Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Sunrise

Easter Sunrise
April 16, 2006
1 Corinthians 15:19-28
Victory is Guaranteed

INTRODUCTION: Days prior to Super Bowl III New York Jets quarterback “Broadway Joe” Namath guaranteed victory. The country was shocked and taken aback. How could he be so sure, so brazen, and so confident? People simply didn’t make such predictions.

In a more serious note St. Paul guarantees our victory over death. From the perspective of what God intended for us – that we should not die but live – death is indeed a certain enemy.  Yet here in our text Paul makes a bold statement – our victory over death is guaranteed! How is this so?

I.        Our victory over death is guaranteed by Christ’s resurrection.

A.     Christ is the first-fruits.

1.      Just as the first sheaf of grain offered as a sacrifice to God in the Old Testament represented the full harvest that was to follow, so Christ’s resurrection is the first of many resurrections that will surely follow. (v.20)

2.      Because our resurrection from the dead is assured, our physical death can be regarded as sleep (“who have fallen asleep” v.20)

3.      The hope we have based on Christ’s resurrection does not relate only to this life but also to life beyond physical death (v.19)

B.     Christ is the source of life.

1.      Death is an event brought on by the first man, Adam.

2.      The second Adam, Jesus Christ, the God-man, by His death and resurrection abolished death (V.22; 2 Timothy 1:10)

Transition: But when will this banishment of death occur for us in view of the fact that we must all experience physical death? “Each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ” (V.23) Our victory over death is guaranteed!

II.     At Christ’s 2nd Coming.

A.     The triumphs of evil that we see around us, especially the devastation caused by death, will not continue forever.

1.      Christ is even now in control and will one day openly display His victory over all evil.

2.      In the meantime He will not permit any evil, including death, to destroy us. (Vv.25, 27)

B.     The day is coming when all the forces opposing God will be utterly destroyed. (V. 24)

1.      The scheming of Satan, the plotting of evil people, the perversities of our sinful nature, the grip of death will be conquered.

2.      From that day on there will be no more death!

C.     The second coming of Christ will mark the beginning of a new existence in which the Triune God will be everything to us in a kingdom of glory without end. (V.28)

CONCLUSION: Can we guarantee victory without any hesitation or doubt? The resurrection of Jesus Christ guarantees our victory over death, pointing us to that day when we shall rise to endless life, and death shall be no more!

Easter Festival

Easter Festival
April 16, 2006
Isaiah 25:6-9
Easter Joy

INTRODUCTION: The one thing most people want is happiness. Our expressions at Easter indicate that Easter is supposed to a happy time, “Easter Joy” and “Happy Easter” are just a few expressions which come to mind. It is a time of rejoicing not because of our happy circumstances but because, and only because of what God has done for us in the Resurrection. True Christians are happy regardless of the hardships they may face. If circumstances indicate that you may be experiencing hardships, handicaps and misfortunes God has a message for you this day – Easter joy is based not on outward circumstances rather on God’s victory which He invites you to share this day.

Easter is a happy time because…

I.        It is a feast – Isaiah 25:6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines.

A.     This passage from Isaiah looks forward to the day when God would destroy death forever. Isaiah looks to the day when God would offer a fest for all the nations. A banquet in the Old Testament stood as a symbol of the consummation of God’s saving purpose in history.

B.     This feast is a celebration of God’s victory over death. God will swallow death up forever and thus death will no longer plague mankind. This is the work of God, and people have reason to celebrate His salvation with joy.

II.     It is a victory – Isaiah 25:7-8 On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.

A.     A question could be asked “how can we find an Easter message in an Old Testament passage?  It is found in the form of a promise of the future. The future was fulfilled on Easter.

B.     Today we’ve been given a perspective of God’s plan of salvation which was in His mind from the time of creation. When Isaiah wrote these words is was God Himself giving us His Word. On Easter God gave us His deed!

III.   It is salvation – Isaiah 25:9 In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD; we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.

A.     Your happiness does not depend on your well being in this world. Christians to this hour are oppressed, persecuted, and defeated yet they still rejoice. How so?

B.     The reason is the source of Christian’s joy – God. A person can rejoice because God Himself has defeated our worst enemy – death. God has provided a banquet feast for us.

CONCLUSION: On Easter we celebrate the reality that life overcomes death by the power of the resurrection. This was the promise Isaiah hoped for – for us today we celebrate its reality. Now death is dead forever! This is what God has done for us! This is reason for rejoicing and celebration.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday

Good Friday
April 14, 2006
Luke 23:39-43
How One Malefactor Died

INTRODUCTION: The mission of Christ in the world was not yet finished. He still exercised the right of forgiving sins and of blessing. He will absolve a man even at the 9th hour because of his confession of faith. This confession is remarkable under the circumstances and limitations of the time. Tonight we consider the confession of a dying thief.

I.        He revered God. In spite of his seedy past, in spite of his past misdeeds, in spite of his misspent life and failure he turned to Christ when it mattered the most.

A.     He rebuked a blasphemer. “Doest thou not even fear God?” (V.40) 

1.      This is the main issue with sin. We   disregard any respect for God. The 1st commandment reminds us that we should fear, love and trust in God above all things. We fall headlong into sin because we lack respect and fear of God. All sin can be lumped together under this 1st commandment.

2.      Yet, our sin will catch up with us. We may demonstrate disrespect for God when we sin – but it is our sin which points us to the reality that we need to honor God - for He will ultimately come as judge and king. With the Psalmist we must confess; “If Thou Lord should mark iniquity O Lord, who would stand.”

B.     The dying thief revered God. He manifested penitence for sin and confessed. “We indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds” (V.41)

1.      When Adam fell headlong into sin He blamed God. “It was the woman which You gave me! She tricked me!” Eve points the finger at the serpent – she attributes her sin to the devil – “It was the serpent – he deceived me!” Both Adam and Eve were quick to charge someone else but they were both responsible. Both were held accountable.

2.      The dying Thief learned the lesson which Adam and Eve could not. He was lead to true repentance. He acknowledged his sin. He was heart sorry for his sin. He was willing to take the punishment which he deserved. 

C.     He bore public witness to Jesus, “This man hath done nothing amiss” (V.41)

1.      He came to the realization that Jesus was a blameless man. Jesus suffered innocently – He was guiltless suffering for the guilty.

2.      Jesus Christ the pure and holy Savior suffered innocently for our sin – for by His stripes we are healed.

Transition: Even at the 9th hour this man revered God and thus he prayed. Not to anyone or any form…he prayed to Christ, referring to Him as “Lord” – “Lord remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”

II.     He prayed.

A.     As a believer – “Lord, remember me when thou comest into Thy kingdom.” (V.42) In the darkest “hour” humanly speaking, as death was looming over him he looked for that kingdom, when tried disciples fled, this man had faith in Jesus to enter into it.

B.     The reward of such faith – “Verily I say unto thee, ‘Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.” (V.43) Because of faith in Jesus’ work his death was a gate which leads to eternal life. When this dying thief died he took a walk from one end of the kingdom to the other from the kingdom of grace into the kingdom of glory. For us who remain here observing Christ’s suffering the promise spoken to this common thief is for you this night.

CONCLUSION: On that day heaven was open to a new believer. Jesus has promised to receive any who would come to Him by faith. In this eternal Kingdom of God we will live continually in the presence of the Lamb.  Rev 21:22 “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” (Revelation 21:22)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday
April 13, 2006
“An invitation to come”

INTRODUCTION: The Savior has invited us to come. Let us see the benefits of attending shall we? Let us consider Luther’s Christian Questions and Their Answers. The question is asked, “Why ought we to remember and proclaim His death?” The answer is given in three parts. This shall be the basis of our meditation this night.

I.        That we may learn to look with terror at our sins, and to regard them as great indeed.

A.     That we may learn to look with terror at our sins. The anger of an offended God is what Jesus faced. Consider His cry “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?!” Without Christ this is our cry!

B.     And to regard them as great indeed. We can claim nothing before God. Luther: “we are only beggars!”

Transition: As we look at our sins we must ask ourselves how do I stand?

II.     That we may learn to believe that no creature could make satisfaction for our sins but Christ, true God and man.

A.     That we may learn to believe that no creature could make satisfaction for our sins

B.     But only Jesus can make satisfaction for sin. Consider His two natures; He is both - true God and man, yet only one Christ.

1.      True God; a must for only God can save.

2.      And man; a must for it is a human who fell headlong into sin.

Transition: As Christ has forgiven us at the bloody cross we not take great comfort in His redeeming work.

III.   To find joy and comfort in Him alone and thus be save through such faith.

A.     To find joy and comfort in Him alone – J. S. Bach put it this way: “Jesu joy of man’s desiring. Holy wisdom, Love most bright. Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring. Souring to uncreated light. Word of God, our flesh that fashioned. With the fire of life impassioned, Striving still to truth unknown, souring, dying round Thy throne.”

B.     And thus be saved through such faith. It is a faith which clings to Jesus’ merit alone. It is the drowning victim which clings to the life- line. Jesus is my life-line.

CONCLUSION: Come, come weary sinners, come to the foot of the cross for all things are now ready!

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday
April 9, 2006
Mark 11:1-10; 15:1-39
The Way of the Cross Gives an Opportunity to Decide

INTRODUCTION: We come to the last of our Lenten meditations on the way of the cross. This morning we see that the way of the cross gives an opportunity to decide.  Pilate’s question “What then shall I do with Jesus?” makes everyone responsible to give an answer. How we answer depicts our faith in Jesus and determines our destiny. In the Passion story there are various answers given to Pilate’s question. Today, as when they were first asked, the same answers are possible.

What will you do with Jesus?

I.        You can Praise Him? – 11:1-10

A.     At this point a new section in the Gospel of Mark begins. Jesus arrives in Jerusalem and the rest of His ministry will take place within the confines of the Holy City of Jerusalem.

B.     Nothing is left to chance as far as Jesus is concerned. Beginning with His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem Passion Week has begun. Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is a deliberate Messianic action – He offers Himself as the people’s Savior knowing full well that this will provoke the leaders of the ruling Council to take action against Him.

C.     And yet, the people praise Him. They shout, Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  This is a direct quote from Psalm 118:25. The people understand what they are saying. Their praises are a prayer – a prayer for the Lord to continue to save and sustain His people.

Transition: One option is to praise Him another is to mock Him.

II.     Mock Him? – 15:16-20

A.     At the headquarters of the Roman Governor the soldiers place a purple robe upon Him and place upon His head a crown of thorns. The robe was probably an old military cloak, whose color suggested royalty. The crown of thorns was made of briers which grew in the region. Both the robe and the crown were parts of the mock royal attire place upon Jesus.

B.     While under the care of Pilate the soldiers mock Jesus. They cry out “Hail, king of the Jews!” which is nothing more then a mocking salutation that similar to the Roman salute “Hail Caesar!”

C.     Finally the struck Him with their fists and beat Him with a staff.  It was customary in the Near East that when in the presence of royalty one was to offer a kiss. The homage Jesus received? They spat in His face!

Transition:  Some will praise Him, others will mock Him, and still others will condemn Him.

III.   Condemn Him? – They crowd shouted in one accord “Crucify Him!”15:13

A.     A Romans means of execution was that of crucifixion. Heavy wrought-iron nails were driven through the wrists and the heel. If the life of the victim lingered too long, death was hastened by breaking the victim’s legs.

B.     Only slaves, the basest of criminals, and offenders who were not Roman citizens were executed in this manner.

Transition: There are plenty of options the world may choose to consider when asked what one should do with this Jesus. For the believer there is but one choice to consider.

IV.  Confess Him? With the Centurion we say; “Surely this man was the Son of God!” - 15:39

A.     The Centurion was a commander of 100 men in the Roman army. Mark specifically mentions that he “saw how Jesus died” The strength of Jesus’ cry indicates that Jesus did not die the ordinary death of those crucified. Normally one suffering crucifixion suffered long periods of complete agony, exhaustion and finally unconsciousness before dying. Not so with Jesus – within three hours He was dead!

B.     Luke in his Gospel would tell us that the Centurion “praised God” and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” The writers of the Gospels saw in the Centurion’s declaration a vindication of Jesus, and especially since the centurion was the Roman official in charge of the crucifixion, his testimony was viewed as significant.

CONCLUSION: Pilate announced to the chief priests as well as to the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man!” What would be a similar circumstance in our world? It would be almost as if a grand jury announced in the press “there is insufficient evidence to go to trial…” to which the Governor expedites the papers for an execution! Is this a miscarriage of justice? Possibly so, but in these events of Christ’s Passion we find salvation and life. What will you do with Jesus? Will you mock Him, will you condemn Him, will you praise Him, or will you hail Him? Now, let you be the judge.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Lent - Mid-week 6

Lent Mid-week 6
April 5, 2006
John 19:37
Jesus I will Ponder Now

They will look on the one they have pierced


When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the prince of glory died
My riches gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

The Passion of the Christ has been our focus through the sacred music of Johan Sebastian Bach these past three Wednesdays.  We turn now to our final chorale – it is simply a prayer - that we may be one in Christ.

Help O Christ Thou God’s own Son
Through Thy bitter anguish
That our wills with Thee be one
Zeal for evil vanquish

I.        We pray that our Will - may be one in the same as Christ’s. This we pray every time we pray the 3rd petition of the Lord’s Prayer – “Thy will be done” – Lord!

A.     How is this done?

1.      God’s good and gracious will is done among us by Himself – not us!

2.      Specifically, when God breaks and hinders every evil counsel and will which would not let us hallow God’s name nor let His Kingdom come.

3.      Those forces we contend with are the will of the devil, the world and our own sinful flesh.

B.     God’s Good and gracious will is...

1.      To strengthen and preserve us steadfast.

2.      Keeping us faithful to His Word and faith unto our end. “Fear not, little flock, for it is Your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” - Luke 12:32

Transition: We pray that the Father’s will might be done. Viewing Christ’s Passion we render Him our thanks and praise.

II.     Our focus thus is on Christ and His Cross

On Thy death and its true cause
Contrite thoughts will render

A.     When we consider all that Jesus endured - His suffering, agony and bloody sweet we cry out for the Father to have mercy upon us. With the beggar we cry, “Jesus, Master have mercy on me! ”-Mark 10:47 or, as the Kyrie would remind us; “Lord, have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord, have mercy.” And, in the words of the Agnus Dei; “O Christ Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world have mercy upon us and grand us Thy peace.”

B.     And we thank Him!

And though weak and full of flaws
Thee our thanks will tender

Thank You Jesus, that you have taken away my guilt and my sin. Thank you Jesus, that You prayed; “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” -Luke 23:34

Thank You Jesus, who gave Stephen the strength to pray; “Lord do not hold this sin against them!” –Acts 7:60 For this is how we ought to pray.

CONCLUSION:  As we have pondered Christ’s holy Passion during this Lenten journey may we be moved to pray;

Grant that I may willingly
Bear with Thee my crosses,
Learning humbleness of Thee,
Peace mid pain and losses.
May I give thee love for love!
Hear me, O my Savior,
That I may in heaven above
Sing Thy praise forever.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

Ø      When I survey the wondrous cross from The Lutheran Hymnal Concordia Publishing House St. Louis, MO © 1940

Ø      Jesus I will Ponder Now from The Lutheran Hymnal Concordia Publishing House St. Louis, MO © 1940