Friday, September 9, 2011

“For Your Sake” (1 Peter 1:17-19)

S-1251 3rd SOE/3A 05/08/11, (O) 193, (S) #210, L.S. # 458; #201; #194; (C) # 189

Text: Acts 2:14, 36-41; 1 Peter 1:17-25; 2—24; Luke 24:13-35

Theme: “For Your Sake” (1 Peter 1:17-19)

Question: “Have you done something special just because?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our 3rd Sunday of Easter is from the Epistle lesson: “And if you call on Him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:17-19).

In Nomini Iesu Most Beloved,

There are those Sundays when it is tough to preach. Peter preaches on Pentecost and 3,000 are added to the church. Peter goes on in our Epistle to tell us that it is not with silver or gold, but His precious blood, which He knew He would pour out from before the time when He hung the stars in the heavens - and all this, the Savior would do for your sake! Peter goes on to differentiate between the perishable and the imperishable seed! You are now born anew from imperishable seed. Wow! If that was all I had to preach - wow! But add to that the dialog, the encounter, the personal touch of Jesus with the two Emmaus disciples…, on Easter Sunday... and you have something so incredible that it is LIFE itself.

Do you notice a pattern with Jesus after the resurrection? He appears through locked doors, two men who knew Him before do not recognize Him when all of a sudden, as they walk, He appears out of seemingly nowhere. We have a need, and, voila! He is there. Well guess what? You have a need today, and voila! He is here... for your sake! Oh, they didn’t recognize Him in the way He revealed Himself from before the Cross. Peter doesn’t recognize Him with the catch of fish in John 21. We can no longer walk with Him in the same manner we can walk with a flesh and blood friend. But in the means He has given, He is more surely and certainly with you, for your sake!

How foolish and slow of heart we can be to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Even today, we still want sings and wonders. Just this past week while sitting with my cousin, he asked me, “Nabil, how do I know that the Scriptures are true? How do I even know that God exists? A sign would be nice.” But we have the signs and wonders revealed in the Word of the Living God. We have the prophet’s Words written for our learning and for our sake. It is a sure Word and not words like a politician would mouth, not a promise that is hastily spoken, but Words that echo the Creative Force of Him who by this same Word was able to use Peter’s stammering tongue to convert 3,000 souls through one sermon.. He does not give us words of flash and polish, like silver and gold, which tarnish and perish, but His Eternal Word that speaks newness of life into doubting, hurting, lonely, broken hearts. This is a Word that is spoken... for your sake!

Sometimes it’s easy to take the Word of God for granted. How many Bibles do you have in your home? How accessible is the Word on the Internet? Yet we seek hope in lowered interest rates, in sales at the local stores, yes, in all those things that moth and rust may destroy and where thief and robber can break in to steal. We find hope in the words of other men and women, their writings and their wisdom.

Be certain of this, I am pointing the finger at you, knowing I have three fingers pointed directly at my own heart. Yes, I am slow of heart to believe all that the Prophets have spoken... and still speak. What they speak is how Jesus is the Christ. They speak how He had to suffer, and die on the Cross and in that enter into His glory!

Notice what it means to enter into His glory! It is to hang on your cross. It is to die in your place. It is to suffer hell for you. It is to go through death to life that has no ending... and has no sorrow... and has no loss... to life that is both eternal and perfect. All this is yours now. This Jesus who was crucified and risen has entered into His glory so that you, too, would enter into His glory! That Glory is your eternal life.

Now it is interesting that in v. 34 of our Gospel we have the words of the Emmaus disciples saying the Lord has appeared to Simon! By that they mean: Peter. The very disciple who denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed (Luke 22:60-62). This is Resurrection night, the same night when Jesus appears behind the locked doors to the disciples. In our text, the Emmaus disciples tell in v. 24 how “some with us (Peter and John) went to the tomb and found everything as the women said, ‘but Him they did not see.’” If we go back to v. 12 of this text we find that Peter runs to the tomb and finds the linen cloths lying there. It is a sign that brings faith, just as with finding Jesus wrapped in the same cloths at His birth (Luke 2:12, and this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.) The cloths as they are found bring faith. When the Emmaus disciples arrive back at the Upper Room, they confirm that Peter’s search for the Risen Savior is true. It is this sight without seeing that is our faith. The Words of God in the Prophets bring us life and light and the love of God. This is for your sake! Are you like Peter, a doubter, and even a denier? Good! You are also one to whom He has appeared, in the same signs, in the same swaddles, that is, in the Word and Words of Holy Scripture.

Yes, beginning with Moses and the Prophets, He tells us, just as He did the Emmaus Disciples, just as He did Peter (whose preaching tells us that God has done all this for your sake!)... For your sake all of this is done. PAUSE.

On this day when we observe Mother’s Day, we realize that many of the sacrifices mother make is for the sake of their family. The late night waiting for their children to come home is done for your sake. The cooking, cleaning and caring is all done for your sake. Their love is poured out for your sake. Their prayers lifted up before the Throne of Grace is for your sake.

But as much as a mother’s love moves her to do the things she does for her family’s sake, the Savior does even more for His own family—He permits us to stand in the presence of the Holy God and speak words of forgiveness and mercy, all for the sake of Christ. Before the Throne of Grace, we see the payments for sins made by the holy, innocent, precious blood of Christ all for your sake. And that same Savior pleads before His Father in heaven for YOUR sake. All of this, He does for you beloved in the Lord. Today, as the Savior on that first Easter night opened the eyes and hearts of the disciples, He also now tells you... all the Scriptures are all and always only about Him and His love for you, a lost and condemned creature, and one who He has purchased and won, not with silver or gold, but with His precious blood and innocent death, that you would be His own and live under Him in His Kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteous innocence and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead and lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true...for your sake! Amen!

Now the peace…

Soli Deo Gloria

“Broken TOMB” (Matthew 27:62-66; 28:1-7)

S-1250 ES/3A 04/22/11, (O) 199, (S) #200, L.S. LSB # 633; #471; #547; (C) # 801

Text: Job 19:23-27; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8

Theme: “Broken TOMB” (Matthew 27:62-66; 28:1-7)

Question: “Have you seen a Broken Tomb?” 9th in Sermon series Broken BUT not Broke


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our Victory Celebration is from the Gospel lesson: “The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, ‘Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while He was still alive, “After three days I will rise.” Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples go and steal Him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.’ Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.’ So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.  Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and behold, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him. See, I have told you’” (Matthew 27:62-66; 28:1-7).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

Beloved in Christ, we have arrived! We started out 46 days ago on a long and arduous journey to Golgotha. By the grace of God we have made many stops along the way. We have learned much about our Broken lives, hearts, bread, justice and our world. On Friday we stopped beneath the cross of Jesus as we saw Him dying and giving up His Spirit into the hands of His loving Father. Friday showed us the Son of Man dying for a broken world. Friday we saw Jesus put in a cold grave! Friday, we left weeping and crying because Jesus died for our sins. That was then. But today, we stand before the Broken Tomb—broken by the mighty power of Him who spoke to Martha saying: “I Am the Resurrection and the Life…” (John 11:25b). Broken by the One who said, “Destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands” (Mark 14:58). Broken by Him who destroyed the grave once and for all.

Yes, saints in Christ the tomb is broken. Death has no more power over Christ or us. The sting of death has been eradicated. Christ stands victorious over our enemies—the grave, sin and death. The evidence is clear the tomb has been broken. Christ’s body is not in the tomb any longer. Don’t listen to archeologists who tell you, “that they have found an ossuary with the bones of Christ in it.” IT IS A LIE. Instead listen to the truth as revealed in God’s Holy Word. In our Gospel text this morning we hear the angel saying to the women who came in the early hours on the first day of the week: ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has RISEN, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and behold, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him. See, I have told you.’” Thanks be to God that the women heard the glorious news and left with great joy and told everyone.

Today, we hear the same Good News: The Tomb has been broken. The Tomb has been busted. The Tomb has been burst by the mighty power of the One whom Job longed to see with his own eyes saying: “For I know that my Redeemer lives,” (Job 19:25). Yes Jesus is our Redeemer. He has won our freedom. He has given us life and salvation. Again, I will say this is not a lie, or a joke but the truth. PAUSE.

Beloved in the Lord, How would you like to step into a coffin, get comfortable and have the lid nailed shut? You think I am kidding. Do you realize people are doing it? It’s all part of a seminar in which people are paying to “experience” death and then “experience” a resurrection. On a typical day in Daejeon, South Korea, Jung Joon puts several people into wooden coffins and pounds the lids shut with a wooden hammer. That wouldn’t seem unusual if Jung were an undertaker, nor would it be unusual if the people in question were dead. But, in fact, Jung isn’t a funeral director… and the people aren’t dead.

Jung is an entrepreneur, and each wooden coffin lined up in a room at his place of business contains a very live person who paid $25 (mind you, paid) for the privilege of being “dead” for 10 minutes. With arms folded over their chests, they lie there “resting” in a dark space that’s all at once very creepy and very claustrophobic.

Jung’s business is aimed at stressed-out workers in Korea, where the suicide rate is the highest in the developed world because of ruthless competition and financial woes. Jung, who calls his seminar Coffin Academy, uses death as a teaching tool. The controversial idea is that you can teach people to appreciate their lives more if they can face death head-on.

It’s a way to let go of certain things,” says Jung. “Afterward, you feel refreshed. You’re ready to start your life all over again, this time with a clean slate.” Jung starts every seminar with the invitation, “Okay, let’s get close to death.”

The, registrants show up for a four-hour session, which begins with them writing letters of goodbye to family and friends as well as crafting their own tombstone epitaphs. Then, after attending their own funerals, the newly “deceased” climb into their coffins for the excruciating ordeal of darkness and contemplation. After 10 minutes of being “dead,” the coffins are opened and the bodies are “resurrected,” hopefully with a new sense of perspective on life.

Coffin Academy might seem like a good, if bizarre, idea to a lot of people, but I’m guessing it’s because a lot of those same people don’t realize the experiment has already been done for real. Christians understand that, on Easter, Jesus Himself emerged from the darkness of actual death and an actual tomb, not playing dead but defeating it and bringing ultimate meaning to human life and the certainty of everlasting life. If we’re going to go to school on the reality of death and the meaning of life, it’s the historical fact of Jesus’ resurrection that should inform us once and for all. Christians don’t need to get close to death in some seminar because Christ has already gone through the real thing and out the other side to new life — and promises we will do the same. PAUSE.

Early this morning we gather by the tomb to hear the greatest news ever proclaimed; because today is a day about an empty tomb, and someday, empty coffins; and our Easter Sunday worship time is a kind of Empty Coffin Academy. For this day is about life. Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! What a turnaround from Good Friday’s death. Take one more look at that death. Everything that sin does was done to Jesus when He hung on that cross. All that sin has done in us, with us, and to us was on Him on that cross. All the sin that is lived out in our thoughts, words and deeds was on Him when He hung on that cross. He was guilty with it. He suffered for it. He died for it. His dead body was placed in a tomb. But now Jesus is alive again. There’s been a resurrection! That validates the cross and what happened there. Look what happened to sin. Jesus absorbed it, paid for it in FULL, and overcame it in His death and resurrection. Your sins are forgiven! All of them! I don’t know what a sinner you are, but I know what a Savior He is!

The cross and the resurrection mean that now there’s life after sin. There is life for sin, that is, there is Christ Jesus. Remember what we just heard: But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and behold, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him. See, I have told you’” Life is great after sin has been conquered, given its death-blow. There’s a new freedom that you have. You are justified. That means God says you’re not guilty. More than simply, “not guilty” as we might think of with the Korean death academy, we are declared alive, that is utterly clean, whole, reunited with the Father who has become “Our Father. We are declared “innocent” for Jesus, going to death this past Friday was declared Guilty – guilty of your sin and mine. We stand, innocent. Yes now, you are right with God. You are at peace with God. You’re no longer hell-bound, but heaven-bound. You are alive in Christ, and Christ is alive in you.

And the Good News is this: Even though, our lives, homes, relationships and even our world are Broken to be sure; but thanks be to God that we are not broke. Instead we are blessed. We are forgiven and we are children of the heavenly Father. All of this is yours because the Tomb has been BROKEN. Amen.


“Broken WORLD” (John 3:16-17; 19:14-15)

S-1249 GF/3A 04/22/11, (O) LSB #455, (S) #153, #172, #175; #159; 149; #156;

Text: Isaiah 53 1-12; Lamentations 1:1-14; John 3:16-17; 19:14-15; Psalm 22:1-2, 6-8, 12-18

Theme: “Broken WORLD” (John 3:16-17; 19:14-15)

Question: “Do you like Bread?” 8th in Sermon series Broken BUT not Broke


Faithful followers of the Savior, the text for our Good Friday is from the Gospel lesson: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him…Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, ‘Behold Your King!’ They cried out, ‘Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify Your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar’” (John 3:16-17; 19:14-15).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

In the name of the God of love, saints in Christ, when I was 8 months old my father died from complications of a surgery. Soon after my uncle (dad’s brother) married my mother and he adopted my brothers and me as his children. For all of my life this man has been my father. He loved us, raised us and nurtured us as his very own. His was selfless love. Dad could have married another (younger) woman, but chose to do what is not easy—to take a widow and her children and make them his. That is love—sacrificial love.

I didn’t know that the man that raised me was not my own father until I was 14 years old. That shows the true love of this man to an orphan like me. PAUSE.

What do these famous people have in common: Johann Sebastian Bach, Nelsen Mandela, Bill Clinton, John Lennon, Babe Ruth, Herbert Hoover, Andrew Jackson, and Eleanor Roosevelt? They were all orphans—raised by someone who adopted them and loved them. All these people were given homes to grow up in. Tonight, we learn of the One person who loves the whole world—God the Father.

From before the foundation of the world, God loved His world. He created it with beauty and majesty. It was the perfect place. He set in it a lush Garden that had grandeur like no other—known as the Garden of Eden—where everything was peaceful and lovely. But then, the arch enemy of God—Satan attacked God’s loving creatures and caused them to fall into sin. And from that day the world has been Broken.

You and I know well that our world is Broken. Look around, read the newspaper, watch a little TV and you will come to the realization that sin is rampant, hatred is everywhere and death, oh death is claiming so many of our loved ones. Yes, our world is Broken, and we self-centered sinners are the cause of it. And I’m not just talking about the litter along the roads, or the effect of fertilizer on our land. No, I’m talking about what sin has done to God’s world—SIN that polluted and destroyed the beautiful life of Adam and Eve in the Garden. Sin separated the Creator from His creatures; SIN that cuts us from the Source of Life and Light and gives us death and destruction. Sin that horrible deadly disease has broken us and broken our relationship with God.

We see this brokenness in our lives too. We enjoy living for ourselves, serving ourselves and putting our trust in our abilities and resources instead in the One who gives all things to sustain our lives. Oh, don’t take me wrong, it is not that we don’t want to serve others. Our sinful nature always says serve yourselves first and then if you have the time, energy and resources serve God and neighbor. Our aim is to meet our needs. DO YOU SEE THE BROKEN WORLD you and I live in?

The broken world that wouldn’t receive the Messiah they had waited for; the broken leadership that were willing to reject all that they had confessed in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (“we have no king but Caesar”); a broken world is always willing to set aside beliefs, principles, truth, for the sake of satisfying its own ends, its own desires, its own selfish interests; as Adam and Eve chose to do in the Garden, seeking something more than their Creator had already given them, as if they were still lacking something; under-handed dealing by some in business; cooking the books in accounting; giving in to the temptations of the flesh when heart and faith is saying “no.” This is our world—our BROKEN WORLD.

Yes, our world is broken. We see the evidence of it daily: we see it in broken relationships and broken lives. The life that God intended to live with Him forever has been claimed NOW by death. Death calls the young and the old, the loving ones and the lost ones; parents and children too. The truth is we shall all die. As a matter of fact every person who is born has the clock ticking towards his death.

Know this truth: Death is the ultimate indicator, that creation is broken. God didn’t create us for suffering and sorrow, death and destruction, pain and punishment nor to live and die in frustration and regret and guilt. He didn’t put us on His planet to HURT others, as we so often do, even when we’re not trying to. And He didn’t put us here to BE hurt by others as we so often are. All the things that make the news—the terrorists, the revolutions, the natural disasters, all the senseless violence and tragedies, the broken homes, broken bodies, and broken spirits—none of those things were supposed to be news! But that is the proof of our broken world. Welcome to my world beloved. PAUSE.

But God has an answer to this broken world it is called love. The Apostle Paul describes what LOVE is: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). But it is God who paints with a wide brush the view of this love: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” The love of God is revealed not in words, but in action. God doesn’t just talk the talk but He walks the walk. God in mercy sends His ONLY Son, into the world to restore that which is Broken—His created world.

You know why He does that? Because every soul is precious in His sight! You matter to Him. In love therefore, He sent His only Son so that He may restore this Broken world with the only tool possible—the Tree of the cross.

On this Good Friday, as we gather in Golgotha amongst the darkness, jeering and the shouting of many: “Crucify Him! “Crucify Him!” we see that Christ is Broken once and for all for the sins of Adam, Eve, you and me. He is broken for you so that He may restore you to the God of love. He gives His life unto death so that YOU WILL LIVE FOREVER.

Good Friday, or GREAT FRIDAY as they say in my country is the answer to our Broken World. God has painted them on Golgotha for us in broad and bloody brushstrokes, so we may see the severity of sin and the brokenness it brought. Great Friday is what makes us know what love—true love is all about. Love that forgives, love that heals, and loves that restores the world and us to a loving relationship. PAUSE.

Sometimes back I got in the mail An Arbor Day Foundation survey. The letter begins like this: “Nabil Nour we’d like to ask you about trees. Whether you climbed them as a child, cultivate them now, or if you’ve lost interest, we want to know! You may be wondering why what you think about trees is important. The answer is that trees are important and our job at the Arbor Foundation is to make sure people in SD—and across the country—know that. But we can’t try to change the way people think about trees until we know what they think about them now.”

I am happy the Arbor Day Foundation is trying to plant more trees. That is good for our State and the country. But in truth there is only one tree that we need for this life and the next—it is the TREE OF LIFE upon which the Almighty Father nailed His Son for the Broken World. This is indeed a love unlike any love known to the human heart. God’s love given for you! This love is more than earthly father or uncle can give. It is unconditional love—LOVE that takes us from being orphans and adopts us into a loving family—God’s family where brokenness is no more; LOVE that claims us to be His beloved sons and daughters FOREVER. Amen.

Now the peace…


“Broken BREAD”

S-1248 MT/3A 04/21/11, (O) LSB #445, (S) #312, L.S. LSB # 629, #547; (C) #434

Text: Exodus 12:1-14; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; Matthew 26:17-30

Theme: “Broken BREAD” (Matthew 26:26-28)

Question: “Do you like Bread?” 7th in Sermon series Broken BUT not Broke


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our Maundy Thursday is from the Gospel lesson: “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’” (Matthew 26:26-28).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

Beloved in Christ, greetings to you in the name of Him who is the Bread of Life, Jesus our Lord and Savior! On this holy night we call Maundy Thursday (meaning a New Commandment) we gather along with Jesus and His band of disciples in the Upper Room. As we do so, we see the humble Rabbi first kneeling down, taking a basin and water and washing the feet of His followers. Then we behold them around the dining table in preparation for the Passover Meal. During this Meal that commemorated the deliverance of the Israelites from the bondage of slavery from Egypt, Jesus does something most amazing. He takes the bread, gives thanks and breaks it and announces to them, this is no ordinary bread, but His body BROKEN for their sins.

Did you know beloved in the Lord, that Gods’ Holy book has lots to say about breaking bread? In the O.T. God provides manna for His people in the wilderness. In the book of Deuteronomy, the Lord God states: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (8:3). Perhaps you remember that the devil tried to tempt Jesus to turn stones into bread while hungry in the wilderness. Jesus responded: “It is written!” We remember how Jesus fed thousands of people, starting with just five little loaves of barley bread and two fish (Lk.9). Jesus taught us to pray to the Father: “Give us today, our daily bread (Mt 6). And in John chapter 6, Jesus reveals Himself to be the bread of life” from heaven. The “bread” that Jesus speaks of is His flesh which He gave for the life of the world.

These and other passages demonstrate how the topic of bread keeps coming up in both the Old and New Testament. But bread is not only prevalent in the Scriptures. Bread is a staple food throughout the world. In my Palestinian culture, we would never sit down to eat without bread. As a matter of fact the first thing mother put on the table was bread. Bread is an important part of our daily diet. PAUSE.

But it appears in this country, that we’ve replaced putting bread on the table with putting meat and potatoes. It used to be, that bread was the centerpiece of the meal. That’s why we still use phrases like being the “breadwinner.” We still equate bread with nutrition, nourishment, and the basic necessities of life. And no matter how you slice it, bread is still a staple. Bread is sustenance. Bread IS a centerpiece of the global diet. Even though we have so many food choices here in this country, just look at how many forms of bread we have in our grocery stores. There’s a whole aisle dedicated to it.

Bread has been a dominant source of food for thousands of years. Jesus consumed bread every day. It was the centerpiece of His diet. He knew bread’s importance—in His time, survival depended upon having the resources for baking bread. Jesus even came from the “house of bread” (which is what Bethlehem means) and then He and His parents spent a few years as refugees in the “breadbasket” of Egypt.

On a daily basis, Jesus “broke bread” with His parents and siblings, and later with His disciples. “Breaking bread” is just another way of saying “eating, or dining together it is the most intimate of times between friends and family.” So we continue to “break bread” every time we eat … Whenever we share and enjoy the daily bread that God showers down on us, we’re experiencing a good thing, the God-given gift, of breaking bread with others just as we got done doing in the basement.

But breaking bread can also get us into trouble. In the Garden of Eden, the very first sin involved breaking bread. Satan appealed to Eve’s appetite, prompting her to disobey God’s simple command not to eat from the Tree at the center of the Garden. Adam and Even “broke bread” together anyway as they took and ate the fruit. That instance of breaking bread was earth-shattering; it was the first sin against our Creator, putting everything under a curse, and opening the floodgates for every sin to come. Breaking bread continues to get us into trouble. Far too many people fall into the sin of gluttony. You don’t need me to tell you that we live in the most overweight country in the history of the world. You can see this for yourselves every day. In recent decades, our nation has been so blessed with an abundance of daily bread that we go overboard. We take and eat, and we over-eat. PAUSE.

Breaking bread gets us into trouble, because our sinful hearts are never satisfied just like our parents in the Garden of Eden. We always want MORE. Because we’re cursed with Eve’s sin and Adam’s sin, our need for daily bread has a way of becoming an insatiable desire for what we crave. Little did they know that their desire for better bread to break, and more daily bread to consume, would unleash a chain reaction of sin. We see it in our lives and the lives of those we love. How do we overcome this terrible dilemma?

Christ, the heaven-sent Savior gives us the answer in our text this evening. Through the breaking of Bread, God gives us the only Way out of our cursed trouble. Not only does He give us daily bread to live on, but He is our spiritual bread. For you and for me who were headed toward eternal DEATH, God gives the Bread of LIFE: JESUS THE BREAD OF HEAVEN.

Our sermon hymn tells us that “Jesus Christ is our Living Bread. This is none-other than THE Bread of Life. This bread gives life not only for a day, or a year, but for a life-time. Jesus speaks about Himself, “HERE is the Bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I Am the living Bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this Bread, he will live forever. This Bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world … Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

The Good News we hear tonight is this: Jesus Himself is the Life-Giving Bread. Physical daily bread is a staple for sustenance and survival. And Jesus knows that we need bread to live, physically and spiritually. He provides our sustenance for this life, and He meets our desperate spiritual needs for eternal life. He provides us with both our “daily bread”, which is everything necessary to support our bodies, and eternal bread, which is His body, broken for us.

Bread must be BROKEN before it can be shared. This was the case when Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples. He first BROKE the unleavened bread, and then passed it along to His disciples. Jesus, God’s Living Bread, the Bread of Eternal Life, was also BROKEN for you before His Life could be shared with you. On Good Friday, Jesus’ body was BROKEN for the life of the world you too. Just as Jesus took bread on the night of the Passover meal, so too, He was Broken by whips and thorns and crucifixion. As Jesus was dying on that cross, even Jesus’ disciples wondered how He could be the Bread of Life. But it’s precisely because Jesus was broken and killed on His cross that He can feed and fill us, satisfy and sustain us, nourish and nurture us FOREVER.

In a few moments, I will repeat what the Savior did on that Holy night so long ago. I will take the Bread, lift it up, give thanks and break it for you. Likewise with the cup it will be shed for you. In a few moments, you will walk up to dine with Your Lord and Master Jesus. Here you will be the honored guest at a most beautiful table served by Him who is the Bread of Life. He will give YOU His body for added grace, strength, mercy, and assurance. Here you will receive the treasure of heaven in His Supper. Every time you receive in faith this Holy meal you receive the heavenly manna that assures you of eternal life. Every time you gather around the table, YOU will break bread with Your Lord and family of faith. Cherish these blessed times you get to dine with Your Savior. This will remind you that He has overcome your troubles; He has delivered you from the slavery of sin and death and has filled your life with joy, hope, and peace in your journey to the eternal City.

Come my children, come the table is ready for you. It is time to BREAK BREAD. Amen.

Now the peace…

Soli Deo Gloria

“Lost in the Crowd BUT Found by the Crown”

S-1247 Palm Sunday/3A 04/17/11, (O) # 160; (S) #452; (C) #161

Text: Isaiah 50:4-9; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 27:11-66; (sermon John 12:12-19)

Theme: “Lost in the Crowd BUT Found by the Crown” (John 12:12-19)

Question: “Have you been lost?” 6th in Sermon series Lost and Found


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our 6th Sunday in Lent is from the Gospel lesson: “The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, crying out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!’ And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, ‘Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, Your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!’ His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about Him and had been done to Him. The crowd that had been with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet Him was that they heard He had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, ‘You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him’” (John 12:12-19).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

In the name of Him who wore the crown of thorns, beloved in Christ, there is nothing more frustrating than being lost. Before the days of GPS, my wife and I traveled to Cleveland, OH to visit my uncle. After driving for 18 hours, somehow I took the wrong turn . It was dark, we were tired and needless to say frustrations ran very high that night. But what is even worse is being lost and not knowing it.

Today, as you and I travel in spirit to Jerusalem, we join the throngs of people who have come from all over the world to celebrate the Passover. It is estimated that during the weeks approaching the Passover, there would be close to 2.5 million people in Jerusalem. No wonder the Scripture writers tell us that there was a large crowd who followed Him. And those who followed Him cried out saying: Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel! In other word they were crying out to the Man riding the humble donkey, to save them. Save them from the Roman regime. Save them from the taxes they have to pay. Save them from the burdens of life. Do anything and save us. They had a misunderstanding of the type of king who would come. They wanted an earthly king; one who would be the leader and shaker of the Jewish nation with its capital in Jerusalem. These crowds were lost without knowing it.

Have you ever been lost dear friends? Being lost is not fun. It is frustrating. When a child is lost it throws a family into panic; we pray that when our children get “caught up” in the crowds of the day that we too would be in a panic about rescuing them and showing them their Savior. Others choose and want to get lost in the crowd so that they don’t stand out, so they aren’t noticed, so that they might not be seen and be called on to do something. Even among the crowds in Jerusalem when they saw Jesus riding the donkey; they didn’t know what to think about what they were hearing; So also today, when the “crowds” hear the message but it doesn’t touch their hearts because they are caught up in the things of this world.

Soon we will gather from the most awe inspiring celebration of Easter and there will be many “crowds” that will be in church this Easter: wondering; trying to get in “their points” with God, since they haven’t been in Church since Christmas; some who are “caught up” in the “drama” of the day, and even if they are not strong in faith, want to hear a message that is positive, perhaps even satisfies their curiosity. PAUSE.

The Gospel writer John writes: “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:42-43).

Fence-straddlers in large numbers are also present among us today. Claiming to be Christian is fine for them as long as that claim doesn’t cost them anything. And when it does, they leave. It may be because the preacher steps on their sins or because someone has the audacity to ask for their time, talent, and treasure as response to God’s love. Perhaps someone doesn’t pay enough attention to them. The bottom line, though, is that they will not “confess their faith” ... They shop for the church that best meets their own self-centered needs, while ignoring the doctrine of the Gospel in their shopping. They treat the Christian faith like a smorgasbord, picking and choosing what appeals to their individual tastes. (LifeLight, Bible sudy, p. 18)

How sad, that the situation has not changed. So many people even today, are still lost in the crowd. They are still looking for a king who would save them from inflation, from the burdens of life and the troubled marriage they are in. They want a king who would give them every wimp and desire. They treat Jesus like a Jeannie as they rub the bottle and demand from Him their heart’s desire. What we notice in the lost crowd of Jerusalem that day is that The King who entered Jerusalem to cheers of “Hosanna,” would exit the city to Jeers of “Crucify Him!” They didn’t understand the mission of Jesus nor the prophecy about Him. After all isn’t this why the heaven-sent Savior came. Listen to Zechariah: Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, Your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!’ (Zechariah 9:9). PAUSE.

“It’s good to be the king!” That slogan has become familiar through the ads of a prominent fast-food chain, like Burger King and Mattress King. When we think of being treated like royalty, we envision a life of luxury and being waited on hand and foot. Such attention and care could easily lead us to think, “It’s good to be the king.”

What a different kind of king we see in the Son of Man, our Sav­ior! Instead of leading a life of lux­ury, He wandered the hills and valleys of Palestine, with no real place to call home. Instead of being waited on hand and foot, this King came to serve His sub­jects with every fiber of His being. Instead of being crowned with gold, He wore a crown of thorns, because Jesus, our King, rules with a servant’s heart!

Today marks the entrance to the most Holy Week in the Church’s year. We will retrace our King’s journey to the cross, where He would pay the ransom price for His rebellious subjects. Jesus would lay down His life for deniers like Peter, betray­ers like Judas, cowards like the disciples who fled at His arrest, and for sinners like you and me. This King is the greatest of all kings, who in love serves us in giving His life into death so that we can live forever!

So many of the crowds are still lost and so are we. Lost in sorrow, suffering and in sadness. Lost in pain and hurt. Lost in the darkness of sin and death. Isn’t true that when you lose someone you love, you hurt and you lose focus? Certainly!!! PAUSE.

Have you picked the newspaper lately and looked at the obituary? There is always someone you know who has been swallowed up in death. Death our great enemy, has taken more casualties. Last week, an innocent guard at the State Penitentiary was brutally murdered. Louis Theiss, the fatherin-law of a colleague of mine also died. And other loved ones could be next. I’m sick and tired of death stealing life and our loved ones! And so is Jesus our servant King.

And so Jesus climbed on to a young donkey and rode meekly into Jerusalem to the praise and the palm-waving of the people. It didn’t look like it, but Jesus was going off to war. Our sermon Hymn: in the “Church Militant” section of the hymnal says in part, “The Son of God goes forth to war A kingly crown to gain. …” 452.

He went forth without a sword and without an army. Oh, He had some “soldiers” with Him, but you know how well they stood by their Lord’s side: while He prayed to His Father in the Garden, His watchers slumbered. The fiery “sons of Thunder” (James and John) and the would-be-valiant Peter fell fast asleep…and the soldiers of the High Priest came to take away our Lord.

What was next? Sham trials, a wishy-washy Governor, the scourging (oh, the scourging!), the painful walk to Calvary, the nails and the crown.

The crown! Is this thorny crown the “kingly crown” noted in the hymn? Yes! Our King on the cross, Jesus, had only a hastily made crown of thorns to adorn His head—and it was made in mockery to increase His suffering. Then the Roman soldiers bowed before Him in derision. His crown commanded no respect, only shame and scorn. His own people had rejected Him. But as He wore that terrible crown, He won forgiveness for us and the whole world. “It is finished (i.e., accomplished)!” He cried. The thorny crown is, thus, a glorious crown.

Christ has defeated our great enemy, death (along with sin and Satan!), by His death. The writer of Hebrews says, “…but we see Jesus…now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9). And now He has traded in that thorny crown for an imperishable one. Christ suffered, died, rose and ascended into heaven; He now rules eternally with a crown whose glory will neither fade nor end, a crown of gold (Revelation 14:14). His joy will be to hand us each a crown: “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

The Son of God went forth to war during the week we call Holy Week. From the tragic cross to the triumphal entry, He gained a crown that week, still wears one, and He can’t wait to place a crown on your head in heaven!

Yes, beloved, you who were once lost in the crowd, have been found by Him who wore the crown—Jesus Your King forever. Amen.

Now the peace…

“Broken JUSTICE” (John 18:37-40)

S-1246 5MIL/3A 04/13/11, (O) #143 vs 1, 5, 15, (S) #153, 14; (C) #416

Text: Psalm 89:1-15; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; John 18:28-19:16

Theme: “Broken JUSTICE” (John 18:37-40)

Question: “Have you said, ‘Life Isn’t Fair!’?” 6th in Sermon series Broken BUT not Broke


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our 6th Midweek in Lent is from the Gospel lesson: “Then Pilate said to Him, ‘So You are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I Am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.’ Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’ After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, ‘I find no guilt in Him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?’ They cried out again, ‘Not this Man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a robber” (John 18:37-40).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

In the name of the Eternal Judge our good and gracious God, beloved in the Lord. Ever since that first bite of the forbidden fruit was taken in the Garden; ever since the Prince of darkness masqueraded as the Angel of light, the world has been turned upside down and inside out. Ever since then, justice has been thrown out the window; and injustice is part and parcel of our broken world.

You know it is true because you experience it, you witness it and you live it. If anything that we hate and despise in this world of ours is the injustice that some receive or we have received. Case in point: in 2007, James Tillman a 44-year-old black man from Harford, CT was exonerated after serving 18 years in prison for a crime - rape - he didn't commit. He was accused of raping a white woman and unjustly convicted and imprisoned. His life and family were ruined because of the injustice received. Those kinds of stories tug at your heart and wonder how we can have such injustice in our modern world today. Thankfully, someone cared enough to work for his freedom.

Certainly our world is full of injustice and we know it is not fair. Some get the “book “ thrown at them for minor offenses and others of more substantial means get off Scott free! We see it daily among the politicians and celebrities. Wesley Snipes was put in jail for tax evasion, but Politician like John Kerry, Tim Geithner and Charles Rangel didn’t go to jail for the same crime. It isn’t fair, is it?

Do you know that in Venezuela a gallon of gas cost .07 and in Libya it is .57. But in the Midwest the average gallon is 3.77. Certainly, we feel mistreated at the injustice of having to pay such a high price.

However, of all the injustice in the world, Good Friday’s injustice is the worst of all. Listen to the text that engages us tonight at the blatant obvious and deliberate injustice: he [Pilate] went back outside to the Jews and told them, ‘I find no guilt in Him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?’ They cried out again, ‘Not this Man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a robber”

Jesus was innocent, after Pilate had investigated all of the accusations, He stated, ‘I find no guilt in Him.” Yet Pilate didn’t deal justly with Jesus. He broke the Roman justice system. Pilate knew, Herod knew and the Sanhedrin knew that Jesus was innocent yet; they all condemned Him guilty for crimes He didn’t commit. IT ISN’T FAIR, IS IT? PAUSE.

But because of sin, those who despised the kind, compassionate and merciful Jesus wanted Him dead by crucifixion and wanted a guilty man—Barabbas freed. Go figure. This is indeed unfair. Barabbas was thief, murderer, unsavory fellow but they chose him over One who is innocent, kind, caring and loving. What Travesty. The innocent is condemned and the guilty is set free.

A Sunday school teacher was telling this story to her 2nd graders. And they all began to scream this is not fair. Isn’t there anything we can do to the injustice that He received? Some even cried at what happened to Jesus. They wanted to rewrite history.

However, Good Friday was not a miscarriage of injustice. Good Friday shows that God takes sins seriously. Jesus had not sinned, but was innocent. But by doing what was right He became the sin-bearer. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this truth in our Epistle lesson for tonight: “For our sake He [God] made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). By the greatest sacrifice the human world has known, by the Broken Justice the world has witnessed outside the walls of Jerusalem, by Jesus becoming the scapegoat, we become righteous in God’s sight. Right here you behold Him whom John pointed to saying: “The next day he [John] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29).

Yes, He who was innocent becomes guilty, so that we are who guilty might become innocent. Luther called this the “Sweet Exchange”. Christ takes your place, suffers your hell, punished in your place, and dies your death. Is it fair? No it isn’t. By doing the right thing, Jesus becomes guilty for us. Our sermon hymn affirms this truth: Tell me, all who hear Him groaning, Was there ever grief like this? Friends through fear His cause disowning, Foes insulting His distress; Many hands were raised to wound Him, None would intervene to save; But the deepest stroke that pierced Him Was the stroke that JUSTICE gave” (Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted v. 2)

Certainly, our world is a world of Broken Justice. You know that you deserve God’s wrath. You know that if justice were to be done, what you and I would get? Hell would be our lot. God’s eternal punishment would be ours. Certainly, God sees all of our sins even if others don’t see what we do. God knows our hearts that are blackened by sin and it famishing appetite. And the reality of the matter we have to stand before the Eternal Judge and receive our due. PAUSE.

Think of the coming judgment as the review of a critical play in a professional football game. Everything is on the line. The outcome of this play will mean championship or defeat. The red flag has been tossed onto the field to challenge the call, so now the officials will huddle over the judgment and review the footage under the hooded monitor.

At this point I have good reason to sweat the judgment. I know that I have stepped out of bounds, many times. I have fumbled, been in illegal formations, and committed a number of unchristian fouls. The reality of what I have done is seen over and over again. The replay doesn’t lie. From every angle it shows that I have broken God’s Law and …and, you wait.

The judgment is quick, I’m not surprised, and the official renders the verdict. . . . I have the resurrection and eternal life! Why? What was he looking at under the hood? What angle of view could possibly lead him to that amazing judgment? Simply, what He saw was a man disfigured, bloody and battered hanging on a cross. The verdict I AM INNOCENT. Hell is not my lot. But Christ’s white robe of righteousness is mine. “For our sake He [God] made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”

Oh, the sweet sentence that we get. Certainly it is not fair, but in God’s economy it is not fair that we are after, but faith rooted in a past event, that gives us the certain present and guaranteed future. The High Priest Caiaphas was right after all, “It is better that One man should die for all the people, than the whole nation should perish” (John 11:50).

And certainly one Man did die for all the people. You know why He did that? Because He cared about your freedom and wanted to do something about it; because Jesus would rather go to hell for you rather than go to heaven without you. He did this for you to give You God’s Justice—to receive what we don’t deserve—God’s grace and mercy.

God’s Good Friday Justice gives us the grace of injustice for today and forever. Amen.

Now the peace…

Soli Deo Gloria

“Lost in Death BUT Found by the Life” (John 11:25-26)

S-1245 5SIL/3A 04/10/11, (O) #LSB 563; (S) #199; L.S. #159; #376; #395; (C) #391

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

Theme: “Lost in Death BUT Found by the Life” (John 11:25-26)

Question: “Have you buried someone you love?” 5th in Sermon series Lost and Found


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our 5th Sunday in Lent is from the Gospel lesson: “Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I Am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world’” (John 9:5-7).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

In the name of Him who is Life, Jesus Christ beloved of the Lord, it was a little over 6 years ago, while sitting in my office on Saturday afternoon preparing for a wedding that the office phone rang. I picked it up and my father was on the line. Dad didn’t spend much time with salutations; he came straight to the point and said: “Nabil, your mother had a major stroke! It doesn’t look good son! Please come home soon!” I was in shock. I preached the wedding sermon and the Sunday’s sermon and took off to Israel.

I arrived in the old country early in the morning. Having cleared customs I called dad that I was in, and he said, “So sorry son. Your mom just died!!! If you come home soon, we can keep the body and you can view her. For a moment I couldn’t think. Tears began to roll down my cheeks. My knees buckled beneath my weight as I thought of my last conversation only a week before when she said to me, “Son, I want to come to America to see you and your family!” In haste I got my rental car. Drove the 90 miles lost in the memories of my mother and sadness that has come upon me. I don’t know how I got home for the pain was real and I was hurting badly.

Today, you and I travel to Bethany a (little village outside Jerusalem) where Jesus made many stops at the house of his friend Lazarus. Come closer and eavesdrop on the conversation between Jesus and two lost sisters—lost in a daze; lost in death over their brother Lazarus. This home was once filled with laughter and merriment whenever Jesus along with His disciples spent the time in their home. But today, is different from all the others. Today’s stop is one of sadness and sorrow. His friend Lazarus was dead already for 4 days. While Jesus was still outside the village Martha runs to meet Him and she tells Him of her pain, her sorrow and her loss. With tears she tells Jesus, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.’

You know the feeling too, don’t you. You know the pain. You know sorrow. You know the sadness that fills your heart. You have felt the tears running down your cheeks as you stood over the grave of the one you love and heard the Minister of the Gospel say these words: “We now commit his/her body to the ground earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust…” It seems so final as the casket is lowered to the grave and you’re lost for words. Lost in pain! PAUSE.

As we continue to stand in Bethany, we see the pain on their faces. These two ladies are lost in death—Lost without a brother, lost without a protector, lost without a provider. Indeed they were destitute as they grieve over their loss. These women had lots to loose with the death of their brother. A woman without a man at the time of Jesus was a sorry lot unless there was a family male member to protect them and provide for their needs. Their loss is great.

No wonder when Martha heard that Jesus came she left the house, her sister and all the others who came to console her, and ran as fast as she could to the One who truly can console, comfort and calm the broken spirit and heart of man. She knew that her family friend, the Rabbi from Nazareth can change all situations and outcome.

When she met Him, she poured her heart out to Him crying the words of the text: Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.’ He who is Life comforts, consoles and calms Martha by telling her “I Am the Resurrection and the Life!” Please notice Jesus didn’t try to wipe away her tears with I hope there is a resurrection and life. Instead, He affirms comfortably to her that He is the hope of glory and the power of the Resurrection. That He who stands before her is the Resurrection and the Life.

Outside the city of Bethany we see the heart of Jesus, that He too, was hurting at the loss of His friend Lazarus. He too, understood the pain and sorrow that comes upon mankind because of sin. He knows what Satan has done by causing our first parents to disobey God and pay the punishment with their lives. He knows why He was sent by the Father to this world. With tears in His eyes He shouts the great command, “Lazarus come forth!” And Lazarus rises from the grave. And those standing by are amazed at the life that return to this cold and dead body. PAUSE.

Right there and then, they of old, and we today, behold Him who is Life and Light, the Man who would conquer death once for all time very shortly, foreshadowing His greater gift in this raising of Lazarus.

Like the women in Bethany, we face impossible situations. The doctor says with sadness in his voice: “It is inoperable. Your loved one has months, even weeks to live.” The police officer comes to tell us that our beloved dear one has been injured or has died in a car crash. Death is everywhere among us and we know that it has our number, too. It even had Lazarus’ number, for he is not walking among us in the flesh to this day. God may seem so far away, our tears are like those of Mary on Easter Sunday morning, so filling our eyes that we cannot see Jesus before us. But even as He was with Ezekiel, calling the dry bones in the valley to life, even as He was with Mary and Martha, with Lazarus, and the disciples; so, He, who does not change remains to speak Life to dead hearts. He gives death its death and life its meaning: that is... being eternal.

He, who stood at the side of the tomb of Lazarus, stood silently before others who wanted Him dead. He stood as they beat Him, mocked Him, tore His clothes off, crowned Him with thorns and spit on Him. He carried His cross all the way up to Calvary to die there. They took His hands and feet and nailed them to the cross. There He died for Lazarus, Mary, Martha, you and me.

No matter how many times I read or hear the story of Lazarus {His name means, “the one whom God helps.”} I am cut to the heart by the sheer joy that Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and the disciples must have known! Death has been swallowed up in victory! Jesus’ very words, words which we recite at every Christian funeral speak of this victory: I Am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” These are words that should make you and me stand up and shout for joy! Death, the greatest of enemies has been conquered. Death has been swallowed up in victory.

These women were lost in death, but have been found by Him who is Life and Light the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the true Lazarus. He is the One who turns their losses into gains. He is the One who will provide for them. He is the One who will protect them. He is the One who is Life itself. We certainly can utter the words of the Apostle Paul in that great and glorious resurrection chapter: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55-57).

Today, you too, see Him who is Life and Light. He, too, provides you with His body and blood to strengthen you. He is the One who provides His Word to guide and guard your heart. He is the One who protects you from harm’s way—the devil and death. He is the One who will walk with you along life’s journey to bring you to the other shore. He is the One who consoles and comforts you by His presence. He is the One who has found you when you were lost and brought you to Him who is Life Eternal.

Know this certainty beloved in Lord. Jesus’ filled cross and empty tomb shouts the answer. He is Resurrection and Life because He paid for all sins and pulled all of death’s teeth. Because He rose from the grave to show it can’t hold us either. Because, as Paul affirms it; “[He] has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10).

What joy, what comfort, and what a blessing to be in the presence of Him who is Life and Light and who guarantees our resurrection—even Jesus Christ. Amen and Amen.

Now the peace of God…

Soli Deo Gloria

“Broken Promise” (Matthew 26:73-74)

S-1244 5MIL/3A 04/06/11, (O) #151 vs. 1, 5, 7, (S) #143 vs 1, 4, 9, 14; (C) #400

Text: Psalm 15; 1 Kings 8:54-61; Matthew 26:57-75

Theme: “Broken Promise” (Matthew 26:73-74)

Question: “Is it Easy to Keep Promises?” 5th in Sermon series Broken BUT not Broke


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our 5th Midweek in Lent is from the Gospel lesson: “After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.’ Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know the man.’ And immediately the rooster crowed.” (Matthew 26:73-74).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

You who are loved unconditionally and eternally by the Savior Jesus, this past Monday and Tuesday I was privileged to attend our BELOVED SD District Spring Pastors Conference (Watertown). During the period of reports (by different organizations and pastors) two pastors got up to give us a report on a new Lutheran Camp dealing with creation. One of them was the speaker while the other the technician who ran the PowerPoint. While the spokesperson continued, the technical person asked for the microphone (for a second time) and said: “I promised George that I would not say a word, but I already have broken my promise twice.” PAUSE.

Tonight, we take time to pause for a little bit on the journey to Golgotha and listen to Peter as we consider another Broken theme. So far we have dealt with Broken Hearts, Broken Vessel, Broken Trust, Broken Life and this evening’s theme is Broken Promise.

This one really hits us between the eyes. This theme affects all of us. This theme causes us to squirm in our seats as we listen to the Word of God and consider our promises to Him, family and neighbor.

This evening we consider that bold and courageous Peter—one of the 12. You know quite a bit about the life of this man. Peter the fisherman who knew he could do it all. He spoke often on behalf of the disciples. He was the first one to step out of the boat and walk on water. He is the ONE who made the great confession that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God. He was the one who drew his sword when His Lord was in danger. He gave us those familiar words in our liturgy, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of Eternal Life!” (John 6:68). He was the one who in the Upper Room made that big promise saying: ‘Lord, I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death’ (Luke 22:33). This man from Galilee, Peter, was strong, sturdy, solid, spirited in making one promise after another.

However, this evening we see another side of this man—Peter. After Jesus was taken captive by the guards to Caiaphas’ house Peter followed from a distance. While he was trying to see what would happen to His Lord and Master Jesus, he warmed himself by the fire with the soldiers. As he was warming himself, he enjoyed the warms of the fire and was thankful for it, however, there was another fire brewing and this one was in his heart.

Those standing by recognized him and said, “You are one of them” but he denied it saying, “I don’t what you mean.” The fire got a bit hotter when the servant girl said again: ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ And again, bold and confident Peter denied it with an oath: ‘I do not know the Man!’ The fire got hotter still. After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.’ Now the heat is really getting the best of him. As all of the people around that red hot fire were gawking at him, Peter began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know the Man!’

At that moment Peter was awakened to what he said 3 times by the sound of the rooster. You see His Rabbi, Jesus, had told Peter before the event took place what would happen: Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.’… Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know Me’" (Luke 22:31-32, 34). In that instant Peter melted because he realized that he has not kept his promise. In his arrogance and pride, Peter made a promise he couldn’t keep. And that night he realized what he did and ran out of the courtyard weeping. PAUSE.

How about us? Actually that is the wrong question. Why? Because when we lump all of “US” together it is so easy to feel like you are like the rest of the people in our world and not singled out. It is so much easier to say, “We are not perfect! We are all sinners! We have all broken God’s promises! We have not all been faithful!” When we do that, we take the sting out of wrath and punishment of God against each of us.

It is so easy to look at politicians, powerful people, police officers and others and say, they haven’t kept their promises. But don’t go there. Don’t compare yourself to another. Tonight, be honest with yourself. Tonight, don’t stack up your work righteous in comparison to your neighbor. Tonight, compare yourself to the good and gracious Lord. Look deep into your heart and be sincere. Don’t pretend. Don’t hide. Don’t act.

Have you not stood here before God and this congregation and said in your confirmation vows, in pride and arrogance just like Peter, I will never deny You or the truth of Your teaching even unto death? Have you not said to your spouse you will love, protect, provide for him/her? Have you not made a pledge to be a faithful disciple putting God first, giving of your offering to the Lord and serving your neighbor? Have you not said, “You will be a light and salt to the world?” BUT HAVE YOU?! Maybe you have kept some of your promises. But have you kept them all? God knows that I HAVEN’T. I have broken so many promises that it isn’t even funny. God forgive me for not keeping my promises.

You who are loved unconditionally and eternally by the Savior Jesus, I exhort you to keep all of your promises to Him even when it hurts. The Psalmist exhorts us to do just that saying: “who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change [his] their mind will be able to be in the presence of God” (Psalm 15:4)Yes, keep your promises when it hurts. Remember Peter, the bold confessor? He relied too much on his own pride. He thought he could do it on his own. But the Lord reminded him saying: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Yes, be on guard. For indeed the “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Don’t rely on yourself but on Him who has withstood all temptations, Jesus your Lord and Savior. PAUSE.

My beloved in the Lord know this truth, The Holy Bible is God’s book of promises. From Genesis to Revelation we read one promise after another. In Particular the Old Testament is the story of God’s promises to His people. Below its somewhat obscure surface is hidden magnificent truth about the love and power of God. Throughout its pages the reader can find promise after promise from God, all of which are fulfilled in the New Testament-in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. God promised to send a Savior when Adam and Eve fell into sin (Gen. 3:15). God promised Abraham that he would become a great nation, the nation from which the prophets would come and, at last, the Redeemer of the world (Gen. 12:1-3). God promised a deliverer to lead the captive Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 3). God promised to raise a prophet like Moses that the people should listen to Him (Deut. 18:15-19). God promised that He will go with Joshua into the Promised Land (1:9). God promised to Ruth a Kinsman-Redeemer (Ruth 4). God promised that a virgin will give birth to a son (Isaiah 7:14). God promised that the Suffering Servant would be pierced and give His life for all (Isaiah 53). God promised that He would shepherd His people like a flock (Jeremiah 23:1-6). God promised that He would bring His Son out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1) God promised that out of the town of Bethlehem the Savior would come (Micah 5:2). God promised this Christ in the Scriptures.

God’s promises are given to this broken world—a promise of blessing and peace; a heavenly joy on their pilgrimage; a sacred delight. But this peace and joy is not cheap. What Jesus promises is not a gimmick to give you goose bumps or a mental attitude that has to be pumped at pep rallies. No, God’s promises are fulfilled in a radical way even when it hurt His Son as He gave His life on the cross of Calvary. On that cross, Christ suffered the agony of hell for YOU. On that cross Jesus looks at your face as He looked at the face of Peter and forgives YOU all of your broken promises. On that cross we see and hear of God’s faithfulness in keeping all of His promises. Though we are not faithful, He is always faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). He never breaks His promises. We see it in the shedding of the blood on the cross. We hear it when He says, “Father, forgive them…” We hear it when He commends His life into His Father’s arms, saying, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”

Tonight, as we gather by the cross, we hear again the shout of victory that Christ kept all of His promises with these words: “IT IS FINISHED!!!” God’s promises are fulfilled as He comes to us in His house of worship. God’s promises become ours in faith by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit. God’s promises are kept for you in spite of you .

Not only do we see His face on the cross, but He sees our face also. He reaches out to us with those pierced hands of His and pulls us to His bosom and share these wonderful words: “Though you have not kept Your promise to Me, I will keep My promise to YOU. I will always love you. I will always care for you. I will always watch over you. I will always be here for You. I will always forgive you your sins and be Your God.” This promise is YOURS! Rest in it. Rejoice in it! Revel in it tonight and always! AMEN

Now the peace…


“Lost in the darkness BUT Found by the Light” (John 9:5-7)

S-1243 4SIL/3A 04/03/11, (O) #LSB 744; (S) #512 (C) #849 LSB

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

Theme: “Lost in the darkness BUT Found by the Light” (John 9:5-7)

Question: “How valuable are your glasses?” 4th in Sermon series Lost and Found


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our 4th Sunday in Lent is from the Gospel lesson: “As long as I Am in the world, I Am the light of the world." Having said these things, He spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then He anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing (John 9:5-7).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

In Jesus’ name beloved in the Lord, life is not easy. Truth be told life is hard. It is full of pain and misery. No matter how you slice it, no matter how you look at it, no matter how you describe it; from the womb to the tomb it is difficult. All of us know pain because we live in a broken and darkened world. In sin-filled life, we know pain first hand—the pain of church members fighting with one another; the pain of child abuse, spousal abuse, sexual abuse. There are many who are going through pain today dealing with illness, loss of job, addiction to drugs, alcohol, pornography and the like. Sin has been causing havoc with God’s people from the day that Adam and Eve chose not to walk in the light but followed the darkness of selfishness and greed.

It is to this pain-filled world that Jesus was sent by the loving Father. He was sent to remove the darkness that came upon all humanity because of sin, and give light so that people may not stumble and fall. Today, John allows us to see (no pun intended here) the painful life of a man born blind.

At the time of Jesus, blindness was a sentence of death because there was no help for the blind. To be blind meant a life of suffering, dependence on others for nearly everything. He would have to rely on the mercy and generosity of others to lead him from place to place to get food or shelter. He lived a life of darkness and hopelessness. Can you envision the life of this man who never once the saw the face of his mother or father, he never saw the beauty of a Palestinian sunrise or sunset; he never saw the lovely poppy fields in bloom or the roses with all of its beautiful petals.

It is to this darkened world that the Savior came. He came to fulfill what the prophet Isaiah tells us in our O.T. reading: “And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light”, (Is. 42:16a). Jesus’ ministry was to help people and to give them sight not only physically, but more importantly spiritually. In the opening chapter of John’s Gospel, he writes, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (1:5). Indeed that is evident in our Gospel lesson today. People haven’t understood the mission and ministry of God’s Only Begotten Son. As the disciples and Jesus were visiting the big city—Jerusalem, they meet a blind man and they ask their Teacher,Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus’ answer: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned…but this hap­pened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life!”

To be sure, some sinful behaviors result in immediate suffering; drunken drivers often crash their cars and bring misery on them­selves and others. Shoplifting will land you in jail. Smoking pot and sniffing cocaine will hurt and harm your body. In this man’s case, however, a particular sin had not caused his blindness. Instead, his blindness would provide Jesus an opportunity to reveal His almighty power and glory as the Son of God and Savior. And the glory of God is revealed in an unusual manner. The Savior kneels down, takes some mud, spits on it and mixes it and smears it on the eyes of the blind man and sends him away to wash in the pool.

This blind man, in faith and trust, listens to the voice of Jesus and washes away the mud. Instantly, miraculously and amazingly, his eyes are opened and for the first time he sees. He sees a man before him. He sees buildings. He sees the mighty creation of the loving Father. This man who was lost in the darkness is now found by the Light—Jesus’ bright light burned within his dead eyes and they come alive and begin to see. PAUSE.

What happens next is tragic. The man who was blind but now sees is being interrogated by those who see, but actually are blind. They want to know how he could see and who it was that opened his eyes. His answer is short and clear: He put mud on my eyes the man replied and now I see.” Ah, but his answer didn’t convince them that Jesus had performed a miracle. In fact, because it happened on the Sabbath when no one was to work, some concluded that Jesus couldn’t be from God. Others won­dered out loud that if Jesus were just another sinner, how could He possibly perform such a miracle?

Yes, they were confused, but no, they didn’t believe—even when confronted by this miracle. So they asked the man again: “‘what have you to say about Him? It was your eyes he opened.’ The man replied, ‘He is a prophet.’” His confession was short, simple, and clear. Nonetheless, they persisted in unbelief.

So it is with unbelievers to this day! Don’t think it strange when they question your asser­tions about Jesus or even mock you for trusting in Him. God’s Word says that people are natu­rally hostile to God; they can’t help themselves (Romans 8:7)! Remember, unbelief also blinds people to the truth—even when truth is staring them in the face. So what’s a Christian to do? Speak the truth in love. Like the man in our reading, tell them what God has done for you. Say what He says in His Word. And, yes, like Jesus, love them. The Holy Spirit will work through you; He promised. PAUSE.

You who are the most LOVED of the Lord, the readings for this fourth Sunday in Lent deal in some respect with the motifs of darkness vs. light and blindness vs. sight. That those who are blind might see, and those who see might be made blind. Such a difference of Christ’s coming is often spoken of; to some His gospel is a savoir unto life, to others of death.

It is downright amazing to read how the Pharisees and Scribes behaved. They who could see, became blind--blind by fear and frustration; blind by hatred and jealousy. Right there before them stood the Light of the World—Jesus Christ—yet they were blinded to the truth, wouldn’t accept the truth nor believe the truth.

There is a proverb that states: “None so blind as those who will not see...” Jesus’ words are blunt: I come for judgment. Insisting that your inward blindness is sight isn’t just pitiful, it’s sinful and fatal. I can heal those who know, even dimly, that they’re blind. I can do nothing for those who insist they’re OK, except to make their condition permanent. That false “sight” you claim is a darkness in which no one, not even the Son of Man, can work. And if that Son who is the Light of the world should not be at work, then there is no hope, no life, and no light at all to see even if we wanted to. Without that Light, we may not see. We’re as good as dead! ...Jesus’ judgment is no threat but instead merciful, swift sight. Sin and guilt, however long-entrenched, are abolished as quickly as cataracts! No darkness is too deep to be overcome! And at the heart of it all is seeing Jesus as He really is: not just a man, a prophet, a man sent from God, much less a sinful impostor, but the Son doing the Father’s work and displaying the Father’s merciful glory, answering even the pleas of sinners who have no right to expect a second glance from God.

