Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve
31 December 2014
The Christian's Hope
Romans 8:32

He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Once again, we have concluded another year of grace – another year in which we have been permitted by God’s amazing grace to live, and serve and have our being in Jesus Christ. What shall we say concerning all of the events, which have transpired during the course of this past year? Possibly, they can be best summed up in the words of St. Paul in our text for this night: He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Paul gives evidence of a hope we have in Christ – a hope we have in fact.

1.        This hope is founded in the fact that Christ suffered for us.

That Jesus Christ, God’s Son, our Savior has suffered for us. Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary at Christmas is the Father’s gift to us; “He spared not His own and only Son”

Because of this fact, we can conclude that the suffering of Jesus Christ can only be equaled by the suffering of God.

2.        This hope is founded in the fact that man's lost condition affected the Father more than the suffering of His Son.

God our heavenly Father delivered Christ up “for us all.”  “God so loved the world…that He gave his only begotten Son…” {John 3:16a}

The Father could not bear to see us in darkness but He could ask Jesus to “humble Himself and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Thus, the Father closed His eyes to the agony of Jesus that He might the better contemplate our need. [“Why hast Thou forsaken Me?”  said Jesus on the cross] 

  1. The hope is founded in the fact that you and I are once again restored back to the Father by the suffering death and resurrection of His Son.

If in the death of Jesus, God was mindful of us, how shall He not, “with Him” restored to love, “freely give us all things?”

That our risen Lord is our Mediator in the presence of the Father means that every need, ever petition, every request is delivered to the Father’s throne room of grace. He will answer every prayer according to His good and gracious will.

As we say farewell to yet another year know that your salvation is grounded in fact - this is our hope - He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Words – 471
Passive Sentences –
Reading Ease – 74%
Reading Level – 8.4

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Time in the Word - Christmas 2

Prayers for a New Year O Lord Christ, our Savior dear, Be Thou ever near us. Grant us now a glad new year. Amen. Jesus hear us!

Lord God, You made Your beloved Son, our Savior, subject to the Law and caused Him to shed His blood on our behalf. Grant us the true circumcision of the Spirit that our hearts may be made pure from all sins; through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray.

Most merciful God, You gave Your eternal Word to become incarnate of the pure Virgin. Grant Your people grace to put away fleshly lusts that they may be ready for Your visitation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Almighty 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 the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

For blessing on the Word – Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it; through Jesus Christ, my Lord.

A prayer before we study the WordAlmighty God, our heavenly Father, without Your help our labor is useless, and without Your light our search is in vain. Invigorate the study of Your holy Word that, by due diligence and right discernment, we may establish ourselves and others in Your holy faith.

There is no other Savior against sin and death, no one else to help in heaven or earth, than this singular child of the Virgin Mary named Jesus. Good works are to be done, but they are not Jesus, do not save, cannot rescue from death. This child, however, saves and rescues from death.

When we’re assaulted by ordinary earthly misfortunes, we can counter them most likely with the usual human resources. But when we lie at death’s door, then let go of all else, look only to this Savior, and say, “I know one doctor, advocate, emperor, king, pastor —namely, the child Jesus. He can and will save me from eternal death.” (Martin Luther)
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 2014Psalm 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 2014Psalm 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 20141 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 2015Ephesians 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, 2015Luke 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 a 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, 20151 Timothy 3:16; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10 - The hymn of the day for Christmas 2 is 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


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas 1

Christmas 1
December 28, 2014
Luke 2:22-40
What an old man saw in a baby

Direct us, O Lord, in all our actions by Your gracious favor, and further us with Your continual help that in all our works, begun, continued, and ended in Your name, we may glorify Your holy name and finally, by Your mercy, receive eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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 ready 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 not 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 – 2015 - 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 2014 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 that he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Today is the last Sunday of 2014. 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.

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.

