Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Mid-Week Advent 1

Mid-week Advent 1
November 30, 2016
Characters of the Nativity-Joseph
Matthew 1:18-25

INTRODUCTIONJoseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The gospels of Matthew and Luke assert that Jesus was born to Mary at a time when she was betrothed to Joseph, before their marriage was consummated (Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:27, 35).

Joseph was a carpenter (Matthew 13:55), and was known as a “just” man (Matthew 1:19). When he learned that Mary was bearing a child, he was understandably disturbed. When he learned that she was to become the mother of Israel’s Messiah through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit, he proceeded with his plans which brought him, with Mary, to Bethlehem where the child Jesus was born.*

Through circumstances and influences beyond his control Joseph was given his place in history. What lessons can be gleaned from his life’s story? Our text answers these questions this evening.

1.        Joseph is a man of profound conviction tempered with compassion. He knew of two realities. First, Mary to whom he was engaged was expecting a child. He also knows he is not the Father. Our text reminds us “…Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.” (v.18)

Joseph, being a just man, tried to conform his life to the Jewish law. “Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” (v.19) Here we see Joseph’s dilemma. Whose reputation, he pondered, should be tarnished Mary’s or his own? That was the issue with which he was wrestling. Joseph felt betrayed, he loved Mary, yet he didn’t want to “expose her to public disgrace.”

If he were to continue in the relationship most people would simply conclude that after they were engaged but before they were married - she was expecting their first child. There would be some embarrassment. It would be awkward. But hopefully, in time the humiliation would subside.  But could he trust her? What guarantee would he have that she would disappoint him again?

If unfaithfulness was a part of her character what would be the consequences in the future? If word got out that he had married her, knowing full well that the child was not his, what sort of aspersions would be cast in his direction!

What he planned to do was to use the most private form of a legal divorce, handing a letter to Mary in the presence of only two witnesses to whom he needed not give his reasons.

When we must choose – choose wisely. Often we are forced to make decisions in life in which the outcome will not necessarily be pleasant.  When we have to choose “the lesser of two evils” as Joseph, we need to wrestle and pray. Actions do have their consequences. Joseph did not act rashly. Decisions reached hastily are often ill advised. Patience is needed when the situation is serious.

2.        Joseph also learned that we are placed in these challenging circumstances for God to do His best work. Divine intervention was necessary in Joseph’s situation. “But after he had considered this an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” - Matthew 1:20

The angel reminded Joseph of the greatness of his ancestry to assure him that his resolution was right insofar as Joseph knew the circumstances. Joseph knew of only outward circumstances. The Lord sees beyond these things. It is His responsibility to act.

It was Joseph would name this child. He would be given the name “Jesus” which means literally - ‘God saves!’ - For this Jesus is the Christ and He will save His people from their sins. The salvation from sin through this child Jesus is what Joseph and his family had hoped for so many generations. God was about to act and Joseph would see it. Not only would this child be called ‘Jesus’ but also “Emmanuel” – ‘God who is with us’ – the manifestation of God who is in our midst.

3.        We see that Joseph is a man of profound faith.  Joseph’s faith is seen and demonstrated in his immediate obedience to the commands the angel gives him. “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” Matthew 1:24 

Joseph came to know a profound truth. God is with us. So often we may live our lives with little awareness of how close God really is to us. The reality of our Christian existence is this: God is with us. It took a life changing moment in Joseph’s life to come to this conclusion.

CONCLUSION: Tonight God is saying to you - in all of life’s circumstances and in all of life’s decisions “I am with you” for this Jesus whose birth we celebrate this season is ‘Emmanuel’ – “the God who is with us” –He is ‘Jesus’ - “the God who saves”

+ Sola Deo Gloria +

* Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Grand Rapids MI D. G. Stewart editor   

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Time in the Word - Advent 2

Time in the Word
November 28 – December 3, 2016
Preparation for Advent 2

The Day of the Lord
The theme of hope, explicitly and implicitly, seems to unite the readings this coming week. In Old Testament lesson we hope for the righteous government and world peace. In the Epistle hope comes from the scriptures and the Spirit. John the Baptist in the gospel gives us hope through Christ’s baptism of the Spirit. If we have this hope, we are in need of preparation. Today’s gospel calls for repentance as preparation. The Prayer of the Day asks God “to prepare the way for your only Son.” The Hymn refers to John’s ministry calling for moral preparation, through repentance. On Advent 1 we considered the Second Coming. On Advent 2 we deal with Christ’s coming anew this Christmas by rebirth into our personal lives. If this is to be a real experience, preparation by repentance is necessary. In recent years blue has been introduced as the liturgical color for Advent because it is the color of hope.

Collect for the Second Sunday in AdventStir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the way of Your only-begotten Son, that by His coming we may be enabled to serve You with pure minds; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the way of your only Son. By his coming, give us strength in our conflicts and shed light on our path through the darkness of this world.

God of power and mercy, open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy, so that we may share His wisdom and become one with Him when He comes in glory, for He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen

Lord, free us from our sins and make us whole. Hear our prayer, and prepare us to celebrate the incarnation of Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen

Collect for Psalm 72Almighty God, You gave the kingdom of justice and peace to David and his descendant, our Lord Jesus Christ. Extend this kingdom to every nation, so that through Your Son the poor may receive justice, the destitute relief, and the people of the earth peace in the name of Him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Monday, 28 November 2016Psalm 105:4-8; antiphon, Isaiah 40:3b —In the Introit for Sunday, we pray In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Yet another prophecy is fulfilled! John the Baptist becomes that agent who will prepare the way for Christ to enter and begin His earthly ministry. The words of the Baptist are still needed for today’s ears “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand!”

Tuesday, 29 November 2016Psalm 72:1-7 — Key verse “Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the king’s Son” (v. 1). Psalm 72 is a prayer for the king. This last psalm of book 2 is a fitting one for king Solomon’s reign. [See the title] Israel’s golden age of peace, prosperity and power come under the rule of King Solomon. But it also looks beyond it to the perfect idea; an endless reign (5) over the entire world (8, 11) and the rule of God-like justice and righteousness (7, 12-14) a time of unequalled fruitfulness (16). V.8 “The River” is the Euphrates. V.10 “Tarshish, Sheba”, means the remotest outpost of the empire. Sheba may be a region of Arabia. Tarshish is probably Tarshish in Spain. V. 16 “Like Lebanon” For a small country Lebanon produced an amazing abundance and variety of fruit and vegetables.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016Isaiah 11:1-11— Can anything come out of a “stump”? Can life come out of death? The Messiah is rooted in the past, which is apparently as dead as a stump. Yet, out of death comes the life of Christ as the son of Jesse, the son of David. Our roots are vital. We go back to the life that comes out of our dead ancestors. Eternal life came out of Jesus’ grave. The butterfly comes out of a cocoon. Hope comes out of despair.

Thursday, 01 December 2016Romans 15:4-13— The “scripture” in Paul’s day was the Old Testament. How can the Old Testament provide hope to Christians? Hope deals with the future and the Old Testament contains thousands of promises by God for the future. The greatest of these promises is the coming of the Messiah. In Jesus He has come. Hope has been realized. Yet, He is coming again for the consummation of history. We hope for His return.

Friday, 02 December 2016Matthew 3:1-12 — We are to prepare a highway for God to come to us. Christmas is a receiving time of life when God comes to us in Christ. The world thinks of Christmas as a giving time and so we go through a mad rush to buy gifts. If Christ is to come to us this Christmas, we need to prepare to properly receive him. Thus, Advent is a preparatory season of repentance as the only way to be receptive.

A tree with bad fruit is to be burned, as millions of orange trees diseased with canker were destroyed in Florida. At the end of time, the chaff is to be burned with “unquenchable fire.” John the Baptist promised that Jesus would baptize with the Spirit and with “fire.” Fire symbolizes judgment. Christ comes as both Savior and Judge. The latter we like to forget. Evil is to be exterminated. In 2 Peter we are told that “the elements will be dissolved with fire.”

Saturday, 03 December 2016Isaiah 40:3; Mathew 3:1-6- Sunday’s Hymn of the Day is On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s Cry. (LSB #344). This great Advent hymn is in harmony with the Gospel lesson. When the Baptist started preaching a message of repentance his words often were not heeded. As you sing this great hymn let the words speak to you. May the Lord prepare you to receive Christ joyfully this Advent/Christmas season and expect to see Him soon as we anticipate His return in glory.

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing Lima OH
For All the Saints A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol. II © 1995 by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Advent 1

Advent 1
27 November 2016
Matthew 24:36–44

The Lord Comes in Meekness and Humility to Save Us Now

The Lord Jesus enters Jerusalem “humble, and mounted on a donkey,” riding on “a beast of burden” (Matt. 21:5), as He Himself bears the sins of the world in His body. Now He comes by the ministry of the Gospel to save us from sin, death, the devil and hell. Therefore, we sing, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt. 21:9). 

For we are called “to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob,” His holy Church, “that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths” (Is. 2:3). By His Word, we “walk in the light of the Lord” (Is. 2:5). That is to live in love, which “does no wrong to a neighbor” (Rom. 13:10). We “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light,” for “salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Rom. 13:11, 12). Hence, the entire Christian life is a time to wake and watch, “for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (Matt. 24:42).

Lord God, heavenly Father, send forth Your Son, we pray, that he may lead home His bride, the Church, that we will all the redeemed may enter into Your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

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

As we turn our sights toward Bethlehem’s manger we focus on our celebration of Christ’s coming into this world and at the same time we wait in anticipation of His sure and certain return in glory. This is what the season of Advent is all about. The question is when. When shall these things be? The message from our Gospel lesson for this morning is simple yet profound – watch and wait.

I. No one knows when Christ will return.
A. The Son, as a human being did not know when the end would come.
                                1. This proves His human nature. As a human, He was limited in knowledge.
2. For your comfort Jesus was completely human in every way except, of course without sinning. Jesus was completely human. He identifies with you in every conceivable way. He know and understands everything.

                B. Neither do the angels know the time of the end.
1. They are created beings sent to serve God and His children. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” [Hebrews 1:14]
2. Even though they “continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” [Matthew 18:10] As lower beings, they are limited in knowledge. They too do not known when the end will come.

                C. Only the Father knows. He has set a time, fixed for this world to end.
1. He is the Creator and Lord of all.
2. He alone will end this world.
3. In between (Creation and the end of all time) He will order your days and direct your path. In His sure hands, we are secure.

Transition: We do not know when the end will come. This does not mean we must stand by idly. There is much work for us to do. The Lord says to us today, “Get busy!”

II. We must therefore be prepared to meet the Lord when He comes in glory.
                 A. He will return at a time when people least expect.
                                1. Many think Christ’s return will come when things are going badly.
a. Wars and rumors of wars.
b. Harsh economic times.
c. Stresses within and without the church or family.
2. When will the end come?
a. When the last pagan is converted.
b. When the full number of believers in Christ has been reached.

                B. We must make use of the time that we have “keeping busy!”
1. Serve where God had planted you.
a. Called to be Christ’s servants.
b. Called to be His witnesses in this generation.
2. Use the gifts God has given you.
a. Serve where God has planted you.
b. Use the tools of salvation, which God has given you.
1. Love God.
2. Help and serve your neighbor.

Now we are in Advent. In the words of that old spiritual, “Soon and very soon we are going to see the King.” With joy, we can meet Him now in those places He can be found – His Word, His Sacraments, His promise of forgiveness. Praise God!

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 and Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House

Words – 858
Passive Sentences –4%
Reading Ease –84%

Reading Level -4.6

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day
November 24, 2016

Luke 17:11-19
Who bothers to thank God?

Ten men, afflicted with a disease that excluded them from normal society (Leviticus 13:45-59) and inevitably brought about death, sought help from the Savior. All ten were told to show themselves to the priest as was required (Leviticus 14:2-20). All ten were healed. All ten were given a full bill of health. All ten were given a new lease on life. All ten were good to go. Yet only one returns to give thanks. The Savior asks the obvious question – “What happened to the nine?” Our text begs the question who bothers to thank God?

1. Certainly not those whose only concern is to enjoy what has been given them.

A. Ten meet Jesus. Ten called Him “Master”. Ten were healed and undoubtedly rejoiced. Only one looked beyond the healing to the Healer. Giving thanks has greater priority for him than being certified as clean.

B. Like the nine, people can often display a selfishness that is enamored by the things that benefit us and that cares not at all for the God who supplies our every need. This is covetousness and idolatry at its core. How many today find themselves deeply in debt, chasing after the latest fashion statement, driving cars they can not afford, trying to impress people for whom they do not care? That is the temptation of this world – that the allure of possessions will bring happiness. It will be witnessed tomorrow- black Friday- the first official sale day of the Christmas holiday season - when malls will be filled with shoppers attempting to bring cheer to their lives with things they can not afford.

C. Beware! Such selfish myopia stifles thanksgiving. It sees no cause for gratitude unless we receive what we things is best, at the time we prefer, in the way we desire. When this attitude prevails, who bothers to thank God?

Transition: Who bothers to thank God? Certainly not those whose only concern is to enjoy what has been given them. Nor does it come from those who become all wrapped up in themselves.

2. Not those who believe that God’s good treatment is something they have earned for themselves.

A. The story strongly emphasizes that the only man who returned to give thanks to Jesus was both a Samaritan and a foreigner - a man with no rights. He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, a symbolic act of complete subjection. He realized that his healing was an act of pure mercy, not a payment that he deserved.

B. How much his views differed from those of the majority of people, both at Christ’s time and still today. How easy it is, even for us, to pin our hope for God’s favor on what we are or think or say or do. We desire and sometimes demand that God be kind to us and help us as a reward for our good church attendance or our righteous living or our delightful personalities. How many today think that God should stand up and take notice! - Because of your awesomeness? Really?

C. Beware! Such self-righteous pride will not fall at Jesus feet. It will not thank Him. It gives no glory to God for His marvelous works of mercy. It sees God only as a paymaster, who distributes benefits to those who have earned them. When this attitude prevails, who bothers to thanks God?

Transition: Who bothers to thank God? Not those whose only concern is to enjoy what has been given them. Not those who think God owes them? It comes from those who have received mercy.

3. Only those whom God has rescued from the dominion of sin and Satan by giving them faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ.

A. The event reported in the Gospel happened while Jesus was on the way to the city of Jerusalem. He was traveling to that city to lay down His life as the sacrifice for the sins of the world. The guilt of our selfishness and pride rested on His shoulders. The hands that in the others cases healed with a touch were soon to be nailed to the cross as payment for our ingratitude and love-less-ness. The voice that told the lepers to show themselves to the priest would soon cry out in pain and agony, “I thirst!” and “My God, my God, why have Your forsaken me? Jesus endured the full punishment of body and soul that we all deserve. But that same voice would sound forth again after His resurrection, announcing that forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to Jews and Samaritans and all the nations of the earth – to all who would listen both believer and pagan alike.

B. Only the power of the resurrected Christ, received by us through faith, can purge our hearts of the spiritual maladies of selfishness and pride and ingratitude and sin. Only in the strength that he supplies are we able to overcome our natural inclination toward evil and truly give thanks and glory to God.

Through faith in Christ, the Samaritan leper received healing in his body. Motivated by that faith, he returned to give thanks. For such as that leper, it is not at all a bother to thank God. The expression of heartfelt thanks to God with our lips and our lives is a joyous privilege that God provides for us here in time and hereafter in eternity.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Eve

Thanksgiving Eve –
November 23, 2016

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thanksgiving by definition is the formal public expression of returning thanks to God. How do we do this? Let’s see what Scripture would tell us this night. How do we have thanksgiving?

1. Rejoice always – v. 16 “May you always be joyful in you life in the Lord I say it again; rejoice” Philippians 4:4

A.            In this verse, Paul tells us twice to rejoice. Why rejoice? We might not necessarily feel like rejoicing and yet we do rejoice for this is how thankful hearts respond to God – they rejoice.

B.            We rejoice when we recall the fruits of His Spirit which are evident in every believer’s life.

Transition: We give thanks in rejoicing making our requests to God.

2. Pray without ceasing – v. 17 “Don’t worry about anything but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking Him with a thankful heart.” Philippians 4:6

A.            Worry can drain us of any joy. There is much for us to be concerned in this dark and sinful world. Thus, our focus is on Him who supplies us with all that we need to support our body and life. “Make your requests know to God” Paul would remind us – we take it to the Lord in prayer.

B.            Our prayers are also filled with gratitude and praise – gratitude for His redemption in Christ for His gifts of mercy and grace. Praise because He has blessed us in so many ways – His mercies are new to us every day His blessings cannot be counted. He is a god of grace and glory.

Transition: We rejoice we pray always with thankful hearts, regardless of the circumstances.

3. In everything give thanks – V. 18 “Be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants of you in your life in Christ Jesus”.

A.            Now that we have been put right with God through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He has brought us by faith into this experience of God’s grace in which we now live.

We rejoice then in the hope we have of sharing God’s glory. And we also rejoice in our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval and His approval creates hope. This hope does not disappoint us because “God has poured out His live into our hearts by the means of the Holy Spirit who is God’s gift to us.” Romans 5:1-4

Our thanks is not limited to or dictated by circumstances. In every circumstance regardless of its origin we return to God our worship and praise.

B.            Because you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. We endure because of faith. Faith given to us by God in the first place – faith which trust God’s promises – faith which takes God at His Word

How do we have thanksgiving? With our prayers with gratitude to God in every circumstance we bless the Lord.

Image taken June 2009 behind Zion Friedheim Lutheran Church

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Time in the Word - Advent 1

Time in the Word
Preparation for Advent 1
November 21-26, 2016

The Day of the Lord

Advent begins a new church year and is designed to prepare us for Christ’s coming both personally and cosmically. Advent 1 deals with Jesus’ Second Coming. It is the one Sunday of the year that is totally given to the doctrine, although the Epistles lesson in Advent 3 urges us to patiently wait for the Lord’s return. The Prayer of the Day cries for the Lord to come. The Hymn of the Day calls for us to prepare for Christ to enter our lives. The Gospel lesson emphasizes the need of constant preparedness for Christ’s return because the time of his coming is unknown. The Epistle lesson urges us to put on Christ as preparation for his coming which Paul considers to be soon. When God comes to us, according to the Old Testament lesson, all nations will have their differences settled and peace will return.

Collect for the first Sunday in AdventStir up Your power, O lord and come, that by Your protection we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by Your mighty deliverance; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen

All powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may fin an eager welcome at His coming and call us to His side in the kingdom of heaven, where He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Collect for Psalm 122Lord Jesus; give us the peace of the New Jerusalem. Bring all nations into Your kingdom to share Your gifts, that they may render thanks to You without end and may come to Your eternal city, where You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen

Prayer for HarvestLord 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 Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen

Prayer for ThanksgivingAlmighty 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. Amen

Monday, 21 November 2016Psalm118:25-28; antiphon, Zechariah 9:9b —In the Introit for Sunday, we pray Behold you king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation. Fulfilled prophecy is one feature which makes Christianity so appealing. Throughout the season of Advent we will find prophecy after prophecy which was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Here is one among so man that the Lord as king would come to His people. During this busy and important season we prepare for Christ’s return in glory and we make ready our hearts and minds to celebrate His birth. If we prepared for the former we will be in the right frame of mind for the latter.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016Psalm 122 — This week’s psalm is what the pilgrims may have sung as they neared the temple gate within the city walls. The pilgrim prays for the peace of the city -the center of worship and the seat of government for the world nation.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016Isaiah 2:1-5— Isaiah tells us what will happen in the “latter” days. This refers to the end of the world. We may be living in the “latter” days now. In the latter days “all the nations” will see God on the highest mountain on earth. God will be the highest value and the center of the universe. They will come to God to receive his instruction how to live. This will result in international peace. The significance of “all” is that world peace depends upon “all” coming to God. Peace is not a unilateral project. Will it be possible to get “all” nations to come to God? If they are to come at the end-time, why not now? Here is one good reason to the church’s overseas missionary program.

Thursday, 24 November 2016Romans 13:11-14— When Augustine heard a child’s voice say, “Take and read,” he opened his Bible and read verse 14 from our Epistle for this week. Obediently, he “put on” Christ and he became one of our greatest Christians. To “put on” means to be incorporated into Christ so that one is “a man in Christ.”
To be ready for the Lord’s Great Day, we put on Christ so that in us Christ confronts Himself. We are His people. He is one of us. To be properly dressed for the Lord’s Great Day, we are to put on Christ’s robe of righteousness. This calls for a human response. Christ is coming. We are to be ready by putting on Christ. This we do at baptism.

Friday, 25 November 2016Matthew 24:36-44 — To be ready for the Lord’s Great Day is a “must.” Not to be ready is to be lost just as the people in Noah’s day were not ready with boats for the flood. Jesus is not waiting for us to be ready. Whether we are ready or not, He is coming. Not to be ready spells eternal disaster. What does it mean to be “ready”? To be ready for the end is to live daily in a state of grace. If we are always reconciled to God by faith in Christ, it does not matter when Christ will return.

Saturday, 26 November 2016John 1:1; Luke 2:30-32- Sunday’s Hymn of the Day is Savior of the Nations Come. (LSB #332). John would remind us that the eternal God, the creator of us all broke into time and space to be our redeemer. This is what the season of Advent is all about. We make ourselves ready to celebrate the fact that God has become human. We celebrate that God has come to visit His people. He came at just the right time and He will usher us home at just the right time. This majestic hymn tells the story of salvation. As you review it think of Christ’s impact on your life, your family, your church and community and then share His story with those you meet.

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Collect for Harvest and Thanksgiving from Lutheran Worship © Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing Lima OH
For All the Saints A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol. II © 1995 by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Christ the King

Christ the King Sunday
20 November 2016

Luke 23:35-43
Jesus Lord at Thy Death

Lord, increase our eagerness to do Your will and help us to know the saving power of Your love. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.[1]

Jesus is dying on the cross. And yet, we celebrate the festival of Christ the King. How so? Execution as a criminal is usually considered a time of disgrace and defeat. Critics at the cross acknowledge this by saying, “He saved others, let Him save himself…If you are the king…save yourself.” In a few weeks at Christmas, we will be singing a line of “Silent Night” which says, “Jesus Lord at Thy birth.” Can we sing today, “Jesus Lord at Thy death”?

See how Jesus is Lord even at His death.

1.       He was Lord over His enemies by not responding to their insultsAnd the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine - and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!"  Vv. 35-37

A.      See Ps. 22  
a.       The Psalmist speaks of a man being mocked, which is similar in the descriptions of Jesus' crucifixion.

b.      The Psalmist reminds us, “He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him." Jesus’ enemies taunted him by saying, "He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him."

c.       The Psalmist speaks of a man who would be surrounded by others who stared and   gloated at him. This too was the situation for Jesus during His crucifixion.

 d.    Here we find a wonderful picture of Jesus, the suffering servant. He willingly and obediently went to the cross. He could have turned away. He did not have to die for us. Willingly and obediently, He bore the cross, the agony, the sufferings He endured the cross and its shame. He bore your sins in His own body. He died for you in your place. He withstood the insults, the criticisms; the harsh tones the mistreatment and abuse.

  e.      He simply prayed: “Father, forgive them…Father forgive them for they know not what they do!”  Such patience is hard to imagine. But He took this. For He knew that this was the only way to merit and win salvation for you.  There was no other way to save you. There can be no other options.  For you to receive the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation look only to Christ and Christ alone. Your own works will not do. Your own will cannot sustain you. Only in Christ is the salvation and life. On this Christ the King Sunday let this be known that Jesus has borne for you the cruelty of the cross and in that cross of Christ you now glory.  The cross stands as a sign and a seal of your forgiveness.

B.      See Ps.69 - Psalm 69 is, after Psalms 22, the most quoted or alluded to psalm in the NT

a.       The Psalmist speaks saying, “They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” This is exactly what Jesus’ experienced when He was handed over to be crucified.

b.      The Psalms - read, prayed, and memorized for a thousand years before Jesus was born speak volumes to us observing Christ’s passion from afar. These words, were literally being fulfilled on the day Christ died.

C.      Notice - a little word is added here, "if" - “Let him save himself “if” he is the Christif” he is of God…”if” he is the Chosen one…”if” you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.”  A doubting and cynical world is always suspicious, always distrusting, constantly questioning, suspecting, hesitant, and skeptical.  

Behold your dying King. Yet in His death, you are washed, you sin is gone and you are forever free.

2. He was Lord in His power to save sinners –   One of the criminals who were hanged railed at (blasphemed) him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!"  But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? “In the same judgment we are” And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me (whenever) you come into your kingdom." Vv. 39-43

A.      Notice this thief is doing more than joining the mocking...A double negative is given. “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself including us.” Yet,   Jesus Christ Reigns, Enduring the Cross Its Scorn and Shame.

B.      He truly is “the King”, who governs His Church with all authority in heaven and on earth. He has come into His kingdom by His cross, and He graciously remembers us in paradise. Therefore, do not weep for Him, but with repentant faith “weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:28). Then the mountains and hills of Jerusalem, His holy Church, shall cover you with His righteousness and peace. For He “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15).

C.       As King, Jesus enters His kingdom as He remembers you. "All things were created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16), and “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” bodily in Him, reconciling all things to Himself. You are now joined with Him and are one with Him “by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:19–20).

 The Lord Jesus reigns in love among those who are baptized in His name. He says, “They shall be mine,” “and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.” (Malachi 3:17). Our God reigns. By the power of His cross. Lifted up. He draws all men to Himself.  

Jesus’ service through crucifixion for sinful men anchors us in new life. In the proclamation of His Son, the Father makes His justice clear, defining “the distinction between the righteous and the wicked” (Malachi 3:18). Spurn not this cross. It is repulsive. On it is a man despised and rejected. Yet through this cross and by it He will draw all men to Himself.   

We have come to the conclusion of yet another church year, it began in our anticipation of the coming of Christ at Christmas, and as we celebrated His nativity, we saw that He was the One sent from God. We walked with Him during His passion in the Holy season of Lent, and in the Easter and Pentecost season, we meditated upon His words, which bring salvation and life.

Next week will mark a new church year season, and we will again walk with the Savior.  May our worship, our work, our prayers, our service be dedicated to Him who is the way the truth and the Life, for truly His is the Lord and King of all.

Words – 1,245
Passive Sentences –11%
Reading Ease –77%
Reading Level -5.6
Image: Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for private and congregational use

[1] Prayer for Sunday of the Week of Pentecost 27, “For All the Saints, a Prayer Book For and By the Church” American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, © 1995 Delhi, NY

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Time in the Word - Christ the King

Time in the Word:
 Preparation for next week, Christ the King

The King of the Kingdom

The church year comes to a close on a triumphant note. Christ the King. It is a festival, not an ordinary day, and the liturgical color changes to white, a color denoting festivity, joy, and peace. The church year comes to a close not with a whimper but with a shout. Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” would be appropriate. The year ends not in defeat but in triumph. The Old Testament Malachi 3:13-18 the Lord promises to have pity and compassion upon His people. The Epistle Colossians 1:13-30 identifies the king as the Son of God Jesus Christ our Savior. The Lord is crucified for us in the Gospel and His kingdom is opened to a penitent thief.

Christ the King is the Last Sunday of the Church year. It is fitting that the Gospel gives the account of the end of Jesus’ life. He died as a king. Ironically His enemies ridiculed Him as the King of the Jews and as the reason for His crucifixion Pilate wrote, “King of the Jews!” We must see the whole life of Christ as a king. He was born a king and all through His life we can see his royal life and work, with the authority and power of the king of kings.

Collect for Christ the King SundayLord God, heavenly Father, send forth Your Son, we pray, that He may lead home His bride the Church, that we with all the redeemed may enter into Your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Almighty and merciful God, You break the power of evil and make all things new in Your Son Jesus Christ, the King of the universe. May all in heaven and earth acclaim Your glory and never cease to praise You. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God for ever and ever. Amen

Collect for Proper 29: Lord Jesus Christ, You reigns among us by the preaching of Your cross. Forgive Your people their offenses that we, being governed by Your bountiful goodness, may enter at least in to Your eternal paradise; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.

Collect for Psalm 46Lord God, our refuge and strength, when the restless powers of this world and the waters of hell rise up against Your Holy City, watch over it and keep it safe. By the river that flows form the throne of the Lamb, purify this New Jerusalem as Your chosen dwelling for You are with us, our stronghold now and forever.

Prayer for the hope of eternal lifeAlmighty, everlasting God, Your Son has assured forgiveness of sins and deliverance from eternal death. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that our faith in Christ may increase daily and that we may hold fast to the hope that on the Last Day we shall be raise in glory to eternal life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Time in the Word
14-19 November 2016
Preparation for next week, Christ the King
Monday, 14 November  2016 Psalm134; antiphon, Psalm 33:8—In the Introit for Sunday, we pray confidently Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. The word of the Lord lasts forever. Nothing can snatch us out of the Savior’s hand. The promises of God from of old are all fulfilled in the life, and ministry of Jesus Christ the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016Psalm 46 — This week’s psalm is the inspiration of Luther’s great hymn of the Reformation “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” This Psalm may have been written following Sennacherib’s attack on Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 32), some natural disaster, or in anticipation of the events heralding Messiah’s coming. Vv.4-5 Have a parallel in Revelation 22:1-5 where the ideal is perfectly realized. The psalmist glories in God’s presence with His people and His real and unassailable protection (Vv. 1, 4-5, 7, 11)

Wednesday, 16 November 2016 Malachi 3:13-18— In their arrogance and unbelief the Jews called blessed those whom the godly know to be cursed. But it is they who will be called blessed if they repent. Even at the final hour the Lord is still calling His people to repentance and faith. In the Day of Judgment the Lord will spare those who fear Him. They will be called the Lord’s most treasured possession. 2,500 years after these words were written the Lord is still calling His people back to repentance. This is our attitude, searching and calling those missing from the Father’s table.
Thursday, 17 November 2016 Colossians 1:13-20—Our lesson gives us the scope of Christ’s kingdom. It is much needed because we think usually of Jesus as king of the Jews only, or of Christians only, or of the individual’s heart. Paul raises our sights and we see Jesus as king of the universe.

Look at your king; can you imagine the honor and privilege of being a servant of a king of such great dimensions? If Jesus is king of the cosmos, then He is not confined to one nation, race, or church. He rules the world, and all the nations, and all the planets. Who is this King? He is the creator of the vast universe - v.16. He is the eternal king – v. 17. He is the Head of the church – v.18. He is the reconciler and redeemer of the whole world – Vv.14, 20.

Friday, 18 November 2016- Luke 23:27-43 — Jesus was a king on the cross. His enemies did not realize the truth of the mockery, “If you are the King of the Jews.” The political authorities also did not realize what they wrote, “This is the king of the Jews.” On Palm Sunday the faithful sang praises to their king – ‘Behold, your king is coming to you.” In the gospel lesson there are various reactions to this king. The people – they watched from a distance. They were mere spectators – v. 35. The rulers – they were scoffers and cynics – v. 35. The soldiers – they mocked and ridiculed – v. 36. Sinners – the offered prayers and petitions of penitence – Vv. 39-43.

Saturday, 19 November 2016 Psalm 23- Sunday’s Hymn of the Day is The King of Love My Shepherd Is. (LSB #709). The suggested hymn is one of praise and thanksgiving to our good shepherd Jesus Christ. He is our king. He is our good shepherd. Thanks be to God that we are a sheep of His fold, a lamb of His flock, a sinner of His own redeeming. Tomorrow come to church expecting to offer praise and worship to our King of Kings Jesus Christ the righteous one.

Sources: Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Collect for Pentecost 24 from Lutheran Worship © Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series C by John Brokhoff © 1979 CSS Publishing Lima OH
For All the Saints A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol. II © 1995 by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY The Story of 50 Hymns © 1934 By General Mills, Inc Minneapolis, MN
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use