Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve
December 31, 2005
Romans 8:32
The Christian's Hope

He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?

INTRODUCTION: Once again we have come to the conclusion of another year of grace – another year in which we have been permitted by God’s amazing grace to live, and serve and have our being in Jesus Christ. What shall we say concerning all of the events which have transpired during the course of this past year? Possibly they can be best summed up in the words of St. Paul in our text for this night: He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Paul gives evidence of a hope we have in Christ – a hope we have in fact.

I.        This hope is founded in the fact that Christ suffered for us.

A.     That Jesus Christ, God’s Son, our Savior has suffered for us. Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary at Christmas is the Father’s gift to us; “He spared not His own and only Son”

B.     Because of this fact, we can conclude that the suffering of Christ can only be equaled by the suffering of God.

II.     This hope is founded in the fact that man's lost condition affected him more than the suffering of His Son.

A.     God our heavenly Father delivered Christ up “for us all.”  “God so loved the world…that He gave his only begotten Son…” {John 3:16a}

B.     The Father could not bear to see us in darkness but He could ask Jesus to “humble Himself and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

C.     Thus the Father closed His eyes to the agony of Jesus hat He might the better contemplate our need. [“Why hast Thou forsaken Me?”  - Jesus on the cross]

III.   The hope is founded in the fact that he grave again restored to the Father His Son.

A.     If in the death of Jesus, God was mindful of us, how shall He not, “with Him” restored to love, “freely give us all things?”

B.     That our risen Lord is our Mediator in the presence of the Father.

CONCLUSION: As we say farewell to yet another year know that your salvation is grounded in fact this is our hope - He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Sunday, December 25, 2005


December 25, 2005
Luke 2:1-20
“Christmas Without Christ”

INTRODUCTION: Luke sets the events of the gospel against the background of world history. The pagan emperor's decree about a census created the situation in which the Messiah was born in David's city of Bethlehem.

Jesus did not bring political peace to the world, but he made it possible for men and women to have peace with God. Charles Wesley (1:183) interprets the message as “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” Yet, to a skeptical world this is too much! Have you grown tired of Christmas? Do you believe possibly that Scrooge was right? Consider our text for today.

Christmas is bunk, unless…

Christ is born anew in us. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
In worldly terms Christmas is a happy time in terms of parties, banquets, gifts and friends. This is happiness that may wither with the Christmas tree which is discarded soon after Christmas day. Our joy is different.  In fact, joy is far different then happiness. It is deeper because it is based on good news. A Savior is born to save us from our sin. It is a joy that remains long aft the Christmas celebration is over. For this reason people who are unhappy at Christmas because of unfortunate circumstances can still have experience this Christmas joy.

Transition: Christmas is bunk unless Christ is born anew in us. You must also experience the worship of Christ.

Worship of Christ child is experienced. “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” Luke 2:15-16
With a heightened sense of excitement and determination, the shepherds rushed off to the baby's side. Notice the missionary interest of Luke in the spread of the gospel, this thing..., which the Lord has told us about. (v.15)

In the recorded history of the world, there have been few years of universal peace. There has been very little peace among nations since the first Christmas. How can Jesus then be called the “Prince of Peace”? The peace Jesus brings is not necessarily peace among men but peace between God and humanity. Only when spiritual peace prevails will there be peace among nations. There will not be peace between God and people until Christ is accepted by faith.

Transition: The bunk of Christmas disappears when salvation’s joy is found.

The joy of Christmas is the joy of salvation. “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:10
The angel's announcement includes several of the most frequently used words in Luke's gospel: " I bring . . . good news," "joy," "today," "Savior," and "Lord." This shows the tremendous importance of the angelic pronouncement.
It is a bold proclamation of the Gospel at the very hour of Jesus' birth. The time has come for the fulfillment of the prophetic expectation of Messiah's coming.

Christmas was a communication event. The shepherds told the Holy Family what the angel said. If Christmas is good news, it must be told. It is told spontaneously. Here is good news! What has been promised and longed for over thousands of tears has at last happened.

CONCLUSION: The cradle of Christianity is evangelism – the telling of good news to sinners that they might have life in Christ. This leads to a joyous celebration because for us a Savior has been born!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Advent Mid-week 3

Advent Mid-week 3
December 14, 2005
Characters of the Nativity-Mary – Mother of our Lord

The circumstances regarding the Savior’s birth point to the fact that Jesus was born in time and space. There were circumstances involving His birth – there were persons who witnessed His nativity.

It was probably some time after Mary returned to Nazareth that “she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18). Joseph, being a just but also kindly man, planned to divorce her quietly, rather than expose her to public disgrace, but was reassured by the message of an angel, given in a dream, that Mary’s child was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Joseph was instructed, as Mary had already been (Luke 1:31) to call the baby’s name Jesus (“Jehovah is salvation”), “for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Immediately Joseph took Mary to his home as his wife, but had no union with her until after the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:25).

If we had only Matthew’s account, we would have thought Joseph and Mary belonged to Nazareth, but Luke makes it clear that the birth of Jesus occurred in Bethlehem only because of the census, which brought his parents to their ancestral home town. Matthew and Luke bring Bethlehem into the picture to make the record fulfill the prophecy of Micah 5:2.

A census was taken in the Roman world every fourteen years, so one would have occurred about 8-7 B.C., and it may have been somewhat delayed in Palestine.  In a census in A.D. 104 people in Egypt were required to return to their own town for enrollment. When Quirinius was appointed governor of Syria in A.D. 6, it was his second such appointment; he may well have been an additional governor at the time of an earlier census. There seems no valid reason, therefore, to reject Luke’s clear statement about the circumstances of Jesus’ birth.

The census would account for the shortage of accommodation in Bethlehem. The “inn” (katavluma), probably was a simple lodging place, and of course, with no reservations in hand the inn was full. Somewhere nearby, perhaps in a cave, Jesus was born and laid in a “manger” (favtnh)—not a stall, but a feeding trough for animals.

Joseph and Mary stayed in the environs of Jerusalem until two further requirements of the Jewish law were fulfilled. For every first-born child, a redemption price of five silver shekels, about $3.65 in American money, or ten days’ wages for a working man, had to be paid to the Temple a month after the birth (Numbers 18:16). Then, forty-one days after the birth for a boy, the ceremony of the mother’s purification took place (Leviticus 12:2-4).

For convenience, these two ceremonies were commonly combined in one visit to the Temple, as was the case here. The offering for a mother’s purification was a lamb and a turtle-dove or a young pigeon. Joseph and Mary offered the alternative permitted to a mother too poor to afford a lamb, of two turtle-doves or pigeons (Luke 2:24)*

Luke tells us (Luke 1:26-38) that the angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. This messenger from heaven comes to a young girl in Nazareth to tell her that she is to be the mother of the Messiah. Joseph was a son of King David. By physical nature Jesus was a son of David. He was also the Son of God and his kingdom is eternal. This is all God’s work; the child would be the product of the Holy Spirit. Humbly and submissively, Mary consented to be God’s instrument in bringing His Son on earth as a human being.

The only question Mary will ask is “how will this happen?” When Mary receives the news of her coming motherhood of the Messiah, she asked a sensible and normal question, “How?” Since she is unmarried, how could she become a mother? In this twenty-first century, not every girl would need to ask that question! How is this miracle to be performed?

The answer is in the Holy Spirit who would be the Father of God’s Son. The question, “how?” was vital to Mary, but to Christians there are more important questions about this child. Who is He and why is He coming?

The circumstances surrounding Mary turn the impossible and the improbable into our reality. This is an impossible situation! A birth without a father, a peasant girl becoming the mother of God, and God becoming a person! Nothing is impossible with God! Christmas is God’s work and action! He comes to us in the person of Jesus Christ. He chooses Mary. He produces a life by the Spirit. Because Christmas is of God, the impossible becomes possible.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

*Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, “The Birth and Infancy Narratives” Grand Rapids MI D. G. Stewart editor 

Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing, Lima, OH pp.22-23

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Advent Mid-week 2

Advent Mid-week 2
December 7, 2005
Characters of the Nativity-Shepherds

INTRODUCTION: Out in the fields a group of shepherds stood guard over their flock that night. Such flocks were always needed for the sacrifices of the Temple at Jerusalem, a mere six miles away. Informed of the birth by an angel, the shepherds went to Bethlehem, found the babe wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger, and excitedly repeated the message they had received. For others, the shepherds’ words were a passing wonder, “but Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).*

By faith we journey with them to Bethlehem. For this good news of Jesus’ birth was given by the angel to shepherds who went to see the new born king.

With the shepherds we visit the new born king. The shepherds were keeping watch to guard the flock against thieves and marauders. Into the night of the world Jesus came as the true Light. A symbol of this truth was the heavenly light.
A question. Why is it that so few experience the true joy of Christmas? The answer quite frankly is that they have not heard the good news told by the angel to these shepherds. It is told to us this night. The source of our joy is found in verse 11 of our text: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”   Luke 2:11

Who is born? “To you is born this day a Savior” This is good news to those in need of a Savior. And when is He born? “This day” Christmas is a contemporary experience, not an historical observance of an ancient event. Today is the day of salvation. This is the day the Lord has made. Now He is making all things new.

Transition: “To you is born a Savior”. We now tell His story with joy.

Like the shepherds we share His story with others. The shepherds were afraid in the face of the divine glory and holiness but they had no need to fear because the angel’s message was not of judgment but of salvation, not only to the shepherds but to all people.
To whom is He born? He is born “to you”. “To you is born this day a Savior.” It is not Christmas for you unless Christ is re-born in you. Thus we can say with the hymn writer: “Cans out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.”

CONCLUSION: The Christmas story is for real. It was to real live humans that the story of the Christ child was delivered. The first announcement of this birth came to a despised people. It came not to the rulers, the educated, the scribes or the pious Pharisees. This news came not to aristocratic elite but to shepherds – the despised, unlearned, crude, rough people listed with publicans and sinners. For He is a real Savior who has come to save real sinners and in His birth, suffering, passion, death and resurrection there is forgiveness, salvation and life.  

