Friday, December 31, 2004

New Year's Eve

December 31, 2004
Psalm 90:1
“Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations”

INTRODUCTION: We come once again to the end of another year – 365 days have passed – the Year of our Lord 2004 – a year in which we have been blessed by God to serve Him, to be a witness, to experience His mercy and grace. What can be said concerning this past year? Possibly David summed it all up in the words of our text for this night: “Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations” {Psalm 90:1}

I.        The Lord our Dwelling place.

A. The Lord Almighty has been and is a refuge from the tempter and the destroyer.

B. He is a shelter from every storm.

II.     In All Generations.

A.          An Ancestral Home. Think of the repository of family traditions and memories and associations we’ve been permitted to experience this past year.

B.          Yet, in Christ we have a home more real than house filled with material things. The presence of Christ fills us and everything associated with Him. Think of those moments this past year when you have known of His presence in your life. Think of those times in which He was there yet we may not have known it… Only in eternity will everything be completely revealed.

CONCLUSION: Thus close out in just a few hours the year of our Lord 2004. In each year, in all generations the Lord Jesus has been our dwelling place. May He continue to sustain us from this generation to the next.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Day

Christmas Day
December 25, 2004
Isaiah 9:6
What’s in a name?

INTRODUCTION: What’s in a name? A name identifies the character of a person. For example, my name, “Daniel” is of Hebrew origin and means, “God is my judge.” Tamara is also Hebrew which means, “palm tree.” Henry mans “Ruler of the Home” while Lydia is Greek for “cultured”. Lindsey, the first girl and the first child baptized this year {as well as the first recorded baptism in our church’s 2nd century} means “trees near water” while Remington [1st boy] is taken from the word “Raven” meaning “Blackbird” while Coy means “quiet” or “still”.

In Biblical thought you are a name. The son born on Christmas is no ordinary person as shown by the name He is given. What’s in a name especially His name? Consider Jesus’ title.

I.                    Counselor-

A.         He guides us into the ways of truth, divine and eternal truth.

B.         He is a helper – who came to rescue us from our greatest peril. The powers of sin, death and the Devil.

C.         Advocate – Paul put it this way, “God was in Christ rec0onciling us to the Father, not counting our sins against us. And He has given us this ministry of reconciliation.”

II.                 Mighty God-

A.         The transcendent One – who created this universe in six days and rested on the seventh. He created a vast universe for us to explore, to profit from ($1 spent in exploration translates into $17 in return) Yet He is the one who governs our days and orders our universe.

B.         Totally other – One whose will was to be born in human likeness who for us men and our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost and was made man. Conceived by the Spirit and born of the Virgin He is our Savior from sin, death, and the devil.

III.               Everlasting Father –

A.         Warm – who has loved us with an everlasting love.

B.         Tender – who speaks to us favorably through His inspired Word.

C.         Caring – Who in love has reached down to us to save us from our sins.

D.         The Compassionate God- Who broke into time and space to be our Savior – who took on flesh to dwell among us, to take the burden of our guilt and sin.

IV.              Prince of Peace –

A.         The creator of our peace with God. He is the source of every blessing. Our peace comes only from Him.

B.         The one who will bestow His abiding peace on those who are called by His saving Gospel. This is why we share His story with the world so that souls might be won for Him.

CONCLUSION: What’s in a name? There’s plenty. The child whose birth we celebrate this day has been given the name “Jesus” for “He will save His people from their sins.” And save us is what He has done. No wonder the angels who announced His birth would exclaim, “there is now peace on earth and good will toward men”! A Blessed Christmas in Jesus’ Name. Amen

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Mid-week Advent 3

December 15, 2004
Isaiah 35:1-10
"A wasteland transformed"

INTRODUCTION: For many, life is a wilderness, a wasteland, and a desert. Like the Israelites who were in bondage in Babylon when this text was written modern man lives in bondage – bondage to fear, anxieties, loneliness, loveless ness. Today people again are living in conditions of ignorance poverty and misery from which they need to be delivered. When God comes Isaiah reminds us that a wasteland will be transformed into a garden.

1.                  From the wilderness of sadness to the garden of joy – “The wilderness and desert will be glad.” (V.1)

A. The personification of nature is quite common in Isaiah. Barren land will bring forth lush growth and vegetation. An about face, and change of the landscape – God is moving among His people.

B. The wilderness of sin and loneliness, isolated from God because of the misery of sin brings forth a new relationship – life with God has He comes to visit His people. In the form of a son, His only Son.

2.                  From the wilderness of fear to the garden of courage – “Encourage the exhausted and strengthen the feeble.” (V. 3)

A.     Feeble arms, legs, bodies need physical therapy. Christ is our therapist. A helper just He comes to Thee.

B.  He offers Himself as He bids us to come to Him. Here we find that great exchange His life of perfection for our futile attempts of piety. He exchanges our sin for His righteousness and carries our sins on His own back on the bloody cross.

3.                  From the wilderness of bondage to the garden of freedom – “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Arabah.” (Vv.5-6)

A.         Jesus will quote this verse in Matthew’s gospel to prove that He is the Messiah. “Report back to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Matthew 11:4-5)

B.         God provided water for His children of Israel during their sojourn in the desert. He provided for them then, and He provides for us now. Forgiveness, life, salvation have all been given to us freely. Truly our Father is the provider of all who are in need.

CONCLUSION: A desert becomes a lush garden?  A dream? A dream comes true when the Lord’s Messiah, our Savior, breaks into time and space. Jesus has come to offer His life as an exchange for our life of misery and sin. O rejoice ye Christians loudly! Jesus has come to offer salvation!

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Advent mid-week 2

December 8, 2004
Isaiah 11:1-10
A Profile in Greatness

INTRODUCTION:  In this Advent season we look forward to the celebration of Christmas and for the coming again of Jesus into our hearts and the close of this age. Who is this expected one and what is He like? Is He worth hoping and waiting for?

