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.