Sacrament of Altar Part I
August 23, 2017
I Corinthians 11:23-24 – I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, “This is My body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.
The kingdom of God is like a family where three and sometimes four generations attend their Lord’s Supper together. As they do so, they say to anybody who is watching that Jesus Christ died for them, He rose up again for them, and they believe He is coming back again for them. Again and again their sins are forgiven, their faults are forgotten, and their failures are erased. It has become the high point of their family circle, and their joy in the Lord just keeps on getting deeper and deeper.
First in a Series of 13 sermons on Six Chief Parts
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[f] to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be[g] in you.
Dear Friends in Christ
Dr. Dale Meyer devotion: “What king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace” (Luke 14:31-32).
Today is the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway. December 7, 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor cripples the American navy. April, 1942, the Doolittle raid on Tokyo stuns the enemy but is militarily indecisive. Now Japan intends to finish off American power in the Pacific with a surprise attack on “AF.” But what did the Japanese code “AF” designate? Hawaii? San Diego? Australia? Our intelligence concludes AF is Midway, a small atoll halfway between Asia and North America. June 4-7, 1942: Outmanned 2 to 1 (the same proportion Jesus used), Americans ambush the Japanese, sink four carriers, losing only one, the Yorktown. “Japan’s six-month blitzkrieg had been stunningly halted, never to be resumed.”
· At the cross, the blitzkrieg of every one of our enemies was halted in stunning fashion, never to be resumed. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
· If you love me, keep my commandments.
1) Three kinds of law – moral (tells all men duties towards God and men), ceremonial (regulated the religious practices of the Jews in OT),political (state law of Jews). Only the moral law was written into our hearts. Jesus fulfilled and ended ceremonial and political law,
2) Summary of first table / second table
· Thou shalt have no other gods before me / besides me. God doesn’t want to be first on the list/ demands He be the only one on the list. As any good husband is properly “jealous” of his wife’s love, so is God “jealous” of our love.
1) Large Catechism, “A god is that to which we look for all good and in which we find refuge in every time of need. To have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe him with our whole heart.
2) Examples of fearing other gods more than God –what other people are thinking or saying of us / those who can hurt the body but not the soul / the loss of romance in youth / loss of jobs or homes in middle age / abilities in old age
3) Examples of loving other gods more than God– money and that which money can buy / left over giving / how much shall I keep for myself?
4) Examples of trusting other gods/ trusting in bank accounts/ having food and clothing let us therewith be content
· Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy god in vain. One of God’s love languages is words of affirmation / He cares how we use His Name / He cares about the words of praise and thanks we bring to him/ story of mom crying when I used a bad word.
3) Deceiving by God’s name
4) Calling upon it in every trouble, pray praise and give thanks
· Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy/ love language of quality time /God cares that we spend time in His Word / time in His sanctuary / that we find a proper balance between work, play, and rest/ Debi and I were just having a conversation about that in recent days.
1) Forbidden to despise preaching and His Word
2) Required to hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it
Three thoughts in closing:
1) Imagine tears trickling down our Father’s face when we love money and all that money can buy more than Him who spared not His only Son. If you love me, keep my commandments.
2) Imagine Jesus weeping when we lace our conversations with profanity for no good reason at all. If you love me, keep my commandments.
3) Imagine the Spirit of God grieved when so many professing Christians drift away from their local congregations/ absenting themselves from the Holy Supper / rushing into busy days without time in His Word. If you love me, keep my commandments.
The Kingdom of God is like a large church in a small town full of people who keep on falling short, but their Father in heaven keeps on giving them a second chance. They have so many good intentions which so very often go so awry, but Jesus Christ keeps on interceding on their behalf. They really do love God, but they have all kinds of competing desires that more often than they care to admit win the day, but the Spirit of God keeps on guiding, He keeps on teaching, He keeps on comforting, He keeps on blessing, keeps on whispering, Blessed are they who hear the Word of God and keep it.
Day of Pentecost, 2017
Acts 2: 12-13 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
Dear Friends in Christ
The author and preacher John Piper tells a story of two elderly women who had given their “retirement” years to go to Cameroon for the sake of the Gospel. They had been killed when their brakes gave out and their car plunged over a cliff. He asked, Was that a tragedy? He answered his own question, “No, that wasn’t a tragedy. Let me tell you about a tragedy.” He cited a Readers Digest article about how many Americans are taking early retirement so that they can pursue their own pleasure. One couple had bought a yacht and spent their time sailing off the coast of Florida, collecting seashells. Piper said, “Now that’s a tragedy!” Can you imagine this couple standing before God at the judgment and saying, “Here’s our seashell collection, Lord.”
At least two different ways we can live out the retirement chapter of our lives, or any chapter of life, for that matter. We can live them with definite purpose or with no particular purpose. We can live them controlled by the Holy Spirit or controlled by our sinful nature. We can live them for Christ or for me, myself, and I. We can live our days with the Festival of Pentecost uppermost in our minds, or with Pentecost as pretty an afterthought.
This morning, we ask the question Lutherans have asked for 500 years now, we ask the question Martin Luther loved to ask he wrestled with interpreting Scripture, we ask the question thousands of people from all over the world gathered in Jerusalem 50 days after the resurrection, 10 days after Jesus had ascended, we ask, What does thisPentecost mean?
What does this mean that the Spirit of God was poured out in superabundant fashion on the early church? What does this mean that there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind ,and what does this mean that there were tongues of fire that appeared and rested on the disciples’ heads, and what does this mean the first disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and could speak in languages they had never studied?
One question is before us today, with two answers. The question is, What does Pentecost mean for New Testament Christians?
Answer #1 is that Pentecost means that you can’t keep good men, women, or children (down). No doubt you’ve heard the idiom that “you can’t keep a good man down.” The history of that old saying goes all the way back to the story of Joseph in Genesis. His brothers threw him down in a well, but God saw to it he didn’t die then and there. His brothers sold him down into slavery in Egypt, but God saw to it he didn’t languish in slavery. Potiphar’s wife saw to it that he was falsely accused and thrown into prison, but God saw to it his story didn’t end there. Over the years, Joseph learned what we want to learn again today, God has a plan to turn every bit of evil in our lives into good. Two truths we would learn today about what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit as New Testament Christians.
First, we learn again that God isn’t just for us, He is (inside of us). Certainly the disciples were aware of Divine Presence while Jesus walked alongside of them in His earthly ministry. They could see with their own eyes, you can’t keep a good man down. No doubt they were already asking what does this mean? What does this mean to be baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit? What does this mean to take and eat, this is my body, to take and drink, all of you, this is my blood? What does this mean that out of our hearts will flow rivers of living water? What does this mean that we will be dragged before emperors and kinds with an opportunity to witness to our Master?
No doubt they were already beginning to grasp the idea that if God is for us, who can be against us. And now, on this day that had been promised by Joel and also by Jesus, now what does this mean that God isn’t just for us, He is inside of us? Paul would say it this way to the Corinthians, it means that we have a treasure in jars of clay to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us, it means that we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, it means we will be perplexed, but not driven to despair, it means we will be persecuted, but not forsaken, it means we will be struck down, but not destroyed, it means that we will always be carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our bodies.
Pentecost’s reality is that not only can’t you keep a good man down, you can’t keep good women and children down either. We’re good people, of course, not because we have led such good lives, but because the blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed us from every one of our sins. We’re good people not because we have earned that title, but because we have been baptized into the very family of God, the sign of the cross has been placed on foreheads and on our hearts, and in that moment, a river of living water started to flow not just for us, but inside of us.
The Spirit binds us together (into the Church) What the early Jewish Christians learned that day was that the Gospel wasn’t just for the Jews, it was also for the Gentiles. Not just for the circumcised, but also for the uncircumcised. All that God has done for the world in Jesus Christ is implanted in the hearts of all who confess their sins and receive the greatest and best of all God’s gifts – the Holy Spirit. The Day of Pentecost is not the end of the story by any means. It is the beginning of a new era. On that day, the disciples became apostles. From that day forward, they weren’t just called to be followers, now they were sent forth from Jerusalem telling what had happened to them. From that day forward, their faith wasn’t just meant to help them survive, it was to be a contagious, turn your world upside down kind of a faith. From that day forward, men and women regardless of race of class would be having a new experience with the Spirit of God, they would be lifted out of themselves, they would be, introduced to a spontaneous goodness for which they could claim no credit. They wouldn’t need to wait for the Spirit of God to move a prophet to prophesy, the Spirit of God would be on the inside of each one of them. The Spirit would be binding them together into the one holy, Christian, and apostolic faith.
From that day forward, by virtue of their baptism into the Name of the Triune God, they would be given a unity they did not deserve nor understand, their assignment was to guard that unity, to celebrate that Good News, to spread the message that had come to pass that everyone who calls uponthe name of the Lord shall be saved.
Which brings us to a second answer to the question, what does this mean? What does Pentecost mean? First Pentecost means that you will never again be able to keep good men, women, or children down, secondly Pentecost means no more minding our own (business). Two of my father’s core principles in life were to take care of business and to mind your own business. He didn’t say very much, he wasn’t at all flashy or famous, he just kept it short and simple, finish what you start, if you’re going to do something, do it right, don’t be sticking your nose in other people’s affairs. And in so many ways, those are terrific core values to have and to practice.
With at least one exception. Let’s call it the Pentecost exception. From that day forward, the mission of the Church would be to scatter to the four corners of the earth and plant Christian congregations. Congregations where the Word of God would be proclaimed, Law and Gospel would be correctly divided, and Sacraments would be administered. Congregations where hurting people would be helped, broken hearts would be mended, and troubled souls would be comforted. Congregations where the cross would be lifted high, resurrection would be celebrated, and Pentecost would be the driving force. Two truths the New Testament Church needs to understand.
Truth #1 - Christ came first for the Jews, and then also for the (Gentiles). The 21st century mindset is that good gifts should be offered to all in equal measure, at the same time, with liberty and justice for all. But God’s mindset has always been to take his time, train a smaller group of people, and then to send that trained group of folks out to the masses. That’s what He did by taking his time with the small and insignificant nation of Israel, to take them through centuries of rigorous trial and error training, and on the day of Pentecost, to set them loose with the Gospel to the far corners of humanity. That’s what Jesus did with a small band of disciples, to take them through three years of rigorous trial and error training, and on the day of Pentecost, to set them loose with the forgiveness of sins to Judea and Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the world. That’s what the Spirit of God has done with this church and school. All year long, for 137 years now in this place, the Holy Spirit has taken his time with us, week after week He molds us and shapes us through trial and error with Word and with Sacrament, on every year on the day of Pentecost, He sets us loose with a joy that just cannot be contained, he sets us loose with a fire that cannot be hidden, he sets us loose with a river that flows up and over its banks. Christ came first for the Jews, and then also for the Gentiles. First for those who were raised up in the Church and then for those who are still on the outside looking in.
Truth #2 - The Spirit provides the fire power for us not only to be saved, but to (prophesy). When Peter says that in the last days, your sons and daughters shall prophesy, he’s not saying that all of us will be able to predict the future in a supernatural kind of a way. He is saying that all of us will be able to speak on behalf of Jesus Christ. He’s not saying that we’re all called to be pastors and missionaries to far away places, he’s saying we are all called to listen carefully to broken hearted people all around us, he’s saying we’re all called to pray with those who are at their wit’s end in life, he’s saying we’re all called on to speak of that which we have seen and heard to be true, he’s saying we’re all called on to not just be minding our own business in life, we’re called on to be about our Father’s business in a thousand and one different ways, in every one of our days.
Debi and I were reading a devotion for older folks by Jane Wilkie (a college friend of ours), the other day. She wrote that many of us have prayed the prayer, “if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. She proceeded to turn that little prayer upside down by suggesting this prayer, If I should wake before I die, I pray the Lord to show me (why!) Her point was this – it’s tempting for us in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod to be what Billy Graham is said to have said about us years ago – that we are a sleeping giant. In other words, that we have a strong message of truth and purity inside of us, but that we pretty much keep it to ourselves.
If I should wake before I die, I pray the Lord to show me why. The kingdom of God is like a large church in a small town full of folks who are waking up to the fact that life isn’t so much about me, it’s about Jesus Christ. They are realizing more and more that life isn’t so much about my needs being met, it’s about walking alongside of others making sure their needs are being met. Less and less do they wonder what they can get out of the sermon every Sunday and more and more do they wonder what it means to have the Spirit of God poured out and spilling over. More and more do they wonder what it means “that your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
5th in a Series of Six Sermons
Fifth Sunday of Easter /May 21, 2017
13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.
Dear Friends in Christ,
In our Easter sermon series, we have invited you to focus on the simple truth that the road to your future runs right through the past of the ancient church. This sermon is the fifth in a series of six. First we gave attention to the ancient future God, second to His Word, third to the role of suffering, and last Sunday to the Church. This morning – Ancient Future Promises. Two questions we ask today – first what does it mean to be in the family of God? Second, what does it mean to rest in the promises of God?
The Neighborhood Bully
A true story is told of a boy that was getting picked on by the neighborhood bully. The bully teased and he taunted, he ridiculed, he ranted, and he raved, he pushed and he shoved day after day until one day with his Marine Corp dad happened to see what was happening. This dad did what any good father would do. He picked up the neighborhood bully by the scruff of his neck and scared the living daylights out of him. He held him in the air until it was clear that he understood that if this bullying happened even one more time, there would be hell to pay.
From that day forward, the boy that had been getting picked on rested in his dad’s strength, he rested in his dad’s promises, he rested in his dad’s faithfulness. Dear Christian friends, when Jesus Christ suffered once for our sins under Pontius Pilate, when Jesus Christ was crucified until he was dead and buried, when Jesus Christ was raised again on the third day and went down into hell and proclaimed victory to a multitude of eternal losers, this is what He was doing. He was picking the devil and all the forces of evil up by the scruff of their neck, he was telling these neighborhood bullies there was a new sheriff in town. He was announcing once and for all that their days of taunting, teasing, and tempting the people of God into all kinds of despair and doubt were done. He was proclaiming to the world their days of ridiculing and ranting and raving and ruling in the hearts and minds of God’s precious people were finished. He was inviting one and all to be in his family and to rest in his promises.
Three meditations we offer now, what that meant for Noah’s family, what that meant for the early Christians to whom Peter was writing, and what that means for us today
For Noah’s family, resting in the promises of God meant 120 years of preparation and then going for the ride of a (lifetime). At a recent pastors’ conference, we listened to a St. Louis Seminary Professor of history who indicated that he tells his classes of seminarians these two things. First, that sometime between Jesus and your grandma, things happened. Second, the Word of God was in your congregation long before you got there, and if you don’t screw it up, it will be there after you leave. Another way of saying that the road to your future, dear friends, runs right through your past.
The ancient story of Noah teaches us first of all how patient is our God and secondly how there is a definite limit to that patience. For 120 years God waited while Noah built that ark. For 120 years, God waited for repentance and faith, he waited in vain. For 120 years, men remained fixed and hardened in their disobedience and in unbelief. It’s not hard to imagine them laughing at Noah for building a big boat on dry land, no doubt they teased and they taunted, in today’s text, these scoffers, these who would not listen, these who went about life ignoring every possible warning sign they could ignore are identified as spirits in prison getting paid a surprise visiting early one Sunday morning by a risen Christ.
For Noah’s family, the same water that drowned so many served as their salvation. Resting in God’s promises for them meant riding out the mother of all storms, it meant being safe and secure in an ark 450 feet long, 75feet wide, and 45 feet high, it meant trusting that God was a promise keeper, it meant believing that which they could not see, it meant coming face to face with a God whose patience may seem endless, but it’s not.
For early Christians, resting in the promises of God meant believing that there was a significant purpose to their (suffering). Peter was writing to Christians who were under the threat of persecution if they did not burn incense to the emperor as a personification of the divine spirit of Rome. He urged them to stand strong in their faithfulness to Jesus. He invited them to believe they were being blessed even though it felt like they were being cursed.
Jesus had already told his apostles they would be brought before kings and emperors on account of his name, which in God’s upside down way of thinking would be a good thing. What would feel like the end of their world would actually be an opportunity to be His witnesses. Jesus had already told them not to worry beforehand how to defend themselves because He would give them words of wisdom their adversaries would not be able to contradict. Here Peter reaffirmed it for early Christians that their good behavior would give credibility to their message of hope, their gentle and respectful testimony to Jesus Christ would be blessed beyond their wildest dreams to the far corners of the world, their enemies would be put to shame, their suffering would carry with it significant purpose.
Early Christians were to never forget their Savior had suffered once for their sins, and therefore their sins had already been forgiven. Their baptism into the family of God meant they would never have to live as orphans, it meant the Spirit of God would dwell with them and be inside of them, it meant they could look themselves in the mirror at night, the mercies of God would be new in the morning. Their baptism into the family of God had saved them, it had washed them clean, their Savior was sitting at the right hand of their God, they could rest in the simple truth they had friends in high places.
For us, resting in the promises of God means living safe in the ark of the Christian Church with a cleansed (conscience). Just yesterday little Paxton Kaminiski was born again into the kingdom of God. He is the brother of Payton Rose, he is the brother of Tatum, son of Scott and Kate by virtue of his first birth. He is brother of Jesus, he is the brother of all baptized believers worldwide, he is the son of his father in heaven by virtue of his second birth. We prayed yesterday that he would be kept safe and secure in the ark of the holy Christian Church, we marked him with the sign of the cross both upon his forehead and upon his heart, we poured water on him in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and as we did so, this congregation made a promise to walk with him, to encourage him, to pray for him, to help him to live with a clear conscience in all the chapters of his life.
The kingdom of God is like a large church in a small town full of folks who consciences are stained and soiled and at the same time free and clear. Left to themselves, they would be at the mercy at the neighborhood bullies who reside in dark and invisible places, but they have not been left to themselves. More and more these folks make the sign of the cross and remember who they are, less and less the worry about what the future holds. More and more they go about their vocations with the peace only their best friend forever can give, less and less they are afraid of their enemies. More and more they get asked for the reason for the hope that is within them, less and less do they keep good news for themselves. For them, resting in the promises of God is like spending time at a family reunion, knowing they belong, reminiscing about the good old days, looking forward to days even better.
“I can’t imagine not having a family.” A good friend of this congregation told me just this week that he and his wife were adopting a boy who just turned 18. If all goes well, he will soon be the big brother of three siblings, the son of stable and loving parents, he will have cousins he hasn’t even meet, aunts and uncles who already have a place in their hearts for him. When I asked my good friend why he was adopting this young man, he told me this boy’s story full of bouncing around from one foster home to another, a story of brokenness, a story where kindness and patience seemed to be mostly missing. Then he told me what I won’t soon forget, he said he couldn’t imagine this boy turning age 21 and not having a family. It seemed the logical thing to do, and so they made the decision not to let this boy be an orphan. This very day, this good friend of ours, now a preacher, is no doubt reading and hearing this promise from heaven above, “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good. But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed…..Even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed.
Second Sunday of Easter
I Peter 1 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
Dear Friends in Christ,
A little girl named Mary lay in bed, she was crippled, she was crying, and she was complaining to her mom. She had been crippled with a serious nervous disorder, and she would be crippled for life. Three questions she asked one day, “If Jesus loves me, why do I have to be like this? Why can’t I play like the other children? Why do I have to hurt so much, mama?”
Perhaps you have asked or tried to answer questions like that in days gone by. Perhaps you are asking or trying to answer questions like that these days. Perhaps you will be asking or trying to answer questions like that in days yet to come.
No doubt Mary’s mom had asked those same questions, no doubt she had given much thought to how she might answer. Here is what she did answer one day, no doubt with tears in her eyes and a lump in her throat, “God’s children are like jewels, Mary, like sparkling jewels that shine. But jewels are made beautiful through cutting and polishing. And that cutting and polishing can hurt. The sparkle of a jewel depends on how smoothly it is polished. Always remember, Mary, that God does not polish his jewels because he wants to hurt them, but because he wants to make them shine with bright faith and purified love.”
Do you see what Mary’s mom just did? She turned three of the most difficult questions about God a child could ever ask a parent into words of high praise for God. High praise is what the word for eulogy originally meant. In our circles, to eulogize someone usually refers to writing or saying really good things about a person who has died. In I Peter 1:3-9, Peter is eulogizing, he is blessing, he is praising a person who died and rose up again. More than that, he is eulogizing, he is praising, he is blessing the one true and almighty God of this universe. Our text is a doxology of praise to God who was, who is, and who always will be. Three invitations we would consider today with regard to these words of high praise, 1) eulogizing our ancient God for birthing us, 2)eulogizing our present God for guarding, and 3)eulogizing our future God for testing us. Birthing, guarding, and testing.
First of all, we join Peter and early and persecuted Christians in Eulogizing our ancient God for (birthing us). Our Easter sermon series carries the theme, “Ancient Future Faith,” which is the title of a book written by Dr. Robert Weber. and in the weeks yet to come, we focus on how the road to the future runs right through the past. He wonders what evangelical Christianity might look like in the future and speculates that the answers will be found in examining past history.
He invites the reader to think about what it means to be a countercultural community that invites people to be shaped by the story of Israel and Jesus. The premise of this book fits well with the Epistle lessons appointed for these six weeks in Easter, which are taken from I Peter. I Peter, Pastor Muther tells me, is the New Testament book most saturated with Old Testament writings. And so we learn what it means to live as New Testament Christians by immersing ourselves in Old Testament based invitations. Three invitations and three questions for you today as we are still and know that God is God.
Invitation #1 today is to be shaped by the truth that according to His great mercy, God has caused Israel and us to be born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Not a single one of us decided of our own free will to be in the Christian family, we were born again through the waters of Holy Baptism into this family. Not a one of us came by our own reason or strength to the realization that Jesus is Lord, the Holy Spirit has called us by the Gospel, He has gathered us into His Church, He has enlightened us with His gifts. Not a one of us deserved to have God shower us with mercy, mercy is by definition undeserved. Not a one of us merited the grace of God to be given us, grace is by definition unmerited.
The Spirit of God would invite us today to think of ourselves as sinners born again into a lively hope, we have been baptized into an inheritance that will never be corrupted, it will never be stained, it will never fade away, it is in fact safeguarded in the heavens for us. The road to your future runs right through a road already traveled by the nation of Israel, a road traveled in anticipation of a Messiah long prophecied. The road to your future runs right through a road already traveled by your Savior, he traveled that road with a perfection that you could never attain, he traveled that road by suffering all that you needed him to suffer, he traveled that road by dying the death you needed him to die, and by rising up never to die again. The road to your future runs right through the waters of Baptism where you were claimed as child of your Father in heaven, you were marked with the sign of the cross, you were washed in the very blood of the lamb. Question #1 – what does it mean to be kept safe in the ark of the Christian Church in all the chapters of life?
5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Secondly, we would join Peter and the early and suffering Christians in Eulogizing our present God for (protecting us) In the first part of this doxology, Peter praised God for being merciful, he praised Jesus Christ for living and dying and then living again, he praised the Triune God for saving us, now he eulogizes, he praises, he blesses God for being omnipotent. He blessed God for protecting us from enemies who would steal away our inheritance.
The Psalmist speaks of God as the keeper of Israel who never slumbers nor sleeps. Luther prays in the 6th petition that God would so guard and keep us that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us nor entice us into misbelief and other great shame or vice. It was the omnipotence of God that kept Daniel safe in the lions’ den, it was the omnipotence of God that kept safe the three men in the fiery furnace, it was the omnipotence of God that set boundaries for Satan in afflicting Job, it was the omnipotence of God that freed Peter from Herod’s prison, it preserved Paul amid dangers and hardships. It is the power of God that we pray for when we ask him to send his holy angels to be with us, that the wicked foe may have no power over us.
The road to our future runs through a road already traveled by Israel, a road already traveled by Jesus. Israel would learn the beauty of the Promised Land only after God had guarded them through the ugliness of wilderness wandering. Jesus would enjoy the glory of resurrection only after His Father and His angels had guarded Him through the darkness of Gethsemane and the curse of the cross. Question #2 today, what does it mean to live with a heart that is resting, lips that are praising, and a faith that is being protected in all the circumstances of life?
First in this doxology, we praised God for birthing us into His family, second we praised Him for guarding us the way good fathers guard their children, and third we praise Him for putting us to the test. First, we blessed God for His great mercy shown in the past, second for His power happening even in our present, and third we bless Him for His willingness to discipline us in the future.
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Finally, we would join Peter and the early and suffering Christians in Eulogizing our future God for (testing us). The kingdom of God is like a blacksmith who fires up the furnace, he holds the gold close to the fire to make sure it is tested, he can be heard to mutter to the gold, “this hurts me as much as it hurts you.”
The kingdom of God is like a good father who sets clear boundaries, and when his son crosses the line, he disciplines, and even as he disciplines, he is heard to be saying, “this hurts me more than it hurts you.”
The kingdom of God is like a man who suffers more than his share of grief as life goes along. Some of it is self-inflicted, some of it is inflicted by people in his life who keep on disappointing, some of it comes through no fault of him or anybody else, it’s just because his world is as messed up as it can be. Slowly, but surely, he is able to rejoice in his sufferings, they keep on resulting in the praise and honor of His Savior. He can’t really see what God is up to in the day to day struggling through, but believes with all His heart that his God is shaping him into the man who is more and more the man he is called to be.
Question #3- what does it mean to get to that point in life where you actually rejoice in your trials, knowing they have great potential to draw you closer and closer to your God?
Agnes’ last words to her pastor. A few of you might remember Agnes, who was the sister of Erna, Anne, and Martin among others, she was a daughter to old and faithful Pastor Winter, who served as pastor here for 29 years, from 1905 to 1934. She attended every Bible class she could possibly attend and with all her heart she treasured the central article of Lutheran theology that we are saved by the grace of God alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone. She walked with a cane, and once in awhile she would get pretty fired up and use her cane for emphasis. In one of her last conversations with me, I was telling her how much I appreciated her faithfulness to God’s Word, she made it clear to me that her funeral sermon should have nothing to do with her good life and everything to do with giving glory to God. She looked me in the eyes and said, “if you start eulogizing me, if you start saying nice things about me in that sermon, I just might sit up in my casket and tell you to knock it off!”
She wanted what Peter wanted in our text for today, and what we would do well to want, that God be eulogized for birthing her in the first place, that God be praised for guarding her in faith all the way to the end in the second place, and yes that God be blessed even for testing her with all kinds of trials along the way. In Jesus’ Name and for His glory!
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther