Friday, February 27, 2015

“Numbers of Hope-12” (Luke 2:42)

S-1479 2MIL/3B 2/25/2015 Hymns: (O) #140 vv 1, 4; (S) #370; (C) #158

Texts: Luke 2:41-51

Theme: “Numbers of Hope-12” (Luke 2:42)

2nd sermon in sermon series on “Numbers of Hope

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for this evening is from the Gospel Lesson: When He was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom.”

Tonight we continue with the theme: Numbers of Hope! Numbers from Genesis to Revelation are written into the text of the Holy Scriptures by the Holy Spirit throughout the Bible. These numbers beckon us to pay attention. They are like the word “behold” in the Old Testament and New Testament. Every time the word “Behold” appears it is designed to make us pause, ponder, and pray this petition. How does this word lead to Christ, the Hope of history?

Hope is our number one need in life. It has been said that a person can live 60 days without food, 8 days without water, a few minutes without air, but not a second without hope.

Hope is heaven born optimist our body, soul, and spirit needs. Hope is the air for our lungs, the blood in our veins and the light in our eyes. Without hope, we wither, we die; we fold up like a plant without any sunshine.

In preparation of the sermon, I went to a website seeking stories of hope. It led me to But when I clicked on it, sadly this came up: The site is temporary down or no longer available. How disappointing THAT was. How unlike God’s's hope which always keeps every promise through Christ our Lord.

Though the website was down to help me with a story of hope yet, the same day the Lord permitted a video in Arabic to come to my attention. THAT video revealed the most profound hope one can imagine. It spoke of the resurrection Hope Jesus gives to His redeemed today who face the most grave circumstances imaginable.

This story of hope came from the Coptic Christian community in Egypt. It was an interview of an Egyptian man of two brutally martyred brothers by ISIS in Libya (part of the 21) because they are followers of the Lord Jesus.

In the interview the brother states: “Their martyrdom has strengthened our faith…I thank God for ISIS because they ushered my brothers into the Kingdom of heaven with Jesus…our family here is rejoicing at what has taken place and congratulate each other…in our village we are proud of these men who stood the test and received the crown promised to them by Jesus…in the Holy Gospel we are told: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of Your Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 5:44-45)

I asked my mother “what would she do if she saw one of the ISIS men on the street?” Her response was: “I would tell them welcome to my home. I thank you for sending my sons to see the face of Jesus!” Now that is HOPE par excellence. PAUSE.

Tonight our Numbers of hope draw from the number 12. This evening’s gospel reading tells us of the 12 years old Jesus in the temple being instructed from the Word of God even as He instructed the most brilliant rabbis in Israel’s history about God’s love and rescue story—this story of hope. Luke notes the number of 12 very carefully. He wants us to see that Jesus is the bridge of both testaments. He will make this abundantly clear in the story of the Emmaus Disciples when Jesus opens up the eyes of faith of those two forlorn disciples. At the beginning of that seven mile walk they were hopeless, hapless, and heavy-hearted. But by the end of that walk and talk through the Bible they were brimming with mountain top hope, deep joy, and peace beyond all understanding.

As a 12 year-old boy we see Jesus, Israel reduced to one, imbibing the story of God’s grace through the 12 tribes in preparation for even more grace to come through the twelve apostles. You can imagine Jesus at age twelve talking about the twelve sons of Jacob, the twelve tribes in the Old Testament, the twelve springs of water in the wilderness, the twelve pillars of the temple, the twelve stones of thanksgiving, the twelve lions on the mercy seat, the twelve cakes in the house of God, the twelve spies, Joshua praising God with twelve stones, Elijah doing the same and on and on. Each time Jesus no doubt would have brought it back to God’s master plan of salvation, the keeping of His promise, the foundation of hope.

This hope is found in the Gospel reading for this evening saying: “And when He [Jesus] was twelve years old, they [His parents] went up according to custom” (Luke 2:42) This verse demonstrate the great plans of salvation mapped out by this young 12 year old teacher, teaching us the value of each number and word written for us in His book. PAUSE.

Again if you scan, search and study Scripture, you will find the number 12 like sunshine bringing the light of the Gospel to our lives as the blood-bought children of Christ. It is mentioned at least 147 times. But, if you study it further you know that it appears more as it is connected to others numbers.

The first time we come across it, it is connected with the name Seth (the third son of Adam mentioned by name), whose days were 912 years (Genesis 5:8). His name means appointed. This shows us again the Divine plan of God that all of our days are appointed by the Giver of every good and perfect gift. The gifts of numbers are written to make us strong in understanding the grace of God and the hope He offers us in His life-giving and life-sustaining Word.

Numbers of hope they are. They are like the words from the Father at Jesus’ baptism and Jesus’ Transfiguration saying, “Listen to Him!” 12 is the blue print of God’s plans of salvation to bring forth the Son of Promise—not Isaac, “laughter”, but Yeshua—“Jesus”—the Savior. Already in the book of Genesis we see the plan of God carried out. Jacob, the grandson of the Patriarch Abraham, has 12 sons who became the 12 tribes of Israel. Through Judah the line brings forth the Promised Son.

When Jesus enters the ministry field He chooses 12 men and spends 3 years with them preparing them for the greatest joy and privilege they will every have—to be His spokespersons. He taught them to love God and neighbor. He demonstrated forgiveness and showered them with grace upon grace and sent them out into the world as His apostles to carry on the task of spreading the Gospel. He picked each of these men to be His ambassadors in taking His story to the end of the earth beginning right in Jerusalem.

These 12 Galilean men witnessed Jesus do the mighty thing of God—healing, raising the dead, and caring for the needs of others. In one of His miracles (the feeding of the 5000 Matthew 14:15-20) the disciples pick up 12 baskets of barley bread. These 12 baskets of bread, barley bread, become the beautiful barley basket bridge of the Old Testament and New Testament. This mighty miracle highlights the providence of Christ in meetings the needs of all people as John (one of the 12) taught us of Jesus’ Words: “I Am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst” (6:35). He is indeed!

Jesus supplies everything we need as evident in the 12 baskets. The Apostle Paul stated this: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20).

Indeed this Jesus the Eternal God who once was 12 can and does give us more than we can imagine or think about. We see this played out in His final hours of His life. From six in the morning on Good Friday when He was sentenced to die until six at night when He was laid in Joseph’s sepulcher, we see twelve of the most profound hours in all of history.

God in flesh sentenced to die...3 the morning lamb sacrificed! To fulfill Is. 53

God in flesh nailed to the cross 3 hours later! Between 2 malefactors to fulfill Is. 53

A total eclipse of the sun, and the Son...3 hours later! To fulfill Isaiah 53

3 hours later, God’s lifeless body placed in the tomb to fulfill Isaiah 53

12 huge hours...12 hours of misery to provide mercy. 12 hours of hell to provide heaven. 12 hours of agony to provide affirmation. 12 hours of trial to provide triumph.

Consider all of these events please. 3 plus, 3 plus, 3 plus, 3 plus...The promised One of the twelve tribes, Jesus of Nazareth, completes the most extraordinary twelve hours in history as His story for our salvation.

May the Holy Spirit, guide, guard and point you to Your God and Savior Jesus Christ who uses numbers to give more than you can ask or imagine—giving you the one thing you need—hope in Him forever and ever. Amen.

Now the peace…


“The Moriah Messiah?” (Genesis 22:1-2)

S-1478 1SIL/3B 2/22/2015 Hymns: (O) #40; (S) #245; L.S. #311; #427; #309 (C) #155

Texts: Genesis 22:1-18; James 1:12-18; Mark 1:9-15

Theme: “The Moriah Messiah?” (Genesis 22:1-2)

Question: “How many things has God provided you without you expecting it?”

This sermon will be preached as a first person narrative. Abraham is the speaker. (He enters the room slowly and look out at the congregation. Pulling his beard he begins to speak).

It is so very hard to make it through life without having one of those of those moments where you simply feel...God you are really going too far...really asking too much...stretching me beyond what you have designed a body, mind, and soul to be able to go through.

My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?

I felt that way. I felt like God had just thrown me over a cliff and my world was coming to an end. I didn’t have the book of Job to comfort me as you do. I didn’t have the message of the cross to steady my thoughts. Nor did I have the end of the story as it is now written in your book in Genesis 22. Except for the flashlight of faith I was in utter darkness.

My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?

For fifty years MY God had shown Himself to be loving, reliable, powerful, and perfect in keeping His Word. I had the sense when I talked to God or God talked to me this was the God who created the universe, who held the stars in their patterns, and gave life to all things. The miracle birth of my son some thirty years earlier sealed the deal for me and my Sarah. Yes, this God works in strange, mysterious ways, but He keeps His promises. He even humbles Himself to visit me and break bread with me as He did when He declared a year in advance Sarah would give birth to Isaac.

This God was all-powerful, yet intimate. This God was holy. He is different by far from all the other gods around me. BUT I, ABRAHAM, WONDERED… PAUSE.

Has God now taken leave of His senses? He wants me to do the unthinkable! This is how I felt some time ago when God came to me and said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you” (Gen 22:2). (Abraham moves and looks up and down)

When God first commanded me to do this...I felt utterly forsaken, utterly shaken. The instructions seemed seemingly senseless. How can a good God ask me to sacrifice the dearest thing in the world to me—and to my wife Sarah? All these years God has been teaching me to take Him at His Word. Fair enough.

If He asked me to take a trumpet and march around a city seven times blowing that trumpet and expect the walls to fall—I would do it! If He asked me to take 3,000 soldiers and whittle it down to 300 and take on 30,000—I would do it. If He told me He could make the sun stand still for 48 hours—I would be on board for He is ALL-mighty.

But this...asking me to sacrifice my dearest treasure, my only son, for no good reason other than as a test of faith—this seems to be...pardon the Hebrew, be absurdunheard ofunthinkableunimaginable. How can the Giver of logic be so illogical? How can the changeless God, change His mind? How can He demand such a test? He promises Sarah and me a son—from whom nations will come with people of faith—as many as the stars in the sky and the sand on the sea shore. PAUSE. (Abraham look directly at the crowds and speaks)

Pray tell me this. How on earth will this take place if the son of promise is burnt up as an offering on some mountain called Moriah? The whole night before my journey to the place called Moriah my mind waged war making my brain feel like it was ready to explode. I tossed and turned. I studied the night with my ears. One solid and confident voice entered my ear canal and said, “You know that God keeps all His Words of PROMISE. He has protected you. He has shown love to you. He has given you the Son of promise with a miracle birth.”

Yet, within me raged another voice—a voice of humanity that screamed at God: “What good is a promise if the son is dead? After waiting 25 year to hold the gift of a son in my hand, 25 years later He asks me to slit his throat and offer him as a lamb on an altar. This is absurdunheard ofunthinkableunimaginable. How can you trust in a God who would ask such a thing? I bet He wouldn’t sacrifice His Son upon an altar on Moriah? No way? Not in a million years.

My God, My God, why have You forsaken me—was the abject feeling of despair that left me almost bleeding drops of blood. PAUSE. (Abraham climbs the stairs slowly)

It was a long uphill exhausting journey to Mt. Moriah, a place that one day three hundred years later be named Jerusalem. On Moriah one day the temple of Solomon would be built...forty cubits long. On Moriah the Messiah one day would be the supreme sacrifice for the world. But none of this I knew when God called me to go up there with a donkey, my two servants, enough tree wood for a sacrifice.

On the third day I could see the mount on which the sacrifice was to take place. On the third day I could see where the acid test of faith was to occur. On the third day a thought crystallized in my mind. The Spirit of God took everything I knew about God and pressed it deep into my heart, a deeper logic to contend with God’s seemingly illogical request.

This gospel born conviction was this. I was persuaded that if I went ahead with the sacrifice—yes, even the burnt offering—that the God of all grace would raise my son from the dead—bodily! Without a doubt, He who took the dead womb of my wife and brought forth life was able...moreover, I had His promise to hold before Him. I would hold Him to His eternal oath.

Resting on this resurrection hope, I told my servants that Isaac and I would return from that mount—both of us and worship with them. Isaac and I scaled the final stretch together—father and son, my only son. Isaac carried the fire and knife. When he asked me “where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” my pulse quickened, stomach sickened, brain thickened, but I kept my answer on this one truth, “God Himself will provide.” He will provide the Lamb—son. Indeed, He who is faithful and true will PROVIDE!

For fifty years He has abundantly provided. I had learned that every time I tried to help Him along with His promises, I just made a mess of things. Be patient. Remember His perfect record. Recall His perfect love. Recollect His might.

When we reached the summit I began to build an altar. Quietly, quickly I constructed an altar. I arranged on it the wood. Binding my son Isaac and placing him on the altar was the most agonizing thing I ever did laying him on that altar in the cruciform shape of a cross. Amazingly my son trusted me—obediently submitting... like a lamb... to the slaughter. PAUSE.

In fear and trembling, quivering and shivering, I paused. The knife felt like it weighed a thousand pounds. With the ultimate promise of Isaac being the father of more descendants than the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, I was able to lift up the knife. But before I could do the unthinkable and the unimaginable, before I could bring the knife down, that Mysterious Messenger of the Lord, the very One who dined with me over thirty years before bringing the good news of Isaac’s birth, appeared. With solemn Divine authority He called out to me, Abraham, Abraham, do not lay a hand on your son. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from Me your son, your only Son.”

Then out of nowhere God provided a ram caught in a thicket...This Messenger, this Eternal I Am provided a Ram... With laughter both in my heart and face, I rejoiced at His providing what I couldn’t imagine. The Great I Am, assured me what I knew deep in my heart. Furthermore, His promise would come true; namely, through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed Me.

On the third day it was like Isaac rose from the dead, a grave was opened, and the Lord provided a different, unexpected sacrifice on the Mountain. Later, I would learn that on this very mountain the most extravagant display of God’s love in history would take place. Indeed, the Great I Am would kill His Son. Talk about absurdunheard ofunthinkableunimaginable. Here, God would Passover the sins of the world. Here the Promised Messiah would atone for the sins of the world. Here the very One who provided the ram would become the ultimate Lamb...the eternal I Am. He, my Deliverer would be my ultimate Descendant who rises from the dead on the third day to overcome death for all the world.

My test was a picture of the test that God’s only SON would go through for all mankind, all nations, all peoples. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to die on the cross of Mt. Moriah (the very same mountain) that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. On that mountain indeed the Lord did provide. And all the blessings of that Moriah death and Moriah resurrection, the Moriah Messiah bestows to you today. In the Gospel you hear the One who provided for us speaks to you. In the body and blood of the Lord’s Supper you receive the Moriah Messiah Himself. Giving you manna greater than what the children of Israel received in their wilderness journey.

I am so thankful that the Moriah Messiah is my God and Lord. (Abraham leaves quietly)

“Numbers of Hope-40” (Mark 1:12-13)

S-1477 AW/3B 2/18/2015 Hymns: (O) #135; (S) #483; (C) #134

Texts: Mark 1:12-13

Theme: “Numbers of Hope-40” (Mark 1:12-13)

1st sermon in sermon series on “Numbers of Hope

The Opening Hymn: “Jesus, Refuge of the Weary” # 145

The First Narrative: Numbers of Hope! Numbers from Genesis to Revelation are written into the text of the Holy Scriptures by the Holy Spirit throughout the Bible. Hope is our number one need in life. It has been said that a person can live 60 days without food, 8 days without water, a few minutes without air, but not a second without hope.

The Hope that this world offers is at best iffy. Presidential candidates offer people all kinds of hope when they are running for office. However, should they get elected, by the time they finish their terms, they stumble and stagger out of their office with a long string of broken promises behind them—leaving people deeply disappointed—destroyed dreams and dashed hope.

Young people today counselors tell us are extremely disillusioned because they have been lied to so often that they don’t know who to believe. As a result they navigate through life without hope. This is why this house of worship exists...a house of give help to the helpless, hope to hopeless, and heaven to the heaven-less...that neither death nor moth, nor thieves can take away or destroy.

There is in history but One book that is available to all—a book of hope one can bank on—the Bible. The Bible is the story from front to finish how God through Jesus Christ keeps His powerful living promises. This is what hope is. Hope is faith toward the future based on what God in Christ has done perfectly in the past—for you! Because of the lively hope we have through a living Savior, who went to the cross for us and overcame death for us, we view the future with an optimism that is rooted in the perfect merits of Christ.

On top of that, we are convinced that Jesus is working EVERYTHING together for the good of His Bride—the Church. It may not look that way at times when we see history unraveling but God’s perfect record rooted in Christ’s dying love tells us otherwise. Tonight we note our first number of hope. It is the number FORTY. It is a number of testing and trial and triumph.

The number of forty is a fitting number for our first Lenten season service. Forty days we set aside to study carefully how Jesus went through the most difficult tests and trials in history to triumph over all things necessary for our eternal salvation. These Forty days begin our slow measured journey to the cross where we see Jesus bloodied, scourged, and slaughtered...

These forty days initiate at the time the Church studies how Jesus endured forty days in the wilderness constantly tempted by the devil. While the first Adam tumbled terribly in the Garden of Eden while living in plush perfect conditions, Jesus, the Second Adam overcame the devil while enduring the harsh conditions of the wilderness—with its hot burning sand in the day and chilling coolness at night.

For us, for forty days Jesus felt acute agonizing hunger—eating nothing. For us, for forty days Jesus felt the extremes of climate change draining His body to the point of complete exhaustion. Angels ministered to Jesus after these forty days just as they administered to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when the weight of the world’s sin pressed down upon His sinless shoulders. For us, Jesus felt for forty days the haunting solitude and loneliness and the howling of wild animals so that as the master Carpenter He could begin to rebuild our broken planet, broken lives, and broken families. His perfect work and perfect keeping of the promises of God on our behalf is our perfect foundation for salvation, for life, and eternity. And so we sing:

The Hymn My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less # 370

The Second Narrative: As Jesus travailed in the wilderness for forty days and nights, undoubtedly He thought about this number forty and how it was connected with the promises of God throughout history. It was Jesus who gave Noah the blueprints for the building of the ark and three forty year periods of time to build the ark—120 years all total. You recall how it rained forty days and forty nights as God covered all the earth with floodwaters. After the flood God promised never to destroy the earth again with a worldwide flood. And God promised to restore the whole broken planet with a new heaven and new earth.

In salvation history the number forty continued to show up in the Bible. Moses would spend his first forty years at Pharaoh's court, forty years tending sheep in the wilderness, and forty years leading God's people through the wilderness. It was a time of continuous testing, trial, and in the end—triumphant as Moses went to heaven—the real Promise Land.

For forty days Goliath taunted the children of Israel. Behind the scenes the devil was using Goliath as a ten foot tall giant hit man to destroy Israel and render the promise of a coming Savior null and void. Jesus, however, raised up a shepherd boy by the name of David to take five smooth stones and turn Goliath into dead bones. After forty days God essentially said, “Times up, Goliath! Time for judgment so that My promise of salvation to the world can go on. And on it went!” King David would reign forty years—33 in Jerusalem...both numbers pointing to the Hope of history, Jesus. Solomon’s temple would be forty cubits long—pointing to the ultimate temple, Jesus, the Hope of history. (1 Kings 6:17) When the devil again sought to destroy the promise of a coming Savior by destroying Judah, King David defeated the Arameans killing forty thousand infantry. (1 Chronicles 19:18).

Forty, forty, forty...pointing ultimately to Jesus, pointing to how God keeps His promises of a coming Savior, pointing to how God wants us to see how the whole Bible hangs together. These numbers are little threads connected with the big redemptive thread of Jesus Christ is the One sure bet in history. The hope that Jesus’ brings is not only spectacular, but sure, solid, unbreakable, and unending. And so we sing:

The Hymn Savior, When In Dust to Thee # 166

The Third Narrative: Hope was a time of testing for the people of Nineveh. Jonah, whose name means “dove” told them “Forty more days and Nineveh will be toast!” (Jonah 4:4) The people of Nineveh listened and trusted in Jesus as the object of their faith and hope. (Jonah 4:5) That hope came to them through One far greater than Jonah, the Lord Jesus, who would dwell in the belly of the earth just as Jonah dwelt in the belly of the great fish. Jesus would also dwell in the belly of a womb—the Virgin Mary.

After Jesus was born, as a child He was taken to the temple in Jerusalem forty days later. He was taken there not only to fulfill the law for us but to bring forgiveness of sins for His mother. The two doves offered by Mary for her purification ironically came through the Child she brought to the temple—the One true sacrifice for all sin. (Leviticus 12:1-4; Luke 2:22-24).

It just wasn’t forty days after His birth but the cruel forty lashes minus one just before His death that marked the life of our Lord. The flesh of His body was cut not only on the eighth day but ripped off His back on His last day before death. Forty lashes minus one for the One who knew no sin. This forty is one more reminder of how deeply Jesus loves us to endure this awful punishment for our sin.

After Jesus rose from the dead He would spend forty days with the disciples showing Himself alive and well. Eleven recorded appearances saving the twelfth recorded one for the end of history. Forty days after He rose bodily from the dead He would ascend into the heavens in a cloud to signal the way He would reappear one day. On the fortieth day after He rose Jesus ascended as St. Paul writes “to fill all things,” that is, to exercise His authority as Lord. Now He is far less than forty inches from all of us as He dwells in our heart. Tonight this risen Savior even gives us His body and blood for added grace upon grace.

May this number 40, sanctified and enlisted by the Giver of all numbers, the Lord Jesus, increase your faith, hope, and love! The revelation of this number is one more Messianic manner in which the Holy Spirit reveals to us how intimately God is at work in history through the Church—the House of Hope. Forty lashes minus one for you...forty days in the wilderness for you...Forty days this Lenten season for learn more about His love. Amen.

The Hymn On My Heart Imprint Your Image 179

Now the peace of God…


“Have You Asked God for Something Lately?” (2 Kings 2:9-10)

S-1476 TS/3B 2/15/2015 Hymns: (O) #135; (S) #483; (C) #134

Texts: 2 Kings 2:1-12; 2 Corinthians 3:12-13; 4:1-6; Mark 9:2-9

Theme: “Have You Asked God for Something Lately?” (2 Kings 2:9-10)

Question: “How often do you call on God?

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia. The text for the Transfiguration Sunday is from the O. T. lesson: “When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.’ And Elisha said, ‘Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.’ And he said, ‘You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so’” (2 Kings 2:9-10)

Saints in Christ, in the saving name of Jesus pray that the Holy Spirit will enable you to live a life of robust repentance so that the old sinful Adam will be daily drowned and the new Adam through Christ’s pardoning love be strengthened. In the saving name of Jesus pray that God will enable you to discipline your schedule to have a daily encounter with God via the Scriptures. In the saving name of Jesus pray for a double portion of God’s Word rooted in daily Bible study and hearing God’s Word in His temple—the Church.

Beloved, the story before us today is one of the most moving stories of God’s care and love for His people Israel—in providing for them a shepherd who will guide them in the way they should live. On many different fronts, the O.T. lesson is closely connected to the Gospel lesson.

Elijah whose name means = “My God is Yahweh” is one of the heavy weight prophets whom God used mightily to call the Israelites to repentance. He is the one who destroyed the 450 Baal prophets when he challenged them on Mt. Carmel. He is the one whom you heard about in the Gospel lesson today as he appeared with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration to speak with Jesus about His death. Elijah was God’s man and spokesperson to the people of Israel.

The other prophet that is in our story is Elisha whose name means = “My God is Salvation” was called by Elijah to follow him in serving the God of Israel. We do know that Elisha heard the call and followed Elijah and became his disciple. Here is what Elisha did: “So Elisha returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him (1 Kings 19:21).

Elisha spent much time with his mentor seeing him at work of healing and caring for the needs of God’s precious sheep. The time has arrived now for Elijah to be taken from this earth and to pass the mantle on to someone else—Elisha. As Elisha realizes the time is at hand, asks a most telling question. ‘Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.’ Elisha asked to be a faithful servant of God. He desired to have twice as much spirit power in his heart to be able to carry on the ministry. Christ Jesus has the full portion, for it is His Spirit that He poured out first, and then double on Elijah and Elisha. Elisha was asking for the Suffering Servant to pour out the spirit of faithful service into his life. This is something the same Jesus grants to you this day also, beloved, the double portion of a servant’s heart. Yes, getting back to Elisha, it was by the grace of God he received the double portion of the Spirit and served Yahweh faithfully. Elisha replaced Elijah as Israel’s chief prophet and also performed many miracles through the power of God. He was a servant of the people, demonstrating God’s love and compassion.

Elisha would serve as a prophet of the northern kingdom for more than 50 years, through the reigns of many kings (Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, and into the reign of Joash.) Elisha’s miracles included purifying a spring at Jericho, multiplying a widow's oil, bringing a Shunammite woman’s son back to life (reminiscent of a miracle by Elijah, prefiguring the son of the Widow at Nain, or jairus’ daughter or even the raising of Lazarus by our Lord – yes, prefiguring the raising of Jesus by the Father on Easter. Yes, and further, Elisha also purified), purifying a poisonous stew, and again, prefiguring His Savior with the five loaves and two fish, Elisha multiplying loaves of bread. All of this was done because he asked one seemingly insignificant question. PAUSE.

How about you dear saints in Christ? What have you asked God for lately? In many ways we are like Peter and Elisha we want to remain and bask in the moment. We think of ourselves more than others. If you are like me most of the time we ask God for personal things. Father, come to my aid and help me in the hour of need. Give healing to my body. Watch over my children and keep them safe. Open for me new job opportunity. Help me to be able to provide for my family. Etc. Etc.

Know the truth and hold it dear, there is nothing wrong with asking the Lord for help. For Jesus Himself taught us in the Sermon on the Mount saying: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). Again, I declare to you there is nothing wrong with asking.

But let me ask you this: “When was the last time you asked the Lord to give you a double measure of His Spirit? ...When was the last time you asked the Lord to use you in the church for His glory and the benefit of others? …When was the last time you asked the Lord to use you as a teacher in Sunday School, Midweek teacher or VBS helper? … When was the last time you asked God to help you give more dollars to support the ministry? … When was the last time you asked the Lord to use you to be present in His house weekly? … When was the last time you asked the Lord to use you in finding the good in the family of faith rather than all that is wrong? … When was the last time you asked the Lord to help you see the wrong that you do, instead of the wrong that others commit? … When was the last time you asked the Lord to help you be a beacon of light to those around you? … When was the last time you asked the Lord to fill your heart with joy because you are redeemed and forgiven? … When was the last time you asked the Lord to help you praise His name for His gifts of this Church, His Word and the preaching and teaching that goes on?

If we are honest, sincere and true; not very often! As I said earlier more often we ask for our personal gains and benefits. But Elisha teaches us to be true and faithful disciples in asking the Lord to give us the gifts to be His men and women to carry on the ministry of the Gospel. Elisha teaches us to ask because he, like us knows that the real answers, the real gifts come not from our efforts but from the GIVER of all good gifts—God Himself.

But not only Elisha teaches us, but so does Jesus. Here is what Jesus prayed for: saying, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!” (Luke 23:46); “My Father is working until now, and I Am working.” (John 5:17); Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5:19); “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again” (John 10:17); “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30); “… I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10); “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You” (John 17:1).

As you can see through the Words of Jesus, His desire is to do the will of God; because in Him we behold the faithful and Divine Servant, who serves joyfully and faithfully; and who was transfigured before the three disciples to equip them for the long journey ahead.

But we see it more clearly in the final week of His life as sweat of blood dripped from His brow in Gethsemane where Jesus, like a greater Elisha, asked the greater question of His Father saying: “Father, if You are willing, remove this CUP from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). In His obedience to the will of the loving Father, He endured the yoke of suffering, accepted the punishment on our behalf, was strapped and affixed to a cross until death came—death in our place, placed in a grave, laid in it for 3 days and rose again on the third day.

This Divine Servant—the Savior who was transfigured on the mountain did it all for YOU so that you may live under Him and praise His holy name forever and ever. Amen.

Now the peace of God.


“An Awesome God!” (Isaiah 40:21, 22b…28)

S-1475 5SAE/3B 2/08/2015 Hymns: (O) #35; (S) #549; LS. #134; #129; #307; (C) #43

Texts: Isaiah 40:21-31; 1 Corinthians 9:16-27; Mark 1:29-39

Theme: “An Awesome God!” (Isaiah 40:21, 22b…28)

Question: “How often do you use the term “Awesome”?

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia. The text is from the O. T. lesson: “Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits above the circle of the earth…Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable” (Isaiah 40:21, 22b…28).

Saints in Christ, I am very reluctant to use the word “Awesome” because it is often used without any consideration to its meaning. Often I hear, “This is awesome!” But what does “Awesome” really mean? According to Webster’s dictionary it means: 1. “inspiring or displaying awe” and 2. “excellent or outstanding” However the Patriarch Jacob who used the term long before any of us did, or Webster defined it; gives us the true definition of the word: “It causes fear and dread in the heart of man.” This is the way Jacob used it when he dreamed of the ladder that is stretched between heaven and earth: And he [Jacob] was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven’” (Gen. 28:17).

When the Scriptures speak about being Awesome, we are not just saying this is really cool or beautiful but it should also give us dread and fear. Luther got it right when he gave us the explanation of the Commandments using both Law/Gospel, “We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.” We should fear, because God is holy and we are sinners. A sinner can’t stand in the presence of the Holy One of Israel. But the awesomeness continues because He loved us first in Jesus at the Cross; and He remains faithful to us so that we can trust in Him! That is why Jacob is afraid and yet delighted to be in the presence of God—the Awesome One.

That is precisely what we have in the text before us from the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah reveals the Awesomeness of God with these words: “Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits above the circle of the earth…Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable” (Isaiah 40:21, 22b…28).

Don’t you know who you are dealing with? Don’t you understand that this is the ONLY true God who does wonders, who sits enthroned on the circle of the earth and who does the impossible? Though many claim there are many gods out there, in truth there is ONLY one, God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And this God is Awesome and then some. PAUSE.

On Tuesday, I was the Bible Study Leader on “Thy Strong Word” on our Synodical radio station and the worldwide web and a God—incident happened that is indeed Awesome! A saint Cheryl called the show. In the conversation with her she mentioned what an awesome God we have and what He has done for her and she quotes a portion of the text v. 28 which: Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.”

I told her, “Saint Cheryl, this is an awesome day indeed.” Only God could do this. Here she quotes the verse I am preaching on and even the title of my sermon. What a beautiful day that was. After the show I contacted Cheryl and asked her to tell you her story. Please listen to Cheryl describe our Awesome God:

Mom is 97 years old and has been living for almost a year at an assisted-living facility. Mom constantly complained about all the wrong things I do and that I don’t care about her. However, Monday evening was different. While I replaced both of her hearing aid batteries, Mom kept repeating how astonished she was to see me alive because she had heard that I had committed suicide. She asked to hug me. (She never hugs me--only my brother.) She asked me how everyone was doing. She said she loves me. She thanked me for all I do. She kept saying “Praise the Lord.” God’s love for us is so amazing: I had prayed for emotional strength for my visit with Mom, but He gave so much more.

As awesome as this story is, it is a small drop in the ocean of God’s grace and love towards us sinner. PAUSE.)

Beloved in the Lord, a long time ago I heard this: You need two things in life to make it meaningful and endearing: 1. Love and 2. Forgiveness. And these things we have from the One who is Awesome indeed—the God Isaiah spoke of and the Savior who revealed Him to us.

To be sure our God is awesome and then some! Why you may ask? Because when you compare the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob...the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; our only Savior, there are no comparison. “To whom will you compare Me? Or who is My equal?" says the Holy One. v.25.

If you could only harness what this text shows us about this Awesome God! He is the only true God. He is Holy, Everlasting, gives hope eternal; and the Only God who gives promises and prophecy and then fulfills them all in His Son, Jesus Christ. (v. 25, 28) He even raises the dead! He is the One who is Compassionate, suffers with us, for us, and by us...41:13. We see it clearly in Isaiah’s Suffering Servant Songs (Isaiah 53). He is the Only One who is Present everywhere...v. 22. He is not limited to time and space. As He was with the people of Israel He is also present with us every day.

As awesome as God is as we look at His role and place in creation, there is a point in history when God is even more awesome! That place is the cross. There this Awesome God who is Lord of all creation willingly became part of that creation. He came to fix it in the only and most awesome way possible! He became flesh. He lived within this fallen world. Then, bearing all the sins which broke it, He was willing to die for that same creation. He offered His life for me and for you and for all creation! How awesome is that! How fearful that is for us! How loving He is toward us! Oh how we can trust this One who has done such awesomeness for us!

He is the God who does not snore but enables us to soar. He is the God who won the victories over the all the armies of the world. No god could compare to Him. Yet, at times we are fooled because we focus on our problems and circumstances and the finite side of things, that we don’t see the hand of Him who is infinite in saving us and giving us the victory over death and the grave.

Think of it brothers and sisters in Christ, our God is an Awesome God and yet some. He names every star...40:26. He is Awesome in power and presence, but in compassion...Ps. 147:3-4). Though He names every star and can tell you where every one of your three hundred trillion cells in your body are...every star, every scar, physical or psychological...that awesome... and then some. He is near and far and we see Him through His Good Friday scar.

Someone defined circumstances as “those nasty things you see when you get your eyes off of God.” Wait upon the Lord...Wait does not mean sit and do nothing. It means root your future in His promises, see the perfect past record and see the awesome things coming your way in the fullness of times. It is this AWESOME GOD that we fear, love and trust by His grace through faith!

Indeed, Isaiah helps us see with eyes of faith this Awesome God—the One who comes to us sinners and chooses to be with us. As Jacob spoke when He woke from His dream saying: ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven’ so too, we say the same. In this house of God, we stand in awe and fear. As sinners we stand in this holy house, because here in this place He comes to us with His gifts of body and blood. Here in this house He invites us to dine with Him. Here in this place we stand in awe and declare what an Awesome God and then some. PAUSE.

Martin Luther once said, “That the sweetness of the Gospel is in the pronoun. For YOU!” This Awesome God—Jesus is exactly the Savior you need. He’s the Savior tailored just for you. He is the One who welcomes you a sinner to change you to be a saint. Indeed our God is an Awesome God—He Awesome to save, Awesome to forgive and Awesome to love—YOU forever. Amen.

Now the peace…


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

“Listen Carefully!” (Deuteronomy 18:15)

S-1474 4SAE/3B 2/01/2015 Hymns: (O) #5; #36; (S) #296; (C) #52

Texts: Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28

Theme: “Listen Carefully!” (Deuteronomy 18:15)

Question: “How is your hearing?”

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia. The text is from the O. T. lesson: The Lord Your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to Him you shall listen” (Deuteronomy 18:15).

Beloved saints in Christ, we all have problem with our hearing. But this does not mean that you all need hearing aids! The problem is not mechanical. It is with who we are! We are not good listeners. We don’t know how to just sit and listen. We all try the fool’s game of multi-tasking. Perhaps you have done this: You are listening to the news, but your eyes are following the script that is being scrolled on the bottom of your screen. You are in a meeting and someone is giving a presentation and you are looking at your phone, I pad, or lap top. I am guilty of this also. We hear the sound, but we miss the meaning! We are hearing, but not listening!

It is easy to hear. It takes work to listen! In our hurried age and culture, we haven’t mastered the art of listening. We don’t do what the Psalmist says: “Be still, and know that I Am God” (Ps. 46:10a), neither have we learned what the Scripture teaches in the Great Shemah: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4).

Moses, the author of the text that is before us, exhorts us few chapters before to listen to God daily. Daily let His Word be the compass of your life. Daily listen to Him as He guides you in the way you should go. Daily cry out with Samuel saying, Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears!” This should be our daily prayer to listen to the voice of God.

Moses empresses upon us saying: The Lord Your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to Him you shall listen.” In other word, Moses states: open your ears and listen carefully to the Prophet that will come after me. Listen to Him because He is the Only One who is worthy to be heard. Listen to Him because He will guide you in the way of truth. Listen to Him carefully because He will spare you a lot of heartaches and a lot of headaches. PAUSE.

But who is this prophet that Moses is talking about? The text identifies Him thus: “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put My Words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And whoever will not listen to My Words that He shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him” (Deut. 18:18-18). Moses is saying, “God Himself will send this One and He will speak on His behalf of God!”

Moses the great prophet who was God’s spokesperson for over 40 years and led the Israelites, points them and us to another and greater prophet. He will come from among His brothers—the Israelites. This One will be the Davar Yahweh—the Word of the Lord. He will speak on behalf of God and do things in the things only God does.

Beloved in the Lord, since we are still in the Epiphany season, we look at the New Testament to help hear and see with eyes of faith who this prophet is. In the Gospel of John we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4). And in the Gospel of St. Matthew we hear these words: “He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I Am well pleased; listen to Him!” Matthew 17:5). Not only does Moses ask us to listen to Him, but even God the Author and creator of the ear exhorts us to listen to Jesus because He is the voice of God and the final prophet, NOT Muhammad.

However, as I said earlier we have a hearing problem. We have not mastered the art of listening. We don’t know how to sit still and just listen to God’s voice. But that is what we should do. The more we spend time with Him and in His Word, the more we are able to discern which God’s voice and from the world’s voice. When you learn to listen to the voice of God, then your ears are opened to His message. When you listen to the voice of God, then you learn to trust Him above all else. And when the voices of the world rise high, you will know that it is not the voice of God but the voice of a devilish lie! PAUSE.

The Psalmist stated: “Be still and KNOW that I am God.” In the stillness you will hear the only voice that leads to life eternal—the voice of the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd who said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. (John 10:27). The more you listen to His voice the closer you will come to know His Word and His thoughts and His grace for you.

This reminds me of a story of an Indian who traveled to New York for the first time in his life. While he was walking through the streets with his friend, he said, “I hear a cricket!” His friend said, “How can you hear a cricket with all of the noise in the background?” the Indian said again, “I can hear a cricket!” He listened carefully and walked slowly towards some bushes and when he removed them, he pointed to his friend and said, “Here is the cricket! In time you learn how to listen.

That is the joy of being in the Lord’s house. When we come here we call upon the Holy Spirit to open our ears and hearts to hear His voice. As the opening hymn teaches us: “Lord, open Thou my heart to hear, and through Your Word to me draw near; let me Your Word e’er pure retain, let me Your child and heir remain.” (TLH 5 v1)

Moses calls us to listen carefully to His voice. He is the Only voice that we should hear and listen to. You won’t hear it anywhere outside of this House and God’s Word! When we hear it we know the sound of rejoicing that will never end as the Lord speaks the words of Law and Gospel that convict and kill, renew and resurrect us on a daily basis!

We can do that only because the Word of the Lord—Jesus Christ, listened carefully to His Father when He sent Him on His earthly mission to redeem the world from sin, death and the grave. He listened with joy to all that the Father asked Him to do. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane He prayed before going to the cross saying: “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).

Don’t think it was easy for Jesus to endure what lies ahead. He knew what was going to happen to Him. Be betrayed by one of His disciples, denied by His closest companion; receive harsh beating, humiliation, suffering, agony, pain and even death. But He listened to His Father because we don’t listen carefully all the time. When we don’t listen to God we are permitting the evil to be in us. When we don’t listen to God other voices fill our ears and hearts and we are deceived. But thank God the Holy Spirit stirs our hearts and ear to listen as we should. In the Gospel lesson for today, the evil the Spirit went to the Synagogue thinking they would be safe, but Jesus is there and says to them “Shut-up and get out!”

That is why it is such a blessing and privilege to be here, because here He speaks to us. Here in this place we learn of His unconditional love. Here we gain new insights about the One Moses spoke about, the Prophet to come—Jesus Christ. He listened to the will of the Father who sent Him as God’s gift to the world as we are informed by John saying, “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (3:16). Because of the enormous love of Christ, the Holy Spirit leads us to listen carefully to Him always.

Listen to Him dear friends and hear Him attentively especially in His final week of life. Hear Him say: Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Lk. 23: 34). Listen to Him carefully as He says: “It is Finished!” (John 19:30). Hear Him say, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Listen carefully to Him today and always because He has forgiven you your sins, has claimed you as His very own and wrote your names in His book of life.

Today, by the Spirit’s power we have had our ears opened and His voice entered into our inner chamber. Because of His voice, we listen carefully and follow Him all the days of our lives. Because we listen to Him carefully we have peace forever more. Amen and Amen.

Now the peace…


“There is always time to fish” (Mark 1:16-18)

S-1473 3SAE/3B 1/25/2015 Hymns: (O) #410; (S) #421; L.S. #313; #306; (C) #428

Texts: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20

Theme: “There is always time to fish” (Mark 1:16-18)

Question: “How is your fishing lately?”

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia. The text is from the Gospel lesson: Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, He [Jesus] saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men!’ And immediately they left their nets and followed Him (Mark 1:16-18).

Beloved saints in Christ, fishermen are perhaps the greatest storytellers in the world. Together, they represent a vast storehouse of both legends and true-life experiences. Why? Because each fishing trip, each cast, and each fish caught is a unique event.

Growing up in Israel, I had a different experience of fishing. The majority of the fishing that I did as a young lad was at the Sea of Galilee and didn’t fish with rod and reel. I fished with a five gallon can that had a small 4 inch hole on top and many holes on the bottom. I placed a loaf of bread in the can, and dropped it deep into the water with a milk jug attached to the handle, to mark its location. After an hour or so, I would swim out to the deep, pick up the can and empty the fish caught.

But when I migrated to the USA I had to learn a new type of fishing. But no matter what type of fishing—whether by can, reel, spear or net there is always a story to be told. A story that is involved—a story that tells of what was caught or got away.

Remember saints we are still in the Season of Epiphany. As such the Scripture reveals to us who this Galilean Rabbi was and IS—the heaven-sent Savior. We meet Him in this text calling simple fishermen to follow Him so that they might become fishers of men. These simple Galileans left the twine and mesh and followed Him on the greatest mission to catch men instead of slippery fish. The text for today tells us of a fishing story. PAUSE.

So too, is the life of God’s child. It is a fishing story—story that tells of our walk of faith and the Fisherman—Jesus Christ, who cast us out into the sea of humanity with His Gospel net to pull them in. In the ministry of the Gospel there is always time to fish. The fish come in variety of sizes and colors. Some days the fishing is just a little better than others.

Fishing goes on daily. Sometimes the fishing is very evident as is in the story I share with you. In another state a young boy attended a camp. He came from a broken home and lived with foster parents. His family told him he wasn’t loved or wanted. While at the camp, he spent most of his time alone and didn’t mix well with other campers. The one thing he showed interest in, was spending time with the horses.

By the grace of God, this troubled boy was connected to a male counselor who ministered to him. During a Bible study one evening the leader asked the kids to open their Bibles to follow along. As the counselor looked around, he realized this boy didn’t know how to read because he had his Bible upside down.

The camp counselors’ determined to provide him a Bible on tapes/CD. The boy loved the gift of the Bible on tape and soaked it up like a sponge. He listened as often as he could and learned so much about His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This was a great opportunity to fish. There is always time to fish everywhere and anywhere. PAUSE.

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, there is always time to fish and fishing goes around here in this house of God called Redeemer Lutheran. Fishing that takes place during the Divine Service when the Word of God is proclaimed and the Sacrament is administered. Fishing is carried out when God’s people along with their pastor, in the presence of God confess their sins and receive the sweet message of forgiveness.

Fishing is being done here when the LWML ladies meet to carry on the ministry—ministry for the need of this congregation: helping families during funerals, filling the candles, changing the paraments, meals on wheels and every other gracious act of kindness.

Fishing is being fulfilled as the quilters gather monthly to make something beautiful out of used materials and give all of these gifts away in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ—the Fisherman.

Fishing is displayed in this place as the Elders, Council and Voters meet to carry on the Mission of the Church so that the Gospel may go to the ends of the earth. Fishing is conducted when the choir sings their hearts out so that the name of Jesus Christ maybe praised by all peoples everywhere. Fishing is conveyed in our Bible studies, Sunday School, VBS, youth group and midweek classes.

Throughout all of this the grace of God is being taught and fishing is taking place. For there is always time to fish! Fishing happens here and everywhere. This is our calling by Christ our Savior—Jesus Christ. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” (The Cost of Discipleship). Because we are the children of God, we want to go fishing. Fishing with the sweet net of the Gospel as it is proclaimed. PAUSE.

Daily our prayers should be that we would bathe ourselves and soak up everything that the Word of God offers us; to be the best fishermen. No matter what type of fishing we do, we should remember that the net is provided by Christ Himself. He is the One who has called us to be His followers and gives us His net—the Gospel to be His fishermen—because in His economy there is always time to fish.

Yet, we don’t always desire to go out fishing. We complain that it is too hot, too windy, too cold or just not the right day. But this is not our calling. Our calling is like the disciples in the text. When Christ the Fisherman called them, they dropped everything and went fishing. Because of them and others who have heard the voice of the Fisherman, Jesus; you and I have been caught in the Gospel net and receive grace upon grace.

Today, beloved, we remember who we are—the called children of the heavenly Father. We have been called and caught by the Gospel net of Jesus, just like Jonah was in the O.T. lesson. The Gospel net of Jesus embraces us and saves from drowning in the sea of death, and brings us to stand forever before the Throne of Grace.

This is done freely by the sweet message of the Gospel of Jesus—the Fisherman who permitted Himself to be caught in another net—the net of evil and wicked men who bound Him not with twine; but with chains and drove nails into His hands and feet and hung Him up to dry on the wood of the cross until He dies.

But through His death, He dived into the depth of hell to announce His victory to the most evil of them all—the devil himself and rose again to new life on the 3rd day. By this mighty and gracious act of love, we have been caught in His arms and there is nothing that can separate us from His net of love.

Since we have been caught and called, we now take His net of Word and Sacrament and cast it on the hearts of others that they too, may be pulled safely to shore, be fed by Him, strengthened for the journey by Him and live under Him forever and ever.

Because of this Fisherman Jesus, who died and rose for us, we have forgiveness of sins, and brings us into His sweet net that guarantees our eternity. The symbol of the cross over us gives us all of His blessings. Blessings that knows no end because we are in His net of love. Thanks be to God, that we have been caught in His gospel net. Amen.

Now the peace…