Saturday, April 18, 2015

Easter 3

Easter 3
19 April 2015
Luke 24:36-49
Too good to be true

O God, through the humiliation of Your Son You raised up the fallen world. Grant to Your faithful people, rescued from the perils of everlasting death, perpetual gladness and eternal joys;

The night of the first Easter. When the disciples saw Jesus. They experience – surprise and fright. Which turned into joy. It was almost too good to believe! “It seemed too good to be true!” But it was true. And He gave them this instruction – what is good and true must be told.

It seemed too good to be true. The reports were coming in. Sin and death had not conquered. “the Lord has risen indeed!” Jesus appeared to the disciples in the room. Joy and doubt clashed. Our reaction too is both awe and joy. It seems too good to be true. Despite our sin. God offers forgiveness. And life. Through His Son Jesus.

It is good. Because it is true.   It is not a human plan of salvation. Human efforts reject Christ. (Acts 4:11) Because of self-righteousness. And deceit. And they have no truth. (1 John 1:8) It has always been God’s plan. Revealed already to the Old Testament faithful. (Luke 24:44) It is fulfilled in Christ. (v.46) He is the Truth of God’s salvation. It is good. Because it calls for us to repent. And offers the truth of God’s forgiveness. (v.47) Thus, we become right before God. (1 John 1:9)

It is truth. That is good for others. God desires that His salvation be proclaimed to all nations. (Luke 24:47) Repentance and forgiveness will restore people. From the darkness of sin. To the goodness of God’s light. (1 John 1:5-7) The people of God are witnesses. To the power of Christ’s death and resurrection. (Luke 24:48) All of us can share Christ in our daily testimony to others. The Holy Spirit gives us power to tell what is true. And what is good. (vs.49)

God’s salvation is never “too good to be true.” It is utterly good. It is utterly true. You can tell the world. So that all people can experience its truth and goodness.
Words –370
Passive Sentences –8%
Readability –85%

Reading Level -2.8

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Time in the Word - Easter 3

Time in the Word
13–18 April 2015
Preparation for next week, Easter 3

Collect for Easter 3 – O almighty and eternal God, who hast bestowed on us the paschal mysteries in the token of the covenant of man’s redemption, give us the will to show forth in our lives that which we profess with our lips; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

A Morning Prayer: Faithful God, whose mercies are new to us every morning, we humbly pray that You would look upon us in mercy and renew us by Your Holy Spirit; keep safe our going out and our coming in and let Your blessing remains with us throughout this day; preserve us in You righteousness and grant us a portion in that eternal life which is in Christ Jesus; through whom b e glory and praise to You and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.

An Evening Prayer: Merciful Father, whose guiding hand has brought us to the completion of this day, we humbly pray You to stay with us and shelter us in quiet hours of the night that we who are wearied by the changes and changes of this passing world may rest in Your changeless peace.

For likeness to Christ: O God, by the patient suffering of Your only-begotten Son You have beaten down the pride of the old enemy. Now help us, we humbly pray, rightly to treasure in our hearts all that our Lord has of His goodness borne for our sake that after His example,. We may bear with patience all that is adverse to us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Monday, 13 April 2015 Psalm 30:1-5; Antiphon, Psalm 16:11b – In Psalm 30, David exuberantly worships the Lord, who lifted him out of the depths, healed him, and brought him up from the grave. He calls upon all saints – including us – to sing to the Lord and praise His holy Name, for we, too have been delivered from sin death, and the power of the devil by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015 –  Psalm 4 – antiphon v. 7, “You have filled my heart with greater joy than when the grain and new wine abound.” The hard work put into spring planning and summer growth pays off in the fall at harvest. Who isn’t overjoyed at a bumper crop? Yet the Psalmist reminds us greater joy is found is in knowing the Lord who has filled the heart. In Biblical language the heart is the center of the human spirit, from which spring emotions, thought, motivations, courage and action, -“the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Wednesday, 15 April 2015 – Acts 3:11-21 – Once again Peter speaks to onlookers concerning the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. The miracle is not found in the healing of man but it the fact that the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus.

Thursday, 16 April 2015 1 John 3:1-7 – John does not speak of sinless perfection in the life of the believer but of the new perspective given to the believer. Our focus is upon Christ and His work in the redeemed child of God.

Friday, 17 April 2015 Luke 24:36-49 – The early Church Fathers had to deal with heretics called Docetists who denied the physical resurrection of Jesus, saying it was only a spiritual resurrection, and that His appearances were that of a phantasm, or else hallucinations by His followers. This heresy persists to this day: the Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the bodily resurrection of Christ. But Jesus dispels any sort of nonsensical ideas in Sunday’s Gospel. He appears in the flesh – Why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have – and eats food. This eyewitness account also gives us the assurance of the physical resurrection of Jesus, and of all believers, as we confess in the Creed.

The disciples could not believe that the risen Christ was real because of joy., They were so glad to see Him that they could not believe it was true. Usually joy follows believing, or there is the joy of believing. In this case the presence of the living crucified one was so overwhelming that they had joy even before they believed. Their joy attests to their love and appreciation for Him. Their joy is a witness to the reality of the Resurrection, for it was a response to His presence. The joy of Easter, then, is not in flowers, eggs, clothing, or candy. It is in the presence of the risen Lord.

Saturday, 18 April 2015 The Strife Is O'er, the Battle Done (LSB 464) – The battle hymn of the Reformation, A Mighty Fortress, proclaims, “One little word can fell him” (the devil). That word is tetelestai – the Greek word for “It is finished.” Jesus’ victory over sin, death, and the devil is complete. Sunday’s hymn proclaims this loud and clear: The strife is o’er, the battle done; Now is the Victor’s triumph won.” Christ has set us free from our mortal enemies, to which we respond over and over, “Alleluia” – “Praise the Lord”!

Concordia Self-Study Commentary, © 1971, 1979, Concordia Publishing House.
 Lutheran Service Book, © 2006, Concordia Publishing House, .

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Easter 2

Easter 2
12 April 2015
John 20:19-31
The Goodness of God

Almighty God, grant that we who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God;

You are much value to God. He will stop at nothing. To prove His love for you. St. Paul reminds us, “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

The hymn writer puts it this way:              The will of God is always best
                                                                 And shall be done forever.
                                                                 And they who trust in Him are blest.
                                                                  He will forsake them never. (LSB 758:1)

Theologians refer to this as “the benevolence of God”. An old concept. With relevant meaning for our day. Peter declares, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” -2 Peter 3:9

Today we consider the goodness of God –

1.       Christ reinforces faith. Vv.19-23 The Savior’s appearance. Only Christ Himself could satisfy the deep longing of the disciples. At such a time of confusion and sorrow. Jesus appears to His disciples to assure them that He is indeed risen from the dead.

He confers the Office of the Keys. For the ongoing forgiveness of sins.

He sends His disciples on the primary mission for which He was sent into the world. V.21

He endues His disciples with the power of the Holy Spirit. One as God gives the power of His Spirit, are we able to share the word of forgiveness.

2.       Christ rekindles faith. Vv.24-29 Thomas expresses his doubt. Vv.24-25 And why? Tomas was not with them when Jesus came. There is indeed danger involved in absence from corporate worship. The Sacrament of the Altar. With its reassurance of forgiveness. The Office of the Keys. With this declaration of God’s grace. The fellowship of believers. With its sharing of the Gospel promises.

As Jesus came to Thomas He comes to you. Revealing Himself. And He says, “Do not become faithless, but believing! Very often. The process of “becoming faithless” is virtually unnoticeable unrecognizable, almost camouflaged to the person involved. But it is just as devastating.

But upon witnessing Jesus, the doubter is convinced. Thomas makes a bold profound confession of faith – “My Lord, and my God!” Because you have made this same confession. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is God. And for you who wish that you could have lived in the times of the apostles and have seen Christ working miracles, meditate on these words - Jesus speaks to Thomas about you, “because you have seen you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and still believe.”

3.       John wises to share this faith. Vv.30-31 Many other signs could have been mentioned. But they were not. Many words of the Savior could have been recorded. But they were not. But the things Jesus said. And the things Jesus did. John places them into his record for a divine purpose. These signs are recorded so that you might believe. The Word is give so that you might be brought to faith. It is the power of the Word that creates faith in the human heart. Luther put it this way, “I believe that I cannot...”

Likewise, through the power of the Word people are able to have the assurance of eternal life through “His Name.”  Not one among many. Not any name a specific name. Jesus.  Jesus, Name among all names….

                Words –600
                Passive Sentences –8%
                Readability –76%

                Reading Level –4.7

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A call to Persevere

4.8.2015 Easter Wednesday                        Hebrews 10:19-39 A call to Persevere

The proclamation if Christ’s cleansing sacrifice relieves and strengthens our conscience to we see ourselves and the certainty of God’s mercy clearly. “Where the heart is not in a right relationship with God, or cannot take such confidence, it will not dare to pray anymore.  Such as confident and joyful heart can spring from nothing else than the certain knowledge of the forgiveness of sin.“ (Luther’s Large Catechism, III,92)

Luther comments, “This old man consists of error, concupiscence, wrath, fear, apprehension, despair, evil conscience, horror of death, etc. Those are characteristic of the old, carnal man. They diminish, however in the new man, but they are not extinguished until he himself is extinguished by death…Rather the process of removal has begun and as a person increases in spiritual health, these evils are removed. This spiritual health is nothing more than faith in or love in Christ.” (American Edition 31:124)[2]

The writer to the Hebrews writes boldly concerning the confidence we have as redeemed children of God. He reminds us, we must come to God with a true heart, and with the confidence our faith gives us. Our hearts have been sprinkled and made clean, so that we have no guilty conscience. Our bodies have been washed with pure water. We must hold on firmly to the hope we have in Christ. The one who gave us His promise can be trusted.  Thus we move forward, thinking about how we can help each other to grow in love and faith. We must keep on encouraging one another. The day of our Lord’s coming is near. Thus, we continue to encourage each other.

Almighty God, by the glorious resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, You destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light. Grant that we who have been raised with Him may abide in His presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; 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[3]

[1] Image by Ed Rioja © Higher Things
[2] Lutheran Study Bible, ©2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[3] Collect for Easter Wednesday, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Christ’s Sacrifice once for all

4.7.2015 Easter Tuesday                                Hebrews 10:1-18 Christ’s Sacrifice once for all

The one supreme sacrifice of Christ removes the necessity of repeated sacrifices of animals. These repeated sacrifices cannot remove sin. Jesus’ one sacrifice perfected the faithful. After the perfect offering , Jesus is seated now at God’s right hand waiting for all evil forces to be subject  to Him. This once-for-all-time offering initiated a new covenant which cancels all former covenants and their sacrifices. It is a new covenant of forgiveness. Since there is forgiveness in and through the new covenant, there is no need of other sacrifices for sin.[2]

After His perfect sacrifice, Jesus is seated at God’s right hand until all His enemies are defeated. We are now holy and clean because Jesus Christ did what God wanted by bringing his own body as the one Sacrifice for all sin. The sacrifices of the old system could never take away sin. Jesus brought one Sacrifice for sins that would last forever, and then, He sat down at God’s right hand. When a person’s sins have been taken away there’s no loner any need to bring an offering for sin.

Almighty God, through the resurrection of Your Son You have secured peace for our troubled consciences. Grant us this peace evermore that trusting in the merit of Your Son we may come at last to the perfect peace of heaven; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen[3]

[1] Image by Ed Rioja © Higher Things
[2] Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B, John Brokhoff, pg.306 © CSS Publishing, Lima, OH
[3] Collect for Easter Tuesday, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Monday, April 6, 2015

Worship in the Earthly Tabernacle

4.6.2015 Easter Monday                           Hebrews 9:1-28 Worship in the Earthly Tabernacle

The author of Hebrews uses the cult to explain the atonement and return of Jesus. As the Jewish high priest annually entered the holy of holies in the temple, Jesus, the high priest, entered the heavens, the temple of God. The high priest offered a sacrifice annually, but Christ as high priest offered His sacrifice but once. The high priest offered not his own blood, but Jesus did. His one-time sacrifice took away sin. As judgment comes after a person’s death, so Christ will return for the judgment of the world and to receive those who are waiting for Him.[2]

Christ offered Himself for once for the sins of the world and is coming again.  The writer of the Hebrews reminds us Jesus went into the Most Holy Place. But He didn’t bring in the blood of goats and calves. He brought His own blood. And He went in there just once to make one sacrifice for all sin. Since He has found a way to set us all free of all sin for all eternity.

O God, in the paschal feat You restore all creation. Continue to send Your heavenly gifts upon Your people that they may walk in perfect freedom and 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. Amen [3]

[1] Image by Ed Rioja © Higher Things
[2] Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B, John Brokhoff, pg.301, © CSS Publishing, Lima, OH
[3] Collect for Easter Monday, Lutheran Service Book © Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Time in the Word - Easter 2

 Time in the Word
6–11 April 2015
Preparation for next week, Easter 2

The theme for the Second Sunday of Easter is The Power of Faith in Christ. By faith, we receive the forgiveness of sins which Christ won for us on the cross at Calvary. Like Thomas, we have not had a face to face encounter with Jesus, but we believe by the gift of faith bestowed upon us at our Baptism, and nurtured and sustained by hearing the Word of God regularly and receiving the true body and blood of our risen and ascended Lord in the Supper which He instituted. We also have the sure and certain testimony of eyewitnesses, such as St. John in the epistle reading, that Christ is risen from the dead.

This same faith causes us to desire to live our lives in Christ-like obedience to our Father in heaven. Like those in the early Church in the reading from Acts, we care for one another in the Church, whether it be those in our own congregation, or victims of natural disasters, or the less fortunate, such as those served by Bethesda Home, and Lutheran School for the Deaf.

Collect for Easter 2Almighty God, grant that we who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Prayer for the mission of the Church: Almighty God, You have called Your Church to witness that in Christ You have reconciled us to Yourself. Grant that by Your Holy Spirit we may proclaim the good news of Your salvation so that all who hear it may receive the gift of salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for life as a baptized child of God: Merciful Father, through Holy Baptism You called us to be Your own possession. Grant that our lives may evidence the working of Your Holy Spirit in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, according to the image of Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.
Prayer for teaching the faith: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, even as You have committed the care and nurture of children to Your people, graciously enlighten those who teach and those who are committed to their instruction that they may know Your eternal truth and trust in You all the days of their lives; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for faith, hope, and love: Almighty God, grant us a steadfast faith in Jesus Christ, a cheerful hope in Your mercy, and a sincere love for You and one another; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for spiritual renewal: Almighty God, grant that we, who have been redeemed from the old life of sin by our Baptism into the death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, may be renewed by Your Holy Spirit to live in righteousness and true holiness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for those who care for others: Most merciful Father, You have committed to our love and care our fellow human beings and their necessities. Graciously be with and prosper all those who serve the sick and those in need. Let their service be abundantly blessed as they bring relief to the suffering, comfort to the sorrowing, and peace to the dying. Grant them the knowledge that inasmuch as they do it unto the least of the Master's brethren, they do it unto Him; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Monday, 06 April 2015Psalm 105:1–5, 8; antiphon, 1 Peter 2:2–3—The second Sunday of Easter is sometimes called Quasimodogeniti, Latin for the first words of the Introit, ‘Like newborn infants.’ Just as a baby eagerly suckles at its mother’s breast, so we, who have been given new life in Christ by His death and resurrection, also do eagerly desire the pure spiritual milk provided by our Lord for our nourishment and good growth. This He gives us through the preaching of His Word and the most blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

Tuesday, 07 April 2015Psalm 148—In Sunday’s psalm, the psalmist calls upon all of creation—those on the earth, those under the sea, and those in the heavens—to join in a chorus of praise to the Lord. Animate and inanimate, all of creation proclaims the glory of the Lord.

Wednesday, 08 April 2015Acts 4:32–35—St. Luke gives us a snapshot of the early Church in Jerusalem. Reflecting the love that Christ has for us, they loved each other by taking care of one another. Two thousand years later, we can reflect that same love of Jesus for us by caring for one another.

Thursday, 09 April 20151 John 1:1—2:2—St. John, in his epistle, testifies to the fact of Christ’s resurrection by recounting how he has seen the resurrected Savior, how he has heard him, and how he has touched Him. We need have no doubt that Christ is risen from the dead, and therefore, has forgiven all our sins.

Friday, 10 April 2015John 20:19–31—There are two appearances by the risen Christ in Sunday’s Gospel, each bringing us a great deal of comfort. In the first, Jesus establishes the Office of the Holy Ministry, and assures us that, in the words of the catechism, ‘when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine command, in particular when they…absolve those who repent of their sins and want to do better, this is just as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if Christ, our dear Lord, dealt with us Himself.’ In the second appearance, our Lord appears to Thomas. Thomas wanted the certainty of seeing his risen Lord in the flesh, as the others had. When he beholds the wounds in the One who was crucified on our behalf, his faith is sure, and he confesses, ‘My Lord and My God!’ Thomas’s assurance is ours also. We need never doubt that our Lord is truly risen from the dead, ‘the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.’ (1 Cor. 15:20)

Saturday, 11 April 2015—The Hymn of the Day, All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name (LSB #549), is a hymn of praise, similar in content to the psalm, calling upon all people to praise the name of Jesus, God incarnate, who suffered, died, and rose for the salvation of all. Those on earth, those who have passed into glory, and all the angels raise the strain of praise to our Lord forever and ever.

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.
Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, Das Buch der B├╝cher in Bilden (The Book of Books in Pictures).
Google Image "The Empty Tomb"

The High Priest of a New Covenant

4.5.2015 Easter Sunday                     Hebrews 7:23-8:13 The High Priest of a New Covenant

The Resurrection of our Lord

Jesus is our eternal High Priest whose sacrifice was for all people for all time. This passage deals with the argument that Jesus is an eternal high priest after the order of Melchizedek. The Levitical priests of the past were compelled to give up their priesthood because of death, but Jesus lives forever! Therefore He can save all for all time because He is a living Christ who intercedes for all who call upon Him.

Not only is Christ the high priest eternal, but He is sinless as He is seated at the right hand of God in exaltation. His sacrifice was perfect and timeless. Therefore, other sacrifices are unnecessary.[2]

We need an intercessor who alone is Christ Jesus our Savior.  His perfect sacrifice made it possible for the Father and disobedient people to be reconciled.  This reality is made perfectly clear to us today. Because of what Jesus did on Good Friday we can be guaranteed a happy and blessed Easter.

Almighty God the Father, through Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, You have overcome death and opened the gate of everlasting life to us. Grant that we, who celebrated with joy the day of our Lord’s resurrection may be raised from the death of sin by Your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen[3]

[1] Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2] Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B, John Brokhoff, pg.296, © 1981 CSS Publishing. Lima, OH
[3] Collect for Easter, Lutheran Service Book, © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter Festival

Easter Festival
April 5, 2015
1 Corinthians 15:19-28
The Reality of the Resurrection

Is the Resurrection as real as a fact? Some deny the historical reality of the Resurrection. It is held that the Resurrection was a matter of faith. On the part of the disciples. Who passed on the myth to later generations.  Because something is believed to exist does not prove it exists. Faith is not enough. Faith must be based on facts. Paul is certain that the Resurrection is a fact.

