Sunday, July 28, 2013

“Paid in Full!” (Colossians 2:13-15)

S-1374-10SAP/C 7/28/2013 Hymns: (O) #3; (S) #32; LS 199; #315; (C) #46

Texts: Genesis 18:20-33; Colossians 2:6-15; Luke 11:1-13

Theme: “Paid in Full!” (Colossians 2:13-15)

Question: “How much debt do you have?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the Epistle lesson: And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him (Colossians 2:13-15).

INTRODUCTION: In Nomine Iesu.

Precious children of the heavenly Father, it is not often that we hear good news. God knows we want to. Most often the news on the local, state, nation and the world is depressing. Overall, the news is neither good or makes us feel joyful.

And so also is the news about the state of affairs in the US—the economy and debt. Did you know beloved that the USA has the highest debt per/capita in the world? Here are the debt profiles according to the Federal Reserve statistics:

Average credit card debt: $15,325,

Average mortgage debt: $147,924,

Average student loan debt: $32,041

70% of American households are in debt.

And our Synod’s debt is $17 Million

It is so difficult to function when you are in debt. You are always trying to live from pay-check to pay-check, not sure how you will make ends meet. It is like a ball in chains tied to your foot, you can hardly move.

Many people live with enormous debts that choke their lives and cause them to always be depressed. Whether you are a farmer, home owner, a student or a minister of the Gospel you are not immune from debt. Many of our seminarians come out with heavy debt load. On the average each seminarian owes $70 - $80k in student loans. PAUSE.

Last year one of our seminarians was called to be a pastor in the BELOVED SD District. He had close to $50.000 in student loans. One of his saints found that out and paid the debt in full. This minister was thankful and joyful. He is now debt free because someone cared enough and was generous to pay the full debt. With that freedom, this new pastor is NOW busy with the work of the kingdom with joy and fervor.

Today, that joy is magnified a trillion times, and our freedom increased as the Apostle Paul tells us that our Lord Jesus Christ on a far grander scale has paid the debt of our sin in full and cancelled the record of sin against us that we owe to God.

You may not have any debts and you are comfortable financially. But you have a huge debt that you owe God—it is the debt of sin. Sin is like a ball in chains that drags us down. We sin daily against the Ten Commandments and every other command that God has given us. And because of sin, there is payment that needs to be made to the Eternal Judge—God.

Every one of us Pastor and people are guilty of sinning against God and His holy Word. Every one of us Pastor and people are responsible of not doing the will of God. Every one of us pastor and people, are not doing our share to meet our church’s budget; as of today we are about $6k below meeting our responsibilities to get the Gospel out. Indeed by willful arrogance and pride we carry the heavy load of sin around our hearts, and like Paul and others before us we cry out, “O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 8:24). PAUSE.

The sad reality of it is that someday we must face the debt collector Himself. You and I will stand in the presence of our Holy God, and hear Him say to us, “Pay up what you owe me for your life of sin!”

God’s commandments are like that collection agency. They tell me that I owe God for what I have or haven’t done. The plain word for this debt is SIN. How can I get a holy God, to whom I owe so much, off my back? I can’t! When I try to scratch together the works in my life as payment for my sins, God labels them for what they really are—counterfeit, trash and worthless. When I try to tear up the demanding letters from His commandments, they only keep coming stronger and stronger. “Pay up or else,” they demand. And I’m afraid that for me, the sinner, the “or else” means hell. But how can I pay my debt of sin to a Holy God?

Some Bible teaching pastors tell you, you have to do something to earn God’s father. The Catholic Pope would have you believe you can do so with indulgences. Just recently through the social media of Tweets, Pope Francis offered indulgences to reduce the time Catholics believe they will have to spend in purgatory after they have confessed and been absolved of their sins.

The truth of the matter is we can’t pay it back. Neither can we do so with our labor of love for the sake of the Kingdom, nor by buying indulgences, or any other means. There is only One who could and would. Christ the heaven-sent Savior. Indeed, He was willing to pay our full debt, through His suffering, death and glorious resurrection.

That is the good news that Paul shares with you today beloved. Listen to Paul as he shares the most glorious news. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Christ paid the debt we owe in full. He did it as He ascended to Calvary’s Hill, as He ascended the cross, as He ascended out of the tomb, as He ascended to the right side of God—has PAID IT IN FULL. Is there any better news to hear? No! NEVER! PAUSE.

Sin’s debt is real. So is the forgiveness God has prepared in Jesus. On Calvary, Jesus took my sins and nailed them to His cross. They hung there with Him. They hung there on Him. Because He was God’s own Son, He could take care of them. With the crimson ink of His precious blood, He wrote across my bill of debt, “PAID IN FULL.”

For the believer, instead of the damming letters from a collection agency comes a love letter from God saying: “I have forgiven you all your sins! My Son has paid for all of your sins! The debt of sin has been cancelled. The debt of sin is no longer held against you. Now you are free to move around with joy and do the work of the Kingdom.” Therefore, as the newly ordained pastor was given the freedom to serve His saints, now you and I are privileged and honored to go out into the world and share the love of Jesus Christ, share His Gospel message and tell them you no longer have any debt, it has been paid in full. Amen.

SOLI DEO GLORIA

Now the peace…

Friday, July 26, 2013

Convention Updates

http://blogs.lcms.org/2013/convention-elects-ranks-regional-vice-presidents

http://blogs.lcms.org/2013/convention-elects-nazareth-native-fifth-vice-president

YOU ARE INVITED TO JOIN OUR 16TH ANNUAL BIKE FOR LIFE RIDE

16 ANNIVERSARY OF THE BIKE FOR LIFE RIDE

clip_image002This year, will be the 16th anniversary for Bike For Life. This is done to save unborn babies. The funds that are raised will be used to continue the upkeep of the Ultra Sound Machine at the Alpha Center in Sioux Falls and to help LFL in educating and informing people about life issues from before birth to end-of-life issues. The date is September 14th.

My challenge for SD this year is that we would surpass the amount raised last year. Last year we raised over $18,200.00. May the Lord bless our efforts once again. For your information about this worthy cause; ever since LFL placed the Ultra Sound Machine at the Alpha Center in 1998, we know for a fact that over a 3000 babies have been saved and over $100.000.00 raised. S. D. G. TO GOD ALONE BE ALL THE GLORY.

I invite everyone to join us in this worthy cause. If you would like to ride, the ride begins at Armour, registration is @ 6:30 and we leave at 7:00 a.m sharp. All along we have different places where we stop for refreshments and rest. If you can’t ride the whole 100 miles, you may ride a portion of the journey. If you can’t either ride or donate money, please keep us in your prayers for safe travel and a good weather; and cheer the riders as they come by your town.

If you would like to pledge any amount of money, please make checks out to:

South Eastern, South Dakota Lutherans For Life or SESDLFL ear mark the check for Bike-A-Thon.

C/O Joyce Ellis

PO Box 467
Menno, SD 57045

For more information and to register visit our website: www.bikeforlifesd.org you can also donate on line through a secure means.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

“Love Knows No Limit!” (Luke 10:25-37)

S-1373-8SAP/C 7/14/2013 Hymns: (O) #63 SOD; (S) #245; LS #392 LSB, #345; (C) #403 vv 1, 4

Texts: Leviticus 19:9-18; Colossians 1:1-14; Luke 10:25-37

Theme: “Love Knows No Limit!” (Luke 10:25-37)

Question: “To whom do you express love?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the Gospel lesson: Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise (Luke 10:36-37).

INTRODUCTION: In Nomine Iesu.

Beautiful people of God, I once saw A Peanuts cartoon showing Lucy standing with her arms folded and a stern expression on her face. Charlie Brown pleads, “Lucy, you must be more loving. This world really needs love. You have to let yourself love to make this world a better place.” Lucy angrily whirls around and knocks Charlie Brown to the ground. She screams at him, “Look, Blockhead, the world I love. Its people I can’t stand!”

I’m sure we all feel that way from time to time, and some of us feel that way most of the time. Maybe you feel that way right now. Loving the world in general isn’t that difficult; loving the people around us can be a major challenge. Yet, the Gospel account before us today challenges us to look with different eyes at the people around us. In this story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus bluntly and boldly tells us that in order for us to be like Him, our compassion should flow and our love should have no limits.

