Thursday, May 25, 2006


May 25, 2006
Acts 1:11

Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

INTRODUCTION: 40 days after the Resurrection and 10 days before Pentecost the church gathers to celebrate one of the earliest church holidays – the Ascension of our Lord. What does the ascension mean for us today in the 21st Century - living in the year of our Lord 2006? Let’s consider the words of the angels as they spoke to the 1st century believers.

1. Jesus Has Ascended

The Jesus whom the disciples had known now had a heavenly existence (cf. the double use of the phrase "into heaven").

2. He will return

The same Jesus they had known would return also enveloped in the cloud of the divine presence and glory (cf. Matthew 24:30; 26:64; Mark 13:26; 14:62; Luke 21:27).

CONCLUSION: Even so come Lord Jesus, come even today!

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Confirmation 2006

May 7, 2006
Revelation 22:12

“And Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to give to every one according to what he has done” –Revelation 22:12

Introduction:  The first time I looked at your verse which you chose for your confirmation I was somewhat taken aback. Of course, the immediate context of this verse speaks about the end of the world. A verse that speaks of Judgment Day on the happy occasion of your confirmation just doesn’t seem to fit. But again, as I’ve said to each class – it’s your confirmation – you select the text and I’ll try to make it memorable!   [With this thought in mind let us pray…]

We are very much into the glorious season of Easter. Because Jesus has suffered for us on the cross, as He has taken to Himself the burden of our sin, and bore it in His body on the cross – all sin has been paid for, every burden has been lifted and the guilt is gone! 

Because Jesus rose from the dead on that first Easter morning we have been given the assurance that heaven is our home and that we will live and reign with Him throughout all eternity. The victory is His! To His children, His chosen people He has given the fruits of His victory.

How can we compare our Christian life to the life that was lived by our Savior?  It’s almost as if you were at a major competition such as a music or sporting event. Our Savior Jesus took it upon Himself to guarantee certain victory. He did everything to secure our salvation – everything from front to back.  What a celebration it was when Jesus suffered, died, and rose again – for me and for you. The next big event is the celebration that will take place when our Champion returns with His trophy in hand.

That’s where you and I find ourselves today. We are living between two great and glorious events. We are living in between the victory Christ has won for us and the festivities that will take place in glory when this present age comes to a close.

When Jesus returns in glory the victory party - the big celebration will really begin. Figuratively speaking, you and I are on the bus ride home - traveling to the main event. We’re traveling between the victory that occurred at the cross and empty tomb and the celebration that will last into eternity. It will all be trumpeted with the return of Christ to the planet earth visibly.  When every eye shall see Him – then it’ll really be time, as you put it, “to have some fun”!

Today you affirm your loyalty – loyalty to the Savior who has redeemed you – a loyalty to Him that will last beyond time. It is in this context that the Savior’s words come to you today.

I.   Jesus says, “And behold I am coming quickly.”

A.    Scripture reminds us it will happen in a twinkling or in the blinking of an eye – at the last trumpet – when the dead in Christ shall rise and we shall see Him. Scripture is very clear on this matter. We are told that “every eye shall see Him.”

Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him. So shall it be! Amen.  Revelation 1:7

B.     Christ will return when people least expect it. But can we really tell - and do we really know - when Christ will return in glory? Again, Scripture is quite clear on the matter. Jesus Christ Himself will return when the last pagan is converted. What a glorious time to be alive!

Paul, your dad can attest to this – I was brought into the world of computers kicking and screaming!  Your world is so much different then when I was your age and your parents were your age! The use of the internet, instant messaging, text messages, lap top computers and I-pods are all a part of your world! 

There has been a literal explosion in information and technology. We are able to keep in touch as never before. That new cell phone you were hoping for this Christmas might very well have a GPS tracking devise on it where your Mom will now be able to tell from her cell phone - not only where you are at any moment - but exactly when you took off for school and when you arrived! 

So your Dad can now “do the math” to determine how fast you were driving as you made it to school! Ah, remember those “old school” math calculations we adults had to work through in school? 

“If Johnny lives 16 miles from school - and there is one traffic light located five miles from the school - which pauses for 47 seconds - and Johnny arrives at school in 23 minuets - how fast was Johnny traveling?”

With the advances in information and technology today - what once took Lutheran Bible Translators TM years to produce a translation of the New Testament into a new peoples’ language - is now done in a matter of months!

With the events in our world unfolding politically, economically, and socially could it be that this is the last generation? Could Christ return in your generation and in your lifetime? The possibility always exists that Christ could return within any generation but within your lifetime? YES! The possibility is there. The last person to be converted could happen within your lifetime.

Transition: Christ is coming quickly. He has promised to come bearing gifts.

II.     And my reward with Me.

A.  Christ has promised that when He returns He will come rewarding us. What is it that we deserve? According to our thoughts riddled with sin. According to our words which are so often filled with malice and venom and lies. According to our deeds which are so often self directed, self centered and self motivated. – All three – thoughts, words and deeds are filled with sin.

We deserve God’s wrath, displeasure, temporal death and eternal damnation.  Yet He deals with us not according to our sins. Instead He forgives us. He takes our sins and separates them as far as the East is from the West and He remembers our sin no more. You know the Scripture well;

 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1John 1:8

B.  For our sin we deserve God’s wrath, displeasure, temporal death and eternal damnation. In exchange for our sin He bestows on us His grace and every blessing.  Jesus gives us life – real and abundant life. Jesus said in the Gospel of John, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full". John 10:11 The life He gives to you is a life that has no end.

He brought you to life when you were born into this world. He has given you talents, abilities and gifts to be used in this world for the good of our neighbor. This is how you show your love for God by serving your neighbor. The real work starts now – as you let your light shine before men that they might know you are a Christian – that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Transition:  Christ is coming quickly. He has promised to come bringing gifts. When He comes He will reward you.

III.       to give to every one according to what he has done.

A.   His reward is to everyone according to his own work.  On the surface, that sounds a lot like compensation and payment for something we’ve done or deserved. But we must remember that everything we have, even our faith – is a gift from God.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17   

Yes, we are always on the receiving end of God’s Hand. He doesn’t reward us because we’re so much better then some or not as bad as others. No, He rewards us according to the faith He has already given us. The reward we receive - the crown of everlasting life is what Christ has already earned for us by going to the cross and breaking free from the empty tomb.

B.   In light of what Jesus has already won for you my prayer for you is that you would simply avail yourselves to those gifts He has offered to you. Continue to do what you have been doing up to this very moment in time.

Make use of God’s Holy Word. It is His message to you. Here He speaks to you daily. Avail yourself to His Word for His desire is to talk to you. As we pray every Sunday, my prayer for you is that you would hear God’s Word, that you would “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them – that you would embrace and ever hold fast to the blessed hope of everlasting life which was given you in our Savior Jesus Christ.”

Daily remember your baptism. Since we cannot carry it out turn to Him who has carried it out on His own out stretched arms. On the day of your baptism Christ entered your life and has continued to direct your life to this very hour. When you come to Him confessing your sin, Jesus who is faithful and just - forgives your sin and cleanses you from all unrighteousness.

Make use of His meal. When you receive His body and blood in this comforting sacrament you receive the gifts He intends you to have. It is a most glorious meal. It has all the essentials! The forgiveness of sins, the strength of your faith, the assurance that you belong to God and heaven is your home! What more could you need? Nothing more then to live your life as a redeemed child of God. This is what I like to call “Sacramental living” live as a redeemed child of God. Be a blessing to those around you – in short, be a sermon in shoes.

Pray!  Take your joys and sorrows your burdens and cares to the throne room of grace and be thankful as He answers each petition.

Make use of the talents and abilities the Savior has given to you. Each of us has gifts. You have been given many. Your challenge –discover what God has given you and then use these talents for His service. Love Jesus. Serve your neighbor. Be a blessing.

Conclusion: We all can be proud of you. The verses you have chosen will serve you well. Remember what you have been taught, cling to that which is good, and may the Savior walk with you each and every day of your life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen