09-29-2019 Sermon - Ears to Hear Moses and the Prophets.MP3

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church, "If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied." This is a good reminder and a helpful way to look at our Lord's telling of the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. If this life were all that counted, then the rich man clothed in fine clothing and feasting sumptuously is truly one to envy. Likewise, the beggar Lazarus, covered with sores, hoping for at least table scraps, and beset by dogs licking his sores is one to be pitied. But if we believe Scripture, that is Moses and the Prophets, then there is the whole matter of life beyond the grave, for an eternity in a new heavens and earth. With the rich man in the parable suffering in flames for eternity, he is no longer an object of envy. Likewise, with Lazarus in heaven at the bosom of Abraham, he is no longer one to pity. Of course faith is what makes the difference between the two. But unlike what we might expect, having it good in this age is no boon to having faith...

09-15-2019 Sermon - Lost In Space

The sense of being lost can be terrifying. Most of us at some point in our lives have been lost. Many of us have childhood memories of having realized in a crowded public place that we have lost sight of our parents. Panic often sets in. Knowing that we are lost will incline us to seek help. But spiritually speaking do we realize our state of being lost? If we don't, we will not fully appreciate Jesus' words in Luke 19:10, "For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost." ...

09-08-2019 Sermon - The Cruciform Shape of Discipleship

As Jesus addresses the crowds who followed him he spoke of the cost of discipleship. It is clear he was not selling anything. When one tries to sell something they only speak of the upside. In the lesson this morning Jesus not only addresses the downside, but he addresses the difficulties involved in following him that are simply overwhelming. But Jesus was not selling anything. He was pointing the way. We will discover that only he can bear the cost, and he does so on our behalf. But that does not mean that we won't bear the cost as well! But as we are not able to bear the cost in our own strength, he will have to bear it in and through us. The good news is that it won't depend on us. The difficult news is that this is not an easy or painless path, but it is the only path that leads to life...

09-01-2019 Sermon - Servants of Christ Jesus

I kid people that I am working on a book to be published entitled: Ten Steps to True Humility, and subtitled: How I Alone Achieved It. If you know anything about Biblical Humility then you would know to toss away any book with that title. So what is true humility, and what are we to make of the promise that all who humble themselves with be exalted? I can tell you this much, as long as we are in charge of the humility project and try to measure our growth we will surely not advance in the path of humility. I can also tell you that we will never outmatch the humility our Lord assumed in effecting our salvation...

08-25-2019 Sermon - Not "Have It Your Way"

For forty years Burger King employed the slogan "Have It Your Way". This was an effective slogan, for indeed we like to have it our way. We can also identify with the Frank Sinatra's hit "I Did It My Way". But when it comes to spiritual matters, and to the kingdom of God, the slogan and the sentiment can be deadly. Jesus taught us to pray, "Thy kingdom come!" When it comes to our salvation God has determined the way that leads to life. He has provided the door. And the door is God's Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and we walk through this door led by the Holy Spirit with repentance.

08-11-2019 Sermon - Gift of Faith Came to Abram by Hearing

Abram, later renamed Abraham, is an example of faith, the very faith whereby a person has right standing with God through the forgiveness of sin.

Abram was an example. In our tradition we do not worship the saints of old, but we do remember, or commemorate them, and through their example we learn how God's grace can work through lost and condemned sinners who place their faith in Abraham's offspring, which we now know is the son born to the Virgin Mary, the one who is the Christ, fully God and fully man. Abram's was a perfect faith, not because his trust was always perfect, but because he placed the trust enabled by God's Word in the proper object - the Word of God that eventually became the Word of God Incarnate, Jesus Christ our Lord. May Abram lead all of us to the proper object of our faith...

08-04-2019 Sermon - Put On the New Self

The Apostle Paul draws a contrast between the things that are above and the things that are of earth. Here the spatial language is metaphorical. That which is above comes from God, and that which is of the earth is worldly wisdom. God's Word comes from above, as does every good and perfect gift. Above represents the eternal, below that which is temporal. What is above is beneficial, and from below what is caustic and injurious. For the baptized who have been raised with Christ in newness of life, we can exercise some determination in setting our minds on the things above. And given garments of salvation in our baptism, we can also through daily repentance get out of soiled clothing, be washed clean, and put on Christ's righteousness...

07-28-2019 Sermon - Rooted And Built Up In Christ

Do you know what the circumcision of Christ is? Hint. It is a circumcision made without hands. It is a circumcision not of the male foreskin but of the body of the flesh. It involves the Christian Rite of Initiation and the implications of this initiation for the rest of our lives. It is what it means to be rooted in Christ and to be built upon our Lord. Have you figured it out? It is Holy Baptism. And it is one of the ways involved with God's Word that not only brings us spiritual birth, but also continues to nurture us our whole life so that we might live for Christ and bear fruit.

07-21-2019 Sermon - Presenting Everyone Mature in Christ

Paul encourages the Church in Colossae that they are to grow and mature in the Christian Faith. But the way he encourages growth is to leave the responsibility and the means of growth with Christ and not ourselves. Just as Christ's work is all sufficient in providing for the forgiveness of our sins and subsequently our right standing with God, so our growing into the full stature of the image of God is also something Christ is all sufficient in providing. At the same time we will discover that the work of Christ for our growth does not happen without us. Unfortunately we can resist it. Whenever we submit ourselves to careful listening to His Word and availing ourselves of His Sacraments growth will naturally take place. Naturally. But not easily and without pain...

07-14-2019 Sermon - Taking On False Teaching

We may not be as concerned with false teachings and false teachers as were the Apostles and our Lord Jesus Christ, but I suspect that has to do with the touchy feely, emotional, and experiential appeals to the faith that dominate pop culture today. But as Luther so clearly saw, false belief and despair are serious temptations, the results of which could move us from the only sure and certain hope that is in Christ alone. Paul writes a personal letter to a church that was being exposed to false teachers. They had not succumbed yet, but Paul is not taking any chances. He wishes to expose the falsehoods by reaffirming the one true faith that they had been given and established in. The same false teaching still confront the church today...

07-07-2019 Sermon - The Danger of Going Native

For a letter in which the Apostle Paul seemed very concerned that its recipients might be trusting more in their works than in trusting what Christ freely accomplished for them, he sure does end up with lots of admonitions. As but two examples, he encourages his readers to be sure to walk by the Spirit so as not to gratify the desires of the flesh; and, he instructs them not to tire in doing good deeds for in due time they would be amply rewarded. How are we to understand these encouragements? Well, I have an idea how we might view them. But we can rest assured we are not being told there is something we must do in order to become a child of God and an heir of the kingdom. For a little hint, there is such a thing as the danger of "going native"...

06-30-2019 Sermon - For Freedom We Have Been Freed

There is the appearance of freedom that is not freedom at all. Someone says, "Nobody tells me what to do." And the challenge needs to be, "So if nobody tells you what to do, then don't do what sin tells you to do. See if you can be truly free from sin for even one day." To be free to sin as you please is the worst sort of bondage, particularly when you able to see that sin leads you to death, and that under sin's sway you are also under the dictates of the devil. When Christ sets us free from sin, death, and the devil we are enabled to come under his sway, unless of course, we prefer to go back to the devil. Under Christ's sway we can know peace and life and have a particularly bright future to contemplate.

06-23-2019 Sermon - Baptized Heirs of the Kingdom

In most households there are certain rules the children have to abide by. At the same time no child thinks they belong to their family because they make their beds, help with dishes, come when they are called, and so forth. They know they are a member because they were born or adopted into the family. Furthermore, young children are often left with a babysitter who for that evening have more privileges than do the children. And the sitters are in charge and give orders. And yet when the children are grown they, unlike the sitters, have all the privileges of the household and are included in the will. God's family is much the same. We are born into this family through Baptism by Faith. So why would we ever try to earn ourselves into the family! It would be a little like grown children wishing they were still under the authority of a baby sitter...

06-16-2019 Sermon - Trinitarian Faith in One God

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The religious leaders were ready to stone Jesus to death. And it was not because he was one of the nicest men to ever live. Nor was it because he was one of the most gifted teachers ever to have taught. And it was not because of the fine example Jesus set by his lifestyle. No, it was for none of these reasons. But it was related to some of the audacious statements he made about himself. "I am the light of the world." "If anyone continues in my word he will not taste death, but will live forever." And, "Before Abraham was, I am." In short, he claimed to be the preexistent Son of God. It is from who Jesus is that we begin to learn a central doctrine of the Christian Faith, that of the Holy Trinity...

06-09-2019 Sermon - What Is A Paraklete?

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Jesus had promised his disciples that when he ascended into heaven he would send them another helper to be with them until the end of the age. This helper is none less than the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. And he was poured out upon the believers in a rather dramatic fashion on the Day of Pentecost. Some English translations use other words for "helper" to describe the Holy Spirit. For instance, some use the word "comforter", others "counselor", and still others "advocate". They are all good words which each shade part of the meaning of the Greek word being translated. That Greek word is, transliterated, "Paraklete". Literally, a Paraklete is "one called along side of". This morning we will discuss how the Holy Spirit is the second one sent from the heavenly Father to advocate for us. We will also talk a little of his particular role is advocating for us.

06-02-2019 Sermon - Never Despair to Pray

Most of us find it a source of great comfort and strength to know that we are being prayed for by family, by friends, and by the congregation. But did you know that our Lord Jesus himself intercedes for us daily at the right hand of the Father? This morning we catch a glimpse and overhear one of the things Jesus mentions in his prayers for us. With Jesus praying for us and giving us the words to speak in prayer, the Lord's Prayer, we can rest assured that our heavenly Father hears our prayers. We need never despair to pray!

05-26-2019 Sermon - What the Mission Looks Like

In the four Gospel Accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John we learn of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. And in most of the rest of the New Testament we have the letters written to different churches by Apostles such as Paul, Peter, and John. But only in the Book of Acts do we have any kind of an account of how after Jesus' death and resurrection these churches came into existence. So in participating in our Lord's mission to redeem a lost world, we learn best from the Book of Acts what that mission looks like. And our present lesson is a case in point...

05-19-2019 Sermon - The Restored Heaven And Earth

The Book of Revelation is a bizarre Book! It contains startling images, highly symbolic language, and depictions that are ironic. Last Sunday's reading from Revelation involved a slain, then alive, lamb shepherding a flock. In today's reading we have a city descending from heaven adorned as a bride! One thing is for sure, the pictures are memorable! And as long as we get our doctrine from the Books in which it is put forth directly, then I think we can benefit and receive comfort from the strange pictures in Revelation, especially those that unmistakably point to the victory we share in as Christians when Christ returns again at the end of the age.

05-12-2019 Sermon - The Lamb Shall Shepherd His Sheep

What an image in our Revelation Lesson! A Lamb is out in front of the flock leading the sheep to the living waters. And we learn that this lamb has been slain, and yet lives. A lamb as a shepherd! A lamb equipped with rod and staff and protecting the sheep through the valleys of death. This is an ironic image. But the picture lingers in the mind. And we can be reminded that this is no ordinary lamb...