What are the facts of the resurrection?

The fact of the empty tomb. Paul considers the Resurrection to be a fact.  Not a theory. A wish. Not even a faith. Thinking.  Wishing. Or believing. Does not make anything a reality. Especially the Resurrection. The Resurrection is a hard, cold fact. - And the fact that Paul places before us is an empty tomb. The tomb is empty. That is what Paul presents to us.

Jesus is not there. - His tomb is empty. We cannot return to pay homage at His tomb. He is not there. He died a physical death. But He was raised back to life. Paul reminds us that if we do away with this fact - the reality of the Resurrection - Christianity is no more! If there is no Resurrection. - There isn't  any Christianity. Without this fact of the Resurrection, the Christian faith has no foundation. If the church has no Resurrection to proclaim, it has no message of hope. And there is no salvation to offer the world.

Then there is the fact of a resurrected Jesus. Jesus appeared physically to His disciples. Some teach that the Resurrection is merely the collective thoughts of the first Christians. Jesus became alive in the minds of believers.  Paul will have nothing of that. To him it is all or nothing. Jesus appeared physically alive before His disciples for a period of 40 days to prove for the last time that He was truly alive. The empty tomb is one fact. Jesus' appearance alive physically is the second fact. For 40 days. Jesus walked and talked, and ate with His disciples. So they could know that He truly was alive from the dead.

Each of the disciples of Jesus.  With the exclusion of John. All died for one thing. - Their testimony. That they saw Jesus alive from the dead. If Jesus had died. And not risen from the dead. Each of those early disciples died for what they knew was a lie. True, many have died. For a good cause. But would die for what they knew was a lie?  Their testimony is consistent, "We are witnesses of His Resurrection!"

The fact of a living Lord in the lives of His followers. Jesus changed their lives. Take Thomas for example. Before Jesus' appearance, Thomas was a skeptic.  He wouldn't believe. Unless he saw Jesus with His own eyes.  But once he saw Jesus. His life was changed forever.  Each of the followers of Christ had their lives turned literally upside down because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And His appearance to them.

Because of the Resurrection. Christ is in the business of changing our lives too. Because Jesus is alive. You are made alive too.  The resurrection is not limited to life after death.  The resurrection takes place before death.  In baptism, you died and were buried with Christ. You rose in newness of life. Your baptism is a resurrection. Before the resurrection. Easter has a present day application for each of you. You can experience a resurrection with Christ. In Christ, you are a new creature.

The Easter message brings life!  Jesus Christ is raised from the dead.  He has appeared to His disciples. The one who has written to us this day is an eyewitness of Jesus Christ. Jesus appeared to Paul physically so that he too could say, "I am an eye witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!"  Rejoice! And be glad! Christ is alive. Because He lives.  You will live also.  Blessed Easter! 
Words –683
Passive Sentences –4%
Readability –78%

Reading Level -4.0

Easter Sun Rise

Easter Sunrise
April 5, 2015
Isaiah 25:6-9
Happiness is…Easter!

The one thing most people want is happiness. Our expressions at Easter indicate that Easter is supposed to be a happy time. Expressed in the words, “Easter joy”; or “Happy Easter”.  It is a time of rejoicing not because of our happy circumstances but because of what God has done for us in the Resurrection.  True, Christians are happy regardless of the hardships, handicaps and misfortunes they may be experiencing. Their joy is based on God’s victory, which they can share.

Easter is happy because…

It is a feast--v. 6 Isaiah tells us: "And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined."

There is nothing sectarian about God. "All peoples" are to get the benefit of God's conquest of evil, including death.  This must have been a shocking and revolutionary message for the nation of Israel.  Israel's enemies are among "all peoples"!  And yet, "all peoples" are brought to the Lord.  "ALL PEOPLES" receive the blessings of God!

By these words, we see all sorts of people benefiting from God's gracious act. God is concerned with the salvation of all people.  "God so loved the world…that He gave His only begotten Son." God desires all people to live forever with Him. God wishes all people to repent and come to Him.  He does not desire the loss of one single soul.

In the Old Testament, a feast is symbolic of the conclusion of God's salvation. It's a celebration at the conclusion of a job well done.  God has conquered all evil powers, including death.  Now comes the victory dinner. After a difficult or heavy job is done people like to celebrate a little. Easter is God's celebration!

God provides and prepares for this celebration. Believers in Christ are God's invited guests. You are here this morning because God has invited you.  You are here today because this is the feast of victory of our God. In the Holy Communion God comes to us offering His gifts of salvation.

In that meal, especially you and I celebrate His victory over death in the resurrection of His own Son.  This is why we celebrate Communion on Easter and on Sunday, which is the day in which Jesus rose from the dead. We celebrate with a feast, which has been prepared and furnished by God.

It is a victory--v. 7 Isaiah continues: "And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the Vail that is spread over all nations."

We are victorious because Christ is victorious. God's promise to defeat death has been fulfilled.  God promised the covering that was cast over all people and spread over all the nations.  Death is what is common to each of us - for it is the result of sin. 

In overcoming sin for us, Jesus has also overcome death!  Death no longer can rob us of that joy that Jesus has planned for us. Death has lost its sting! Death has lost its punch! Death is no match for God! Thanks be to Jesus who has overcome death for us!

It is salvation--v. 9 Isaiah concludes: "And it shall be in that day Lo, this is our God: we have waited for Him and He will save us; this is the LORD: we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation."

A Christian's happiness does not depend on his/her well-being in this world. A person can be oppressed, persecuted, and defeated but can still be happy.  How is this so? Because of Jesus. Because of Easter. The reason is the source of one's joy.  Our joy finds its focus in Christ. Because we are Easter people, we can rejoice because God has defeated our worst enemy, He has defeated death!

God has provided a banquet for each of us.  You are invited and the fare is only the best. Come to the banquet. He is the host. You are His guest! Come -for all things are now ready! 
Words –720
Passive Sentences –7%
Readability – 79.9

Reading Level -5.0

Melchizedek the Priest

4.4.2014 Holy Saturday                                  Hebrews 7:1-22 Melchizedek the Priest

Melchizedek both priest and king, showed the true nature of his authority by receiving tithes from the patriarch Abraham and blessing him. As both king of righteousness and king of peace, Melchizedek foreshadowed Christ’s work of justification. As Abraham gave offering and respect to Melchizedek, greater respect is due to our High Priest, Christ. He serves without end to lead us into His kingdom.[2]

Today is Holy Saturday. The day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It’s a day when we remember that Jesus rested in the tomb before His gloriously rose from the day. In our reading through the book of Hebrews, the author compares Jesus to Melchizedek the King of Salem and a priest of the one true God. Melchizedek blessed Abraham. Nothing is said about his father or mother. There is no record of his earlier or later family members. Nothing is said about when he was born or when he died. Since he is like God’s Son, he remains a priest forever.

With the coming of Jesus, the priestly family has been changed. A different kind of priest has appeared. Jesus is like Melchizedek but so much better. Jesus didn’t become a priest because He met the physical requirements of some law. He became a priest because He is filled with the power which comes from a life which can’t be destroyed. What the devil tried to do on Friday blew up in his face. He thought that by eliminating Jesus he could destroy the human race. Yet Jesus has a life which can’t be destroyed. The Law has never made anything perfect. God has given us something better to hope for. When Jesus became a priest, it was done with an oath, spoken by the God of heaven.

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen[3]

[1] Image by Ed Rioja © Higher Things
[2] Lutheran Study Bible, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis