Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mid-week Lent 1

Mid-week Lent #2
February 28, 2007
The Savior leads in times of cleansing
Exodus 20:1-17

INTRODUCTION: The Ten Commandments; “The Big Ten” have received a lot of notoriety in recent years. Congress is considering whether these laws ought to be posted inside the school house door and within the halls of our governmental buildings.  Some contend that these laws our outdated and too restrictive. Still others maintain that they are given for our every day living.  A recent billboard simply read “What part of Thou Shalt Not can’t you understand?” signed –God.

What is the purpose for such laws in our society today?  They all boil down to three.

1.    What to do – These commandments were given for our practical living.

As a result, God has told us plainly in His Word what we are to do. Have no other gods, remember the Sabbath day, honor your father and your mother. By following these laws we are given a better way of living.

God calls us to live a life that is higher and nobler then we would dare to go.  Like an athletic trainer or a demanding teacher God calls us to become what we, of ourselves, could never obtain.  The gracious pupil gives the greatest compliment saying “I could have never done it without you” Likewise, we benefit by following the particulars of God’s directives that we might live better and more productive lives.  These commandments are given to us that we might live a better life.

2.    What not to do – Left up to our own devices we would each perish.

Therefore, God has given us restrictions. They are not meant to fence us in. To the contrary, by following these restrictions we avoid the trappings and the temptations of this sinful age.  Man is his own worst enemy therefore God has given us these 7 commandments to avoid the pain and the misery of sin’s consequences. Do not take God’s name in vain, do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, and do not covet.

In actuality, these restrictions do not limit us. To the contrary, they free us so that we do avoid the pain associated with sin. It would do us well to heed these commands of God as a means of avoiding the demons of our own fallen nature that would rob us of a life that is pleasing to God.

3.    How to live – “That man a godly life might live God did these commandments give.”  {TLH #287 stanza 1}

These commandments were never intended to help us gain salvation. Our fallen nature prevents us from obtaining moral perfection. Yet, God has given us a standard by which we can measure our conduct as well as obtain a clear perspective by which we see the need of a Savior who followed the will of the Father and was obedient- obedient unto death.  Jesus Christ followed the Father’s will perfectly for us. He exchanges our sinful way of life for His own perfection and goodness. Follow Him and the standard that He gives you, to be His dear children as He is our loving and gracious Father who loves us enough to discipline us and direct us. 

CONCLUSION: The Lord has given us His law as a means of teaching us. Lent is a time of cleansing – a time of cleansing which comes from His Law.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday
February 21, 2007
Genesis 22:1-14
The Savior leads us in times of TESTING
The story of Abraham/Isaac 
“Here I am!”

INTRODUCTION:  There was once a commercial, which said: “Delta is ready when you are!”  In our lesson for today Abraham is always ready when he is called and needed. In each case, he replies, “Here I am.” Abraham is always ready and willing to respond. He is always there when you need Him. What an example for us! When a job needs to be done, who will say, “Here I am”? When you need someone desperately to help in time of need, does the Christian say, “Here am I”? 

A Christian is ready when called…

1.   A Christian is ready when God calls. Vs. 1 tells us “Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."  - The call of Abraham was a call to obey. 

True, it was an awesome task, to sacrifice his only Son. But clearly Abraham knew that the Lord would provide.  Do we trust God at His Word? When summoned to obey God do we trust Him at His Word? Abraham trusted God at His Word.  We can do nothing else. During this 40-day pilgrimage may we trust God at His Word. Following Him as we listen to His Word. When He speaks - we listen. When He commands - we follow. As He leads may we follow willingly, trusting in Him to will and to do what He has promised.

TRANSITION: The Christian is ready when God calls and listens to God. But we are also ready when we listen to the call of our neighbor. We are ready to say “here I am”…

2.   When man calls. Vs. 7 tells us; “And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." And he said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" – Abraham was given a question to answer.  Isaac had a legitimate question. Where is the lamb?  Abraham could only tell his son what he knew to be true, that the Lord would provide.  We live in a world in which many are searching for meaning in life and answers to their problems.  Where are people to be directed?  When seeking direction where do we lead people?

Do we give them our own words, do we given them advice and words that we think they will want to hear?  We must point people in only one direction and that is to the person of Jesus Christ.  He is the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Jesus.  “Jesus is the answer for the world today” so goes the words of the old spiritual.  May we point people to Jesus the joy of man’s desiring – Jesus our only hope in desperate times. During this 40-day period of Lent may we point people to Jesus our strength and our redeemer.

TRANSITION:  We follow Christ and His word. We point people to Christ. We also say “here I am” when angels call.

3.   When angels call. Vs. 11-12 says    “But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." And he said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."  – This angel of the Lord - The angel of the Lord is Jesus Himself who gives us a call to receive grace.

On that day Abraham’s son Isaac was spared and a lamb was provided.  God would not spare His only Son. 

Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, was sent into this world to take away the sins of the world.  The hymn tells us “A lamb goes uncomplaining forth, the guilt of all men bearing.” That lamb was Jesus. He went to the cross to suffer and die. He went to the cross to take away our sin.  He went to the cross to win for us salvation and life.

CONCLUSION:  And that’s what Lent is all about!  It’s about Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Lent is a time when we think about what Jesus did for you and for me.  During this 40-day journey may we walk with Jesus as He makes His way to the cross on Good Friday. When He speaks to us in His word we will say with Abraham of old “Here I am” when others ask “who is this Jesus? We will say “here I am” to witness of what we know and what we have seen. When Jesus speaks we will say “Here I am” and He will simply say “I am with you always, even unto the end of the age!” In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Transfiguration of our Lord
February 18, 2007
Luke 9:28-36
Behold this man Jesus

Who is this man Jesus? Opinions circulate concerning his person to this day. As always there are varying opinions. At His transfiguration the Father speaks with authority and explains to us Jesus. Lent begins in just a few days with a powerful message - the Son of God dies. Is this too much for the world today?

Some will admit that Jesus is God but they look at His crucifixion as an unfortunate accident.
They see it as an unpleasant interruption

Just when everything was going nicely. A vulgar finale to a brilliant career. A heroic example of how to cling to one’s convictions. He died for principle.

Some will admit to the crucifixion but they deny its power.

They can only admit that the one hanging on the cruel cross is a mere man.
They will admit that he was an exceptional man, to be sure, but still just a man.

We preach Christ and Him crucified.

The crucifixion wasn’t an unfortunate accident. The Law and Prophets said that it had to happen. This is the conversation Moses and Elijah are having with the Savior on the mountain.

The crucifixion is more then an execution it’s a damnation! The wrath of an offended God is poured out on His own Son! (Isaiah “the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all)

The crucifixion was an essential part of God’s eternal plan for the salvation of the world. It does things for people – it saves them and makes them good!

Do death and deity go together? They must! The Son of God must die but in His death He rises to give us new life.