Monday, December 29, 2008

Time in the Word Christmas 2

Because of the calendar, Christmas 2 is not often observed. By the second Sunday after Christmas many of the decorations are already down, the festivities are over, the gifts have been put away, and Christmas is over and almost forgotten. Now that the hub-bub is over, we can get down to a serious consideration of the meaning of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. In Christ God blesses us with spiritual blessings and has made us sons and daughters through grace. We pray for wisdom as we enter a new year. The Savior entered time and space at Christmas. He will continue to guide our path and direct our steps throughout this New Year. Thus we are moved to pray, “Almighty God, You have filled us with the new light of the Word who became flesh and lived among us. Let the light of our faith shine in all that we do.

Collect for Christmas 2Almighty God You have poured into our hearts the true Light of Your incarnate Word. Grant that this Light may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen

Monday, December 29 2008Psalm 147:1, 5, 11-12- The Antiphon, is taken from John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory the glory of the One and only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. — During this season of Christmas we see the full impact of Christ’s coming into this world. The Word existed before He became a man. Yet He comes to make his dwelling with us. He literally “tabernacles” with us. In Exodus 40:34-35 the Tent of Meeting was filled with the glory of God. Now He comes to dwell with us.

Tuesday, December 30 2008Psalm 119:97-104—This section of psalm 119 is dedicated to the Hebrew letter “Mem” Meditating on God’s revelation yields the highest wisdom. As we meditate on the Lord’s words and promises we grow into a deeper understanding of the Lord. Are you thinking of making a new year’s resolution? Will you keep it? The Lord always keeps His promises. He has bound Himself to His Word.

Wednesday, December 31 20081 Kings 3:4-15— As King Solomon begins his rule over Israel he asks the Lord for an understanding heart. He could have asked for anything and received it, yet as he begins his reign as king he asks the Lord for discretion and discernment. See how the Lord responds in verse 13 “I will give you what you have not asked for.” See Jesus’ promise in Luke 12:31

Thursday, January 1 2009Ephesians 1:3-14— Paul would remind us that Christ, the Word, blesses the faithful with sonship and wisdom. Verses 3-6 deal with praise to God for spiritual blessings which come with the gift of the Spirit. From eternity we are destined to be sons and daughters of God through the grace of Christ. At Christmas we receive blessings. What is the nature of these blessings? We often feel blessed if the whole family got together, if the meals were plentiful, and if the gifts were abundant. Paul describes blessings of a Christian as “spiritual.” They are the blessings received in Christ and because of Christ. Some of the blessings are our being chosen as sons of God to be holy and blameless, faith in Christ, and love for others.

God has a destiny for you. He predestines us not to condemnation or hell but to life as His sons through Christ. It is God’s will for all of us to be saved, to have life, and to go to heaven. This was God’s will even before the world was created. To accomplish this, He sent His Son to the world to die for us that we might by faith become people of God. Though this is our divine destiny, we may reject God’s will and refuse sonship.

Friday, January 2, 2009Luke 2:40-52— Imagine the horror Mary and Joseph went through as they spent three days searching for Jesus. Having traveled to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover the streets of the capital city were filled with the throng of people. It took three days to locate the boy; one day traveling away from Jerusalem, a second traveling back and a third looking for Him. Yet they found Jesus in the temple in the Father’s house. Jesus pointed to His personal duty to His Father in heaven. Even at the age of twelve He was aware of His unique relationship to God. He was also obedient to His earthly parents. A new year has begun. May we dedicate this year to the study of Scripture, weekly attendance at Bible study, worship and frequent reception of the Sacrament. We want to grow in the faith. The degree to which this can be accomplished is determined by the extent to which we use and expose ourselves to Christ’s Word. Notice that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. As our youth mature they need to grow physically, cognitively, as well as spiritually.

Saturday, January 3, 20091 Timothy 3:16; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10 - The hymn of the day for Christmas 2, Within the Father’s House (LSB 410) Paul mentions “mystery of godliness.” This phrase means the “revealed secret of true piety” that is the secret that produces piety in people. This secret is none other that Jesus Christ. His incarnation is the source of genuine piety. Has Jesus been born in you this Christmas season? By faith He dwells within you.
LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO


Luther’s Works: American Edit Edition. 55 volumes. (Volumes 1 ion. 1-30, Concordia Publishing House; volumes 31 31-55, Fortress Press)

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts Jesus in the Temple © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas 1

Introduction: One sign of growing old is failing eyesight. At a certain age –glasses are needed. Bifocals go with seniority in age. Simeon was old and next to death. Yet, his spiritual eyesight was excellent. He saw what few others saw in the infant Jesus.

Age is no criterion for insight even though insight comes with age and life experiences. Simeon had spiritual eyes to see. In our text for today we find what Simeon saw through the eyes of faith as we consider what Simeon was led find in the Christ child.

What did Simeon see?

1. Simeon saw the messiah who brought salvation. Listen again to V. 30 “My eyes have seen Your salvation.” The Lord had given Simeon a promise. It was a simple promise and at the same time extremely profound. The promise was before you die Simeon you will see the promised Savior. When Joseph and Mary entered the temple with Jesus this old man’s eyes were open and immediately Simeon knew it! In this little baby was the promise of the Lord’s salvation.

It must have been an incredible thing for Mary and Joseph to behold. This aged man takes the infant and says, “Lord, I’m read to die…my eyes have now seen Your salvation!”

By faith you can also say these words. By faith you believe these words of Simeon. Is it any wonder that after we have confessed our sin, heard the Lord’s promise of forgiveness and received it, that we can say these words also?

After receiving Jesus is there anything else that we need? By faith these words of Simeon are your words. Lord, I have seen your salvation in Jesus Christ! So what did Simeon see in the infant Christ?

2. Simeon saw a salvation ready for all people. Listen to v.32, “A light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel.”

This salvation was jot just for Simeon and it isn’t just for you alone. It’s for everyone. It is for the Jew as well as the Gentile believer. It is for the members of your family, it’s for your neighbor, yes it is offered to the entire world.

Think of all of the people whose path you have met this past year. Who were they? Where they nameless, almost faceless people? No, they were people for whom the Savior came to save and redeem.. In this next year – 2009 0 consider that point when you meet a stranger. That one is a person for whom the Savior came to redeem and save. That one is the person for whom the Savior came to claim as His own. If by chance you would happen to strike up some sort of conversation – share with that person the Lord of Jesus Christ. As you live and witness share the compassion of Jesus Christ with all you meet.

Like Simeon may we see that Christ has come for all people. In these last days of 2008 may God forgive us our sins of omission where we have missed those opportunities to witness for Jesus Christ. But may He use us in the coming New Year to speak for Him who died for all that they may come to faith in Him.

What did Simeon see in the infant Christ? He saw the messiah which brings salvation. He saw salvation offered to all people. He saw Christ’s future suffering for the life of the world.

3. Simeon saw Jesus’ future suffering and death on the cross. “Simeon blessed His parents and said to Mary His mother. Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Vv.34-35

When Simeon picked up this infant he saw way into the future. What he saw was the passion, suffering and death of Jesus. Simeon saw into the future. You and I look back on the past. Yet we see the same image. We see the cross and death of Jesus Christ winning for us salvation and life. Simeon saw the same thing yet before it would happen.

Scripture does not tell us when Simeon passed into glory. We are not told whether Simeon died that night, the next morning, that week, or exactly when he was called. We know he was an old man and the time that he had was probably short. I would not be surprised however that during the time that Simeon had left of earth he spent that time telling everyone he knew tht he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Today is the last Sunday of 2008. Next Sunday we begin a New Year. Who knows what will befall us in the New Year. Yet if we use Simeon as an example for us we can learn how to experience a life which is well lived. Having seen the Lord’s Christ we are ready to depart this world whenever the Lord would call us.

Conclusion: Like Simeon, we have seen the Lord. We’ve see the cross and that salvation which the Savior brings. May we share Christ with others as the Lord permits. For we have seen the Lord’s salvation. That is why whenever our Lord calls us, like Simeon we can depart in serenity, security and peace. To God be the glory in all things; in our living, in our witness, and yes, even in our dying.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

Introduction: Once again we have come to another Christmas, a time to reflect on the impact one life has had on us. A baby born for us – a baby sent to save us. With those witnesses we travel on to Bethlehem.
1. Let us go to Bethlehem
A. To see this thing which has come to pass.
1. Christ has entered time/space
2. To be our substitute
3. To be our only Savior from sin, death, the devil
B. Which the Lord has made known to us/
1. First spoken too our first parents in the garden
2. Promised, predicte4d in prophecy.
3. Now has finally been spoken by God (through the angels’ message)
Transition: We’ve come, now we witness with our own eyes
2. When they had seen Him.
A. They made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this child.
1. Angels message is clear – Glory to God – Peace on earth
2. We likewise proclaim Him in worship, song, carols, etc.
B. As w leave this holy house
1. We go back to our lives, work, vocations
2. To live as new and redeemed people
3. To proclaim the wonders He has done.
Conclusion: Christ came to offer salvation and live. Thanks be to God for this wonderful gift.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Luke 2:10
A Heavenly Message

“Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy"

INTRODUCTION: The message of the angel to the shepherds was significant to say the least. The angel said “behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy” The same message which came to these watchers has come to us this day. What would this message say to us today?

I. The message comes to men who were wide-awake.

A. They were “keeping watch” over their flocks. That was their vocation, their job, their life’s calling. When the message came to them they were found faithfully performing the duties of their chosen craft. Where have you been placed? The Gospel message is not for only one small aspect of our lives.

We cannot compartmentalize, placing Christ’s birth into only one small portion of our complicated life. Christ came to men, as they were busy doing their job, performing their task. The message of salvation was given to theses men where they lived. It fit into the environment into which they lived. Likewise, the significance and importance of Christ’s birth comes to you and me in our life, where we live and work.

B. The time for the appointed message had come and it was given. It was given to them that they might believe. Likewise the message of the Savior’s birth has been given to you and to me, at this time and for this same reason that we might believe and live.

C. God did not wait for the world to wake up. The angel would herald the message of Jesus’ birth without warning and it was given directly to these shepherds. It was important that these men knew that the Savior was born – immediately the message went out.

In your life, the Savior did not wait for another opportune time for you to hear this message of salvation. At the appointed time at the acceptable hour this message of salvation was given to you for your redemption and life. It was given to you directly – through the clear message of the Gospel – which is found in the pages of Scriptures and in the blessed Sacraments.

D. If men sleep when the Lord comes, it is not His fault. The message of salvation has been delivered at the proper time. The carols, the greeting of this season; “merry, happy and blessed Christmas” as an expression is direct that all might know and believe that the Savior has been born, and has come to us for our salvation. The message is clear – Behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy - for you a child is born, for you a son is given”, still many refuse to receive this message with joy.

II. The message came to disinterested workers

A. These men loved their flocks more then their own comforts. They worked the long hours because they felt a sense of duty and obligation to their jobs. Not much has changed over the years. There are countless people dedicating themselves to their jobs because they too feel a sense of obligation and purpose. Like these shepherds there are many people putting in long and tedious hours working at lonely and isolated jobs because of a sense of obligation and duty.

B. The visions that have blessed the world came to these men who watched while nations slept! The world hardly noticed that its Savior had been born. These men watch in wonder as the rest of the world slept. To us the announcement of Savior’s birth has been given. Does the world notice? Does this world seem to care? The only way in which the people of this world will know that to us a child is born and unto us a Son is given is for the Christian citizens to respond as these shepherds.

As nations slept these shepherds watched. As this world sleeps we need to be vigilant waiting for our Savior’s visitation, and then telling other of the wonderful things we have heard and seen. As these same shepherds returned back to their jobs, “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen as it was told unto them” we in kind respond with the same message.

III. Is the fact significant that the message came to shepherds?

A. What inference should we draw from this fact? The Scripture is quite clear. “The Lord opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. While James mentions that God has chosen those who are “poor” in the eyes of this world to be rich in faith. (2:5)

Paul explains in 1Corinthians 1 “Brothers think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; nor many influential; not many were of noble birth…But God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one many boast before Him” (vv.26-29)

These shepherds were by no means wise, or influential by the world’s standards, nor would we guess that they were of noble birth. By the world’s standards the Savior was none of these either! Yet, the Savior makes Himself known to us in these hidden ways so that “no on may boast before Him”. No one would guess that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem. No one would guess that He would be born in a stable. And no one would guess that His birth would be announced to shepherds.

But that was exactly the way in which He chose to make Himself known – in these hidden ways; in words from the pages of Scripture, in the water of baptism, in elements of bread and wine; in absolution, which is spoken.

B. This message has changed us. It certainly changed the shepherd’s lives. They had been told and they beheld the King, the Savior of the world, “wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger”. We too have heard and believe. For He has changed our life – as we have been drawn to Him.

CONCLUSION: The message the shepherds received is for you this day “Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy…” To common shepherds this message was given. To people of a common faith we hear and believe. A blessed Christmas in Jesus’ Name.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

Monday, December 22, 2008

Time in the Word - Christmas 1

At last Christmas has come. It is the unspeakable gift of the Christ Child. On the first Sunday after Christmas we respond to the gift. The response is the theme of the Day. It is a natural result, God speaks and man answers; God acts and man reacts; Good gives and man give thanks. In the Gospel two old people Simeon and Anna, respond by recognizing Jesus and praising God for the experience. As a devout faithful, religious family, Joseph and Mary present Jesus in the temple when forty days old and make the offering of the poor. While they were in the temple an aged couple recognizes Jesus as the Messiah. Simeon had the insight to see in an infant the face of Christ. Now that the Messiah has come, he is ready to die in peace. At the same time Simeon has some “bad news” for Mary. He tells her of the future fate of the child and of her own suffering because of his fate. Likewise, there is an aged Anna, a prophetess. She spent her life in prayer, devotion, and genuine piety as she looked for the Messiah. When she saw the Christ-child, she gave thanks to God and declared to the people that this child was the Messiah.

Collect for Christmas 1O God, our Maker and Redeemer You wonderfully created us and in the incarnation of Your Son yet more wondrously restored our human nature. Grant that we may ever be alive in Him who made Himself to be like us; through Jesus Christ, Our Lord we pray.

Monday, 22 December 2008Psalm 98:1–4; Antiphon, Isaiah 52:10—Both the antiphon and the body of the Introit proclaim that the Lord has made His salvation known to all the earth. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem is the realization of God’s promises since the Fall of man to send a Savior, One who would deliver sinners from the tyranny of their transgressions. Therefore, we are exhorted to ‘make a joyful noise to the Lord…break forth into joyous song and sing praises.’

Tuesday, 23 December 2008Psalm 111—This song of high praise to God recounts all the blessings He has bestowed upon His people. First, the physical blessings: food; deliverance from enemies, commemorated by festivals and feasts that cause ‘His wondrous works to be remembered;’ the inheritance of the Promised Land. That redemption was accomplished by the Incarnation, Passion, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. ‘Holy and awesome is his name! His praise endures forever!’

Wednesday, 24 December 2008Isaiah 61:10—62:3—A hymn of praise for the coming salvation of the Lord. Though Isaiah wrote this some seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus, he writes as though it were an accomplished fact. He can do so because the Lord is always reliable; nothing ever stops Him from fulfilling His promises.

Thursday, 25 December 2008Galatians 4:4–7—Contemporaries of Isaiah who believed his prophecies of the coming Savior may have become impatient when they didn’t see the fulfillment. Likewise, the many generations which lived and died before the birth of Christ. But Paul tells us that it was all according God’s plan, to His perfect sense of timing: ‘When the fullness of time had come…’ Because of the redemption purchased by His Son, we who were formerly enemies of God are now counted, not just as friends, but as sons! We acknowledge and delight in that fact every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, and address the almighty, holy God as ‘Our Father.’

Friday, 26 December 2008Luke 2:22–40—In the epistle, Paul told us that Jesus was ‘born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law.’ Here we have the incarnate Son of God being brought to the temple for presentation, and for the purification of His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. This was in accord with the Law as recorded in Leviticus 12:2–8; the Law had to be fulfilled, not for His sake, but for ours, that we might be redeemed from the condemnation of the Law.

Saturday, 27 December 2008—The hymn of the day, Come, Thou Precious Ransom, Come (LSB 350), reminds us of the necessity of God coming into the flesh: to ransom all mankind from the penalty of sin. We have no hope of saving ourselves; it is only through the payment of Christ by His death that our sin could be atoned for.


Luther’s Works: American Edit Edition. 55 volumes. (Volumes 1-30, Concordia Publishing House; volumes 31 31-55, Fortress Press)

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts Zachariah names John, © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

This month’s daily devotionals were written by Pr. Jeffrey Keuning serving St. John, Dexter IA and Zion, Casey, IA congregations.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Advent 4

Introduction: People these days seem to have a fascination with angels. One of Billy Graham’s most popular books was simply entitled “Angels.”[1] We usually associate angels as being perfect and sometimes we like to place attributes we associate with the angels on to people. For example, we might refer to a well mannered child as being “a perfect angel.” What we need to remember and our text for this morning will help us in this, is that angels are called especially to serve and protect the elect of God. The write to the Hebrews writes, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to render service to those who will inherit salvation.”[2] They are divine messengers who bring important communications from God.

Imagine what would have happened to the Christ child had Mary and Joseph not been told about the coming birth from an angelic messenger. Quite possibly Mary and Joseph would have settled on a divorce. The entire Christmas story could have been told under different circumstances. This morning let us consider the significance of what an angel said to Mary.

1. The first message we receive from Gabriel is exactly who is to be born. You will be with child and give birth to a son and you are to give Him the name Jesus. (V31) The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you so the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. (V35)

Who is to be born? He is none other then Jesus, the Son of God. He is the holy one, the one promised in the Scriptures to be God in the flesh. By these words of Gabriel we see that the one being born is God’s only Son. He is the Christ, the Father’s chosen one.

2. Gabriel also tells us how the child is to be born. He is born by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Most High will overshadow this young woman so that the child to be born will be called the Son of God.

He is to be born holy for God is His Father. True, Jesus is born of a human mother, but his Father is God. Jesus is born human. Yet He is without sin. Jesus is like you in every respect except He is without sin. Jesus is the perfect, spotless Son of God who came into this world to take your place under the Law. He comes to be your substitute. He comes to live a perfect life for you. He comes to fulfill all the requirements the Father has for an obedient life. He will take to Himself your guilt, your fear and brokenness.

3. He comes to be your Savior. So says the angel Gabriel, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His Father David and He will reign over the hose of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.” (Vv.32-33)

This child is a king. But not any king, He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the eternal God who takes possession of the throne of His Father because He has been declared to be the rightful heir. He is Lord. He is God. He is your Savior, Redeemer and king. This week we celebrate His coming into our world as He breaks into time and space to take up Him rule in your life.

Conclusion: Who is it that is born for us today? He is the Lord’s Christ. He is the Son of the Most High God and in Him we live and move and have our being. Praise Him for He has come. Serve Him for He is your King. Worship and praise His name for He is your God.

[1] Angels: God’s Secret Agents by Billy Graham © 1975 Doubleday Press ISBN 0385113072
[2] Hebrews 1:14

Monday, December 15, 2008

Time in the Word Advent 4

Advent 4 is on the threshold of Christmas. After weeks of preparation by prayer and repentance the time has come to receive the Christ. Gabriel in the Gospel tells Mary that she is to be the mother of Christ. What Gabriel says about the child fulfills the promises to David in the Old Testament lesson – a great name and an eternal kingdom. Paul in the Epistle lesson declares that the mystery of God was revealed in Christ and the writings of the prophets. The Hymn of the Day is an outburst of joy over the coming Emmanuel.

Collect for Advent 4Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come and help us by Your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by Your grace and mercy; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Monday, 15 December 2008—Psalm 19:1, 4c, 5–6; Antiphon, Isaiah 45:8a, b—The antiphon asks that God would open the heavens and ‘let the clouds rain down righteousness,’ and that, correspondingly, He would open the earth, ‘that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit.’ Both of these things have come to pass. When the Son of God assumed flesh, and came to earth to be born a man, righteousness rained down. And this was not without effect, for He brought salvation which bears fruit in believers, as they live out their righteousness in Christ.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008—Psalm 89:1–5—What is the believer’s response to all that the Lord has done for us through Christ? ‘I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.’ In doing so, we join the throngs in heaven (v. 5), just as we say in the Preface to the Lord’s Supper, ‘with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You…’
Wednesday, 17 December 2008—2 Samuel 7:1–11, 16—King David’s desire was to build a permanent structure for the Ark of the Covenant, that is a permanent place for God to reside with His people. But the Lord tells David that He will establish a ‘house’ and a kingdom for David, which shall have no end. We are not to look to Israel for fulfillment of God’s promise, but to David’s Descendant, Christ Jesus, who has established His throne of dominion forever, by His defeat of sin, death, and the devil at Calvary.
Thursday, 18 December 2008—Romans 16:25–27—A fitting end to the book of Romans, in which St. Paul has so clearly proclaimed Christ as the Savior of the world, apart from works, this doxology (hymn of praise) is especially appropriate during this Advent season, as we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ, who ‘has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations.’
Friday, 19 December 2008—Luke 1:26–38—What a shock it must have been for this pious young woman to learn that she, not having known a man, would give birth to a baby boy. And no ordinary boy, but God Himself, the second Person of the Trinity! Due to the miracle wrought through the Holy Spirit, the Child born would be ‘true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary.’ The Blessed Virgin is, therefore, truly the Mother of God, and her Son, the Savior of mankind, is properly named ‘Jesus,’ that is, ‘Yahweh saves.’
Saturday, 20 December 2008—The hymn of the day, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (LSB 357), is an ancient hymn based upon seven even more ancient antiphons (called the ‘O’ Antiphons) which were used in the Office at Vespers (the evening office) during the last seven days of Advent. Each antiphon and each hymn stanza refers to a different title for Christ: Wisdom, Adonai (‘Lord’), Root (or Branch) of Jesse, Key of David, Dayspring, King of Nations, Emmanuel (‘God with Us’).
LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO


Luther’s Works: American Edit Edition. 55 volumes. (Volumes 1-30, Concordia Publishing House; volumes 31 31-55, Fortress Press)

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts Zachariah names John, Jesus feeds the 5,000 © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Advent 3

Introduction: Before a witness is to give his testimony in a court, for example, he is asked to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. John the Baptist was one who told the truth concerning Jesus. Likewise, a Christian is a witness. The need for more witnessing is demonstrated by the facts of a declining church membership in many parts of our country.

While our congregation has been blessed with new members in many places across our great country this is not happening. It is estimated that close to a third of the adult population in the U S remain un-churched. [1] This has prompted our own Missouri Synod to declare the United States as a mission field. And yet, what we see happening at the same time is a decline in the number of foreign missionaries.

Yet, by the grace of God opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ are all around us. You do not have to travel overseas to be a part of the Lord’s mission, the very fact that you are a follower of Jesus Christ makes you His witness. Martin Luther has been credited to have said, “We are not asked to be successful. We are only asked to witness and be faithful.” What does it mean to be a witness for Jesus Christ? That is the question that we will try to address ourselves today.

1. To be a witness for Christ means that we accept the call to witness. Recall the words of our text for today. John tells us, “A man came – God sent him- his name was John. He came to tell the truth about the Light to help everyone believe. He was not the Light but came to tell the truth about the Light.” [John 1:6-8 Wm. Beck translation]

Each of us in a real sense is just like John the Baptist. We are not called to be God but to be a witnessed for God. We are called simply to tell others what we have seen and heard. Some might say, “But I don’t know everything that is in the Bible, how can I possibly be a witness?” That may be true, that you don’t know everything in the Bible but you do know Him who has saved you and Him who has called you to faith. All we are called to do is share with others what we have come to know as truth. We are called to witness of what you have heard and seen. In fact, the early followers of Jesus Christ would have only one message, “we can not stop talking about what we have seen and heard.” [2]

2. As a witness we are simply to confess the truth. “John confessed; ‘I am not the promised Savior.” (Vs. 20) We are called to simply tell the truth. That is what we are to confess. John did not claim to be God, nor did he claim to be superior to others but instead he told people around him the truth of what he knew that Jesus was the promised Savior, the one who was coming into the world.

In this season of Advent at no other time in the year is our witness and our confession of the truth so clear. Everywhere you go you can hear carols sung and the word Jesus is on everyone’s lips. He’s the reason for this season. As we speak of the birth of the one that we celebrate this year we have an excellent opportunity to tell others about the Savior who has come to set us free from sin, death and the power of the devil.

3. Because you are a Christian you really are a witness. This is John’s point. To be a witness for Christ means only to know Christ personally. Listen again to John’s words. “I baptize with water John answered them. There is standing before you someone you don’t know, the One who is coming after me. I’m not good enough to untie His shoe strap.” Vv.26-27 [Beck translation]

Jesus tells us that when we are to speak for Him at that very hour the Holy Spirit will give you the very words you are to speak. Because you know Christ personally you have a relationship with Him. As we confess and witness for Him we speak of a relationship which is our by faith. We speak of Him who loves us. We speak of Him whose birth we celebrate ten days from now.

Conclusion: The voice of the earth Christians, “we can not stop talking about what w e have seen and heard” is good advice. These are our marching orders. May that be our confession as we wait the days before the celebration of Christmas. Rejoice for Christ has come. In Him we have life. In Him we make a good confession. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

[1] A new survey released by The Barna Group, which has been tracking America’s religious behavior and beliefs since 1984, reveals that one out of every three adults (33%) is classified as unchurched - meaning they have not attended a religious service of any type during the past six months
[2] Acts 4:20

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Drive for 5

5 pre-season wins + 5 Big 10 wins = A decent season for this years!

Prepare for Christ's Coming - Is. 40:1-11

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733
A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42
Celebrating our 170th Year
Chartered February 25, 1838

Advent 2December 10, 2008

Prepare for the Savior’s coming by Repentance
On the Road to Bethlehem
Isaiah 40:1-11

Almighty and everlasting God whose will it is to restore all things to your beloved Son, whom you anointed priest forever and king of all creation: Grant that all people of the earth, now divided by the power of sin, may be united under the glorious and gentle rule of your Son.

Introduction: Joseph and Mary traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem. They did not start their journey the day before Christmas. They started early weeks before that first Christmas. They started early enough that the child Jesus would be born in Bethlehem according to the prophecy - accord to the way God had planned it from the very beginning.

During this Advent season you and I are on the road to Bethlehem. As we anticipate the celebration of the birth of Christ on Christmas Day the question for us is this: will we get there in time? With the busyness and the hustle and bustle of this season will we make it? With our time and our schedules pushed to the limit will we get there in time and can we find the time for Christ to be born in our hearts anew?

For us to properly worship this new born king depends on what road we are on and the kind of road we travel. Before Jesus began His ministry John the Baptist was sent to urge His hearers to build a road on which the Christ would come. We should build a highway for our God. Isaiah describes for us the kind of road we need to build as we consider the road which leads to Bethlehem.

1. A road, if it is to be well traveled will need to be STRAIGHT, without the twists and turns that might aggravate us. This is what we are told when we hear the words, “Make His paths straight.” The highway which leads to God is a straight street a road of RIGHTEOUSNESS.

All is made right when Christ comes in sight. All is made right when Christ enters a life. For Christ is the One who came to make us right – right before God and right with each others. Our Savior was born for those whose lives are filled with sing. He came into a world that was deep in sin and separated from God.

The birth and the coming of Christ was not one of many options the Father had to work with. The Father sent His Son as the only solution to man’s problem with sin. There was only one way for God to rid the world of and the people of the world from the sting and the weight of sin and that was for His own Son to take on sin.

Christ came into this world for only one purpose which was to take our sin to Himself and to take it for our righteousness. Christ is the righteous one. He comes to us daily to make us righteous. When we receive Him by faith we receive His gift of righteousness and are declared to be His own.

2. A proper road also needs to be LEVEL. In the coming of Christ the valleys are lifted up and the mountains are brought low so that we can see God. The level road which leads to God is the road of HUMILITY.

Christ, as much as He desires all to come to Him, as much as He desires all to be saved will not force Himself on anyone. He calls, He pleads, He offers Himself to all but He will not force Himself on anyone. The Lord will not drag anyone kicking and screaming into His kingdom. In humility He invites all to receive Him by faith. The Savior is a humble king. He is not one who comes taking His kingdom by force. Rather, He entered this world and lived out His life in meekness and humbleness of spirit.

Today He still invites all to turn to Him and live. He says, “Come unto Me all ye who are weary and heavy laden with thee cares and concerns of this world and I will give you rest.’’ The rest we know from this humble king is the peace and comfort that we receive in knowing that our sins are forgiven and heaven has been granted to us as a free gift by grace and grace alone. We have been restored and reconciled and redeemed by a humble king who came in true humility.

3. The road which leads to God is a SMOOTH road – paved by a gracious Savior. Isaiah reminds us that the rough places are made smooth as we see God.

The Lord is truly gracious – think about it for a moment - we do not deserve His blessings certainly we can not earn His favor. We simply receive his blessings because He has had mercy upon us.

Luther on his death bed is known to have said, “We are only beggars!” We come to God shabby and dirty. Derelict in fulfilling any of his commandments and yet out of mercy and a gracious heart He restores us and establishes us to be His own.

It isn’t simply that the Lord gives us a second chance – He gives us a new start, a new beginning, a life that is filled with a future and a hope for tomorrow because He is gracious and ready to forgive when we turn to Him and live.

Conclusion: The highway which we travel is one which has been constructed by our loving and merciful Savior. It is a Straight street of righteousness; it is a Level road of humility, it is a Highway made smooth by His activity in our life by His suffering, death and resurrection. It all got started by His entering our world and our life. Shall we not travel this same road to meet Him? Shall we not travel to journey to worship Christ our Savior King? May it be so in Jesus’ name.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Time in the Word - Advent 3

The theme of this coming Sunday is we witness to the One who is coming as the Christ. In Advent 1 we anticipated Christ’s Second Coming. In Advent 2 we prepared for His coming. In the Gospel John the Baptist witnesses that Jesus, not John, is the Messiah. Under the unction of the Spirit, (Old Testament lesson) God’s servant witnesses by proclaiming good news of liberation to the oppressed and handicapped. Although the Epistle lesson does not specifically mention witnessing, Paul gives directives that would cause the quality of a Christian’s life to be a witness to Christ. The Hymn of the Day harmonizes with the theme of witnessing: ‘Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding!

In former years this Advent 3 was know as “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete was the first Latin word of the Introit meaning “Rejoice.” Advent 3 was also knows as “Minister’s Day” a day in the ancient and medieval church for ordinations.

Collect for Advent 3Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers and to lighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Weekly Book of Concord Reading, Advent 2Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article V—Law and Gospel

[The Gospel reading is from Mark, chapter 1, which opens with the words, ‘The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ…’ If we are to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God, correctly, it is incumbent upon us to proclaim both repentance and divine mercy.]

