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Pentecost 12 – “Confession of All Confessions” (Matthew 16:13-20)

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon is the Gospel, which was read earlier.

Jesus asks two questions to the disciples in our text, each one very important. The first question asked to the disciples is this: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Obviously that question is subjective because depending on who you asked, you would receive a very different answer. And the answer that the disciples give, the answer of the people, is just that, different. 

The people respond with the following answer: “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Is Jesus someone of importance? Yes. Do the people know how important? No. Their answers range from a generic prophet or Jeremiah, one of the great prophets of old. Some place greater importance on Jesus and say that He is Elijah, one of the most notable prophets of the Old Testament. To be counted amongst the prophets of old does indeed show importance on Jesus’ character. The prophets were tasked with preaching the Word of God to the people, good words and bad. They were tasked with declaring the prophecies that pointed to God’s long-awaited Messiah, a promise made countless generations before in the Garden. Surely Jesus could not be any of these since they were all long dead

All of these showed how highly the people thought of Jesus, but there were some who were willing to upscale Jesus’ importance. Some declared Him to be John the Baptist. John the Baptist was important in his own right. He was the last of the Old Testament prophets. He was charged to be the forerunner of Jesus. John had done just that. He had instructed the people that Jesus was coming, but not only was He coming, He was here now among them. But like most of the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptists’ life did not end well, as he was beheaded by Herod. So, who could the Son of Man really be if He wasn’t one of the prophets of old?

The opinions of the people showed that they regarded Jesus very highly as a man of God, but they did not regard Him highly enough. They did not know Him as the one and only Son of God, Himself true God with the Father and the Holy Spirit from eternity. They were not much different from many people of our own day who praise Jesus as a great teacher but don’t know Him as their Savior and the only Savior of the world.

 Have you ever wondered why Jesus asks the question? Does Jesus care what people think of Him? Yes and no. The greater question is does Jesus care who people think He is? The answer is an absolute yes, and with great reason. If you do not know who Jesus truly is and what He has come to do, then He will not know you. Jesus says earlier in Matthew: “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

That is why Jesus asks the next question, the all-important question that must be asked to all: “But who do you say that I am?” That is the question of the day, not just for the disciples, but for everyone. As far as the disciples were concerned, this was Jesus, their Lord and Master. What more of a response was Jesus looking for from them?

There is plenty more of a response that Jesus was looking from the disciples, and there is plenty more of a response that Jesus is looking from you. You can say, “I know who You are; You’re Jesus!” but what does that mean? Many people can look at a picture and say that the man in the picture is Jesus. But what does that mean? People from outside of Christianity can say who Jesus is, albeit wrongly, but what does that mean? There is a very specific answer that Jesus is looking for, one that will determine your eternal future. And since this is your eternal future, you had better make sure you have the right answer.

Peter, acting as spokesman for the disciples responds to Jesus by saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” That’s the answer that Jesus is looking for. That’s the only response that Jesus is looking for. What better answer could there be but that? Thomas, on the evening of Christ’s resurrection gives a response that I believe is just as good: “Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

For the here and now, Peter recognized Jesus for who He was. That meant that Peter recognized Jesus as the promised Messiah foretold of so long ago. He understood Jesus to be the “Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” Not only was Jesus a teacher, a healer, a miracle worker, He would do something that no one else has ever done or would be able to do: give His life so that we would have life. St John writes, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” That is exactly what Jesus has done. He has given His life so that you would have life and have it abundantly. He gave His life so that all of your sins would be forgiven. He gave His life so that you would be able to stand before the Holy God, not as a person condemned by their sins to hell, but rather as one who has been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and now has the holiness and righteousness of Christ.

That same question has been posed to you. What matters is how that question is answered. That same confession of faith Peter made is the same one that you and I made when we confirmed our baptismal confession of faith. That same confession of faith that Peter made is the same one that you and I make today. Christ empowers us in our confession of Him today to assault the very gates of hell. He hears the promises made in Baptism and confirmation and in every confession, and He empowers us through the gift of His Spirit to assault hell itself and win. On the rock of the confession, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Christ has built His Church and not even hell’s gates can withstand its onslaught.

