Sunday, June 30, 2013

“The Walking Dead!” (Luke 9:51-62)

S-1371-6SAP/C 6/30/2013 Hymns: (O) #193; (S) #297; L.S. #205; #496; (C) #468

Texts: 1 Kings 19:9-21; Galatians 5:1, 13-25; Luke 9:51-62

Theme: “The Walking Dead!” (Luke 9:51-62)

Question: “Would you say, ‘You are connected or disconnected?’” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the Gospel lesson: To another He said, ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:59-60).


Beloved in the Lord our world has changed, and the change is not for the better. You have witnessed that this past Wednesday when the US Supreme Court repealed the DOMA (Defense Of Marriage Act) permitting their word to stand against the Highest Court in the world—the Supreme Judge—God. Sadly, some churches, not our LCMS (read our strong statement against the Supreme Court on or printed in the bulletin), have changed to meet the world’s views instead of God’s eternal Word that changes not. Though the world has changed, know this well, the Gospel of Christ and His message of forgiveness has NOT.

Did you know that the number one TV show in USA is called The Walking Dead? The Walking Dead is an American horror television drama series, (developed by Frank Darabont). It is based on sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes, who awakens from a coma to find a post-apocalyptic world dominated by flesh-eating “walkers”, resembling zombies. He sets out to find his family and encounters many other survivors along the way.

It is truly a sad commentary of our time, when a terrible show like The Walking Dead can consume many people’s lives and homes. But I guess we should not be surprised about the ways of the world. The world has always been against Christ and His Gospel. You see it in the opening remarks of the text with the actions of the Samaritans who didn’t accept Jesus as Lord and Savior because He was going to Jerusalem. Jesus was bypassing their dead religion. Instead He was going to Jerusalem to win their salvation through His suffering, death and resurrection.

Dr. Luke in the Gospel lesson today tells of the encounter on the way to Jerusalem of Jesus and a would-be-disciple. Jesus had asked him to follow Him, but the man replied, “I am busy now, let me go and bury my father.” Jesus then declares: “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’” Jesus didn’t mean you shouldn’t do the honorable thing by caring for the body of your beloved. We do that all the time in this house of worship as we lay to sleep the saints who leave us. Instead Jesus was saying there is a cost to discipleship. To be Jesus’ disciple means by the power of His Spirit, you follow the Savior and tell of His love that took Him to the cross. But don’t be like a dead man walking. In reality there are many people who are walking like Zombies. PAUSE.

Psychologists seem to think that to see or dream that you are a zombie, suggests that you are physically and/or emotionally detached from people and situations that are currently surrounding you. You are feeling out of touch. In other word, a zombie means that you are feeling dead on the inside. You are just going through the motions of daily living. To dream that you are attacked by zombies, indicate that you are feeling overwhelmed by forces beyond your control. You are under tremendous stress in your waking life. Ultimately, the dream represents your fears of being helpless and overpowered.

How many people in this world are walking dead? On the outside they look like their lives are all put together, but on the inside it is all torn to pieces. So many people are chasing the gods of this earth, instead of the God of the Universe who loved His world and sent His Son to redeem it. In truth, a lot of people feel half dead, walking dead and decomposing as they go. PAUSE.

On the other hand, we, as Christians and children of God, have so much more to offer the world—His forgiveness, His Gospel, His grace and His peace. We live as Easter people on the move proclaiming to the world the story of salvation. We are spiritually alive and on the move telling the world of the Savior’s love and His death for them and us. We, therefore, show the light of the gospel in our words and works.

But unlike us, Zombie’s are walking dead. Zombie movies may be entertaining but they are really very bad theology. We believe in the resurrection of the body, and those God raises are completely raised not living dead; but living and not dead at all!

That is the point that Luke makes at the end of chapter 9, that Jesus desires those would-be-disciples to follow Him and proclaim His sweet, precious and living gospel to the ends of the earth. Jesus’ gospel was and is the message that death is not the end, nor the last word. Instead the Resurrection that He brings forth IS.

The last words of Edward the Confessor were: “Weep not, I shall not die; and as I leave the land of the dying I trust to see the blessings of the Lord in the land of the living.” We call this world the land of the living; but it would in fact be more correct to call it the land of the dying. Through Jesus Christ we know that we are journeying, not to the sunset, but to the sunrise; we know, as Mary Webb put it, that death is a gate on the sky-line. In the most real sense we are not on our way to death, but on our way to life—eternal life.

Without God’s love and adoption we would be children of the devil (John 8:44) living in a household of chaos and cruelty, a place devoid of love and hope. We would be among the spiritually dead, stumbling into life devoid of all good, looking ahead to a painful and dreadful future forever.

But on account of Christ we are children of God and Easter people on the move to the land of the living and not to the land of death; and on our way, we tell the story of love that earned our eternal life; as Christ follows the will of God and dies in our place so that we may live forever with Him. PAUSE.

What Jesus has asked the disciple-to-be He asks of us today; ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for YOU, go and proclaim the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:60). The question is are we vigorously sharing the Gospel? Be honest, is that one of your prayers to get the Gospel out? Weekly at the end of our Divine Worship Service we recite our Mission Statement: “Redeemer’s Mission as the people of God is to share the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ to a lost and condemned world, and proclaim that salvation is found in no one else except, in Jesus Christ.” And our Synod’s Mission Statement is this: “In grateful response to God’s grace and empowered by the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacraments, the mission of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is vigorously {emphasis mine} to make known the love of Christ by word and deed within our churches, communities and the world.”

Are we, as Easter people redeemed by the blood of the Lamb vigorously proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus? Are we doing the will of God as these people in the following story have done?

In the book of 2 Kings, is the story of four lepers who are usually considered to be outcast. During that period the Syrians had besieged Jerusalem and the people were starving to death. But God had promised deliverance from this king. At the appointed time the Syrians army fled leaving everything behind. These four lepers had gone to the camp looking for food. When they arrived they found the camp deserted and began to eat till they were filled to the brim.

Then the writer tells of these men’s desire to tell the good news of what they had found: “Then they said to one another, ‘We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king’s household’” (2 Kings 7:9).

Saints in Christ that should be our prayer too. We should be vigorously proclaiming the Gospel—God’s Good News to the people around us. May the Holy Spirit stir our hearts as He did the lepers and move us to be faithful servants proclaiming life in the midst of the walking dead. Amen.

Now the peace…


Sunday, June 23, 2013

“I AM God’s Son!” (Galatians 3:25-27)

S-1370-5SAP/C 6/23/2013 Hymns: (O) #299; (S) #594 LSB; L.S. #377; #354(C) #648

Texts: Isaiah 65:1-9; Galatians 3:23-4:7; Luke 8:26-39

Theme: “I AM God’s Son!” (Galatians 3:25-27)

Question: “Do you know anyone who is adopted?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the Epistle lesson: “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:25-27).


He grew up in a very loving home with an older brother and sister. But situations forced the hands of his parents to give him up. They tried to keep him but couldn’t. Finally at 3 months old they gave him up for adoption. He was adopted by a very wealthy woman and became her son. He had the finest money could buy, servants to wait on him hand and foot and he grew up to be someone special. When he talked people listened. When he walked by people turned their heads. He became prominent and had a good future ahead of him and would have been the next leader of his country. But something stirred within his heart and he gave it all up. You know him well, he is the son of Hebrew parents and his name is Moses.

Even though Moses was adopted by Pharos’ daughter and had the world’s power and prestige at his disposal; yet, he chose to let go of all that he had to be an adopted son of a greater person—God Himself.

Paul speaks of another group of people who have been adopted like Moses had been. He was talking about the Christians in Galatia. They were once slaves under a master. But this Master was not the Pharoah. This Master was the Law. It held them captive as a Pedagogue until faith came. Once Jesus who is faith in the Flesh came, these Galatians were set free! They became heirs of God in the adoptive act of Holy Baptism.

Paul teaches us about the culture of his day. At a certain age the status of the child changed from that of a minor to an adult. From being nobody to becoming somebody; all because in the Roman world the father had discretion in setting the date of his son’s coming of age. This usually took place between the ages of fifteen and eighteen.

As Paul states in the text, “a child is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father” (4:2). At this event (among the Romans it occurred during the spring festival of Liberalia) the child was officially adopted by the father and was formally recognized as the son and received full inheritance rights to the family’s estate.

In like measure, this status has changed for the Christian as well. The loving heavenly Father has set a date for the coming of age of His people, and “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. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” Indeed in the fullness of time, this took place through the incarnation, (active obedience), redeeming death, and resurrection of His preeminent Son, Jesus Christ (4:4–5).

The result of this wonderful act of love and mercy is that we receive adoption as God’s sons and become heirs of His kingdom (4:5–7). We should also remember that when we say sons, it refers to legal status and not gender. Similarly, when Scripture speaks of “Sons of Israel” this includes the whole nation of Israel. We have all become sons through the waters of Baptism.

On that day, you were no longer under the guardian or manager (The Law/Torah) but under grace. When faith came, that is when Jesus came our lot in life has been transformed to being sons of God and heirs of His grace. PAUSE.

Beloved in the Lord, today, happens to be my Baptismal birthday. 57 years ago Khairiah and Subhi Nour brought me to the Font at the Latin Parish in Haifa, Israel; and the priest spoke these words over me, “Nabil (‘Gabriel’ my baptismal name) I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” On that day I was given the robe of Christ’s righteousness that covered all of my sins. On that day, I was claimed by the heavenly Father as His very own child for time and for eternity.

You may not have been baptized today, but that doesn’t take away the joy that fills your heart as being God’s son. The text states: “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” You, too, have become sons of God with all of its blessings and joys.

Now, a word to the ladies of this congregation: Don’t be slighted about being called sons of God. To the contrary—cherish this wording big time. In our Western culture, we want to be identified as an individual. Some women want liberation. We don’t want to be like men. But to be called a “son of God” means God doesn’t make any difference between you and the men. You will be blessed just as every man is. You will receive the blessings of God on account of Christ. Oh, and by the way, you ladies are “sons of God” and we men are “the Bride of Christ.” Our gracious God honors who we are, and at the same time, goes beyond the male/female distinction as He says in Galatians 3:28, “neither male nor female, but one in Christ Jesus!”

As God’s Sons, you and I are privileged to receive a glorious inheritance that will not fade away or spoil but reserved in heaven for us because of the most excellent of Sons, the True Son of the Father, Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are heirs of our Father and His gracious fullness!

It is absolutely true, because of Christ (4:4–5), and “in Christ” (3:26–28), those who trust Christ’s saving work and are baptized, experience new freedom and the status of being heirs of God’s kingdom. “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (4:7). This is what it truly means to be “Abraham’s offspring” (3:29).

What marvelous news we receive today. By God’s grace we have all become sons of God. We are all recipients of His grace and mercy. We are all blessed beyond our expectations. Sin no longer clings to us, the Law no longer damns us, and death no longer holds us. PAUSE.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, Moses understood what it means to be a child of God and left his adopted family with all of its wealth and power. But today, you and I who were strangers, slaves of sin and held captives under the prison of the Law until Christ came, have received the freedom to call our heavenly Father “Abba!” that is Hebrew for “Daddy”, and because He is your Father, you all have become His sons. And one day, you will leave this poor tent you live in and live with Him in the Palace of heaven which He has prepared for you.

All of this is yours on account of Christ who called you in the waters of baptism to be His very own. Amen and Amen.

Now the peace…


Sunday, June 16, 2013

“It Takes A Man!” (2 Samuel 12:13a)

S-1369-4SAP/C 6/16/2013 Hymns: (O) #324 vv. 1-4; (S) #242; (C) #324 vv. 5-8

Texts: 2 Samuel 11:26-12:10, 13-14; Galatians 2:15-21; 3:10-14; Luke 7:36-8:3

Theme: “It Takes A Man!” (2 Samuel 12:13a)

Question: “Which man would you like to emulate?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for the fourth Sunday after Pentecost is from the O. T. lesson: “David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13a).


Saints in Christ, today we observe and celebrate Father’s Day. But what is it that makes a man, “A MAN”? In our twisted and warped world, many men get the wrong view of manhood. They think that if you really want to be a man, you should climb over anyone and everyone, mount the ladder of success, accumulate great wealth, drive the fancy car and have a big house. To be a man, means you have the right job, live in the right neighborhood and wear the right clothes. But that is the wrong view of manhood.

Sadly, many men are getting the wrong message. Often on TV and in movies fathers are always portrayed in a negative or stupid way. If you observe our culture and compare it to the Scriptures you will notice one important fact, we have lost the Biblical view of “manhood”. Many men have lost the responsibility to be the spiritual leaders in their homes. But when the Man-God Jesus Christ walked this earth He taught us saying, You will recognize them by their fruits” (Mt. 7:16). Certainly you will know them by their fruits. PAUSE.

You have heard this statement. Anyone can be a father but it takes a Real Man to be a dad.” Today, in the Old Testament lesson, we read of an encounter between the prophet Nathan (whose name means God gave), and King David about his improper behavior of seducing Bathsheba and killing her husband Uriah.

The Lord sent His prophet Nathan to stand before the king and tell him, what he has done was an abomination in God’s sight. Nathan knowing full well if he tells the king about his sin, he is putting his life on the line. None-the-less, he was inspired to be courageous, compassionate, and Christ-centered. In Christ never have we had a more courageous person.

David having been killed by the Law the Holy Spirit leads him to confess his sins to God. If you know Scripture well, you know that the sin that David committed as an adulterer and a murderer brought heavy pain to his heart. Sorrowing over what he had done, he was moved to write Psalm 51, a Psalm of confession of sins.

What we have in this encounter is a godly example of what a real man is—one who doesn’t pass the buck but owns up to his sins and says, “I have sinned! I have brought shame and dishonor upon my God! I am the one who disobeyed God and His Word! I am sorry!!!” That’s the kind of father our children needs. They need to know that we are not perfect, but sinners who have been made perfect through Christ our Savior.

Yes, we father’s are not perfect. So let us stop pretending we are. Let us stop pretending to be something we are not. Instead, in humility, may we be honest and declare that we sin often against our Savior, and we hurt our families and loved ones greatly. PAUSE.

Some of you here carry the wounds of abusive fathers: fathers who through verbal or emotional, maybe even physical abuse inflicted wounds that to this day you carry around, adversely affecting all your relationships. Perhaps even to this day you’re still trying to live up to his expectations, striving to please him, hoping that one day you’ll be the favored child that you never could be growing up.

Deep wounds come from many places—fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and even close friends. Some of you know what it is like to be wounded by your pastor. Good years were spent working together in ministry, building lives together, building the Lord’s church together, but you feel betrayed. Some of you are carrying around deep wounds that you’ve never gotten over. All it takes is for a name to come up and you get all knotted up inside. It may be some other spiritual leader. A brother or sister in the church shoots off at the mouth something that you offered in confidence, and your trust is broken.

As children of God we are taught to practice forgiveness—to forgive them and love them. It cannot be said more plainly than that. Regardless of how badly you’ve been hurt, and regardless of who has inflicted that hurt, our privilege and joy is to forgive them and love them.

I’m not suggesting that it is easy. It takes a big man to forgive someone, or perhaps I should say it takes a big person to forgive someone. Little people carry grudges. Little people allow themselves to be eaten away with bitterness, but the true giants in God’s eyes are those who can follow the example of Christ who spoke to those who pierced and crucified Him on Calvary’s cross, Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing” (Luke 23:34).

We, all, have much to learn from our Savior, the Man-God who forgives us our sins daily. Because we have tasted His love and forgiveness firsthand, we learn from Him and imitate His actions. It takes a man to forgive. It takes a man to humble himself before the Lord Almighty. But it takes a big man to acknowledge he has sinned and done evil in the sight of the Lord. PAUSE.

Indeed it takes a man not to pass the buck or blame someone else. In today’s text we heard of David, the king of Israel, that he had sinned against God. Once the Word of the Lord brought his sin to light, he confessed his sins. And Nathan, God’s mouth-piece spoke words of absolution and healing to that sinner. As soon as David confessed his sins, God forgave him and filled him with grace and peace.

It is important for us to know the value of confessing our sins. We learn much from this text in that God despises sin and will deal with sin. To be sure, there are temporal consequences for all of our sins; just as it was in David’s case. The son that Bathsheba was carrying died. But there are NO eternal consequences for sin. Christ has taken care of that. He is the Man who humbled Himself to the point of death—a death on a cross.

Real manhood is rooted in the Man Jesus Christ Paul tells us in 1 Tim. 2:5-6. His love moves us to be courageous and confess our sins. It moves us to lay down our lives for others. His love moves us to be compassionate. The Good Samaritan was courageous and compassionate. Christ is our Savior but also our Example par excellent in what a real man looks like. In the garden Adam had a failure in manhood as well as in faith and love.

God the Father sent His Son into the world so that we would see what a man is supposed to look like. And the Word became flesh… and the Word became a true man… let this mindset be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Christ’s love moves us to be real men and women of faith rooted and grounded in His Word. Paul speaks as a father in Christ. Every man may not be a biological father but we are all to grow into the full manhood of Christ. PAUSE.

There is a new slang today that says, “Man up!” Be a man. Micah 6:8 says: “What does God require of you O man, (hint—man up) but to walk humbly, show loving kindness, and compassion.” If any man is in Christ they are a real man as well as a new creature. The world says, “Man up!” and drink the right kind of beer drive the right kind of car, and dress outwardly the right kind of way. The Bible says, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” In Him Peter, James, John, and others became real men. They were around Jesus.

In John 19:5 we hear the words of the earthly king accusing and condemning Jesus saying, “Behold the Man!” Yes, behold Him led to the slaughter for you. Behold Him going the way of suffering and pain for you. Behold Him stripped naked for you. Behold Him hanging on the cross for you. Behold Him dying for you. And yes, behold Him rising from the grave for you. Because He who is King eternal was willing to be the Man God wanted Him to be, you and I receive grace upon grace, mercy and forgiveness is poured upon us. For sure it takes A Man—the Man Christ Jesus to save us and make us His people forever. Amen.

Now the peace…


Sunday, June 9, 2013

“Power at our Disposal!”

S-1368-3SAP/C 6/5/2013 Hymns: (O) #451; (S) #447; L.S. #332; #307; (C) #52

Texts: 1 Kings 17:17-24; Galatians 1:11-24; Luke 7:11-17

Theme: “Power at our Disposal!” (1 Corinthians 1:18-24)

Question: “How powerful are you?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for Armed Forces’ Sunday is from the Epistle lesson: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).


Saints in Christ, my credentials for preaching for Armed Forces’ Sunday are slim. As a life-long civilian, I have never known what it is like to wear the proud uniforms of the Army, Marines, Navy or the Air Force. The only uniform that I have ever worn is that of the scouts. I wore it proudly and served many years.

Today, I am not here to talk about my scout’s experience, but about the faithful men and women of every military branch who have served and who will serve in the future. To those of you who have served this great nation, I am grateful for your service and we as God’s people salute you. And for those of you who will serve in the future, we pray God’s blessings upon you and your family.

Today, we observe Armed Forces’ Sunday. On this day that we pray for and give thanks for the military might that is ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice to handle any hostility, we also rejoice in another power that is at our disposal 24/7/365. This power is God’s gift to help us fight the battle of faith and remain standing. And this power is the cross that changes lives and people and nations.

The text for our reflection and meditation is from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Church at Corinth: For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” Yes, there is power in that cross: Power to heal, forgive and bring peace, power to open the eyes of the blind, power to raise dead hearts, power to cause sinners to come to Jesus and bow before Him; and power to help us see that the message of the cross is indeed foolishness to the world.

Our nation has one of the most powerful military in the world. We have power to protect our security and American citizens anywhere. We have Special Forces, Elite Teams from our Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines who train for very important missions, like the one that took out Osama Bin Laden. In fact, there are standing plans in place right now that will allow for us to insert a mighty military force within hours anywhere on the planet! Indeed, we have many powerful armaments with a wide variety of force. The power of this force is indeed formidable! Aircraft carriers, B1 bombers, Raptors, Torpedoes and Drones. The military uses their power to send drones, shoot missiles, drop bombs. This power is one that can destroy any force that would seek to work harm to America or its friends. But no matter how powerful we are, we can’t win all of the wars, nor defeat every enemy that means us harm. No matter how many powerful weapons we have, they can’t always protect us from every harm.

However, there is a greater power that we have at our disposal. It is the power of the Gospel that St. Paul speaks about in the text. This is the power that is above every power, this is the power that has changed the sinner to be a child of the heavenly Father. This is the power of the cross and the empty tomb. And we should never be ashamed of this power, as Paul reminds us in Romans: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (1:16).

This is the power that is at our disposal—the Gospel at work in our lives. This is the power that changes Gentiles and Greeks alike. This is the power that destroys the enemy and opens the gates of heaven for us. Military might can only destroy and kill. The Power of the Gospel can kill and make alive! And when the Gospel makes you alive, that life lasts forever. The Gospel has the power to make an enemy a brother and bring peace to the ones in the midst of hostility and anger. PAUSE.

Just as our Commander in Chief has the power to send boots to the ground, or a Drone to destroy enemy combatant, so does our Heavenly Father has the power to destroy and put to death every enemy of ours. He sent the ultimate power dawned in human flesh as an infant. Though He appeared weak lying in a manger, yet He had power at His disposal to stem the tide of evil.

This is the glorious news for Christians to hear the message of hope and reconciliation through the power of the Gospel. His message to us is the power that our loving Heavenly Father has projected on a universal scale for all of humanity. This is the power that is found in Christ our Savior who died in our place. This is the power that destroyed the enemy Satan. This is the power that helps us overcome sin when we are tempted. This is the power that helps us see our need for a Savior.

Jesus Christ who is the Lord of the Armies of heaven projects His power both of grace and of judgment. In Christ Jesus, His love has targeted our human depravity and He has delivered to fallen man grace and upon grace; but at the same time, He has delivered the blow of death and defeat and destruction to Satan in a most astounding and unusual manner. The Father didn’t use a drone, which is an unmanned aircraft. No, this was a manned mission that involved real flesh and blood. The Father sent His Son to the cross to be crucified in our place. What looks like weakness and foolishness to the world is now the ultimate triumph of the human race. Christ crucified and resurrected is the power projection of God the Father. It is the crowning achievement of our salvation and the surpassing wisdom of God.

Today, on Armed Forces Sunday, we thank the Lord for the brave young men and women who defend our freedom at every cost. We support them with our prayers and in every manner that is possible. We want to do this, to help bring an end to the hostilities around the world; so that the wars in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan are not repeated.

All of this is reason enough to mark Armed Forces’ Day. But there is one more word to be said. Although there has always been in the Christian Church an honourable strand of tradition that is pacifist by belief and principle, most Christians have always believed that evil must be confronted, resisted and defeated. Be sober-minded; be watchful”, warned St Peter in his First Epistle, ‘Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world’ (1 Peter 5:8-9).

This battle against evil is one of the great motifs of the Christian story. But we live in an age in which the big stories are seldom told, the big picture seldom seen. The posh word for the forces which shape and mould the thinking of today is Post-Modernism, which (very briefly) believes that there is no big story worth telling, or big picture worth seeing. All that matters is me and my story, and you and your story. So all the old standards and values, rules and responsibilities, are devalued.

But you and I have a story to tell: A beautiful story—that the God of heaven the mighty, powerful and gracious Father has come to our aid. He sent His Son Jesus to do battle in our place. And the arena for this battle was on a tiny hill just outside of Jerusalem. The armaments were not Drones, B1 Bombers, Missiles or bullets; no they were soldiers, crown of thorns, hammer, nails and wooden beam in the shape of a cross. On it the battle raged for six full hours and then death came and the Lord of the Armies gave up His Spirit and was laid to rest in a borrowed tomb.

Satan and all his evil forces were dancing and celebrating in the victory parade. They were giving each other high five and laughing at the defeat of the Lord of the Armies of heaven. But that was Friday, and Sunday is coming. Sunday morning the One who was defeated and placed on a cold slap returned to life and all of the enemies took flight. And now, we, the Christians can sing the victory Hymn. Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross; lift high his royal banner, it must not suffer loss. From victory unto victory his army shall he lead, till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed (TLH 451: v1).

Today, we thank God for those who fight for us, every soldier from every branch, but above all for the Eternal Soldier Jesus Christ who gives us the power to live with Him forever; because of His victory. Amen.

Now the peace...


“Don’t Worry Be Happy” (Luke 12:22-23)

S-1367 TV Sermon 12SAP/C 08/11/2013 Hymns: (O) #761; (S) #735; (C) #515 LSB

Texts: Genesis 15:1-6; Hebrews 11:1-16; Luke 12:22-34

Theme: “Don’t Worry Be Happy” (Luke 12:22-23)

Question: “Are you anxious about life?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for 12th Sunday after Pentecost is from the Gospel lesson: And He said to His disciples, Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing” (Luke 12:22-23).


People of the Resurrection, in 1988 a song by Bobby McFerrin called Don’t Worry Be Happy made it to the number 1 pop chart. Listen to the Lyrics: But I am not singing it for you.

Here’s a little song I wrote. You might want to sing it note for note. Don’t worry, be happy. In every life we have some trouble. When you worry you make it double. Don’t worry, be happy. Don’t worry, be happy now. The theme verse is: Oo, oo-oo-oo, oo-oo-oo, oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo Don’t worry Be happy. Don’t worry, be happy.

Ain’t got no place to lay your head. Somebody came and took your bed. Don’t worry, be happy The landlord say your rent is late. He may have to litigate. Don’t worry, be happy. Look at me, I’m happy. The theme verse.

Give you my phone number. When you worry, call me, I make you happy. Don’t worry, be happy. Ain’t got no cash, ain’t got no style Ain’t got no gal to make you smile But don’t worry, be happy Cause when you worry, your face will frown And that will bring everybody down So don’t worry, be happy Don’t worry, be happy now. The theme verse.

Now there, is this song I wrote I hope you learned it note for note Like good little children Don’t worry, be happy Listen to what I say In your life expect some trouble When you worry you make it double. Don’t worry, be happy, be happy now. The theme verse.

Whoever wrote this song, must have read the text for this morning. This text clearly shows our hearts’ condition, in that, we limit God and don’t trust Him completely to provide us with all that we need. As a matter of fact we don’t often think that God can take care of us and thus we begin to worry, fret and spend lots of time and energy being anxious about so many things; that we neither have control over or the power to change the outcome.

If we are honest with ourselves and admit it, we must acknowledge that we ALL worry about tomorrow and what tomorrow may hold instead of remembering who holds tomorrow. We are concerned about the economy, the government, our retirement plans, the crops and the future. We lose sleep over so many things, that life becomes a burden rather than a blessing. PAUSE.

It wasn’t all that long ago there was a PowerBall jackpot that topped the $600 million mark. I also watched many people standing in line, both in person and on TV purchasing tickets. Why do they do that? Because they don’t trust God to take care of them! They want to win the lottery so that they can be comfortable in the future, but they forget that God IS the giver of all good gifts. How sad that many rush to buy a ticket instead of thanking the Lord for what He has given them.

Into this kind of challenge the Savior gives us counsel not to be consumed, and concerned about tomorrow, food and clothing. He tells us that our heavenly Father knows what we need and provides it for us. As the Psalmist reminds us: The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand; You satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Ps. 145:15-16). Yes, indeed, our heavenly Father provides all that we need for body and soul through Christ our Savior.

Jesus’ opened His hands and touched many while He walked this sin-infested and sin-polluted earth. But He provided the greatest and most blessed gift we need when He opened His hands and permitted others to nail Him to the cruel tree of the cross. He gave us what we don’t deserve His forgiveness and grace as He shed His blood on that cursed tree. And, and, He still opens His hands today to bless us with His Word and Sacrament. PAUSE.

Precious children of the heavenly Father, Christ our loving and gracious Savior, gives us great counsel, in that don’t let the things of this world overtake away the joy that is in your heart. Remember YOU ARE His precious child. He loves you. He will provide for you. He will protect you and He will take good care of you. We have His Word of promise spoken to us through the evangelist John: My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29).

Now that is an awesome and wonderful promise. As child of God He will take care of you, provide for you and protect so that your enemies sin, death and the grave will harm you none. In all of Scriptures we have absolutely gracious promises from God that can take away our worries if only we would remember who He is and what He has promised to do for us.

Here is another promise that soothes your hearts and makes you understand, you are not just simply a number, but a very precious child in His sight. Here is how Isaiah paints this glorious promise: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget YOU. Behold, I have engraved YOU on the palms of My hands; YOUR walls are continually before Me {emphases added} (Isaiah 49:15-16).

God is saying to you and me, don’t worry. I am Your God. I have created you. I will take care of you. I will give you the sun to warm your back. I will give you the rain to make your crops grow. I will give you friends to help you when down. I will give you doctors to heal you. I will give you my Son to be Your Redeemer and Savior. And this caring God provides and protects us even when the rain doesn’t come, when there is no sunshine, and the friends aren’t around and when the doctor states, “Sorry, there is nothing that we can do.” It is then, that you ought to by the power of the Holy Spirit remember His promises not to be anxious or worry about tomorrow.

But why then do we worry? Why are we so consumed with many issues that we are the most deprived sleep people in the world? Why do we take so many drugs to settles our stomachs? Why are we always looking for something different to make us happy? Because sin rules our hearts and minds and robs us of the joy that Christ offers us.

If only, we would remember how the Catechism answers every question: “We should fear, love and trust in God above else…” When we fear Him, love Him and trust Him we would admit that He is the One who will care for our every need, past, present and future. And He and He WILL. Look to the cross and you will know you can take Christ at His Word. Stand by the His empty tomb and you will know that you can take Christ at His Word. Visit with His disciples about His ministry and you will know that you can take Christ KEEPS every promise. Spend time in His Word and you will know that you can take Christ at His Word because He will not abandon you, forsake you or ignore you.

Yes, you can take Him at His Word and as you do, you see the mighty things He gives and does. Therefore, don’t worry. Instead by the power of the Holy Spirit rejoice and celebrate because You have a Savior who will provide you with all of your needs, protects you from every harm and blesses you beyond your wildest imagination.

Thanks be to God for such an Awesome, Amazing and Almighty God who is by our side today, tomorrow and forever. Amen.

Now the peace…


“The Greatest Funeral Ever!” (John 11:17-37)

This sermon was preached on the radio of our Synod and the web:

S-1366-2SAP/C 6/5/2013 Hymns: (O) #239; (S) #40; L.S. #246; #243; (C) #244

Texts: 1 Kings 8:22-24, 27, 41-43; Galatians 1:1-12; Luke 7:1-109

Theme: “The Greatest Funeral Ever!” (John 11:17-37)


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the Gospel of St. John the eleventh chapter: Jesus said to her, “I Am the resurrection and the life Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:17-37).


Precious children of the heavenly Father, the greatest funeral sermon I have ever heard in my 57 years of life has left a great impression upon my heart and head. This funeral sermon was not preached by me at my congregation or by a famous preacher ordained at the greatest seminaries during our time; rather it flowed from the lips of the Greatest Rabbi and Preacher who has ever walked the dusty roads of earth—Jesus Christ as He visited the little town of Bethany.

It is in the little village just near Jerusalem that this sermon was preached to bring comfort and consolation to those who lost a dear loved one. These words were spoken to the hopeless and helpless—two sisters Mary and Martha at the death of their brother Lazarus.

To these children of the heavenly Father, this Rabbi preaches words of hope and help and at the same time shows them heaven. Into the midst of sorrow He shares the joy of who He is and what He will do. He is the Resurrection and the Life. This Nazarene, Rabbi Jesus, doesn’t only speak these words to sooth their souls, but does something about it. He goes to the burial site and with a word states: “Lazarus come forth!” And Lazarus burst forth from the grave.

You can feel the pain and hurt that has been tugging at the heartstrings of these sisters. These sisters know that without their brother by their side to support and help them, life would be challenging to say the least. Lazarus, whose name means “God is my helper,” now needs help from someone stronger than they. And Jesus comes to the rescue and in the process fulfills the name of Lazarus by doing the impossible that only God can do—He raises him from the dead by the power of the Word. Jesus, with a word changes the life and history of these two needy sisters and Lazarus forever. By seeing their brother alive again, they have joy and peace once more in their hearts, because of what Jesus had done.

No wonder, these words “I Am the Resurrection and the Life” are etched on many tombstones around the world. Even the graves of my parents, in Israel, have these words engraved on them. These words have power. These words offer peace. And these words remind us of the presence of Christ in the midst of our sorrows, sadness and suffering. No wonder, many pastors, including me, use this portion of Scripture as a funeral text to bring comfort and joy to those who mourn. No wonder these verses are memorized by many people everywhere. PAUSE.

But this text is not spoken only to those who are near a freshly dug grave, or by a casket, but to us also who are dead in sins and trespasses; as we stand at the grave of gossip, the tomb of Temper and the sepulcher of selfishness; as we live to serve me, myself and I. To us, you and me, Jesus speaks these words to remind us again that in Baptism He has put to death our old life of sin and death and raised us from the hold and power of the grave. And one day He who is the Resurrection and the Life will raise our lowly bodies to be like His glorious bodies.

Today, the Holy Spirit uses these words of Jesus, “I Am the resurrection and the life” to let you know of His great love for you. That is, He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He has taken your sins away and overcame your chief enemies, the devil, death and the grave. And…and, the victory is yours now and forever.

Therefore we join Mary and Martha in thanking the Lord for giving us the certainty of our resurrection. Amen.

Now the peace of God…


Sunday, June 2, 2013

“Teach Me!” (Psalm 86:11)

S-1365-2SAP/C 6/2/2013 Hymns: (O) #400; (S) #333; (C) #338

Texts: 1 Kings 8:22-24, 27-29, 41-43; Galatians 1:1-12; Luke 7:1-10

Theme: “Teach Me!” (Psalm 86:11)

Question: “Who has taught you the most?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for this confirmation day is from the Introit: Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name (Psalm 86:11).


Children of the heavenly Father, today is a very special day for November as she will soon confess the faith planted in her heart by the power of the Holy Spirit in Baptism. It is a special day for Jarret and Shana (her parents), having watched her grow, mature, learn and now ready to receive the Life-Giving Sacrament of the Lord. It is a special day for her teachers and Pastor who have invested many hours training and TEACHING her the ways of the Lord; and it is a special day for this family of Redeemer, as another child of faith, receives what Christ has offered through His death and resurrection, in, with and under the bread and wine.

A long time ago, I came across one of the best known Chinese proverbs and have put it to memory. This is the proverb: “Give a man a fish; and you will feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish; and you will feed him for a lifetime.” This proverb has a wonderful correlation with our Christian faith, our Christian walk and our Christian relationship with our ONLY Savior, Jesus Christ.

For this reason, our Church body has set forth the privilege of teaching young and old the greatest story ever told—the story of our salvation and redemption through Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. This kind of teaching comes in all types and forms—Sunday School, Bible Classes, VBS and in Sermons. Teaching is part and parcel of the Great Commission the Savior asked His disciples to carry on after His resurrection and Ascension to His rightful place.

St. Matthew describes the Great Commission with these words: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (28:20). Through the rushing wind of the Holy Spirit the Disciples did just that! The Church continues to carry out the blessed task of making disciples. They baptize, they teach, and all the while the Kingdom grows! As the Kingdom grows, the name of Christ is exalted! PAUSE.

David, the once shepherd boy and great King of Israel for 40 years, wrote many Psalms. Psalms are hymns to be sung and memorized. In Psalm 86 David pours out his heart to His God and asks for specific instructions from Him. This is what David is asking the Lord: Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.

David is pleading, begging and asking the Teacher of all teachers, Jesus Christ to teach Him His Word. David is not content to simply hear the Word; he wants this Word to be an instrument in his life that will teach him more about His maker. David wants this Word to be part and parcel of who he is, so that he may walk in the truth and cause his heart to be united with His gracious and loving God.

David, even as king, realized he doesn’t know it all. He needed to be taught. He needed God’s Word to guide and guard him. He needs the Holy Spirit to teach him the precious truth that is found in Holy Scripture. He needs to reflect on this Word daily and live by it so that He may fear the Lord. Fearing God would bring him to a closer relationship with His Lord.

Even Dr. Martin Luther, the great theologian who wrote the Small and Large Catechisms stated, “Though he is a doctor of theology, he still studies the Catechism daily.” He studies the Catechism, so that he can learn what the Word of God says and live by it. As you have studied the Catechism November, a book of questions and answers, you will see two main themes: 1. what does this mean? And 2, the answer always begins with; “We should fear, love and trust in God…”

To fear God is to trust Him completely so that you may walk in His ways that leads to eternal life. For the past two years November, you have been taught this truth. Now, I pray that which you have been taught will be part of your daily life to guide you and direct your path so that you make a difference in your life and others.

I exhort you to continue to be taught by coming to the Lord’s house, hear, meditate and study this Word. Let this Word, be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path. David, in another psalm stated: “Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies” (Psalm 27:11).

Yes, teach me O Lord, for without You I have no life. You are the Teacher and Master of my life. Let every day be an opportunity for me to grow in Your grace, love and compassion. Let every day be a privilege for me to study Your Word and hide it in my heart. I pray that the Holy Spirit will teach you as you are brought here to learn who this God is and what He has done to save YOU. PAUSE.

Study the life of Jesus and you will see Him at a very young age, being in the Synagogue learning and studying the Word. He found pleasure in being in His Father’s house. And when He began His earthly ministry He always taught the disciples. He always showed them the truth—Himself. He always demonstrated to them, what it means to be a humble servant relying only on God for everything in life and in death.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus taught us the truth of being a servant-a servant to the point of death. He was willing to serve all people, even those who choose not to be taught, that He would love them and give His life for them, so that they may know His teachings, live according to them and be His followers.

Today, in this place, we thank God for all of the faithful Pastors, teachers, parents, godparents, and grandparents who have invested in our lives to teach us the sweet, precious and pure Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am thankful for this congregation that for over 73 years have taught this message and will continue to teach it for years to come, until the Teacher returns to earth to take us with Him to heaven.

November, here, you will continue to grow, learn and see the love of Jesus as you gather with your brothers and sisters in Christ. November, here, you will be fed, nurtured, nourished and equipped to serve in humility and love. November, in this place you will give of yourself as Christ gave us His all to save us from the power of hell, death and the grave. PAUSE.

I am so thankful for David’s words of asking the Lord to teach him. So thankful that he was moved by the Holy Spirit to write this Psalm down for our benefits. So thankful that you have been taught the truth that sets you free and draws you closer to Him who suffered, was crucified, died and rose for you to give you life eternal.

The next few verses of this Psalm are these: “I give thanks to You, O Lord My God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify Your name forever. For great is Your steadfast love toward me; You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol” (Ps. 86:12-13). David’s prayer is to be taught to bring glory and honor to the Lord because he has been delivered from the hand of the enemy.

You, too, all of you, have been delivered from your greatest enemies—sin, death and the devil. Therefore, like David, we cry let us by the power of the Holy Spirit honor You dear Savior in our words and in our actions. PAUSE.

November, I want you to come up here and take this cross I made for you. Place it in your room as a constant reminder of Your Teacher Jesus Christ. This is called “The Cross of nails.” Notice everything is in sets of threes for the Trinity that created, redeemed and sanctified you—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There are 6 sets of 3 nails, they are woven with 3 strand wires, and have 3 golden markings on it. And right in the center, you will see the gold circle to remind you of the crown that awaits those who remain faithful to the end. This cross is a teaching tool, to teach you who you are and whose you are. YOU BELONG TO Him who died and rose for you. He is Your Teacher for life. Hear, study and live by His Word and your life will be blessed beyond measure.

May the Lord continue to teach us all His Word that leads to eternal life, now and forever. Amen.

Now the peace of God...