Tuesday, July 28, 2009

“He Is Able and Willing…” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

S-1131 7/26/09 8SAP/3B Hymns: (O) #349 1-4; (S) #370; L.S. #373; #314; #348; (C) #9 SOD

Texts Genesis 9:8-17; Ephesians 3:14-21; Mark 6:45-56

Theme: “He Is Able and Willing…” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Question: “Have you said You are able lately?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is the Epistle lesson: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21)


Saints in Christ, a big wedding is coming up. The family is very excited about the event. The bride-to-be along with her parents seeks a professional and reputable Photographer who could capture the moments. They visit the photographer and he states: “I am honored that you have asked me to take your wedding pictures. I consider it a privilege to take these photos for you and hope they will be wonderful memories for years to come. I am able and willing to do so.”

The day of the wedding has arrived. The photographer came early, set up his lighting equipment, checked his cameras and began to take one picture after another. He would holler “Give me a smile here! Stand closer! Hold her dress! Show me the bouquet! And so on.” As the wedding party began to exit the church, he took more pictures. He was happy and content to be part of this special occasion.

The young couple left to their honey moon and the photographer went back to his studio and left all of his equipment in the shop. The next day, he comes and eagerly delves into developing the pictures. But to his horror there is not one frame of all of the pictures he took. He is shocked. He can’t believe it and he doesn’t even know what to say to the newlyweds.

The time came for him to contact the couple and give them the photos. The photographer came to their house and said, “I am so sorry to inform you that I don’t have a single picture to give you. Something went wrong with my camera and I never even so much as found a frame to develop. Please forgive me. Please forgive me. Please. Please forgive me. I feel so terrible. I wish I would be able to do it all over and recreate this moment. But alas I can’t. I AM REALLY SORRY!” The couple is crushed. No pictures.

This photographer is reputable and able to take good pictures, but something happened beyond his control. Even though he promised the couple that he would be willing and able to provide them with memorable pictures of the wedding, he couldn’t do it. There nothing the photographer can do to undo what is left undone. He is more than willing, but not able.

But unlike the poor photographer, Paul teaches us that God is not only Able but Willing to do more than we can imagine and hope for. He is willing to do the impossible even when we think there is no hope.

God’s ability and willingness to do good is very well documented in Scripture. From Genesis to Revelation we read again and again the mighty power of God who is able to do good and does it only as God can.

In the Gospel of Mark is the story of a person suffering from leprosy. Mark says: “And a leper came to Him [Jesus], imploring Him, and kneeling said to Him, ‘If you will, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, He stretched out His hand and touched him and said to him, I will; be clean’ (Mark 1:40-41). Yes, Jesus is willing and able to do what He said He would and He has. In the Old Testament we hear Moses telling the people of Israel in what God was able to do: “So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with miraculous signs and wonders” (Deut. 26:8). And in 1 Samuel we read of the fear of the Philistines: “Woe to us! Who is able to deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness” (1 Samuel 4:8). And in our reading today Paul reminds us again that the God of the universe is the One who is able and willing to do more than we ask or imagine. PAUSE.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, to be able to do something for someone is a great attribute indeed. Especially, to do some good to a neighbor or friend is something that is special. Whenever, we are able and willing to do good that is a package worthy to have. We, of course are not the package. Often we’d like to do good and can’t. Other times, we could do something but don’t because we just don’t want to. More often than not we are not willing because we are selfish, rebellious and disobedient to the will of God our Savior. We are not willing and unable to do that because we think of the “me” rather than the common wealth of all.

Oh, don’t me take me wrong. We like to think we are able to do what we say we will. How many times we said, “I am going to be a better Christian, serve my Lord better, and not hurt my neighbor”, but end up doing just the opposite. How many times does an alcoholic say, “I am not going to take another drink”. How often do we say that we are going to give up gossip, put away pornography, opt out of ogling the attractive co-worker, cheat on a test, and any of a hundred other things that we are more than willing to give up? But are we not able? In short, the answer is no. They try, but they struggle with that. They need help. We try. But we fail miserably too! We are all sinners and rely on our own might and power to do what we think we should.

Here is our problem. We assess the situation incorrectly. It is not about me being good, or able to be good, or trying to be good. It is all about the goodness of the Lord. It isn’t about me coming to church because I am such a good person, but I come to church, because God makes me good.

The Apostle Paul who wrote the words of our text didn’t rely on his ability to stand before God, but relied on Christ’s mercy and grace. For this is the same God who met him on the road to Damascus forgave him his sins and sent him out into the world to be His missionary.

You and I can do no less than rely on the same Savior. Who is able to do more than we ask or imagine. This mighty and powerful God is able to do all things that are good for us. He does what is good for us especially to strengthen us—the One Holy Christian Church by His Spirit.

Saints in Christ, Jesus is able and willing to snatch us from the jaws of death. Jesus is able and willing to forgive our sins. Jesus is able and willing to bring us into the fold through the living gift of Baptism. Jesus is the One who dresses us with the clock of His innocence. Jesus is not willing that we would stay where we are, but change us through His saving Word and life-giving Means of Grace.

Why is He able and willing to do all of these things for us? Because God’s Son became a man, took upon Him our flesh and bone, allowed all the sins of all people to be attributed to Him, placed Himself under the Law, and by His suffering and death on the cross of Calvary bore our punishment. He, the innocent Son of God, became obedient even unto death on the cross. When He cried out, “IT IS FINISHED” (John 19:30), He referred to the completion of His great sacrifice for the atonement of all sin. With that cry He was willing and able to do what He said He would, “For the Son of Man didn’t come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for Many” Mark 10:45).

Who of us is able to understand the width, height, depth and length of God’s love? Only those who believe, that He is the Savior of mankind and the Redeemer for their sins. Anyone who acknowledges this truth, will become strong and realize by the power of the Holy Spirit that being in the Lord’s house will make him strong to walk humbly before His Lord, all the days of his/her life. PAUSE.

The photographer wished that he could re-create the images of the wedding. He felt sorry of not being able to provide the pictures for the newlyweds. Jesus on the other hand is more than able and willing to recreate our image which was lost in the Garden of Eden. Jesus is the photo copy of God. He is not like the photographer who wished he could capture the moment. Jesus Can. Jesus will. And Jesus has done it all. He is indeed more than able and willing. Amen.

Now the peace of God…

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

“The Greatest Fish Fry Banquet Ever” (Mark 6:41-42)

S-1130 7/19/09 7SAP/3B Hymns: (O) #300; (S) #473; (C) #312

Texts Jeremiah 23:1-6; Ephesians 2:11-22; Mark 6:30-44

Theme: “The Greatest Fish Fry Banquet Ever” (Mark 6:41-42)

Question: “How often do you get invited to a Banquet?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is the Gospel lesson: “And taking the five loaves and the two fish He [Jesus] looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And He divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied” (Mark 6:41-42).


Saints in Christ, A Fish Fry Day is an old and long tradition held in many towns in the U.S.A. Most often it is held on Fridays. Around here two towns in particular hold a Fish Fry Days. The first week of June Lake Andes holds their Fish Fry Days and Tripp hold theirs in June also. Announcement of the upcoming event is advertised well. Many workers, helpers and planners work hard to make this a reality. They gather the fish, cooks, frying pans, tables and chairs and carry out the event. People gather from many places for the fish feed.

As I said, Fish Fry Days are a common event in many places. But did you know that Paris, Tennessee claims to be home of the largest Fish Fry in the USA? In 2008 Hamburg, New York broke the world’s record for a Fish Fry event. Listen to this announcement: “The Queen City has beaten the home of fish and chips, for a new entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. The world’s largest fish fry was held tonight at the fairgrounds in Hamburg. Organizers served up 2,551 pieces of beer battered goodness to break the old world record that was set in the United Kingdom. A Guinness representative was on hand to certify the record”.

But before Fish Fry Days were held in the US, they were held in another place. According to Saint Mark, Jesus had been teaching and performing miracles. His disciples didn’t have time to eat and rest. To meet their needs Jesus invited them to come with Him and rest and be refreshed in a solitary place. When people found out that He had left their vicinity, many people from the surrounding community followed Him to this dessert place. The disciples were concerned that in this isolated place the throng would suffer from hunger. So they asked their Rabbi to send them home before it was too late. But He said, “You feed them”. But they complained “We don’t have that much money to pay for these people to eat. It would take more than 200 denarius.” That is about $24,000.00 — $25, 000.00.

This Galilean Rabi doesn’t wait for them. He demonstrates to them His great compassion by not only meeting the needs of the disciples, but of all people even in this isolated place. Jesus, the heaven-sent messenger, again and again shows that He has a gracious habit of showing genuine compassion for those in needs and for all level of need.

These words from Mark assure us today, that regardless what our needs may be Jesus will meet them all. He will meet our spiritual, physical and social needs. He does it by His caring attitude. Regardless of where we might be on the journey of life; regardless of what challenges we are facing; regardless of the troubles we are in; He IS always by our side caring for our needs.

In the words of our text, we meet Jesus with His disciples and a huge crowd following Him to an isolated place. In a desolate place Christ shows again that He cares for all people’s needs. In this place, even isolated place, He provides food for the hungry. As the faithful Shepherd who cares for His flock, Jesus performs a miracle—a miracle that is sufficient to satisfy everyone’s hunger. PAUSE.

While Paris, TN may claim to have the US’s largest fish fry or Hamburg, NY may have the Guiness People to prove it, neither is correct. Jesus does them far better there remains 12 baskets left over! Jesus by the Sea of Galilee provides the greatest Fish Fry Banquet ever. He doesn’t have any helpers to bring the fish in. He doesn’t have any advertisement going out. He doesn’t have any cooks preparing the batter and heating the oil. But with eyes lifted heaven-ward and hands open in thanksgiving. Jesus takes the two fish and five loaves of bread and blesses them and He feeds over 15, 000 people. Now that is the Greatest Fish Fry Banquet Ever.

There by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus demonstrates that He is the faithful Good Shepherd who provides for His flock the necessary food and rest. With this miracle, Jesus shows His love to all people and their needs. The Apostle Paul in Philippians wrote these words: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Yes. MY GOD WILL MEET ALL OF YOUR NEEDS IN CHRIST JESUS.

In Jesus Christ, through Jesus Christ and on account of Christ all of our needs both physical and spiritual are met. Jesus the compassionate and caring Good Shepherd does what is necessary to satisfy our needs. Please notice it is not our wants, but our needs. That Day, Jesus fed the hungry crowd and all were satisfied. All of those who followed Him were content that day.

And so it is today. Anyone who follows the Savior and worships Him will be satisfied because Christ will meet their needs. We see this need met on the cross of Calvary. There on the cross, we see Jesus meeting our greatest need—the removal of our sins. On the cross we see the blood—that holy innocent blood washing away our stains of sins and removing the barrier that separated us from our Awesome and loving God. By the empty tomb, Jesus breaks the walls and opens the gates of heaven for us.

Today, right in this place we see this need being met for our newest member in the family of faith—Gabriel Brandon Brosz had his needs met—with the splash of the water on his forehead, with the Word spoken over him, with the sign made on his heart and head—he became a saint, a child of God and received forgiveness for his sins and has his name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. PAUSE.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus doesn’t NOT only meet the needs of the people, but He exceeds our greatest need. He is a bigger God than you and I give Him credit for. Many times we limit the power of God. We limit what He can do in our lives. Sometimes we don’t cry out to Him to fulfill what we need. Only after all else fails, then we cry out to Him.

But if there is one thing that we are taught today through St. Mark, is that Jesus knows our needs before we ask them. He has come to meet all of our needs physical and spiritual. As He spoke to the disciples saying “You feed them!” He speaks to us also “You feed them!” We are startled and taken aback at His words. You want me to feed them? We look at our check books, our cupboard and our calendar. And we cry out IMPOSSIBLE. But Jesus responds, “You bring them, I feed, you catch them, I will clean them!”

Jesus challenges us to have His compassion for the lost. To do what we can to meet their needs. Are we caring enough for the lost? Do we invite them to come and grow and be fed with us in the faith? Most of us we don’t. We have an uncaring attitude towards the lost, but this is not what the Savior asks of us. He wants us to be involved in the lives of others.

Why? Because there is not a need that He can’t meet. Are you having marital problems, then cry out to Him? Are you having financial crisis, then call upon Him? Are you having physical calamity, then ask Him? Are you hungry for spiritual feeding, then know that He provides you with what you need. Whatever your need maybe be, be assured that He will satisfy this need by His grace alone.

The faithful Good Shepherd still hears the cries of His people. The faithful Savior, continues to provide us with what we need for the journey of life—He does it even here in this place. Here He offers us forgiveness for our sins. Here He shares His Word spoken from the lectern and the pulpit and here on His altar He feeds us His body and blood so that we might be satisfied not only for a day, but forever.

Saints in Christ, there are many places around the country that have a Fish Fry Day. But there is none as good and great as the Greatest Fish Fry Banquet ever that Jesus has provided and still provides for all people even today. Join me then in thanking Him for being the faithful Shepherd who exceeds all of our need by being our faithful Shepherd and Savior, Amen.

Now the peace…

Saturday, July 11, 2009

“A Walk Down Memory Lane” (Mark 6:26)

S-1129 7/12/09 6SAP/3B Hymns: (O) #33; (S) #279; L.S. #384; #199; #339; (C) #360

Texts Amos 7:7-15; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:14-29

Theme: “A Walk Down Memory Lane” (Mark 6:26)

Question: “Have you ever said, “Remember when…?”

SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, Faith, SF, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is the Gospel lesson: “And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her” (Mark 6:26).


Saints in Christ, in the last 20 years there has been a great transformation in this country. We have gone on an exercise kick. Many people are into fitness. Exercise is part and parcel of our daily lives. Many belong to gyms and work-out places. Others have exercise equipments in their homes or apartments. All of this is good for the body.

Today, I want to have you join me in keeping this trend going—exercising too. Now, now, don’t get to upset with me. I am not going to ask you to do a five K run, or go on the bicycle route for miles. I am, though, going to ask you to Walk Down Memory Lane with me.

Are you ready? Are you ready for your exercise? (Put your hands up). Now take a few moments and walk down memory lane. (Give them a little time to do this blessed event).

I, too, have walked down memory lane. Permit me to share with you some of what I thought about. I remember vividly the day I stood in front of the Church and my lovely bride dressed in white walked down the aisle with her father wearing a big smile on her face. I remember well, the day she whispered in my ears, “We are going to have a baby!” I remember when she took my hand and put it on her tummy and said, “Feel your child!” I remember the day my children were born, their baptism day, confirmation day and their wedding day. I remember also when they announced saying, “You are going to be a grandfather” and oh, how I remember when the phone call came from my son, “Ba, we have a baby boy!” What wonderful memories flood my mind.

But there are other memories—memories that I am ashamed of. Memories of word spoken in anger, deeds done for selfish reasons, hurting and harming others because of sin. Memories of dishonoring my Lord by sinning against His Word and my neighbor. These are painful memories. I wish they were not there. I wish I could remove them. I wish I would have not remembered them. But alas they are. And the devil uses these memories to depress and discourage us in our walk of faith. PAUSE.

The brain is a wonderful gift from God. It is like a DVD that plays scene after scene of the events in our lives. Some of these events are pleasant and others are painful.

In the text before us today, Mark invites us to walk down memory lane the lane of King Herod. His memory is plaguing him by his extraordinary sin. His memory is haunting him, depressing him and accusing him.

King Herod was a man who took delight in the extraordinary. He liked listening to John the Baptist, this figure from the past who had visions of future events. Even though Herod listened to him, but his wife Herodias hated him, and thus the order came when at a birthday party Herod promised her daughter a stupid promise saying, “Ask whatever you want even up to half of my kingdom and I will give it to you.” We know the cost of this stupid promise. The young dancer asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

Now that Jesus is on the scene, Herod hears of Him and what He is doing. And his mind quickly walks down memory lane. He is haunted by what he did to John and is afraid. He is worried that John had been raised from the dead. He is distracted and distraught over the facts of what John might do to Him.

I am sure Herod would rather not remember the day he gave the order, to cut John’s head off and bring on a platter for all to see. I am certain Herod lost a lot of sleep because of what he had done.

How many times are we like Herod? At times we walk down memory lane too. Our memory is like a DVD. It plays the sins of the past over and over again and we are haunted by that demon. We are troubled and tossed by what we have said and done. And we wish we didn’t have to go through it. We wish we have never done it. We wish we could remove the evil that the devil brings against us as he uses the good gift of memory to accuse us before the Lord.

Memory is indeed a good gift from God. The good memories we like, but the bad and painful are not welcome. And we want relief. We want to get rid of them. We want to erase them from our memory bank. We can’t do it. We can try all we want to, just like Herod but to no avail. So what should we do? Should we continue to dwell in the past, or look to the future? The devil of course always want to keep us in the past those “good old days”. But those “good old days” are not always that good. And no one knows that more than you.

But thanks be to God that Jesus has the remedy to our memories. It is not a rewind button, but a delete button. It is not a storage button, but a salvation button. It is not overlooking the problem of sin, but taking care of sin once and for all. The Lord Jesus Christ, whom we have heard about, is the One who has removed those sins and dropped them into the depth of the sea. Jesus’ blood shed on the cross of Calvary is the reason our memories don’t haunt us. Jesus not only speaks words of love, He is the Word of Love. And when He speaks and acts, the stain and stench of sin is removed from us.

Remember Good Friday? That is the answer to our sin problem. We gather in God’s house week after week so that we can be reminded of the goodness of the Lord and the gracious acts that He does for us.

Remember Easter morning? That is the answer to our death problem. When Christ broke the bars of death He opened the flood gates. There will be generations more pouring out of the grave into the blessing of Eternity!

Remember your baptism? While you may have been really little when it happened, and you don’t remember it, but God does. His promise is real: “Baptism now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21). And at that moment, all that Jesus had done became yours; just as He did this evening to Myles David Nour in the waters of Baptism. In the waters of Baptism, Jesus removes every hindrance of sin from Myles’ life and gives him the white robes of righteousness and marks him as one of His own for time and for eternity. PAUSE... The same thing happened for you. In that baptismal act of God, your memory is purged of all the “Herod moments” in your life. They have been washed away! Cleansed! GONE!”

Remember Maundy Thursday? There in a room full of ignorance and betrayal, Jesus remembers the 12 and us by giving us the very forgiveness of sins in His Body and Blood to purge our memory. When we are at this table we remember just how Awesome He is when He gives us even more of that precious grace!


Unlike Herod who made a stupid promise that he couldn’t keep, Jesus keeps all of His promises. He doesn’t promise us only half of His Kingdom, but He gives us all of His Kingdom. The Kingdom is ours because in love He died for us and has given us heaven by removing everything that may keep us out.

But at times we forget how generous our Awesome God is. We forget that He has removed our sins. He has cleansed us! He has washed us! He has fed us! He has taken care of us! And He still does even today.

But today, as you walk down memory lane, remember the gift of the Savior who says to us “As far as the East is from the West; so far I have removed your transgression from you” (Ps. 103:12). Walking down memory is sometimes pleasant and sometimes painful. But for the Christian it is a joy because we remember what the Savior did through His death and glorious resurrection. Amen.

Now the peace… and blood for the forgiveness of sins.

“Hands Tied” (Mark 6:5-6)

S-1128 7/05/09 5SAP/3B Hymns: (O) #175; (S) #400; #644; (C) #577

Texts Ezekiel 2:1-5; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Mark 6:1-13

Theme: “Hands Tied” (Mark 6:5-6)

Question: “Have you ever felt your hands were tied?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is the Gospel lesson: “And He [Jesus] could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief.” (Mark 5:36).


Saints in Christ, in the early 1900s lived a great magician by the name of Harry Houdini. Houdini, spell bound people every where he went. He was escapologist, stunt performer, and actor. But the one thing that really made him famous was his ability to escape from anything they tied him with. He was actually known as “The Handcuff King”.

Everywhere Houdini went he razzled dazzled people at his ability to escape and free himself. No matter what they put him in, he got free. That is until he was in England. The people in England stated that they have a jail that Houdini couldn’t escape out off. The bet was on.

Houdini was placed in the cell and within seconds began to work on the lock of the door but to no avail. He tried again and again and again, but no success. After 3 hours of trying, he lay on the floor exhausted and dumfounded that he was unable to unlock the jail. Finally, the people told him that the door of the jail was never locked; it was simply shut. All the time the door had been opened. Had he reached with his hands and opened the door he would have walked out of that jail. But the trick worked and his hands were tied for the first time.

In today’s text, there is no trick. No jail cell to open. No magician’s hands to spell bound the people with his ability to escape, but a local man had returned home. Word had gone out about this man that He could do wonders—raise the dead, heal the lame and opened the eyes of the blind, and still the storms. But when He returned home, St. Mark tells us that His hands were tied of their unbelief.

It is interesting to note that Jesus’ as the Son of the Carpenter is not greeted with welcomed arms as He comes home, but with closed fists and tied hands. He doesn’t receive the honor due Him. Earlier in Mark, (3:20-35) we read of another visit to His hometown and the familiar tension that arises as He is surrounded by a great crowd—His family tries to take Him by force, claiming that He has lost His mind.

Jesus comes home and enters the synagogue and preaches. But rather than hearing the message, the crowds refuse to hear and begin in astonishment to say, “Isn’t He the Son of Mary? Aren’t His brothers and sisters with us?” We are told Jesus is hindered from doing many things in His hometown save few miracles.

Jesus should have been welcomed home with open arms. If Nazareth was New York City, it would have been fitting for Him to be honored with a Canyon of Heroes parade complete with the ticker tape. I know if a son of a community like ours would come home to visit, there would be those who would feel that it would be in order to bring out all the fire trucks and police cars and have a parade! That is the way that Jesus SHOULD have been welcomed home.

But, as we see in this text, this was not the way it played out. No, instead of a hero’s welcome, there is nothing but skepticism, denial and even a bit of jealousy. The word of our text in the original Greek tells us that they were “scandalized” by this Jesus. They just couldn’t get past the fact that Joseph’s little boy would possess such great power and authority. They were so familiar with who they thought Jesus was supposed to be that they were bound in the clutches of the greatest enemy to true freedom: unbelief!

Jesus had come to announce the Kingdom of God. He had done it in Capernaum. He had done it in the Decapolis. He had done it in the synagogues. He had done it among complete strangers. And yet, because of the slavery of familiarity and unbelief, He couldn’t do the great things among His own kinsmen! It was as if His hands were tied!

Indeed the Messiah’s hands were tied, not because He didn’t have the power to use His hands to do what He came to do, but because they refuse to believe in Him as the promised Savior of old, the Deliverer of God, the One who comes to free them from the tyranny and torture of hell and satan. Christ’s hands were tied for their lack of faith in Him. PAUSE

Don’t forget dear friends of Christ, that Jesus never forces His love on anyone. He never forces anyone to believe in Him, obey Him, follow Him and be His servant. Jesus never uses His hands to chain us to Him. Oh, no. He unshackles us and brings freedom to our lives.

Study the Scriptures and you will see from the beginning that God desired to have a relationship with His people. A relationship built on trust and love. We see that played out with our forefathers. God gave them the freedom to do what they thought was right in their eyes. He never forced them and the end results were tragic, they used their hands to reach for the forbidden fruit and walked away from His love, His presence and His peace.

The only power human beings truly have is the power to refuse the grace of God. Sadly Adam and Eve, the people of Nazareth and you and I let go of the great opportunities God lays before us. Even though we have a God who creates us, sustains us, provides for us and does all this because He loves us, we can tie the hands of this Almighty God. And we tie the hands not with cords, or zip ties or handcuffs. No, we tie the hands of this good and gracious Lord by refusing to believe!

And that is what the essence of sin is. Every sin is nothing other than the outbreak of the unbelief that dwells within us that Luther called the Old Adam. This guy WANTS us to not believe God. This dastardly Dan WANTS us to tie the hands of our loving and gracious God. He WANTS us to walk away from the very Jesus who would die on the cross for the likes of unbelievers in Nazareth and Armour. PAUSE.

I am thankful that we live in this great nation and especially on this weekend that we observe and celebrate our Independence Day. It is during the Fourth of July weekend we appreciate our brave soldiers who use their hands to give us the liberty and freedom we cherish. These men and women fought with open hands so that we can have what we have today.

Because of men who have fought the good fight FREEDOM reigns in our midst. Because of men and women who left home, family, friends, occupations and went to distant shores and destroyed the enemies we live in freedom and peace in this land of ours.

How much more should we be thankful that the God of the universe sent His Son, Jesus Christ to carry out the greatest freedom mission ever? Jesus left His heavenly home and came to do what we can’t do. He came to usher in the Kingdom of grace, not by force BUT By faith. Not by power BUT by peace. Not by torture, BUT by a tree. It was on the tree of the cross that Jesus’ hands were literally tied. Not by Romans soldiers, not by cords and not even by nails that pined Him to the wooden beam. Oh, no. It was love that tied His hands to that tree. It was love that hung Him there. It was His love for you and you and you.


Many people today still tie Jesus’ hands, including us. Yet, Jesus’ hands are never tied towards us. His hands are open to welcome us into His bosom. His hands are free to heal. His hands are open to touch us with the splash of water. His hands are open to serve us a heavenly meal. His hands are open to love us unconditionally.

Satan and others may want to tie our hands so that we don’t honor the Lord always. But today, Jesus unties our hands, unshackles us so that we can freely and joyfully serve Him. As the sermon hymn reminded us: “Take my hands and let them move At the impulse of Thy love; Take my feet and let them be Swift and beautiful for Thee” (TLH 400 v2).

As we celebrate our freedom, our Independence Day, we give thanks to all who have made it possible. But today, I urge you not to be independent of Christ, but rather be dependant on Him, for His hands are strong enough to hold you, embrace you and forgive you all of your sins. Thank God that Jesus’ hands are not tied towards us. And this is no magic trick. Amen.

Now the peace…