A lot of people in our day don’t understand the true meaning of the Christ. Some say Jesus was a great moral teacher, but nothing more. Others see Him as a life coach. Still others see Him as an example. Jesus is more than just a moral teacher, life coach or an example. Jesus is the Savior of the world, the Lamb of God who gave Himself as a sacrifice so that you and I might have everlasting life.

 Today, we confess alongside Peter and all the disciples, the whole Christian Church, the saints of old and the saints yet to be – “[Jesus is] the Christ, the Son of the living God.” In Jesus’ name, amen. Now the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.

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Posted by on August 28, 2017 in Uncategorized


Presentation of the Augsburg Confession – “A Solid Confession” (1 Peter 1:13-25)

Note: This sermon was preached at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Indianapolis, Indiana on June 25, 2017 on the occasion of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession and in conjunction with the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, as well as the congregation’s 175th anniversary in November 2017.

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon is from 1 Peter 1.13-25

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

Dear brothers and sisters of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, what a momentous occasion that we are gathered for today. We gather to celebrate a wonderful anniversary, actually, two anniversaries. On October 31, 1517, Luther posted his 95 Theses, beginning what we know as the Lutheran Church. 13 years later on June 25, 1530, the Augsburg Confession was presented to Charles V, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. In presenting this document of faith, the Augsburg Confession was intentionally crafted to present a gentle and peaceful response to the emperor. It was intended only to speak for Saxony. However, as various German leaders read it they indicated that they, too, wanted to sign their names and make it their Confession. So on June 25, 1530, courageous Lutheran laymen confessed their faith and told the emperor and the Roman Church what they believed, taught, and confessed. They relied on the promise of God’s Word, as contained in Psalm 119:46, “I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame.” The Augsburg Confession was presented as a statement of biblical truth and a proposal for true unity in the Christian faith. It has never been withdrawn, remaining the great confession of faith for us Lutherans today.

Today, we celebrate the 487th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession and the clear statement of faith it declared then and that it still declares today. Rarely does such a confession last the test of time as the Augsburg Confession has.

Today, we also celebrate another important anniversary, one that is equally as important as the first to us: 1842. That was the year that St. Paul’s was founded. And 175 years later, she continues to go strong, preaching the Word of God each and every Sunday just as she has from the beginning. Despite the man that stands in this pulpit, God’s Word has been fulfilled just as God declares through the words of His servant Isaiah: “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

As we hear from the words of the apostle Peter, we, the Church, are called to be something. We are called to be holy. I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly feel holy everyday. In fact, there are some days where I just feel downright unholy. But being made holy is not something that I do; rather, it is something that is done for me by someone else. That someone else is who our faith is founded upon. It’s not Martin Luther, though some erroneously make that claim. It’s not John the Steadfast or the German princes of old who made such a confession. Our faith is founded upon Jesus Christ and no one else.
St. Peter was not the perfect disciple as we all know. There were many a time where he lacked holiness, where he fell short of full trust and reliance in Christ. If you, at times, feel just like St. Peter, then you are in good company. We are not holy. We never can be holy…by ourselves, at least. Our holiness comes from Jesus.

Lo all those years ago when the German princes signed their name to the Augsburg Confession, for them, it wasn’t a matter of being holy either. Rather, it was a matter of confessing the Bible as the sole teaching of Jesus Christ. This was not a popular move on their part, as this meant a death sentence for going against the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. Though it was not popular, it was proper, for the Roman Catholic Church had confused the teachings of Jesus with that of man.

It is stated in the Augsburg Confession: “The churches among us do not dissent from the catholic church in any article of faith.” The reason why they could say that then, the reason why we can say that now, is because we confess Jesus Christ. It is so easy today to confess anything other than Jesus Christ. Some would even call Christianity absurd. But you and I know that to be false. We know that Jesus is our sole means of salvation. 483 years ago, those German electors were willing to die for the faith taught by the disciples, received from Jesus Christ. 175 years later, St. Paul’s continues that proud tradition of the teaching of Jesus. For the last 175 years, the theme of believe, teach, and confess Sola Christus, Jesus Christ alone, has been preached from the pulpit. Though not always popular, we preach what the Church confesses, or should confess.

As we look at our text today, we are reminded of who we are: blood-bought and redeemed children of God. St. Peter writes, “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” A teaching such as that cannot be found among the teaching of man. This wasn’t some epiphany of Martin Luther or Phillip Melanchthon. This is revealed by Jesus for the Church to revel in. This is something that we should want to shout from the rooftops because this declares our salvation and the salvation of all who believe.

The theme of St. Peter’s epistle, the theme of the Augsburg Confession, the constant theme of St. Paul’s for the last 175 years is this: Christ is risen from the dead! The price has been paid for your sins: “not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of lamb without spot or blemish.” The eternal Son of God, foreknown before the foundation of the world, came into this world and paid the price for your sin. He redeemed you at the cost of His own blood. And having paid that price to redeem you, He will not leave you or forsake you. That is His promise, His Word: and the Word of the Lord remains forever. You’re no longer fading, falling grass. You’re a redeemed child of God, born again by His Word to live forever.

Many things in this world come and go, things that are here today and gone tomorrow. But when it comes to the things of God and His holy Word, we know that the Word of the Lord remains forever. Today, Christ our Savior comes to you. He speaks His Word to you. He is the Host of the meal, giving you His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. He has died and He is risen, so that He might wash you clean, purify you with His own blood. He lives forever; and because He lives forever, so will you. You’re not grass anymore: in Christ, eternal life is yours. This is the Good News that is preached to you, the Word of the Lord that endures forever: Christ has lived, Christ has died, and Christ has risen for you. In Jesus’ name, amen. Now the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.

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Posted by on July 4, 2017 in Uncategorized


St. Michael and All Angels – “Angels” (Revelation 12:7-12)


F 25 St Michael  Mt 18 1 10

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon is the Epistle, which was read earlier.

Angels, they’re always a popular topic to people. We are told as a child that our guardian angels are ever protecting us. We have the erroneous perception that when we die, we become an angel. There have been television shows devoted to angels, such as “Highway to Heaven” and “Touched by an Angel” and their work on earth, at least according to Hollywood. But what is the true role of angel in God’s creation?

Today gives us an opportunity to remember St. Michael and All Angels. We remember the work of the angelic host and how they are God’s servants to His people. Angels are best known for their true purpose: messengers of God. It was an angel who brought good tidings to the saints of God in the Old Testament, as well as to Zechariah, Joseph, and Mary. Besides the role of messenger, we see other roles the angels serve in. For instance, in the Garden of Eden, an angel was placed at the entrance of the Garden following Adam and Eve’s dismissal from the Garden. Angels guard us when we are in peril. The angel of God stopped the mouths of the lions when Daniel was cast into their den. An angel delivered the Apostle Peter from the cruelty of Herod. An angel gave bread and water for Elijah when he sat starving under the broom tree. In working for our protection and benefit, they render perfect service to their Lord and creator.

Angels come as great heralds of God’s Word and they come to minister to people in their times of need. But as we see in our text from Revelation today, angels have another role in which they serve God: as warriors in battle.

Our text begins with a statement that boggles the mind—there was a war in heaven! It sounds strange to us that there could ever be a war in heaven. How could this be? Heaven is eternal bliss in the glorious presence of God. It is peace and everlasting blessedness—how could a war take place here? But St. John records for us the fact that a war occurred.

We have to remember that war has raged in heaven ever since Satan strived to show that he was superior to God. Within the first six days of creation, God created the angelic beings. Also during that time, Lucifer, known better as Satan, sought to assert his superiority over God and was struck down by God.

This war in heaven is truly waged against God and His creation. From Lucifer’s revolt to the Fall into sin, Satan has had it out for God and His creation.This war that John writes about is the war of words that Satan has perpetrated against men since the Fall into sin, for he is the accuser, who accuses us of our sin and iniquity before God in heaven. He tempted Adam and Eve, and because of that, evil triumphantly entered the world and Satan became the price of this world. Since the Fall, the devil was permitted to retain a certain power over the earth. Satan extended his rule over the whole of humanity, for sin is an ever-present reality to God’s creation.

Satan stands as our accuser to God. Here he makes his case, condemning mankind before the judgment seat of God. Unlike lying and deceiving to Adam and Eve and all of creation, what he tells God is true. We are guilty for we have sinned. Such a war between the deceiver and God’s heavenly angels is a war beyond our comprehension. You and I and all of God’s creation are at stake in this war. For while Satan might lie to us, we cannot say that he lies about us. He might deceive men on earth, but he cannot pull the wool over the eyes of Almighty God. And he doesn’t have to. We are all sinners in need of forgiveness.

Satan takes his war beyond heaven and wages it fully against the Church. This war will rage until the end of time, until the Seconding Coming of Christ. But until then, Satan will unleash all that he has at God’s creation, going back to the number one tool in his bag of tricks: doubt. That is what he used on Eve and it proved successful. That is what he uses against the people of God, hoping to ensnare them in doubting God’s Word, questioning the great love that God has for His creation. The assaults of the devil continue to plague the Church as a whole and the Church individually, for these are assaults that you and I face daily.

We know how this war ends. St. John records for us that Satan and his minions were defeated. He writes: “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb….” The war is finally over and God has prevailed, just as He promised in the Garden of Eden. It ends with the complete overthrow of the devil and his minions. Revelation 20:10 says, “and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Satan has been forever defeated because of the blood of Christ shed upon the cross. Salvation is now ours; not something that will come at a later time, but a salvation that is yours now because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

St. Michael and all the angels are victorious in their fight against Satan and his minions. Yet they triumphed over him not on account of their own might, but because God Himself sent His only Son to atone for the sins of the world. The power of sin, death, and hell have been destroyed, for Christ Jesus has already defeated their master, the devil.

Therefore rejoice in Christ Jesus, for salvation to us has come. Give thanks to God for His messengers, who brought good tidings of great joy and who serve their Lord in perfect holiness, seeking our benefit and protection. Rejoice in their defeat of Satan and his minions, with Michael leading the charge. But above all, rejoice in knowing that you have the forgiveness of all of your sins, and that your names are written in heaven in the Lamb’s Book of Life, because of the supreme victory of Satan, sin and death on account of Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen. The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.

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Posted by on October 1, 2013 in Uncategorized


Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost–“Son of David” (Matthew 22:34-46)

A-83 Proper 25 (Mt 22.34-46)Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon is the Gospel, which was read earlier.

After all the times the Pharisees had tried to trick Jesus into saying or doing something that would incriminate Himself, you would think they would learn that Jesus was smarter than their tricks. In last week’s Gospel reading, the Pharisees enlisted the help of their disciples and the Herodians to trick Jesus so that they would find cause to put Him to death, yet their attempts proved to be unsuccessful.

It is Tuesday of Holy Week and Jesus’ public ministry is rapidly coming to a close. Jesus now faces yet another three temptations so to speak, questions asked by the Pharisees: the question of paying taxes to Caesar, the question of the resurrection of the body, and this question regarding the greatest commandment.

In today’s Gospel reading, Matthew tells us that the Pharisees gathered together after they had heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees. They were delighted to see that Jesus had managed to silence the Sadducees, yet the Pharisees had to continue to find a way to trap Jesus in His words or actions because they couldn’t find anything else to pin on Him.

Jesus had just made the Sadducees look like fools when they tried to trick Him with a question about the resurrection, which they didn’t believe in. The Sadducees couldn’t trip up Jesus with their question, but that just gave the Pharisees all the more reason to try and do the same. After all, if they can trip up Jesus with a trick question, then not only will they show Jesus to be a fool, but they will also demonstrate their academic superiority over their greatest rivals – the Sadducees. As far as the Pharisees are concerned, this was a win-win opportunity. All their enemies would be silenced and they would come out on top.

Perhaps, this is the moment! The Pharisees send out to Jesus a lawyer, one who was an expert in the Old Testament Law, and asks Jesus a simple question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” When we look at the question, we are hard pressed to see how this question is designed to test Jesus. Maybe they were expecting a certain answer, one that would be the nail in Jesus’ coffin. Nonetheless, there was a reason why the question was asked.

Jesus does something different. He demonstrates the fact that He truly understands the commandments. He knows what they mean. This is why He sums up the entire Law in two brief statements: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This is what all the Law and Prophets, that is, all of Scripture points to and teaches and means. You can’t argue with this answer, can you? The Pharisees didn’t even try to argue. In fact, St. Mark tells us that the Pharisee who asked the question could only congratulate Jesus for giving such a profound and wise answer.

How easy it is to say this law. Love God with all your resources and love your neighbor as you love yourself. This law is easy to say, but impossible to do. The fact is that we often love ourselves with all our resources, and we love our neighbor when we will receive something in return and love God with our leftovers. When we come before God, we must confess: “We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbor as ourselves. We justly deserve your present and eternal punishment.”

But God does not punish us. Instead, He shows the love to us that we should show to Him. He shows us that ἀγάπη love, the unconditional love from the Father. In this unconditional love, God sent His only begotten Son into the world to save us from our sins.

Still, the Pharisees didn’t have enough to put anything on Jesus, nor did they truly understand the answer Jesus had just given. Instead of answering any more questions, Jesus asks a question to the Pharisees: “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?”

What a change of events for the Pharisees. They were the ones who asked the questions, not the other way around. This isn’t just tit for tat that Jesus is doing. His is a serious question, and an honest answer would bring His opponents to a correct understanding of Him whom they are opposing.

Remember when this account takes place – during Holy Week. As Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He declared Himself to be the long-awaited Messiah, but He did so in the humblest of ways by riding on a donkey. Now, on Holy Tuesday, as He puts this question to the Pharisees, He makes the highest claims for Himself as the Messiah.

They answer Jesus that the Christ is the son of David. Every good Jew knew that so it was pointless to ask that question, right – unless your name is Jesus and you are teaching the Pharisees through your question. If you were a Pharisee, you would have expected the Messiah to reestablish the golden age of David and Solomon, to cast off the Roman yoke and put an end to the hated tax and make Jerusalem great like it was before. But that was not the role of the Messiah; it was not the role of Jesus. The role of Jesus was to come and to die. The role of Jesus was to come and forgive you all of your sins. The role of Jesus was to make you holy before the Lord your God.

That’s why Jesus asked this question to them. They had forgotten about the fact that the Messiah was also Almighty God and Lord. They had completely forgotten what the Messiah meant to people living in this fallen and sinful world. They had forgotten that the Messiah would come to forgive them all of their sins.

We may not want to admit it, but sometimes, we, too, look for the same son of David that the Pharisees were looking for, and when He’s not meeting our expectations, we doubt. We go looking for something else. We look around for an earthly solution; failing to look up to our Lord and Savior in humble thanksgiving for the solution He has provided for our deadly and damning sinful condition. We want things to be good and right in the here and now, often failing to remember that Christ’s kingdom is not of this fallen and sinful world. We fail to remember that because of Christ’s all-redeeming death and resurrection, we are co-heirs and fellow citizens of His heavenly kingdom, and that by His unconditional grace and love alone.

There was a time that each of us hated God as an enemy. Now He fills us with His love and makes us His beloved children. Once, we were not a people. Now we are the people of God. Once, we were the slaves of sin. Now we are the free people of Heaven. Once we were subject to God’s eternal judgment. Now we are subject to God’s eternal love. God’s love has conquered evil and made us His children forever. In the name of Jesus, amen. Now the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.

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Posted by on October 23, 2011 in Uncategorized


Seventh Sunday after Pentecost–“Come” (Isaiah 55:1-5)

A-70 Proper 13 (Mt 14.13-21)Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon this morning is the Old Testament, which was read earlier.

“Come and get it!” That’s all that you need to hear to know that dinner is ready. When we hear these words, they are music to our ears! They are good news. They are an invitation to come and fill our hungry stomachs – an announcement that there is good food available for us. They tell us that something wonderful is waiting for us.
That’s how God speaks to His people in the text. The passage before us is thick with imperatives, but the imperatives are not a series of dreary demands. God is not speaking to His people as a master speaks to his slaves. These imperatives are invitations to a feast! God speaks as a man might speak to his friend. He is inviting His people to a banquet as His honored guests.

God issues the invitation here because in the previous chapters He has been preparing the meal for His starving people. They are people exhausted by enemy and exile, desolation and death. As Isaiah describes it, they have received from the Lord’s hand “double” for all their sins. God previously gave His people up to robbers and spoilers because they sinned against Him. In His overflowing wrath, God hid His face from them. They are called “afflicted,” “storm-tossed,” “not comforted.”

Yet, God does not abandon His people, and He does not break His promises. The text reminds us of the covenant that God made with David. Isaiah calls it “an everlasting covenant,” and he describes it further as the “steadfast, sure love for David.” The key words here are “everlasting” and “steadfast,” for in them is the promise that even though the people might abandon God, God will not abandon them because He will not break the promise He made to David.

God makes the invitation available to all people. He says, “Come, everyone….” This invitation isn’t meant to be exclusive, it’s not meant to be reserved for the wealthiest of people. God extends His gracious invitation to everyone because He created everyone and desires that all would come to faith and be saved through the saving work of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Here in our text, Isaiah calls the people to listen to and receive God’s wonderful promise of a new covenant based on the earlier Davidic one. Part of the wonder of that covenant is that it is free. Whereas the gods of this world require a high price for what is ultimately dust and ashes, the Lord offers for free a relationship that will never end and that has universal implications. These are words of encouragement and hope. If they will, God’s people can see a face of God that is welcoming and approving. They can receive a certain word from God that does not have to do with the inescapability of destruction, but with the assurance of a bright future. What has happened to account for this? One thing only: the announcement of the work of the Servant.

All things are ready; the guests are invited; and nothing is required of them except to come. God has done the work and the guests’ only action is to receive. That is what God has done for you. He has prepared everything on your behalf. He has prepared the meal, sacrificing His Son so that you may feast upon His body and blood, given and shed for the forgiveness of your sins, so that you may never hunger and thirst again.

Like anything in this world, there is a cost. However, when you look at the text, Isaiah doesn’t mention a cost. He doesn’t say anything about how much you have to pay for the water, wine, or milk. Instead, he says come, “without money and without price.” What merchant would every think of selling his wares free of charge? God does! How can He do it? The reason is because someone else has paid the price.

God has paid the price for you to redeem you. The price was His Son Jesus. Listen to what Luther says about Jesus and what He has done:[Jesus,] “who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.” We see the great price that God has paid in order that you may have everlasting life. It wasn’t paid for with things of this world, but instead paid for by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

God has won for us full forgiveness and the free gift of eternal life. Why would you want to spend yourself on something that is not salvation? That is what you do when you try to make your righteousness depend on you. How do you do that, you ask? You do it by trying to find the feeling that makes it all seem right and true. You do it by following the religion-fad that everyone else is following. You do it by judging the world around you, or your part in it, by what you can see and feel, rather than by the Word of God.

Isaiah asks the question, “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” The difference is what you need to hear and not what you want to hear. When you hear that preached – that is, the Gospel – that means you are getting the real thing, and not some empty imitation! And you don’t want something that tickles you ear and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy while it leads you nowhere. You want the truth, you want the Gospel.

All of this is possible according to Isaiah, “because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.” The Holy One of Israel, Jesus Christ, has come to give you life and give it to you abundantly. He gives this to you free of charge. You are invited to come and receive all that God has to offer to you through Jesus Christ “without money and without price,” for there is no amount of money that could pay for what Jesus has done for you and the only price that could pay for your salvation is a price you could not pay – the sacrifice of an innocent, Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus and His atoning sacrifice, all of this and more is yours: forgiveness, life, and salvation. In Jesus’ name, amen. Now the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.

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Posted by on August 3, 2011 in Uncategorized


Advent Blessings from Pres. Harrison

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Posted by on December 1, 2010 in Uncategorized


Delta Airlines = FAIL

The title should say it all, but for those who want to know more, I’ll elaborate.

To start the day off, we arrived at Indianapolis International Airport and proceeded to get tickets and check our bags.  Both mine and Gwen’s suitcases were 50+.  We started taking stuff out of them to get them under the magic number of 50.  Fortunately, my in-laws are coming to Nebraska to watch Wesley while Gwen and I attend DOXOLOGY, so they were able to take some of the extra stuff with them to bring out in a couple of weeks.

Once we get on board the Delta Airlines plane, that’s when the fun starts.  First, we were sitting in 34A and 34C, with 34B and an aisle between us.  Switching seats with 34B was no problem.  They start moving us back out and we stop after say 100 feet or so.  It seems there was a mechanical problem so they stopped.  They did over-the-phone troubleshooting and everything the pilot did, it didn’t work.  They shut down the power to the plane and did a restart and nothing was resolved.  A call in to maintenance was next.  Fortunately, they were available right away and came out to service the plane.  Everything was green lights.  The next step was to power up the plane and see if they got a green light.  The plane was powered up and we have a green light!  This is super!  We can finally get on our way!  The problem: we spent an hour sitting there waiting for the plane to be repaired.  That meant that our connecting flight in Rapid City was not going to happen.

When we finally arrived in Minneapolis, we went straight to the gate desk and asked for our new tickets (Delta in Indianapolis already rebooked everyone with connecting flights since we were so delayed).  The agent printed Gwen’s and then printed mine, followed by a confused look on his face.  Gwen was able to score the 11:15 flight.  I, on the other hand, was able to procure the 5:15 flight.  He told us to go to our gate and speak with the gate agent to get on stand-by.  He printed me a stand-by ticket, but we still had to check in with the gate agent.  Unfortunately, the flight was over-booked and over-weight.  They were looking for volunteers for a later flight.  Gwen spoke with the gate agent and I was stand-by #3, but because of the status of the flight, it was doubtful that I could get on.  There was a flight that we could both fly together – 9:00 TONIGHT!  That meant spending 8 hours in the airport with a two-year old!  That was not an option! 

We tried to get me on, but to no avail.  There was a family of 4 who were waiting to board the plane (they had seats).  The mother (who is a Starbucks barista in Gillette; remind me to say “thank you” to her next time I’m there) asked the gate agent if there was any way that I could get on to fly with Gwen.  The gate agent explained what was necessary, including people giving up their seats.  Unfortunately, the family of four would not be able to fly together; they would have to fly on two different flights.  I could see that the husband did not like that option one bit.  I went over to her and thanked her for trying to do this for me. 

Currently, I’m sitting at TGI Fridays finishing lunch waiting for the 2:15 flight as stand-by passenger #3.  Good news: stand-by passengers #1 and #2 didn’t show up at the 11:15 flight, so there could be a good chance of me making it on the 2:15 flight. 

Well, off I go.  Hopefully this will get posted before I leave Minneapolis.

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Posted by on August 3, 2010 in Uncategorized


Minister’s wife charged with his murder

I posted about this just a little while ago. It seems that now she has been charged with murder.

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Posted by on March 24, 2006 in Uncategorized


Minister’s wife confesses to killing husband

When I returned to the church after lunch, the secretary told me of a minister’s wife who had confessed of killing her husband. I was shocked! I had not heard that until then.

The wife of a minister found dead in the church parsonage has confessed to shooting him and fleeing to Alabama, where she was found the following night with their three young daughters, authorities said Friday. Mary Winkler told investigators she shot her husband on Wednesday, Selmer Police investigator Roger Rickman said.

I could not believe the story when I read it. Being a minister’s wife, I’m sure she would know a little about what it is her husband preaches and teaches to his congregation. I’m sure that one thing he would teach would be the Fifth Commandment: “You shall not murder.”

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Posted by on March 24, 2006 in Uncategorized

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