Today, as we stand by and watch the Savior at work bringing glory to His Father, we behold life-changing events taking place before our eyes. Two miracles happened. First the Savior opens the eye of the blind man so that He may see the mighty power of God’s glorious creation, and second, his spiritual eyes are opened to see that this Man from Galilee is truly God in the flesh. Having been touched by the pierced hands of the Savior to see both physically and spiritually, He worships God for the new freedom He has.

Likewise, you and I today, stand by the pool of mercy and grace. Jesus came to our darkened world too. He didn’t spit or mix mud and sent us to wash; no He washed us by the majestic waters of Baptism. Here too our eyes are opened, the darkness removed and light is given—and we are free. Free to see, free to worship, free to praise the One who has given us a new birth by the Water and the Word. Today, we stand beneath the cross and see the Light of the world being dimmed and put to death so that our dead eyes might see the glory of God revealed.

No wonder we delight in singing with people all over the world the wonderful hymn Amazing for it has brought comfort to many: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.” Join me, therefore, YOU who once were lost in the darkness and now have been found by the Light. And as we leave this place with the new miracle of sight may we be bold to take with us the shining light of the Gospel and share it with others who are still walking in the darkness of sin, so they may see Jesus as the Lord of heaven and earth and worship Him too. Amen.

Now the peace…

Soli Deo Gloria

“Broken LIFE” (Mark 5:1-7)

S-1242 4MIL/3A 03/30/11, (O) #143 v 1, 5, 6, (S) #388, (C) #400

Text: Psalm 8; 2 Samuel 12:1-13; Mark 5:1-20

Theme: “Broken LIFE” (Mark 5:1-7)

Question: “How is your life? 4th in Sermon series Broken…But NOT Broke


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! The text for our 4th Midweek is from the Gospel lesson: “They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before Him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me’” (Mark 5:1-7).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

You who are the treasured possession of the Lord Jesus, in his book A Child Called “It” David Pelzer speaks of his childhood abuse under his monster mother. I will tell you I have never in my 55 years ever read of such horrific and tormenting abuse both physically and emotionally. From 4 years old till 12 years David was abused so severely that it is simply a remarkable thing that he even survived and lived. The horror began at a young age. His mother beat him relentlessly. She made him sleep on the floor beneath the table with only few newspapers to cover his cold body. But the horror and torment continued. I will not tell you everything she did, to spare you some of the gory details but will highlight some. She would force him to take cold bath and keep his head under water. He was the slave of the family doing all the chores—cleaning the dishes in scolding hot water. She forced him to breathe the “mixture” as he called it of ammonia and Clorox until he passed out. He couldn’t eat with the family, but alone either from the left over’s of his younger brother or the dog. At time there would be periods of 3 to 10 days without a morsel entering his mouth. Forced to vomit daily when he came home from school to make sure there was nothing in his stomach. Poured down his throat ammonia, stabbed him and sent him to sit on the bottom of the steps as a prisoner of war on his hands with his head pulled back.

In the fifth grade he submitted a name for the school newspaper and David’s entry won. His Teacher Mr. Ziegler congratulated him and sent a letter to his mother of how proud he was of David. But his mother wasn’t impressed. Listen to David as he tells what happened when he brought the letter home: Elated, I ran to Mother’s house faster than ever before. As I should have expected, my happiness was short-lived. The ***** tore the letter open, read it quickly and scoffed, ‘Well, Mr. Ziegler says I should be so proud of you for naming the school newspaper. He also claims that you are one of the top pupils in his class. Well, aren’t you special?’ Suddenly, her voice turned ice cold and she jabbed her finger at my face and hissed, ‘Get one thing straight, you little **************! There is nothing you can do to impress me! Do you under­stand me? You are a NOBODY! An IT! You are nonexistent! You are a ******* child! I hate you and I wish you were DEAD! DEAD! Do you hear me? DEAD!’” P. 140

It is hard for us to understand how anyone let alone a mother can treat one of her very own children as this sick woman did. But these are the signs of broken life. In the Gospel reading for tonight, St. Mark describes the broken life of another child. This young man’s life is tormented not by a mother, but by demons who abused him terribly.

Mark describes the torment in this manner: And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces.

This unknown man is tormented, abused and his life is broken. He has no family, no one to provide for his needs; no one to care for him; but alone like a wild beast in the wilderness. He lives among the tombs, because homeless people would often find shelter out of the rain and cold in caves (used at the time for tombs). His life is broken down by the power of the demons; “broken” in the eyes of the world; his broken chains show the power of his bondage that broke his spirit and himself.

But then a great and wonderful thing happened. This wild man, meets the Wonder Man from Nazareth—Rabbi Jesus. Jesus has compassion on him. He talks to him, and drives the demons out of his body and casts them into the herd of pigs. With this act of mercy, we behold Jesus putting the BROKEN life of this man back together again. We see how precious is one soul in the sight of the Lord; more valuable than all the animals in the world.

As people listen to the story, they ask why the waist? Why destroy all of these pigs? But this is the wrong question. What at stake is not the life of the pigs, though there was a great loss to the owners almost $30.000; it is the life of this young man who has been tormented and tortured. Sadly many don’t see this at all.

After all this is the reason the heavenly Father sent His Son, Jesus into the world to heal the Broken lives of His saints by His death and resurrection. That is why Jesus endured the torment of hell on the cross of Calvary. This is why He permitted people to break down His body, so that life—broken lives of His people might be made whole again. PAUSE.

Open your eyes and study people well and you will see broken lives everywhere. We have broken marriages, broken homes, broken sprits and broken promises. Many people are caught up in the bondage of those pursuing the world and what it offers, the “latest thrill,” drugs, violence, hatred of others, spiritual ignorance, the bondage of what is touted as freedom (open attitudes of lifestyles, whether heterosexual or homosexual, abortion and promiscuity).

Even in our O.T. lesson for today (2 Samuel 12:1-13) we hear Nathan telling David about what he did to break the heart and home of Uriah and eventually kill him. That is what happens when we break our relationship with the Lord. When the Lord is not in our hearts the devil is. When we are not worshiping the Creator of the Universe, we are walking and worshiping the Prince of darkness. When we don’t talk to the Lord daily, we listen to other voices that lead us astray.

Today, many of our people don’t know how to talk to each other. We witness this by all of the broken communications. People are not able to communicate with each other face to face. They send text messaging, twittering, facebook, etc., how sad yet so real.

It is time for us to realize what a special gift life is. Life is so special to God that He didn’t let one tormented soul remain bound by the shackles of the demons but released him from this bondage and set him free to go and tell his family what the Lord has done for him. PAUSE.

On March 5, 1973 in Daly City, California, David Pelzer was rescued from his monster mother and taken to a foster home and his life of freedom began. He didn’t know there was such love out there. He didn’t know there was anyone who cared about him. He didn’t know that someone could and would care for him. But someone did and today David travels all over the USA speaking and bringing awareness to child abuse and end to this cycle of broken lives in many children.

On Friday April 3, 33 AD outside of the walls of Jerusalem, the Rabbi from Nazareth hung on the cross. His body broken. His blood spilled. His muscles ached. His hands, feet and side were pierced. His head poked and prodded by thorns. He became the scapegoat for all humanity. On that cross, Jesus the heaven-sent Savior completed His mission of rescuing all people who have been tormented and bound by the shackles of the devil and sin. On that cross He brought about the rescue of broken and bound lives. By this brutal act, the Savior—Your Savior has put back Your life together again.

The devil would love to torment us like David Pelzer’s mother tormented him! He would love to remind us that we are nothing but an “IT”! There is nothing that is impressive about us. In fact, because of our sin, he would remind us that we should be dead! But tonight, as we gather in the Lord’s house, we are reminded again, how special we are to Him. We are not dead. We are not nobody! We are precious to Jesus and we are somebody—somebody who is loved, cherished and cared for. By the power of the Holy Spirit we know that our souls are more precious to Him than all of the animals in the world. That He would endure the torment of hell, so that we can live triumphantly with Him in heaven.

Oh, how blessed you are my dear brothers and sister in Christ—blessed beyond measure. You are the blessed souls whose broken life has been put back together by the mercy of God alone. And having had our lives put back together we leave with joy and share what God for Christ has done to us and for us—with one and all. May God grant us the joy and privilege of sharing His Good News with all people, those who are still living with broken lives. Amen.

Now the peace…

Soli Deo Gloria