Sunday, June 27, 2010

“Pity Party” (1 Kings 19:9-10).

S-1196 5SAP/3C Hymns 6/27/10, (O) #400; S #54; L.S. #424; #354; #428; (C) #451 vv.1, 4

Texts: 1 Kings 19:9-21; Galatians 5:1, 13-25; Luke 9:51-62

Theme: “Pity Party” (1 Kings 19:9-10).

Question: Have you ever felt sorry for yourself?

SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for this fifth Sunday after Pentecost is from the O.T. lesson: “Behold, the Word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He said, ‘I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, thrown down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.’” (1 Kings 19:9-10).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved, have you ever felt like having a pity party? Have you ever invited these three people to your pity party, I, me, and myself? You know, we do that often whether we admit it or not. Last week we had friends over from ND and started playing cards. Well, it wasn’t my night. The ladies were whooping us up. It seems like everyone else had good cards except me. I was always close but no cigar. My face showed that I wasn’t very happy. And it seems like adding salt to the wound everyone was picking on me. You know that looks on your face without a smile and the lips sticking out. One of our guests Blake said: “Poor pastor everyone is picking on him!” That is of course how I felt.

We all like pity parties. We like to dwell in misery and misery likes company. Today, we see the mighty man and messenger of God Elijah whose name means Yahweh is my God having a pity party. This mighty messenger of God has done mighty miracles of raising the son of the woman of Zarephath, withheld rain from Israel for 3 ½ years and brought fire from the sky that consumed the altar, stone and offering and afterwards gave the command to kill the 450 prophets of Baal on top of Mt. Carmel.

Today, as you look at this man, with all of his credential, his many victories for the Lord, you wonder why would he be running for his life and why is he having a pity party. We meet Elijah as he has an encounter with Yahweh on Mount Horeb. Recently Elijah had been on another mountain, Carmel, where he challenged the prophets of Baal and demonstrated the truth about Yahweh (1 Kg 18). This infuriates Jezebel, so he runs for his life. Once he makes it to the desert, however, Elijah crawls under a tree and prays not for deliverance but for death. But just as God had sustained him once with ravens and again through the widow of Zarephath, now He sends an angel to feed him and send him on his way to Horeb, the mountain of God (19:1-8).

Once he arrives, the greeting is pointed. The Word of Yahweh comes to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” We could infer by this question of God these thoughts: "and not where you are supposed to be?" Elijah explains that he has been very zealous for Yahweh; that of the prophets he alone remains alive; and that the people of Israel seek to kill him. But the response is simply the instruction to go and stand before Yahweh Himself. As Yahweh approaches, the wind breaks rocks, the earth shakes, and a fire rages. But God was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire. We might say that these come “before Yahweh,” that is, they signal His advent. But when Yahweh Himself arrives, He arrives in quietness (v. 12). Elijah recognizes this and covers his face before God.

Beloved in the Lord, don’t look to God in the earthquake, or in the strong wind. Remember His strength and power is found in such gifts as love and joy, peace, patience and kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Hollywood wants us to see power in the guy who is muscular, the one who has the largest toys, biggest guns, the biggest bank account or the one who goes out to conquer the weak and the small. Human wisdom is truly something else, isn’t it!

Where is He? Holy Scripture paints this serene picture—in the small still voice! Where is His strength and power? The Apostle Paul put it this way, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)! Do you want to see power, don’t go to Hollywood, or the races or the Bull riding event that is going to took place this weekend—this is nothing but man’s power which is no power at all. But, instead open God’s Holy Book and there read of the spectacular, superb and splendid power of God made manifest to all. You will see His power in the fruit of the Spirit which sprouted forth from the Tree of Life, that is, from the Cross... It is finished!

In the cross comes the power to live and move and have our being. The cross is the power that has changed our lot from being outsiders to insiders. That is the same power that the Lord offers Elijah today. “Where are you Elijah?” Inferring: “Where you are not supposed to be!

God was saying to Elijah, “You don’t belong here. This is not my mission and ministry for you. Get up and get going. You are my man Elijah. I have a mission for you.” Hearing the Word, Elijah wouldn’t look back. He gets down from Mt. of Horeb and returns to the Dessert of Damascus to carry on the mission the God of Israel sent him to accomplish. Yahweh tells him. “And when you get there, do this: anoint Hazael king over Aram; anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel; and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat as your successor. Jehu will kill any­one who escapes the sword of Hazael, and Elisha any who escapes Jehu.” Then Yahweh adds: “I have kept seven thousand in Israel who have not bowed down to Baal or kissed him.” God has called Elijah, and God expects Elijah to heed His call. It doesn’t matter to God that prophets throughout the country have been killed and that his life is in danger, and so it shouldn’t matter to Elijah. “Get back and get going,” is the Word of the Lord.

The story continues with Elijah passing on the mantel of the Prophet to Elisha, that he has done enough. When Elisha asks to return home first to kiss mother and father good-bye, Elijah knows that this will not do. He must set his face resolutely toward Jerusalem, or at least proclaim Him who can and will and did - even Jesus! With this rebuke of the younger man, in Godly wisdom, the younger Elisha whose name means “God is Salvation,” goes so far as to burn the yoke of his oxen then sacrifice the beasts to feed the people. He is resolute. In doing this, the younger soon-to-be prophet of God was strengthened to preach to ears that would not hear, to hearts that would not be turned. Indeed, this prophet spoke of God’s drought, went to bless a widow with a miraculous outpouring of oil - reminiscent of Elijah, but with a double portion of the Holy Spirit. He spoke forcefully against sin among his own people. He knew the strength was in the Word, not the strong wind, in the Earthquake of Good Friday, not of man! PAUSE.

Can you relate to Elijah? We, too have times of victory when God seems so real and so powerful. Then comes the discouraging moments when we feel surrounded by skeptics, cut of from believers, and scorned for our Christian commitment. Like Elijah we run away and wallow in self-pity. Lonely, afraid, discouraged, and depressed, we desperately need help.

And certainly there is help in the mighty powerful Word of God. And that power is ours. You and I may feel like having a pity party. Elijah felt it too. But God is our power, strength and confidence. In the book of Matthew we read, “With God ALL (emphases mine) things are possible” (19:26). And, indeed it is.

Elijah heard the call and went. Elisha continued in the spirit and might of Elijah the ministry of salvation to the people of Israel. But it is the Son of Mary, who indeed heard and carried out completely and fully the Command of God. He came not only for the house of Israel, but for the world’s redemption and fulfilled it on the cross. Now there is the power of God. In the weakness of the Man made flesh we see life. In the blood of the Man made flesh we receive forgiveness. And from the lips of the Man made flesh we are welcomed to the family. There is power in the cross to be sure.

Ah, the Cross, the Cross, the Cross! Jesus saw your cross always before Him. He saw you, unable to stand, even to carry it to the hill of death let alone be nailed to it. He saw you and with love and in His joy, with His peace, He was patient, enduring the lashings of man’s anger and bitterness, patiently watching and listening as others spoke of Him as being weak and powerless to save Himself. He showed the self-control that is born only in the goodness, faithfulness and gentleness of a true Father, for as we see Him we see the Father (John14:9). His Spirit was poured out for you and on you on Pentecost Day; and filled you with joy all because He was resolute in going to Jerusalem - to die!

By the grace of God and the mighty power we have received in Word and Sacrament we—His beloved Bride become the Elijah’s, the Elisha’s and the Jesus’ to the world. We no longer stoop low running here and there because we are afraid. But armed with the GOSPEL power we are changed to be mighty messengers of hope and help to a world that is lost.

We His redeemed children don’t sit and pout and have pity party, but strengthened by His Spirit, drawing and drinking from the Tree of Life, we take the powerful message of the cross and go where God sends us.

Today, hear the whisper of God as He calls you to come and dine at His table, receive His forgiveness, bask in His grace and go in His name to a world that need you. Amen.

Now the peace of God…

SDG

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

“Here Am I!” (Isaiah 65:1-2)

S-1195 4SAP/3C Hymns 6/20/10, (O) #3; S #496; (C) #360

Texts: Isaiah 65:1-9; Galatians 3:23-4:7; Luke 8:26-39

Theme: “Here Am I!” (Isaiah 65:1-2)

Questions: Do you volunteer often saying “Here Am I?”

SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD

(This sermon is preached in a first person dramatic narrative. Isaiah is visiting Redeemer in Armour, SD during the Divine Service he begins from the back of the church).

The text is based on the O.T. lesson: “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ to a nation that was not called by my name. I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices;’” (Isaiah 65:1-2).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

It was nothing but pure, genuine and beautiful grace to undeserved prophet like me; NOTHING BUT GRACE. There I was in the temple in front of the Mercy Seat, praising my Lord and God. Without any warning the walls, doors, and foundation of the temple shook; the voice of angels sounded; smoke filled the whole temple that I couldn’t see before me... (My face will show fear, cover my face with my hands as I move to another corner.) I was terrified. Fear engulfed my whole being. I froze. I stood in awe. I didn’t know what to expect and then I realized I was standing in the presence of the Holy One of Yesrael (Israel). There was fear! There was Awe! There was silence on my part!!!

When I finally found my tongue [“…] I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!’” (Isaiah 6:5). (Here crutch in fear and hide my face) I screamed, I’m Doomed! It’s Doomsday! I am as good as dead! As I was speaking “[O]ne of the seraphim (that is an angel in your language) flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for’(Is. 6:6). (Smile big here) I knew I should die and be burned up, but that wasn’t the Almighty’s plan. At the sound of the seraph, joy filled my heart and grace was poured upon me like rain to overflowing. Because of God’s mercy, I, Yeshia, will live, and not die.

While still thinking about the words of the seraph God interrupted my thoughts with these words: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Without realized it I said these words: ‘Here am I! Send Me. Something came over me and I spoke those words that changed my life, gave me a message and a ministry to share with the people of Yesrael. But then God spoke again from the smoke filled temple saying: (raise the voice). Go!” (Is. 6:7).

Ever since, that day in the temple when I saw the vision of the Lord God of Yesrael I have gone and proclaimed the salvation of the Lord to a rebellious and obstinate people. I have even written these words down for the people of Yesrael and those who will follow after them, so that they too may know the grace of God, that pure, holy and beautiful GRACE.

Today, as I meet you in your town, I am at the end of my book which bares my name Yeshia (Isaiah) meaning “God Saves.” Here too, God speaks of the vision that will soon take place. In my book you have read about the great promises of God. Some of them you know by heart because you have studied them in your Holy Book. You have read of the Virgin birth of the Savior that I, I (emphasize with sighing) was longing to see with my own eyes but never did. I wrote of His Kingdom saying “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Is. 9:6). And what a Kingdom it will be.

Later on, I introduced you to the God of all comfort and mercy who told me to tell you: Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins”. And still later on, I informed you of the Suffering Servant who will come from the presence of the Holy One of Yesrael to earth and bear upon His shoulders the sins, of the whole world, accepted the punishment and the wrath of God. “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” That He would be despised and rejected by men and people would hide their faces from Him. He would be the sacrifice that pleases God as He is punished for my sins and lest you forget yours too (Is. 53). PAUSE.

I wrote of the Suffering Servant who will bring about healing and restoration to mankind. I saw with my mind’s eye the suffering and crucifixion of the Virgin birth Child on a cross outside Jerusalem. I heard with my ears of the rebellion of many people, yet God in mercy spread out His hands of GRACE to welcome them to Him.

Now at the end of my life and the book, I see the vision of the extended hands of God reaching out to humanity all the way back to the Garden of Eden calling our rebellious parents Adam and Eve; who tried to hide behind few fig leaves. (Honestly, can you believe fig leaves for clothing?” smile). He also extends His hands of mercy and grace to the future calling us—the rebellious ones to come back to Him. I saw not with my eyes but in my mind’s eye the crucifixion of Christ and Resurrection and believed it. You, too, have seen the crucifixion of Christ and Resurrection not with your eyes, but with your eyes of faith. This came about as the Holy Spirit instructed you through His written Word and you believed it too. THIS IS NOTHING BUT PURE, GENUINE BEAUTIFUL GRACE.

Today, as I visit with you, I want you to see again with eyes of faith my God—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is right here with you. Here there is majesty and awe and reverence. (Change my voice) Here God speaks and the floors, doors and foundations shake and smoke fills the Sanctuary. Here, you too will receive from the seraph the coal from the altar to take away your sins—ALL your sins.

Indeed, you may say to me Yeshia, we don’t see any smoke; we don’t hear the thunder nor see the majesty. Perhaps not physically, but the God of all Mercy and Grace is here with those extended arms. He reaches out to you with His promises saying: “Come, now let us reason together says the Lord, though your sins be like scarlet they shall be as white as snow…” (Is. 1:18); and again He invites YOU to come and dine with Him on His holy mountain as He prepares for you a feast and banquet unequal anywhere in the world of the richest of meat and the finest of wine. {Paraphrased} (Is. 25:6).

Today, you too, during the Divine Service confess your sins and the prophet of the Most High God of Yesrael absolves you of ALL your sins. Every Divine Service is where God comes to you in mercy and grace. Here He takes your clothes of fig leaves and covers you with His robes of holiness. Here He calls you to be His prophet to a rebellious people and sends you out to the world to confess Him. Here in this place He blesses you, feeds you, nourishes you and pours upon YOU His grace. Here He empowers and equips you to be His men and women who answer the call saying, “Here Am I”

A Long time ago, I, Yeshia said, (raise my voice) “Here Am I! Send Me!” by the Grace of God I was able to carry on the ministry and the message to the people of Israel and to you too. But after me, came the Suffering Servant, Yeshua, He, too, said to the God of all Mercy and Compassion: “Here Am I, Send Me.” God sent Him to earth, to fulfill the greatest mercy mission and ministry ever. He suffered a death unlike any other. He was rejected by men, despised and humiliated. He carried upon His gentle body the sin, the punishment and wrath of God to save me, you and the entire world.