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

* Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, The Birth and Infancy Narratives Grand Rapids MI D. G. Stewart editor

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Advent Mid-week 1

Advent Mid-week 1
November 30, 2005
Characters of the Nativity-Joseph
Matthew 1:18-25

INTRODUCTION: Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The gospels of Matthew and Luke assert that Jesus was born to Mary at a time when she was betrothed to Joseph, before their marriage was consummated (Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:27, 35).

Joseph was a carpenter (Matthew 13:55), and was known as a “just” man (Matthew 1:19). When he learned that Mary was bearing a child, he was understandably disturbed. When he learned that she was to become the mother of Israel’s Messiah through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit, he proceeded with his plans which brought him, with Mary, to Bethlehem where the child Jesus was born.*

Through circumstances and influences beyond his control Joseph was given his place in history. What lessons can be gleaned from his life’s story? Our text answers these questions this evening.

1.        Joseph is a man of profound conviction tempered with compassion. He knew of two realities. First, Mary to whom he was engaged was expecting a child. He also knows he is not the Father. Our text reminds us “…Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.” (v.18)

Joseph, being a just man, tried to conform his life to the Jewish law. “Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” (v.19) Here we see Joseph’s dilemma. Whose reputation, he pondered, should be tarnished Mary’s or his own? That was the issue with which he was wrestling. Joseph felt betrayed, he loved Mary, yet he didn’t want to “expose her to public disgrace.”

If he were to continue in the relationship most people would simply conclude that after they were engaged but before they were married - she was expecting their first child. There would be some embarrassment. It would be awkward. But hopefully, in time the humiliation would subside.  But could he trust her? What guarantee would he have that she would disappoint him again?

If unfaithfulness was a part of her character what would be the consequences in the future? If word got out that he had married her, knowing full well that the child was not his, what sort of aspersions would be cast in his direction!

What he planned to do was to use the most private form of a legal divorce, handing a letter to Mary in the presence of only two witnesses to whom he needed not give his reasons.

When we must choose – choose wisely. Often we are forced to make decisions in life in which the outcome will not necessarily be pleasant.  When we have to choose “the lesser of two evils” as Joseph, we need to wrestle and pray. Actions do have their consequences. Joseph did not act rashly. Decisions reached hastily are often ill advised. Patience is needed when the situation is serious.

2.        Joseph also learned that we are placed in these challenging circumstances for God to do His best work. Divine intervention was necessary in Joseph’s situation. “But after he had considered this an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” - Matthew 1:20

The angel reminded Joseph of the greatness of his ancestry to assure him that his resolution was right insofar as Joseph knew the circumstances. Joseph knew of only outward circumstances. The Lord sees beyond these things. It is His responsibility to act.

It was Joseph would name this child. He would be given the name “Jesus” which means literally - ‘God saves!’ - For this Jesus is the Christ and He will save His people from their sins. The salvation from sin through this child Jesus is what Joseph and his family had hoped for so many generations. God was about to act and Joseph would see it. Not only would this child be called ‘Jesus’ but also “Emmanuel” – ‘God who is with us’ – the manifestation of God who is in our midst.

3.        We see that Joseph is a man of profound faith.  Joseph’s faith is seen and demonstrated in his immediate obedience to the commands the angel gives him. “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” Matthew 1:24 

Joseph came to know a profound truth. God is with us. So often we may live our lives with little awareness of how close God really is to us. The reality of our Christian existence is this: God is with us. It took a life changing moment in Joseph’s life to come to this conclusion.

CONCLUSION: Tonight God is saying to you - in all of life’s circumstances and in all of life’s decisions “I am with you” for this Jesus whose birth we celebrate this season is ‘Emmanuel’ – “the God who is with us” –He is ‘Jesus’ - “the God who saves”

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

* Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Grand Rapids MI D. G. Stewart editor 

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day
November 24, 2005
Luke 17:1-19
“Giving Thanks in all things”

INTRODUCTION: The story of the Pilgrims. They remembered both the gifts they received and the Giver. True gratitude always does.


I.                    Counts his blessings

A.     What a blessing to be cured of leprosy.

1.      Release from a death sentence; leprosy was incurable.

2.      Chance to return to society, to family and friends.

3.      No wonder the one came back to give thanks.

B.     But only one came back; ingratitude is quick to forget.

1.      The nine.

2.      Too many today forget; they spend their time complaining or getting heart attacks trying to get more. Remember,

a.       Ahab;

b.      The children of Israel in the wilderness;

c.       The man who complained that he had no shoes until he saw a cripple who had no feet.

Application: Count your blessings; material and spiritual. What an incentive to live with a grateful heart.

II.                 Remember the Giver.

A.     The one did. How could he forget!

1.      There is no physician like Jesus

2.      He was a man of faith. A Samaritan at that!

B.     Nine forgot.

1.      They were quick to pray and quick to forget

2.      People are like that even today

a.       There are no atheists in foxholes; but men still forget

b.      Even on the human level it is east to forget; children and parents, husbands and wives.

c.       Much more…

1.      The Protestant ethic; hard work brings results

2.      The American ideal; the self made man

3.      And still God is forgotten

C.     But faith remembers that God is the Giver God.

1.      He supplies our physical needs.

a.       Behind the loaf is the field of grain; behold the field is God.

b.      Shakespeare: “If we have any ill escaped or good attained, still Heaven chalked the course that brought us thither.”

2.      God supplies our spiritual needs.

a.       God loves us, the unlovely

b.      God gave His Son

c.       Christ gave Himself an offering for sin and sinners

d.      For Jesus’ sake God gives life and salvation

e.       How rich God has made us all

CONCLUSION: Remember the Giver. Give thanks at meals, at the end of the day, in success and failure, too. And show how grateful you are by giving cups of water in His name. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Eve

Thanksgiving Eve
November 23, 2005
Matthew 6:24-34
Four Timely Admonitions

INTRODUCTION: In this materialistic, worrying world we need these four timely admonitions for direction and guidance. As we approach yet another national Thanksgiving let us take heed.

I.                    It is impossible to serve God and money. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the others, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Vs. 24)

A.     Ananias and Sapphira tried…and died!

B.     The rich young ruler went away…sorrowful.

C.     Christians need to heed God’s clear word. ”But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that> People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith love endurance and gentleness…Command these who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth which is so uncertain but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be right in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” {1 Timothy 6:6-11; 17-19}

II.                 Minimum Faith Produces Maximum Anxiety. “Therefore I tell you do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. The do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field which is here today and tomorrow in thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Vv.25-30)

A.     Does God provide for birds?

B.     Does God provide for flowers?

C.     Won’t He provide for you?

D.     Learn to trust God. “We do not want you to be uniformed brothers, about the hardships we endured in Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. ‘But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril and He will deliver us. Upon Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us.” {1 Corinthians 1:8-10}

III.               Worry Is Worldly. “So do not worry, saying ‘What will we eat?’ o r ”What shall we drink” or “what shall we wear?’’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” (Vv.31, 32)

A.     “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God” {Philippians 4:6}

B.     “Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong” {Psalm 37:1}

IV.              Put God First and He will take care of your needs. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (V.33)

A.     God’s promises are sure and true. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this, says the Lord Almighty and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessings that you will not have room enough for it.” {Malachi 3:10}

B.     “I was young and now I am old yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” {Psalm 37:25}

CONCLUSION: Truly these are timeless truths.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


October 30, 2005
Romans 3:19-28
Living By Works or Faith?

INTRODUCTION: It is told that upon reading St. Paul’s letter to the Romans that Martin Luther finally got it. He discovered the answer for which he had been searching. How does a man get right with God? Is it by works or by faith? Let’s see how Luther was drawn to the Gospel message of grace as Paul speaks to us this morning.

The problem of getting right with God.

I.        The whole world is involved - Romans 3:23-24

23        for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

24                being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

A.     All have sinned. No one is exempt.

B.     Redemption is a free gift!

II.     The whole world stands accountable to God. - Romans 3:19

19        Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God;

A.     The Law speaks

1.      Curb

2.      Mirror

3.      Ruler

B.     It condemns us before God

1.      We are under its curse

2.      It crushes us

III.   The inability of the Law to reconcile – Romans 3:20

20                because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law {comes} the knowledge of sin.

A.     The Law can only show us the knowledge of sin

B.     Therefore no one can be justified by means of following the Law.

IV.  Reconciliation therefore is a gift. – Romans 3:23-24

23        for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

24        being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

A.     It comes through  the redemption which is in Jesus Christ

B.     Therefore it is a gift given freely by God.

V.     This gift of God is made possible only by grace. – Romans 3:25

25  whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. {This was} to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;

A.     He passed over sins previously committed.

B.     It is a sacrifice that satisfies and angry and offended God

C.     God is now appeased – Christ has compensated for us.

D.     Saving faith looks to Jesus Christ in His sacrificial death for us. “faith in his blood”

VI.  It is necessary for faith to appropriate the gifts. Romans 3:28

28        For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

A.     When Luther translated this verse into German he added the word “alone”

B.     Faith is not man’s contribution or decision, but a gift of God.

CONCLUSION: What more could be said then to add what Paul has stated in Ephesians 2:8-9  “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Feast of Pentecost
May 15, 2005
John 20:22
When God is Your Mother

INTRODUCTION:  Today is confirmation Sunday – it’s also the feast day of Pentecost – the birthday of missions. Ironically, it’s the church holiday when I was confirmed some 34 years ago.

Today is a day in which we focus on the 3rd person of the Trinity – the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is best known as the creative agent of God. When Adam was created God breathed into him, and Adam became a person – a living soul. The Holy Spirit is given credit in Genesis for creating the universes. Everything we see about us has come from Him.

John explains to us the events which took place on that first Easter he reminds us; "On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” - John 20:19 

On that first Easter Jesus breathed the Spirit on His disciples. And the result? There is a new creation. On this Pentecost Sunday, May 15, 2005 - the day of your confirmation – a day in which each of us vow to remain faithful to Jesus - may we each remember this eternal truth – the Holy Spirit is like a mother who gives birth in us to be a new creation in Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit is our mother –

I.        He gives us spiritual birth so that we become a new creature.

A.     To be a Christian is to be born again of the Spirit of God. What does it mean to be “born again”?

1.      To be “born again” simply means that we are born spiritually. We are born physically and we are born spiritually.

2.      Each of us will experience 3 important birthdays in our lives; to be born physically – when you are given life on this earth, to be born spiritually - in baptism, to be born in glory – when we take a walk from the kingdom of grace into the kingdom of glory. Today we affirm the new birth the Spirit gave to you when you were baptized. 

B.     Born into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

1.      If there is anything you would remember from your Catechism instruction and this day of your confirmation it would be that ours is not a religion. – A religion is based on working your way up the ladder of perfection or reaching some level of spirituality. To the contrary; ours is a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. As Christ has established this relationship with you – so walk with Him – every day – remember His last five words He spoke before His Ascension – “I am with you always” – not a wish - but a reality we know by faith.

2.      The 2nd  point I would have you remember from your instruction is the fact that the most important points of our faith can all be boiled down to two words – DO and DONE.  Do throws us back into the Law which none of us can fulfill. It only shows us our failures and drags us down. Done; on the other hand, reminds us of all that has been worked out by our Savior. At the bloody cross and the empty tomb our salvation was worked out completely – There’s nothing else that we need to do – Jesus has done it all!

Transition: The Holy Spirit is our mother. He gives us spiritual birth so that we become a new creature. He places us into a new family.

II.     The Spirit gives us birth into a new family – the Church.

A.     Pentecost is the birthday of missions.

1.      It was the day in which the Spirit said Go – Go into the world and be My disciples. Today the same Spirit is giving you His marching orders – Go!

2.      Go into the world and be Jesus’ disciple. May it never be said that people are surprised that you are a Christian! Bloom where you’re planted – become salt and light in this world – be a sermon in shoes!

B.     The Spirit gathers believers into the church.

1.      It’s more then any human organization – it is Holy people and sheep who gather to hear the words of their Shepherd.

2.       Come regularly – to Hear Jesus’ word – to receive His Supper – to receive His purpose, promise and peace!

C.    The result – that you might be a new people of God.

1.      You experience daily – the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation – as the Savior comes to you through His Word.

2.      Here you grow in grace and in favor with God and your neighbor. Enjoying your brothers and sisters in Christ. Grow in your faith as whole families come together to be the body of Christ at this place!

3.      Where you pray for these brothers and sisters in Christ and where they approach the throne room of God with their petitions on your behalf.

CONCLUSION: The Hebrew word for the Holy Spirit is the word “breath” or “wind” - To live is to breathe. On that first Easter night Jesus breathes the Spirit on His disciples.  What Jesus’ disciples experienced we all need – We want and need the Spirit’s life as much as possible. As the Spirit has directed you these many years we have His promise that He will continue to guide and direct you – Fare thee well child of God! Be a witness – live as salt and light in this world. 

Sunday, May 1, 2005

Confirmation 2005

May 1, 2005
John 14: 1-14
Jesus said, “I am the Way”

INTRODUCTION: Standing here before you today makes me feel, well, a little dated.  {In your words, “old!”} With the exception of Kevin I’ve had the privilege of baptizing you and together all of us in this parish have watched you grow up among us. It’s been a privilege to be a part of your life as together we’ve studied Scripture, prayed, and talked about these matters of faith. 

Each confirmation class takes on it’s own personality and you are quite unique in a number of ways; particularly since every single one of you can trace your family roots back to the original Buuck brother which founded this parish! True, you may be an 8th generation member of this congregation but today you write a new chapter as you pledge yourselves to remain faithful to Christ in time and eternity.-for you share a common family history that is thicker then blood - and that is the walk of faith. 

The text you have chosen is taken from Jesus’ words recorded in John chapter 14. What would the Savior say to you this day? He would remind us; “Do not be worried our upset – believe in God – believe also in Me.” (v.1) Jesus your Savior is the only way to God.  He is the way - the only way; the truth - the only truth; and He is the life – for He offers us life eternal as a gift.

I.                    Jesus would remind us that He is the one and only way to life everlasting with the Father.

A.     As the author and finisher of our faith He has created mansions glorious for us.

1.      He reminds us that there are many rooms in our Father’s house. We don’t have to worry that we’ll some day find a “no vacancy” sign in heaven – there is always room for us.

2. Jesus has said, “I am going to prepare a place for you.”

a.       This would suggest to us that in heaven there is personal space for us.

b.      This personal space has been made specifically for you.

c.       You place in glory was individually created by your own redeemer.

3.      If this were not so He would have said so. But since it is as He has promised we believe it as fact.

B.      We will be ushered into these mansions by our gracious Savior.

1.      Notice His promise; “After I go and prepare a place for you I will come back and take you to Myself.”  What a great time to be alive – in the next few years you’ll be making decisions on your career, your family, where you will live –

But ultimately that’s only half the equation – Jesus here reminds us that our ultimate goal is to be with Him in glory – He will receive us only when our work here is done.

2.      Notice a second blessing “You will be where I am.”

Transition: Not only is Jesus the only way to everlasting life – only through Him do we gain access to the Father.

II.                 We come to the Father through Jesus the Son.

A.      Through Him and Him alone we gain access to the Father.

1.      “I am the way the truth and the life, no one goes to the Father except through Me.”

a.       He is not one among many “gods”. And there are many from which people choose these days…and in this culture the most popular idol begging to be served is the self!

b.      Yet Jesus would remind us -There are no other options. We come to the Father through Jesus the Son – He is the only way; the only truth; the only way to find life!

2.      Recall Jesus’ word to Philip “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?” (v.9) How you will answer this question will determine you destiny – Seeking Him you will find fulfillment.

B.      The result of our life in Him is the resulting life everlasting.

1.      “If you ask Me anything in My name I will do it.” How then should we pray?

a.       Temporal gifts and blessings – conditionally – “Thy will be done.”

b.      Spiritual gifts and blessings – unconditionally – Requests such as, forgiveness, life, salvation never have to be begged or asked for.  They come from the gracious hand of our Savior.

2.      We live our lives by the words of the hymn, “I’m but a stranger here – heaven is my home.” On earth we are but pilgrims and strangers. Thus we live balanced lives – with our feet on the ground and our eyes heavenward. We experience the here and now as we await eternity!

CONCLUSION: Jesus – He is the way, the only way; the truth, the only truth; and the life – He offers us life eternal, which comes from our gracious heavenly Father.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Easter Dawn

Easter Dawn 
March 27, 2005
Luke 24:1-6
Vain Seeking

INTRODUCTION: Easter morning must have been amazing for the disciples. They had missed the message and must have been awed by the reality of it all. They received the rebuke, “why seek ye the living among the dead?” They heard the correction: “He is risen as He said.” Their seeking was vain! It is easy to be critical of them, but people today are still vain seeking.

I.               Seeking Him in Places He Cannot Be Found.

A.       In religion.

1.      Probably nothing has done more to hide Christ than organized religion.

2.      If He is found in much Christianity, it is accidental.

B.       In philosophy.

1.           The whole tone of modern philosophy is humanistic.

2.           There is no room for Christ because it is too full of human values, which mirror sinful mortals.

C.       In legalism.

1.      Through meeting and keeping terms of the law.

2.      Anything that makes performance necessary to salvation is incorrect because it misses the point of the resurrection.

II.          Seeking Him Among People Where He Cannot Be Found.

            A. The gloomy and despairing.

1.      If He is found here, it should not be so.

2.      No room for gloom and despair among His people.

B. The doubting and unsure.

1.        If Job could say, “I know that my redeemer liveth,” how much more should we. (Job 19:35)

2.        How sad to live life unsure of the things that pertain to Him.

C. The habitually sinning.

1.   Salvation makes a change; where there is no change, there must be a questioning of salvation.

2.   He should not be found among those who constantly practice sin.

D.    The worldly.

1.      “If ye then be risen with Christ…”

2.      He should not be found among those unwilling to renounce the world.

III.         Seeking Him in Ways in Which He Cannot Be Found.

            A. Ritualism.

1.      No religious observance leads to Christ.

2.      No religious observance necessary to come to Him.

B. Self-effort.

1.       Includes all forms of religious observance and self-help philosophies.

2.       No amount of self-effort can avail in finding Him.

C. Morality.

1.        Neither doing good or refraining from doing bad.

2.        There is no moral standard – even a hypothetical one – adequate to reach Him.

Conclusion: Then how or where is He found? He is found directly; He is found by faith; He is found in prayer; He is found in His Word and Sacrament. “Why seek ye the living among the dead?”


March 27, 2005 
Luke 24:36-49
He is Risen

INTRODUCTION: Students often suffer anxiety before school begins. They wonder what the teacher is like. We often wonder what people are really like out of the public eye. This incident provides a special insight into Christ. The risen Christ was like the living Christ; since He is the same, He is today what He was then.

I.        He is concerned about peace. (V.36)

A.       It was shown in this meeting.

1.      They had much to be upset about.

2.      His first words were, “peace be unto you.”

B.       This continues to be His message.

1.      It is never His purpose for His people to be upset.

a.      He takes no delight in the distresses of His people.

b.      He desires us to find peace in the midst of strife.

2.      When we are filled with strife, the cause is within us.

II.      He is concerned about faith (Vv. 38-39, 41-43)

A.       Christ questions, “Why are ye troubled and why do thought arise in your hearts” (vv. 38-39)

1.      He challenges their unbelief.

2.      He does so in a unique way.

a.      Before His ascension, Christ had forbidden Mary to touch Him.

b.      Now He encourages Thomas to do so

c.      He did whatever was necessary to encourage their faith.

B.       He confronts their continued unbelief. (41-43)

1.      It seems to make difference here (unbelief of confusion).

2.      He gives them evidence to go one.

a.      He eats here – not for His need but for theirs.

b.      He shows His great patience with people.

