Sunday, May 26, 2013

“Opposition to the Unity of the Trinity” (John 8:51-53)

S-1364-TS/C 5/26/2013 Hymns: (O) #239; (S) #40; L.S. #246; #243; (C) #244

Texts: Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Acts 2:14, 22-36; John 8:48-59

Theme: “Opposition to the Unity of the Trinity” (John 8:51-53)

Question: “Have you ever been persecuted for being a Christian?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for Trinity Sunday is from the Gospel lesson: “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My Word, he will never see death.” The Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps My Word, he will never taste death.’ Are You greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do You make Yourself out to be” (John 8:51-53).


Precious people of God, Jesus was not crucified because He was a good man, a great teacher or a wonderful example. He was crucified because He spoke the truth claiming to be God. The Jewish leaders of His day understood well what Jesus was saying about Himself; that is why in the text before us we hear the opposition rising like flood water. They opposed Him with these words: “The Jews said to Him, ‘Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, If anyone keeps My Word, he will never taste death.’ Are You greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do You make Yourself out to be?” These leaders were questioning Jesus and the claim He was making about Himself. The sentence, “Who do You make Yourself out to be?In the original language begins with a word that expects a negative response. In essence they were saying: “Surely you are NOBODY of importance. In fact, You are demon possessed. But Jesus comes back, with the affirmative answer that He is greater than father Abraham, the prophets and all of them combined. He was and is the Great I AM of the Old Testament and there is none like Him who is able to save. And with that the opposition heightened to the point they picked up stones to stone Him.

On this Trinity Sunday, we are once more faced with the truth of the great opposition to the Unity of the Trinity. Oppositions against Christianity is nothing new. Jesus experienced it firsthand. You know that full well. He taught it in the public square that He would be handed over to the Jewish leaders, would suffer, be crucified and put to death. He even told the disciples they will endure these kinds of persecutions as well because they are His followers. He stated: “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor Me” (John 16:1-3). Indeed, opposition to the Unity of the Trinity is increasing daily and I assure you it will get much worse; and if you haven’t experienced it you will. PAUSE.

This opposition to the Unity of the Trinity has been around since the days the Lord Jesus walked this earth in human flesh. And it has increased and continues to increase. Many have questioned the authority of Jesus as God in human flesh. Many have debated if He is a lunatic, liar, loser or Lord. And one of the greatest enemies of Christianity is Islam.

Islam was and is a prominent world reli­gion. It began through the prophet Muhammad, who was concerned about the moral condition of people around him. In AD 610, he claimed that the angel Gabriel (or as he called him the Holy Spirit) appeared to him to reveal a new religion. Since then, Islam has flour­ished and spread mostly by the power of the sword. Today, with over a billion Muslims in the world and over six million in the United States, it is the number one religion that opposes Christianity. Throughout the history of Islam they have attempted to wipe out Christianity by force. They have burned churches, killed and raped Christians, denied them jobs and positions in government, all in the name of their religion. And as you compare Islam with Christianity quickly you will notice the differences.

One of the most significant points of opposition is the Unity of the Trin­ity. Christians believe and confess that we have one God, yet three persons in that one God. Islam’s response can be summarized in their central teaching the Shahadah, (say it in Arabic) that is: “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.” Islam strongly disagrees with the Christian Trinity, since it main­tains that God must be one and cannot at the same time consist of three. PAUSE.

But it is not only the Muslims that oppose the Unity of the Trinity; we have the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Scientologists and many others. They claim Jesus is merely a good teacher, a wonderful example, a son of God BUT not THE Son of God. He can’t be God. He can’t obtain the glory that belongs to God, nor do the things God does.

For this reason, Islam, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses and others have great difficulty with the Christian doctrine that Jesus is of one substance with the Father and equally eternal. But the words of the Gospel text for today show how crucial this truth about Jesus is.

Jesus states clearly and concisely His intimate relationship with the Father, saying: But you have never known Him. I continually know Him. If I were to say that I do not know Him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know Him and I keep His Word” (8:55). Indeed, Jesus continually has known the Father from eternity and has kept His Word faithfully and completely.

As a matter of fact, not only has He continually known the Father, but He has brought us His Word—which brings forth Eternal Life. Jesus of Nazareth is the Word Incarnate that gives life eternal and anyone who doesn’t believe that Jesus Christ is God will not have salvation. As we confessed few moments ago in the Athanasian Creed: “…Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man; God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of the substance of his mother, born in the world; perfect God and perfect man, of a rational soul and human flesh subsisting.”

This is our bold confession as Christians—to admit and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. He is the ONLY One who kept God’s will and command perfectly—even to the point of death—death on a cross. He is the One who guarded the Word by teaching the truth to all who follow Him and believe in Him. He is the One who brought glory to God, not by brining attention to Himself, but by being humble and completely surrendered His life to the will of His Father. PAUSE.

Indeed we shouldn’t be surprised that the opposition continues even today and age. Many people still deny the Unity of the Trinity. We Christians are being demonized by many who don’t agree with the Biblical teaching that sin leads to death. That gays, lesbians, those living together outside the bond of marriage is my view verses yours. When we speak up and stand up for the truth, we are attacked on every side. People say all kinds of evil against us. While the stones they throw may not be real, the verbal stoning we receive is vicious nonetheless! Again, we shouldn’t be surprised because Jesus said, this will happen to us—His followers.

For this reason, on this Trinity Sunday we boldly confess our belief as Christians, we have one God in three persons; and not three Gods. And anyone who opposes us, in essence is opposing the Unity of the Trinity.

But we can be thankful, that Jesus’ Words in the text encourage us in our faith and give us strength in the face of a fallen world to stand firm to the end. Undoubtedly, His teaching will rebuke our timid response to the denial of those who denigrate Him as God. Above all, knowing the Savior more completely will glorify His Name.

This is our privilege and honor to bring glory to the Lord God Almighty, who in His life has glorified His Father by being faithful, keeping His Word to the end. Today, the Holy Spirit blesses us as we stand united bowing our heads and hearts before this Awesome God—who is God in three persons. This God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We have a Father who gives lovingly, A Son who SERVES faithfully, and the Holy Spirit who teaches truthfully.

What a blessing to be in this place, gathered in His presence to receive His goodness through His Word and Sacrament and go out into the world confessing the truth there is one God—the Great I Am who is able to save. Amen.

Now the peace…


Wednesday, May 22, 2013



“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will not pass away” Matthew 24:35

I am astonished and amazed how the Word of God is discarded, and no longer held to be true, effective and absolute. I am astonished and amazed how the majority opinion or the group that makes the loudest noise trumps the truth of the Divine Word. I am astonished and amazed that people listen to other people than the truth taught in Scripture.

But in reality, I should not be astonished and amazed, since the Apostle Paul wrote to his spiritual son Timothy saying: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” (2 Timothy 4:3). We are seeing this first hand more and more each day. The focus falls on what brings joy and immediate pleasure in the here and now rather than serving others. Passion rules the day rather than Christ ruling their hearts.

You have witnessed the changes of how God’s Word has been discarded and disregarded. People no longer attend worship service on a regular basis. It is not important to be in His house to feed on His Word, be nurtured and strengthened in the service to God and neighbor. What is right is viewed as wrong, and what is wrong is held as truth. And it is getting worse all the time.

In the past two weeks the number of states recognizing same-sex marriages has risen from nine to 12, with new marriage bills signed into law in Rhode Island, Delaware, and – on Tuesday (5/14/2013) – our neighboring state—Minnesota. Public polls in recent weeks confirm that more Americans than ever before accept the idea of same-sex marriage. Just because polls or people think it is right; it is not. God’s true and changeless Word said so. We, Christians, are held to a higher authority than our consciences.

Sin is no longer viewed as damning or destructive to the soul. Living contrary to God’s Word is accepted by the majority. Having a sexual relationship before marriage is no longer viewed as sinful or wrong. It is easily accepted as just another choice, as in deciding what kind of soda to reach for and open. Living together before marriage is viewed in the same way. It is not considered wrong or shameful. Abortion is held in the same way as my right to do what my passion desires; my circumstances determines right and wrong, and not God’s Word and promise.

Just because the government, Supreme Court, or the majority declare it is ok to practice unbiblical life-style, it is not right. This is a clear violation and disregard to the truth of Holy Scripture. We as Christians, can’t join the voices of the majority, but must hold on to the truth as taught in Holy Scripture.

Paul, in his letter to the Church at Corinth stated: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Here are the warnings of what will happen when we disregard and discard the precious Life-Giving Word of Christ that is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. This Word helps us realize what is true, and guides us in the journey of life to live for Him as His sanctified people. This Word in faith makes us His people. As His people, we live differently.

We are a unique people. We are sanctified by His blood shed on the cross of Calvary for us. This redemptive act makes us different from the world! The world may say it is permissible for you to practice all of these sinful activities, but we must hold on to the Living Word and what it states is true and right. Not everything that is permissible for you is profitable for your eternal soul!

Paul in 1 Thessalonians wrote: Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you (4:1-8).

These words inspired by the Holy Spirit and penned by Paul, are the shining light for us as Christians as we walk humbly before Him all the days of our lives. This is not only against the sins mentioned above but against all sins; because sins damns destroy and leads to death.

Just because certain groups think this life-style is right by the eyes of people, it doesn’t make it correct in the sight of God. For the Savior Himself has stated: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35) and again Jesus taught, For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18). Notice the emphasis from the lips of Christ, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law… No matter what others say, it doesn’t make it right or acceptable in the sight of God.

I recently saw a sign that stated: “Minnesota: Where all the WOMEN are strong, the MEN are good- looking, and the MARRIAGES ARE EQUAL.” How blatantly wrong is that statement! Many have elevated and are holding on to the word of man instead of the Word of God. Christ have mercy on our nation for the way we disregard and discard His Word. Lord, have mercy.

Just because the majority opinion approves it, doesn’t make it right. What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right. Repentance is the order of the day. This repentance will lead us to confess and cling to the Holy Truth that marriage is one man and one woman for life. This is defined not by a legislature or legal system. It is the truth of the One who designed the whole system in eternity, God Himself!

It is the right time to get down on our knees and pray to God to open the eyes of the blind, soften the hearts of unbelievers to come to His grace and receive forgiveness. Forgiveness received ONLY through Christ, the power to resist sin; and peace and contentment in Him. Then our nation will be healed. We will find the answers to our society’s problems.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

“Getting the Right Help” (John 14:25-26)

S-1363-PS/C 5/19/2013 Hymns: (O) #234; (S) #233; (C) #225

Texts: Genesis 11:1-9; Acts 2:1-21; John 14:23-31

Theme: “Getting the Right Help” (John 14:25-26)

Question: “Are you bold or bashful to ask for help?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for Pentecost Sunday is from the Gospel lesson: These things I have spoken to you while I Am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:25-26).


O People of the Resurrection, Jesus’ promises are so real that every one of them has come to fruition. Scan, study and search the inspired Word and you will see whatever Christ said came true. He said, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19) and He did—Jesus suffered, was crucified, died and was buried and on the third day He burst forth from the grave. That is why we celebrate the Resurrection even today, two thousand years after the facts. In due time, all of the promises given, even when He returns in the near future, will be fulfilled.

Today is fifty days after the greatest event in all of human history—the RESURRECTION of Christ. Today is Pentecost Sunday. Today we observe and celebrate the Holy Spirit’s coming upon the disciples as promised by Jesus in the Gospel lesson. Before Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection, Jesus promised the disciples that He will soon leave them to return to His Father, but He will not leave them as orphans. He will send the promised and great Helper—the Holy Spirit. And it came to pass just as the Savior promised. We read it in the Acts of the disciples. Luke put it this way: “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).

In this portion of God’s Word, we behold the promise of Christ being fulfilled in the lives of the disciples to be the helpers of the right kind of Help. In this portion of God’s Word, we marvel at the mercy and grace of God, as He reverses the confusion that occurred at Babel. In this portion of God’s Word, we see love so wonderful and amazing, that even Gentiles hear the message of the precious Gospel in their own language. These pilgrims got the right help from the Helper—the Holy Spirit. PAUSE.

People of the Resurrection, do you love people? Do you want to get involved? Do you want to make a difference? Do others know you care? Do you want to help others receive things otherwise were unavailable them and to be taken on a journey where otherwise they couldn’t go?

Today, the Holy Spirit is here to make us be the right kind of helper to others. As the Holy Spirit in love worked through the disciples in their ministry; He is here today to work in us and makes us faithful in our walk of faith. He is here today to teach us that sin separates us from our holy and loving God and calling us to repentance. In this place, the Holy Spirit works through the Means of Grace teaching us all that Jesus did.

In the ongoing miracle that is Pentecost, the Holy Spirit continues to call, gather, enlighten and sanctify. The Holy Spirit causes the faithful of every generation to remember what Jesus has said and done. What He has said and done is none other than make peace with God for us through His death and resurrection. It is this peace which restores us to what we were designed for. In the Word which convicts us of sin and grants us pardon in Jesus Christ, we are made whole. This wholeness makes us wholly at peace with God. What joy fills our hearts today!

In this place, the Holy Spirit shares the Father’s heart desires that all people come to know Him and His love for the world. As we are privileged to sit at the feet of Jesus in this place, the right kind of Helper guides our thoughts and creates in us a heart once dead to a living and active faith that seeks to love and serve Him.

Because we love Him and want to serve Him, we desire also to serve others in His name so that they too, may get to know Him intimately and get the right kind of help for their souls. There is a reason the Helper was sent to tell the good news to all people.

The prophet Isaiah said, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Is. 52:7). Yes, how beautiful are your feet when you take the message outside these walls so that lives can be touched and changed by Christ the crucified. PAUSE.

I am often amazed at how many of our people are willing to volunteer their time to help others; but are unwilling to ask others to help them in the hour of need. Many good people help others with many different things, but are unwilling to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. Many dedicated Christians go out of their way to give a lending hand to make someone’s life a little better, but are unwilling to share God’s Word with others. How Sad!

Sadder still, when many would say, “If you want anything done right, (help me finish the sentence), ‘you got to do it yourself’”. We, the people of God carry that into our spiritual life as well. We often think we can help God save us. We feel He owes us because we are good church people. We think because we do certain things for Him, He should do favors to us also. Christ owes us nothing. He blesses us because that’s the kind of God He is—the One who gives and gives and gives even when not asked. PAUSE.

On April 15th, while the Boston Marathon was taking place, two terrorists blew up bombs that killed, maimed and caused much havoc in the lives of many. When the bombs blew, we saw many rush to help without regard to danger or loss of life. They helped because they cared.

How thankful we are to witness such brave acts of kindness and help in the hour of need. How thankful the injured people and their families were as they received the right kind of help at the right time. But how much more valuable, if we, as People of the Resurrection, who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit; be the right kind of helper to others? What a privilege the Savior gives us daily to be caring, loving and serving others. What honor Christ bestows upon us to be His feet, His hands, and His mouth to many who don’t know Him. How blessed we are, that the Savior, during His earthly pilgrimage promised to send the Holy Spirit to help us. And what joy fills our hearts because the Helper has helped us and still does.

The challenge for us is to be the right kind of helpers. By grace alone, may we raise our voices so that those so wounded will know that the cross of Jesus paid for their sin, that the empty tomb of Jesus gives them victory and a living hope, and that the ascension of Jesus means He rules over all things and will never forsake them.

On this Pentecost Sunday, we pray that the Helper would fill us with Himself that we might be led to touch the lives of others and help them in the hour of need, both physically and spiritually. God grant it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Now the peace of God…


Sunday, May 12, 2013

“Don’t Be Bashful to Ask” (John 17:20-21)

S-1362-SSE/C 5/12/2013 Hymns: (O) #5; (S) #193; LS. #191; #264; #307 (C) #54

Texts: Acts 1:12-26; Revelation 22:1-6, 12-20; John 17:20-26

Theme: “Don’t Be Bashful to Ask” (John 17:20-21)

Question: “How easy is it for you to ask” Armour, SD MSLS, Mother’s Day

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the Seventh Sunday of Easter is from the Gospel lesson: “[Jesus said:] I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me” (John 17:20-26).


Precious People of the Resurrection, today we observe and celebrate Main Street Living Sunday (MSLS). Rev. Dale Sattgast, the president of the SD District has declared May 5th, as the Sunday we observe this special day in thanksgiving to the Lord for His many blessings over the past 12 years of ministry through TV broadcasts. I was not able to hold it last Sunday and thus we are observing it today.

The text that engages us for this celebration is the Gospel lesson, where we hear from the lips of Jesus asking the Father of all Grace and mercy, in prayer, to bless all of those who believe in Him through the proclamation of His Word. Here, in the Upper Room discourse just few hours before Jesus heads to the gallows of the cross He is praying for you. He was not thinking of Himself and the great agony that awaited Him, but of you many centuries later.

What a marvelous Lord and Savior we have. To put it in laymen’s term, Jesus was not bashful to ask the Father on your behalf. In love we behold Jesus praying for you and you and you. He is praying for you so that you and Him may be one just as He and the Father are One. PAUSE.

A little over a decade ago, the President of one of our Concordia Universities was working very hard to cultivate a large gift from a very wealthy donor. He wined and he dined. He built a relationship. Over the course of several months everything was done right. The donor showed a great interest in the mission and ministry of the University. The donor and his wife were regular guests on campus. It was clear to the President that the time to ask was at hand. He asked for a time to meet with the donor and his wife. He made his presentation for some renovations for a building on the campus. After the case was made, the President was bold and asked the donor for $500,000. The donor cooly looked at the President and politely said no. The shocked and befuddled President excused himself from the donor’s home. For the next week he went over and over what went wrong in the process. He tried to figure out where things went wrong. He had done everything by the book. He had no idea why his request was almost immediately rejected. 

After a week had passed he could take it no longer. He asked for five minutes of the donor’s time at his office. The man received him. When given the opportunity, the President got right to the point. He asked the man why he so quickly declined the president’s request that seemed so in line. The donor answered almost just as bluntly. “You didn’t ask for enough. My wife and I really wanted to make a difference at the university and we didn’t think $500,000 was enough.” The President came back with another request, this time for enough for the construction of a fine arts building. The request for multiple millions of dollars was happily agreed to! And the man who made the donation is the owner of the Pampered Chef Co.

This man had a vision and he didn’t want to just give a little. He wanted to give out of the abundance of what God has blessed him to make a difference in the lives of others. He was willing to give much more than was asked of him.

In the same measure, you and I should remember, that we have a generous, amazing and almighty God who is not limited to what He wants to pour upon us. Through this discourse from Jesus, we learn that Christ wasn’t and isn’t even now bashful to ask of His Father to bless our lives. What Christ desires is that we would believe on Him through the preaching of the Word.

And that is precisely what the Disciples did. They were faithful in taking the message of the cross and the empty tomb to the ends of the world. They shared it with all who would listen. They crossed oceans and continents and spoke of the salvation that Jesus has earned for them. These faithful followers of Jesus lived and died, breathing the Word to others. PAUSE.

That is why, on this MSLS, I am not bashful to bring before you the desire of the BOD’s request for your involvements by prayers and financial support. You see, in 2001, some men from Zion Lutheran Church of Sioux Falls, had a vision of letting the Gospel of Jesus Christ be heard weekly through a TV program.

They sought the input of the SD President and he was on fire for this blessed ministry. A BOD was set up, whose dream is to let everyone see and hear the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. They wanted the Words of Jesus to be proclaimed in a Lutheran way and thankfully we have done so. Weekly a different pastor (even I) is privileged to share the blessed news of the greatest story ever told—the story of our salvation.

You and I have much to learn from the Savior, who daily intercedes for us asking the heavenly Father to grant us the blessings to be ONE with Him and with other believers. But how can others hear of the message? Who will go? The Apostle Paul put it this way: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news! (Romans 10:14-15).

We can be thankful that the disciples lived out their lives in being faithful witnesses. Having received the promised Holy Spirit, they took the message of the cross and empty tomb, to a people who had rejected Jesus when He was in the flesh. They took that Word of the Word Made Flesh to the entire world. This was their labor of joy and love.

On this Seventh Sunday of Easter, we too, have help. Help that the Holy Spirit has given us to participate and support a ministry with our prayers and finances that makes the Word made flesh known to people who are no longer able to be in the house the Lord, or never enter God’s house of worship.

Even as we observe and celebrate both MSLS and Mother’s Day we ought not to be ashamed to ask the heavenly Father to bless our giving and praying for this blessed ministry. Brief pause. What mother would be ashamed to get down on her knees and pray to the heavenly Father to touch her ill child and make him/her well? A loving mother wouldn’t be ashamed. She would crawl, weep and pray so that this child would be made well; like the Canaanite woman who pleaded for her daughter to be healed (Matthew 15:22).

I am thankful, for mother Church, that feeds us always the Word and Sacrament so that we may grow stronger in our faith and depend on our Savior for all that we need in life and death.

Today, on this Seventh Sunday of Easter, we find ourselves yet again between Ascension and Pentecost. We too are still in the season of Easter. We too celebrate the resurrected Christ. We rejoice that the cross has killed our greatest enemy death! We know that this is a done deal. Christ has told us that His work of redemption is finished. We know that our battle with sin and death has been won. We know that because CHRIST IS RISEN!

Yet, many still don’t know that blessed truth. Many haven’t heard of the message of the Gospel that changes hearts and lives. Many are not one with Jesus. You can help as the disciples did. You can support the ministry of MSL program with your prayers and finances. You can be faithful disciples sharing the love of Jesus with many. And where you can’t go, MSL does. By the grace of God alone, MSL keeps the main thing, the focus of the main thing.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, we have been gathered again to hear the message of Jesus, that today He is praying for us. He wasn’t bashful to go to the cross for you. He wasn’t bashful to be humiliated for you. He wasn’t bashful to suffer the torment of hell for you. He wasn’t bashful to die for you. And He wasn’t bashful to ask the Father on your behalf. That is love in action.

May we not be bashful in joining our forces to spread the message of the cross and the empty tomb to the ends of the earth; as MSL has done for over a decade. God grant it for Jesus sake. And thus we pray with joy in our hearts saying: Amen Come Lord Jesus! Amen.

Now the peace…


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

“Peace In Spite Of…” (1 Peter 5:7)

S-1361-Easter Season/C 5/08/2013 Hymns: (O) #457; (S) #200; (C) #533

Texts: Psalm 23; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; John 10:11-18

Theme: “Peace In Spite Of…” (1 Peter 5:7)

Celebration of the New Life for Irene Lenora Gjoraas, Armour, SD

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the celebration of the New Life granted to our departed sister in the faith—Irene, is her confirmation text: Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Beloved in the Lord, today is a day of rejoicing and celebration amidst sadness and sorrow. PAUSE. Today, we give thanks to the Lord for the gift of life He earned for our departed sister Irene. Today, as we are gathered in His house to commend this precious child into the hands of our Lord, we lift our voices heavenward in praise for ALL He has done for us—His suffering, death and glorious resurrection. On account of His mighty act of love on Calvary’s cross, Jesus gives us peace in spite of our situations of grief, suffering and sadness. Today, Jesus reminds you and me to cast all of our cares on Him because He cares for YOU.

As People of the Resurrection, we are attacked daily by so many forces that it can rob us of the peace that Christ has earned for us. We are attacked by fear. We are attacked by the adversary-the devil who doesn’t want us to have peace or joy or happiness. But remember People of the Resurrection that God is greater and stronger than our attacks, says St. Peter in this concluding portion of his letter. It ends on an upbeat but practical note. He tells us how to face life, how to face our spiritual enemy, how to face suffering, and how to face God.

Peter instructs us to face life by trusting God saying: Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. And today, in this place, Peter reminds each and every one of you to put all of your hopes and dreams in the One who answers every prayer. Place your whole life in the hands of the Carpenter, because those are the tender, loving hands that bring peace and joy.

But when death comes knocking on our door, it disturbs our life. It knocks us and turns our world upside down. Even when we know it is coming it can spin us around and even lead us to doubt the care our Lord has for us. We begin to question God saying, “Why did you have to take my mother from us so quickly? Lord, this is my grandma; couldn’t You have kept her just a little longer with us? Besides, she was in Church this past Sunday, and quickly her life began to spiral out of control and by Friday she left us and went to be with you. God, don’t you care about me?!

But sin puts a damper on things and our eyes are distracted from God as they gaze upon the one who die d. Sin clouds our eyes and tears begin to fall down our cheeks. Sin troubles our hearts and causes us to wonder does God really care. Does He even know what pain I am going through? Sin plays games with our minds and puts us at odds with our family and loved ones but especially the peace we have with God. And we all face the heartaches, difficulties, testing—and even death. All these events cause us stress. We worry, we fret, and we forget to trust God who is our only source for life and salvation. Left in sin, we have no peace; our lot would be only God’s eternal judgment. PAUSE.

But the good news is we are not left in sin. Peter speaks from personal experience exhorting us to: Cast all of our anxieties on Jesus, because He cares for you” (5:7). More than likely the Holy Spirit brought to mind the similar words of the Psalmist who also wrote: “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22).

But oh, People of the Resurrection. God does care about you. God loves you unconditionally. God desires for you to have the peace that surpasses all understanding because He has earned that peace for you through His shed blood. God wants to comfort you even now as you taste the bitter pill of death. God wants to still the storm raging in your heart and head and home. God wants you to know that YOU matter to Him.

Irene mattered to the Lord. She mattered enough to Him that He was willing to go to the cross for her. That trip to the cross and empty tomb was one that He made willingly. On that journey, He suffered greatly. He knew what was coming. He knew the pain, suffering, anguish, affliction and humiliation. And He still faced it FOR HER! And with that comes the promise not only of HIS presence but HER resurrection. Irene still matters to Jesus because as she rests from her labors in this life, she rests in the great comfort of the nail scarred hands of Jesus!

And those same nail scarred hands reach out to you this day. YOU matter to Jesus! YES YOU DO! That cross of Christ is for you too. It is cross that calls you to lay down all of the harm and hurt that the sins of others and your sins have earned. Jesus calls you to peace this day. Peace in the midst of death. Peace with the Lord rooted in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Peace in the relationships you share within your family. He wants this for YOU! That’s how much He cares for you EVEN NOW!

In the opening portion of Peter’s letter we read these words: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials” (1 Peter 1:3-6).

We believers in Christ have a lively hope through a living Savior of an inheritance that fades not away but also reserved for you in heaven...This moves us to cast all our cares upon Jesus...this lively hope, this glorious future, this certainty which for Irene has become a wonderful reality as she beholds the Savior face to face. PAUSE.

Irene, whose name in Greek means peace, knew that peace personally because she had a personal relationship with the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. Though she was a sinner and had hardships and difficulties all of her life—lost two husbands, had many surgeries, suffered a lot, she was found faithful being in His house often to hear His Word that brings hope, joy and eternal peace. Even a week ago Sunday, 5 days before she was called home, she sat in this house of worship, heard the Good News again, that her sins are forgiven her on account of Christ her Savior, and dined with Him at His table and had peace with God.

But of more importance it is not that Irene knew the Prince of Peace, but that the Prince of Peace knew her and called her by name in the waters of Baptism on February 1st, 1931 and nurtured her through His ever living Word and Sacrament. The Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ came into the room where the Disciples where huddled behind closed doors on that first Easter Sunday because they were afraid and their hearts were broken at His death. Into that room He stepped, calmed their spirits and said: in Hebrew Shalom alechem, and in Greek, Εἰρήνη ὑμῖν Peace be upon you”. (John 20:19b).

Those words spoken by the Prince of Peace so long ago to the Disciples are not just empty words or spoken to them, but they are spoken to you as well even now in the midst of your broken hearts at the death of your mother, sister, aunt, mother-in-law, and grandmother. Into this room Jesus enters and calms your spirit and assures you that He is indeed the PEACE GIVER. He is the forgiver of all of your sins. He is the One who blesses you, enriches your life and guarantees your future with Him in heaven.

Yes, indeed, His peace be upon you here and now and always. The Prince of Peace, Jesus has done away with sin and took upon Himself God’s eternal judgment so that we might be judged righteous and holy not because of what we have done, but because of what He has done for us.

Today, rejoice and celebrate life, because He cares for you. Today, know with certainty, you need not be anxious about anything, but rather, led by the Holy Spirit take Jesus at His Word, hold unto His tender, loving, and pierced hands and walk with Him as our beloved sister Irene had done for the past 82 years, and you will have peace in spite of. Amen.


Sunday, May 5, 2013


I wrote this article for our church’s newsletter called GOEL (Hebrew) for REDEEMER.


"And He who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I Am making all things new.' Also He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.' And He said to me, ‘It is done! I Am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment'" (Revelation 21:5).

As I write this it is Tuesday afternoon and only mere hours before some men will receive their first calls to serve in our LCMS churches. These men have been preparing for the Office of the Holy ministry for the past four years. Tonight and tomorrow their names will be called and a manila envelope given them with a name of a District and congregation to whom they will go and be God's mouth-piece in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I remember vividly how it was for me in April of 1994 just before I got my call. For about two weeks there was excitement in the air. Many of my family members had traveled thousands of miles to come and be a part of this special night, in my life and theirs. It was a special night that I can still replay in my mind all of the events that led to the call.

At the Divine Service on April 27, my name was called, Nabil Subhi Nour, South Dakota District, heading to Armour, SD. What excitement! I am going back home to SD and will be close to our families.

On my way to my seat, my oldest son Tony, reached for the manila envelope and took it from my hand and I never saw it till late that night. But by the time I had gotten home, my family knew a lot of information about the town of Armour and the congregation of Redeemer Lutheran Church to which I had been called.

In a very real way, this is call day all over again for me. For the past 113 days, I have been out of the office convalescing from my two surgeries. The first one was scheduled and the second emergency.

But through these surgeries, trials and suffering the Lord has taught me patience and dependence upon Him even more. I have spent more time reading the Bible in depth and praying more fervently. This experience also made me aware of how long the journey of suffering is at times. I have learned to be more kind, compassionate and merciful to those who are experiencing hardships and afflictions.

Through these surgeries and recovery I have changed–hopefully for the better. I remember the first change from Nabil the painter to Nabil the pastor. But there is more, I am keenly aware of the joy and privilege the Lord has given me through this call to proclaim His life-giving Word.

In a true sense, this is CALL DAY ONCE MORE. Now, I get to stand before God's beloved saints and share with them the well spring of water, word, wine and wafer. I get to share with YOU the love of Jesus who endured all things for our sake. I am privileged to share the hope of the resurrection with YOU and fill YOU with His Gospel message. Once more, I will be taking up rod and staff and leading the Sheep of the Great Shepherd to His green pastures. This dear family of faith has stood by me, with me, ah, now that is church!

What a privilege to be called the first time to be your pastor. What a blessed to be called again after having a new heart placed not by Dr. Steve Feldhaus (though he performed the surgery) but the Divine Physician, Jesus Christ through the water and Word changed my heart to follow Him and live for Him.

Thank you for calling me to be your pastor. I assure you that I have prayed for you as you have prayed for me. And now I am so excited at the honor and blessing to begin serving you anew.

I share with you few words written by the President of the St. Louis Seminary, Dr. Dale Meyer on May 1st, call night.

    "Last in, first out." That's one of the perks of being Seminary president. Today is "Call Day" when our students learn where the church is sending them. The announcements happen in a festive service, joyous but anxious for students and their families, and the presidential perk is that I'm the last one to process in for the service but the first one to recess out. When I walk out, I head straight up to the balcony so that I can watch the students, calls in hand, walk out two-by-two.

They are going into a world they do not know and into experiences they cannot imagine. Some go with maturity; others have maturing ahead of them. Their average age is about 32. Some are A+ students but will need to learn better interpersonal skills. Others may not be good at parsing Greek or Hebrew but do have emotional intelligence, a characteristic of a good pastor...

    "Last in; first out" also happens to be the goal of people who go to church grudgingly. May these new pastors keep walking, walking in their communities, walking among their people, so that when Sunday comes more and more people will say, "I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!'" (Psalm 122:1)

"Lord God, You have called Your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

That is my prayer for these young men and myself as I resume my ministry once more among you and with you.

In Christ's love and in His service,    

Rev. Nabil S. Nour Pastor and Foot Washer Phil. 1:6       

“The Gospel Changes Hearts and Lives!” (Acts 16:14-15)

S-1360-Sixth Sunday of Easter/C 5/05/2013 Hymns: (O) #360; (S) #297; (C) #644

Texts: Acts 16:9-15; Revelation 21:9-14, 21-27; John 16:23-33

Theme: “The Gospel Changes Hearts and Lives!” (Acts 16:14-15)

Question: “How well do you like change?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the Sixth Sunday of Easter is from our first reading: “One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay’” (Acts 16:14-15).


People of the Resurrection, it is such a joy to be back in the pulpit. After an unusual sabbatical and change of life, it is indeed an honor, privilege and blessing to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with you again. If it has ever seemed over the years that I have taken this privilege for granted, please forgive me. I treasure the undeserved call to be your pastor. I am humbled beyond measure that God would grant me once more to resume the ministry among you and to proclaim the Gospel that changes hearts and lives.

Yes, it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that changes hearts and lives. It is the Gospel—God’s good news that changed 12 ordinary men to become the heroes of the faith. It is the Gospel—God’s good news that took these 12 uneducated, common fishermen and changed the world through the preaching of this Gospel, so that those who heard the message became followers of Jesus and People of the Resurrection. And it is that same Gospel—God’s good news preached from this pulpit week in and week out that has changed us from sinners to saints. PAUSE.

But change is not an easy thing. Having gone through some personal changes in my life, I know full well it isn’t painless. We are creatures of habit and DON’T like changes. We don’t like change because we like to be our own little gods and do things our way, not God’s way. God doesn’t change us just for the sake of change, like the world changes clothing fashion styles every year just so you have to buy new clothes  (or think you do!) whether your old ones are worn out or not. God changes us for our good, like a doctor cutting out cancer, when He points out our sin, and calls us to repentance and new life. Having had open heart surgery and another unexpected was not without its difficulties and hardships. As a result of these surgeries I had to go through many changes.

People of the Resurrection, did you know that my life has more value to it now? I am bionic and worth over ¼ of million dollarsJ. Here are some of the changes I have gone through: I needed help with so many things, it was almost embarrassing to ask—pride got in the way. But I had to admit, I couldn’t do it on my own. I am thankful for those who helped me. I have a new mechanical valve instead of the one God gave me at birth. I have changed from being healthy to becoming sick, from being strong to becoming weak, from not taking any medications to having to take my 8, 5, 8, and bed time meds. Being laid up for months going from this doctor to the next, along with rehabilitation and doctors appointments was a change, but was necessary and good. Many changes that took place were physical, emotional and spiritual. PAUSE.

Consider this, every single day we have certain routines. We rise @ a specific time. We sit in the same chair, drink coffee from the same cup and perhaps have the same breakfast. When we go to work we drive the same route, however if there is a detour, we are forced to change and we do not like it. Change is not easy for most, change can be very painful and we do not like pain.

Even as we attend church, change is not easy for us. We almost always sit in the same pew almost always do the same things week after week. If we deviate from this pattern we tend to become disappointed or uncomfortable. Even as we have tried to change various things to benefit and encourage growth in our own congregation, it involves change. If we don't like it we are uncomfortable and rub us the wrong way, even if it is good for us.

But, People of the Resurrection, you should know with certainty that change can be good; as it was in the life of the Apostle Paul. By the power of the Gospel, this man went from persecuting the Church to becoming the greatest preacher of all time. He went from unbeliever to a believer in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Today, you, as People of the Resurrection are invited to listen to the Holy Spirit who works in the life of Paul and sends him to Macedonia to help someone in need. Through the preaching of the Gospel—God’s good news, the life of Lydia was changed forever. This change in her routine was the surprise of joy.  She already knew the Word of God and worshiped, but felt like an outsider, maybe like, someone in a sick bed, remote, outside, disconnected - somewhat how I felt during these past 113 days - yet she was truly connected, and surprised by that joy of knowing that as Paul came under her roof, she knew she was fully in the Family of Grace. 

While I was convalescing, I also knew that I was not remote, outside, nor disconnected.  Your prayers, your love, your carrying Christ to me, under my roof was a glorious gift and joyous surprise.  Today we continue to celebrate the change that happened because of the RESURRECTION. Paul was sanctified as he came under Lydia’s roof. I know you have sanctified my life by coming under my roof, and certainly, though we come to His house, as we have it here today, when He, our Savior comes under our roof, He sanctifies, glorifies, and redeems crippled sinners like you and me. What a glorious change He works in our lives.

People of the Resurrection, God has called you in your vocation to spread the Gospel to the ends of the world; beginning right where you live. Because only through the Gospel will hearts and lives be changed. It is of the utmost importance for us to remember that and work together to share the Gospel. By the power of the Holy Spirit may we be bold and brave, caring and compassionate, devoted and dedicated, faithful and fervent in sharing the Gospel with others. We cannot sit around and assume it is someone else’s work. God didn’t call the next person but you as the baptized and redeemed people of God to go in His name and share the blessed Gospel message—so that hearts and lives might be changed.

As People of the Resurrection, we are called by the Gospel to share what Jesus Christ has done to change our lives. He suffered, died and rose again to guarantee our future and count us worthy to be with Him in heaven. Because of His death and glorious resurrection our lives have changed from sinners to saints, from hell-bound to heaven-bound, from being enemies of God to becoming the friends of God. All of this because of the Gospel that changes hearts and lives forever. PAUSE.

3 years ago, I was invited to join my oldest son, Tony’s book club to discuss the book by Joel Rosenberg, Inside the Revolution. One of the young men who was there was an agnostic. While visiting with Justin about the love of God. He said, “You can’t tell me you believe that archaic book and all that Jesus has done. How can you prove this really happened?” I responded, “I don’t know how to prove it for you, because it is all by faith. When you are in contact with the Word, something happens to you.

I then, asked, “Justin, have you ever read the Bible?” “No! Neither do I want to.” I told him: “Justin, I am going to challenge you to read it. And I assure you if you read it you will never be the same man. Something will happen to you!” He snorted and laughed at me.

A week ago Saturday (4/27/13), we were in Sioux Falls at a surprise birthday party. While there, Justin came to me and asked, “Do you remember me?” I said, “Certainly!” He then smiled and reminded me of the challenge I put before him three years earlier. He said he took my challenge to heart and started reading the Bible. Seven months ago by the power of the Holy Spirit he became a follower of Jesus Christ. What joy filled my heart at the words shared with me! The Gospel has done its work and changed the heart and life of this young man.

I then, said, “Justin, do you know what Isaiah 55:10-11 say?” He said, “No!” I then quoted from memory the texts: “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it”. PAUSE.

People of the Resurrection, today, by the power of the Holy Spirit you have heard the Gospel—God’s good news once more. Today, you have been challenged to live as People of the Resurrection and share the glorious message with all. For there is someone out there crying like the man in Macedonia saying, “Come over and help us!” May God empress upon us the joy that comes when we share the Gospel—God’s good news that changes hearts and lives. Amen.

Now the peace…