The term Gospel is used in two ways in the Holy Scriptures and also by ancient and modern Church teachers. Sometimes it is used to mean the entire doctrine of Christ, our Lord, which He proclaimed in His ministry on earth and commanded to be proclaimed in the New Testament. Therefore, this includes the explanation of the Law and the proclamation of the favor and grace of God His heavenly Father. For it is written, ‘The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.’ (Mark 1:1) And shortly afterward the chief points are stated: Repentance and forgiveness of sins. So when Christ, after His resurrection, commanded the apostles to ‘proclaim the gospel to the whole creation’ (Mark 16:15), He compressed the sum of this doctrine into a few words. He also said, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations.’ (Luke 24:46-47) Paul, too, calls his entire doctrine the Gospel (Acts 20:21). He summarizes this doctrine under two points: Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. In this sense, the general definition of the word Gospel, when used in a wide sense and without the proper distinction between the Law and the Gospel, is correctly said to be a preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. (¶3–5)

Excerpted from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord, edited by Paul T. McCain, et al., © 2005 Concordia Publishing House, p. 552–53.

Monday, 8 December 2008Psalm 85:8–9, 12–13; Antiphon, Psalm 85:7—During this season of preparation by way of repentance, we pray that, even as we break with the sins of our past, the Lord would not let us turn back to folly. Our sin is persistent, and we can never conquer it by our own doing. Our only hope is in the Lord, who will speak peace to His people and will give what is good. He does this through our Savior, Jesus, for righteousness goes before Him.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008Psalm 126—This psalm was composed when the Israelites returned from the Babylonian Exile. When God delivered them, their mouths were initially filled with laughter and their tongues with shouts of joy. But the hardships they faced upon return tested their faith in the Lord’s promise to restore the fortunes of Zion.
This psalm provides comfort that those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! Likewise, when we face unexpected hardships and suffering, we can take comfort that the Lord has done great things for us. The greatest thing He has done is restored us by the death of our savior, His Son, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11—God’s anointed messenger is here proclaimed. He will proclaim the good news of relief and release to the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, those who are bound, and those who mourn. All these things describe us in our sinful state: We are poor, lacking the riches of fellowship with God, and thus brokenhearted; we are captives of, and in bondage to sin, and thus can only mourn our condition. But the One whom the messenger proclaims will give us the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit, that we may be called oaks of righteousness.

Thursday, 11 December 20081 Thessalonians 5:16–24—What is our response to and our witness of Christ has accomplished for us? That we rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances. This we can do, because we are no longer in our former state, as people who have no hope, in bondage to sin. Christ has set us free, and gives us His gifts of Word and Sacrament, that our whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, 12 December 2008John 1:6–8, 19–28—When the priests and Levites confronted John the Baptist, asking him who he was, he responded that he was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah in the Old Testament reading. John is the man sent from God, the voice of one crying out in the wilderness. He went before the Lord Jesus, to prepare the way for Him, to bear witness to Him. John baptized and preached a message of repentance. Likewise, we still heed John, and prepare ourselves for the celebration of the coming of Christ in the flesh by repenting of our sins.

Saturday, 13 December 2008—The hymn of the day, Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding (LSB 345), tells of the work of John the Baptist. His voice is thrilling to believers, for his voice heralds the coming of our Savior, Jesus.

Pr. Jeffrey Keuning Dexter, IA contributed to December's Time in the Word

LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO


Luther’s Works: American Edit Edition. 55 volumes. (Volumes 1 ion. 1-30, Concordia Publishing House; volumes 31 31-55, Fortress Press)

Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts Zachariah names John, Jesus feeds the 5,000 © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Advent 2

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733
A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42
Celebrating our 170th Year
Chartered February 25, 1838

Prepare for the Savior’s coming by Repentance
Mark 8:1-8
Should Christmas Be Banned?

Introduction: In Mark’s Gospel there is no Christmas! It begins with an adult Son of God. After John the Baptist’s preparation for Jesus He simply appears as a thirty year old adult seeking baptism.

If it were up to Mark, quite possibly, we would have no Christmas celebration. Should we follow Mark as the Puritans did in the 17th Century – by banning Christmas? Some would feel at home with such an idea. Now, to totally outlaw any celebration of Christmas might be stretching things a bit. However, in light of the materialism of our modern day maybe we should simply skip all of the Christmas “sell-abration”! It is imperative that we come to an honest understanding of what Christmas really means for this world.

What is Christmas all about?

1. Which is not simply an understanding of how He was born but we need to understand who was born in Bethlehem and for what reason He came to this earth. All of us are quite familiar with the birth of Jesus Christ. We are familiar with the story of His birth we know of the manger, the angels, and the star.

A. All these things are important. They point to an undisputed fact that Jesus was born, that He became a human being.

1. These facts points that Jesus was a man. Hardly anyone would dispute these events as fact. Most people are not offended to say that Jesus was born, that He became human.

2. To make the point that He came in history is all some what to say about Jesus. This is the all some are willing or comfortable to go with respect to the birth of Christ. To them “little baby Jesus’ is simply all they care to know concerning Christ. They will attest to the fact that a baby was born and that is it – nothing less and certainly nothing more!

B. If we get hung up on just His birth we may loose out.

1. The reason for His birth is what is important. Why did He come? The Lord of life entered time and space to be our redeemer. He entered our world to bear our sin. He came to this earth to reconcile us back to the Father.

2. He is not simply a “cute baby” a little lamb. He is the eternal Son of God. Yes, He entered this world as you did for He came to be your substitute. He came to live a perfect life for you. He came to fulfill the law for you. He came to fulfill and keep every requirement the Father requires of you. To be your substitute He had to be perfect in every respect so that His sacrifice would be complete.

2. Jesus, the child who was born – He is “The Son of God”

A. Very God.

1. He is the Creator of us all. In Him is all life. He is the one who was with the Father from the foundations of the earth.

2. He is the all powerful One by Him and for Him all things were made. Mark will begin his gospel with a powerful and bold confession. Jesus is the Son of God. This is Gospel and good news.

B. In Him is what all the prophets had written

1. Over 800 prophecies concerning the Savior were written in the Old Testament. Mark quotes from Malachi and Isaiah to show that John was not an ordinary man nor was Jesus. Mark was the predicted forerunner of the Messiah. John prepared the way for Jesus by calling the people to repent, confess their sins, and be baptized.

2. Jesus fulfilled each of these prophecies. He fulfilled each and every one of them. Every single prediction concerning the Christ was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Each has been fulfilled in His birth, life, suffering, death and resurrection.

3. Why He was born – He is “The Christ”

A. He is the One who came to save us

1. We could never save ourselves. Our sin condemns us. Our works are soiled with sin. Our attempts at being good fall short. We need a Savior. Only Christ will do.

2. Sin has separated us from God. Sin has caused a huge wedge to separate us from God, and from our neighbor. In Jesus’ life, passion, death and resurrection that which has caused separation has been removed.

B. By His suffering and death we are saved and redeemed.

1. In Baptism we are brought into His family. Paul reminds us “When we were baptized into Christ Jesus we were baptized into His death. We were buried with Him by our baptism into death so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father we too should live a new life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His we shall certainly be reunited with Him in a resurrection like His. Your baptism is both a death certificate and a birth certificate. In your baptism you died to sin and became alivein Christ forever.

2.Through this covenant of Baptism we are kept in faith. He calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies and keeps you forever in the faith. He give us His Holy Spirit. As He calls you He plants the seed of faith into your heart. He enlightens you causing growth toward the light of the Gospel. He sanctifies you so that your works may flower and show the fruit of a genuine faith. He keeps you watering and nurturing your faith so that it remains active and effective as He has promised to use you in His kingdom.

Conclusion: So, should Christmas be banned? By no means! When we look trappings we see the One who has come to redeem and save us. He is God in the flesh our Savior, King and Redeemer.

Advent 2
December 7, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Long for Christ's Coming - Isaiah 64:1-8

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733
A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42
Celebrating our 170th Anniversary
Chartered February 25, 1838
Mid-week Advent 1
December 3, 2008

Isaiah 64:1-8
Long for the Savior’s Coming

As our text for today opens to us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit we find that Jewish exiles who had returned back to their home after a long absence find themselves in a desperate situation. Their city and temple have been destroyed. All was desolate. Are you able to relate to these circumstances?

Many today find a serious parallel to our time today and the times in which Isaiah lived. No, our homes and churches might not be sitting in ruins but as we enter a new church year and anticipate entering a new calendar year in a month there are many predicting dire times for our nation. There are some who believe that our country is on the verge of facing a genuine moral crisis as we enter a new year.

As we have just concluded a national election there are countless people across our country praying for our nation’s leaders. President-elect Barack Obama will need our prayers as he and other leaders begin the task of leading on nation out of despondency and depression. [While our nation’s economy hasn’t been labeled yet a “depression” there remains many panicked and depressed people in our country some possibly within your circle of friends (influence) worried about their future.]

At the time in which Isaiah wrote these words of our text the people experienced low moral, corruption was commonplace. There was political confusion and an erosion of natural resources. That was the lay of the land at the time of the prophet Isaiah. While our times might not mirror the plight of the people back then in every respect there are certain parallels.

In our extremity where do we go? Whom do we seek to help us when our situation becomes desperate? Isaiah gives us the answer. We cry out to the Lord. We call upon Him in our time of need. As Isaiah cries to the Lord so we call on Him also. “Oh God, come...O that Thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down!” (Vs.1)

What is it that we ask of the Lord when we ask Him to come?

[1] First, we ask the Lord to come because we need His presence in our lives. Listen again to v.7 of our text, “No one calls on Your name or strives to lay hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from\m us and made us waste away because of our sins.”

The parent who disciplines her child might say “Look at me!” She does this because it is only natural for a guilty person to turn their eyes away from the one who has the power to punish. The people; like a guilty child, has turned their face away from the Lord. In turning their backs on Him it was meant to look as if the Lord had turned His back on them.

But the truth of the matter is that the Lord could never turn His back on you. That was certainly an option. An option He could have chosen to take had He wanted to. Yet, the good news for you is that our Lord has given to us His Word and promise to restore us back to Himself. In the garden the Father spoke to the serpent and said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head and you will bruise His heel.” [Genesis 3]

How can we say with so much assurance that the Lord will not abandon His people? We can say this with certainty this night because the Father abandoned and turned His back on His Son Jesus. At the cross Jesus cried out with a cry that pierced the silence of that lonely Friday afternoon, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
The Father rejected His Son at the cross so hat He would never turn His back on you. In this season of Advent we remember that the Father sent forth His Son to be rejected on our behalf. He came to suffer the greatest humiliation ever so that you could not and would not face rejection from the Father.

Does is appear that God is distant from you? Well, who has wandered? Who has strayed? Advent calls for us to heed the cry of Isaiah and to turn, to turn back to the father in repentance and faith so that we can see the Face of the Father and to be welcomed by Him when Christ returns in glory.

[2] We also ask the Father to come for we need His forgiveness. Isaiah remind us that our sins are as “filthy rags” Would you expect your child to go out to the shop and bring in ten rags that we used you greased the tractor and proceed to use them as napkins for Christmas dinner? Of course not! That’s not appropriate! Well, neither is it appropriate for us to stand before a just and holy God with the grease of sin hanging all over us. We need to be fixed up and cleaned up to meet Him.

Our Savior has done that for us whose birth we celebrate in four short weeks. Christ came into this world to be our Savior and our Redeemer. He has taken our soiled cloths of sin, washed the clean in His own blood. We stand redeemed, restored and forgiven because of the blood of Jesus Christ.
In this Advent season He calls us to come to Him in repentance to receive that pardon and peace that we need which only He can give.

[3] We also call for Christ to come because we need deliverance. “Because of our sins...” Isaiah reminds us, “We wasted away!” It is not necessarily because of “burn out” rather it’s a case of “rust out”. When we fail to come to Christ for that forgiveness which only He can give we will waste away. We need that deliverance from sin, from death, from the power and the grip of the Devil. Only Christ and Christ alone can remove that grip that Satan has. That is why He calls for us to come. He calls us to come to him to find salvation and life in Him.

Today His mercy calls us to return to Christ and live. He calls us to come to Him in repentance and faith to receive salvation and life. As we prepare during this Advent season may this be our cry;

Redeemer come I open wide,
My heart to thee dear Lord abide!
Let me Thine inner presence feel;
They grace and love in e reveal;
Thy Holy Spirit guide us on
Until our glorious goal is won.
Eternal praise and fame
We offer to Thy name.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Time in the Word Advent 2

The dominant theme of this coming Sunday is preparation for Christ’s coming. John the Baptist is sent to prepare the people for Christ’s first coming by preaching a Baptism of repentance. In the Old Testament lesson the Lord calls for a way to be prepared for His coming. The Epistle lesson deals with the Second Coming and the end of the world. Christians are to prepare by living blameless lives. The suggested Psalm of the day indicates that righteousness shall precede God’s coming. As we focus on John the Baptist’s words he calls on us to prepare our hearts for Christ’s coming. On Advent 1 we were assured that Jesus is coming again. This Sunday we prepare for His coming. As the Gospel suggests He may be coming to some for the first time; for all He will be coming a second time at the end of time.

Collect for Advent 2Stir up our Your power, O lord, and come and help us by Your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by Your grace and mercy; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Weekly Book of Concord Reading, Advent 2Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article VIII—The Person of Christ

[The Gospel for to-day is the account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday amid shouts of acclamation. Those who shouted ‘Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!’ clearly recognized the promised Christ, true God and true man.

Dr. Luther wrote shortly before his death, ‘According to the human birth Christ was also given the eternal dominion of God, yet temporarily and not from eternity. For the human nature of Christ was not from eternity as His divine nature was. From the moment when deity and humanity were united in one Person, the Man, Mary’s Son, is and is called almighty, eternal God, who has eternal dominion, who has created all things and preserves them “through the communication of attributes,”…because He is one Person with the Godhead and is also very God. Christ refers to this in Matthew 11:27: “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father,” and in Matthew 28:18: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.” To which “Me”? “To Me, Jesus of Nazareth, Mary’s incarnate Son. I had this from My Father from eternity, before I became man, but when I became man, it was imparted to Me in time according to My human nature, and I kept it concealed until My resurrection and ascent into heaven, when it was to be manifested and glorified.”’

Christ promised that He—He, the man who has spoken to us, who has experienced all tribulations in His received human nature, and who can therefore have sympathy with us—He will be with us in all our troubles according to the nature by which He is our brother and we are flesh of His flesh. (¶85, 87)

Excerpted from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord, edited by Paul T. McCain, et al., © 2005 Concordia Publishing House, p. 595

Monday, 1 December 2008Psalm 80:1, 8a, 9b, 7; Antiphon, Psalm 80:3—The psalmist prays for the restoration of God’s people, remembering the deliverance God wrought through Joseph. In Advent, we, too, pray for restoration—restoration from the bondage of sin. The vine out of Egypt of verse 8 recalls the flight of the Christ-child into Egypt to avoid Herod’s persecution. That Vine has taken deep root and filled the land, and it is through Christ, who is the Vine, that we have been restored.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008Psalm 85—Another psalm asking God for restoration, Psalm 85 recounts the forgiveness of the Lord in the past, and prays that He might once again make known His steadfast love, or mercy.

With confidence, the psalmist can say, ‘Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.’ For the steadfast love and faithfulness of the Lord do meet in the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; there, righteousness and peace kiss each other. (v. 10)

Wednesday, 3 December 2008Isaiah 40:1–11—‘Comfort, comfort my people,’ the Lord instructs Isaiah. Release from the bondage of sin is at hand. The voice crying in the wilderness shall prepare the way for the glory of the Lord to be revealed. The Word of God which stands forever shall assume flesh in order to bring comfort to the people by removing the blot of iniquity. Then He shall ‘tend his flock like a shepherd.’

Thursday, 4 December 20082 Peter 3:8–14—Isaiah wrote his prophecy of the coming of Christ seven hundred years before He came. It must have seemed an interminable amount of time for those who lived during those years, wondering when God would fulfill His promises. But the Apostle Peter reminds us that the Lord has His own timetable, and a good purpose for accomplishing things in His own time. He further admonishes us to be ready for the Lord’s Second Coming at any time, and to live lives of holiness and godliness waiting for that day.

Friday, 5 December 2008Mark 1:1–8—In fulfillment of the words of the prophets Isaiah and Malachi, John the Baptist comes to prepare the people for the coming of the promised One. The coming of Jesus Christ is Good News (Gospel), Mark proclaims boldly at the outset of his Gospel, but we must be prepared for His coming. John the Baptist prepared the world in his day, and continues to do so in our day, by calling people to repentance, urging them to confess their sins, be baptized.

Saturday, 6 December 2008—The hymn of the day, On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry (LSB 344), recounts the Old Testament and Gospel readings of the work of John the Baptist. It closes with a doxological stanza which proclaims the Good News that Jesus’ ‘advent sets Thy people free.’ This is Good News, indeed!


LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO


Luther’s Works: American Edit Edition. 55 volumes. (Volumes 1 ion. 1-30, Concordia Publishing House; volumes 31 31-55, Fortress Press)

Pr. Jeffrey Keuning, Dexter IA contributed to the December Time in the Word

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent 1

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733
A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42
Celebrating our 170th Year
Chartered February 25, 1838

LSB Series B
Advent 1
Mark 13:33-37

Today we celebrate the first Sunday of a new Church year. As we prepare for the celebration of the Savior’s first Advent we prepare for His Second Advent – His sure and certain return on the Last Great Day. You and I as 21st Century Christians have no better way to live our lives now then from the perspective of eternity. As we prepare for the observance of our Lord’s first coming we must remember that the entire Christian life is oriented towards the last advent of Christ with its glorious eternal salvation.

God requires of us alertness.

1. The Lord wants us to be spiritually alert at all times.

A. Jesus’ inevitable return in power and glory will be sudden, and unexpected. Verse 35 refers to the four watches of the night - making the point that the Lord’s coming can come at any time. "So keep watch! You do not know when the owner of the house will come back. It may be in the evening or at midnight. It may be when the rooster crows or at dawn.

B. While we wait, there can be many things that cause us to neglect our responsibilities of watching and waiting for the Lord sure and certain return.

1. This can happen by overlooking the threatening dangers of our own sinfulness. This is what we pray for in the prayer of the day that we might be rescued from the threatening perils of our sin and then be saved by the Savior’s might deliverance. Isaiah makes mention of this in the Old Testament lesson for today when he says, All of us have become like someone who is "unclean." All of the good things we do are like polluted rags to you. All of us are like leaves that have dried up. Our sins sweep us away like the wind. [Isaiah 64:6]

2. Then there is the temptation to confirm to the world’s view of the supreme importance of material things. Thinking that have the latest thing will cause us true happiness. Says the Savior in the Sermon on the Mount Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. [Matthew 6:31-34;]

3. Then of course there is the very weakness of our own flesh. We are by nature sinful and unclean. We need, especially in this Advent season to pray to the Lord, “Kyrie Elysian.”

C. The result of yielding to temptation is misbelieve, despair, and prodigal living all of which call forth the wrath of the Lord. Although it is correct to conclude that our neglect of God-given responsibilities calls for God’s wrath and punishment it is not correct to give the impression that we can somehow earn God’s favor by changing our lives and carrying out our responsibilities. In other words, the answer to the Law is not more Law. We can’t get right with God by simply saying “We’ll work harder at it!”

The solution to our issues with sin is found in the sweet and comforting message of the Gospel. The returning Lord has already come to endure in our place the punishment for our sinful disobedience and failings: in Him we have the grace of God and so you do not lack any gift; God has called you into fellowship with His Son, who will confirm us to the end. This Paul announces to us in the Epistle lesson for this day!

Transition: God requires alertness and He works it in you.

2. God Himself effects spiritual alertness in us.

A. Mark’s Gospel proclaims the works of our Savior Jesus. In this new church year we will hear 37 selections from the Gospel of Mark. Mark's Gospel has also been called a story of the death of Jesus with a long introduction. Mark's Gospel is about the period leading up to and just after the death of Jesus.

B. The retuning Lord has already come once to accept the punishment for our failings. This is the story of the cross. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself not counting our sins against us and He has now given us this message of reconciliation. This is what causes us to say with joy “Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth!”

C. By bringing us to faith in Jesus, God now motivates and enables us to seek and do His will. The Holy Spirit instructs believers by answering the question that arises from faith-filled hearts “what is my Savior’s will for my Life?” The Holy Spirit helps us realize the importance of spiritual alertness. And in His Supper the Lord provides the nourishment that enables us to remain alert. In providing for us this “food for the soul” we are enabled to remain alert waiting for the Lord’s coming.

Only by God’s grace in Christ can we eagerly and alertly look forward to the Lord’s return. No better preparation can be found, either for Christmas or for Judgment Day, than the spiritual alertness that God wills and works.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bellmont 2008 Class 3A State Football Champs

Congratulations Coach Toney Bergman, as well as Clayton Stoppenhagen and Elliont Conrad, Grant Melcher, Carlin Hormann, Conner Emenhiser, Tyler Reinhart and the rest of the BHS team.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church

10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733

A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42

Celebrating our 170th Year
Chartered February 25, 1838

November 27, 2008
Thanksgiving Day

Lord God heavenly Father, through whose kindness we have again received the fruits of the earth in their season, grant us ever to rejoice in Your mercy that neither prosperity nor adversity may drive us from Your presence; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Sprit, One God, now and forever.

The prayer for Thanksgiving at the end of the harvest reminds us that once again the Lord has permitted us to gather in the fruit of the earth. Each planting, growing, and harvest season has its own set of challenges – this year was not in the least a challenging one. Yet we have seen once again that the Lord orders our days and guides out path. This morning may the words of this profound and yet simple pray be the basis of our meditation for this Thanksgiving 2008. At the end of the harvest we pray:

Lord God heavenly Father. Our prayer begins as we call upon the Lord. It is to Him that we seek direction in our life. It is His face we seek. It is His mercy which calls us to pray.

Having called upon Him we are drawn to the many blessings which flow from His mighty hand. We recall His kindness. His blessings, the richness of His grace, His forgiveness, these we do not deserve – yet, He lavishes them upon us - because He is kind and gentle toward us. This is His nature. He can do nothing else.

As He acts on our behalf we have again received the fruits of the earth. True, our farmers put in many hard and long hours. Fields don’t plant themselves and someone has to work the harvest. Your work is important, tremendously important and yet we find a significant and profound truth. It is the Lord who multiplies and gives the increase. He sends the rain at the proper time. He sends the sunshine. Everything is fixed according to His timetable.

And the harvest which is received comes at the proper time in their season. The Lord has promised that there will always be a crop. Though we may often times go through cycles of adversity and challenge that Lord has promised there will always be another growing season. The land lays dormant now. Just as Advent leads to Christmas and the discipline of Lent segues into Easter so also the death of winter will only give birth to spring, The Lord promises “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will not cease.”

Thus we pray, grant us ever to rejoice in Your mercy. Without the Lord we have nothing. Without His sustaining hand we are left living a live which is dictated to chance. Without His hand ordering our days and guiding our path we are left to circumstances directing our life. We need a balanced life.

So that neither prosperity in times of plenty, which the stock market is climbing, and the prices are souring. When yields are high and dividends are increasing.

Nor adversity – such as the time in which we live today when the future is not so certain when the experts try to explain that we are entering into uncharted waters, where the solution is uncertain.