In our Old Testament lesson for this night the prophet Isaiah draws for us a profile of the Messiah some 800 years before He is born. Consider this profile of greatness.

I.                     Who is He?

A.     A prince – “then shall a shoot spring from the stem of Jesse and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.” (V. 1)

B.     A man of Spirit – And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him. The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” (V.2)

C.    A God fearing man – “And He will delight in the fear of the Lord.”

II.                   What will He do?

A.     Judge righteously, not on evidence of hearsay – “He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear, but with righteousness will he judge the poor.” (Vv. 3b-4a)

B.     Destroy the evil in the world through His Word – “He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.”

III.                  What will He accomplish?

A.     Peace on earth – (V.6) “The wolf will dwell with the lamb, leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together and a young lad will lead them.”

B.     The world will know God – (V.9) “They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord.”

C.    Nations will seek God – (V.10) “Then it will come about in that day that the nations will resort to the root of Jesse, who will stand as a signal for the peoples; and His resting place will be glorious.”

CONCLUSION: Often in schools and in business a profile is made of new students or interns to acquaint the faculty or management with the lives of incoming students. We have reviewed the profile of the coming Messiah – truly a profile of greatness.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Advent mid-week 1

December 1, 2004
Isaiah 2:1-5 
Peace in our Time

INTRODUCTION: The world is ever in pursuit of peace. Each successive decade makes peace an even greater necessity because of the sophistication and proliferation of weapons. Now in the age of terror the world longs for peace so much so that the words of verse 3 are carved on the outside wall of the United Nations building in New York City “and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation and never again will they learn ware.” Yet, this dream of world peace has not yet been realized.

Our test for tonight gives the conditions of peace, a price the world has yet failed to pay. Is peace in our time possible?

1.                  Not now but in the last days – “Now it shall come about in the last day, the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as a chief of the mountains and I will be raised about the hills; and all nations will stream to it.”

A.      Peace is for the time when Christ returns.

1.      A time in the future.

2.      Yet set only by the Father.

B.      This text does not promise peace for the world today.

1.      There will be wars and rumors of wars.

2.      Because of distress in the world the end will have to come.

Transition: Peace will come in the later days. It will come by the Father’s directive.

2.                  Peace will come when God is considered to be the true God.

A.      God is the highest of the mountains.

B.      God is considered at the center of the world.

C.     God is considered the hub of the universe.

Transition: Peace will come when God directs it, when He is at the center of man’s thoughts, when the nations seek Him.

3.                  Peace will happen when all the nations come to God.

A.      When people make peace with God.

1.      Done in time @ Jesus’ 1st Advent.

2.      Done in eternity @ Jesus’ 2nd Advent.

B.      Then they will have peace among themselves.

1.       Because God is at peace with what Christ has accomplished at the bloody cross and empty tomb.

2.       Because of His name; the prince of peace.

CONCLUSION: Peace in our time, can it be realized? Yes, when Christ descends from the clouds of heaven and then every eye shall see Him. Come Lord Jesus, come even today. Amen.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


Thanksgiving Day
November 25, 2004
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

INTRODUCTION: Thanksgiving by definition is the formal public expression of returning thanks to God. How do we do that? Let’s see what Scripture would tell us this morning. How do we have Thanksgiving?

1. Rejoice always! (Vs. 16)   “May you always be joyful in your life in the Lord. I say it again: rejoice.” Philippians 4:4 

A.                 In this verse Paul tells us twice to rejoice. Why rejoice? We might not necessarily feel like rejoicing. Yet we do rejoice for this is how thankful hearts respond to God – they rejoice.

B.                 We rejoice when we recall the fruits of His Spirit, which are evident in every believer’s life. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Transition: We give thanks in rejoicing we understand thanksgiving by making our requests known to God.

2.         Pray without ceasing (Vs. 17)   “Don’t worry about anything but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking Him with a thankful heart.” (Philippians 4:6)

A.                 Worry can drain us of any joy. There is much for us to be concerned in this dark and sinful world. Thus our focus is on Him who supplies us with all that we need to support our body and life. “Make your requests known to God” Paul would remind us – we “take it to the Lord” in prayer.

B.                 Our prayers are also filled with gratitude and praise. Gratitude, for His redemption in Christ for His mercy and grace. Praise, because He has blessed us in so many ways. His mercies are new to us every day.  His blessings cannot be counted. He is a God of grace and glory.

Transition: We rejoice, we pray always with thankful hearts – regardless of circumstance.

3. In everything give thanks (Vs. 18) “…be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants of you in your life in Christ Jesus.”

A.                 “Now that we have been put right with God through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He has brought us by faith into the experience of God’s grace in which we now live. We rejoice, then, in the hope we have of sharing God’s glory! And we also rejoice in our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval and His approval creates hope. This hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit who is God’s gift to us.” (Romans 5:1-4)

Out thanks is not limited to or dictated by circumstances – in every circumstance - in every condition – in every situation – regardless of its origin we return to God worship and praise.

B.                 “Because you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure.” (James 1:3) We endure because of faith; faith given to us by God in the first place – faith, which trusts God’s promises – faith, which takes God at His Word. 

CONCLUSION: How do we have thanksgiving? With our prayers with gratitude to God, in every circumstance we bless the Lord. A blessed Thanksgiving to each of you in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Sunday, October 31, 2004


October 31, 2004
Romans 5:1-11
What Christ Has Made Possible

INTRODUCTION: Today is Reformation Sunday. A day for us to celebrate the freedom we enjoy through the Gospel of Christ. To fully understand and appreciate what Christ has made possible for us we need to remember four specific realities.

