Saturday, March 22, 2008

“The Taste Test” (Jeremiah 15:16)

S-1043 3/20/08 MTIL/3A. Hymns: #621; 629 LSB; L.S. #305; 159; 428

Texts: Psalm 102; Exodus 24:3-11; Hebrews 9:11-22; Matthew 26:17-30

Theme: “The Taste Test” (Jeremiah 15:16)


Saints in Christ, tonight we embark on a most holy and sacred journey. This evening, we will join our Savior in the Upper Room, travel with Him to Gethsemane, and end up by the empty tomb on Sunday morning. As we are privileged to participate in these events, the Holy Spirit directs us to the words of our meditation by Jeremiah the prophet. “When your words came, I ate them; they were the joy and delight of my heart.”

“You’ve got to taste this,” My mother said, as she dished a spoonful of spinach to my mouth. You’ve got to taste this ….” So say our spouses now as they thrust their latest concoction of tuna casserole into our face. You’ve got to taste this” Said my mother-in-law as she offered me her specialty of an egg salad (can’t stand it), and my mother said to my wife, You’ve got to taste this” as she gave her a bit of a cow stomach to eat. But all this pales in comparison to the taste test conducted by a gourmet cook as she thrust dog food upon an unsuspecting guest!

One of my professor shared what happened at an elegant reception near Denver. The dog food was served on delicate little crackers with a wedge of imported cheese, bacon chips, an olive and a sliver of pimento on top. This was Alpo par excel lance. The hostess had just graduated from a gourmet cooking course and decided it was time to put her skill to the ultimate test. After doctoring up those miserable morsels and putting them on a couple of silver trays, with a sly grin she watched them all disappear, and my friend just couldn’t get enough. I don’t recall how they broke the news to him, but knowing this guy, when he found out, he probably barked and bit her on the leg!

“You’ve got to taste this,” so says the LORD as he places His Word before Jeremiah. The taste test begins with Jeremiah’s call in 1:9, “The LORD said to me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.’” Later Jeremiah says, “When your words came, I ate them; they were the joy and delight of my heart.” “

Joy and delight” –. Jeremiah uses this word-pair four more times and each time are paired with “bride and bridegroom.” By means of this poetic word association Jeremiah evokes the connection between the exuberance, the ecstasy and the sheer excitement experienced by a “bride and bridegroom” each with the love of their life and eating God’s Word.

Having eaten this word Jeremiah is ready for what ministry would serve up. And yet his ministry was anything but troubles and hardships. People were out to hurt and harm him. They even attempted to kill him by dropping him in a well. However, when his enemies accused him God’s Word vindicated him and to came to his defense by claming that Jeremiah is echoing an earlier oracle from Micah 3:12: “Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins.” In chapter 29 Jeremiah hears about hopeless exiles so he writes them a letter with God’s word: “I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future.”

In Jeremiah’s lifetime Judah would lose everything; temple and sacrifice, their king and their cities and the biggest loss of them all their land. But Judah would still have the Word and this Word would undermine tyranny and mobilize the faithful. No wonder Jeremiah calls this Word his joy and delight, the love of his life!

To define our lives the LORD places His sacramental Word in our mouths as well. Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 10:16, “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?” And we say, “Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!”

But isn’t there something tastier, more appetizing, with a bit more pizzazz? Here it is. “For breakfast – one-half grapefruit, one piece of whole wheat toast, no butter, eight ounces of skim milk, coffee – black. Lunch – four ounces of lean broiled chicken breast, skin removed, one cup of steamed zucchini, herb tea, no sugar … one Oreo cookie. Snack – the rest of the package of Oreo cookies, one quart chocolate almond ice cream, one jar of hot fudge. Dinner – two loaves of garlic bread, heavy on the butter, one large sausage and pepperoni pizza, extra cheese, a large milk shake with whipped cream, and for desert – three Milky Way candy bars and an entire frozen cheesecake!”

Oh, we try, don’t we? We try to hunger and thirst for the sacrament. We try to repent and confess our sins before we approach the table. But then we slip one Oreo cookie. One crumb of coveting, one piece of pornography, one slice of slander, one sip of sarcasm, and then the rest of the package of Oreo cookies! We just can’t get enough and it’s killing us!

The enemy thrusts this junk food before us on silver trays and with a sly grin as he says, “You have got to taste this...” and watches it all disappear.

So we are reminded tonight that the LORD served up one more Word; a more vindicating Word than that written by Micah in Jeremiah’s defense, a more hopeful Word than that penned to exiles, a more victorious Word than that spoken against Babylon, and a more enduring word than that rewritten before Jehoiakim. For coming down past the galaxies, past the solar system, past the moon and the stars, this Word became flesh and appeared in the silence of a night, in the depth of a cave, in the whisper of a Baby. And as a Man His appetite is defined in Hebrews 2:9, “… so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.”

Talk about a taste test! This was it for all time! Jesus tasted the demonic delight called death; the soldiers’ spit, their cheap wine, sweat running down His cheeks, His own blood. But there was more; He drank the cup of the Father’s wrath to the very last drop. He just couldn’t get enough and it killed Him.

Jesus not only tasted death. He swallowed him up chewed him up and spit him out!!! I Corinthians 15:54, “DEATH HAS BEEN SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY!”

And now the Spirit of the Risen Christ creates in us a new hunger and a new thirst for His true body and true blood.

When we eagerly and humbly come to the Holy Supper and later we are accused by the enemy, we say – “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Christ’s body and blood enlivens hope in the midst of our hopelessness: “In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope.” When enemies mock and deny the Savior’s true presence we have a more powerful word, spoken by Jesus: “This is My body; this is My blood.” And sustained by this meal we face the enemy realizing and knowing that the victory is ours in Christ our Savior. The enemies of our souls, that would have us eat the bread of death and to drink from the cup of poison; we know that we have been delivered by Him who said, “Take eat this is My body, take drink this is My blood.”

“When your words came, I ate them; they were the joy and delight of my heart,” the love of my life. Tonight, we will be privileged to taste this Word made flesh. And when we do, we taste LOVE. Because we have tasted this love, we can leave here and share this love with others. Tonight, we will be privileged to taste this Word of forgiveness, and because we have tasted this forgiveness, we forgive others. Tonight, we will be privileged to know that God is patient with us for His Son’s sake, and because He is patient, we leave here and be patient in our dealings with others. All because the Words of Jesus says, Come and eat and taste this food, it is sweeter than honey comb. These words are the love of my life.

The words of the sermon hymn capture these thoughts to help us realize how blessed we are to taste the gift of heaven: “Is this for me? I am forgiven and set free. I do believe, that I receive his very body and his blood. O taste and see – the Lord is good” (LSB # 629.5).

Come and taste the feast is ready for you. Amen.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Soumia Khouri sister of Pastor Nour who is in the hospital in Haifa with major injuries after a car accident.
Phil Miedema (Pastor Nour's brother -in-law) batteling lymphoma caner.
Safe travele to Detroit Michigan April 3-6 for Muslim Friendship Conference.
Speaking at the Spring Christian Life Workshop for LWML at Senceca, SD April 19th.
Speaking at Shoshone Base Camp in Idaho July 6-11.

“The Heat Is ON” Daniel 3:13-18

S-1037 2/27/08 5SMIL/3A. Hymns: (S)#427 vv 1, 5, 7; # 516 ; (C) #552 vv 1, 4, 8

Texts: Psalm 48; Joshua, 3:1-4; 2 Corinthians 4:6-11; Matthew 27:11-31

Theme: “The Heat Is ON” Daniel 3:13-18

Armour, SD. SOLI DEO GLORIA (5th sermon in series on “Singing the Songs of Zion)

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us ...” Dan. 3:17

In July of 1989, I, along with my wife and two sons headed to St. Louis, MO., to begin my seminary training. Our apartment was on the third floor and the temperature was very hot; and we had no air-conditioner. It’s sweltering and sizzling, suffocating and sticky; it’s a scorcher for sure! The sun is out, the temperature is up and the sweat is rolling’ down. It feels like a five-alarm fire and it’s as hot as hell! All because the heat is on!

But this heat is not as bad as others have faced. You don’t believe me; just ask Hannaniah, Misheal and Azariah. Don't know who they are? Perhaps you know them by their Babylonian names—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Well whatever you call them they are standing in the heat. They are Hebrews in exile. Remember God had the Babylonians sweep over their homeland and take the people into exile because they failed to keep the God of their Fathers as their God. Instead they worshipped every other god they could get their hands on. These three, although they were faithful to God, were swept away with everyone else. Now they are in a hot spot as they are trying to hold on to their faithfulness to the God of their Father’s Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They are three in the midst of 300, 000 people. They had better blend in, bow down and sell out because King Nebuchnezzar has made a golden statue that is 12½ feet wide 125 feet high and issued this decree, “At the sound of music everybody must to bow down and worship my statue or else in the same hour they will know, first hand, that the heat is on!”

As they sweat bullets we can imagine these three Hebrews conversing, Shach: “What does it matter if we bow down to a statue just this once?” Meshach: “Besides, what a great opportunity we have to be a part of this stadium event!” Azariah, (speaking like a seminarian): And besides, I’d rather cooperate and assimilate and tolerate and then graduate rather than hyperventilate!”

When the heat is on us and we are the three in the midst of the 300,000 – when we’re called to “not be ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe” – when we’re called to “not be conformed to this present evil age” – when we’re called to “confess the Son of Man before men with the promise that He will then confess us before the Father in heaven” all too often we shrink back like cowards, not wanting to be known or stand out or bow down. We would rather compromise and be comfortable, rather stand up, or stand out. There’s a part of us that soaks up the “air conditioned Christian life” where there is no sweat, no perspiration with plenty of ice tea and Pepsi to go around for everybody!

When faced with moral compromise – like internet pornography … when faced with ecclesiastical compromise – like character assassination … when faced with doctrinal compromise like “anything goes” … we say, “It won’t hurt if I DO IT JUST THIS ONCE. Besides, it’s fashionable to be “undecided” these days. Besides no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. And besides, I’ve seen what happens to marshmallows at campfires – hamburgers at barbeques – and yesterday’s leftovers in today’s ill-timed microwave ovens, they all burn up when the heat is on!”

In spite of these temptations Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are ready to take the heat: Listen to their bold witness and the words that will put them to death: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us.” At this point our heroes appear to be hanging on for dear life, for all of the cards are stacked up against them. It appears that they are falling fast from the favor of the King. Everything around them is crumbling fast and they are surrounded by those who want to devour them. It’s that bad because Nebuchadnezzar is filled with rage and orders the furnace to be heated seven times hotter. This death chamber even has a window on the side through which spectators can watch the baking, the broiling and the burning when the heat is on!

Refusing to blend in, bow down or sell out Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are tied up and thrown into this blazing heat. And get this; the fire is so hot that it kills the men who take them up to the opening of the furnace!

Now what happens when just a few stand up against so many? What happens when people take a radical stand and turn neither to the right nor to the left? What happens when believers say, “Enough is enough! I will not sell out! I will not bow down! I will not bend!” I’ll let Nebuchadnezzar answer that for us: “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth one looks like a Son of God.”

Amazing! Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are saved by the same Son of God whose kingdom Daniel earlier describes as, “… a kingdom that will never be destroyed …. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.” This is the same Son Daniel sees in chapter seven, “… coming with the clouds of Heaven, approaching the Ancient of Days and led into His presence. He is given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and people of every language worship Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” And this is the same Son of God whom Daniel says in chapter 12 writes our names in His book so that He will completely deliver us on the day when our bodies awake from the dust of the earth and enter the fullness of everlasting life!

And the result of their bold stand? The hair on their head isn’t singed, their clothing is unaffected, and they don’t even smell like smoke! I can’t even leave a bowling alley without smelling like smoke, but the Son of God’s protection is so thorough, so complete they don’t even smell like smoke!

This same Son of God climactically entered the furnace once again – only this time it was one against the world. Look. The heat is on; it’s sweltering and sizzling, suffocating and sticky, it’s a scorcher for sure because the Palestinian sun is out, the temperature is up and the sweat is rolling down His bleeding, battered and butchered body. It’s as hot as hell literally because Jesus Christ is taking the heat for your sins and mine. His cracked lips and parched throat cry out one word in John 19:28 – DIPSO – in Greek – in English two words, “I thirst!”

Three days later this Jesus came out of the fire alive – forever unbound – to make this promise from Isaiah 43, straight from His heart to yours – “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego speak before a king and they are not put to shame. They not only say: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us ...” But also – as true theologians of the cross – they say, “But even if God does not save us now, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Today God is calling and empowering us to make this same bold confession – that Jesus Christ is Lord, that there is new life in Him, and that we refuse to blend in, bow down or sell out to any person or system that would rob us of this Gospel! All to the end … that along with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego…. we are confident to sing this song all the days of our life …

“Great is thy faithfulness. Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed, thy hand hath provided. Great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me” (LSB # 810. refrain).

“No Condemnation” (Romans 8:1)

S-1038 3/09/08 5SIL/3A. Hymns: (O) #; (S) #; (C) #

Texts: Ezekiel 37:1-14; Romans 8:1-11; John 11:17-27, 38-53

Theme: “No Condemnation” (Romans 8:1)


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! The text for our meditation is from the Epistle lesson: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)

Saints in Christ, the greatest missionary and apostle, Paul speaks to our divided hearts about sin and its consequences. But of more value and benefit, are the emphases of the beautiful message that the letter to Rome has for us. It is the message about the changes that will come upon our hearts–the hearts of the believers. Therefore, there is no condemnation to those who believe. Through the power of the Word, Paul lifts the heart of the sinner from the depths of hell to the heights of heaven.

Paul gives us encouragement in this chapter about the believer’s life of faith. He the believer is not condemned. This verse, Romans 8:1 comes on the heels of Chapter 7. There Paul paints for us, in very vivid colors, the “Civil War” of the Christian. In Chapter 7, Paul speaks frankly about the struggle to live in keeping the demands of the Law of God. We are not immune from this struggle either. Paul, (as well all as other Christians) struggled daily to live up to what the Word of God asked of us. For those who don’t keep the Word of God the consequences, of course, are death, (Romans 3:23, 6:23). Yet, Paul does not ship us to the morgue. He points us to Christ and His redeeming work. “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! (7:24-25).

Chapter eight is the climax, culmination and the crest of the book of Romans. In this chapter Paul concludes his careful presentation of salvation NOT by works of man, but by FAITH alone that is rooted in Christ alone. Here Paul gives us on a silver platter the glorious statement of the certainty of God’s love and salvation in Jesus Christ. With this verse Paul emphasizes the same words of John: “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the SIN of the world” (John 1:29). Paul wants the troubled soul to have hope with this truth: “There is NO CONDEMNATION ‘judgment, punishment, sentence, or penalty to those who are in Christ Jesus.

Did you notice the big important word “NOW?” Therefore, there is now no condemnation, there is no handing down the sentence of death to those who are in Christ Jesus. Why is that word important? Two reasons:

First, it is about the believer being in Christ right now, not yesterday or any time in the past. The believer could be either a Jew or a Gentile, slave or free, male or female before. What matters is that one is in Christ now. One who is not in Christ now is not in the Spirit, but in the flesh. This life is according to the desire of the flesh and is at enmity with God (Rom. 8:7). So for those who are not in Christ there is condemnation even now. But one who is confessing Christ as Lord and believes in His heart that God raised Him from the dead, right NOW, is a Child of God and has been saved. Salvation is a present reality that continues into eternity, as long as there is faith in Jesus. Even our daily sins of neither weakness, nor even our iniquities can cancel this salvation or justification as long as faith is granted by God

Second, because salvation has already started, justification has also taken place. It is both present and future. That which Christ has begun He will complete (Phil. 1:6). This is the joy and hope of the believers. It is ‘in Christ’ that we receive the blessings of being saved, and are not condemned. For Paul, then, “no condemnation” means freedom not only from sin’s guilt but also from its enslaving power.

In Christ Jesus, we are given the gift of forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is not a mere passing emotion, but rather a forgiveness that affects our entire soul and body. This forgiveness has been given to us as Paul writes in Colossians 2:13-15 “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” In Christ Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we learn the meaning of no condemnation. In Christ Jesus Paul secures our joy, hope, faith, and eternal life. The more a person spends time unpacking and unwrapping this verse, the more gold appears on the heart of the believer. These words begin to take a different meaning when you know that your sins have been cast into the depth of the sea. Your sins don’t hang around your neck like a noose.

Even though we are not condemned on account of Christ, even thought we are forgiven on account of Christ and even though we know that we will spend eternity in heaven on account of Christ, yet we are so quick to condemn others, we are not so quick to forgive them. We remember the things they say against us and we hold them accountable. We act as Judge and Jury and damn them to hell. How sad it is that we who follow the Savior, His teachings and His love don’t act like Him in word or deed.

Therefore, I pray that you will see the image that the Apostle Paul develops for us in this book. Paul, that great evangelist, and Good News teller help us [Christians] to continue to walk humbly in faith that are rooted and anchored in the cross and the empty tomb. Here he asserts strongly that we are not condemned. I like to use a different word for ‘condemnation’ – ‘punishment.’ What Paul in essence is saying: There is no more punishment for me, no more sin that the righteous Judge is singling out for which to hit me. Can that be so? “Yes,” Paul declares with absolute certainty. There is no sin, no punishment, no hell, no casting out to those who are in Christ Jesus.

Paul doesn’t want us to leave here without seeing the full picture so he takes us in spirit to heaven’s courtroom. We—you and I enter with fear and trepidation, because we know what we will hear and see God the Eternal Judge, seated in all of His glory on the bench. Each of us–sinners is on trial. As we sit, we see the witnesses marching one after another to take their places at the prosecution table.

The first witness for the prosecution is the law. The law takes the stand. “Your honor, this man, is guilty. He has done what I said he shouldn’t and DIDN’T do what I said he should. Your honor, I present you with these exhibits of his life. File after file show his breaking of the law, his infractions, his disobedience, and his defiance.

Second, comes death with its ugly head and black robe. “Honorable Judge, You know what Your Word declares: “The wages for sin is DEATH” (Romans 3:23). You, Yourself have made it plain and clear there is no confusion here, Honorable Judge, You said: “The soul that sins should die” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). Your Honor, You must carry the sentence. You are a just Judge, and You will not back away from Your Word.

The final witness, satan, rises to his feet and with a smile on his face, looks at the accused and slowly slithers and slides towards the bench. “Judge,” he says, “This sinner, this man that has broken Your every command and disobeyed Your every Word, belongs in my hell. He is not worthy. I have kept a full record of every error and marked each slip. He’s spent much of his life following and listening to me. He has worshiped me more than You. He has honored me with his life, instead of you. I claim his soul throughout an eternity of hell. Judge I am waiting for Your sentence

The sinner sits on the bench, his hands begin to sweat, the room begin to heat up and the case appears air tight. He drops his head in shame. Hell can be seen opening its jail doors and satan opening his jaws to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

But then, something beautiful occurs. The doors of the court burst wide open, and a man who is covered by blood and has a crown of thorns on His head, pierced hands and feet approaches the bench. He doesn’t belong here. Who is this man? Why has He come? He comes as my advocate, my attorney. At first appearance, He doesn’t look like He can stand to defend me. But then, I the sinner remember the Words of St. John, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have One who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). Yes, this is the attorney that Paul wants me to see and hear. And what an attorney He is!

Paul describes Him as Christ, who died, and was raised to life on the third day, is at God’s right hand, and intercedes for ME. My attorney has already died for me. He rose to show that He has paid enough for me. Now at God’s right hand He’s busy representing me. He never loses a case. He is always successful in defending the guilty party.

The Judge stands up and speaks with a very clear voice, “Case dismissed! All penalties have been paid in full. All punishments have been carried out. All charges have been removed. You are free. You will live not in hell, but here with Me in heaven From now on, you will be My child and call me ‘Abba,’ Father” (Rom. 8:15). There are no greater and sweeter words to hear than these. YOU ARE FORGIVEN! YOU ARE NOT GUILTY! THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION. At the hearing of the sentence, satan is suddenly silent. And you, the sinner, are suddenly jubilant. You have stood before the Eternal Judge and heard Him declare you, NOT GUILTY! Amen. and Amen.

Now the peace of God…

Bike for Life Update

So far by the grace of God, we have collected almost $10,080.71 for the Bike For Life. SDG.

Keep the funds coming

In Christ's love and in His service,

Rev. Nabil S. Nour Pastor and foot washer Phil. 1:6
Redeemer Lutheran Church
P. O. Box 158
Armour, SD. 57313-0158
(605)724-2489 (O)
(605)724-2722 (H)
"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" Philippians 1:6

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Theme: “Blindness of the Heart” (Isaiah 42:16)

S-1036 3/02/08 3SIL/3A. Hymns: (O) #1; (S) #57 SOD; (C) #47

Texts: Isaiah 42:14-21; Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-7, 13-17, 34-39

Theme: “Blindness of the Heart” (Isaiah 42:16)


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! The text for our meditation is from the O.T. “And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them”
(Is. 42:16).

Saints in Christ, last Saturday morning I was leaving my home and walking towards my office. As I shut the garage door, there before me where two men, dressed in white shirts and ties, and holding a bag in their hands. Yes, you guessed it, they were Jehovah Witnesses.

They looked at me with those hungry eyes, here is a sucker lets go after him. Sure enough, as I neared them, they said “Hello” and wanted to give me a pamphlet. I said, “No thank you. I know all about your religion.” Their response, “You do?” I told them, “That I didn’t believe in their teachings. They were wrong. They were not Christians because they deny the Trinity”. One of them, Tom said, to me, how do you understand John 14:28? This is how it reads: “You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I’”.

The main point of this argument is that Jesus is not God, but lesser than God. He is only human. I didn’t have my Bible with me, but I used the Scripture to communicate the Truth of who Jesus is. That is, as far as His humanity is concerned indeed He is less than God the Father. I used Philippians 2 to verify the States of Humiliation and Exaltation. I further stated that He is equal in majesty and glory to God the Father and the Holy Spirit. I believe that Jesus is the Author of Scripture. He is the One who Created the world and came to save the world from sin and the devil. We went back and forth for almost half an hour of looking this verse and that verse. We even discussed the work of the Holy Spirit that He is God. But they refuted that also. I pointed them to Acts 5: “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.’ (Acts 5:1-4).

They would not listen or see what I was trying to convey. Tom was getting mad at me. But I wouldn’t back up in my saying, “You are not Christians, since you deny the Trinity. We worship God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. They are not three gods, but One God in three persons”. After all of the discussions we had I walked away realizing that they are blind to the truth. They have chosen this blindness. And this blindness of the heart is worse than physical blindness.

This is what we have in the text before us today. Blindness of the heart drives us away from the good and gracious God, who has made the human eye to see Him as the Savior of mankind. We only see the things that make sense to our eyes. We attempt to prove what we can see.

Sight is one of our senses that help us see so that we may believe. However, in matters of faith, sight is not necessary, because we believe not because we see the evidence, but rather on account of the Word of God. You and I see the deeds and works of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Faith clings for what is believed without any evidence.

In the words before us this morning, Isaiah tells the Israelites what God is going to do, because they have been disobedient to His will and command. He is sick of them and is going to punish them for all of the evil they have done and continue to do because their hearts are blind to the truth—the truth that leads to eternal life. They have become spiritually blind; this blindness got in the way of the message of God.

We, too, the new Israel have problems with our eye sights. Man-Made ideas always blind us and others to hear the truth. The “American Way” is to come up with our “own ideas,” even beliefs, so that we can feel good about ourselves. The danger: the better we feel about ourselves, the greater the likelihood we are “walking on thin ice!”

The truth is that there is much difference between physical and spiritual blindness. Physical blindness is known to the person. If a blind person gets into a car and drives away, he knows he is in trouble. But spiritual blindness is not known. These people don’t see the wrong they are living in. The spiritually blind person chooses to elevate his way over God’s way. The spiritually blind person attempts to put God on the same level of your next door neighbor, rather than the God of Creation.

How often we shut our eyes to the truth of God’s Word. We ignore His command and will for our lives. Many of us live our lives as if God doesn’t matter nor does His Word. That is what the devil does, just like the Jehovah Witnesses attempts to do when they knock at someone’s door. They attempt to blind us with their worldly wisdom, rather than God’s Word for life and salvation. Any time we don’t seek God’s Spirit for guidance and direction we remain darkness.

The sermon hymn “Amazing Grace” speaks well of what God does for the spiritually blind. Listen again, Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost but now am found, was BLIND, but now I see! Did you get it? We are blind to the truth of God. But as you hear the voice of the Prophet Isaiah, we are told what God will do: “And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.”

Notice who is the Agent of this work? Notice who will lead the blind? It is God the One who made the eye of man to see His glory and majesty. The Apostle Paul said this: “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you’” (Eph. 5:8-13).

Isaiah, Paul and John point to the Christ of Scripture, the One who through His death and resurrection has opened our eyes and resolved the problem of the blindness of the heart. The Christ of Scripture while walking the dusty roads of Palestine kneeled down and mixed some mud and put it on a blind man and his eyes were opened and he could see.

We, who come to this hospital for sinners, known as Redeemer Lutheran Church, receive the cure of the blindness and we see our desperate condition. We see our sins that separate us from God’s grace--the blindness that keep us from the light of the Gospel. But with the touch of Christ’s love which He gave us, our eyes are open to see Him as the true God, the heavenly Messenger who came to not only open the eyes of the blind physically, but more importantly to remove the spiritual blindness.

It was only few years back that I needed glasses to help me see better at night. Those glasses have helped me to see better, drive more cautiously and get there safely. So it is with the Gospel lenses that the Savior, Jesus Christ provides us with through His Word and Sacrament. Jesus opens the eyes of the blind. He leads us in ways we have never gone before. He allows us to see that in His suffering and death and resurrection, He has removed the scales from our eyes so that we may know Him as the One who has given us light, salvation and eternal life.

Unlike the Jehovah Witnesses, you and I have come here because we acknowledge that we can’t always see the ways and methods of God. But as we are privileged to sit at His feet, listen to His voice, and feel the touch of His pierced hands on our face, we see Him as the Savior of our salvation. I thank God that you came to this hospital for sinners. By Him the blindness of the heart has been removed and filled with the light of God’s grace. Amen.

Now the peace…