Wednesday, November 16, 2011

“A Change” (Isaiah 55:12-13)

S-1262 4SAP/3A 07/10/11, (O) LSB #578 vv. 1-3; (S) #578 vv.4-6; (C) #921

Text: Isaiah 55:10-13; Romans 8:12-17; Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Theme: “A Change” (Isaiah 55:12-13)

Question: “How do you deal with change?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost is the O. T. lesson: “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 55:12-13).

In Nomini Iesu,

Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ, as sinful people we don’t do well with change. Most people would rather be comfortable in their situations, doing the same thing over and over. And when a change is about to takes place, people grumble and groan.

Perhaps you served on a church committee. You wanted to introduce a different hymnal or a different hour for worship or worship format. People are up in arms when that takes place. It is sad but true that we want to stay in our comfort zone. But when change takes place we kick and scream because we don’t feel comfortable about it.

When, then, Senator Obama from Illinois was seeking the nomination for the presidency he made these statements: On Feb. 10, 2007 he said, “I’m in this race not just to hold an office, but to gather with you to transform a nation.” (Presidential announcement); on Feb 5, 2008 he said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” - Speech following Super Tuesday results. And on Aug. 28, 2008 he said, “Change doesn’t come from Washington. Change comes to Washington.” - Speech in Denver.

Indeed, changes are all around. Some changes are for the better and others are for the worse. Whether Democrat or Republican you have certainly noticed the changes that have taken place—gas prices are high, the economy stinks, home sales are low, unemployment is high, and your money markets went south.

When Senator Obama was campaigning he used this phrase often “It is time for a change!” And change has come to many. A change they didn’t choose—loss of job, finances, and homes and laws.

But that is not the only change that has taken place. On April 20, 1999, in the small, suburban town of Littleton, Colorado, two high-school seniors, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, enacted an all-out assault on Columbine High School during the middle of the school day with a deadly result—12 students, 1 teacher dead and 21 injured. Ever since that day, many schools have to lock their doors lest anything like that happens again.

These are the changes that you hear about on TV, radio and read in your newspaper. But there are changes in our own schools. Now many schools are serving breakfast, something unheard of before. More people are living together before marriage and none are ashamed of it. More gays and lesbians are coming out of the closet and it is accepted by many in our society and WORSE, by the church. PAUSE.

But we dare not change for the worse. This occurs when we change God’s Word to suit ourselves or serve ourselves. These changes take place when we dilute the Word and make it generic and teach that was then, but this is now. Just recently in New York they passed a law to have gay marriages. How tragic that the Word is no longer accepted as the Eternal truth. In your lives and mine, we don’t always accept the Word. We at time deny the validity of the Word. We make light of the grace offered in the waters of Baptism, in the bread and wine at the altar, and the forgiveness given by the pastor. Let this truth ring in your ears and hearts. God’s Word doesn’t change and neither does He. The Word is powerful in and of itself. For Jesus Himself taught saying: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will not pass away” (Mt. 24:35).

Yes, there are changes all around, some are great and others are gory. However, in our O. T. lesson the prophet Isaiah speaks of a change that is going to take place in the lives of God’s people. They will come out from the Babylonian exile and go home in peace and joy. This change takes place because of the powerful Word of God.

God the Author of life is the One who will bring this change about. He is the One who will guide His people from the darkness of despair to the light of hope and peace. Please listen again to Isaiah: For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. What an awesome change will take place in the lives of God’s people because of His mercy and grace.

Isaiah with vivid images describes mountains, hills, trees lined up along the highway to celebrate Israel’s homecoming. This tree-lined path home will testify to God’s goodness as twelve stones memorialized Israel’s crossing the Jordan (Joshua 14:7-8) and along the highway there is the sound of clapping hands and spoken words declaring SHALOM – PEACE upon God’s people. PAUSE.

You, too, as God’s beloved people, have gone through changes being rescued from exile of the Babylon of Satan and welcomed to the Promise Land of eternal life on account of the mighty powerful Word—Christ Jesus our Lord. The Word made flesh has done for the people of today what God has done to the people of old. The Word made flesh has changed us from sinners to saints, from being dead to life, from being blind to seeing. This change took place as people lined the road to Calvary and watched the Word made flesh dying on the cross.

These are the changes that come to us as a gift from the Lord Himself. On Cavalry’s Hill, trees and mountains clap their hands for what the Suffering Servant accomplished for us and still does. On Cavalry’s Hill, trees and mountains sing for joy declaring to us SHALOM—PEACE.

Oh, the joy and peace of knowing these changes have taken place. In the majestic waters of Baptism, you have been changed for the better. These changes bring you to Your Lord and Savior as one redeemed and restored.

What a blessing to know that we are a changed people. Changed to live for Him and tell about Him and the power of His Word in our lives. Study the lives of the Apostles’ and you will see the changes in their lives and testimony. Read the book of Acts and you will see a complete turnaround of the disciples from being cowards to being courageous and powerful proclaimers of sharing the Word even when they were threatened not to do so. Luke put it this way: “And when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:40-42).

This change took place because they were in the presence of the Mighty Living Word—Jesus Christ who gives power from on high to change lives for the better.

Today, that same powerful Word still brings about changes. You see it in our daily lives as we share the Word with others. As some of you know (will be doing so in a few hours) I often lecture about Muslims and how to witness to them. In one of my presentations was a Muslim for Iraq. After the presentation he came to me and told me, “Pastor, I didn’t know all that my religion taught. You have opened my eyes to a lot of things!” On New Year’s Eve of the same year while I was leading the Divine Worship Service the phone rang, it was the Muslim man calling me with great excitement because the Holy Spirit had changed his heart and bowed His knee so that he could become a follower of Jesus and would be baptized the week after. SDG.

You, too, have seen these changes because of the powerful Word of God at work in your lives. There is a major change taking place right here as you are planting the Black Hills Lutheran Middle School. You are starting a Lutheran school??? GREAT!!!. Thanks be to God for these blessed changes.

Today, as we gather in the Lord’s house, we join Isaiah, the captives of Babylon and Christendom and sing the song of deliverance that Christ the Word made flesh has brought to us. Today, we rejoice with the mountains, hills and trees as we sing of the Shalom the Savior has brought to us. Today, we leave changed people because we have been touched by the pierced hands of Him who changes not—Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Now the peace…


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