C.       He still challenges doubt and demands belief.

1.      He rebukes unbelief and seeks to eliminate it.

2.      He encourages faith in every possible way – He gives us many “signs along the way”

 III. He is concerned about intimate fellowship (vv. 40, 43)

A.       He allows real intimacy.

1.      He allows touch

2.      He shows His hands and feet.

B.       He still desires intimacy with His people

1.      He pushes us to fellowship with Him.

2.      He hears our grief.

3.      He indulges our infirmities.

4.      He is a brother born for our every adversity.

IV. He is concerned about Scripture (vv. 44-45)

A.         He exalts the Scriptures, insists it must be kept entirely.

1.      Jesus always shows a high view of Scripture.

2.      Our view of Scripture should be based on His view.

B.         He desires us to have a high view of Scripture now.

1.      The Bible must be in the foreground.

2.      The Bible must be a practical part of our lives.

V. He is concerned about the souls of all people (vv.46-49)

A.       Christ gives a clear commandment.

1.      Reason for His suffering – forgiveness of sins.

2.      That message must be preached to everyone.

3.      Disciples given specific responsibility.

4.      Promise of the Holy Spirit’s help given.

B.       Christ is still interested in the salvation of mankind.

1.      The missionary spirit is the spirit of Christ.

2.      He is concerned with each individual.

Conclusion: It is easy to know what Christ was like as we have much recorded about Him such as this incident. We can summarize by saying that He was concerned about people. If you know Him, you can’t be like Him without concern for people. If you don’t know Him, that is the starting point.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Good Friday

Good Friday
March 25, 2005
Luke 23:34
Jesus’ Prayer of Intercession
Father forgive them for they know not what they do

INTRODUCTION: The trial was over, the procession had wended its way to Calvary’s hill. The cross was stretched out and the Lord laid upon it. The nails pounded, and the cross dropped into the ground. Lifting His eyes to heaven, He speaks. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”

I.                    Why Did Christ Pray This Prayer.

A.       Expresses His essential reason for dying.

1.      Dying that all might be forgiven.

2.      Prayer expresses basis of Cross.

B.        Reveals His character.

1.      Loving compassion upon those apart.

2.      Thoughts always for others.

C.       Provides disciples with example.

1.      Taught by precept and example.

2.      Becomes the example for us. 

D.       It was a fulfillment of prophecy.

1.      Isaiah 53:12 “Therefore I will give Him a portion among the great and He will divide the spoils with the strong because He poured out His life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.”

2.      This provides another in the great chain of prophecy.

II.                 For Who Was He Praying?

A.       The immediate subjects.

1.      Had just been nailed to the cross.

2.      Would comprehend the soldiers at this point.

B.        The further extension.

1.      Death was caused by the demand of national pride.

2.      Comprehends the Jewish nations.

C.       The ultimate extension.

1.      The real sin is taking place here.

a.       Note the crucifixion – “For they know not what they do.”

b.      Sin is rejection of the Son of God.

2.      Thus it extends 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 doubt.

III.               Was the Prayer Answered?

A.       Physically.

1.      Soldiers and Jews spared.

2.      Jerusalem and Jewish nation spared.

B.        Spiritually.

1.      Why He was dying.

a.       All was forgiven in His death.

b.      Made it plain that even those actually participating were pardoned.

2.      The Father did forgive.

a.       Only some accepted the proffered salvation.

b.      You have already been forgiven the sin of rejecting Christ by Christ’s baptism into His death.

CONCLUSION: “Father forgive them…” is an expression of His heart. Have you received His forgiveness?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday
March 24, 2005
Colossians 1:24
“The Suffering Christ”
“Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church”

INTRODUCTION: It would be difficult to overstress the sufferings of Christ. The price He paid for our sin actually surpasses human explanation.

I.                     What Christ Suffered

A.     Crucifixion – but much more…

B.     Indifference of others

C.     Human limitations

D.     Misunderstandings.

E.     False accusations

F.      Total rejection

II.                   The “Lack” in His Sufferings. (Col.1:24)

A.     Meaning:

1.      God the Father was satisfied. (Isaiah 53:11)

2.      Christ enemies were not – as far as they are concerned, there was more to go.

B.     Application:

1.      He is not here to suffer. He’s suffered on the bloody cross once and for all.

2.      His followers and servants suffer along with Him –vicariously.

3.      Truth – If you are not suffering some things because of your Christianity, is your faith shallow?

III.                  Is it worth it?

A.     Christ gave His life; can we not give something? (2 Corinthians 5:15)

B.     We suffer for so many other things.

C.     It is but a moment (1 Peter 5:10)

D.     The future glory is tied in with the present sufferings. (2 Timothy 2:12)

CONCLUSION: There is no room for masochism here. This is suffering for doing what one deems right and proper. 

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday
March 20, 2005
Matthew 21:1-11
“Christ Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem”

INTRODUCTION: Today is Palm Sunday, the first day of what is traditionally known as “Holy Week” or “Passion Week” During this week we will walk with the Savior, observing His Passion. As He approached Jerusalem coming to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives Jesus presents Himself as the Prince of Peace. While many received Him on that day as their royal King most will reject this prince and His kingdom. As we will observe, this prince will pay the ultimate price for the peace of the world and for the peace from above and for our salvation.

As we review Jesus approach to the city we observe that a beast of burden carries our Lord who Himself will carry the burden of the world’s sin –

Consider the donkey.
A.     Not a symbol of status but was used for service.

1.   Jesus is known as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” according to Revelation. In the Nicene Creed we confess that Jesus is,  “…begotten of His ‘Father before all worlds. God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made…”

2.   Yet He will describe His ministry thus, “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45)

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

1.   How fitting that Jesus should be sitting on such a beast of burden for He offers His life for the sins of the world.

2.    This is what John had predicted in the desert when he proclaimed Christ. “The next day John saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’.” (John 1:29)

Transition: The donkey is a perfect reflection of Jesus’ person. She will also reflect on His work.

The Colt is a perfect reflection of Jesus’ ministry.
A.     He came to bear the burden of people warn down by sin and strife.

1.   Strife due to living in an imperfect world filled with sickness, war, strife, etc.

2.   Sin, which is the root ill for all men, is what Jesus came to eliminate.

B.      Jesus came to bear the ultimate burden – the burden of our sin.

1.   Sin of omission – when we had the opportunity to do good but failed. Where we could have prevented evil but chose not to get involved.

2.   Sin of commission – offenses against God and our neighbor committed in thought, word and action – only one conclusion can be claimed – we are guilty before God and our neighbor.

CONCLUSION: The Son of Man the Prince of peace appeared on that first Palm Sunday to offer Himself for the life of the world. Today we offer our praise and we journey withy Him as He offers up Himself for the sin of all and for your salvation and life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Lent mid-week 6

Mid-week 6
March 16, 2005
John 11:1-44
Jesus said, “I am the Resurrection”

INTRODUCTION: The background from which our text for this evening is taken is the occasion of the death of Lazarus, the friend of Jesus. The Savior was quite close to this family. In Bethany where this family lived we remember that Mary was the one who poured the perfume on the Savior’s feet and wiped them with her hair. (v.2) Sister Martha is remembered as the one who was troubled with serving, and it was her brother Lazarus who had taken ill. Our text reminds us that Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. (V.5)

When Jesus received the news that Lazarus was sick He stayed where He was for two more days. (v.6) By the time Jesus arrived at the house in Bethany Lazarus had been buried four days before although the city was less then two miles from Jerusalem. (Vv. 17-18) No wonder Martha said to Jesus as she met Him, “If you had been here Lord, my brother would not had died!” (v.21) What an incredible week it had been! Yet, in the events which unfold we see quite clearly that Jesus alone has the power over life and death. Jesus alone is the resurrection and the life.

I.                    Whoever believes in Him will live even though he dies.

A.       “It is appointed for man once to die and after that comes judgment.”

B.       “Seventy years is all we have, eighty years is we are strong yet all they bring is worry and trouble life is soon over and we are gone.” (Psalm 90:10)

C.       While we cannot avoid death there is the promise of life beyond the grave. “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved.”

D.       Jesus words are quite simple so that all can know and understand. “I am the resurrection and the life whoever believes in Me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.” (Vv. 25-26)

II.                 Here we have an eternal truth. Whoever lives and believes in Him will never die.

A.     Jesus’ promise is not for the future – when we die. It is for now. “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.”

B.      Jesus has given us this life now so we can be witnesses of His mercy and grace. That we might be salt and light in this world.

C.     How do we know of this truth and message? In the Scriptures alone. “Many other miraculous signs Jesus performed in the presence of His disciples but these have been written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ and believing you might have life in His name.” (John 20)

CONCLUSION: Jesus’ statement to Martha is quite a famous passage of Scripture. At the end of the verse Jesus asks her one simple question. “Do you believe this?” That question is asked of you this night. How you answer it determines where you will spend eternity.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Lent mid-week 5

Mid-week 5
March 9, 2005
John14: 1-14
Jesus said, “I am the Way”

INTRODUCTION: As we continue our pilgrimage through Lent the cross of Calvary looms ahead of us. As the Savior makes His way to Galgatha He will offer us His life. He would remind us “Do not be worried our upset – believe in God – believe also in Me.” (v.1) Jesus is the only way to God.

I.                    Jesus is the one and only way to life everlasting with the Father.

A.     He has created mansions glorious for us.

1.      There are many rooms in our Father’s house.

2. Jesus has said, “I am going to prepare a place for you.”

a.       Personal space.

b.      Made specifically for you

c.       Individually created.

2.      If it were not so He would have said so.

B.      We will be ushered into these mansions by our gracious Savior.

1.      After I go and prepare a place for you I will come back and take you to Myself.

2.      You will be where I am.

Transition: Not only is Jesus the only way to everlasting life – only through Him do we gain access to the Father.

II.                 We come to the Father through Jesus the Son.

A.      Through Him and Him alone we gain access to the Father.

1.      “I am the way the truth and the life, no one goes to the Father except through Me.”

a.       He is not one among many gods.

b.      There are no other options.

2.      Recall Jesus’ word to Philip “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?” (v.9)

B.      The result of our life in Him is the resulting life everlasting.

1.      “If you ask Me anything in My name I will do it.” How should we pray?

a.       Temporal gifts and blessings – conditionally – “Thy will be done.”

b.      Spiritual gifts and blessings – unconditionally – Requests such as, forgiveness, life, salvation.

2.      We live our lives by the words of the hymn, “I’m but a stranger here – heaven is my home.” On earth we are but pilgrims and strangers.

CONCLUSION: Jesus – He is the way, the only way; the truth, the only truth; and the life – He offers us life eternal, which comes from the Father.