Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent 1

I am home on break; today's readings were Isaiah 2:1-5 (sermon text), Romans 13:11-14, and Matthew 24:36-44.

We know the future, and it is Christ. God revealed this to Isaiah (whose book can be theologically considered the 5th Gospel), who confidently proclaims it. All else in the future may be dreary, but Jesus Christ is ever our hope and stay.

"Zion shall be established in the last days" - not literal, but saying that Christ (Hebrews 12) is the highest, exalted over all creation. While historically Judah was used by other nations, its Lion uses all nations for His glory. We are now with angels, praising this Glorious One! Looking in Acts 19, we see that "the Word of the LORD grew." We are in the last days (see Joel and Acts). "He shall judge . . . neither shall they learn war anymore." This will not happen in our lifetimes, nor by our own power. But in heaven there are no swords, only peace. God's promise is sure.

Soli Deo gloria.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christ the King Sunday

...aka Sunday of the Fulfillment, chronologically equivalent but liturgically diametrical. The sermon was based on all of today's texts, Jeremiah 23:2-6, Colossians 1:13-20, and Luke 23:32-43.

We may consider three sequential questions when contemplating our proper mood about what comes next, i.e. after death.
  1. Is there really a "next"? The crucified criminal believed so - there is something after death. With Christ, there is surety of paradise. All the saved will be with Him.
  2. How do we get there from here? We have nothing to do with it; it's all God's work. We are in trouble - therefore He rescued us. We belong from birth to Satan and death - therefore He redeemed us "not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood." We are born God's enemies - therefore Christ reconciled us to God. We are sinful - therefore He is the LORD our Righteousness. Finally, He remembers us in His kingdom. This is what gets us to paradise. He dies that we may live.
  3. Am I personally going to heaven? Each person must ask this question. Jesus Christ is the answer.
Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom; into Your hands I commend my spirit.

Soli Deo gloria.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pentecost 25 (Proper 28)

Today's readings were Malachi 4:1-6, 1 Peter 4:12-19, and Luke 21:5-19; the sermon text was Matthew 5:11-12.

Christians are the primary persecuted group worldwide because of their faith. Our duty is to be and remember martyrs (lit. "witnesses"); Christ has assured us of this. The world hates us because it hates Christ our Lord and Master. Don't be surprised! Persecution is NOT general suffering and personal trials. It IS, however, suffering for the name of Jesus Christ. Discipleship invites persecution; it is an expected part of our Christian walk.

Modern Christianity objects. Surely persecution is not a blessing as Matthew says! But it is. Part of our path home, sustained by God's efficacious grace. Some are in chains for Christ. Remember their chains, for they hold us together. Be prepared for persecution and pray for those imprisoned - rescue them if at all possible, and REJOICE! Persecution shows those true to Christ; He grows His church in this way. Be strong in the Cross.

Soli Deo gloria.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Feast of All Saints

Today's readings were Revelation 7:9-17 and Matthew 5:1-12; the sermon text was Matthew 7:21.

Where are you going? To death, or to life? No one wants Christ to say at the judgment, "I never knew you." It's not enough to have heard of Him, to know of Him. That won't admit you to heaven - and hell is a terrible place. Scripture assures us of this: Matthew 7:13 says "Broad is the road that leads to destruction"; John 3:18b says "But whoever does not believe in Him stands condemned already."

Recipe for disaster:
  • Unbelief
  • Lack of prayer
  • Ignoring the Word of God
  • Focus on earthly things
  • Lack of worship
  • Refusal of the Sacraments
Recipe for life (pre-baked):
  • God is the preparer! It is ours by faith already!
  • Finished work on the Cross
  • Blood of Christ
  • His washing of us in Baptism
  • Truth of His words (John 6:47)
  • Holy Communion
Don't mix the two recipes - it produces eternal disaster. Matthew 7:20 shows the visible results of Life. Know the living by their fruit; taste Christ and see!

Soli Deo gloria.