We pray that these may never drive us from Your presence. Instead we look to the Lord for direction and life. David reminds us in Psalm 46 God is our refuge and d strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Of course, we always pray through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Who lives and reigns - For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water, And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.[1]

With You and the Holy Sprit, Blessed by the Holy Trinity and the undivided Unity. Let us give glory to Him because He has shown His mercy to us. [2]

One God, now and forever. With the evangelist John we can say Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our god for ever and ever. Amen[3]

Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father. Place yourselves under each other's authority out of respect for Christ.[4]

A Blessed Thanksgiving - in Jesus’ Name.
[1] Revelation 7:17
[2] Liturgical Text from the Introit for Trinity Sunday
[3] Revelation 7:12
[4] Ephesians 5:18-21

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Eve

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church

10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733

A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42

Celebrating our 170th Year
Chartered February 25, 1838

November 26, 2008
Thanksgiving Eve

The prayer for Thanksgiving is more then our feeble attempt at communication with God. It is a wonderful opportunity for the Lord to teach us the lessons of Thanksgiving. As we speak to the Lord He speaks back to us. This evening as we pray to the Lord may He speak to us through this powerful prayer:

Almighty God, whose mercies are new every morning and whose goodness though undeserved still abundantly provides for all our wants of body and soul, grant us, we humbly pray, Your Holy Spirit that we may heartily acknowledge your merciful goodness toward us, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve you in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

1. Almighty God. In thanksgiving we address the Lord, the author of all life. What is it that we can say about the Lord? Our prayer suggests three important realities.

A. Whose mercies are new every morning. The Psalmist reminds us that “His mercy endures forever.”[1] Yet they come to us each day. Every day is a new day. Every day is an opportunity to serve the Lord in this generation. Every day is the Lord supplies us with everything we need to support our body and life. In the 4th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer the question is asked: What is meant by daily bread? Luther sums it up with these words. “Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rules, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.[2]

B. Whose goodness though undeserved. The Lord’s goodness has nothing to do with you. Notice that we must acknowledge the complete opposite. The Lord’s goodness is completely undeserved. We daily sin much and deserve nothing but punishment. Yet, in spite of our sinfulness, in spite of our pettiness, in spite of our haughtiness, in spite of our meanness and condescension the Lord chooses to bless us. And we don’t deserve it!

C. Still [He] abundantly provides for all our wants of body and soul, Think of Pr. and Mrs. Wright for a moment. They have three new-born triplets. Maggie, Gwen, and Lilly are now three and a half weeks old. They need to be fed every three hours. It takes two hours to feed them. That gives Pr. and Mrs. Wright one hour to rest to attend to the needs of their two year old Katie [and yes two year olds have needs also] before the whole process begins all over again. This will be their “new sense of normal” for quite some time. They haven’t any other options. These girls are helpless. This is what they need to survive – the constant care of their parents and others is essential for them if they are to survive. So also with you – without your Heavenly Father you could not survive. The Lord not only provides but He does it abundantly for every want of body and soul. We used this evening the explanation of the 1st Petition of the Apostles’ Creed as our confession of faith. During this Thanksgiving Holiday read through it again. It’s quite a list. It explains so well how our Lord chooses to provide for you - everything you need not just physically but spiritually as well.

2. Grant us, we humbly pray, Your Holy Spirit
A. That we may heartily acknowledge Your merciful goodness toward us. We need the Holy Spirit for the things of God are spiritually appraised. We need the Holy Spirit so that we can come to understand the things of God. We need the Holy Spirit so that we can come to a greater understanding of everything the Lord has done for us.

B. Give thanks for all Your benefits. In thanksgiving we offer to Him our worship and praise. In thanksgiving we offer our praises in worship. In thanks living we praise God as we serve our neighbor.

C. And serve You in willing obedience. Reflecting on the blessings of God allows us to want to serve God faithfully. Reflecting on the blessings of God allows us to follow His statutes with a willing heart. Reflecting on the blessings of God allows us to follow His commandments obediently.

3. Through Jesus Christ, Your Son our Lord,
A. Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit. All three persons of the Godhead are involved in the blessings I receive. Each person of the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Ghost are active in my life. As we have just celebrated Christ the King Sunday we worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who lives and reigns through all eternity.
B. One God. He is one true God, the only true God. He is without beginning and without end. Yet, He has broken into time and space to be our Redeemer, Savior, Shepherd and friend.
C. Now and forever. This is not a simple phrase. It reminds us that the truths of God will never cease. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. The praises we offer Him tonight we last into eternity. The blessings He bestows on us today will continue once time ceases. We worship an eternal God whose mercies cannot be counted.

The only thing left to say after any good prayer is simply the Word Amen. What is meant by the word “Amen”? This means that I should be certain that these petitions are pleasing to our Father in heaven and are heard by Him; for He Himself has commanded us to pray in this way and has promised to hear us. Amen, amen means “yes, yes, it shall be so.”[3] And it shall be so – in Jesus’ Name! A blessed Thanksgiving!

[1] Psalm 118
[2] Explanation to the 4th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer
[3] Luther’s Small Catechism Conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Time in the Word Advent 1

The new church year begins with the Second Coming. It is the one Sunday of the year which features the return of Christ as the main subject. In light of the interest in the Second Coming, the church would do well to consider this doctrine of the church and teaching of the New Testament. The Gospel calls upon us to be on the alert for the sudden, unannounced coming of Christ. The world’s cry for God to come to His people is heard in the Old Testament lesson. Paul refers to the Second Coming in the Epistle by assuring his people that they have every spiritual gift as they wait for Christ’s return. The Psalmist calls upon the Lord’s to return to help and save His people.

Collect for Advent 1Stir up Your power O Lord and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved y Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Monday, November 24, 2008 Psalm 25:1-3 - The Antiphon for this coming Sunday is from Zechariah 9:9b “Behold Your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation.” This passage of Scripture will be quoted on Palm Sunday as Jesus rides triumphantly into the city of Jerusalem. Our king comes not in triumph as a military hero by rather in humility and meekness. David and his sons did not ride horses but rather mules (see 2 Samuel 18:9; 1 Kings 1:33)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008Isaiah 64:1-9- An appeal for the Lord to return to save His people. This lesson comes from the third section of Isaiah (chapters 56-66) It was written in the period of 540-500 BC. The Jews returned to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile. The exiles find a pathetic situation: Jerusalem is desolate and the temple has been burned to the ground. The people are despondent and impatient for God to come and do something about their condition. They feel that God is angry and has hidden His face from them. He is accused of causing them to sin. The people confess their sins and feel confident that God will not reject them for He is the potter and they are the clay.

Wednesday, November 26, 20081 Corinthians 1:3-9 – By grace Christians lack no spiritual gift as they wait for Christ’s return. This section of Scripture was chosen for this “Second Coming” Sunday because Paul refers to the return as the day of Christ. As the Christian waits for that final event, the promise is given that we are sustained by Christ’s grace and will be guiltless for Christ’s appearance. God is faithful in His gifts and promises.

Thursday, November 27, 2008Mark 11:1-10 – Watch for Jesus’ unexpected coming. Because the time of Christ’s return is unknown we must watch for Him. In this brief lesson the word “watch” is used four times. Twice Jesus says, “You do not know when the time will come.” This fact is the reason for being on the alert. The emphasis is laid on Jesus’ return as sudden and unexpected.

There is no place here for speculation when the time of the return will be. It is an exhortation to be ready whenever He comes. Since no one knows the time, it is necessary for the faithful to look for Him every day. The mood of Advent is not speculation but joyful anticipation of the Lord’s return.

Friday, November 28, 2008 Psalm 80:1-7 - This Psalm is the appointed psalm for this coming Sunday. Verse 7 is the key verse, “Restore us and we shall be saved”.

Saturday, November 29, 2008 Matthew 21:1-16 - Our reading is the inspiration for the hymn; “O Bride of Christ, Rejoice”. How does the Savior choose to make Himself known? Not in pomp and circumstance, not with a grand fanfare and a floury of light and sound. Instead He chooses to be placed in a manger, the feeding trough of the animals. He is born in a stable where beasts are kept. Not the place you would go looking for the savior of the world.

But this is the amazing thing about our Savior, He chooses to be found in those places the world would least expect. He chooses to reveal Himself in those places the world considers unimportant. He chooses to exert his power in what an unbelieving world considers weak and of little consequence.

The cruel cross of Calvary looks ahead of us even in Advent. Does the death of a condemned man seem compelling enough to offer atonement? Could His life and sacrifice really save you? The surroundings and the circumstances of His birth predict His death. They are the means by which we find peace with God and absolution for our sin.
LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO