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.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Lent mid-week 4

Mid-week 4
March 2, 2005 
John 15:1-17
Jesus said, “I am the Vine”

INTRODUCTION: One of Indiana’s best-kept secrets is its winery’s scattered across the Hoosier heartland. There are no less then twenty-five wineries located in the state of Indiana. The Indiana State Fair International wine competition has grown to be the second largest in the nation with over 6,000 amateur and professional vintners offering their selections to be judged each July. One vine carefully pruned and treated can produce a crop of grapes, which can make some of the choicest wines. The Indiana Wine Grape Council has become a lucrative business.

In our text for tonight Jesus explains to us, “I am the vine.” By these words what would He have us know concerning His person?

I.                    Jesus is the vine who gives life.

A.      We are the branches.

1.      The Father, the gardener, prunes every branch that does bear fruit so that it will be clean and bear more fruit. 

2.      His message – “Remain united to Me and I will remain united to you.” (v.4)

B.      A branch cannot bear fruit by itself.

1.      It can do so only if it remains in the vine. (v.4b)

2.      “In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in Me.” (4c) Apart from Jesus we can do nothing.

II.                 We are the branches.

A.      We are connected to Jesus the true life source.

1.      “Whoever remains in Me and I in him, will bear much fruit.” (v.5) This is a guarantee that the good works of faith will be evident.

2.      “You can do noting without Me.” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  It is He working in you to do His (the Father’s) good pleasure.

B.      His desire is to keep us connected to Him.

1.      “You have been made clean already by the message I have spoken to you.” (v.3)

a.       It is the Gospel message, which converts and saves.

b.      Sharing with others the story of the bloody cross and empty tomb will make them Easter people.

2.      His plea, “remain united to Me and I will remain united to You” (v.4) The Father may cut and prune to help us produce better fruit but He will never cut us off so long as there is faith. He will only sever those who refuse to bear fruit.

Transition: Christ is the vine, we are the branches. It is fruit, which the Father desires.

III.               The Father as gardener comes seeking fruit.

A.      If we remain in Him we will bear much fruit.

1.       He prunes the branch so that lush fruit is produced. Discipline when we endure it does not seem pleasant. We gain often through pain. As we reach out to Him seeking His aid and comfort we grow in our faith.

2.       Discipline is not punishment! God is working in us to will and to do His good pleasure.

B.      If not, we’ll surely die.

1.      “He breaks off every branch in Me that does not bear fruit.”

a.       Faith without works is dead according to James.

b.      Works are not the basis for but the result of faith.

2.      “Whoever does not remain in Me is thrown out, like a branch and dries up; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire where they are burned.” (v.6)

a.       It is not our duty to do the cutting and pruning.

b.      Only the Father will do this.

1.      On the Last Great Day.

2.      At the close of the Age.

CONCLUSION: Two words apply to the Christian – “You have been made clean already by the message I have spoken to you.” (v.3) – “Remain united to Me and I will remain united to you.” (V.4)