Friday, November 30, 2012

“Not If, But WHEN!” (Mark 13:32-33)

S-1345-LS of C 11/28/2012 Hymns: #611 vv 1-4; #446; (L.S. #473; #339 #340); #611 vv 5-7

Texts: Isaiah 51:4-6; Jude 20-25; Mark 13:24-37

Theme: “Not If, But WHEN!” (Mark 13:32-33)

Question: “Are you ready?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Meditation is from the Gospel Lesson: But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come (Mark 13:32-33).


Precious bride of Christ, on this last Sunday of the Church year we are challenged to be ready for Christ’s Second coming and or our final day on earth. To be sure it is not if this day will come, but when will it come. A Sunday school teacher asked her students, “If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the church, would I get into Heaven?” “NO!” The children answered. “If I dedicate my whole life to the mission of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, would I go to heaven?” Again, the answer was “NO!” She continued, “If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard, shoveled the snow, and kept everything neat and tidy, would I get into Heaven?” Again, the answer was “NO!” “Well,” the teacher continued, “then how can I get to Heaven?” In the back of the room, a 5 year old boy shouted out, “You gotta be dead!!!”

Today, as the Holy Spirit has gathered in His house, we hear the Word from St. Mark about the imminent return of Christ. And this gives us an opportunity to look at the future. The future is something we all have to face. The question is, “Are you ready for the return of Christ?”

The truth of the matter is that we all have an appointment at sometime in our life (unless Jesus returns first) with death. After death we all will have a second appointment. That appointment is with God. Therefore, how do we prepare for the day that is coming? Again, it is not if it come, but when it comes!

How many of us know when Jesus is going to return? The Bible is Crystal clear and teaches us that we do not know when the Lord will return. In our text today, we hear these words:
But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. Sadly, many have claimed they know when it is going to happen. We saw that last year when a California pastor stated on two different occasions the dates of the end time, and they both failed. Many throughout history have said the end is coming and still it didn’t happen. Still others have given up that Christ will return on Judgment Day. Yet, Peter teaches us saying: “Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation’” (2 Pet. 3:3-4). It may appear that the world continues to go on, but I assure you that the day is drawing nigh. It is not if, but when.

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Church at Galatia wrote these words: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). If the Lord kept His promise to send His Son to redeem the world, don’t you think He will keep His promise to return a Second time? PAUSE.

It is evident that many, including Christians do not take Christ’s Second coming seriously or prepare for it properly. If they did, they would be more prepared for His return. I will use a regular event in our lives to convey my thoughts.

How is it that so many people get surprised by Christmas? They know that it is December 25th every year. Now, those who are surprised by it are not shocked that it comes, but they aren’t prepared for it financially. So many families get caught up in the feeding frenzy of Black Friday and charge it all up on the plastic and worry about having to pay for it later. How much money would a person save if they just prepared for it? To have $1000 to spend on Christmas a person who gets paid every other week would need to set aside $38 dollars every paycheck. But since they aren’t prepared for it, they often spend hundreds of dollars in interest and fees. They act as if Christmas isn’t going to come and their lack of preparation leaves them in the red.

The same is true of Christ’s Second coming. We know that He is coming back. He said so. To think and live otherwise is both foolish and reckless. Everything else that He said He was going to do has happened. He said “He would go to Jerusalem, suffer at the hands of the Jewish leaders, be crucified, die and be raised on the third day” And He did fulfill these promises. Why would He change now? So when Jesus says that He is coming back, but we live as though we are going to live here forever, we make no preparations in repentance, we will get surprised by His arrival. And when we are surprised by His arrival, what He will bring for us will be eternally unpleasant.

The lack of preparation is worst among Christians. If every Christian took Christ’s Second coming seriously, the pews of the Church would never be empty, we would not be able to celebrate the Lord’s Supper often enough, a day wouldn’t go by when the Bible wasn’t opened in every home and there would always be enough support for the ministry in financial resources and resources of time. But as we know, this is not the case. Pews sit empty each week. The Supper goes un-served, the family Bible gathers dust and there is never enough time, talents or treasure to do the work that the Lord calls His Church to.

So today, this Last Sunday of the Church Year, this Festival of Christ the King, serves as a wakeup call to us. Jesus is coming! Now is not the time for Him to find us sleeping! It is time to take seriously the Words of Jesus and be prepared for His return. It is not if He returns, but when He returns.

A little later in the text we read these words: “Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” Oh, that we hear and heed the Words of the Master, Jesus Christ, to be prepared for His Second coming to take us home to be with Him forever.

Beloved in Christ, In Jesus’ day people wore a long outer garment that looked like a robe. When they were going to do some hard work or run somewhere, they would pull the bottom of the robe up and tuck it in their belt so it would not get in the way while they worked. Being dressed ready for service with lamps burning describes the servant in the first century who is awaiting the master’s return from a wedding banquet.

And it is fitting for us to be prepared as well. It is time for us to gird our loins and make us ready for action. The Holy Spirit, who has dressed us in these robes of Christ’s righteousness in our baptism, has us well dressed! We do this, as we gather week in and week out to hear the Word, meditate on the Word, partake of the Word offered at the Altar and live by the Word, as if Christ died yesterday, rose today and is coming tomorrow.

For after all, it is not if, but WHEN. Therefore, we say, “Come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly! Amen.”

Now the peace…


Thursday, November 22, 2012

“It’s Not Like That” (Deut. 8:10‑11)

S-1344-Thanksgiving Day 2012 Hymns: #36; #134; (L.S. #568; #573); #574

Texts: Deuteronomy 8:10-20; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 17:11‑19

Theme: “It’s Not Like That” (Deut. 8:10‑11)

Question: “How Thankful Are You?” Armour, SD


Blessed Thanksgiving Day to you in the name of Christ who is arisen from the grave. The text for our meditation is from the O.T. Lesson: “And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord Your God for the good land He has given you. Take care lest you forget the Lord Your God by not keeping His commandments and His rules and His statutes, which I command you today” (Deut. 8:10‑11).


Beloved in the Lord consider this scene: “Your wife has been in the hospital for 3 weeks battling cancer. The doctor’s, nurses and others have cared for her around the clock and now she gets to come home cancer free.” How do you feel? You are grateful and thankful and you make sure you tell them that. You go out of your way to let them know you appreciated all that they have done for your wife.

On this Thanksgiving Day, we, along with Christians all over the USA, pause from our busy schedules to give thanks to the Lord, not because it is a day that our nation has set aside to say thank you, but rather, because our hearts flow from the abundance of what our loving and gracious God has done and continues to do for us.

I. Why We Are Here today?

In the text before us today, Moses, the author of our text reminds the Israelites and us never to forget the goodness of the Lord. Never to forget what the Lord has done for them—He has brought them out with an outstretched hand and strong arm from the slavery of Egypt to the Promised Land. And He supplied them with every blessing to meet their needs of both body and soul.

Today, many have forgotten the reason the Pilgrims stopped so long ago to give thanks to the Lord for protecting them and providing for them through the harsh winter. Today, many think of Thanksgiving Day as a day off, or a day to eat Turkey and watch TV and some go so far to do the most stupid thing—pitch their tents for a week outside a Wal-Mart, or Best Buy until Black Friday rolls around; so they can buy another gadget that soon will be obsolete or breaks down. PAUSE.

It is not like that for us beloved in the Lord. Yes, we are here today because of another Black Friday. Not one where you have stood in line for hours or even days to purchase that coveted item. No, our Black Friday is a blessing from God Himself who sent His Only Son, Jesus Christ to Calvary to stand against all the evil forces of the world and deliver man from the slavery of the devil and the punishment of hell.

We are here today, in His house on Thanksgiving Day to be reminded again and again of the mercy and love of God and to thank Him for all He has done. We are here today, to receive from the abundance of His store houses all He has prepared for us. We are here today, to lift our hearts and voices to our God and say: “THANK YOU FOR LOVING ME AND CARING FOR MY NEEDS! THANK YOU FOR STANDING IN MY PLACE TO TAKE MY PUNISHMENT UPON YOU. THANK YOU FOR SAVING ME FROM THE ETERNAL DAMNATION!” Thanks, is a heavenly gift, it is the perspective to see beyond the circumstances of the moment and see that the Lord, He is here. “For us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made man...” PAUSE.

II. Here He fills Your Sack With His Goods.

Faithful followers of the Savior, when you came into this house of worship you received a paper sack. I would like you to open it up and look inside (give them time) what do you see in it? NOTHING! That is right nothing. You came into God’s presence with an empty sack because you have nothing to offer Him. We have nothing in our sacks to cause our God to love us or honor us. On the contrary, all we have in our sack is our filth and sin.

But wait, look again please. Having confessed your sins, Your gracious Father forgives you and removes the sin from you. He fills your sack with forgiveness. Then you get to hear His Word read to encourage you and bless you in your walk of faith. Another item goes into your sack. Then He blesses you as you hear His Word preached, and yet another is dropped into your sack. Your sack is getting a little heavier, even without you buying anything. But He is not done. He reminds you of what His Son has done for you on Golgotha as He died and rose for you—and the whole world.

This same loving Savior invites you to come to His table. There He serves you the most delicious meal; tastier than any turkey, dressing, gravy and pumpkin pie that you could eat. And the sack is getting heavier. He hears and answers your prayers as He only can and another gift is dropped into your sack. Then as He sends you out into the world He blesses you with His grace and gives you His peace and reminds you that He will be with you wherever you go.

Look again, brothers and sisters in Christ into that sack and you will see, grace upon grace. You will see love, forgiveness, compassion, kindness, mercy, salvation and life eternal and these all are yours FREE.

Then as you leave the church, you put your sack on your back and walk out. Along the journey of life you meet people, you open your sack and begin to divvy out these gifts to others to bless them on their journey of life. And when your sack is empty you come back again and Your gracious Father, fills them up once more to the brim and sends you out in His name and by His command to be a blessing to others.

III. We Come on Thanksgiving Day to truly Thank Him.

On this Thanksgiving Day, we join the throng because it is fitting for us to thank our Lord and God. And just like the man in my opening story was thankful for the many who helped his wife get better and stronger; likewise, we, take the time to thank God and never forget His blessings—the blessings of making us His children. The blessings of filling our empty sacks with His goods. The blessings of realizing we have more than any department store, internet, TV program, or an event in history can fulfill the desires of our hearts—He gives Himself and for that we are indeed THANKFUL.


Saints in Christ, today as you leave with your sacks laden with every heavenly gift, may I remind you of the joy of being called a child of the heavenly King and truly acknowledge that every good and perfect gift is from Him. May you know His constant love for you and devotion to redeem you through the gift of His Son on Calvary’s cross.

As you gather with family and friends kindly remind them that it is not like that for you. You know where your blessings come from—not in the gadgets you are buying on Black Friday, but from the Black Friday of long ago—from Him who loved you and died for you and rose again to give you life and salvation. Amen.


Now the peace…


Sunday, November 18, 2012

“Shining Like Stars” (Daniel 12:3)

S-1343 25SAP/3B 11/18/12 Hymns: (O) #400; (S) #441; (C) # 803 LSB

Text: Daniel 12:1-3; Hebrews 10:11-25; Mark 13:1-13

Theme: “Shining Like Stars” (Daniel 12:3)

Question: “Are you letting Christ’s light shine through you?

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Meditation is from the O.T. lesson: “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3).

Precious children of the heavenly Father, in his devotional book “God Grant It” C. F. W. Walther writes: “If you want to learn to know God’s heart and will toward you, look at Christ in the manger, in the circle of sinners that sur­rounded Him, in Gethsemane, and on the cross. There you can read God’s heart as in an open book. For whoever sees Christ also sees God the Father. As you find nothing with Christ but kindness, love, and grace, so you can be certain that you will find all of this with the Father. Christ calls sin­ners to Himself, and He does not condemn them; instead, He forgives them their sins. And this is also what God does. He, too, wants to have mercy on you. Christ desires to take you up into His heavenly kingdom and so does the Father. To know the disposition of God’s heart, you need only to look at how Christ is disposed toward you. His mercy is the reflection of the mercy of God. The sympathy of the Father is reflected in Christ’s tears over the misfortune of the sin­ner. Christ’s blood, which flowed for the atonement of the world, washed away the wrath of God, so He could pro­claim, ‘I am reconciled with men!’” (P. 879). With these words, Pastor Walther shows us a little more of who God is and what He does for His precious children—that is you.

In the text before us we see the great and profound mystery that our world denies. It denies the truth of Scripture. It denies that Jesus is the ONLY Lord and Savior. It denies that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. It denies that there is going to be a Judgment Day. It denies that there is heaven and hell. And it denies the teaching of the Church. How tragic!

Yet, “In a culture that encourages people to celebrate the idea that life has no goal and urges each individual to find meaning wherever he or she can, the Church offers a very different description of reality. Our author, Daniel, gives the shocking prophecy that at the end of time the dead will rise; some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt!”

Daniel says it like it is the time is coming when we shall stand before the Throne of Grace and receive the judgment for our actions. He also tells us what our Awesome God will do—deliver the world from the tyranny, oppression and cruelty of the devil. He will deliver us by the mighty deed of Him whom the Star over Bethlehem’s manger identified as the long expected Messiah.

This Messiah shined brighter than the sun. In John we read, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (1:4-5). On the Transfiguration Mountain we are told, “And he [Jesus] was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light” (Mt. 17:2). And Jesus Himself taught saying: I Am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Those who know Jesus, those who follow Jesus, and those who worship Jesus will shine like the brightness of the stars. That is the same message Daniel conveys to us today: “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” Indeed, we who have seen the light of the Gospel should be shining like the stars in the heavens. PAUSE.

Now you do not have to be an astronomer to know that stars shine. All you need to do is look up to the skies at night and you will see the stars shining. They don’t have to be told to do so, that is what they are.

Likewise, we too, are called to shine with the brightness of the stars. Sadly, however, most often we don’t. We have lost the holy fear of offending our gracious God. Rather than living in the light, we walk in the dark. Rather than letting the light of Christ shine through us we let the black deeds of the devil overcome who we are and manifest itself in our actions.

It saddens me when I see us (ALL of us) getting angry and upset with one another over stupid stuff. Rather than talking with the one who hurt us (intentionally or otherwise) we go downtown to the Bowling alley, Blue Moon, at the Coop or by our cars and cut others down. Some even post things on Face Book denouncing what they don’t like about the Church. It is the gossip of the town. It breaks my heart when we let the devil take over our lives because we are not happy with this or that. Why is it necessary for us to feel we have to hang our dirty laundry for the world to see? Why is it necessary to break the 8th Commandment by not speaking well of each other or putting the best construction on everything? PAUSE.

Oh precious, precious children of the heavenly Father, that is not who you are. You ARE God’s beloved children. You are the Baptized by God. You are the Redeemed of God. You are the reconciled by the Savior through His death and resurrection. You have your names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Kindly don’t let the devil rob you of the joy of working together and letting your light shine. Don’t let Satan get in the way of the mission and ministry of this Church. Don’t let an evil thought or an angry moment to dwell in your heart. Instead, bring it to Christ, lay it at His feet and let Him carry that burden so that you may shine in this dark world.

Please, always look to the opportunities the Savior gives us—to build each other up rather than tare each other down. Always think the best of your brother and sister in this place, not that they are trying to hurt you but as ones who want to honor God by serving you.

We may not always do things the way you think it needs or should be done. But that doesn’t mean it is wrong. We may not always be the kindest and gentlest of people, but that doesn’t mean we are hate you or uncaring about you. This is who we are as sinners who have been made saints by the blood of the Lamb. PAUSE.

Precious, precious, children of the heavenly Father, one day, a group of tourists were viewing the Great Cathedral and the guide was explaining all of the saints in the stain glass windows. When the guide was done, a young girl hollered to her dad saying: “Daddy, I know what a saint is!” His response was, “who are they?” The girl smiled and said, “Saints are people who let their lights shine.”

That is you my beloved saints. Therefore, as Christ dwells in you, shine His light on those who are still in darkness. As you hear and heed His Word, shine like the stars in word and deed. As you partake of His Body and Blood you are strengthened for the ministry of letting the Gospel light ooze out of you. May God continue to use you as you shine like the stars in this dark world now and forever; Amen and Amen.

Now the peace…


“He’s Got It!!!” (John 20:31)

S-1342 11/15/12 Hymns: (O) #537; (S) #801; #744; #748 (all from LSB)

Text: Psalm 23; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; John 14:1-6

Theme: “He’s Got It!!!” (John 20:31)

Celebrating the New Life promised to Carl Peter Gjoraas by His Savior, Jesus Christ.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the celebration of the new life of our departed brother Carl is his confirmation verse: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name”(John 20:31).

In the name of Christ Jesus Amen, at times when say we say “he got it” we mean he deserved it. A basketball player gets the Mr. Basketball award, because he has shined on the court. A student gets a full ride scholarship because he has excelled in the classroom. A salesman is awarded the Salesman Year Award because he has sold the most in his department. And a week ago Tuesday, President Obama got the win to serve another 4 more years.

All of these examples are a means to convey that people get things they deserved because of their efforts in life—be it school, work or marriage. Today, we remember with thanksgiving to God the life of one of His saints—Carl Gjorass. How is it that he “got it” – this servant of God, a man who knew his place in this world and gave diligently and freely towards those he loved? For over 57 years He was the loving, caring, husband of Laura, tenderly and gently he nurtured his children Ron, Karen, Noreen and Wayne. He cherished spending time with his grandchildren. He was truly a hard working man, farmer and businessman who took pride in what he did. He knew his place as the redeemed of God and he joyfully served His Lord and His church in many and varies ways. We are grateful to God for all these ways that Carl was a gift to us. Carl, in his long life, may have received this or that honor. However, the text for us today speaks of another getting—one that is a gift and not a reward, that is an undeserved honor from our gracious and loving God.

Listen please to Pastor John’s emphasis in Carl’s confirmation verse. “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” This pastor teaches the early Christians and us “But these are written” to suggest that what he has written is to confess, comfort and console his hearers that Christ is the Messiah promised of old. That He is God’s Son in the flesh. That He did everything to demonstrate He is the heaven-sent Savior and the One who had defeated the grave, demolished the devil and done away with the stench of sin through His resurrection on the third day.

Second, John says: “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” that is to say, this Jesus, the One called, the son of Mary, the son of Joseph, the carpenter’s son, Jesus of Nazareth, and of Galilee, was the Christ, the true Messiah; the One anointed by the Holy Spirit and sent by God to redeem the world. He is the One and only who has been anointed to fulfill His mission as Prophet, Priest, and King, and offering His life as a ransom for all of humanity. He is none other than the One promised to our first parents in the Garden when they fell into sin. He is the One Moses spoke about in Deuteronomy “The Lord Your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to Him you shall listen” (18:15). He is the One the prophets spoke about and the Psalmists praised.

Through these signs men are called to believe in Him and through the greatest sign of His resurrection, He demonstrated to the world that He is the True Son of Man and God. Jesus is the Divine taking flesh and blood and standing among the Jewish people of Palestine. This is an article of faith that is attested by God, by angels, and men; and is confirmed by all the disciples as the One who conquers death and the grave and gives us eternal life.

Third, John continues by saying “and that by believing you may have life in His name.” believers have their spiritual and eternal life through Christ; their life of grace, of justification by Him, of sanctification from Him, and communion with Him; the support and maintenance of their spiritual life, and all the comforts of it: and also their life of glory, or eternal life, they have through, or in His name; it lies in His person, it comes to them through Him as the procuring cause of it; it is for His sake bestowed upon them, yes it is in His hands to give it, and He gives it to all that believe: not that believing is the cause of their enjoyment of this life, or is their title to it, which is the name, person, blood, and righteousness of Christ; but faith is the way and means in which they enjoy it; and therefore these signs are written by the evangelist for the encouragement of this faith in Christ, which is of such use in the enjoyment of life, in, through, and from Him.

That is why we can say with confidence that He’s got it! What is it that Carl has gotten? On August 11, 1919, as the Pastor poured the water over Him in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—in that gift we call Baptism; he got new life, salvation, forgiveness of sins, and peace with Christ and became a child of the heavenly King. Because of Christ’s life-giving Word, Carl got to hear and learn the message of the cross that saved Him. As he knelt at the Altar to receive the body and blood of His Lord and Savior he got the confirmation of how much he is loved and cherished.

Indeed Carl got it. He didn’t get it because he deserved it. He didn’t get it because he excelled at holy living. Nor did he get it because he shined more than others. No, Carl got it because our Lord Jesus Christ gave it to him. He got it this past Friday when the Lord called him home and said, “Come home son, your room is ready!” He got it ALL—life—eternal life with Christ His Savior in the blessed heaven prepared for him. He got life and salvation because by faith he believed in Jesus as His only Savior and God.

This why we can say with great joy, CARL GOT IT! He got the gift of eternal life through and on account of Christ His Savior. Amen.

Now the peace…