Tuesday, April 30, 2013

“I Will Not…!” (Isaiah 62:1)

This sermon was written by me, just before I went in to have my heart surgery and my elders read it.

S-1359-Sanctity of Human Life Sunday/C 1/20/2013 Hymns: #465; #39 vv 1-2; #400; #53

Texts: Isaiah 62:1-5; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; John 2:1-11

Theme: “I Will Not…!” (Isaiah 62:1)

Question: “Have you ever said, ‘I Will Not…?’” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for Sanctity of Life Sunday is the O. T. lesson: “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch” (Isaiah 62:1).


Beloved, you know this truth and need to be reminded of it—LIFE IS PRECIOUS. As you know it was only 17 days ago, our “miracle baby” was born. My granddaughter Lucy is the first girl to be born in the Nour’s household in America in 32 years. When my son called to let me know the news, I couldn’t keep silent. I had to tell the news to everybody. Anyone we saw we told because it was GREAT News.

Some of you here have had the same joy that you couldn’t keep to yourself. Ladies when your husband gave you a ring and asked you to marry him, you didn’t keep silent but told others the news. Men when your wives told you that you were expecting a baby, you didn’t keep silent but told others the great news. Grandparents when your child called to let you know you were going to be grandparents, you didn’t keep silent but told others this fabulous news. Indeed certain things in our lives compel us not to be silent but to tell others of what is going on in our lives.

For this reason on this Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, we listen to the voice of God who says, “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch.” If, He, who made heaven and earth gets involved in the life His people shouldn’t we?

I pray as the redeemed people of God, that we would be moved to stand up and speak in love about the atrocity that is going on in our nation for the last 40 years. We can’t remain silent any longer. We can’t pretend that the holocaust is over. Ignoring it will not make this holocaust go away. We can’t keep our eyes shut to the vicious murder of helpless and defenseless babies in the womb. The Church cannot remain silent! That means that you, as part of the Church by the miracle of Holy Baptism, can’t be silent either! PAUSE.

The old cartoon character Popeye used to say, “Enough is enough and enough is TOO much!” It is enough! We will not keep silent any longer. For forty year we have largely ignored and continue to ignore the death of some 50 million + innocent unborn babies in this great nation of ours. When I came to this country forty years ago, I was taught in the classroom the constitution guarantees, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” But apparently not for the defenseless babies.

Almost five hundred years ago, an Augustinian monk from Germany was asked to recant the truth. He stood before emperor, pope and princes and said, “I WILL NOT AND I CAN’T…” and neither can we keep silent any longer. PAUSE.

In our January LW journal, Dr. Matthew Harrison President of the LCMS wrote these moving words. I share them with you: “By the love of God the Father, who chose a young woman to carry out His plan of salvation, a young woman who knew what it is to be confused by an unplanned pregnancy; by the grace of Christ, who while still in the womb was greeted by the ‘leaping,’ yes, ‘rejoicing’ John the Baptizer, himself unborn; by the strength of Him who healed every disease and cared for every life He encountered; by the mercy of God the Father who sent His Son, mercy incarnate for all; by the knowledge of our eternal God and Lord who knows and loves every child formed in the womb; empowered by the Spirit of life who gives me life I—a sinner no better than the next—shall speak. 1 shall intervene. I shall love all and treasure God’s gift of life, womb to tomb. For Jesus experienced it all, sanctified it all and redeems it all (He has redeemed me that I may no longer live for myself)…All for the SAKE OF LIFE. 1/1/2013

It is time that we join Dr. Harrison, Dr. Lamb. LFL of SD and other organizations and speak in love on behalf of those who are no longer able to speak for themselves. I exhort you to learn from others who have not kept silent and wouldn’t do so even at the risk of losing all. PAUSE.

From Scripture let me share with you of people who couldn’t keep silent. In Acts 4, Peter and John were taken prisoners and told not to speak in the name of Jesus Christ. However, Peter and John couldn’t. Luke put it this way: “Now when [the accusers] saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unedu­cated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” Acts 4:13 NKJV)

Peter and John had been with Jesus. The resurrected Jesus. In the Upper Room when He walked through the wall. Standing next to Thomas when the disciple touched the wounds. On the beach when Jesus cooked the fish. Sitting at Jesus’ feet for forty days as He explained the ways of the kingdom. They had lingered long and delightfully in the presence of the res­urrected King. Awakening with Him, walking with Him. And because they had, silence was no longer an option. “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (v. 20 nkjv).

Could you use some high-octane boldness? If you want to outlive, your life, you could. As long as you are stationary, no one will complain. Dogs don’t bark at parked cars. But as soon as you accelerate—once you step out of drunkenness into sobriety, dishonesty into integrity, or lethargy into compassion—expect the yapping to begin. Expect to be criticized. Expect to be mocked. Expect to be persecuted. Expect to be humiliated

So how can we prepare ourselves? Simple. Imitate the disciples. Linger long and often in the presence of Christ who loves life. Meditate on His grace that He offers you daily. Ponder His love demonstrated on the cross of Calvary for you. Memorize His words and hold them dear. Gaze into His face. Talk to Him. Courage comes as we live with Jesus.

Peter said it this way. “Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, Your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy’ (1 Peter 3:14-15 msg).

As we meditate on Christ’s life, we find strength for our own. The example of Xu Yonghai comes to mind. A Christian in Communist China, he worked to see the legalization of house churches. The gov­ernment responded by locking him in a Beijing prison for twenty-four months. His cell was eight feet by eight feet. There was no bathroom, only a pipe in a corner from which water flowed onto the concrete.

“My cell was the last stop for prisoners sentenced to die,” he said. “At times there were as many as three other prisoners in the tiny, damp room, awaiting their date with the executioner.”

Yonghai survived through prayer, meditation, and writing. On the walls of his cell, he wrote the major points for a book about God, using a bar of soap. Once he finished, he committed the thoughts to memory. Upon his release he turned his prison thoughts into a fifty-thousand-word book entitled God the Creator. Like Peter and John, Yonghai tarried in the presence of Jesus and found strength. Courage comes as we pon­der the accomplishments of Christ. (Cast of Characters Lost and Found, Max Lucado pp. 95-96).

Would you be bold tomorrow? Then be with Jesus today and stand near His cross. Slowly lift your eyes up to the person hanging there. See the blood running down; behold the parched lips and throat; look upon His aching braking body and then pay attention to what He says. “Father, forgive them…” You see, Christ didn’t remain silent. He silenced our accuser satan who stood before God and said, “This child of yours has committed many sins, and according to Your Word, He/she must pay the penalty of death. This child belongs to me and must spend an eternity in hell. But Christ comes on the scene and says, “Not so quick devil. This child is mine. I paid for her soul with my own blood. It is finished! Father, hear my words, I have bought Him from the depth of hell, He is Yours now Father!”

Would you be courageous tomorrow? Then be in His Word daily so that you soul might be fed and equipped. Be with His people to encourage one another to do the ministry. Be in His presence constantly and draw from Him strength and support. And when persecution comes (and it will), be strong. Who knows? People may realize that you, like the disciples, have been with Christ and are not afraid to speak up.

May the Holy Spirit help us not be silent any longer, but to speak up to end the murder and the butchering, the burning and the killing of precious souls in His sight? God help us to do it for the sake of LIFE. AMEN.

Now the peace…


“You ARE Mine!” (Isaiah 43:1-7)

This sermon was preached on January 12/13. But because of the many things I had going on, it never got posted. Pray it is a blessing to you as you read it and share it

S-1358-Baptims of our Lord/C 1/13/2013 Hymns: LSB #299; #594; LS. #310; #315; LSB #605

Texts: Isaiah 43:1-7; Romans 6:1-11; Luke 3:15-22

Theme: “You ARE Mine!” (Isaiah 43:1-7)

Question: “What belongs to you?” Armour, SD

This sermon was preached at Faith in Sioux Falls yesterday and today it was modified for my congregation. I did have a baptism today also for Abel Brent Slate

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the Baptism of our Lord is from the Gospel lesson: “But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are MINE’” (Isaiah 43:1).


You, upon whom our heavenly Father smiles daily, it was in the summer of 1989. I had just started my Greek boot camp at Concordia Seminary, in St. Louis for my training as a pastor. About two weeks into my classes, I got a phone call from my dearest friend from Omaha (Rod) asking me to do him a favor. A young girl that his wife was babysitting had gotten ill and had to be airlifted to the hospital in St. Louis and if I could go and make a hospital call and minister to the fearful parents because their daughter was close to death. I said “I would”.

But since I was new at this, I was afraid and wanted some assistance of what I should say and do. I went to see the Dean of Student Body, Pastor David Smith and told him of the situation. He opened his Bible to our Old Testament reading and said “Nabil, as the agent of God in that hospital room, let them hear the voice of God through you and read this portion for them.” I went to the hospital and stepped into the room, my hands were sweaty, heart pounding, fearful of not being able to comfort this family as they faced death.

I introduced myself to the family and told them I was asked to come by my friend Rod. They were open and I read the portion of God’s Word: “But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are MINE.” Then, I said, “I would like to read it to you as I have come to know this Word in this manner: “But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Stacy, He who formed you, O Stacy: ‘Fear not Stacy, for I have redeemed you O Stacy; Stacy, I have called you by name, Stacy you are MINE” You should have seen the face of that child and her parents. There was comfort and joy. And ever since that day, I have read that portion of Scripture often with many of my saints in the hospital.

And therefore on this special day, for me as the proud grandfather of our “Miracle Baby” Lucy, I say to all of you here from the lips of Your heavenly Father, YOU ARE MINE! I’m positive David and Jody have said to her, ‘LUCY YOU ARE MINE!” I have told the world, “Lucy, you are my precious princess, my granddaughter, my joy and my blessing.” She is mine by virtue of my son and daughter-in-law. PAUSE.

Just as I, David, and Jody (my daughter-in-law) are pleased with God’s gift of the Miracle Baby, so is He well pleased with us as His precious children. He is pleased with you like a master painter is with his artwork. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. He was intimately and directly involved in your creation as the Psalmist reminds us: For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb” And He continues that care for you each and every day. He is not some impersonal manufacturer. The sun, the rain, your food and family are all part of this provision. Ah, but sin has so destroyed His beloved creation, all of it, that it would take something so personal, so complete, to redeem, to buy back, to purchase and deliver us all - the blood of Jesus.

Behold the Words of God Himself as Isaiah’s pen recorded it: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine.” We all have fears. I was afraid when I was called to go to the hospital. You may be afraid of death, bringing a child into the world, take the child home the first time. We pray for people who have cancer ..."Consider the list in your church bulletins: we pray for people who have cancer, some having an open-heart surgeries, some are dying and the list goes on and on.

In life, we fear many things, darkness, depression, disasters destruction and damnation. To this Your loving Father says: “Fear not!” - Fear nothing! Stop being afraid! You have many reasons to fear, haven’t you? PAUSE… Don’t let the devil rob you of the joy that God has in store for you. Stop worrying about the future. He whispers in your ears, “My child, stop being afraid... fear nothing!” Why not? God shouts the answer, Listen again please: “I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine!” (Say it)…YES, YOU ARE MINE!

We just got done singing our sermon Hymn “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It” LSB 594. This hymn affirms and confirms the truth of what Isaiah has spoken. Kindly open your hymns books and follow with me. “God’s own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ! He, because I could not pay it, gave my full redemption price. Do I need earth’s treasures many? I have one worth more than any That brought me salvation free, Lasting to eternity! Sin, disturb my soul no longer: I am baptized into Christ! I have comfort even stronger: Jesus’ cleansing sacrifice. Should a guilty conscience seize me, since my baptism did release me In a dear forgiving flood, sprinkling me with Jesus’ blood? (vv. 1-2)

In Baptism you have the love of God sprinkled upon you. You have already been redeemed. There is no uncertainty, no cause for doubt, for fear. He, who formed you, loves you and has completely redeemed you. Behold Christ on the Cross! He has called you by name! You bear the mark of Him who died and rose again. Water and Word engraved that cross on your forehead. Paul teaches this truth also: “Do you not know, since you have been baptized into Christ (called by name into the flood), you have been buried with Him into death” (Romans 6:3) - His sure, certain death for all sin - and you have been called into His tomb. He really did die - for you. You have been raised with Him - Easter is more that a date on a calendar that we observe once a year. It is your date of life! It is your date of hope! And it is your day of joy and destiny. You are His! Men and kings, crowds and armies, we make mistakes, we act foolishly, we decide shortsightedly - in short - we sin, fully, daily, always. To look at us, we see only fear. Ah, but in Christ and in His Baptism, the Father declares His well pleasing Son.

Jesus is well pleasing to the Father. He removes everything that has brought us to death. This He does through His own death in which we now participate through Baptism. The Baptism of our Lord is nothing new in our Church Calendar. No, it is that reassurance, that warm blanket, that tender hug, that reassuring voice that says - I have redeemed you and you are indeed, Mine! It is a constant, a sure anchor; it is peace in the midst of the storm. Baptism is our sure identity as sinners who are also saints, disobedient ones who is also a son or a daughter, for He has called us by name. He calls us by our name. But more to the point, He calls us by His name. You now bear the Eternal Name of the Eternal God.

The God whose name means “I AM that I AM” has restored you. He has bought you back - that is, He has redeemed you to be His own. He has joined you to Himself in His Son’s Death and Resurrection. Thus He can declare - I have redeemed you and you are indeed, absolutely, positively, totally Mine! In that calm assurance let us draw near to the throne of grace with our every sin and every need. That, beloved, is what St. Paul meant when the Spirit inspired him to write: So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. You are alive - In Him we know the certainty of our salvation and the future is guaranteed.

Isaiah goes on to say: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. You ask Me why? Here is the answer from the lips of your heavenly Father: For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, Your Savior.” Yes, because I Am Your God, YOU belong to Me; YOU ARE MINE, even now. Amen.

Now the peace…

Soli Deo Gloria