Sunday, January 30, 2011

Epiphany 4

Disappointingly, we had no sermon for Epiphany 3, due to a capital campaign starting.

Today's readings were Micah 6:1-8 (sermon text), 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, and Matthew 5:1-12.

God brings charges against His people, as Micah records. Not such a "minor" prophet after all! God's witnesses: mountains and foundations of the earth - polar opposites yet both solid. His people - today, us. We are being accused. The charges: we have abandoned our merciful and loving God; we have become bored and wearied with Him and true worship. "Answer Me." We are unable, utterly embarrassed at His veracity, our guilt.

God recounts His history of deliverance, His heart. It culminated in Jesus, the Crucified and Resurrected Lord. The evidence confirms His lovingkindness.

We say, frustrated, Shall we be able to ransom ourselves, even with our firstborn? No! God does not tell us to give offerings like that; He wants us to give Him our whole heart. A cheerful and contrite heart makes any offering acceptable to Him. Sacrifice yourself. Act justly, love mercy, and walk in humility with your God. He is our example; we have been shown. Translation for today - treat others fairly; fight for the life of the defenseless; do not be arrogant, for your deeds do not save you. God, be merciful to me, a sinner.

The verdict: we are guilty. The sentence: Christ died for and lives in us!

Soli Deo gloria.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Epiphany 2

Today's readings were Isaiah 49:1-7 (sermon text), 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, and John 1:29-42.

The idea of working for naught would be awful! Even as we follow God's leading, sometimes things appear to be this way - no reward, which leads to discouragement. What about Jesus? He lived only to die among unbelievers, to pray among sleeping disciples, to heal among death threats. He had no reward - not immediately.

Indeed, this is He of whom Isaiah speaks in this passage. He came because He loves us - and still comes to the unbelievers. Failure is not going to happen, for the work is the LORD's. He called Isaiah before birth, and Jesus from the beginning. Something will happen, for God is guiding and working through us! He knows the end.

Soli Deo gloria.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Epiphany 1: Baptism of our Lord

Today's readings were Isaiah 42:1-9, Romans 6:1-11 (sermon text), and Matthew 3:13-17.

Christianity is a religion full of paradoxes:
  • Jesus Christ is wholly God and wholly Man.
  • We are both saints and sinners, at least in this world.
  • In the Lord's Supper, body and blood are present under bread and wine.
  • Christ Jesus is present both in heaven and on earth.
  • The Triune God is not three gods, but three Persons in one God.
How then do we deal with Baptism? How does the concept of "now or later" fit?
  • Age at Baptism - as a baby (because of Christ's orders and promises) or as an adult?
  • Baptism before or after a profession of faith? Or together, because Baptism bestows faith.
  • Benefit of forgiveness of sins (always, not only at the time of baptism). Remember: you are - not were - baptized; it always works in your life!
  • Is Baptism symbolic only, or actually powerful? The sign of Noah indicates that water actually saved; Peter tells us that water symbolizes baptism - which NOW SAVES you.
What a gift is Baptism! It is all the Lord's work, salvation, without credit to yourself. Baptism = now and later!

Soli Deo gloria.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas 2

Back in WI. Today's readings were 1 Kings 3:4-15, Ephesians 1:3-10, and Luke 2:41-52 (sermon text).

"EVERYONE who heard Him was amazed." Keep in mind that their amazement was not necessarily a good thing. Our culture loves babies, yet kills them in droves. Examples of the crowds' or Pharisees' amazement turned sour in Christ's ministry include (1) His healing of the man with a paralyzed hand after plucking grain on the Sabbath; (2) His reading of Isaiah's prophecy concerning Himself in the synagogue; and (3) His testimony to the Pharisees after raising Lazarus. Amazement led to death threats.

Amazement at Jesus emphasizes our own sin. We have two choices: hold on to it--or let go of pride. We were baptized into His death, else we cannot stand before God. Change must be done to us and for us. Christ's scars take away our sin. We are changed.

Soli Deo gloria.