Teachers do not keep secrets, why do people think God does?
Sorry, no manuscript for this post.
Teachers do not keep secrets, why do people think God does?
Sorry, no manuscript for this post.
Sorry, no manuscript for this at this time.
09 December 2012 Trinity – Sturgis
Grace, Mercy & Peace – text from Holy Spirit – Apostle Luke 3:1-14
As we’re heading down the road, we come up on a sign that reads “Road Construction Ahead.” What goes through our minds? “Uh-oh. Now we have to slow down” or maybe “Great! There goes my schedule!” or perhaps we’re a bit more positive with thoughts of “Finally, NOW they’re going to fix this bumpy, broken old path!” Whatever passes through our mind, perhaps all of these, we know there will be times of delay and difficulty, mixed with times of promise then followed by a wonderful completion and future on The Way which we travel.
II. Construction Foreman Introduced
Luke 3:1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Here we are introduced to ‘John the son of Zechariah’. We could call him the foreman for the road construction project. Of course, unlike those of the temple during the priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, we recognize the foretelling of John don’t we?
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me…” [Malachi 3:1]
Yes, God had placed that sign on Israel’s road long before the construction was to occur. And in our Gospel text today, the Holy Spirit tells us through the Apostle Luke of when the work was actually taking place. With this information, you and I can go to the history books and actually point to when this was happening. Documents of Rome tell us that Tiberius Caesar was co-regent with Caesar Augustus in AD 11, then sole emperor from AD 14 to 37. Thus in the 15th year was around AD 26 to 29. Other Roman documents tell us that Pontius Pilate was prefect or procurator over Judea and Samaria during AD 26 to 36 which agrees with the dates for Tiberius. Hebraic documents AND Roman documents tell us that Herod (Antipas), son of Herod the Great, was appointed ‘tetrarch’ over Galilee and Perea 4BC to AD 39 – yet another agreement with all the other documents. Again, Hebraic records and Roman documents along with the historian Josephus tell us that another son of Herod the Great, Philip ruled over Lysanias from 4BC to AD 34, still another agreement with all the Roman and Israeli historical documents. Finally, rabbinical documents and archeological engravings tell us that Caiaphas was the high priest in the Jerusalem Temple from AD 18 to 37, following the Roman appointment of his father-in-law, Annas.
You see, by giving all of these names of historically real people, true dates can be found as to when John, the cousin of our Lord, actually stood in the wilderness and preached. For John the Baptizer was the last prophet of the Old Testament and the first New Testament person to publicly declare the Messiah has arrived. And our text actually points out that it was through John’s preaching that the road work began and that it had been foretold:
III. Construction Foreman’s Mission
4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ”
7 He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” [¶] 10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”
Doesn’t John’s quote of Isaiah sound like road construction? “Every Valley … filled”, “every mountain … made low”, “the crooked…[made] straight” and “rough places…[made] level” ?
And just like a construction foreman giving his observers and laborers instructions in response to their requests for work plans and assignments, John “gives it to ‘em” in very clear, no-nonsense terms. He warns them of the coming times. He tells them that they had been told of this construction work. That if they think they were prepared for the construction difficulties…they had not. If they think that they deserved better service, well … that just isn’t the case. [PAUSE]
Could John be talking to us? Are we HERE this morning to give all the Glory to God for His gift of grace…or are we here simply to hedge our bets? We know that our Messiah … THE Messiah of the World is coming. After all, this is the second Sunday of Advent…which means “coming”.
We know that repentance is a sign for our reception of salvation. Have we ‘done’ that? Have we repented? To use John’s words…Do we give [half] of what we have to those who have not? Do we only take from others what we have coming to us? Do we steal things or seek to acquire the things of others through less-than-God-pleasing ways? [PAUSE] If we participate in things that MIGHT be construed in these ways, I suggest that we should expect a very, very bumpy road. Just as the weather takes a toll on the surface of the road in which we travel, SIN has made our way very difficult and full of turmoil. Not only that, but OUR SIN has made the roads of others less than favorable!
And what are we to DO regarding these wrongs… these sins which each of us are so guilty of? Are we to expect to be the trees which are to be laid waste? Are we to shudder as we consider the fire which John speaks of? Are we to fear the wrath of God when all time has come to completion? [PAUSE] Is the road before us one of terrible passage? Does it end in a concrete barrier with a sign that says “Dead End” ?
III. The Path Before Us
Absolutely NOT! <REPEAT> For Luke’s writing continues to tell us, in the next few verses that John was truly there to foretell of a better road…a better WAY… beginning at v16, John tells us
16 … “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming…, He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit … 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn , but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 18 So with many other exhortations [John] preached good news to the people.
You and I have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Although that baptism consisted of water, God used that water to deliver the Holy Spirit unto us! Those of unrepentant hearts, the chaff, shall be burned in unquenchable fire!
However, our path, our road, our Way has been prepared before us through our baptism and the faith given us.
For, through that baptism and the continued work of the Holy Spirit in us, we are told that our Lord Jesus Christ speaks to us when He states in John 14[:6-7]…
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Our Lord Jesus is … the Way. You see, John was the construction foreman for the preparation of the road…the Way. Yet, Jesus IS the Way! Jesus has made straight the path for our salvation. Although, as we travel the worldly path…even though we struggle with the sin… the ruts and potholes in the world each day… you and I seek God’s forgiveness for our wrongs. Even though we fail in avoiding sin, our Heavenly Father knows of our stumbling along the path. That’s why He sent His only begotten Son to pay the price for your sin…and mine. My beloved brothers & sisters in Christ, John prepared the road for our Savior, yet Christ paved that road with His very body and blood on the cross of Calvary. Even though we might attempt to pave our the path of our salvation with our good intentions, those are unnecessary since Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice…the only sacrifice possible and necessary for our salvation. Through no work of our own, we shall come before our Triune God.
Yes, in this season of Advent, we look to the celebration of our Lord’s first advent…Christ-mass. And we also look forward to our Lord’s coming again…when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. And we hold to the truth that He is the only Way unto the Father. Thanks be to God…you and I shall one day look behind us and see a ruinous path, yet we shall look before us and see only God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Where we shall dwell in peace, joy, light and thankfulness for all eternity.
So as we continue to await the coming…the Advent… of the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us also wait for the Second Advent of our Lord in faith and hope.
+ in nomine jesu +
May the peace which passes all understanding keep your hearts & minds in Christ Jesus. Amen
06 December 2012 StJohn – Wannatah / LaCrosse
Grace Mercy & Peace – text from Holy Spirit – Apostle Luke 19:19-40
Well, we’ve just passed through the Thanksgiving season. Where our National focus has hypothetically been on thankfulness for what we have as Americans. Each of us focus on giving thanks for good families, wonderful friends, our great country where we enjoy many, many freedoms, and for those who make sacrifices so that our needs and safety are guaranteed. Yes, we focus on giving thanks for many things.
Yet, I dare suggest that if a survey was done on the street, during what is now the busiest shopping season of the year,… if we asked average America WHO they gave thanks TO last week and who they are focused on NOW, that it would not be the same single focus point as you and I have. I’m sure you would agree with me that for the beginning of each day, each worship service, each prayer we offer and each meal we eat our focus is on the same individual who is the center of today’s Gospel text. As a matter of fact:
AS JESUS’ FOCUS IS ON HIS DESTINATION,
OUR THANKFUL FOCUS IS ON HIS GIFT PAID THERE AS WELL AS OUR ULTIMATE DESTINATION.
II. Jesus’ focus
28 And when [Jesus] had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’ ” 32 So those who were sent, went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road..
Here, in this text, we are mid-way through Chapter 19 of Luke. We should recall that Jesus has recently spoken of His future. In Luke 18:32 He reminds the twelve that:
“See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”
Jesus KNOWS where He is bound for and He tells the twelve both the geographic location AND the ultimate sacrifice which He is to pay. Thus, they keep on walking to where Jesus has attempted to put their attention. Then, on His way to Jerusalem…the location of His focused destination, they passed through Jericho where He told them:
“Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
[PAUSE]“…to save the lost.” Jesus gives this explanation upon calling a notoriously wealthy tax collector, Zacchaeus, to faith and repentance. Immediately afterward, Luke tells us that Jesus continues to teach in parable of His necessary departure and return (in Luke 18:11)
“…because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately”
He returns to the Abrahamic promise in attempts to keep the twelve focused on the prophecies. Remember the prophecies? God promised Abraham that his children would be as the number of stars in the heavens. Isaiah wrote of God’s promise that
“the ransomed of the Lord shall return…” and sing with “…everlasting joy…and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isaiah 36:10)
Yes,…everlasting joy for the Lord’s lost. BUT first remember, the OTHER prophecies as Jesus had attempted to during recent weeks, to focus the disciples’ attention,
“…he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
Why, Jesus attempts continued in today’s text… with the intentional fulfilling of Zechariah’s [9:9] prophecy
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Yes, Jesus had His focus…on His destination. And He made every attempt to cause His disciples to focus there as well. What of our focus? Today… [Date of Delivery] are we focused on Jerusalem?
III. Our focus
Today is the first Sunday in the church season of Advent. Advent means…. “coming” But for us… what or what is coming? Are we looking forward to four short weeks when Santa will come? Is our focus on the coming of all those relatives (yet again) for another big celebration? Are we focused on the coming of all those packages for our enjoyment? [PAUSE]
The World tells us that we should focus on huge extravagant meals for friends & family. The World tells us that we should focus on our anticipation of what our friends and family will GIVE to US by piling it under the Tree. The World wants us to think that we can sin now, yet ask for forgiveness later. That we can wait for the SECOND advent of our Lord to throw ourselves on His mercy…That we only need to change our focus to our Lord when He returns, descending in the clouds. And then we will receive forgiveness of our sins.
Are we focusing on the things the World wants us to focus on? OR are we focused on the things our Lord wants us to be focused on? Are we watching for what can’t be predicted? Our unknown Worldly presents? OR is our focus on the one who had the focus of those in Jerusalem that day when a single rider road in on a donkey?
IV. Important Focus
37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
The crowd was focused on Jesus…their Messiah. They were quoting Scripture and proclaiming Him to be their king. The crowd even paraphrased our Lord’s first arrival…in Bethlehem. Here, it is the multitude of disciples saying…“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” In Chapter Two, Luke records the multitude of angels saying…“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace…”
Although there is a confusion amongst the people. Their focus is on the Christ…it is on Jesus! This is where our focus should be… on Jesus! NOT on gifts… NOT on family gatherings… NOT on debt…but on RICHNESS. The richness that we all share in BECAUSE of our Lord’s Focus on His mission. In our text, we are told that Christ was focused on His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. His Triumph was only a few short days or weeks ahead. His Triumph when He would pay that ultimate sacrifice for your sins and mine…for the sins of the entire world… for ALL TIME!
Here, in our text, we witness our Lord’s Advent into Jerusalem. He is focused on you and me during that Advent! AND He is still focused on us,,, this Advent…today…NOW!
As this year’s Advent season progresses let us not get lost. Let us not have our focus changed by the world around us. Today, we celebrate the beginning of Advent. We celebrate the Advent of our Lord. Let us not go into a frenzy and lose the Christ child among those other things that are coming as well. Let us not focus on Worldly things, but let us focus on Heavenly gifts. Let us have our focus be on our Lord’s first Advent – on Christ-mass. When He came, born of a Virgin on that first Christ-mass, our Lord’s focus from then on was His ultimate coming into Jerusalem, where He would greatly suffer and die, He was focused on the giving of His very Body and Blood on the cross. Such that your sins and mine would be forgiven! So that when His second advent occurs, when He returns to call all mankind before the throne of God, you and I will again receive His focus as you and I are invited into the New Creation. To spend all eternity with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit…to live in never ending light, joy and peace.
Unlike the gifts which will await you under the tree in four weeks, this most precious gift is already yours. The gift was given to you, not under the tree, but UPON THE TREE of Calvary. Christ set His Divinity aside on that day, He spread His arms in Submission to His Father’s will, and DIED for you and for me on that Cross. He gave up His very body and blood so that you and I could come before God and continue to receive the blessings of His most precious gift.
So as we our Lord’s first Advent…today, let us also look towards His second coming as well.
+ in nomine jesu +
May the peace with passes all understanding keep your focus on Jesus Christ. Amen.
In the Correct Order?
^ Audio/Slideshow Link Above ^
23 Oct 2011
Grace, Mercy, Peace – text from Holy Spirit – Apostle Matthew [22:34-46 (37-40 spec.)]
In 1537, while preaching on today’s text, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther asked:
What, then, are we to do when the Law constantly demands and drives us on, and, after all, we cannot keep it? For my conscience is ever judging me (I tell myself): Because I should love God with all my heart and my neighbor as myself, and, after all, I cannot do so, I must be damned; and God says yes and confirms the judgment. Who will help me in this predicament? Says the Law: I know of no way to help you. The Law simply desires and requires you to be obedient. (WLS#2362 preached by ML 30 Sept 1537 against Agricola & antinomians)
Father Luther was preaching against the attitudes of his day that were prevalent among many of the non-Lutheran reformers of his day, those which he called ‘antinomians’. To that matter, non-Lutheran protestants of today and sadly some who call themselves Lutheran, believe that because of our being saved by faith alone, there is no need to be obedient to any religious code…or law…INCLUDING that which God has given His children in the Old Testament.
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day had just the opposite problem. They believed and taught that strict adherence to the Law was all they NEEDED to do to obtain God’s favor. This can be understood from our Gospel lesson today…
II. The Law
(Matthew 22, ESV) 34 But when the Pharisees heard that [Jesus] had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
As I stated, the Pharisees knew that, because they followed ALL of the Law, they were not really concerned with how Jesus answer would affect them. No – they were rather prideful of how they followed the Torah and rabbinical law. They knew in their hearts that anything Jesus could say would not convict them.
The Pharisees were very much like many self-professed Christian believers of today. They knew in their self-proclaimed intellect that God is the Creator of all things and they loved Him so much they lived according to the Commandments (1st Commandment). They attended worship each weekend (2nd Commandment). They had always respected the elders of their family (4th Commandment). They had never stolen, murdered or committed adultery (5th, 6th & 7th Commandments). They had never lied about their neighbor nor did they want anything from their neighbors’ possessions (8th, 9th, 10th Commandments). As a matter of fact their neighbors weren’t as well off as they were, so why WOULD they want anything of theirs? (4’)
So they sent one of their best Law interpreters…a lawyer, to trip Jesus up with a very provocative question. And how did our Lord answer him? We read in…
(Matthew 22:37-40, ESV) “And [Jesus] said to [the Lawyer],‘You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’
Now, at first glance, we may not recognize our Lord’s restatement of Deuteronomy 6:5 nor the implication that I believe God had when these words were recorded, not only by Moses, but by Matthew and Luke. For God underlines where the primary place is for this love in Deuteronomy 6:6: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” (emp. added)
The Pharisees of Jesus day….the non-Lutheran church reformers of Brother Martin’s day AND many Christian believers today all suffer from the very same problem. It is common to attempt to use one’s intellect to determine if we are pleasing God. To rationalize how well we are following the Law. Perhaps to justify, to ourselves and others, that even what MIGHT be seen as a sin is really spiritual discernment and love.
The Pharisees thought they would send a scholar, one who ‘thought he knew’ what God’s Law said. They would do this, in their minds, to protect God’s people from a man with delusions of grandeur. After all, in their own minds, the Pharisees were intellectually superior to this…this…carpenter’s son from Galilee. And they had followed ‘to the letter’ the Law as given to Moses.
Today, there are many who think that they know how to please God. Thus they will come up with new a better ways to prove so. If they give more time and talent, if they spend more time at church, if they tell the public how good they are, if they vastly expand the roles of their churches, then…THEN God will truly be pleased with them. AND if God is pleased with them…their devotion to Christ will be recognized by not only those around them, but by GOD Himself. Yet, [NOTABLE PAUSE] God tells us through Moses, through Luke and through Matthew here that, our minds are the last place we should be concerned with loving Him.
First, we should love our God “with all our hearts”…..”and with all our souls.” But, WAIT! If we love Him first THERE, how will anyone ELSE know of our devotion!?
[PAUSE] That, brothers and sisters in Christ, is EXACTLY the point! It does not matter what others know or see. It most assuredly matters what our Father in Heaven sees when He looks upon us. Unfortunately, we know from Scripture that, if left to our OWN intellect and our OWN methods, when God looks upon us He sees our poor, miserable, sinful selves. He sees the heart that would spend time at the lake rather than attend worship. He sees the heart that is angry and spiteful when someone cuts it off in traffic. He sees the anger and verbal abuse which is cast at our government leaders. He sees the financial, property and other lusts which are felt when watching the successes of neighbors. Yes, although our neighbors may not ‘know’ of our inabilities to follow God’s Law…our Father in Heaven most assuredly knows. And He knows our inability to intellectually explain why we don’t follow His Law for He tells us through St Paul in Romans 7:(:15-21 ESV)
15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.[ 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.] 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. [For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.] 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.[ 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.]
III. The Gospel
Yes, our Heavenly Father knows all too well of our physical and mental failings. He is fully aware of our inability to keep His Law in our own actions, on our own accord. Thus, He sent His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus was born, by the power of the Holy Spirit, of the Virgin Mary. He was made Man. Jesus was wholly Man and wholly God. He came to teach us of the Father’s love for us. Yet, unlike you and me, Jesus could physically demonstrate His Love. Not only His Love for His Father in Heaven, but His Love for you and me. Jesus did this with clear demonstration through His betrayal, through the punishment which Man placed upon Him during His trial before Pilot and…Jesus demonstrated His love for you and me by giving up His very Body and Blood on the Cross of Calvary. He was nailed to that cross because of your sins and mine, because we CAN NOT, on our accord, do anything which is pleasing to God. ONLY due to the power of the Holy Spirit working in our hearts, are we found pleasing to God. ONLY due to the power of the Holy Spirit calling out to Him is the Father able to hear and heed our prayers. ONLY due to the faith granted us by the Holy Spirit can you and I be called “the children of God”. And that we are….Children of the Most High God.
So…when the time is right, when all is accomplished in God’s eyes, Jesus will come again. Jesus will come and all will look to Him and know in their hearts, their souls and their minds that Jesus is Lord. Those who have attempted to intellectually explain their faith may look upon Him in absolute fear and horror, for it will be clear to THEM at that moment that their hearts had not been first in loving God. However, for you and me, as well as for all the saints gone before, WE will look upon our descending Lord with thankfulness and faith. You and I will, in our hearts, in our souls and in our minds know that we will join with all the saints, with all the angels and archangels of Heaven giving all the glory to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Giving all praise and honor to our Triune God while living in His peace and confidence for ever.
+ in nomino jesu +
May the Peace which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen