Sunday, April 26, 2009

“Le No One Deceive You!” (1 John 3:7)

S-1117 4/26/09 3SAE/3B Hymns: (O)#191 vv 1-3; (S)#210; L.S. #190; #43 SOD; #205; (C) #191 vv 4-6

Texts Acts 3:11-21; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36-49

Theme: “Le No One Deceive You!” (1 John 3:7)

Question: “Have you ever been deceived?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the Epistle lesson: “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous” (1 John 3:7).

Saints in Christ, on this 3rd Sunday after Easter, John, the youngest of the apostles gives us good advice—advice that we should take to heart and head. “Don’t let anyone deceive you!” But you say, “Well, I am pretty sharp. I know what I am doing and no one can pull the wool over my face!” But don’t be too cocky.

Consider the many in our town, state and country who have been swindled thousands of dollars by crooks. Some even lost their whole estate. We, of course hear of the big cases, like Madoff who swindled over 50 B$. But there are others who deceive us. How many people have been deceived by their own churches when they no longer hold unto the truth of what Scripture teaches? Such as Homosexuality and Lesbianism is ok by God. Abortion is acceptable in the sight of God. Women’s ordination is taught according to Scripture. God has told me to raise a million dollars or I won’t come down from pillar. Just recently, the HIV and AIDS Network of the United Church of Christ (UCC) said condoms should be handed out at places of worship. The statement was issued (on March 19th in Cleveland) during a presentation to the denomination’s Wider Church Ministries Board and also advocated making condoms available at faith-based educational settings.

In our local newspaper there is this warning: NOTICE TELEPHONE SCAM A telephone scam is going around. The recorded message says that your Debit Card has been suspended, press one to reactivate or they give you a phone number to call to reactivate. This is a scam to get your account number. DO NOT GIVE OUT YOUR DEBIT CARD NUMBERS OR ACCOUNT NUMBERS TO ANYONE! First State Bank (The Chronicle, Tuesday April 21, 2009 p. 3).

Beloved in the Lord, John, the author of our text reveals his deep desire to spare us the pain of being deceived. He is not talking about being deceived financially, but more importantly spiritually. He warns us by calling “little children” reminding us that we belong to the Lord and ought not to listen to the devil and schemes and be deceived.

Perhaps, you have watched a western movie and it seems like there is a person who comes to the town selling snake oil. The salesman tells the crowd: “I have a snake oil that will heal your entire ailment. John is warning us saying, “Don’t let anyone sell you snake oil”. The best offense is a great defense. To be rooted and grounded in the Word of God. Yet, we know there are many so-called-theologians who teach that the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God, that the resurrection didn’t take place (at least physical resurrection) etc.

The problem though is that many don’t know the Bible. Many don’t come to church. Many don’t know the TRUTH and are easily deceived. This is a warning call. DON’T LET ANY MAN/WOMAN OR THING DECEIVE YOU.

Last Sunday’s Epistle lesson from First Corinthians 15, Paul wrote, “I want to remind you of the gospel preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the Word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”

The warnings of John and Paul expressed to the believer in their days, are just as relevant to those who are of the Church in our day.  I think often of the “Solas” that are a part of our Lutheran heritage.  “Sola Gratia,” “Sola Fide,” “Sola Scriptura,” and “Sola Christe.”  We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed to us in Scripture alone.  But we are living in a day when such thinking is considered to be too narrow... too restricted.  But narrow... limited... exclusive... that is what God told His people, when it came to Him and their relationship with Him.  They were to look to Him only.... seek Him only... listen to Him only... serve Him only.

But people are not content with what God has given them. They want change. People are screaming for change. They are always seeking, searching, and studying other elements out there and thus deceive themselves. BUT for John, for Paul and for all Christians the emphases ought to be and should be WE PREACH CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED. The Apostle Paul stated clearly, that the Gospel he preached was very specific.  “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures...’ (1 Cor. 15:3-4).  That’s it!  Christ... the Christ of God... God come in human flesh... the sinless Son of God... giving His life for sinful humankind... dying for our sins... being buried and then raised up to life once again on the third day.... now living, that those who have faith in Him will also live.  PAUSE.

But what is happening in our day?  Dr. Schuller at the Crystal Cathedral, a short time ago, sponsored, for those wanting to be on the cutting edge of ministry in our day, a re-imagining conference.  But what is there to reimagine?  Christ gave His followers the great commission that they should “Go, and make disciples.”  And how were they... how are we... to do this?  By baptizing and teaching.  BUT if we are honest, we can see where the problem lies.  It lies in this thing called “TEACHING”.  The church is not intent in teaching today.  We want members, but we don’t want to turn them off by teaching the truth of God and His Word.  So where do people go to learn?  They go to exactly that place that they shouldn’t go. They go outside the church, they go elsewhere than the Bible. PAUSE.

Maybe you have heard about this - beginning this past January, “Oprah & Friends” is offering a year-long course on her satellite radio station, on the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles.  As examples of this course of study - Lesson #29 asks that we go through our day affirming that God is in everything I see.” Lesson #61 tells each person to repeat the affirmation I am the light of the world.” Lesson #70 teaches the student to say and to believe, “My salvation comes from me.”  By the end of the year students will be steeped in New Age teachings such as belief there is no sin, there is no evil, no devil, and that God is “in” everyone and everything.  The course claims to be a “new revelation” from “Jesus” that a woman by the name of Helen Schuchman, received by means of an “inner voice” that spoke to her.  For seven years, she diligently took dictation from this inner voice.   And now, thanks to Oprah, these teachings are being shared to help people work through the troubled times in which we are now living.  However this “Jesus” bears no doctrinal resemblance to the Jesus of the Bible.

But God... the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob... God... the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has given us His Word. And in this Word we hear today, the voice of John saying “Let no one deceive you!” We are to read, study, and inwardly digest this Word. We are to know that Word so that we may not be deceived. We are to be grounded and rooted in this Word.  We are not to take away from His Word.  We are not to add to His Word... We are not to look elsewhere for answers... but to His Word alone.  And as for this Word of God... while written by men, yet none of it “had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21).  And while it is true that we might often wish that much more would have been told to us... yet, in the Word of God... in our Bibles... we have all we need to know about salvation! That which we find there written... was written “that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing we may have life in His name” (Jn. 19:31).  By means of this Word of God - comes saving faith (Rom. 10:17)... by holding firmly to that Word we are kept in the faith (1 Cor. 15:2)... by means of that same Word we are taught, rebuked, corrected and trained in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). 

But in all of this remember... it isn’t the book... it isn’t the Bible... it is rather Him whom the Bible reveals to us... Jesus the Christ of God... in whom we must trust for our salvation.  “Salvation is found in on one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). 

In God’s Word there are warnings for us to heed and hear. It was spoken at the time of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Paul and ours also. And these words are given so that we may know the truth that will set us free. Change will not come for the world, but from the Word of God. He will change our sinful heart to be righteous in His sights.

Let no one deceive you John tells us. That is a good advice because you and I know better. The Government is not the answer to our problems. The Democrats and the Republicans are not the answer to our predicaments. Only Jesus. Jesus is the answer to all of our needs. Jesus is the One who changes us and makes us His beloved children. He is the One who forgives our sins. He is the One who clothes us with His garments of righteousness. The Apostle John said: “God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in Him.” And this truth no snake oil salesman can sell us, because Salvation is found in no one else. That is why John calls us “LITTLE CHILDREN” what type of love the Father has lavished upon us. What love? Unlimited and unrestricted, and there is no need for a stimulus package. We have it at all times. Amen.

Now the peace of God…

“His Victory” John 19:30a

S-1116 4/12/09 Resurrection Day/3B Hymns: (O)#199; #193; (S)#201; L.S. #442; #307; #205; (C) #198

Texts Isaiah 25:6-9; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8

Theme: “His Victory” (9th sermon series in Lent on HIStory, John 19:30a)

Question: “Have you ever been declared the victor?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! (3x) He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for Easter morning from the Gospel of John “When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished,’” (John 19:30a).

Saints in Christ, there is a great phenomenon in the United States during the month of March known as “March Madness.” March Madness is a tournament that is carried out on the Basketball court with the best teams in the United States. 65 teams from across the land begin to compete for the great prize of wining the trophy of the NCAA. These teams play against each other until slowly but surely there remains only two teams (hopefully) the best of teams. As was the case last Monday when The Tar Heels of N.C met the Michigan State Spartans, and when the Horn blew after 40 minutes of sweat and guts, the score showed the Tar Heels as the champions. They were crowned the victors for the 2009 NCAA and received the trophy.

That night and the day after there was a great celebration in North Carolina because their basketball team was crowned the victor. They were jubilant. They had a great parade and a wonderful celebration when the team arrived home.

You, I and the town of Armour, know all too well what it means to be victors. Walk into the Packers gym and you will see the banners that are on the walls (similar to the one) telling the State of the SD how great our boys are. The last championship won was in 1997 when two of my sons were playing on that team. The whole town of Armour was excited about the great sweep we had that year. Not only did we win the State B Basketball tournament, but we also had the “Spirit of Six” award (for the cheerleaders) and the “Spirit of Sue” award (in honor of Sue Crow who died tragically in a car crash on her way to the tournament. She was a great athlete and a bright and honored student).

And when the team came back home, many in the community drove about 10 miles out and a great caravan of fire trucks, police escort and others followed the team, all the while we were jumping up and down and celebrating the victory that the Packers had won.

Unlike the March Madness, the church of Christ has its own story, not a Basketball tournament, but a Lenten journey that brings people from all the regions of the world to Golgotha. For the past 40 days we have seen the struggle not on the basketball court, but in the court of Pilate between Jesus and the Jewish Leaders who were pawns for the devil. There the battle raged. There was sweat, and cries of anguish. Nothing was left behind. It was all left right there and finally on a hill outside the city of Jerusalem @ 3:00 p.m. on a Friday afternoon about 30 A.D. the announcer declared Himself the victor.

From the cross, Jesus declared the victory shout. John the Gospel writer tells us, “When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’” The battle was severe, the courtyard was bloodied, sweat dripped like blood, muscles ached; body bruised and limbs hung low; BUT the war was over and the victory won.

From the cross Jesus, the Son of God was crowned the champion. He certainly didn’t look like a champion on Friday afternoon as He hung crucified on the cross of the tree. He didn’t look like a champion when He didn’t come down from the cross, even though they egged Him on; He didn’t look like a champion as He was asking for something to wet His lips; BUT, He was the champion, because He spoke with a clear and convincing voice saying “IT IS FINISHED!”

That statement “IT IS FINISHED!” showed Jesus the victor even though He appeared defeated. That statement was the hollering of a champion who has defeated His enemy, not to win a trophy like a national championship; but for the souls of humanity, who have been held hostage by the devil, sin and its accomplice death.

That statement “IT IS FINISHED!” was written by the Greeks on their tax bills to show that they were paid in full. In full the hatred and sin that has entered the world at Eden’s Garden now come to end and the victory is ours through the merit of Christ our Savior.

We can sing with gusto our sermon hymn saying, “Jesus Lives! The Victory’s Won! Death can no longer appall me; Jesus lives! Death’s reign is done! From the grave Christ will recall me. Brighter scenes will then commence; this shall be my confidence!”

We sing it because He has won. For on this day as the Gospel writer informs us, Jesus has left the grave and He has risen. Here again we know of the victory that Christ has won. The devil, death, and sin have been done away with.

Today, you and I as the children of God celebrate the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecies and the greatest victory in the history of the world. In light of the resurrection we have hope, heaven, happiness, joy, peace and eternal life.

Friday He lay dead, but today is the day of deliverance; the day of declaring to the world that once and for all the devil has been destroyed, defeated and done away with. Today, we tell the world our Champion has been raised from the cruel crucifixion; our Champion has done it all. He has tasted death so that we HAVE life; He has endured hell, so that we HAVE heaven; He was forsaken by God, so that we are NOT forsaken.

No wonder the Psalmist states: “This is the Day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Why, because this is the Day of Victory.

The Tar Heels are still in celebrating mode and basking in what they have won this past Monday. But for us, the victory of 10 years ago is not what it used to be; but it is still special to the ones who played on that team that year. They still reflect on their victory. I still hear my children reminisce about the outcome of that year.

How much more it is for us today, that we are included on Christ’s team. Even though we didn’t do anything to earn salvation to win our freedom; to defeat the devil, but since Christ has done it for us; we can celebrate, rejoice and shout He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Family and friends in Christ, “blessed are those to whom Easter…is not a greeting but a proclamation; not a hunt but a find; not an outward fashion but inward grace; not a day but an Eternity of joy. Amen.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

“His Death” John 19:30b

S-1115 4/10/09 Good Friday/3B Hymns: (O) #; (S) # ; (C) #

Texts Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9; John 19:17-30

Theme: “His Death(8th sermon series in Lent on HIStory, John 19:30b)

Question: “Have you stood at a cemetery and mourned the death of loved one?


(Tonight I preach at the end of the service, when all of the lights have been extinguished and the only light remaining is the Paschal (Christ’s) light. Its light reflect on my face so that the saints can see me).

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for Good Friday is from the Gospel lesson “[Jesus] said, ‘It is finished,’ and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30b)

Saints in Christ, today is known the world over with many different names, Great Friday, Good Friday, God’s Friday and Black Friday. All of these names point to an event that took place outside the Jerusalem walls to the King of the Jews, Jesus of Nazareth as He hung on the cross suspended on a tree between heaven and hell cursed by God and man.

But why did He have to die the death of a criminal. Why did He have to be cursed on a tree? Why did He have to endure such degradation? Why did the Son of God have to be forsaken by God? Why did He have to endure such punishment and humiliation?

Because God was not bluffing when He told our first parents in the Garden of Eden “You sin…You die!” Good Friday is the result of God’s promise to our first parents because they submitted their will to the devil by disobeying God and His Word. And on that cross, Jesus paid the penalty for all sins for all times reaching all the way back to the first couple in the Garden of Eden; and reaching forward to the last person who will ever walk on the face of the earth. That is the reason Jesus went to the cross. His death is for all people. This is no joking matter.

As you listen to the Gospel reading tonight, you heard the words of. John as Jesus spoke from the cross in a loud voice said, “IT IS FINISHED!” In Greek it is “Tetelestai!” In Hebrew, “Neshlam!” In Arabic “Tama Kul Shaie!” In French “C’est fini!” and in German, “Es Ist Vollbracht!” It doesn’t make a difference in what language you hear it, or what language you read it; the end result is the same. “It is finished!” The work of our salvation has been completed there is nothing else needs to be done. Death has been destroyed; the devil has been crushed and the grave has been conquered. (my voice raised) This is why this night is called GOD’S FRIDAY. God’s Friday, Black Friday because it speaks of death—His death instead of yours and mine.

If you really want to understand the magnitude of human sin, then go to Golgatha. If you really want to understand what God thinks of sin then travel with me and see the Lamb of God suspended on the cross of Calvary. There behold those outstretched arms—with one hand He draws His ancient people to His bosom and with the other one hand reaches out to the Gentiles and bring them to His bosom as well. And from the two, He made one holy people, redeemed by God and become the family of God. And thus fulfilled what He said in John, “When I am lifted up, I will draw all people to Myself.” (John 13:32).

This is why it is called Good Friday. For there in the King of the Jews offers His life for the sins of the world as the Lamb of God to be slain and slaughtered and His blood spilled on the altar of the tree.

You and I can’t do anything about our time of departure. O Lord, God Knows we try. We seek ever avenue to lengthen our lives on earth. We spare no expense seeking out doctors, exercising and eating healthy so that we can lengthen our lives. But the end results WE WILL DIE. And there is nothing that you and I can do to stop death when it comes knocking at our door.

But it wasn’t so with our Savior. It wasn’t so because before He went to the cross, He told His disciples over and over again, that the Son of Man must go to Jerusalem, must suffer, must die and the third He will RISE again. And in another place He said, ““I lay down my life-only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord,” now proved this fact as He committed His soul into the hands of His heavenly Father. You and I can’t control death. BUT Jesus did. At the right moment of History, He laid down His life. PAUSE.

“IT IS FINISHED!” John tells us and with that He bowed His head and died. At the right moment, when everything was done He won our salvation. He procured our freedom; the white robes of righteousness bought with His own precious blood; life granted to sinner like you and me. By faith we to the promise that we are the redeemed of God; the blood-bought; and the forgiven ones because of the ultimate sacrifice Jesus carried out so long ago on that Friday. To every knee that adores and worships this Royal King-the King of glory life is his now and forever.

With the hymn writer we have to marvel, “O sorrow dread, God’s Son is dead. God’s Son is dead.” Yes that is true! He died. But H also rose. And that is the sure and certain hope we have. Because He rose, we too shall rise again and have life eternal.

In the midst of this dark night, in the midst of this darkness; there is only one light—Christ’s Light (standing by the light), but the light can never be extinguished. For Christ gave His own life temporarily out of His will, and out of His own accord, so that you and I may never be forsaken by God; so that you and I may never be lonely or alone when we face death; so that you and I may never be sent to the abyss of hell, where there is the gnashing of teeth and eternal fire. PAUSE.

For us it is Good Friday, because of what the Savior has done. It is good for us, even though it was miserable for Him, as He hung motionless on that cross. His eyes bulging out; His tongue stuck to the roof of His mouth; His muscles and nerves aching for relief. And yet throughout the 3 hours of punishment as He hung on the cross YOU were on His mind.

Our choir sang a beautiful hymn, “Were you there at Calvary?” Oh, yes we were. Each of us nailed Him to the cursed tree. Every sin of ours past, present and future nailed Him to the cross. He endured it with great joy and scorns the cross for our sake. Yes, God’s Son is dead, but we, God’s sons and daughters live and shall live forever with Him in heaven.

From the cross with a loud voice Jesus said, “IT IS FINISHED!” “Tetelestai!” “Neshlam!” “Tama Kul Shaie!” “C’est fini!” “Es Ist Vollbracht!” There is nothing else that needs to be done. But for us we can give thanks and praise for the love was displayed for us so long ago that Good Friday. Thank God with me that tonight you are hearing the Words of the Savior again saying “IT IS FINISHED!” AMEN.

“His Legacy” Mark 14:22-24

S-1114 4/08/09 MT./3B Hymns: (O)153; 307; (S) 156; L.S. 309; 311; 308; (C) #159

Texts Psalm 8; Exodus 24:3-11; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; Mark 14:12-26

Theme: “His Legacy(7th sermon series in Lent on HIStory, Mark 14:22-24)

Question: “What Legacy would you like to leave for your family?


(in the center of the Sacristy there will be a table with an ornate chalice from Bethlehem and loaf of Pita bread)

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for Maundy Thursday is from the Gospel lesson: “And as they were eating, He took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is My body.’ And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And He said to them, ‘This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many’” (Mark 14:22-24).

Saints in Christ, according to the dictionary, “legacy” is 1. “Money or property left to someone by a will or bequest” and 2. “Anything handed down from an ancestor”. Sometimes you and I wish we have someone to leave us something. How many times have you thought or said, “I wished a long distance relative would leave me his inheritance?”

All over the world the wise people desire to leave a legacy behind for their children and grandchildren. They work hard to make sure that their earthly belongings are distributed to the ones they love. They establish an account that is given to their heirs at the proper age so they don’t spend it all in one day. Some seek counsel from an attorney or financial consultant to avoid paying taxes or the least amount of taxes on what they have earned.

But there are others who say, “I am not leaving anything to those who follow me. I have worked hard for what I got and no way am I giving it away!” You may have even seen the bumper sticker that says: “I am spending my grandchildren’s inheritance.” We laugh at this when we see it. Even Solomon the richest man in his day wrote these words: “I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity”. (Eccl. 2:18-19).

Solomon spoke his heart when he said, “I don’t know if I want to leave ALL to someone after me, because I am not sure if they will be wise in what I have handed to them.” The truth is earthly riches don’t last. Possessions, property, and profits can be taken away from us as is happening now with the retirement accounts; stolen by thieves, squandered by descendants or destroyed by events such as fire, earthquake and hurricane.

But as we look at the text that is before for this Maundy Thursday, we learn from St. Mark that King Jesus has a legacy for us. This legacy is given to His heirs in love. This legacy can’t be stolen, taken away, or destroyed. This legacy is for now and forever. In love, King Jesus worked hard to leave this legacy for us. To earn our legacy, Jesus went to the cross, and on the cross He endured the punishment of hell and the separation of His Father—as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world. King Jesus as the Lamb of God shed His blood as the payment of the world’s sins. Forgiveness was the rich treasure He would win and leave for all people.

This forgiveness our King offers in a very special way. On that Thursday so long ago as He was celebrating the Passover with His disciples on the night before He went to Calvary, He left His forgiveness in a unique form. In a few hours King Jesus would be betrayed, beaten, brought low; and bludgeoned by the soldiers, yet, in that very moment he was doing something most amazing and wonderful. (Walk over to the table in the center of the chancel and break the bread and lift the cup) Taking the unleavened bread and the cup of wine on the table, He gave them to His disciples and said, “Take it; this is my body given for YOU. . . . This is my blood of the covenant shed for YOU.” Miraculously, but really, He gave them His body and blood along with that bread for the forgiveness of all their sins.

The legacy King Jesus left us is tangible, touchable, and tasteable. It is a legacy that gives forgiveness to help us know that His love for us is not conditional, but unconditional. His love is real. It is anchored in the activity He carried out on that Passover night before He was betrayed.

What a legacy! Jesus knew how often His followers would be weak and wobbly, how often their faith would flicker and fade how often they would need to be forgiven. So He gave them the miracle of His Holy Supper. In that Supper along with the bread and the wine He gives us the very body and blood He used to prepare forgiveness. Who can doubt that sins are gone and heaven opened as he receives the very body and blood of His Savior?

Here in this place, at this altar you will receive the Legacy Jesus has left YOU. Tonight, you will kneel and hold in your hand and take into your mouth the living legacy of Jesus And this altar on which the Holy Supper is celebrated becomes your pulpit—the pulpit of the laity when you, as true spiritual priests proclaim the virtue and value of Him who called you from the darkness of sin into His wonderful light.

I, as the preacher, proclaim the crucified Christ in my sermon from this pulpit, and when that sermon has ended, you the believing congregation gathers at the altar to proclaim Him as well. You proclaim liberty from sin. You proclaim freedom from fear. You proclaim life from death. You proclaim salvation from satan. You the laity become the preachers to the world, declaring that in faith you take hold of this blessed legacy King Jesus has left you.

What do you do with a legacy? Lock it away in a bank vault, stash it on a closet shelf, or squander it? No! No! And No! It is much better when new sins alarm us and old guilt won’t let go; far better when faith needs feeding and Christian muscles need messaging that we cry to Him to strengthen our faith. And by His love and mercy He moves us to come and kneel/stand at His table so that we may hear Him tell us again, “Here, this IS My body; I gave it for YOU. Here, this IS My blood; I shed it for YOU. YOUR sins are forgiven. YOU depart in peace.”

People all over the world have left for their children and loved ones legacies to be remembered by. But no matter how much possessions, properties and profits are left, they pale in comparison to the LEGACY King Jesus has left us—His legacy is a legacy for time and season because each day it assures us that we are His forgiven children, heirs to His throne.

This legacy IS for YOU. In this we see that the word IS still applies. That bread still IS the body of Christ. That cup still IS the blood of Christ’s testament. This is given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. Did you hear that? When this body is in your mouth and this blood is on your lips, your sins are removed. The guilt and stain and the pursuant death that goes with it “passes over” you. That death was assigned to Jesus. He already did it for you. And tonight, on this totally extra-ordinary Maundy Thursday, death passes over you yet again.

In pardon and peace we are invited to taste and see just how good the Lord God is to us. And this is no memorial meal. It is the REAL deal. His Body and His Blood given and shed for you! This IS no ordinary dinner party. This IS nothing other than forgiveness, life and salvation, all wrapped up in the trappings of an Old tradition made new. The very Jesus that bids us to Take, eat and drink.

What a blessing to gather in the Lord’s house tonight, dine as His guest at His table and celebrate the gift of life and the forgiveness of sins He has earned for us in His suffering, crucifixion and glorious resurrection. When we leave here, by faith, may we tell the world that our King has left us a wondrous legacy! As we use it regularly, we can’t help but exclaim, “He’s a King indeed! He’s King of kings and Lord of lords!” Amen.

Now the peace…

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nour Tour to the Holy Land - October, 2009

image Come and join me (a native of Israel) on a spiritual journey to the Holy land. Hear the good news, see the wonderful and glorious sights, smell the rich aroma, and get a taste of foreign delicacies. We will be departing from Minneapolis on October 27.

2009 for 11 days. If this is a trip you wanted to take, now is the time to take the adventure of a life time. You will come back refreshed, rejuvenated and rejoicing because you walked the walk of our Lord, Jesus Christ. The Bible will come alive and the names and places will jump at you whenever you read or hear them. The price for the 11 day trip including airfare, hotels and two meals a day is $3050.00 One of those nights you will be a guest at my parents home in Haifa. The only thing that you are responsible for is you noon meals and spending money.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

“Thinking of you” (Philippians 2:6-8)

S-1113 4/01/09 Palm Sunday/3B Hymns: (O) #160; (S) # 445 LSB; (C) #162, OR 161

Texts Zechariah 9:9-12; Philippians 2:5-11; Mark 15:1-45

Theme: “Thinking of you” (Philippians 2:6-8)

Question: “Have you received a card telling you they care about you?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for Palm Sunday is the from the Epistle lesson: “who, though He [Jesus] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross’” (Philippians 2:6-8).

Saints in Christ, there is not a family in this house of faith that is not going through some pain, difficulties, trials, and hardships. Some of your families are struggling with health issues, jobs, financial difficulties, not getting along with their children and still others are contemplating divorce or separation. As you look around you know of some of these situations. Your heart goes out to them and you pray to the Lord to guide them in these challenging time.

When you and I discover that one of our own is in the hospital, ill, dealing with death, loss of job, or challenged in one way or another, we send a card or a note (show card) saying: “Thinking of You” In your message, you write a statement like this: Just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you today and praying that the Lord will make you feel better and hope you will be out of the hospital soon, or something similar to that. Often we don’t know what else to do or say as we watch the one we care about struggle. So we send this card as a way of saying, WE CARE! WE WOULD LIKE TO HELP. WE ARE HERE FOR YOU. These cards are nice. When we receive them, our hearts are gladdened. Our spirits are raised. And, at least for a moment, our burden doesn’t seem so, well, burdensome.

Today, you and I receive from the pen of the great theologian Paul, the same kind of encouraging card. But this card is not from a friend; instead, this card is from the Holy Spirit. With this card, St. Paul wants those of us who are struggling with many issues in our daily walk of faith to know that someone cares, someone wants to remove that burden, and someone is here to help. In essence, Paul was saying JESUS, IS THINKING OF YOU. With these words before us today, the author of our text engages us with the events and activities of the Savior who thought so much of us that He came to earth from the glory of heaven, and died the death of the criminal for us.

Can you believe it, Jesus is thinking of you—yes you (point at different locations). He is thinking of you so much that Paul tells us in so many words of the mission of the Savior, on this Palm Sunday. Listen to Paul as he shares the card from the lips of God to you: “who, though He [Jesus] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.’” Here it is in black and white, Jesus is thinking of you. That is why He came to earth.

Why, you might ask? The answer is very simple indeed, because we all have a terminal disease. All of us in this room have a time limit on earth because of the disease that is within us. This disease is going to take our lives away. Some of us may know when that time will come as you deal with a specific disease that appears so immanent; but others don’t know. Regardless if we do or don’t know the end result is the same—the disease is going to get us—death will come calling on us. PAUSE.

Luther said: “God’s wonderful power, wisdom and goodness guide us. Only as we look back do we fully recognize how often God was with us thought about us when we neither saw His hand nor felt His presence at the time it was happening. Accordingly, Peter said, ‘He CARES FOR YOU’” (1 Peter 5:7)

Even if there were no books or sermons to tell us about God, simply looking back on our own lives would prove that He [God] tenderly carries us in His arms. When we look back on how God has led us and brought us through so much evil, adversity and danger, we can clearly see the ever-present goodness of God, which is far above our thoughts, mind and perception.” (Through Faith Alone, A daily Devotion by Martin Luther 4-2 CPH).

As we study the love letter to the Church at Philippi by Paul, he points US to the great sacrifice the Savior did. He left all of the glory, majesty and beauty of heaven and came to earth in the form of man and “humbled” (Greek = emptied) Himself all the while He was thinking of YOU. He came to earth for you. He suffered for you. He was nailed to the cross for you. He died for you. He rose for you. He ascended for you. He gave His Word for you. And He is coming back for you.

Historically, the church has called this day Palm Sunday. As you saw at the beginning of the service, we read of God’s people singing their Hosannas as they celebrated the coming of the One who would save them. They thought it was time for the Romans to go, the oppression to end, troubles disappear and the glory days of Israel was about to be restored. They thought that the battle was about to begin and that victory would be won.

They were right. But they had the wrong enemy. The battle was about to begin between this great One riding on the back of a donkey and death. In meekness, Jesus came as a conquering hero. It is the conquering hero that sends you the very love letter that we read as our text for today. It was His thinking of you that sent Him to Jerusalem that day. It was His love for you that brought Him to the point where He would battle death all the while thinking of you. As we read this “thinking of you” text on this Palm Sunday, you and I know where this will lead. It will lead to His being obedient to death, even death on a cross.

The Passion of our Lord and the Cross are a sign of just how much our Lord cares for us and how highly He thinks of us. It was there on the cross, as the nails are being driven into His flesh that He shows how much He cares. What was it He said? “Father forgive them!” He was thinking of YOU! Can you believe that? When we, in the same spot, would be screaming in terror, whimpering in pain or hurling insults and even cursing those who would be inflicting pain and death on us, Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, GOD HIMSELF, was thinking of US! Thinking of us, He spoke the words of absolution, FORGIVENESS that gives us life.

Beloved in Christ, God is able to make us all love Him and force us to do His will BUT He doesn’t. Christianity is the story of a God who doesn’t follow the rules that humans follow: We tend to look out for our own interests; our own desires; our own needs; whereas God is only interested in our wellbeing. He only wants us to be with Him forever. The Gospel is the story of God fulfilling this desire for us to be with Him forever.

You have heard the slogan of Hallmark regarding their “Cards”: “When you care enough to send the very best.” God has. He has sent us the best card we can ever get. And this card is not made in china, or printed in the U.S. but fashioned and formed in heaven and sent our way by the Holy Spirit. In this card we see how much the Lord cares for us and thinks about us.

And what is our response? At times, we leave the very card that delivers this message unopened. It sits on our desk, our end table or our on a shelf and does nothing other than gather dust. Or when we read this love letter once in a while and we are left unmoved. And still other times, we yawn and stretch and simply say, “that’s nice” as we head back into a life that is so full of what we want to do that we have no time for the One who would think of us with such a love. Still others open the card, shake it out and when money, or prosperity, or earthly deliverance doesn’t fall out, we thoughtlessly toss it aside thinking that this was just some other junk mail.

This message from Paul is not junk mail, but a joy-filled message of hope and help. And during this Palm Sunday we see this message being fulfilled by Jesus the heaven-sent messenger who said yes to the great rescue plan of the Father—plans to deliver us by serving us to the point of death—death on a cross.

Today, hear, better yet know and read the heavenly card that tells you, Jesus is thinking of you. Don’t worry about your problems. Instead by the Spirit’s power begin to think of others, as Jesus thought of you and serve them in love—His love.

Remember children of God, why you serve and how you are able to serve—because God sent His Son, because He was thinking of You. Jesus came to be a servant and to humble Himself and become obedient unto death, even death on a cross. He served you and frees you to serve others, now and always. Amen.

Now the peace…

Thursday, April 2, 2009

“His Love” Luke 23:34a

S-1112 4/01/09 6MIL/3B Hymns: (O) #154; #182; (S) # 351; (C) #176

Texts Psalm 136:1-4, 23-26; Hosea 3:1-4; Romans 5:6-11; Luke 23-34

Theme: “His Love(6th sermon series in Lent on HIStory, Luke 23:34a)

Question: “Have you experienced true love?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our sixth Midweek in Lent is from the Gospel reading: “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’” (Luke 23:34a).

Saints in Christ, in the movie Love Comes Softly, there is a riveting scene. Husband and wife are sharing. This is his second wife who is carrying her former husband’s child and he is her second husband and has a young daughter from his first wife. Both of the spouses died tragically young. The woman is bitter at the loss of her husband and very, very angry with God. She can’t understand why God would permit her husband to die. In her visit with her new husband who is a devout believer says, “What kind of God is this God who takes your spouse and my spouse? How come He allows these “bad” things to happen? I don’t understand how you can call Him loving?” His response was, “As a father at times I am with my daughter. If she falls and gets hurt while I am with her, that doesn’t mean that I allowed it to happen, but rather it means that I will pick her up, carry her in my arms, shower her with all of my love, take her pain away and nurture her to good health.”

Man’s love is visible, tangible and touchable. God’s love is much more. God’s love is deeper. God’s love can’t be understood by our feeble minds, but with the minds and hearts of faith. Only when we see the awesome love God has for sinners like us, do we grasp what it means that God really LOVE ME.

Today, Luke speaks of this amazing love. This Royal King while ready to face His final hours on earth, while being punished severely by soldiers and mockers; while hanging on the cross and barely breathing; while listening to the venomous words of the by-standers, looks at the crowds before Him and pours out His love upon them, lest they be judged to damnation. From the cross, love oozes down with these words: “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”

Father, forgive them! Can you believe that sentence? Can you grasp that this sentence was spoken to the soldiers who nailed this Royal King to the cross; to the Pharisees who accused Him; to Pilate who condemned Him; to the mockers and on lookers; but also to you and me. With these words, Jesus demonstrates His love that is beyond our wildest imagination.

Father, forgive them were the words that the thief right next to Jesus heard. This sentence was lased with love. It was the message of the Gospel that melted his heart and in his final hour before death said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom” and in love Jesus responded, “Today, YOU will be with Me in paradise.”

God loves you so much. He has given the gift of His Son to save you. He doesn’t want to let you go, even though you sin – and I sin. Sometimes we may tell our children when they’ve been difficult, “There is nothing you can do to make me stop loving you!” That’s God’s feeling toward us too. He doesn’t want to lose us. Sometimes God intervenes in our lives to awaken us to faith. Sometimes He sends trials and turbulence to turn us around in life when we’re headed in the wrong direction. But then, when we cry out to Him, He calms those turbulent waters through His love for us in Jesus. He is our Savior and through Him we survive the storms, the tornadoes, the trials and the turbulence of life, even those we bring to ourselves.

Oh to know that kind of love. To experience a love that causes you to give thanks for what has been given you. Oh to bask in that love that someone offers you. No greater love is available than a love that comes deep from the heart of God—for God is love. And because He is love and He loves us, we His beloved children share His love with others. PAUSE.

North Platte, (NP) Nebraska was a town of 12,000 people in 1941. On December 7, 1941; Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. 10 days later word was heard that the Nebraska National Guard was coming through to NP on their way to the war. One woman Rae Wilson a clerk in a drug store organized women to meet the train and give these boys something to help them on their journey.

When the train came through, it was discovered it wasn’t Nebraska National Guard but other National Guard. Everyone was going back without giving the goodies away. But Rae Wilson said, “I am not taking these cookies back.” And that began the North Platte Canteen.

Rae Wilson organized 55,000 women who met every train that came to North Platte and sometimes 32 trains came through in a day. For 10 minutes these women helped the young men with whatever they needed. They gave them hugs, sandwiches, cookies, cakes, drinks and shined their shoes. And just as they were leaving, they would say, “Sailor, we love you, be safe and come back to us soon!” Many didn’t return. PAUSE.

6 million soldiers went through North Platte during WWII and these women met every train and did the service voluntarily. They paid for everything out of their own pockets, except for $5.00 that came from President Roosevelt saying, “I heard of the great things you are doing for our boys!”

When these young boys where in France and bombs and bullets were dropping from the sky, they would say to each other, “Wouldn’t be great to be back in North Platte for just 10 minutes!”

Wouldn’t be great to be back in North Platte that was what the soldiers said because they had experienced love from strangers, young women that looked like their sisters, mothers and grandmothers who gave selflessly and lovingly to help our military boys.

Wouldn’t be great today, to be back in Jerusalem just for 10 minutes and there stand by the cross and hear Jesus say, “Father, forgive them…” We need not be in North Platte, we need not be in Jerusalem or at Calvary; because tonight you hear God’s love coming to you. I have loved you. I have given you all—my life, my body for your sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, no greater love has ever been demonstrated as that of Christ our Savior. He Himself stated, Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” This Jesus did for us. His love took Him to the cross. His love moved Him to forgive those who beat Him; those who mocked Him; those who nailed Him to the tree of the cross; those who have sinned against Him—that is us.

And this love has been bestowed upon us today as well. And it is this love that the Savior wants us to share with others. That is why we gather in the Lord’s house to take some of His love and leave here and give it to others. Only when you have tasted, experienced, got to know that kind of love, can you in return share it with those who don’t know the Savior’s love.

Love is the greatest activity we carry. We can by the power of the Holy Spirit choose to love, and choose to receive love. Love transcends blood, dirt, past and future. Love is an act of selflessness and devotion. And the love of God is the hallmark of us being loved by Him.

In the name of our Lord Jesus, who loves us and pursues us in His love. Amen!

Now the peace of God…

p.s. if you want to view the story on North Platte go to this sight. Make sure you have few tissues to wipe your tears.