Sunday, August 25, 2013

“A Glorious Gathering!” (Isaiah 66:20-23)

S-1378-14SAP/C 8/25/2013 Hymns: (O) #415 vv 1-3; (S) #415 vv 4-7; L.S. #469; #158; (C) #52

Texts: Isaiah 66:18-23; Hebrews 12:4-24; Luke 13:22-30

Theme: “A Glorious Gathering!” (Isaiah 66:20-23)

Question: “Have you been to a gathering and didn’t want to leave?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the O. T. lesson: “And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord. For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon,
and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the Lord’” (Isaiah 66:20-23).


Beloved in Christ, what joy and privilege to be among you today. I am honored to be among ROYALTY! You are sons and daughters of the King of the Universe and the Creator of the world; yes you are princess and princesses and heirs to the highest throne in the land—the great God who loves us and serves us still.

With the words of the text before us Isaiah closes his book. In this final chapter, this great prophet of God highlights the contrasts, twists, and unexpected events that the God of heaven is about to do His chosen people—Israel, and even the Goyeem (Gentiles). Isaiah paints a profound picture of the end time and how all people from every corner of the globe shall gather in Jerusalem to worship God, bow before Him and praise His holy name. And what a glorious gathering that will be. PAUSE.

But not all gatherings are glorious. In the broken world we live in is obvious. On one continent—Africa, you have heard and watched the news coming out of Egypt. You have seen the gathering of death and destruction as people are killing each other. They are not fighting for the sake of Egypt; they are fighting for the sake of Islam. And if that is not enough, The American Muslim Political Action Committee is hosting what it hopes will be a gathering of one million people in Washington, D.C., on the 12th anniversary of 9/11 to urge the government to reveal “the truth” about the attacks. Light PAUSE.

But on another continent—North America, on July 20-25 of 2013 another gathering was held at the St. Louis convention. In this place, people from all over the world gathered in the name of the Triune God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit to worship, praise and adore His name. At that gathering people were not discussing how to destroy life, but to save it. Here they were not only concerned about the body, but more importantly about the soul; so that it doesn’t burn in hell forever. This gathering was for the wellbeing of every child born in this world.

At this gathering songs of praise were offered, confessions of sin were uttered and absolution given. At this gathering love was the motivation to serve others in the name of the crucified and risen Christ. At this gathering the goal was not to defend Christianity, but to promote the joy the Gospel of Christ brings to sinners burdened by guilty conscience and the peace that reigns in our hearts. With humility, mercy and life together as believers, the gathering painted a picture of what Isaiah declared God would do.

What a gathering it was in St. Louis. You didn’t want to leave, because it was just a little bit of heaven here on earth. People came to this place, by bus, car, motorcycle, plain and train. They came because they loved their Lord and wanted to hear of His grace and mercy given to all people everywhere. They came because they were hungry for the truth and wanted the truth of the Gospel to spread to the ends of the world. PAUSE.

And that is precisely what Isaiah is telling us in the text before us today. Isaiah doesn’t paint man as the doer, but the gracious God who will do these things because He is a God of love who desires all people to be with Him. It is for this reason that God sent His Son to this earth—to suffer the humiliation of the cross, be crucified upon the cursed tree, put in a cold dark slab of death for 3 days and then rise again to gather people from every continent and corner in the world to worship and adore Him, not only for an hour on Sunday morning but forever and ever.

Even the great preacher and missionary to the Goyeem (Gentiles), Paul, in his letter to the church at Philippi stated a time is coming when this will take place: “Therefore God has highly exalted Him [Jesus] and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).

Here it is royal children of the heavenly Father; the whole purpose of this gathering is to show the glory of God. The glory of God that was revealed to the people of Israel on so many different levels: It was manifested at the Tabernacle, at the splitting of the Red Sea, in the wilderness of Sinai and as they entered the Promised Land.

This is the glory that John spoke about in his gospel stating: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The glory of God was revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The glory is revealed as we gather in this holy house week in and week out to be fed with His heavenly manna and receive the blessings He has in store for us.

For this reason, Isaiah exhorts us to remember what God is about to do. God is the Active Agent in bringing this gathering together. He will forgive them their sins and calls them to worship Him on His holy mountain—Jerusalem.

And that is where you come in. Now, you and I as the Royal sons and daughters of the King of kings and Lord of lords ought to be busy declaring the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. We ought to be concerned in sharing the story of salvation of Christ earning our life through the brutal torture of the cross and the empty tomb.

We should be busy, first, in weeping over our sins because we have not heard the call of Christ to go in His name to the ends of the earth, and second, for not taking the life of unbelievers seriously that without Christ their life is going to be spent in the fires of hell forever.

Instead, by the power of the Holy Spirit, may we be fervent, active and zealous in offering our bodies as living sacrifices in the service of the Master. May we be faithful in caring and sharing the Good news of what Christ has accomplished for us, so that others might receive and taste be the sweet Gospel of Christ our Savior.

Today, in this place you, who are ROYALTY, remember what God has called you to be and do—His missionaries and ambassadors to the world. Therefore, having been gathered in His name, received His grace, and anointed by His love, leave with joy and share that blessed joy with those who don’t know Him yet, so that we can truly say, “What a glorious gathering this is!” Amen and Amen.

Now the peace…


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

“I Have Good News For You!” (Isaiah 52:7)

S-1377-13SAP/C 8/18/2013 Hymns: all from LSB(O) #578 v1-4; #578 v5-6; (S) #953; #LS.#629; #589; #680; #784; #655; 632; (C) #660

Texts: Isaiah 55:1-11; Ephesians 3:14-21; John 17:13-19

Theme: “I Have Good News For You!” (Isaiah 52:7)

20th anniversary in the ministry of, Rev. Dr. Jeffery Nehrt in Greenville, IL

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for this special day of celebration and thanksigivng is from the Prophet Isaiah: I will translate it from the Hebrew. “How beautiful upon the mountains, are the feet of a herald, making known peace, announcing good [news], making known salvation, saying to Zion, “Your God has become King! (Isaiah 52:7).


Saints in Christ, you the members of Our Redeemer, Becky, family and friends from the community, but above all, you, my dear brother Jeff. It is a great honor and privilege for me to be with you today and celebrate this special event the Lord has given you to be His servant and His herald of God’s Good News.

What I am about to say, I am going to speak to my brother Jeff only. However, if you folks choose to eaves drop you may do so. PAUSE.

A dear friend, the Rev. Dr. Reed Lessing in his newest commentary writes: “Located on the front of the historic Trinity Church in Boston are the sculptures of six men. At the center are four Gospel writers who are flanked on the right by St. Paul and on the left by Isaiah. Isaiah’s presence in this distinguished “cloud of witnesses” speaks volumes about his importance for the church. He is the theologian par excellance in the OT and his chief doctrine comes from his name, “Isaiah,” which means, “Yahweh is deliverance.” For sheer grandeur, majesty, and supreme artistry no book in the OT even comes close to Isaiah. “Rarely have ‘inspiration’ in the poetic and the theological senses been wed so beautifully.”[1] The prophet’s saving message, soaring language, and unforgettable imagery are tightly woven into the fabric of Christian hymnody, liturgy, and devotional literature.

It is for this reason; I have chosen a beautiful text from this wonderful book of Isaiah that is often used during the Christmas season to speak of God’s Good News to you in a bad news world. God has called you for this office for a reason dear brother, not to take it easy, sit in your chair and smoke a cigar and have a cold one, but for the purpose of doing the work of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Jeff, I can vouch that you are not a sluff. I have known you from our earliest days at the seminary when we started Greek Boot Camp. It was during that time that our souls were joined together as we studied for almost 14 hours a day learning Greek to be the best Pastors we could be. Then, the time came to write our first sermon. Rev. Schmelder told us, “Brothers, you have till 8 a.m. on Monday morning to have the sermon on my desk. If it is one moment late, you will flunk the course!”

We all started working. We worked hard to write the master piece of Good News to give to our professor and someday preach at our Field Work Church. On that Sunday before the due date I called you and asked, “How are you coming?” Your response I am doing my research! Wow! What good stuff Walther has to say.” I told you that I was working on mine.

Then at 11 at night I called you again to check if you were done. To my amazement you said you are still researching for your sermon. I said, “Jeff, I am done with my sermon, I will come over to help you. It is time to stop researching and time to write.” When I came over, I said, “I will type what you tell me.” Finally @ 6 in the morning, the sermon was done. And you wanted to take me out for breakfast and we went to eat at Del Taco restaurant and had egg burritos at that hour. If you can envision having burritos for breakfast! That didn’t sit well with me. However, by the grace of God, the good news, we completed the task at hand and handed the sermons in. What a night and what a time it was for us both. PAUSE.

Fast forward now to this little bit of heaven where God called you to be the under-shepherd and Seelsorger of His flock at Our Redeemer Lutheran in Greenville, IL; twenty years have passed, and now we are focusing on the grace of God in your life as He used you in this place.

What a gift You have been and continue to be as you to do the work of the Lord for the benefits of the saints. Think of it dear brother, 20 years of being God’s mouth-piece. 20 years of hearing the burdens and heartaches of your beloved people, and their confession; and you with the oil of gladness have absolved them their sins in the name of Christ our Savior.

Twenty blessed years of sharing the Words of Institution and brought on a platter God’s grace and God’s forgiveness because this is Christ Himself, Body and Blood; in, with, and under the elements for these saints to eat and drink. Twenty year of hearing and sharing the eternal promise, Baptism now saves you” And “Do you know that all of you have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into His Resurrection” (Rom. 6:4). Twenty years of hearing and sharing not only with them and for them, but for you as well my dear brother—You bear His name and His mark!

In the Hebrew of Isaiah 52:7 the preacher is the “shama-er” the one who causes others to hear of His peace and salvation. He preaches, he announces, he proclaims. But before he announces, he hears. He hears - shama again! For 20 years you have taken the Word of God into your ears, where faith comes and finds its source (Romans 10:17) - And how shall they hear unless one is sent? (Romans 10:14). PAUSE.

You have heard the Word of Life and you, dear brother have announced, have preached, have shouted from the roof-tops the Good News of Jesus and His Finished Work on the Cross for sinners. You have published this peace, brought the good news of God’s Good and Goodness, that which makes the heart truly and fully glad, even amid the storms of life, you have been blessed to publish the Salvation, the Jeshua, the Jesus of our Salvation and the Salvation of your people. You have announced the truth that you have first heard and first taken to heart, that your God Reigns for He is King, King of Life, King over Death, King to deliver those who are weary to rest, those who are storm-tossed to a kindly shoreline, to those who are in shackles in the dungeon of their sins, to the release of a captive no longer so. You have proclaimed that this God reigns as king who forgives sins and heals hearts.

Twenty years of such hearing and proclaiming means that you’ve got beautiful feet, my brother. Beautiful feet means; feet that can stand upon the ROCK. So stand dear brother, by the power of the Holy Spirit stand upon this ROCK, this Christ, He is strengthening you and strengthening your dear flock, cleaning between their toes, cleaning their ankles,.. Yes, scrubbing their soles, both of the feet and of the whole person.

Brother, the prayer of your brother clergy, but more importantly, of the dear saints to whom He has made you an overseer and a shama-er, a hearer and announcer of His Good News - yes, the prayer of your people is that you would continue to stand on the Rock and continue to scrub souls such that all will have beautiful feet.

Dear, dear brother Jeff, Twenty years have come and gone. You have continued to study and grow as you hear and share the Word of God. Now by the grace of God, you even have your doctorate. What a blessing that is. I am still working on mine. I want you to come up here now and receive this cross to keep you busy telling the Good News as long as God gives you breath.

Jeff, Twenty years are a long time in human terms, but not in relation to eternity. For the past twenty years you have shared and been the herald of the same news of Isaiah, prophet and other pastors. And long after you are gone and your lips are silent, may your saints take the baton and continue in their lives to share this glorious Good News; that Christ is Risen from the grave and to those who believe in Him awaits the joy of spending eternity with their Savior. Even so, Amen S.D.G!

Now the peace…


[1] Hummel, The Word Becoming Flesh, 195.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

“Let It GO!” (Colossians 3:5-6)

S-1375-11SAP/C 8/04/2013 Hymns: (O) #342; (S) #398; #; (C) #412

Texts: Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-28; Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 12:13-21

Theme: “Let It GO!” (Colossians 3:5-6)

Question: “How easy is it for you to let go of things?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text is from the Epistle lesson: Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming (Colossians 3:5-6).


Precious children of the heavenly Father, God’s living Word is the TREASURE of our lives. It is the compass by which we live, move and have our being. It is the power and source of our joy in sorrow, our strength in weakness and our light in darkness. The Word of God is our guiding light (Psalm 119:105) for survival on this planet we call earth.

However, not all people including Christian people, people like us, live daily by obeying and keeping God’s infallible Word on the journey of life. Many say, if you want to live as a homosexual, lesbian, or shack up together before marriage go ahead and do it. Abortion is not wrong. Lying, cheating and stealing are your privilege to be the free man or woman you want to be. The world and the society we live in would have us ignore God’s precious Word. Many voices in our world would say live and let live. Don’t worry about what the Bible teaches after all it is not true. There is no heaven or hell and there are no consequences to sin.

But that is not the case faithful saints in Christ. God’s Word is eternal and it changes not. And it’s about time, we, His followers stand up for the truth it teaches and live according to it. It is time that we learn what the Bible says and let it be our compass in life. PAUSE.

Truthfully, I’ve had it up to here (point to my nose) I am sick and tired of everyone telling me I have to be tolerant. I am sick and tired of someone telling me to be politically correct and not offend anyone. I’ve had enough of the media saying be careful of what you say to others because we DARE not hurt someone else’s feeling. I’m beside myself with the idea that everyone including evil and criminal people ought to be treated as if they were royalty.

It is time for us to stop and let go of these kinds of thoughts and the ways we use to live. Listen to how Pastor Paul teaches us to live. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.Paul is saying to us, that is how you use to live in the past. But let go of the past and hold on to the present that guarantees your future. There is a new you. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). It is time to let go because we are no longer the same people, we have been changed, we have been purified, we have been redeemed, we have been washed in the waters of baptism, and we have been sanctified for a different life style—to live for Jesus and spread His kingdom.

Today, you and I are called upon to let go of the things that drag us down and shame the name of Jesus. Today, you and I are called to let go of the gossip, hatred, envy, jealousy, lust and evil desires. It is time we live as the Baptized and Redeemed of God.

We can’t be like the world or some other churches. We are called to be different because we are different—because we are the baptized and forgiven people of God. We no longer live our life for ourselves but for Him who died and rose for us Christ Jesus. As we live for Him the Holy Spirit will strengthen us to let go of the things that cling to us.

The church IS accepting of those who are beset by the sin of same sex attraction. There is nothing “special” about this sin over and above others. Lying, murder, and cheating are all the same as homosexual attraction. 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” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10 ESV).

Paul’s point here is not to single out certain sins as damning, but to accuse us all of these very sins! We all stand condemned in our sin, but the Apostle continues, “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 6:11, ESV).

Christians are declared righteous in the name of the heaven-sent Savior—Jesus. That is, our righteousness comes to us because we are forgiven by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His death in the place of the sinner. His life given as the replacement and punishment for the sinner. Forgiveness is the free gift of God given to those who trust that Jesus is their Savior and Redeemer. That is what it means to be a Christian. Looking to Jesus on the cross as Jesus on the cross for you! Christians are called to live the forgiven life, not to continue living in sin, but to live in Christ. Christians hate sin, especially their own. And that is why we must by the strength and power of the Holy Spirit let go of that kind of lifestyle. PAUSE.

Precious children of God, you who are so blessed to have Jesus as Your Lord and Savior; have been coming to this house of worship to be fed and nourished for years. For over 70 years the truth of Scripture has been taught in this place, to equip you to live not only for today, but for eternity. You have been called a follower of Jesus, then, let the people around you know you have been purchased by His blood. Let go of gossip. Let go of hatred. Let go of grudges. Let go of past sins, they have been nailed to the cross of Jesus and you’re a new creation in Him. Daily, the Holy Spirit leads us to live and honor Him. Daily we share His story as it continues to be written in our hearts and heads. PAUSE.

Years ago I heard of two pastors who were putting up two signs on the road which went between their churches. They got the first sign up. It read: “The end is near. Turn around now before it is too late.” They were getting ready to put up the second sign when a car went shooting by them. As it did, the driver stuck his head out the window saying, Why don’t you religious nuts leave us alone! Both car and driver disappeared around the curve ahead. In a few seconds the pastors heard the screech of braking tires and a splash. The preachers looked at each other and quickly put up the second sign which read: “Danger! Bridge Out Ahead!” That second sign is what we have been called to do for Jesus. We are called to be caring, loving, forgiving and sharing the Gospel with the world which is still blind and deaf to the message of the cross and the empty tomb.

Saints in Christ, you can call me a religious nut if you want, but today you’ve heard the truth of the treasure of the Word of God. This treasure leads to eternal life only when we believe it and live according to it. It is my prayer that the story of the Savior has touched your heart and moves you by His grace to let go and live for Him in joy and peace forever. Amen.

Now the peace of God…