Words –994
Passive Sentences –
Reading Ease – 78%
Reading Level  -5.4 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Christmas Day
25 December 2014
Luke 2:1-20
Christmas Without Christ?

Luke sets the events of the gospel against the background of world history. The pagan emperor's decree about a census created the situation in which the Messiah was born in David's city of Bethlehem.

Jesus did not bring political peace to the world, but he made it possible for men and women to have peace with God. Charles Wesley (1:183) interprets the message as “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” Yet, to a skeptical world, this is too much! Have you grown tired of Christmas? Do you believe possibly that Scrooge was right? Consider our text for today.
Christmas is bunk, unless…

  1. Christ is born anew in us. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
In worldly terms, Christmas is a happy time in terms of parties, banquets, gifts and friends. This is happiness that may wither with the Christmas tree, which is discarded soon after Christmas day. Our joy is different.  In fact, joy is far different then happiness. It is deeper because it is based on good news. A Savior is born to save us from our sin. A joy remains long aft the Christmas celebration is over. For this reason people who are unhappy at Christmas because of unfortunate circumstances can still have experience this Christmas joy.

Transition: Christmas is bunk unless Christ is born anew in us. You must also experience the worship of Christ.

2. Worship of Christ child is experienced. “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” Luke 2:15-16

With a heightened sense of excitement and determination, the shepherds rushed off to the baby's side. Notice the missionary interest of Luke in the spread of the gospel, this thing..., which the Lord has told us about. (v.15)

In the recorded history of the world, there have been few years of universal peace. There has been very little peace among nations since the first Christmas. How can Jesus then be called the “Prince of Peace”? The peace Jesus brings is not necessarily peace among men but peace between God and humanity. Only when spiritual peace prevails will there be peace among nations. There will not be peace between God and people until Christ is accepted by faith.

Transition: The bunk of Christmas disappears when salvation’s joy is found.

3. The joy of Christmas is the joy of salvation. “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:10

The angel's announcement includes several of the most frequently used words in Luke's gospel: " I bring . . . good news," "joy," "today," "Savior," and "Lord." This shows the tremendous importance of the angelic pronouncement.

 It is a bold proclamation of the Gospel at the very hour of Jesus' birth. The time has come for the fulfillment of the prophetic expectation of Messiah's coming.

Christmas was a communication event. The shepherds told the Holy Family what the angel said. If Christmas is good news, it must be told. It is told spontaneously. Here is good news! What has been promised and longed for over thousands of tears has at last happened.

The cradle of Christianity is evangelism – the telling of good news to sinners that they might have life in Christ. This leads to a joyous celebration because for us a Savior has been born!

Words – 644
Passive Sentences – 17%
Reading Ease – 72
Reading Level – 6.4

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Time in the Word - Christmas 1

Prayer for newness of life in ChristAlmighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness and put upon ourselves the armor of light now in the time of this mortal life in which Your Son, Jesus Christ, came to visit us in great humility, that in the Last Day, when He shall come again in glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to life immortal; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for December 24, 2014 – Christmas Eve O God, You make us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Grant that, as we joyfully receive Him as our Redeemer, we may with sure confidence behold Him when He comes to be our Judge; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Prayer for December 25, 2014 – Christmas Day Almighty God, grant that the birth of Your only-begotten Son in the flesh may set us free from the bondage of sin; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Prayer for December 26, 2014 – St. Stephen, Martyr Heavenly Father, in the midst of our sufferings for the sake of Christ grant us grace to follow the example of the first martyr, Stephen, that we also may look to the One who suffered and was crucified on our behalf and pray for those who do us wrong; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever          

Prayer for December 27, 2014 – St. John, the Evangelist  Merciful Lord, cast the bright beams of Your light upon Your Church that we, being instructed in the doctrine of Your blessed apostle and evangelist John, may come to the light of everlasting life; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

The theme for the First Sunday after Christmas is The Savior has Come. Coming within just a few days after Christmas, it reflects the spirit and emphasis of Christmas day. Because of this, Christmas 1 tends to be anti-climatic, a let–down from Christmas. This Sunday affords us an opportunity to enter into depth on the meaning of Christmas. This is usually not possible on Christmas, because it is a service of celebration, narration, and special music with much singing of carols. At this service, we now have an opportunity to consider the message of the Incarnation. This will be the last Sunday of the calendar year. Some may be apprehensive of what a new year might bring. In the Gospel lesson, Simeon and Anna are very old and desire to depart this life. In the Christ child we find new hope, new life, and the hope of a new year with Christ. 
Monday, 22 December 2014Psalm 98:1-4; Antiphon, Isaiah 52:10—Christ has come. He has restored our human nature. Now we pray that we may ever be alive in Him as He has come to be obedient to the will of the Father by taking our nature to be our substitute and to follow the Law perfectly for us. We are called now to witness to the nations that they may see the salvation of our God.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014— Psalm 98—David tells us "sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things." This He has done. Jesus has done all things well. He has gotten for us the victory. What are we to do in light of these things? We are to join the Psalmist in His triumphant song. Sing to the Lord this week for He has done so many marvelous things!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014Jeremiah 31:10-13—God promises to restore captive Israel with prosperity and rejoicing.  Why is there peace and joy during this holiday season? Why is there such happiness? Actually it's quite simple. There is peace and joy today because Jesus has brought about God's salvation to us. Just as the people at the time of Jeremiah were promised that they would be restored back to their homes from a time of captivity we now are at home completely restored and forgiven in Christ.

Thursday, 25 December 2014Hebrews 2:10-18—Christ identified with us that He might save us from sin and death.  There is only one way for us to receive reconciliation from God and that was for God Himself to identify with us. The writer to the Hebrews tells us how this all came about. It came about when Jesus Christ entered time and space. So what! A skeptical world might ask. Now sin has been dealt with as Christ has removed it once and for all. Now we have an advocate who will help us in our daily battles with sin and temptation in our day to day living. This is what makes the Christian faith practical. It works because Christ has worked everything out for us.

Friday, 26 December 2014Luke 2:25-28—Simeon and Anna recognize Christ in the baby Jesus. When God makes a promise, He is bound to keep it. The Father had promised Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Christ.

The moment Mary and Joseph entered the temple, eight days after Jesus was born, Simeon's eyes were opened and he saw Jesus for what He was—He saw Jesus as His Redeemer and Savior. Do we see Jesus the same way that Simeon saw Jesus?  To fully appreciate Christmas we must have the same vision as this old, old, man. May God grant us the faith to see Jesus as the only Savior of the world.

Saturday, 27 December 2014Psalm 90—Psalm 90 is the text for our sermon hymn tomorrow. David reflects on the various stages through life and He concludes that God has been our dwelling place throughout all generations.  From age to age God remains in control. Throughout life God remains constant. In just a few days we will welcome in a New Year. What will transpire in the next year? Only God knows but of this we can be sure God will establish the work of our hands. All will go according to His plan.  Our only prayer needs to be: "Thy will be done Lord, Thy will be done!"

For ChristmasGrant, Almighty God, that the birth of Your only-begotten Son in human flesh may set us free, who through sin are held in bondage; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen.

For the WeekDirect us, O Lord, in all our actions by Your gracious favor, and further us with Your continual help that in all our works, begun, continued, and ended in Your name, we may glorify Your holy name and finally by Your mercy receive eternal life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Lutheran Worship©1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis,
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series C © 19979 J Brokhoff CSS Publishing Lima OH 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Advent 4

Advent 4
21 December 2014
Luke 1:26-38
In the fullness of time Christ is born
Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come among us with great might; and because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let Your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us;

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 bornYou 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 than 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 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.

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, 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.
Words – 711
Passive Sentences -
Reading Ease – 83%
Reading Level – 4.9

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