch with healing for the nations. As we prepare to celebrate His entry into time and space as an infant may we even now prepare our hearts and minds to be welcomes by Him when he comes again as judge and king.  Oh, come let us worship Him, Christ the Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, December 5, 2001

Mid-week Advent 1

December 5, 2001 
Luke 23:35-43 

"Peace in Our Time?"   

INTRODUCTION: The world is ever in pursuit of peace. Each succeeding decade makes peace a greater necessity because of the sophistication and proliferating of modern weapons. The great world powers have difficulty agreeing to limit armaments. Yet, the world longs for peace and fears the coming of the next war. This longing for peace is exhibited by the words of verse 4 carved on the outside wall of the United Nations building in New York City.  “And he will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Why has this dream of world peace not been realized? Our text for this night gives the conditions for peace, a peace the world has yet failed to pay. We need not a false hope of peace now when the nations are far from the Lord. This evening lest us consider this pressing question: is peace for the world possible?

1.     Is peace possible? Not now but in the last days – Listen to v.2 of our text for this evening:

And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

Peace can only come to this world when Jesus, the Prince of Peace returns in glory. Until that day comes the world, as we know it, will remain in turmoil and conflict. As long as this world runs there will be a world filled with strife and turmoil. This passage does not promise peace for the world today. Trouble and toil will continue until Jesus returns. But there will come a day when these words will be fulfilled. At Christmas we will celebrate the Savior’s first Advent –when He was born in Bethlehem’s manger. But there will come a time when His Second Advent will arrive. We wait and watch for His appearing> When Jesus returns and will stand upon the earth there will come to pass the words of this verse.
And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

On the last day, the Lord will return in glory where all the nations will flow to Him.

2.     Peace will become not only a possibility but also a reality when God our heavenly Father is hailed and considered the Lord and King of all.  God is “highest of the mountains” the center of the world, the hub of the universe. In Him we live and move and have our being. There is nothing that exists which has its foundation apart from God. He spoke the world into existence at the time of the creation and continues to sustain this world to this very moment. When God is considered to be the true God – that’s when peace will be realized. v. 2

And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

What does this mean? God is in control. When things appear not be going our way, when we can’t see the forest for the trees, when we can’t find any direction God still remains in control He orders our days and orders all things according to His perfect will. This is what the peace of God means for you and for me. We receive peace when we can’t find it any other place.  

3.     Peace will bring all nations to God. That’s when we will experience real and lasting peace…when all nations come to God and are brought under His rule then peace will become a reality. - vv. 2-3

And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.  And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem.

When people make peace with God they will have peace among themselves. How can we experience this peace? How do we know than there is “peace on earth and good will toward men”? There is peace because God is at peace. He has accepted the sacrifice, death and resurrection of Jesus His Son and our Savior. He exchanges our sin for His righteousness and grants us His peace. Christ Jesus the prince of peace has given us His eternal peace. Is there a possibility for peace? In Jesus we can only know the Father’s peace.
Then will come to pass verse 4

And he will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Are you searching for God’s perfect peace? Receive it this night in Jesus’ Holy Name.  O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just words do proceed, give unto Thy servants that peace which the world simply cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey Thy commandments, and also that we, being defended by thee from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and in quietness. Amen

Thursday, November 22, 2001


November 22, 2001
Luke 17:11-19
Are You the One?

INTRODUCTION:  Do you want to get rich quick?  Then count your blessings!  There were ten who were healed of the worst possible disease of leprosy. The ten came to Jesus and begged for mercy. All ten obeyed when Jesus told them to go to the priest to show they were clean and cured. But only one came back to thank Jesus. Here are some of the most scathing and tragic words Jesus ever uttered, "Were not ten cleansed?" Where are the nine?"  The grateful one was a Samaritan, a half-breed despised by the Jews. It is still the ratio of grateful people, one out of ten? Are you the one?

How you can be the one who is grateful…

1.   Recognize your blessings - v. 15 When he saw that he was healed. A miracle had taken place. Once the man was ill. Now he was whole. Once he had a death sentence. Now he had new life given to him. Such miracles take place each and every day.  The question for you and me to ponder is this, do we recognize these miracles?  It isn’t fortune, or fate, or accident. Our times are in His hands. Count you blessings one by one. Recognize that the Lord has truly blessed you. Look around at all of the countless blessings and gifts that the Lord has given to you. We truly are a blessed people. Thanksgiving causes us to stop and take inventory of the blessings given to us from God.

2.   Return to thank Jesus -vv. 15,16 Turned back…giving him thanks. Only one man returned. His actions will always be remembered. He simply stopped and went back from where he had gone. He returned back to the Lord for He remembered from where he had come.  Again, this is such an illustration for us to follow. When we recognize the blessings, which the Lord has given to us what is our response. Do we hoard it all for ourselves?

      Do we save and keep it all or do we return a portion back to God?  Thanksgiving is a time for us to stop in the midst of our busy lives and to be genuinely grateful. Is this not why you have come here today. There are countless other things you could be doing. But you have done that one thing needful. You have returned back to the Lord to give Him thanks and praise.

3.   Realize your unworthiness - v. 16 "He fell on his face at Jesus' feet” This man knew of his condition. He knew that he was unworthy to receive any of the gifts and blessings, which the Lord had showered down upon Him. That is why he fell at Jesus’ feet. He returned to the Lord in humility. What is our attitude before God?  Is it one of indifference or is it one of humble obedience and gratitude as the Lord has had mercy upon us.  The proper position is this one man on his knees. He humbled Himself before the Lord for he realized that He had come into presence of the Lord.

CONCLUSION:  Are you the one?  With a grateful heart you most certainly are. On this day of National Thanksgiving may we render to the Lord our thanks and praise for His mercy upon us in spite of our sins and shortcomings, for His mercy, and for the miracles, which He places before us each and every day.  Life is a gift from God, may yours count as a gift back to God. A Blessed Thanksgiving. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Thanksgiving Eve

Thanksgiving Eve
November 21, 2001

  Psalm 138
A Song of Thanks

"Trusting God even when things go wrong!"  

INTRODUCTION:  “Lord God, You keep the Proud at a distance and look upon the lowly with favor. Stretch our Your hand to us in our suffering, perfect in us the work of Your love, and bring us to life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen 

The following Psalm, Psalm 138 was recorded as a song of thanks, seemingly on the occasion of some notable answer to prayer.  Life was for David a very difficult and stormy road. There were twists and turns along life’s highway at every turn. Yet through it all, David never gave up on God and His amazing forgiveness and grace.  It’s one thing to thank God when all is well, it is quite another of trusting and thanking God when things seem to be unpleasant. In our text for this evening, David encourages us to trust in God, even when things are going wrong!

I.    Gladness (138:1-2) I will give thee thanks with my whole heart: Before the gods will I sing praises unto thee.  I will worship toward thy holy temple, And give thanks unto thy name for thy loving kindness and for thy truth: For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

A)    David’s Inner Compulsion to Worship the Lord (138:1)

1.      Its Totality (138:1a) I will give thee thanks with my whole heart:

2.      Its Testimony (138:1b) Before the gods will I sing praises unto thee.

B)     David’s Inspired Comprehension of Worship (138:2)

1.      The Temple That Was So Solidly Real To Him (138:2a).  I will worship toward thy holy temple

2.      The Topic That Was So Sweetly Refreshing To Him (138:2b),  And give thanks unto thy name for thy loving kindness and for thy truth:

II.    The Truth That Was So Suddenly Revealing To Him (138:2c) For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

III.   Grace (138:3) In the day that I called thou answered me, Thou didst encourage me with strength in my soul

IV.   Glory (138:4-5) All the kings of the earth shall give thee thanks, O Lord, For they have heard the words of thy mouth.   Yea, they shall sing of the ways of the Lord; For great is the glory of the Lord.

V.    Government (138:6-7) For though the Lord is high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly; But the haughty he knoweth from afar.  Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me; Thou wilt stretch forth thy hand against the wrath of mine enemies, And thy right hand will save me.

A)    An Amazing Fact (138:6-7)

B)     An Abundant Faith (138:7)

1.      God Will Revive Him (138:7a) Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me;

            2.   God Will Rescue Him (138:7b) Thou wilt stretch forth thy hand against the wrath of mine enemies, And thy right hand will save me

VI.   Growth (138:8) The Lord will perfect that which concerned me: Thy loving kindness, O Lord, endures for ever; Forsake not the works of thine own hands.

CONCLUSION: God has answered prayer. Once again He has shown to us His faithful love to us through His Son Jesus Christ. He is great and high; yet He cares for insignificant men and women, people like you and like me.  The psalmist David has a continuing story to tell of God’s protective care for people. Know this night that He truly cares for you, even when things are not always pleasant, when all is not right, He still holds you in the palm of His hand.  A Blessed Thanksgiving, Amen.

Sunday, October 28, 2001


October 28, 2001
Romans 3:19-28   
"Living by Works or Faith?"   

The problem for Martin Luther was that of getting right with God. The issue continues to this day. How do I, a poor miserable sinner, a poor wretched sinner find the peace of God when my sins rise up to condemn me? How do I make peace with God? How do get things right with God. Our text gives us the answer.

1.      The whole world is involved - vv.23-24 - for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

We are all in the same boat. There is something common to each of us and that is our condition of sin. There is not one person on this earth who has lived the perfect life. We all are in the same lost condition. We are all sinners condemned to spend eternity separated by God. No one can escape this death sentence. We are all sinful lost creatures.

2.      The whole world is accountable to God – v.19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it speaketh to them that are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God:

The Law of God condemns each of us. The entire creation is held accountable to God. Each of us must stand before a just and holy God. What will we offer God when we stand before Him? Can our righteousness stand the test of His holiness? What can we offer Him?  Our sins make us silent before God.

3.      There is an inability of the Law to reconcile us to God - v.20 - because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin.

Our conscience condemns each of us. The Ten Commandments show us what we have done and what we have failed to do. Each of us stands condemned, accountable for what we have done in this life, in our “time of grace”.  Our deeds are all tainted with sin. Try as we might there is nothing we can do to make up for our sins and shortcomings. This inability of the Law to reconcile us to God leads us to end up in despair. As the question suggests who shall save us from this from this body of sin and death?”  We cannot find any way out except for the grace and mercy of God. James reminds us: “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”  How is this done? It can only happen by God’s grace and favor.   

4.      Reconciliation, it is a gift - v. 23 - for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

Since all have fallen short of the glory of God. Since all have sinned. We are reconciled by the grace of God as a gift.  Reconciliation happens when we make our peace with God.  Since we have nothing to offer to God in exchange for our sin we seek what Christ has done. What does He have to offer? He offers to us His life.  He exchanges our sinful life for His perfect and holy life. He exchanges our inability to please God with His willing and active obedience. He makes us at one with God as He went to the cross, suffered and died in our place and then rose for our justification. He did this all to bring us back to God. He did this all to make us one with Him.

5.      This gift is all made possible by grace - vv.24-25 - being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:  whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, in his blood, to show his righteousness because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God;

Grace. “God’s riches at Christ’s expense” - That’s what grace is all about.  We are hid into the folds of Christ’s wounds and stripes. By His blood we are now made the true sons and daughters of the Savior.

Remember the words from our morning liturgy “for those who believe on His Name He gives the power to become the children of God and has promised them His Holy Spirit…He that believes and is baptized shall be saved. Now, that’s what it means to be saved by God’s amazing and wonderful grace.

6.      There is the necessity of faith to appropriate the gift - v.28 - We reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. What does God ask of us? He only asks that we trust God and keep Him at His Word. We boast not in anything we have done or anything we have failed to do. We simply take God at His Word and trust that Word.  What word do we trust? Jesus put it best when He said in the Gospel of John:  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” {John 3:16-18}


By grace! On this I’ll rest when dying; 
In Jesus’ Promise I rejoice; 
For though I know my heart’s condition, 
I also know my Savior’s voice. 
My heart is glad, all grief has flown, 
Since I am saved by grace alone.

                                                            [TLH #373 stanza 7]

Sunday, June 10, 2001


Trinity Sunday
June 10, 2001
Numbers 6:22-27
"Blessing upon Blessing"

Introduction:  The Lord instructed Moses to bless the people of God.  God instructs Moses to instruct Aaron and his sons how God's people are to be blessed. For thousands of years whenever God's people have gathered together they have received a special blessing. This morning, let's consider the blessing of God.

1.     The Lord bless you and keep you

A.   The Lord bless you

1.   Why have we come here today?  There are countless things you could be doing with you energy and your time. Yet, you have made a commitment to be here this day. You have come to this place and at this time to receive a blessing from God.

2.   And a blessing you will receive. The Lord has given you His promise that He will in fact bless you. This is His promise to bless and not to curse. Remember the Savior’s words – “Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or {if} he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall {your} heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"  [Luke 11:11-13]  How true it is, the blessings of God are a guarantee to those who are His.

B.    The Lord promises to keep you

1.    Hold on! Hang in there! That can sometimes be a helpless and desperate cry of someone in trouble!  Life on this earth can be at times difficult at its best, frustrating and impossible at it worst! With the hymn writer we can say “I need Thy presence every passing hour”.  If there is anything I have learned from living here on this earth is the simple fact that we need God.

2.    We are far from helpless consider His promises to keep you. He says “I will never leave you and never forsake you” “I am with you always!”  He has promised to be near you. The writer to the Hebrews, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit gives us this assurance: ”Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, {even} Jesus our Lord,    equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom {be} the glory forever and ever. Amen.” { Hebrews 13:20-21}  The Lord’s promises are sure. He will bless and keep you always!

2. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you

A.   The Lord makes His face shine upon you

1.  What face do we see when we see Him? Moses' face, we are told shone. It had to be veiled because his facial features changed as a result of seeing the Father face to face. What do we see when we gaze into the face of God.

2.  We see a shinning face because of the cross and empty tomb. Our sins have been forgiven because of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection. Because of this reality, the cross and empty tomb, we have the guarantee of seeing a pleasant face of God.

B.    And be gracious to you

1.  We receive the Father's grace as a gift. “Salvation unto us has come by God’s free grace and favor,” says Martin Luther in his hymn.

2.  He is gracious - show too anger abounding in mercy. The Psalmist puts it this way:  “Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, {bless} His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit; who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, {so that} your youth is renewed like the eagle.” {Psalm 103 :1-5} 

3. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace

A.   His countenance

1.  The gaze of the king would often determine a victim’s fate. To look down meant death! But to lift up meant life - How will the King look at you?

2.   In Christ and only in Christ does the Father lift it up for us. Because of Jesus’ wonderful work on the cross the Father’s countenance is always lifted up!

B.    To receive His peace

1.   Peace which the world simply cannot give. The reason – the world is ever striving but will never achieve true and lasting peace.

2.   Peace which will last can only come from God.  We have peace because God is now at peace with Christ's work, with you, and also with the world.

CONCLUSION: By this blessing God's name; His stamp of approval is upon us and we receive a blessing - what a relationship we have with Him - what a blessing it is to receive the blessing of God!

Sunday, June 3, 2001


June 3, 2001
John 15:26-27
"And the beat goes on"

Introduction:  "And the beat goes on…and the beat goes on" If you can remember that song, sung and made famous by the late Sonny Bono and the current Cher; well, it places you at an age in which you're probably more concerned about college payments and retirement funds then recalling the tender years of youth! It places you at an age of looking forward to seeing your last child move out of the house as you quickly dash to the hardware store to change the locks in the hopes that they don't have a change of heart! "The beat goes on…the beat goes on. Drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain…Charleston was once the rage…the miniskirt's the current thing…Teenyboppers is our newborn king, the grocery store's the supermart"

 So, what as the point to that song? The more things change, the more they actually remain the same and keep constant.  "Little girls still break their hearts, And men still keep on marching off to war Electrically they keep a baseball score…Grandmas sit in chairs and reminisce, Boys keep chasing girls to get a kiss. The beat goes on…

 Technology and fads may change, but there remains the same old challenge, throughout all of life. Nothing really changes. Wise old Solomon had it right when he said "there is nothing new under the sun!"  We need this perspective of life; or we will find ourselves quite cynical as is displayed in Britney Spears' parity of this song when she sings: "Wait till you have reached the age Blah blah History has turned the page Blah blah"

Time has a way of marching forward, "the beat goes on" and yet it's the same old challenges that each of us must face.

You purchase a house, fill it with children and pets where there is constant commotion only to have the walls grow silent as the children grow and move out on their own and get on with their lives. But the return, to visit, each with two or three children of their own; sometimes louder then they were when they were young!  The beat goes on…the beat goes on!

Today, on this, the day of Pentecost John in our Gospel lesson tells us "the beat goes on…the beat of God's love for us as it is found in Jesus Christ. On that first Pentecost The Spirit of Christ; the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the church. This same Spirit is at work in our lives as the beat goes on…

I. The Spirit testifies about Christ

The Spirit is sent
1.      From the Father. The Spirit speaks not of its own authority; all is brought into a complete order. The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father to testify concerning Christ and His righteousness.

2.      Thus the Spirit is sent to bear witness concerning Christ. All that we know about Jesus Christ we know from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit bears witness through the testimony of the Scriptures. It is the Holy Spirit that bears a complete and total witness concerning the validity of Jesus Christ.

For the Spirit knows nothing but Christ
1.      He is the spirit of truth.  Therefore His testimony will bear out the faithful witness concerning Christ. All that we know of Christ is a true and faithful witness. That witness is proven to faithful and true, for it is a trustworthy and worthy witness.

2.      Therefore He bears witness to the truth. “What is truth?”  That was the question Pilate asked. The truth, is all that is found in Jesus Christ of which the Spirit bears witness. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me”. When we come to such knowledge of the truth it is the Spirit, which bears witness to this faithful saying.

Transition:  The beat goes on. As The Spirit bears and testifies of Christ so do we. As the Spirit knows nothing but Christ so you know nothing save Jesus Christ and Him crucified

II.  The Christian testifies about Christ

A.     You are sent

1.      From the Father – Pentecost is the birthday of missions. Where the Spirit said “Go!” and God’s people went.

2.      To bear witness – concerning the truth of the Gospel – the truth concerning Jesus Christ. Each believer is a witness to the truth.

B.     For we know nothing but Christ

1.      We bear witness to the truth – Every time we share Christ, we are bearing witness to the truth. Every time we mention His most holy name we are being a faithful witness. Every time we confess our faith in the words of the creed, in our own witness, we are bearing witness to the truth concerning Jesus Christ.

2.      For the Spirit speaks – No one can say that “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. You speaking and confessing the Lordship of Christ are speaking by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion: The beat of God's testimony through the Spirit goes on. The Father sent the Spirit so you could be sent.  Serve the Lord with gladness - that the Gospel may go on!

Thursday, May 24, 2001


May 24, 2001
Matthew 28:20

"The Final Five"

The Final 5 Words of Christ. They are some of the most remarkable words ever recorded in sacred Scripture. They speak to us concerning the Savior's promises to us. They speak to us concerning our destiny. Consider them the last five words, which the Savior spoke to humans before He left this earth…"I am with you always!"

1.      I am with you

Jesus is always with you; He's by your side, He abides to guide and lead you. Many a friend may leave and desert us. Many may abandon us when we need them the most. Not so with the Savior He's always there. He is near to you. He has made His dwelling place in your heart. Many a friend may say "I'm just a phone call away…Jesus says "I'm but a breath away!"

You are never alone!  "I'm abandoned by God and by men," a man once cried out on his deathbed having realized that he had rejected everything spiritual in his life. Not so with those who have a relationship with Christ. You are never alone. No matter where you go; you won't go it alone. The Savior is near to you, promising never to abandon you, promising to never let you out of His sight. 

What a comfort. What an encouragement!

2.      Always! He's with you always!

To be separated from God is hell. Jesus’ cry from the cross was His agony of being "abandoned by God and by man" He cried from the cross: "My God my God…" (Ps.22)  He offered up those cries so that you and I would never have to experience the rejection, which comes from being abandoned by God. Always and forever you are with the Lord.  Always and forever you are in the safe and caring hand of your Lord and your Redeemer. What a comfort to know that you are in His safe and caring hand.

Forever Jesus is by your side. That relationship which the Savior began with you started at your baptism where you were clothed with Christ. It has continued on these many years up to this very hour. Jesus has forever bound Himself to you.  What's more He has set a plan by which you will spend eternity with Him.  How long is eternity? It's without end. It goes on forever. For the rest of your days you will be forever with the Lord.

CONCLUSION:  Many a person will be remembered for the last words they spoke before they left this earth. Jesus' words, spoken on the day of His Ascension will live on until He returns. Look at the back of your hand. There you have five fingers. Remember His promise spoken to you every single time you look at the back of your hands. Count the blessings one by one; "I am with you always!" Amen!

Sunday, May 6, 2001


Confirmation Sunday
May 6, 2001
Psalm 23:6

"Your Future, Your Destiny"

INTRODUCTION:  So what is confirmation any way? We don’t find in Scripture any reference to a person being confirmed. So what are we doing here today? The closest parallel found in Scripture which would mirror or reflect the rite of Confirmation is the Jewish tradition of the Bar mitzvah; when a Jewish youth is considered an adult and responsible for his moral and religious life. Luke reminds us that this happened to Jesus in Jerusalem when He was twelve years old. {Luke 2:41-52}

Today, on the day of your confirmation, you are doing nothing more then affirming for yourself what you have been taught these many years. After being instructed in the basics of the Christian faith you are now affirming that you will remain faithful to your Savior for the rest of your lives. In short, you are confirming that the faith, given to you in your baptism, is genuine and sincere.

But what about the future?  What about tomorrow, next week, next month, next year? What about the future, how will you fare?  Will your faith continue to flourish and grow?  As the old adage suggests you must either “use it or loose it” so, what will you do?  If your faith is to grow and mature it will be tested, and, if there is anything that experience will teach us is that our faith is constantly being tested and challenged.  Like iron, which is tested by fire, it can become stronger.

As you faith is tested, you will be given means by which your faith can be strengthened. Those means are the Word of God, the Sacraments, and, of course, prayer. As you avail yourself to these means your faith will become strengthened. This is the Savior’s guarantee to you that He will fortify you with His gifts and blessings.

We live in a cynical world that asks “what have you done for me lately?”  Have you ever asked God that question? What is it that God has promised to do for you as you avail yourself to Him. The words of your verse for today explain to us what God in Christ has promised for you. In your verse for today let’s consider the Lord’s promise for you... 

I.                    David assures us that God has nothing but good in store for you.  “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…”[Psalm 23:6a]

A.    Goodness and mercy will follow you.

1.      Goodness – That’s God’s intention for you. When the Father created the world, as He looked at all which He had made, at the end of each day He declared it to be “good”.  When He looked at everything He had made He declared it to be “very good”!  That’s the Father’s intention for you – His goodness.   . This is what the Lord tells us through the words of the prophet Jeremiah when He says: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.” {Jeremiah 29:11-12}

2.       Mercy – That’s God’s attitude toward you. He looks not upon your sin but rather declares you to be righteous.  He decides and determines to act contrary to what we deserve according to our sins. He has compassion on us. He forgives us. He sets us free! His grace and every blessing come to you as He steadfastly guides and leads you.

B.     His mercy is new to you all the days of your life.

1.      Not for a season. We tend to limit our activities to small segments of time. A sports season lasts just a few weeks, summer break a few months, high school is but a few years. So it seems that a few think that the Father’s mercy is confined to a limited period of time. Not so! Listen to David’s response. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…”

2.      The Father’s mercy is new to us ever single day. Today is the day of the day of salvation – today is the appointed time. This is the day, which the Lord has made. David guarantees that the Lord’s mercy will be supplied to us each and every day of our life. His goodness will not fail you. No matter where you go His presence, purpose and power will be yours. Remember the Savior’s last five words, which He spoke to humans before He ascended into heaven. These words are for you this day and every day. The Savior reminds us “I am with you always…”{Matthew 28:20}

TRANSITION: The Father has good intentions for you.  How long will His goodness and mercy last? His guarantee is without any restrictions. They last forever. This is His guarantee to you. We don’t have to become suspicious of the Father’s guarantee.  There is no expiration date.  There is no fine print. His mercy will not wear out!

II.                 Your destiny is secure.

A.    The Savior has a plan for you.

1.      His plan for you is that you will spend eternity with Him in glory. Sometimes life in the here and now can seem like an eternity. With age, you will gain perspective, however, no matter how long you spend your life here on this earth; compared to our time spent with the Savior, it is as David describes it in Psalm “but a handbreadth” [Psalm 39:5] If there is one think I have learned is that life here is brief, limited, transitory…yet the Savior who has a plan for you, which will be fulfilled in your life, lives beyond time and space. His desire is that you would spend eternity with Him. There is an eternal perspective to His plan – The Father is in it for you for the long haul!

2.      There is a permanency linked to God’s plan. The question so many your age ask these days is: “can I picture myself doing this forever?”  You’ve been in school now ten years – if you finish high school, college and pursue a Masters’ you’re about half way through! You’ve got another ten years to go!  Then, you go to work – for another forty years!  But no matter what your plans may be, no matter what your future entails, the Savior will stay for you forever.

B.     The Savior’s purpose and plan for you is eternal.

1.      You will dwell with the Father forever. He will stay with you longer then any friend. His purpose and plan goes beyond time and space. His purpose and plan for you will follow you through this life only to accompany you in the life that is to come.

2.  Because the Savior has your future plans in story, we can say with all certainty that your treasure cannot be taken away from you. Your eternity is secure as long as you remain in the safe and steady hands of the Savior your good and gracious Savior.

CONCLUSION:  Remember the things that were taught you, cling to that which is good and remember the Savior walks with you today, tomorrow and for the rest of your life. Eternity stands before you. Walk with the Savior, He walks with you.  IN JESUS’ NAME. Amen.

Sunday, April 15, 2001

Easter Dawn

Easter Dawn   
April 15, 2001 
Luke 24:1-11   

Reasoning Through the Resurrection  

Introduction:  The account of the resurrection according to St. Luke is devoid of the spectacular. There is no earthquake, no rolling away of the stone, any terrified soldiers, or even the appearance of angels. Luke presents for us the reality of the resurrection as it happened, as a cold, hard fact. Luke gives us reasonable evidence that the resurrection is a reality; he uses reasoning as proof of the resurrection. We need this account for our world today, as we can not have a reappearance of the risen Lord. Today is the first Easter of the 21st Century. How will the world today be convinced of the reality of the resurrection?  Let's consider the evidence.

The cold fact of an empty tomb v. 3 "And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus."
Many great religious and spiritual leaders have walked the face of this earth. Buddha Mohammed, Confucius, Abraham, Moses; just to mention a few.  They each share a common legacy. If you would go to their tombs you would find their bones, as they are all dead. You can not say that concerning Jesus Christ. When you go to His tomb, His grave, you will find it empty.

The empty tomb is a cold hard fact that confirms the resurrection. His body is no longer there. It has risen. What happened to the body?  The tomb is empty! A skeptical and doubting world will have to answer that question. We have an answer. The tomb is empty because Christ is alive. He is risen from the dead.

The logic of the situation v. 5  "And they said unto them, Why seek the living among the dead?"
We as Christians do not worship a dead Christ. We worship a living Lord. That is the logic of the situation. Why would you seek the living among the dead? They can not rise. They can not speak. They can not handle. They can not answer prayer. They can do nothing for they are dead.

Christ, to the contrary is alive forever. So why seek Him among the dead? Such logic should be extended to our prayers. If Jesus were dead then our prayers would be simply words spoken to the wind, or, at best, spoken only to ourselves. But when we speak we address a living and triumphant God. For what is prayer other then a heart to heart speaking with a living and triumphant Savior. Why would we seek Him among the dead? He is not there He is risen and living. He lives eternally to save us and to hear us when we pray. The logic of Easter suggests nothing else!

Trust in the words of Jesus vv.6-8 "…remember how He spake unto you when He was yet in Galilee, saying the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again. And they remembered His Words"
The resurrection did not happen as a fluke. It was predicted by Jesus countless times on many occasions. He had promised His disciples, on the third day that He would rise from the dead. He told them, "destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up"(John 2:19) And the Scripture is quick to remind us that this He was speaking of His own body. {John 2:21}

Jesus' predictions all came true. He promised us a resurrection and that is precisely what we got. He guarantees each and every promise. We can trust Him at His Word. When He makes a promise to us He is duty bound to keep His Word. He can do nothing less then keep His promises. Because He lives He will hear our prayers and answer them according to His perfect plan and design for your life. This you can count on Jesus will keep His Word!

Conclusion:  How do you react too an experience like the first Easter?  Can we today shard the women's experience? By faith we can!  Rejoice, then this day, He is risen, He is risen indeed hallelujah!


Easter Festival 
April 15, 2001 
Luke 16:19-31   

Is there life after death?  

Introduction: - Is there really life after death?  That is the question this world has been asking for centuries and, as we celebrate the first Easter of a new century, it is a question that is even more pertinent then at any other time. We are living in a declining society and many have observed that when a society begins to decay and decline it begins to lose hope. This can be reflected in our culture through art, television, and movies and in our past times.

Our declining and decaying society is rapidly becoming totally preoccupied with the subject of death. Consider please:

I. The findings

A.     Across the nations we have people quoted 

1.      Those who have experienced clinical death, where vital organs have ceased to function. 
2.      These people will be quick to tell you that they have had a "life after life" experience. What are we to make of this?

B.     Of these experiences there are a few observations for us to note. 

1.      Basically, they are all uniform. Each has a similar experience. 
2.      Included in these experiences are a sense of euphoria; open freedom; a review of life's events.

C.     What then are the results of such findings?  There are basically two.

1.      None were anxious to return. 
2.      None now fears death at all.

II. This must be fiction!

A.     To this discussion, and especially on this Easter, an exact definition of death is crucial to our discussion.

1. There are medical definitions, which describe to us that a person has died such as the loss of vital signs, brain waves, a heartbeat, etc. 
2. There is an actual definition of death that you and I as Christians use every day which is the separation of the soul from the body.

B.     What does this mean? 

1. It means that all these cases of "life after life" experiences were examples of clinical death. They were not cases of actual death. 
2. None of these people have actually returned from the dead. They were all near death experiences.

C.     So what are the results for this world? 

1. Confusion reigns supreme. 
2. People today are lacking in essential evidence of life after death.

III. What is needed today then, more then ever, are the essential facts.

A.     The fact remains that only one person has come back from actual death and has told us about it. 

1.      That one is Jesus Christ 
2.      The New Testament contains the record that He has given to us that we might know the truth of what awaits each and every one of us after we experience the reality of death.

B.     In our text for this morning there is much for us to consider by Jesus in His teaching. 

1.      There is something after death, which awaits all of us. There is life after death. 
2.      Life after death is in one of two locations; either heaven or hell. 
3.      He is real and awful. 
4.      There is no second chance after death. There are no "do overs" 
5.      There is no exchange of plans after death. Recall verse 26: "Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed; so that they which would pass from hence to you can not; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence." 
6.      Stations here and in the hereafter are not related. Wealth in this life does not guarantee wealth in the life that is to come. 
7.      Positions there are determined by decisions made now. Reject not, the Lord Jesus Christ!

IV. Our Future

A.     We must face the inevitability of death. 

1.      There is a difference between facing death and being preoccupied with death. We must learn to know the difference. 
2.      Physical death then is totally inescapable. The Bible reminds us that it is appointed for a man to die, once and then comes judgment.

B.     Thus we must be prepared for what waits us at death's door. 

1.      The Bible says it is necessary to be "born again" if we are to see heaven. 
2.      To be "born again" simply means to be "born from above". In other words, to be "born again" means to be born spiritually, to be born from God.  When were you "born again"?  You were born again when you were baptized into the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. St. Paul tells us that all of us who have been baptized into Christ have been clothed by Christ.  In your baptism you were buried with Him in His death and raised to new life by the power of your baptism.

Conclusion:  Don't get taken in by something untrue regarding life after death. Take the Word and the record of the only One who has ever come back and told of it. His Name is Jesus Christ and on this day we celebrate life; the life that He has given to us and that life that can not end! A Blessed Easter. Amen. 

Friday, April 13, 2001

Good Friday

Good Friday   
April 13, 2001 
Luke 23:34

"Father Forgive Them"

Introduction: His was now over, the procession had wandered it way to Calvary.  The cross was stretched out, and the Lord laid back upon it. The nails were pounded and the cross dropped into the grown. Lifting His eyes to heaven, the Son of God prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do..."

I.     Why did He pray this petition?

A.   It expresses His essential reason for dying.

1.  He died that all might be forgiven.

2.  This was the reason for His coming into our world.

B.    It reveals His character.

1.  He is loving and compassionate especially to those who are lost.

2.  His thoughts are always of others, not fixated on Himself.

C.   His prayer provides an excellent example for others.

1. Jesus taught by prospect as well as by example.

2.  Thus His prayer should become the model prayer for ourselves, that we seek the Father's will of forgiveness for all for whom we might pray.

D.   This prayer is also a fulfillment of prophecy.

1.   Isaiah 53:12 tells us: "Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." 

2.   This is but one of hundreds of Old Testament prophecies and predictions, which Jesus fulfilled when He went to the cross.  In short this prayer and the circumstances surrounding the petition prove again that this Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the world.

II. For whom is Jesus praying?

A.   He prays first for those who are at the scene; the immediate subjects.

1.   He prays for those who had just nailed Him to the cross - the soldiers; they were simply carrying out their orders. They were "doing their duty"

2.   He prays for those who had handed Him over to be crucified - they certainly did not know that Jesus was the Son of God!

3.   They did not know what they were doing!

B.    He prays for His countrymen, the Jewish people.

1.   His death was caused by the demand of national pride. Their leaders reasoned to themselves this way in John 11: " And one of them Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, You know nothing at all. Nor consider that it is better that one man die for the people and that the whole nation perish not And this he spoke not of himself but being high priest that yes, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation" {vv. 49-51}

2.   Thus Jesus died for all of Israel, thus fulfilling the prophecy.

C.   He also prayed for you and for me.

1.   The real sin of unbelief is taking place here. The Son of God is being put to death.

a. Notice what Jesus says about His death by crucifixion - "they know not what they are doing!"

b. This is the ultimate sin for it is the sin of rejection of the Son of God.

2.     This sin extends to every single person - to everyone.

a. Anyone who rejects Christ is guilty of the same sin Christ asks to have forgiven.

b. Had we been there, we would have done the same thing. No one at the scene realize who was being put to death.

III. Did God answer this prayer? In a word - YES!

A.   Physically.

1. The Soldiers and Jews were spared on that day.

2. Jerusalem and the Jewish nation were spared.

B.    Spiritually

1. While He was dying

a. All was forgiven in His glorious death on the cross.

b. This is made place that even those who were actually participating in His death were pardoned.

2. The Father has forgiven - period!

a. To all who accept by faith this wonderful work of mercy and salvation.

b. Yes, you to have been forgiven the sin of rejecting Christ. Rejoice in His mercy and dedicate yourself to His cause and work.

Conclusion:  "Father, forgive them…" is an expression of Jesus' heart. Receive His pardon this night for in Jesus Christ all sin is forgiven!

Thursday, April 12, 2001

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday   
April 12, 2001 
1 Corinthians 11:23-34

A Truly New Covenant

Introduction:  Something truly new and different is happening as Christ our Lord institutes His supper. We call it the Last Supper because it was the Last Supper, which Jesus ate before His arrest, trial, and death.  It can also be referred to as the Last Supper because at last, after this supper something new is taking place. In establishing this Holy Communion Jesus is presenting to us a new covenant in His body and blood. Holy Communion certainly is a truly new covenant.  What is this new thing?

I.     The blood of Christ replaces the blood of animals.

A.   Specific animals had to be offered for specific sacrifices.

1.   The list of tasks was endless. Regulations abounded. The requirements were tremendous. The law required for a strict enforcement of all of the regulations of the ceremonies. An animal had to be killed in a certain manner; certain sacrifices required certain animals.

2.   Men had to be therefore taught repeatedly concerning these sacrifices. Each generation had to pass down to the next one how the sacrifices were to be carried out. If they failed to teach their children how the sacrifice was to be performed the entire custom would be lost in one generation. The hope for forgiveness, restoration and peace would be lost forever.

B.    These sacrifices had to be frequent because people repeatedly sinned.

1.   As there were sacrifices named for specific sins, these sacrifices could only last but once. There was but one sacrifice for each offense. When a subsequent offense occurred, another sacrifice had to be offered if a person were to have their sin atoned and their conscience stilled.

2.   This made an interesting enterprise for some. There would have to be animals on hand, available to be sacrificed. These had to be kept, housed, fed, and cared for. Often abuses were found, as just a few days before His arrest Jesus took a whip and drove out the animals, and the money launders who had turned God's house into a dean of thieves.

Transition: Such was the old system of sacrifices. It was limited, cumbersome, full of regulations, and a system that was full of abuse. That is why Christ came to give us a more acceptable way. Consider Jesus' new covenant.

II.     The new covenant speaks of the work that was accomplished in Jesus Christ.

A.   The Old covenant ="this do and live"

1.   It was a covenant of regulations disciplines and rules. It was based on strict obedience. It was motivated by fear; fear of reprisals, fear of failure, fear of offending a just a holy God.

2.   It could not stand the test of every man for no one is capable of following the decrees and dictates of a holy God. For this reason our good and gracious Father sent forth a plan that a just the right time His Son, our Savior would break into time and space to offer up Himself a good and perfect sacrifice. This was accomplished with Christ instituted His Supper "which is give and shed for you for the forgiveness of all of your sins.

B.    The New covenant = "live and do this"

1.   The benefits of the new covenant, celebrated by Christians in this wonderful Sacrament are the fruits of Christ's righteousness. He gives to us the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. We are now free to live and the children of God.

2.   Because of this freedom, this new life that is offered by Christ, we are also strengthen to will and to do the will of our heavenly Father. Obedience no longer becomes a burden. It becomes a blessing and an opportunity to serve God in righteousness and purity.

Conclusion:  This meal is truly a celebration of the new things God is working in us. It is a new covenant, a covenant of His mercy and grace. It is a feast of victory of our God who has done all things well for His glory and our good. Come, for all things are now ready. Amen.

Sunday, April 8, 2001

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday
April 8, 2001 
Matthew 21:1-11

"The Beast of Burden Speaks"  

Introduction: Holy Week 2001 begins today with the celebration of Psalm Sunday. This week we walk with the Savior through the streets of Jerusalem to the upper room, through His arrest, trial, conviction and death. Then, one week from today we will stand at an open tomb and proclaim "Christ is arisen, He is risen indeed, hallelujah!"

But let us begin today with Psalm Sunday.  We know the story well, but today let us not overlook one of the small details of that day, the animal involved, the small colt upon which Jesus rode in triumph. This animal, a beat of burden, is not at all incidental to the story.

I.     The colt is a representation of Jesus' earthly ministry.

A.   Kings, great men, and warriors normally rode horses.

B.    A donkey, on the other hand, is humble, meek, unassuming and simple.

C.   The colt is a perfect likeness for Christ and His mission.

1.   When standing trial before Pilate Jesus would simply say: "My kingdom is not of this world"

2.   In describing Himself Jesus says in Matthew 11 "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" {vv.28-30}

II. The colt had never been ridden before.

A.     Matthew explains certain things for us.

1.   This probably explains why Matthew speaks of the donkey as well as the colt. This is a rather young animal, too young even to have had been ridden. It was still haltered to its mother.

2.   The Old Testament sacred services reserved for animals that had not been under the yoke. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures.

3.   This also proves the point that Christ rules over the natural world. All things are brought under the subjection of His command.

B.     To use a colt, who had never been ridden is only fitting as Jesus brings to us something completely new.

1.   Before, men had died for the gods. Never had God died for men. This is the new thing, which Jesus brought. He came into this world to suffer and die for you and for me and for all people that have ever inhabited the world.

2.   By suffering and dying on the cross Jesus completely fulfilled the Old Testament system to bring about a new covenant; a new covenant of His body and blood.

III. The colt was a beast of burden.

A.   Consider the donkey.

1.   The donkey was not a symbol of status but was used for service.

2.   The donkey was used not for battle but for burdens

B.    But the colt is a perfect reflection of Jesus' ministry

1.   Jesus came to bear the burden of people warn down from sin and strife.

2.   He came to bear the ultimate burden - the burden of sin.

IV. The colt was borrowed from its master.

A.   Everything He had on this earth was borrowed. {stable, boat, quarters, even His tomb}

1.   He owned all things but on earth possessed nothing

2.   You and I possess all things but own nothing

B.    Learn the lessons from that first Palm Sunday

1.   There are always those who are willing to help the work of the Savior.

2.   Even those most humble can serve the Savior.

3.   When He asks for our service, answer by saying "here am I sent me…"

Conclusion: The colt who became the animal of choice on that first Palm Sunday was but a small detail to the entire story, but it was a perfect choice, a perfect fit. Jesus, the burden-bearer has done all things well. He has established a new covenant with the Father in which He offers His very life for the life of the world. He borrowed that colt to complete His purposes. What is it that He wants from you?  As we begin holy week today may we readily surrender it to Him to be used to His glory. Amen.