As my visit with you comes to an end, let me share my prayers for you as God’s redeemed people. Go, then, into your community, to your job, to your school, to your vacation as the Lord’s servant today. I encourage you to go with the message of God’s grace and mercy…to do our Lord’s will. The life of faith is the only life worth living. And when your brief earthly life ends, you will join me and all the saints in the life that never ends in heaven. And you will join me in worshiping the One whose coming I promised hundreds of years ago: the perfect Yeshua, our Lord and Savior.

(The prophet leaves as quietly as he came from the back).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Itinerary - Lutheran Germany & the Holy Land November 2-14, 2010

For further information, contact:
Pastor Nabil S. Nour
(Phil. 1:6)
c/o Redeemer Lutheran Church
P.O. Box 158
Armour, SD 57313-0158
(605) 724-2489 (ofc)
(605) 724-2722 (hm)

Itinerary - Lutheran Germany & the Holy Land Tour

November 2-14, 2010

  • Day 1 Tue Nov 2: MINNEAPOLIS - GERMANY. Tour members gather at the ticket counter three hours prior to the departure to Europe. Dinner and breakfast are served in flight.
  • Day 2 Wed Nov 3: BERLIN. Morning arrival at Berlin Airport where we are met by our tour escort and motor coach. Berlin is one of the greenest capital cities with more than a third of its territory comprising forests, lakes and parks. It has international flair and many places of interest and less familiar nooks and crannies as well as a flourishing cultural atmosphere. This afternoon, we visit the Reichstag (House of Parliament) on the roof terrace with glass cupola. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
  • Day 3 Thu Nov 4: BERLIN - WITTENBERG. This morning, we leave Berlin and drive southward to Wittenberg, the birthplace of the Reformation and city of Frederick the Wise who was patron and protector of Luther. Luther lived here from 1508 until his death. We visit All Saints Church (Schlosskirche Allerheiligen) where Luther nailed in 95 Theses to the door and which contains the graves of Luther and Melanchthon. We then see the University where Luther taught and visit Luther’s House which is the largest and greatest museum of Reformation in the world. We also visit the Stadkirche of St. Marien where Luther used to preach. See the Luther Monument and Renaissance Town Hall. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
  • Day 4 Fri Nov 5: WITTENBERG - EISLEBEN - ERFURT. This morning we drive to Eisleben which ranks amongst the most significant of all places having a connection with Luther. Although he only spent a little time here - he was born here on November 10th, 1483 and died here on February 18th, 1546 - old manuscripts indicate that he felt a special affinity towards Eisleben. We also visit the house of his birth and see the house where he died; St. Andrew’s Church where he preached his last sermon and where his body was laid out, the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul (Luther’s baptism church) where he was christened, and the Luther Monument. Continue to Erfurt for dinner and overnight.
  • Day 5 Sat Nov 6: ERFURT - WEIMAR - EISENACH. Drive today to the historic town of Erfurt where Luther studied at the university and where our tour in Luther’s Footsteps includes a visit to the Barfusserkirche - Cathedral and Church of the Minorites II, a view of the Kramer Bridge lined on each side with timber-framed houses restored to their original condition. Then, we pay a highlight visit to the important Augustinian Monastery built in 1277 and now beautifully restored. The Monastery contains an exhibition on Martin Luther who was a monk here from 1505 until 1511. We continue to Weimar to visit to the Stadtkirche – St. Peter & Paul (Herderkirche) is included. Then to Eisenach birthplace of Johann Sebastian Bach. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
  • Day 6 Sun Nov 7: EISENACH - WARTBURG - COBURG - FRANKFURT. This morning, we drive the short distance to Wartburg to visit the formidable Castle where Luther found refuge during the Imperial Ban. The castle was built in the 11th century and is where Luther translated the New Testament in the years 1521-1522 – we will see the “Luther Stube”. Then visit Bach’s house, whose birthplace we will visit to listen to some of his marvelous music played on historic instruments. Continue to Coburg to visit the art collection. Then on to Frankfurt for dinner and overnight.
  • Day 7 Mon Nov 8: FRANKFURT - TEL AVIV. This morning, we fly to Tel Aviv. Upon arrival, we are met and transferred to our beautiful hotel in a Tel Aviv suburb where the thrilling journey of following in the footsteps of Jesus begins. Dinner is served at our hotel. Weather permitting; we suggest a walk on the beach.
  • Day 8 Tue Nov 9: THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA - ANCIENT JOPPA - CAESAREA - MT. CARMEL - HAIFA - PLAIN OF ARMAGEDDON - TIBERIAS. After a good night’s rest and a hearty breakfast we visit ancient Joppa on the Sea where Jonah set sail and where Peter raised Dorcas from the dead. Joppa was also the home of Simon the Tanner. At Caesarea by the sea, we visit the Crusader's Castle, the Roman Amphitheater and water duct, and the port from which the Apostle Paul sailed to Rome. We then continue northward along the Mediterranean coast to Mount Carmel where Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal by the Brook Kishon. After Haifa, we visit Megiddo and the Plain of Armageddon, Jezreel and Esdraelon. Visit Nazareth and Cana. Eastward, we arrive in Tiberias for dinner and overnight at our hotel and get our first glimpse of the beautiful Sea of Galilee.
  • Day 9 Wed Nov 10: TIBERIAS - CAPERNAUM - CAESAREA PHILIPPI - MT. HERMON - GOLAN HEIGHTS. This day will be an exciting day in the Galilee area after a delicious breakfast. We depart from the Roman hot springs resort city of Tiberias via a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum (John 6:24) to visit the ancient ruins of the first century synagogue where Jesus preached (Matthew 4:13-17). Then on to the Mt. of Beatitudes where Jesus preached the "Sermon on the Mount" (Matthew 5-7) and to Tabgha - the chapel dedicated to the multiplication of the loaves and fishes - (Mark 6:34-44). We then proceed to upper Galilee and the site of Peter's confession (Matthew 16:16) at Caesarea Philippi and to Mt. Hermon (Psalm 89:12), the probable site of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8) and the present day Golan Heights where Israel, Lebanon and Syria come together. We follow the fresh mountain waters of Mt. Hermon to the Sea of Galilee and to the outlet passage at the southern tip of the Sea. Then, we stop at the beautiful Pilgrims Park at the Jordan River for a baptism. Return to our hotel for overnight.
  • Day 10 Thu Nov 11: TIBERIAS - NAZARETH - JERICHO - BETHLEHEM - JERUSALEM. Early morning departure to Cana and then on to Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus, where we will visit the Church of the Annunciation (Luke 1:5-42) and Mary's Fountain (Luke 4:16-22). We continue past Bethshean and then south through the Jordan Valley to ancient Jericho where the walls came tumbling down (I Kings 17:1-6 and II Kings 2:19-22) and a commanding view of the Mt. of Temptation (Matthew 4:1-11) and Elisha's Fountain. Then continue to Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity, Manger Square, the Christmas Bell and Rachel's Tomb. Visit the Fields of Boaz and Shepherd's Fields and Caves. Shopping time in Bethlehem before driving to Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
  • Day 11 Fri Nov 12: DEAD SEA - QUMRAN - MASADA - BETHANY. Early morning departure to the Dead Sea, lowest point on earth. Then to Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947. Continue to Masada, truly a remarkable piece of history. We ascend Masada by cable car to walk among the magnificent ruins of the fortress, where, from 70 -73 A.D., the Jewish defenders made the last stand of the Judean revolt against Rome, and where the remains of storehouses, cisterns and a 6th century Byzantine Church are still on view. We continue on the Jericho Road viewing the Inn of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). On the return to Jerusalem we visit Bethany, the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus (John 11:1-46). On to our Jerusalem hotel for overnight.
  • Day 12 Sat Nov 13: JERUSALEM. Drive up to the Mt. of Olives for a panoramic early morning view of the city. Visits include the Chapel of Ascension, Pater Noster and Dominus Flevit. Walk the Hosanna Road if you like. Stop at the Garden of Gethsemane and Church of All Nations. View the Golden Gate, visit the Pool of Siloam and Hezekiah's Tunnel. Afternoon visits include St. Peter's in Gallicantu, Mt. Zion, King David's Tomb, Room of the Last Supper and Shrine of the Book housing the Dead Sea Scrolls. Continue to the ancient Old Walled City, highlighted by the Western (Wailing) Wall, the Temple area, Dome of the Rock, Via Dolorosa, Ecce Homo Arch, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Pilate's Judgment Hall, Chapel of the Flagellation, Pool of Bethesda, David's Tower, Damascus and Jaffa Gates. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
  • Day 13 Sun, Nov 14: TEL AVIV - MINNEAPOLIS. Early this morning, we transfer to the Tel Aviv Airport for our return flight to the United States - the end of our most memorable journey.

Speaking at LWML Convetion

Pastor Nabil S. Nour will be speaking at the South Minnesota LWML convention on Saturday June 27th. He will be speaking on the "Who Are The Muslims?" and how to "Witness to them".

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER—THE UNSUNG HERO

(This speech was delivered at the Memorial Day Service in Armour, SD on May 31, 2010 in front of a crowd of about 400. I thank God for the honor and privilege to do so.)

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER—THE UNSUNG HERO

With your permission, I would like to ask any person who has served in any branch of our armed forces to kindly stand up and be recognized. Please join me as we honor them and thank the Lord for their services to this great nation. (Please be seated).

September 11, 2001 was a terrible day in the history of our nation. It ranks right up there with December 7, 1941, which is a date that will live in infamy. These dates are in the “team picture” of terrible events that have marred the history of our country. In this picture are events like the assassination of Presidents, natural disasters and explosions of space shuttles. These are the kind of moments that bring us back to understand that we are mortal. They shake us to the core. They remind us that the life we live is not fully ours. For events like these, everyone alive at the time remembers what they were doing; and where they were when they happened.

But at the same time these horrible events also have some “silver lining” blessings. One of those silver linings that came out of 9/11 was the appreciation for the “unsung hero.” It was there for the first time in a long time the people of our nation appreciated those nameless faces that make a habit of running in when every other sane human being is running out. The single day in history when more firefighters, police officers and EMT’s died in the line of duty. On that day, too, all of our military personal—Navy Seals, Air-force pilots, Marines, Army and National Guard soldiers were called upon to protect our shores, our borders and air space against the tyranny that was attacking us. These events caused a nation to reflect and thank God for those who do those “unsung” heroic things that make sure that life and liberty, people and property, church and community are protected.

The unsung heroes of our nation go back more than a decade, even more than a century, all the way back to the founding: the American Revolution. The American Revolution was a movement of unsung heroes. Our nation won two World Wars by the efforts of unsung heroes that went by the names of G.I Joe and Rosie the Riveter. And all this happens even to this day. Nameless faces still serve in those underappreciated and yet necessary tasks that make our homes, communities and world safe!

It is the American Soldier who rises up and wears the uniform and stand sentry to make sure that our borders and buildings, our homes and hearts are protected against the evil foe. And who is the American Soldier? The Average age of our solider is 20 ½ years old. He/she is the brightest and the best of our nation. He/she is tall or short. He is a man or a woman. He is your father; mother, brother, sister, cousin, nephew and niece. He/she is a volunteer. They are many but an army of one. Some of them you know and others you don’t. But it is the American Solider the unsung hero who makes it possible for us to live in freedom. You know that there are no freedoms, without those willing to fight for them. And our American Solider has been fighting to keep Freedom alive ever since the inception of this nation. PAUSE.

Benny Hochman a Nazi concentration camp survivor in his book From Hell To Here stated: “I love the American Soldier for all that he stands for…” How right he is. The American Soldiers are fearless men and women who put on the uniform every day to make freedom possible. He/she is a soldier, sailor, airman, guardsman and marine. He can use his body like a weapon and his weapon as part of his body. He can take a life or he can save a life because he has been so remarkably well trained. And when the soldier wears the uniform and leaves homes, he/she knows they are is not going on a vacation, but rather into harms way, into a mortal combat; knowing full well that some of them will not return home.

I, as a former foreigner but proud to be an American citizen, know the meaning of that word and how precious FREEDOM is. The American Soldier this unsung hero leaves family, home, community and church and heads off to distant land to keep freedom alive. It is the American Solider the unsung hero that we honor today.

You will find the American Soldier serving both at home and abroad: You will find them throughout our land staking sandbags to stop flooding, rescuing people from tornados and hurricanes or building bridges to name a few. But they do more; they liberated many from the concentration camps in Auschwitz and Buchenwald. They protected many in Lebanon and Egypt. They fought in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan and other places. The American Soldier has been standing up for Freedom ever since the founding of this great nation. Today, we the new generation ought to Stand up for Freedom: It is worth fighting for.

Sometimes we forget that freedom is everyone’s responsibility. You never know how precious it is until you lose it. My hope and prayer is that the sacrifices borne by so many.........will spawn and fulfill the promise of this great nation. A nation, that rose from the ashes of the Revolutionary War and became the mighty symbol of freedom for the whole world. A nation born with the sweat and blood of fearless young men and young women who fought to keep our flag flying high. A nation that continues to raise up mighty, massive, moving men and women who are willing to sacrifice limb and life for its liberty. No wonder this is the greatest nation in the world. You ought to be proud of it. You ought to bleed for it. You ought to die for it. Is it any wonder that many people want to come and live here?

I came to this country at age 16 to seek a better life. Some of you among us here today have done the same. Some of your parents or grandparents left everything and crossed the ocean to make a new life—a life that is possible because of the American Soldier the Unsung Hero. PAUSE.

Travel to New York Elis Island and you will see the great symbol of Freedom—Lady Liberty. On the platform of Lady Liberty are these words: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me”. What makes it possible for the masses, the poor and destitute to come to our shores? The American Soldier the Unsung Hero.

But if you want to see the GREATEST Symbol of Freedom, this is not found in the American Flag or Lady Liberty in New York; instead travel to Calvary, and see the cross towering high above all. On that cross, the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled His Words Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends”. (John 15:13). Jesus willingly laid down His life to free us from the tyranny of the Evil Foe-Satan, and death and hell. That is what it means to be free indeed. And that is why all the masses are welcomed into His bosom. PAUSE.

Young people, and some you who are not so young, the next time you see an American Soldier walk up to him/her and thank them for serving our nation. When you see the stars and stripes raised high salute it. This is the symbol of a nation made free. I, as your speaker can not force you to do these things. I can not command you to obey me. But I hope that you listen and listen well.

This nation is worth fighting for. This nation has given you a hope and a home. This nation is a nation that stands for the poor and hungry, the downtrodden and destitute. It is our privilege and responsibility to fight to keep freedom alive. It is not just the American Soldier’s responsibility but every American Citizen because this is our nation- The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. PAUSE.

Permit me to introduce you to one of these Heroes: Richard Naasz, the father of a Pastor friend of mine Terry Naasz (from Brookings, SD). He was a quiet man of medium height, and looking at him you would never suspect he was a hero. But he was twice combat wounded, both times severely, and he stated that as a sergeant, he refused a battlefield commission to be a lieutenant, which would have taken him off the front lines, because he promised his men he would get them home alive. America’s real heroes don’t flaunt what they do; they quietly go about their day to day lives, doing what they do best. They earned our respect and the freedoms that we all enjoy. Look around and see if you can find one of those heroes in your midst. Often, they are the ones you’d least suspect, but would most like to have on your side if anything ever happed. This genteel and quiet family man didn’t even share this information with his family; until the pastor who preached his funeral sermon informed them about it. Richard would never speak of his experiences and people never knew how long he served on the front lines (for over a hundred days) but it was because of unsung heroes like Richard Naasz that we won WWII.

Every American citizen is blessed because he is protected and represented by our brightest and best—the American Soldier the Unsung Hero. For all of us here are Americans. This is what we do as Americans—rise to the task before us. We care for the needs of our people, protect them, and provide them the best that life can offer. We ought to be proud of this nation. I am sick and tired of people who complain about this country. If you don’t like this country THEN LEAVE. We should thank the Lord, Jesus Christ every day that we live here.

We should thank every day the Lord Jesus Christ, whom the Bible says, is the Mediator of every good gift—including the precious gift of freedom (1Timothy 2:5). Memorial Day is a time to remember the noble sacrifices behind our freedom. Won’t you, then, today, join me in thanking God for the American Soldier the Unsung Hero today? I hope you always do. For after all, the freedom and the liberty we have, has been born on the wings of these unsung heroes our fearless men and women. Some are with us today, while others have sacrificed their lives so that you can be gathered here and celebrate the freedoms, rights, and blessings of our beloved land—The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Thank you and God bless you all.

Will you please join me in a word of prayer?

Heavenly Father, today we remember those who have served our country with honor and devotion, especially those who have given their lives. We praise You for all the blessings that we enjoy as a result of their sacrifice, including peace, liberty, security, and the freedom we have to worship You. We implore you to keep our young brave men and women who are serving today safe and bring them home to their loved ones soon. We also, ask You to use us as Your instruments of peace and love as we serve You and others. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

2010 LUTHER AND HOLY LAND NOUR TOUR (updated June 16, 2010)

Lutheran Germany & the Holy Land
Nour Tour 2007 147Your Invitation Dear friends in Christ, You are invited to come an d join me (a native o f Israel) on a spiritual journey to Lut her Land, Germany and the Holy Land, Israel, which I promise to be a journey and an experience of a lifetime. On this journey, you will hear the Good News, see the places Luther translated, taught and preached the Good News and also follow in the footsteps of the Savior, Jesus. You will see glorious sights, smell wonderful aromas and get a taste of foreign delicacies. We will be departing on November 2, 2010 for 13 days.

If this is a trip you want to take, now is the time to take this exciting adventure of a lifetime. You will come back refreshed and rejoicing because you walked the walk of our only Savior, Jesus Christ. The
Nour Tour 2007 054Bible will come alive and the names and places will jump out at you whenever you read or hear them.

The price of $4,199 for the 13-day trip includes airfare, hotels, tips, taxes and two meals a day.

For further information, contact:
Pastor Nabil S. Nour
(Phil. 1:6)
c/o
Nour Tour 2007 040Redeemer Lutheran Church
P.O. Box 158
Armour, SD 57313-0158
(605) 724-2489 (ofc)
(605) 724-2722 (hm)
redeemarmour@unitelsd.com

The Quest Travel Group
Presents:
13 Days Hosted by:
Pastor Nabil S. Nour
November 2—14, 2010 $4,199 from Minneapolis
All Inclusive!
(except lunches)
Your Journey Features:
• Roundtrip air transportation from Minneapolis
• First & tourist/superior tourist class hotels
• Land transportation via deluxe, private motor coach
• Professional, English-speaking guide(s)
• Tips ($91) and taxes ($490) included
• Breakfast and dinner daily
• Entrance fees to all sites on itinerary
• Masada and boat ride on the Sea of Galilee
Rates based on double-occupancy, the airline fuel surcharge and  currency exchange rate(s) at the date of quotation to your host. Subject to change up to 45 days prior to departure.

The Quest Travel Group
P.O. Box 53419
Atlanta, GA 30355
QuestGroup@earthlink.net
(404) 467-8041
(404) 467-8042 FAX
www.questtravelgroup.com

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

“Built For the Glory of God” (Ezra 6:16).

S-1194 3SAP/3C Hymns 6/13/10, (O) #912; S #644; (C) #648

Texts: Ezra 6:13-18; Revelation 21:1-5; John 2:13-22

Theme: “Built For the Glory of God” (Ezra 6:16).

Celebration of St. John congregation in Yankton, SD after it was rebuilt due to a fire.

SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD

(On behalf of the SD district I bring you greetings from the Rev. President Dale Sattgast and all of the saints who have been standing by you and supporting you with their prayers and finances)

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for this glorious celebration and dedication of this House of God is from the O.T. lesson: And the people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the returned exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy’” (Ezra 6:16).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved, throughout all of Holy Scriptures we have abundance of stories that captivate the heart and head. Some of the stories are awesome and amazing while others are alarming and appalling. The 2nd worse story in all of Scripture is found in Genesis 11. Here we read: “…they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth’” (vs. 4). This story of pride and destruction is second only to the story of death that we read in Genesis 3 when our first parents fell into sin.

Sin causes us to focus on ourselves and build things only for us and not for the glory of God. Sin blinds us to do the abominable thing that displeases God.

But while Babel was a story of building, the story that the Holy Spirit has gathered us to share today, while a story of building, is far different. In this house of the Lord known as St. John, the Word is professed and preached, the Sacraments are administered, and children will be taught and brought to sit at the feet of the Good Shepherd. In this house of worship young and old would confess their sins and receive the grace of God. Know they are loved and cared for. Here they know who they are and whose they are—the Baptized, the Forgiven, the Redeemed, the Blood-bought and heaven-bound children of the all availing God of mercy and love. PAUSE.

The great hymn writer John Wesley once declared, “I want the whole Christ for my Savior, I want the whole Church for my fellowship, I want the whole Bible for my book and I want the whole world for my mission field.” That is a man who has his priorities in order. That is what this house of worship is all about. Now that the building is completed, we don’t want to lose focus of why it exists and why it was built. SIMPLY to bring glory and honor to God in everything that is done within these walls.

Now the work is completed. The tasks have been accomplished. Our results are now celebrated. And there is the devilish temptation to sit back and revel in our work. But now is NOT the time to rest. Now, while the iron is hot it is time to strike for the kingdom! From this beautiful new house of prayer you are sent with the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. And you don’t have to go very far. Those nations needing discipleing are just outside the freshly built walls.

But you should remember this is not about the building, but about YOU. It is about you growing in the grace and knowledge of God. The building is a tool to help us grow as we gather often around Word and Sacrament. For in this place you will learn among other things these golden nuggets. By the Spirit’s power you will:

1. Confess a) your faith, and b) your sin to the God who freely and fully absolves, forgives and renews you. All that the Cross of Christ means – you are loved – and now you can love the lost and hurting world around you – witnessing to His amazing Grace.

The fruit of these gifts are that with His strength you will grow in Him and will therefore bear this fruit. From His Word and Spirit and the gifts of your Baptism you will:

  1. Feast on the Bible.
  2. Teach the Bible
  3. Worship the ONLY TRUE God—that the Bible presents to us.
  4. Live your lives to the Glory of that God the Word gives us.

Now that the building is done, your work is not done, but it is only beginning. And you should expect great opposition: In his book Prepare to Build Steven Anderson writes: “Expanding your facilities to do Kingdom work can put your church on the front lines of spiritual battles” Beloved it is totally unrealistic, na├»ve to think that we can desire to encroach upon Satan’s territory, without the Evil One putting up a fight. It’s impossible, ridiculous to think this way; it’s very immature to think this way.

You and I should not fear satan or his cohorts as we go about the work of the Lord building His Kingdom one living stone upon another; because the Living Word of God tells us: “Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Yes, the Christ the great Architect of the Universe dwells in your hearts and will use you for His Kingdom’s glory.

After all, this is why this house of worship has been raised from the ashes of the fire to stand up as a grand and glorious monument built for the GLORY of God. It is a building where you, His beloved Bride will gather, be fed, then go out, out to proclaim His amazing grace to those who still sit in ashes, the ashes of a sinner’s heart, not yet renewed!

This new structure cost $2.6 million to re-build, and it is glorious! What makes it most glorious is that all the volunteer hours (over 3000) and all the money in the plate stand to bear fruit that does not become devalued as does money, will bear fruit that is eternal, the preservation of faith and the proclamation of the Faithful Shepherd to lost sheep!

Today, we gather as God’s chosen people with members and guests alike to give thanks for His gift of mercy and grace to help us complete this house of Worship called St. John.

What a fitting name for a congregation. After all, the name was/is chosen after the name of the Gospel book John.

What a book it is! In it, we learn about a wedding in Cana…funeral in Bethany. You get to know a man named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews, who came to faith in Jesus; you get to know Peter, a leader of the disciples, who denied Jesus three times. You read in John, For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son….” You learn in John that Jesus cleared the temple and that He raised the temple of His body on the 3rd day. And you also learn about the Great I Am statements of Jesus: I am the GATE; the GOOD SHEPHERD; the LIGHT of the WORLD; the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE; The BREAD of LIFE; the TRUE VINE; the RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.

In this place as is in the Gospel of John, the Holy Spirit helps us to know without a doubt that Jesus is all of those things for us and especially that He is the way of salvation. When Jesus said, “For God so loved the world…” HE MEANT YOU. When He cried out from the cross, “It is finished,” He meant your redemption was complete. He died and was condemned in your place. Your sins are forgiven. When He said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life; whoever believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live,” He meant YOU.

This house of worship is going to be a great and grand place for the proclamation of the Good News to the young and old. In this place, you will hear these glorious truths and celebrate these truths with all who enter these hallowed halls; of growing in our faith and in our ability to speak of our faith in Jesus. PAUSE.

There was a little old lady who was very spiritual. She would step out on her porch every day, raise her arms to the sky and say "Praise the Lord!" But there was an atheist living next door. And after a month or so of her yelling, "Praise the Lord" he got tired of it. He shouted back, "There is no Lord." But every morning, the lady kept saying “Praise the Lord!”


One snowy day, when the little old lady couldn’t get to the store, she went out on her porch, raised her hands up to the sky and said, "Help me Lord, I have no more money and no more food." The next morning, she went outside, and there were three bags of food on the porch. She raises her hands and shouted "Praise the Lord!" The atheist jumps out from the bushes and says, "Hah! There is no Lord. I was the one who bought those groceries! Ha ha ha ha ha!!!" The little old lady raised her arms to the sky and said, "Praise the Lord, you sent me groceries and you made the Devil pay for them too!"

This little lady praises the Lord because she can see God’s hand of blessings on her life. I want you to be like that lady. My prayer is that you will see the hand of God behind every blessing including the fire that has come to this house of worship. Though the devil attacked this house of worship, God still helped you built a new facility for His glory.

Through the gospel Jesus the awesome Architect of the universe builds something that is grand and glorious not fly-by-night; He builds something that is eternal and elegant not something here today and gone tomorrow; He builds a majestic Kingdom that will last forever and ever, not an empire that is part of the dustbin of history. He raises from the ashes human beings who will live and reign with Him forever with forever new bodies in the new heaven and new earth. The Spirit who helped before the foundation of the world to design this blueprint will take us as Christ’s living stones (1 Pet. 2:9-10) and build upon the Cornerstone through the touch stones of Word and Sacrament. Eph. 2:20 Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ being the cornerstone.  

This glorious building the Father designs it, Jesus lays down the mortar as the Messianic martyr, and the Spirit builds it through Christ’s pardoning love...edify not crucify, build not break, grow not growl. Here God will use you to live a life that is pleasing in His sight and offer yourselves as living sacrifices for His glory.

Now, in gratitude and thanksgiving to the Good and gracious Lord for giving you this house of worship, by His leading, you declare the marvelous deeds of His amazing grace, even as the saints who have built it the first time did. This is why we must pray and give thanks, for the same God who used Paul, the sinner from Tarsus, He is using you. By His grace it shall be said of you, as it was of Paul, And they glorified God because of me. And again, the Psalmist wrote: Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,” (Psalm 115:1). This is even today. Here in this place, as we dedicate this building we dedicate for it His glory ONLY! Even so, Amen!

Now the peace of God…

Soli Deo Gloria

Sunday, June 6, 2010

“Preach Him!!!” (Galatians 1:15-16)

S-1193 2SAP/3C Hymns 6/06/10, (O) #489; S #483; (C) #487

Texts: 1 Kings 17:17-24; Galatians 1:11-24; Luke 7:11-17

Theme: “Preach Him!!!” (Galatians 1:15-16)

Question: “How often do you preach?”

SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the Epistle lesson: But when He [God] who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son to me, in order that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;’” (Galatians 1:15-16).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved, Paul a former Pharisee and persecutor of the Church was called by God on the road to Damascus to be His chosen instrument to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the text before us today, we are told by this great preacher that God called him and set him apart before he was born to take the message of the cross to all people. In his 13 epistles we hear him again and again preaching and pointing to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Often he spoke of the importance of preaching Christ and His Gospel. Here are few examples: “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Cor. 1:17). Again, we hear him say, “but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1 Corinthians 1:23), and again, “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).

Pastor Paul, in this portion of his letter to the Galatians talks about the importance of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is what Paul lived and died for. He wanted through his preaching of the Gospel to proclaim Jesus Christ the God/Man, the Rabi from Nazareth AS truly the ONLY Savior from sin, death, and hell. Indeed, Paul paid for this preaching privilege with his own life—he was beheaded for being a faithful missionary of the cross of Christ.

Three times in this portion of the Word, we hear Paul speak about preaching. Not just any preaching, but preaching Christ’s cross, salvation by faith alone, and the hope of glory that is found in Jesus Christ alone. The reason it is three times because of the importance of getting the Gospel out to all people. Without the Gospel there is no life and no salvation no matter how nice people may be. PAUSE.

In the Middle Ages a monk by the name of Francis of Assisi said: “In everything you do, preach a sermon. If you have to, use words.” YES, in everything PREACH HIM!

As His beloved and redeemed children, this is our joy, honor and privilege to preach Him to the world in word and deed. But sometimes the devil makes us feel like we can’t do so. Sometimes we think we don’t have the right words. At other times, we believe we need to be trained in proper eloquence or oratory to say something. But you don’t have to speak to preach. You can preach without using words. The hymn writer said it well: If you cannot speak like angels, If you cannot preach like Paul, You can tell the love of Jesus, You can say He died for all. If you cannot rouse the wicked With the Judgment’s dread alarms, You can lead the little children To the Savior’s waiting arms. (Hark! The Voice of Jesus Crying vs. 2).

My beloved and His beloved, not only does your pastor have a pulpit from which to preach Christ. So do you, and you, and you (point out). Your pulpit is called DAILY LIFE. Your vocation is where you preach. Attending school is where you preach. At home is where you preach. At the grocery store is where you preach. At the Post Office preach Him. At the Basketball game preach Him. At the gas station preach Him. Everywhere preach Him!

A story is told of a Grey hound bus driver who was a faithful advertiser. Every noon the cross-country Greyhound bus stopped in the same town for a 45-minute lunch break. Forbidden by company policy to single out any restaurant, the bus driver would say, “If anyone wants me, I’ll be enjoying a delicious meal at Tony’s first-class, spotlessly clean diner directly across the street.” And his indirect adver­tising filled Tony’s diner with hungry travelers.

Wherever God has placed you saints in Christ, you His blood-bought and baptized children can advertise Christ and His cross. Some­times this involves words, witnessing about the only Savior to people you know and people you don’t. Always it involves your daily life. By the way you talk and walk, dress and deal with others, the way you treat your spouse, train your children, and in a thousand other ways, like Paul, you can work for Christ and preach Christ to a world that is lost in darkness and sin. Your walk is heavenward, but on the way there’s work for you and me to do—and what is our work? To preach Christ and Him crucified.

We can be bold and brave like Paul. We can be preachers of the Gospel. We can give a glorious testimony to the love of Jesus that He revealed to the entire world to see on the canvas of human history—His all availing sacrifice on the gory cross of Calvary.

But a time came when Pastor Paul could no longer plant new mission con­gregations and prepare more mission workers. But he could still talk about Jesus. And he did. While in jail in Rome waiting for his beheading, he used the opportunities God laid before him. Every six to eight hours another guard would come to relieve the guard to whom Paul was chained. How many guards did Paul tell about the Savior during his two years in custody at Rome? (Some where over 2000 guards). Satan thought chaining Paul up would curtail his preaching of Christ. Instead, Paul used it as another opportunity to work for Christ.

Paul, in his own estimation, was not a philosopher, not a moralist, not one of the world’s wise men, but simply Christ’s herald, messenger and preacher. His royal master Jesus had given him a message to proclaim; his whole business was to deliver that message with exact and studious faithfulness, adding nothing, altering nothing, and omitting nothing. And he was to deliver it not as another of people’s bright ideas, needing to be beautified with the cosmetics and high heels of fashionable learning in order to make people look at it, but as a Word from God spoken in Christ’s name, carrying Christ’s authority and authenticated in the hearers by the convincing power of Christ’s Spirit (1 Cor. 2:1-5). PAUSE.

How about us? Are we willing to use the gifts the Lord has given us to preach Him to the world? Are we being faithful to proclaim Him to NOT a politically correct society that denies that He is the Only Way to the Father? Are we willing to be faithful witnesses of His mighty miracles, message, and method of death? Are we willing to let others hear our sermon without fear or shame? I PRAY SO. I pray that we do. I pray that our lives, words and deeds tell the world that we believe in Christ and preach Him joyfully and faithfully.

Do you know O’ Christian you’re a sermon in shoes?

Do you know O’ Christian you’re a sermon in shoes?

Jesus wants to help you, spread the gospel news.

So live it and give it

Tell it and spell it

A sermon in shoes!

You may be the only sermon a person “hears.”

Like Francis of Assisi said: “In everything you do, preach a sermon. If you have to, use words.” YES, in everything PREACH HIM! If necessary use words. Amen

Let us pray:

Lord, Jesus Christ, You called Your servant Paul to be a Preacher and a herald of the Good News. Make us we pray, faithful witnesses to Your death and resurrection, to the empty tomb, to the forgiveness You won for us on the cross and the ONLY Savior of the world, so that others may walk with us to heaven. Amen.

Now the peace of God…

“Forever Connected” (Philippians 1:6)

S-1192 3SAP/3C Hymns 6/05/10, (O) #801; S #461; Solo: #744; (C) TLH #533

Texts: Job 19:21-27; Psalm 23; Romans 8:31-39: John 14:1-6

Theme: “Forever Connected” (Philippians 1:6)

Celebration of the New Life for Virginia Peiman (Dallas, TX) daughter of Erv Knodel

SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for the celebration of the new life promised to our departed sister in the faith Virginia is from St. Paul’s letter to the Church at Philippi: “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ’” (Philippians 1:6).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

Family and friends, especially you Don, Gregory and James, we gather today in the Lord’s house to take comfort in His Word and His promise given to us who trust and believe in Him. His Words are hope and help in the hour of sorrow. His Words of promise are a great comfort and consolation even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

We all cherish being connected. It is normal and natural. It is healthy and wholesome. But because of sin and selfishness this connectedness breaks down and at times destroyed. You know of incidents when friendships break down. Children leave their parents and have nothing to do with them. Some get disconnected through divorce; and then something like death intrudes into our lives. It tears asunder. It leaves us disjointed, bereft, and wondering about our own mortality.

God never intended for us to be alone or disconnected. Even from the beginning of time, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone I shall make him a help meet” (Genesis 2:18). Indeed, along life’s journey God fills our lives with friends, family and church family to help us in our walk of faith.

But things happen in life that rips our comfort zone. Events that are out of our control that shakes us to the core. Similar to what happened to your family this past Friday. When your wife, mother, and grandmother you love and cherish was called home to her eternal rest.

Events like these cause us to feel disconnected from loved ones and even from God. And we wonder where is God in all of this, and why does He permit me it. When you are in pain and anguish you begin to doubt God’s promises. Of course, Satan would have you think that God doesn’t CARE about you, nor LOVES you. But that is not true. All of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation is God’s love story for man. Listen again to the Apostle Paul’s words of comfort: “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ’” These words assure us that we are not disconnected but connected to the One who began the good work in us.

That good work was begun in Virginia on February 26, 1933. On that day her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ attached her to Him through the majestic waters of Holy Baptism. From that day forward she became His precious, beloved, and beautiful daughter robed with His righteousness. From that day forward this royal daughter of the King of kings and Lord of lords, demonstrated that the faith God granted unto her at Baptism was watered and nurtured throughout her life. This daughter of the faith grew under faithful parents and fine gospel centered pastors who proclaimed faithfully the soul-sustaining, faith preserving in her convictions that Holy Spirit first germinated. By His grace alone Virginia professed and confessed the faith in worship from the creed to the hymns to prayers and more.

Ever since she was a child, she learned what it means to be in the Lord’s house. Her parents, led by the Hoy Spirit brought her to God’s Holy House, where she was taught the faith, confessed the faith and grew in the faith around Word and Sacraments. Through these Means she trusted in Her ONLY Savior Jesus Christ as Her Lord and God. And when she become a wife and then a mother, she too, carried on humbly walking to the Lord’s house to be fed at the gracious Table of Her Lord as He gave her His life-giving body and blood for the forgiveness of her sins and strengthening of her faith.

As you know I was not Virginia’s pastor, so I was not privileged to minister to her or watch her grow in the grace of the Lord. However, I did visit with her Pastor Stephen Wagner and this is what he wrote: “It was a privilege of serving Don and Virginia as their pastor? I remember Virginia and Don as active and faithful in worship and Bible study. I remember them as active in a home group.  I believe she sang in the choir.  They were very supportive of me personally as well as the ministry of POP”. This was all mercy and grace because of Her good, gracious and faithful God. PAUSE.

But when pain fills our homes, when suffering fills our heads, when sorrow fills our hearts we begin to feel disconnected from God’s love. But that is NOT TRUE. Listen to this grand and glorious promise of the God of Love as Paul describes it: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39). Here it is in black and white, there is nothing that can separate you or your loved ones from the loving and gracious God.

However, sometimes we need to have things removed from us, to truly receive them back as the gift we had neglected. But can anything or anyone ever be lost - lost to God? Of course not! The Lord, in giving us His Only-Begotten Son has given us a Son into death, so that death would never be the last word for any of us, period! Elemental teaching! NEVER!!! Comforting, assuring, life giving - yup, you bettcha!

In our Gospel reading for tomorrow (Luke 7:11-17) we meet an event just like yours today—people gathered for a funeral. We see Jesus coming into Nain and witness the sadness of a funeral procession, made sadder still by the fact that this widow had also lost her only son. How would her grief ever be lessened? How would she survive? Death was so final. Or so it seemed. Death is NOT final, it never will be FINAL - Life is! A procession of death is crossed by a procession of life. The widow was taking her son, her only son, the son she loved, to the Cemetery. But even that place, its name, should be a place of hope, for Cemetery is from the Greek for “a resting place.” Tell me, is there any better place to rest than in the pierced arms of the Savior? Is there any more comforting place to rest, than in the bosom of the Lord? The Resurrection shouts that the grave is sealed, death is smothered, and hell stopped for Jesus burst, busted and broken its iron fetters. Now the church by the Holy Spirit’s power grows and lives and moves. Yes, today, in the midst of sorrow and suffering, tears and troubles, gloom and grief we rejoice now and always! Death is not final – LIFE IS! Life in the presence of Him who made, and restores Life, Jesus Christ.

Today, I want you to know that God knows your pain and suffering. He too lost someone He loves—His ONLY begotten Son, Jesus Christ. But God didn’t only know pain and suffering He did something about it—He gave us life as He gave it to the world.

Since death could not hold Him, God the Father now holds us and those we love, with the certainty of the Resurrection. This is not man’s gospel, but God’s Gospel. And the True Gospel is the only answer to our pain, and punishment; death and defeat; loss and life.

How about when we experience loss, even of the life of those we love? The Cross of Jesus and His empty tomb declare that our loved ones rest in the nail-pierced hands of His Son, the One who rose to give life and light to all. He rose to give your life its light and purpose, its meaning and joy.

Therefore, today, as you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, rejoice and celebrate that your wife, mother and grandmother is resting in the loving arms of her Savior, Jesus Christ. She is forever in His presence and connected to Him without any disconnectedness. She is basking in His goodness and grace in the new life He gave her and in the mansion He prepared for her. This past Friday the Lord who connected Himself to this royal princess, welcomed her home to be with Him for an eternity of joy. Amen.

CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!!!

SDG