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…


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