I.   Remember what we once were.

A.       Without strength “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Vs. 6)

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

“I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.” (Philippians 4:13)

B.       Ungodly “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Vs. 6)

C.       Sinners “But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Vs. 8)

D.       Enemies “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Vs. 10)

TRANSITION: We remember what we were but we also recall what God in Christ has done for us.

II.        Remember what Christ did for us.

A.       He died for us. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Vs. 6)

“But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Vs. 8)

1.   He didn’t have to; He wanted to! “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

2.      He gave us life. “Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Timothy 2:5)

B.       He Justified us [“to declare or pronounce us as righteous before God”]

1.          This we could never do. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5)

2.          Justified us “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (vs. 1)

3.          Reconciled us to the Father “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Vs. 10)

TRANSITION: Now we can better appreciate what Christ has made possible for us to have.

III.   What we have now

A.       Peace “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”(Vs.1)

B.       Access to grace “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand,” (Vs.2)

C.       Hope “and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Vs.2b)

D.       The Holy Spirit “And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Vs. 5)

TRANSITION: As an added benefit – as if He had not done enough for us – we have something to look forward to in the future.

IV.   What we will have in the future

A.     Salvation – from the wrath which is to come “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Vs.9)

B.     Eternally saved through His life “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23)

CONCLUSION: Past, present, future – they all have God’s mark on them- a blessed Reformation in Christ!

Sunday, June 6, 2004


Trinity Sunday
June 6, 2004
Proverbs 8:22-31
Implications for Creation

INTRODUCTION: There continues to be significant discussions on the topic of how the world was brought forth. In many segments of our country evolution remains a controversial subject. There are many people in our country captivated by the question of how did we get here and how did it all happen. One of the questions which man has asked for ages is the question of origin. WHENCE? WHERE DO THINGS COME FROM? WHERE DO I COME FROM?

Our text for today does not deal with the “how” but rather with the “who” of creation. Without a doubt, the One who created the universe is God. This we affirm in the words of the 1st Article of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth…” Wise King Solomon would remind us from the fact of creation there are significant implications. Today we shall deal with them as we consider the ramifications for creation.

As believers we take it as fact that God created this world. Because God created this world we affirm three realities.

I.                    We affirm that this is my Father’s world.

A.     God made this world – in six days – but also in 10 phrases. How did He do this? We leave that up to science, which can teach us certain things but not everything. Science can explain to us how it all works yet it remains a miracle to be seen. For example last spring 15 tiny seeds planted into the ground produced 160 squash, which contained literally hundreds of seeds that if planted this spring could produce enough squash to feed this entire parish! No, I won’t repeat my mistake of planting too much squash…this year I’m trying my luck with Zucchini!

B.     He controls this world – nothing will happen without His knowledge and consent. We’re not left to chance. We believe in the providence of God. He controls the events of this world, He controls our very lives.

C.      He will also end this world – at just the right time – when the last Christian has been converted. Again, everything works according to His Master Plan. This leads to a question. Are you a part of the Master’s plan of salvation?

Transition: God has created this world. He has done all things according to His good and gracious will

II.                 We affirm that this world is good – because God has made it.

A.     True, sin has ruined the world, placing a curse on it. The Lord speaking to Adam reminds us “because of you cursed is the ground. For you both thorns and thistles it shall grow and by the sweat of your brow shall you eat bread” (Genesis 3)

B.     Yet Christ has redeemed the world at the bloody cross. Sin has lost its grip – death its sting – Isaac Watts in 1719 put it this way:

No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found, 
Far as the curse is found
Far as far as the curse is found

                        Joy to the World, the Lord is Come Hymn 87 from The Lutheran Hymnal © 1940 Concordia Publishing House St. Louis, Mo

C.     We can delight in God’s creation. Solomon reminds us in verse 31 “rejoicing in the world, His earth And having delight in the sons of men”

Transition: We affirm this is the Father’s world, which is good. Thus life is intended by God to be good.

III.               We affirm that life has purpose.

A.     We are created by God to be in the world, to be a witness, to make a difference.

B.     He is with us – even now – as He comes to us in Word and Sacrament – as He dwells in each believer’s heart.

C.     Life now is lived for God – by means of vocation and service. We do more then merely come to a worship service. In service we worship God.

CONCLUSION: On this Trinity Sunday we remember that God is eternal. The Triune God created the world, the universe and humanity. Since God has created this world, we celebrate as an act of pure grace for our benefit. To God be the glory – great things He has done!

Thursday, May 20, 2004


Ascension Day
May 20, 2004
Ephesians 1:16-23
The coming of God

INTRODUCTION: The ascension of Jesus commemorates Jesus’ visible departure from earth and return to heaven. But despite His physical absence He has not left us.  It is true, as He Himself observed, that He has finished the saving work He came to earth to do as He cried from the bloody cross “It is finished!”

But this does not mean that God is finished with us. Jesus Himself once informed His disciples that His leave –taking for heaven would be a signal for the Holy Spirit to come to them, a coming we have witnessed continually ever since the first Pentecost. Today’s Epistle is one more assurance that Jesus ascension is the signal not only for the Holy Spirit come to us but also for God the father and even Jesus Himself to come to us in unexpected ways.

I.                    The Holy Spirit comes to us

A.         God the Father sends Him “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ...may give to you the Spirit of wisdom,” V.17

B.          The Holy Spirit comes to us through the Gospel “revelation, so that you may know Him better,” (v.17)

C.         He enlightens our understanding through that Gospel “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints” (18)

D.         As a result we are strengthened in our hope and longing for heaven. “...and His incomparable great power for us who believe” (19)

II.                 God the Father comes to us.

A.       We have already experienced His power in the faith he has given us. (v.19)

B.        We are promised even more of His power “his incomparably great power”, the same powers of God that exalted Christ in His resurrection and ascension.

C.       As a matter of fact, we receive more than His power – we receive Him. Jesus said in John 14:23 “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

III.               Jesus comes to us.

A.        He is over all things, yet, he is for the sake of, and for the benefit of, the church “for the church,” (v.22)

B.         He fills all things; yet, the church completes His fullness just as a body completes the head to the body. To paraphrase vv.22-23 “In that body lives fully the One who fills the while wide universe.”

CONCLUSION: This is the destiny of man to be with God. Ultimately it is the Son of Man, Jesus Christ our Ascended Lord who rules over everything. He is over all things and in Him we live and reign.

Sunday, May 2, 2004

Confirmation 2004

Confirmation Sunday
Easter 4
May 2, 2004
John 10:27-28
We live secure

INTRODUCTION: Today’s confirmation class, the class of 2004 is once again a unique class; a class all their own. There are six of you from the public school and six who attend our Wyneken School. Nine of you I’ve baptized while three have transferred from sister congregations. As a congregation we‘ve watched all of you grow up among us – it has been a privilege to walk with you as you have grown and matured in your faith.

The theme for this school year at Wyneken has been “Jesus our Good Shepherd” and during our observance of Lent we set our focus on Psalm 23, the Shepherd’s Psalm as we focused out attention on the Shepherd & the Sheep. It is only appropriate that you should be confirmed today on “Good Shepherd Sunday.” 

The text you have selected is from the Gospel lesson - appointed to be read in churches on this, the 4th Sunday of Easter. Jesus tells us, “My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me, and I give them eternal life and they shall never perish and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:2728)

A young Christian, a person about your age, was once asked, “What is the most important thing you have learned about God?” The reply, “That God can be trusted in every circumstance of life.” This life lesson I pray you have learned as well – if so, your parents, your teachers, and your pastor have served you well.

There is talk these days about the future soundness of the Social Security system. Will our spiritual security ever fail us? Jesus assures us that when your life is in the Shepherd’s hands we will live securely.

I.                    You belong to the Good Shepherd. “My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me.”

A.       As a sheep of His flock you listen to the voice of your Shepherd.

1.      There are other voices all trying to get our attention.

2.      Out struggle in this life is quit simply who will we listen to and to whom will we follow. It is not that our baptism didn’t work. It’s not that Jesus’ suffering and death didn’t redeem us. It’s a continuing question. Will we continue to hear and follow our Savior or will we as it were, change the channel? The challenge for us is to stay focused on Christ our Good Shepherd.

B.        We are assured of the Shepherd’s love and care for He knows us.

1.      Your Shepherd knows your needs. He knows you even better then you know yourself.

2.      As a Good Shepherd who knows you He will provide you with all that you need to support your body and life.

C.       We follow after Him alone.

1.      We don’t have to follow after other Shepherds voices, which would tempt us.

2.      We follow the direction and the voice of our true Shepherd. Jesus reminds us, “My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me...” My prayer is that you would hear, obey and follow the Good Shepherd faithfully.

Transition: We live securely because we belong to the Good Shepherd. Our Good Shepherd gives us two promises.

II.                 Jesus gives us his Word and Promise “I give them eternal life.”

A.        The real story is not what we do, but rather what our shepherd has done. His cross and empty tomb guarantees for us life everlasting with our Shepherd in heaven.

B.        In glory we will live and reign with Him forever. Just thing of the life decisions you will be making in the next few years. Where will you go to school? What career will you choose? Whom will you marry? Where will you life? But of all the decisions you will eve make the most important decision has been made already for you – “I give them eternal life and they will never perish.”

C.        In sin all we like sheep wander. Jesus our Good Shepherd finds us. He carries us and brings us to a safe place. This is how we come to know how must He loves us. That’s why we follow Him; not because the law says we must, not because we are afraid of sin or death – but because we trust the Good Shepherd!

D.        We also know of the quiet waters and green pastures He provides us. We live thankful lives for the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation we have been given. We are Easter people and we are given the gift of eternal life.

Transition: Jesus has promised us eternal life. He has also provided security and safety.

III.               Jesus’ word and promise is sure “No one shall snatch them out of My hand.”

A.       There is a choice, and it’s simple, whose sheep will you be? I’m not saying that you will be perfect, and I’m not saying that sin doesn’t matter. What I am saying is that every day in what we think, do and say we are answering the question, “whose sheep will I be?”

B.       We struggle, we are tempted, we often fail to listen to our Savior and follow where He leads. Yet, we keep coming back to Him because nowhere else can we find the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation that is ours in Jesus Christ our Good Shepherd.

CONCLUSION: I am Jesus’ little lamb. Ever glad at heart I am. For my shepherd gently guides me. Knows my needs and well provides me. Loves me every day the same, even calls me by my name.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Easter Dawn

Easter Dawn
April 11, 2004
Matthew 28:6
Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

INTRODUCTION:  The words are spoken every Easter "He is Risen! He Is risen indeed Alleluia! They define us as Christians. But what does it mean that Jesus is alive?  Let's consider the reality that Jesus is risen indeed.  Because Jesus lives…

I.        Life is really worth living.

A.      It has meaning. Because He lives you will live also.  Imagine

life without the resurrection. Would there really be any purpose or meaning to life without the hope of the resurrection? Life would only be confined to this life. All we could hope for would be brief detours along life’s journey. No wonder the philosophy of the time of St. Paul was one of simply for the moment. St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:32: “If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised let us eat, drink, (and be merry) for tomorrow we die”

But life truly does have meaning because Jesus is alive. The life Jesus gives us is life in abundance. It is life in abundance with a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is life in all of its fullness. It is life with all of its possibilities. It is life with a promise because Jesus Christ is alive. John 10:10 says: “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and that they might have it abundantly”
Transition: Not only do we have a life worth living we have a future.

I.        We have a future.

A.     God has a future for you. 

Ø      In Proverbs 23:18 God declares – “Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”

Ø      In Proverbs 24:14 we read: “Know that wisdom is thus for your soul; if you find it, then there will be a future and your hope will not be cut off”

Ø      The Lord speaking in Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us “For I know the plans that I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

Notice in all three references future and hope are connected. “My hope is built on nothing less then Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean to Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand” [TLH # 370 stanza 1]

B.     He has promised to guide and direct you through His living Son Jesus. “I will never leave you and I will never forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5) He has promised to be with us always – “even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20)

C.     His resurrection is a guarantee of this promise. The promises of Jesus are so simple and yet so profound. He promises us in John 14:19 “because I live you will live also”

Transition: We have a life worth living. We have a future and not even death can derail us.

III.   Even death can not harm us.

A.     It is life's most difficult subject.  Some would rather talk about anything then death. But for us death is so meaningless because it is powerless.

Death is so limited...

it has not crippled love,
it has not shattered hope,
it has not corroded faith,
it has not eaten away peace,
   nor destroyed confidence.

It has not killed friendship,
it has not shut out memories,
it has not silenced courage,
it has not invaded the soul,
    nor reduced eternal life.

It has not quenched the Spirit,
it cannot, has not,
    nor will not lesson the power of the resurrection.

B.     We can handle death only because Jesus handled it for us. Jesus handled it for us. Jesus in going to the cross to carry our sins defeated death in His own death. Matthew commenting on the scene at the moment of Jesus’ death tells us: “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised and coming out of their tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many” (Matthew 27:51-52) 

When Jesus died death died! At the moment of Jesus’ death the table was cracked and death itself started working backwards!

IV.  Eternity is ours

A.     We can know this for certain. “I’m but a stranger here heaven is my home” is the way we sing the last hymn of our hymnal. That’s a reality we know as Christian believers!

B.     How can we be assured that eternity is ours? The Father will keep His promises – the Father will keep His Word. “(even) if we are faithless He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13)

CONCLUSION He is Risen! He is risen indeed Alleluia! That is your reality! A blessed Easter!

Easter Festival

Easter Festival Service
April 11, 2004
Luke 24:1-11
Life Now Has Meaning

INTRODUCTION: Have you ever felt that life has no meaning? We approach this Easter celebration with the words: “He is risen, He is risen indeed – Hallelujah!” Yet, for some the Hallelujahs ring hollow. Some, possibly a few within this very room today, have come to the conclusion that life has little meaning.

They may feel unimportant and small, frequently overlooked; others have slighted them. Rarely recognized they feel passed over. In this big world in which we life they are commonly referred to as “the little people” and that’s how they feel!

Then there are those, whose companion through this pilgrimage on this earth is calamity and misfortune. If there were a hole to fall into they would encounter it. Suffering and calamity accompany them. For them, life is a constant struggle. For them life too has lost its mean, purpose and joy.

On this Easter, let us consider one of the most pressing issues of our time. Does life have meaning? If life is to have meaning where do we find it? The message of Easter is simply this: Life has meaning only when it is centered in Jesus Christ risen from the dead.

I.        To be sure the meaninglessness of life is a problem of human nature.

A.     In this fallen world of ours many have no purpose that reaches beyond this life; hence either one of tow reactions are found in man. Man becomes either cynical or hopelessness settles in.

1.        Man can easily become the cynic. He doubts God because all he sees are apparent contradictions in life. There is no good deed, which goes unpunished. The righteous suffer while the wicked walk away unscathed, and so he questions whether life has any meaning or purpose.

2.        Then there are those who live within a spirit of hopelessness. Solomon of old reminds us in Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish...” Hopeless people have no vision and so they travel through life aimlessly. How could man fall to such depths?

B.     The Fall robbed human beings of their life, hope and future.  Man is now separated from God and at enmity with Him. The fall created a wedge to form between God and man – a wedge that prevents man from having any semblance of hope or joy.

C.     Because of our sin, our only future is death and damnation. “It is appointed for man once to die, and after that come judgment” the Bible tells us in Hebrews 9:27 Will this be the fate of every man?

Transition: Something radical has taken place to change the destiny of man. We celebrate that today – The resurrection of Jesus Christ – physically and bodily risen from the dead.

II.     Christ gives meaning to our life.

A.     His work gives meaning

1.      He suffered and died (v.7a) “the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men,”  (NAS)

2.      He rose again V.6 of our text reminds us: "He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee,” (NAS)

3.      This work was necessary (v.7) for people to have forgiveness “the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men.” Later on that night Jesus, speaking to the Emmaus disciples will remind them in Luke 24:26-27: "Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?" And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (NAS)

B.     This gives meaning to all history

1.      The previous ages looked forward to it.

a.       God’s saving acts in the Old Testament prefigured it (e.g. today’s Old Testament Reading Ex. 15:1-11)

b.      The Old Testament predictions foretold it.

Ø      Isaiah 52:13: “Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted.” (NAS)

c.       Christ Himself predicted it

Ø      Luke 9:22, "The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day." (NAS)

Ø      Luke 9:44;  "Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men." (NAS)

Ø      Luke 17:24-25; "For just as the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day. "But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.” (NAS)

Ø      Luke 18:31-33: “And He took the twelve aside and said to them, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. "For He will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again." (NAS)

2.      Due to His work, forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to all ( 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 –today’s Epistle)

C.     This gives meaning to each of us.

1.      Through the proclamation of Christ God offers the forgiveness of sins.

2.      With sin forgiven, we have life through the Living One

Ø      Luke 24:5-7: “and as {the women} were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, {the men} said to them, "Why do you seek the living One among the dead? "He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again." (NAS)

Ø      1 Corinthians 15:20-21: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man {came} death, by a man also {came} the resurrection of the dead. “(NAS)

3.      We now have a future and a hope – eternal life with God.  Life does have meaning. It is not limited merely to this earthly existence. We have an eternal hope with Christ in heaven.

4.      We now have a purpose in life – to proclaim repentance and forgiveness. We walk out of this house today a renewed people to be salt and light in this world sharing the living Lord Jesus with all we meet.

CONCLUSION: Life is no longer meaningless, because “He is not here, He was raised!”

Friday, April 9, 2004

Good Friday

Good Friday
April 9, 2004
Luke 23:39-43
Three Crosses Speak

INTRODUCTION: When He was crucified on that Friday there were two others who were crucified along with Him. There was one man on the right and another on the left.  Each man was condemned, and yes, each man died. Let us examine each man on the cross to see what he would say to us this night.

I.        The first cross - v.39  “And one of the criminals who were hanged {there} was hurling abuse at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" (NAS)

Who is hanging here?
1.      He’s none other then a common thief. The Romans have seen to it that he was brought to justice – He will die. Justice will be paid.

2.      As he hangs there he is punished for his crimes. - 41a  - "And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds” (NAS) The words of this condemned man explain to us the circumstances of this condemned man; convicted and suffering death for his crimes.

What are his words?
1.      He mocks the Lord of life – Possibly a man of crime – possibly one who was rejected by society – we know not of his history but his words are telling. He mocks Jesus not realizing, none the less, refusing to trust in Him.

2.      He curses God – He has lost hope – He has no regard for man or his Creator. Such an attitude has gotten him to this place; a sentence of death by cruel torture.

What does this reveal?
1.      He has an evil heart – Crucifixion is reserved only for felons. He has no regard for the rule of law or the things of God.

2.      Sadly, he cannot see that Jesus is the Son of God – To him Jesus is nothing more then another petty and common thief sentenced to die like the rest.

3.      Tragically, he will die in unbelief – as will any and all who fail to recognize Jesus as the Son of God. He comes so close. He is confronted by His sin but the hardness of his heart is a refusal to yield to Christ. He has sealed his fate for time and eternity!

II.     The second cross - vv.40-42 “But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? "And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" (NAS)

Who is hanging here?
1.      Another criminal – another bad boy on the wrong side of the law – another lost soul – one who went his own way – refusing to listen to anyone.

2.      Like the first, he too is punished for his crimes – The evidence was gathered – testimony was presented and offered – a verdict was rendered – Guilty! – A death sentence was handed down – now he hangs.

What are his words? 40-41
1.      First he speaks to the other thief –

a.       He offers first a Rebuke - But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?

b.      He offers also a Testimony for the world to hear - "And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." Jesus the innocent one suffers for the guilty – this is the message of the cross.

2.      He also speaks to Jesus -   "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!"

a.       He offers a cry for mercy – this is our cry too for we are in the same circumstances as this one thief – Jesus remember me!

b.      At the same time he offers a cry of faith – He recognizes Jesus as more then simply an innocent man – He sees Jesus as the Son of God – the Savior of the world.

What do these words of a condemned man reveal?
1.      First, they reveal repentance – There has been a change in his life – a change brought about by the Holy Spirit.

2.      His words also convey faith, which is nothing more then trust in Christ – He takes Jesus at His Word and trusts in Him.

III.   A third cross - v.43  “And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." (NAS)

Who is hanging here?
1.      The One who has committed no sin – He is completely and totally innocent.

2.      Most know Him that day as a carpenter, the mere son of a carpenter allegedly – You and I know Him as the one known as the Son of God – We know Him differently - for the Scriptures have revealed Him to be the one we know as the very Savior of the world.

What does He say?
1.      He offers hope “Today you will be with Me in paradise!”

2.      He grants more then the thief requests – The thief had only requested that Jesus remember him and possibly mention some sort of favor – But He will grant more then a mere favor – He offers forgiveness, salvation and life.

What does this reveal?
1.      The nature of His work – To receive sinners – to welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve.

2.      This also reveals the destiny of all who come in faith – Jesus sinners doth receive

CONCLUSION: Jesus, because Thy promise I believe! O Lamb of God I come, I come!

Thursday, April 8, 2004

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday
April 8, 2004
1 Corinthians 11:23-34
A Real Supper for Real People

INTRODUCTION:  Once again we have come to celebrate a simple meal. Yet, throughout the centuries this meal has turned to be the most meaningful meal of all. What is the meaning of the Lord's Supper? Why celebrate it over and over again. St. Paul tells us in clear and simple terms why this is a meal far and above all others. Why is this meal so special?

I.        There is a perpetual nature to the Sacrament

Jesus says: "This do in remembrance of Me” We recall what Jesus has done for us first at the cross when he suffered and died for the sins of the world. There He bore our sins in His body that we might receive forgiveness, life and salvation.  We also remember what He has done in our own lives. Those times we needed Him He was there those times we needed His strength and the assurance of His presence never has He let us down.

This meal is perpetual in nature by what we are doing when we gather: “Whenever we eat of the bread and drink of the cup we proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.”  We proclaim the Lord’s death every time we gather for this meal. We proclaim salvation every time Communion is celebrated. We proclaim forgiveness, life and salvation every time we gather with Jesus as both host and guest.
Transition: We proclaim the Lord’s salvation when we share in this meal but we come individually to receive for ourselves from the Great Physician a cure.

II.     We "do this" because there is a great need.

God know we have need of Him
1.      We come because we are sinful. “Unworthy though I am 0 Savior, Because I have a sinful heart, Yet Thou Thy lamb wilt banish never. For Thou my faithful Shepherd art. Lord, may Thy body and Thy blood Be for my soul the highest good!” [TLH #315 stanza 3]

2.      We come because we need forgiveness. “Thy heart is filled with fervent yearning That sinners may salvation see Who, Lord, to thee in faith are turning; So I, a sinner, come to Thee. Lord, may Thy body and Thy blood Be for my soul the highest good!” [TLH #315 stanza 5]

3.      We come because we need strength. I come, O Savior, to thy Table, For weak and weary is my soul; Thou, Bread of Life, alone art able To satisfy and make me whole; Lord, may thy body and thy blood Be for my soul the highest good!” [TLH #315 stanza 1]

His benefits are given every time we come. He gives us what we truly need in this meal.
1.      The forgiveness of sin. This is why we have come this night. We are in need of His forgiveness. The forgiveness of sins has been won for us at the cross. Here we have a guarantee given to us that in this simple meal we receive what we have come to receive –absolution for all of our sins.

2.      Life – We also come to receive the promise of life. “I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly,” Jesus has said. We receive the gift of life with God in this meal for it is a foretaste of the things to come.

3.      Salvation – Salvation is the satisfaction the Father demanded from a rebellious people. The Father is satisfied for the Son has paid the price for each and every sin. The Father is satisfied. His anger is stilled. God and man are now reconciled.

CONCLUSION:  As simple meal? Yes it is, with simple elements. But do not let the simplicity fool you. This is a real meal for real people. Come, receive the gifts of God given and shed for you, for the forgiveness of all of your sins.

Sunday, April 4, 2004

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday 
April 4, 2004 
Philippians 2:5-11
The Christian & the cross
Obedient to the Death of the Cross

INTRODUCTION: Our lesson for this morning contains two opposite directions. Christ’s going down in humility and going up in exaltation.  The key is that no one can go up unless he first goes down. Today we begin Holy Week. This week is a period of Christ’s going down even to the depth of death. Because of this, we can anticipate His rising from the dead to the right hand of the Father. Paul urges his people to have this same mind of humility that God may exalt them.  This morning let’s see how we must go down to go up.

I.        The mind of humility leads to Good Friday.

A.     Self-emptying denial of self – v. 7 “but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, {and} being made in the likeness of men.  Paul reminds us of two realities. First, Jesus emptied Himself. He had Himself poured out for the sake of a sinful world. But there’s more. He gave up all of the glory and security of heaven. He came down to our level. He was incarnate. John, in his Gospel puts it this way: “...and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...” (John 1) 

        B.     In denying Himself Jesus became a servant –v. 7 A servant is one who places the needs of others before self. There is but one motto hanging over the entrance of police headquarters; “We Serve” Jesus put it in a way which  depicts ministry as He intended it: ...the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a  ransom for many." Matthew 20:28  

        C.     Jesus was intent on obeying God even to death – v. 8    “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled  Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  The Catechism reminds us of Christ’s state of Humiliation – those steps Jesus deliberately took to win for us salvation. He became both God and man when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered, under Pontius Pilate was crucified, died, and was buried. Mark them well for during this Holy Week we will walk with Jesus on His way to the cross to win for us salvation and life.

Transition: In His passion Jesus walks the way of the cross to offer us salvation. But this is only half of the equation. The cross leads to an empty tomb on Easter morning.

II.     The miracle of exaltation leads to Easter

We’re given a new name – v. 9 “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name…” The Father has highly exalted Jesus. What does this mean for us? There are now two realities for us:

Ø      The Father has accepted Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross.

Ø      Through Jesus’ Passion the Father offers the forgiveness of sins to men.

A new name has been conferred to us in our Baptism. In our Baptism three specific realities happen to us.

Ø      We are marked with the sign of a cross in Baptism.

Ø      We are Baptized into His death.

Ø      We are raised again in His resurrection.

A new name leads to an attitude of gratitude in worship. A bent knee of worship – v.10 “…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth,” We do more then come to a worship service. In service we worship God.  Why? Because the Father has bestowed on Him a name which is above every other name. “Jesus! Name of wondrous love, Name all other names above, Unto which must ev’ry knee Bow in deep humility” [ TLH #114 stanza 1]

Having worshipped in His presence with the tongue we no confess and tell His story.

A busy tongue of witnessing – “...and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” v. 10 What do we confess? Jesus Christ is Lord not one among many. Not one of a pantheon of other gods. He alone is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through Him.  This confession gives true glory and honor to the Father.

CONCLUSION: As we begin yet another Holy Week we walk with the Savior in humility and meekness which leads to the cross on Good Friday and to the miracle of His Exhalation culminating on Easter.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Lent Mid-week 6

Mid week Service 6
March 31, 2004 
Psalm 23:6 (KJV)
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

The good Shepherd shares the secrets of a happy eternity

INTRODUCTION: King David in this much-loved Psalm gives us an insight to a life lived well. He gives us the secret to happy life, a happy death and now a happy eternity. David concludes our Psalm for this Lenten season by reminding us: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” -Psalm 23:6 (KJV) How can we be assured of a happy eternity?  By this verse David gives two directions of thought; the preservation of our life and a place of eternal security.

I.        David assures us of the Preservation of our life – “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me...” Goodness – God’s goodness consists of righteousness, holiness, justice, kindness, grace and love. Goodness is also one of the fruits of the Spirit which characterizes Christian behavior. {Galatians 5:22}  Christians are called to goodness even as God the Father is perfect and good. Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew: "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
There is a problem, however; you know the problem. It’s a problem found in all of us. It’s a problem with sin. Because of our sinful nature our goodness fails to measure up to the Father’s standard of perfection. What are we to do?

We trust in the mercy of Almighty God. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me...” What is the mercy of God? Mercy is that aspect of God’s love, which causes Him to help those who are miserable. Those who are miserable may be so either because they have broken God’s law or because they find themselves in circumstances beyond their control.
What are we to do when we find ourselves to be in such circumstances? We rely and fall upon the Savior’s amazing grace, which, of course, is that aspect of God’s love that moves Him to forgive those who are guilty.

God shows mercy on those who have broken His law. Daniel 9:9 reminds us: “To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him”

God’s mercy is given to us although it is undeserved. Paul reminds us in Romans 9:16: “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on god who has mercy.”  No wonder we cry out to god when we pray the Kyrie: “Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.”

Especially when we poor sinners find ourselves in circumstances beyond our control the Savior reaches down to us with His mercy. Jesus had mercy when He healed the blind men {Matthew 9:27-31; 20:29-34} and when He cleansed the lepers. {Luke 17:11-19}   Because God is merciful, He expects us, His children to be merciful. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy”

Jesus says in Matthew 5:7 In James 1:27 we are reminded: “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of god our Father; to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world”

Transition:  Not only will the Good Shepherd provide for the preservation of our lives; He will also bring us to a place where we will live and reign with Him.

II.     The Good Shepherd gives us a place of eternal security.

A.     David reminds us: “...and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

United by God’s election and salvation through Jesus Christ our Good Shepherd we are included in the Father’s household of faith. St. Paul explains it this way:

 “So them, while we have opportunity let us do good to all men – especially those of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10)

“We will dwell with God in heaven, the dwelling place of God; the dwelling place of the righteous” (Ephesians 2:19)

CONCLUSION: This is how the Good Shepherd shares the secrets of a happy eternity; in goodness, mercy, and security.

Lord Jesus Christ, shepherd of Your Church, You give us new birth in the waters of baptism, You anoint us with oil, and call us to salvation at Your table. Dispel the terrors of death and the darkness of error. Lead Your people along safe paths, that they may rest securely in You and dwell in the house of the Lord now and forever, for Your name's’ sake. Amen 

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Lent mid-week 5

Mid week Service 5
March 24, 2004
Psalm 23:5 (KJV)

"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anoitest my head with oil; my cup runneth over."

The Good Shepherd sets the table

“Let’s run the table!” That’s a phrase used in sports, which would suggest to us “Let’s get out there and win!”  “Let’s run the table” -Go for it all, and win the ultimate prize!  As we are nearing the completion of the NCAA men’s and women’s national tournament there are many wondering which team will run the table. Which team will pull out all the stops and emerge as champions.

Regardless if you interested in sports or not our Lord and Savior has “run the table” for us. He has offered for us salvation and life on a table of sacrifice, namely the cross. In the fifth verse of Psalm 23, our Psalm for this year’s Lenten observance, David speaks of a table set before us by the Good Shepherd Himself. Here we might recall a banquet hall where a feast, fit for a king has been spread before us. This evening we see how the Good Shepherd has set a table before us.

Participation – “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”

 Notice how highly David magnifies the Lord. He recalls how gracious God has been. Consider what the Lord has bestowed on him (v. 5): "Thou preparest a table before me;”

David says in essence: “Lord, You have provided me with everything pertaining both to life and godliness.” All things needed for both the body as well as the soul are given by the Shepherd’s caring hand.  His benefits are not only for this life they spread well into eternity.  Such a bountiful benefactor is God to all His people; and because these blessings come from God David is called upon to utter thanks for His great goodness.  David acknowledges two realities:

A. That he had food conveniently given to him; a table spread, a cup filled, meat for his hunger, drink for his thirst. What is it that Christ has given to you? Luther explains in the explanation to the 1st Article of the Apostles Creed: “I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them; also, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and home, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life, that He protects me from all danger, and guards  and preserves me from all evil; and all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.”[1]

B. David acknowledges that the Shepherd had this table carefully and readily provided for him. His table was not spread with any thing that came haphazardly; rather God prepared everything for him. The Shepherd provided for all of his needs and prepared it before him. Under the heading “daily bread” Luther lists just some of the gifts and blessings the Good Shepherd provides for us each and every day: What is meant by daily bread? —Everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body, such as meat, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like”.[2]

Preparation – “Thou anoitest my head with oil.”

Samuel anointed David to be the king over all of Israel. To be anointed was an outward sign not only of God’s acceptance but more then that, it gave recognition that he alone was to be ruler and king over Israel. Jesus was anointed at His baptism when He was recognized as being the one sent by the Father to begin the work of redeeming the world. On the Mt of Transfiguration the Father spoke His word of approval once again. As the Savior descended from that mountain to the valley of the cross the Father had only one strategy which was to run the table for us on the table-board of sacrifice at the cross.

We are anointed in our own baptism. In the waters of baptism we are buried with Christ into His death and raised to a new life in His resurrection. In baptism we are marked to be included at the dinner table with Christ. In baptism we are anointed to receive an inheritance which leads to eternal life.

This is how the children of God are looked after. Plentiful provisions are made for their bodies, for their souls, for the life that now is and for that life which is to come.  The Good Shepherd has seen to it that we have been blessed and anointed.

 He provides for our daily wants and needs and has seen to it that our spiritual provisions are met also.

Plenty – My cup runneth over.  
Having thought of all the Good Shepherd provided him, David must concluded that he was blessed beyond measure. Not one restriction was placed upon him. was Not once David placed into a crisis wondering if God would provide for Him. Never was he in want but rather he had abundance poured into his lap: "My cup runs over,” David reminds us there is more then enough for my friends and myself too.

Jesus has set a table before us filled with abundance and life. That table has been set before us for us to enjoy every single day. As our Lord and Savior has “run the table” for us, He has offered for us salvation and life on a table of sacrifice, at the cross and empty tomb. What more can we do but to thank and praise serve and obey Him?     

-Oh, magnify the Lord with me,

With me exalt His name!
When in distress to Him I cried,
He to my rescue came.3

1 Bente, F., Concordia Triglotta, (Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Northwestern Publishing House) 1997.
2 Bente, F., Concordia Triglotta, (Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Northwestern Publishing House) 1997.
3 The Lutheran Hymnal (St. Louis, Missouri: Concordia Publishing House) 1942 hymn 29