Wednesday, September 26, 2012

“Know the Truth” (James 3:13-14)

S-1338 17SAP/3B 9/23/12 Hymns: (O) #536 vv 1-4; (S) #355; L.S. #439; 307; #381; (C) # 536 vv 5-6

Text: Jeremiah 11:18-20; James 3:13-4:10; Mark 9:30-37

Theme: “Know the Truth” (James 3:13-14)

Question: “How do you know what is true?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is from the Epistle lesson: “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth (James 3:13-14).

In the name of Jesus, Amen! Precious saints in Christ, it is very important that we know the truth of what Scripture teaches and what others are saying. According to many sources, U.S. ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three other embassy staff were killed in an attack in Benghazi on Wednesday 9-11, as a response to the outrage over YouTube video about the prophet Mohammad; but that is NOT the truth. The Muslim religion doesn’t need to have a reason to kill the infidels. It is important to know the truth.

The last few days there has been a buzz among scriptural scholars over what Harvard Prof. Karen King has written regarding “a fragment of a fourth-century CE codex in Coptic containing a dialogue between Jesus and His disciples in which Jesus speaks of “my wife.”” First, you must know it is a fourth century papyrus and second, like its many counterpart they want to bring to the forefront the “Gospel of Jesus”. It is important to know the truth.

In many of the theaters around us are playing a movie called The Last Ounce of Courage. The story is of a grieving father over the loss of his soldier son in a battle. He is challenged and inspired as the mayor of a small town by his grandson to take a stand for faith and freedom against a tide of apathy and vanishing liberty. Alongside fellow citizens of courage, faith, and integrity, he is a challenged to fight for the freedom his son fought for.

Today, the Lord’s brother, James exhorts us to know the truth that leads to eternal life. It is important that we know what truth is, because truth brings freedom, deliverance and peace. Truth helps us keep things in perspective. Truth sets us apart from the world.

He also reminds us of the truth of the things that separate us from God—jealousy, evil desires, selfish ambition and the like. James keeps before our eyes of the many problems that come upon us. And what is it that makes us jealous? We don’t trust that Jesus can take care of us. We don’t put our hopes in Him keeping His Word. Why do we quarrel? Because we haven’t learned the art of forgiveness as Christ taught us “Forgive as I have forgiven you.” We don’t forgive because we want to be even. We quarrel because we think others always wanting to hurt us. Why are we envious? Because we don’t believe Christ has been fair with us and what He has provided for us. We look at the cup as half empty rather than half full. We look at what the Johnson’s have and we want it too.

This is the recipe of the sinful heart. This is the malady of living in this world; we are not satisfied, content or happy. We want more. And our arch enemy the devil, always reminds us of not getting our fair share. We deserve more, but God’s arm is short towards us. How foolish we are when we look to our strength and work to satisfy us and make us happy. PAUSE.

Beloved in Christ, did you know that every movie story deals with someone who wants more than what God has provided for him? Whether it is Batman, Superman, Spiderman, western or otherwise there is always someone who wants just a little bit more. Watch movies and study them well, the core of these stories is that people are not satisfied with what they have.

Some want to replace their wife for a trophy wife. Pastors want a bigger church. Workers want to take over the foreman or the boss. People want a bigger house or car. Others look for satisfaction and fulfillment in worldly things rather in Christ Himself.

But this is not what Christ has called us to be. Christ wants us to be His and to depend on Him daily for life and salvation. He who is the truth has revealed the truth to us in His Word and has given us that Word to know Him intimately and realize that we are His blessed and beautiful children.

I pray that those who know us may not think of us as only Sunday Christians, but as His truly committed followers and Christian’s everyday of our lives. We want others to know us in the way that Christ knows us as sinners but by His grace have been made holy and righteous. We want to live for Him and speak of His grace to others. We want to acknowledge the truth that without Christ we don’t have spiritual wisdom, peace and joy in our hearts.

Without Christ our life is empty and will always be jealous and envious. Without Christ wars rage within our hearts. Without Christ the treasure of heaven, we are not satisfied. But with Christ the heaven-sent Savior we have peace, contentment and love. With Christ the crucified and risen, we have joy to serve others and care for their needs. With Christ who died for us, we reach out in His name and share the sweet Gospel so that others may know the truth that leads to eternal life. PAUSE.

Saints in Christ, it is so important that we know the TRUTH and that TRUTH is a Person—Jesus Christ. He Himself spoke of the Truth when He said, “I Am the Way, and the TRUTH, (emphasis mine) and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John 14:6). Peter and John taught the truth saying: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Paul the great Apostle to the Gentiles taught the truth proclaiming. “…God our Savior, desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:3b-5). And the Savior Himself taught thus: “Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, If you abide in My word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’” (John 8:31-32). We need to know that truth.

It is important to know the truth, because that means you know Jesus as Your own Savior. It is not enough to know that He is a Savior, but YOUR Savior, who went to hell and back for you so that You may live in the grace, forgiveness and freedom He offered you.

It is important to know that there is a true and false religion. The Muslim religion is false and there god is a god who loves to hurt and harm people and send them to hell. It is important to know the truth, by not believing everything that people publish or declare on TV or in writing as the truth as this forged 4th Century manuscript about Jesus. Jesus was NEVER married nor did He have wife. Instead His loved His bride the Church—you and me to die for her to present her holy and without blemish to God His Father.

It is important that you know the truth like the grandson in the movie “The Last Ounce of Courage” Chris states: “Grandpa, I know the truth!” May we be like Chris and shout to the world that we, too, know the truth—Christ is my Savior and Lord! Christ paid for my life with His blood! Christ forgave me my sins through His death and resurrection. Christ has opened the gate of heaven. Christ has given me life, peace, freedom and eternal life.

You are who are precious in His sight and mine. THIS IS THE TRUTH AMEN!!!

Now the peace…


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

“It’s Time” (Ecclesiastes 3:7).

S-1337 16SAP/3B 9/16/12 Hymns: (O) #; (S) #451 (Stand Up…)1; (C) #

Text: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Hebrews 7:18-22; Matthew 21:28-32

Theme: “It’s Time” (Ecclesiastes 3:7).

Question: “What changes would you like to see?” Trinity, Bemidji, MN

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Mission Fest is the O.T. lesson: a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; (Ecclesiastes 3:7).

Oh most precious in the sight of God. You can’t escape it even if you tried. With less than two months to go until the National election, both sides are trying to convince you to change your mind and vote for them. All of the ads, messages on Tweet, internet, newspaper, and magazines are intended to convince you that this candidate is better than the other. And before long, it will be time to choose the next president.

Today, Solomon speaks of the time for us to change what we are doing and take a stronger approach to our lives as Christians. He tells us that there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent. And I assure you today IS not the time to be silent, instead, today let your voices be heard. Why? Because we can’t as faithful followers of the Savior, continue to go down this path without being true to the Word of God and its teaching.

The word “time” in the LXX (that is the Greek translation of the O.T.) is Kaipros—a redemptive moment in time. Suggests don’t miss the opportunities God gives you to tell others about Jesus, invite someone to come to church and hear about Jesus, or overlook the importance of witnessing. If you are shy, use timely literature, a note, a smile, as well as a prayer.

In 1967 there was a TV show called “It’s about Time”. It lasted only one year. It failed because it did not offer anything new and refreshing. You and I as the followers of Jesus have a message that will, through Christ enable others and us to be forever young and forever new in the new heaven and the new earth. Many things come and pass only what’s done for Christ (in time) will last!

It is important that we know it’s time to stand up for the truth and let everyone know that Jesus is the TRUTH that leads to eternal life. It is time to speak our mind and tell others only Jesus saves. Only Jesus redeems. Only Jesus heals and restores us back to God the Father. It’s all about time in light of eternity.

Solomon a little later in this book talks about how God plants eternity into our hearts so that we view light through this lens. Just think of being part of a team to lead a person to Christ for all eternity...doing something that will last...having a special friend for all eternity. Perhaps it’s time for Christians to team up and intentionally in the mouth of three witnesses invite someone to church so that the person coming to church has at least three good reasons to come. Wise witnessing: It’s time. PAUSE.

Did you know dear saints in Christ that in our church body there has been very little mission outreach? According to the latest Layman’s Magazine (The Lutheran Layman Vol. 83, No. 5 September-October 2012, p 3), only 5% of the LCMS congregations do 50% of the outreach. In 2010 there were 371 Adult confirmation recorded.

Can you imagine what might go through the minds of many if on the day before the Election, the churches would toll their bells @ noon, according to their time zone. If every single Christian church would do that you might be able to hear the ringing of the bells far and wide. Christians by the power of the Holy Spirit would be changing the thoughts and hearts of many. If Christians would get down on their knees and fervently pray along with the tolling of the church bells. Many might change their minds or some may rebel even worse. PAUSE.

Beloved in Christ, I do know that God is in total control, but He also wants His people to stand firm for what we believe in. He wants us to stand up and change the world one soul at a time, as we witness to His love in our lives. He wants us to share the Gospel with people who have never heard of Him—that He suffered, died and rose again to change their lives forever from being dead to becoming alive, from being hell-bound, to heaven-bound.

The time is now. Not tomorrow or the day after. Solomon says, there is a TIME to speak and a TIME to be silent. And certainly our times has come to speak of the love of Him who is LOVE Jesus Christ. Even our Synodical President Matthew Harrison encourages us in his “From the President” writes: “Indeed, as next year’s Synod convention theme puts it, we are ‘Baptized for This Moment.’ We have a serious vocation. We’ve been placed on this earth—in this orthodox Lutheran Church body at this very time of trial—to carry out our lives fully for the sake of a high, eternal purpose. We are here because of, for the sake of, the Gospel of Jesus Christ—the message of free forgiveness in Jesus’ blood.” (Lutheran Witness 9-12-2012).

Why, then, do we want to do so? Because, our world points others to seek the god of this world, and not the Savior of Mankind. We, on the other hand, want to share the love of Jesus with them before it is too late.

Study the history of the Early was always about time. Dr. Luke writes these words of the Apostles, “We cannot help but speak of the things we heard and seen” (Acts 4:20). Having been filled with the Holy Spirit through Baptism and the was always time to be about the Father’s business seeking the lost and strengthening the saved.

We want to do so because Jesus has promised He is returning and when He returns will He find faith in the hearts of people? You and I, by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit will be used for His glory and honor and for the building up of His Kingdom. Seeing the days to come were not going to be all that good for those who followed Him, Jesus sadly said, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8 ESV).

Know this, saints in Christ, Jesus’ question is not rhetorical. What is important is that we know His time is drawing near and we want to be prepared. Furthermore, be aware of what Jesus is NOT asking. Jesus wasn’t asking if He would find a church. Jesus will find churches in abundance when He returns. He will find churches like the one which on Ash Wednesday, applied crosses to the heads of the worshippers made from a mixture of human blood, olive oil, and burned tax forms. He will find churches like the one in California which took down its cross less it offend those who drive by. Yes, Jesus will find churches when He comes again, but Jesus wasn’t asking whether He would find churches. Jesus wants to know if He has made a difference in your life.

Nor is Jesus asking if He will find pastors when He returns. Sadly, there are many pastors out there who don’t preach salvation through the cross ALONE. How sad and tragic when Pastors neglect their God given calling. To be sure, Jesus will find pastors when He returns, but He wants to know if He changed your life.

Jesus us is not asking whether He will find church bodies when He returns on Judgment Day. Certainly, Jesus will find church bodies when He returns, but will He find faithful followers who love Him, serve Him and worship Him with heart, soul, mind and body.

Today, on this Mission Fest, in the name of Christ Jesus who died for you, see Him anew with the eyes of faith and see how He has changed you for the better. He has changed you instead of going to jail, not going passed go, but straight to hell—to be in the loving arms of His heavenly Father. Jesus has changed you from being an outcast to be included as His very own blood-bought child. Jesus has changed you from being an enemy of God to becoming His precious friend. Jesus has changed you from being blind, so that you may see clearly that He is holy, merciful and gracious. Jesus has changed you to be the man, woman, boy and girl that He wants you to be.

Therefore, having been freed by His Word and Sacraments, and live in our Baptismal Grace of sweet forgiveness – we pray a prayer of thanks that today is THE TIME He has planted us in. This is THE PLACE where we are planted. We thank Him that He has put before us that part of His beautiful world, so that THIS PEOPLE who are in our lives might see His love in us and hear His grace in forgiveness and love on our lips. He has freed us, He has set us free to be His voice, His hands, His feet – yes, to be, as we Lutherans like to say, “incarnate” with His grace. The Lost and the Erring are His beloved, too! He has placed you before them and them before you for the noble purpose that you might “Declare the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness and into His marvellous light.” (2 Peter. 2:9). Yes, the Time is Now! Now is the time for change – the change from death to life, from darkness to light, from fear to faith. Yes, beloved, now is the time He has prepared for you. It’s time for a change. Even so, Amen.

Now the peace…


Monday, September 10, 2012

“He Comes to Save” (Isaiah 35:4-7)

S-1336 15SAP/3B 9/09/12 Hymns: (O) #377 v. 1-4; (S) #95; L.S. #377 v. 5-10; #473; 193; (C) #47

Text: Isaiah 35:4-7; James 2:1-10; 14-18; Mark 7:31-37

Theme: “He Comes to Save” (Isaiah 35:4-7)

Question: “Has anyone saved your life?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the O.T. lesson: “Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not! Behold, Your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you’” (Isaiah 35:4).

My beloved and His beloved, perhaps you have witnessed an ambulance flashing its lights and blazing its siren on its way to someone in need. As the EMT’s arrive they rush to the aid and rescue of the person in need; ultimately to save that person’s life.

On October 7, 1988 an Eskimo hunter found three gray whales trapped in the Arctic icepack, just off of Point Barrow. Before long hundreds of volunteers from all over the world worked feverishly to save the lives of these California Gray Whales. The US and Russia joined forces to save these 3 whales at a cost of $5 Million Dollars +.

In some cases, the quick action of heroic figures like EMT’s and First Responders can save human life. We also know that from the effort of those who saved the whales, with enough effort and enough money, there are times when salvation can be accomplished. But as we know, that salvation is only temporary. As illustrated by the next story

A marshal in Napoleon’s army—a man who was devotedly and willingly attached to him -- was mortally wounded in battle. As the last struggle drew near and he lay dying in his tent, he sent for his chief. Napoleon came. The poor man thought his emperor could do anything. So he earnestly pleaded with his leader to save his life. The emperor sadly shook his head and turned away. But at that moment, the dying man cried out, “Save me, Napoleon! Save me!” In the hour of death, that soldier discovered that even the powerful Napoleon could not save his life.

What is evident is that the marshal in Napoleon’s army knew that man, no matter how powerful such as Napoleon, President Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others can’t save man from death, but there is only ONE that can and has.

Isaiah, the Prophet of God, tells us in today’s text, “Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not! Behold, Your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you’” Yes, He is coming to save. But who will be saved? YOU!!! Yes YOU.

Isaiah with soothing words comforts those who have anxious hearts—those who are returning from exile to the land of Promise. The One who comes will do mighty works of healing both physically, emotionally and spiritually. God brings a message of hope, restoration and promise of a new life with these words: “Be strong; fear not! Behold, Your God will come.” This is a most certain promise that will be kept.

Isaiah by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is instructed to say to them that are of a fearful heart. Of course there is always fear and trembling even among the saints of God. These saints are to be encouraged and assured that God will come to their aid, will avenge them of their spiritual enemies, reward their efforts to serve him, and in the end “save” them. He will come, Himself to save you.

There is only One who can save, and He must do it Himself, and, to do it, He must “come” to us. The words were at once an announce­ment of the Incarnation, and a promise to every trembling, doubting heart—a promise of direct Divine assistance, of the presence of God-within us, of help strong to save. Just as our sermon hymn reminds us so beautifully today: “From the Father forth He came and returneth to the same, Captive leading death and hell—High the song of triumph swell! Thou, the Father’s only Son, Hast o’er sin the victory won. Boundless Shall Thy kingdom be When shall we its glories see.” (Savior of the Nations, Come TLH 95, vv. 4-5).

The main thought of the prophet appears to be Messianic—the arrival of the One who will set the captives free, open the eyes of the blind, cause the lame to leap for joy and raise the dead. Isaiah is speaking here of the One whom the angel announced about to Joseph saying: She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins (Mt. 1:21) This is the same One whom the angels proclaimed to the shepherds announcing: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11) and this is the same One which Peter and John spoke of: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved(Acts 4:10). And it is the same message Jesus spoke of Himself saying: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

Beloved, Jesus YOUR Savior came to save. Walk with Him in Galilee and you will see how He fulfilled the words of Isaiah’s prophecy. He opened the eyes of the blind man in our Gospel reading, healed the ten lepers, caused the mute to speak and raised Jairus’ daughter from the grave. He fed the multitudes with fish and bread and calmed their spirits in the hours of sorrow. And…and when Peter walked on water, and saw the strong wind, he was afraid and began to sink. At that moment he cried out, “Lord, save me!” And the Savior stretched out His hands and saved Him (Mt. 14:30).