But how challenging is that for us saints in Christ? To be truthful, we do not always love. We do not always reveal the love of Christ in word and deed to others. Oh, yes, we love. But we only love those who reciprocate that love. We don’t love the unlovable. We don’t love the intolerant. We don’t love the obstinate. And we certainly don’t love the people who don’t love us. Even the people closest to you hurt you, like your spouse, family and close friends. When this happens it becomes difficult to demonstrate love even to those dearest to you! PAUSE.

This was evident in a couple of events recently. On Sunday, June 23 the Syrian priest Fran├žois Murad along with 2 other believers in Jesus Christ were beheaded by Muslims in Syria. And in Egypt on the 6th of July, a Coptic priest, Mina Abud Sharween was shot and killed while walking in El Arish. These people had love only for their own kind—Muslims. These people have not known the love of Jesus. These people have not seen the love of Jesus in action. They have not hungered for His grace and forgiveness. But you have. And Christ asks you, ALL of you, to show His love to the world not to make it a better place, but to make His name known to many so that as we are privileged to do, the Holy Spirit brings about a change in their hearts and lives. The Savior through this Gospel story teaches us that indeed His love to the world knows no limit; but there is in unexpected cost to love.

The unexpected cost to love is demonstrated in this very familiar story we call the “Good Samaritan.” The action of the Samaritan in the story that comes from the lips of our Savior, and Master Teacher, is none other than the Gospel itself! Our Savior, through this story, is conveying to us the supremacy of love and compassion in the New Covenant over the legalism of the Old Covenant which emphasized ritual purity. It was not that God’s Torah, even the Mosaic covenant, was flawed or imperfect, but it was imperfect humans’ interpretation of it, as evidenced in the Jewish Levite and Jewish priest who did not want to get near the bloody half-dead man for fear of being ritually impure. What our Lord Jesus is teaching us through this story, empowered by God’s Spirit, is that God’s pure love in us will not lead us wrong or amiss. Love and compassion is greater than the externally fulfilling the requirements of the Law of God in the Old Testament.

Certainly there is a cost to love. The Samaritan, who was hated by the Jews because he was considered half breed and worthless, demonstrated this love by doing the unthinkable—he had compassion on the one who hated him, cared for him and paid for his hotel stay and any other expenses.

This parable is not about how to take care of the injured. It is not about taking on someone else’s burden. It is not about being a “good” neighbor.” The point of the story is the need for compassion, the need for gut-wrenching identification with another. Becoming a neighbor begins with compassionate identification that ultimately is carried out in love. PAUSE.

Did you know beloved in the Lord that the word “Compassion” in the New Testament is always used in reference to Jesus as He has compassion on people, except in this story of the Samaritan who carries out the unexpected love? But why does Jesus, the Savior and Master Teacher uses this word in this parable? Because, after all, this story is not about the Samaritan but about Jesus Himself; the One who gives the unexpected love.

After the failure of the listeners’ religious leaders the Agent of salvation breaks in from outside. Jesus is talking about himself. The Good Samaritan offers a costly demonstration of unexpected love. He risks his life by transporting a wounded Jew into a Jewish town and spending the night there. The wounded man neither can nor will ever be the same again. The Samaritan demonstrates costly love and Jesus is thereby a part of the meaning of His own passion.

The problem for us though, is that we don’t understand nor have a concept of what God’s love truly is—unconditional, unmerited and unearned. We don’t always treat other brothers and sisters as Christians with the kind of love we have received from God. We pray that the LCMS body and this blessed congregation would be Christ-centered, cross-focused, and loving as Christ loved us.

Love knows no limit to its endurance, to its age, language, time or status. Love knows no end to its trust, no stopping to its giving, no fading to its hope and no emptiness to its fulfilling. Love still stands when all else has fallen. Because love is Christ in action! We behold this love expressed, demonstrated and conveyed in the way the Samaritan showed love to the ones who hated him.

This story exhorts us to show love to others especially the ones who do not love us or believe in the same Savior. Because that is what Jesus has done for us and them. You have heard that you have a loving and compassionate Savior. You have been taught that the God of the universe knows you, loves you, and has rescued you from hopeless anonymity and aimlessness. Jesus took your pain and confusion; He carried the heavy load to the cross, and has His eternal, abundant life in store for you right now!

This is the Cost of Unexpected love demonstrated by Jesus to all people young and old. That is what John in His Gospel has taught: “For God so loved the WORLD…” (3:16).You see, Jesus didn’t die for the few, the proud and the chosen. He died for all. He wants all people—people of every nation, tribe, culture, and language—to be saved. Christ came to earth not just for some but for all. Jesus didn’t preach only to some. He didn’t die for some. He didn’t rise for a select group. Paul writes, “So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law” (Galatians 4:3-5). THAT IS ALL PEOPLE. THAT IS LOVE THAT KNOWS NO LIMITS. PAUSE.

Recently, I heard a story of a young boy and an alligator. The Animal had a hold of him. His father had a hold of the boy’s arms trying to save him. In the hospital the boy was asked to show his scars from the attack. He showed where the alligator had a hold of him. Then he said, “Look at my arms! This is where my Dad gripped me, and would not let go!” On his arms were deep gouges and severe bruises from his Dad keeping hold. That my dear friend is love that knows no limits.

The heavenly Father sent His Son to heal us, anoint us with His Spirit and pay for our salvation with His own precious blood. And because we have tasted this love, we want to do what the Samaritan has done—show compassion and love to others. After all, there are people in this world, and they need to see in us His love. Amen.

Now the peace…

SOLI DEO GLORIA

Sunday, July 7, 2013

“Knowing His Hands!” (Isaiah 66:14)

S-1372-7SAP/C 7/07/2013 Hymns: (O) #535; (S) #739 LSB; (C) # 32

Texts: Isaiah 66:10-14; Galatians 6:1-10, 14-18; Luke 10:1-20

Theme: “Knowing His Hands!” (Isaiah 66:14)

Question: “How would you describe your hands?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the O. T. lesson: “You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bones shall flourish like the grass; and the hand of the LORD shall be known to His servants, and He shall show His indignation against His enemies (Luke 9:59-60).

INTRODUCTION: In Nomine Iesu.

Saints in Christ Celebrity Chef Paula Deen has used her hands to cook great recipes for many years. The use of her hands has brought her fame and fortune and had a great following on the Food Channel Network. Big name retailers where her sponsors: Walmart, Walgreen, Target, J.C. Penny’s, Home Depo and others. But all of that fame came crumbling down last week, not because she was using her hands to create something tasty, but supposedly because she said something racial some 29 years ago. The cooking queen was ousted and dynasty declining.

When the world’s hands are against you, you feel oppressed, overwhelmed and overburdened. Paula Deen is feeling that way now because it appears that the whole world is against her.

But so did the Israelites because of their disobedience to God, His hands were heavy upon them. Isaiah in his book often tells us, that in the time of calamity, Israel’s “bones” have been “consumed” (Psalm 31:10), and “waxed old” (Psalm 32:3), and “burned with heat” (Job 30:30).

And that is precisely what happened to Israel—God’s chosen people, the dynasty came crumbling down. At one point they ruled the Middle East; they had peace and harmony among themselves and neighboring people. But they forsook the God who delivered them with mighty hands and outstretched arms. They had turned to false gods, they had tried to rely on themselves to get through difficult times, they had trusted in alliances with other nations and kings, rather than relying on God, or calling out to the Almighty when things got rough for them. And now they had only fear, misery and uncertainty about the future (just like Paula Deen) to show for it. And this is where prophet Isaiah come in his final chapter.

The prophet turns to those that trembled at God’s word, to comfort and encourage them. The Lord will appear, to the joy of the humble believer, and to the confusion of hypocrites and persecutors. When the Spirit was poured out, and the gospel went forth from Zion, multitudes were converted in a little time. The word of God, especially His promises, and ordinances, are the consolations of the church. The true joy of all Christians is increased by every convert brought to Christ. The gospel brings with it, wherever it is believed by the power of the Spirit at work in people’s hearts its power, such a river of peace, as will carry us to the ocean of boundless and endless bliss. Divine comforts reach the inward man; the joy of the Lord will be the strength of the believer. Both God’s mercy and justice shall be manifested, and forever magnified.

The words of Isaiah emphasize that His servants will get to know the Lord’s gracious and merciful hands. They will intimately see the Lord working out their salvation and brings about rejoicing to their hearts, homes and country.

The message of Isaiah in chapter 66 is a time of enjoyment and refreshment from the Lord. New life shall enter them, and health and growth shall follow. The nation shall be rejuvenated, and “flourish” in more than its pristine strength. The hand of the Lord shall be known; or recognized, both in this merciful treatment of His servants, and also in the indignation with which He will visit His enemies.

Knowing His hands help you see today, that these hands haven’t been idle, but busy working our salvation. You get to know His hands in the acts of Creation, Redemption and Sanctification. These acts carried out by our loving and gracious God reminds us of the goodness of the Lord.

He uses His arms to embrace us when we are burdened, His fingers to hold us when we are distraught and His hands to catch us when we are falling. His hands are hands of mercy and hands of compassion. PAUSE.

Indeed, our God is merciful and compassionate but He is also the eternal and just judge. He can’t cover up sin or look the other way. That is why the author of the book of Hebrews said: “For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’” (Hebrews 10:30-31).

Thank God that we who believe in this gracious God, don’t fall into His hands of vengeance, instead we are gently and firmly held in His Hands of grace on account of His Son, Jesus. Jesus made sure that the people of His day and ours get to know His hands. He showered them with blessings. He touched them, restored and revived them. He witnessed to the world that His hands are strong not only to heal and restore the dead, but to carry the sins of the entire world. He did that on a tortures instrument of death so that we may have life abundantly.

If you were to visit heaven today, you will notice the only manmade things in heaven are the scars in the hands of Jesus, the wounds in His feet, the hole in His side.

Normally, when we go somewhere on a vacation many times we bring back a souvenir. Jesus visited this planet and He brought back as a souvenir, not something cheap and not something temporary, but something eternal and bought at a fearful price—His life.

Those holes in His hands show and demonstrate the enormity of His love for us sinner. Those hands were not weak; on the contrary they were strong to save and still are working to save others sinners who are still outside His fold held as prisoners in the hands of Satan. PAUSE.

O precious children of the loving Savior, often we don’t think of God’s hands or His grace that we need until we are in trouble or going through turmoil. Only then we cry out to God to touch us with His pierced hands and help us from the burdens of life.

The burdens of life are many and can overwhelm us at times. They can cause us either to run away from God or to run to His wide open arms. That is precisely, what happened to Robert Wayne Borders. Robert’s mother died unexpectedly when he was 4 years old. He was raised with other family members. His family was very abusive and soon he began to use and sell cocaine and heroin. He supported his $1500.00 p/week addiction, through armed robbery, kidnapping, exhortation, and black mail. He was into satanic worship and attempted many times to kill himself. He attempted to kill someone and got caught. Was sent to jail for 5 years. During his prison stay, someone shared with him the love of Jesus. Eventually he repented of his sins and confessed the faith and now serves as a youth pastor and helps drug addicts get out of their situation.

Robert states that: “The most important lesson he learned was that he was in the hands of the God of the impossible. And this God loves him!”

Today, in this house of worship you need to know and learn the most important lesson as well. You are loved. You are in His hands now and forever. You know His hands intimately as they feed you His body and blood. As you are caressed, cared for and comforted. You know His hands they are still working in you the gift of eternal life. PAUSE.

Precious children of the heavenly Father, Paula Deen’s dynasty may return or it may continue to crumble, but thanks to the Hands of the Savior, His dynasty will never be destroyed or demolished. On the contrary it will live forever here on earth and forever in eternity.

Thanks be to God for making it possible for us to know His hands now and one day we get to hold those loving and pierced hands and be comforted and blessed forever. Amen.

Now the peace of God…

SOLI DEO GLORIA