Yes, our God has come to save and He is saving us today. Through Word and sacraments He still saves the sinner from death. By the power of His Word men and women from every walk of life come to know Him, worship Him and serve Him. These are the ones who will walk with the Savior in the victory parade and sing the new song of deliverance. PAUSE.

A young man was raised in Idaho. His parents were not church goers. But every week, this lad along with his parents would visit his grandpa. Grandpa had a habit; after they finished eating gathered the children around him, gave them a Beaman’s Blackjack gum; and tells them about His Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. This lad heard the story often that He wanted to know more of this Savior that his grandfather spoke of. In time this young man grew up, went to our seminary in St. Louis and became a Pastor. He served and made His Lord’s and Savior’s name known to many. Today, he continues to serve the Savior in our Synod—as the President of a District. You know the man well—Pastor Dale Sattgast.

What a blessing it is when grandparents, parents, siblings and all of us take to heart the words of Isaiah and speak to others about the Savior God who came and still comes to us today. He comes to save you. Remember well faithful saints, you are His witnesses of His healing strength, you are His hands touching the feeble limbs, weak eyes, the speechless, and the hard of hearing...the are the ones who can share the love of Jesus with all people and make His name known to the ends of the earth. PAUSE.

Precious souls in His sight, on Tuesday, I was at the Specialty Hospital in Sioux Falls to get an epidural for the pain in my shoulder. Every restroom I visited had this sign (show) “Washing Hands Saves Lives.” When I got home and got the mail, we got this book mark (show) A Decision that Saves Lives

Certainly; washing hands is a great thing to avoid the spread of disease. To donate an organ is a good idea to save lives too. Many people benefit through these activities. But on a far greater scale, Christ’s hands took all the disease of sin. His hands were laden with every sin of yours and mine until they hung on the cross of Calvary. These are the hands that stretched out to save lives. His blood is what washed our sins away.

Thank God for all people who come to the aid and rescue like caring EMT’s and others who work feverishly to saving lives? But how much more, you and I should thank the ONLY ONE WHO HAS SAVED US, Jesus Christ the One Isaiah spoke about His coming. To the Savior alone be the glory now and forever. Amen.

Now the peace…


Sunday, September 2, 2012

“From the Inside Out” (Mark 7:20-21)

S-1335 14SAP/3B 9/02/12 Hymns: (O) #301; (S) #234; (C) #398

Text: Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9; Ephesians 6:10-20; Mark 7:14-23

Theme: “From the Inside Out” (Mark 7:20-21)

Question: “Do you have heart troubles?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the Gospel lesson: “And He [Jesus] said, What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts…’” (Mark 7:20-21).

Beloved in Christ, it is frustrating when you pick up a pear that is golden on the outside, but when you take a bite out of it, it tastes rotten in your mouth. When this happens, your expectations are not met and our anticipation becomes disappointment. The fruit looked so promising! But looks can be deceiving. What is the problem here? Rot. Rot that can’t be seen. For the pear, the fruit begins rotting from the inside out! This is invisible to the eye.

Not unlike the pear fruit, mankind, since the fall of Adam and Eve into sin; have been dying from the inside (where no one can see it) out. Even though we don’t see the dead heart of man, or the noxious odor that comes out of it, eventually it manifests itself when laid in a casket.

From the moment we have been born, the clock of death has been ticking. We are ALL dying from the inside out and when death comes, the outside catches up with the inside. At death we see the ugliness of what God told Adam and Eve, “The day you eat of this fruit you shall die” (Gen. 2:18).

Because of this internal death, our hearts can only produce the fruits of death. If you have come upon a carcass you see and smell the evidence of death—it stinks, maggots are everywhere and flies cover it. We cover our noses lest we inhale the stench of death and lest our eyes water.

In today’s text, Jesus teaches the Pharisees and Scribes that it is not the washing of the outside that is important, but rather that which is inside—the heart. The Pharisees and Scribes complained to Him, that His disciples didn’t wash their hands before they ate. But He informed them it is NOT what goes into the mouth that defiles a man, but what comes out of his/her mouth.

For this reason, Jesus states: What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” These are the fruits of a filthy heart that profuse with evil. It is from the inside out that the odor and stench flow.

No matter how much the Pharisees, Scribes and we try to wash ourselves, we CAN’T clean the heart. No matter what detergents, stain removals, or chemicals we use we can’t clean the heart. The heart can’t be cleansed by us it has to be done by the One who created the heart—God our Savior. That is why David begged God saying: “Create in me a clean heart O God” (Psalm 51:10). PAUSE.

Beloved in Christ, before we become too dismissive of these Pharisees and Scribes, it is important to confess that this text is not just about them; it’s about US! It shows our fallen condition. It shows us as we truly are no matter how we try to hide the truth of what is on the inside, we can’t hide it from God.

In the 50s and 60s and well beyond that, Rock Hudson was one of the hottest romantic leading men in Hollywood. (Maybe your mom remembers!) Six-feet-five, smile ladies would swoon over. Not until shortly before he died in 1985 did the public know he was a practicing homosexual—and that for the last years of his life he was infected with the HIV virus. Behind that million-dollar smile was an incurable disease taking its deadly toll.

Certainly people can smile nicely and be pleasant but still have sin and death down deep at their core. Like Rock Hudson, we are also those people who may look okay on the outside but are not fine on the inside. We may pretend that we are godly; we may act holier than thou, but deep within us is the evil that lurks in our dead hearts.

For this reason, this text is one that touches our dead hearts. If we continue to live without a heart transplant, it will eventually kill us. Jesus is teaching us that it takes something completely outside of us to wash us clean and produce in us a heart that befits His abode. In the book of Ezekiel, God says: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezk. 36:26).

This new heart is not our creation, or our restoration. It flows from Him whose heart is always pure and holy. God looked into His heart, not ours, to devise a plan for our salvation. The washing and restoration of our dead hearts began in the gift of Baptism.

It is worthy to note that the word “wash” in the original is “baptize.” When the Pharisees complained about the disciples not washing their hands, they used “baptize.” This shows again, it is God who does the washing and restoration of our filthy hearts to become pure and holy.

It wasn’t anything inside of us that paid for our sins—no good, pure thoughts of the heart, no
outward action that would please the strictest Pharisee. It was the God of heaven, infinitely above us, completely outside us, who came to earth and paid the price: His life on the cross. Don’t look to yourself as if you are so holy and pure, because we are not; look to Jesus up there on the cross: His pure, undefiled, sinless, heart-broken, and pierced through for our sinful ones.

It is through the loving washing of the Holy Spirit in Baptism that comes from outside of us—comes into our sinful hearts and brings the cleansing of Jesus’ death. He comes to wash our sins in a miraculous ways. He comes to bring healing and restoration. This is totally His work. He begins to reverse the events of the Garden of Eden; through His death and resurrection. He begins the healing process from the inside out. PAUSE.

Have you ever gotten an antique item? Perhaps, you have noticed scratches, stain and bare spots. Under the loving care of the gentle hands of someone, that piece of furniture can be restored again and proudly displayed in our homes or offices.

This is what God does in us through His Son. He takes that which is broken, filthy, polluted, stained and marred by sin and restores us with the cleansing agent of His blood into the perfect relationship with His Father in heaven. He presents us to God as His renewed child pure and holy.

Know this and know it well my beloved. The Lord Jesus Christ, comes today not in a whisper from within (our sinful hearts could play all kinds of tricks with that!), but in God’s external Word—of preaching, of absolution, when we read the Bible—and He declares us pure, holy, forgiven and restored to Him.

And while it is true, nothing outside a person and com­ing into him can defile us, taking into ourselves Jesus’ very body and blood in the Lord’s Sup­per does purify us. It brings forgiveness so real to us that we can taste it. Through these Means of Grace—God’s Word and Sacraments—He creates faith in our hearts.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, you who are loved and cherished, remember that Your Savior takes the ashes of your filth and dead heart and turns them into something beautiful and lovely and displays them in the corridors of heaven.

Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, because we have been baptized and washed by Him—we are clean from every stain of sin, do have faith and live now with the new heart to eternal life.

Today, remember, you are restored, renewed and reconciled to God, and your dead heart is alive forever. Amen.

Now the peace…